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Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 04 March 2024

CONTENTS NITI Aayog GROW Report and PortalOrganization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries NITI Aayog GROW Report and Portal Context: Recently, the Greening and Restoration of Wasteland with Agroforestry (GROW) report and portal was launched by NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). Relevance: GS II: Government policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: Key Highlights of the GROW Report: Facilitating Land Restoration and AgroforestryGROW Portal: Enhancing Access to Agroforestry DataAgroforestry: A Holistic Land Use ApproachImpacts of Agroforestry: Nurturing Prosperity and Sustainability Key Highlights of the GROW Report: Facilitating Land Restoration and Agroforestry The GROW report is designed to support restoration initiatives, aligning with national goals of Land Degradation Neutrality and the restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. National Commitments: Aims to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Wasteland Assessment: India has approximately 55.76 million hectares of wastelands, constituting 16.96% of the total geographical area.Degraded lands have experienced reduced productivity and biodiversity due to natural and human-induced factors. Agroforestry Solutions: Proposes greening and restoring wastelands through agroforestry. Current Agroforestry Status: Agroforestry covers 8.65% of India’s total geographical area, equivalent to about 28.42 million hectares.Approximately 6.18% and 4.91% of India’s land are highly and moderately suitable for agroforestry, respectively. State-wise Suitability: Top large-sized states for agroforestry suitability: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana.Top medium-sized states: Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, and Nagaland (as per ISRO). Policy and Institutional Support: Identifies the need for policy and institutional backing to scale up agroforestry interventions in wastelands. Alignment with Policies: Emphasizes India’s National Agroforestry Policy of 2014, aligning with global commitments such as the Paris Agreement, Bonn Challenge, UN Sustainable Development Goals, UNCCD, Green India Mission, and more. GROW Portal: Enhancing Access to Agroforestry Data Platform Hosting:The GROW portal is seamlessly integrated into the Bhuvan platform, ensuring universal accessibility.Data Accessibility:Provides access to state and district-level data concerning agroforestry suitability across India.Technological Foundation:Leverages remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to derive thematic datasets.Offers in-depth information on various factors influencing agroforestry suitability.Agroforestry Suitability Index (ASI):Introduces the ASI, a standardized index aiding in the prioritization of agroforestry interventions nationally.Key Insights:Delivers comprehensive insights into the existing extent of agroforestry in India.Highlights geographical distribution and overall coverage of agroforestry practices.User-Friendly Interface:Users can explore detailed maps and assessments through the portal, facilitating informed decision-making.Promoting Informed Interventions:The GROW portal acts as a valuable resource for individuals and organizations involved in agroforestry planning and implementation. Agroforestry: A Holistic Land Use Approach Definition: Agroforestry is a sustainable land-use management system that integrates trees and shrubs with agricultural crops and livestock. Traditional Significance in India: An integral part of Indian agriculture meeting diverse needs like wood, fuelwood, fodder, and subsistence requirements.Practiced across varied farming scales, from small and marginal farmers in rainfed conditions to large farmers under irrigated settings. Evolution of Policies: The All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Agroforestry in 1983 marked formal integration into research agendas.Key policy initiatives, including the National Forest Policy 1988, National Agriculture Policy 2000, National Bamboo Mission 2002, National Policy on Farmers 2007, and Green India Mission 2010, emphasized agroforestry.Momentum increased with the adoption of the National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) in 2014.India became the world’s first country to embrace a comprehensive agroforestry policy. National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) 2014: A policy framework enhancing agricultural livelihoods by integrating trees, crops, and livestock on the same land plot.Launched in February 2014 during the World Congress on Agroforestry in Delhi. Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF): Launched in 2016-17 under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).Aims to encourage and expand tree plantation on farmland with the motto “Har Medh Par Ped,” in conjunction with crops and cropping systems. Impacts of Agroforestry: Nurturing Prosperity and Sustainability Positive Yield Growth: Agroforestry systems yield positive growth for fruits, timber, and crops, elevating overall agricultural productivity.Economic Viability: Economically sustainable, agroforestry introduces additional income streams through diverse sources like timber, fuelwood, and fodder.Nutritional and Health Benefits: Systems focusing on fruit crops contribute to improved nutrition and health, positively impacting community well-being.Gender Dynamics and Women’s Empowerment: Despite significant women’s participation, further research is essential to understand agroforestry’s impact on gender dynamics and women’s empowerment.Enhanced Soil Health: Agroforestry enhances soil fertility, nutrient cycling, and soil organic carbon, fostering sustainable land management practices.Water-Use Efficiency and Conservation: Improves water-use efficiency, mitigates soil erosion, and actively contributes to watershed management and conservation endeavors.Climate Change Mitigation: Serves as a vital biomass energy source and carbon sequestration contributor, aiding in climate change mitigation efforts.Biodiversity Conservation: Promotes biodiversity conservation by providing habitats, supporting species movement, and mitigating deforestation rates. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Context: OPEC+ members led by Saudi Arabia and Russia recently agreed to extend voluntary oil output cuts first announced in 2023 as part of an agreement among oil producers to boost prices following economic uncertainty. Relevance: GS II- International Relations Dimensions of the Article: About Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)What is OPEC+? About Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations, founded in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria.As of 2018, the 14 member countries accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and almost 82% of the world’s “proven” oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices that were previously determined by the so-called “Seven Sisters” grouping of multinational oil companies.The stated mission of the organization is to “coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets, in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.” What is OPEC+? OPEC + countries are non-OPEC countries that export crude oil alongside the 14 OPEC countries.Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan, and Sudan are among the OPEC plus countries. What are their goals? The OPEC and non OPEC producers first formed the alliance at a historic meeting in Algiers in 2016.The aim was to undertake production restrictions to help resuscitate a flailing market.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 04 March 2024

CONTENTS Supreme Court Directs Compensation: Wrongful Release of Military Nursing Service OfficerIndia’s First Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry Boat LaunchLokpalGenerative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI)National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation Limited (NUCFDC)Melanochlamys droupadiGrey Zone WarfareYars Missile Supreme Court Directs Compensation: Wrongful Release of Military Nursing Service Officer Context: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Ministry of Defence to pay Rs 60 lakh in compensation to a former permanent commissioned officer in the Military Nursing Service (MNS). It is ruled that the officer was “wrongly” released from service in 1988 on grounds of her marriage. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Key Facts of the Case: Challenging Wrongful ReleasePolicy Framework for Recruiting Women Military OfficersSupreme Court’s Support for Women Officers in Armed ForcesSignificance of Increasing Women’s Representation in the Armed Forces Key Facts of the Case: Challenging Wrongful Release Background: Former permanent commissioned officer in the Military Nursing Service (MNS) faced release in 1988 based on marriage grounds, in accordance with Army Instruction No. 61 of 1977. This instruction governed MNS terms and conditions but was later withdrawn in 1995. Termination Grounds: Clause 11 of the instruction outlined grounds for termination, including marriage, misconduct, breach of contract, or unsatisfactory service. Legal Recourse: In 2016, seeking justice, she approached the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), which deemed her termination illegal and directed her reinstatement with back wages. Central Government’s Challenge: The Central government contested the AFT ruling, leading to the case ‘Union of India & Others vs. Ex. Lt. Selina John’ in the Supreme Court. Supreme Court’s Observations: The SC declared her release as “wrong and illegal,” rejecting the Centre’s argument based on the rule in force at the time.The court criticized the rule as manifestly arbitrary, highlighting that terminating employment due to marriage represents a clear case of gender discrimination and inequality. Policy Framework for Recruiting Women Military Officers Introduction of Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) – 1992:Women officers were first inducted into the Indian Army through WSES in 1992.WSES Service Terms:Under WSES, women officers served for five-year periods.They served in specific streams, including the Army Education Corps and the Corps of Engineers.Restrictions on Roles:Despite entry, restrictions were imposed on certain roles, such as infantry and armored corps.Transition to Short Service Commission (SSC) – 2006:In 2006, WSES was replaced by the Short Service Commission scheme.SSC Option for Women Officers:The new scheme allowed women officers the option to switch from WSES to SSC.SSC Terms for Men:Men under SSC were commissioned for ten years initially, with the option to extend up to fourteen years.Men in SSC had the choice to opt for a Permanent Commission (PC). Supreme Court’s Support for Women Officers in Armed Forces Union of India v. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja Case, 2015: In 2015, seventeen women officers filed writ petitions before the Delhi High Court.These officers, who served as Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers in various cadres, completed fourteen years of service but were not considered for Permanent Commissions (PCs).In 2020, the SC ruled that women SSC Officers in the Indian Navy were entitled to PC at par with their male counterparts. Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya Case, 2020: In February 2020, the SC upheld the demands of women in the SSC, justifying their pursuit of PC or a full-length career.Before this ruling, only male officers on SSC could opt for PC after 10 years, leaving women without government pension eligibility.The decision brought women officers in 10 Army streams at par with men. Government’s Arguments: The Centre argued that the issue was a matter of policy, citing Article 33 of the Constitution, allowing restrictions on fundamental rights for the armed forces.Arguments included the perceived dangers of army service, including privacy issues, maternity concerns, and childcare challenges.The case was first filed in 2003, and Permanent Commissions for women officers in all branches were awarded by the Delhi HC in 2010. Post-2020 Ruling: The Army constituted the Number 5 Selection Board post-2020, instructing the induction of all eligible female officers as PC officers.Effective from September 2020, the board, led by a senior general officer, includes a woman officer of the rank of brigadier.Women officers meeting screening criteria will be granted PC status, contingent on an acceptable medical category. Permanent Commission for Women in Indian Coast Guard: In Priyanka Tyagi v. Union of India Case, 2024, the SC emphasized the need for the Central government to ensure eligible women officers receive permanent commissions in the Indian Coast Guard.The Attorney General cited operational challenges, but the Court dismissed these arguments in 2024.The SC urged the Centre to develop a gender-neutral policy, highlighting the ongoing struggle for gender equality and the need for proactive measures in all societal spheres, including the armed forces. Significance of Increasing Women’s Representation in the Armed Forces Gender Neutrality in Qualifications: Qualification, not gender, should determine suitability for military roles.In the modern battlefield, technical expertise and decision-making skills surpass physical strength. Strengthening Military Force: Increasing gender diversity addresses falling retention and recruitment rates.A mixed-gender force contributes to a stronger military. Optimal Personnel Selection: Blanket restrictions limit commanders’ ability to choose the most capable person for a role.Allowing women in combat roles ensures optimal personnel selection. Training for Integration: Training is essential for seamless integration of women into combat units.Cultural shifts over time, including the evolution of the masculine subculture. Global Trends: The US allowed women in combat positions in 2013, signaling progress towards gender equality.In 2018, the UK military lifted a ban on women serving in close combat ground roles, expanding opportunities, including elite special forces service. -Source: Indian Express India’s First Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry Boat Launch Context: Prime Minister of India virtually flags off the hydrogen cell-powered ferry boat, a milestone under the Harit Nauka initiative. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Other Notable Features of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell FerryHarit Nauka Initiative: Unveiling Sustainable Inland Waterway GuidelinesUnderstanding Hydrogen Fuel Cells Other Notable Features of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry The ferry’s inauguration was part of a broader initiative, involving the commencement of a ₹17,300-crore project, encompassing the development of the outer harbor at the V.O. Chidambaranar Port.The Cochin Shipyard is the construction site for the vessel. Significance:The ferry is a catalyst for streamlined urban mobility along inland water routes, marking a pivotal move towards adopting eco-friendly energy solutions and supporting the country’s net-zero aspirations. Harit Nauka Initiative: Unveiling Sustainable Inland Waterway Guidelines The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways introduced the Harit Nauka guidelines for inland vessels in January 2024. Guidelines:States are mandated, under the guidelines, to strive for the use of eco-friendly fuels in 50% of their inland waterways-oriented passenger fleets within the next decade, reaching 100% by 2045.This initiative aligns with the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047, aiming to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.On a global scale, the maritime industry is increasingly embracing green fuels, driven by environmental regulations, sustainability objectives, and advancements in green fuel technologies.Hydrogen and its derivatives are emerging as key players in the pursuit of zero-emission fuels for the shipping industry. Understanding Hydrogen Fuel Cells Hydrogen fuel cells stand out as a clean, dependable, silent, and efficient source of high-quality electric power.Operating on hydrogen fuel, these cells facilitate an electrochemical process, generating electricity while producing only water and heat as by-products.Hydrogen, abundantly available on Earth, serves as a cleaner alternative fuel. Significance:Among the top Zero Emission solutions, hydrogen fuel cells are entirely environmentally friendly, emitting only water as a by-product.The minimal noise produced by fuel cells allows their application in challenging environments, such as within hospital buildings.The Union Budget for 2021-22 has introduced the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM), outlining a strategic plan for utilizing hydrogen as a prominent energy source. -Source: The Hindu Lokpal Context: Recently, the former Supreme Court Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar was appointed as the chairperson of Lokpal. This came nearly two years after the post was vacant. Relevance: GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies, Policies and Interventions on Transparency and Accountability in governance) Dimensions of the Article: About LokpalOther Important Points regarding the LokpalException for Prime Minister About Lokpal The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 establishes Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States (Statutory Bodies) to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).President will appoint the recommended names.The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to:Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.The chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakhs. Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal Salaries, allowances and service conditions: Salaries, allowances and other perks of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.Inquiry wing and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.Power with respect to CBI: Power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal would need approval of Lokpal.Timelines for enquiry, investigation: Act specifies a time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the CBI. This period of 6 months can be extended by the Lokpal on a written request from CBI.Suspension, removal of Chairperson and member of Lokpal: The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court report. For that a petition has to be signed by at least one hundred Members of Parliament. Special Court shall be setup to hear and decide the cases referred by the Lokpal. Exception for Prime Minister The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone. -Source: The Hindu Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) Context: The Central government issued an advisory to all intermediaries and generative AI platforms using artificial intelligence (AI) models, software or algorithms. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Government of India Introduces Unprecedented Regulations on AI Models: A Global FirstUnderstanding Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)Impact of Generative AI on 2024 Elections: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities Government of India Introduces Unprecedented Regulations on AI Models: A Global First The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issues an advisory mandating explicit government permission for the deployment of AI models, large-language models (LLMs), and generative AI on the Indian internet.Aimed at preventing bias, discrimination, and safeguarding electoral integrity, the advisory instructs platforms to ensure responsible use of algorithms.Prompted by recent concerns, notably a user claiming bias in Google’s AI model Gemini, accusing it of being “malicious” in responses related to political figures.Google responds by acknowledging the issues, pledging to address them, and temporarily halting Gemini’s image generation. Understanding Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Definition: Generative AI refers to advanced deep-learning models capable of autonomously producing statistically probable outputs when given raw data.Foundation Models: Powered by large AI models, known as foundation models, which exhibit multitasking capabilities, handling tasks like summarization, Q&A;, and classification.Adaptability: Foundation models require minimal training and can be customized for specific use cases with minimal example data. How Generative AI Operates Learning Patterns: Utilizes Machine Learning to understand patterns and relationships within a dataset of human-generated content.Content Generation: Applies learned patterns to create new content resembling the human-generated dataset.Training Approach: Commonly employs supervised learning, receiving a set of human-created content with corresponding labels to generate similar labeled content. Applications of Generative AI Enhanced Customer Interactions: Improves chat and search experiences, providing insightful responses.Data Exploration: Processes vast unstructured data through conversational interfaces and summarizations.Task Automation: Assists in repetitive tasks such as proposal replies, multilingual marketing content localization, and contract compliance checks. Impact of Generative AI on 2024 Elections: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities Global Landscape of High-Stakes Elections Scope: Over 50 countries, including India, the US, the UK, Indonesia, Russia, Taiwan, and South Africa, face crucial elections in 2024.Persistent Challenge: Prevailing issue of fake news amplifies as AI advancements facilitate its creation and dissemination. AI-Related Risks According to World Economic Forum (WEF) Top 10 Risks: AI-derived misinformation and its potential for societal polarization recognized as a significant risk in the WEF 2024 Global Risk Report.Amplified Disinformation: Generative AI tools empower individuals with limited technical expertise to spread fake content across diverse languages and digital platforms. Challenges Posed by AI in Elections Deep-Fake Generation: AI’s capability to create deep-fakes and generate voice-cloned audio poses substantial challenges for governments and organizations.Intimate Persuasion: AI, proficient in language mastery, can establish intimate connections to personalize messages, influencing individuals’ worldviews. Political Use of AI in India Rural Outreach: Politicians in India leverage AI tools, like real-time translation, to connect with rural populations.Example: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech translated from Hindi to Tamil using AI during a December 2023 event in Uttar Pradesh. Ethical Dilemmas Surrounding AI Dual Perceptions: AI’s potential is viewed with both alarm and optimism, sparking debates on its responsible use and potential misuse in elections and beyond. -Source: The Hindu National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation Limited (NUCFDC) Context: The Union Cooperation Minister inaugurated an umbrella organisation for urban cooperative banks (UCB) – the National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation Limited (NUCFDC). Relevance: GS-III: Indian Economy (Banking) Dimensions of the Article: National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation (NUCFDC): Empowering Urban Cooperative BanksWhat are Cooperative Banks?Structure of co-operative banks in IndiaImportance of Cooperative BanksConcerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation (NUCFDC): Empowering Urban Cooperative Banks Operational Status Regulatory Approval: Certified by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC), NUCFDC operates as the umbrella organization for the urban cooperative banking sector.Additional Role: Granted the status of a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) for the sector, highlighting its regulatory responsibilities. Financial Objectives Capital Raising: Aims to accumulate a capital base of Rs.300 crores to support and uplift Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs).Utilization: Capital to be utilized for assisting UCBs, fostering a shared technology platform, enhancing services, and reducing operational costs. Enhancing UCB Services Technology Platform: NUCFDC plans to establish a shared technology platform benefiting UCBs, enabling expanded service offerings and cost reduction.Comprehensive Support: Offers liquidity, capital support, fund management, consultancy services, and facilitates dialogue between banks and regulators. Significance Inclusive Economic Development: Aligns with the vision of inclusive and comprehensive economic development, fostering the establishment of UCBs in every city.National Goals: Contributes to ‘Sahakar se Samriddhi’ and ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ Bharat, modernizing and strengthening UCBs in India.Depositor Confidence: Acts as a security shield for small banks, bolstering the confidence of depositors and ensuring financial stability. What are Cooperative Banks? Co-operative banks are financial entities established on a co-operative basis and belonging to their members. This means that the customers of a co-operative bank are also its owners.Cooperative Banks continue to be important and the ideal organisations even in the changing economic environment, as participation and inclusion are central to poverty reduction. Important Details with respect to Urban Cooperative Banks Co-operative banks in India are registered under the State’s Cooperative Societies Act.The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949 and Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.The Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) is in control of management elections and many administrative issues as well as auditing, and the RBI brought them under the Banking Regulation Act as applicable to cooperative societies.Urban cooperative banks have been under the radar of the RBI, but because of dual regulation either of them did not have as much control over these banks in terms of supersession of boards or removal of directors. Structure of co-operative banks in India Broadly, co-operative banks in India are divided into two categories – urban and rural.Rural cooperative credit institutions could either be short-term or long-term in nature.Short-term cooperative credit institutions are further sub-divided into State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.Long-term institutions are either State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) or Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs). Importance of Cooperative Banks The cooperative banking system has to play a critical role in promoting rural finance and is especially suited to Indian conditions. Various advantages of cooperative credit institutions are given below: Alternative Credit Source:  The main objective of the cooperative credit movement is to provide an effective alternative to the traditional defective credit system of the village moneylender.Cheap Rural Credit: Cooperative credit system has cheapened the rural credit by charging comparatively low-interest rates, and has broken the money lender’s monopoly.Productive Borrowing:  The cultivators used to borrow for consumption and other unproductive purposes. But, now, they mostly borrow for productive purposes.Encouragement to Saving and Investment: Instead of hoarding money the rural people tend to deposit their savings in cooperative or other banking institutions.Improvement in Farming Methods: Cooperative credit is available for purchasing improved seeds, chemical fertilizers, modern implements, etc.Financial Inclusion: They have played a significant role in the financial inclusion of unbanked rural masses. They provide cheap credit to the masses in rural areas. Concerns Associated with Urban Co-operative Bank The uncovering of large-scale financial irregularities has taken urban cooperative banks off guard.Low capital basis, weak corporate governance, inability to detect fraud, delayed adoption of new technologies, and insufficient system of checks and balances are difficulties confronting urban cooperative banks (UCBs).The latest Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act 2020 empowers the RBI with all powers, including those formerly reserved for the registrar of cooperative organizations.The RBI’s control was limited, and it shared it with the registrar of cooperative societies of states, resulting in the much-discussed dual control and the issues it posed to the central bank.The cooperative sector has two challenges:first, increased competition from not just Scheduled Commercial Banks, but also from minor financing banks and payments banks;second, vulnerability caused by internal shortcomings, such as the inability to detect and prevent fraud. -Source: The Hindu Melanochlamys droupadi Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has identified a novel marine species of head-shield sea slug. Relevance: GS III: Species in News Dimensions of the Article: Discovery of Melanochlamys droupadi: A New Marine Species Discovery of Melanochlamys droupadi: A New Marine Species The species, named Melanochlamys droupadi, was discovered along the coasts of West Bengal and Odisha. Morphological Characteristics of Melanochlamys Species: Genus Melanochlamys exhibits distinctive features, including a short, blunt, and cylindrical body.The dorsal surface features two shields, namely the anterior cephalic and posterior shield. Unique Attributes of Melanochlamys droupadi: The species is small, brownish-black, with a distinct ruby red spot at the hind end.It is classified as a hermaphrodite.Reproduction occurs in the period between November and January. Defensive Mechanism: Melanochlamys droupadi secretes transparent mucus, serving as a shield against sand grains while navigating beneath smooth sand.This defensive mechanism renders its body seldom visible. Geographic Distribution: While species within this group are typically found in temperate regions of the Indo-Pacific Oceanic realm, Melanochlamys droupadi is among the three truly tropical species.Other tropical counterparts include Melanochlamys papillata from the Gulf of Thailand and Melanochlamys bengalensis from the coasts of West Bengal and Odisha. -Source: The Hindu Grey Zone Warfare Context: In commentaries on China and Taiwan, ‘grey zone warfare’ crops up in descriptions of Chinese actions around the island that it claims as its own. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Understanding Grey Zone Warfare: Navigating the Ambiguous Realm Definition Middle Ground: Grey zone warfare occupies the space between peace and direct conflict in international relations.Coercive Actions: Involves exploiting operational space through actions below the threshold that would trigger a conventional military response. Activities and Methods Diverse Tactics: Spans from proxy use and territorial coercion to cyberattacks, economic pressure, disinformation, election meddling, and weaponization of migrants. Typical Aspects: Threshold Management: Operates below the threshold warranting military response, often using non-military tools.Gradual Unfolding: Progresses incrementally over time rather than through bold, immediate actions.Attributability Challenges: Often involves actions with plausible deniability, making attribution challenging.Legal and Political Justification: Open actions justified using legal and political arguments, sometimes garnering support from other nations.Targeted Vulnerabilities: Focuses on exploiting specific vulnerabilities in targeted countries. Characteristics Incremental Approach: Gradual unfolding and progression over time distinguish grey zone activities.Attribution Complexity: Aggressors aim for plausible deniability or use extensive legal and political arguments when attribution is clear.International Influence: Recruits support from other nations to bolster their perspective.Targeted Vulnerabilities: Exploits specific weaknesses within targeted countries. -Source: Indian Express Yars Missile Context: Russia’s defence ministry recently announced a successful test fire of Yars intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Yars Missile: Russia’s Advanced ICBM Name: Yars (RS-24 or SS-29)Type: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)Warhead Capability: Multiple Independently Targetable Warheads (MIRVs) Features Propellant: Three-stage, solid propellant system.Origin: Modified version of the Topol-M missile system.Launch Options: Can be launched from silos or mobile launchers.Dimensions: 23 meters in length; Launch weight of 49,600 kg.Range: Capable of reaching distances up to 10,500 km.MIRVs: Can be armed with up to 10 MIRVs, each carrying a 300-kiloton thermonuclear warhead.Manoeuvrability: Possesses the ability to manoeuvre during flight and deploy both active and passive decoys, enhancing its defense evasion capabilities. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Definition: Guided missile designed for delivering nuclear warheads, but versatile for other payloads.Range: Minimum of 5,500 km, with maximum ranges varying from 7,000 to 16,000 km.Speed and Range: ICBMs surpass other ballistic missiles in terms of speed and range.Example: Agni-V, an Indian ICBM, boasts a range exceeding 5,000 km. -Source: Hindustan Times

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 02 March 2024

CONTENTS Exercise MILAN 2024Exercise Samudra Laksamana Exercise MILAN 2024 Context: Exercise MILAN 2024 recently concluded with the closing ceremony held aboard the INS Vikrant, marking the end of the Sea Phase off Visakhapatnam. Relevance: GS III: Security Challenges MILAN 2024: 12th Edition of Multilateral Naval Exercise Introduction: MILAN 2024 marks the 12th edition of the biennial Multilateral Naval Exercise held in Visakhapatnam, under the Eastern Naval Command’s supervision. Objective: The primary goal of MILAN is to enhance professional interaction among friendly navies and to gain experience in multilateral large-force operations at sea. Historical Background: MILAN had its inception in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1995, with the participation of navies from Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Participating Nations: The 2024 edition saw the involvement of various nations, fostering collaboration and synergy among friendly navies. Two-Phase Structure: Harbour Phase:Features activities such as the International Maritime Seminar, city parades, tech exhibitions, expert exchanges, youth officer gatherings, and sports events.The International Maritime Seminar was themed ‘Partners across Oceans: Collaboration, Synergy, Growth.’Sea Phase:Involves the active participation of ships and aircraft from friendly nations, including units from the Indian Navy, such as carriers and other naval assets. Exercise Samudra Laksamana Context: The third edition of Exercise Samudra Laksamana is currently underway from February 28 to March 2, 2024, at/off the coast of Visakhapatnam. Relevance: GS III: Security Challenges Exercise Samudra Laksamana 2024: Fostering Naval Collaboration Participating Naval Ships:Indian Naval Ship Kiltan and Royal Malaysian Ship KD Lekir are actively engaged in this joint exercise. Phases of Exercise: Harbour Phase:Crews from both ships partake in diverse professional interactions, including Subject Matter Expert Exchanges, sports fixtures, and other engagements, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation.Operational Phase at Sea:The sea phase involves joint operations, where units from both navies collaborate to enhance their skills and execute various maritime operations. Objectives: Knowledge Enhancement:Harbour interactions aim to broaden the knowledge base through professional exchanges and the sharing of best practices.Cooperation on Maritime Aspects:The exercise serves as a platform for sharing expertise and insights, further strengthening cooperation on crucial maritime aspects. Interoperability and Bonds: Enhancing Interoperability:The exercise is designed to improve interoperability between the Indian and Royal Malaysian Navy, fostering seamless collaboration in naval operations.Strengthening Bonds:By jointly honing skills and conducting operations at sea, the participating navies aim to build stronger bonds and camaraderie.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 02 March 2024

