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October 28, 2019
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October 30, 2019
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29 October Current Affairs

Regulation of social media

In News:

The centre is planning to come up with rules to regulate social media because it can cause “unimaginable disruption” to democracy.

Details:

Rules will help in curbing growing threats to “individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty, and security.

Background:

The Supreme Court had expressed the need to regulate social media to curb fake news, defamation and trolling. It had also asked the Union government to come up with guidelines to prevent misuse of social media while protecting users’ privacy in three weeks’ time.

Existing regulations and misuse:

In India, social media platforms already come under the purview of the Information Technology (IT) Act, the ‘intermediaries guidelines’ that were notified under the IT Act in 2011 and the Indian Penal Code.

Under existing laws, social media channels are already required to take down content if they are directed to do so by a court or law enforcement.

There are also reporting mechanisms on these platforms, where they exercise discretion to ascertain whether a reported post is violating community guidelines and needs to be taken down.

These, however, have been reported to be arbitrary – many posts on body positivity and menstruation, for instance, have been taken down in the past while other explicit imagery continues to be allowed.

Many of the existing regulations themselves are “dangerously close to censorship and may have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, which is why cases are being fought on those in courts.”

Another problem of a lot of regulatory measures is the vagueness of language which is exploited by state agencies to behave in a repressive way.

Need for regulations:

The speed and reach of social media has meant that subversive rumours and fake news get aired with impunity. This has resulted in serious law and order problems. In India, this phenomenon has assumed dangerous proportions. Fake news on WhatsApp has led to lynchings and communal flare-ups in many parts of the country. This menace needs to be curbed.

Challenges before the government:

Too stringent a policy of policing social media could violate the individual’s right to privacy.

It’s not easy to force Facebook Inc., the owner of WhatsApp, to give up on the app’s unique selling proposition to the user of complete end-to-end confidentiality.

Way ahead:

Any conversation on additional regulation of social media brings up concerns about privacy and surveillance.

Therefore, any bid at regulating expression online has to be proportional and concrete with adequate redressal mechanisms and without any blanket provisions.

Siachen Glacier

In News:

The Siachen glacier is “now open” for tourists and tourism.

Key facts:

Lies in the Karakoram Range system which is a part of western Himalayas.

Lies to the south of the zone that separates Eurasion Plate with the Indian Plate, which is the result of convergence boundary interaction in geographical terms.

It is the highest battle field in the world and lies on LoC (Line of Control) between India and Pakistan. It has been continuously contested by Pakistan as its own part which has led to militarisation of the glacier.

After the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971, an agreement was signed between the two countries in 1972, which came to be known as the Shimla Agreement, but it failed to clearly mention who controls the glacier.

However, in 1984, the Pakistan army tried to enter the glacier, forcing India to launch a military operation known as “Operation Meghdoot” and since then we have control over the glacier. A ceasefire agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in 2003

The glacier is the source of many rivers including Nubra River, a tributary of Shyok, which is a part of the Indus River System.

Siachen Glacier also boasts of the world’s highest helipad built by India at Point Sonam, to supply its troops. India also installed the world’s highest telephone booth on the glacier.

The region is also a home to rare species of snow leopard, brown bear etc which may be affected by military presence. This has led to talks in international forums about creating a “Peace Park” in the area and demilitarise it.

GIA – Group of Intellectuals and Academicians

In News:

GIA delegation presents ‘Report from Ground Zero’ on Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh post-Article 370 scrapping.

Details:

GIA is a group of empowered Indian women, intellectuals & academicians working together to elevate the position of women in our society, committed to work in the service of the nation.

Composition: National leaders, President Awardees, distinguished Supreme Court lawyers, industrialists, professors of prestigious institutions, principals of colleges, directors of institutes, internationally renowned artists/dancers, sportswomen, writers, poets, IT professionals and many others from various fields.

Aim: to become the voice of the most silent and underprivileged section of our nation with legal and academic support.

Open general export licences (OGELs)

In News:

Government has approved issuance of two open general export licences (OGELs) for export of certain parts and components as well as intra-company transfer of technology to select countries.

Details:

The OGEL will be a one-time export licence to be granted to a company for a specific period which will be two years initially.

The application for grant of OGEL will be considered by the Department of Defence Production (DPP) on a case-to-case basis.

The countries allowed under the OGELs are: Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Poland and Mexico.

For acquiring the licences, the applicant is mandatory to have Import-Export certificate. The quarterly & end of the year reports on all the transactions done under OGELs should be submitted to DPP for examination and post-export verification.

The items permitted under OGEL include components of ammunition & fuse setting device without energetic and explosive material; firing control & related alerting and warning equipment & related system; and body protective items.

