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[Mission 2022] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 30 December 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

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

1. Rani Lakshmibai.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Defamation case.

2. PESA Act.

3. Ken-Betwa river interlinking.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. FSSAI draft regulations for GM foods.

2. Govt Policies of 2021 To Help Boost EV Adoption.

3. Digital Lending and associated issues.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Nilgais.

2. Dara Shikoh.


Rani Lakshmibai:

GS Paper 1:

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Context:

The Jhansi Railway Station in Uttar Pradesh will be known as Veerangana Lakshmibai Railway Station.

 

Procedure to change the name of a railway station:

  • The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier sent a proposal about renaming the station to the Union Home Ministry.
  • The ministry consents to a name change of any station or place after obtaining no-objections from the Union Ministry of Railways, Survey of India, and the Department of Posts.
  • These organisations confirm that there is no town or village in their records with a name that is similar to the proposed name.
  • Once the name change is approved following an executive order, the Ministry of Railways will change the station code accordingly.

 

Current Affairs

 

About Rani Lakshmibai:

  • Born on November 19, 1828, as Manikarnika Tambe in Varanasi, UP.
  • Rani was married to the King of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Newalkar in 1842.

 

The war between the British and Rani Lakshmibai:

  • She had a son Damodar Rao, who died within four months of his birth. Following the death of the infant, her husband adopted a cousin’s child Anand Rao, who was renamed Damodar Rao a day prior to the death of the Maharaja.
  • Lord Dalhousie refused to acknowledge the child and applied the Doctrine of Lapse, and annexed the state. However, the Rani refused to accept Lord Dalhousie’s decision.
  • This led to a fight between the two. The Rani of Jhansi gave a tough fight to the British during the two weeks siege of the city.
  • She fought bravely against the British and gave a tough fight to Sir Hugh Rose so as to save her empire from annexation. She died fighting on the battlefield on June 17, 1858.

 

What was the Doctrine of Lapse?

The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy followed widely by Lord Dalhousie when he was India’s Governor-General from 1848 to 1856.

  • According to this, any princely state under the direct or indirect (as a vassal) control of the East India Company where the ruler did not have a legal male heir would be annexed by the company.
  • As per this, any adopted son of the Indian ruler could not be proclaimed as heir to the kingdom. This challenged the Indian ruler’s long-held authority to appoint an heir of their choice.

 

Insta Curious:

When the Indian National Army started its first female unit (in 1943), it was named after the valiant queen of Jhansi.

Sources: Indian Express.

Defamation case:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

A defamation case has been filed against Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu for his speeches praising two party members for “being capable of making policemen wet their pants”.

  • However, after the controversy, Sidhu said that the comment should not be taken literally. He said it’s a way of saying the Congress “wields authority”.

 

What is defamation?

Defamation is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.

In India, defamation can both be a civil wrong and a criminal offence. The difference between the two lies in the objects they seek to achieve.

  • A civil wrong tends to provide for a redressal of wrongs by awarding compensation and a criminal law seeks to punish a wrongdoer and send a message to others not to commit such acts.

 

Legal provisions:

Criminal defamation has been specifically defined as an offence under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Civil defamation is based on tort law (an area of law which does not rely on statutes to define wrongs but takes from an ever-increasing body of case laws to define what would constitute a wrong).

  • Section 499 states defamation could be through words, spoken or intended to be read, through signs, and also through visible representations.
  • Section 499 also cites exceptions. These include “imputation of truth” which is required for the “public good” and thus has to be published, on the public conduct of government officials, the conduct of any person touching any public question and merits of the public performance.

Section 500 of IPC, which is on punishment for defamation, reads, “Whoever defames another shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”

 

Misuse of the law and concerns associated:

  • The criminal provisions have often been used purely as a means of harassment.
  • Given the cumbersome nature of Indian legal procedures, the process itself turns into punishment, regardless of the merits of the case.
  • Critics argue that defamation law impinges upon the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and that civil defamation is an adequate remedy against such wrongs.
  • Criminal defamation has a pernicious effect on society: for instance, the state uses it as a means to coerce the media and political opponents into adopting self-censorship and unwarranted self-restraint.

