Daily Current Affairs – 31-07-2023

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    SC on Condition for bail

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • The Supreme Court granted bail to activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

    About bail

    • The  bail refers to the conditional release of a person from confinement or custody during investigation and trial.
    •  It can also be sought during the appellate stage to prevent endless internment during the pendency of appeal though the benefit of the presumption of innocence is not available at the latter stage. 

    Jurisprudence

    • The jurisprudence of bail in post-independent India, is anchored on the bedrock of Article 21 of the Constitution which safeguards not only life but also liberty by commanding that liberty can be deprived only through the procedure established by law, which must be “just, fair and reasonable”. 
    • The same procedural law which provides for arrest and incarceration, ensures that bail can be sought by an accused through a broad spectrum of provisions ranging from pre-arrest bail to statutory bail. 
      • While the former envisaged under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) enables the accused to approach a Sessions court or High Court seeking a direction to release him on bail in case he is arrested on a non-bailable offence, the latter, as conceived under Section 167 of the CrPC, vests with the accused the right to be released if the investigation is not completed within ninety days or sixty days, as the case may be, depending on the severity of the alleged offence.

    Key Highlights of recent SC’s directions 

    • The court  proposed to impose appropriate conditions while on bail. which included not leaving Maharashtra, surrendering their passports.
      • They must also inform an National Investigation Agency (NIA) officer about their address, and their mobile number should be shared with NIA and location must be on at all times.
    • The Court clarified that in case of breach of bail conditions, it will be open for prosecution to move an application seeking cancellation of bail.

    Concerns

    • The question is whether this condition will offend the rights of the accused under Article 21 [fundamental right to life] of the Constitution,
    • Location sharing is an undoubtedly intrusive practice which forces accused persons to barter their right to privacy for their liberty. 
    • No degree of fear in the minds of agencies can sanction a practice where a person remains under a panopticon of surveillance even when outside of prison. 
    • Courts can, and should, consider less intrusive means to secure state interests,

    Earlier Judgments

    • In 2021, the Supreme Court had lashed out against the imposition of “onerous” conditions for grant of bail, saying that such terms “tantamount to denial of bail”.

    Way Ahead 

    • The courts should maintain a balance between the personal liberty of the accused and the investigational right of the police while examining the question of bail and imposing conditions.
      • The SC Bench has scheduled the case for hearing on August 14.

    Source:TH

    Tehseen Poonawala judgment on Mob Lynching

     

    Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, GS3/ Extremism, Security

    Context

    • The Supreme Court (SC) of India directed the seven remedial measures in its judgment ‘Tehseen Poonawala 2018’ to States because of their lax response to lynching.

    About

    • SC has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs and the several state governments to respond to a petition questions their inaction against mob violence and lynching of Muslims by cowvigilantes over the past five years, despite a previous Supreme Court judgment in Tehseen Poonawala versus Union of India in 2018 against vigilantism.
    • The petition seeks an examination of police apathy, constitutional violations, and a breach of “duty of care” towards the victims, along with immediate interim compensation and a “minimum uniform amount” for the victims of such violence.

    Mob Lynching

    • It is illegal activity done by the crowd of people who turn aggressive and kill an individual on the assumption that he is a criminal and hold him guilty without any legal trial.

    About Tehseen Poonawala judgment

    • It is the “sacrosanct duty” of the State to protect the lives of its citizens, and declared that the authorities of the States have the “principal obligation” to see that vigilantism.
    • It said spiralling incidents of lynchings, and the gruesome visuals aired through social media have compelled the court to reflect on “whether the populace of a great Republic like ours has lost the values of tolerance to sustain a diverse culture”.
    • Bystander apathy, numbness of the mute spectators of the scene of the crime, the inertia of the law enforcing machinery to prevent such crimes and nip them in the bud and grandstanding of the incident by the perpetrators of the crimes, including in the social media, aggravates the entire problem, the court noted.
    • The judgement warned that vigilantes usher in anarchy, chaos, disorder and, eventually, there is an emergence of a violent society. “Vigilantism cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be given room to take shape”.

