27 September Current Affairs
September 27, 2018
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September 29, 2018
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28 September Current Affairs

Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics (CEDA)

In News:

National Informatics Centre (NIC) and NIC Services Incorporated (NICSI) have jointly set up a Centre of Excellence for data analytics.

About CEDA:

The Centre aims to support Government departments to unlock the hidden potential of the data that they are generating as part of the governance processes and use it to improve the overall governance.

It seeks to kick-start and fast track the adoption of advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities.

Functions:

It shall provide quality data analytic services to government departments at all levels by identifying appropriate tools and technologies and deploying people with right expertise.

As part of its service offerings, it will help the departments understand their business requirements and define their analytic needs, Identify the data sets that are required to meet the analytic needs, determine access to the relevant data sources (both within as well as outside the government) and build the required data analytic solutions.

It also seeks to integrate departmental data silos and deliver an integrated whole-of government analytics for an integrated policy formulation.

Source: The Hindu

Aadhar verdict

In News:

The Supreme Court has upheld the Aadhaar scheme as constitutionally valid. The court also upheld the passage of the Aadhaar Act as a Money Bill.

Details:

The court ruled that the Aadhaar programme served the “larger public interest” in ensuring that the poor have access to resources. It found that the programme eliminated any chance of duplication and that enrolment was foolproof.

However, the apex court’s five-judge constitution bench also struck down several provisions in the Aadhaar Act.

Where Aadhaar is not needed?

  • Children cannot be denied any benefit due to not having Aadhaar. Hence, Aadhaar is not needed for school admissions.
  • Compulsory linking of mobile phone numbers to Aadhaar.
  • Aadhaar is not needed for opening a bank account and banking services.
  • CBSE, NEET, UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory to appear in entrance examinations.
  • No private entity can avail Aadhaar data which includes telecom companies and mobile wallets.

Where Aadhaar is mandatory?

  • Linking of PAN with Aadhaar.
  • Mandatory for filing of IT returns and allotment of Permanent Account Number.
  • Aadhaar must for availing facilities of welfare schemes and government subsidies.

Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act struck down:

  • Section 57 was used by the government to compel private companies to demand Aadhaar verification for services.
  • The Court accepted the argument that no rationale exists for this power and declared it invalid.
  • Consequently, the Court has struck downlinking of Aadhaar with mobiles and bank accounts. It has further directed that the data collected shall be deleted within six months.

What was the contention against Aadhaar before the Supreme Court?

The main questions raised during the hearing on Aadhaar were:

  • Is the Aadhaar Act, 2016, constitutionally valid given that it was passed in Parliament as a Money Bill?
  • Why does every citizen need one identity proof — a unique identification number — to acquire government benefits? Can’t this be done using other documents, like ration card or passport?
  • Does Aadhaar take away our right to privacy — upheld as a fundamental right by a nine-judge Constitution bench of the court in August last year.
  • What happens if Aadhaar data becomes a tool for mass surveillance by the state, as the movement and activities of users can be tracked by collecting metadata?

What did the government argue in favour of Aadhaar?

During the hearing, the government argued that Aadhaar would help weed out ghost beneficiaries of welfare schemes. The government argued that is using Aadhaar as an enabler of various facets of the right to life of teeming millions of Indian residents including their right to food, the right to livelihood, the right to receive pensions and other social assistance benefits like scholarships etc. by the genuine beneficiaries.”

The Supreme Court’s Right to Privacy verdict:

On August 24, 2017, a nine-judge Bench ruled that the right to privacy is a fundamental right, a shot in the arm for the petitioners. However, the court had also ruled that “besides national security, the State may have justifiable reasons for the collection and storage of data. In a social welfare state, the government embarks upon programmes which provide benefits to impoverished and marginalised sections of society. There is a vital State interest in ensuring that scarce public resources are not dissipated by the diversion of resources to persons who do not qualify as recipients.”

