Front Page / NATIONAL
. Be scientific:
Front Page / NATIONAL
. India, Pak. to fight it out in The Hague for Jadhav today
Delhi will present its case in the morning session of the ICJ
What has happened?
The Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, will hold public hearings on the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Naval officer, who was arrested and sentenced to death by Pakistan in April over allegations of espionage and abetting terror.
- India will present its case in the morning session followed by Pakistan
- The decision of the court will be binding with no appeal
- Pakistan will be presenting its case using past precedent where India has refused the ICJ jurisdiction
On 6 February 2015 the Court elected Judge Ronny Abraham (France) to be President and Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia) to be Vice-President
. Xi evokes Panchsheel as India skips meet
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed five principles of peaceful co-existence or Panchsheel — the brainchild of China, India and Myanmar in the 1950s — as the mantra for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI), and as a vehicle for achieving sustainable globalization
- China ready to share the experience of development with other countries
- Have no intention to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, export our own social system or model of development, or impose our own will on others
- Defended Globalization countering the resistance to open economic borders in the U.S. and parts of Europe
Open to dialogue
- India’s decision to boycott the BRF, provided an opportunity to Pakistan PM to be magnanimous (generous or forgiving)
- He said that Pakistan is open to dialogue
- it is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy and leave a legacy of peace for future generations
India’s decision to stay away has raised eyebrows here, as other countries such as Japan and Vietnam, which have serious maritime disputes with China, have sent high-level official delegations, to the BRF
. Rs. 11,000 cr. to be spent on roads in Naxal-hit areas
Centre to begin connectivity project in 44 districts soon
What has happened?
- The Centre will soon begin work on a Rs. 11,000-crore project to provide road connectivity to 44 Naxal-affected districts, including Sukma in Chhattisgarh, which had recently witnessed one of the deadliest Maoist attacks
- Five per cent of the total project cost i.e. Rs. 550 crore will be kept aside for administrative expenses including for deployment of security forces at strategic locations
- The Cabinet had last year approved the centrally-sponsored “Road Connectivity Project for LWE Affected Areas” scheme
- The project will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in the districts that are critical from a security and communication point of view
Chhattisgarh to benefit
- The project is likely to be started in the next few weeks and all necessary arrangements have been made for its launch
- Out of these 44 districts, the maximum are in Chhattisgarh, where 25 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed by Naxals last month
- Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra are the other States that will be covered under the scheme
. Alert sounded on malware
IT Ministry asks stakeholders to protect digital payments ecosystem
What has happened?
The IT Ministry has reached out to key stakeholders like RBI, National Payments Corporation of India, NIC and UIDAI (Aadhaar) to advise them to protect their systems against ‘WannaCry’ ransomware to ensure that the digital payments ecosystem in the country is protected
What is a ransomware?
It is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid
WannaCry (WannaCrypt or Wanna Decryptor)
The ransomware hit systems in over 100 countries, including Russia and the U.K., in one of the most widespread cyber-attacks in history. It infected computers running on older versions of Microsoft operating systems like XP, locking access to files on the computer
- The cyber criminals have demanded a fee of about $300 in crypto-currencies like Bitcoin for unlocking the device
- Operating systems under threat: Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 8, Windows Server 2003
Situation in India
Noting that no reports have been formally received so far related to the ransomware attack, MeitY said a few systems of the Police Department in Andhra Pradesh were impacted and that the State government has been informed to follow the advisory by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)
Steps taken by MeitY
- It has reached out to the Department of Telecom to alert internet service providers to secure their networks
- It has also requested Microsoft India to inform all its partners and customers to apply the relevant patches.
. Minority status only if trusts enrol on NITI site
New rules wrt educational trusts and societies seeking minority status
What has happened?
Educational trusts and societies seeking minority status will now be required to register as non-governmental organisation with the NITI Aayog, whether they need government aid or not
- All petitioners are required to submit unique ID of the trust/society as given by the NITI Aayog portal NGO Darpan (it is not needed only in cases of institutions run by individuals)
- The unique ID should match corresponding details on the NGO’s website
- The minority status certificate will be awarded only after the unique ID is provided by the petitioner
Impact of the new rule
The registration with the NITI Aayog portal Darpan is likely to put all the financial transactions of the trust and its office-bearers under government scanner as details such as PAN and Aadhaar of all trustees and office-bearers will be required for the enrolment
Exceptions to the rule
The rule will not be applicable to institutions run by individuals
In 2016 the government had made it mandatory for NGOs and voluntary organizations to register with the NITI Aayog portal to enable them to apply for grants from any Ministry
- However, the trusts and NGOs not seeking government funding were not required to do so
- The Constitution gives linguistic and religious minorities the fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- A society or trust consisting of members of a minority community, or even a single member of a minority community, may establish an institution.
