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24th August Current Affairs

The case of the missing scientific Indian

(GS-I: Indian Society)

In News:

The author argues that India has failed to propagate scientific literacy not only among the public but also among scientists themselves

Details:

Scientific temper is an open-minded examination—a temper ever ready to welcome new knowledge and experiments, even when their results are unfavourable to preconceived opinions or theories.

Jawaharlal Nehru defined it as an attitude of logical and rational thinking.

Constitution: Propogate scientific temper (a duty in Article 51A) (included through the 42nd Amendment)

Importance:

Bringing forth a progressive society that is free of superstitions and irrational

Developing the nation in all spheres (political, economic and social)

Promoting tolerance among people for differing thoughts and ideas.

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge

Issues:

Scientific temper in India has continued to remain a lofty ideal and has not percolated into society.

The bulk of scientists in the country was not committed to a scientific temper which calls for rationality, reason and lack of belief in any dogma, superstition or manifest falsehood.

India had not produced many Nobel Prize winners in science “largely because of the lack of a scientific environment in the country”

Prevalent orthodoxy: People several times do not believe in scientifically obtained solutions.

Pseudoscience in the US:  E.g. Christian revivalist groups in the U.S. have been fighting to bring Creationism into the science curriculum as an alternate theory to the origin of the human species.

Conclusion:

This 75th year of Independence should be seen as an opportunity for India to critically assess its successes and failures and prepare for a promising future. Science and scientific literacy have a key role in bringing home that future.

Healthcare in India

(GS-II: Government policies and Intervention: Health)

In News:

A report by NASSCOM “Healthcare in India- Transforming Through Innovation” highlights how emerging technologies and innovations are transforming Health.

Status of India’s Health Sector:

Increase in healthcare expenditure by a massive 73% ( from 2.73 lakh cr in 2019-20 to 4.72 lakh cr in 2021-22)

New missions: e-sanjeevani, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, National Digital Health Mission etc.

Over 3+ mn requirement of doctors and nurses by 2025

Over 2000 HealthTech Start-ups (including 4 unicorns)

What is driving this growth?

Increasing life expectancy ( slated to be 70 years (2025) from 69.66 years currently )

Increasing % of senior citizens (slated to reach 16% (2041) from 8.6% (2011 census)

Increasing pressure of diseaseg. Pandemic

Rising income level

Increasing health insurance penetration

Telemedicine and remote care

Recommendations by the report:

Digitize primary care

Build healthcare workforce

National Health App for all healthcare services.

Some unique technology innovations (not from the report)

Digital ecosystem: E.g. an Apple watch monitors the user’s health and shares the data with healthcare providers to analyse the patient’s health even before the consultation begins.

AI-based wellness selfie identifies key vitals such as SpO2, respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure etc.,

Non-invasive glucometers, smart health watches, chatbot-based symptom checking etc.

Conclusion:

People-centred primary healthcare built upon digitalisation and innovation will lead the way to universal health care in India.

Supreme Court strikes down the provision of the 1988 Benami law

(GS-II & III: Structure, organization and functioning of the judiciary, Benami laws in India etc)

In News:

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice declared Sections 3(2) and section 5 introduced through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act of 2016, as unconstitutional.

Details:

The act defines a ‘Benami’ transaction as any transaction in which property is transferred to one person for a consideration paid by another person.

Background:

The 2016 law amended the original Benami Act of 1988, expanding it to 72 Sections from a mere nine. Amendments were opposed in SC and SC had to decide on three main issues:

Whether there is legislative intent to give retrospective effect to the 2016 Act

Whether the 2016 Act imposes a harsher penalty than the earlier Act insofar as it provides for “confiscation of Benami property rather than its acquisition”, thereby violating Article 20(1)

Whether the 2016 Act is constitutionally valid.

Key Highlights of the judgement:

Section 3(2): It mandates three years of imprisonment for those who had entered into Benami transactions between September 5, 1988, and October 25, 2016.

A person can be sent behind bars for a Benami transaction entered into 28 years before the Section even came into existence, thus it is a harsher punishment.

Section 5 of the 2016 Amendment Act: It said that “any property, which is the subject matter of Benami transaction, shall be liable to be confiscated by the Central Government”.

The court held that this provision cannot be applied retrospectively.

Government’s version of forfeiture and acquisition: The CJI dismissed the government’s version that forfeiture, acquisition and confiscation of property under the 2016 Act as it was not in the nature of prosecution and cannot be restricted under Article 20.

New class of fictitious and sham transactions: The court observed that the 2016 Act condemned not only transactions that were traditionally denominated as Benami but rather a “new class of fictitious and sham transactions”.

Prosecutions or confiscation proceedings quashed: Authorities concerned cannot initiate or continue criminal prosecution or confiscation proceedings for transactions entered into prior to the coming into force of the 2016 Act, viz., October 25, 2016.

As a consequence, all such prosecutions or confiscation proceedings shall stand quashed,” the Supreme Court directed.

Extensive powers:

Extensive powers: The court also noted that the Act also granted extensive powers of discovery, inspection, compelling attendance, and compelling production of documents to officials.

Assistance of Police officers: It also empowered authorities to take the assistance of police officers, customs officers, income tax officers etc., for furnishing information.

Person supplying false information: A person who supplies false information before any authority, is subjected to rigorous imprisonment of up to five years under Section 54 of the 2016 Act.

Benami property:

It is the one whose legal owner is different from the actual owner.

Benami property includes:

  • Immovable assets such as land, flats or house.
  • Movable assets such as gold, stocks, mutual fund holdings, bank deposits etc.

If the property is sold, then the proceeds from the sale are also included under Benami property.

Moonlighting

(GS-I: Indian Society)

What Is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting simply refers to the act of having a second job, or working for extra projects, gigs, or employers, that counts as a secondary source of income, outside one’s working hours.

Debate around Moonlighting:

While Swiggy launched a moonlighting policy allowing its employees to work on their passion projects outside of their work (calling it a step towards a “remote-first organization”).

Rishad Premji, Wipro’s chairman, called the concept of moonlighting in the tech industry cheating.

For Moonlighting:

Moonlighting allows workers to work for side projects once they finish their shift timings, without compromising on their primary employment.

Gaining extra profits while also helping them hone their skills.

Personal choice: After the company’s shift timings, a person is free to do whatever he/she wants to do as a passion project or side gig.

Build’s a good profile: Many universities abroad consider such side projects as valuable for admission into professional courses.

Against Moonlighting:

An employee is required and expected to give his entire working time, effort, and energy to the employer’s interest.

Legal but may not be ethical: There is no overarching law which prohibits a person from doing multiple jobs. However, a person with a similar nature of jobs may spark breach of confidentiality issues.

Not legal in some states: There restriction is on double employment under the Factories Act, but not applicable to IT companies in some states.

Moonlighting turns to daylighting: Side jobs may take away the employee’s productivity.

Fear of leakage of confidential information of the primary job.

Moonlighting clause: Some companies have introduced a moonlighting clause that puts a restriction on the double employment of an employee.

Conclusion:

Moonlighting should be a choice unless it affects the efficiency and integrity of employees’ primary work duty.