28 October 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions:-

1) “Operation Blue Freedom” in news is related to

  1. Indias attempt to ensure freedom in Indian Ocean
  2. It is the code name of military operation carried out in 1984
  3. To train team of disabled people to scale Siachen Glacier
  4. To increase the production of Fisheries in India?

2) Consider the following statements regarding All India Tiger Census:

1. It has been conducted once in four years

2. Madhya Pradesh recorded maximum number of tigers followed by Karnataka and Uttarakhand

3. It is conducted by national Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in collaboration with state departments

Which of the following is/are correct?

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

3) Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary is recently seen in news. The sanctuary is located in which of the following state?

  1. Rajasthan
  2. Maharashtra
  3. Gujarat
  4. Himachal Pradesh

Prelims specific News Items :-

1) A  new species of beetle named Trigonopterus corona  – #GS3

Scientists have discovered a new species of beetle named Trigonopterus corona on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Note: It is not the only insect species to be named after the pandemic. In April 2021, a new species of caddisfly (a moth-like insect) was collected near a stream in Kosovo and named Potamophylax coronavirus.

2) Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Scheme – #GS2

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Scheme is a World Bank loan assisted programme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with three key Result Areas (RA), namely

  • Institutional Strengthening at Central, State, and District level;
  • Quality Assurance of skill development programmes; and
  • Inclusion of marginalized population in skill development programmes.

The implementation period of SANKALP is till March, 2023, and the positive outcome so far is seen in the following areas:

  • Strengthening of the District Skill Committees leading to demand-driven approach for the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
  • District-level skill planning through District Skill Development Plans.
  • Focus on improving access to skill training for Women, SC/ST and other marginalized weaker sections of thesociety.

3) SC sets up committee to examine Pegasus allegations – #GS2 / #GS3

The Supreme Court appointed an independent expert technical committee overseen by a former apex court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran, to examine allegations that the government used an Israeli spywarePegasus, to snoop on its own citizens. Order begins

with a quote from George Orwell’s 1984.

Noting that the snooping allegations are “grave” and truth should be out, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana asked the committee to submit its report “expeditiously”. It posted the next hearing after eight weeks.

Justice Raveendran would oversee the functioning of the technical committee and would be assisted by Alok Joshi, former IPS officer (1976 batch) and Dr. Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee).

The three members of the technical committee would be

  1. Dr. Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor (Cyber Security and Digital Forensics) and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat;
  2. Dr. Prabaharan P., Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala; and
  3. Dr. Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair Associate Professor (Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra.

Indiscriminate spying on individuals by the state is not allowed in a democracy, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday. The use of technology for surveillance by the state must be evidence-based.

The Supreme Court said snooping on journalists or creating a fear that the media is being spied on creates a “chilling effect” on journalistic freedom and is an assault on the vital public watch-dog role of the press.

“It is undeniable that surveillance and the knowledge that one is under the threat of being spied on can affect the way an individual decides to exercise his or her rights. Such a scenario might result in self-censorship.

Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885

Section 5 of the Telegraph Act is commonly known as the wire-tapping clause. It gives power to the government to take possession of any licensed telegraphs in case of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety. It can also order interception of communication in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relation with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence. However, the government has to follow the procedure established by law for issuing such order.

The procedures and guidelines for lawful interception was laid down in the case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India.

The main guidelines are:

An order for law interception can only be made by the Home Secretary to the Government of India and home secretaries of state governments. In urgent situations the power may be delegated to an officer of the Home Department of Government of India and state governments and such officer should not be below the rank of joint secretary.

A copy of the order has to be sent to the review committee within one week of issuance of such order.

The authority which issues the order should also record the following information:

  • the intercepted communications;
  • the extent to which the material is disclosed;
  • the number of persons and their identity to whom any of the material is disclosed;
  • the extent to which the material is copied; and
  • the number of copies made of any of the materials.

The intercepted material can be used only for purposes mentioned under the wire-tapping clause.

The interception will be valid for two month unless it is renewed. However, the total period of interception should not exceed six months.

Section 69 in The Information Technology Act, 2000 :- Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource.

