Government Schemes & Policies
- Activists oppose draft anti-trafficking Bill
Issues related to Health & Education
- Committee set up to synergise NCC and NSS
- MoU signed between IIT Delhi and AIIA to give ‘scientific validation’ to Ayurveda
- Centre increases CVs’ load carrying capacity
Bilateral & International Relations
- UNEP and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet
Defence & Security Issues
- Counter-drone strategy for country’s airports is ready
Key Facts for Prelims
- Odisha to get India’s 1st first greenfield skill institute
- Elphinstone Road station is now Prabhadevi
- What is Nuclear Power Park?
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Government Schemes & Policies
Activists oppose draft anti-trafficking Bill
Activists have appealed to parliamentarians that the proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill be sent to the Standing Committee.
- Activists as well as sex workers have also appealed to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which drafted the legislation, that the Bill should explicitly state that consenting adult workers will not be penalised under the new law.
Highlights of the anti-trafficking Bill:
Aggravated forms of trafficking
- 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 comprehensively addresses transnational nature of the crime.
- 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.
- 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.
Confidentiality of victims and witnesses
- 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).
Trial and repatriation
- 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. T
- he 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 Rehabilitation Fund for the first time.
- It will be used for physical, psychological and social well-being of victim including education, skill development, health care and psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation etc.
- It mandates designation of courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
- 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).
Anti- trafficking bureau:
- The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms.
- Functions include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and prevention.
- The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation with authorities in foreign countries for boosting operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases and driving in mutual legal assistance.
Significance of the bill:
- Human Trafficking is third largest organized crime violating basic human rights. At present there is no specific law to deal with this crime. The bill addresses the issue of human trafficking from point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation.
- The Bill addresses one of most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting most vulnerable persons especially women and children.
- It will make India leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking, as UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.
Why lawyers, activists and sex workers are opposing the new anti-trafficking bill?
- 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:
- As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year.
- NCRB said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%). Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males.
- Currently, there is no single law dealing with human trafficking and the crime is covered under different acts administered by at least half-a-dozen ministries, including WCD, home, labour, health, Indian overseas affairs and external affairs. More often than not, this results in lax enforcement.
Issues related to Health & Education
Committee set up to synergise NCC and NSS
Government has decided to set up a committee under the Chairmanship of Shri Anil Swarup, former Secretary, School Education to suggest measures to strengthen National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS).
Mandate of the committee:
- 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.
- At present, there are 13.5 lakh cadets in NCC in the age group of 12 to 26 years with pan India presence in about 703 out of 716 districts.
- There is also an existing shortage in the NCC manpower across the categories ranging from 5% to 36%.
- With meagre resources, NCC is not able to expand itself and to cover all the districts of the country and cater to the needs of waitlisted educational institutions.
All about National Cadet Corps (NCC):
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) is a youth development movement.
- It came into existence under the National Cadet Corps Act XXXI of 1948.
- The motto of NCC is: “UNITY AND DISCIPLINE”.
- 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. A student enrolled into NCC is referred to as a “Cadet”.
- 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 Day is observed on the four Sunday of November.
- At the National level, the Ministry of Defence deals with NCC while in all States, Education Ministry of respective states deals with NCC.
- The funds for NCC are shared by the Central and State Govts.
- NCC is headed by the Director General (DG), an Army Officer of the rank of Lieutnant General.
About National Service Scheme (NSS):
- National Service Scheme (NSS) was launched during 1969, the birth centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi, in 37 universities involving 40000 students.
- NSS is an extension dimension to the higher education system to orient the student youth to community service while they are studying in educational institutions.
- It is being implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India.
Aims and objectives of NSS:
- To understand the community in which they work;
- To understand themselves in relation to their community;
- To identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in problem solving process.
- To develop among themselves a sense of social and civic responsibility;
- To utilise their knowledge in finding practical solution to individual and community problems;
- To develop competence required for group-living and sharing of responsibilities:
- To gain skills in mobilising community participation;
- To acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude;
- To develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters; and
- To practice national integration and social harmony
Motto of NSS:
- The motto or watchword of the National Service Scheme is “NOT ME BUT YOU”.
- 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
- literacy and education,
- health, family welfare and nutrition,
- environment conservation,
- social service programmes,
- programmes for empowerment of women,
- programmes connected with economic development activities,
- rescue and relief during calamities, etc.
MoU signed between IIT Delhi and AIIA to give ‘scientific validation’ to Ayurveda
All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and IIT (Indian Institute of Technology)-Delhi have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance research in the field of Ayurveda.
- Under the signed MoU, the faculties of IIT Delhi and AIIA will work together in the projects to look at ways to integrate technology with Ayurveda.
- The MoU is an attempt to give scientific validation to Ayurveda.
