Current Affairs 9th January, 2019

Paper – 1

Topics Covered

1. Art and Culture of India including Literature from ancient to modern times

National poet symposium

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What to read?

Prelims – About the poet symposium

All India Radio, Chennai, will host the National Poets Conference in the city. Governor Banwarilal Purohit will inaugurate the conference at Kalaivanar Arangam in Chennai.

Symposium

It is the only programme of its kind. Eminent poets of 22 Indian languages come together on one stage to offer their creative best. Poets present their compositions before an invited audience followed by the rendering of their Hindi versions translated by eminent poets of different languages


PAPER – 2 and PAPER - 3

Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Science and Technology

Lok sabha passes DNA Technology bill

What to read?

Prelims and Mains – The bill- its features, Areas of contention

The Lok Sabha passed a bill that allows regulated use of DNA technology to establish the identity of certain defined categories of persons, including offenders, suspects, and undertrials.

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  • The Bill regulates the use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of persons in respect of matters listed in a Schedule.  These include criminal matters (such as offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860), and civil matters such as parentage disputes, emigration or immigration, and transplantation of human organs.   

  • The Bill establishes a National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks.  Every Data Bank will maintain the following indices: (i) crime scene index, (ii) suspects’ or undertrials’ index, (iii) offenders’ index, (iv) missing persons’ index, and (v) unknown deceased persons’ index.  

  • The Bill establishes a DNA Regulatory Board.  Every DNA laboratory that analyses a DNA sample to establish the identity of an individual, has to be accredited by the Board.  

  • Written consent by individuals is required to collect DNA samples from them.  Consent is not required for offences with punishment of more than seven years of imprisonment or death.   

  • The Bill provides for the removal of DNA profiles of suspects on filing of a police report or court order, and of undertrials on the basis of a court order.  Profiles in the crime scene and missing persons’ index will be removed on a written request.

Key Issues and Analysis

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The Schedule lists civil matters where DNA profiling can be used. This includes “issues relating to establishment of individual identity.” DNA testing carried out in medical or research laboratories can be used to identify an individual.  It is unclear if the Bill intends to regulate such laboratories.    

The Bill requires consent of the individual when DNA profiling is used in criminal investigations and identifying missing persons. However, consent requirements have not been specified in case of DNA profiling for civil matters.

DNA laboratories are required to share DNA data with the Data Banks.  It is unclear whether DNA profiles for civil matters will also be stored in the Data Banks.  Storage of these profiles in the Data Banks may violate the right to privacy.  

DNA laboratories prepare DNA profiles and then share them with DNA Data Banks.  The Bill specifies the process by which DNA profiles may be removed from the Data Banks.  However, the Bill does not require DNA laboratories to remove DNA profiles.  It may be argued that such provisions be included in the Bill and not left to regulations.


PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

Bill for Trade Union introduced

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains – The Bill, its features, lacunae

The Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Labour and Employment

  • The Bill amends the Trade Unions Act, 1926, which provides for the registration and regulation of trade unions.

  • The Bill seeks to provide for recognition of trade unions or a federation of trade unions at the central and state level by the central and state government, respectively. Such trade unions or the federation of trade unions will be recognised as Central Trade Unions or State Trade Unions, as the case may be.

  • The central or state government may make rules for: (i) the recognition of such Central or State Trade Unions, and (ii) the authority to decide disputes arising out of such recognition, and the manner of deciding such disputes.

Criticism

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  • Such an act of government making rules may contribute Trade Unions to be the arms of government rather than the labours

  • It might be at times a violation of Article 19

  • Trade Unions may deny criticism of governmental policies in view that Governmnet may not recognise the trade union and its members

  • Increasing the arbitrary power of the government in Trade Unions

PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Indian Economy

No charge on availing Tokenisation service

Image result for Tokenization service

What to read?

Prelims – Tokenisation

Mains – Benefits of the move

The Reserve of India (RBI) has allowed all card payment networks to offer tokenisation service. However, the central bank has made it clear that no charges should be recovered from the customer for availing this service.

Tokenisation

Tokenisation involves a process in which a unique token masks sensitive card details. The token is then used to perform card transactions in contact-less mode at Point Of Sale (POS) terminals, Quick Response (QR) code payments, etc.

Benefits of the move

The RBI has allowed card payment networks to offer card tokenisation services to any token requestor, that is, a third party app provider. A card holder can avail of these services by registering the card on the token requestor’s app and after giving ‘explicit consent’.

