Current Affairs 23rd Jan 2021

Offensive posts against Bihar Ministers may land you in jail #GS3 #Security #GS2 #Governance

Bihar is set use the cyber-crime law to deter individuals and organisations from making “offensive comments” against the government, its officials, Ministers, MPs and MLAs.

It has regularly been coming to light that certain persons and organisations have been making offensive comments through social media against the government, honourable Ministers, MPs, MLAs and government officials, which is against the prescribed law. For this act, it seems appropriate to take action against such organisations and individuals.

Benefit of this News- Can be used to quote as example for misuse of technology, Social Media regulations etc.

Tribal taboo haunts Kerala couple #GS1 #Culture

Belonging to the Muthuvan tribe, he married his maternal cousin, which is prohibited as per the social custom of the community. He and his wife Yasodha were soon ostracised from the Adichilthotty tribal colony in Athirappilly panchayat in the Edamalayar forest range, straddling Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.

The plight of the family came to light earlier this month when the State Human Rights Commission took a suo motu case and Chairman Antony Dominic directed the authorities to submit a report within four weeks.

Benefit of this NewsTo know about a Tribe naming Muthuvan (Kerala)

Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles receive Covishield #GS3 #SNT

Large consignments of Covishield vaccine doses were flown in special Indian aircraft to Seychelles, Mauritius and Myanmar.

The shipments of the vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune is part of the Vaccine Maitri diplomacy that the Ministry of External Affairs said will also cover Africa which is in need of affordable COVID-19 vaccine doses.

(Vaccine) Supplies as grant assistance to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will be undertaken after receiving confirmation of regulatory clearances from these two countries. “Contractual supplies are also being undertaken to Saudi Arabia, Africa, Brazil, Morocco.

In the first round of supplies, special flights have already carried large consignments of the Covishield vaccine doses to Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal during January 20-21.

Benefit of this NewsIndia building a strong relations with neighbours and other countries too.

Covaxin’s efficacy against U.K. strain not proven yet #GS# #SnT

Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Covaxin, can produce neutralising antibodies — a requirement to study its efficacy — against multiple coronavirus variants, but is yet to demonstrate efficacy against the variant ‘B.1.1.7’ or the ‘U.K. strain’ as the new virulent strain is commonly known.

Covaxin and Covishield have been approved for emergency use in India. The former, though its efficacy was unknown, was approved because it relied on an established vaccine platform and — being a whole inactivated virus — was purported to be more effective against a wider family of coronavirus strains. 

So far, none of the available vaccine candidates approved anywhere in the world, have been shown to be better than others in protecting against a range of strains.

Covaxin has been developed on a strain cultured by the ICMR-National Institute of Virology that contains a widespread mutation called D614G. This variant has been widespread in India for at least six months. When compared to two older strains, (sourced from those with travel history to Italy, Iran and China) there was a roughly similar kind of neutralising antibody (NAB) response. However, no data was furnished on how it reacted to more recent strains, such as B.1.1.7.

Benefit of this NewsUpdate about the New Virus strain and New vaccine work out.

CBI books Cambridge Analytica, another firm in data theft case #GS3 #Security

The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked Cambridge Analytica (U.K.) Limited and Global Science Research Limited (U.K.) for alleged illegal harvesting of personal data of about 5.62 lakh Indian users on Facebook through an application.

The FIR names Global Science Research Limited (GSRL), represented by Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, and Cambridge Analytica, represented by Alexander Nix, as accused. It stems from a preliminary enquiry launched by the agency in July 2018 on a complaint from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) following media reports alleging the illegal harvesting of personal data.

MeitY had earlier sought details from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica about the alleged violations, the extent of leak of personal data of Indian users and their possible misuse by Cambridge Analytica for profiling and influencing elections in India

Cambridge Analytica replied that it had received data from GSRL pertaining to U.S. citizens only. It did not respond to MeitY’s further correspondences. The Ministry then sought a legal opinion, based on which it referred the matter to the CBI.

As per Facebook’s platform policy, the app was authorised to collect certain specific data of users for academic and research purposes. It, however, illegally collected unauthorised data of users as well as their friends’ network on Facebook, as alleged. According to the FIR, the data were collected without the knowledge and consent of App users.

Benefit of this News- Could be used as example for Data theft or Security breach issue

Navy to highlight operations of 1971 war #GS2 #Governance

The Navy proved its mettle as a credible force to reckon with in the 1971 war, proving its combat efficiency. Hence the Navy’s tableau at the Republic Day parade aims to showcase its role during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

This coincides with the golden jubilee celebrations of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh being observed as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh ’ . Coinciding with the celebrations, a tri-service contingent of the Bangladesh armed forces is taking part in the parade on Rajpath this year.

