Current Affairs 31st March 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Piezoelectric Effect in Liquids
Context: Piezoelectric effect has been reported for the first time in liquids.
More on the News
- The effect has been observed in ionic fluids pure 1-butyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis (trifluoromethyl-sulfonyl) imide and 1-hexyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis (trifluoromethylsulfonyl) imide.
- Ionioc liquids are made of ions instead of molecules.
What is Piezoelectric Effect?
- In piezoelectric effect, a body develops an electric current when mechanical stress is applied. Till now, this phenomenon has been observed only in solids, especially crystals such as quartz.
- Occurrence: When a mechanical stress is applied, a shifting of the positive and negative charge centers in the material takes place, resulting in an external electrical field.
- The body undergoing mechanical stress needs to have an organized structure, like the pyramids of quartz. Liquid usually takes shape of the container and hence cannot experience piezoelectric effect.
- Unique feature: One unique feature is that piezoelectric effect is reversible, meaning that materials showing the direct piezoelectric effect also display the converse piezoelectric effect (the generation of stress when an electric field is applied).
- Potential applications of new research
- Ionic liquids are more readily recyclable and pose fewer environmental issues compared to existing piezoelectric materials used.
- Using their converse piezoelectric characteristics, these ionic liquids can be used in simple control mechanism by converting them into lenses with dynamic focusing abilities.
- Challenges ahead
- There is a need to develop a theoretical framework with predictive power to understand the experimental observations in ionic liquid and develop it further.
National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021
Food and drugs to be used for treatment of rare diseases under the National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 will be exempted from basic customs duty.
What are Rare Diseases?
- Rare disease is a life-threatening condition that affects a small number of people compared with other existing diseases.
- Different countries have different definition. India classifies the disease as rare if the prevalence rate in population is 6% to 8%.
- Status: Currently, there are about 6000 to 8000 rare diseases. However, 80% of all patients are affected by approximately 350 rare diseases.
- About 95% rare diseases do not have approved treatment and less than 1 in 10 patients receive disease-specific treatment.
- About 80% of rare diseases are genetic in origin and hence disproportionately impact children.
- In India, 72 to 96 million people are affected by rare diseases. Most of the patients do not reach adulthood due to the high mortality.
- Effects of rare diseases
- Affects younger population: Rare diseases are responsible for 35% of deaths before the age of 1 year, 10% between the ages of 1 and 5 years and 12% between 5 and 15 years.
- Financial cost: The cost of treating rare diseases is very high, having a catastrophic effect on finances of families.
National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021: Highlights
- Categorizing rare diseases:
- Group 1: Disorders treatable through one-time curative treatment.
- Group 2: Need long term or lifelong treatment.
- Group 3: Definitive treatment is available but challenges occur in form of very high cost and lifelong therapy.
- Individuals suffering from rare diseases listed under Group 1 will be provided financial support of up to Rs. 20 lakh.
- The benefits will be extended to 40% of the population, who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
- It also allows voluntary crowd funding treatment by setting up a digital platform.
- Registry of rare diseases: A registry of rare diseases will be created to ensure adequate data for those interested in research and development.
- Treatment centres:
- There are plans to set up eight ‘Centres of Excellence’ at designated places for prevention and treatment of rare diseases.
- They will be provided one-time grant of up to Rs. 5 crore for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
- Orphan drugs are a category of medicines that are used to treat rare diseases. Since the prevalence of a rare disease is low, the production of orphan drug would not be profitable.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
Context: Recently, FSSAI revised its order and changed its labelling provisions, recommending the display of the word ‘curd’ prominently and its equivalent in regional languages in brackets.
Accordingly, the FSSAI allowed the use of the following terms on labels for curd — ‘curd (dahi)’ in Hindi, ‘curd (mosaru)’ in Kannada, ‘curd (thayir)’ in Tamil and ‘curd (perugu)’ in Telugu.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006.
- It is a statutory body that works under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- It is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food.
- The Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of FSSAI are appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The FSSAI has its headquarters in New Delhi.
- The authority also has 6 regional offices located in Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin, and Chennai.
Functions of FSSAI
- Frame rules that help lay down food safety standards and ensure those standards are met.
