Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 19 June, 2021

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Cabinet approves “Indian Vessels Bill, 2021”

What is the News?

The Union Cabinet has approved the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021.

About Indian Vessels Bill, 2021:

  • Indian Vessels Bill will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917. The bill aims to regulate the safety, security and registration of inland vessels.

Key Features of the Indian Vessels Bill, 2021:

  •  Unified Law:
    • The Bill provides for a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
    • This means that the certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories.
    • Moreover, there will also be no need to seek separate permissions from the States.
  • Central Database of Vessels:
    • The Bill provides for a central database for recording the details of the vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.
  • Mandatory registration of Vessels:
    • The bill requires all mechanically propelled vessels to be mandatorily registered.
    • On the other hand, all non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at the district, taluk or panchayat or village level.

About Inland Waterways:

  • India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprises rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks among others.
  • About 55 million tonnes of cargo are being moved annually by Inland Water Transport (IWT), in a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly mode.
Read more: Inland Waterways in India- Issues and Challenges

About Inland Waterways Authority of India(IWAI):

  • Inland Waterways Authority of India(IWAI) was constituted in 1986 for the development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
  • Purpose: The Authority primarily undertakes projects for the development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways. IWAI did this through the grants received from the Ministry of Shipping.

Source: The Hindu


Illegal sale of “HT Bt cotton” seeds doubles in a year

What is the News?

The illegal cultivation of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt cotton has seen a significant increase in recent years. Similarly, the sale of HT Bt Cotton seeds has more than doubled from 30 lakh in 2020 to 75 lakh in 2021.

  • Due to this, the seed industries have asked the Ministry of Agriculture to stop such illegal sale of (Herbicide Tolerant) HT Bt Cotton as it may have severe environmental and economic consequences.

About Bt Cotton:

  • Bt cotton is the only transgenic crop that has been approved by the Government of India for commercial cultivation.
  • Bt cotton has been genetically modified to produce an insecticide to combat the cotton bollworm, a common pest.

How is Bt Cotton produced?

  • Bt cotton was created by genetically altering the cotton genome to express a microbial protein from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
  • In short, the transgene inserted into the plant’s genome produces toxin crystals that the plant would not normally produce which, when ingested by a certain population of organisms, dissolves the gut lining leading to the organism’s death.

About HT Bt Cotton Variant:

  • This is another variant of Bt cotton. This variant adds another layer of modification, making the plant resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. However, this variant has not been approved by regulators.

Concerns regarding illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton: There have been various concerns raised against the illegal cultivation of Herbicide Tolerant Bt Cotton. These concerns include:

  • Firstly, the HT Bt cotton variant has serious environmental and economic consequences. This is because there are fears that glyphosate has a carcinogenic effect. Further, the unchecked spread of herbicide resistance is creating a variety of superweeds.
  • Secondly, the illegal sale will eliminate small cotton seed companies and also threaten the entire legal cotton seed market in India.
  • Thirdly, there is no accountability of the quality of cottonseed as it is being sold illegally.
  • Lastly, the industry is losing legitimate seed sales and the government is also losing revenue in terms of tax collection.

Government of India’s Response on illegal cultivation of HT Bt Cotton:

  • According to a report by the Department of Biotechnology, around 15% of the cotton area was sown with unapproved HTBt cotton. Especially in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat.
  • However, the Government of India has said that it has made the policy to ban this variant. But it is the State governments to enforce the ban and take action.

Source: The Hindu


Govt launches “Project O2 for India” to increase supply of medical oxygen

What is the News?

The Government of India has launched the ‘Project O2 for India’.

About Project O2 for India:

  • Project O2 for India is an initiative of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, Government of India(GoI).
  • Purpose: The project aims to:
    • Step up production of medical oxygen to meet the potential increase in demand due to further waves of the pandemic .
    • Help the stakeholders working to increase the country’s ability to meet the rise in demand for medical oxygen.

Key Features of the Project O2 for India:

  • Under the Project, a National Consortium of Oxygen has been set up. It has been raising funds from private sector organisations, individuals among others.
  • These funds are being used by the consortium to supply critical raw materials. Such as zeolites, setting up of small oxygen plants, manufacturing compressors, ventilators among others.
  • Moreover, the consortium is also working to strengthen the manufacturing ecosystem of medical oxygen for long-term preparedness.
  • Further, a committee of experts has also been set up to evaluate critical equipment. Such as oxygen plants, concentrators, and ventilators from a pool of India-based manufacturers, start-ups, and MSMEs.

About Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA):

  • Setup in: Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) was set up in 1999 by the Cabinet Secretariat. It is currently a Secretary level position.
  • Mandate: This office is the chief advisor to the government on matters related to scientific policy. The policies focus on critical infrastructure, economic and social sectors.

Source: Business Today


Govt released Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules,2021

What is the News?

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(I&B) has issued the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021.

About Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules,2021:

  • The rules amend the Cable Television Network Rules,1994 with the aim to establish a statutory mechanism for citizens to raise grievances with respect to broadcasted content.

Key Features of the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules,2021:

The rules lay down a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism to ensure broadcasters’ adherence to the Programme Code and the Advertising Code: The three-tier mechanism includes:

  1. Self Regulation by Broadcasters:
    • The Rules require broadcasters to establish a complaint redressal mechanism and appoint an officer to deal with complaints.
    • A written complaint can be filed to the officer if a citizen is aggrieved by the content of a programme. The officer is bound to respond within 15 days.
  2. Self-Regulation by the body of broadcasters:
    • The Rules establish independent bodies constituted by at least 40 broadcasters to act as an appellate body. This body will ensure adherence to the Programme and Advertising Code.
    • These independent bodies can be approached if the complainant was not satisfied with the response of the Broadcaster. They should deal with the case in 60 days.
  3. Inter-Departmental Committee:
    • The Rules require the Central government to establish an Inter-Departmental Committee.
    • Headed by: The Committee would be headed by the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.It will have members from the other ministries.
    • Purpose: The committee has been set up for:
      • Hearing appeals from complainants: If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body. S/he can prefer to approach the committee within 15 days of such a decision.
      • Complaint from Central Government: The committee could take up complaints that are referred to it by the Central government.

Source: The Hindu


“World Competitiveness Index 2021”: India maintained 43rd position

What is the news?

World Competitiveness Index 2021 has been released by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

About World Competitiveness Index

  • The World Competitiveness Index is an annual report published since 1989.
  • Released by: The index is released by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).
  • Aim: The index ranks 64 economies. It assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through data and survey responses.
  • Parameters: The index measures the prosperity and competitiveness of countries by examining four factors:
    • Economic performance
    • Government efficiency
    • Business efficiency
    • Infrastructure

Key Findings of World Competitiveness Index 2021:

  • Top Rankings: Switzerland has topped the index. It was followed by Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Singapore.
  • Asia: The top-performing Asian economies in order are: Singapore (5th), Hong Kong (7th), Taiwan (8th) and China (16th).
  • The UAE and the USA remain in the same spots as last year (9th and 10th, respectively)

Key Findings Related to India:

  • India’s Ranking: India has maintained the 43rd rank in the world competitiveness index 2021.
    • In 2020, India was ranked 43rd on the index.
  • Comparison with BRICS Countries: Among BRICS countries, India was ranked second (43rd) after China (16th), followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62nd).
  • Performance of India:
    • Among the four factors, India made significant improvements in government efficiency this year. These improvements are due to the following reasons:
      • Relatively stable public finances (despite difficulties brought by the pandemic, in 2020 the government deficit stayed at 7 per cent) and
      • Positive feedbacks registered among Indian business executives with respect to the support and subsidies provided by the government to the private companies
    • But India’s performance in other parameters such as economic performance, business efficiency and infrastructure remained the same.
  • Strengths of India: India’s strengths lie in investments in telecoms (1st), mobile telephone costs (1st), ICT services exports (3rd), remuneration in services professions (4th) and terms of trade index (5th).
  • Weaknesses of India: India’s weakness lies in the broadband subscribers (64th), exposure to particulate pollution (64th), human development index (64th), GDP per capita (63rd) and foreign currency reserves per capita (62nd).
Also read: World Ease of Doing Business Report

Qualities of higher-ranked countries

The report finds that

  • Qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalization, welfare benefits and leadership, resulting in social cohesion, have helped countries to perform better. Thus ranked higher in competitiveness.
  • Top-performing economies are characterized by varying degrees of investment in innovation, diversified economic activities, and supportive public policy.
  • Competitive economies succeeded in transitioning to a remote work routine while also allowing remote learning. Addressing unemployment has been fundamental

Source: Business Standard


What is an election petition? – All you need to know.

What is the news?

An election petition has been filed by West Bengal Chief Minister in the Calcutta High Court. She has challenged the Assembly election result of Nandigram constituency where she had contested and lost.

What is an election petition?

  • An election petition is a procedure for inquiring into the validity of the election results of Parliamentary or local government elections. In other words, it is a means under law to challenge the election of a candidate in a Parliamentary, Assembly or local election.

Where one can file an election petition?

  • Election petition filed in the High Court of the particular state in which the election was conducted. Therefore, only the High Courts have the original jurisdiction on deciding on an election petition.

