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10th March Current Affairs

Raising the age of consent in the Philippines

(GS-II: Government policies and associated issues)

In News:

The Philippines has raised its age of sexual consent from 12 years to 16 years.

Details:

The law is gender-neutral and applies to both male and female children and offenders.

Until now, it had one of the lowest ages of consent in the world, with roughly one in five children experiencing sexual violence.

What is the “age of consent” in India?

In India, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, defines a “child” as anyone below 18 years of age, and hence, engaging in sexual activity with a ‘child’ is considered sexual assault.

The demand for the review of age of consent in India:

The fact remains that many of the cases of sexual assault reported to the police (under the Pocso Act and other laws) dealing with the 16-18 years-old children are consensual in nature and are generally reported at the behest of girl’s parents who disapprove of the teenagers’ conduct.

Therefore, the most relevant question to be addressed is whether a teenage girl or boy of this age has the capability to give “free consent”.

Records show that in most cases in this age group, girls turn hostile because the sexual act was not against their will and they were not allured or induced into indulging in the act.

It has also been observed that due to a change in the sociocultural environment in recent decades, teenagers are sensible enough to understand the implications of their conduct.

Amendment to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act

(GS-II: Important Government Policies)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Second Schedule of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 for specifying the rate of royalty in respect of Glauconite, Potash, Emerald, Platinum Group of Metals (PGM), Andalusite, Sillimanite and Molybdenum.

Significance:

The approval would ensure auction of mineral blocks in respect of Glauconite, Potash, Emerald, Platinum Group of metals, Andalusite and Molybdenum for the first time in the country.

Did you know?

Minerals like Glauconite and Potash are used as fertilizer in agriculture.

Platinum Group of Metals (PGM) are high value metal used in various industries and new innovative applications.

Minerals like Andalusite, molybdenum are vital minerals used in industrial applications.

Implications of the move:

Encouraging indigenous mining of these minerals is in the National interest that would lead to a reduction in imports in potash fertilizers and other minerals.

This step taken by the Ministry of Mines is also expected to increase the generation of employment in the mining sector.

It will also ensure increased availability of minerals for the downstream industries and support agriculture.

The approval will lead to import substitution in respect of many important minerals for the economy of the country thereby saving valuable forex reserves. It will reduce the country’s foreign dependency through the local production of minerals.

Previous amendments:

The Act was amended in 2015 to usher in a new regime of granting mineral concessions through auction to ensure transparency and non-discrimination in the allocation of the mineral wealth of the country. The auction regime has matured since then.

To give further impetus to the mineral sector, the Act has been further amended in 2021. Under the reforms, the Government has given a major boost to the auction of mineral blocks, increasing production, improving ease of doing business in the country and increasing the contribution of mineral production to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

UPI123Pay

(GS-III: Inclusive growth and issues arising out of it)

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India has launched a new Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments solution for feature phone users dubbed ‘UPI123Pay’.

What is UPI123Pay?

UPI ‘123PAY’ is a three-step method to initiate and execute services for users which will work on simple phones.

It will allow customers to use feature phones for almost all transactions except scan and pay.

It doesn’t need an internet connection for transactions. Customers have to link their bank account with feature phones to use this facility.

The new UPI payments system offers users four options to make payments without internet connectivity:

Interactive Voice Response (IVR): Users would be required to initiate a secured call from their feature phones to a predetermined IVR number and complete UPI on-boarding formalities to be able to start making financial transactions like money transfer, mobile recharge, EMI repayment, balance check, among others.

App-based functionality: One could also install an app on feature phone through which several UPI functions, available on smartphones, will be available on their feature phone, except scan and pay feature which is currently not available.

Missed call facility: The missed call facility will allow users to access their bank account and perform routine transactions such as receiving, transferring funds, regular purchases, bill payments, etc., by giving a missed call on the number displayed at the merchant outlet. The customer will receive an incoming call to authenticate the transaction by entering UPI PIN.

Proximity sound-based payments: One could utilise the proximity sound-based payments option, which uses sound waves to enable contactless, offline, and proximity data communication on any device.

Significance:

Users will be able to make payments to their friends and family, pay their utility bills, recharge FASTags, pay mobile bills and also check their account balances, the central bank said, adding customers will also be able to link bank accounts, set or change UPI PINs.

What is UPI?

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system, allowing users to transfer money on a real-time basis, across multiple bank accounts without revealing details of one’s bank account to the other party.

UPI is currently the biggest among the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) operated systems including National Automated Clearing House (NACH), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), Aadhaar enabled Payment System (AePS), Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), RuPay etc.

The top UPI apps include PhonePe, Paytm, Google Pay, Amazon Pay and BHIM, the latter being the Government offering.

What are Karewas?

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomenon)

In News:

In the name of development, Kashmir’s highly fertile alluvial soil deposits called ‘karewas’ are being destroyed.

Details:

Despite its agricultural and archaeological importance, karewas are now being excavated to be used in construction.

What are Karewas?

In the Kashmiri dialect, the term Karewa means “elevated table land”.

Firstly, this term was used by Godwin Austin in 1859 and later on by Lydekker in 1878 for unconsolidated to semi-consolidated sand clay conglomerate sequence.

“Vudr” is the local name for Karewas in Kashmiri language.

Karewas are the thick deposits of glacial clay and other materials embedded with moraines. These are unconsolidated lacustrine deposits. Lacustrine means “associated with lakes”.

How were they formed in Kashmir valley?

Kashmir valley resides between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal ranges of the Kashmir Himalayas. In earlier times, when the upliftment of the Pir Panjal ranges happened, the flow of the river had stopped.

As a result, the whole of Kashmir valley became a large lake. Slowly, the glacial deposits have accumulated here in this lake. Thus creating a large lacustrine plain.

Later on, the water drained away and these unconsolidated deposits remained there. These unconsolidated gravel and mud deposits are known as Karewa formation.

Economic significance of Karewas:

Karewa deposits have different soil and sediments such as sand, clay, silt, shale, mud, lignite and losses. Hence, these are very useful for agricultural and horticulture activities.

Karewa formations are useful for the cultivation of Zafran is a local variety of Saffron in Kashmir valley. These are also important for the cultivation of almond, walnut, apple, and orchards.