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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th April 2022

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  • April 5, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group III

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment 

Context: A consortium of scientists as part of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently said that all coal-fired power plants, without the technology to capture and store carbon (CCS), need to be closed by 2050 if the world aspired to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

  • Besides, limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector and this will mean
    • drastically reducing fossil fuel use, 
    • widespread electrification, 
    • improved energy efficiency, and 
    • use of alternative fuels.
  • According to the scientists, limiting warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. 

Do you know?

  • According to the Central Electricity Authority, India has about 211 GW of operational coal-fired power plants — roughly 10% of global capacity. 
  • As per Global Energy Monitor data, another 31 GW was being constructed and about 24 GW in various pre-construction phases. 
  • None of the existing under construction coal-fired power plants in India have CCS facilities.

What is Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? 

  • It is an international body set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with 
    • Regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change
    • Impacts and future risks associated with Climate Change
    • Options for adaptation and mitigation for Climate Change
  • Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and the UNEP.
  • IPCC assessments provide a scientific basis for governments at all levels to develop climate-related policies and also underlie climate negotiation at International level.
  • The main objective of UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

News Source: TH


Criminal Procedure Bill

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions

Context: The Lok Sabha recently passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, by voice vote.

Key takeaways 

  1. It seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
  2. It allows the collection, storage and analysis of physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scan of the convicted, arrested and detained persons.
  3. During the debate on the Bill, the Opposition members expressed concern over the issue of data protection, possible misuse of the proposed law, violation of the citizen’s right to privacy and other fundamental rights.
    • One of the opposition members highlighted that the Bill was violating Articles 14, 19 and 20 (3) and 21 of the Constitution. 
    • Its implications on civil liberties and human rights were enormous and would have far-reaching consequences

News Source: TH


99% of world’s population is breathing polluted air: WHO

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Pollution 

Context: According to the WHO, A full 99% of people on Earth breathe air containing too many pollutants.

Key takeaways 

  • A full 99% of people on Earth breathe air containing too many pollutants.
  • WHO used satellite data and mathematical models to determine that air quality is falling short basically everywhere.
  • The poorest air quality was found in the eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions, and Africa

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


International Air Connectivity Scheme (IACS) scheme

Part of: GS-Prelims 

  • By: The Ministry of Civil Aviation 
  • Objective: To enhance air connectivity from certain States of the country with selected international destinations to promote socio-economic growth.
  • There are two international airports in the North East Region at Guwahati and Imphal.
  • NE states to be connected with Bangkok, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Yangon, Hanoi, Mandalay, Kunming & Chittagong.

News Source: PIB


DIKSHA Website

Part of: GS-Prelims 

DIKSHA is the platform for providing quality e-content for school education in States/UTs and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform). 

  • DIKSHA complies with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 level AA. 
  • This enables people with visual impairments to access the website using assistive technologies, such as screen readers.

Special e-content for visually and hearing impaired developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on NIOS website/ YouTube.  

  • DAISY is the emerging world standard for digital talking books for people who are visually impaired or have a print disability. 
  • DAISY books have “embedded navigation” that enables readers to instantly jump to any part of a work- the same way a sighted person can turn to any page. 
  • With DAISY, the text is delineated with tags, such as part, chapter, page, paragraph, etc., and synced with the audio files. Readers can navigate through this hierarchy using the tab key or other player control.

News Source: PIB


MISCELLANEOUS

Water: State subject

Nai Roshni Scheme

  • Aims to empower and enhance confidence in women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for Leadership Development of Women.  
  • It is a six-day non-residential/five-day residential training programme conducted by selected Programme Implementing Agencies for the women belonging to minority community in the age group of 18 to 65 years. 
  • The training programme cover areas related to programmes for women, health and hygiene, legal rights of women, financial literacy, digital literacy, Swachch Bharat, Life Skills, and advocacy for social and behavioural changes, etc.
  • So far, around 4.35 Lakh women have been trained under the scheme.

Naya Savera – Free Coaching and Allied Scheme

  • Aims to provide free coaching to students/candidates belonging to six notified minority communities i.e. Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis for technical/professional courses and competitive examination for recruitment to Group ‘A’, ‘B’, & ‘C’ services and other equivalent posts under the Central and State Governments. 
  • The scheme is implemented across the country through empaneled project implementing agencies (PIAs).
  • So far, more than 1.19 lakh  minority students / candidates have benefitted from Naya Savera.

Nai Udaan Scheme

  • Support is provided to minority candidates clearing Preliminary examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), State Public Service Commission (PSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC) etc.
  • So far financial support has been provided to around 9800 minority candidates. 

