Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 January 2017
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
National Alliance against online Child sexual abuse and exploitation
The Ministry of Women & Child Development is planning to form a National Alliance against Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.
Aim of the alliance: The alliance aims to develop a comprehensive outreach system to engage parents, schools, communities, NGO partners and local governments (PRIs and ULBs) as well as police and lawyers to ensure better implementation of the legal framework, policies, national strategies and standards in relation to child protection and child rights.
The National Alliance on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation has the following broad objectives:
- Bring a common definition of child pornography including amendment of acts (Information technology Act, POCSO Act).
- Set up a multi-member secretariat based in MWCD with a portal inclusive of a hotline for reporting and strengthening existing service delivery systems.
- Provide a platform for Government/ NGOs and other child rights activists for networking and information sharing.
- Document and showcases success stories and best practices in terms of prevention of online abuse and exploitation of children.
- Inform and educate member organisations, parents, teachers, front line service providers and children on the rights of the children and various issues related to online child abuse and exploitation.
- Provide a forum for advocacy for child rights and policy inputs based on research and studies.
Child sexual abuse is a multi-layered problem which negatively impacts children’s safety, health and well being. Research from world-wide indicates that children’s exposure to violence and abuse is associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Child abuse is finding new forms and channels through mobile and digital technologies.
- Online child abuse and exploitation amplifies existing forms of offline bullying, stalking and harassment. It also facilitates the sexual exploitation of children through the production and dissemination of child sexual abuse materials and by facilitating the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Online abuse knows no national boundaries.
- Even though India has a comprehensive legal framework for protection of child rights in the form of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, POCSO Act, 2012 along with RTE Act 2009 and recently amended Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2106, there is limited awareness of online risks for children, both among parents and guardian and children themselves.
Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 48 Million for “Nagaland Health Project”
A financing agreement for IDA credit of US$ 48 million for the ‘Nagaland Health Project’ was recently signed between India and the World Bank. A Project Agreement was also signed.
Nagaland Health Project:
The Objectives of the project are to improve health services and increase their utilization by communities in targeted locations in Nagaland.
- Communities in targeted locations will benefit from project activities at the community and health facility levels while the population of the state as a whole will benefit from improvements in higher-level facilities as well as system-wide investments.
- The project will directly benefit about 600,000 people. It will support and complement existing systems and mechanisms involving communities under the National Health Mission.
The International Development Association (IDA) is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. Overseen by 173 shareholder nations, IDA aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.
- IDA complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). IBRD was established to function as a self-sustaining business and provides loans and advice to middle-income and credit-worthy poor countries. IBRD and IDA share the same staff and headquarters and evaluate projects with the same rigorous standards.
- IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 771 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa, and is the single largest source of donor funds for basic social services in these countries.
- IDA lends money on concessional terms. This means that IDA credits have a zero or very low interest charge and repayments are stretched over 25 to 40 years, including a 5- to 10-year grace period. IDA also provides grants to countries at risk of debt distress.
- In addition to concessional loans and grants, IDA provides significant levels of debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).
Paper 1 Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.
Ministry of Earth Sciences Commissions Higher Resolution Weather Prediction Model
To track severe cyclonic storms, such as Vardah, the Ministry of Earth Sciences has commissioned a very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model for generating operational weather forecasts.
- The model has been on trial since September 2016. It has shown significant improvements in skill of daily weather forecasts.
- The latest model replaces the earlier version that had a horizontal resolution of 25 km. It was very helpful, especially in predicting the track and the intensity of the recent Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Vardah and the cold wave over the northern parts of India.
- The Ministry’s operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) will also be upgraded to 12 km. The EPS was adopted to overcome the problem of uncertainties in the forecasts and involves the generation of multiple forecasts using slightly varying initial conditions.
Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
GST: Centre, States reach consensus over dual control, roll out likely from July 1
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has arrived at a consensus on contentious issues such as administrative control over tax payers in the new indirect tax regime, thus paving the way for GST to be introduced this year, although three months after the Centre’s original rollout deadline of April 1, 2017.
- The consensus was reached after the Centre agreed to the demand of states to go in for horizontal split with regard to tax payers based on annual turnover.
This division of tax administration had been holding up the finalisation GST tax laws, making it difficult for the government to stick with the April 1 deadline. The delay in expected to help trade and industry better prepare themselves.
- Under the proposed tax regime, 90% of all assessees with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore or less will be assessed for scrutiny and audit by state authorities, the remaining 10% by the Centre. Above that limit, Centre and states will assess in a 50:50 ratio.
- The entire taxation base will be shared between the assessment machinery of the Centre and the states. Both will have intelligence based assessment powers.
