(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: Prelims and GS II – International relations
Context India will participate in U.S.A’s “Summit for Democracy” to be held on 9th and 10th December.
- More than 100 democratic countries are invited to participate at the summit.
- The summit is expected to include “individual and collective commitments to defend democracy and human rights at international level.
- Key themes: “Defending against authoritarianism”, “Addressing and fighting corruption”, and “Advancing respect for human rights”.
- An attempt was earlier made by the U.S. and the U.K. to expand the G-7 meeting into a “D-10” or group of 10 democracies that would represent 60% of the global population, including Australia, India and South Korea, along with the G-7 group.
- The Group of Seven (G7) is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States
Part of: Prelims and GS-II – policies and interventions
Context At least five of the 30 members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill are expected to move dissent (disagreement with official opinions) notes to the panel’s report on the legislation.
- These notes were mostly directed at the controversial clause that allowed the Union Government to exempt any agency under its purview from the law.
About Personal Data Protection (PDP) Law
- The law is a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to give individuals greater control over how their personal data is collected, stored and used.
- The Bill also establishes a Data Protection Authority for the same.
Genesis of the Bill
- The genesis of this Bill lies in the report prepared by a Committee of Experts headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna.
- The committee was constituted by the government in the course of hearings before the Supreme Court in the right to privacy case (Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India).
Contentious section 35
- Section 35, which invokes “sovereignty and integrity of India,” “public order”, “friendly relations with foreign states” and “security of the state” to give powers to the Central government to suspend all or any of the provisions of this Act for government agencies.
- This clause assumes importance against the backdrop of recent revelations in the Pegasus spyware case, where both private and public citizens were allegedly snooped upon by the Government.
- The panel reached a middle path on the clause by agreeing that the Government had to record in writing the reasons to give exemption to any agency.
- Demands that this clause be suitably amended so as to include the provision to seek approval from Parliament for seeking such exemptions were not accepted by the Government.
Part of: Prelims and GS-II – Education
Context A new study by UNESCO, titled “When schools shut: Gendered impacts of COVID-19 school closures” was recently released.
Key findings of the report
- Threat to gender equality: Educational disruption due to prolonged closure of schools across the globe will have alarming effects on learning loss and also poses threat to gender equality.
- Different impact: Girls and boys, young women and men were affected differently by school closures, depending on the context.
- At the peak of the pandemic, 1.6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures.
- They lost access to education, but also to the myriad benefits of attending school, at an unparalleled scale.
- Gender norms and expectations can affect the ability to participate in and benefit from remote learning.
- In poorer contexts, girls’ time to learn was constrained by increased household chores.
- Boys’ participation in learning was limited by income-generating activities.
- Girls faced difficulties in engaging in digital remote learning modalities due to limited access to Internet-enabled devices, a lack of digital skills and cultural norms restricting their use of technological devices.
Part of: Prelims and GS-III – Sci and tech
Context Recently, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology launched first of its kind, world’s most sophisticated MRI facility at the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), Manesar Haryana.
- NBRC is an autonomous institute funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
About new MRI facility
- With this facility, India embarks on new frontiers of human Neuroscience
- This new facility can run intense scanning modalities very fast, which reduces the scanning time for patients
- It can detect and quantify highly sensitive receptors and antioxidants from the brain which has a direct link with onset of various brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and psychiatric disorders.
- Also, heavy metal deposition in the brain due to pollution or many other factors can be quantified as necessary
What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI)?
- MRI is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body.
- MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves to generate images of the organs in the body.
- MRI is the most frequently used imaging test of the brain and spinal cord.
Part of: Prelims
Context Pratham, a civil society organisation dedicated to improving the quality of education among underprivileged children in India and across the world, has been selected for the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2021.
