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28th October Current Affairs

Amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969

(GS-II: Government policies and related issues)

In News:

The Centre has proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.

Details:

Presently, the registration of births and deaths is done by the local registrar appointed by States.

Need for:

The database may be used to update the Population Register and the electoral register, and Aadhaar, ration card, passport and driving licence databases.

Proposed amendments by the Centre:

It is proposed that the Chief Registrar (appointed by the States) would maintain a unified database at the State level and integrate it with the data at the “national level,” maintained by the Registrar General of India (RGI). The amendments will imply that the Centre will be a parallel repository of data.

“Special Sub-Registrars” shall be appointed, in the event of disaster, with any or all of his powers and duties for on the spot registration of deaths and issuance of extract thereof, as may be prescribed.”

What are the benefits of registration of birth and death?

The birth certificate is the first right of the child and it is the first step towards establishing its identity. The following compulsory uses of birth and death certificates are emerged:

  • For admission to schools.
  • As proof of age for employment.
  • For proof of age at marriage.
  • To establish parentage.
  • To establish age for purpose of enrollment in Electoral Rolls.
  • To establish age for insurance purposes.
  • For registering in National Population Register (NPR).
  • Compulsory production of death certificate for the purpose of inheritance of property and for claiming dues from insurance companies and other companies.

Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG)

(GS-III: Biotechnology related issues)

In News:

INSACOG led team has traced a total of 108 mutations of the SARS-Cov-2, which include four novel mutations in India, in the wastewater samples collected from Pune city between December 2020 and April 2021.

How important is it for countries to continuously monitor variants and understand the emerging genomic epidemiology?

Genomic sequencing is a crucial part of every country’s approach for detecting and containing outbreaks of other pathogens.

In India and around the world, the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the emergence of new variants made clear how important it is to be able to collect viral samples, sequence them and share that information nationally and regionally so that there is a clear, accurate real-time picture of how a pandemic is moving, how the pathogen is changing and the effectiveness of mitigation and countermeasure strategies that save lives.

Purpose of sequencing:

The main purpose of sequencing is surveillance. It helps to get the true picture of prevailing variants, emerging variants (like delta) and those causing reinfection.

WHO has stressed on the fact that data of sequencing should be submitted to open-access platforms like GISAID, so that a sequence done in one part of the world can be looked at by the global scientific community.

What is genome sequencing?

A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes.

Genomics also involves the sequencing and analysis of genomes through uses of high throughput DNA sequencing.

Advances in genomics have triggered a revolution in discovery-based research and systems biology to facilitate understanding of even the most complex biological systems such as the brain.

Need for genome sequencing:

Mapping the diversity of India’s genetic pool will lay the bedrock of personalised medicine and put it on the global map.

Considering the diversity of population in our country, and the disease burden of complex disorders, including diabetes, mental health, etc., once we have a genetic basis, it may be possible to take action before the onset of a disease.

About Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG):

The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is jointly initiated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

It is a consortium of 28 National Laboratories to monitor the genomic variations in the SARS-CoV-2.

It carries out whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus across the nation, aiding in understanding the spread and evolution of the virus.

INSACOG also aims to focus on sequencing of clinical samples to understand the disease dynamics and severity.

National Security vs Judicial Review

(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)

In News:

Supreme Court has made few observations regarding the applicability of judicial review in matters related to ‘National Security’ of the Country.

What’s the issue?

The Court was responding to submissions made by Solicitor-General for the Centre, in the Pegasus snooping case.

The government had refused the court’s repeated advice to file a detailed affidavit responding to the snooping allegations, blankly stating that “the disclosure of certain facts might affect the national security and defence of the nation”.

Observations made by the Court:

The state cannot keep a secret from the court merely on the bogey of “national security” and expect the judiciary to remain a “mute spectator”.

The claim has to be backed by evidence to prove that the disclosure of the information sought by the court would affect national security concerns.

National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning.

Implications:

The court accepted that judicial review in national security matters was limited. However, the court’s delicacy did not licence the Government to call for an “omnibus prohibition” against judicial review.

The mere invocation of national security by the state does not render the court a mute spectator.

What is Judicial Review?

Judicial review is the power of Judiciary to review any act or order of Legislative and Executive wings and to pronounce upon the constitutional validity when challenged by the affected person.

Judicial review present in India:

The power of Judicial Review comes from the Constitution of India itself (Articles 13, 32, 136, 142 and 147 of the Constitution).

The power of judicial review is evoked to protect and enforce the fundamental rights guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution.

Article 13 of the Constitution prohibits the Parliament and the state legislatures from making laws that “may take away or abridge the fundamental rights” guaranteed to the citizens of the country.

The provisions of Article 13 ensure the protection of the fundamental rights and consider any law “inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights” as void.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Details:

The Manila-based ADB and the Beijing-based AIIB, where China and India are the biggest shareholders, are in the process of considering the loans.

Background:

The vaccines will be purchased by the Government of India through a competitive process and the ADB will be administering the purchasing system and implement it under ADB’s APVAX, or Asia-Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, mechanism.

About ADB:

  • It is a regional development bank.
  • established on 19 December 1966.
  • headquartered — Manila, Philippines.
  • official United Nations Observer.

Who can be its members?

The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.

ADB now has 68 members, 49 from within Asia.

Voting rights:

It is modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.

As of 31 December 2019, ADB’s five largest shareholders are Japan and the United States (each with 15.6% of total shares), the People’s Republic of China (6.4%), India (6.3%), and Australia (5.8%).

Roles and functions:

Dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

This is carried out through investments – in the form of loans, grants and information sharing – in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems, helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.