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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 24 October 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Parliament panel mulls action against Amazon.

2. Integrity Pact in govt. organisations.

3. Pakistan to remain on FATF grey list.

4. Indo- Nepal border issue.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. How and under what circumstances can the government impose stock limits?

2. Project Snow Leopard.

3. India launches flash flood guidance services for South Asia.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Parliament panel mulls action against Amazon:


Context:

Joint Committee of Parliament is examining the draft Data Protection Bill.

  • Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Paytm are among the companies from whom the committee has sought views on data security and protection amid concerns that the privacy of users is being “compromised” for commercial interest.
  • However, Amazon has declined to depose before the panel, stating that its “subjects experts” cannot take the risk of traveling from the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Parliamentary Panel has said that Amazon’s “refusal” amounts to a breach of parliamentary privilege.

Questions asked by the House Panel:

  • Do social media giants obtain the consent of their users before their data is shared with third parties.
  • What is their revenue model, method of paying taxes, advertisers and the process of choosing target audience for these advertisers, background verification of its users including the process to find out the age of a new user.

Overview of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019:

Key Provisions are Covered here:

  • What is personal data? Personal data pertains to characteristics, traits or attributes of identity, which can be used to identify an individual. Such characteristics or traits will also include any inference drawn from such data for the purpose of profiling.
  • Sensitive personal data includes personal data related to health, sex life, sexual orientation, financial data, among others.
  • The power to further categorise personal data as sensitive personal data will lie with the central government (in consultation with Data Protection Authority and the sector regulator concerned).
  • Personal data may be processed without obtaining the consent of the individual on certain grounds. These include: (1) if required by the State for providing benefits to the individual, and (2) for reasonable purposes specified by the Authority, such as fraud detection, debt recovery, and whistle blowing.
  • The Bill defines a social media intermediary as an intermediary which enables online interaction between users and allows for sharing of information.
  • All social media intermediaries which are classified as significant data fiduciaries must provide a voluntary user verification mechanism for all users in India.
  • The government can exempt any of its agencies from any or all provisions of the Act, for processing of personal data in certain cases. These include: (i) in interest of security of state, public order, sovereignty and integrity of India and friendly relations with foreign states, and (ii) for preventing incitement to commission of any cognisable offence relating to the above matters.
  • The Bill removes the provision for mandatory storage of all personal data in the country.

For complete details: https://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/personal-data-protection-bill-2019-how-it-differs-draft-bill?page=4.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between Parliamentary vs Cabinet committees.
  2. Standing vs select vs finance committees.
  3. Who appoints chairperson and members of these committees?
  4. Committees exclusive to only Lok Sabha.
  5. Committees where Speaker is the chairperson.

Mains Link:

What are Parliamentary Standing committees? Why are they necessary? Discuss their roles and functions to bring out their significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Integrity Pact in govt. organisations:


Why in News?

The Central Vigilance Commission has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities.

  • This order revises the SOP issued in January 2017.

As per the amended SOP:

  • For appointment as Integrity External Monitors (IEMs), the Ministry, department or organisation concerned has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the Commission.
  • Maximum tenure of IEMs: 3 years in an organisation.

What is an integrity pact?

The pact is to ensure transparency, equity and competitiveness in public procurement.

They were developed as a tool for preventing corruption in public contracting.

  • It is a vigilance tool that envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
  • It is a tool developed by Transparency International.

Who are IEMs?

The Integrity Pact envisages a panel of Independent External Monitors (IEMs) for each organisation.

  • IEM reviews independently and objectively, whether and to what extent parties have complied with their obligations under the pact.
  • They may submit a report to the chief executive of the organisation concerned or directly to the CVO and the CVC, if they find serious irregularities attracting the Prevention of Corruption Act provisions.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an integrity pact?
  2. Who are IEMs?
  3. About CVC.
  4. Who can be Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) as per the latest amendments?
  5. Tenure of IEMs.

Mains Link:

What is an integrity pact? Discuss its significance.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Pakistan to remain on FATF grey list:


Context:

Pakistan will remain in FATF’s ‘grey’ list till February 2021 as it has failed to fulfil six key obligations of FATF.

  • To date, Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items.

Background:

The FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019, but the deadline was extended later on due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The points on which Pakistan failed to deliver included:

  1. Its lack of action against the charitable organisations or non-profit organisations linked to the terror groups banned by the UN Security Council.
  2. Delays in the prosecution of banned individuals and entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations chief, Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, as well as Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.

Implications:

  • With Pakistan’s continuation in the ‘Grey List’, it will be difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank, the ADB and the European Union.
  • This will further enhance problems for the nation which is in a precarious economic situation.
  • Also, there is every possibility that FATF may put the country in the ‘Black List’.

