1. BRICS Summit (Prelims, GS II-Global Groupings)
Why in News?
Ø The Prime minister of India while addressing the 12th BRICS summit held online touched upon issues like terrorism, Covid-19 pandemic and the need for reforms in global bodies.
Ø Russia was the host and chair of BRICS this year.
Highlights of BRICS summit
Ø Need to confront the countries that supported and sponsored terror and ensure that terrorists and those who support and sponsor terrorists should be held guilty and this problem is addressed in a collective manner.
Ø India acknowledged the Russian support to the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and reiterated its support to the strategy.
Ø It is well aligned with the Brasilia Declaration which condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestation.
Ø Earlier this year India’s annual resolution on the issue of counter-terrorism was adopted by consensus in the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which also strengthened the war against terrorism.
United Nation Security Council (UNSC)Reforms
Ø India raised the issue of credibility and effectiveness of the institutions that were necessary for global governance, and urged for support from BRICS partners.
Ø India addressed the issue of cooperation among the BRICS countries on the production of vaccines for Covid-19.
Ø Referring to the post Covid-19economic hardships of the world, India highlighted the importance of BRICS in that scenario.
Ø India introduced Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) to the BRICS.
Ø India said that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign is based on the subject that a self-reliant and resilient India can become a force multiplier for the post Covid-19 world order.
Ø A self-reliant India would make solid contributions to the global value chains
Importance of BRICS Summit for India and China
Ø It provides the Chinese and the Indian leadership an opportunity to exchange their thoughts on key priorities in the backdrop of the continued tension along their borders.
Ø Both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS have provided recent opportunities for exchange of ideas between the two sides.
2. CBI (Prelims, GS II-Centre-State Relations, Investigative Agencies, GS III-Corruption & Crime)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the Supreme Court has held that once a court takes cognisance of a corruption case investigated by the CBI, it cannot be set aside for lack of the State government’s prior consent for the probe against some of the accused, unless it is shown that it has resulted in prejudice.
Supreme Court’s Stand
Ø It held that if the State had given a general consent to CBI investigation in a corruption case and cognisance had been taken by a court, the case cannot be set aside unless the public servants plead that prejudice has been caused to them on account of non-obtaining of prior consent.
Ø Further the judges held that the case cannot be set aside unless the illegality in the investigation can be shown to have brought about miscarriage of justice.
Types of Consent Given by state government
Ø There are two types of consent for a probe by the CBI. These are: general and specific.
Ø When a state gives a general consent (Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act) to the CBI for probing a case, the agency is not required to seek fresh permission every time it enters that state in connection with investigation or for every case.
Ø When a general consent is withdrawn, CBI needs to seek case-wise consent for investigation from the concerned state government.
Ø If specific consent is not granted, the CBI officials will not have the power of police personnel when they enter that state.
Ø This hurdle impedes seamless investigation by the CBI. A general consent is given to facilitate that seamless investigation in a case of corruption or violence.
Delhi Special Police Establishment Act
Ø The Central Bureau of Investigation traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
Ø The functions of the SPE then were to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions with the War & Supply Department of India during World War II.
Ø Even after the end of the War, the need for a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption by Central Government employees was felt.
Ø The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was therefore brought into force in 1946.
Ø The CBI's power to investigate cases is derived from this Act.
3. Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (Prelims, GS III-Mining & Exploration)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, contracts for 11 oil and gas blocks offered under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP)Bid Round-V were signed.
Ø The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replacing the erstwhile New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was approved in March 2016 and the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) along with the National Data Repository (NDR) were launched in June 2017 as the key drivers to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
Ø Under OALP, companies are allowed to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in.
Ø Companies can put in an expression of interest for any area throughout the year but such interests are accumulated thrice in a year. The areas sought are then put on auction.
Ø The successful roll-out of the HELP regime, followed by OALP Bid Rounds, has led to an increase in exploration acreages in India.
Ø The exploration acreage which stood at about 80,000 sq. km. from earlier regimes now stands at approx. 2,37,000 sq. km, post the award of blocks under OALP Round-V.
