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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th June 2021

  • IASbaba
  • June 17, 2021
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


42nd Session of FAO Conference

Part of: GS Prelims and  GS -II – International Relations  

In news

  • Recently, the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare addressed the 42nd session of Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Conference.
    • The Conference takes place every two years. 
    • India is a founder member of the FAO 

Key notes from the address

  • The Country Program Framework prepared by FAO India in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India has multi sectoral approach.
  • India has been extending technical expertise and assistance in incidences of trans-boundary pests mainly Fall Army Worm and Desert Locust. 
  • FAO also endorsed the Indian proposal for an International Year of Pulses (2016) and International Year of Millets (2023) .
  • India has launched various projects under the National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture to make agriculture resilient to adverse impacts of climate change. 
  • India is promoting Organic farming at a large scale.

Initiatives during COVID-19 by India 

  • Indian Agriculture sector registered an all time high production of 305 million tons of food grains during COVID-19. 
  • KISAN RAIL: Special parcel trains with refrigeration facilities were introduced to transport the essential commodities
  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package was launched under which free food grains were provided to 810 million beneficiaries and the scheme has been further extended till November.
  • PM Kisan Scheme: More than Rupees 1,37,000 Crore have been sent to the bank accounts of over 100 million farmers.

Global Expansion of Nuclear Arsenal: SIPRI Report

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – International Relations

In news

Key highlights of the report 

  • The overall number of warheads in global military stockpiles now appears to be increasing. 
  • China is in the middle of a significant modernisation and expansion of its nuclear weapon inventory. 
  • India and Pakistan also appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals. 
    • According to the year book, India possessed an estimated 156 nuclear warheads at the start of 2021 compared to 150 at the start of last year
  • The nine nuclear armed states – the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. 
    • These countries together possessed an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons at the start of 2021.
    • Russia and the U.S. together possessed over 90% of global nuclear weapons 
  • The five largest arms importers were: Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and China.
    • They together accounted for 36% of total arms imports.

Policy for Declassification of War History

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Policies and interventions and GS-III – Defence and security 

In news

  • The Union Defence Minister has approved a policy on archiving, declassification, compilation and publication of war and operations histories by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
    • A policy on declassification of war histories was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subrahmanyam as well as the N.N. Vohra Committee. 
  • Timely publication of war histories would give people accurate account of the events, help in academic research and counter the baseless rumours. 

Key takeaways 

  • A committee shall be formed for compilation of war and operations histories headed by Joint Secretary, MoD.
  • According to the policy, records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years. 
  • Records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India after compilation. 
  • The compiled history on wars and operations, within five years, will be for internal consumption first. 
    • Later the committee may decide to publicly release considering the sensitivity of the subject,
  • Declassification of older wars like the 1962 war will be taken up on case by case basis by a committee to be constituted under the new policy. 

MoU for Seaplane Services in India

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Infrastructure 

In news

  • Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Development of Sea Plane Services in India. 

Key highlights of the MoU

  • Objective: Development of Non Scheduled/Scheduled operation of seaplane services within territorial jurisdiction of India under RCS-UDAN scheme 
  • A Co-ordination Committee is to be set up for timely completion of operationalisation of Seaplane services at various locations.
    • The members shall include officials of MoCA, MOPSW and Ministry of Tourism (MoT). 

Benefits:

  • Enhanced smooth connectivity by promoting eco-friendly transportation through Seaplanes. 
  • Boost to the tourism industry.
  • Help in expediting the development of new water aerodromes and operationalization of new seaplane routes in India. 

Designated functions:

  • MoPSW would identify and develop water front infrastructure of Aerodromes. 
  • MoCA would carry out bidding and select potential airlines operators. 
  • MoCA shall provide funds/financial support. 

Pic courtesy: PIB


Tulu Language speakers demand official language status

Part of: GS Prelims and GS II – Constitution ; 8th Schedule 

In news 

  • The Tulu speakers have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule to the Constitution.
    • Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in the coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod of Kerala.

Official language of the Union 

  • Article 343 (1) state that Hindi written in the Devanagari Script is to be the official language of the Union. 
  • Official language Act, 1963 provides for use of English in addition to Hindi for all official purposes of Union and business transactions in Parliament.
  • Constitution does not specify the official language of different states.
  • Legislature of each state may adopt any one or more languages used in the state or Hindi as official language of the state. 
    • Until that is done, English will be used as official language of the state.
  • Most States have adopted major regional language as the official language.

Inclusion in the 8th Schedule 

  • At present, there is no such Criterion for languages to be included in 8th Schedule. 
  • Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) committees also failed to evolve any criteria.

List of 22 languages in 8th schedule

Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, SIndhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri 

Significance of inclusion under 8th Schedule

  • Recognition as official language of the nation. 
  • Sahitya Academy will start recognising the language. 
  • Books would be translated into other recognised Indian languages. 
  • Mps and MLAs could speak in this language in Parliament and state assemblies 
  • Candidates could write all India competitive examinations like civil services exam in a scheduled language

Miscellaneous

Indo-Thai CORPAT

  • Recently, the 31st edition of India-Thailand Coordinated Patrol (Indo-Thai CORPAT) between the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy was conducted in the Andaman sea close to the Strait of Malacca.
  • Aims: 
    • To keep part of the Indian Ocean safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade.
    • To ensure effective implementation of the United Nations Conventions on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Other Military Exercises between India and Thailand:
    • Exercise MAITREE (Army).
    • Exercise SIAM BHARAT (Air Force)

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-2: Fundamental Rights & Democracy
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Misuse of UAPA: Delhi HC bail to student activists

Context: The recent Delhi High Court orders granting bail to three student activists – Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita – jailed for over a year for their alleged role in the February 2020 riots in Delhi

Do You Know?