 

What has the Supreme Court said?

  1. In Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India case 2014, the Court approved the Constitutional validity of sections 499 and 500 (criminal defamation) in the Indian Penal Code, underlining that an individual’s fundamental right to live with dignity and reputation “cannot be ruined solely because another individual can have his freedom”.
  2. In August 2016, the court also passed strictures on the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for misusing the criminal defamation law to “suffocate democracy” and, the court said, “public figures must face criticism”.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between criminal and civil defamations.
  2. Sections 499 and 500 of IPC are related to?
  3. What is tort law?
  4. Relevant Supreme Court judgments.
  5. Exceptions under section 499.

Mains Link:

Do you think defamation in India should be decriminalised? Is defamation and contempt law anachronistic? Justify with suitable examples.

Sources: Indian Express.

PESA Act:

GS Paper 2:

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

 

Context:

Hundreds of kendu leaf pluckers, binders and workers recently staged a demonstration in Sambalpur, Odisha demanding the abolition of GST on kendu leaves.

 

What’s the issue?

A GST of 18 per cent is imposed on kendu leaves which is against the Forest Rights Act-2006 and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to celebrate 25th year of PESA Act. Besides, the government has imposed a GST of 28 per cent on bidi which is a finished product made of kendu leaf. This double taxation has hit the profits of kendu leaf organisation and affected the livelihood of around 12 lakh workers. While the profits have reduced drastically, they are now deprived of many social security benefits too.

 

About Kendu Leaves:

  • Kendu leaf is called the green gold of Odisha. It is a nationalised product like bamboo and sal seed. It is one of the most important non-wood forest products in Odisha.
  • The leaves are used to wrap bidis, a popular smoke among the locals.
  • The Uniqueness of Odisha’s Tendu (kendu) leaf is in processed form whereas the rest of the states in India produce in Phal Form.
  • Traditional medical practitioners use these tiny fruits of Kendu to treat malaria, diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • Kendu leaves are the major source for tribal villages, since it is the most prominent Minor Forest Produce of the state.
  • Odisha is the third-largest producer of kendu leaf, after Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

 

About the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to celebrate 25th year of PESA Act:

The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA Act is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self-governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.

  • It was enacted by Parliament in 1996 and came into force on 24th December 1996.
  • The PESA is considered to be the backbone of tribal legislation in India.
  • PESA recognises the traditional system of the decision-making process and stands for the peoples’ self-governance.

Background:

To promote local self-governance in rural India, the 73rd constitutional amendment was made in 1992. Through this amendment, a three-tier Panchayati Raj Institution was made into a law.

  • However, its application to the scheduled and tribal areas under Article 243(M) was restricted.
  • After the Bhuria Committee recommendations in 1995, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act 1996 came into existence for ensuring tribal self-rule for people living in scheduled areas of India.
  • The PESA conferred the absolute powers to Gram Sabha, whereas state legislature has given an advisory role to ensure the proper functioning of Panchayats and Gram Sabhas.
  • The power delegated to Gram Sabha cannot be curtailed by a higher level, and there shall be independence throughout.

 

current affairs

 

Powers and functions given to the Gram Sabhas:

  • Right to mandatory consultation in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
  • Protection of traditional belief, the culture of the tribal communities
  • Ownership of minor forest products
  • Resolution of the local disputes
  • Prevention of land alienation
  • Management of village markets
  • Right to control production, distillation, and prohibition of liquor
  • Exercise of control over money-lending
  • Any other rights involving the Scheduled Tribes.

Issues Related to PESA:

The state governments are supposed to enact state laws for their Scheduled Areas in consonance with this national law. This has resulted in the partially implemented PESA.

  • The partial implementation has worsened self-governance in Adivasi areas,l ike in Jharkhand.
  • Many experts have asserted that PESA did not deliver due to the lack of clarity, legal infirmity, bureaucratic apathy, absence of a political will, resistance to change in the hierarchy of power, and so on.
  • As per Social audits conducted across the state, In reality different developmental schemes were being approved on paper by Gram Sabha, without actually having any meeting for discussion and decision making.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About PESA.
  2. Key features.
  3. Rights under the act.
  4. Role of Gram Sabhas.
  5. Social audits.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of PESA.

