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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 25th December 2018

  • IASbaba
  • December 27, 2018
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 25th December 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Bid to prevent fake news

Part of: GS Mains III – Internal Security; Security issues; Cyber security

In news:

  • The government has proposed amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act.
  • The amendment seeks to make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace “originator” of “unlawful” information, while also removing such content within 24 hours after being notified.
  • As per the draft ‘The Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018’, the intermediary after being notified by the appropriate authority should remove or disable access to unlawful content within 24 hours in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, on its computer resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner…”
  • The intermediary is also expected to preserve such information and associated records for at least 180 days for investigation purposes as against 90 days now.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/25/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/eddf175f_2617643_101_mr.jpg

Do you know?

  • Number of lynching incidents were reported in 2018 mostly owing to fake news being circulated through WhatsApp and other social media sites.

State startup Ranking Report, 2018

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues; Development issues

In news:

According to the Central government’s State startup Ranking Report, 2018

  • Maharashtra is placed in 25-50 percentile ‘emerging’ category (i.e., the State has ranked in the bottom half).
  • Gujarat claimed the top spot

Reasons for Maharashtra’s poor ranking –

  • Maharashtra announced its startup policy only in 2018. Andhra Pradesh was the first State in the country to announce a startup policy in 2014, following directions from the Centre to all States.
  • Maharashtra’s industrial growth rate is falling continuously, from 7.2% in 2015-16 to 6.5% in 2017-18.
  • Maharashtra’s ease-of-doing-business rank has come down from eight in 2015 to 13 in 2018.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/25/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_04/8de9bd8f_2617728_101_mr.jpg


Development – ‘bone of contention’ between govt and Maoists

Part of: GS Mains II and III – Development issues; Gove schemes and policies in vulnerable areas; Security issues

In news:

  • Development has been the ‘bone of contention’ between the government agencies, including the security forces, and the banned CPI (Maoists).
  • While security agencies and the authorities claim that development would ease the hardship of the tribal people in the under-developed region, the Maoists feel that it would bring in multi-national companies into the forest to exploit the resources that belong to the tribal population under the Schedule 5 of the Constitution.

Do you know?

  • Government’s strategy to contain Maoists is through building cell towers and better road connectivity. As towers would enable the tribal people to access information on climate, agriculture, health and education.
  • Central government has sanctioned huge funds under the Road Connectivity Project in Left Wing Extremist Area project.
  • However, the Maoists have strongly opposed against it.

India-Bhutan: golden jubilee of the diplomatic relations

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and its neighbours relations; International Relations

In news:

  • India to host newly elected Bhutan PM (Dr. Lotay Tshering)
  • His visit will take place to mark the golden jubilee of the diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan

India-Bhutan ties

  • likely to witness sealing of important power projects to be implemented by both sides.
  • Bhutan assured that it will continue to have special ties with India and avoid establishing diplomatic ties with any of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
  • Bhutan hopes to finalise India’s assistance for the 12th Five-Year Plan.

Miscellaneous

1. Bogibeel Bridge

About:

  • India’s longest rail-road bridge
  • Total expenditure – ₹5,920 crore to build
  • 94 km Bogibeel is the fourth bridge across river Brahmaputra
  • Located in Assam

2. Foxconn unit in Sriperumbudur (TN) will start manufacturing Apple iPhones. Sriperumbudur is located on the Chennai–Bengaluru Highway.


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/SECURITY

TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3 

  • Issues with Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Values
  • Right to Privacy
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks
  • Security issues

Privacy-Security trade-off: Requires reform of the surveillance framework

Introduction

  • We read about Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.”
  • The MHA order has caused a furore in both Parliament and the wider civil society.
  • MHA notification lays bare the lopsided character of the surveillance framework in India, and highlights an urgent need for comprehensive reform.

The problem

The existing surveillance framework is complex and confusing.

Currently, two statutes control the field:

  • telephone surveillance is sanctioned under the 1885 Telegraph Act (and its rules),
  • while electronic surveillance is authorised under the 2000 Information Technology Act (and its rules).

1997 Supreme Court judgment had ordered that surveillance requests have to be signed off by an official who is at least at the level of a Joint Secretary.

There are three features about the current regime.

  • It is bureaucratised – Decisions about surveillance are taken by the executive branch , with no parliamentary or judicial supervision . (Flaw – an individual will almost never know that he/she is being surveilled and then challenging it before a court, is a near-impossibility.)
  • The surveillance regime is vague and ambiguous – very wide phrases such as “friendly relations with foreign States” or “sovereignty and integrity of India” have been directly copy pasted from Article 19(2) of the Constitution into Section 69 of the IT Act.
  • Current regime is opaque – There is almost no information available about the bases on which surveillance decisions are taken, and how the legal standards are applied.