CONTENTS Ensuring Sustainable Support for Research and Development FundingChallenges in Regulating Coal Mining in Nagaland due to Article 371AFinancial Action Task ForceHouthi Attacks on Red Sea Shipping and Global Supply Chain VulnerabilitiesBioTRIGVery Short-Range Air Defence SystemJacaranda Bloom Ensuring Sustainable Support for Research and Development Funding Context: National Science Day, observed on 8th February each year, commemorates the discovery of the Raman Effect and recognizes the invaluable contributions of scientists to India’s progress. The day emphasizes the pivotal role of science in fostering sustainable development. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: National Science DayIndia’s Research and Development (R&D;) Spending: A Concerning DeclineChallenges in Sustainable Funding for Research and Development (R&D;)Strategies to Enhance R&D; Spending in India National Science Day Origin of the Day: National Science Day is commemorated on the day of the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian Physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman.The Raman Effect involves the scattering of light through transparent materials, causing alterations in wavelength and energy. Discovery and Recognition: In 1928, on 28th February, CV Raman made the groundbreaking discovery of the Raman Effect.For his significant contributions to Physics, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. Theme of the Day: The theme for National Science Day is “Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat.” Significance: Raises awareness about the practical applications of science in daily life.Acknowledges and celebrates scientists’ efforts and achievements in advancing human welfare. Observing the Day: Understanding the progress of science and technology.Identifying areas that require additional efforts for improvement. India’s Research and Development (R&D;) Spending: A Concerning Decline Current Expenditure Trends: In 2020-21, India’s R&D; spending stands at 0.64% of the GDP, a decrease from 0.8% in 2008-2009 and 0.7% in 2017-2018. Government Calls and Policy Goals: Despite government agencies urging a doubling of R&D; spending, the current trend shows a decline.The 2013 Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy aimed for 2% of GDP for Gross Expenditure on R&D; (GERD), a goal reiterated in the 2017-2018 Economic Survey. Uncertain Factors Impacting R&D; Spending: The reasons for the reduction in R&D; spending are unclear.Possible factors include insufficient coordination among government agencies and a lack of strong political will to prioritize R&D; expenses. Global Comparisons: Developed nations allocate between 2% and 4% of their GDP to R&D.;In 2021, OECD member countries averaged 2.7% of GDP on R&D;, with the U.S. and the U.K. consistently exceeding 2% over the past decade. Advocating for Increased Allocation: Experts recommend that India should allocate at least 1%, ideally 3%, of its GDP annually to R&D; until 2047 to drive meaningful development through science. Challenges in Sustainable Funding for Research and Development (R&D;) Underutilization of Budget Allocations: Departments like the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST), and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) consistently under-utilize their budget allocations.In 2022-2023, DBT, DST, and DSIR used only 72%, 61%, and 69% of their estimated budget allocations, respectively. Capacity Issues and Delays: Insufficient capacity leads to delays in grant and salary disbursements, adversely affecting the progress of scientific research and development projects. Broader Under-Spending Issue: India’s overall under-spending on research and development exacerbates the impact of under-utilization, necessitating both increased funding and enhanced spending efficiency. Uncertain Government Funding: Government funding for science is uncertain, susceptible to changes in political priorities, economic conditions, and competing demands across sectors.Non-prioritization of R&D; funding within government budgets results in inadequate allocations compared to other sectors, reflecting a lack of recognition of its importance for national development and innovation. Private Sector Hesitancy: In 2020-2021, the private sector contributed 36.4% of Gross Expenditure on R&D; (GERD), while the Union government’s share was 43.7%.In economically developed countries, around 70% of R&D; investment comes from the private sector.Hesitancy in private-sector funding may stem from challenges in evaluating R&D; in India, ambiguous regulatory roadmaps deterring investors, a lack of clear exit options in certain sectors, such as biotechnology, and concerns about intellectual property rights theft. Strategies to Enhance R&D; Spending in India Scaling Investment for Development: Recognize that sustained, substantial investment in science is crucial for progress. India needs to outspend developed countries in R&D; to achieve ‘developed nation’ status. Philanthropic Contributions: Encourage wealthy individuals, corporations, and foundations to invest in R&D; through philanthropy. Establish dedicated funds or grants for scientific research to attract donations from those committed to societal progress. Academia-Industry Partnerships: Facilitate collaborations between academia and industry to harness resources and expertise from both sectors.Industry can provide funding, equipment, and real-world problems, while academic institutions offer scientific knowledge and talent. Government incentives or tax breaks can encourage such partnerships. Private Investment Initiatives: Encourage venture capital firms and angel investors to invest in R&D; projects with high potential for commercialization.Recognize the role of startups and small enterprises in driving innovation and provide them with the necessary private investment to scale their research efforts. Implementation of National Research Foundation: Expedite the implementation of initiatives like the Anusandhan National Research Foundation.Ensure adequate funding and efficient utilization to support R&D; activities and promote scientific advancements. -Source: The Hindu Challenges in Regulating Coal Mining in Nagaland due to Article 371A Context: The regulation of coal mining in Nagaland faces a significant hurdle due to Article 371A of the Indian Constitution. This constitutional provision, which upholds Naga customary law, creates complications for government oversight of small-scale mining, particularly in the aftermath of recent fatalities resulting from a rat-hole mine explosion. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Article 371A of the Indian Constitution: Special Provisions for NagalandRegulation of Rat-Hole Mining in Nagaland: Challenges and Policies Article 371A of the Indian Constitution: Special Provisions for Nagaland Introduction and Background: Article 371A became part of the Constitution in 1962 through the 13th Amendment, providing special provisions for Nagaland (formerly Naga Hills and Tuensang Area). Scope of Article 371A: States that no act of Parliament shall apply to Nagaland concerning:Religious or social practices of the Nagas.Naga customary law and procedure.Administration of civil and criminal justice following Naga customary law.Ownership and transfer of land and its resources. Legislative Authority: Specifies that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly can alter these provisions through a resolution, indicating a level of autonomy in decision-making. Impact on State Government Authority: Results in limited authority and jurisdiction for the state government over land and resources.Local communities own and control these resources, governed by their customary laws and practices. Regulation of Rat-Hole Mining in Nagaland: Challenges and Policies Coal Reserves in Nagaland: Nagaland possesses substantial coal reserves totaling 492.68 million tonnes, but these are dispersed irregularly in small pockets across a vast area. Mining Policy and Rat-Hole Mining: The Nagaland Coal mining policy, established in 2006, permits rat-hole mining due to the scattered nature of coal deposits, making large-scale operations impractical. Characteristics of Rat-Hole Mining: Rat-hole mining involves extracting coal from narrow horizontal tunnels, often dug by hand, posing risks of accidents and environmental hazards. Licensing for Rat-Hole Mining: Rat-hole mining licenses, known as small pocket deposit licenses, are exclusively granted to individual landowners for limited durations and under specific conditions.Section 6.4(ii) of the Nagaland Coal Policy (First Amendment) of 2014 sets restrictions on mining areas, annual production, and prohibits heavy machinery usage. Compliance and Clearances: Rat-hole mining operations require consent from relevant departments, including Forest and Environment, to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. Challenges in Regulation: Despite clearances and defined mining plans, instances of illegal rat-hole mining persist, complicating regulatory efforts. Impact of Article 371A: Article 371A grants Nagaland special rights over its land and resources, making it challenging for the government to impose regulations that might be perceived as infringing on these rights. Struggles in Small-Scale Mining Regulation: The Nagaland government faces difficulties in effectively regulating small-scale mining, particularly those conducted by individual landowners, due to limitations posed by Article 371A. Safety Concerns and Urgency for Regulations: Recent deaths in a rat-hole mine underscore the safety risks associated with unregulated mining practices, emphasizing the need for effective regulations and proper safety measures. -Source: The Hindu Financial Action Task Force Context: The recent removal of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list has sparked optimism for investment landscapes, particularly in India’s Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs). Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: Impact of UAE’s Exit from FATF Grey List on Investments in Indian NBFCsFinancial Action Task Force (FATF) Impact of UAE’s Exit from FATF Grey List on Investments in Indian NBFCs RBI Regulations in 2021: A 2021 RBI circular delineated investment regulations for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), categorizing investments from compliant and non-compliant FATF jurisdictions. Restrictions on Non-Compliant Investments: Investments from non-compliant jurisdictions faced restrictions, particularly in acquiring significant influence in Indian NBFCs. UAE’s Removal from FATF Grey List: The UAE’s exit from the FATF grey list simplifies investment pathways for UAE-based investors in Indian NBFCs. Encouraging Cross-Border Investments: The eased restrictions promote cross-border investments between India and the UAE, fostering growth in both countries’ financial sectors. Reduced KYC Requirements for FPIs: The UAE’s removal may lead to reduced Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for Foreign Portfolio Investments (FPIs), potentially doubling FPI inflows into India. Economic Growth and FDI: The exit of the UAE from the grey list may attract increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), contributing to economic growth in both regions. Competition, Innovation, and Increased Investments: The heightened competition between the two regions could drive innovation, attracting more investments and creating a conducive environment for economic development. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.FATF is a “policy-making body” that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries.Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the FATF greylist (formally called the “Other monitored jurisdictions”).The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. FATF Greylists FATF greylist is officially referred to as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring.FATF grey list represent a much higher risk of money laundering and terrorism financing but have formally committed to working with the FATF to develop action plans that will address their AML/CFT deficiencies.The countries on the grey list are subject to increased monitoring by the FATF, which either assesses them directly or uses FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) to report on the progress they are making towards their AML/CFT goals.While grey-list classification is not as negative as the blacklist, countries on the list may still face economic sanctions from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and experience adverse effects on trade.Unlike the next level “blacklist”, greylisting carries no legal sanctions, but it attracts economic strictures and restricts a country’s access to international loans FATF Blacklists FATF Blacklists is Officially known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.FATF blacklist sets out the countries that are considered deficient in their anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulatory regimes.The list is intended to serve not only as a way of negatively highlighting these countries on the world stage, but as a warning of the high money laundering and terror financing risk that they present.It is extremely likely that blacklisted countries will be subject to economic sanctions and other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organizations. -Source: The Hindu Houthi Attacks on Red Sea Shipping and Global Supply Chain Vulnerabilities Context: Ongoing Houthi Assaults on Commercial Vessels in the Red Sea underscore Global Supply Chain Vulnerabilities, prompting a reassessment of alternative routes for international trade. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: The Red Sea and its Impact on Global TradeIndia-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)Impact of Israel-Palestine Conflict on IMEC ProjectMaking IMEC Project Viable The Red Sea and its Impact on Global Trade About the Red Sea: Geographical Significance:The Red Sea, positioned between Africa and Asia, is a crucial seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean.Strategic Importance:Owes its strategic relevance to the Bab el-Mandab Strait, located between Yemen and Djibouti.Trade Volume:One of the busiest transit points globally, facilitating almost 12% of international merchandise trade.Consequences of Conflict:Ongoing conflicts in the Red Sea have compelled major carriers to re-route shipments via the Cape of Good Hope.Impact on Shipping:Resulted in elevated ocean freight, increased insurance expenses, and extended voyage times, causing delays and product shortages.Economic Ramifications:The re-routing has driven up transportation costs, and these increased shipping costs are likely to translate into higher commodity prices for consumers. Effects on India: Trade Routes:India heavily relies on the Red Sea route for trade with European and North African countries, constituting around 24% of exports and 14% of imports.Bilateral Trade:In the fiscal year 2022-23, India’s bilateral trade with Europe and North Africa amounted to $189 billion and $15 billion, respectively.Impact on Indian Shipments:Rising threats in the region have led Indian exporters to withhold approximately 25% of their cargo ships passing through the Red Sea, as reported by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).Global Alternatives:China is actively promoting China-Europe freight trains, part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as an alternative route amid the disruptions in the Red Sea.Underutilized Corridor:The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), introduced during the G-20 summit in 2023, remains an overlooked alternative despite the challenges faced by traditional trade routes. India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC): MoU Signing and Project Components: G20 Summit Initiative:An MoU was endorsed during the G20 Summit in September 2023 in New Delhi, including key nations like India, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union.Comprehensive Infrastructure:IMEC envisions a holistic development plan involving rail connectivity, shipping lines, high-speed data cables, and energy pipelines.Complementing Existing Networks:These components will complement the existing maritime and road networks, aiming to enhance the smooth movement of trade and services among India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Europe. Significance of IMEC Project: Infrastructure and Connectivity Emphasis:IMEC holds significance not only for its infrastructure and connectivity aspects but also from a geopolitical standpoint.Dual Corridors:The project introduces two distinctive corridors – the East Corridor linking India to the Arabian Gulf and the Northern Corridor connecting the Arabian Gulf to Europe.Economic Stimulation:The MoU asserts that IMEC is anticipated to stimulate economic development by fostering enhanced connectivity and economic integration among Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe.Additional Dimensions:Beyond connectivity, IMEC emphasizes reliable and secure regional supply chains, improved trade accessibility, and facilitation.Geopolitical Counter to BRI:In geopolitical terms, IMEC is positioned as a strategic counter to China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).Concerns about BRI:India has long voiced objections to the BRI, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, citing territorial claims as a primary concern. Impact of Israel-Palestine Conflict on IMEC Project: Complicated Diplomacy:The intensification of the Israel-Hamas conflict complicates the diplomatic cooperation required for a project of IMEC’s magnitude.Potential Hindrance to Peace Deal:The Saudi Arabia-Israel peace deal might face delays due to mounting anger in the Arab world over Israel’s actions in northern Gaza.Geopolitical Tensions:Recent events, including the cancellation of President Joe Biden’s visit to Jordan and attacks in the Middle East, contribute to heightened geopolitical tensions.Regional War’s Global Repercussions:While the direct impact of the conflict remains regional, its geopolitical consequences extend far beyond, potentially affecting the proposed IMEC corridor. Making IMEC Project Viable: Economic Logic Persists:Despite challenges, the economic rationale of the IMEC corridor remains, encouraging stakeholders to persist in their efforts.Empirical Economic Study:Conducting an empirical study on the corridor’s economic benefits is crucial, with estimates suggesting a 40% reduction in journey time from India to Europe and a 30% cut in transit costs.Financial Framework Establishment:A robust financial framework needs to be established, attracting investments from governments, international organizations, and private sector entities.Multi-Nation Operational Framework:Creating a comprehensive multi-national operational framework is essential, considering the involvement of different legal systems in facilitating trade.Constituting a Forum:Establishing a dedicated forum for the corridor is necessary to coordinate and undertake the mentioned activities for its successful development. -Source: The Hindu BioTRIG Context: A recent study has claimed that BioTRIG, a new waste management technology could help rural Indians. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: BioTRIG: Revolutionizing Waste Management through PyrolysisUnderstanding Pyrolysis BioTRIG: Revolutionizing Waste Management through Pyrolysis Innovative Waste Management Technology:BioTRIG stands as a pioneering waste management technology centered on the pyrolysis system, introducing advanced methods for sustainable waste disposal.Operational Mechanism:The process involves encapsulating waste within an oxygen-free chamber and subjecting it to temperatures exceeding 400 degrees Celsius. This results in the production of valuable chemicals.Products of Pyrolysis:The study emphasizes three key products derived from pyrolysis – bio-oil, syngas, and biochar fertilizer, each carrying potential benefits for rural communities in India. Significance of BioTRIG: Energy Sustainability:Syngas and bio-oil generated in the pyrolysis process contribute to heat and power the system in subsequent cycles. Surplus electricity is redirected to power local homes and businesses.Clean-Burning Fuels:Bio-oil, known for its clean-burning properties, presents an eco-friendly alternative to conventional cooking fuels, reducing indoor air pollution in households.Carbon Storage and Soil Improvement:Biochar, another byproduct, serves the dual purpose of storing carbon and enhancing soil fertility, promoting sustainable agricultural practices.Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction:Computer simulations suggest that BioTRIG has the potential to significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions from communities, making an estimated reduction of nearly 350 kg of CO2-eq per capita per annum.Holistic Benefits:The implementation of BioTRIG could contribute to a multitude of positive outcomes, including the reduction of indoor air pollution, improved soil health, and the generation of clean power. Understanding Pyrolysis: Chemical Recycling Process: Pyrolysis is a form of chemical recycling that transforms residual organic materials into their elemental molecules. Operational Procedure: It involves enclosing waste within an oxygen-deprived chamber and subjecting it to temperatures surpassing 400 degrees Celsius, resulting in the creation of valuable chemicals. -Source: Down To Earth Very Short-Range Air Defence System Context: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted two flight tests of the Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS) missile. Relevance: GS III: Defence Dimensions of the Article: Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS): Safeguarding Low-Altitude Spaces Very Short-Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS): Safeguarding Low-Altitude Spaces Strategic Overview: VSHORADS stands as a fourth-generation Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPAD), meticulously crafted to counter low-altitude aerial threats across short distances. Characteristics: Short-Range and Lightweight:These systems are characterized by their short-range nature, lightweight construction, and portability, allowing them to be operated by individuals or small groups. Indigenous Development: DRDO’s Innovation Hub:Developed domestically, VSHORADS is a product of the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in Hyderabad, under the umbrella of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Collaboration with various DRDO laboratories and Indian industry partners contributed to its creation. Key Features: Defensive Capabilities:Designed with a focus on short-range air defense, VSHORADS serves to protect ground forces and critical assets from low-altitude threats, encompassing helicopters and low-flying aircraft.Effective Range:Boasting a range of up to 6 kilometers, this system provides a robust shield against aerial intrusions.Cutting-Edge Technologies:Equipped with advanced features, the missile incorporates a Dual-band IIR Seeker, a miniaturized Reaction Control System, and integrated avionics.Propulsion System:The missile’s propulsion is facilitated by a dual-thrust solid motor, enhancing its operational efficiency.Portability and Quick Deployment:A key design aspect is the portability of both the missile and its launcher, ensuring swift deployment even in challenging terrains. -Source:  India Today Jacaranda Bloom Context: The early onset bloom of jacaranda set off alarm bells among residents and scientists in Mexico City. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Jacaranda Bloom: A Lavender Spectacle Scientific Identification: Also recognized by its synonym Jacaranda acutifolia, the Jacaranda bloom is associated with the deciduous tree Jacaranda mimosifolia from the Bignoniaceae family. Native Habitat: Native to Brazil and North West Argentina, the blue jacaranda thrives in tropical climates, demanding well-drained soil and ample sunlight to unveil its captivating lavender touch. Growing Characteristics: These hardy trees are extensively cultivated in warm regions and greenhouses, celebrated for their striking blue or violet flowers and visually appealing, oppositely paired, compound leaves. Cultural Uses: In Brazil, the wood of the Jacaranda is employed in crafting guitars. While it holds no edible utility, its bark and roots offer medicinal benefits. Wood Carving Potential: Recognized as a viable wood carving tree species, particularly in Kenya, the Jacaranda serves as an alternative for artistic endeavors. Ecological Importance: The trees play a vital ecological role by attracting a significant number of hummingbirds and bees, contributing to biodiversity. A shift in flowering patterns could potentially impact these populations. Concerns: An unusual occurrence has been observed, with some Jacarandas blooming in early January instead of their usual spring awakening, raising concerns about potential environmental changes. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 01 March 2024

