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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th April 2022

  • IASbaba
  • April 27, 2022
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(Prelims Focus)


India’s designation by the USCIRF

Context: In its 2022 Annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended that India be designated a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC), i.e., the category of governments performing most poorly on religious freedom criteria.

  • India has in the past said that the American body on international religious freedom has chosen to be guided only by its biases on a matter on which it has no locus standi.
  • Other countries recommended for this designation by the USCIRF are China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan American government agency that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion and makes policy suggestions to the White House.


Mission Antyodaya

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Government schemes and policies

Context: Mission Antyodaya is a convergence and accountability framework aiming to bring optimum use and management of resources allocated by 27 Ministries/ Department of the Government of India under various programmes for the development of rural areas.

  • Mission Antyodaya strives to realise the vision of Poverty-free India by 2022.
  • It is envisaged as state-led initiative with Gram Panchayats as focal points of convergence efforts.
  • Annual survey in Gram Panchayats across the country is an important aspect of Mission Antyodaya framework. It is carried out coterminous with the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) of Ministry of Panchayat Raj and its’ purpose is to lend support to the process of participatory planning for Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP).

With the right momentum, the project can help transform rural India — in terms of development and social justice

NOTE: The Indian Constitution mandates local governments to prepare and implement plans for ‘economic development and social justice’ (Articles 243G and 243W).


(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 Services Act (DSA)

Context:  The European Parliament and European Union (EU) Member States announced that they had reached a political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), landmark legislation to force big Internet companies to act against disinformation and illegal and harmful content and to protect internet users.

 Key provision of DSA

Instead of letting platforms decide how to deal with abusive or illegal content, the DSA will lay down specific rules and obligations for intermediary companies to follow.

  • Faster Removal: Online platforms and intermediaries such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc will have to add “new procedures for faster removal” of content deemed illegal or harmful.
  • Informed decisions: Further, these platforms will have to clearly explain their policy on taking down content; users will be able to challenge these takedowns as well.
  • Flagging Illegal content: Platforms will need to have a clear mechanism to help users flag content that is illegal. Platforms will have to cooperate with “trusted flaggers”.
  • Systemic Analysis: The DSA adds “an obligation for very large digital platforms and services to analyse systemic risks they create and to carry out risk reduction analysis”. This audit for platforms like Google and Facebook will need to take place every year.
  • Independent Audit: The Act proposes to allow independent vetted researchers to have access to public data from these platforms to carry out studies to understand these risks better
  • Ban on Dark Patterns: The DSA proposes to ban ‘Dark Patterns’ or “misleading interfaces” that are designed to trick users into doing something that they would not agree to otherwise. This includes forcible pop-up pages, giving greater prominence to a particular choice, etc.
  • Crisis Situation: The DSA incorporates a new crisis mechanism clause — it refers to the Russia-Ukraine conflict — which will be activated by the Commission and be in force for 3 months where special measures will be imposed
  • Transparency: It also proposes “transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including on the algorithms used for recommending content or products to users”.
  • Protection of Minors: The law proposes stronger protection for minors, and aims to ban targeted advertising for them based on their personal data.
  • Consumer convenience: Finally, it says that cancelling a subscription should be as easy as subscribing.
  • Penal Provisions: Penalties for breaching these rules could be huge — as high as 6% of the company’s global annual turnover.

Does this mean that social media platforms will now be liable for any unlawful content?

  • It has been clarified that the platforms and other intermediaries will not be liable for the unlawful behaviour of users. So, they still have ‘safe harbour’ in some sense.
  • However, if the platforms are “aware of illegal acts and fail to remove them,” they will be liable for this user behaviour.

Connecting the dots:


EDUCATION/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Selection of Vice-Chancellor

Context: The Tamil Nadu Assembly passed two Bills that seek to transfer the Governor’s power in appointing Vice-Chancellors (VCs) of 13 state universities to the state government.

What is the present process of appointment of VC?

  • In an ideal situation, the governor is the neutral arbiter in the selection of a V-C — in most states, the governor as visitor/chancellor chooses the appointee from a panel of three names recommended by a search-cum-selection committee appointed by the state government.
  • This arrangement can check the government from making appointments on the basis of political preferences, a tendency visible in many states.
  • Unfortunately, in states where the governor is deemed powerful, the office has often invited accusations of making appointments as a way of disbursing patronage.

What are the highlights of the Bills introduced by Tamil Nadu?

  • The Bills stress that the Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the Government from a panel of three names recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.
  • The Bills also seek to empower the state government to have the final word on the removal of VCs, if needed.
  • Removal will be carried out based on inquiries by a retired High Court judge or a bureaucrat who has served at least as a Chief Secretary.

What is the need for making such changes in appointment process?

  • The inability of the elected government to appoint a vice-chancellor of its own university was causing various irregularities in the overall administration of the varsity.
  • The Punchhi Commission constituted by Centre had recommended that governors should not be vested with the powers that were not vested by the Constitution (appointing vice-chancellors) as it would lead to clash of functions and powers between the state government and the governor.
  • The elected governments have repeatedly accused the Governors of acting as per the wish of the Centre on various subjects, including education.

Are there any other states which have tried to bring in similar changes?

  • The Maharashtra Assembly passed a Bill amending the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, where the Governor will be given two names to choose from by the state government following a panel’s suggestions.
  • In 2019, the West Bengal government took away the Governor’s authority in appointing VCs to state universities.
  • The Odisha government has also tried to bring appointments to state universities under its control but it has been challenged by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • In Gujarat, the state government had been appointing the vice-chancellor based on the three names recommended by the search committee.
  • In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana, the vice-chancellors were appointed from the list of three names recommended by the search committee and with the approval of the state government.

What are the criticisms of the changes proposed?

  • Education is a subject in the Concurrent List. Appointments to universities are regulated by the UGC Act. A recent Supreme Court order annulling the appointment of the V-C of a Gujarat varsity underlines that the state government cannot circumvent UGC regulations in appointments.
    • It ruled that in case of any conflict between state legislation and central legislation, central legislation shall prevail by applying the rule of repugnancy as enunciated in Article 254 of the Constitution.
  • The move by the Tamil Nadu government is more of a pushback against the perceived encroachment by governor rather than being driven by any urge to improve the quality of university education.
  • The university has, in recent years, emerged as a site of political contestation, where appointments are often influenced by political preferences rather than academic credentials. As a result, the institution of V-C has lost much of its credibility and autonomy. The focus of any new legislation should have been to restore this autonomy.

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1) Section 144 of the CrPC empowers whom to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance?

  1. District Magistrate
  2. A sub-divisional Magistrate
  3. Any other executive magistrate empowered by the state government

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.2) A region is considered to be under the grip of a heatwave if

  1. the maximum temperature reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius or more in the plains.
  2. the maximum temperature reaches at least 35 degrees Celsius or more in hilly regions.

Select the correct code:

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. According to the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and other Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2018, the “Visitor/Chancellor” shall appoint the VC out of the panel of names recommended by search-cum-selection committees.
  2. The subject ‘education’ is in the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Select the correct code:

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

ANSWERS FOR 26th APRIL 2022 – TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 d
2 a
3 a

Must Read

On Elon Musk buy of Twitter:

The Hindu

On Mission Antyodaya:

The Hindu

On India-Australia ties:

Indian Express


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