About FATF:

It is an inter- governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.

Its Secretariat is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.

Member Countries: There are 39 member of FATF, representing most financial centres around the world. This includes 2 regional organisations- GCC and EC. The FATF Plenary is the decision making body of the FATF. It meets three times per year.

What is blacklist and grey list?

Black List: Countries known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put in the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities.

Grey List: Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list. This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. G7 vs G8 vs G20.
  2. Black vs Grey list.
  3. Are FATF’s decisions binding on member countries?
  4. Who heads the FATF?
  5. Where is its secretariat?

Mains Link:

What is the mandate and objectives of Financial Action Task Force? Discuss its importance for India – Pakistan relations.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Indo- Nepal border issue:


Why in News?

After months of simmering dispute with India over the Kalapani issue, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli recently indicated a softer line when he used an old map of Nepal to greet everyone on the festival of Vijaya Dashami.

  • The old map does not show the region of Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pithoragarh district.

What’s the issue?

Kalapani is shown as part of Nepalese sovereign territory in the new map, which was unveiled on May 20, and made part of the insignia of the Nepalese state by an amendment on June 13.

Where is Kalapani located?

Located in the easternmost corner of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district.

Shares a border on the north with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and Nepal in the east and south.

It is wedged in between Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Where is lipulekh?
  2. Source of Kali river.
  3. India and Nepal border.
  4. Where is Kalapani?
  5. Routes to MT KAILASH and Mansarovar.
  6. Rivers passing through China and India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

How and under what circumstances can the government impose stock limits?


Context:

With retail prices of onion reaching nearly Rs 100 per kg in some cities, the government has invoked provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 2020, and imposed onion stock limits of 25 metric tonnes (MT) for wholesalers, and 2 MT for retailers.

  • The stock limit, which comes into effect immediately, will continue until December 31.

About the Essential Commodities (Amendment) law:

It allows it to regulate perishable commodities in an extraordinary situation of price-rise.

Under provisions of this law, any action on imposing stock limit will be based on price-rise.

  • An order for regulating stock limit may be issued only if there is “100%increase in retail price of horticultural produce; or 50% increase in retail price of non-perishable agricultural foodstuffs”, over the price prevailing immediately preceding 12 months, or average retail price of last five years, whichever is lower.

What are the extraordinary circumstances mentioned in the Bill?

(i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.

Exemptions under the law:

Exemptions from stock-holding limits will be provided to processors and value chain participants of any agricultural produce, and orders relating to the PDS.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Items included under the original Essential Commodities Act.
  2. Powers to include and remove commodities from the list.
  3. Is it mandatory for the states to follow centre’s guidelines?
  4. Can the govt fix MRP of a product under this act?
  5. Latest amendments.

Mains:

Discuss the significance of Essential Commodities Act. Why the recent Economic Survey said that this act is outdated and must go? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Project Snow Leopard:


Context:

International Snow Leopard Day was observed on 23 October.

  • The day came into being with the adoption of the Bishkek Declaration by 12 countries on the conservation of snow leopards.

HimalSanrakshak:

On this day this year, the Indian government has launched community volunteer programme “HimalSanrakshak” to protect snow leopards.

Snow Leopard conservation in India:

  • India has been conserving snow leopard and its habitat through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).
  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • For conservation, India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL) was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
  • Snow Leopard is in the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. IUCN Conservation status of snow leopard.
  2. About Project Snow Leopard.
  3. Snow Leopards in India- distribution and conservation centres.
  4. About GSLEP.
  5. About Bishkek declaration.

Sources: PIB.

 

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

India launches flash flood guidance services for South Asia:


Context:

India has launched first of its kind Flash Flood Guidance services for India and other South Asian countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

  • Under this, IMD will issue impact-based forecasting at the watershed and also city level, of floods which are very sudden and of short duration.

About the Flash Flood Guidance:

It is a robust system designed by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to provide the necessary products in real-time to support the development of warnings for flash floods about 6-12 hours in advance at the watershed level with a resolution of 4kmx4km for the Flash Flood prone South Asian countries — India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Why IMD?

Recognizing that flash floods have a particularly disastrous impact on lives and properties of the affected populations, the Fifteenth WMO Congress had approved the implementation of a Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) project with global coverage.

This was developed by the WMO Commission for Hydrology jointly with some others.

  • Further, WMO has entrusted India with the responsibility of Regional Centre of South Asia Flash Flood Guidance System for coordination, development, and its implementation.

What are Flash floods?

They are highly localized events of short duration with a very high peak and usually have less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood.

Sources: PIB.


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