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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 23 July 2021

 

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. Independence of the Judiciary.

2. Stay on Arunachal order on ban on work permits for unvaccinated persons.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Inland Vessels Bill.

2. Microplastics in Ganga.

3. The laws for surveillance in India, and the concerns over privacy.

4. HC notice to Centre on plea against IT Rules.

5. Central bank digital currency (CBDC).

6. India is party to 26 bilateral pacts to fight drug trafficking.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP).

2. Gaon Buras.


GS Paper  :  2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Independence of the Judiciary:


Context:

Recently the Supreme Court of India mentioned about two “parallel systems” of justice — one for the rich and the other for the poor.

  • It was dealing with a case where the bail granted to the husband of a legislator in Madhya Pradesh.

 

What’s the issue?

Madhya Pradesh High Court had granted the bail. The Supreme Court termed the grant of bail to a man with criminal antecedents who has been evading arrest a “grave error”.

 

What has the court said?

  • India cannot have two parallel legal systems, one for the rich and the resourceful and those who wield political power and influence, and the other for the small men without resources and capabilities to obtain justice or fight injustice.
  • The existence of a dual legal system will only chip away the legitimacy of the law.
  • Independence of the judiciary is the independence of each and every judge. The case pointed to a larger malaise of application of political pressure on trial judges.

 

How the Constitution of India ensures the independence of the Judiciary?

  1. Security of Tenure: Once appointed, the judges cannot be removed from the office except by an order of the President and that too on the ground of proven misbehavior and incapacity (Articles 124 and 217).
  2. The salaries and allowances of the judges are fixed and are not subject to a vote of the legislature.
  3. Powers and Jurisdiction of Supreme Court: Parliament can only add to the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court but cannot curtail them.
  4. No discussion in the legislature of the state with respect to the conduct of any judge of Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.
  5. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court have the power to punish any person for their contempt.

 

Why Judicial Independence is needed?

  • The judicial independence ensures public confidence as an institute of the last resort where justice will be served despite any opposition and Influence.
  • People place high credibility and trust in the judiciary to get justice in case of any kind of misconduct by the executive.
  • The latter clause and confidence will be meaningless if executive interference is allowed into the process of judicial proceedings as well as judicial bias over the executive.

 

Insta Curious: 

Topic Related to Law and Judiciary:

Do you know what Case Law is? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Key Provisions related to the independence of Judiciary.
  2. About 42 Amendment to the Constitution.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for and significance of the independence of the judiciary.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Stay on Arunachal order on ban on work permits for unvaccinated persons:


Context:

The Gauhati High Court has stayed a notification by the Arunachal Pradesh government that said temporary permits to enter the state for work could be issued to only those who had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

 

What was the order?

An order of the Arunachal Pradesh government issued on June 30 said that while Inner Line Permits (ILPs) needed to enter the state will remain suspended, temporary permits “for developmental works in both public and private sector” may be issued “provided such persons are vaccinated for Covid-19.”

 

Why has it been stayed by the Court?

  • The notification discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons and violated Articles 14, 19 (1) (d) & 21 of the Constitution.
  • Such a classification between vaccinated and unvaccinated persons was not based on “intelligible differentia” nor did it have “a rational relation/nexus to the object sought to be achieved by such classification, namely, containment and further spread of Covid-19 pandemic.”

 

What is an ILP?

It is a document required by non- natives to visit or stay in a state that is protected under the ILP system.

At present, four Northeastern states are covered, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. Inner line permit is also mandatory for entering into Lakshadweep.

  • Both the duration of stay and the areas allowed to be accessed for any non native are determined by the ILP.
  • The ILP is issued by the concerned state government and can be availed both by applying online or in person.

An ILP is only valid for domestic tourists.

 

Rationale behind:

The Inner Line Permit is an extension of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873.

After the British occupied the Northeast, the colonisers started exploiting the region and its resources for economic benefits.

  • They first started tea plantations and oil industries in Brahmaputra Valley.
  • The indigenous tribes living in the hill areas would regularly conduct raids into the plains to loot and plunder, marauding the tea gardens, oil rigs and trading posts set up by the British East India Company.
  • It was in this context that the BEFR 1873 was promulgated.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know the differences between an ILP and a Protected Area Permit (PAP)? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims link:

Since ILP is frequently in News, concentrate on:

  1. Map based questions involving North- Eastern states.
  2. NE state and their international neighbours.

Mains link:

Analyse the issue of imposition of ILP system in India’s northeastern states and the dilemma this system has posed to the Indian government.