Contents: International Big Cat AllianceIndia Semiconductor Mission International Big Cat Alliance Focus: GS III- Environment and Ecology Why in News? The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) with headquarters in India. The initiative is supported with a one-time budgetary support of Rs.150 crore for a period of five years from 2023-24 to 2027-28. ###h3Aim:It aims to strengthen global cooperation and efforts for conservation of seven big cat species and their habitats.Objective:IBCA aims for mutual cooperation among countries for mutual benefit in furthering the conservation agenda. IBCA would have a multipronged approach in broad basing and establishing linkages manifold in several areas and help in knowledge sharing, capacity building, networking, advocacy, finance and resources support, research and technical support, education and awareness.Members:The International Big Cat Alliance has been conceived as a multi-country, multi-agency coalition of 96 big cat range countries,Non-range countries interested in big cat conservationConservation partners and scientific organizations working in the field of big cat conservationBusiness groups and corporates willing to contribute to the cause of big catsSeven big cats include Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Puma, Jaguar and the Cheetah out of these five big cats viz. Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard and Cheetah are found in India. India Semiconductor Mission Focus: GS III- Science and Technology Why in News? The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of three semiconductor units under ‘Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystems in India.  All three units will start construction within next 100 days. What are Semiconductors? Any of a class of crystalline solids intermediate in electrical conductivity between a conductor and an insulator.Semiconductors are employed in the manufacture of various kinds of electronic devices, including diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits. Such devices have found wide application because of their compactness, reliability, power efficiency, and low cost.As discrete components, they have found use in power devices, optical sensors, and light emitters, including solid-state lasers. About India Semiconductor Mission Under the administration of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the ISM was launched in 2021 with a total budgetary commitment of Rs76,000 crore.It’s part of the country’s overall strategy for developing a sustainable semiconductor and display ecosystem.The program’s goal is to help companies invest in semiconductors, display production, and the design ecosystem.ISM will serve as the nodal agency for effective, coherent, and easy implementation of the schemes, and will be led by worldwide professionals in the Semiconductor and Display industry. Vision: To build a vibrant semiconductor and display design and innovation ecosystem to enable India’s emergence as a global hub for electronics manufacturing and design. Significance: ISM is critical for organising efforts to promote the semiconductor and display industries in a more systematic, focused, and comprehensive way.It will develop a long-term strategy for developing the country’s semiconductor and display production capabilities, as well as the semiconductor design ecosystem.Secure semiconductors and display supply chains, including raw materials, speciality chemicals, gases, and manufacturing equipment, will help to accelerate the adoption of trusted electronics.It will help the Indian semiconductor design sector flourish in multiple ways by providing necessary support in the form of EDA tools, foundry services, and other appropriate methods for early-stage businesses.It will also promote and facilitate indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) generation and encourage, enable and incentivize Transfer of Technologies (ToT).ISM will enable collaborations and partnership programs with national and international agencies, industries and institutions for catalyzing collaborative research, commercialization and skill development.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 01 March 2024

Contents: India to build its first Semiconductor fabrication unitIndia likely to face obesity epidemicGovernment auctions critical and strategic mineral blocksIndian manufacturing sectorArchaeological Survey of IndiaWindfall tax increased on domestically produced crude oil India to Build Its First Semiconductor Fabrication Unit Context: The Union Cabinet has recently approved three semiconductor proposals amounting to ₹1,25,600 crore in value in Gujarat and Assam. The Tata Electronics Pvt. Ltd. will build a full-fledged fabrication unit producing 50,000 ‘wafer starts,’ the initial form of silicon chips, per month. Relevance: GS Paper 3: Semiconductor Industries Dimensions of the Article: Semiconductor chips: what are they?Previous Attempts:Challenges in Chip Warfare:Main factors to take into account while establishing a fab:Logical, memory, and analogue fabrication choicesDrawing Lessons from China:The Steps taken by Indian GovernmentISM (India Semiconductor Mission) Semiconductor chips: what are they? Semiconductors are substances with conductivity that is between that of conductors and insulators. They could be compounds like gallium, arsenide, or cadmium selenide or pure elements like silicon or germanium.Semiconductor chips are essential components that act as the brain and heart of all contemporary electronics and information and communications technology goods.These chips are now a standard component of modern cars, household appliances, and crucial medical equipment like ECG machines. Previous Attempts: In 2007, a Special Incentive Package (SIP) was launched in an effort to start a fab in India, but this effort was unsuccessful.The Modified SIP, a further effort that was made in 2012, showed more potential. India came very near to realising a fab after considerable outreach attempts with key fab businesses worldwide.The Cabinet approved two consortia, one led by Jaiprakash Associates in collaboration with IBM and TowerJazz, and the other by Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation in partnership with ST Microelectronics. These two fabs required a combined investment of $10 billion, with the government providing nearly $5 billion in incentives. Land was granted when the decision was made on the fab locations. Both consortia, however, ultimately failed because they were unable to gather the required funding. Challenges in Chip Warfare: The manufacture of semiconductors is at the bleeding edge of modern technology. The number of transistors doubles every 18 months, as per Moore’s Law, although miniaturisation has increased complexity and expense. As a result, the number of players in the industry has decreased.China, despite its late entry into the semiconductor fabrication industry, has seen substantial success thanks to the acquisition of multiple loss-making fabs across the globe and significant investment in the industry.China has become a significant chip producer thanks to decreasing manufacturing costs, a booming electronics manufacturing sector, and a strategic hold on the rare earths needed for chip production.Aware of the potential repercussions, the US and its allies have put restrictions on technology transfer to China in place. The CHIPS and Science Act, passed by the US, provided significant subsidies, and the European Union approved funding for a new fab in France. As a result, India now faces fierce rivalry from these nations in the ongoing chip war. The following are the main factors to take into account while establishing a fab: Investing in a semiconductor fab is inherently risky since vast sums of money must be made back before the technology becomes outdated. Relying simply on the home market is insufficient for a fab’s success because economic sustainability often requires significant output volumes to satisfy global demand.Additionally, it is advantageous to manufacture chips in a single site for international sales due to the low freight-to-price ratio and zero-custom duty regime under the Information Technology Agreement. These reasons provide an explanation for why businesses are cautious to build greenfield fabs.Building a chip manufacturing ecosystem in a new site is extremely difficult. It needs a wide range of chemicals, gases, staff training, and access to plenty of clean water. Additionally, the art of chip manufacturing is essential since low yields and subpar quality can result in fab failures. Logical, memory, and analogue fabrication choices Selecting the right kind of fab to build is another crucial factor. Advanced technologies are needed for logic/processor fabs, which create chips with the highest strategic value and profitability.Analogue fabs can be less advanced but greater in size, whereas memory fabs concentrate on advanced feature nodes. Analogue fabs are more widely available and less expensive than logic fabs.Establishing Assembly, Testing, Packaging, and Marking (ATMP) facilities to build the fab ecosystem before establishing a full-fledged fab is an alternative strategy. However, ATMPs are not very useful for making chips. Drawing Lessons from China: India’s current plan is focused on establishing a new logic fabrication facility. But China’s achievement in acquiring existing fabs teaches us important lessons. This approach enables India to develop the fab ecosystem, train skilled resources, and allocate saved funds for advanced R&D; in fab technologies.Acquiring established fabs offers benefits such as reasonable pricing, stabilised technology, an existing supply chain ecosystem, established product lines, and an established market.Another plausible approach would involve setting up ATMPs, as Tessolve, which the Tatas now own, has shown by successfully packaging chips with a 7 nm feature size. Over 100 ATMPs exist in China, demonstrating their significance in the fab journey. The Steps taken by Indian Government A 10 billion dollar production-linked incentive (PLI) programme will be implemented by the Indian government in 2021 to promote the nation’s semiconductor and display industry.Financial assistance for a design-linked initiative (DLI) programme to promote domestic and international investment in design software, intellectual property rights, etc.The Union Cabinet has authorised a uniform incentive of 50% of the project cost for building up semiconductor, display, and compound semiconductor manufacturing units. This is part of the “Programme for Development of Semiconductors and Display Manufacturing Ecosystem in India.” ISM (India Semiconductor Mission) Compound Semiconductors Facilities Establishment PlanA semiconductor manufacturing facility worth 1,54,000 crores will be built in Gujarat by Vedanta and Taiwanese chipmaker Foxconn. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           India Likely to Face Obesity Epidemic Context: The new Lancet study finds out that India is sitting on obesity curve. Relevance: GS-2- Health Dimensions of the Article: DetailsRelevance of the study to IndiaBackground: Non-Communicable Diseases in IndiaFactors that have led to an Increase in Non-communicable Diseases: Details: The Lancet study shows that India could be facing an obesity epidemic particularly among the younger population.Obesity among children:This global analysis found that around 12.5 million children (7.3 million boys and 5.2 million girls) in the country, aged between five and 19, were grossly overweight in 2022. This figure is up from 0.4 million in 1990.The report also showed that the prevalence among children and teens is more than three per cent , an increase of over three percentage points from 1990.Obesity among adults:The study finds that the obesity prevalence among female is increasing sharply. TheWomen had a 9.8 per cent prevalence, an increase of 8.6 percentage points from 1990.Among men, this number stood at 5.4 per cent, an increase of 4.9 percentage points. Relevance of the study to India: The study gains significance as India is already having a high burden of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes.It reveals that 44 million women and 26 million men aged above 20 in India were found to be obese, this figure being 2.4 million women and 1.1 million men in 1990.India ranks 182 among 197 countries for the prevalence of obesity in women and 180 for men in 2022.India ranked 174 in the world for both girls and boys. Obesity is a major risk factor and a trigger for early onset of diseases like heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and even Type 2 diabetes among teens. Background: Non-Communicable Diseases in India Non-Communicable Diseases, also recognized as chronic diseases, typically have prolonged durations and result from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors.The primary categories of NCDs encompass cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and strokes), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes. A recent collaborative study conducted by the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sheds light on the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. This study marks the first comprehensive epidemiological research paper encompassing participants from all 31 states and Union Territories.By incorporating data from diverse regions, the research offers valuable insights into the prevalence and impact of NCDs, particularly diabetes, across the nation. Key Findings: Goa, Puducherry, and Kerala exhibit the highest prevalence of diabetes, ranging between 25-26.4%.India is now home to 101 million individuals diagnosed with diabetes.The study identifies 136 million people with prediabetes.Hypertension affects 315 million individuals.Generally obese individuals number 254 million, while 351 million have abdominal obesity.Generalized obesity is prevalent in 28.6% of the population, and abdominal obesity affects 39.5% of Indians, with a notably high rate of 50% in females.Hypercholesterolemia, characterized by fat accumulation in arteries, is observed in 213 million individuals, posing an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.24% of Indians suffer from hypercholesterolemia.Elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” are present in 185 million individuals. LDL cholesterol can contribute to arterial plaque buildup, leading to various health risks.Cholesterol circulates through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” Factors that have led to an Increase in Non-communicable Diseases: Consumption of Processed or Unhealthy Diet: Over the last three decades, the increased consumption of processed or unhealthy diets, defined as the Nutrition transition, has resulted in reduced intake of coarse cereals, pulses, fruits, and vegetables, and an increased consumption of meat products and salt. This has led to a 6% rise in energy derived from fats and a 7% decrease in energy derived from carbohydrates. Reduced Physical Activity: The Nutrition transition, coupled with reduced physical activity due to rapid urbanization, has contributed to a rise in obesity, atherogenic dyslipidemia, subclinical inflammation, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and coronary heart disease in Indians. Prevalence of Malnutrition: Additionally, the increased prevalence of malnutrition is characterized by an uptick in the intake of Western-style diets, decreased physical activity, and high consumption of tobacco and alcohol among fathers and mothers. -Source: The Indian Express Government Auctions Critical and Strategic Mineral Blocks Context: The Government of India launches the auction of 18 critical and strategic mineral blocks valued at around 30 lakh crore. The initiative is in-line with the country’s ambition to generate 50 percent of its electric power from non-fossil sources by 2030.These efforts are also aligned with global sustainability goals, emphasizing responsible exploration and extraction of critical minerals.These minerals are crucial for sectors like renewable energy, defense, pharmaceuticals, and high-tech electronics. Relevance: GS III- Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: What are Critical Minerals?Why is this resource critical?What is China ‘threat’?Challenges Faced by India in Assuring Resilient Critical Minerals Supply ChainsWay Forward for India’s Critical Minerals StrategyWhat are countries around the world doing about it? What are Critical Minerals? Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium and cobalt, which are used for making EV batteries; rare earths that are used for making magnets and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips and solar panels.Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment. Why is this resource critical? As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change.Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain.Many times the complex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.They are critical as the world is fast shifting from a fossil fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system. What is China ‘threat’? China is the world’s largest producer of 16 critical minerals.China alone is responsible for some 70% and 60% of global production of cobalt and rare earth elements, respectively, in 2019.The level of concentration is even higher for processing operations, where China has a strong presence across the board.China’s share of refining is around 35% for nickel, 50-70% for lithium and cobalt, and nearly 90% for rare earth elements.It also controls cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where 70% of this mineral is sourced.In 2010, China suspended rare earth exports to Japan for two months over a territorial dispute. Challenges Faced by India in Assuring Resilient Critical Minerals Supply Chains: China’s struggle with Covid-19-related lockdowns poses a risk of slowdown in the extraction, processing, and exports of critical minerals, as it is the most dominant player in critical mineral supply chains.The war between Russia and Ukraine has implications for critical mineral supply chains, as Russia is one of the significant producers of nickel, palladium, titanium sponge metal, and the rare earth element scandium, while Ukraine is a major producer of titanium and has reserves of other critical minerals.The strategic partnership between China and Russia may affect critical mineral supply chains as the balance of power shifts across continents and countries.Manufacturing renewable energy technologies and transitioning to electric vehicles would require increasing quantities of critical minerals, many of which India does not have sufficient reserves, necessitating reliance on foreign partners to meet domestic needs. Way Forward for India’s Critical Minerals Strategy India has geological potential for mining, but there are significant challenges to enable sustainable extraction.Four challenges include:Atomic minerals reserved only for public sector undertakings,Imperative need to create a new list of critical and strategic minerals,Encouraging reconnaissance and exploration of minerals, particularly deep-seated minerals, andInnovative regime to allocate critical mineral mining assets.India needs to determine how and where processing of minerals and assembly of critical minerals-embedded equipment will occur, as domestic sources are limited.India requires a critical minerals strategy to make the country self-reliant in critical minerals needed for sustainable economic growth and green technologies.The strategy should prioritize supply risks, domestic policy regimes, and sustainability, and engage in bilateral and plurilateral arrangements for building assured and resilient critical mineral supply chains.The assessment of critical minerals for India needs to be updated every three years to keep pace with changing domestic and global scenarios. What are countries around the world doing about it? US has shifted its focus on expanding domestic mining, production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals and materials.India has set up KABIL or the Khanij Bidesh India Limited, a joint venture of three public sector companies, to “ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market”.Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) and KABIL had recently signed an MoU aimed at ensuring reliable supply of critical minerals to India.The UK has unveiled its new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre to study the future demand for and supply of these minerals. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           Indian Manufacturing Sector Context: India’s manufacturing activity hit a five-month high in February 2024. This id mainly driven by a sharp uptick in orders and lower input costs. Relevance: GS-2: Government Policies and Interventions GS-3: Industrial Growth, Industrial Policy Dimensions of the Article: India’s Manufacturing SectorConnection between Faster Economic Growth, Manufacturing, and MSMEsPersisting ChallengesGovernment Policies for the Manufacturing Sector and MSMEs India’s Manufacturing Sector: The manufacturing industry comprises enterprises involved in the mechanical, physical, or chemical alteration of raw materials, substances, or components to produce finalized goods.India’s manufacturing sector is a pivotal driver of the nation’s economic growth, employing approximately 12% of the workforce and contributing around 15% to the country’s GDP. This diverse sector encompasses various businesses, including those in textiles, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and consumer durables. Connection between Faster Economic Growth, Manufacturing, and MSMEs: Job Creation: Manufacturing, especially in the MSME sector, has the potential to generate significant employment opportunities. MSMEs employ around 110 million people in India, a testament to their importance in the job market.Exports: MSMEs contribute to around 45% of India’s total exports. An efficient and thriving MSME sector can help improve the balance of payments.Local Production: MSMEs play a pivotal role in localizing production, reducing import dependency, and strengthening domestic supply chains. Persisting Challenges: Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) constitute 36 percent of India’s manufacturing output but face challenges like limited market reach, financial constraints, and technological gaps.Despite the era of liberalization, privatization, and globalization, India has yet to fully capitalize on the manufacturing industry’s benefits.While India’s goods exports have shown significant growth, reaching $453 billion in 2022 from $9.1 billion in 1985, the gap with China’s exponential growth in goods exports highlights the need for strategic improvements.India’s failure to achieve desired levels of skilling and its inadequate infrastructure, utilizing only 3 percent of GDP for construction compared to China’s 20 percent, hinder its manufacturing efficiency. Government Policies for the Manufacturing Sector and MSMEs: Make in India: Launched in 2014, this initiative aims to make India a global manufacturing hub by attracting investments from across the globe. It focuses on 25 sectors of the economy, with many of them being MSME-intensive.MSME Samadhaan: To address the issue of delayed payments, this portal allows MSMEs to file complaints against defaulting entities.MSME Sambandh: This portal helps monitor the implementation of the Public Procurement Policy for MSMEs, ensuring that they get their due share in government procurement.Credit Guarantee Scheme: To encourage MSME growth, the government offers credit support without the need for collaterals through the Credit Guarantee Trust Fund for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan: Amid the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced a comprehensive package emphasizing self-reliance, with significant components aimed at aiding MSMEs, including collateral-free loans and equity infusion. Examples and Facts: Investment Clearance Cell: As part of the Union Budget 2020-21, an Investment Clearance Cell was proposed to offer end-to-end facilitation support, including pre-investment advisory, which will be beneficial for MSMEs.Definition Change: The government revised the MSME definition in 2020. Investment and annual turnover criteria were revised upwards, ensuring a wider range of businesses could benefit from MSME-specific policies.PLI Scheme: The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme aims to boost domestic manufacturing in specific sectors, potentially benefiting numerous MSMEs in those sectors. -Source: Livemint Archaeological Survey of India Context: The customs department handed over a total of 101 seized antiquities  to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). These articles included a 206-year-old tracker telescope used by the British East India Company. Relevance: GS I: History, Art and Culture Dimensions of the Article: About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)What is the AMASR Act? About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Nodal: Ministry of Culture It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.The Survey also maintains ancient mounds and other similar sites which represent the remains of ancient habitation.It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”. What is the AMASR Act? It is an Act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.It extends to the whole of India.The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) functions under the provisions of this act.The rules stipulate that area in the vicinity of the monument, within 100 metres is prohibited area.The area within 200 meters of the monument is regulated category. Any repair or modifications of buildings in this area requires prior permission. -Source: The Hindu           Windfall Tax Increases on Domestically Produced Crude Oil Context: The Government of India has increased the windfall tax on domestically produced crude oil to Rs 4,600 per tonne from Rs 3,300 per tonne. The tax is levied in the form of Special Additional Excise Duty (SAED). Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: What is a windfall tax?Why are countries levying windfall taxes now?What are the issues with imposing such taxes? What is a windfall tax? Windfall taxes are designed to tax the profits a company derives from an external, sometimes unprecedented event — for instance, the energy price-rise as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.These are profits that cannot be attributed to something the firm actively did, like an investment strategy or an expansion of business.The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) defines a windfall as an “unearned, unanticipated gain in income through no additional effort or expense”.Governments typically levy this as a one-off tax retrospectively over and above the normal rates of tax.One area where such taxes have routinely been discussed is oil markets, where price fluctuation leads to volatile or erratic profits for the industry.There have been varying rationales for governments worldwide to introduce windfall taxes, from redistribution of unexpected gains when high prices benefit producers at the expense of consumers, to funding social welfare schemes, and as a supplementary revenue stream for the government. Why are countries levying windfall taxes now? Prices of oil, gas, and coal have seen sharp increases since last year and in the first two quarters of the current year, although they have reduced recently.Pandemic recovery and supply issues resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict shored up energy demands, which in turn have driven up global prices.The rising prices meant huge and record profits for energy companies while resulting in hefty gas and electricity bills for households in major and smaller economies. Since the gains stemmed partly from external change, multiple analysts have called them windfall profits. What are the issues with imposing such taxes? Brew uncertainty in the market about future taxes: Analysts say that companies are confident in investing in a sector if there is certainty and stability in a tax regime. Since windfall taxes are imposed retrospectively and are often influenced by unexpected events, they can brew uncertainty in the market about future taxes. IMF’s Advice Note: The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which released an advice note on how windfall taxes need to be levied also said that taxes in response to price surges may suffer from design problems—given their expedient and political nature.It added that “introducing a temporary windfall profit tax reduces future investment because prospective investors will internalise the likelihood of potential taxes when making investment decisions”. CRS report: There is another argument about what exactly constitutes true windfall profits; how can it be determined and what level of profit is normal or excessive. A CRS report, for instance, argues that if rapid increases in prices lead to higher profits, in one sense it can be called true windfalls as they are unforeseeable but on the other hand, companies may argue that it is the profit they earned as a reward for the industry’s risk-taking to provide the end user with the petroleum product. Another issue is who should be taxed: Only the big companies responsible for the bulk of high-priced sales or smaller companies as well— raising the question of whether producers with revenues or profits below a certain threshold should be exempt. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu          

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 29 February 2024

Contents: Sangeet Natak Akademi AwardsNational Commission for Backward Classes Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards Focus: GS-1: History, Art and Culture Why in News? The General Council of Sangeet Natak Akademi unanimously elected six (6) eminent personalities in the field of performing arts as Akademi Fellows (Akademi Ratna).  The Fellowship of the Akademi is a most prestigious and rare honour, which is restricted to 40 at any given time.It also selected 92 artists from the field of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/ Theatre, Puppetry and Overall contribution/scholarship in the Performing Arts for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for the years 2022 & 2023.  Around 80 young artists were selected for Sangeet Natak Akademi Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for the years 2022 and 2023. About Sangeet Natak Akademi: Sangeet Natak Akademi is the apex body in the field of performing arts in the country set up in 1953 .It is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture.Purpose:For the preservation and promotion of the vast intangible heritage of India’s diverse culture expressed in forms of music, dance and drama.Chairman:The Chairman of the Akademi is appointed by the President of India for a term of five years.Awards:Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards:These are the highest national recognition conferred on practising artists.The Akademi Awards have been conferred since 1952.These honours not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievement, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution.The honour of Akademi Award carries a purse money of Rs. 1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh), besides a Tamrapatra and Angavastram.The Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Awards will be conferred by the President of IndiaThe Akademi also confers Fellowships on eminent artists and scholars of music, dance and drama.The honour of Akademi Fellow carries a purse money of Rs.3, 00, 000/- (Rupees three lakhs)Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar:It is an annual Indian award given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi to outstanding artists under 40 who have demonstrated talent in the fields of music, dance and drama.Sangeet Natak Akademi also works with international organizations like UNESCO to preserve India’s cultural legacy. National Commission for Backward Classes Focus: GS II: Polity and Governance Why in News? Recently, a review meeting of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was held with the Governments of Punjab, Karnataka and Chandigarh. The meeting focussed on the subject of welfare measures undertaken to secure representation of OBCs in employment and admission in various Departments, Boards, Corporations, Educational Institutions & Medical Institutes. About National Commission for Backward Classes 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provides constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).It has the power to look into welfare claims and programmes for socially and academically disadvantaged groups.Prior to this, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment was responsible for the NCBC as a statutory organisation. Background of NCBC Two Backward Class Commissions were appointed in 1950s and 1970s under Kaka Kalelkar and B.P. Mandal respectively.Kaka Kalelkar commission is also known as the First Backward Classes Commission.The Supreme Court ordered the government to establish a permanent committee to consider, investigate, and recommend the inclusion and exclusion of various Backward Classes for the purpose of benefits and protection in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992.The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, passed by parliament in 1993 in accordance with these directives, established the NCBC.The 123rd Constitution Amendment bill of 2017 was presented in Parliament in order to better protect the interests of underprivileged groups.The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, was repealed by a different law that was approved by Parliament, making the 1993 Act obsolete.The bill got the President assent in August 2018 and provided the constitutional status to NCBC. Composition: The Commission consists of:ChairpersonVice-ChairpersonThree other Members in the rank and pay of Secretary to the Govt of India.Their condition of service and tenure of office has been notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.NCBC is headquartered in Delhi. Constitutional Provisions Article 340 deals with the need to, inter alia, identify those “socially and educationally backward classes”, understand the conditions of their backwardness, and make recommendations to remove the difficulties they face.102nd Constitution Amendment Act inserted new Articles 338 B and 342 A.The amendment also brings about changes in Article 366. will be required if the list of backward classes is to be amended. NCBC- Powers and Functions The commission investigates and monitors all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the socially and educationally backward classes under the Constitution or under any other law to evaluate the working of such safeguards.It participates and advises on the socio-economic development of the socially and educationally backward classes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.It presents to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards. The President laid such reports before each House of Parliament.Where any such report or any part thereof, relates to any matter with which any State Government is concerned, a copy of such report shall be forwarded to the State Government.NCBC has to discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes as the President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, by rule specify.It has all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 29 February 2024

