Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 14 November 2019
Table of contents:
GS Paper 2:
- Chief Justice of India’s office under RTI Act.
- Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar river link project.
- Green Climate Fund.
GS Paper 3:
- BHIM UPI goes international.
- Climate change is damaging health of children, says Lancet report.
GS Paper 2:
Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
What to study?
For Prelims: RTI- features and exemptions.
For Mains: Implications and outcomes of the verdict.
Context: The Supreme Court has held that office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority under the transparency law, the Right to Information Act.
The landmark judgment was pronounced by five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Previously, the Delhi High Court judgment which ruled that office of the Chief Justice comes under the purview of RTI.
A plea filed was filed by Supreme Court Secretary-General challenging Delhi High Court’s order.
The concept of judicial independence is not judge’s personal privilege but responsibility cast on the person, the HC had said in its ruling.
- The Supreme Court is a “public authority” and the office of the CJI is part and parcel of the institution. Hence, if the Supreme Court is a public authority, so is the office of the CJI.
- The judiciary cannot function in total insulation as judges enjoy a constitutional post and discharge public duty.
- However, Right to Privacy is an important aspect and has to be balanced with transparencywhile deciding to give out information from the office of the Chief Justice of India.
- RTI cannot be used as a tool of surveillance and that judicial independence has to be kept in mind while dealing with transparency.
Key observations made by the court:
- Transparency doesn’t undermine judicial independence.
- Confidentiality and right to privacy have to be maintained and that RTI can’t be used for as a tool of surveillance.
What RTI act says?
Under the RTI Act, 2005, every public authority has to provide information to persons requesting for the information under the Act.
Public Authority includes the body constituted by or under the Constitution. Article 124 of the Constitution deals with the establishment of the Supreme Court of India.
Sources: the Hindu.
Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: About GCF and its funding.
For Mains: India’s observations on funding pattern, need for review and clarity on the issue.
Context: In a move that may positively impact over 10 million people living on the coastline, India has kicked-off a USD 43 million project to boost climate resilience in three coastal states in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project is funded by the Green Climate Fund.
- The six-year project will build climate-resilient livelihoods for 1.7 million people in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.
- It seeks to offset 3.5 million tonnes of carbon, protect vulnerable ecosystems, and benefit another 10 million people with improved shoreline protection.
- The project will work with communities in restoring ecosystems and promoting climate-resilient livelihood options, such as the sustainable farming of mud crabs.
The GCF was set up in 2010 under the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism to channel funding from developed countries to developing countries to allow them to mitigate climate change and also adapt to disruptions arising from a changing climate.
How it helps?
The Green Climate Fund will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties using thematic funding windows.
- It is intended to be the centrepiece of efforts to raise Climate Finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.
- The Fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
- The Fund will strive to maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two, while promoting environmental, social, economic and development co-benefits and taking a gender-sensitive approach.
Who will govern the Fund?
The Fund is governed and supervised by a Board that will have full responsibility for funding decisions and that receives the guidance of the Conference of Parties (COP). The Fund is accountable to, and functions under the guidance of, the COP.
Sources: the Hindu.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
What to study?
For Prelims: ILR- approved projects and their brief overview.
For Mains: Need for and significance of interlinking of rivers.
Context: The Kerala State government is saying that it is taking all precautions to prevent the implementation of the Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar river link project.
What’s the issue?
Kerala is not allowing Pamba-Achankovil to be connected with the Vaippar river in Tamil Nadu under the inter-linking of rivers project. Kerala asserts that there is no excess water in rivers in the state.
The river link proposal is listed among the river linking projects of the NWDA. It envisages diversion of 634 cubic millimeters of water from the Pamba and Achankovil rivers in Kerala to the Vaippar basin in Tamil Nadu.
Need for interlinking of rivers:
The interlinking project aims to link India’s rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals that will allow for their water capacities to be shared and redistributed. According to some experts, this is an engineered panacea that will reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts besides facilitating the generation of hydroelectricity for an increasingly power hungry country.
Benefits and significance of interlinking:
Enhances water and food security of the country and it is essential for providing water to drought prone and water deficit areas.
Proper utilization: River interlinking projects envisage that the surplus water available in Himalayan Rivers is transferred to the areas where water supply is not adequate in the Peninsular India. Also, huge quantities of water from several Peninsular rivers drain unutilized into the sea, and river interlinking projects help transfer this water to water deficit areas of Peninsular India.
Boost to agriculture: The main occupation of rural India is agriculture and if monsoon fails in a year, then agricultural activities come to a standstill and this will aggravate rural poverty. Interlinking of rivers will be a practical solution for this problem, because the water can be stored or water can be transferred from water surplus area to deficit.
Disaster mitigation: The Ganga Basin, Brahmaputra basin sees floods almost every year. In order to avoid this, the water from these areas has to be diverted to other areas where there is scarcity of water. This can be achieved by linking the rivers. There is a two way advantage with this – floods will be controlled and scarcity of water will be reduced.
Transportation: Interlinking of rivers will also have commercial importance on a longer run. This can be used as inland waterways and which helps in faster movement of goods from one place to other.
Employment generation: Interlinking also creates a new occupation for people living in and around these canals and it can be the main areas of fishing in India.
- Interlinking of rivers will cause huge amount of distortion in the existing environment. In order to create canals and reservoirs, there will be mass deforestation. This will have impact on rains and in turn affect the whole cycle of life.
- Usually rivers change their course and direction in about 100 years and if this happens after interlinking, then the project will not be feasible for a longer run.
