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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st January 2023

  • IASbaba
  • January 21, 2023
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Banjaras and Hakku Patra

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – History and Economy

Context: Recently Prime Minister of India symbolically distributed Hakku Patra (land title deeds) to five families of the Banjara (Lambani) community, a nomadic Scheduled Caste group in Karnataka.

About Banjaras:

  • The Banjaras are a key scheduled caste sub-group in Karnataka, although they are considered to be a tribal group in terms of the lives they lead.
  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes together make up nearly 24 per cent of the state population.
  • The Banjara are a historically nomadic trading caste who may have origins in the Mewar region of what is now Rajasthan.
  • Fire dance, ‘Ghumar’ dance and Chari dance are the traditional dance forms of the Banjaras.
  • Banjaras have a sister community of singers known as Dadhis or Gajugonia.
  • They are traditionally travelled from village to village singing songs to the accompaniment of sarangi.
  • The Banjara community has been listed as a Scheduled Tribe in the states of: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.
  • They were designated as an Other Backward Class in: Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
  • They were designated as a Scheduled Caste in: Karnataka, Delhi and Punjab.

About Hakku Patras or title deeds:

  • A title deed is a property ownership document, and the bearer of the document owns the land.
  • The title deeds enable owners to avail of bank loans with the said document.
  • They will also be eligible to buy or sell land to which the title deed is granted by the government.

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Which of the following phrases defines the nature of the ‘Hundi’ generally referred to in the sources of the post-Harsha period? (2020)

  1. An advisory issued by the king to his subordinates
  2. A diary to be maintained for daily accounts
  3. A bill of exchange
  4. An order from the feudal lord to his subordinates

Export Promotion Capital Goods scheme

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Economy

Context: The Indian government has announced a one-time relaxation from maintaining average export obligation and an option to extend the export obligation period for certain sectors under the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme.

About Capital Goods:

  • Capital goods are physical assets that a company uses in the production process to manufacture products and services that consumers will later use.
  • Capital goods include buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, and tools.
  • Capital goods are not finished goods, instead, they are used to make finished goods.
  • The Capital Goods sector has a multiplier effect and has bearing on the growth of the user industries as it provides critical input, i.e., machinery and equipment to the remaining sectors covered under the manufacturing activity.

About Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme:

  • EPCG Scheme was launched in the 1990s to facilitate import of capital goods with the aim to enhance the production quality of goods and services, thereby, increasing India’s international manufacturing competitiveness.
  • Under the scheme, manufacturers can import capital goods for pre-production, production and post-production goods without attracting any customs duty on them.
  • Second-hand capital goods may also be imported without any restriction on age under the EPCG Scheme.
  • The EPCG scheme is administered by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and is governed by the Foreign Trade Policy of India.
  • It can be explained as “Duty-Free (Zero Customs Duty) Import of Capital Goods/Machinery for the manufacture of products meant for Export.”

Eligible Sectors:

  • The sectors that are eligible for this relief are the Hotel, Healthcare, and Educational sectors.
  • These sectors will also have the option to extend the export obligation period for a longer duration, without having to pay any additional fees.

Eligibility Criteria for applying under EPCG Scheme:

  • Benefits under EPCG Scheme can be applied by any Exporter irrespective of his turnover.
  • EPCG License can be issued to the following category of Exporters:
    • Manufacturer Exporter.
    • Merchant Exporter with a supporting manufacturer.
    • Service Provider (who is exporting services) For Example. Hotel Industry.

New Norms:

  • Imports of capital goods are allowed duty free, subject to an export obligation.
  • The authorisation holder (or exporter) under the scheme has to export finished goods worth six times of the actual duty saved in value terms in six years.
  • Requests for export obligation extension should be made within six months of expiry instead of the earlier prescribed period of 90 days.
    • However, applications made after six months and up to six years are subject to a late fee of Rs 10,000 per authorisation.
  • According to the changes, requests for block-wise export obligation extension should be made within six months of expiry.
    • However, applications made after six months and up to six years will entail a late fee of Rs 10,000 per authorisation.
  • The facility to pay customs duty through scrips MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme) /Remission of Duties or Taxes On Export Product (RoDTEP) / RoSCTL (Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies) for default under EPCG has been withdrawn.

