udan-iastoppers
Current Affairs Analysis

21st & 22nd July 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme; Parliamentary Committees; Departmental Standing Committees (DSCs); Service voters; Electronically transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS); Blockchain technology; National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB); Automated Facial Recognition System; Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS); Forest Rights Act, 2006; What is the three-language formula? India’s first Lightest and indigenous Bullet Proof Jacket ‘Bhabha Kavach’; Indian Ordnance Factories; Tiangong 2; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 22, 2019

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Why are parliamentary standing committees necessary?
  • 14% turnout of service voters, says EC

Government Schemes & Policies

  • 8 more routes start operations under UDAN
  • Government Panel Suggests Ban On Private Cryptocurrencies, Bets On Digital Rupee
  • What is the three-language formula?
  • Why amendments to the Indian Forest Act have met with protests

Science & Technology

  • Automated facial recognition: what NCRB proposes, what are the concerns
  • India’s first Lightest and indigenous Bullet Proof Jacket ‘Bhabha Kavach’

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Tiangong 2

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Polity & Governance

Why are parliamentary standing committees necessary?

Eleven of the 22 Bills introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament have been passed without scrutiny by parliamentary standing committees.

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About Parliamentary Committees:

  • In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament has broadly two functions, which are lawmaking and oversight of the executive branch of the government. Committees fulfil the oversight function on executive branch.
  • The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees. Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinize in detail some very important bills.
  • Parliamentary Committees of the Rajya Sabha are broadly categorized as Ad hoc Committees and Standing Committees.
  • Ad hoc Committees are those which are constituted by the House or by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha or by the Presiding Officers of both the Houses jointly. Ad hoc Committees are generally Select Committees or Joint Select Committees on Bills.
  • Standing Committees are those which are elected by the House or nominated by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha every year or from time to time and are permanent in nature.
  • Standing Committees can be broadly classified as Standing Committees of the House and Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees.

Powers:

  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

Why do we have parliamentary committees?

  • Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will. Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.
  • Committees are platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.
  • The smaller cohort of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better-informed discussions.
  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips, which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.
  • Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into lawmaking.
  • Executive accountability to the legislature is enforced through questions in Parliament also, which are answered by ministers. However, department standing committees go one step further and hear from senior officials of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.
  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

List of Standing Committees of the House:

  • Business Advisory Committee
  • Committee on Papers Laid on the Table
  • Committee on Petitions
  • Committee of Privileges
  • Committee on Rules
  • Committee on Subordinate Legislation
  • Committee on Government Assurances
  • General Purposes Committee
  • House Committee
  • Committee on Ethics
  • Committee on Provision of Computers to Members of Rajya Sabha
  • Committee on Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme

Departmental Standing Committees

  • Departmental Standing Committees (DSCs) were set up in the Parliament in 1993, they were 17 and after adding 7 more in 2004 they are 24 in number(8 under Rajya Sabha and 16 under Lok Sabha).
  • They were set up as per the recommendation of the Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha.
  • It aims to secure more accountability of the Executive (i.e., the Council of Ministers) to the Parliament, particularly financial accountability, and to assist the Parliament in debating the budget more effectively.
  • These committees cover under their jurisdiction all the ministries / departments of the Central Government.
  • Each standing committee consists of 21 members from Lok Sabha and 10 members from Rajya Sabha, all nominated by speaker and chairman of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively from amongst their members.
  • The Ministers are not nominated and in case if a member is appointed as a minister after he was nominated, then he ceases to be a member of the committee.
  • The term of office of each standing committee is one year from the date of its constitution.
  • The recommendations of these committees are advisory in nature and hence not binding on the Parliament.

Functions:

  • To consider the Demands for Grants of the related Ministries/Departments and report thereon. The report shall not suggest anything of the nature of cut motions.
  • To examine Bills, pertaining to the related Ministries/Departments, referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon.
  • To consider the annual reports of the Ministries/Departments and report thereon.
  • To consider national basic long term policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman or the Speaker, as the case may be, and report thereon.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

60.14% turnout of service voters, says EC

Having sent postal ballots to service voters electronically for the first time in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission of India said the one-way electronic transmission had enabled 60.14% turnout of such voters.

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What are Service voters?

  • Service voter is a voter having service qualification.

