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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th March 2022

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  • March 26, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Non-resident Indians (NRIs)

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Voting

Context: It was recently informed in the Parliament that the Government of India was exploring the possibility of allowing online voting for non-resident Indians (NRIs) as well as considering linking Aadhaar with the electoral rolls to check fraudulent voting.

Current Voting Process for NRIs:

  • Voting rights for NRIs were introduced only in 2011, through an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1950.
  • An NRI can vote in the constituency in his/her place of residence, as mentioned in the passport, is located.
  • He/She can only vote in person and will have to produce her passport in original at the polling station for establishing identity.

Current Strength of NRI Voters:

  • According to a United Nations report of 2015, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world at 16 million people.
  • However, registration of NRI voters has been very low with a little over one lakh overseas Indians registered as voters in India.
  • In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, roughly 25,000 of them flew to India to vote.

Non Resident Indian

  1. According to India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA), NRI is an Indian citizen or Foreign National of Indian Origin residing outside India for purposes of employment, carrying on business or vocation in circumstances that would indicate an intention to stay outside India for an indefinite period.
  2. Visiting NRIs whose total income (which is defined as taxable income) in India is up to Rs. 15 lakh during the financial year will continue to remain NRIs if the stay does not exceed 181 days.
  3. The Union Budget 2020 proposed to reduce this period to 120 days for all NRIs.

News Source: TH


INS Valsura awarded President’s Colour

Part of: Prelims 

Context: The Indian President Ram Nath Kovind presented the President’s Colour to INS Valsura, the Navy’s premier technological training establishment.

  • The President’s Colour is bestowed on a military unit in recognition of the exceptional service rendered to the nation, both in peace and in war.
  • INS Valsura trains officers and men on operation and maintenance of sophisticated and technologically advanced equipment on board warships.
  • INS Valsura , started on 30 acres of land as a torpedo school in 1942 under the British, has today grown into one of the foremost technological training institutions of the country spread over 600 acres.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


eSanjeevani

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Govt schemes and initiatives; Health  

Context: India has crossed a landmark milestone in its eHealth journey. 2,26,72,187 served through eSanjeevani in Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres across the country.

About eSanjeevani 

  • It is a national telemedicine service that offers tele-consultations enabling patient to doctor consultations from the confines of their home, as well as doctor to doctor consultations. 
  • This eSanjeevani platform has enabled two types of telemedicine services viz. Doctor-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani) and Patient-to-Doctor (eSanjeevani OPD) Tele-consultations 
  • The former is being implemented under the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centre (AB-HWCs) programme. 
  • The telemedicine platform is hosting over 40 online OPDs, more than half of these are speciality OPDs which include Gynaecology, Psychiatry, Dermatology, ENT, Ophthalmology, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the AIDS/HIV patients, Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) etc. 

Note:

  • eSanjeevaniOPD now enables creation of Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA), which will facilitate access and shareability of health data with consent of the beneficiary, with participating healthcare providers and beneficiaries as per Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM).
  • eSanjeevani is an exemplification of the ‘Make in India’ initiative as it has been developed indigenously

News Source: PIB


India’s agricultural and processed food products exports

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Agriculture; Indian Economy

In News: The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has scripted a new success story by achieving 90 per cent of the export target fixed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the financial year 2021-22.

  • The APEDA has successfully exported agricultural and processed food products worth USD 21.5 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal and is all set to achieve the annual export target of USD 23.71 billion for 2021-22.
  • Geographical Identification (GI) certified fruits that were exported for the first time:
    • Dahanu Gholvad Chikoo, Jalgaon Banana and Marathwada Kesar sourced from farmers in Maharashtra. 
    • GI tagged Nendran banana 
    • GI tagged Vazhakulam Pineapple 
    • GI tagged Marayoor Jaggery 

Some of the initiatives taken by APEDA to boost agri-exports:

  1. Agriculture Export Policy implementation in collaboration with states
  2. Cluster development activities: Meetings, major interventions required have been identified and existing infrastructure has been mapped, Exports of horticulture produce
  3. Creation of Export Promotion Forums (EPFs): To give impetus to the export of potential products as well as to remove the bottlenecks in the supply chain, APEDA created Export  Promotion Forums (EPFs), having  representatives of  different Department, Laboratories & top 10 leading exporters of each product 
  4. Accreditation/Compliance/Enforcement Under National Programme for Organic Production
    • Overseas accreditation has been granted to a certificate body for certification in European Union.
    • Accreditation of a Certification Body for certification as per NPOP in European Union.
    • The mutual recognition with Taiwan has been concluded. This has been the first MRS under NPOP.
    • The accredited Certification Bodies have been increased to 32. 
    • Export of organic products during April –February 2022 has been 700 million USD. India exports mainly to USA, EU, Canada, Switzerland and Great Britain. 
  5. Promotion of GI products
    • In order to promote the exports of GI products, two V-BSMs have been organised with the Embassies of UAE and USA.
    • APEDA officials have participated in several District level meetings for deliberation and promotion of GI registered products like Banganpalli mango in Andhra Pradesh, Govindbhog rice in West Bengal, Black rice in Manipur, Assam ginger etc.
    • An exclusive new section for GI products has been created in the APEDA portal and 112 GI registered agriproducts have been identified.
    • Development of traceability system for GI products has been initiated.

The rise in export of agricultural and processed food products has been also largely due to the various initiatives taken by APEDA such as 

  • Organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries, 
  • Exploring new potential markets through product specific and general marketing campaigns by active involvement of Indian Embassies.
  • APEDA also assists in upgradation and strengthening of recognized laboratories for export testing and residue monitoring plans. 
  • Provides assistance under the financial assistance schemes of infrastructure development, quality improvement and market development for boosting export of agricultural products.

News Source: PIB


Export Preparedness Index 2021

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Indian Economy & its challenges

In News: NITI Aayog, in partnership with the Institute of Competitiveness, released the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) 2021.

  • A comprehensive analysis of India’s export achievements. 
  • The index can be used by states and union territories (UTs) to benchmark their performance against their peers and analyse potential challenges to develop better policy mechanisms to foster export-led growth at the subnational level.
  • The Export Preparedness Index is a data-driven endeavour to identify the fundamental areas critical for subnational export promotion.

Three major challenges to India’s export promotion:

  • Intra- and inter-regional differences in export infrastructure
  • Weak trade support and growth orientation across states
  • Lack of R&D infrastructure to promote complex and unique exports

The EPI ranks states and UTs on 4 main pillars—

  1. Policy: A comprehensive trade policy provides a strategic direction for exports and imports.
  2. Business Ecosystem: An efficient business ecosystem can help attract investments and create an enabling infrastructure for businesses to grow.
  3. Export Ecosystem: This pillar aims to assess the business environment, which is specific to exports.
  4. Export Performance: This is the only output-based pillar and examines the reach of export footprints of states and union territories.

11 sub-pillars—

  • Export Promotion Policy
  • Institutional Framework
  • Business Environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Transport Connectivity
  • Access to Finance
  • Export Infrastructure
  • Trade Support
  • R&D Infrastructure
  • Export Diversification
  • Growth Orientation

EPI 2021 will help the states and UTs in a long way to plan and execute sound export-oriented policies for ensuring a conducive export ecosystem, to make maximum utilization of their export potential.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • GS-3: Internet Governance

EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA)

Context: Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states have agreed on a landmark law (DMA) to curb the market dominance of Big tech giants

  • The legislation has not passed. A finalized version is yet to be officially adopted by the European Parliament and the 27 countries that make up the EU.
  • The rules could come into place starting on January 1, 2023, though tech companies are asking for more time to implement the law.

Who are the targets of the DMA?

