Polity & Governance
- Internet Shutdown and Freedom of Speech and Expression
- Eurasia Group: India under Modi is the fifth biggest geopolitical risk of 2020
Government Schemes & Policies
- Review of India`s Energy Policies
Issues related to Health & Education
- Coronavirus: a new virus identified by Chinese researchers
- Financial Inclusion Strategy
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- State of Energy Efficiency Index 2019
- Scrubbers and MARPOL
- Indian Skimmer
Defence & Security Issues
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) inaugurated
- Steel Fence along India`s borders.
Key Facts for Prelims
- World Hindi Day 2020
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Internet Shutdown and Freedom of Speech and Expression
Recently, the Supreme Court has delivered the verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the Union government’s decision to impose restrictions on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir after the August 5 revocation of provisions of Article 370, giving special status to the state.
- The SC said that the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression and carrying trade and commerce using internet is constitutionally protected. All restrictive orders under Section 144 of CrPC and suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have to be reviewed by the administration within a week.
The Verdict about Internet shutdowns in Kashmir
- The Internet as a medium is used to exercise other fundamental rights.
- Internet shutdowns cannot be arbitrary and can be challenged in courts.
- In case of Kashmir, the SC did not test the legality of shutdown and asked the government to review its shutdown orders.
- The court also said the orders suspending the Internet would have to necessarily state how the action was justified and proportionate to the imminent threat to law and order.
- Section 144 of CrPC cannot be used as a tool to prevent legitimate expression of opinion, grievance or exercise of democratic rights.
- The court recognised that the 2017 Rules are the only procedure to be followed to suspend Internet services in the occurrence of a “public emergency” or for it to be “in the interest of public safety”.
- Quoting from the 2017 Rules, the verdict reiterated the following factors:
- The competent authority to issue an order under the Suspension Rules, in ordinary circumstances, would be the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- In case the confirmation does not come from a competent authority, the orders shall cease to exist within a period of 24 hours.
- Clear reasons for such orders need to be given in writing, and need to be forwarded to a Review Committee by the next working day.
- The confirmation must not be a mere formality, but must indicate independent application of mind by the competent authority to the order passed by the authorised officer, who must also take into account changed circumstances if any, etc.
Right to access internet
- The Supreme Court said the right to access the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.
- According to the SC, “the importance of the internet cannot be underestimated, as from morning to night we are encapsulated within the cyberspace and our most basic activities are enabled by the use of internet.”
- The apex court said that the expression through the internet has gained contemporary relevance and is one of the major means of information diffusion.
- The suspension of broad telecom services, be it the internet or otherwise, being a drastic measure, “which must be considered by the state only if ”necessary” and ”unavoidable””.
Verdict given regarding Section 144
- The power under Section 144, CrPC cannot be used to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.
- The power should be exercised in a bona fide and reasonable manner, and the same should be passed by relying on the material facts, indicative of application of mind.
- While imposing Section 144, the Magistrate cannot apply a straitjacket formula without assessing the gravity of the prevailing circumstances.
- It said that preventive measures under Section 144 should be based on the type of exigency, extent of territoriality, nature of restriction and the duration of the same.
Current Procedure to suspend Internet Services
- The three laws that deal with suspension of Internet services are:
- The Information Technology Act, 2000
- The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973
- The Telegraph Act, 1885
- Before 2017, Internet suspension orders were issued under Section 144. The use of Section 144 to suspend mobile internet was challenged before the Gujarat High Court in 2015 but the court upheld the power of the magistrate to issue such orders.
- In 2017, the central government notified the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules under the Telegraph Act to govern suspension of Internet. Section 5(2) of the Act talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
- India tops the list of Internet shutdowns globally.
- There have been 381 shutdowns since 2012. In 2019, total shutdown numbers were 106.
- The ongoing shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in any democratic country.
Eurasia Group: India under Modi is the fifth biggest geopolitical risk of 2020
According to the world’s leading political risk consultancy, Eurasia Group has said that India is one of the world’s top geopolitical risks for 2020. It is the 5th highest geopolitical risk.
Highlights of the Report:
- The top three risks on the list are increasingly unstable US domestic politics under President Donald Trump, “decoupling” of US and China in the technology sphere (5G war), and hostile US-China relations.