Contents: Home Ministry declares  two factions of J&K; Muslim Conference as Unlawful AssociationAir leak at International Space StationDelhi HC on Delay in bail bond acceptanceIndia blocks China-led investment facilitation proposal at WTOCentral Bureau of InvestigationDelhi HC sets aside CAT’s decision Home Ministry Declares Two Factions of J&K; Muslim Conference as Unlawful Association Context: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently banned two factions of the Muslim Conference, Jammu and Kashmir (MCJK), led by Abdul Ghani Bhat and Ghulam Nabi Sumji, respectively, as an “unlawful association under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: What does a ‘ban’ on an organisation mean?What is a “terrorist” organisation?How is an organisation declared a terrorist organisation?What are the consequences of declaring an organisation a terrorist organisation?The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019 What does a ‘ban’ on an organisation mean? The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act gives powers to the government to declare an organisation an “unlawful association” or a “terrorist organisation”, which is often colloquially described as a “ban” on the organisations.Declaring an organisation a terrorist organisation has serious consequences in law, including criminalising its membership and the forfeiture of the property of the organisation.Several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council starting from 1997 require member statesTo take action against certain terrorists and terrorist organisations,To freeze their assets and other economic resources,To prevent their entry into or the transit through their territory,To prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of arms and ammunition to those individuals or entities listed in the Schedule. What is a “terrorist” organisation? Section 2(m) of the UAPA defines “terrorist organisation” as an organisation listed in the Schedule to the UAPA, or an organisation operating under the same name as an organisation so listed in the Schedule.Schedule 1 currently lists 42 organisations, including Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen, Babbar Khalsa International, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, among others as terrorist organisations. How is an organisation declared a terrorist organisation? Under Section 35 of the UAPA, the central government has powers to declare an organisation a terrorist organisation “only if it believes that it is involved in terrorism”.The Schedule can be amended by the government to add or remove organisations from the list. The law states that an organisation shall be deemed to be involved in terrorism if it,commits or participates in acts of terrorism, orprepares for terrorism, orpromotes or encourages terrorism, oris otherwise involved in terrorism. What are the consequences of declaring an organisation a terrorist organisation? The two crucial consequences of being declared a terrorist organisation is thatthe funding of the organisationthe association of individuals with the organisation are criminalisedSection 38 of the UAPA requires a person who “associates himself, or professes to be associated, with a terrorist organisation with intention to further its activities, commits an offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation” is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.However, such individuals are exempted from the provision if they have been members before the organisation was declared a terrorist organisation and did not take part in any activities of the organisation at any time during its inclusion in the Schedule.Section 20 of the UAPA prescribes punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation. It states: “Any person who is a member of a terrorist gang or a terrorist organisation, which is involved in terrorist act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”Section 21 prescribes punishment for individuals holding proceeds of terrorism with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.The UAPA under Section 24A also provides for forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism. The law states that even if the person is not convicted for being associated with a terrorist organisation, “proceeds of terrorism” can be forfeited to the Central Government or the State Government. What is the recourse in law available to a terrorist organisation? An application can be made to the central government to remove an organisation from the Schedule by the organisation itself or any person affected by inclusion of the organisation in the Schedule as a terrorist organisation.A review committee is then appointed which is headed by a sitting or former judge of a High Court to “judicially review” the application.The organisation will be removed if the review committee “considers that the decision to reject was flawed when considered in the light of the principles applicable on an application for judicial review”. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019 The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things. Key Provisions of the Amendment The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:commits or participates in acts of terrorismprepares for terrorismpromotes terrorismis otherwise involved in terrorismThe word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of Indiato strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign countryThe central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police. Issues with UAPA UAPA gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities. Thus, the state gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.UAPA empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society. The right of dissent is a part and parcel of fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).UAPA can also be thought of to go against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           Air leak at International Space Station Context: The Russian space officials recently confirmed the a continuing air leak from the Russian segment of the International Space Station. However, they said that the air leak poses no danger to its crew. Relevance: GS-III Science and Technology: (Space Technology, Developments in Space technology) Dimensions of the Article: What is a Space Station?International Space Station (ISS)What is Russia’s role in maintaining the ISS? What is a Space Station? A Space station is an artificial structure placed in orbit, having the pressurized enclosure, power, supplies, and environmental systems necessary to support human habitation for extended periods.In simple words: a space station, also called an orbital station, is a large spacecraft or man-made station in space which can act as a home where astronauts live and/or receive several spacecrafts from the Earth and/or act as a kind of science lab, etc.Depending on its configuration, a space station can serve as a base for a variety of activities.These include observations of the Sun and other astronomical objects, study of Earth’s resources and environment, military reconnaissance, and long-term investigations of the behaviour of materials and biological systems—including human physiology and biochemistry—in a state of weightlessness, or microgravity. How are space stations set up and how do they work? Small space stations are launched fully assembled, but larger stations are sent up in modules and assembled in orbit. To make the most efficient use of its carrier vehicle’s capacity, a space station is launched vacant, and its crew members—and sometimes additional equipment—follow in separate vehicles. A space station’s operation, therefore, requires a transportation system to ferry crews and hardware and to replenish the propellant, air, water, food, and such other items as are consumed during routine operations. Space stations use large panels of solar cells and banks of storage batteries as their source of electrical power. They also employ geostationary relay satellites for continuous communication with mission controllers on the ground and satellite-based positioning systems for navigation. How many Space Stations have we launched? Since 1971, more than 10 space stations have been launched into a low orbit around Earth and have been occupied for varying lengths of time.Important Space stations in chronological order are Salyut 1, Skylab, Salyuts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, Mir, the International Space Station, and Tiangong 1 and 2. International Space Station (ISS) The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit.The ISS program is a multi-national collaborative project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific experiments are conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.It is the largest artificial object in space and the largest satellite in low Earth orbit, regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth’s surface.The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US. What is Russia’s role in maintaining the ISS? The ISS is built with the co-operation of scientists from five international space agencies — NASA of the U.S., Roscosmos of Russia, JAXA of Japan, Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.Each agency has a role to play and a share in the upkeep of the ISS.Both in terms of expense and effort, it is not a feat that a single country can support.Russia’s part in the collaboration is the module responsible for making course corrections to the orbit of the ISS.They also ferry astronauts to the ISS from the Earth and back.Until SpaceX’s dragon spacecraft came into the picture the Russian spacecrafts were the only way of reaching the ISS and returning. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           Delhi HC on Delay in Bail Bond Acceptance Context: Recently, the Delhi High Court took suo motu cognisance of a petition pertaining to the delay in acceptance of bail bonds by jail superintendents. The court observed that -‘Deprivation of liberty for single day is a day too many’. Relevance: GS paper-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary – Ministries and Departments of the Government Dimensions of the Article: Bail in India: Overview and TypesTypes of Bail:What is liberty?Ideals of liberty:Negative and positive liberty:Constitutional Provisions:A Basic Principle of Personal Liberty: Bail, Not JailThe Root Cause of the Resistance to Release: Bail in India: Overview and Types Bail: Conditional/provisional release of a person held under legal custody, pledging to appear in court as required. It involves a security/collateral deposited before the court for release.Principle: In the Supt. and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs v. Amiya Kumar Roy Choudhry (1973) case, the Calcutta High Court explained the principle behind granting bail. Types of Bail: Regular Bail: Direction by any court to release a person already under arrest and in police custody.Application filed under Sections 437 and 439 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. Interim Bail: Temporary and short-term bail granted by the court while the application for Anticipatory Bail or Regular Bail is pending. Anticipatory Bail or Pre-arrest Bail: Legal provision allowing an accused to seek bail before arrest.Granted under Section 438 of the CrPC.Issued by Sessions Court and High Court.Discretionary, considering the nature of the offense, antecedents of the accused, and other factors.Conditions may be imposed, like surrendering the passport or reporting to the police regularly. Statutory Bail: Distinct from bail under regular CrPC sections.Granted when the police or investigating agency fails to file a report/complaint within a specified time (Section 167(2) of the CrPC). What is liberty? freedom is the absence of constraint and it allows the full development of the individual’s creativity, sensibilities and capabilities: be it in sports, science, art, music or exploration. Moreover, a free society is one that enables one to pursue one’s interests with a minimum of constraints. Ideals of liberty: The Preamble of Indian constitution well defined the ideals of liberty that are liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Liberty of thoughts: It is fundamental to human being, so that they can develop free ideas and imagination about their life moreover they are free to take decisions as per their will without harming to others. Moreover it helps to develop new ideas and becomes the basis of scientific and cultural evolution.Liberty of expression: John Stuart Mill gave four reasons to uphold liberty of expression:No idea is completely false. What appears to us as false has an element of truth. If we ban ‘false’ ideas, we would lose that element of truth that they contain.Truth does not emerge by itself. It is only through a conflict of opposing views that truth emerges. Ideas that seem wrong today may have been very valuable in the emergence of what we consider right kind of ideas.Truth always runs the risk of being reduced to an unthinking cliché. It is only when we expose it to opposing views that we can be sure that this idea is trustworthy.A society that completely suppresses all ideas that are not acceptable today, runs the danger of losing the benefits of what might turn out to be very valuable knowledge.Liberty of belief, faith and worship: These fundamental values give sense of security to humans so that they can do religious practices as per their will. Negative and positive liberty: Negative liberty: it  seeks to define and defend an area in which the individual would be inviolable, in which he or she could ‘do, be or become’ whatever he or she wished to ‘do, be or become’. This is an area in which no external authority can interfere. It is a minimum area that is sacred and in which whatever the individual does, is not to be interfered with. It is an inviolable area of non-interference in which the individual can express himself or herself. Positive liberty: Positive liberty recognises that one can be free only in society (not outside it) and hence tries to make that society such that it enables the development of the individual whereas negative liberty is only concerned with the inviolable area of non-interference and not with the conditions in society, outside this area, as such. Challenges related to liberty: Liberty has two dimensions positive and negative liberty. Negative liberty defines the area which is inviolable and individual can enjoy absolute freedom and positive liberty defines the area of society in which individual should respects the rights of others. State vs individual: Sometime in the name of national security, the state tries to curtail the individual liberty e.g. sometime the authority misuse the section 124A of IPC, which is related to sedition charges.Aadhar Act:  The people share their personal information to authority. This information is directly related to individual dignity. Moreover authority can be misuse this information which is against the liberty.State vs religion: Sometime, In the name of secularism, the state curtail the individual freedom e.g. the France govt banned the burkha. Which goes the rights of minority community. Constitutional Provisions: 1: RIGHT TO FREEDOM (Indian constitution) Art. 19 – Freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association, movement, residence, and profession. Art. 20 – Protection in respect of conviction for offenses. Art. 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty. Art. 21A – Right to elementary education. Art. 22 – Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases. A Basic Principle of Personal Liberty: Bail, Not Jail Justice Krishna Iyer stated that the “basic rule” is “Bail, not Jail” almost fifty years ago.However, this fundamental principle of personal liberty has consistently been disregarded, resulting in the incarceration of common people, human rights activists, writers, educators, and even press reporters.According to data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 4,27,165 of the total 5,54,034 prisoners were incarcerated as of December 31, 2021, meaning that more than four lakh accused were detained without bail while awaiting the start or conclusion of their trial. The Root Cause of the Resistance to Release: The higher judiciary is overrun with bail requests as a result of reluctance at the grassroots levels to grant bail, according to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), who made this statement in November 2022 while speaking at an event hosted by the Bar Council of India.Despite Justice Iyer’s unambiguous statement from more than 50 years ago and the Supreme Court’s thorough instructions on arrest and bail in Satender Kumar Antil v. CBI, the basic principle of bail is frequently disregarded or rejected by the courts. In addition, even the Supreme Court is currently dealing with hundreds of bail applications and a sizable number of habeas corpus petitions.The CJI stated in the Arnab Goswami case that “deprivation of liberty for a single day is a day too many,” so these are significant numbers.The judiciary must show more empathy in order to address the problems that people facing trials face.The need for greater transparency within the judicial system is also urgent.The courts should think about ordering daily proceedings to speed up the legal process and avoid prison overcrowding. This will help the case move along smoothly and allow people to get justice quickly. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           India Blocks China-led Investment Facilitation Proposal at WTO   Context: India, along with South Africa, successfully blocked a key proposal led by China at the World Trade Organisation. Relevance: GS III- Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: About Investment Facilitation Development Agreement (IFD)World Trade Organization (WTO)Functions of WTOWhat is the WTO’s Ministerial Conference? About Investment Facilitation Development Agreement (IFD): It is a WTO-negotiated agreement being discussed among the members.The IFD, first proposed in 2017, aims to streamline investment procedures and facilitate cross-border investments, thus creating a more transparent, predictable, and streamlined environment for investors.However, it has attracted criticism for potentially favoring countries heavily reliant on Chinese investments and those with sovereign wealth funds.This is not the first time India has voiced its opposition to the IFD. The country previously blocked the proposal in December 2023 and at the WTO’s General Council Meeting.What are the concerns?However, India raised several concerns regarding the Investment Facilitation Development Agreement.Firstly, India argued that the IFD falls outside the scope of the WTO, as it is not strictly a trade issue beyond the scope of the Marrakesh agreement. Secondly, India pointed out that the IFD does not fulfill the criteria for a formal agreement as it hasn’t received unanimous support from all WTO members, thus lacking the exclusive consensus required.Hence, with India and South Africa’s objection, the IFD is unlikely to be adopted by the WTO in its current form.This development could lead to further discussions and potential revisions to the agreement or its complete World Trade Organization (WTO) The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.It is the largest international economic organization in the world.The headquarters of the World Trade Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments.The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.The WTO has 164 members (including European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc.)India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO. Functions of WTO Trade negotiations: The WTO agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They set procedures for settling disputes.Implementation and monitoring: WTO agreements require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Various WTO councils and committees seek to ensure that these requirements are being followed and that WTO agreements are being properly implemented.Dispute settlement: The WTO’s procedure for resolving trade quarrels under the Dispute Settlement Understanding is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly.Building trade capacity: WTO agreements contain special provision for developing countries, including longer time periods to implement agreements and commitments, measures to increase their trading opportunities, and support to help them build their trade capacity, to handle disputes and to implement technical standards.Outreach: The WTO maintains regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, other international organizations, the media and the general public on various aspects of the WTO and the ongoing Doha negotiations, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and increasing awareness of WTO activities. What is the WTO’s Ministerial Conference? The MC is at the very top of WTO’s organisational chart.It meets once every two years and can take decisions on all matters under any multilateral trade agreement.Unlike other organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, WTO does not delegate power to a board of directors or an organisational chief.All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varied councils and committees.This year’s conference took place in Geneva, Switzerland.   -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu, AIR      Central Bureau of Investigation Context: Recently, the CBI has summoned Samajwadi Party President and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav in an illegal mining case. Relevance: GS-II: Polity and Constitution, Governance Dimensions of the Article: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)Functions of CBIChallenges of CBI Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 after the recommendation of Santhanam committee under Ministry of Home affairs and was later transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, however, it is NOT a Statutory Body.CBI is the apex anti-corruption body in the country – Along with being the main investigating agency of the Central Government it also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation.The CBI is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.The CBI’s conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.The CBI is headed by a Director and he is assisted by a special director or an additional director. It has joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police. CBI has following divisions Anti-Corruption DivisionEconomic Offences DivisionSpecial Crimes DivisionPolicy and International Police Cooperation DivisionAdministration DivisionDirectorate of ProsecutionCentral Forensic Science Laboratory How does the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) function in India? Provision of Prior Permission: The CBI is required to obtain prior approval from the Central Government before conducting an inquiry or investigation into an offense committed by officers of the rank of joint secretary and above in the Central Government and its authorities.The Supreme Court, in 2014, declared Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which provided protection to joint secretary and above officers from facing preliminary inquiries by the CBI in corruption cases, as invalid and violative of Article 14. General Consent Principle for CBI: The state government can grant consent to the CBI on a case-specific basis or through a “general” consent.General consent is usually given by states to facilitate seamless investigation of corruption cases involving central government employees within their states.This consent is considered implicit, allowing the CBI to initiate investigations assuming consent has already been given.Without general consent, the CBI would need to seek permission from the state government for each individual case, even for minor actions. Challenges of CBI The CBI has been dubbed a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice” by the Supreme Court of India due to excessive political influence in its operations. It has frequently been utilised by the government to conceal misdeeds, keep coalition allies in line, and keep political opponents at away. It has been accused of massive delays in concluding investigations, such as in its investigation into high-ranking Jain dignitaries in the Jain hawala diaries case [in the 1990s].Loss of Credibility: Improving the agency’s image has been one of the most difficult challenges so far, as the agency has been chastised for its mishandling of several high-profile cases, including the Bofors scandal, the Hawala scandal, the Sant Singh Chatwal case, the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the 2008 Noida double murder case (Aarushi Talwar).Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempt from the Right to Information Act, which means it is not accountable to the public.Acute staff shortage: One of the key causes of the shortfall is the government’s mishandling of the CBI’s employees, which includes an inefficient and inexplicably biassed recruitment policy that was utilised to bring in favoured officials, possibly to the organization’s damage.Limited Authority: Members of the CBI’s investigative powers and jurisdiction are subject to the consent of the State Government, restricting the scope of the CBI’s inquiry.Restricted Access: Obtaining prior authorisation from the Central Government to initiate an inquiry or probe into Central Government workers at the level of Joint Secretary and above is a major impediment to tackling corruption at the highest levels of government. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           Delhi HC Sets Aside CAT’s Decision Context: The Delhi High Court recently  set aside an order issued by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) regarding the procedure for taking action against senior IRS official Sameer Wankhede in connection with the drugs case. The allegations were levelled against the IRS officer in the way he conducted the raid on Cordelia Cruise in 2021. Relevance: GS-II Governance Dimensions of the Article: History behind the formationAbout CATHow does CAT Function?Jurisdiction of CAT History behind the formation The Administrative Reforms Commission (1966-70) recommended the setting up of civil service tribunals in India to function as final appellate authorities in respect of orders inflicting the major punishments of dismissal, removal from service and reduction in rank.The Supreme Court in its judgement in 1980 observed that civil servants should not waste time in fighting battles in ordinary courts and suggested the establishment of such tribunals.Article 323A of the Constitution provides for the setting up of administrative tribunals for adjudication of disputes in matters pertaining to recruitment and conditions of services of persons employed in public services.Parliament passed a law to establish administrative tribunals in India.The Act visualizes a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for the Centre and state administrative tribunal for a particular state. About CAT: The CAT was created by Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985.It was established under Article 323A of the Constitution of India, By the 42nd Constitutional Act.Hence, they are Constitutional Bodies.  How does CAT Function? It enjoys the status and power of High Court.In disposing of cases, it follows the principles and norms of natural justice.Appeals against its orders lie only with the Supreme Court of India.The aggrieved person may appear before it personally.It is a multi-member body whose members are drawn from judicial and administrative streams so as to give it the benefit of expertise legal as well as administrative fields.The administrative tribunals deal exclusively with service litigation and are free from the formalities of legal technicalities.The Central Administrative Tribunal (1985) has regular benches operating at the principal seats of High Courts. Jurisdiction of CAT The CAT exercises original jurisdiction over all service matters concerned with: Members of the all-India services.Persons appointed to any civil service of the Union or civil post under the Union.Civilians appointed to any defence services or posts related to defence.Employees of PSUs or public sector organisations notified by the government. Members of the defence forces, officers, Supreme Court staff, the Parliament’s secretarial staff are not covered under the CAT. How does an administrative tribunal differ from ordinary judicial court? Legal counsel may not be needed in matters requiring adjustment;A degree of informality which suits to the nature of issues involved;Formal rules of evidence may not be observed;Decisions may be reached by expert in the subject matter as well as in the law;Differences in the constitution and procedure; andFacts may be developed by question and answer and conclusion reached without delay. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu          

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 28 February 2024

Contents: ‘Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir’ declared as an ‘Unlawful Association’ ‘Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir’ Declared as an ‘Unlawful Association’ Focus: GS II: Polity and Governance Why in News? The Government of India has declared ‘Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir’ as an ‘Unlawful Association’ for a further period of 5 years. The declaration was made under Section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) 1967. The organisation is found continuing its activities against the security, integrity and sovereignty of the nation. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019 The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things. Key Provisions of the Amendment The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:commits or participates in acts of terrorismprepares for terrorismpromotes terrorismis otherwise involved in terrorismThe word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of Indiato strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign countryThe central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 28 February 2024

Contents: Odisha requests NTCA for introduction of tigers from other landscapesAssam Rifles deployed in violence-hit areas of ManipurDisqualification of MLAs from AssemblyHuman genomes sequencing in IndiaLokpalNational Science Day Odisha Requests NTCA for Introduction of Tigers From Other Landscapes Context: The Odisha Government wrote to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), requesting it to consider introducing female tigers in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) from other landscapes. The State Government is concerned over the presence of a sizeable number of pseudo-melanistic tigers in its Similipal Tiger Reserve largely due to inbreeding.Though, this is not the main concern, there is a need to increase the genetic diversity in Similipal.As per the All Odisha Tiger Estimation (AOTE-2023-24),  a total of 30 tigers were found in the State’s forests Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: About Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)What are Melanistic animals?Why Tiger Conservation Is Essential?Threats To Tiger Conservation?National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA):Other Major Protected Areas in Odisha About Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) is a protected area located in the Mayurbhanj District in the Northernmost part of Odisha.It was declared a ‘Tiger Reserve’ in 1956 and is included in the national conservation programme ‘Project Tiger’ since 1973. Location and Terrain: STR is surrounded by high plateaus and hills, with the highest peak being the twin peaks of Khairiburu and Meghashini (1515m above mean sea level).The terrain is mostly undulating and hilly, interspersed with open grasslands and wooded areas. Vegetation: A mix of different forest types and habitats dominate, with Northern tropical moist deciduous dominating some semi-evergreen patches.Sal is the dominant tree species here.There are a staggering 1078 species of plants, including 94 species of orchids, found in STR. Fauna:  STR is home to a variety of wildlife, including the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Gaur, Elephant, Langur, Barking and Spotted Deer, Sloth Bear, Mongoose, Flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Turtle, Monitor Lizard, Python, Sambar, and Pangolin.The region around STR is home to a variety of tribes, including Kolha, Santhala, Bhumija, Bhatudi, Gondas, Khadia, Mankadia, and Sahara. Other Facts: The STR, along with a ‘transitional area’ of 2250 sq. km, has been included as a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 2009.It is the only landscape in the world that is home to melanistic tigers. What are Melanistic animals? Melanism is a genetic trait that causes an animal to have an unusually high amount of dark pigmentation, resulting in a black or very dark coloration of their fur, skin, or feathers.Melanistic animals can occur in a variety of species, including big cats, such as tigers and leopards, as well as birds, reptiles, and rodents.In some cases, melanistic animals may have a survival advantage in certain environments, such as in heavily forested areas where their dark coloration can provide better camouflage. Why Tiger Conservation Is Essential? The tiger is not just a charismatic species or just another wild animal living in some faraway forest. It is a top predator/Umbrella species that is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. They prevent over-grazing by limiting herbivore numbers and maintain ecological integrity.Therefore, the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well-being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.Another reason why we need to save the tiger is that our forests are water catchment areas. Most tiger habitats are watershed areas of rivers and streams and in turn, improve soil fertility. Thus conserving tigers help conserve freshwater resources, regulate droughts or heavy rains, and benefits the downstream communities.Tigers attracting tourists, which provide income for local communities.Also, there is a tremendous decline in the tiger population as compared to the past 100 years, and to prevent the deteriorating condition of tigers, it’s important to conserve them. Three tiger reserves of India: Mizoram’s Dampa reserve, West Bengal’s Buxa reserve, and Jharkhand’s Palamau reserve have no tigers left. By conserving and saving tigers the entire wilderness ecosystem is conserved. It is crucial to maintain the life support system. So saving the tiger amounts to saving the ecosystem which is crucial for man’s survival. Global Tiger Day also called International Tiger Day is an annual event marked to raise awareness for tiger conservation. It is observed every year on July 29. It was started in 2010 with an aim to promote a global system to protect the Natural Habitats of Tigers and raise awareness among people to support the conservation plan and their need to support it.  Threats To Tiger Conservation? Threats include habitat loss, poaching, and man-animal conflict. Habitat loss: There are more tiger reserves in India but their connectivity is less. These isolated population can hinder their survival in the long run.Tiger Poaching: This has seriously impacted the probability of survival of Tigers in India. Tigers are mainly poached for their bones and other body parts which are in great demand for traditional Chinese medicines. Tigers in the wild are killed illegally to fuel the demand for Tiger products such as Tiger skins and Tiger Bone Wine. Thus every part of tiger has a market value and there is a huge demand for tiger skins, parts & derivatives drive an increasingly sophisticated network of illegal wildlife trade across all tiger range countries. As a result, demand is driving wild tigers to the brink of extinction, with 97% of the world’s wild tiger population wiped out over the last century. It has become a pride to possess a tiger’s parts namely its skin, nail, bones, and so on. Man-animal conflict: Fragmentation of their habitats has increased tigers moving to nearby human habitations and this, in turn, has increased man-animal conflict. There was a political commitment at the central level in the 1970s to conserve Tigers and this led to a law called Wildlife Protection Act in 1972 and subsequently, it created National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries which paid special attention to Tiger Conservation.  National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA): The NTCA was launched in 2005, is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change constituted following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. It was given statutory status by the 2006 amendment of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation, through advisories/normative guidelinesComposition: The authority consists of the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (as Chairperson), the Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (as Vice-Chairperson), three members of Parliament, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and other members.Objectives: Objectives include Fostering accountability of Centre-State in management of Tiger ReservesAddressing man-animal conflictsAddressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger ReservesProvide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, the status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, approve, co-ordinate research and monitoring on tiger Ensure critical support including scientific, information technology, and legal support.NTCA provides technical and financial support to Tiger Reserves. Other Major Protected Areas in Odisha Bhitarkanika National ParkBadrama WLSChilika (Nalaban island) WLSHadgarh WLSBaisipalli WLSKotagarh WLSNandankanan WLSLakhari Valley WLSGahirmatha (Marine) WLS -Source: The Hindu Assam Rifles Deployed in Violence-Hit Areas of Manipur Context: The Army has been deployed in Manipur after a senior police officer was abducted allegedly by cadres of the Arambai Tenggol, a Meitei organisation. Relevance: GS Paper-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges Dimensions of the Article: BackgroundManipur is divided into two regions:Meitei community wants scheduled tribe statusConcerns and ImplicationsAbout Assam Rifles Background: The Meitei community has historically been categorised as an Other Backward Class (OBC) under the Indian government’s reservation policy because they mostly live in the valley regions of Manipur.However, a number of indigenous tribal groups that live in Manipur’s hill country have been designated as Scheduled Tribes (ST).Different sociocultural, historical, and geographical factors form the basis of this classification. However, the Meitei community asserts that they have historically been marginalised and requests ST status in order to benefit from the advantages and protections afforded to STs. Manipur is divided into two regions: The Imphal Valley and surrounding hills. The valley, which makes up about 10% of the state’s landmass, is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei, who produce 40 of the state’s 60 MLAs and account for more than 64% of the population.The hills, which make up 90% of the area, are home to more than 35% recognised tribes but only send 20 MLAs to the Assembly. Meitei community wants scheduled tribe status The Meitei community has requested Scheduled Tribe status, and the Manipur High Court ordered the state government to follow a 10-year-old recommendation to do so.The Meiteis were acknowledged as a tribe prior to Manipur’s merger with the Union of India in 1949. The ST status would offer constitutional protections against outsiders and restrict non-tribal land ownership in the Imphal Valley.The ST Demand Committee of Manipur has been requesting ST status for the Meiteis since 2012, citing the need to “preserve” the community’s culture, language, and ancestral land. Concerns and Implications The tribal groups worry that giving Meiteis ST status will cause them to lose their employment opportunities and give them the opportunity to buy land in the hills, driving the tribals out.The Meitei people have access to benefits associated with the SC, OBC, or EWS status, and their language is already listed in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule.It is believed that the demand for ST status is a ruse to soften the political demands of the Kukis and Nagas as well as a covert plan by the dominant valley dwellers to expand into the hill regions.Benefits Could Be Diluted: According to the tribal communities, granting ST status to the Meitei community might reduce the advantages and chances currently available to the tribal groups. They worry that the already divided reservations and scarce resources will have an impact on their representation in and eligibility for government programmes.Land and Identity Concerns: Due to the tribal communities’ traditional rights and control over specific territories, there are worries that the inclusion of the Meitei community as STs may result in conflicts over land and resources. The tribal groups also worry that the dominant Meitei culture may obscure or erode their unique cultural identities.Political Representation: Giving the Meitei community ST status might change the way politics are currently played out in Manipur. It might affect how tribal communities are represented in legislative bodies and local governance structures, potentially lowering their influence and voice. About Assam Rifles: Background: The Assam Rifles is a central armed police force and the primary counter-insurgency force in the Northeast region of India.It holds the distinction of being the oldest paramilitary force in the country.The lineage of the force can be traced back to the formation of Cachar Levy, a paramilitary police force established by the British in 1835.Over the years, the force underwent several name changes, including the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891), Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), and finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917. Role: The Assam Rifles is responsible for maintaining law and order in the Northeast region, in collaboration with the Indian Army.It plays a crucial role in guarding the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.The force is often referred to as the “Sentinels of the Northeast.” Headquarters and Motto: The headquarters of the Assam Rifles is located in Shillong, Meghalaya.The force operates under the motto “Friends of the Hill People.” Control: The Assam Rifles is unique among paramilitary forces as it has a dual control structure.While the Ministry of Home Affairs has administrative control over the force, its operational control lies with the Indian Army, which operates under the Ministry of Defence. -Source: The Hindu Disqualification of MLAs from Assembly Context: Recently, the Speaker of Andhra Pradesh Assembly disqualified eight sitting MLAs following complaints from the respective parties. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: When does conviction attract disqualification?Legal protection for legislators against disqualificationCan the disqualification be removed?Origin and Evolution of the Office of the SpeakerThe powers and functions of the Speaker When does conviction attract disqualification? Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, contains provisions aimed at decriminalising electoral politics.There are two categories of criminal cases that attract disqualification upon conviction.In the first category are offences that entail disqualification for a period of six years upon any conviction.If the punishment is a fine, the six-year period will run from the date of conviction, but if there is a prison sentence, the disqualification will begin on the date of conviction, and will continue up to the completion of six years after the date of release from jail.Major IPC offences are included under this head: making speeches that cause enmity between groups (Sec.153A) and doing so in a place of worship (Sec.505), bribery and personation during elections and other electoral offences, offences relating to rape and cruelty to women by husband and latter’s relatives.Besides, serious provisions of special laws such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, Customs Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act etc are among the category of offences that entail disqualification regardless of the quantum of punishment.Laws for prevention of Sati, corruption, terrorism and insult to national flag and national anthem etc are also part of this group.All other criminal provisions form a separate category under which mere conviction will not entail disqualification.A sentence of at least two years in prison is needed to incur such disqualification. Legal protection for legislators against disqualification Under Section 8(4) of the RPA, legislators could avoid immediate disqualification until 2013.The provision said that with respect to a Member of Parliament or a State legislator the disqualification will not take effect for three months.If within that period, the convicted legislator files an appeal or revision application, it will not take effect until the disposal of the appeal or application.In other words, the mere filing of an appeal against conviction will operate as a stay against disqualification.In Lily Thomas vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court struck down clause (4) as unconstitutional, thus removing the protection enjoyed by lawmakers. Can the disqualification be removed? The Supreme Court has the power to stay not only the sentence, but also the conviction of a person.In some rare cases, conviction has been stayed to enable the appellant to contest an election.However, the SC has made it clear that such a stay should be very rare and for special reasons.The RPA itself provides a remedy through the Election Commission.Under Sec. 11 of the Act, the EC may record reasons and either remove, or reduce the period of, a person’s disqualification. Origin and Evolution of the Office of the Speaker: The Speaker’s office originated in medieval Britain when the House of Commons required a representative in dealings with the King.Until the 17th century, the Speaker was often seen as a representative of the Crown.However, since the mid-19th century, the Speaker has been considered an impartial Chairman of the House of Commons, responsible for safeguarding the House’s rights, privileges, and those of its members. The powers and functions of the Speaker in the Indian context and the challenges therein: >td >Furthermore, Speakers have the authority to refer Bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees.>td >td >Some legal experts argue that this power should be given to an independent tribunal led by judges, as suggested in the Keisham Meghachandra Singh vs. The Honble Speaker Manipur (2020) case. The Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s indictment also results from inaction in deciding disqualification petitions, despite court directives, and challenges have arisen regarding the certification of Bills as Money Bills by the Lok Sabha Speaker.  Powers and FunctionsTheir misuseIn India, the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies elect a Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively, and these individuals play vital roles in certifying Money Bills and deciding on disqualifications due to defection.In Britain, once elected, the Speaker resigns from their political party to maintain impartiality while presiding over the House of Commons.In India, the Tenth Schedule allows the Speaker to resign from their political party upon election, but this practice has never been followed. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           Human Genomes Sequencing in India Context: The Government of India has completed sequencing 10,000 healthy genomes from different regions of the country. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Key pointsAbout GenomeGenome India ProjectSignificance of the Genome India ProjectChallenges of the Genome India Project Key points: As a significant step towards achieving the objectives of Genome India initiative, the researchers have completed sequencing 10,000 healthy genomes from different regions of the country, representing 99 distinct populations.This has been culminated in the creation of a comprehensive genetic map of India.This has immense potential for clinicians and researchers and thus, help drive the biology sector in the countryThere is a need for India-specific database because mutations found here might not be present globally.India’s bio-economy has grown 13 folds in the last 10 years from $10 billion in 2014 to over $130 billion in 2024.This achievement will spearhead India’s future growth. About Genome: It refers to the complete set of genetic instructions or information that an organism possesses.It is made up of DNA, which carries the instructions for the development, functioning, growth, and reproduction of all living organisms.The study of genomics involves the analysis of genomes and has led to many breakthroughs in various fields, including medicine and biotechnology. Genome Sequencing Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G), that make up an organism’s DNA. Genome India Project India’s population consists of over 4,600 diverse population groups, many of which are endogamous.These groups have unique genetic variations and disease-causing mutations that cannot be compared to other populations.The Genome India Project aims to create a database of Indian genomes to learn about these unique genetic variants and use the information to create personalized drugs and therapies.The project was started in 2020 and is inspired by the successful decoding of the entire human genome in the Human Genome Project (HGP).The project seeks to better understand the genetic variations and disease-causing mutations specific to the Indian population, which is one of the most genetically diverse in the world.By sequencing and analyzing these genomes, researchers hope to gain insights into the underlying genetic causes of diseases and develop more effective personalized therapies.The project involves the collaboration of 20 institutions across India and is being led by the Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, China, and the United States, also have similar programs to sequence their genomes. Significance of the Genome India Project: The Genome India Project (GIP) has significant implications in various fields, including healthcare, agriculture, and global science. Here are the key points of its significance: Personalized Medicine: The GIP aims to develop personalized medicine based on patients’ genomes to anticipate and modulate diseases. By mapping disease propensities to genetic variations, interventions can be targeted more effectively, and diseases can be anticipated before they develop.Understanding Disease Propensities: GIP can help understand the genetic basis of disease propensities in different populations. For example, variations across genomes may explain why cardiovascular disease leads to heart attacks in South Asians but to strokes in most parts of Africa.Agriculture: The GIP can benefit agriculture by understanding the genetic basis of the susceptibility of plants to pests, insects, and other issues hampering productivity. This can reduce dependence on chemicals.Global Science: The project is said to be among the most significant of its kind in the world because of its scale and the diversity it would bring to genetic studies. Global science will also benefit from a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools. Challenges of the Genome India Project Potential for scientific racism and reinforcement of stereotypes: There are concerns that genetic mapping could be used to promote ideas of racial purity and justify discrimination. Deepening of social divisions: In a country already divided by identity politics, genetic mapping may further deepen existing social divisions.Data privacy and storage concerns: In the absence of a comprehensive data privacy bill in India, there are concerns about the possible misuse of genetic information collected by the GIP.Ethical questions about gene modification and selective breeding: The project raises ethical questions about the potential for doctors to privately perform gene modification or selective breeding, which have always been controversial.Risk of misuse of genetic information: There is a risk that genetic information collected by the GIP could be misused, either intentionally or unintentionally. The 2018 sentencing of a Chinese scientist who created the world’s first gene-edited babies highlights the seriousness of these concerns. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu           LokPal Context: Justice AM Khanwilkar has been appointed as the new Lokpal of the country by the President of India. Relevance: GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies, Policies and Interventions on Transparency and Accountability in governance) Dimensions of the Article: About LokpalOther Important Points regarding the LokpalLokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020Exception for Prime MinisterOther Provisions for Fighting Corruption About Lokpal The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 establishes Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States (Statutory Bodies) to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries.Composition: Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% shall be judicial members and 50% shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.Appointment process: It is a two-stage process.A search committee which recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee.The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist (nominated by President based on the recommendation of other members of the panel).President will appoint the recommended names.The jurisdiction of Lokpal extends to:Anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.The chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.Any society or trust or body that receives foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakhs. Other Important Points regarding the Lokpal Salaries, allowances and service conditions: Salaries, allowances and other perks of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.Inquiry wing and prosecution wing: Inquiry Wing for conducting preliminary inquiry and Prosecution Wing for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.Power with respect to CBI: Power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal would need approval of Lokpal.Timelines for enquiry, investigation: Act specifies a time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the CBI. This period of 6 months can be extended by the Lokpal on a written request from CBI.Suspension, removal of Chairperson and member of Lokpal: The Chairperson or any Member shall be removed from his office by order of the President on grounds of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court report. For that a petition has to be signed by at least one hundred Members of Parliament. Special Court shall be setup to hear and decide the cases referred by the Lokpal. Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020 Complaint can be filed with the Lokpal against the sitting Prime Minister, Union Ministers, MPs, bureaucrats, among others.A complaint filed against a sitting or former prime minister shall be decided by full bench of Lokpal comprising of its Chairman and all members in admission stage.If such complaint is dismissed by the full bench, records of enquiry are not to be published.A complaint against Union Minister/ MP is to be looked into by bench of not less than three members. Exception for Prime Minister The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.Complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.Such an inquiry against the PM (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone. Other Provisions for Fighting Corruption Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for penalties in relation to corruption by public servants and also for those who are involved in the abetment of an act of corruption.The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 aims to prevent instances of money laundering and prohibits use of the ‘proceeds of crime’ in India.The Companies Act, 2013 provides for corporate governance and prevention of corruption and fraud in the corporate sector.The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and use of foreign contributions and hospitality by individuals and corporations. Along with the above legal frameworks, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 sets out provisions which can be interpreted to cover bribery and fraud matters, including offences relating to criminal breach of trust and cheating. -Source: The Hindu, AIR        National Science Day 2024 Context: National Science Day will be celebrated across the country on 28th February. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Dimensions of the Article: About National Science DayWhat is Raman Effect?About Sir C.V. Raman About National Science Day: National Science Day is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of the Raman Effect.For this discovery, Indian physicist Sir C.V. Raman got the highest global award Nobel Prize in the year 1930.It is observed on February 28 every year across the country to mark and celebrate the contributions of scientists towards the development of India.Theme:The theme of this year’s Science day is Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat.This signifies the importance of home-grown Technologies in shaping the future of India.History:The initiative to designate February 28 as National Science Day originated in 1986 when the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) proposed the idea to the Government of India.Following acceptance, the government officially declared February 28 as National Science Day.The inaugural celebration took place on February 28, 1987. What is Raman Effect? Raman Effect is a phenomenon in spectroscopy discovered by the eminent physicist Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman in 1928.After two years in 1930, he got Nobel Prize for this remarkable discovery and this was the first Nobel Prize for India in the field of Science.Raman Effect is a change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules.When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam.Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength.A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident light; its presence is a result of the Raman Effect. About Sir C.V. Raman: Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born at Tiruchirappalli in Southern India on November 7th, 1888.His father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics so that from the first he was immersed in an academic atmosphere.He became Professor at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore (1933-1948), and since 1948 he is Director of the Raman Institute of Research at Bangalore, established and endowed by himself.He also founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926, of which he is the Editor.He sponsored the establishment of the Indian Academy of Sciences and has served as President since its inception.In 1922 he published his work on the “Molecular Diffraction of Light”, the first of a series of investigations with his collaborators which ultimately led to the discovery of Raman Effect.Raman has been honoured with a large number of honorary doctorates and memberships of scientific societies.He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society early in his career (1924), and was knighted in 1929.He died on November 21, 1970. -Source: The Indian Express, The Hindu, AIR