East_India

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  :  3


 

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- waterways.

Inland Vessels Bill:


Context:

The government has introduced the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, in Lok Sabha.

 

Key features of the Bill:

  1. It provides for a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
  2. The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States.
  3. The Bill provides for a central data base for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.
  4. It requires all mechanically propelled vessels to be mandatorily registered. All non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at district, taluk or panchayat or village level.

 

Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India:

  1. India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc.
  2. IWT is a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly mode.
  3. As per the National Waterways Act 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs).
  4. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is implementing the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) at an estimated cost of ₹5369.18 crores for capacity augmentation of navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of Ganga (part of NW-1) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank.

 

InstaCurious: 

Do you know what Global Commons is? Read Here Briefly

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Important waterways.
  2. Their locations.
  3. About JMVP.
  4. About IWAI.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of National Waterways.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Pollution and conservation related issues.

Microplastics in Ganga:


Context:

Various stretches of Ganga have been polluted with Microplastics, a recent study has revealed.

  • The highest concentration of such plastic was found at Varanasi, comprising single-use and secondary plastic products.

 

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics are defined as synthetic solid particles sized ranging from 1 micrometre to 5 millimetre (mm), which are insoluble in water.

 

Reasons behind this:

  1. Untreated sewage from many cities along the river’s course.
  2. Industrial waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics pile pollutants into the river as it flows through several densely populated cities.
  3. The plastic products and waste materials released or dumped in the river break down and are eventually broken down into microparticles.

 

Why is plastic pollution especially harmful?

  1. Plastic can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose depending on the type of plastic and where it has been dumped.
  2. Some marine species such as zooplanktons show preferential ingestion of smaller particles, making them easier to enter the food chain and their conversion to fast-sinking faecal pellets.
  3. Over the past few years, various news reports have shown that marine animals such as whales, seabirds and turtles unknowingly ingest plastic and often suffocate to death.

 

Impact on humans:

  1. For humans, too, marine plastic pollution is harmful if it reaches the food chain. For instance, microplastics have been found in tap water, beer and even salt.
  2. One of the first studies to estimate plastic pollution in human ingestion that was published in June 2019 said that an average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic each year.
  3. Consumption of plastic by humans is harmful since several chemicals that are used to produce plastics can be carcinogenic.
  4. Even so, since microplastics are an emerging field of study, its exact risks on the environment and human health are not clearly known.

 

India’s efforts to beat plastic pollution:

  • More than 20 States and Union Territories have joined the fight to beat the plastic pollution, announcing a ban on single-use plastics such as carry bags, cups, plates, cutlery, straws and thermocol products.
  • India has also won global acclaim for its “Beat Plastic Pollution” resolve, under which it pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

 

Insta Curious: 

Have you heard about the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML)?  Read here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Microplastics.
  2. What is bioaccumulation?
  3. What is good chain?
  4. What are food webs?

Mains Link:

Discuss the challenges posed by Microplastics on human health.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

The laws for surveillance in India, and the concerns over privacy:


Context:

Amidst the controversy caused by Israeli spyware Pegasus, the Indian government has claimed that all interception in India takes place lawfully.

 

What are the laws covering surveillance in India?

Communication surveillance in India takes place primarily under two laws:

  1. The Telegraph Act, 1885.
  2. The Information Technology Act, 2000.

 

What does the Telegraph Act say?

Basically, the Act deals with interception of calls.

  • Under this law, the government can intercept calls only in certain situations — the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.
  • These are the same restrictions imposed on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • The law also states that even this lawful interception cannot take place against journalists except under few circumstances.

 

Public Union for Civil Liberties v Union of India (1996):

A public interest litigation was filed in the wake of the report on “Tapping of politicians phones” by the CBI.

  • So, the Supreme Court pointed out lack of procedural safeguards in the provisions of the Telegraph Act and laid down certain guidelines for interceptions.