Source: The Economic Times

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) “Rapid Financing Instrument” and “Rapid Credit Facility” are related to the provisions of lending by which of the following:

  1. Asian Development Bank
  2. International Monetary Fund
  3. United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative
  4. World Bank

Q.2) With reference to foreign-owned e-commerce firms operating in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. They can sell their own goods in addition to offering their platforms as market-places.
  2. The degree to which they can own big sellers on their platforms is limited.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Shadow Banning

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology

Context: Elon Musk used the term ‘Shadow banning’  in the context of the so-called Twitter Files, internal company documents that were released with Musk’s authorization.

About ‘Shadow banning’:

  • The term often refers to stealth actions by social media platforms to limit a post’s visibility.
  • The term shadow ban traces back to 2012 when Reddit users accused the platform’s administrators of banning a link to a Gawker article while publicly championing transparency.
  • Shadow bans refer to a web moderation technique in online forums and social platforms where a user (or a user’s content) is blocked without it being apparent to them that they’ve been blocked.
  • It can be described users’ general discontent about not getting the attention they believe they deserve on social media, even if they don’t necessarily think a platform has engaged in any clandestine moderation.

Concerns of Shadow Banning:

  • Private companies are allowed to make their own rules about content moderation, but for advertisers, users, and free speech champions, true shadow bans are problematic because they enforce unarticulated rules secretly.
  • They allow a company to avoid taking responsibility for moderating content while quietly manipulating its flow and those who are silenced have no process for emerging from the shadows.

Source:  Indian Express

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Consider the following communication technologies:

  1. Closed-circuit Television
  2. Radio Frequency Identification
  3. Wireless Local Area Network

Which of the above are considered of the Short-Range devices/technologies? (2022)

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020)

  1. Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units
  2. Create meaningful short stories and songs
  3. Disease diagnosis
  4. Text-to-speech conversion
  5. Wireless transmission of electrical energy

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
  2. 1, 3, and 4 only
  3. 2, 4, and 5 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Governance

Context: ASER, a nationwide citizen-led household survey that provides a snapshot of children’s schooling and learning in rural India has been released.

About ASER:

  • The report is prepared by Pratham Education Foundation.
  • The 2022 edition of the survey was done at a national level after 4 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India.
  • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in almost all rural districts of India.
  • ASER is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today.
  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
  • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.

Major highlights of the Information collected:

  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children in the age group 3-16.
  • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic.
  • Basic information is collected on school infrastructure, enrollment, attendance, teachers and fund flows.
  • Since 2010, ASER has tracked selected Right to Education (RTE) indicators as well.

Key Highlights of the Report:

Enrollment:

  • Enrollment in government schools have increased significantly since 2018.
    • In 2018, the number stood at 65.6 per cent.
  • The period 2006 to 2014 saw a steady decrease in the proportion of children (aged 6 to 14) enrolled in government school.
  • The proportion of children (age 6 to 14) enrolled in government school increased sharply from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022.
  • Overall, in the age group of 6-14 years, the enrollment rate now stands at 98.4%, an increase from 97.2% in 2018.

Enrolment of girls

  • The number of girls in the age group 11-14 years who do not go to schools has also decreased – 2% in 2022 compared to 4 % in 2018.
  • This figure is around 4% only in Uttar Pradesh and is lower in all other states.
  • The decrease in the proportion of girls not enrolled in school is even sharper among older girls in the 15-16 age group.
    • In 2018, this figure stood at 13.5%.
  • The proportion of 15-16-year-old girls not enrolled has continued to drop, standing at 7.9% in 2022.
  • In only three states, the number of girls not going to school is above 10% – Madhya Pradesh (17%), Uttar Pradesh (15%), and Chhattisgarh (11.2%).