Ø The OALP has helped in removing red-tapism and brought in a quantum jump in the Exploration & Production sector.
Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy
Ø Under this Policy, exploration blocks shall be awarded on a continuous basis through e-bidding in a transparent manner.
Ø Revenue sharing model instead of Profit sharing for hydrocarbon exploration.
Ø Under revenue sharing model, the government share accrues immediately on production, unlike in cost-recovery where the contractors first claimed its costs before splitting leftover profits, if any.
Ø Unified license for all types of hydrocarbons.
Ø Freedom to carve out acreages of choice under OALP bid rounds.
Ø Full marketing and pricing freedom of gas.
4. India’s First Convergence Project (Prelims, GS III-Renewable Energy)
Why in News?
Ø India’s first convergence project to generate green energy for rural and agriculture consumption is set to come up in Goa.
Ø Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power, and Goa government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the same.
Convergence Project of EESL
Ø It focuses on energy solutions that lie at the confluence of renewable energy, electric mobility and climate change.
Ø It seeks to connect seemingly independent sectors like Solar Energy, Energy Storage and LED lights to provide solutions, which can enable in decarbonisation and affordable energy access.
Ø EESL is offering convergent interventions, which solve multiple gap areas in the energy ecosystem.
Ø Solutions such as solarised agriculture feeders, LED street lights in local villages and battery energy storage systems.
Ø Leveraging the carbon financing mechanism to rapidly strengthen rural infrastructure in a clean and sustainable manner, and to create a resilient and sustainable rural community in India.
Ø EESL’s climate financing interventions currently include Gram UJALA, Decentralised Solar and Gram Panchayat Street Lights programmes.
Benefits of the Project
Promote Renewable Energy
Ø It will accelerate the usage of renewable energy sources, especially for agricultural and rural power consumption in the State.
Ø Contribute to reduction of peak energy demand through deployment of energy efficient pumping and lighting thus contributing to overall sustainability.
Improve Health of DISCOMs
Ø Accrue savings of Rs 2,574 crores to the State over the period of 25 years, while improving the health of DISCOMs and providing cleaner power.
Check Technical Losses
Ø Provide clean day time electricity to farmers as well as energy efficient pump sets which would reduce the power consumption as well as T&D (Transmission and Distribution Losses) losses associated with transmitting power to agriculture and rural feeder networks.
Energy Efficiency Services Ltd
Ø It is a joint venture of National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC)Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
Ø It was set up under the Ministry of Power to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.
Ø EESL is a Super Energy Service Company (ESCO) that seeks to unlock the energy efficiency market in India, estimated at Rs. 74,000 crore that can potentially result in energy savings of up to 20% of current consumption, by way of innovative business and implementation models.
Ø It also acts as the resource centre for capacity building of State DISCOMs, financial institutions, etc.
5. Anakkyam Hydro-Electric Project (Prelims)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, various green collectives and environmental organisations have come together to protest against the Anakkayam Small Hydro Electric Project in Kerala.
About the Project
Ø It will come up in the buffer zone of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PTR) and will also create a 5.617-km-long tunnel within the forest.
Ø Around 20 hectares of forest land will have to be cleared out and around 1900 large trees and a larger number of small trees will be cut.
Ø The area is ecologically fragile, as seen in the massive landslide followed by minor landslides at the project site in 2018, and the consequences will extend to loss of precious flora and fauna species.
Absence of Consent
Ø It was granted approval without obtaining permission from the local Kadar tribe which holds the right of Community Forest Resources (CFR) as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
Ø The site of the hydel project comes within the 400 sq kms of forest land that were given as CFR to the Kadar tribe which has the responsibility to protect and conserve the habitat.
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Ø It is a well-protected ecological portion in the Nelliampathy-Anamalai landscape of the Southern Western Ghats in India.
Ø It is located in the Palakkad District of Kerala.
Ø It was declared as Tiger Reserve during 2008-09.
Ø The reserve is credited with the first scientifically managed teak plantation in the world which was later merged with the forest land.
Ø It has the world's largest and oldest teak tree named "Kannimara", which is believed to be 350 years old.