NITI Aayog portal – “Darpan”
- The NGO-Partnership System (NGO-PS) Portal (NGO-DARPAN) is a platform that provides space for interface between VOs/NGOs and key Government Ministries / Departments / Government Bodies, to start with
- Later it is proposed to cover all Central Ministries / Departments / Government Bodies
- This is a free facility offered by the NITI Aayog in association with National Informatics Centre to bring about greater partnership between government & voluntary sector and foster better transparency, efficiency and accountability
- The portal provides information about all signed up VOs / NGOs, information about schemes of the participating Government Ministries / Departments / Government Bodies open for partnership and funding with the voluntary sector
- It will also have the facility to apply for NGO grants online, upload all common documents (like Registration Certificate, Annual Reports, Annual Audited Statements etc) required by government Ministries / Departments / Government Bodies as well as track the processing of your application until the grant is sanctioned / rejected
- The NGO-Partnership System (NGO-PS) Portal (NGO-DARPAN) started out as an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office, to create and promote a healthy partnership between VOs/NGOs and the Government of India
- Managed by: The Portal is managed at present by NITI Aayog
. Policy tweak to speed up defence purchases:
Article talks about changes in DPP and proposed guidelines for Strategic Partnership
What has happened?
Under a proposed change to defence procurement policy (DPP) in select areas, acquisition will continue even if only one foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is shortlisted after competitive evaluation, resulting in a single vendor situation
Under existing rules, the procurement process has to be cancelled and started afresh in such cases, which has considerably delayed critical procurements.
Strategic Partnership Policy
Under this policy the Indian private sector would have a greater role in defence manufacturing. The proposed guidelines for SP are under final discussion.
- Present situation: The policy now awaits clearance from the Defence Acquisition Council and then final approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS)
Provisions of SP policy
- Preferably, two or more OEMs should be shortlisted for each segment. However, even if only one OEM is shortlisted, the process will be taken forward
- 4 segments of the policy: There are four segments listed in the proposed policy
- Single engine fighter aircraft
- Armored fighting vehicles/ Main Battle Tanks (MBT)
. Be scientific
On GM mustard for farms, the Centre must privilege reason over politics in taking the call
It has been developed by a team of scientists at Delhi University led by former vice-chancellor Deepak Pental under a government-funded project
- It uses three genes from soil bacterium that makes self-pollinating plants such as mustard amenable to hybridisation
- It has also gone through safety and toxicity tests (on mice) prescribed by the regulator
Arguments against GM Crops
Introducing genes from soil bacterium or other forms of animal life into plants will amount to playing with the natural order of plant life
Arguments in favor of GM Crops
Proponents of GM crops say plants and animals are constantly swapping bacterial genes with air, soil and water, and also that the only way of determining if a gene can produce proteins toxic to humans is to subject it to a systematic testing process.
- No health risk: Years of field tests on transgenic corn, soyabean and brinjal in other countries have shown no health risks that vary with their non-GM versions
Successive governments have failed to move on the draft National Biotechnology Regulatory Bill, 2008 that would enable a biotechnology regulator to take shape. With such a regulator in place, matters of science would no longer be victim of political expediency
. Clamping down on crime
The police’s perception of public safety and their own role is changing, but too slowly
Nirbhaya case ruling where SC confirmed the death penalty for four of the accused
It is debatable whether the police alone were to be blamed here.
- Both the state and community at large have a role in shaping public safety, especially that of women and children
What do people want from police?
Several surveys point to a demand for protection of life more than guarding individual property.
