9 PM Current Affairs Brief – November 25th, 2019

Explained: What is Rule 12,used by Centre to revoke President’s Rule in Maharashtra

News:Recently,the central government had invoked Rule 12 of the Government of India(Transaction of Business) Rules to revoke the President’s Rule in Maharashtra.

Facts:

What is Rule 12?

  • Rule 12 of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 allows the Prime Minister to depart from laid down norms at his discretion.
  • The rule says that the Prime Minister may in cases or classes of cases permit or condone a departure from these rules to the extent he deems necessary.
  • The Cabinet can subsequently give post-facto approval for any decision taken under Rule 12.
  • The rule also stipulates that to invoke it,the proposal should be accompanied by a detailed justification clearly bringing out the urgency involved in the matter and the exceptional circumstances that require it to be processed.

Under what circumstances is Rule 12 used?

  • Rule 12 is usually not used to arrive at major decisions by the government.
  • However, it has been used in matters such as withdrawal of an office memorandum or signing of MoUs in the past.
  • The last big decision taken through the invocation of Rule 12 was re-organisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai among 113 cities in world on new global prosperity index

News:The first-ever Prosperity & Inclusion City Seal and Awards(PICSA) Index has been released.

Facts:

About the index:

  • The index has been prepared by the Basque institutions and compiled by D&L Partners.
  • The index measures factors such as the affordability of housing and access to education and healthcare, besides GDP per capita.
  • The index has ranked 113 cities across the globe in terms of their inclusive prosperity.
  • This is the first time that the world’s major cities have been ranked not just by the size and health of their economy, but for their efforts to build an inclusive and prosperous environments for all its citizens.

Key takeaways from the index:

  • The index has been topped by Zurich in Switzerland.It is followed by Vienna and Copenhagen in the second and third place respectively.
  • The Zurich was ranked first as it scores strongly across all measures, particularly on quality of life, work, housing, leisure, safety, and education with the Swiss higher education system attaining an especially high score.
  • Bangalore has emerged as India’s highest-ranked city at No. 83 in the index.Delhi at 101 and Mumbai at 107 are the other Indian cities to make at the index.
  • The index has also said that many of the world’s wealthiest cities are failing to create inclusive economies for their citizens.
  • The report further noted that a large number of cities in Africa, Asia and South America are ranked towards the bottom of the index, underscoring the huge poverty and inequality challenges they face.

Scientists identify a protein increases action of insulin, helps regulate blood sugar levels

News:Recently,Scientists have identified a protein called secretagon(SCGN) that can help regulate blood sugar levels in the body.

Facts:

About Secretagon(SCGN):

  • Secretagon is a protein that in humans is encoded by SCGN gene.
  • The encoded protein is secreted calcium-binding protein which is found in cytoplasm.

What were the findings?

  • Scientists have found that SCGN has a functional insulin-binding protein with therapeutic potential against diabetes.
  • They show that SCGN binds to insulin and protects it from various stresses, increases its stability as well as adds to its action.
  • They have also shown that injection of SCGN (found at lower levels in diabetic patients) in obese diabetic mice clears excess insulin from circulation and reduces fat mass.

Significance of the findings:

  • The findings are significant as various kinds of cellular stresses can result in loss of structure and function of insulin, ultimately leading to diabetes.
  • Hence,these findings would soon become a diagnostic marker and one should check its potential in diabetes management.

Additional information:

About Diabetes:

  • Diabetes is a chronic disease caused when either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the cells in the body do not respond properly to insulin.
  • It is a non-communicable disease-non-infectious and non-transmissible one.
  • There are three types of diabetes (a)Type 1 when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (b)Type 2 -cells in the body do not respond to insulin properly and (c)Gestational Diabetes – formed during pregnancy.

Sangai festival kicks off in Manipur

News:Recently,the ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’, the biggest tourism festival of the state has started.

Facts:

About Sangai festival:

  • Sangai festival is an annual cultural festival organised by Manipur Tourism Department every year from November 21 to 30.
  • Since 2010,the Tourism Festival has been renamed as the Sangai Festival as Sangai deer is the state animal of Manipur.
  • The festival showcases tourism potential of Manipur in field of arts & culture, handloom, handicrafts, indigenous sports, cuisine, music and adventure sports of the state among others.
  • The tourism festival also promotes Manipur as a world class tourist destination.

Features of the festival:

  • The State’s classical dance form, ‘Ras Leela’ forms an important part of the dance performances during the festival.
  • Other folk dance performances like the Kabui Naga dance, Bamboo dance, Maibi dance, Lai Haraoba dance, Khamba Thoibi dance are showcased at the festival.
  • The festival brings to light an array of Manipur’s best indigenous handlooms and handicrafts products which are otherwise not widely available in the market.
  • Further,Manipur’s famous martial arts namely (a)Thang Ta (a combination Spear & Sword skills) (b)Yubi-Lakpi (a game played with greased coconut like rugby) (c)Mukna Kangjei (a game that combines hockey and wrestling) and (d)Sagol Kangjei- Modern Polo (believed to have evolved in Manipur) all formed part of the festival.

Additional information:

About Sangai deer:

  • The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur,India.
  • The species is listed as Endangered(EN) in IUCN Red list.
  • The species is found only at Keibul Lamjao National Park over the floating biomass locally called phumdi in the south eastern part of Loktak Lake.

About Keibul Lamjao National Park:

  • Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only floating National Park in the world.It is located on the Loktak Lake.
  • The park is located on phumdis.Phumdis are the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil.