According to the provisions of sub section (8) of Section 20 of Representation of People Act, 1950, service qualification means:

  • Being a member of the armed Forces of the Union; or
  • Being a member of a force to which provisions of the Army Act, 1950 (46 of 1950), have been made applicable whether with or without modification;
  • Being a member of an Armed Police Force of a State, and serving outside that state; or
  • Being a person who is employed under the Government of India, in a post outside India.
  • A service voter is not issued Elector Photo Identity Card(EPIC).
  • Because the service voters are issued postal ballots or votes through his ‘proxy’, they are not required to visit the polling stations personally.
  • While an ordinary elector is registered in the electoral roll of the constituency in which his place of ordinary residence is located, person having service qualification can get enrolled as ‘service voter’ at his native place even though he actually may be residing at a different place (of posting).
  • The members of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force and personnel of General Reserve Engineer Force (Border Road Organization), Border Security Force, Indo Tibetan Border Police, Assam Rifles, National Security Guards, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal are eligible to be registered as service voters.
  • The wife of a service voter shall, if she is ordinarily residing with him, is also a service voter in the constituency specified by that person. This facility is available only to the wife of a male service voter and is not available to the husband of a female service voter.

About Electronically transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)

  • Electronically transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is developed by Election Commission of India with the help of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), for the use of the Service Voters.
  • It is a fully secured system, having two layers of security. Secrecy is maintained through the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication of casted Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot (ETPB) is possible due to the unique QR Code.
  • Persons working in paramilitary forces and the military and government officials deployed in diplomatic missions outside India are classified as Service Voters.

Advantages of ETPBS:

  • This system enables the entitled service voters to cast their vote using an electronically received postal ballot from anywhere outside their constituency.
  • The voters who make such a choice will be entitled for Postal Ballot delivered through Electronic Media for a particular election.
  • The developed System is implemented in line with the existing Postal Ballot System. Postal Ballot will be transmitted through Electronic Means to the voters.
  • It enables the voters to cast their vote on an electronically received postal ballot from their preferred location, which is outside their originally assigned voting constituency.
  • This system would be an easier option of facilitating voting by the electors as the time constraint for dispatch of postal ballot has been addressed using this system.

Class of Electors who are eligible for ETPBS

  • Service Voters, other than those who opt for proxy voting (Classified Service Voters)
  • The wife of a Service Voter who ordinarily resides with him
  • Overseas Voters
[Ref: The Hindu, PIB]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

8 more routes start operations under UDAN

Giving further fillip to Regional Connectivity in the country, 8 more routes (including 2 Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Routes) became functional Under Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

UDAN.jpg-iastoppers

About UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme:

  • UDAN or Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) is a scheme of Ministry of Civil aviation to develop regional airport and to give a boost to regional connectivity.
  • It is a component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was released in June 2016.
  • It aims to stimulate regional connectivity with flights covering distances up to 800 km through a market-based mechanism.
  • It addresses the challenges relating to the issue of lack of infrastructure by upgrading the airports and cutting down the cost of operations by extending various incentives to airlines.

Salient Features of the scheme:

  • The scheme is supposed to be operational for a period of 10 years.
  • It is a demand driven scheme where the interested airlines and helicopter operators are selected through bidding process.
  • It makes flying affordable by capping fares at Rs. 2500 per seat per hour.
  • A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) was created to fund the scheme via a levy on certain flights. States are contributing 20 per cent to the fund.
  • For balanced regional growth, allocations of RCF are spread equitably across 5 regions – North, West, South, East and North East with a cap of 25 percent.
  • Amount collected as Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) is used to provide financial support to airlines in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for operations. The States bears the 20% share of VGF and 10% for North Eastern States and Union Territories.
  • The Central government provides concessions on Value Added Tax (VAT) and service tax and liberal code sharing for regional connectivity scheme airports.

Significance:

  • UDAN scheme will make flying easier and affordable for the common man.
  • It is hailed as the first-of-its-kind scheme globally to stimulate regional connectivity through a market-based mechanism.
  • India is already among the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. But infrastructure constraints at airports in big cities could slow down this growth. UDAN can provide a fillip to India’s aviation story. It could boost passenger numbers and provide feeder traffic to networks in big centres.
  • The scheme is expected to have positive effects on the economy in terms of employment and investment.
  • The scheme will also promote tourism and balanced regional growth.
  • Air connectivity has a multiplier effect on tourism, investments, economic growth, job creation. Getting the nooks and corners of India linked up, directly or indirectly, through the fastest mode of transportation can open up the country like never before.
  • Cheap fares on regional routes can mean a horde of first-time fliers taking to the skies, making accessible to them new economic opportunities and quick connections in times of emergencies.