Decrease in reading and arithmetic skills

  • Nationally, children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years.
  • Drops are visible in both government and private schools in most states, and for both boys and girls.
  • In both government and private schools, only 20.5% students of Class 3 can read, compared to 27.3% in 2018.
  • Similarly, the proportion of Class 5 students who can read has dropped to 42.8% in 2022, compared to 50.5% in 2018.
  • This decrease is smaller in the case of Class 8 students – 6% in 2022 compared to 73% in 2018.
  • Children’s basic arithmetic levels have also declined compared to 2018.
  • The proportion at the national level now stands at 25.9% compared to 28.2% in 2018 in the case of Class 3 students; 25.6% compared to 27.9% in the case of Class 5 students.

Private tuition:

  • The number of students taking private tuition classes has increased.
  • As per the ASER 2022 report, the percentage of Class 1-8 students taking tuition classes is at 30.5% in 2022, compared to 26.4% in 2018.

School facilities:

  • The fraction of schools with useable girls’ toilets increased from 66.4% in 2018 to 68.4% in 2022.
  • The proportion of schools with drinking water available increased from 74.8% to 76%, and the proportion of schools with books other than textbooks being used by students increased from 36.9% to 44% over the same period.
  • Most sports-related indicators also remain close to the levels observed in 2018.
  • In 2022, 68.9% of schools have a playground, up slightly from 66.5% in 2018.

Source: The Hindu


National Museum of Natural History

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Syllabus

  • Prelims – History and Art and Culture

Context: Regional Museum of Natural History (RMNH), Mysore, a regional branch of National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change organised awareness programmes on #SaveEnergy #LifestyleforEnvironment– Mission LiFE, Green talk and Green pledge.

About National Museum of Natural History:

  • The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) was a museum focusing on nature, located in New Delhi, India.
  • Established in 1972 and opened in 1978, the museum functions under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • Exhibits at the NMNH were focused on India’s plants, animals and mineral wealth, and were divided into four main exhibit galleries:
    • “Cell: The Basic Unit of Life”,
    • “Conservation”,
    • “Introduction to Natural History”, and
    • “Nature’s Network: Ecology”.

MUST READ:  Mission LiFE

Source: PIB


All-India Consumer Price Index

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Syllabus

  • Prelims: Governance

In News: The All-India Consumer Price Index Number for Agricultural Labourers (Base: 1986-87=100) for the month of December, 2022 remained stationary at 1167 (One thousand one hundred and sixty seven) points and for Rural Labourers increased by 1 point to stand at 1179 (One thousand one hundred and seventy nine) points.

  • Max increase for Agricultural Labourers: Rajasthan
  • Max increase for Rural Labourers: Kerala

About CPI:

  • It is a comprehensive measure Consumer Price Index or CPI as it is commonly called is an index measuring retail inflation in the economy by collecting the change in prices of most common goods and services used by consumers.
  • Called market basket, CPI is calculated for a fixed list of items including food, housing, apparel, transportation, electronics, medical care, education, etc.
  • Remember, CPI is different from WPI, or Wholesale Price Index, which measures inflation at the wholesale level.
  • In India, there are four CPI numbers:
  • CPI for Industrial Workers (IW)
  • CPI for Agricultural Labourers (AL)
  • CPI for Rural Labourers (RL) and
  • CPI for Urban Non-Manual Employees (UNME).
  • While the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation collects CPI (UNME) data and compiles it, the remaining three are collected by the Labour Bureau in the Ministry of Labour.

Uses:

  • To calculate the inflation levels CPI’s annual percentage change is also used to assess inflation.
  • To compute the cost of living
  • the purchasing power of a country’s currency
  • Understanding the real value of wages, salaries and pensions,
  • Price regulation
  • Provides insights to consumer spending capacity

The calculation

  • The CPI is calculated with reference to a base year, which is used as a benchmark.
  • The price change pertains to that year.
  • CPI = (Cost of basket divided by Cost of basket in the base year) multiplied by 100
  • Base years
  • CPI(IW) = 1982
  • CPI(AL) = 1986-87
  • CPI(RL) = 1984-85

News Source: PIB


Saansad Khel Mahakumbh

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Syllabus

  • Prelims: Governance

In News: The second phase of Sansad Khel Mahakumbh 2022-23 was inaugurated in Basti district of Uttar Pradesh via video conferencing. The first phase of the Khel Mahakumbh was held from December 10 to 16, 2022 and the second phase of the Khel Mahakumbh is scheduled from January 18 to 28, 2023.