These guidelines formed the basis of introducing:

  1. Rule 419A in the Telegraph Rules in 2007.
  2. The rules prescribed under the IT Act in 2009.

 

Rule 419A in the Telegraph Rules in 2007:

A Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs can pass orders of interception in the case of Centre, and a secretary-level officer who is in-charge of the Home Department can issue such directives in the case of a state government.

  • In unavoidable circumstances such orders may be made by an officer, not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who has been duly authorised by the Union Home Secretary or the state Home Secretary.

 

IT Act, 2000:

Under the IT Act, all electronic transmission of data can be intercepted.

  • Apart from the restrictions provided in Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and Article 19(2) of the Constitution, Section 69 the IT Act adds another aspect that makes it broader — interception, monitoring and decryption of digital information “for the investigation of an offence”.
  • Significantly, it dispenses with the condition precedent set under the Telegraph Act that requires “the occurrence of public emergency of the interest of public safety” which widens the ambit of powers under the law.

 

Need for reforms and a comprehensive law on surveillance:

A comprehensive law is needed to fill the gaps in the existing laws as higkighted by the Planning Commission. Currently, there are issues with:

  1. Permitted grounds.
  2. Rype of interception.
  3. Granularity of information that can be intercepted.
  4. The degree of assistance from service providers.
  5. The “destruction and retention” of intercepted material.

 

Conclusion:

Tapping is a serious invasion of an individual’s privacy. With the growth of highly sophisticated communication technology, the right to sold telephone conversation, in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference, is increasingly susceptible to abuse. Therefore, a comprehensive data protection law to address the gaps in existing frameworks for surveillance is to be enacted.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know what the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) says about Surveillance? Reference

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

Key Provisions of:

  1. The Telegraph Act.
  2. IT Rules.
  3. Rule 419A.
  4. Section 69A of the IT Act.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with telephone surveillance in India.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

HC notice to Centre on plea against IT Rules:


Context:

The Delhi high court has sought the Centre’s reply on a plea challenging the new IT rules for allegedly being in gross disregard of the fundamental rights of free speech and privacy of users of social media intermediaries such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Controversial provisions in the new rule:

  1. The new rules give excess of the powers given under the parent legislation, the IT Act, to voluntarily remove access to information that does not conform to Rule 3(1)(b).
  2. They also allow the social media platforms to place the users under constant surveillance which is a gross breach of the right to privacy.
  3. The rules also mandate that even if the person is not under any investigation for violation of the rules, the intermediary has to retain his or her data without any justification, which is a gross violation of the right to privacy of the user.
  4. No appellate procedure has been provided for under the rules against the decision of a Grievance Officer and/or the Chief Compliance Officer.
  5. There is also no mandate that the author of the allegedly objectionable information has to be heard before deciding any complaint against him/her.

In simple terms, the petitioner said that the social media intermediaries cannot be given the power to decide, on the basis of a complaint or otherwise, as to which information is liable to taken down.

 

Overview of the new rules:

  1. It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media.
  2. Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7.
  3. A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days.
  4. Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.
  5. A monthly report: They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal.
  6. There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee.

 

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of the new rules.
  2. Who are intermediaries as per the definition?
  3. What is safe harbour protection?
  4. Grievance redressal mechanism as provided under the new rules.

Mains Link:

What are the concerns being raised against the new IT rules? Discuss ways to address these concerns.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Central bank digital currency (CBDC):


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India is likely to soon kick off pilot projects to assess the viability of using digital currency to make wholesale and retail payments to help calibrate its strategy for introducing a full-scale central bank digital currency (CBDC).

 

Need for:

  1. An official digital currency would reduce the cost of currency management while enabling real-time payments without any inter-bank settlement.
  2. India’s fairly high currency-to-GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDC — to the extent large cash usage can be replaced by CBDC, the cost of printing, transporting and storing paper currency can be substantially reduced.
  3. The need for inter-bank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another.

 

What is the CBDC or National Digital currency?

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), or national digital currency, is simply the digital form of a country’s fiat currency. Instead of printing paper currency or minting coins, the central bank issues electronic tokens. This token value is backed by the full faith and credit of the government.

 

SC Garg Committee recommendations (2019):

  1. Ban anybody who mines, hold, transact or deal with cryptocurrencies in any form.
  2. It recommend a jail term of one to 10 years for exchange or trading in digital currency.
  3. It proposed a monetary penalty of up to three times the loss caused to the exchequer or gains made by the cryptocurrency user whichever is higher.
  4. However, the panel said that the government should keep an open mind on the potential issuance of cryptocurrencies by the Reserve Bank of India.