What is the limitation period of an election petition?

  • An election petition calling in question an election shall be filed within the time period of 45 days from the date of declaration of results.
  • Moreover, the Representative of the People Act of 1951 suggests that the High Court should try to conclude the trial within 6 months. But it usually drags on for much longer even for years.
Read more: [Yojana Summary] One Nation One Election

Grounds on which an election petition can be filed

Under Section 100 of the Representation of the People(RP) Act, an election petition can be filed on the following grounds:

  • That on the day of the election, the winning candidate was not qualified to contest
  • That the winning candidate, his poll agent or any other person with the consent of the winning candidate has indulged in a corrupt practice.
    • Section 123 of the RP Act has a list of what amounts to corrupt practice, including bribery, use of force or coercion, appeal to vote or refrain from voting on grounds of religion, race, community and language.
  • Improper acceptance of the nomination of the winning candidate or improper rejection of a nomination.
  • Malpractice in the counting process which includes improper reception, refusal or rejection of any vote, or the reception of any vote which is void.
  • Non-compliance with the provisions of the Constitution or the RP Act or any rules or orders made under the RP Act.
Also read: Annual review of state laws 2020

What happens if the court finds that a contention of malpractice is correct?

  • Under Section 84 of the RP Act, the petitioner may ask that the results of all or the winning candidates may be declared void.
  • In addition to that, the petitioner may also ask the court to declare her (in case the petition is filed by a candidate) or any other candidate as the winner or duly elected.

So the verdict on an election petition, if found in favor of the petitioner may result in a fresh election or the court announcing a new winner.

Previous cases where election results were declared void:

  • Indira Gandhi Election: In 1975, the Allahabad High Court verdict had set aside Indira Gandhi’s election from Rae Bareli constituency, four years earlier on grounds of corrupt practice.

Source: Indian Express


Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India

What is the news?

‘Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India’ was released recently by Ministry of Environment. It was released on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification.

Note: Desertification is the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations.

About Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India

  • Published by: The Atlas has been published by Space Application Centre, ISRO, Ahmedabad.
  • Prepared using: The Atlas was prepared using IRS Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) data of 2011-13 and 2003-05 time frames in the Geographical Information System (GIS) environment.
  • The Atlas provides a state-wise area of degraded lands for the time frame 2018-19.
  • It also provides the change analysis for the duration of 15 years from 2003-05 to 2018-19.

Significance of the Atlas

  • It is helpful in prioritizing areas to be taken up for minimizing the impact of desertification and land degradation.
  • Moreover, the Atlas will also be helpful in strengthening the proposed National Action Plan for achieving land restoration targets by providing important inputs.
Also read: Land Degradation – Causes and Consequences

Efforts to Combat Desertification

  • India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) and is committed to achieving the land degradation neutral status by 2030.
  • India hosted the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019.
  • Further, India is striving towards achieving the national commitments of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and the restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
    • The concept of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) emerged from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. LDN responds to an immediate challenge: intensifying the production of food, fuel and fiber to meet future demand without further degrading our finite land resource base.  
    • In other words, Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) envisions a world where human activity has a neutral, or even positive, impact on the land. 
    • The UNCCD Secretariat launched this Land Degradation Neutrality initiative, which has been enshrined in the SDGs as target 15.3 on achieving a land degradation neutral world by 2030.
  • The Government of India has set up a Desertification Cell under the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The cell represents India in UNCCD.

About World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed every year on 17th June.
  • The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1995 after the day when the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) was drafted.
  • Aim: The day is observed every year to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
  • The theme for 2021: “Restoration. Land. Recovery. We build back better with healthy land”.

Source: PIB


PM launches crash-course program to train 1 lakh Covid-19 frontline workers

What is the news?

Prime Minister has launched a “customized crash course programme for Covid-19 frontline workers”.

About the Crash Course Programme for Covid-19 Frontline Workers

  • Aim: The programme aims to create skilled non-medical healthcare workers to fill the present and future needs of manpower in the health sector.
    • This will be done by providing fresh skills and upskills to over one lakh Covid warriors across the country.
  • Nodal Scheme: The course has been designed under the Central Component of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 3.0.

Key Features of the Scheme

  • Firstly, the programme would be available at 111 training centers across 26 states in the country.
  • Secondly, the Covid warriors will be trained under six modules. These modules include:
    • Home Care Support
    • Basic Care Support
    • Advanced Care Support
    • Emergency Care Support
    • Sample Collection Support and
    • Medical Equipment Support.
  • Lastly, the trained workers will then assist doctors in the treatment of COVID 19 patients.

Source: India Today


 

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