Sources: Economic Times.

Ken-Betwa link project:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Government policies and issues related.

 

Ken-Betwa link project:

Context:

The Ken-Betwa river interlinking project will lead to the submergence of a major portion of the core area of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, triggering a major loss of the tiger and its major prey species such as chital and sambar, according to a new study.

 

What’s the concern?

  • The project may incur an estimated loss of 58.03 square kilometres (10.07 per cent) of critical tiger habitat (CTH) in the reserve.
  • There will be an indirect loss of 105.23 sq km of CTH because of habitat fragmentation and loss of connectivity due to submergence, the study.
  • The total area submerged would be 86.50 sq km, of which 57.21 sq km lies within Panna Tiger Reserve. This will account for 65.50 per cent of total submergence.
  • The area that will be submerged due to the KBRIL Project has a rich floral density and diversity. Ungulates such as sambar, chital, blue bull and wild boar are found here.

 

Funding:

The Union Cabinet has approved the funding and implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project at a cost of ₹44,605 crore at the 2020-21 price level.

  • The Centre would fund ₹39,317 crore for the project, with ₹36,290 crore as a grant and ₹3,027 crore as a loan.

 

About the Project:

The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa river through the construction of Daudhan dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.

Current Affairs

 

Significance of the Project:

  • The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The project is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
  • It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.

 

Benefits of interlinking:

  1. Enhances water and food security.
  2. Proper utilisation of water.
  3. Boost to agriculture.
  4. Disaster mitigation.
  5. Boost to transportation.

 

Key facts:

  • Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
  • Ken meets with Yamuna in Banda district of UP and with Betwa in Hamirpur district of UP.
  • Rajghat, Paricha and Matatila dams are over Betwa river.
  • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Project.
  2. Ken and Betwa- tributaries and basin states.
  3. About Panna Tiger Reserve.
  4. Biosphere Reserves in India.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the project.

Sources: the Hindu.

FSSAI draft regulations for GM foods:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Biotechnology.

 

FSSAI draft regulations for GM foods:

Context:

Social activists working among farmers have come out against the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) draft regulations on genetically modified (GM) food, terming it “unacceptable”.

 

What’s their demand?

They want FSSAI to explicitly say that GM foods will not be allowed into India by way of production or imports. Because, according to them, any kind of GM food in India is a threat to the health of our people, to our environment, and to the diverse food cultures of India.

 

Background:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released draft regulations for GM foods.

 

What’s the issue?

The Draft proposed that all food products having individual genetically engineered ingredients of 1% or more will be labeled as “Contains GMO/ingredients derived from GMO”. Activists claimed this as a tacit approval to import of GM food instead of prohibiting them.

 

Overview of the Draft:

  1. No one can manufacture or sell any food products or food ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without prior approval.
  2. Specifies norms that labs will need to adhere for testing GM foods.
  3. The proposed regulations will apply to “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) or Living Modified Organism (LMOs) intended for direct use as food or for processing.”
  4. The regulations’ ambit will include food products that may have been made using food ingredients or processing aid derived from GMOs, even if GM content is not present in the end-product.
  5. Genetically Modified Organisms or Genetically Engineered Organisms “shall not be used as an ingredient” in infant food products.
  6. The draft also proposes labeling norms for food products that contain one per cent or more than one percent of GMO content.

 

GMO regulation in India:

The task of regulating GMO levels in imported consumables was initially with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union environment ministry.

  • Its role in this was diluted with the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and FSSAI was asked to take over approvals of imported goods.

 

What are Genetically Modified Organism (Transgenic Organism)?

In GMO, genetic material (DNA) is altered or artificially introduced using genetic engineering techniques.

Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes.

  • Inserted genes usually come from a different organism (e.g. In Bt cotton, Bt genes from bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are induced).

Genetic modification is done to induce a desirable new trait which does not occur naturally in the species.