- Plot guidelines for certifying bodies and manage this certification system
- Create policies that outline the certification of laboratories to test food
- Provide advice and technical support to the government in matters regarding food safety laws
- Collect data concerning food consumption, health hazards, contaminants, and imminent biological threats
- Create a system that supplies people with information about these risks
- Provide training for people involved in the food business
- Promote awareness about food safety.
Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs)
Context: The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has recommended interchange fee on certain merchant UPI transactions made using prepaid payment instruments (PPI) like online wallets.
About Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs)
- Payment and Settlement Act, 2005 defined Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) as instruments of payment that facilitate buying of goods and services, including the transfer of funds, financial service and remittances, against the value stored within or on the instrument.
- The value stored in the instrument is represented by the value that has already been paid for by the holder or the instrument by any method such as, by cash, by debit from a bank account, credit card or even from other PPIs.
- PPIs can come in the form of payment wallets, smart cards, magnetic chips, vouchers, mobile wallets etc. any instrument that can be used to access a prepaid amount is a PPI.
Types of PPIs
- According to the RBI, PPIs in the country can be issued under three systems. They are as follows:
- Closed system: PPI issued is only valid when used against purchases from the entity which issued it in the first place.
- Semi-closed system: PPIs can only be issued by banking institutions approved by the RBI or non-banking institutions authorized by the RBI.
- Open system: PPIs under this system can only be issued by banking institutions that have been approved by the RBI.
- These instruments can be used to facilitate purchases, remittances, cash withdrawals, etc. Examples of PPIs issued under this system are debit cards and credit cards.
- It is an instant payment system developed by the NPCI.
- It powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application, merging several banking features, providing seamless merchant payments.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
- It was incorporated in 2008 as an umbrella organization for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
- NPCI is focused on bringing innovations in the retail payment systems through the use of technology and is relentlessly working to transform India into a digital economy.
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
Context: The United Nations General Assembly passed the resolution asking the International Court of Justice to define the obligations of states to combat climate change.
Highlight of Resolution
- The resolution was taken in a hope to drive countries in taking stronger measures and clarify international law on the same the historic resolution seeking an advisory opinion from ICJ.
- Resolution proposed by the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu and was Co-sponsored by 132 countries at the UN.
- Vanuatu: It is an archipelago of roughly 80 islands spread across 1,300 km (807 miles).
- Resolution asks the ICJ to clarify the “obligations of states under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system.”
- An ICJ advisory opinion could be an important catalyst for the urgent, ambitious, and equitable climate action that is needed to stop global heating and to limit and remediate climate-induced human rights harms.
- However, advisory opinion will be non-binding.
About International Court of Justice
- It is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945.
- It succeeded the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was established by the League of Nations in 1920 and disbanded in 1946.
- HQ: Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
- Members of ICJ: All 193 United Nations member nations are automatically parties to the Court.
- It is independent of the United Nations Secretariat.
- Judges: It consists of 15 judges—no two of whom may be nationals of the same state—who are elected to nine-year terms by majority votes in the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
- One-third of judges, elected every three years, are eligible for re-election.
- Function: It resolves legal disputes submitted to it by States in accordance with international law, as well as to provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
- Decision: ICJ decisions are binding on the parties and have been concerned with issues such as land and maritime boundaries, territorial sovereignty, diplomatic relations, the right of asylum, nationality, and economic rights.
- The court’s judgment is final and without appeal.
New India Literacy Programme
Context: The 1st Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Test (FLNAT) under New India Literacy Programme (Nav Bharat Saaksharta Karyakram) was held recently.
About New India Literacy Programme:
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme approved by the Government of India for implementation during FYs 2022-27.
- Budget: It has been allocated Rs 150 crore for 2022-23,
- It is in alignment with the recommendations of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
- It targets all non-literates of age 15 years and above in the country, with more focus on females and educationally backward states.
- It covers the missing age group of 15 to 18-year-old children, who are at risk of dropping out of school.
- Right To Education covers children till 14 years and adult literacy programmes target persons over 18 years.
- Components of New India Literacy Programme
- Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
- Critical Life Skills
- Basic Education
- Vocational Skills
- Continuing Education
- Implementation: It is to be implemented through volunteer teachers.
- NYKS volunteers, community, students of schools and Higher Education Institutions and Teacher Education Institution will be involved for teaching learning activities for its effective implementation in the country.
- Curriculum: National Council of Educational Research and Training has developed a curriculum of four books that adult learners have to master within 200 hours of teaching in order to be certified ‘literate.’
