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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 6 April 2023

 

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 ina 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

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. SC: Critical views on government policies not anti-establishment
  2. India-Bhutan Relations

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Foreign Trade Policy 2023: Criticism
  2. Open-source seeds movement
  3. Forest conservation bill amendment

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Safe City project

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Mahavir Jayanti
  2. GI Tag for several items
  3. Amrit Sarovar Mission
  4. International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  5. India elected to UN Statistical Commission
  6. First-Ever Anti-Spyware Declaration
  7. Fish swimming more than 8km underwater
  8. Trouble for the Gulf of Mannar islands
  9. India’s Defence export
  10. Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

 


 

SC: Critical views on government policies not anti-establishment

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure

 

Source: TH

Context: The SC set aside the Centre’s order refusing to grant the renewal of the broadcast licence to a Malayalam news channel (Media One).

 

Background:

  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting refused to renew the broadcast licence of the news channel on the ground that the Ministry of Home Affairs had declined (based on IB report) security clearance over alleged links with the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind (JEIH).
  • The channel approached the Kerala HC against the Centre’s action, which had upheld the ban on the channel on the grounds of national security.
    • The government is at liberty to decline to renew the permission granted without disclosing complete reasons for the non-renewal.
  • The SC set aside the Kerala HC order and directed that the licence be renewed in four weeks’ time.

 

What the channel’s promoters contended in the SC?

  • They were not given a chance to defend themselves as the national security reasons were submitted to the HC in a sealed cover (in the public interest).
  • The fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression [Article 19(1)(a)], which includes press freedom, can be restricted under Article 19(2) and there was no allegation that the channel violated the Program Code.

Reasonable restrictions

 These are outlined in Article 19(2) of the Constitution allowing for restrictions (on freedom of speech and expression) in the interests of the

●       Security and sovereignty of India,

●       Friendly relations with Foreign States,

●       Public order,

●       Decency or morality in the relation to contempt of court,

●       Defamation or incitement to an offence.

 

What did the SC say?

  • The top court was critical of the sealed cover procedure adopted in the HC and the “cavalier manner” in which the Centre raised the claim of national security.
  • Opinions that are critical of government policies are not anti-establishment.
  • It would be impracticable and unwise for the courts to define the phrase national security.
  • National security claims cannot be made out of thin air and there must be material backing such inference.
  • National security is being used as a tool by the government to deny people legal recourse → not compatible with the rule of law.
  • JEIH is not a banned organisation and it is unclear how links with the organisation would affect the sovereignty and integrity, security of the state, etc.

 

Insta Links:

Press Freedom Index

India-Bhutan Relations

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Relations with India’s neighbouring countries

 

Source: The Hindu

Context: Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is on a visit to India

 

Various dimensions of cooperation between India and Bhutan with examples:

DimensionExamples
Strategic Bhutan serves as a buffer between India and China, protecting the Siliguri Corridor (also known as Chicken’s Neck). The Doklam standoff (2017) has re-established Bhutan’s strategic significance for India. Bhutan does not have any formal diplomatic relations with China.
Historical The Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1949, is the bedrock of India and Bhutan’s relationship
Economic India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner (mostly in electricity). Also, increased trade with Bhutan benefits landlocked states like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. India has decided to support Bhutan’s upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan (for 12 FYP, India had provided 4500Cr)
Cultural and EducationalBuddhism. India also offers various scholarships for Bhutanese students through Nehru-Wangchuck Scholarships, Ambassador’s Scholarship
Energy India has constructed three Hydroelectric Projects in Bhutan (and exporting surplus power to India)—Chhukha HEP, Kurichhu HEP, and Tala HEP. India is also building Mangdechhu, Punatsangchhu 1 and 2 Hydroelectric Power Projects in Bhutan.

 

Also, India will expedite the proposed Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project.

Regional Both nations cooperate in regional forums such as BIMSTEC and SAARC.
Technological E.g., the E-Library project and the India-Bhutan satellite, India’s Vaccine Maitri Initiative
Environmental India is supporting Bhutan in its efforts to become carbon negative.

