Current Affairs 29th January

Stopping hate on television is essential to prevent riots: SC #GS2 #Governance

The Supreme Court said stopping hate on television was as essential for law and order as arming policemen with lathis and putting up barricades to prevent the spread of violence and riots.

The Chief Justice referred to how the government had shut down Internet facility on January 26 amid violence during the farmers’ tractor rally. The CJI said the court, by government control, did not mean to curb free speech on TV.

People can take any tone on TV as long as they don’t incite violence, hatred, communal riots. We are interested only with people instigating and inciting violence and riots. These are situations which cause loss of lives and property. That is what we are worried about,” Chief Justice Bobde explained.

Mr. Mehta said the creation of such situations though “unfortunate” were “deliberate”. The Chief Justice said the court had no problem with “fair and truthful reporting”. “Fair and truthful reporting normally is not a problem. The problem is when it [broadcast, programmes] is used to agitate others”

Mr. Mehta referred to how some channels end up with “rightfully or wrongfully guiding terrorists” during operations. Chief Justice Bobde was reminded of the 26/11 attack in Mumbai. 

The hearing was based on a batch of petitions, including one filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, which alleged that certain sections of the media communalised the Tablighi Jamat congregation by linking it to a spike in the spread of COVID-19 infection.

The court has been examining the question of efficacy of certain laws, including the Cable Television Networks Act of 1995, to prevent such scenarios.

Benefit of the newsExample to Prevent riots; Cable Television Networks Act of 1995,

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/stopping-hate-on-tv-is-imperative-sc/article33689433.ece

COVID-19 curve flattened, says Minister #GS3 #SnT

India has flattened its COVID-19 graph and 146 districts recorded no new cases in the last seven days, 18 districts in 14 days, six districts in 21 days and 21 districts in 28 days.

The Minister chaired the 23rd meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 via video-conferencing and noted that fewer than 12,000 cases were reported in the last 24 hours and the active caseload had reduced to just 1.73 lakh.

Dr. Vardhan added that out of the total active cases, 0.46% were on ventilators, 2.20% in ICU and 3.02% on oxygen support. As many as 165 cases of the U.K. variant were reported and the patients were under supervised quarantine and surveillance.

NITI Aayog member (Health) V.K. Paul informed that India currently stood at sixth in vaccination coverage and would move to third place in the next few days. Sixteen AEFI [adverse event following immunisation] hospitalisations out of 23 lakh vaccinations so far translates to just 0.0007%, with no case of severe/serious AEFI or death due to vaccination reported so far.

Benefit of the newsRecent Covid update

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/covid-19-curve-flattened-says-minister/article33689384.ece

Vaccines are safe for those who are on blood thinners: ICMR #GS3 #SnT

Both COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in India — Covaxin and Covishield — are safe for people on blood thinners. Manufacturers of both the vaccines had approached the Drugs Controller-General of India (DCGI) for revision of this contraindication on their fact sheets.

“Relative contraindications regarding blood thinners have been mentioned in the fact sheets of both the vaccines and both the companies have written to the DCGI regarding revision of this. The revision will happen every soon. Blood thinners are of two categories — anti-platelets and anti-coagulants. For those on anti-platelets like aspirin, the vaccine causes no problem but for those on anti-coagulants, the tendency to bleed is much higher. This is also a relative contraindication and the anti-coagulant can be stopped a day or two before administering the vaccine.

The Health Ministry added that it was engaging with private stakeholders to look at increasing the future coverage of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Ministry is also actively working at reducing wastage of the vaccine by bringing in a more flexible digital platform and issuing an exhaustive guideline to States/UTs to manage waste below 10%.

Benefit of the newsAbout Blood Thinners.

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/vaccines-are-safe-for-those-who-are-on-blood-thinners-icmr/article33689370.ece

Jaishankar suggests way forward for China ties #GS2 #IR

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said a recognition of “mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests” was key to repairing India-China relations, after what he called a year of “exceptional stress” in a relationship “profoundly disturbed” by the border crisis.

China’s actions last year had “not only signalled a disregard for commitments about minimising troop levels” but also “showed a willingness to breach the peace and tranquillity” on the border that had been the foundation for the relationship.

Twenty Indian soldiers, and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers, lost their lives in a clash on June 15 last year in the Galwan Valley, following tensions that erupted in early May triggered by transgressions by China across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), massing of troops, and what India has described as a unilateral attempt to redraw the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in several areas in eastern Ladakh.