- The 2021 Prize is awarded to Pratham for its pioneering work over more than 25 years
- in seeking to ensure that every child has access to quality education
- for its innovative use of digital technology to deliver education
- for its programmes to provide skills to young adults
- for its timely response in enabling children to learn during the COVID-19 related school closures
About Indira Gandhi Prize
- The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, is the prestigious award accorded annually by Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
- It is given to individuals or organisations in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order.
- The prize carries a cash award of 2.5 million INR and a citation.
- The panel consists of prominent national and international personalities including previous recipients.
- Location: New Delhi
(News from PIB)
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-3: Agriculture & allied activities
- Celebrations to focus on changing the way the world manages global fisheries ensuring sustainable stocks & healthy ecosystems
- Government of India is in the forefront of transforming the fisheries sector and bringing about economic revolution through Blue Revolution in the country.
- The sector envisioned to increase the farmers’ income through enhancement of production and productivity, improving the quality and reduction of waste.
Launch of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)
- Launched with a budget of over Rs.20,050 crores for a period of five years.
- PMMSY aims to achieve fish production of 22 MMT from the current 15.0 MMT by 2024-25and to create an additional employment opportunity to about 55 lakh people through this sector.
- To address critical gaps in fish production and productivity; quality, technology, post-harvest infrastructure and management, modernisation and strengthening of value chain, traceability, establishing a robust fisheries management framework and fishers’ welfare;
- Harnessing of fisheries potential in a sustainable, responsible, inclusive and equitable manner;
- enhancing contribution to Agriculture GVA and exports;
- Social, physical and economic security for fishers and fish farmers;
- Robust fisheries management and regulatory framework
News Source: PIB
Part of: Prelims
- Indore wins the title of ‘Cleanest City’ for fifth consecutive time under Swachh Survekshan
- Nine 5-Star Cities, 143 Cities 3-Star Garbage Free Cities
- Indore, Navi Mumbai and Nellore emerge as Top Performers in SafaiMitra Suraksha Challenge
- Varanasi emerged as the ‘Best Ganga Town’
- Maharashtra has successfully bagged a total of 92 awards, the highest by any State in this year’s Survekshan, followed by Chhattisgarh with 67 awards.
Also, a futuristic and state-of-the-art spatial GIS platform was launched that will further propel the Mission towards smart, data driven decision making.
Award: Organized to recognize the good work done for Swachhata by towns/ cities, States and Union Territories under various initiatives of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), viz. Swachh Survekshan 2021, Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge, and certifications for Garbage Free Star rating for cities
News Source: PIB
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
In News: Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin completes 5 years
- The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India which is driven by the noble objective of providing “Housing for All” by the year 2022.
- It is a social welfare program through which the Government provides financial assistance to houseless beneficiaries identified using SECC 2011 data to help them construct a house of respectable quality for their personal living.
- The Scheme envisaged constructing 2.95 crore PMAY-G houses with all basic amenities by the year 2021-22.
- The scheme envisioned providing other facilities to make it an aspirational home for the beneficiaries through convergence with other schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission, PM Ujjwala Yojana for providing LPG connection and unskilled wage component of 90-95 days under MGNREGS.
News Source: PIB
- GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations.
- GS-3: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Context: The only real substantive outcome of recently held virtual summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping has been some unconfirmed reports of the two sides, the US & China, agreeing to hold strategic nuclear talks sometime in the near future.
Issues with China’s Nuclear capabilities:
- China’s nuclear capabilities, in particular, are undergoing a fundamental transformation and a shift seems to be evident in both the quantity and the quality of the PRC’s atomic arsenal.
- There is growing concern globally about the trajectory of China’s strategic capabilities.
- China Military Power Report (CMPR) recently released by the US reveals four specific areas where change is underway — quantitative strength, atomic yield, delivery capabilities and posture.
Size of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal
- Until now, China’s nuclear arsenal has hovered at roughly 200 nuclear warheads, half of which directed at USA.
- By 2027, it is estimated that this number is likely to increase to 700 weapons consisting of varying yields which is three and half times the current Chinese warhead strength.