About

  • Khel Mahakumbh is a unique initiative that provides an opportunity and platform to the youth of the district and surrounding areas to showcase their sporting talent and motivate them to take up sports as a career option. It also seeks to instill discipline, teamwork, healthy competition, confidence and a sense of nationalism in the youth of the region.
  • Various competitions are organized in both indoor and outdoor games like Wrestling, Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Volleyball, Handball, Chess, Carrom, Badminton, Table Tennis etc. Apart from these, competitions like Essay Writing, Painting, Rangoli making are also organized.
  • Athletes who perform through these games are being selected for further training under the Sports Authority of India. Around 40,000 athletes are participating in the Khel Mahakumbh as compared to last year.
  • Financial assistance of Rs 50,000 per month is also being provided to 2500 athletes through Khelo India. About 500 Olympic potential athletes are being prepared under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS). Keeping in mind the need for international training, some players have received assistance ranging from Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 7 crore.
  • More than one thousand Khelo India District Centers are being set up across the country, out of which more than 750 centers have been completed. Geo-tagging of all sports grounds across the country is also being done so that players do not have any problem in taking training.
  • A sports university in Manipur has been developed for the youth of the Northeast and another sports university is also being constructed in Meerut, (Uttar Pradesh).

Significance

There was a time when sports was considered an ‘extracurricular’ activity and was relegated to a hobby or activity without much value, a mentality that greatly harmed the country. This led to many talented sportspersons not achieving their potential. Through such events, India’s traditional expertise in sports will get a new dimension.

  • The daughters of Basti, Purvanchal, Uttar Pradesh and all over India will showcase their talent and skills on a global stage.
  • Sports is getting due prestige in society. This has resulted in unprecedented performance in the Olympics, Paralympics and other competitions.
  • Sports competitions at different levels and regions make the players aware of their potential thereby helping them develop their own techniques while also helping the coaches in identifying shortcomings and providing room for improvement.

News Source: PIB


Alien species in Tiger Reserves

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Syllabus

  • Prelims: Biodiversity

In News: Several alien invasive plants growing together can have a detrimental effect to the biodiversities in tiger habitats, a new study has found.

  • The research paper has deciphered many negative impacts of multiple co-occurring alien plants on biodiversity and what it means for conservation in the era of global changes. The study is the first of its kind in India and was published in journal Forest Ecology and Management by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • Invasive species:
    • Invasive alien species are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health.
    • Regenerate at an alarming speed and threaten to edge out the indigenous flora
    • Some of the invasive plants have a toxic impact on the landscape after remaining underwater, which is often for two months every monsoon.
    • Some weeds have herbal properties, but their toxicity outweighs their utility. For instance, wild boars love to gorge on the succulent rootlets of the Leea macrophylla or ‘kukura thengia’ that is fast clogging the patrolling paths and grasslands.

Why is it an issue?

  1. Impact of Alien Plants unknown: India’s biodiverse ecosystems are threatened by a variety of alien plants like Lantana camara, Parthenium hysterophorous, Prosopis juliflora, etc, introduced during British colonisation. Lantana alone has pervasively invaded 44 per cent of India’s forests.
  • Apart from its spread in different ecosystems and occasional reports on its association with birds, little is known about how invasive plants affect an ecosystem in the long term.
    • There is even greater confusion when one asks about how alien plants impact native ecosystems.
    • Due to the absence of reliable scientific data and mixed opinions on the impact of alien species, there exists a dilemma regarding the need to manage them.
    • In the face of rapid, pervasive invasions, this inaction could threaten ecosystems’ sustenance.
  1. The plants can put pressure on native forage plants and drive away wild herbivores — the food source for the big cats.
  • Native wild herbivores like chital and sambhar did not prefer the commonly found plants in invaded areas. They preferred rare forage plants, which were already depleted in infested areas.
    • Although wild herbivores consumed a limited portion of alien plants. With monotonous invasion stands, their dependence on native forage increases.
    • Invasions might slowly deplete the native plant populations and might lead to diseases in the herbivores
    • Reduced forage availability for herbivores like sambar and chital, which are major prey for tiger, leopard, and dhole in this landscape, threaten the sustenance of these carnivores in invaded regions.
  • The future of these tiger ecosystems can thus be grim. It is indicative of an ‘invasion-centric forest ecosystem’ historically unmatched, defaunated and functionally downgraded with homogenised biodiversity