- Ministry of AYUSH would be funding the projects.
About All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA):
The first ever All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), set up along the lines of AIIMS, was inaugurated on Ayurveda Day on 17th October, 2017 at New Delhi.
- The AIIA is the first medical institute under the AYUSH ministry to hold the coveted National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) accreditation.
- It aims at bringing a synergy between the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern diagnostic tools and technology.
- It offers postgraduate and doctoral courses in various disciplines of Ayurveda and focuses on fundamental research of Ayurveda, drug development, quality control, standardization, safety evaluation and scientific validation of Ayurvedic medicine.
- It also has 200 bed referral hospital for facilitating clinical research.
Centre increases CVs’ load carrying capacity
The Centre has raised safe limits for axle weight for transport vehicles by 20-25%.
- The revised axle limits will be applicable to new vehicles.
- The move will help reduce logistic costs by 2% and attempts to bring norms at par with international standards.
- The Ministry has also 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.
What is FASTag?
FASTag is an electronic toll collection system in India, operated by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- FASTag is a simple to use, reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets you pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.
- The tag employs Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology and is affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen after the tag account is active.
- FASTag is a perfect solution for a hassle free trip on national highways.
- FASTag offers near non-stop movement of vehicles through toll plazas and convenience of cashless payments of toll fee with nationwide inter operable Electronic Toll Collection Services.
- FASTag is operational on more than 325 toll plazas on National Highways across the country.
Benefits of FASTag:
- Use of FASTag shall increase user convenience from payments without stops at toll plazas thus saving on time, money and fuel.
- The online payments shall improve transparency of toll transactions and reduce revenue leakages, thus, improving overall efficiency and commercial competitiveness.
Bilateral & International Relations
UNEP and Google announce ground-breaking partnership to protect our planet
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has entered into a partnership with Google to monitor the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems by using sophisticated online tools.
Aim of the partnership:
- 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.
About the partnership:
- It has its initial focus on freshwater ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.
- Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel Cloud computing technology.
- It will generate satellite imagery and statistics to assess extent of change occurring to waterbodies and make it freely accessible to ensure nations have opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.
- Freshwater ecosystems areas account for 0.01% of world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss of freshwater biodiversity.
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.
- Its headquarters is 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.
Defence & Security Issues
Counter-drone strategy for country’s airports is ready
Aviation security watchdog Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (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.
Approach of the strategy:
- The strategy has proposed neutralising drones through a “soft kill” approach which will include entrapping or jamming drones instead of destroying them.
Why “soft kill” approach proposed?
- 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. Therefore, the best approach is to entrap them and not destroy them.
- In November 2017, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had released draft rules for unmanned aircraft systems.
- The draft rules proposed to ban the operation of unmanned aircraft systems within 5 km radius of an airport and 50 km from an international border.
- It also barred drones within 5 km radius of Vijay Chowk in New Delhi.
About Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS):
- The BCAS is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India.
- After the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight in September 1976, the Pande Committee recommended establishing an aviation security department.
- In January 1978 the BCAS was established as a department of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
- As a result of the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182, on 1 April 1987 the BCAS became an independent agency of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
- It is currently headed by a commissioner of security.
Functions of BCAS:
- The main responsibility of BCAS are lay down standards and measures in respect of security of civil flights at International and domestic airports in India.
- BCAS is responsible for laying down standards, policies and measures with regard to security of all commercial flights.
- Multiple agencies working at airports, including the Intelligence Bureau, immigration officials, security personnel, local police, are bound by regulations passed by BCAS.
Key Facts for Prelims
Odisha to get India’s 1st first greenfield skill institute
- Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan laid the foundation stone of India’s first National Skill Training Institute (NSTI) at Baranga in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
- The proposed institute will impart training to trainers in order to create a skill-based ecosystem that will meet industry demands.
- The main focus of the NSTI is to cater to the training needs of the youth with industry-relevant skills.
Elphinstone Road station is now Prabhadevi
- Elphinstone Road station on the Western Railway is renamed as Prabhadevi station.
- The station, named after Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay Presidency from 1853 to 1860, would now have the name of a local deity.
- Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has signed an MoU with Sweden’s Saab for marketing the L-Band 3D Air Surveillance Radar, RAWL-03, which is developed jointly by BEL and Saab.
- The Long Range Air Surveillance Radar is a cost-effective L-Band three dimensional (3D) radar.
- It can be used for early detection and tracking of air and surface targets, which will assist in engagement of fire control systems to neutralise them.
- The system is based on the state-of-the-art GaN TR Module technology and incorporates the latest Signal Processing techniques.
- It will be offered in both ship-borne and land-based configurations.
What is Nuclear Power Park?
- Nuclear Power Park refers to a site with a number of large capacity reactors with a total capacity of 6000 MW or more.