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3rd September Current Affairs

Long wait for a Deputy Speaker for Lok Sabha

(GS-II: Parliament)

In News:

Post of Deputy-speaker in Lok Sabha (LS) still remains vacant

Details:

Delhi High Court directed the central government to explain its stand over the issue of not holding elections to the post of Deputy Speaker of LS. The position has remained vacant for last 830 days

Keeping the post of deputy speaker vacant is a violation of Article 93 of the Indian constitution.

A Deputy Speaker enjoys the same legislative powers as the Speaker. And in absence of the Speaker because of death, illness or any other reason, the Deputy Speaker also assumes the administrative powers.

The responsibility to elect a Deputy Speaker is the responsibility of the House

By parliamentary convention in recent times, the post of Deputy-Speaker usually went to a member from the major opposition party in the house.

The delay in electing a Deputy Speaker has been attributed to lack of opposition strength of elect a candidate of their choice, lackadaisical attitude of the present central government to nominate a suitable candidate to the post

Currently, when Speaker is not preceding over the house, a member from the panel from the panel of Chairperson precede over the house

There is a constitution-mandated panel of 10 members to preside over the proceedings of the Lok Sabha in the absence of Speaker.

About Deputy Speaker:

Article 93 of the Constitution provides for the election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

The constitutional office of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is more symbolic of parliamentary democracy than some real authority.

There is no need to resign from their original party though as a Deputy Speaker, they have to remain impartial.

Roles and functions: They act as the presiding officer in case of leave or absence caused by death or illness of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Election:

Usually, the Deputy Speaker is elected in the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha.

It is by convention that position of Deputy Speaker is offered to opposition party in India.

Tenure and removal:

They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign.

They can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority of its members.

Winged visitors arrive in Pulicat

(GS-III: Environment)

In News:

Increase in numbers of migratory birds visiting the Pulicat Lake in India

Details:

This positive development is largely due to increase in the storage levels in the reservoir in adjoining areas

Pulicat lake is the second largest brackish water lake in the country; next only to Chilika lake

Greater flamingos and pelicans are some of the famous migratory birds that visit this place

The region in which Pulicat lake is situated receives rainfall from both South-West as well as North-East monsoon winds

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is a famous bird sanctuary located near this lake

The lake is also home for black-headed ibis, Asian openbill, black-crowned night heron, and little cormorant. Other migratory birds that visit the sanctuary include northern pintail, common teal, little grebe, northern shoveler, Eurasian coot, Indian spot-billed duck, grey heron, Oriental darter, black-winged stilt, garganey and gadwall.

The presence of Barringtonia and Acacia nilotica species near the Pulicat lake region provides an ideal breeding site for spot-billed pelicans.

About Pulicat Lake and Nelapattu bird sanctuary:

Nelapattu bird sanctuary is considered one of the biggest habitats for some hundreds of pelicans and other birds. Located about 20 km north of the Pulicat Lake on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border, the sanctuary is spread in about 459 hectares.

Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake or lagoon in India, after Chilika Lake. It straddles the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states with over 96% of it in Andhra Pradesh. The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. The barrier island of Sriharikota separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal and is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Two rivers which feed the lagoon are the Arani River at the southern tip and the Kalangi River from the northwest, in addition to some smaller streams. The Buckingham Canal, a navigation channel, is part of the lagoon on its western side.

Flamingo Festival is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nelapattu.

CJI flags communal content in media

(GS-I: Communalism)

In News:

Observation made by Chief Justice of India (CJI) while adjudicating on a case relating to communalization of some sections of media in the country

Details:

The petition before the SC drew the court’s attention on how some sections of media linked Tablighi Jamaat to the spread of Covid-19

Such cases of communalized reporting are increasing in the country in recent times. Ex: UPSC Jihad, Hadiya case, Triple Talaq case etc

The court also lamented about the lack of adequate accountability to hold social media and over the top content platforms for their actions

The government highlighted the recent steps it had taken to ensure accountability in this regard. That is- Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules of 2021.

About Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021:

It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media.

Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7.

A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days.

Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.

A monthly report: They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal.

There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee.

About Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021:

It provides for a three-level grievance redressal mechanism — self-regulation by broadcasters, self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the broadcasters, and oversight by an Inter-Departmental Committee at the level of the Union government.

Procedure for grievance redressal:

A viewer can file a complaint directly to the broadcaster, who will have to respond within 15 days.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, the complaint can be escalated to the self-regulating bodies set up by TV channels, which should deal with the case in 60 days.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body, he may, within 15 days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the Central Government for its consideration under the Oversight Mechanism.

Such appeals will be dealt with by the Inter-Departmental Committee set up under the Oversight Mechanism.

The committee will be headed by the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and have members from various ministries.

India’s coronavirus genome sequencing system

(GS-III: Issues related to biotechnology)

In News:

Novel Coronavirus Sequencing and analysis has declined sharply in India.

Details:

The number of coronavirus samples sequenced and analysed in India has dropped.

India formed the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a consortium of genome sequencing labs, in December 2020.

While announcing INSACOG, the central government aimed to analyse 5 per cent of all positive samples. This method is known as ‘randomised surveillance’.

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.

Currently there are four ‘Variants of concern’ (VoCs) — Alpha (emerged in the UK), Beta (emerged in Brazil), Gama (emerged in South Africa) and Delta (emerged in India).

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.

About GISAID (Global initiative on sharing avian influenza data):

GISAID, established in 2008, provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 available on GISAID enabled global responses to the pandemic, including the development of the first vaccines and diagnostic tests.

About the Genomics for Public Health in India (IndiGen) programme:

CSIR initiated the Program in April 2019.

It aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India.

The objective is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technologies applications using population genome data.