2nd Feb Current Affairs
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3rd Feb Current Affairs

Taiwan invited to inauguration in a rare shift

In News:

Taiwan’s de facto Ambassador to the U.S. was formally invited to President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Details:

Taipei’s Foreign Ministry said it was the first time in decades that a Taiwanese envoy had been “invited” by the inauguration committee.

China- Taiwan relations- Background:

China has claimed Taiwan through its “one China” policy since the Chinese civil war forced the defeated Kuomintang, or Nationalist, to flee to the island in 1949 and has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary.

China is Taiwan’s top trading partner, with trade totalling $226 billion in 2018. Taiwan runs a large trade surplus with China.

While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.

Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.

Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asian Development Bank under various names.

Indo- Taiwan relations:

  • Although they do not have formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan and India have been cooperating in various fields.
  • India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.

FB official says he has right to remain silent

In News:

Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan recently told the Supreme Court that the summons issued to him by the Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee, which is probing the Delhi riots of February 2020, was “politically motivated”.

What’s the issue?

Invoking his right to silence, Ajit Mohan said he will not appear before the Committee which is examining the role of Facebook in failing to curb hate speech in connection with the riots.

He claimed that the inquiry by the Committee will soon evolve into what is hate speech and what is permissible speech, which would be very polarising subjects.

What is Hate Speech?

Hate speech is an incitement to hatred against a particular group of persons marginalized by their religious belief, sexual orientation, gender, and so on.

The Law Commission, in its 267th report on hate speech, said such utterances have the potential to provoke individuals and society to commit acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.

Why Hate Speech must be curbed?

  • Internal Security: The Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 was triggered by a fake video that incited communal passions.
  • Igniting extremist sentiments.
  • Mob lynching.
  • Misinformation and disinformation: Delhi Riots.

Measures:

The world’s biggest social media companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, are exploring an industry-wide alliance to curb fake news on their platforms in India.

Election Commission of India must tie up with tech companies to identify the creator of such news.

Educating the end-users.

The government should bring out a policy framework on the possible harm due to the internet messaging platforms to engage at a deeper level.

Imposing hefty fines, like in Germany the Social media companies face fines of up to €50m if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.

AstroSat

In News:

AstroSat’s Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope spots rare ultraviolet-bright stars in a massive intriguing cosmic dinosaur in the Milky Way.

Significance of the discovery:

Such UV-bright stars are speculated to be the reason for the ultraviolet radiation coming from old stellar systems such as elliptical galaxies which are devoid of young blue stars. Hence, it is all the more important to observe more such stars to understand their properties.

About AstroSat:

AstroSat is India’s first multi-wavelength space telescope, which has five telescopes seeing through different wavelengths simultaneously — visible, near UV, far UV, soft X-ray and hard X-ray.

Onboard the AstroSat is a 38-cm wide UltraViolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT), which is capable of imaging in far and near-ultraviolet bands over a wide field of view.

AstroSat was launched on 28 September 2015 by ISRO into a near-Earth equatorial orbit.

It is a multi-institute collaborative project, involving IUCAA, ISRO, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Mumbai), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (Bengaluru), and Physical Research Laboratory (Ahmedabad), among others.

PLI Scheme

In News:

Approval accorded under PLI Scheme for Promotion of Domestic Manufacturing of critical Key Starting Materials (KSMs)/ Drug Intermediates and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

Indian pharmaceutical industry:

It is the 3rd largest in the world by volume. It has high market presence in several advanced economies such as the US and EU. The industry is well known for its production of affordable medicines, particularly in the generics space.

However the country is significantly dependent on the import of basic raw materials, viz., Bulk Drugs that are used to produce medicines.

About the PLI scheme:

To make India a manufacturing hub, the government had initially announced the PLI scheme for mobile phones, pharma products, and medical equipment sectors.

Notified on April 1, 2020 as a part of the National Policy on Electronics.

It proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the electronics value chain.

In November 2020, the Union Cabinet gave its approval to introduce the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in 10 more sectors for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and exports (Atmanirbhar Bharat).

Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM)

In News:

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and adjoining areas has begun the process of setting up a Decision Support System (DSS) having a web, GIS and multi-model based operational and planning decision support tool.

This tool will help immensely in capturing the static and dynamic features of the emissions from various sources.

About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):

The Commission for Air Quality Management was formed by an ordinance in October 2020, the “Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020”.

Composition:

Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

It will be a permanent body and will have over 20 members.

The Commission will be a statutory authority.

The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.

It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.

Jurisdiction:

Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.

Will this new body also have penal powers?

Yes, the Commission will have some teeth. If its directions are contravened, through say, the setting up of an industrial unit in a restricted area, the Commission will have the power to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to 5 years.