- The top risks include the technological “decoupling” between the US and China and the challenges that it poses to the world besides the enduring US-China tensions.
- This will lead to “more explicit clash over security, influence and values.”
- Countries and governments will push back more and more against multinational corporations, with tougher nationalism-based regulatory frameworks.
- The EU may increasingly push back against the unilateralism displayed by the US and China.
- Climate change will challenge companies and countries equally, creating conflicts between controlling emissions and bottomlines.
- The Shia world may rise creating greater regional instability.
- Turkey may be unravelling, which could be dangerous to others in the region. Latin American volatility and instability would be another source of risk.
- The impact of promoting controversial social policies at the expense of economic agenda will be felt in 2020 with intensified communal and sectarian instability, as well as foreign policy and economic setbacks.
- PM Narendra Modi has spent his second term promoting ‘controversial social policies’ at the expense of an economic agenda, which will cause instability.
- Modi has less room to manoeuvre on structural reforms, just as the economy is starting to sputter, with quarterly growth falling to a six-year low of 4.5% and forward-looking indicators looking softer still.
- A weakened economy will in turn feed further economic nationalism and protectionism, weighing on India’s troubled course in 2020.
[Ref: Live Mint, Times of India]
Government Schemes & Policies
Review of India`s Energy Policies
IEA Launches First In-depth Review of India’s Energy Policies
About the report:
- NITI Aayog and International Energy Agency (IEA) released the first in-depth review of India’s energy policies.
- India has been an IEA member since March 2017.
- IEA regularly conducts in-depth reviews of energy policies for its member and association countries. This is the first review carried out for India, which has been an IEA-association country since March 2017.
- The IEA report congratulates the Indian government for:
- Extending citizens’ access to electricity, affordable efficient lighting and clean cooking in record time through schemes like SAUBHAGYA, UJALA and UJJWALA.
- Pursuing energy market reforms and the swift deployment of renewable technologies.
- The report highlights the strong growth of renewables in India, which now accounts for almost 23% of the country’s total installed capacity.
- As per the report, the country’s demand for energy is set to double by 2040, while its electricity demand may triple.
- Indian oil consumption is expected to grow faster than that of any other major economy.
- Energy efficiency improvements in India avoided 15% of additional energy demand, oil and gas imports, and air pollution as well as 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2018.
- Building strong regulators to ensure non-discriminatory access.
- Moving from state allocation to market pricing.
- Rationalizing energy subsidies.
- Smoother integration of renewable energy into the power grid.
- The institutionalisation of energy policy coordination across government with a national energy policy framework.
- NITI Aayog can play a strong role in working with the states to implement power sector reforms, advance grid integration, improve flexibility and coordinate energy policy decisions.
International Energy Agency
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
- The Governing Board is the main decision-making body of the IEA, composed of energy ministers or their senior representatives from each member country.
- The IEA does not dispense grants or make loans.
- The IEA has 30 member countries and 8 Association countries.
- To focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: (i) Energy security, (ii) Economic development and (iii) Environmental protection
Issues related to Health & Education
Coronavirus: a new virus identified by Chinese researchers
A new type of virus called ‘coronavirus’ has been identified by Chinese researchers which is responsible for a new pneumonia – like illness that had swept Wuhan city leaving 29 people dead.
What is Coronavirus?
- According to World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
- A coronavirus has many “regularly arranged” protrusions on its surface, because of which the entire virus particle looks like an emperor’s crown, hence the name “coronavirus”.
- It can affect mammals including humans, pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.
- SARS was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled from a type of camel to humans.
- So far, there are four known disease-causing coronaviruses, among which the best known are the SARS corona virus and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, both of which can cause severe respiratory diseases.
- A novel coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities is currently named 2019-nCoV, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
Symptoms of infection caused by Coronavirus:
- Respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
- In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
- Reports say the incubation period of the coronavirus remains unknown, but other sources.
Financial Inclusion Strategy
RBI chalks out financial inclusion strategy for 2024. Financial inclusion is increasingly being recognised as a key driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation the world over.
Highlights of the strategy:
- It aims to strengthen the ecosystem for various modes of digital financial services in all Tier-II to Tier VI centres to create the necessary infrastructure to move towards a less-cash society by March 2022.