While both sides had made a common cause on development and economic issues and common membership of plurilateral groups was a meeting point, there were divergences when it came to interests and aspirations.

He cited as examples China’s issuing of stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir in 2010, a reluctance from China to deal with some of India’s military commands (Beijing had that same year refused to host the Northern Army Commander), China’s opposition to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the UN Security Council as a permanent member, the blocking of UN listings of Pakistani terrorists, and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, violating India’s sovereignty in J&K.

Over the years, he said, there was no significant progress of arriving at a common understanding of the alignment of the LAC, while there was “increasing construction of border infrastructure, especially on the Chinese side.” India had made efforts to reduce the considerable infrastructure gap since 2014, including through greater budget commitments and road building.

The External Affairs Minister suggested “three mutuals” and “eight broad propositions” as a way forward for the relationship. “Mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests” were “determining factors”.

The first proposition, he said, was that agreements already reached must be adhered to in their entirety, both in letter and spirit. Both sides also needed to strictly observe and respect the LAC, and any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo was completely unacceptable.

Peace and tranquillity in border areas was the basis for the development of the relationship in other domains. If that was disturbed, he said, the rest of the relationship would be too.

The fourth proposition, he said, was that while both remain committed to a multipolar world, they should recognise that a multipolar Asia was one of its essential constituents.

While each state had its interests, concerns and priorities, sensitivities to them could not be be one-sided and relations were reciprocal in nature. As rising powers, neither should ignore the other’s set of aspirations, he added.

Benefit of the newsVarious examples of India- China relations, Along with New Mutuals and Propositions. 

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/jaishankar-suggests-way-forward-for-china-ties/article33689382.ece

Bombay HC quashes another POCSO verdict #GS2 #Governance

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court said that “the acts of ‘holding the hands of the prosecutrix’ [female victim] or ‘opened zip of the pants’ did not fit in the definition of ‘sexual assault’”, and quashed the conviction of a man under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

CASE

On February 12, 2018, the mother of the minor lodged a report that the day before she had noticed Libnus Kujur, a labourer in her house, molesting her five-year-old. She saw him holding hands of her elder daughter and when she shouted for neighbours to come in, the accused ran away.

The minor later told her mother that he had also exposed by unzipping the pants and asked her to come to bed for sleeping. The mother had also observed the open zip of Mr. Kujur’s pants. He was charged and convicted under various Sections of the POCSO Act.

Justice Pushpa Ganediwala was hearing a criminal appeal filed by Mr. Kujur from Gadchiroli challenging his conviction by the lower court on October 5, 2020, that sentenced him for five years.

In her order, Justice Ganediwala said, “The minimum sentence for this offence (punishment for aggravated sexual assault) is five years imprisonment. Considering the nature of the offence and the sentence prescribed, the aforesaid acts are not sufficient for fixing the criminal liability on the appellant/accused for the alleged offence of ‘aggravated sexual assault’. At the most the minor offence punishable under Section 354-A (1) (i) of the IPC is proved against the appellant.”

The nine-page order, passed on January 15, said, “The conviction of the appellant/accused for the offence punishable under Sections 8, 10 and 12 of the POCSO Act, is quashed and set aside. The conviction of the appellant/accused for the offence punishable under Sections 448 and 354-A(1) (i) of the IPC is maintained.”

On January 19, Justice Ganediwala had acquitted a man charged under the POCSO Act and convicted him under a ‘minor offence’ of the IPC as, “There is no direct physical contact i.e skin-to-skin with sexual intent without penetration”. The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed that order.

Benefit of the newsRecent POCSO Act verdicts, new dimension of the Act.

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/mumbai-hc-quashes-another-pocso-verdict/article33689387.ece

New Zealand tops COVID-19 performance ranking #GS2 #IR

New Zealand and Vietnam were ranked the best performing countries in their response to the pandemic, according to a COVID-19 “performance index” put together by the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, which sought to assess the impact of geography, political systems and economic development in assessing outcomes.

The index, which was based on six different indicators, including confirmed cases and deaths per million people and the scale of testing, sought “to gauge the relative performance of countries”, assessing 98 countries in the 36 weeks that followed their hundredth case.

