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18 July Current Affairs

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018

In News:
Activists have appealed to parliamentarians that the draft anti- trafficking legislation be sent to the Standing Committee. They have appealed to the government that the bill should explicitly state that consenting adult workers will not be penalised under the new law.

Features of Bill:
It takes into consideration aggravated forms of trafficking. It includes trafficking for purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity etc
It prescribes punishment for promoting and facilitating trafficking of person. It includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements, or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
It deals with confidentiality of victims and witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. It will be maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (it will help trans-border and inter-State crimes).
It has provision for time bound trial and repatriation of the victims. It will be within a period of 1 year from taking into cognizance. It provides immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The victims will be entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
It creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central level. They will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. The tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level will be performed by National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The punishment prescribed under it ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh. In order to break the organized nexus, both at national and international level, it mandates for attachment & forfeiture of property and also proceeds for crime.
It comprehensively addresses transnational nature of the crime. It entrusts National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) to perform functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations.

The opposition:
Many have spoken out against the devastating effects that the new bill could have on several stakeholders which include marginalised groups such as children, the trans community and consenting sex-workers. In fact, it is claimed that the bill is essentially nothing but a veiled attempt to further criminalise sex work.
The new bill includes a clause that makes transmission or even exposure to HIV in an instance of trafficking among one of the ‘Aggravated Offences’. This would have a grave impact on those suffering from HIV.
Consenting sex workers will be severely hit by the bill. The sex workers’ community which is one of the biggest stakeholders in anti-trafficking legislation have not been consulted before the drafting of this bill.
The bill makes giving chemicals or hormones to another for their accelerated sexual maturity an “aggravated offence”, a clause that leaves the trans-community in a lurch.
The new bill also includes child victims of trafficking. Child rights activists have raised concerns about the proposed ‘rehabilitation’ of children by institutionalising them, a practice which has often faced international censure.
Need for anti- trafficking legislation:
More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017, government data shows. Around 100,000 are yet to be traced and it is feared that many of them could have been trafficked.
In 2016, for instance, 111,569 children were reported missing. Of these, 55,944 children were traced but only 8,132 trafficking cases were reported. Many of these children are victims of modern slavery — forced into prostitution, labour or domestic work.
They are also used as drug mules and even given up for adoption illegally. Poverty and lack of opportunity also pushes a lot of young women, especially from the interior parts of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand, into prostitution.
Despite the enormity of the problem, India lacks a single comprehensive law for human trafficking. At present, trafficking is covered under half-a-dozen laws resulting in confusion and poor enforcement.

Way ahead:
The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation. UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.
Source: The Hindu

Committee set up to synergise NCC and NSS

In News:
Government has decided to set up a committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Anil Swarup to suggest measures to strengthen National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS).

Details:

The Committee will deal with on issues like expansion, strengthening training infrastructure, rationalizing resources, reducing manpower deficiency affecting NCC and NSS. The Committee will also submit recommend for building synergies between these two institutions viz. NCC and NSS and further strengthen them for empowering the youth.
About National Service Scheme (NSS):
NSS is a Centrally Sector Scheme. The Scheme was launched in the year 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT ME, BUT YOU”.

Programme Structure:

NSS is being implemented in Senior Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities. The design of the NSS envisages that each educational institution covered under the Scheme has at least one NSS unit comprising of normally 100 student volunteers, led by a teacher designated as Programme Officer (PO). Each NSS unit adopts a village or slum for taking up its activities.

Nature of Activities under NSS:

Briefly, the NSS volunteers work on issues of social relevance, which keep evolving in response to the needs of the community, through regular and special camping activities. Such issues include (i) literacy and education, (ii) health, family welfare and nutrition, (iii) environment conservation, (iv) social service programmes, (v) programmes for empowerment of women, (vi) programmes connected with economic development activities, (vii) rescue and relief during calamities, etc.

What is National Cadet Corps?

The National Cadet Corps (NCC) is a youth development movement. It came into existence under the National Cadet Corps Act XXXI of 1948.
It is a Tri-Services Organization, comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force, engaged in grooming the youth of the country into disciplined and patriotic citizens.
It has enormous potential for nation building. The NCC provides opportunities to the youth of the country for their all-round development with a sense of Duty, Commitment, Dedication, Discipline and Moral Values so that they become able leaders and useful citizens.
The NCC provides exposure to the cadets in a wide range of activities., with a distinct emphasis on Social Services, Discipline and Adventure Training. The NCC is open to all regular students of schools and colleges on a voluntary basis. The students have no liability for active military service.