 

Issues between the two countries:

  • Border Dispute: Disputes over the exact demarcation of the border between the two countries.
  • Hydropower Projects: Concerns in Bhutan over environmental and social impacts from the project. Also, Bhutan has sought greater revenue from these projects
  • Trade Imbalance: Bhutan is heavily dependent on India for its imports.
  • Cross-Border Movement: Bhutan has restricted the cross-border movement of Indian workers, citing concerns over the impact on Bhutan’s culture and society.
  • Political Interference: Bhutan has accused India of interfering in its internal affairs, particularly during the 2013 elections.

 

Conclusion:

India-Bhutan relations have remained strong and friendly, characterized by a deep sense of trust and understanding.  Both countries must enhance connectivity which is a central pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies.

 

Inta Links

India-Bhutan

Foreign Trade Policy 2023: Criticism

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Indian Economy

 

Source: Indian Express

 Context: Recently Foreign Trade Policy 2023 was unveiled by the government

For the provisions of FTP 2023: Click here

 

Issues with the new FTP 2023 policy:

IssuesDescription
Non-updation of the 1992 Act The FTP is notified by the Central Government under the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, of 1992. However, this act still focuses on regulating and restricting trade, rather than facilitating it.
Not focusing on quality and efficiencyIt still relies on export incentives rather than improvements in product quality and production efficiencies, which are the new trade policy instruments.
Restrictions on the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)It still imposes import “prohibitions” or “restrictions” on the DGFT, instead of reducing its regulatory functions and making it a facilitator.
Not addressing the weakness of the RoDTEP SchemeRoDTEP Scheme— the scheme exempts or gives back the taxes and levies (levied on the exported products) to the exporters.

 

It fails to address the lower-than-desirable rates of remission of duties under the RoDTEP scheme.

Not addressing the issues with developing districts as export hubsIt lacks a commitment to supporting the efficient infrastructure component of the programme to develop districts as export hubs.
Issue with the Inclusion of e-commerce The inclusion of e-commerce in the FTP might send the wrong signals that India is ready to engage in the WTO on this issue.
Issue with the Amnesty schemeIt might encourage further fraud and misdeclaration by exporters.

 

However, the Ministry of Commerce has now clarified that the cases under investigation for fraud, and misdeclaration of capital goods will be excluded from the coverage of the amnesty scheme.

Open-source seeds movement

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Agriculture and Issues of Food Security

 

Source: TH

 Context: Inspired by the success of open-source software, a Canadian plant breeder suggested (in 1999) a similar approach to seeds.

Background: The advent of hybrid seeds, the growth of the commercial seed industry, scientific plant breeding, etc., conferred plant breeders and developers of new varieties with the plant breeders’ rights (PBRs)/plant variety rights (PVRs).

 

How is intellectual property (IP) protected in agriculture?

  • There are now two forms of IPR protection in agriculture: PBRs and patents.
    • PBRs give the breeder exclusive control over the propagating material (including seed) and harvested material of a new variety of plants for a number of years, preventing the unauthorised use of seeds to develop new varieties.
  • Together, they restrict farmers’ rights and the freedom to develop new varieties using germplasm from IP-protected varieties.
  • They have consolidated the seed sector by increasing the number of plant varieties covered by IP Rights (IPRs).

 

Evolution of PBRs:

  • The Green Revolution was spearheaded by public-sector breeding institutions and seeds were available as reasonably priced hybrids with no restrictions on farmers to cultivate, reuse and share.
  • But the private sector led the genetic revolution in agriculture, with seeds mostly made available as hybrids/protected by strong IPRs.
  • The WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires member states to provide protection for plant varieties either by patents/by an effective standalone system.

 

Problems triggered by IP protection:

  • The private sector began to dominate the seed sector.
  • The high prices of genetically modified (GM) seeds.
  • The State’s Intervention on Bt cotton Seeds in India.

 

Alternative – Open-source seeds:

  • It simply asks for a pledge, that an individual won’t “restrict others’ use of seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means.
  • Open-Source Seeds Initiative in India: The Hyderabad-based Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), part of the Apna Beej Network, developed a model with the help of farmer-producer organisations (FPOs).