Explained: When the Supreme Court reviews a decision

News:Recently,a number of review petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a review of its delivered decisions.

Facts:

About Review Petition:

  • According to the constitution,the judgment of the Supreme Court becomes the law of the land.It is final because it provides certainty for deciding future cases.
  • However,the Constitution under Article 137 gives the Supreme Court the power to review any of its judgments or orders.
  • This departure from the Supreme Court’s final authority is entertained only under specific and narrow grounds.
  • So, when a review takes place,the law is that it is allowed not to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.

Grounds for Review:In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court itself had laid down three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict it has delivered:

  • The discovery of new and important matter or evidence which after the exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of the petitioner or could not be produced by him.
  • Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record or
  • Any other sufficient reason.Any sufficient reason means a reason that is analogous to the other two grounds.

Who can file a review petition?

  • It is not necessary that only parties to a case can seek a review of the judgment on it.
  • As per the Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review.

Procedure for review petition:

  • As per 1996 rules framed by the Supreme Court,a review petition must be filed within 30 days of the date of judgment or order.
  • In certain circumstances,the court can condone the delay in filing the review petition if the petitioner can establish strong reasons that justify the delay.
  • Review petitions are also heard as far as practicable by the same combination of judges who delivered the order or judgment that is sought to be reviewed.

What if a review petition fails?

  • In Roopa Hurra v Ashok Hurra (2002), the court itself evolved the concept of a curative petition which can be heard after a review is dismissed to prevent abuse of its process.
  • A curative petition is also entertained on very narrow grounds like a review petition, and is generally not granted an oral hearing.

Explained: What is Golden Rice?

News:Bangladesh could be on the verge of becoming the first country to approve plantation of Golden Rice.

Facts:

About Golden Rice:

  • Golden rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene,a precursor of vitamin A in the edible parts of rice.
  • It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A.
  • Research has indicated that one cup of Golden Rice can provide up to 50% of the daily requirement of an adult for vitamin A.
  • But presently,it has a low shelf life of not more than 3 months as it may lose its nutrients after that.

Golden Rice and Bangladesh:

  • The Golden Rice that is being reviewed in Bangladesh has been developed by the International Rice Research Institute(IRRI)
  • According to the institute,this rice variety will not be more expensive than the conventional variety.

Additional information:

About Vitamin A:

  • Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is good for healthy vision, skin, bones and other tissues in the body.
  • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) or hypovitaminosis A is a lack of vitamin A in blood and tissues.It is common in poorer countries but rarely is seen in more developed countries.
  • Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a variety of problems which includes: (a)night blindness (b) a higher risk of infections (c)follicular hyperkeratosis leading to dry skin (d)fertility issues and (e)delayed growth in children.

About IRRI:

  • The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international agricultural research and training organization with headquarters in Los Baños,Laguna in the Philippines.
  • IRRI is known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s which preempted the famine in Asia.
  • Its aim to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.

Manipur, J&K record maximum number of cases under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act

News:According to the National Crime Records Data(NCRB), more than 35% cases registered under the stringent Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act (UAPA) were recorded in Manipur.Manipur was followed by Jammu and Kashmir(J&K) Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Facts:

About UAPA Act,1967:

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967 is an act of parliament.It aims to curb certain unlawful activities including terrorist activities and related matters, carried out by individuals and associations in India and abroad.
  • The Act defines unlawful activity as any action by an individual or association which is intended to bring about cession/secession or such action as to disrupt or question the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.
  • The act empowers the government to declare an organisation as ‘terrorist’ and ban it.Mere membership of a proscribed organisation itself becomes a criminal offence.
  • It also allows detention without a chargesheet for up to 180 days and police custody can be up to 30 days.
  • It creates a strong presumption against bail and anticipatory bail is out of the question.It creates a presumption of guilt for terrorism offences merely based on the evidence allegedly seized.
  • The act was amended in 2004 which added terrorist act to the list of offences to ban organisations for terrorist activities under which 34 outfits have been banned.

Additional information:

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act 2019:

  • The act empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • It also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
  • The act also allows the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate the cases.

About NCRB:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The agency is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).

All about exchange-traded funds

Facts:

Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF):

  • An ETF is a fund that comprises a group of stocks that are listed on an exchange and can be simply traded like any other listed security.
  • Usually,ETFs are passive funds where the fund manager doesn’t select stocks on your behalf.The fund simply copies an index and endeavors to accurately reflect its performance.
  • The ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents.
  • The ETF is aimed at helping speed up the government’s disinvestment programme.

Benefits of ETF:

  • Low Cost – The price of the ETF is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks.Hence,the fund management fee of an ETF is much lower than that of a normal mutual fund scheme.
  • Liquidity – The traditional mutual funds are only priced at the end of the day.But ETFs can be bought and sold at any time throughout the trading day.
  • Low Risk:ETF allows investors to avoid the risk of poor security selection by the fund manager, while offering a diversified investment portfolio.

Additional information:

About Bharat-22 ETF:

  • Bharat 22 is an ETF that will track the performance of 22 stocks of Central Public Sector Enterprises(CPSE), Public Sector Banks(PSB’s ) and strategic holding of SUUTI(Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India).
  • The 22 stocks are diversified across six sectors such as(a) basic materials (b) energy (c)finance (d) FMCG (e) industrials and (f) utilities.
  • Bharat-22 ETF is managed by the ICICI Prudential AMC while Asia Index is the index provider.
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