Low Yield Weapons
- Low-yield weapons have been an area of interest and development for China.
- They are weapons meant for battlefield use during conventional military operations and against conventional targets such as concentrations of armoured, artillery and infantry forces.
- Lower yield warheads help the PRC avoid causing collateral damage.
- Prior to the release of the CMPR, evidence that China was testing low-yield devices has periodically surfaced in years past.
- There is growing concern that China’s atomic arsenal consists of a large number of low-yield weapons ideal for battlefield use.
- These low-yield nuclear warheads are also likely to find their way into a key delivery capability — the PRC’s Dong-Feng-26 (DF-26) ballistic missile.
- This missile has already undergone deployment at Korla in the Xinjiang region in Western China.
- In addition to the DF-26, China has also developed the JL-2 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) with a range of 7,200 kilometres capable of striking targets across continental Asia.
- Finally, China’s move towards a Launch on Warning (LoW) nuclear posture marks an important shift in the PRC’s commitment to ensuring that no adversary doubts its response in the event of a nuclear first strike.
- A higher alert posture not only risks reducing the threshold for nuclear use in the form of preemption but it could also sow the seeds of miscalculation and unintended nuclear use.
Implications on India
The PRC’s nuclear competition with the United States will have a cascading effect.
- First, the size of China’s nuclear arsenal complicates the potency of India’s nuclear arsenal
- Second, is the Beijing’s pursuit of a Launch on Warning (LoW) posture. Such a posture reduces the decision time for any Indian retaliatory nuclear strike in the heat of a war or crisis and places pressure on India to pursue its own LoW.
- Despite Beijing’s pursuit of No First Use (NFU), which is reversible, the PRC could also significantly degrade an Indian retaliatory strike if China chooses to resort to First Use (FU) of nuclear weapons,
- Indian strategic planners will have to think about the quantitative nuclear balance and India’s nuclear posture vis-à-vis China.
- Finally, India must pay close attention to the sub-surface leg of China’s nuclear arsenal. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese have added two new Type 094 (Jin class) SSBNs/nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines to their existing fleet.
- The maritime dimension of China’s nuclear capabilities might not be an immediate strategic challenge but will potentially become one in the coming years for New Delhi.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-2: Judiciary
Context: The transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee from the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court has given rise to a controversy over the question whether judicial transfers are made only for administrative reasons or have any element of ‘punishment’ behind them.
- In 2019, Justice Vijaya K. Tahilramani, another Chief Justice of the Madras High Court who was transferred to Meghalaya, chose to resign.
What does the Constitution say on the transfer of judges?
- Article 222 of the Constitution provides for the transfer of High Court judges, including the Chief Justice. It says the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, may transfer a judge from one High Court to any other High Court.
- It also provides for a compensatory allowance to the transferred judge.
- This means that the executive could transfer a judge, but only after consulting the Chief Justice of India.
- From time to time, there have been proposals that one-third of the composition of every High Court should have judges from other States.
What is the Supreme Court’s view on the issue?
In Union of India vs. Sankalchand Himatlal Sheth (1977), the Supreme Court rejected the idea that High Court judges can be transferred only with their consent.
- It reasoned that the transfer of power can be exercised only in public interest;
- secondly, the President is under an obligation to consult the Chief Justice of India, which meant that all relevant facts must be placed before the Chief Justice of India;
- thirdly, that the Chief Justice of India had the right and duty to elicit and ascertain further facts from the judge concerned or others.
In S.P. Gupta vs. President of India (1981), also known as the ‘Judges’ Transfer Case’ and, later, the First Judges Case, the Supreme Court once again had an opportunity to consider the issue.
- Among other issues, it had to consider the validity of the transfer of two Chief Justices as well as a circular from the Law Minister proposing that additional judges in all High Courts may be asked for their consent to be appointed as permanent judges in any other High Court, and to name three preferences.