Complete aircraft or complete unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and any components specially designed or modified for UAVs are excluded under this licence.

Thotlakonda monastery

In News:

The mahastupa of the 2,000-year-old Buddhist heritage site of Thotlakonda, reconstructed in 2016 by the state archaeology department, has collapsed during the recent torrential rainfall.

Key facts:

Thotlakonda Buddhist Complexis situated near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Thotlakonda was well within the influence of ancient Kalinga, which was an important source of dissemination of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and various parts of Southeast Asia.

The excavations have established the existence of a Hinayana Buddhist complex which flourished 2000 years ago.

The excavations reveal Satavahana dynasty lead and Roman silver coins indicating foreign trade; terracotta tiles, stucco decorative pieces, sculptured panels, miniature stupa models in stone, and Buddha footprints were also found.

The excavations also yielded twelve inscriptions in the Brahmi script.

Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI)

It came about to expedite scope of cooperation between partner countries on defence technology that become narrow due to presence of differing bureaucratic processes and legal requirements.

Essentially, DTII is an initiative to provide increased US senior level oversight and engagement to get beyond these obstacles.

DTTI initiative is led by Undersecretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment from US and Secretary for Defence Protection from India.

The aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC)

It is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament (Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956). In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.

The Commission has three main objectives which guide its functioning. These are:

The Social Objective – Providing employment in rural areas.

The Economic Objective – Providing salable articles.

The Wider Objective – Creating self-reliance amongst people and building up a strong rural community spirit.

Eligibility Criteria for Grant of Maharatna, Navratna and Miniratna Status

In News:

Government of India has accorded ‘Maharatna’ status to public sector undertaking’s (PSU’s) Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Power Grid Corporation.

Impact:

This will impart greater operational and financial autonomy thus enhancing powers to their Boards to take financial decisions.

Boards of these PSUs can make equity investments to undertake financial joint ventures (JV) and wholly owned subsidiaries and undertake mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in India as well as abroad. This is however subjected to a ceiling of 15% of net worth of concerned CPSE, limited to Rs 5,000 crore in one project.

The Boards can also structure and implement schemes relating to personnel as well as human resource management and training.

Holding companies of a ‘Maharatna’ PSU are also empowered to float fresh equity, transfer assets, divest shareholding in subsidiaries, but are subjected to condition that the delegation will only be in respect of subsidiaries set up by holding company.

Criteria for grant of Maharatna status:

Shall be given to CPSEs:

  • Having Navratna status.
  • Listed on Indian stock exchange with minimum prescribed public shareholding under SEBI regulations.
  • Average annual turnover of more than Rs. 25,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
  • Average annual net worth of more than Rs. 15,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
  • Average annual net profit after tax of more than Rs. 5,000 crore, during the last 3 years.
  • Should have significant global presence/international operations.

Criteria for grant of Navratna status:

The Miniratna Category – I and Schedule ‘A’ CPSEs, which have obtained ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ rating under the Memorandum of Understanding system in three of the last five years, and have composite score of 60 or above in the six selected performance parameters, namely,

  • net profit to net worth.
  • manpower cost to total cost of production/services.
  • profit before depreciation, interest and taxes to capital employed.
  • profit before interest and taxes to turnover.
  • earning per share.
  • inter-sectoral performance.

Criteria for grant of Miniratna status:

The CPSEs which have made profits in the last three years continuously and have positive net worth are eligible to be considered for grant of Miniratna status.

New guidelines released for peritoneal dialysis services

In News:

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has come out with a set of guidelines for establishing peritoneal dialysis services under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme.

Details:

The new guidelines, among other things, envisage providing training to community health workers to provide support to persons on peritoneal dialysis at home or in primary health care settings.

Significance of these guidelines:

The guidelines aim to serve as a comprehensive manual to states that intend to set up peritoneal dialysis services and for providers of peritoneal dialysis as a `best practice’ document to ensure delivery of high quality and cost effective services.

It also aims to achieve equity in patient access to home-based peritoneal dialysis, reduce the overall cost of care to the system by focusing on efficient leveraging of resources, and bring in consistency of practice, pricing and a full range of product availability.

How is peritoneal dialysis performed?

During peritoneal dialysis, a cleansing fluid (dialysate) is circulated through a tube (catheter) inside a part of the abdominal cavity (peritonealcavity).

The dialysate absorbs waste products from blood vessels in the abdominal lining (peritoneum) and then is drawn back out of the body and discarded.

Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme:

Rolled out in 2016 as part of the National Health Mission(NHM) for provision of free dialysis services to the poor.

The Guidelines for Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme envisage provision of dialysis services under NHM in PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode.

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