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September 24, 2020
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September 26, 2020
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25th September Current Affairs

What is the ‘Feluda’ test for Covid-19 approved by India?

Feluda is the acronym for FNCAS9 Editor Linked Uniform Detection Assay.

It is an accurate and low-cost paper-based test strip to detect Covid-19 in less than 30 minutes.

It was approved recently for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India.

Developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Tata Group.

How it works?

It uses indigenously developed CRISPR gene-editing technology to identify and target the genetic material of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Significance:

According to CSIR, the test matches accuracy levels of RT-PCR tests.

It has a quicker turnaround time and requires less expensive equipment.

‘Feluda’ is also the world’s first diagnostic test to deploy a specially adapted Cas9 protein to successfully detect the virus.

What is CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology?

It is a gene editing technology and finds its use in correcting genetic defects and treating and preventing the spread of diseases.

The technology can detect specific sequences of DNA within a gene and uses an enzyme functioning as molecular scissors to snip it.

It also allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.

The technology can also be configured for detection of multiple other pathogens in the future.

NHAI plans to monetise its highways through InvITs

In News:

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is preparing to come up with its InvIT issue.

It had received approval from the Union Cabinet in this regard in December 2019.

What are Infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs)?

They are institutions similar to mutual funds, which pool investment from various categories of investors and invest them into completed and revenue-generating infrastructure projects, thereby creating returns for the investor.

They are regulated under the Sebi (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014 and the Indian Trust Act, 1882.

Structure of InvITs:

They have a trustee, sponsor(s), investment manager and project manager.

Trustee (certified by Sebi) has the responsibility of inspecting the performance of an InvIT.

Sponsor(s) are promoters of the company that set up the InvIT.

Investment manager is entrusted with the task of supervising the assets and investments of the InvIT.

Project manager is responsible for the execution of the project.

How does it benefit the investor?

InvITs enable investors to buy a small portion of the units being sold by the fund depending upon their risk appetite.

Given that such trusts comprise largely of completed and operational projects with positive cash flow, the risks are somewhat contained.

Unitholders also benefit from favourable tax norms, including exemption on dividend income and no capital gains tax if units are held for more than three years.

How will it help NHAI?

The issue will enable NHAI to monetise its completed National Highways that have a toll collection track record of at least one year.

This will help the company raise funds for more road development across the country.

Official Secrets Act

In News:

Delhi journalist arrested under Official Secrets Act for passing on information such as the deployment of Indian troops on the border to Chinese intelligence officers.

About the Official Secrets Act:

Originally enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.

The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

Ambit of the Act:

It broadly deals with two aspects:

Spying or espionage, covered under Section 3.

Disclosure of other secret information of the government, under Section 5.

Is “secret information” defined?

The Act does not say what a “secret” document is. It is the government’s discretion to decide what falls under the ambit of a “secret” document.

It has often been argued that the law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act, 2005.

However, please note that if there is any inconsistency in the Official Secret Act with regard to furnishing of information, it will be superseded by the RTI Act.

But, under Sections 8 and 9 of the RTI Act, the government can still refuse information.

Termination of Session

A sitting of Parliament can be terminated by adjournment or adjournment sine die or prorogation or dissolution (in the case of the Lok Sabha).

Adjournment: It suspends the work in a sitting for a specified time, which may be hours, days or weeks.

Adjournment sine die: It means terminating a sitting of Parliament for an indefinite period.

In other words, when the House is adjourned without naming a day for reassembly.

The power of adjournment as well as adjournment sine die lies with the presiding officer (Speaker or Chairman) of the House.

Prorogation: The President issues a notification for prorogation of the session after the business of a session is completed and the presiding officer declares the House adjourned sine die. The President can also prorogue the House while in session.

Dissolution: Only the Lok Sabha is subject to dissolution. Rajya Sabha, being a permanent House, is not subject to dissolution.

A dissolution ends the life of the existing House, and a new House is constituted after general elections are held.

The President is empowered to dissolve the Lok Sabha.

Why in News?

The Lok Sabha adjourned sine die recently in what is being termed one of the shortest sessions in India’s parliamentary history, but which was packed with 25 Bills.

In this session, Lok Sabha productivity clocked at 167% with 25 Bills passed; 2,300 unstarred questions answered; 68% of the sittings dealing with legislative work; and 370 Zero Hour mentions.