Fewer reported cases and deaths, both in aggregate and per capita terms, point towards a better response to the virus. “More tests conducted on a per capita basis reveal a more accurate picture of the extent of the pandemic at the national level. Lower rates of positive tests, meanwhile, indicate greater degrees of control over the transmission of COVID-19.”

U.S., Brazil worst

India ranked 86 out of 98 countries, while the U.S. stood at 94 and Brazil at the bottom of the index. Taiwan, Thailand and Cyprus were in the top five. Sri Lanka was the best faring nation in South Asia, ranking 10, while the Maldives was at 25, Pakistan at 69, Nepal at 70, and Bangladesh at 84.

The think tank said China was not included “due to a lack of publicly available data on testing”.

Assessing regional responses, the institute found that although the outbreak began in China, the Asia-Pacific region fared the best, while Europe and the U.S. were initially overwhelmed. Europe, however, “registered the greatest improvement over time of any region” before succumbing to a second wave, which it attributed to more open borders.

Population size was one factor. Smaller countries with fewer than 10 million people “consistently outperformed their larger counterparts throughout 2020”.

The level of economic development and regime-type were less significant than expected, which it attributed to “the relatively ‘low-tech’ nature of the health measures used to mitigate the spread of the virus” which “may have created a more level playing field between developed and developing countries”. “In general, countries with smaller populations, cohesive societies, and capable institutions have a comparative advantage in dealing with a global crisis such as a pandemic.

Benefit of the newsCOVID-19 “performance index

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/new-zealand-tops-covid-19-performance-ranking/article33689331.ece

Rajapaksa thanks India as vaccines arrive in Sri Lanka #GS2 #IR

Sri Lanka received 5,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine gifted by India, the country’s first consignment as the island nation prepares to begin its roll-out. Around 1,50,000 health workers, 120,000 members of the tri-Forces, police and security forces who are at the frontline of COVID prevention operations will be given first priority.

Sri Lanka’s public health sector, along with the military, has been leading the country’s response to the pandemic, since it struck the island in March 2020. Sri Lanka, which controlled the first wave effectively, is currently witnessing a surge in the coronavirus cases, with the number of positive patients and deaths going up from 3,300 and 13, respectively, in early October to 60,694 infections and 290 deaths as of Thursday. 

In addition to reporting the recent U.K.-variant of the virus, scientists in Sri Lanka earlier this week identified another new strain, reported in countries such as Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, and Germany.

Over the past few weeks, the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar in the neighbourhood received vaccines from India, in addition to Mauritius, Seychelles, and Brazil and Morocco, that received them on a commercial arrangement.

Benefit of the newsIndia- Sri Lanka relations. 

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/rajapaksa-thanks-india-as-vaccines-arrive-in-sri-lanka/article33689324.ece

Plug GST gaps, cut wasteful spending to lift fiscal support #GS3 #Economy

India should propose a credible privatisation plan for public sector firms, plug gaps in GST collections and cut wasteful expenditure from the Budget in order to contain borrowing costs while enhancing fiscal support for the economy.

‘Expand job guarantees’

Stressing that there is a risk of a sharp rise in inequality, with millions entering extreme poverty, Ms. Gopinath said India must continue to provide support to the weaker sections and increase outlays for the national employment guarantee scheme this year as well.

“The policies of in-kind and in-cash support that were deployed in 2020 and expired in 2020, should be deployed again this year. And also, the employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) should be expanded again this year like last year, so that you are able to prevent this rise in inequality.

On the IMF’s forecast for India’s economy to grow by 11.5% in 2021-22, Ms. Gopinath said most of the expansion would be ‘mechanical’ as “you are coming off an 8% estimated collapse in the previous year”.

Responding to concerns about high government debt, Ms. Gopinath said any tightening of fiscal policies in the middle of the pandemic while people are still being asked to stay home, would be ‘damaging’.

Every time you communicate your fiscal plans from now, you provide confidence that you have a medium-term fiscal framework that will bring the deficit under control once we are out of the pandemic and in a durable growth phase. That can be done by talking about specific plans.

For instance, In India, more effectiveness in GST collections, there are still gaps there… more credible disinvestment plans, there’s always been the intention but it hasn’t happened as intended. So credibility on all these fronts will give confidence to the markets and keep borrowing costs low during the transition.

Benefit of the newsIMF views about Indian Economy

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/plug-gst-gaps-cut-wasteful-spending-to-lift-fiscal-support/article33689286.ece