    Seven remedial directions given by the SC to States

    • The appointment of a designated nodal officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police for taking measures to prevent prejudice-motivated crimes like mob violence and lynching.
    • The immediate lodging of an FIR if an incident of lynching or mob-violence comes to the notice of the local police. It is the duty of the Station House Officer who has registered the FIR to inform the nodal officer in the district, who in turn should ensure that the families of the victims are spared of any further harassment.
    • The investigation of the crime should be personally monitored by the nodal officer and the investigation and chargesheet are filed within the stipulated period inlaw.
    • There should be a scheme to compensate victims of such prejudice-motivated violence.
    • Any failure to comply with the court’s directions by a police or district administration officer would be considered as an “act of deliberate negligence and/or misconduct for which appropriate action must be taken against him/her and not limited to departmental action under the service rules”.
    • The departmental action shall be taken to its logical conclusion preferably within six months.
    • States should take disciplinary action against their officials if they did not did not prevent the incident an incident of mob lynching, despite having prior knowledge of it, or where the incident has alreadyoccurred, such official (s) did not promptly apprehend and institutecriminal proceedings against the culprits.

    Source: TH

    Worldcoin Project

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

    In News

    • Recently, the OpenAI CEO Sam Altman took to Twitter to formally re-introduce Worldcoin, a project of his that was eclipsed by the popularity of ChatGPT. 

    Background

    • Altman previously introduced the beta version of Worldcoin in October 2021. In December 2022, Altman launched OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT. This project captured global attention and Altman has since become a person of note in the booming artificial intelligence industry.

    What is Worldcoin?

    • It is an initiative to create a digital network in which everyone can claim some kind of stake, and join the digital economy. 
    • Using a device called “Orb,” Worldcoin volunteers known as ‘Orb operators’ scan a person’s iris pattern to collect their biometric data and help them get a World ID through the World app. 
    • With the app, scanned participants can collect a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin [WLD] at regular intervals or make transactions with their World ID where possible. This process is called “proof of personhood”.

    How does Worldcoin work?

    • Worldcoin relies on volunteers called “Orb operators” who use a device called “Orb” to scan people’s iris patterns and collect their biometric data.
    • Participants receive a World ID through the World app after getting their irises scanned. This unique ID allows them to claim Worldcoin cryptocurrency and conduct transactions.
    • Scanning irises ensures that people cannot sign up multiple times to receive more crypto rewards.
    • Users can collect WLD at regular intervals or use it for transactions, similar to a standard digital currency.

    Risks Involved

    • The legality of [Worldcoin’s data] collection seems questionable, as do the conditions for storing biometric data.
    • Reports indicated that Worldcoin scanned underprivileged people’s irises in emerging economies during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising ethical questions about informed consent and rewards for scans.

    Worldcoin in India

    • Worldcoin lists 18 locations — largely in Delhi, Noida, and Bangalore — where Orb operators are scanning people’s eyes. Some locations include popular malls and metro stations in these cities.
    • In 2009, Government of India launched Aadhar Card to provide a unique identity to the citizens of the country. It was meant to help the government fund a number of social welfare schemes and programs that are focused on the poor and most vulnerable sections of society and to streamline delivery mechanisms under welfare schemes, thereby ensuring transparency and efficiency. WorldCoin’s goal is pretty much similar to that but on a global level. It aims to give back the wealth generated by AI back to society.

    Source: TH

    Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan

    Syllabus: GS1/ Society, GS4/ Case Studies 

    Context

    • PM Modi in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ hails the fight against drugs, and speaks about transformation in Bichharpur village in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh (Mini Brazil), which was infamous for illicit liquor.

    Key Points

    • On August 15, 2020, the Centre had launched the Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan, which had so far reached more than 11 crore people.
    • India had created a unique record of destroying 10 lakh kg of drugs worth ₹12,000 crore in the past year. Just about two weeks ago, 1.5 lakh kg of seized drugs was destroyed.

    Case of Bichharpur village in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh:

    • Despite limited resources, Raees Ahmed, a former national player and coach, started teaching football to the local youth. Within a few years, football became popular in the village, now known as “Mini Brazil”.
    • More than 40 national and State-level players have emerged from Bicharpur. This football revolution is now slowly spreading in the entire region. Over 1,200 football clubs have been formed in Shahdol and surrounding areas. A tribal area which was known for illicit liquor … has now become the football nursery of the country.
    • Ahead of Independence Day, the government aimed to launch “Meri Mati Mera Desh” campaign to honour the bravehearts who made the supreme sacrifice for the country.
      • Under this, 7,500 urns carrying soil from different parts of India, besides saplings, would be bought and used for developing Amrit Vatika near the National War Memorial in Delhi.

    Source: TH

    Human Challenge Studies

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • The Bioethics Unit of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) posted the consensus policy statement for the ethical conduct of human challenge studies, in India.

    What is Human Challenge Studies?