Nai Manzil Scheme

  • Aims to benefit the minority youth (both men & women) belonging to six notified minority communities of 17-35 years of age, who do not have formal school leaving certificate, i.e., those in the category of school – dropouts or educated in community education institutions like Madrasas. 
  • 30% of the beneficiary seats are earmarked for girl/women candidates and 5% of the beneficiary seats for persons with disability belonging to the minority community under the scheme. 
  • The scheme provides a combination of formal education (Class
    VIII or X) and skills to enable beneficiaries seek better employment and livelihood. 
  • A total of 93485 beneficiaries have been trained so far under the scheme all over
    India.

Concept of Familial Forestry

Familial Forestry means caring for the tree as a family member so that the tree becomes a part of the family’s consciousness. 

Land for Life 

  • It is an award programme of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which is conferred every two years. The Land for Life Award  aims to provide global recognition to individuals and organizations whose work and initiatives have made a significant contribution to sustainable development through sustainable land management (SLM).Land for life Award 2021 was conferred to the Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India, by UNCCD on 17th June 2021.
  • This movement involved more than a million families from more than 15,000 villages of desert-prone northwest Rajasthan. About 2.5 million saplings have been planted in the past 15 years, with active participation of students and desert dwellers, as per UNCCD.
  • While conferring the award, UNCCD has stated that, Familial Forestry of Rajasthan, India is a unique concept that relates a tree with a family, making it a green “family member”.  This green or eco socialization brings environmental sensitivity and empowerment.
  • The Government has various schemes relating to afforestation/plantation leading to combating desertification and land degradation depending on the climatic and geographical condition of that particular area including schemes of MOEFCC  under Twenty Point Programme (TPP) like National Afforestation Programme (NAP), National Mission for a Green India (GIM) etc.

(Mains Focus)


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement

Context: The India-Australia FTA negotiations first began in 2011 but they were suspended in 2015 as the talks were stuck over issues such as market access for dairy products in India and visa liberalisation for Indian professionals. 

  • The negotiations were resumed in September 2021, and this time around things got done in a record time and the pact was signed in just over six months.

How significant is the India-Australia FTA for bilateral trade

  • The India-Australia FTA is the first trade agreement signed by India with a developed economy after more than a decade. 
  • The pact is expected to give a big push to bilateral trade as it will not only eliminate or lower tariffs on a large number of goods but also address the non-tariff barriers such as technical barriers to trade, apart from sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions. 
  • According to government estimates, trade in goods is likely to almost double to $50 billion in five years from about $27 billion at present. 
  • As India is not part of any significant regional trading bloc, it is important for India to sign bilateral agreements, so that it does not lose out on preferential market share and weaken its export competitiveness. 
  • India is hopeful that the FTA with Australia will give a positive signal to other developed countries such as the UK, Canada and the EU, who are already on the negotiating table for similar pacts with New Delhi.  This would show that India means business and is ready to conclude such agreements fast if a balanced deal could be struck. 

Is the tariff reduction substantial for both sides? 

  • The India-Australia FTA is an ambitious pact with significant commitments to tariff cuts. 
  • Australia will provide zero-duty market access for 96.4 per cent value of Indian exports (98 per cent of tariff lines) on the first day of implementation of the agreement. 
  • Exports of several labour-intensive sectors, currently facing import duty of 4-5 per cent in Australia, will gain from the immediate duty-free access. 
    • These include most textiles and apparel, a few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture and sports goods, jewellery, engineering goods, and selected pharmaceuticals and medical devices. 
  • Tariffs on the remaining 113 tariff lines, amounting to 3.6 per cent of India’s exports, will be phased out in five years. 
  • Australia, too, will gain considerable market access in India with tariffs being eliminated on more than 85 per cent of the Australian goods exports immediately, rising to almost 91 per cent in over 10 years. 
    • Tariffs on items such as wool, sheep meat, coal, alumina, metallic ores, and critical minerals will be immediately reduced to zero
    • On other products such as avocados, onions, cherries, shelled pistachios, macadamias, cashews in-shell, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and currants, tariffs will be eliminated over the next few years. 
    • Import duties will also be slashed on Australian wines, though not eliminated. 

Has India’s sensitivities with respect to agriculture and dairy sectors been addressed? 

  • India has managed to completely shield its dairy sector from any tariff reduction under the FTA while excluding most sensitive agriculture items such as chickpeas, walnut, pistachio nut, wheat, rice, bajra, apple, sunflowers seed oil and sugar. 
  • Other items in the exclusion list, where no concessions have been extended, include silver, platinum, jewellery, iron ore, and most medical devices. 