About Literacy Rate
- The literacy rate determines the percentage of the population capable of reading and writing. The literacy rate is further divided into adult literacy rate (ages 15 and above) and youth literacy rate (ages 15 to 24).
- Determination of Literacy: According to the National Literacy Mission Programme, a person must acquire the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic to be called literate.
- Basic comprehension skills to communicate effectively and solve day-to-day problems also determines literacy.
Trend of literacy rate in India
- Progressive Approach: From a literacy rate of mere 18.3% in 1951 to 74.4% in 2018, India has come a long way in establishing a well-educated nation.
- According to Ministry of Education data in 2018, India’s male literacy rate stood at 82.4% and female literacy rate stood at 65.8%.
- Gender Gap: Though both male and female literacy have risen steadily over the years, the wide gender gap prevails even today.
- Long Way to Go: India is also home to the largest number of illiterate people in the world with over 25% of the population still uneducated.
- Currently, there are 15 to 20 crore illiterate people in India, who do not know how to read and write.
Context: Recently, the Tiwa tribe in Assam celebrated the Yangli festival.
The Tiwa Tribe
- Also known as Lalung tribe, Tiwas are inhabitants of Assam and Meghalaya. They can also be found in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
- They are divided into Hill Tiwas and Plain Tiwas based on their habitation.
- Constitutional Status: Tiwas are recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in Assam excluding the autonomous districts.
- Culture: The Tiwas are generally matrilineal.
- Economy: Tiwas practice shifting cultivation.
- Religion: Most Tiwas follow Animism, while others follow Christianity and Hindusim.
- Language: Many Tiwas speak their indigenous language belonging to Tibeto-Burman group, while others speak Assamese.
- Festival: Yangli is a festival of the Tiwa. Yangli is a festival of welcoming of the goddess Lakshmi.
- Wanchua is another festival important to Hill Tiwas.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT)
Context: Ahead of tribunal’s launch, standard operating procedure (SOP) for Goods and Services Tax (GST) investigations to minimise fresh disputes.
About GST Appellate Tribunal:
- Section (109) of the Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) mandates the constitution of a GSTAT and its Benches.
- The Appellate Tribunal under GST is a quasi-judicial body that has been established to provide a platform for the resolution of disputes that arise between businesses, individuals, and the government regarding the implementation and interpretation of the GST laws.
- The GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) is the second appeal forum under GST.
- The National Appellate Tribunal is also the first common forum to resolve disputes between the centre and the states.
- Under GST, if a person is not satisfied with the decision passed by any lower court, an appeal can be raised to a higher court, the hierarchy for the same is as follows (from low to high):
- Adjudicating Authority
- Appellate Authority
- Appellate Tribunal
- High Court
- Supreme Court.
Powers of the Appellate Tribunal under GST
- As per the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the GST Appellate Tribunal holds the same powers as the court and is deemed Civil Court for trying a case.
- It has been granted the powers to hear appeals and to pass orders and directions, including those for the recovery of amounts due, for the enforcement of its orders, and for the rectification of mistakes.
- It also has the power to impose penalties, revoke or cancel registrations, and take such other measures as may be necessary to ensure compliance with the GST laws.
- Its framework may permit the resolution of disputes involving dues or fines of less than Rs. 50 lakhs by a single-member bench.
Constitution of the GST Appellate Tribunal:
- National Bench: The National Appellate Tribunal is situated in New Delhi, and constitutes a National President (Head) along with 2 Technical Members (1 from the Centre and one State each).
- Regional Benches: As of now, there are 3 Regional Benches (situated in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad) in India, wherein each bench constitutes a Judicial Member and 2 Technical Members(for Centre and State each).
- State Bench and Area Bench: The Government, on the recommendations of the GST council, has notified a number of State Benches.
- It is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
- 101st Amendment Act paved the way for the goods and services tax.
- The amendment inserted a new Article 279-A in the Constitution of India. This article empowered the President to constitute a GST Council by order.
- The Council is a joint forum of the center and the states and consists of the following members:
- The Union Finance Minister as the Chairperson
- The Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance
- The Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each state government.
- The members of the Council from the states have to choose one amongst themselves to be the Vice-Chairperson of the Council.
- The Chairperson of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the Council.