Challenges in implementation:

  • Poor infrastructure is the main area of concern for the success of the scheme. The area which needs to be addressed is operationality of airports in far furlong areas and availability of bays at the private airports in the metro cities.
  • The second most concern issue is huge shortage of pilots.
  • Lack of favorable rules and still long pending reforms in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
  • The complex rules and regulations practiced by Airport Authority of India.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Government Panel Suggests Ban On Private Cryptocurrencies, Bets On Digital Rupee

The government panel constituted to regulate virtual currencies has suggested a ban on private cryptocurrencies and introducing an official ‘Digital Rupee’ in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.

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About the government panel constituted to regulate virtual currencies:

  • The panel was headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg.
  • It recommended that all private cryptocurrencies, except any digital currency issued by the state, be banned in India as they have no intrinsic value and cannot replace fiat currencies.

Recommendation of the committee:

  • All exchanges, people, traders and other financial system participants should be prohibited from dealing in cryptocurrencies.
  • The government should consider establishing a standing committee to take into account the technological developments globally and within the country.
  • The panel suggested that a group be constituted by the Department of Economic Affairs for examination of an appropriate model of digital currency in India including representatives from the RBI, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Department of Financial Services.
  • The panel has recommended that the Department of Economic Affairs should identify uses of distributed ledger technology and take necessary measures to facilitate its use in the financial field.

The report said that significant risks and issues in the implementation of RBI’s digital currencies depend on varying factors such as:

  • The proposed design of CBDCs and its impact on existing payments infrastructure, monetary policy transmission and financial stability.
  • Requirements for building new infrastructure for CBDCs based on distributed and transparent validation and transition issues.
  • The degree of cash available in the market and the usage of virtual or electronic money and payment systems.
  • The resilience of existing financial firms such as banks to deal with disruptions caused due to the introduction of CBDCs.

It proposes a draft bill named ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019’ which suggested penalty or imprisonment for those who directly or indirectly mine, generate, deal in, transfer, dispose cryptocurrency for:

  • issuing cryptocurrency-related financial products/ raising funds
  • as a means investment
  • as a payment system, whether authorized under Section 4 of the Payments and Settlement Systems Act, 2007
  • buy or sell or store cryptocurrency
  • provide cryptocurrency-related services to consumers

What is a Blockchain?

  • It is a technology that allows designing a secure way to record transactions and circulate it among signatories or any kind of target group with an Internet connection.
  • The blockchain uses cryptographic ‘hash function’ to code and decode data. It is extremely easy to calculate a hash for any given data. However, it is extremely computationally difficult to calculate an alphanumeric text that has a given hash. That is why blockchain is difficult to hack.

How does blockchain work?

blockchain work

  • Every block in a blockchain is a record of transactions. Blocks provide an unalterable document of the history of every transaction.
  • In the context of currency, it stores the place, time, value (rupee, for example) and location of a purchase.
  • There is minimal identifying information and every block is linked to a unique ‘digital signature’ of the transacting participants.
  • Every block is distinguished from another through a unique code which is a string of numbers. When one uses his debit or credit card to make a transaction, VISA or Mastercard employ their technology to verify bank account and connect with banks and process a transaction.
  • In blockchain applications, this verifying role is outsourced to several computers on a network, each has the exact same copy of the block.
  • These computers verify the genuineness of transaction by solving mathematical problems that requires a lot of computational power and therefore electricity.
  • In the case of bitcoin, the computers are rewarded with bitcoin. This is stored in digital wallets and may be used like money provided there are sellers of real world goods who would accept bitcoins.

For visual animation of blockchain, refer to : http://graphics.reuters.com/TECHNOLOGY-BLOCKCHAIN/010070P11GN/index.html

Significance of Blockchain in Indian Governance:

  • Blockchain has the potential to optimize the delivery of public services further and help against corruption and create considerable value for citizens.
  • By allowing governments to track the movement of government funds, blockchain can hold state and local actors accountable for any misappropriations.
  • Blockchain not only deters corruption through accountability, but it can also do so by bypassing the middleman entirely.