The DMA’s focus is on companies termed as ‘gatekeepers’, which include Apple, Facebook, Google, etc. These companies will have to comply with the new rules. Following are the metrics used to identify ‘gatekeeper’ companies:

  • Dominant Role in Digital Ecosystem: The reason the law refers to these companies as gatekeepers is that they often control distribution, whether it is for apps or ads on the platform, or even communication.
  • Revenue & Valuation: A company will be termed as a gatekeeper if it has an annual turnover of at least €7.5 billion within the EU in the past three years, or a market valuation of at least €75 billion. 
  • User Base: Any player with over 45 million monthly end-users, and at least 10,000 business users established in the EU, also qualifies as a gatekeeper. 
  • Exemption: Small and medium enterprises are exempt from being identified as gatekeepers.
  • Platform Services: The Company must also control one or more core platform services in at least three EU states. These services include marketplaces and app stores, search engines, social networking, cloud services, advertising services, voice assistants, and web browsers.
  • A category of ‘emerging gatekeeper’ has been identified, aimed at “companies whose competitive position is proven but not yet sustainable”.
  • Even if the list of Gatekeepers has not been released yet, the “Big Tech” – GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) – are likely to be the main subjects of the act, but not the only ones.

What are the DMA’s Proposals?

  • Pre-loaded apps: It crack down on pre-installed apps, common in Apple, Google and others. Users will have the right to choose and install their apps. So, future iPhones might not come with Safari, or even iMessage or Siri, pre-loaded. 
  • Interoperability in messaging services: This could mean that a user on WhatsApp and one on iMessage should be able to talk to each other. 
    • Large internet companies are often criticized for operating “walled gardens,” closed systems that make it harder for a user to ditch one provider for another.
  • Third-party app stores: Gatekeepers must allow the installation and effective use of third party apps & app stores, even while they can take “proportionate measures” for security. 
    • Companies like Apple have for long opposed third-party app stores citing security as the reason.
  • Fair access to developers: The EU wants app developers to get fair access to supplementary functionalities of smartphones, for example the Near Field Communications chip. 
    • Also, gatekeepers cannot establish unfair conditions for business users or require app developers to use certain services (e.g. payment systems or identity providers) in order to be listed in app stores.
    • App developers such as Epic Games, Spotify, etc. have long accused Google and Apple of holding them hostage to their payment systems.
  • Transparency in Ad Performance data: Gatekeepers will have to give sellers access to their marketing or ad performance data on the platform.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: The gatekeepers will have to inform the European Commission of their acquisitions and mergers. This is significant because big players tend to buy out some of their upcoming competition. 
  • Fairness in ranking: The new rules also forbid the gatekeepers from ranking their own products or services higher than others, and from reusing private data collected during a service for the purposes of another service.
    • The new law will prevent these giants from using the data generated on their site by business customers to better compete with them, as Amazon has been accused of doing.
  • Penal Provision: Violators can be fined up to 10% of the company’s global annual sales for an initial breach of the law, rising to 20% for repeated infringements. In worst case scenarios, they could even be banned from any further acquisitions

What is the significance of DMA?

  • The law makes the digital sector fairer and more competitive in the EU market.
  • It helps prevent abusive business practices of large platforms and is compared to historic antitrust reforms to the banking, energy and telecom sectors.
  • It widens consumer choices.
  • It gives rivals a better chance to survive against the world’s powerful tech companies
  • Once implemented it sets a new precedent for tech regulation worldwide.
  • It averts years of procedures and court battles needed by EU to punish Big Tech’s monopolistic behaviour where cases can end with huge fines, but little change on how these giants do business.
  • The law will give Brussels unprecedented authority to keep an eye on decisions by the giants

Conclusion

Tech companies have alleged that some of the rules can create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for their users.

Nevertheless, the act is a step in the right direction.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • GS-3: Security & challenges

Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) 

Context: At the NCRB Foundation Day, the Union Home Minister remarked that the second phase of the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) project is set to be completed by 2026.

Do You Know?

