Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 August 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 25 August 2020


Parliamentary panel calls DNA bill as an immature one

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, in a draft report, has called the DNA Technology Regulation Bill “premature”.
  • The Bill proposes DNA sampling and profiling of citizens accused of crime or reported missing and storing their unique genetic information for administrative purposes.
  • The committee said in the absence of a robust data protection legislation, the security of a huge number of DNA profiles that will be placed with the National DNA Data bank and its regional centres is questionable. The draft report also red-flagged certain provisions of the Bill.
  • The Bill permits retention of DNA found at a crime scene in perpetuity, even if conviction of the offender has been overturned. The committee urged the government to amend the provisions to ensure that if the person has been found innocent his DNA profile must be removed immediately from the data bank.
  • The committee recommended that independent scrutiny must be done of the proposals to destroy biological samples and remove DNA profiles from the database.
  • The Bill also provides that DNA profiles for civil matters will be stored in the data banks, but without a clear and separate index. The committee questioned the necessity for storage of such profiles, pointing out that this violates the fundamental right to privacy and does not serve any public purpose.

National council for transgender persons constituted by central government

  • The Centre has constituted a National Council for Transgender Persons through a notification. The Social Justice and Empowerment Minister will be the ex-officio Chairperson and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment will be ex-officio Vice-Chairperson.
  • The National Council will advise the Centre on the formulation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to transgender persons. It will monitor and evaluate the impact of policies and programmes designed for achieving equality and full participation of transgender persons. 
  • The National Council will also review and coordinate the activities of all the departments of Government and other Governmental and non-Governmental Organisations which are dealing with matters relating to transgender persons. It will redress the grievances of transgender persons and perform such other functions as may be prescribed by the Centre.



Economists claim Agri profits not to spur rural demand

  • Agriculture is one of the few bright spots in an economy ravaged by COVID-19, with good rains expected to boost production and profits, especially in the paddy crop. However, economists said individual farmers are unlikely to see any hike in their own income. The rise in COVID-19 cases in rural India is an additional cause for concern.
  • Presenting their outlook for the kharif or summer crop season on Monday, economists from rating agency Crisil forecast a 3-5% growth in farm gate profits this year, to an average of about ₹10,000 per hectare across 25 crops. 
  • However, reverse migration due to COVID-19 may have resulted in the number of people employed in the agriculture sector this summer rising by up to 16% over last year’s overall farm employment, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. As a result, despite a hike in overall profits, per capita income may see a dip, some other economists opined.
  • “Good rains and the consequent aggressive sowing absorbed a lot of the labour that was losing jobs in the non-farm sectors because of the lockdown. This was the first time that farm employment breached the 120 million mark, and it did so by a huge margin.”
  • However, the rise in available farm labour has also led to crop shifts especially in east India, with more farmers moving to the more profitable but labour-intensive paddy crop, according to Crisil research director Hetal Gandhi. The agency is projecting a 26% growth in profits in eastern India.

Public health groups urge to hike cess on tobacco products

  • Public health groups, along with doctors and economists, have urged the GST Council to increase compensation cess on all tobacco products that can provide an additional tax revenue of ₹49,740 crore.
  • “Increasing compensation cess on all tobacco products, including bidis, is a winning proposition for government as it will provide the much-needed additional tax revenue for a COVID-19 stimulus package while motivating millions of tobacco users to quit and preventing youngsters from initiating tobacco use,” said AshimSanyal, COO, Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (VOICE).
  • India has the second largest number of tobacco users (268 million) in the world — of these at least 12 lakh die every year from tobacco-related diseases, said the group.


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Defence cooperation to be the key in India-Russia cooperation

  • Indian Ambassador to Russia VenkateshVarma has said that the defence industry cooperation will be one of the key areas of collaboration between India and Russia and it will be addressed at the upcoming India-Russia bilateral summit.
  • Mr Varma told Sputnik that the Indian-Russian bilateral summit will cover all issues -- political, economic, trade, energy. And, of course, defence cooperation will be one of the main pillars of cooperation. 
  • He added that we expect some very major announcements, including Russian support for the Make in India programme of Prime Minister NarendraModi. Mr Varma added that Russia has extended very positive support, we are very grateful for that.
  • Earlier, the diplomat said that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is likely to attend the events of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

China launches advanced naval warships for Pakistan

  • China has launched first of the four advanced naval warships it is building for Pakistan, amid deepening defence ties between the two all-weather allies.
  • The launching ceremony for the first warship was held at the HudongZhonghuaShipyard in Shanghai on Sunday.Pakistan-China defence ties turn a new chapter with the launch of the first ship of Type-054 class frigate, Pakistan’s state-run APP news agency reported.
  • The Type-054 class, equipped with the latest surface, subsurface, anti-air weapons, combat management system, and sensors, will be one of the technologically advanced surface platforms of the Pakistan Navy fleet, the report said.
  • Pakistan signed a contract with the China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. (CSTC) for the delivery of two Type-054 A/P frigates in 2017. Last year, the Chinese official media reported thatChina would build four advanced frigates for Pakistan Navy.



Indian scientist develop technology to make brick like structures on Moon’s surface

  • A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a sustainable process for making brick-like structures on the moon, according to IISc. It exploits lunar soil, and uses bacteria and guar beans to consolidate the soil into possible load-bearing structures, Bengaluru-based IISc said in a statement.
  • With Earth's resources dwindling rapidly, scientists have only intensified their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets.The cost of sending one pound of material to outer space isaboutRs 7.5 lakh, according to the statement.
  • The process developed by the IISc and ISRO team uses urea which can be sourced from human urine and lunar soil as raw materials for construction on the moon's surface, it said.The process also has a lower carbon footprint because it uses guar gum instead of cement for support.
  • This could also be exploited to make sustainable bricks on Earth, it was stated.Some micro-organisms can produce minerals through metabolic pathways.
  • One such bacterium, called 'Sporosarcinapasteurii ' produces calcium carbonate crystals through a metabolic pathway called the ureolytic cycle: it uses urea and calcium to form these crystals as byproducts of the pathway.



Bayern Munich wins UEFA champions league title

  • In Football, German giants Bayern Munich have won the European Champions League for the sixth time after beating French side Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 at the final in Portugal's capital, Lisbon.
  • A goal by French winger Kingsley Coman at the 59th minute was enough for the Munich side to dash the Parisians' dream of winning for the first time the UEFA Champions League. A competition which started in June 2019 with the preliminary round comes to a climax between the best side in world football against one of the planet's finest forward lines.


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