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21st April Current Affairs

Integrated Command and Control Centres

(GS-I: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies)

In News:

The government has announced that 80 of the 100 planned Integrated Command and Control Centres have been set up, with the rest to be completed by August 15.

What are ICCCs?

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) includes setting up ICCCs for each city as a vital step.

They are designed to enable authorities to monitor the status of various amenities in real time.

They are aimed at controlling and monitoring water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and Internet infrastructure.

These centres will now also monitor various other parameters and are also linked to the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems) network under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Significance:

The ICCC acts of a smart city acts as a “nerve centre” for operations management. It processes a complex and large pool of data sets at an aggregated level. For example, it is now the go-to source for integrated traffic management monitoring.

Smart Cities mission:

GoI launched the smart cities mission in 2015.

The cities were given five years to complete the projects under the mission, with the first set of Smart Cities expected to complete in 2021.

The objective is to integrate city functions, utilize scarce resources more efficiently, and improve the quality of life of citizens.

It is an innovative initiative under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

Smart city is envisaged to have four pillars:

Social Infrastructure.

Physical Infrastructure.

Institutional Infrastructure (including Governance).

Economic Infrastructure.

Progress made under this scheme (as of June 2021):

Of the total proposed projects under this mission, 5,924 projects have been tendered, work orders have been issued for 5,236 and 2,665 projects are fully operational.

212 PPP projects worth Rs. 24,964 crore have been grounded/completed

70 Smart cities have developed. operationalized their Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) in the country.

Challenges ahead:

A lot of progress is desired in creating energy-efficient and green buildings.

Making Urban Bodies self-reliant.

The share of public transport is declining, it needs to be increased to meet the needs of increasing urbanization.

Rising air pollution, increase in road congestion due to an increase in urbanization.

Digital Banking Units

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

In News:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has reiterated her Budget announcement on setting up 75 digital banking units in 75 districts of the country this year.

This is to take forward the government’s agenda of digital financial inclusion.

What is digital banking?

Simply put, digital banking involves taking all traditional banking activity online — doing away with paperwork like cheques, pay-in slips, demand drafts and so on.

What are digital banking units?

A digital banking unit is a specialised fixed point business unit or hub housing certain minimum digital infrastructure for delivering digital banking products and services as well as servicing existing financial products and services digitally in self-service mode at any time.

Who will set up these DBUs?

Commercial banks (other than regional rural banks, payment banks and local area banks) with past digital banking experience are permitted to open DBUs in tier 1 to tier 6 centres, unless otherwise specifically restricted, without having the need to take permission from the RBI in each case.

What are the services that will be provided by these units?

As per the RBI, each DBU must offer certain minimum digital banking products and services. Such products should be on both liabilities and assets side of the balance sheet of the digital banking segment.

The services include savings bank accounts under various schemes, current accounts, fixed deposits and recurring deposit accounts, digital kit for customers, mobile banking, Internet banking, debit cards, credit cards, and mass transit system cards etc.

What are the benefits of DBUs?

Digital banking units will help banks themselves which are now looking to reduce physical footprint with fewer brick and mortar branches, with a ‘light’ banking approach.

The move will open up the rural market for service providers besides providing a boost to credit flow.

Such units will also be cheaper to establish than a new branch, and can provide better customer experience aided by technology.

The units can also be branded as new-age banks that can help provide personalised finance management tools to new consumers, branded better.

Digi banking units also require lesser staff, with cheaper maintenance due to technological tools and hence can be high-yield units for the parent bank.

If not anything, more such units can encourage more financial literacy and a favourable outlook towards digital banking – which is the need of the hour.

Significance:

The move will open up the rural market for service providers besides providing a boost to credit flow.

Need for:

Given the rapid rise of digital banking, digital payments, and FinTech innovation, it was critical to develop digital infrastructure to support digital banking, which has enormous potential.

RBI Guidelines for DBUs:

According to the guidelines, permission to open DBUs has been given to scheduled commercial banks (SCB) that have past digital banking experience.

They can open DBUs in Tier 1 to Tier 6 centres without taking any permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The DBUs that will be opened by the SCBs will be treated as Banking Outlets.

Each DBU has to be housed distinctly, with separate provisions for exit and entry.

The guidelines state that the DBUs must be separate from the existing Banking Outlet with proper formats provided that will be appropriate for digital banking users.

Each DBU must be headed by a senior and experienced executive of the bank who can be designated as the DBU’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Guru Tegh Bahadur

(GS-I: Important Personalities)

In News:

The 401st birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur was observed on 21st April, 2022.

About Guru Tegh Bahadur:

Born in Amritsar on April 21, 1621 to Mata Nanki and Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru.

He was the ninth Sikh guru who stood up against forcible conversions by the Mughals.

He set up his headquarters in present-day Anandpur Sahib in 1665.

He helped Raja Ram Singh to broker a truce with the Ahom king. Gurdwara Dhubri Sahib on the banks of the Brahmaputra commemorates this peace accord.

Aurangzeb ordered the public execution of the Guru on November 11, 1675 after he declined to embrace Islam.

Impact of his execution:

The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against religious oppression and persecution. His martyrdom helped all Sikh Panths consolidate to make the protection of human rights central to its Sikh identity.

Inspired by him, his nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, eventually organized the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community came to be known as Khalsa (Martial) identity.

What is Extradition?

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

On February 2nd 2022, the Supreme Court had sought a response from the Centre on a plea filed by Abu Salem, serving life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, contending that his imprisonment cannot extend beyond 25 years as per the terms of the extradition treaty between India and Portugal.

Details:

Recently, the Union Home Secretary informed the Supreme Court that the Union government is bound by the commitment given to Portugal in 2002.

Background:

In December 2002, the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had given a commitment to the then Portuguese government that the maximum sentence handed out to gangster Abu Salem would not exceed 25 years.

What is Extradition?

As defined by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, ‘Extradition is the delivery on the part of one State to another of those whom it is desired to deal with for crimes of which they have been accused or convicted and are justifiable in the Courts of the other State’.

When can it be initiated?

An Extradition request for an accused can be initiated in the case of under-investigation, under-trial and convicted criminals.

In cases under investigation, abundant precautions have to be exercised by the law enforcement agency to ensure that it is in possession of prima facie evidence to sustain the allegation before the Courts of Law in the Foreign State.

What is the Legislative Basis for Extradition in India?

The Extradition Act 1962 provides India’s legislative basis for extradition. It consolidated the law relating to the extradition of criminal fugitive from India to foreign states. The Indian Extradition Act, 1962 was substantially modified in 1993 by Act 66 of 1993.

Who is the nodal authority for Extradition in India?

The Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India is the Central/Nodal Authority that administers the Extradition Act and it processes incoming and outgoing Extradition Requests.

An alleged offender may not be extradited to the requesting state in the following cases:

No treaty – In absence of a treaty, States are not obligated to extradite aliens/nationals.

No treaty crime – Extradition is generally limited to crimes identified in the treaty which may vary in relation to one State from another, as provided by the treaty.

Military and Political Offences – Extradition may be denied for purely military and political offences. Terrorist offences and violent crimes are excluded from the definition of political offences for the purposes of extradition treaties.

Want of Dual Criminality – Dual criminality exists when conduct constituting the offence amounts to a criminal offence in both India and the foreign country.

Procedural considerations – Extradition may be denied when due procedure as required by the Extradition Act of 1962 is not followed.