Source: PIB

Google teams up with UN to track environmental changes

In News:
The UNEP has entered into a partnership with Google to monitor the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems by using sophisticated online tools.

Details:
The aim of the partnership is to develop a platform to enable governments, NGO’s and the public to track specific environment-related development targets with a user-friendly Google front-end.
Initial focus:
It has its initial focus on freshwater ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss of freshwater biodiversity.
Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel Cloud computing technology.
Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies, and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.

About UNEP:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is an agency of United Nations and coordinates its environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
It was founded by Maurice Strong, its first director, as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972 and has its headquarters in the Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya.
UNEP has overall responsibility for environmental problems among United Nations agencies but talks on addressing global warming are overseen by the Bonn-based Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy.
UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.
The World Meteorological Organization and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, and it is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The International Cyanide Management Code, a program of best practice for the chemical’s use at gold mining operations, was developed under UNEP’s aegis.
Source: The Hindu

FASTags

In News:
The Transport Ministry has proposed to dispense with fitness certificate for new vehicles and make it mandatory to have vehicle tracking system and FASTags for electronic toll collection for all commercial vehicles in its draft amendment to the Commercial Motor Vehicles Act.

Details:

It is a device that uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to it.
It is affixed on the windscreen of vehicle and enables to drive through toll plazas without waiting.
The tag has a validity of 5 years and after purchase, it only needs to be recharged or topped up. The service is applicable to all kinds of vehicles but use of the service is currently voluntary.
Benefits of FASTags:
It helps quicken passage through toll barriers and helps avoid use of cash. Long queues of vehicles waiting while cumbersome cash transactions happen at the counter can be avoided. Here, it helps reduce use of fuel and pollution due to high waiting-times at the barriers.
It can also help the government identify the quantum of road use and types of vehicles passing through, aiding budgets for road widening and other infrastructure expenses. Theoretically, it could help increase accruals to the government as some operators managing toll plazas have, in the past, have been suspected of under reporting their revenues.

Source: The Hindu

Counter-drone strategy for airports ready

In News:

Aviation security watchdog BCAS has finalised a strategy to neutralise drones near airports, with the government set to unveil a framework to regulate unmanned aircraft systems in the country. The strategy deals with drones operating near aerodromes.

Details:

A “soft kill” approach instead of a hard kill approach has been suggested because destroying a drone with a payload of explosives or biochemical will result in an attack and serve the purpose of their handlers. The best approach is to entrap the drones and not destroy them.

Background:

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had released draft rules for unmanned aircraft systems in November last year and proposed to ban their operation within 5 km radius of an airport and 50 km from an international border.
About BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security):
• The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India.
• It is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
• It is headed by an officer of the rank of Director General of Police and is designated as Commissioner of Security (Civil Aviation).
• Commissioner of security (CA) is the appropriate authority for implementation of Annexure 17 to Chicago convention of International civil aviation organization (ICAO)
• Commissioner of security (CA) is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of the National Civil Aviation Security Programme.
• The main responsibility of BCAS are laying down standards and measures in respect of security of civil flights at International and domestic airports in India.

Source: The Hindu

Sagarmala initiative
• Government has recently inaugurated Hi-tech labs in centre of excellence in Maritime & Ship Building (CEMS), Vishakapatnam.
• The prime objective of the sagarmala project is to promote port-led development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.
• It intends to enhance the capacity of major and non-major ports.
• It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the coastal economic zones.
• Community Development Fund will be created for projects and activities which strive to bring development for coastal communities.
National Database of Arms Licenses System
• Union Home Ministry is planning to create National Database of Arms Licenses System.
• It is to create vigilance on authorised private gun holders and eliminate possibilities of issuing arms license to bogus persons.
• Ministry will amend the Arms Act to create the database.
Global Compact for Migration
• United Nations has created Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration for the first time.
• It is the first intergovernmental negotiated agreement under the auspices of UN to cover all dimensions of migration.
• The agreement was signed by adopting a non-binding political declaration “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” in 2016.
• Its objective is to address the challenges fo migration, strengthen migrant rights.
• Under the agenda, member States committed to cooperate internationally to safe facilitate migration.

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