Disadvantages of blockchain technology:

  • Blockchain is still relatively a new technology. There are ongoing concerns about privacy in the settlement and storage of securities – blockchain providers are working hard to address.
  • Banks are also at threat with blockchain, since more and more firms (using their IT service providers from India and elsewhere) will build systems that can create and exchange ‘blocks’ with one another completely legally, without ever having to use the banks as a financial intermediary.
[Ref: The Hindu, Livemint]

 

What is the three-language formula?

A 50-year-old controversy got a new lease of life recently when a paragraph in the Draft New Education Policy 2019 referred to the mandatory teaching of Hindi in States where Hindi is not spoken.

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Release of Revised draft of the National Education Policy 2019

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) released a revised draft, developed by the K Kasturirangan Committee, of the National Education Policy 2019.
  • It offers flexibility over the choice of languages in schools under the three-language model, following protests over the perceived imposition of Hindi in non-Hindi speaking States.
  • Political parties in the South, particularly Tamil Nadu, had strongly opposed the three-language formula suggested in the earlier draft policy.
  • As per revised draft, Students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying, can do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to demonstrate proficiency in three languages in their modular Board Examinations.

What was the earlier provision of draft National Education Policy 2019?

  • As per the earlier draft, the study of three languages by students in Hindi-speaking States would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in non-Hindi speaking States would include the regional language, Hindi and English.

Issue of three language formula:

The three language formula was first mentioned in the National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968.

As per National Policy on Education (NPE), 1968:

  1. i) At the secondary stage, State governments should implement the three-language formula, which includes the study of any modern Indian language, Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States.
  2. ii) In the non-Hindi Speaking States, Hindi should be studied along with the regional language and English.

Protest by Tamilnadu government:

  • The recent release of draft NPE set off a political storm in Tamil Nadu which is traditionally opposed to the compulsory study of Hindi.
  • The Tamil Nadu sees draft as an attempt to impose Hindi on the unwilling State.
  • Tamilnadu had witnessed massive protests against earlier attempts to impose Hindi in 1937 and 1965 as well.
  • Tamilnadu has been following the two-language formula for many decades, under which only English and one regional language are compulsory in schools.
  • In 2006, facing criticism that many manage to avoid learning Tamil by opting for Hindi or Sanskrit in private schools, the State government enacted The Tamil Nadu Tamil Learning Act under which Tamil has to be compulsorily learnt in schools operating in the State.
  • The State is also opposed to the establishment of Navodaya schools by the Centre in any part of Tamil Nadu.

Background:

  • In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote.
  • Article 351 of the Constitution advocated developing Hindi as an “official language” with the help of other Indian languages to make it acceptable to non-Hindi speakers.
  • However, the provisions created tension between those who wanted English to stay and those who wanted primacy for Hindi.
  • Hence, it was decided that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years (after the enactment of constitution) under official languages act. Hence, the use of English for official purposes was to cease on 26 January, 1965.
  • During the expiration of official languages act in 1965, the anti-Hindi agitation took place. However, as early as in 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.
  • In 1963, the Official Languages Act sanctioned the continued use of English even after 1965.
  • Article 348(1) provided for the use of English in the Supreme Court and high courts as well as for drafting bills, acts and orders, although Article 348(2) along with Section 7 of the Official Languages Act, 1963, provided for Hindi or other official languages to be used in High Courts in addition to English.
  • In 2014, a constitution bench upheld the fundamental right of parents to choose a child’s mother tongue and medium of instruction by invoking Articles 19(1) of the Constitution which is the rights to freedom of speech and profession.

Key Facts:

  • The current President of India (Ram Nath Kovind) is the first president of India to have taken his oath in Hindi language.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Why amendments to the Indian Forest Act have met with protests

Before the Supreme Court hearing on a writ petition regarding the Constitutional validity of the Forest Rights Act, tribal communities across India are set to hold demonstrations in at least 15 states.

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What are the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act?

  • Many activists on forest conservation urged for the amendments to be entirely shelved on the grounds that they seek to reestablish the forest department’s complete control over forest resources which are now accessible to tribals and forest-dwellers owing to implementation of the FRA, Biological Diversity Act and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.
  • Under the amendments, state governments can take away tribal/forest dwellers’ rights over forest resources if it believes forest conservation objectives are not being met there. Across India, activists for tribal rights have said the proposed IFA amendments will divest tribals and other forest-dwelling communities of their rights over forest land and resources.
  • Other significant amendments proposed are giving greater policing powers to the forest department including through the use of firearms, a veto power to the forest department to override the FRA including applying ’village forests’ to manage forest resources instead of the gram sabhas as envisioned by the FRA.
  • Also, forest lands can be opened for commercial exploitation wherever governments think fit.