What are the provisions for services? 

  • Both countries have decided to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications, licensing, and registration procedures between professional services bodies. 
  • In a boost to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM), and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors, the length of stay for an Indian student with a bachelor’s degree with first-class honours in the areas will be extended from two to three years. 
  • Australia will also provide new access for young Indians to participate in working holidays in the country. 

Is there a plan to deepen this agreement in the future? 

  • Yes. Both sides want to deepen the engagement and work towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). 
  • It has been agreed that within 75 days of the signing of the pact, a negotiating subcommittee will start negotiations on issues including other areas for market access for goods and services, a digital trade chapter, and a government procurement chapter to transform the FTA into a CECA.

Connecting the dots:


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • GS-2: Judiciary and its working

Death Penalty

Context: Recently, SC has agreed to comprehensively examine procedures in death penalty cases.

  • While hearing death sentence appeals since September 2021, the Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed concern over the manner in which trial courts and High Courts have carried out sentencing with very little (relevant) information.

What has caused the SC to examine practices in death penalty sentencing?

  • The court is undertaking an exercise to reform the procedures by which information necessary in a death penalty case is brought before courts. 
  • In so doing, the Supreme Court is acknowledging concerns with the manner in which death penalty sentencing is being carried out. 
  • While the death penalty has been held to be constitutional, the manner in which it has been administered has triggered accusations of unfairness and arbitrariness.

How are judges supposed to choose between life and death sentences?

  • In May 1980, when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the death penalty in Bachan Singh’s case, a framework was developed for future judges to follow when they had to choose between life imprisonment and the death penalty.  
  • At the heart of that framework was the recognition that the legislature in the Criminal Procedure Code had made it clear that life imprisonment would be the default punishment and judges would need to give “special reasons” if they wanted to impose the death sentence
  • Through the 1980 framework — popularly known as the “rarest of rare” framework — the Supreme Court said that judges must consider both aggravating and mitigating factors concerning the crime and the accused when deciding if the death penalty is to be imposed.
  • The judgment also made it clear that life imprisonment as a sentence would have to be “unquestionably foreclosed” before judges imposed the death sentence
  • There was an indicative list of factors that the judgment identified as being relevant, but it was clear that it was not meant to be an exhaustive list

What has happened to this framework in the four decades since Bachan Singh?

  • The Supreme Court has repeatedly lamented the inconsistency in application of the Bachan Singh framework. 
  • Similar concerns have been expressed by the Law Commission of India (262nd Report). 
  • One of the main concerns has been the crime-centred approach to sentencing, often in violation of the mandate in Bachan Singh that factors relating to both the crime and the accused have to be considered. 
  • There has been widespread concern that the imposition of death sentences has been arbitrary. A study of the 595 death sentences imposed in the last five years shows that this concern is intensifying.

What is the reason for this?

  • One of the main reasons is that very sparse sentencing information about the accused is brought before the judges. 
  • While the judgment in Bachan Singh did develop a framework, it was a framework that depended on the relevant information brought before the court.
  • But the framework did not have any mechanisms to ensure the actual collection of such information and its presentation before judges.
  • This has resulted in a situation where there is barely any meaningful information about the accused that enters the sentencing process. 
  • It is an empirical reality that the vast majority of death row prisoners are economically vulnerable and very often receive poor legal representation
  • As a result, they do not have access to professionals and experts with the necessary training and skill sets to undertake the complex exercise of collecting mitigation information.
  • Also, sentencing judges have often dismissed the consideration of mitigating factors depending on their perception of the crime. 
  • It points to a deeper gap — that there has been no real guidance on how judges must go about assigning weight to aggravating and mitigating factors, and how they should approach weighing one factor against another.

What is mitigation, and what are mitigating factors?

  • A criminal trial has two stages — the guilt stage and the sentencing stage. Sentencing happens after the accused has been found guilty of the crime; this is the stage where punishment is determined. Therefore, anything presented or said during sentencing cannot be used to reverse or change the finding of guilt.
  • It is a fundamental tenet of criminal law that sentencing must be individualised, i.e, in the process of determining punishment, the judge must take into account individual circumstances of the accused. 
  • The idea of mitigation is to give practical application to considerations of deservedness that are crucial to the moral idea of punishment. 
  • Justice would be an incomplete idea if criminal law was incapable of considering an individual in all their complexity and the various factors that contributed to a set of decisions and actions in their lives.

Who can collect all this information?