“The forward part of the tableau showcases the attack on the Karachi harbour by missile boats. The attacks were undertaken as part of Operation Trident on December 3 and 4 night and Operation Python on December 8 and 9 night. The tableau depicts a missile boat firing the missile and also the route taken by the attacking units during both the operations as track charts on its sides.

Benefit of this NewsCould be a question in Mains/prelims on 1971 Liberation along with names of operation held at that time.

India proposes to expand research, tourism in the Arctic #GS3 #SnT #GS2 #IR

India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy that, among other things, commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.

The draft policy is open to public comments until January 26 and has been prepared after deliberations among several ministries.

India expects the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities by expanding “earth sciences, biological sciences, geosciences, climate change and space related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.”

Other objectives of the policy include “…putting in place Arctic related programmes for mineral/oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes and encouraging tourism and hospitality sectors in building specialised capacities and awareness to engage with Arctic enterprises.

Arctic research will help India’s scientific community to study melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers, which are endowed with the largest freshwater reserves in the world outside the geographic poles. India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic in 2007.

Benefit of this NewsIndia ties Artic region; Can be linked to Artic Council.

RBI proposes 4-tier structure for tighter regulation of NBFCs #GS3 #Economy

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a tighter regulatory framework for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) by creating a four-tier structure with a progressive increase in intensity of regulation.

In its discussion paper on revised regulatory framework for NBFCs, the RBI has said the regulatory and supervisory framework of NBFCs should be based on a four-layered structure: Base Layer, Middle Layer, Upper Layer and a possible Top Layer. It has also proposed classification of non-performing assets (NPAs) of base layer NBFCs from 180 days to 90 days overdue. 

NBFCs in lower layer will be known as NBFC-Base Layer (NBFC-BL). NBFCs in middle layer will be known as NBFC-Middle Layer (NBFC-ML). An NBFC in the Upper Layer will be known as NBFC-Upper Layer (NBFC-UL) and will invite a new regulatory superstructure. There is also a Top Layer, ideally supposed to be empty.

Once an NBFC is identified as NBFC-UL, it will be subject to enhanced regulatory requirement at least for four years from its last appearance in the category, even where it does not meet the parametric criteria in the subsequent year. 

The NBFC sector has seen tremendous growth in recent years. In last five years alone, size of balance sheet of NBFCs (including HFCs) has more than doubled from Rs 20.72 lakh crore (2015) to Rs 49.22 lakh crore (2020).

The RBI paper said regulatory framework anchored on proportionality can be introduced.

BASE LAYER: If the framework is visualised as a pyramid, the bottom of the pyramid, where least regulatory intervention is warranted, can consist of NBFCs, currently classified as non-systemically important NBFCs (NBFC-ND), NBFCP2P lending platforms, NBFCAA, NOFHC and Type I NBFCs.

MIDDLE LAYER: As one moves up, the next layer can consist of NBFCs currently classified as systemically important NBFCs (NBFC-ND-SI), deposit taking NBFCs (NBFC-D), housing finance companies, IFCs, IDFs, SPDs and core investment companies. The regulatory regime for this layer will be stricter compared to the base layer. Adverse regulatory arbitrage vis-à-vis banks can be addressed for NBFCs falling in this layer in order to reduce systemic risk spill-overs, where required, the RBI said.

UPPER LAYER: Going further, the next layer can consist of NBFCs which are identified as systemically significant among. This layer will be populated by NBFCs which have large potential of systemic spill-over of risks and have the ability to impact financial stability. There is no parallel for this layer at present, as this will be a new layer for regulation. The regulatory framework for NBFCs falling in this layer will be bank-like, albeit with suitable and appropriate modifications, it said.

TOP LAYER: It is possible that considered supervisory judgment might push some NBFCs from out of the upper layer of the systemically significant NBFCs for higher regulation/supervision. These NBFCs will occupy the top of the upper layer as a distinct set. Ideally, this top layer of the pyramid will remain empty unless supervisors take a view on specific NBFCs. In other words, if certain NBFCs lying in the upper layer are seen to pose extreme risks as per supervisory judgement, they can be put to higher and bespoke regulatory/supervisory requirements, it said.

In view of the recent stress in the sector, it has become imperative to re-examine the suitability of this regulatory approach, especially when failure of an extremely large NBFC can precipitate systemic risks, the RBI paper said. The regulatory framework for NBFCs needs to be reoriented to keep pace with changing realities in the financial sector

 Benefit of this NewsRecent changes in NBFC

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