What is the SC case regarding the Forest Rights Act?

  • In February 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims under the (Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, had been rejected.
  • The eviction was later stayed temporarily by an order giving state governments time to file affidavits on whether due process under the law was followed before claims were rejected.

Suggestions to create effective forest laws:

  • Any new forest law must aim to reduce conflicts, incentivise tribals and stop diversion for non-forest uses. This can be achieved by recognising all suitable landscapes as forests and insulating them from commercial exploitation.
  • For decades, the Forest Department has resisted independent scientific evaluation of forest health and biodiversity conservation outcomes. Hence, there is a need for Such a partnership with communities on the one hand, and scientists on the other.
  • The government needs to launch a process of consultation beginning with the State governments to ensure that a progressive law is adopted by all States including those that have their own versions of the existing Act. Today, 14 states follow their own versions of IFA, 1927.

What is Forest Rights Act, 2006?

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act (or the Forest Rights Act or FRA) was enacted in 2006 and came into force in 2008.
  • The Act aims at addressing the historic injustice done to the forest dwellers by recognising forest land, resources, and resource management and conservation rights of the forest dwelling communities.
  • FRA not only confers individuals’ title to habitat, but also aims to protect their tradition and culture by recognising their collective ownership over a larger landscape within or outside their traditional village territories.
  • The Act provides chiefly for two kinds of rights to tribals and other forest dwellers.
  1. Individual rights over the dwelling and cultivation lands under their occupation.
  2. The community tenure/ rights over ‘community forest resources’ on common forest land within the traditional and customary boundaries of the village.
  • However, the implementation of the Act in general and especially in Protected Areas (PAs) has been negligible.

Why the Forest Right Act was enacted?

  • India’s forests are governed by two main laws, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Procedure for settlement of rights was provided under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 which were hardly followed resulting in insecurities of tribal and forest-dwelling communities.
  • Under the Indian Forest Act, areas were often declared to be government forests without noticing any relationship between tribal and land such as who lived in these areas, what land they were using etc.
  • Under these laws, the rights of people living in the area to be declared as a forest area are to be settled by a forest settlement officer.
  • This requires an officer to enquire into the claims of people to land, minor forest produce, etc., and in the case of claims found to be valid, to allow them to continue or to extinguish them by paying compensation.
  • It is found that in many areas this process either did not take place at all or took place in a highly faulty manner. Those whose rights are not recorded during the settlement process are susceptible to eviction at any time.
  • Hence Forest Rights Act, 2006 was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

 

Science & Technology

Automated facial recognition: what NCRB proposes, what are the concerns

Recently, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released a Request for Proposal for an Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to be used by police officers across the country.

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What is Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS)?

  • AFRS works by maintaining a large database with photos and videos of peoples’ faces.
  • A new image of an unidentified person, often taken from CCTV footage, is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person.
  • The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called ‘neural networks’.

Are there any automated facial recognition systems in use in India?

  • Currently, majority of facial recognition in India is done manually.
  • In July, the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s “DigiYatra” using facial recognition for airport entry was trialled in the Hyderabad airport.
  • State governments have also taken their own steps towards facial recognition. Telangana police launched their own system in August 2018.

Proposal of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):

  • The NCRB, which manages crime data for police, proposes to use automated facial recognition to identify criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies.
  • The project is aimed at being compatible with other biometrics such as iris and fingerprints. It will be a mobile and web application hosted in NCRB’s Data Centre in Delhi but used by all police stations in the country.
  • NCRB has proposed integrating this facial recognition system with multiple existing databases such as Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS).
  • The new facial recognition system will also be integrated with Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), as well as state-specific systems, the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT), and the Koya Paya portal on missing children.

Benefits of Automated Facial Recognition System

  • Automated Facial Recognition System can play a very vital role in improving outcomes in the area of Criminal identification and verification by facilitating easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of Information between different organisations.
  • While fingerprints and iris scans provide far more accurate matching results, automatic facial recognition is an easier solution especially for identification amongst crowds.

What are the concerns around using facial recognition?