 

Challenges in rolling out National Digital Currency:

  1. Potential cybersecurity threat.
  2. Lack of digital literacy of population.
  3. Introduction of digital currency also creates various associated challenges in regulation, tracking investment and purchase, taxing individuals, etc.
  4. Threat to Privacy: The digital currency must collect certain basic information of an individual so that the person can prove that he’s the holder of that digital currency.

 

Insta Curious: 

Do you know what the IOTA Tangle is? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a blockchain?
  2. What are Cryptocurrencies?
  3. Which countries have issued Cryptocurrencies?
  4. What is a Bitcoin?

Mains Link:

Discuss the pros and cons of CBDC.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

India is party to 26 bilateral pacts to fight drug trafficking:


Context:

As per the information given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), India has signed 26 bilateral pacts, 15 memoranda of understanding and two agreements on security cooperation with different countries for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic, drugs and psychotropic substances, besides chemical precursors.

 

International organisations with which the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) coordinated include:

  1. The SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk.
  2. BRICS Colombo Plan.
  3. ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD).
  4. Bay of Bengal Initiative For Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-Operation (BIMSTEC).
  5. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
  6. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

 

Domestic measures:

  1. For coordination among various Central and State agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the MHA in year 2016.
  2. A Joint Coordination Committee with the NCB Director General as its chairman was set up on July 19, 2019, to monitor the investigation into cases involving large seizures.
  3. For digitisation of pan-India drug seizure data, the MHA has launched an e-portal called ‘SIMS’ (Seizure Information Management System) in 2019 for all the drug law enforcement agencies under the mandate of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
  4. Security Agencies involved: Besides the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indian Coast Guard, Railway Protection Force and the National Investigation Agency have also been empowered under the NDPS Act for making drug seizures.

 

Need for these measures:

A 2019 national study conducted by AIIMS-Delhi on the prevalence of drug abuse in the country, establishes that:

  1. A substantial percentage of people use psychoactive substances (alcohol, cannabis and opioids), and adult men top the list of drugs users.
  2. Alcohol is the most commonly abused psychoactive substance followed by cannabis, opioids (heroin, opium) and inhalers.
  3. Addiction generally begins with alcohol, moves towards nicotine and cannabis – considered as gateways to hard drugs – and then hard substances.

 

National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) annual Accidental Death & Suicides in India (ADSI) reports:

  1. In the year 2019, 7719 out of the total 7860 suicide victims due to drug abuse/alcohol addiction were male.
  2. Even in the data relating to deaths due to road accidents, drugs & alcohol are one of the most causative factors.

 

Insta Curious: 

As per UNODC, drug trafficking has long been a problem in the Golden Triangle. Which countries come under the Golden Triangle? Reference: 

Also know about the Golden Crescent.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About UNODC.
  2. Overview of scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
  3. Composition of Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD).
  4. National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse.
  5. About Narcotics Control Bureau.
  6. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and theme this year.

Mains Link:

India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking. Critically examine its causes. Also comment on the role of Government in combating drug problem.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims:


Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP):

  • Government is implementing Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BPKP) as a sub scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2020-21 for the promotion of traditional indigenous practices.
  • It mainly emphasizes on exclusion of all synthetic chemical inputs and promotes on-farm biomass recycling with major stress on biomass mulching; use of cow dung-urine formulations; plant-based preparations and time to time working of soil for aeration.
  • Under BPKP, financial assistance of Rs 12200/ha for 3 years is provided for cluster formation, capacity building and continuous handholding by trained personnel, certification and residue analysis.

 

Gaon Buras:

  • The institution of Gaon Bura in Assam dates back to the colonial era, when the British appointed the oldest person in the village as the head, who would oversee matters relating to land and revenue in a particular area.
  • The position would usually go to the oldest, most knowledgeable man who had good personal ties with everyone in a village, or a cluster of small villages.
  • In Arunachal Pradesh, too, the Gaon Buras (and Buris) are the most important village-level functionaries.

Why in News?

Recently, the Assam Cabinet announced that Gaon Buras will henceforth be called ‘Gaon Pradhans’.


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