- Every adult had access to a financial service provider through a mobile device by March 2024.
- Every willing and eligible adult, who has been enrolled under the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana, be enrolled under an insurance scheme and a pension scheme by March 2020.
- Make Public Credit Registry (PCR) fully operational by March 2022 so that authorised financial entities can assess credit proposals from all citizens.
The strategy is encompassed under six strategic pillars these are:
[Ref: The Hindu, RBI]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
State Energy Efficiency Index 2019.
The Ministry of Power released the State Energy Efficiency Index 2019.
About State Energy Efficiency Index 2019:
- State Energy Efficiency Index 2019 index was developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in association with Alliance for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE). The first such index was launched in 2018.
- The index tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency (EE) initiatives in 36 states and union territories based on 97 significant indicators.
- It incorporates qualitative, quantitative and outcome-based indicators to assess energy efficiency initiatives, programs and outcomes in five distinct sectors – buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture, and DISCOMs. The new indicators incorporated for the 2019 index are the adoption of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) 2017, energy efficiency in MSME clusters, etc.
- States/UTs are grouped into four groups based on aggregated Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) required to meet the state’s actual energy demand (electricity, coal, oil, gas, etc.) across sectors.
- These are ‘Front Runner’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Aspirant’
- Haryana, Kerala and Karnataka which have topped the rankings and are in the ‘Achiever’ category. There is isn’t any Front Runner state for the 2019 rankings.
- Moreover, Karnataka, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry led their groups. Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Rajasthan performed the worst in each of their groups.
- Reduce India`s energy footprint.
- Formulate energy-efficient policies at the state and local levels.
- Nudge states to contribute towards national goals on energy security and climate action.
- Institutionalising the process of data capture and monitoring of energy-efficient activities by states.
Bureau of Energy Efficiency:
- Bureau of Energy Efficiency was established by the Government of India on March 1, 2002, under the provision of Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
- BEE is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power, Government of India.
- It is assisted in developing policies and strategies with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.
- BEE coordinates with designated consumers, designated agencies, and other organization to identify and utilize the existing resources and infrastructure, in performing the functions assigned to it under the energy conservation act.
- To promote energy efficiency and conservation, BEE introduced star rating system (varying from 1-5) for various electrical appliances such as air conditioners, ceiling fans, colour televisions, etc., based on their power consumption.
- The star rating system is a labelling system, under which the manufacturer is required to place a label indicating how much electricity the appliance is likely to consume under pre-set conditions.
What are Scrubbers?
Scrubbers are systems which are used to remove particulate matter and harmful components, such as sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the exhaust gases generated as a result of combustion processes in marine engines.
- According to GlobalData, a data and analytics company, there are currently 3,756 vessels with scrubbers installed, compared to just 767 in 2018. Out of these, only 65 have closed-loop, rest are all open-loop.
Difference between Open-Loop Scrubbers and Closed Loop Scrubbers.
Open Loop Scrubber:
Closed Loop Scrubbers:
Open-loop scrubbers release pollutants back in the sea after turning the sulphur dioxide into sulphuric acid.
SOx is converted to harmless sodium sulphate.
Can retain the sulphur emissions for safer disposal at the port.
Not widely used.
This system uses seawater as the scrubbing and neutralising medium.
Requires a large amount of seawater.
Uses fresh water instead of seawater.
Simple design and easy to install.
Complex to implement but very less maintenance is required.
No storage required for waste materials.
Requires tanks for storage and disposal.
Air Pollution from Ships:
- Air pollution from ships results in emissions of black carbon, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
- They are linked direct and indirect impacts to life and property.
- Emissions of air pollutants from international shipping are regulated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) through the Annex VI to the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which was originally signed in September 1997 and came into force in May 2005.
- The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships better known as the MARPOL Convention. It was adopted in 1973 by IMO.
- MARPOL includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships and currently includes six technical Annexes.
Annexe I Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil
- Covers prevention of pollution by oil from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges.
Annex II Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
- Details the discharge criteria and measures for the control of pollution by noxious liquid substances carried in bulk.
Annex III Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form
- Contains general requirements for the issuing of detailed standards on packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage, quantity limitations, exceptions and notifications.