Where the Central Government or a State Government or any of its officers specially authorised by the Central Government or the State Government, as the case may be, in this behalf may, if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence, it may, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the appropriate Government to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource.

National security cannot be the bugbear, says court

Limited review

The court accepted that judicial review in national security matters was limited. The judiciary had been circumspect while dealing with matters of national security. However, the court’s delicacy did not licence the Government to call for an “omnibus prohibition” against judicial review.

“The Union of India must necessarily plead and prove the facts which indicate that the information sought must be kept secret as their divulgence would affect national security concerns. They must justify the stand that they take before a court. The mere invocation of national security by the state does not render the court a mute spectator,” the Supreme Court emphasised.

“The complaint of the petitioners is about the misuse or likely misuse of spyware in violation of the right to privacy of citizens,” the court pointed out.

4) India seeks vaccine loans from ADB, AIIB – #GS2

The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID19 vaccines.

The Manila-based ADB, in which the U.S. and Japan are the biggest shareholders, and the Beijing-based AIIB, where China and India are the biggest shareholders, are in the process of considering the loans.

About ADB:

  • It is a regional development bank.
  • Established on 19 December 1966.
  • headquartered — Manila, Philippines.

official United Nations Observer.

Who can be its members?

The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.

ADB now has 68 members, 49 from within Asia.

How is voting power of ADB calculated :-

  • Subscribed capital refers to a member’s subscription to shares of the capital stock of ADB.
  • The total voting power of each member consists of the sum of its basic votes and proportional votes.
  • The basic votes of each member consist of such number of     votes as results from the equal distribution among all members of 20% of the   aggregate sum of the basic votes and proportional votes of all members.    
  • The number of proportional votes of each member is equal to the number of shares of the capital stock of ADB held by that member.

As of 31 December 2019, ADB’s five largest shareholders are Japan and the United States (each with 15.6% of total shares), the People’s Republic of China (6.4%), India (6.3%), and Australia (5.8%).

5) Centre wants to keep birth, death database

The amendments have been proposed by the RGI, which works under the Union Home Ministry.

A new Section 3 A is proposed to be inserted in the Act, which says, “The Registrar General, India shall maintain the database of registered births and deaths at the national level, that may be used, with the approval of the Central government, to update the Population Register prepared under the Citizenship Act, 1955; electoral registers or electoral rolls prepared under the Representation of the People Act, 1951; Aadhaar database prepared under the Aadhaar Act, 2016; ration card database prepared under the National Food Security Act, 2013; passport database prepared under the Passport Act; and the driving licence database under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, and other databases at the national level subject to proviso of Section 17 (1) of the RBD Act, 1969.”

6) PDS shops may sell LPG cylinders

This is part of a wider initiative to boost the financial viability of these shops.

The 5.32 lakh ration or fair price shops across the country mainly distribute subsidised foodgrains to the 80 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act. The Centre is looking to leverage this network by introducing the retail sale of LPG cylinders.

Mr. Pandey stressed the need for proactive measures to enhance the fiscal health of ration shops. Apart from those of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, representatives of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum were present, a Ministry statement said.

7) ‘India respects UNCLOS rights’

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, also known as Law of the Sea divides marine areas into five main zones namely– Internal Waters, Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the High Seas.

Baseline: It is the low-water line along the coast as officially recognized by the coastal state.

Internal Waters:

  • Internal waters are waters on the landward side of the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
  • Each coastal state has full sovereignty over its internal waters as like its land territory. Examples of internal waters include bays, ports, inlets, rivers and even lakes that are connected to the sea.
  • There is no right of innocent passage through internal waters.
  • The innocent passage refers to the passing through the waters which are not prejudicial to peace and security. However, the nations have the right to suspend the same.

Territorial Sea:

  • The territorial sea extends seaward up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from its baselines.
  • A nautical mile is based on the circumference of the earth and is equal to one minute of latitude. It is slightly more than a land measured mile (1 nautical mile = 1.1508 land miles or 1.85 km).
  • The coastal states have sovereignty and jurisdiction over the territorial sea. These rights extend not only on the surface but also to the seabed, subsoil, and even airspace.
  • But the coastal states’ rights are limited by the innocent passage through the territorial sea.