  • According to data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Parliament, a total of 1126 cases were registered under UAPA in 2019, a sharp rise from 897 in 2015.
  • UAPA, in relaxing timelines for the state to file chargesheets and its stringent conditions for bail, gives the state more powers compared to the Indian Penal Code.

Why were student activists arrested & jailed for over a year?

  • The three students had protested against the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
  • Delhi Police alleged that they had also fomented the riots and invoked Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act(UAPA)
  • Under Section 43D(5) of the act, there is a legal bar on granting bail if the court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusation against those held is prima facie true. 
  • They also didn’t get bail as the provision of law are titled against accused
    • The accused have to demonstrate to the court that the accusation is untrue. 
    • A 2019 Supreme Court judgment bars a detailed analysis of the evidence at the bail stage and rules that bail can be denied on “the broad probabilities” of the case. These further added the burden on jailed student activists.

Delhi High Court’s Bail Order ruling

  • It has found that none of the three student activists were specifically or particularly accused of any ‘terrorist act’. Once the UAPA charges were not seen to be true, it was open to the court to admit them to regular bail and grant them the bail.
  • New approach to grant bail: The High Court has ruled that the bail court can look at the available evidence to satisfy itself about the prima facie truth of the case. In other words, there is no statutory invincibility to the prosecution case merely because the UAPA has been invoked. 
  • Calling out misuse of terror law: The court’s observed that the state, in its anxiety to suppress dissent, has blurred the line between the constitutionally guaranteed right to protest and “terrorist activity”. If such blurring gains traction, democracy would be in peril,
    • The bail orders also refer to how the Supreme Court itself, in the 1994 case of Kartar Singh v State of Punjab, flagged similar concerns against the misuse of another anti-terror law, the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987.
  • Terrorism is beyond Public disorder: The Delhi HC said that the extent and reach of terrorist activity must travel beyond the effect of an ordinary crime and must not arise merely by causing disturbance of law and order or even public order; and must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to deal with it by ordinary law.
  • Right to protest sacrosanct: Noting that protests against governmental and parliamentary actions were legitimate, the HC said the right to peaceful protest is not outlawed. It held that student activists protest cannot be termed as a ‘terrorist act’ within the meaning of the UAPA.

Consequence of ruling on other dissenters: 

  • High Court has made a clear distinction between those accused of offences against the country’s integrity and security on the one hand, and protesters or dissenters roped in unjustifiably under the rubric of ‘terrorism’ on the other. 
  • If the Delhi High Court’s approach to grant bail is upheld by SC, it would help secure the liberty of other dissenters held under the UAPA elsewhere without sufficient basis.

Connecting the dots:


SCIENCE & TECH/ GOVERNANCE

Topic:

  • GS-3: Awareness in the fields of IT
  • GS-2: Judiciary

Judiciary & AI

Context: SUPACE- Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency- was inaugurated recently by former CJI SA Bobde.

  • The SUPACE follows the launch of the Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software (SUVAS), an Machine Learning(ML) tool for translating Supreme Court judgments into vernacular languages.

What is SUPACE?

  • It is an Artificial Intelligence(AI) based tool that collects relevant facts and laws and makes them available to a judge.
  • It will produce results customized to the need of the case and the way the judge thinks.
  • It is not designed to take decisions, but only to process facts and to make them available to judges looking for an input for a decision.
  • Initially, it will be used on an experimental basis by the judges of Bombay and Delhi High Courts who deal with criminal matters.

Other Potential Applications of AI in Judiciary

  • Task-specific, narrowly tailored algorithms, trained through machine learning, can be deployed to automate administrative functions like scheduling hearings and creating causelists etc.
  • Similarly, other procedural tasks which can benefit from the use of AI include interventions at the level of smart e-filing, intelligent filtering/prioritisation of cases or notifications and tracking of cases.
  • AI tools can aid in augmenting of decision-making processes where computational tools can be used to expedite justice delivery such as those for traffic challans and motor vehicle compensation claims.

Benefits of integrating AI & ML in Justice delivery

  • Increases Speed: AI powered tools like SUPACE will not only help organise cases, it will also bring references into the judgment at a speed not seen so far.
  • Improves Efficiency: It can unclog processes that slow justice down and increase efficiency of courts. In many cases, they ease administrative aspects of justice delivery.
  • Lowers Pendency: Tools derived from AI could help expedite the case-flow management which in turn helps in lowering delays and pendency in courts
  • Strengthens Right of access to Justice: AI will present a more streamlined, cost effective and time bound means to the fundamental right of access to justice.

Precaution to be taken while using AI for Justice delivery 

  • The ethical and responsible use of AI and ML for the advancement of efficiency enhancing can be increasingly embedded in legal and judicial processes. 
  • AI powered tools help aid access to material, but should remain non-intrusive when it comes to decision making.
  • AI and ML should assist but do not replace human decision making.
  • The relevance of AI in justice delivery will be dependent on the availability of clear and well-labelled data sets. Thus humans have to be kept in loop to create robust necessary labelled data sets
  • Since AI powered tools is intended to do what the human mind can do, but much more efficiently and methodically, there is apprehension of job losses which authorities needs to take care of.

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 Exercise MAITREE is conducted between Which of the following countries?

  1. India and Nepal
  2. India and China
  3. India and Vietnam
  4. India and Thailand

Q.2 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution deals with?

  1. Schedule Tribes
  2. Disqualification of MPs and MLAs on the ground of defection
  3. Panchayats
  4. Recognized Official Languages

ANSWERS FOR 16th June 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 A
3 D

Must Read

On Science & Pseudo-Science:

The Hindu

On FDI inflows:

The Hindu

On Women & Work:

Deccan Herald

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