 

Potential application of the open-source approach:

  • To use it in farmer-led seed conservation (of traditional varieties) and distribution systems.
  • To promote farmer-led participatory plant-breeding exercises as traditional varieties often lack uniformity and quality.

 

Challenges faced by India: Extreme temperatures or rain triggered by climate change has caused a decline in the quality and size of seeds across India.

 

Way ahead for India:

  • Under the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Act (PPVFRA) 2001, farmers can register varieties as ‘farmer varieties’ if they meet certain conditions, and have the right to reuse, replant and exchange seeds.
    • However, they can’t breed and trade in varieties protected under the Act for commercial purposes.
    • Using the open-source approach here will enable farmers to gain more rights over germplasm and seeds and facilitate innovation.
  • Open-source principles can facilitate testing, improvisation and adoption – all of which will ultimately be beneficial to India’s food security and climate-disease resilience.

 

Best practice – PPP mode of seed development and sale: First time a seed (a new heatwave-resistant wheat variety – HD3385) developed by the government (IARI) is being sold by a private company, ensuring the variety reaches a large number of farmers.

 

Insta Links:

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FR)

 

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

Consider the following statements:

  1. According to the Indian Patents Act, a biological process to create a seed can be patented in India
  2. In India, there is no Intellectual Property Appellate Board
  3. Plant varieties are not eligible to be patented in India

 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: 3

Forest Conservation (amendment) Bill 2023

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment, Conservation

 

Source: IE

 Context: The government introduced The Forest (Conservation), Amendment Bill, 2023 in Lok Sabha to make changes to The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

 

Background:

  • Following independence, vast swathes of forest land were designated as reserved and protected forests and brought under state forest departments.
  • Many forested areas were left out and areas without any standing forests were included in ‘forest’ lands.
    • According to the State of Forests Report (SFR 2021), nearly 28%/197,159 sq km (of India’s recorded forest cover – 713,789 sq km) is not recorded as ‘forest’.
  • The anomalies were supposed to be sorted out through extensive ground surveys but the process remained incomplete.
  • In 1996, the SC suspended the felling of trees across the country and ruled that the FC Act would apply to all land parcels that were either recorded/resembled forest.
  • This sweeping order helped check rampant deforestation but prevented the exclusion of vast areas already used for agriculture/homesteads.
  • The 2023 Bill seeks to limit the applicability of the FC Act only to land recorded as ‘forest’.

 

Key features:

 ActBill
Restrictions on activities in the forest●      Restricts the de-reservation of forest or use of forest land for non-forest purposes

●      Specifies certain activities (conservation, management and development of forest and wildlife) that will be excluded from non-forest purposes

Adds more activities to this list such as:

(i) zoos and safaris under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972,

(ii) eco-tourism facilities,

(iii) silvicultural operations (enhancing forest growth), etc.

Land under the purviewThe Bill provides that two types of land will be under the purview of the Act:

●       Land declared/notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or under any other law, or

●       Land not covered in the first category but notified as a forest on or after October 25, 1980 in a government record.

Exempted categories of landThe Bill exempts certain types of land from the provisions of the Act such as

●      Forest land along a rail line or a public road maintained by the government

●      Land situated within 100 km along the international borders

●      Land up to 10 hectares, proposed to be used for constructing security-related infrastructure, etc.

Assigning of land through a lease or otherwiseThe state government or any authority requires prior approval of the central government to direct the assigning of forest land through a lease or otherwise to any organisation not owned by the government.The Bill provides that such assigning may be done to any organisation subject to terms and conditions prescribed by the central government.
Power to issue directionsThe Bill adds that the central government may issue directions for the implementation of the Act to any other authority/organisation under or recognised by the centre, state or UT.

 

The predominant idea of the proposed changes:

  • To build forest carbon stock by raising plantations.
  • To make land available for developers to meet their legal obligation towards compensatory afforestation in lieu of forest land diverted for development projects.
  • To achieve both these objectives by
    • Restricting the applicability of the FC Act, and
    • Freeing up land that is currently locked up as unrecorded forests.