Conclusion:

  • It is necessary to prioritise restoration investments in the least invaded regions to retain native biodiversity and slowly upscale such restored habitats.
  • The study highlighted the importance of investments in scientific restoration in India to mitigate the impacts of biological invasions.

Kanha Tiger Reserve

  • Also known as Kanha–Kisli National Park, is one of the tiger reserves of India and the largest national park of the state of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Hosts populations of Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, dhole, sloth bear, Bengal fox and Indian jackal. The barasingha is adapted to swampy areas. The gaur inhabits meadows and waterholes in the park. Blackbuck has become very rare.
  • The first tiger reserve in India to officially introduce a mascot, Bhoorsingh the Barasingha.
  • The area is the ancestral home of the Gond and Baiga tribes.

News Source: Down to Earth


NGT probe into cruise operating in Bhopal Ramsar wetland

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Syllabus

  • Prelims: Biodiversity

In News: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) to periodically monitor the activities of a cruise vessel polluting the Bhoj wetland in Bhopal, MP.

The critical issue:

  • The cruise began operating in 2011.
  • Small cruise vessels with passengers act as floating colonies that pollute water bodies with sewage, wastewater and other contaminants. A mid-sized cruise vessel can consume 150 tonnes of fuel each day and dump toxic waste in water.
  • The state government has permitted the operation of the cruise with a capacity of 50 passengers, but even broad estimates suggest that human sewage of 19,000 litres will be generated in a week alone.
  • Major: The state government plans to introduce cruise vessels of bigger capacity in summer 2023 – Launching cruise vessels will be a direct violation of the state government’s own laws.
  • Violations: Operating on diesel + Provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which states prevention of water pollution and other air pollution Acts and Biological Diversity Act of 1974 and 2002, respectively

Why is it even more dangerous?

The wetland is also a Ramsar site with international importance and has two lakes, Upper lake, also called Bhojtal and Lower Lake or Chhota Talaab.

  • It provides drinking water to 1.2 million people.
  • Upper lake hosts 15 varieties of fish and turtles
  • About 2,500 migratory birds across the world visit the wetland that serves as a breeding and nesting habitat for them.
  • The launching of the cruise vessel and increasing human activity due to tourists will directly impact biodiversity.

The Way Forward

  • Should be made mandatory to submit a factual and action-taken report with regard to the compliance of the rules and government orders.
  • CPCB and MPPCB should monitor the activities of the cruise on the Bhoj wetland for pollution caused by its operations.
  • Increasing tourist footprint should also have a plan for how to balance or compensate for the damage caused. Motor boats do ply in inland waters such as Kerala backwaters, but guidelines are needed for operating a cruise vessel.

About Wetlands

  • Wetlands are an area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/ tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.
  • To be Ramsar site, however, it must meet at least one of nine criteria as defined by the Ramsar Convention of 1961.

Wetlands in India

  • India’s Ramsar wetlands are spread over 11,000 sq km — around 10% of the total wetland area in the country — across 18 States.
  • No other South Asian country has as many sites though this has much to do with India’s geographical breadth and tropical diversity.
  • The United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142) have the maximum Ramsar sites whereas Bolivia spans the largest area with 148,000 sq km under the Convention protection.
  • Wetlands are also known to have among the highest soil-carbon densities and therefore play a major role in buffering carbon dioxide emissions.
  • The National Wetland Inventory and Assessment compiled by the Indian Space Research Organisation, estimates India’s wetlands to span around 1,52,600 square kilometres which is 4.63% of the total geographical area of the country.
  • India has 19 types of wetlands whereas Gujarat has the maximum area followed by Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • Wetlands in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat serve as important spaces for migratory birds.