Annexe IV Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships
- Contains requirements to control pollution of the sea by sewage; the discharge of sewage into the sea is prohibited, except under certain conditions.
Annexe V Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships
- Deals with different types of garbage and specifies the distances from land and the manner in which they may be disposed of.
Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships
- Sets limits on sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ship exhausts and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances; designated emission control areas set more stringent standards for SOx, NOx and particulate matter.
Found in the Indian subcontinent. It is also found in Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.
- They feed on fish, insect larvae and small crustaceans.
- They may engage in brood parasitism, that is laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.
- It is found on large rivers and lakes, swamps and coastal wetlands such as estuaries.
- Threats faced are the degradation of rivers and other water bodies, pollution etc.
- It is found in the National Chambal Sanctuary river area as well as in the Mahanadi river near Cuttack.
- It is categorised as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary
- Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Andhra Pradesh. It is formed in the delta and estuary region of Godavari river when it merges into the Bay of Bengal.
- It is the second-largest stretch of mangroves in India.
- The flora consists of mangrove and dry deciduous tropical trees.
- The fauna found here are golden jackal, fishing cat, pond heron, flamingos, little egret, pied kingfisher etc. At the Hope Island and Sacramento Island of the park, Olive Ridley Turtles visit to lay their eggs.
- It protects the Kakinada region from natural calamities like cyclones, storms, tsunamis and coastal erosions.
- It is included in the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
- Threats to the park are poaching, habitat destruction, expansion of aquaculture and among others.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]
Defence & Security Issues
Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) inaugurated
The state-of-the-art Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal also launched was inaugurated by Union Home Minister.
- 15 States and UTs have given their consent to set up Regional Cyber Crime Coordination Centres at respective States/UTs.
National Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)
- It will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- The I4C will assist in centralising cyber security investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace.
- To act as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime
- Identify the research problems/needs of LEAs and take up R&D activities in developing new technologies and forensic tools in collaboration with academia / research institutes within India and abroad
- To prevent misuse of cyber space for furthering the cause of extremist and terrorist groups
- Suggest amendments, if required, in cyber laws to keep pace with fast changing technologies and International cooperation
- To coordinate all activities related to implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) with other countries related to cybercrimes in consultation with the concerned nodal authority in MHA.
- The scheme to setup I4C was approved in October 2018 at an estimated cost of Rs. 415.86 crore, to deal with all types of cybercrimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
I4C has seven components:
- National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit
- It will provide a platform for law enforcement personnel, academia and research organizations to work collaboratively to analyse all pieces of puzzles of cybercrimes.
- National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (already discussed in detail in the next paragraph)
- It is a portal for online complaint of cyber-crimes.
- National Cyber Crime Training Centre
- The training centre will be setup to focus on standardization of course curriculum focused on cybercrimes.
- Online Course to be delivered on a cloud based training platform.
- Cyber Range will be established for advanced simulation and training on cyber-attack and investigation of such cybercrimes.
- Cyber Crime Ecosystem Management Unit
- It will bring together academia, industry and government to operate, investigate a cybercrime basis established standard operating procedures.
- National Cyber Crime Research and Innovation Centre
- Track emerging technological developments, proactively predict potential vulnerabilities, which can be exploited by cybercriminals.
- To leverage the strength and expertise of all stakeholders, be it in academia, private sector or inter-governmental organizations.
- Create strategic partnerships with all such entities in the area of research and innovation focused on cybercrimes, cybercrime impact containment and investigations
- National Cyber Crime Forensic Laboratory Ecosystem
- Platform for Joint Cyber Crime Investigation Team
National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
- It is a citizen centric initiative that will enable citizens to report cyber-crimes online through the portal.
- All the cyber-crime related complaints will be accessed by the concerned law enforcement agencies in the States and Union Territories for taking action as per law.
- This portal was launched on pilot basis on 30th August, 2019 and it enables filing of all cyber-crimes with specific focus on crimes against women, children, particularly child pornography, child sex abuse material, online content pertaining to rapes/gang rapes, etc.
- This portal also focuses on specific crimes like financial crime and social media related crimes like stalking, cyber bullying, etc.
- So far, more than 700 police districts and more than 3,900 police stations have been connected with this Portal.