All extant instructions of Reserve Bank on safety and security of card transactions, including the mandate for additional factor of authentication (AFA) / PIN entry shall be applicable for tokenised card transactions also.

This permission extends to all use cases/channels [e.g., Near-Field Communication (NFC) / Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST)-based contact-less transactions, in-app payments, QR code-based payments etc.] or token storage mechanisms (cloud, secure element, trusted execution environment etc.). For the present, this facility shall be offered through mobile phones/tablets only.

Adequate Safeguard

Adequate safeguards shall be put in place to ensure that PAN cannot be found out from the token and vice versa by anyone except the card network.

Moreover, actual card data, token and other relevant details shall be stored in a secure mode and the token requestors are not allowed to store PAN or any other card detail

The ultimate responsibility for the card tokenisation services rendered rests with the authorised card networks.


Paper – 3

Topics Covered

1. Science and Technology

TESS of NASA discovers a new planet


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What to read?

Prelims and Mains– about TESS of NASA and the new planet

TESS (Transiting Exo-planet Survey Satellite)

  • NASA’s project

  • TESS is designed to find potential planets orbiting stars close to Earth.

  • It will identify such planets by spotting decreased brightness of stars after planet passes in front of it.

  • The primary mission objective of TESS is to survey brightest stars near Earth for transiting exoplanets over two-year period.

  • With help of TESS, it will be possible to study mass, size, density and orbit of large cohort of small planets, including sample of rocky worlds in habitable zones (goldilocks zone) of their host stars.

  • This will reveal whether planets are rocky (like Earth), gas or jovian giants (like Jupiter) or something even more unusual.

HD21749b

  • The planet, named HD 21749b, orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by TESS.

  • HD 21749b journeys around its star in a relatively leisurely 36 days, compared to the two other planets — Pi Mensae b, a “super-Earth” with a 6.3-day orbit, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world that speeds around its star in just 11 hours.

  • It’s the coolest small planet that we know of around a star this bright.

PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Indian Economy

Panel formed for Digital Payments

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What to read?

Prelims – About the panel – its area of study

Mains – Significance of Digital Payments in India

The Reserve Bank of India has appointed a five-member panel headed by Nandan Nilekani to suggest ways to improve digital payments. The committee will submit its report in 90 days from its first meeting.

Terms of reference - To review the existing status of digitisation of payments in the country, identify the current gaps in the ecosystem and suggest ways to bridge them

The panel would assess the current levels of digital payments in financial inclusion, suggest measures to strengthen the safety and security of digital payments, provide a road map for increasing customer confidence to use digital transactions, and suggest a medium-term strategy for deepening of digital payments.

Significance of Digital Payments

A digital payment occurs when goods or services are purchased through the use of various electronic mediums. There is no use of cash or cheques in this type of payment method.

The Government of India has been taking several measures to promote and encourage digital payments in the country. As part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign, the government aims to create a ‘digitally empowered’ economy that is ‘Faceless, Paperless, Cashless’. There are various types and modes of digital payments. Some of these include the use of debit/credit cards, internet banking, mobile wallets, digital payment apps, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) service, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Bank prepaid cards, mobile banking, etc.

Digital payment methods are often easy to make, more convenient and provide customers the flexibility to make payments from anywhere and at anytime. These are a good alternative to traditional methods of payment and speedup up transaction cycles. Post demonetization, people slowly started embracing digital payments and even small time merchants and shop owners started accepting payments through the digital mode.

Paper – 3

Topics Covered

1. Conservation of Environment

Igunas reintroduced in Santiago Island in Galapagos

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What to read?

Prelims – Igunas, Galapagos

A group of more than 1,400 iguanas have been reintroduced to an Ecuadoran island in the Galapagos archipelago around two centuries after they disappeared from there.

The Galapagos land iguanas from North Seymour Island were freed onto Santiago Island as part of an ecological restoration program.

The last recorded sighting of iguanas in Santiago Island had been made by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835.

Igunas - The land iguana is a herbivore that helps ecosystems by dispersing seeds and maintaining open spaces devoid of vegetation

The program is also aimed at protecting the population of iguanas on North Seymour, said to number around 5,000, where food is limited.

Galapagos Island

The Galapagos Islands, part of the Republic of Ecuador, distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemisphere.

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  • The island inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of evolution and was his field of study.

  • The Islands and their surrounding waters form the Galapagos Province of Ecuador, the Galapagos National Park, and the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

  • UNESCO recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site and as a biosphere reserve