Significance

  • Being designated a Ramsar site ensure States and the Centre take steps to keep these tracts of land are conserved and spared from man-made encroachment.
  • Acquiring this label also helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.

About Ramsar Convention:

  • The Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  • The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.
  • Aim: International mangrove cooperation mechanism aims for technical exchanges, collaborative research, education and training, and pilot projects on conservation and restoration, to protect mangrove biodiversity and coastal blue carbon ecosystems, enhance mangrove ecosystem services and resilience to climate change.
  • The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.
  1. Ramsar site is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention
  2. Criteria: One of the nine criteria must be fulfilled to be the Ramsar Site.
  • Criterion 1: If it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.
  • Criterion 2: If it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities
  • Criterion 3: If it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.
  • Criterion 4: If it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions.
  • Criterion 5: If it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds.
  • Criterion 6: If it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.
  • Criterion 7: If it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity.
  • Criterion 8: If it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend.
  • Criterion 9: If it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent non avian animal species.

Must Read: Wetland Conservation

News Source: Down to Earth


Digitalization of Judiciary In India

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Syllabus

  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance)

Context: India takes an average of 2,184 days to dispose of a case in its subordinate courts, 1,128 days in its High Courts, and 1,095 days in the Supreme Court, bringing the total life cycle of a case in India to 12+ years.

  • Indian Judicial System has been suffering from pendency of cases.
  • Over 4.3 Crore cases have been pending at various stages of the judicial process.
  • Digitization of the Judicial process holds promise in reaffirming the trust of the citizen in the Judiciary.

About Digitization of the Judicial Process:

  • Digitization refers to the increased usage of digital technology to perform conventional tasks, thereby reducing time and enhancing public service delivery.
  • In the context of the Judicial Process, it stands for documentation of the case in digital format.
  • Richard Eric Susskind in his book, The Future of Law, has written that in the coming years, lawyers and their litigants will communicate through email.

Evolution of digitization in Administration and Judiciary

  • In India, e-governance in the field of administration of justice began in the late 1990s, but it accelerated after the enactment of the Information and Technology Act, 2000.
  • 2006: e-courts were launched as a part of the National e-Governance Plan (NEGP).
  • Guiding star: Chief Justice of Allahabad HC, Justice D Y Chandrachud
  • Conceptualized and initiated the project to digitize approximately one crore case files in one year.
  • Necessary: A large space required to store so many files + becoming difficult to manually preserve the decades-old documents + To ensure that these files are traceable electronically as and when required.
    • The consequences of missing court records are grave.
  • In-State of Uttar Pradesh v. Abhay Raj Singh: Held by the Supreme Court that if court records go missing and re-construction is not possible, the courts are bound to set aside the conviction. Thus, convicts can go free for want of court records.

Benefits of usage of technology and digitisation:

  • Reduction in the need for storage infrastructure for case files:
    • This space could be utilised for increasing courtrooms and recruiting more judges for enhanced access to justice and speedy Justice delivery.
    • Judges – Population ratio: 20 per Million for India (whereas for other countries it is approximately double).
  • Increased traceability of Case files:
    • This will reduce adjournments due to the traceability of affidavits which were stored electronically.
  • Reduced time for Court proceedings:
    • The time consumed in summoning records from the lower courts to the appellate courts is one of the major factors causing delays in cases.
    • Due to the digitisation of the records, this time would reduce significantly.
  • For ensuring real justice:
    • In ‘State of Uttar Pradesh v. Abhay Raj Singh’, it was held by the Supreme Court that if court records go missing and reconstruction is not possible, the courts are bound to set aside the conviction.
    • This would allow the accused to not be held accountable for the crimes committed.
    • This would lead to a miscarriage of Justice and hence digitisation provides a panacea against this.
  • For increased ease of procedure in the judicial ecosystem:
    • Lawyers can check the status of the filing, the status of applications and affidavits, the date of the next hearing, orders passed by the courts etc. just by clicking on an app.
    • It would no more be required to physically visit the courts to know the status of the case.
  • Increased openness and transparency:
    • A litigant can be more informed about the status of his/ her court case.
    • This will lead to enhanced trust in Judiciary.