  • The Indore Police Commissioner recently unveiled a ‘fingerprint-based criminal record data fetching system’. The small thumb impression machine can be added to a phone to capture fingerprints at checking points, public spaces, etc. 
  • If the fingerprint recorded matches with the police database, all information about a person’s criminal record will be pulled up. The system is being lauded as it circumvents the long waiting period in fingerprint analysis as part of investigations. 

What is ICJS?

  • Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) is a national platform for enabling integration of the main IT system used for delivery of Criminal Justice in the country by five pillars namely:-
    • Police (Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network Systems), 
    • e-Forensics for Forensic Labs, 
    • e-Courts for Courts, 
    • e-Prosecution for Public Prosecutors 
    • e-Prisons for Prisons.  
  • Invested under the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems)  project of the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs), the ICJS enables a nation wide search on police, prisons & courts databases across all States/ UTs in the country. 
  • It also provides for data Analytics for Forecasting/ Predictive Trends in Crimes reported region-wise, category-wise, and basis other parameters for effective management & control of crimes in future.
  • The ICJS system would be made available through a dedicated and secure cloud-based infrastructure with high speed connectivity. 
  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be responsible for the implementation of the project in association with National Informatics Center (NIC).  
  • The project will be implemented in collaboration with the States and Union Territories.
  • In Phase-I (2018-2022) of the ICJS project, individual IT systems have been implemented and stabilized; also search of records have been enabled on these systems.
  • Under Phase-II (2022-26), the system is being built on the principle of ‘one data one entry’ whereby data is entered only once in one pillar and the same is then available in all other pillars without the need to re-enter the data in each pillar.

Merits of ICJS

  • It reduces errors and time taken in sharing of necessary information between different pillars of Criminal Justice system, thereby enabling speedier delivery of justice to the common man
  • It also helps in improving investigation quality by leveraging the analytics inbuilt in the platform.
  • The ICJS platform is an effective tool for the case and court management, as all the relevant information of a case will be available in real-time for use by the courts. 
  • Compliance of judicial orders and summons can also be achieved expeditiously, ensuring effective time management. 
  • Predictive Policing: Some other critical benefits arising out of the ICJS ecosystem is usable analytics products like the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) to identify & track repeat and habitual sexual offenders. 
    • The NDSO has become an integral part of pre-employment character & antecedent verifications, thereby reducing the opportunity for sexual crimes in several sensitive jobs.
  • The ICJS is going to be a milestone to enhance the productivity of the criminal justice system both qualitatively and quantitatively.

What are the challenges in deploying technology in policing?

  • Privacy– The Supreme Court in K.S Puttaswamy declared a fundamental right to informational privacy as paramount and noted that any measure that sought to collect information or surveil must be legal, necessary, and proportionate.
  • Mass surveillance– Integrating fingerprint-based criminal record data fetching system to the list of predictive policing practices will give birth to mass surveillance.
  • Disproportionate impact on poor & vulnerable– Mere suspicion or FIRs filed against an individual are sufficient to trigger the discretionary powers of the police that is misused against oppressed communities. Those subject to policing rarely include dominant caste persons with resources, who may have even been convicted of a crime.

Also Read


(ORF: Riasina Debates)


March 24: How does India’s choices on the Ukraine crisis affect it? – https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/how-does-indias-choices-on-the-ukraine-crisis-affect-it/ 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2: International relations

How does India’s choices on the Ukraine crisis affect it?

Context: India would have been at the receiving end of disapprovals no matter which side it took. Today’s India has greater agency in shaping diplomacy around crises, unlike in the past. With an economy half the size of India’s, it would have been difficult for Russia to ignore India’s demand for the creation of a humanitarian corridor to evacuate its civilians. Russia heeded to India’s demands and helped repatriate about 22,500 citizens (24 percent of Ukraine’s international students are Indians). The world quietly acknowledged the realism underlying India’s diplomatic and logistical response to the crisis. Now that the students have safely repatriated, this phase of Indian diplomacy has run its course.

