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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th February 2021

  • IASbaba
  • February 26, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Black-browed Babbler rediscovered after 170 years

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Biodiversity

In news

  • Black-browed Babbler has been rediscovered after 170 years in the rainforests of Borneo, Indonesia. 

Key takeaways 

  • It was earlier assumed to be extinct.
  • This bird is often called ‘the biggest enigma in Indonesian ornithology.’ 

Photo courtesy: The Guardian

Related articles:

Leuser Ecosystem

Significance of Dead Coral Reef


Launch of India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Governance & GS – III – Information Technology

In news

  • India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) was launched recently.

Key takeaways 

  • IUDX has been developed in partnership between the Smart Cities Mission and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • IUDX serves as an interface for data providers and data users. 
  • Objective: To share, request, and access datasets related to cities, urban governance, and urban service delivery.
  • It is an open-source software platform. 
  • It will ensure secured and authenticated exchange of data amongst various data platforms. 

Related articles:

Enrolment module for TECHNOGRAHIS launched


Launch of National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II – Governance & GS – III – Information Technology

In news

  • The National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM) has been launched recently. 

Key takeaways 

  • NUDM will create a shared digital infrastructure for urban India.
  • It shall work across the three pillars of people, process, and platform to provide complete support to cities and towns.
  • It will institutionalise a citizen-centric and ecosystem-driven approach to urban governance and service delivery. 
  • It will be functional across all cities and towns in India by 2024.

Private sector banks to conduct Government-related banking transactions

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – banking; Economy

In news

  • The Government has lifted the embargo on private sector banks for the conduct of Government-related banking transactions. 

Key takeaways 

  • These will include taxes and other revenue payment facilities, pension payments, small savings schemes, etc.
  • Only a few banks were permitted to carry out these functions earlier.
  • Besides, there is now no bar on RBI for authorization of private sector banks for Government business. 
  • For undertaking government agency business, the RBI pays a commission to banks. 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) carries out the general banking business through agency banks appointed under Section 45 of the RBI Act, 1934.

Related articles:

Annual Report of the Ombudsman Schemes released

Small investors given direct access to Government Securities


Production Linked Incentive Scheme For IT Hardware

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- III – Economy; Manufacturing sector

In news

Key takeaways 

  • The scheme proposes PLI to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in the value chain of IT Hardware.
  • The Scheme shall extend an incentive of 4% to 2% on net incremental sales (over base year 2019-20) of goods manufactured in India and covered under the target segment, for 4 years.
  • It will benefit 5 major global players and 10 domestic champions in the field of IT Hardware manufacturing including Laptops, Tablets, All-in-One PCs, and Servers.

Do you know? 

  • Currently, the laptop and tablet demand in India is largely met through imports worth billions of dollars. 

Related articles:

Expansion of Production-Linked Incentive Scheme

PLI For Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing

Production Linked Incentive Scheme For Pharmaceuticals


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ FEDERALISM

Topic:

  • GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers 

Structural Problems with Union Territories

Context: Recently, some MLAs of ruling Congress Party from the Puducherry legislative assembly resigned which reduced the party’s majority in the House abruptly and lead to the fall of the government.

Do You Know?

  • Resigning from the membership of the House is every member’s right. 
  • But according to Article 190 of the Constitution, the resignation should be voluntary or genuine. If the Speaker has information to the contrary, he or she is not obliged to accept the resignation.

What is the recent issue with Federalism?

  • There is by now a familiar pattern to the resignations of MLAs. Such resignations take place largely from the ruling parties in the States which are opposed to the ruling party at the Centre thus leading to fall of state/UT government. 
  • This mode of toppling the government has an advantage in that no MLA has to defect and face disqualification and get a bad name.
  • However, this is not the only way where the elected governments in Union territories are undermined. There are many constitutional and legal provisions that reflect the structural fragility of UTs