Justice B N Srikrishna report:

The Justice B N Srikrishna panel was appointed to recommend a data protection framework to the government. It submitted its recommendations in July this year. The Srikrishna data protection report highlighted individuals’ constitutional rights over their data and said efforts need to be made to protect data at any cost. It recommended steps for protection of personal information, defining obligations of data processors as also rights of individuals, and mooting penalties for violation.

Way ahead:

Stating that Aadhaar empowers the marginalised sections of society and gave them an identity, the SC asked the Central government to introduce a robust data protection law as soon as possible.

Aadhaar will undoubtedly be a game changer for the poor and the country as a whole. Every technology has some risks. A mature society must take measures to mitigate risks and not abandon the technology.

Source: The Hindu

Section 497 of IPC

In News:

The Supreme Court has declared Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code as unconstitutional saying that the penal provision on adultery was manifestly arbitrary and dents the individuality of women.

Important observations made by the Supreme Court:

  • Adultery might not cause of an unhappy marriage, but it could be result of an unhappy marriage.
  • In case of adultery, criminal law expects people to be loyal which is a command which gets into the realm of privacy.
  • Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.
  • Any provision treating woman with inequality is not Constitutional.
  • Mere adultery can’t be a crime, unless it attracts the scope of Section 306 (abatement to suicide) of the IPC.

Why strike it down?

Section 497 perpetuates subordinate status of women, denies dignity, sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Section 497 based on women as chattel, seeks to control sexuality of woman, hits the autonomy and dignity of woman. Besides, Section 497 perpetrates subordinate nature of woman in a marriage.

Therefore, it should be struck down for violation of Articles 14, 21.

Here are the problems with Section 497 which the petitioners wanted to be addressed:

The petitioners want the adultery law to be made gender neutral. This is because the law calls for the man to be punished in case of adultery, but no action is suggested for the woman.

As per Section 497, a woman whose husband has had sexual intercourse with another woman cannot file a complaint because the law makes no such provision for her.

Moreover, the adultery law in IPC reduces women to an object because no consent of the married woman is required for a man to have sexual intercourse with her. As per Section 497, if the woman’s husband agrees, the act is not a crime. This is the reason many have called this law an anti-women law.

What is Section 497?

Section 497 of the 158-year-old IPC says, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”

Past Supreme Court judgements on adultery:

  • The adultery law had come up in court thrice in the past — in 1954, in 1985, and in 1988.
  • In 1954, the SC rejected that Section 497 violated the right to equality.
  • In 1985, it said that women didn’t need to be included in the law as a party which can make complaints.
  • In 1988, the Supreme Court said that the adultery law was a “shield rather than a sword”.

Source: The Hindu

Agmark online system

In News:

The government has launched an online platform for processing applications related to quality certification mark ‘Agmark’ for agricultural products.

Key facts:

  • It is being implemented across the country to conduct quality control functions.
  • It will be available 24×7.
  • It will make process of application is simple, quick, transparent.
  • Through this online system, certificate of authorisation (domestic), permission of laboratories (domestic), permission of printing press and services related to laboratory information management system will be provided online.

Significance:

The online system will make processes easy, reliable and cost effective.  It also has provisions for online receipt of fees from the applicants as payments can be received in digital mode through bharatkosh.gov.in website.

What is Agmark?

  • Agmark is certification mark that assures conformity to set of standards approved by Government agency Directorate of Marketing and Inspection.
  • It is legally enforced by Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act of 1937 (and ammended in 1986).
  • The present AGMARK standards cover quality guidelines for 205 different commodities spanning variety of cereals, pulses, vegetable oils, essential oils, fruits & vegetables, and semi-processed products like vermicelli.

Source: PIB

WAYU- Air Pollution Mitigation Device

In News:

Air pollution control device WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit) for traffic junctions was recently inaugurated in Delhi.

About WAYU (Wind Augmentation Purifying Unit):

WAYU is developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) as a part of Technology Development Project funded by Department of Science and Technology.

The device has the capacity to purify air in an area of 500 meter square. The device consumes only half a unit of electricity for 10 hours of running and has a maintenance cost of only Rs. 1500 per month.

How it works?