Shift in Diplomatic Stand

  • India couldn’t have tilted towards both parties at the same time, thus it aimed to remain neutral.
  • India had earlier called for a “dialogue,” “cessation of violence,” and “safety” and “safe exit and return” of Indian nationals. Following that, India shifted its position, making references to the “UN Charter,” “international law,” and “sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”
  • Even as it tilted a little towards Ukraine, India still won Russia’s approval of its “independent” position, while also securing the US’ acknowledgement as it referred to India’s relationship with Russia as “distinct” and “okay”.

Does the Ukraine war complicates India’s ties with Russia?

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, between 2017–2021, Russia’s share of India’s defence imports was 46 percent and India received 28 percent of Russia’s defence exports. Even without sanctions, Russia will divert arms from exports to the Ukraine war, making it harder for India to procure Russian equipment. 

  • To meet shortages, Russia has asked China for military equipment. If Russia’s military supplies and technology transfers to India were halted without matching supplies from the West, the putative coalition to balance China will be put in jeopardy.
  • During 1971, the Soviets acted on their own interests, not India’s, and initially didn’t support India going to war with Pakistan. Former diplomat and author Chandrashekhar Dasgupta said that the Soviets “withheld a positive response to India’s new request for arms till after the Simla Summit” to prevent Indian territorial gains in Kashmir. As Soviet and American interests aligned, India declared a ceasefire after Pakistan’s defeat in the east, ending the war.

India’s offer to mediate and secure a peaceful resolution received American and Ukrainian support, but not Russian, which maintained control over the narrative. In welcoming India’s stand, Moscow merely made a statement. 

USA’s Stand

  • The US imposing sanctions on Russia will disrupt Russia’s defence supplies to India. Sanctions could jeopardise exports of S-400 missiles, leasing of Akula class submarines, manufacturing of A-203 rifles, and exports of the BrahMos missile by India.
  • From next to nothing in 2008, the US defence exports to India rose to US$ 15 billion in 2019. 
  • Between 2017-2021 the US is the third largest defence supplier to India, with 12 percent of market share. 
  • Furthermore, ruthless enforcement of sanctions will increase Russian dependence on China, weakening the US’ relationships with Russia and India.

China could come out on top

Europe and the Indo-Pacific are now a single strategic system joined by the actions of Putin and Xi.

  • The shift in the US focus to Europe away from the Indo-Pacific is perilous for an India that is facing China. 
  • Weakening Russia undermines the US’s Indo- Pacific strategy. How does sanctioning Russia’s S-400 missile help India deter China? Beijing could launch provocations in the South China Sea or even along the line of actual control with India.

In their joint statement of 4 February, China and Russia have resolved to resist “attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions,” meaning Taiwan and Ukraine. 

  • Moscow’s economic dependence on China undermines the multipolarity India seeks. 

Conclusion

India needs to introspect on strategy and means, and must make a move of high deterrence value. 

Can you answer the following question?

  1. What are the consequences of India’s “balancing act” on the Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on India’s security and geopolitical interests with regard to China?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding Non Resident Indian:

  1. According to India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA), NRI is an Indian citizen or Foreign National of Indian Origin residing outside India for purposes of employment, carrying on business or vocation in circumstances that would indicate an intention to stay outside India for an indefinite period.
  2. Visiting NRIs whose total income in India is up to Rs. 15 lakh during the financial year will continue to remain NRIs if the stay does not exceed 181 days.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.2 Export Preparedness Index is released by which of the following?

  1. NITI Aayog
  2. Ministry of Finance
  3. Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  4. All of the above

Q.3 President’s Colour is awarded for which of the following?

  1. Excellent track record in academics
  2. For showing extraordinary bravery at the time of crisis
  3. A military unit rendering exceptional service to the nation, both in peace and in war
  4. Exemplary Social service 

ANSWERS FOR 26th March 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 C

Must Read

On India’s position on Islamophobia:

The Hindu

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Indian Express

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