- The Minister’s reasoning was that such transfers would promote national integration and help avoid parochial tendencies bred by caste, kinship and other local links and affiliations.
- The majority ruled that consultation with the Chief Justice did not mean ‘concurrence’ with respect to appointments.
- In effect, it emphasised the primacy of the executive in the matter of appointments and transfers.
- However, this position was overruled in the ‘Second Judges Case’ (1993). The opinion of the Chief Justice of India, formed after taking into the account the views of senior-most judges, was to have primacy. Since then, appointments are being made by the Collegium.
What is the current procedure for transfers?
- As one of the points made by the ‘Second Judges Case’ was that the opinion of the Chief Justice of India ought to mean the views of a plurality of judges, the concept of a ‘Collegium of Judges’ came into being.
- In the collegium era, the proposal for transferring a High Court judge, including a Chief Justice, should be initiated by the Chief Justice of India, “whose opinion in this regard is determinative”.
- The consent of the judge is not required.
- All transfers are to be made in public interest, i.e., for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country.
- For transferring a judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India should take the views of the Chief Justice of the court concerned, as well as the Chief Justice of the court to which the transfer is taking place.
- The Chief Justice of India should also take into account the views of one or more Supreme Court judges who are in a position to offer their views in the process of deciding whether a proposed transfer should take place.
- In the case of transfer of a Chief Justice, only the views of one or more knowledgeable Supreme Court judges need to be taken into account.
- The views should all be expressed in writing, and they should be considered by the Chief Justice of India and four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, which means, the full Collegium of five.
- The recommendation is sent to the Union Law Minister who should submit the relevant papers to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then advises the President on approving the transfer.
What makes transfers controversial?
- Transfer orders become controversial when sections of the public feel that there is a punitive element behind the decision to move a judge from one High Court to another.
- As a matter of practice, the Supreme Court and the government do not disclose the reason for a transfer. For, if the reason is because of some adverse opinion on a judge’s functioning, disclosure would impinge on the judge’s performance and independence in the court to which he is transferred.
- On the other hand, the absence of a reason sometimes gives rise to speculation whether it was effected because of complaints against the judge, or if it was a sort of punishment for certain judgments that inconvenienced the executive.
Connecting the dots:
- Indianisation of Judiciary
- Judiciary & AI
- Women & Judiciary
- Language in Judiciary
- Judicial Administration Reform
(Sansad TV: Perspective)
Nov 20: Road to Safety – https://youtu.be/NRM7QOOHqIg
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- GS 3: Infrastructure – Roads
Context: The third Sunday of November every year is observed as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims – to remember the millions of people who’ve been killed and seriously injured on the world’s roads…and to acknowledge the suffering of all affected victims, families and communities.
- Globally, over 3500 people die every day on the roads, which amounts to nearly 1.3 million preventable deaths and an estimated 50 million injuries each year – making it the leading killer of children and young people worldwide.
- An estimate suggests road accidents could cause around 13 million deaths and 500 million injuries during the next decade, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
- Recognizing the enormity of the problem and the need to act, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in September 2020, proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.
- This year marks the beginning of the Second Decade for Action for Road Safety.
- The Global Plan on Improving Road Safety was launched by the United Nations last month, calling on countries to deliver on the resolution’s target by make roads safer in the coming years, saving lives, and preventing serious injuries.
India and Road safety
It is a major concern for India – a side effect of urbanisation that has mainly 3 levels.
Level 1: Infrastructure
- It’s not just a Government issue; it is a city planning issue around city design, planning, architecture etc.
- With advancement of technology, the most developed project undertaken along with real estate are the massive roads building projects.
- While new roads are being built, faster automobiles are being invented in high numbers making road safety a crucial problem.
- Number of cars over roads have increased over time. Most of the new constructions are around highways and flyovers. The most affected by these constructions are pedestrians and cyclists who face utmost problem while on roads.