State of Indian police
- Outnumbered: With the phenomenal expansion of geographic areas to be policed, Indian police has been outstretched and outnumbered
- There are only about 140 policemen per 100,000 people, a very poor ratio when compared to other modern democracies
- Trust deficit: Well off sections of the society do not trust police and organize themselves to ward off threats or buy safety services from other sources. The phenomenal rise in private security agencies accounts for the growing lack of trust in the state police. Middle class and the poor are afraid to go to police stations and almost always try to avoid them as much as possible
- Lessons from others: Author suggests that Indian police should learn from other countries. Learning in Public administration would be beneficial. Borrowing the best practices from foreign police organisations would lead to a marked improvement
- COMPSTAT: Under its legendary Commissioner, Bill Bratton, more than a decade ago, the NYPD instituted a COMPSTAT (short for COMPuter STATistics) programme that analysed crime with the help of computers, identified crime hotspots and took preventive action, such as intensified patrolling. Police commanders in New York were made to report to the commissioner each week explaining how they were tackling crime in their jurisdictions. This mechanism not only brought about greater attention to crime in the field but also enhanced police accountability at the grass-root level
- Beyond COMPSTAT: The NYPD has recently gone beyond COMPSTAT by hiring a reputed private agency to survey public opinion on police performance. Focussed questions over mobile phones and the responses obtained look at how to fill visible gaps in policing
- Campaign by Metropolitan Police (Met), London: The Met has launched a major campaign against street crime that involves frisking and seizure of knives — a visible, street-level operation that has enhanced security perceptions. The use of large manpower has been the hallmark of this operation. Physical checks of youth in the streets has added an element of deterrence
Cautionary note: Above practices can lead to public harassment if followed overzealously by the police. Hence, proper safeguards are necessary before implementing them in Indian context
Glimmer of hope
Author states that there are at least two features which offer a glimmer of hope for community safety in India
- The first is the availability of a corps of leadership in the form of technically savvy young Indian Police Service officers
- The second is the spread of Internet use at all levels of the police. An offshoot is the use of social media in day-to-day policing. Information on crime incidents and criminals is as a matter of course conveyed to the public in many urban centres with encouraging results. Citizens are also encouraged to report crime through email or over social media.
. Centre may execute proposed social security law in phases
Labor ministry will go for a phased execution of its law on social security
What has happened?
The Labor Ministry may implement its proposed social security law in a phased manner, exempting small factories employing up to 10 workers, from its ambit initially
- Factories employing more than 10 workers and informal sector workers can be covered in the first phase
- The small factories could be covered in the second phase
The Labour Ministry had, in March 2017, proposed a labour code on social security which will provide social security cover to the entire workforce in the country, including self-employed and agricultural workers
- Factories with even a single worker would have had to contribute towards social security benefits, as per the code
Small and medium enterprises, which are kept out of social security schemes at present, had raised concerns over the government’s proposal due to its financial implications, as the new law will add to their financial burden
- Pre-existing benefits: The provident fund and pension contribution, administered by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), is mandatory only for factories employing at least 20 workers at present
- Further, medical benefits under the Employees’ State Insurance Act apply to factories with at least 10 workers and it is also applicable to shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas and road transport undertakings
. GST: What still needs to be done
The GST Council has met 13 times to finalise the minutiae of the five laws that will help bring the new tax regime to reality
Article is in Q&A form.
Give it a go-through
. Why India is not part of the Belt and Road Initiative summit
The dragon is spitting repeated streaks of fire. How long can the elephant be left behind?
- India has stayed away from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit which began in Beijing on Sunday, citing sovereignty, procedural and leadership issues
- As many as 120 countries, including 29 at the top leadership level, attended the inaugural event
Main Reason for boycott by India
CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Moreover, Indian concerns are justified when seen in the backdrop of deployment of 30000 security personnel to protect the projects along the CPEC route
- Uncooperative China: China has been reluctant to support India’s stance wrt Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council. It has also been a stumbling roadblock to India’s full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group
Relevant points have been covered. Rest of the article can be given a go-through
. A Moment Of Reckoning
To preserve judiciary’s independence, appointment process must be transparent.
- Need for a full-time body: There is need for a full-time body for appointments as well as for receiving complaints against judges
- Only a full-time commission, independent of the government and the judiciary, can impart transparency and credibility to the system of appointments to the higher judiciary
- Put out names in public: We need a system where names of meritorious candidates are shortlisted and put out for the public to raise their objections and provide relevant information that the appointing authorities may not have about the proposed appointees
- Clearly-defined criteria for assessing the suitability of a judge would bring objectivity in the process