23rd Feb Current Affairs
February 23, 2021
25th Feb Current Affairs
February 25, 2021
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24th Feb Current Affairs

National Coal Index

In News:

Ministry of Coal has started Commercial Auction of coal mines on revenue share basis.

In order to arrive at the revenue share based on market prices of coal, National Coal Index (NCI) was conceptualized.

What is the NCI?

The NCI is a price index which reflects the change of price level of coal on a particular month relative to the fixed base year.

The base year for the NCI is FY 2017-18.

Rolled out on 4th June 2020.

The aim is to have an index that will truly reflect the market price of coal.

Benefits:

For taxation purpose, the Coal Index will be the base indicator.

For future calculation of upfront amount and intrinsic value of mine, this Index will be helpful.

For calculation of annual escalation (monthly payment), this index can be basis.

FASTags

In News:

Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has decided that all lanes in the fee plazas on National Highways shall be declared as ‘FASTag lane of the fee plaza’ from midnight of 15th/16th February 2021.

Details:

Any vehicle not fitted with FASTag will have to pay twice the fee for the category of the vehicle they are driving at electronic toll plazas across India.

How does FASTag work?

The device employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.

It is affixed on the windscreen, so the vehicle can drive through plazas without stopping.

The payment method is a part of the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) collects the payments.

Why do we need this scheme?

According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), these devices will make passing through tolls considerably smoother since drivers will no longer have to carry cash or stop to make a transaction.

Cameras at toll booths will take photos of passengers in a vehicle, which will be useful for the Ministry of Home Affairs as there will be a record of a vehicle’s movement.

Puducherry L-G

In News:

President Kovind removes Kiran Bedi as Puducherry Lieutenant Governor.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has been given the additional charge of Puducherry.

What are the powers and sources of LG of Puducherry?

Puducherry is a union territory which is governed by Article 239A of the Constitution.

The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Puducherry, with a Council of Ministers to govern the UT.

The same Act says that the UT will be administered by the President of India through a Lieutenant Governor.

Section 44 of the Act allows the LG to “act in his discretion” in the matter of lawmaking, even though the Council of Ministers has the task of aiding and advising him. In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and his Ministers on any matter, the Administrator is bound to refer it to the President for a decision and act according to the decision given by the President. However, the Administrator can also claim that the matter is urgent, and take immediate action as he deems necessary.

Under Section 22 of the Act, prior sanction of the Administrator is required for certain legislative proposals. These include Bills or amendments that the Council of Ministers intends to move in the Legislative Assembly, and which deal with the “constitution and organisation of the court of the Judicial Commissioner”, and “jurisdiction and powers of the court of the Judicial Commissioner with respect to any of the matters in the State List or the Concurrent List”.

Appointment:

The Lt. Governor is appointed by the President for a term of five years.

Lawyers flag violation of norms in Disha arrest

In News:

Top lawyers have termed Bangalore-based climate activist Disha Ravi’s arrest “ab-initio-illegal”, meaning illegal from the beginning.

Background:

Disha was arrested for “editing” a tool-kit for organising farmers’ protest. Global climate leader, teenager Greta Thunberg, had forwarded the tool-kit online.

What’s the issue?

The arrest violated every legal and constitutional right of Disha, starting from her not being produced in court in Bangalore, where she was arrested, for a transit remand; to not being provided a legal counsel in Delhi, where she was remanded in police custody.

Rules and other provisions in this regard:

As per the lawyers, almost every due process of law was overlooked.

It is stated that the Delhi Police did not follow any of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar (2014).

Section 80 of CrPC stipulates that the arrested person must be produced before the magistrate within the jurisdiction of arrest, which must be followed in every case.

She also did not have an opportunity to seek legal counsel nor was one provided to her, in breach of Article 22.

What is the South African Covid variant?

In News:

The WHO has identified three new variants of coronavirus originating in the UK, Brazil and now in South Africa.

What’s the concern?

Of the three, the latest South African variant known as 20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351, is different from the one in Britain and appears to be more infectious than the original virus.

The South African variant carries a mutation called N501Y that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread, a report in The New York Times said.

Also, the WHO has said this variant “is less susceptible to antibody neutralisation” than previous variants.

Why do viruses mutate?

A mutation just means a difference; a letter change in the genome.

Mutations in viruses are a natural part of evolution.

The pressure on the virus to evolve is increased by the fact that so many millions of people have now been infected.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.

A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.