6. Fake News (Prelims, GS I-Social Issues)
Why in News?
Ø Recently, the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to provide information on the existing legal mechanisms to deal with complaints about the content on television channels.
Ø Further it has asked the Centre to create an authority to check fake news and bigotry on air.
Ø Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers.
Ø Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda or cause confusion and can often be a profitable business for online publishers.
Ø Fake news affects free speech and informed choices of the subjects of the country, leading to the hijacking of democracy.
Laws and Regulation to Curb Fake News in India
Ø There is no specific law against fake news in India. Free publication of news flows from Article 19 of the Constitution guaranteeing Freedom of Speech.
Press Council of India
Ø It is a regulatory body which can warn, admonish or censure the newspaper, the news agency, the editor or the journalist or disapprove the conduct of the editor or the journalist if it finds that a newspaper or a news agency has violated journalistic ethics.
News Broadcasters Association
Ø It represents the private television news and current affairs broadcasters. The self-regulatory body probes complaints against electronic media.
Indian Broadcast Foundation
Ø It looks into the complaints against contents aired by channels.
Broadcasting Content Complaint Council
Ø It admits complaints against TV broadcasters for objectionable TV content and fake news.
Indian Penal Code
Ø Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and Section 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) can be invoked to guard against fake news.
Information Technology Act 2000
Ø According to the Section 66 of the act, if any person, dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in Section 43 (damage to computer, computer system), shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees or with both.
Civil or Criminal Case for Defamation
Ø It is another resort against fake news for individuals and groups hurt by the fake news. IPC Section 499 (defamation) and Section 500 (whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both) provide for a defamation suit.
7. Step Up For TB 2020 (Prelims, GS III-Diseases)
Why in News?
Ø The “Step Up for TB 2020” report by the Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has highlighted India’s conservative approach regarding the new medicines for Drug Resistant TB, putting lives of patients including children in danger.
About the Report
Ø The report presents data on 37 high-burden countries, including India (representing 77% of the global estimated TB incident cases), assessing the extent to which national policies align with international best practices based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and the latest scientific research.
Findings of Report
Ø There are barriers to policy adoption and implementation across the surveyed countries.
Ø The critical medical innovations are reaching very few people who urgently need them.
Ø The report emphasised that oral treatment regimens for people with drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) must be prioritised over older, toxic drugs that have to be injected and cause serious side effects.
Ø Nearly 1 in 3 people with TB disease is still not diagnosed and notified.
Ø Almost 2 in 3 countries surveyed still do not include in their policies urinary TB lipoarabinomannan (TB LAM) testing for people living with HIV.
India Specific Findings
Ø India was criticised for not scaling up the new Disease Resistant (DR)-TB drugs Bedaquiline and Delamanid, needed even more during Covid-19.
Ø Pteromalid is the third new drug developed for the treatment.
Ø Until March 2020, less than 10% of India’s MDR-TB patients who were eligible for Bedaquiline had received it.
Ø This is alarming, since India is home to a quarter of the world’s DR-TB patients.
Ø India has the highest TB burden in the world. In 2018, 2.15 million TB cases were reported, which is 16% more than in 2017.
About Medecins Sans Frontieres
Ø Founded in 1971, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), sometimes rendered in English as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation (NGO) of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.
Ø It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
Ø Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
Ø TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
Ø Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
Ø TB is treatable and curable disease. It is treated with a standard 6-month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
Multi drug-resistant tuberculosis
Ø Multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
Extensively drug-resistant TB
Ø Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.
Ø Tuberculosis (TB) remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing more than 1.4 million people in 2019, despite being curable.
8. ODOP (Prelims, GS III-Extension Services in Agriculture)
Why in News?
Ø The Ministry of Food Processing launched the GIS One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India.
More about News
Ø The digital ODOP map provides detailed information about ODOP products to all stakeholders.
Ø The GIS ODOP digital map of India provides details of ODOP products of all the states and facilitates the stakeholders.
Ø The digital map also has indicators for tribal, SC, ST, and aspirational districts. It will enable stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development.