UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 22-June-2020

Topic Covered :

  • ICMR considers biobank of samples for research, test validation

  • Section 309 IPC

  • Air Shields

  • Pokhran potteries

  • Assam’s endangered langurs observed to practice forced abortion 

  • Secrecy of ballot is key to free and fair elections: SC 

  • Fixed term for IAS officers


ICMR CONSIDERS BIOBANK OF SAMPLES FOR RESEARCH, TEST VALIDATION

  • Why in news? The task force set up by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended launching a biobank or repository of test samples to understand clinical patterns in coronavirus cases, expedite test kit validation, and study the immune response to the virus.


Highlights:

  • The task force members overseeing diagnostics and biomarkers said the agency has selected at least nine ICMR laboratories with easy access to COVID hospitals, where they can store positive and negative throat, nasal, and blood samples for research purposes.

  • Commercial manufacturers of technologies, diagnostic kits, and AYUSH regimes will now send their products to designated institutes, while ICMR’s own centers will still validate diagnostic kits, viral transfer mediums, and RNA extraction kits.

  • In addition to the bio-repository, the task force has also recommended validating a new antibody assay that would help determine the level of protection a patient has against re-infection.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/india/icmr-biobank-of-coronavirus-covid-19-samples-research-test-validation-6469492/ )


SECTION 309 IPC

Why in news?

  • Soon after the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the conversation moved around the sensitivity with which issues surrounding mental health should be handled. However, one of the most archaic laws that punishes attempts to commit suicide – Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)— contrary to popular perception that it has been repealed, continues to exist in the statute book and, as reports suggest, is often misused.


Highlights:

  • Anyone who survives an attempted suicide can be booked under Section 309 IPC, which deals with “Attempt to commit suicide”.

  • The section reads: “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year (or with fine, or with both)”.

  • The law, brought in by the British in the 19th century, reflected the thinking of the time, when killing or attempting to kill oneself was considered a crime against the state, as well as against religion.

  • The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017, which came into force in July 2018, has significantly reduced the scope for the use of Section 309 IPC — and made the attempt to commit suicide punishable only as an exception.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/sec-309-ipc-questions-and-issues-around-an-archaic-section-of-the-law-6468338/ )


AIR SHIELDS

Why in news?

  • A Seattle-based company Teague has come up with a device called an air shield that can fit on to existing air vents inside an airplane cabin, thereby reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading inflight by regulating the air flows.


Highlights:

  • Regarding transmission of the virus on an airplane, the World Health Organization (WHO) states: “Transmission of infection may occur between passengers who are seated in the same area of an aircraft, usually as a result of the infected individual coughing or sneezing or by touch… Highly contagious conditions, such as influenza, are more likely to be spread to other passengers in situations where the aircraft ventilation system is not operating.”

  • IATA recommends that passengers wear a mask for the entire duration of their journey, from the time they enter the airport to when they exit their destination airport.

  •  the air shield is a single 3D-printed nozzle that fits on top existing gaspers in airplanes and creates invisible germ isolation curtains around each passenger. The nozzle utilises existing cabin air systems to virtually separate each passenger by a curtain of air.

  • The shape and speed of air created by the air shield deflect particles emitted from one passenger downward and away from the noses and mouths of other passengers.

  • Apart from airplanes, the air shield may also be used in other social spaces such as gyms, workplaces, retail outlets and restaurants.


Source : Indian Express (https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/coronavirus-covid-19-air-shields-teague-company-onboard-flights-6467694/ )


POKHRAN POTTERIES

Why in news?

  • Seeking to restore the lost glory of the once-most famous pottery of Pokhran, a small town in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan where India conducted its 1st nuclear test, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) today distributed 80 electric potter wheels to 80 potter families in Pokhran which has a rich heritage in terracotta products. 


Highlights:

  • Pokhran has over 300 potters’ families that are engaged with pottery for several decades, but potters started looking for other avenues due to heavy drudgery in the work and no market support.

  • Pokhran was till now only known as the site of nuclear tests but very soon the exquisite pottery will be the new identity of this place. The main objective of Kumhar Sashaktikaran Yojana is to bring back the potters’ community to the mainstream.

  • By providing potters with modern equipment and training, the government is trying to reconnect them with the society and revive their art


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1633222 )


ASSAM’S ENDANGERED LANGURS OBSERVED TO PRACTICE FORCED ABORTION

Why in news?

  • An endangered species of monkey, found only in Assam and parts of Bhutan, has a far-from-golden trait — forced abortion.


Highlights:

  • Inbreeding creeping into groups of the rare monkey in fragmented habitats bounded by three rivers in Assam.

  • Primatologists have observed that the Gee’s golden langur (Trachypithecus geei), endemic to the semi-evergreen and mixed-deciduous forests straddling India and Bhutan, induce stillbirth of babies killed inside the womb of females, besides practising infanticide.

  • The golden langurs in Assam are hemmed in by three rivers — Brahmaputra in the south, Manas in east and Sonkosh in west.

  • Their northern limit is the range of hills in Bhutan up to 2,400 metres above sea level.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assams-endangered-langurs-observed-to-practice-forced-abortion/article31883455.ece?homepage=true )


SECRECY OF BALLOT IS KEY TO FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS: SC

Why in news?

  • Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections. The choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in a judgment.


Highlights:

  • SC said, “It is the policy of law to protect the right of voters to secrecy of the ballot... Even a remote or distinct possibility that a voter can be forced to disclose for whom she has voted would act as a positive constraint and a check on the freedom to exercise of franchise.”

  • The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy, the court said.

  • Justice Khanna, who wrote the judgment, referred to Section 94 of the Representation of the People Act, which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.

  • However, a voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure.

  • “The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive the privilege and instead volunteers to disclose as to whom she had voted. No one can prevent a voter from doing. Nor can a complaint be entertained from any, including the person who wants to keep the voter’s mouth sealed as to why she disclosed for whom she voted,” Justice Khanna wrote.

  • The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in the zila panchayat of the Panchayat Adhyaksha in Uttar Pradesh in 2018. 


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/secrecy-of-ballot-is-the-cornerstone-of-free-and-fair-elections-says-supreme-court/article31883015.ece )


FIXED TERM FOR IAS OFFICERS

Why in news?

  • Punjab government moved to set up a board to ensure a fixed term at a post to IAS officers


Highlights:

  • Congress Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa on Sunday questioned the Punjab government’s move to set up a board to ensure a fixed term at a post to IAS officers, saying it will make them less answerable and accountable to legislators.

  • The State government decided to set up the board to provide a fixed two-year tenure to an IAS officer at a posting.

  • Any decision to cut short the term will be examined by the board.

  • The bureaucracy in the State has staged a coup through your June 2 orders to render the Ministers and MLAs helpless in raking up neglected issues of public importance and timely planning and execution of development works, Mr.Bajwa alleged.

  • He further claimed that a healthy working relationship between Ministers, MPs, MLAs and civil servants is critical for good governance, which has been compromised in Punjab at the moment.


Source : Hindu ( https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mp-questions-punjab-govts-move-on-fixed-term-for-ias-officers/article31884891.ece )


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