Contiguous Zone:

  • The contiguous zone extends seaward up to 24 nm from its baselines.
  • It is an intermediary zone between the territorial sea and the high seas.
  • The coastal state has the right to both prevent and punish infringement of fiscal, immigration, sanitary, and customs laws within its territory and territorial sea.
  • Unlike the territorial sea, the contiguous zone only gives jurisdiction to a state on the ocean’s surface and floor. It does not provide air and space rights.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Each coastal State may claim an EEZ beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 200 nm from its baselines.

Within its EEZ, a coastal state has:

  • Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living or nonliving, of the seabed and subsoil.
  • Rights to carry out activities like the production of energy from the water, currents and wind.
  • Unlike the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the EEZ only allows for the above-mentioned resource rights. It does not give a coastal state the right to prohibit or limit freedom of navigation or overflight, subject to very limited exceptions.

High Seas:

  • The ocean surface and the water column beyond the EEZ are referred to as the high seas.
  • It is considered as “the common heritage of all mankind” and is beyond any national jurisdiction.
  • States can conduct activities in these areas as long as they are for peaceful purposes, such as transit, marine science, and undersea exploration.

8) Sweden set to launch ‘Time for India’ drive

Sweden does not require vaccination from international travellers including those from India, its Ambassador in India Klas Molin told.

The envoy said Sweden would soon launch a trade promotion event — Time for India — to boost bilateral trade and hinted that the Swedish Government may take a more liberal post-COVID visa policy for India soon.

9) Hardline monk to head legal reforms panel in Sri Lanka

A controversial Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka, who is accused of hate speech targeting Muslims, has been appointed head of a panel on legal reforms.

According to a gazette notification issued on Tuesday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has set up a 13 member ‘Presidential Task Force for One Country, One Law’, chaired by Galagodaatte Gnanasara of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force).

10) New Hong Kong law to censor old movies for security breaches

Hong Kong passed a toughened film censorship law empowering authorities to ban past films for “national security” threats and impose stiffer penalties for any breaches in the latest blow to the city’s artistic freedoms.

Authorities have embarked on a sweeping crackdown to root out Beijing’s critics after prodemocracy protests convulsed the city two years ago.

A new China-imposed security law and an official campaign dubbed “Patriots rule Hong Kong” has since criminalised much dissent and strangled the democracy movement.

In June the city announced censors would check any future films for content that breached the security law.

A body now devoid of any opposition — allows scrutiny of any titles that had previously been given a green light.

 Editorials of the day

Editorial 1 – Energy cooperation as the backbone of India-Russia ties – #GS2

Editorial Focuses on the mutual need and co-operation between India and Russia specially in the energy security and energy transmission.  

“India-Russia energy partnership can help bring stability to the global energy market.”

India’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri referred to Russia as the largest investor in India’s energy sector.

One of the examples of cooperation between the two countries in energy transformation is the joint venture between India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. and Russia’s Sibur, the country’s largest petrochemicals producer. Set up in Jamnagar, Gujarat, the venture now leads the first butyl and halogenated butyl rubber production facility in South Asia. The facility became operational in 2019 and achieved a total throughput within the first year, establishing itself as a significant supplier of butyl rubber in the Indian market previously wholly dependent on imports.

Renewable, nuclear energy

In efforts to transition to green energy, India has recently achieved a significant milestone of completing the countrywide installation of 100 giga-watts of total installed renewable energy capacity, excluding large hydro. It now aims to hit 175 GW of renewable energy target by December 2022. If achieved, that would be close to half of India’s current total installed power capacity.

Still coal-centric

Despite significant progress, coal remains India’s most important source of electricity production, and it does not spell good news for the environment.

To meet its growing energy demand and succeed in green transformation, India needs approximately U.S.$500 billion of investments in wind and solar infrastructure, grid expansion, and storage to reach the 450 GW capacity target by 2030. Therefore, more efforts are needed to expand cooperation with such partners as Russia.

Prelims Fact – Energy Outlook Report is published by International Energy Agency.

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