- The Centre has also given leeway to states on integrated GST (I-GST), which deals with inter-state sales. The power to levy and collect the I-GST lies with the central government but states will also be cross-empowered in the same ratio as above through a special provision in law. Any IGST disputes among states will be resolved by the Centre.
- The Centre has also ceded ground on taxation rights over the sea. Territorial waters extending to 12 nautical miles fall under control of the union government but as per convention, states will be empowered to collect tax on any economic activity in this zone.
About GST council:
As per Article 279A (1) of the Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. The notification for bringing into force Article 279A was issued in September 2016.
- GST Council will decide on the tax rate, exempted goods and the threshold under the new taxation regime.
- The council will be chaired by Union Finance Minister and have Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government as its member. Also Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance at the Centre would be a member.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
India most trusted nation in terms of institutions: Report
According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer released recently, India has emerged as the most trusted nation in terms of its institutions by general population.
About the Edelman Trust Barometer:
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 17th annual trust and credibility survey. The survey was done by research firm Edelman Intelligence and consisted of 25-minute online interviews conducted.
- The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer online survey sampled more than 33,000 respondents consisting of 1,150 general population respondents ages 18 and over and 500 informed public respondents in the U.S. and China and 200 informed public respondents in all other countries across 28 markets.
- All informed publics met the following criteria: ages 25-64, college-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week.
Highlights of the survey:
- Among the 28 nations, India has emerged as the most trusted nation in terms of institutions with 72% of the respondents from general population feeling so. The country is followed by Indonesia, China, Singapore and UAE.
- The Indian government is the second most trusted after neighbouring China.
- This year’s barometer showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs.
- Overall, trust has declined in 21 out of 28 countries — “the broadest declines since beginning general population tracking in 2012”.
- Globally, the trust level decreased to 47% cent this year from 50% in 2016.
- In terms of trust in government, China tops the league with 76 per cent trusting the country’s government followed by India with 75 per cent respondents feeling so.
- Trust in media (43%) fell precipitously and is at all-time lows in 17 countries, while trust levels in government (41%) dropped in 14 markets and is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries surveyed.
- The credibility of leaders also is in peril: CEO credibility dropped 12 points globally to an all-time low of 37%, plummeting in every country studied, while government leaders (29%) remain least credible.
Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
India slips to 92nd rank on global talent competitiveness
India has slipped 3 places to 92nd rank on the global index of talent competitiveness that measures how countries grow, attract and retain talent, a list topped by Switzerland. Last year, India came in at 89th on the index.
- The index was released by INSEAD Produced in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI).
- India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries. While China was ranked at the 54th place, Russian Federation was placed at 56th, followed by South Africa at 67th and Brazil 81st.
- Switzerland topped the overall index, followed by Singapore and the United Kingdom in second and third places respectively.
- Others in the top 10 include the United States (4th), Sweden (5th), Australia (6th), Luxembourg (7th), Denmark (8th), Finland (9th) and Norway (10th).
- In terms of retaining and attracting talent, India was ranked at a lowly 104th and 114th, respectively.
Ranking of cities:
- The index has also released the first-ever global ranking of cities on the basis of their reputation and growing footprint in attracting, growing, and retaining global talent.
- Mumbai was the only Indian city that has made it to this coveted list, topped by Copenhagen.
- The top 10 global cities in terms of talent competitiveness include Zurich, Helsinki, San Francisco, Gothenburg, Madrid, Paris, Los Angeles, Eindhoven and Dublin.
Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.
Privacy concerns over data-sharing policy: Supreme Court notices to WhatsApp, Facebook
The Supreme Court has issued notices to WhatsApp, Facebook and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to explain their legal positions over privacy concerns raised in a petition on the instant messaging application’s data-sharing policy.
- It is alleged that privacy of citizens has been infringed by the social networking sites, which amounted to infringment of Articles 19 (Freedom of Speech and Expression) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.
What’s the issue?
Facebook and WhatsApp are also facing trouble in Germany over this data-sharing, with the German privacy watchdog ordering Facebook to delete whatever data it has received from WhatsApp. Unlike India, where there are no specific privacy laws to deal with user data and how it is shared and stored, Germany has strict data privacy laws.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims
World Government Summit:
- The fifth edition of the World Government Summit (WGS) will get underway soon in UAE as yet another initiative to generate ideas for global governance.
- There will be 10 new developments in the upcoming edition, held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, from February 12-14 in Dubai.
- The leading global event will feature the first international gathering of experts on happiness under the title Global Dialogue for Happiness, as well as the Forum on Climate Change and Food Security, and an Arab Youth Forum.
- The summit will continue its efforts to partner with various foreign governments and international organizations.
- During the summit, the UN will discuss the potential of achieving its sustainable development goals (SDGs), while the World Bank will highlight the future of governments and education. For its part, IMF will debate the future of blockchain. OECD will focus on the future of innovation in governments.