Challenges associated with digitization of judicial records:

  • Digitisation and usage of digital infra require increased funding.
  • Digital Literacy amongst the stakeholders is abysmal
    • Lawyers and Judges struggled to shift to virtual hearings during the pandemic.
  • The status of it is poor in the case of the rural population.
  • Privacy Concerns- With increasing digitisation, especially of court records, privacy concerns are likely to be at the forefront of judicial and public deliberations in the coming years.
  • Hacking and Cyber security- On the top of technology, cyber-security will be a huge concern too.
    • The government has initiated remedial steps to address this problem and formulated the Cyber Security Strategy.
  • Not every case can be disposed of virtually nor can these be live-streamed.
  • Deployed with adequate planning and safeguards, technological tools can be a game changer.
    • However, technology is not per se value-neutral — that is, it is not immune to biases. Power imbalances need to be checked upon.
  • Lack of a well-equipped space where lawyers can conduct their cases.

Steps taken for the usage of technology in Judicial Process

Digitisation of judicial records and establishment of e-courts

e-Courts Project:

  • This was conceptualized under the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary-2005”.
  • The e-Committee is the governing body charged with overseeing the e-Courts Project.
  • Its vision is to transform the judicial system of the country through the ICT enablement of courts.
  • e-filing of cases/petitions by state governments in all matters has been made mandatory from January 1, 2022.

National Judicial Data Grid:

  • National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) is a database of orders, judgments and case details of 18,735 computerised District and Subordinate Courts created as an online platform under the e -Courts Project.
  • Data is updated on a near real-time basis by the connected District and Taluka Courts and High Courts.

SUPACE:

  • It is short form of Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency.
  • It is a composite AI-assisted tool.
  • It makes all relevant cases available to a judge/ legal researcher for making an informed decision.

SUVAS:

  • It is short form of Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software.
  • It is used to translate SC judgments into regional languages.

Virtual hearings in Courts:

  • The Supreme Court in Anjali Brahmawar Chauhan v Navin Chauhan allowed the family court, Gautam Buddha Nagar, to conduct the trial of a matrimonial case through video-conferencing.

Live Streaming of Courts’ proceedings:

  • On the basis of the judgment in Swapnil Tripathi, in 2018 the Supreme Court allowed the live-streaming of cases of constitutional and national importance.
  • Gujarat High Court became the 1st court in the country to live stream its proceedings.

Way Forward:

As the technology grows, concerns about data protection, privacy, human rights and ethics will pose fresh challenges and hence, will require great self-regulation by developers of these technologies. It will also require external regulation by the legislature through statute, rules, regulation and by the judiciary through judicial review and constitutional standards.

The cases related to matrimonial issues and domestic violence, bounced cheques, motor accident compensation referred to mediation centres and Lokadalats could be included in the list of cases fit for disposal through the virtual hearing.

Source:  The Hindu


Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) Consider the following statements regarding Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme:

  1. The EPCG scheme is administered by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
  2. Benefits under EPCG Scheme can be applied by any Exporter irrespective of his turnover.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q,2) Kanha Tiger Reserve is often mentioned in news located in

  1. Meghalaya
  2. Madhya Pradesh
  3. Rajasthan
  4. Odisha

Q.3) Consider the following statements regarding National Museum of Natural History:

  1. The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) was a museum focusing on nature, located in New Delhi, India.
  2. The museum functions under the Ministry of Culture.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’ 21st January 2023 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st


ANSWERS FOR 20th January – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – b

Q.2) – b 

Q.3) – c

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