Insights Daily Current Affairs, 30 January 2018
Topic: pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
“Res extra commercium”
Context: To curb the $11 billion tobacco industry’s legal right to trade, the government, for the first time, has asked the top court to classify tobacco as “res extra commercium”, which is a Latin phrase for “outside commerce”. The move is part of the government’s effort to tame the tobacco companies looking to challenge tough regulations pertaining to the industry.
What is “res extra commercium”?
Res extra commercium means things beyond commerce, i.e., which cannot be brought or sold, such as public roads, rivers, titles of owners etc. it is a doctrine originating in roman law. In some contexts, it can refer to areas beyond national borders, such as space and the seabed.
What’s the issue?
India’s tobacco labelling rules, which mandate 85% of a cigarette pack’s surface be covered in health warnings, have been a sticking point between the government and the tobacco industry since they were enforced in 2016. But a court in southern Karnataka state last month quashed those labelling rules after the tobacco industry successfully argued the measure was “unreasonable” and violated its right to trade.
Therefore, seeking to apply this doctrine to tobacco, the government argued it should have the power “to regulate business and to mitigate evils” to safeguard public health.
The doctrine would open the door to an outright ban on tobacco sales if a state so wished. It gives the state autonomy to completely ban trade in tobacco. It also gives governments the constitutional cover that will protect future litigation. The industry will lose significant ground as your protection of right to trade is gone.
This is not the first time the doctrine has been cited; in the 1970s, the top court’s application of the doctrine led to two states completely banning alcohol, apart from allowing courts to take a stricter stance on regulating liquor.
Efforts by government to curb the use of tobacco:
The government, over the years, initiated several reforms in the recent years to curb the use of tobacco that kills almost nine lakh people in India each year. Increased taxes, campaigns, advertisements are some of the measures taken by the government to curb the use of tobacco.
If this Roman law doctrine is is applied, it would have severe implications on the tobacco industry; not only would the industry’s legal rights to trade will suffer, but it will also give authorities more freedom to impose restrictions.
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.
Quota For Acid Attack Survivors, People With Disability In Government Jobs
The Department of Personnel and Training has written to all central government departments to ensure that 1% of each posts be reserved for people with blindness and low vision; deaf and hard of hearing; locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
The move to enhance reservation quota for those with learning disability and acid attack victims comes after passage of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, and the notification of relevant rules in this regard. As per an earlier order of the DoPT, issued in 2005, 3% of the total posts were to be reserved for people with disabilities. Of these 1% each was for those with blindness or low vision; hearing impairment and locomotor disability or cerebral palsy.
- In case of direct recruitment, 4% of the total number of vacancies, up from the existing3%, in groups A, B and C shall be reserved for people with benchmark disabilities. Benchmark disability means a person with not less than 40% of a specified disability.
- 1% posts each shall be also reserved for people suffering from autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability and mental illness. Intellectual disability is a condition characterised by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning such as reasoning, learning and problem solving, and in adaptive behaviour that covers a range of everyday skills.
Under the new rules, all government organisations have been asked to appoint ‘grievance redressal officers’ to look into complaints. These officers will maintain a register of complaint carrying details such as date of complaint; name of complainant; the name of the establishment or person against whom the complaint has been lodged; the gist of the complaint and the date of disposal by the grievance redressal officer.
Any person aggrieved with any matter relating to discrimination in employment against any person with disability may file a complaint with the grievance redressal officer of the respective government establishment. Every complaint shall be inquired into within two months of its registration and outcome thereof or action taken thereon shall be communicated to the complainant or person with benchmark disability.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
What is it? It is a military exercise between India and Vietnam. VINBAX-2018 was Table Top Exercise to carry out training for Peace Keeping Operations under United Nations (UN) mandate. It is the first military exercise between the two countries. The exercise is being held in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Defence ties between India and Vietnam have been on an upswing with the primary focus being cooperation in the maritime domain. India and Vietnam had signed a protocol on defence cooperation in 1994. The partnership was thereafter elevated to strategic level in 2007 and a pact on boosting bilateral defence cooperation was signed in 2009. The strategic partnership was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2016.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Context: China has offered to open talks with India to resolve differences on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), opening the door for removing a major irritant in New Delhi-Beijing ties.
CPEC is clutch of projects valued at $51 billion project which aims at rapidly expanding and upgrading Pakistan’s infrastructure and strengthening the economic ties between the People’s Republic of China (China) and Pakistan. It includes building roads, laying railway lines and pipelines to carry oil and gas.
CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.
Why is India worried?
India has objected to CPEC which passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), as violation of its sovereignty.
Is the initiative a threat or an opportunity for India?
The answer undoubtedly ticks both boxes. Chinese political expansion and economic ambitions are two sides of the same coin. To be firm while responding to one facet, while making use of the opportunities that become available from the other, will largely depend on the institutional agency and strategic imagination India is able to bring to the table.
India and China have made significant progress in their relationship but differences like the $50 billion CPEC project and the trade imbalance need to be discussed. Any differences arising between the two countries can be resolved with sincerity and mutual respect.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Zero Budget Natural Farming project
Himachal Pradesh has launched Zero Budget Natural Farming project to promote organic farming.
What is Zero Budget Natural Farming?
Zero Budget Natural Farming, as the name implies, is a method of farming where the cost of growing and harvesting plants is zero. This means that farmers need not purchase fertilizers and pesticides in order to ensure the healthy growth of crops. It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
Both traditional farming, using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and organic farming are becoming unviable for farmers. The organic farming was costlier than the traditional farming as the farm inputs were expensive.
Sources: the hindu.
Cybercrime coordination centre
Context: The Centre has proposed to set up Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) in Delhi. It has asked States to establish a similar mechanism in every district. It has also released ₹83 crore for setting up of a cyber forensic training laboratory-cum-training centre for police officials in each State. The funds were given under the Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children Scheme.
About the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C):
It is an apex coordination centre to deal with cyber crimes such as financial frauds, circulation of communal and pornographic contents. The Centre will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA.
What it does? The I4C will assist in centralising cyber security investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace. It would coordinate with state governments and union territories, and closely monitor the cyber space and social media with due emphasis on vernacular content. The centre would also block those websites which flout India’s laws and circulate child porn, and communally and racially sensitive content.
Need for coordination:
The cyber crime cases are of varied types. These range from defacement of government websites, online financial frauds, online stalking and harassment, and data thefts. Each requires specialised investigative skill sets and forensic tools. Therefore, coordination among security agencies is the need of the hour.
Cyber crime cases pose technical, legal and administrative challenges in investigation which require strengthening of the institutional mechanism. Phishing, scanning or probing, website intrusions and defacements, virus or malicious code and denial of service attacks are some types of cyber crimes. National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) states that 5,693, 9,622 and 11,592 cyber crime cases were registered during 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively, showing a rise of 69% during 2013 to 2014 and 20% increase during 2014 to 2015.
Sources: the hindu.