 

GM techniques are used in:

  1. Biological and medical research,
  2. Production of pharmaceutical drugs,
  3. Experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy),
  4. Agriculture (e.g. golden rice, Bt cotton etc.),
  5. Genetically modified bacteria to produce the protein insulin,
  6. To produce biofuels from some GM bacteria, etc.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What are GM crops?
  2. What are GMOs?
  3. About GEAC.
  4. About the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Sources: Economic Times.

Govt Policies of 2021 To Help Boost EV Adoption:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Infrastructure- Roadways.

 

Context:

In a thrust towards incentivising new age technologies and fulfil the pledged taken at COP26 to reduce its carbon emissions to net-zero by the year 2070, India is aggressively promoting the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs).

 

Aim:

India aims to switch 30 percent of private cars, 70 percent of commercial vehicles, and 80 percent of two and three-wheelers to EV by the year 2030.

 

For this, both Central and state governments are offering various incentives to buyers and manufacturers. Various measures undertaken include:

PLI Scheme For Auto Sector: In September this year, the Union Cabinet approved a Rs 26,058 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to accelerate domestic manufacturing of electric and fuel cell vehicles and drones in India.

FAME II Amendment: Under FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles-II) scheme, the government significantly reduced the price gap between petrol-powered two-wheelers and electric ones by increasing the subsidy rate for electric two-wheelers.

Scrappage Policy: In August this year, the government launched the Vehicle Scrappage Policy virtually at the Gujarat Investor Summit. The policy aims to phase out unfit and polluting vehicles in an environment-friendly manner.

Along with Centre, state governments are also leaving no stone unturned to promote faster adoption of EVs in India. To increase penetration and adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), governments of around 20 states in India, including Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have already come up with either a draft or final state level EV policies.

 

Challenges ahead:

  1. The Indian electric vehicle (EV) market currently has one of the lowest penetration rates in the world.
  2. Capital costs are high and the payoff is uncertain.
  3. The Indian EV industry has been hit hard due to rupee’s dramatic depreciation in recent months.
  4. Local production of inputs for EVs is at just about 35% of total input production.
  5. The production will be severely affected in terms of production costs.
  6. The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (Fame) framework has been extended repeatedly.
  7. An uncertain policy environment and the lack of supporting infrastructure are major roadblocks.
  8. India does not have any known reserves of lithium and cobalt, which makes it dependent on imports of lithium-ion batteries from Japan and China.

 

Need of the hour:

  • For EVs to contribute effectively, we need commensurate efforts in developing an entire ecosystem.
  • Need to shift the focus from subsidizing vehicles to subsidizing batteries because batteries make up 50% of EV costs.
  • Increasing focus on incentivizing electric two-wheelers because two-wheelers account for 76% of the vehicles in the country and consume most of the fuel.
  • A wide network of charging stations is imminent for attracting investment.
  • Work places in tech parks, Public bus depots, and Multiplexes are the potential places where charging points could be installed. In Bangalore, some malls have charging points in parking lots.
  • Corporates could invest in charging stations as Corporate Social Responsibility compliances.
  • Acquiring lithium fields in Bolivia, Australia, and Chile could become as important as buying oil fields as India needs raw material to make batteries for electric vehicles.

 

Insta Curious:

Which states in India have adopted Electric Vehicle Policies? Reference: Read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Electric Vehicle Policy in India.
  2. Similar policies by States.
  3. FAME Scheme.
  4. Fame Scheme Phase 1 vs Phase 2.

Mains Link:

Discuss the challenges associated Electric Vehicle Policies in India.

Sources: Economic Times.

RBI panel moots law to regulate digital lending:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

 

Context:

Lending through digital mode relative to physical mode in India is still at a nascent stage in case of banks (Rs 1.12 lakh crore via digital mode vis-à-vis Rs 53.08 lakh crore via physical mode).

  • However, the overall volume of disbursement through digital mode for the sampled entities has exhibited a growth of more than twelve-fold between 2017 and 2020 (from Rs 11,671 crore to Rs 1.41 lakh crore).
  • Industry leaders say the strong growth in digital lending indicates the huge untapped credit potential in India which can be bridged efficiently through the use of technology.

So, experts suggest bringing digital lenders under RBI regulation will help weed out the bad apples and ensure only serious players survive as cost compliance may be too high for the mischief makers.