 

Concerns:

  • If the scope of the FC Act is restricted, fewer projects will be required to obtain forest clearance affecting compensatory afforestation.
    • Conservationists see this as a double whammy → losing unrecorded forests to plantations → diverting recorded forests for projects.
  • The proposed exemptions leave a lot to the Centre to decide retrospectively.
  • Though the Bill keeps up with dynamic changes in the ecology, strategic and economic aspirations, and improvement in the livelihoods of tribals/forest dwellers, it boils down to pushing plantations to achieve carbon neutrality.

 

Conclusion: Forests are a lot more than a sum of trees. Unlike man-made plantations, natural forests perform a range of ecosystem services that are key to the survival and well-being of millions of species.

 

Insta Links:

Forest Conservation Rules

  

Prelims Links: (UPSC 2019)

Consider the following statements:

  1. As per the recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboos grown on forest areas
  2. As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce
  3. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers

 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: 2

Safe City project

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

 

Source: PIB

Ministry of Home Affairs had in 2018 sanctioned Safe City Projects under the Nirbhaya Fund Scheme in eight cities (including Bengaluru), which involves identifying hotspots for crime against women and deploying infrastructure, technology, and capacity-building programs.

Technologies deployed as part of the project: Audio-visual systems including drones, CCTV cameras and emergency call boxes in “vulnerable” areas of the city.

 

Other measures: Setting up Pink Police Out-posts, Augmentation of existing Asha Jyoti Kendra, Improving Street Lighting in Hot Spot areas; Setting up Pink Toilets; single Emergency number ‘112’; Gender sensitization awareness campaigns Etc.

Mahavir Jayanti

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 Source: PIB

 

 

Prelims Links

  1. With reference to the religious practices in India, the “Sthanakvasi” sect belongs to (UPSC 2018)

(a) Buddhism
(b) Jainism
(c) Vaishnavism
(d) Shaivism

 

Ans: B

 

With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2017)

  1. Sautrantika and Sammitiya were the sects of Jainism.
  2. Sarvastivadin held that the constituents of phenomena were not wholly momentary, but existed forever in a latent form.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Ans: B

 

Anekantavada is a core theory and philosophy of which one of the following? (UPSC 2009)

(a) Buddhism
(b) Jainism
(c) Sikhism
(d) Vaishnavism

 

Ans: B

GI Tag for several items

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: PIB, TOI

 

Context: As many as 33 products were granted GI certification recently by the GI Registry, Chennai, as per news reports.

Jammu and Kashmir – Kathua district

Basohli Painting

 

It is the first independent GI-tagged product from the Jammu region.

It is considered the first school of Pahari paintings

These are painted on paper, cloth, or wood using natural pigments and dyes.

Ladakh

Ladakh’s Wood Carving

 

Ladakh’s wood carving has been known for its intricate designs and unique patterns, which are mostly inspired by Buddhist themes and motifs

The wood carvings are made from local wood such as willow and apricot

 

and they are often used for decorating doors, windows, and other household items.

 

 

 

Uttar PradeshBanarasi paan , langda mango of Varanasi ,  Ramnagar Bhanta (brinjal) and Chandausi’s adamchini chawal (rice)

Amrit Sarovar Mission

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: PIB

Amrit Sarovar Mission (launched on 24th April 2022) to develop and rejuvenate 75 water bodies in each district of the country, creating 50,000 water bodies of a size of about an Acre or more, as part of the celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
AboutDetails
Ministries InvolvedDepartment of Rural Development, Department of land resources, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, and MoFECC
Collaborations with various SchemesThe mission utilizes Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, XV Finance Commission Grants, PMKSY sub-schemes such as Watershed Development Component, and Har Khet Ko Pani besides States’ own schemes.
TargetTo be completed by 15th August 2023
People’s ParticipationLocal freedom fighters, their family members, Martyr’s family members, Padma Awardees and citizens of the local area wherein an Amrit Sarovar is to be constructed, will be engaged at all stages.
About Azadi Ka Amrit MahotsavAzadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrates 75 years of independence and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements.

 

Period: From 12th March 2021 (starting the 75-week countdown) to  15th August 2023 (to our 75th anniversary of independence)

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of The World Bank, has said it will stop supporting investments in new coal projects.