  • Cyber experts across the world have cautioned against government abuse of facial recognition technology as it can be used as tool of control and risks inaccurate results.
  • India should take note of the ongoing privacy debate in the US. Indian citizens are more vulnerable in the absence of a Data Protection Law.
  • System like the AFRS will not only create a biometric map of faces but also track, classify, and possibly anticipate every move of citizen invading privacy.
  • Accuracy rates of facial recognition algorithms are particularly low in the case of minorities, women and children.
  • International organisations have also condemned the Chinese government on its use of surveillance cameras and facial recognition to constrict the rights of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority.
  • Police departments in London are under pressure to put a complete end to use of facial recognition systems following evidence of discrimination and inefficiency. San Francisco recently implemented a complete ban on police use of facial recognition.

What is CCTNS project?

CCTNS

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  • CCTNS is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a integrated system for enhancing the efficiency of policing at the Police Station level.

Objective:

  • Make the Police functioning citizen friendly by automating the functioning of Police Stations.
  • Improve delivery of citizen-centric services through effective usage of ICT.
  • Provide the Investigating Officers of the Civil Police with tools, technology and information to facilitate investigation of crime and detection of criminals.
  • Improve Police functioning in various other areas such as Law and Order, Traffic Management etc.
  • Facilitate Interaction Police Stations, Districts, State/UT headquarters and other Police Agencies.
  • Keep track of the progress of Cases, including in Courts
  • Establishing a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS).

Significance:

  • Centralized crime and criminal information repository along with the criminal images and fingerprints with advanced search capabilities.
  • Enhanced ability to analyze crime patterns/ road incidents and/ or modus operandi.
  • Faster turnaround time for the analysis results (criminal and traffic).
  • Reduced workload for the police stations back-office activities.
  • Standardized means of capturing the crime and criminal data in police stations.
  • The ability to respond faster and with greater accuracy to inquiries from the parliament, citizens and citizens groups.
  • Faster and assured response from police to any emergency calls for assistance.
[Ref: Indian Express, The Hindu]

 

India’s first Lightest and indigenous Bullet Proof Jacket ‘Bhabha Kavach’

India’s Lightest Bullet Proof Jacket ‘Bhabha Kavach’ by Ordnance Factory Board was launched at the International Police Expo 2019.

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About the Bhabha Kavach:

  • It is India’s lightest indigenously made Bulletproof jacket named Bhabha Kavach.
  • It is developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI).
  • It is a major breakthrough for the Indian armed forces.
  • It has 360 Degree Protection and has achieved the protection level of NIJ III+ (US National Institute of Justice).
  • It has embedded Nano technology from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with 5-year warranty.
  • It will be helpful for paramilitary forces and state police forces operating in Naxalite areas.

About the Indian Ordnance Factories

  • Indian Ordnance Factories is the oldest and largest industrial setup which functions under the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence.
  • It has the primary objective of self-reliance in equipping the Indian armed forces with battlefield equipments.
  • It is headquartered at Kolkata.
  • It is a conglomerate of 41 Factories, 9 Training Institutes, 3 Regional Marketing Centres and 4 Regional Controller of Safety.

Background:

  • During 1775, British authorities established Board of Ordnance in Fort William, Kolkata to increase their political hold as they considered military hardware as vital element.
  • The first Industrial establishment of Ordnance Factories started in 1801 when a Gun Carriage Agency at Cossipore, Kolkata (presently known as Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore) was established.
  • There were 18 ordnance factories before India became independent in 1947. 21 factories have been established after independence mostly, in wake of defence preparedness imperatives caused by the three major wars fought by the Indian Armed forces.

Ballistics protection level standards:

  • Bullet proof vests are designed to trap and slow bullets down as they attempt to pass through the vest.
  • While there are many different standards for ballistics protection levels, the two most commonly recognized standards for body armor are the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the UK Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST).
  • While the NIJ is considered the world standard for ballistics testing, stab-proof (knife attacks) vests are standardised by the CAST.
  • These standards outline exactly what threats each level of body armor will protect against, as well as the strength of the attack it will stop.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Tiangong 2

A959BDFE--iastoppers

  • China unveiled a replica of its first permanently crewed space station – ‘Tiangong 2’, which would replace the international community’s orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country’s major ambitions beyond Earth.
  • It is part of China’s plan to establish a manned space station around 2022.
  • It is placed at 380 kilometres above Earth. There are two astronauts on board.
  • Tiangong 2 will be used to test space technology and conduct medical and space experiments.

 

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