  • The device works on two principles mainly Wind generation for dilution of air pollutants and Active Pollutants removal.
  • The device has filters for Particulate Matter removal and activated carbon (charcoal) and UV lamps for poisonous gases removal such as VOCs and Carbon Monoxide.
  • The device has one fan and filter for sucking and removing Particulate Matter. There are two UV lamps and half kg of activated carbon charcoal coated with special chemical Titanium Dioxide.

Source: PIB

Umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM)

In News:

The Centre has approved ₹8,606 crore for 60 projects being implemented under the umbrella scheme of Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) to meet special development needs of people living in those areas.

Highlights of the scheme:

The projects are being implemented in 17 states having the international borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The projects are implemented in 111 border districts to meet special development needs of border population with focus on people living within 50 kms of the international border.

The schemes include construction of roads, schools, primary health centres, promotion of rural tourism, border tourism, promotion of sports activities, cleanliness mission, protection of heritage sites, supply of drinking water, community centres, connectivity, drainage, to enable sustainable living in border areas.

Construction of helipads in remote and inaccessible hilly areas which do not have road connectivity, skill development training to farmers for the use of modern and scientific technique in farming, organic farming are some of the other areas where the projects are being implemented.

Key facts for Prelims:

India shares borders with Pakistan (3,323 km), China (3,488 km), Nepal (1,751 km), Bhutan (699 km), Myanmar (1,643 km) and Bangladesh (4,096 km).

Source: PIB

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

In News:

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is observed every year on 26 September across the world.

Aims:

  • To provide an occasion for world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as high priority.
  • To provide opportunity to educate public and their leaders about real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.

Background:

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December 2013 as follow-up to its high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament which was held on 26 September 2013, in New York, US.

UNGA called for urgent commencement of negotiations in Conference on Disarmament of comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer and use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.

Source: PIB

Report by Ramsar Convention

  • Ramsar convention adopted in the year 1971 that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  • This intergovernmental treaty came into force in 1975.
  • It has been ratified by most of the world’s nations, including the U.S., China and India.
  • It has designated more than 2,300 sites of international importance.
  • The convention has recently issued its first-ever global report on the state of World’s wetlands.
  • The report is titled as “Global Wetland Outlook”.
  • The report found that around 35% of wetlands were lost between 1970 and 2015.
  • Wetlands include lakes, rivers, marshes and peatlands, as well as coastal and marine areas like lagoons, mangroves and coral reefs.
  • In India, The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the nodal Ministry for wetlands conservation.
  • Wetlands in India account for 4.7% of the total geographical area.

State Disaster Response Fund

  • Under the Disaster Management Act 2005, a financial mechanism has been set up by way of National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) at national level and State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) at state level.
  • The funds are to meet the rescue and relief expenditure during any notified disaster.
  • The funding for disaster relief are governed by the National Disaster Management Policy.
  • As per the policy, the State governments have to provide disaster relief from their respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRFs).
  • Additional assistance will be provided from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) only for a “calamity of severe nature”.
  • SDRF has been constituted in each state in which the Centre had been, so far, contributing 75 per cent for general category states and 90 per cent for special category states of hilly regions.
  • The Centre has announced to enhance its contribution to the (SDRF) from 75 per cent to 90 per cent for general category states with effect from April 1 this year.
  • With the declaration, the contribution of all states to the SDRF fund would be only 10 per cent.
  • The NDRF is funded through a National Calamity Contingent Duty levied under GST for selected goods and contribution from any person or institutions.

Liquidity Coverage Ratio

  • The liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) refers to highly liquid assets held by financial institutions to meet short-term obligations.
  • Statutory Liquidity Ratio is the percentage of deposits that banks have to mandatorily invest in government and state government securities, which is currently at 19.5 %.
  • RBI has recently notified that banks are allowed to use up to 15 % (currently 13%) of holdings under the SLR reserves to meet their liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) requirements.
  • This move will take the total carve-out from SLR available to banks to 15 per cent of their deposits.
  • The RBI move follows concerns over tight liquidity conditions and banks’ unwillingness to lend to NBFCs.

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