22 April 2019 Daily Current Affairs Analysis


 

Table of Contents

 

·    Topic: IR. 4

v  The World Press Freedom Index 2019. 4

 

·    Topic: Polity, IR. 7

v  Egypt is holding a three-day referendum on constitutional amendments  7

 

·    Topic: Science & Technology. 9

v          The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers directly deliver proteins into mammalian cells. 9

 

·    Topic: Polity, Social Issues. 11

v  Arbitrary ban on social media will impede FDI 11

 

 

 

  1. The World Press Freedom Index 2019

 

News

 

  • The World Press Freedom Index 2019  has been released by The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) who reflecting growing animosity towards journalists.

 

  • About 2019 index:

 

  • The index shows Norway has been topped again for the third year, followed by Finland and Sweden at second and third positions, respectively.

 

 

  • The Middle East and North Africa region continues to be the most difficult and dangerous for journalists.

 

 

  • Only 24 percent of the 180 countries and territories were classified as “good” or “fairly good”, as opposed to 26 percent last year.

 

  • Of all the world’s regions, Americas (North and South) suffered the greatest deterioration, falling by 3.6 percent, in its regional score.
  • The Asia-Pacific region continues to rank third last. The number of murdered journalists was extremely high in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Disinformation is becoming a big problem in the region.

 

 

  • Syria (174th) continues to be extremely dangerous for media personnel and as does Yemen (168th).

 

  • India’s Performance:

 

 

  • India’s rank dropped down to 140th from 138th in 2018, two points below the previous year.

 

 

  • As per the Index, one of the most striking features of the current state of press freedom in India is violence against journalists including police violence, attacks by Maoist fighters, criminal groups and corrupt politicians.

 

 

  • The media coverage in the sensitive regions like Kashmir continues to be very difficult. Even the entry of foreign reporters is prohibited in Kashmir and the Internet is often disconnected there.

 

 

 

  • World Press Freedom Index:

 

 

  • Published annually by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries.

 

 

  • It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists.

 

 

  • It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.

 

 

  • It is compiled by means of a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts all over the world.

 

 

  • This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

 

 

 

 

  1. Egypt is holding a three-day referendum on constitutional amendments

 

News

  • A three-day referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in office until 2030.

 

 

  • Parliament this week overwhelmingly approved the proposals, which would also bolster the role of the military and expand the president’s power over judicial appointments.

 

  • Critics say they fear that the changes will further limit the space for dissent after a wide-ranging security crackdown.

 

 

  • What are the major amendments?

 

  1. The amendments provide for the creation of a second parliamentary chamber known as the Council of Senators. It would have 180 members, two-thirds elected by the public and the rest appointed by the president.

 

 

  1. An amendment to Article 140 of the constitution extends the presidential term to six years from four. An outright bar on any president serving more than two terms will change to a bar on serving more than two consecutive terms.

 

  1. The amendments also create the post of vice president, allowing the president to appoint one or more deputies. They task the president with choosing head judges and the public prosecutor from a pool of senior candidates pre-selected by the judiciary. They further create a quota setting women’s representation in parliament at a minimum of 25 percent.

 

  1. Article 200 of the constitution on the role of the military is expanded, giving the military a duty to protect “the constitution and democracy and the fundamental make-up of the country and its civil nature, the gains of the people and the rights and freedoms of individuals”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers directly delier proteins into mammalian cells

 

News

 

  • Researchers at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have used a novel strategy to directly deliver proteins into mammalian cells.

 

  • It might have huge medical implications.

 

 

  • Details About It:

 

  • Proteins are big molecules and so cannot enter the cells on their own.

 

 

  • So a team from IISc substituted a hydrogen atom of the protein with an iodine atom to achieve a nearly sixfold increase in protein uptake by cells.

 

 

  • The increased protein uptake was seen even when the molecular weight of the protein was 28,000 dalton, meaning the protein was much bigger in size than most of the therapeutic small molecules.

 

 

  • The results were published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
  • Other researchers have tried tagging the protein with cell-penetrating peptides, supercharged proteins and even used virus-like particles to ferry the proteins into cells.

 

 

  • But these approaches have severe limitations including altering the protein function inside the cell.

 

 

  • For this reason, most of the applications involving proteins are directed to extracellular targets. Proteins inside the cells get impaired during diseased conditions such as neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease.

 

 

  • Supplementing the cellular protein in such cases becomes important and this is where the method used by the IISc team will come in handy.

 

 

  • Since the iodinated amino acid is introduced on the surface of the protein, the secondary structure is not altered and so the protein remains functionally intact.

 

 

  • Iodine forms a halogen bond with a specific receptor (caveolin) that transports the protein from the cell membrane surface to inside the cells.

 

 

  • Compared with bromine and chlorine, iodine is heavier and so it forms a stronger halogen bond with the receptor.
  • This might be responsible for more proteins getting into the cells when we substitute a hydrogen with an iodine atom.

 

 

  • The cells were healthy after taking up the protein.

 

 

  • The morphology of the cells that had taken up the proteins did not change even at the end of 24 hours.

 

 

 

  1. Arbitrary ban on social media will impede FDI

 

News

 

  • The Madras High Court asked the Tamil Nadu government on April 3 to ban TikTok, saying it encouraged pornography and warning that sexual predators could target child users.

 

  • Chinese video app TikTok is no longer available in Google and Apple app stores in India after the Madras High Court prohibited its downloads, a setback for developer Bytedance Technology’s efforts to tap users in a key market.
  • Actual  issue?

 

  • Any “arbitrary” ban on social media platforms and intermediaries could impede foreign direct investment and affect expansion of the digital India initiative, an industry body of Internet and mobile device companies said.

 

 

  • The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) said it would be a major roadblock to the growth of digital India and impede FDI in digital if intermediaries were to be banned quite arbitrarily by the courts in the country.

 

 

  • The association was of the view that such bans dilutes the safe harbour provisions currently contained in the IT Act and its Rules and make it impossible for them to operate in the country.

 

 

  • Especially affected would be the so-called social media platforms which allow citizens to express themselves

 

  • What is TikTok?

 

  • TikTok is an app that allows users to create and share short videos with special effects.

 

  • The app was developed by Chinese Internet technology company ByteDance.

 

  • It has over 54 million monthly active users in India.

 

  • Why is TikTok banned in India?

 

  • Despite TikTok being very popular in India, it was argued that its content is inappropriate.

 

  • Several users have reported endemic cyberbullying on TikTok, including racial abuse.

 

 

  • Jokes, clips and footage related to India’s thriving movie industry dominate the app’s platform, along with memes and videos in which youngsters, some scantily clad, lip- sync and dance to popular music.

 

 

  • Among many reasons for the ban as quoted by the Madras High Court are concerns of availability of pornographic content, exposure of children to sexual predators, people being made subject to mockery and pranks, violation of privacy and its addictive tendency among teenagers.

 

  • According to an IT ministry official, the government sent a letter requesting Apple and Google to abide by the state court’s order.

 

 

  • Google blocked access to TikTok in its Play store in India to comply with the court’s directive. The app is currently not available in mobile app stores.

 

 

  • ByteDance challenged the TN court’s ban order in Supreme Court saying it went against freedom of speech rights in India. The Supreme Court is yet to hear the case.

 

 

  • The legal action against ByteDance could set a precedent of Indian courts intervening to regulate content on social media and other digital platforms.