  • The Supreme Court has recognised that it is important to collect this complex interplay of information sentencing is to be done in a proper manner. 
  • The judgments in Santa Singh (1976) and Mohd Mannan (2019) have recognised the interdisciplinary nature of such an exercise, and that it requires professionals other than lawyers to collect such information.
  • The task is not something lawyers are trained to do — that is the reason the American Bar Association recognises the role of a mitigation specialist with a clearly defined role that goes beyond what lawyers can do.
  • There must be a very high degree of fairness in a system that is interested in subjecting individuals to the experience of death row, and ultimately taking lives through the instrumentality of law. 
  • With that as the starting point, the criminal justice system needs to do all it can to ensure that systems are created for procedural fairness.

Connecting the dots:


(Down to Earth: Conservation)


April 4th: Why India should enact a special law for conserving its sacred groves – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/forests/why-india-should-enact-a-special-law-for-conserving-its-sacred-groves-82201 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Wildlife & Biodiversity

Why India should enact a special law for conserving its sacred groves

Context: India’s sacred groves are being gradually altered due to ever-expanding human populations, pollution and removal of biomass; effective conservation is the need of the hour to maintain their functional values.

What are Sacred Groves?

Sacred groves are patches of natural vegetation preserved by ancient societies on religious and cultural grounds. 

  • These patches of vegetation are rich in biodiversity and act as habitats of many endangered and threatened plant species.
  • A sacred grove usually consists of a dense cover of vegetation including climbers, herbs, shrubs and trees, with the presence of a village deity and is mostly situated near a perennial water source.
  • Sacred groves are considered to be symbols of the primitive practice of nature worship and support nature conservation to a great extent.
  • These groves are, in general, maintained by rural communities. No governments have been involved in their maintenance so far.
  • Many are protected and maintained by the village community by evolving certain taboos and restrictions. Some of the groves are also maintained by individual families.
  • In some cases, individual and ancient trees also act as sacred groves, with the idol of a deity under the tree. 
  • There is a general belief among people that any damage to the sacred grove, harm to any living fauna there or cutting any tree or climber of the grove may cause diseases and failure of agricultural crops.
  • Many villages have set apart sanctified land to propitiate the Vanadevadas, or forest spirits. The entire grove is considered sacred in certain areas and worshipped.

It is estimated that India may have about 100,000 such groves. The names of such groves vary depending upon the region and language of our country. They are called with different names in different states:

  • Sarna in Bihar
  • Dev Van in Himachal Pradesh
  • Devarakadu in Karnataka
  • Kavu in Kerala
  • Dev in Madhya Pradesh
  • Devarahati or Devarai in Maharashtra
  • Lai Umang in Maharashtra
  • Law Kyntang or Asong Khosi in Meghalaya
  • Oran in Rajasthan
  • Kovil Kadu or Sarpa Kavu in Tamil Nadu

Threats to Sacred Groves

So far, these sacred groves have been protected through social fencing with the involvement of the local community. 

  • But of late, some groves have been cleared for the construction of buildings and other modernisation works in connection with temple activities.
  • Certain sacred groves have been reduced to small patches due to encroachments
  • In some places, old trees have been felled and fruit orchards and fruit gardens have been established.
  • The groves are being gradually altered due to the increasing needs of the ever-expanding human population, pollution and removal of biomass.

How to save these groves – The Way Forward

Effective conservation and management practices are thus the need of the hour in order to maintain the groves’ functional values. The groves have great research value in in situ conservation of rare, endangered and threatened plant species.

  • It is high time that public awareness is created about the importance of these sacred groves, developmental activities are banned and the felling of trees or removal of any other vegetation is completely stopped.
  • This is possible only by way of enacting a special law for the protection and management of sacred groves.
  • As the management practices and other rituals vary from state to state, the concerned state governments may promulgate such an act as suitable for the state. The idea should be to protect certain rare, endangered and threatened plant species in the era of global warming and climate change.

NOTE: Sacred groves have been legally protected under ‘community reserves’ in the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002.


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding IPCC:

  1. It is an international body set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  2. The main objective of UNFCCC is to prevent ozone depletion .

Which of the following is or are correct

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022:

  1. It seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
  2. It allows the collection, storage and analysis of physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scan of the convicted, arrested and detained persons.

Which of the following is or are correct

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. Naya Savera Aims to provide free coaching to students/candidates belonging to six notified minority communities i.e. Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis for technical/professional courses and competitive examination. 
  2. Under Nai Udaan Scheme, support is provided to minority candidates clearing Preliminary examinations conducted by UPSC, State Public Service Commission (PSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC) etc.

Which of the following is or are correct

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

ANSWERS FOR 5th April 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 C

Must Read

On Green Hydrogen:

Indian Express 

On creating gender neutral spaces:

Indian Express

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