    • Human challenge studies are also known as controlled human infection studies (CHIS).
    • In these studies, human beings are exposed to diseases to understand the various facets of infectious microbes and the diseases or conditions caused by such pathogens. 

    Global scenario

    • Globally, these studies have been carried out for hundreds of years; the yellow fever study in the early 1900s, for instance, established that mosquitoes transmitted the yellow fever virus.
    • Many countries, including low-and middle-income countries such as Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Thailand, have carried out human challenge studies.
    • India has not undertaken such trials before and will be collaborating with scientists and institutions outside India who have been conducting such studies.

    Human Clinical Trials vs Human Challenge Studies

    • Participants in traditional clinical trials are strongly advised to adopt and adhere to safety measures to avoid getting infected and any exposure to the microbes and infection arising in the participants from such an exposure is left to chance. The opposite is the case with human challenge studies where Volunteers are deliberately exposed to disease-causing pathogens.
    • Traditional clinical trials are undertaken to study the safety and efficacy of drugs and vaccines, whereas human challenge studies are carried out to understand the various facets of infection and disease pathogenesis besides selecting the best candidate drug or vaccine.
    • While the adverse effects of the candidate drugs or vaccines are not known in both the studies (safety is evaluated for the first time in humans during the phase-1 stage of a traditional trial), volunteers in a human challenge trial face an additional risk when deliberately exposed to the pathogen.
    • Finally, human challenge studies are often undertaken to study “less deadly diseases” such as influenza, dengue, typhoid, cholera and malaria, unlike in traditional clinical studies.

    Need of undertaking human challenge studies

    • The disease burden and mortality from infectious diseases is significantly high at around 30% in India.
    • It will help supplement traditional human clinical trials and speed up the process of finding safe and effective interventions in the form of drugs and/or vaccines.
    • It will vastly help in providing better insight into multiple aspects of even well-studied pathogens, infection, transmission, disease pathogenesis and prevention.
    • Since many infectious diseases are endemic in several developing countries, and resistance to existing drugs is increasing, there is a pressing need to find more effective medical interventions.

    Special safeguards for reducing harm to participants

    • Except in very rare cases, as in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, the infectious agents that are tested in human challenge studies are well-known and studied. To reduce harm to the participants, a weaker or less virulent form of the pathogen is used.
    • The other important requirement is the availability of a ‘rescue remedy’ to prevent the disease from progressing to its severe form. An exception was the reliance on remdesivir as a rescue remedy for participants in the studies involving SARS-CoV-2 virus even when the substantial mortality benefit of remdesivir was not known.

    Ethical Challenges

    • The participants in a human challenge trial are deliberately exposed to a disease-causing pathogen that makes it ethically more challenging.
    • Participants with pre-existing medical conditions are to be excluded but very often people are unaware of many medical conditions. This makes it essential to carry out detailed medical examinations of the participants before enrolment.
    • Assured payment over and above reimbursement of the expenses may serve as an inducement and, in turn, to exploitation. Enticing people to participate by advertising the amount of money that volunteers will be paid is quite common in traditional clinical trials.
    • It remains to be seen how “informed” will be the informed consent, given the compulsion to get people enrolled in the new research methodology. The HPV vaccine trial in 2010 became notorious as informed consent requirements were flagrantly violated, as also during the Covaxin trial in Bhopal in 2020-2021.

    ICMR consensus statement

    • The ICMR consensus statement has clearly mentioned that only healthy individuals in the 18-45 years age bracket are to be enrolled.
    • Children and women who are pregnant, lactating or planning to conceive within the study period will not be enrolled; children will be included when “deemed appropriate”.
    • Information on payment for participation should be mentioned in the consent form but the exact amount of payment for participation is to be revealed “only after the volunteer has consented to participate”. 

    Source: TH

    Australia’s Cocos Islands

    Syllabus: GS2/ India & Foreign Relations, International Organisations & Groupings

    In News

    • An Indian Navy Dornier maritime patrol aircraft and an Indian Air Force (IAF) C-130 transport aircraft visited Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI). 

    About

    • The move aims to expand the strategic reach of the Indian military and improve interoperability with Australia.
    • India’s access to CKI as well as Christmas Island, which is even closer to the strategic choke points, would significantly enhance the on-station time of the Indian Navy’s P-8Is to monitor movements into the Indian Ocean.

    Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI)

    • The island is located in the Southern Indian Ocean, close to Indonesia and strategic maritime choke points.
    • The  CKI is an Australian external territory located in the Indian Ocean, approximately 3,000 km north-west of Perth in western Australia.
    • The island comprises two coral atolls made up of 27 smaller islands.

    Significance for India

    • Cocos can be an important base for refuelling and Operational Turnaround for the Indian military, especially once the runway there is expanded to accommodate large aircraft like the P-8 long range maritime patrol aircraft.
    • Cocos Islands had been a point of cooperation between the space agencies of the two countries for India’s Gaganyaan human space flight mission. 
    • Australia’s active support in establishing a temporary ground station at CKI for the Gaganyaan missions offers potential opportunities for cooperation in earth observation, satellite navigation, space situational awareness, weather and climate studies using satellite data.

    India-Australia Defence Relations

    • India and Australia have also been holding exercises focussed on anti-submarine warfare with P-8 aircraft being cross-deployed. 
      • The fourth such iteration was held in the first week of July with Australian Air Force P-8A deployed to I.N.S. Rajali Naval Air Station in Tamil Nadu.
    • Australia is set to host the Malabar multilateral naval exercise for the first time this year, including India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., at Sydney.
    • India-Australia defence cooperation has been one of the fastest growing in recent years with a series of exchanges, high-level visits and exercises, both bilateral and multilateral. 
    • In addition, Maritime Domain Awareness, subsurface domain awareness, and anti-submarine warfare, have been major focus areas for the Quad group of countries in the backdrop of the rapid expansion of Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region.
    • India and Australia signed a Mutual Logistics Support agreement in 2020, and the two Navies had signed the ‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document in August 2021.

    Source: TH

    The Cell- free DNA

    Syllabus: GS3/ Biotechnology

    Context

    • Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is a useful technique that is being used by researchers all over the world to better understand human diseases and enhance diagnosis, monitoring, and prognosis.

    What is Cell-free DNA?

    • Small nucleic acid fragments known as CfDNA are discovered in bodily fluids outside of cells after being discharged from cells.
    • It was initially noticed in the blood of pregnant women in the late 1940s, which is when it was first discovered.
    • Cell death and other physiological processes, for example, can both manufacture and release cfDNA from the cells.
    • Several disease processes, including autoimmune conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus, are linked to the release of cfDNA.

    How is Cell Free DNA different from Normal DNA?

    Cell Free DNA

    Normal DNA

    It is found in the bloodstream and other fluids present in the body.

    Found within the cell nucleus or mitochondria.

    It is used in Forensic for DNA profiling and investigations.

    It is not used in Forensic.

    It exists in Fragmented form.

    It exists in the form of a double helix structure.

    It can be used in detecting infectious diseases.

    It is not used for detecting infectious diseases.

    Applications of cfDNA

    • Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing:  One of the most widely used applications of cfDNA has been in screening fetuses for specific chromosomal abnormalities.
      • The availability of affordable genome-sequencing approaches will allow clinicians to sequence cfDNA fragments that correspond to foetal DNA. 
      • They can then use it to understand specific chromosomal abnormalities that involve changes in the chromosomal copy number. 
      • Such changes can lead to conditions like Down’s syndrome, which is due to a change in chromosome 21 .
    • Monitoring Cancer:
      • Researchers have developed a new test they have dubbed ‘Genome-wide Mutational Incidence for Non-Invasive detection of cancer’, or ‘GEMINI’. 
      • This is a type of genetic mutation that, when combined with machine-learning approaches, could provide a way to detect cancer early. 
      • Using a particular machine-learning model, some genomic data, and data from a computed tomography (CT) scan, the researchers could successfully detect lung cancer.
      • It was discovered to be able to identify over 300 people who had a very high risk of acquiring lung cancer.
    • Organ Transplant: Using cfDNA applications, it may be possible to determine why the body is rejecting a transplanted organ. Here, donor-derived cfDNA, also known as dd-cfDNA, can be used to obtain an early yet precise estimation of how well the organ is being assimilated.
    • Other Uses: CfDNA could be employed as a biomarker for metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, neuronal tumors, stroke, and traumatic brain damage.

    Source: The Hindu

    Facts In News

    National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). 

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    Former director-in-charge of the National Institute of Technology – Tiruchi G. Kannabiran has been appointed as the new director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). 