Structural Fragility of Union Territories

  1. Composition of the Legislature
  • Article 239A was originally brought in 1962 to enable Parliament to create legislatures for the UTs (objective was to fulfil the democratic aspirations of people in UTs through providing legislatures & Council of Ministers)
  • However, a simple amendment in the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 can create a legislature with more than 50% nominated members. The question remain as to how a predominantly nominated House promote representative Democracy.
  1. Issue of Nomination
  • In a 33-member House for Puducherry, three are to be nominated by the Central government. However, no qualification is laid down either in Article 239A or the Government of Union Territories Act, making it liable to political misuse.
  • So, when the Union government nominated three BJP members to the Assembly without consulting the government, it was challenged in the court. 
  • Finally, the Supreme Court (K. Lakshminarayanan v. Union of India, 2019) held that the Union government is not required to consult the State government for nominating members to the Assembly and the nominated members have the same right to vote as the elected members.
  1. Administrators Power
  • As per Section 44 of the Government of Union Territories Act and Article 239 AA(4) of Constitution, the administrator has the right to disagree with the decisions of the Council of Ministers and then refer them to the President for a final decision (on aid & advice of Union government).
  • The weaponisation of this constitutional provision is done in full measure when the UT is ruled by a different political party.
  • Although in NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2019), the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had said that the administrator should not misuse this power to frustrate the functioning of the elected government in the territory, the ground reality has unchanged

Conclusion

  • Experience shows that the UTs having legislatures with ultimate control vested in the central administrator are not workable.
  • The solution lies in the removal of the legal and constitutional provisions which weaken the structural fragility of UTs and instead provide them with more freedom so as to fulfil democratic aspiration of the people.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation 
  • GS-3: Awareness in the field of IT

New Social Media Code

Context: Citing instructions from the Supreme Court (Prajjawala case) and the concerns raised in Parliament about social media abuse, the government has released guidelines that aim to regulate social media, digital news media, and over-the-top (OTT) content providers

The government had been working on these guidelines for over three years but the big push came from the recent Twitter controversy

Key features of guidelines

  1. Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Specially Women Users:
  • Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents related to nudity including morphed images etc. 
  • Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.
  1. Grievance Redressal Mechanism
  • Social media intermediaries have to appoint grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days of receipt
  • The grievance redressal official must be resident in India.
  1. Two Categories of Social Media Intermediaries:
  • To encourage innovations and enable growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement, the Rules make a distinction between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. 
  • This distinction is based on the number of users on the social media platform (which will be notified by Government)
  • The Rules require the significant social media intermediaries to follow certain additional due diligence.
  1. Additional Due Diligence to be followed by Significant Social Media Intermediary
  • Significant Social media Intermediaries will now be required to appoint a chief compliance officer resident in India, who will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules. 
  • They will be required also to appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  • Further, the platforms will need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints, as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
  • Significant social media intermediary shall have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app or both.
  • In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions (section 79 of IT Act, 2000) will not apply to them.
  1. Traceability
  • Significant social media platforms will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous content as may be required by an court order or an order passed under Section 69 of the IT Act by the Competent Authority.
  • The order would only be passed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
  • Intermediary shall not be required to disclose the contents of any message or any other information to the first originator.
  1. Removal of Unlawful Information:
  • The rules lay down 10 categories of content that the social media platform should not host. These include content that 
    • threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or
    • causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any foreign States”;
    • is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily privacy; 
    • insulting or harassing on the basis of gender; 
    • libellous, racially or ethnically objectionable; 
    • relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or 
    • otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India
  • The rules stipulate that upon receipt of information about the platform hosting prohibited content from a court or the appropriate government agency, it should remove the said content within 36 hours
  1. Voluntary User Verification Mechanism:
  • Users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification.  
  1. Giving Users an Opportunity to Be Heard:
  • In cases where significant social media intermediaries removes or disables access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same shall be communicated to the user. 
  • Users must be provided an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary. 
  1. Rules for OTT services
  • Brought under ambit of IT Act, 2000: Issues relating to digital media and OTT and other creative programmes on Internet shall be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting but the overall architecture shall be under the Information Technology Act, which governs digital platforms.
  • Code of Ethics for online news, OTT platforms and digital media: This Code of Ethics prescribe the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities. 
  • Self-Classification of Content: The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). 
  • Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
  • Level Playing Field between Digital & Offline Media: Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media. 
  • A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation.
    • Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers;
    • Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers;
    • Level-III: Oversight mechanism: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate an oversight mechanism. It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Which of the following bird, assumed to be extinct, was recently rediscovered after 170 years in the rainforests of Borneo, Indonesia?

  1. Red Headed Vulture
  2. Forest Owlet
  3. Jerdon’s Courser
  4. Black-browed Babbler

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding • India Urban Data Exchange (IUDX):

  1. Sharing data related to urban governance between Urban Local Bodies will be smooth.
  2. It is a closed-source software platform. 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.3 Which of the following is/are associated with recently launched National Urban Digital Mission (NUDM)?

  1. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs 
  2. Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  3. NITI Aayog
  4. Both (a) and (b)

ANSWERS FOR 25th February 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 D
3 B
4 D

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