 

Main issues affecting the industry:

The typical modus operandi of these companies is to lure customers by small-size loans of Rs 5,000, which can be paid back in a couple of weeks with some interest — typically of Rs 500 per month.

  • However, if the borrower fails to re pay this amount, it gets compounded at 120% per annum (10% per month), making it difficult for the borrower to repay.
  • This loan is sometimes masked as a service called Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), which allows shoppers to buy something but pay for it later within a stipulated interest-free period in three or more instalments. These loans mostly target young, new-to-credit, cash-strapped millennials.

 

current Affairs

 

RBI working group:

A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Working Group (WG) on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps submitted its recommendations in November this year.

 

Key recommendations:

  1. A separate legislation should be enacted to oversee such lending.
  2. Setup a nodal agency to vet the Digital Lending Apps.
  3. A Self-Regulatory Organisation should be set up for participants in the digital lending ecosystem.
  4. Develop certain baseline technology standards and compliance with those standards as a pre-condition for offering digital lending solutions.
  5. Disbursement of loans should be made directly into the bank accounts of borrowers and servicing of loans should be done only through the bank accounts of the digital lenders.
  6. All data collection must require the prior consent of borrowers and come ‘with verifiable audit trails’ and the data itself ought to be stored locally.

 

Benefits of digital lending:

  • Digital lending has the potential to make access to financial products and services more fair, efficient and inclusive.
  • From a peripheral supporting role a few years ago, FinTech-led innovation is now at the core of the design, pricing and delivery of financial products and services.

 

Need of the hour:

A balanced approach needs to be followed so that the regulatory framework supports innovation while ensuring data security, privacy, confidentiality and consumer protection.

 

What are the issues wrt digital lending apps?

  1. They attract borrowers with promise of loans in a quick and hassle-free manner.
  2. But, Excessive rates of interest and additional hidden charges are demanded from borrowers.
  3. Such platforms adopt unacceptable and high-handed recovery methods.
  4. They misuse agreements to access data on the mobile phones of the borrowers.

 

Current Affairs

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Digital Lending.
  2. Regulations related to Digital Lending.
  3. RBI appointed committee.
  4. Its recommendations.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with digital lending in the country.

Sources: Economic Times.

Facts for Prelims:

Nilgais:

The Bihar government has announced that it will not cull the Blue Bull, locally known as the nilgai or ghurparas, anymore. It will, instead, sterilise them to control their increasing population in the state.

  • The nilgai is the largest Asian antelope and is ubiquitous across the northern Indian subcontinent.
  • The nilgai is the sole member of the genus Boselaphus and placed in the family Bovidae.
  • Sexual dimorphism is prominent; the males are larger than females and differ in colouration.
  • It occurs in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Significant numbers occur in the Terai lowlands in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • It is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.
  • IUCN status: Least Concern.

Current Affairs

 

Dara Shikoh (1615-59):

He was the eldest son of Shah Jahan.

He was killed after losing the war of succession against his brother Aurangzeb.

He is described as a “liberal Muslim” who tried to find commonalities between Hindu and Islamic traditions.

He translated into Persian the Bhagavad Gita as well as 52 Upanishads.

According to the Shahjahannama, after Aurangzeb defeated Dara Shikoh, he brought the latter to Delhi in chains. His head was cut off and sent to Agra Fort, while his torso was buried in the Humayun’s Tomb complex.

His legacy:

  • Dara Shikoh is described as “one of the greatest free thinkers of that time”.
  • He realised the greatness of the Upanishads and translated them, which were earlier known only to a few upper caste Hindus. Translations from that Persian translation have inspired a lot of free thinkers of today, even inspiring the likes of former United States President Barack Obama.
  • Some historians argue that if Dara Shikoh had ascended the Mughal throne instead of Aurangzeb, it could have saved thousands of lives lost in religious clashes. He was the total antithesis of Aurangzeb, in that he was deeply syncretic, warm-hearted and generous — but at the same time, he was also an indifferent administrator and ineffectual in the field of battle.

Why in News?

Continuing its efforts to build the image of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, the Centre is planning a series of plays on his life and spiritual legacy.

Current Affairs


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