    About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

    • It was established in 1994 as an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commission (UGC) with its HeadQuarter in Bengaluru. 
    • The NAAC functions through its General Council (GC) and Executive Committee (EC) comprising educational administrators, policy makers and senior academicians from a cross-section of the Indian higher education system. The Chairperson of the UGC is the President of the GC of the NAAC, the Chairperson of the EC is an eminent academician nominated by the President of GC (NAAC).
    • Mandates : It conducts assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) such as colleges, universities or other recognised institutions to derive an understanding of the ‘Quality Status’ of the institution. 
      • It evaluates the institutions for its conformance to the standards of quality in terms of its performance related to the educational processes and outcomes, curriculum coverage, teaching-learning processes, faculty, research, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well being and student services.

    Source:TH

     International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance

    In News

    • The Central government has suspended the Director of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), K.S. James, citing irregularity in recruitment. 

    About  International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

    • The International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, formerly known as the Demographic Training and Research Centre (DTRC) till 1970, was established in July 1956 under the joint sponsorship of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Government of India and the United Nations. 
    •  The Institute is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
    • It serves as a regional centre for Training and Research in Population Studies for the ESCAP region. 
    •  It was declared as a ‘Deemed to be University’ on August 14, 1985, under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. 
    • Functions :  It holds a unique position among all the regional population centres.
      • It was the first such centre started, and it serves a much larger population than any of the other regional centres.
      • It conducts important studies like the National Family Health Survey, Assessment of National Rural Health Mission, and the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
      • The Institute is the hub of population and health-related teaching and research in India, playing a vital role for planning and development of the country. 

    Source:TH

    ULLAS mobile application

    Syllabus: GS3/Skill Development

    News: 

    • On the sidelines of Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Samagam 2023 , the Union Minister of Education launched a mobile application of ULLAS: Nav Bharat Saksharta Karyakram.

    About ULLAS (Understanding Lifelong Learning for All in Society) 

    • It will focus on promoting functional literacy, vocational skills, and many important life skills like financial literacy, legal literacy, digital literacy, and empowerment of citizens to involve in nation-building of the country. 
    • It imparts these skills to citizens aged 15 and above who lost the opportunity to go to school. It is being implemented through volunteerism.
    • It will serve as a digital gateway for learners to engage in diverse learning resources through the DIKSHA portal of NCERT. 
    • The ULLAS initiative is poised to revolutionise education and literacy across the nation, by fostering a learning ecosystem that reaches every individual, bridging the gaps in basic literacy and critical life skills. 
    • It marks a significant milestone in harnessing the potential of technology to facilitate widespread access to basic literacy.

    Source: PIB 
     

    Conjunctivitis

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News

    • With persistent rain, cases of conjunctivitis, or ‘pink eye’, are on the rise in several parts of India.

    Conjunctivitis

    • About:
      • Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva i.e. the thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye.
    • Causes:
      • Viral Conjunctivitis: Can be caused by a number of different viruses, such as adenoviruses. It is very contagious and sometimes can result in large outbreaks depending on the virus.
      • Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can spread easily, it is more common in kids as compared to adults.
      • Allergic Conjunctivitis: The result of the body’s reaction to allergens, such as pollen from trees, plants, grasses, and weeds; dust mites; molds; dander from pets; medicines; or cosmetics. It is not contagious.
    • Treatment
      • Treatment usually involves management of symptoms. Doctors advise against taking medicines without medical guidance.
      • The infection will usually clear up in 5 to 14 days without treatment and without any long-term consequences. 

    Source: IE

    Migraine

     

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    Context

    • One in two people suffer from a headache disorder, while around 15% of people globally suffer from migraines.

    About: Migraine

    • It is a disease of hypersensitivity having abnormal sensitive neuronal connections, primarily affecting the brain and it involves the whole body.
      • It attacks are thought to originate from abnormal electrical excitability in sensory neurons in the meninges, layers of membrane that protects the brain.
      • When sensitized, these neurons send signals to the brain which trigger headache pain, photophobia, and other symptoms.
      • These neurons are also close to blood vessels, which is why headaches can feel like they pulse along with your heartbeat.
    • It is aggravated by the immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems, that means if anyone targets one aspect of migraine with analgesics [pain-relief], then it is not likely to alleviate all symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.

    How do you treat migraine?

    • Calcitonin Gene-related Peptide (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies: These medications block the action of a protein ie CGRP, which plays an important role in the development of migraine symptoms, sensitizing neurons in the meninges.
    • Triptans: A class of medications which bind to certain types of serotonin receptors in the body and causes pain-relieving effects. Analgesics like paracetamol or aspirin can be effective in reducing headache pain, but don’t tend to help reducing chronic migraine symptoms.

    Source: IE