Surveillance is essential to ensure national security and pre-empt terrorist threats. However, a heavily bureaucratised and minimally accountable regime of surveillance does nothing to enhance security, but does have significant privacy costs.

In the famous ‘privacy-security trade-off’, it is exceedingly important to assess the balance on the basis of constitutional principles and fundamental rights, rather than blindly accepting the government’s rhetoric of national security.

The way ahead:

  • The law should specify clearly ‘how, when, and what kind of surveillance’.
  • Any impingement upon the right to privacy must be proportionate and stated goal should be achieved.
  • For instance, if the goal is protecting national security and if it can be achieved by a smaller infringement upon fundamental rights, then the government is constitutionally bound to adopt the method that does, indeed, involve minimal infringement.
  • The law should fix the above mentioned three parameters – its bureaucratic character, its vagueness, and its opacity – as the existing surveillance framework is unconstitutional, and must be reconsidered.
  • There must be parliamentary oversight over the agencies that conduct surveillance. All surveillance requests must necessarily go before a judicial authority, which can apply an independent legal mind to the merits of the request.
  • The broad and vaguely worded phrases should be specified clearly. This will help the process of judicial review.
  • Evidence obtained through unconstitutional surveillance must be statutorily stipulated to be inadmissible in court.

It is crucial to acknowledge that every act of surveillance, whether justified or not, involves a serious violation of individual privacy.

To implement the suggestions above will require a comprehensive reform of the surveillance framework in India. Such a reform is long overdue.

Connecting the dots:

  • Existing surveillance framework in India needs to be revisited and reconsidered. Do you agree? Critically examine. Also suggest some measures for better surveillance framework.

NATIONAL/POLITY

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Indian polity; Government laws and policies; Policy reforms 
  • Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies. 
  • Indian Constitution : Elections, Parliament
  • Democratic governance and society

Implementing NOTA in the right spirit

Important pointers:

2013 People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union Of India Case:

  • Supreme Court ruled that a None of the Above (NOTA) option “may be provided in EVMs” so that voters are able to exercise their “right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy”.

Excerpt of SC judgment – (Understanding the spirit of the judgment)

  • “For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as people’s representatives… This can be best achieved through men of high moral and ethical values, who win the elections on a positive vote. Thus, in a vibrant democracy, the voter must be given an opportunity to choose NOTA…, which will… compel the political parties to nominate a sound candidate.
  • By providing NOTA button in the EVMs, it will accelerate effective political participation and the voters will be empowered.
  • When large numbers of people are expressing their disapproval with the candidates, the political parties will realize and accept the will of the people. There will be a systemic change and the political parties will field candidates who are known for their integrity.

What happens if a situation arose where the number of NOTA votes exceeded the number of votes polled by any of the candidates?

  • According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the candidate with the highest number of votes would be declared winner.
  • This was in accordance with Rule 64 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.

Concerns:

  • The above provision made the NOTA option almost redundant.
  • In other words, a NOTA vote would not have any impact on the election result and the spirit of judgment has failed.
  • Candidates have begun campaigning against NOTA, telling voters that choosing the option meant wasting a vote.

The way ahead:

Democracy is all about choice. This choice can be better expressed if voters are given an opportunity to verbalize themselves unreservedly and by imposing least restrictions on their ability to make such a choice.

If NOTA has received highest number of valid votes, then the said election for that particular seat should be countermanded and fresh elections should be held for such post.

There should also be a provision that same candidates should not contest the new election, because the result could be the same as earlier.

All such contesting candidates who secured less votes than NOTA should not be eligible to re-file the nomination/contest the re-election.

Such provisions can compel political parties to nominate sound candidates and are forced to accept the will of the people.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse the importance of NOTA in Indian democracy. Also examine if NOTA option has met its original objectives.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Which term refers to a specialized firm that finances young, start-up companies

  1. Venture Capital Firm
  2. Finance Company
  3. Small-Business Finance Company
  4. Capital-Creation Company

Q.2) Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding India’s National Informatics Centers – Computer Emergency Response Team (NIC – CERT)?

  1. It is an initiative of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  2. NIC-CERT has been setup with the objective of creating a comprehensive framework that integrates world class security components and inbuilt threat intelligence for detection, prevention and incident response.

Select the code from below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Consider the following statements with reference to National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC)

  1. It has been created under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  2. It identifies banking, financial services and insurance as one of the ‘critical sectors’.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) With reference to the ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) option, consider the following statements:

  1. It gives the citizens to exercise their right to reject.
  2. NOTA are counted, but are considered ‘invalid votes’

Select the correct statements

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Which of the following statements is/are correct about RajyaSabha elections?

  1. Unlike use of secret ballots in Loksabha elections, open ballots are used in RajyaSabha elections.
  2. Similar to LokSabha elections, the use of NOTA (None of the above) option is allowed in RajyaSabha elections too.

Select the correct code

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. 1 and 2
  4. None

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