- Hence, it’s not just a policy issue but also about city planning. When a road is planned, crossing, over-bridges, under-bridges has to be also thought about.
Level 2: Dealing with road accident
- How quickly the person who has met with the road accident is responded to has to be improved.
- Citizen behaviour is important- how quickly bystanders reach out, how quickly an ambulance or police calls, how quickly ambulance reaches patient, it reaches hospital and how quickly the person gets critical care.
Level 3: Behavioural attitude
Are the traffic rules followed? Are seatbelts and helmets worn? Is quality of equipment, taking care of vehicle etc. maintained regularly?
- Drivers’ behaviour, especially of the two wheeler riders, is very rude. Not many are ready to accept the importance of helmet and also there is a need of making better quality of helmets. In many countries, there are designated lane driving for cycles, and two wheelers.
- In western countries, the pedestrian rights are respected where there is dedicated time and space allotted for them on roads.
- More and more people in India are using seatbelt because of the fear of traffic police. Penalties can get to change the people’s behaviour for some time, but for long term behaviour change, it has to come from inside. Wearing the seatbelt correctly reduces the risk of death and crash by 61%. Often the driver wears the seatbelt but not the co-passenger along with people in backseat.
- There needs behaviour change from both sides. Pedestrian should know when to cross the road and when not to. The driver should respect the pedestrian rights.
The Way Forward
- Guidelines on good Samaritans: Lack of awareness about SC guidelines about ‘good Samaritan’ is visible. Though it says that the helper of victims of road accident will not be harassed by police, yet people are scared of getting involved in legal matter. It can only change when there is greater awareness. Awareness starts early, and the best medium is school and colleges. India’s legal system is more complicated. But the simple guidelines of SC hopes to encourage people to help victims of road accident.
- Golden hours of safety: The more critical kind of crashes, the first 48 hours are most critical. Governments have recognised and implemented policies. It doesn’t depend on person who is in crash or the driver because often the driver themselves are hurt. Here bystanders have to take action. Scheme 108 ambulance is very helpful in this area. However, there are enough services in cities but on highways and rural areas, these kinds of schemes need to play a major role.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Efforts from different stakeholders such as the community, transport sector, insurance sector, health sector, police, legal sector, educational institutions, highway engineers, vehicle manufacturers, public agencies, NGOs and etc. are needed.
Here, India can learn from Sweden’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach which focuses on three things
- Safety comes first– human life and health above all other transportation challenges. Account for the human error– transportation systems, including roads and vehicles, need to be designed taking into account that people might make mistakes, so that when crashes occur owing to human error, it does not result in fatalities or serious injuries.
- We’re in it together– there is a joint responsibility for safety between the road user and road authorities. Conventional thinking is to attribute the cause of most road accidents to a single factor, and more often than not, to driver or pedestrian behaviour.
- Coordinated strategy– comprehensive and consolidated strategy to road safety that involves all authorities and agencies responsible for road transport systems. Thus, departments working in silos will have limited impact, as road safety is a multi-disciplinary problem. It requires unified strategic vision to be set that lays out the mechanisms for coordination between all stakeholders.
Can you answer the following questions?
- How much attention will the Global Plan be able to attract to road safety worldwide? What kind of action is required to not just reduce road fatalities and accidents, but also increase awareness and sensitivity about road safety?
- What is the importance of road safety in the Indian economy and society? Discuss
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
Q.1 World’s most sophisticated MRI facility was launched in which of the following states of India?
- Madhya Pradesh
- Uttar Pradesh
Q.2 Indira Gandhi peace Prize 2021 was awarded to which of the following?
- Sir David Attenborough
- Manmohan Singh
- NGO Pratham
Q.3 Which of the following is not a part of G7 countries?
ANSWERS FOR 20th Nov 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Russia-Ukraine border conflict:
On making Ayurveda a real science:
On problems of bad loans: