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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th June 2019

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  • June 26, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th June 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


‘Healthy States, Progressive India: Report

Part of Prelims and Mains GS II Governance and public services  

In news

The report ‘Healthy States, Progressive India: Report on Rank of States and UTs’ has ranked states in three categories — larger States, smaller States and UTs “to ensure comparison among similar entities”.

The Index ranks the States and Union Territories based on 23 health-related indicators, including neonatal mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, etc.

https://epaper.thehindu.com/Home/ShareImage?Pictureid=GG462FRGM.1

Findings of the report

  • In Union Territories Chandigarh topped the list this year with a score of 63.62, followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli at number 2 position with a score of 56.31. Dadra and Nagar Haveli was the worst performer last time with a score of 38.64.
  • Lakshadweep, which topped the list last time, slipped to the third position, followed by Puducherry, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar, and Daman and Diu.
  • Kerala continued to top the list for the best performing State in the health sector among the 21 large States, which got an overall score of 74.01, was followed by Andhra Pradesh (65.13), Maharashtra (63.99), Gujarat (63.52) and Punjab (63.01), Himachal Pradesh (62.41), Jammu and Kashmir 62.37, Karnataka (61.14) and Tamil Nadu (60.41).
  • Uttar Pradesh continued to be at the bottom of the list with its score falling to 28.61. Other States at the bottom of the list were Bihar (32.11), Odisha (35.97) and Madhya Pradesh (38.39).
  • The report stated that only about half the States and UTs showeds an improvement in the overall score between 2015-16 (base year) and 2017-18 (reference year).

31.4% of Indian children will be stunted by 2022: report

Part of Prelims and Mains GS II Governance and public services  

In news

  • Almost one in three Indian children under five years will still be stunted by 2022 going by current trends, according to an analysis of the country’s food and nutrition security. 
  • India must double its rate of progress to reach the target of 25% by 2022.
  • The report, which is a baseline analysis of the country’s progress in achieving the second Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger, was prepared by the UN World Food Programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Findings of the report:

  • Country is self sufficient in food grain production but, unfortunately, the consumer’s access to rice, wheat and other cereals has not increased at the same rate, due to population growth, inequality, food wastage and losses, and exports.
  • The average per capita consumption of energy among the poorest 30% of the population is 1811 kilo calories, much lower than the norm of 2155 kilo calories per day.
  • In States like Bihar (48%) and Uttar Pradesh (46%), almost one in two children are stunted, while it is only one in five children in Kerala and Goa (20% each). 
  • There are high rates of stunting among children in the poorest wealth quintile (51.4%), Scheduled Tribes (43.6%) and Scheduled Castes (42.5%), and children born to mothers with no education (51%).

Cash in circulation fell post note ban: FM

Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Economics  

In news

  • Demonetisation, coupled with increased digital transactions and the reduced cash usage in the informal economy, led to a reduction in currency in circulation by ₹3.4 lakh crore, according to Finance Ministry
  • The level of currency in circulation as of May 31, 2019, was significantly lower than what it would have been if demonetisation had not happened.
  • The Reserve Bank of India data shows that the number of counterfeit bank notes detected decreased from 762,072 pieces in 2016-17, to 522,783 in 2017-18 and 317,389 pieces in 2018-19 and hence “demonetisation resulted in curbing of the counterfeit currency”. 
  • Growth of digital transactions in terms of value has increased to ₹188.07 lakh crore in September 2018 from ₹112.27 lakh crore in November 2016. Digital transactions in terms of volume have increased to 241.88 crore in September 2018 from 91.83 crore.
  • The demonetisation led to a “significant positive impact on most theatres of violence” in the country since illegally held cash formed a major chunk of terror-funding.
  • The note ban rendered the cash held with terrorists worthless.

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

State of Indian prisons

In news:

A data-driven report, the Prison Statistics India 2016, was published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently.
The report raises a number of red flags signalling the rot in India’s prison system. 

Who are our prisoners?

  • The report tells us that at the end of 2016, there were 4,33,033 people in prison; of them 68% were undertrials.
    These are people who have yet to be found guilty of the crimes they are accused of.
    India’s under-trial population remains among the highest in the world.
  • There has been rise in the number of people held under administrative (or ‘prevention’) detention laws in Jammu and Kashmir (a 300% increase), with 431 detainees in 2016, compared to 90 in 2015.
    Administrative, or ‘preventive’, detention is used by authorities in J&K and other States to unfairly detain persons without charge or trial and circumvent regular criminal justice procedures.
  • The 2016 report doesn’t include demographic details of religion and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe status of prisoners, which are crucial to understanding India’s prison population.
    The report of 2015, for instance, said that Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis accounted for 55% of the under-trial population even though they made up only 50% of the convict population and 38% of the total Indian population.

Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure:

The report records the number of prisoners eligible to be released and actually released, under Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In 2016, out of 1,557 undertrials found eligible for release under Section 436A, only 929 were released.
Sec 436A allows undertrials to be released on a personal bond if they have undergone half of the maximum term of imprisonment they would have faced if convicted. 

  • Spreading awareness- Research by Amnesty India has found that prison officials are frequently unaware of this section and unwilling to apply it.
  • In 2017, the Law Commission of India had recommended that undertrials who have completed a third of their maximum sentence for offences attracting up to seven years of imprisonment be released on bail. 

Mental health concerns:

The number of “unnatural” deaths in prisons, which doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 115 to 231. The rate of suicide among prisoners also increased by 28%, from 77 suicides in 2015 to 102 in 2016.
The report states that there was only one mental health professional for every 21,650 prisoners in 2016, with only six States and one Union Territory having psychologists/psychiatrists.
It is an indicator of the magnitude of mental health concerns within prisons.

Conclusion:

The report has important information which can be used to facilitate a dialogue on improving prison policies. It is essential to uncover torture and other forms of ill-treatment, increase transparency and balance the power asymmetry in prisons. 

Connecting the dots:

  • The Prison Statistics India 2016 report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) presents a sorry state of Indian prisons. Discuss.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

Data Protection: Importance, Global debate, India’s stand

Introduction:

The IT Ministry’s Bill on data protection is scheduled to be introduced in Parliament during the current session. Worldwide, the data flow debate is playing out at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and G20.

Why is data valuable?

Data is any collection of information that is stored in a way so computers can easily read it. These days, most people refer to data to mean information about their messages, social media posts, online transactions, and browser searches.
Big data refers to the immense amount of data that can now be collected, stored, and analysed to find patterns.

  • This large collection of information about people’s online habits has become an important source of profits. Your online activity can expose a lot about who you are, and companies find it valuable to use the information to target advertisements to you. 
  • Governments and political parties have also gained interest in these data sets for elections and policymaking.

What exactly about data laws are countries debating?

Data is stored in a physical space. Data is also transported across country borders physically, traveling through underwater cables. These aspects of data flows — where it is stored, where it is sent, where it is turned into something useful — determines who has access to the data, who profits off the data, who taxes the data, and who “owns” the data.
With these questions in mind, individual governments are developing their own domestic rules and negotiating with each other on a global stage, raising values of national security, economic growth, and privacy.

Where does India’s domestic policy on data stand?

India’s recent drafts and statements have strong signals for data localisation, which means that data of Indians (even if collected by an American company) must be stored and processed in India.
Along with a Reserve Bank of India directive to payment companies to localise financial data, the Ministry of Commerce’s draft e-commerce policy is currently in public consultation.
The IT Ministry has drafted a data protection law that will be introduced in Parliament and has also framed draft intermediary rules.
China has developed similar laws, which proponents say allow for a flourishing domestic economy of data centres and data processing by blocking foreign players out. This is why Indian companies, like Reliance and PayTM, usually support data localisation.

Arguments for localisation:

  • Localisation will help law enforcement access the data. Currently, India has to use “mutual legal assistance treaties” (MLAT) with the US to get the data of Indians that are controlled by American companies. By requiring a copy of the data to be stored in India (data mirroring), the government hopes to have more direct control over these companies, including the option to levy more taxes on them.
  • The government also argues for data localisation on the ground of national security, to prevent foreign surveillance and attacks.

Counter-arguments against data localisation:

  • The US government and companies want cross-border flow of data. It would allow companies to store the data of Indians in the most efficient place in the world.
    Proponents of free flow of data worry that if all countries begin to protect their data, it may backfire on India’s own companies that seek global growth.
  • Another caution is that these laws could bring increased state surveillance, like India’s draft intermediary rules that would require WhatsApp to change its design to proactively filter messages. The company says messages are currently encrypted, meaning neither the company nor any government can see them.

What is happening at the global forums?

Trade tensions worldwide are escalating, giving the data flow debate new relevance at the WTO and G20.
WTO member countries are negotiating rules about e-commerce, which is the buying and selling of goods and services online. Digital trade contributes more to global GDP than physical trade. India is one of the fastest growing markets, with e-commerce expecting to reach $1.2 trillion by 2021.
These laws raise questions about where companies can store, process, and transport data about transactions. 

  • In their proposals, the US and the EU have called to prohibit customs duties on online transactions while China and Pakistan have called for allowing them. 
  • The US has also recommended not having overly burdensome data standards nor localisation requirements, while the EU wants data localisation requirements.
  • From the G20 meeting in Tsukuba, the Ministerial Statement on Trade and Digital Economy favored cross-border flow of data. 

India’s stand:

India submitted a November 2017 document opposing any WTO e-commerce negotiations.
The digital divide within and across nations is a serious impediment for developing countries to benefit from Digital Trade. Capacity constraints in developing countries, can be overcome, with timely support of training, and creation of digital infrastructure. This is important, for facilitating a level playing field, in the digital economy, for all countries to take equitable advantage of data free flows.
Developing countries need time and policy space to build deepest understanding of the subject and formulate their own legal and regulatory framework before meaningfully engaging in e-commerce negotiations.

Connecting the dots:

  • A global debate on data protection is ongoing. Why is data valuable? Discuss arguments and counter-arguments for data localisation. Also discuss India’s stand on the same.

(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) “Healthy States progressive India” report is published by

  1. Ministry of Health and Family welfare 
  2. Ministry of women and child development
  3. NITI Ayog
  4. None of the above

Q.2) “Impressed” tortoise recently first recorded in India in state of,

  1. Assam
  2. Arunachal Pardesh
  3. Odisha 
  4. Karnataka

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