IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 09th August 2018
- Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has sounded the alarm after the invasive agricultural pest, Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), was discovered in Karnataka.
- Fall Armyworm is a major maize pest in North America, arrived in Africa in 2016. Since then, it has threatened the continent’s maize crop.
- The Karnataka finding is the first report of the pest in Asia.
- Scientists warn the insect could spread throughout Asia to become a major threat to global food security.
- The discovery is more worrisome because the pest feeds on around 100 different crops, such as vegetables, rice, and sugarcane.
SC on Adultery
Part of: GS Mains II – Social issue; Role of Judiciary
SC bench said –
- Jail term for adultery does not make sense.
- Adultery does not even qualify as a criminal offence and is a civil wrong.
- Adultery has a civil remedy: divorce.
An adulterous relationship is carried on with the consent of the woman and it doesn’t amount to an offence.
Centre’s stand on Adultery:
- Adultery should remain in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage, and is for public good.
Donors can contribute funds from ATM
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Environment and Pollution; National
- Donors can contribute funds to the Clean Ganga Fund from ATMs.
- National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is in talks with SBI and other banks.
About NMCG and CGF
- NMCG (under Union Water Resources Ministry) is executing the government’s ₹20,000-crore commitment to clean the Ganga.
- CGF is a separate corpus made up of donations from corporates and individuals.
- At present it has ₹250 crore in its kitty, which is being managed by the NMCG.
- Donations to the CGF qualify for income tax exemption.
- We had recently read that – as of now, about 90% of the CGF comes from State and Central government public sector units
Do you know?
- The Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) was created in 2014 and envisioned as a source of funds from private companies, individuals and institutions.
- Clean Ganga Fund is for pooling money to be used for cleaning up Ganga river.
Pak. troops to get training at Russian institutes
Part of: GS Mains II – International Relations; India and the world; Security issues
- For the first time, Pakistani soldiers will undergo training at Russian military institutes.
- Both the countries signed an agreement related to it, during Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC)
TOPIC:General studies 2
- Important aspects of governance; Civil Services
- Structure, organisation and functioning of executive and various departments of government
Reforming the Civil Services: lateral Entry Scheme
A recent move by the Centre seeking applications from ‘outstanding individuals’ to fill in 10 posts of Joint Secretary, has caused anxiety amongst bureaucrats.
Some apprehensions over lateral entry:
- Many serving IAS officers think this move may cause threat to their primacy.
- This move may end a “neutral and impartial” civil service with the likely induction of loyalists and politically indoctrinated persons into the system.
- This may mark the “privatisation of the IAS”. Private business houses may “plant” their people in order to influence government policies.
- The political leadership, by creating a ‘divide and rule’ mechanism, would further demoralise the ‘steel frame of governance’.
How the Secretariat functions?
- The key officials in the secretariat decides on, how an abstract idea is to be given a concrete, implementable shape.
- Higher bureaucracy in the secretariat often has to examine proposals received from specialised departments/corporations.
- With the consultation of other ministries/departments they prepare a cohesive note to facilitate the Minister concerned or the Cabinet to take a final decision.
- The detailed procedures have been formulated for proper functioning which requires both expertise and experience.
- Though the original proposal is often prepared by technical experts, after the file moves through this long internal and hierarchical process, the final decision rests with the higher bureaucracy and finally the Minister/Cabinet.
Generalist v. specialist
- The best leadership is provided by generalists who have a breadth of understanding and experience.
- Specialists, no matter how competent, tend to have a narrow vision and are not equipped to take a broader view.
- The domain knowledge has to feed into policy-making, but that can be accomplished by domain experts advising the generalist leader in decision-making.
- In this view, a good IAS officer can head the Department of Agriculture as competently as she would the Department of Shipping.
- Specialists like engineers, doctors, agricultural scientists, etc. have always had a substantial say not only in the decision-making process also in its implementation.
- Secretaries to the Departments of Atomic Energy, Science & Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Health Research, and Agricultural Research have always been scientists of eminence.
- Similarly, in departments like the Railways, Posts, etc., all senior positions are manned by Indian Railway or Postal Service officers.
- Generalised bureaucracy is not equipped to comprehend complex economic and technical issues in order to properly aid and advise the Minister. For increasingly complex matrix of decision-making is, specialists are more efficient than generalists.
How apprehensions can be resolved?
- The government must ensure that only candidates, the likes of whom are not available in the existing system, are appointed.
- If they turn out to be truly outstanding, there should be provisions to induct them permanently in the government, with approval of the UPSC, and consider them for higher postings.
- Ideas have also been advanced for IAS and other officers to gain work experience, for a limited period, in the private sector.
- These fears can be reduced by letting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) handle the recruitment process, after defining the job requirements more explicitly.
- The apprehensions on lateral entry are based on perceptions, a reality check is necessary. Also this is a bold decision that should be given a fair trial.
- The lateral entry scheme, if implemented properly, may foster more competitive spirit, break the complacency of the higher civil servants and eventually prove to be a pioneering initiative in public interest.
Connecting the dots:
- Most of the developed countries of the world have the system of lateral entry on the basis of expertise and achievements. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services? Comment.
General studies 2
- Important aspects of governance, social justice
- Justice System
General studies 3
- Security issues, Disaster Management
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018
The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018 has been introduced in the Parliament, with a view to creating a national DNA database for solving crimes and identifying missing persons.
About the Bill:
- The purpose of the bill is to expand the application of DNA-based forensic technologies to support and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country.
- By providing for the mandatory accreditation and regulation of DNA laboratories, the Bill seeks to ensure that the DNA test results are reliable and the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.
- Bill’s provisions will enable the cross-matching between persons who have been reported missing on the one hand and unidentified dead bodies found in various parts of the country on the other, and also for establishing the identity of victims in mass disasters.
- The Bill includes provisions for the destruction of DNA samples and removal of innocent people’s DNA profiles from the database.
Criticism on DNA bill:
- Creating large databases is often not a cost-effective way to solve more crimes, and limited resources must be targeted effectively.
- Using DNA effectively during criminal investigations requires proper crime scene examination, trained and reliable policing, a trusted chain of custody of samples, reliable analysis, and proper use of expert evidence in court. Without these prerequisites, a DNA database will worsen rather than solve problems in the criminal justice system (false matches or misinterpretation or planting of evidence, etc.).
- The Bill’s proposed DNA Regulatory Board is still too powerful and insufficiently transparent or accountable.
- There are provisions which give the government or the Board the power to amend aspects of the safeguards in the Bill, and to avoid accountability in court.
- A number of other privacy protections are also missing — the need to restrict DNA profiling so that it uses only non-coding DNA, a commonly used international standard for one.
- There is no attempt to assess the cost effectiveness of these provisions or to estimate the database’s likely size.
- Consideration should be given to an independent forensic science regulator.
- An independent ethics board should be set up.
- The Board’s responsibilities for privacy protections need an independent regulator.
- Privacy or data protection bill should be adopted first.
- Any international sharing of DNA profiles should also be covered by a privacy or data protection law, and meet international human rights standards.
- There should be separate the databases for missing persons and for criminals set up by the Bill, so that people who volunteer their DNA to help find their missing relatives are not treated as suspects for criminal offences.
- It is needed to specify that volunteers must be fully informed about future storage and uses of their genetic information before they give consent.
- International evidence shows that the success of a DNA database is driven primarily by the number of crime scene DNA profiles loaded on to it, not by the number of DNA profiles from individuals, so proper crime scene analysis should be the top priority.
In short, important safeguards and a cost-benefit analysis are still lacking for this Bill, which needs full parliamentary scrutiny.
Connecting the dots:
- The DNA technology (use and application) Bill, 2018 can establish a balance between right to privacy and right to justice. Evaluate with suggestions.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) He was an Indian scientist who worked in the field of DNA fingerprinting technology in India, where he was popularly known as the “Father of Indian DNA fingerprinting”.
- Lalji Singh
- Meghnad Saha
- Satyendra Nath Bose
- Venkatraman Radhakrishnan
Q.2) An alien species is a species that is established outside of its natural past or present distribution, whose introduction and/or spread threaten biological diversity. Consider the following invasive alien species,
- Fall Armyworm
- Papaya Mealy Bug
- Cotton Mealy Bug
- Amazon Sailfin Catfish
Which of the above is/are found in India?
- 3 only
- 3 and 4 only
- 1 and 3 only
- All the above
Q.3) Consider the following statements about National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)
- It acts as implementation arm of National Council for Rejuvenation, Protection and Management of River Ganga
- National Ganga Council is under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of India
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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