- Due to interlinking of rivers, there will be decrease in the amount of fresh water entering seas and this will cause a serious threat to the marine life system and will be a major ecological disaster.
- Due to the creation of Canals and Reservoirs, huge amount of area which is occupied by the people will be submerged leading to displacement of people and government will have to spend more to rehabilitate these people.
- The amount required for these projects is so huge that government will have to take loans from the foreign sources which would increase the burden on the government and country will fall in a debt trap.
GS Paper 3:
Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
What to study?
For Prelims: About UPI, BHIM and NPCI.
For Mains: Cashless economy- need, significance, challenges and role of BHIM in furthering this.
Context: BHIM app has gone international with a pilot demo of BHIM UPI QR- based payments beginning at the ongoing Singapore FinTech Festival 2019.
- This QR code-based system would allow anyone with a BHIM app to scan the SGQR at NETS terminals for payments in Singapore.
- The project is being jointly developed by NPCI and NETS of Singapore. It is targeted to go live by Feb 2020.
What is BHIM?
Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is a UPI based payment interface.
- Developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- Allows real time fund transfer.
- Launchedin December, 2016.
What is UPI?
Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.
Each Bank provides its own UPI App for Android, Windows and iOS mobile platform(s).
Why UPI is outperforming e- wallets?
People are changing the way they transact, choosing bank-to-bank methods such as the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) over other instruments such as e-wallets. This is because UPI is completely interoperable and as such, it is unique in the world, where you have an interoperable system on the ‘send’ and ‘receive’ side.
The rapid growth of UPI is accompanied by a reasonably strong growth in the value of transactions done using e-wallets, but the latter’s growth has not taken off much following the fillip it received in the aftermath of demonetisation in November 2016.
The BHIM apps has three levels of authentication:
- For one, the app binds with a device’s ID and mobile number.
- Second a user needs to sync whichever bank account (UPI or non-UPI enabled) in order to the conduct transaction.
- Third, when a user sets up the app they are asked to create a pin which is needed to log into the app. The UPI pin, which a user creates with their bank account is needed to go through with the transaction.
UPI – Benefits to the Ecosystem participants:
Benefits for banks:
- Universal Application for transaction.
- Leveraging existing infrastructure.
- Safer, Secured and Innovative.
- Payment basis Single/ Unique Identifier.
- Enable seamless merchant transactions.
Benefits for end Customers:
- Round the clock availability.
- Single Application for accessing different bank accounts.
- Use of Virtual ID is more secure, no credential sharing.
- Single click authentication.
- Raise Complaint from Mobile App directly.
Benefits for Merchants:
- Seamless fund collection from customers – single identifiers.
- No risk of storing customer’s virtual address like in Cards.
- Tap customers not having credit/debit cards.
- Suitable for e-Com & m-Com transaction.
- Resolves the COD collection problem.
- Single click 2FA facility to the customer – seamless Pull.
- In-App Payments (IAP).
NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA)under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment and Settlement Infrastructure in India.
It has been incorporated as a not for profit company.
In 2016 the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What to study?
For Prelims: Key findings.
For Mains: Concerns and challenges and ways to address them.
Context: The Lancet has published a report titled- ‘Countdown on Health and Climate Change’.
- The report is a comprehensive yearly analysis tracking progress across 41 key indicators, demonstrating what action to meet Paris Agreement targets — or business as usual — means for human health.
- The project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions, including the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, University College London, and the Tsinghua University in Beijing.
- Climate change is already damaging the health of the world’s children and is set to shape the well-being of an entire generation, unless the world meets the target to limit warming to well below 2˚C.
- As temperatures rise, infants will bear the greatest burden of malnutrition and rising food prices — average yield potential of maize and rice has declined almost 2% in India since the 1960s, with malnutrition already responsible for two-thirds of under-5 deaths.
- Also, children will suffer most from the rise in infectious diseases — with climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that cause cholera rising 3% a year in India since the early 1980s.
- With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India.
- Diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heatwaves, similar to the one in 2015 that killed thousands of people in India, could soon become the norm.
- Children are particularly vulnerable to the health risks of a changing climate. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more susceptible to disease and environmental pollutants.
- The damage done in early childhood is persistent and pervasive, with health consequences lasting for a lifetime.
- As temperatures rise, harvests will shrink — threatening food security and driving up food prices. This will hit infants hardest.
- They would also feel deadliest impact of disease outbreaks.
- If the world follows a business-as-usual pathway, with high carbon emissions and climate change continuing at the current rate, a child born today will face a world on average over 4˚C warmer by their 71st birthday, threatening their health at every stage of their lives.
Challenges ahead for India:
- Over the past two decades, the Government of India has launched many initiatives and programmes to address a variety of diseases and risk factors. But the public health gains achieved over the past 50 years could soon be reversed by the changing climate.
- For the world to meet its UN climate goals and protect the health of the next generation, the energy landscape will have to change drastically, and soon.
- Nothing short of a 7.4% year-on-year cut in fossil CO2 emissions from 2019 to 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5°C.
- Without immediate action from all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, gains in wellbeing and life expectancy will be compromised, and climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation.
Need of hour:
To dramatically reduce emissions by 2050, and to meet multiple Sustainable Development Goals, India must transition away from coal and towards renewable energy. It will also need to enhance public transport, increase use of cleaner fuels, and improve waste management and agricultural production practice.
Sources: the Hindu.
Note: Few topics of today’s current affairs will be covered tomorrow.