Significance of Portal
- This portal will improve coordination amongst the law enforcement agencies of different States, districts and police stations for dealing with cyber- crimes in a coordinated and effective manner.
- After successful completion, this portal can improve the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to investigate the cases and will improve success in prosecution.
- IT experts from premier public and private institute including IITs will be hired by the government to fight new age crimes like online fraud, hacking identity theft, dark net, trafficking, child pornography, online radicalisation and cyber terrorism and prepare roadmap for Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre or I4C.
- The IT security experts, ethical hackers, web analysts and computer programmers will devise ways of online cyber-crime reporting and monitoring, setting up of cyber- forensic units at I4C.
Steel Fence along India`s borders.
A new non-cut ‘steel fence’ is being erected along the Pakistan and Bangladesh border.
What is Steel Fence?
- A steel fence coated with an anti-rust paint, which makes the cutting process of the new wire fencing very long, and a big patch of the fencing would need to be cut by infiltrators.
- Currently being implemented in the 60 km border stretch of Amritsar in Punjab and Assam`s Silchar region.
- This fence will cost about Rs 2 crore for a kilometre.
- Presence of Afghan fighters along the India-Pakistan border has been detected who may infiltrate into India.
- Abrogation of Article 370 and the resultant fear of fomenting anti-India sentiments in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Other Measures being taken:
- Advanced the deployment of laser fences along the two borders.
- Mapping of infiltration prone areas along the two borders.
Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) Programme:
- CIBMS is a system which integrates technology and non-technology based measures to secure India`s borders along Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- The CIBMS is designed to guard stretches where physical surveillance is not possible either due to inhospitable terrain or riverine borders.
- CIBMS uses a number of different devices for surveillance, communication and data storage. Sensors like Thermal Imager, Fibre Optical Sensors, Radar, Sonar have been mounted on different platforms like Aerostat, tower, poles etc.
- The projects were carried out in three stages:
- Stage-I Pilot projects in Jammu and Assam.
- Stage-II Rollout of 153 km in 4 patches along Indo-Pakistan & Indo-Bangladesh Border.
- Stage-III Rollout of 1,802 km in 67 patches along Indo-Pakistan & Indo-Bangladesh border.
- The use of high-tech solutions for border security was being considered by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) since 2012 when it released an Expression of Interest (EoI) for a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS).
- In 2014, the BSF also submitted a detailed report on CIBMS to the MHA, but no decision was taken to implement the system until January 2016.
- The trigger for implementing the CIBMS was the Pathankot terrorist attack.
- Improve capability of Border Security Force.
- Detecting and controlling cross border crimes like illegal infiltration, smuggling of contraband, human trafficking and cross border terror.
- Help in integration of manpower, sensors, networks, intelligence and command and control solutions to improve situational awareness at different levels of hierarchy.
Key Facts for Prelims
World Hindi Day 2020
Vishwa Hindi Diwas is being celebrated on January 10. It is celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference held in Nagpur.
World Hindi Day
- World Hindi Day was first celebrated in 2006 by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with an aim to promote Hindi language across the world.
- World Hindi Day is also celebrated by Indian embassies located in various parts of the world.
- Special programmes are being organised by both government and non-government organisations to promote the Hindi language.
1st World Hindi Conference
- Also known as Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, was inaugurated on 10 January 1975 by then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi.
- It was held from 10 to 12 January 1975 in Nagpur, Maharashtra.
- The then Prime Minister of Mauritius Seewoosagur Ramgoolam attended the conference as the chief guest.
- 122 delegates from 30 countries participated in the conference.
- The aim of the conference was to promote Hindi language worldwide.
Is World Hindi Day and National Hindi Diwas is same?
- World Hindi Day is different from Hindi Divas which is celebrated on September 14 every year.
- World Hindi Day is celebrated to promote Hindi language in the world whereas, National Hindi Divas is observed o mark adaptation of Hindi written in Devanagari script as the Official Language of the Union by the Constituent Assembly on September 14, 1949 across the country.
- The word Hindi gets its origin from the Persian word Hind which means the land of the Indus river.
- Hindi is derived from Sanskrit and written in Devnagari script.
- Hindi is among the four most spoken languages of the world.