  • Previously, in 2020, IFC had unveiled a policy requiring clients to reduce their exposure to coal projects by half by 2025, and to zero by 2030, but did not prevent new investments.

 

Status of IFC lending in India

  • It has lent close to $5 billion to almost 88 financial institutions in India.

 

About IFC

IFC (est. 1956; HQ: Washington, D.C; part of the world bank group) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.

World Bank

India elected to UN Statistical Commission

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context: India has been elected to the highest statistical body of the United Nations for a four-year term beginning January 1, 2024

 

About UN Statistical Commission:

The United Nations Statistical Commission (est. 1947; HQ: New York) is a Functional Commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It oversees the work of the United Nations Statistics Division.

Members: Its 24 member states are elected by the Economic and Social Council on the basis of the following geographical distribution: African states (5), Asian States (4), Eastern European States (4), Latin American and Caribbean States (4), Western European and other States (7).

 First-Ever Anti-Spyware Declaration

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Context: The US and 10 other nations (India is not part of it) issued the first-ever significant anti-spyware declaration

 Aim: The declaration seeks to realize the importance of stringent domestic and international controls on the proliferation and use of this technology.

 

Need for this declaration: Threat posed by the misuse of commercial spyware e.g., Israeli software Pegasus, Hermit spyware

 

Countries involved:  Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States

What is a Spyware?

 Spyware is software with malicious behaviour that aims to gather information about a person or organization and send it to another entity in a way that harms the user—for example, by violating their privacy or endangering their device’s security.

Trouble for the Gulf of Mannar islands

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: The Hindu

 

Context: A new study has revealed that an alien invasive plant is threatening to pulverise native vegetation across 21 islands in the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve (GoMBR).

  

What is causing threat to the islands:

  • Prosopis chilensis, a drought-resistant plant native to the arid region of South American countries
  • The coral reef has been destroyed in several places near these islands although coral quarrying for industrial purposes has been outlawed.
  • Human settlements, though not permanent, have also impacted the islands

Tags: GS3, Environment, Gulf of Mannar, Invasive Species

/ 06 Apr 2023, Today's Article

Fish swimming more than 8km underwater

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 Source: BBC

 Context: The fish – a type of snailfish – was filmed at a depth of 8,336m in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, south of Japan, using a robotic ‘lander’ submarine.

About Snailfish:

  • Snailfish belong to the family of marine ray-finned fishes.
  • of species: over 300 species of snailfish in the world and most of them can be found swimming in shallow rivers.
  • In extreme conditions: Some snailfish have adapted to live in the freezing cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, and in the extreme pressure conditions in the world’s deepest underwater trenches.

 

How do they survive under such immense pressure?

These deepwater snailfish have squishy, gelatinous bodies, which help them to survive the crushing pressure. They don’t have a swim bladder – an organ found in most fish which controls their ability to float. In terms of food, these fish are like little vacuum cleaners, that suck up scraps and tiny crabs on the ocean floor.

/ 06 Apr 2023, Today's Article

India’s Defence export

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

 

Source: LM

 

Context: India’s defence exports have increased tenfold in the last six years (from about 1500cr in 206-17 to nearly 16000 cr by 2022-23)

 

 

Status of India in defence export:

  • India exports to 85 countries– Top three recipients are Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Armenia
  • of firms involved: over 100
  • Target: US $5 bn by 2024-25

 

Some of the schemes for defence export promotion:

  • Institutional: Formulation of Defence export strategy, Defence export steering committee and Export Promotion Cell (EPC)
  • Negative list: India has formulated a negative list of countries for defence export by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
  • End-to-end online export authorisation
  • Allowing FDI in defence up to 74% (by automatic route)
  • Open General Export License (OGEL): An export license to export specified items to specified destinations

Related news:

 

Source: LM

India may acquire a slew of American weapons for its Navy – including Hellfire missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes for its MH-60 Romeo multirole helicopters.

 

MK 54 lightweight torpedoes are USA’s primary anti-submarine warfare weapon. It can track, classify, and attack underwater targets.