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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

14 Mar, 2021

75 Min Read

Sri Lanka Civil War

GS-II : International Relations Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Civil War

Background

  • The majority of Sri Lankans are ethnic Sinhalese, a group of Indo-European peoples that had migrated to the island from northern India in the BC 500s (during Mauryan Empire).
  • The Sinhalese had contacts with the Tamils who were settled in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.
  • A major migration of the Tamils occurred between the 7th and the 11thcenturies CE especially during Cholas (Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola).

Britishers are the historical reason for Sri Lanka Civil War.

  • When the British started ruling the country in 1815, the approximate population of the Sinhalese was roughly 3 million and the Tamils numbered up to 300,000.
  • Apart from the ethnicities, the two groups also differed in their religious affiliations.
  • The Sinhalese were predominantly Buddhist and the Tamils were mostly Hindu.
  • The British ruled over Sri Lanka from 1815 to 1948.
  • During this time, they brought nearly a million Tamils to work in the coffee, tea and rubber plantations in the island nation.
  • The British also set up good educational and other infrastructure in the northern part of the country, which was where the Tamils were in a majority.
  • They also favoured the Tamils in the civil service.
  • All this naturally fostered ill-feeling among the Sinhalese.

What happened after Independence?

  • Sri Lanka attained independence from the British on 4 February 1948.
  • After attaining independence, the new government initiated many laws that discriminated against the Tamils.
  • Sinhalese was declared the sole official language which effectively eliminated the Tamils from government service.
  • A law was also passed that simply barred Indian Tamils from getting citizenship.
  • The Tamils started demanding equal rights in their homeland. Their demands were just and their methods peaceful.
  • However, ethnic tension was rising in the country and the successive Sinhalese governments did nothing to provide equal rights and opportunities to the Tamil people. They were even targets of sectarian violence.
  • In 1972, the Sinhalese changed the country’s name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka and made Buddhism the nation’s primary religion.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

  • The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was formed in 1976 by Prabhakaran with the intention of acquiring a homeland for the Tamils in Sri Lanka in the north and east parts of the island.
  • As ethnic tension grew, in 1976, the LTTE was formed under the leadership of Velupillai Prabhakaran, and it began to campaign for a Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where most of the island’s Tamils reside.
  • In 1983, the LTTE ambushed an army convoy, killing thirteen soldiers and triggering riots in which 2,500 Tamils died.
  • The group first struck in July 1983 when they attacked an army patrol at Tirunelveli in Jaffna.
  • 13 army men were killed which prompted violence on civilian Tamils by the majority community.
  • The initial days of the LTTE were focused on fighting other Tamil factions and consolidating power as the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
  • This was achieved by 1986, the same year it captured Jaffna.
  • There were many skirmishes between the government and the insurgents in which civilians were also affected. Many Tamils left their homes for the eastern part of the country.

What happened after Independence?

  • As Ethnic ties have bound southern India and Sri Lanka for more than two millennia. India is a home to more than 60 million of the world’s 77 million Tamils, while about 4 million live in Sri Lanka.
  • The Palk Strait, about 40 km (25 miles) wide at its narrowest point, separates the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka, traditionally the main Tamil area of the Indian Ocean island.
  • When war between Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sinhalese majority erupted in 1983, India took an active role.
  • Indo-Sri Lankan Accord was signed in 1987 to provide a political solution to Sri Lanka’s conflict.
  • It proposed the establishment of provincial council system and devolution of power for nine provinces in Sri Lanka (also known as The Thirteenth Amendment).

Indian Intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War

  • Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) was sent to the island in the hope of bringing about peace.
  • India deployed Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka under Operation Pawan to disarm the different militant group.
  • IPKF was later withdrawn after three years amidst escalating violence.
  • In 1987, Rajiv Gandhi decided to intervene in the situation mainly because of separatism issues in Tamil Nadu and also to avoid the potential swarm of refugees from Sri Lanka to Indian shores, setting a new stage for India-Sri Lanka relations.
  • This move proved to be a terrible disaster. Instead of negotiating a settlement between both parties, the Indian troops ended up fighting the Eelam group. About 1200 Indian men died in the war.
  • Rajiv Gandhi was also a victim of the LTTE when in 1991, he was assassinated by a human bomb at an election rally in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
  • After the IPKF had withdrawn in 1990, the fighting continued more intensely. Sri Lankan President Premadasa was also killed by the LTTE in 1993 in a human bomb.
  • The LTTE, at its height, was a full-fledged militia with even an air force of its own. It employed women and even children in their activities.
  • The war went on with numerous counts of atrocities and brutalities perpetrated by both sides. The civilians also suffered terribly. Lakhs of people were displaced in the protracted war.
  • A ceasefire was declared a few times by the LTTE, only to resume fighting later. Peace talks were also held with the intervention of international actors, particularly Norway. Nothing came to any avail.

Results of the Sri Lankan Civil War

  • Finally, the Rajapaksa government decided to come hard on the LTTE in an extreme offensive starting in 2007.
  • There was intense fighting between the government forces and the LTTE in which thousands of civilians were caught in the line of fire.
  • The government was also accused of targeting civilians and destroying entire villages.
  • The violent conflict was ended in 2009 and at that point of India has agreed to reconstruct the war-torn areas and started many rehabilitation programs.
  • India voted against Sri Lanka in 2009, 2012 and 2013 at the US-sponsored UNHRC resolution to investigate alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
  • International and United Nations observers describe the events that led to the defeat of the LTTE in 2009 as a ‘bloodbath’.
  • On 19th May, the president of the country declared to the parliament that the LTTE leader Prabhakaran was killed and that the war had been won by the government forces.
  • Many heaved a sigh of relief as the bloody war had proved far too costly. However, there have been speculations that the army had killed many Tamil leaders after they had surrendered.
  • It is suggested that in the final days of the war, about 40,000 people had lost their lives. The Sri Lankan government faced the huge task of providing relief and aid to the displaced and injured. The total cost of the 26-year war is estimated to be USD 200 billion.

Source: TH

Cyber Forensics

GS-III : Internal security Cyber Security

Cyber Forensics

What is Cyber Forensics or Computer Forensics?

  • Computer forensics is the application of investigation and analysis techniques to gather and preserve evidence from a particular computing device in a way that is suitable for presentation in a court of law.
  • Cyberforensics is an electronic discovery technique used to determine and reveal technical criminal evidence. It often involves electronic data storage extraction for legal purposes.
  • Although still in its infancy, cyberforensics is gaining traction as a viable way of interpreting evidence.
  • Cyberforensics is also known as computer forensics.
  • The goal of computer forensics is to perform a structured investigation while maintaining a documented chain of evidence to find out exactly what happened on a computing device and who was responsible for it.

Need for Cyber Forensics

  • Cyber Forensics is needed for the investigation of crime and law enforcement.
  • There are cases like hacking and denial of service (DOS) attacks where the computer system is the crime scene.
  • The proof of the crime will be present in the computer system.
  • The proofs can be browsing history, emails, documents, etc.
  • These proofs on the computer system alone can be used as evidence in a court of law to sort out allegations or to protect innocent people from charges.

Procedures for Cyber Forensics

  • Forensic investigators typically follow a standard set of procedures: After physically isolating the device in question to make sure it cannot be accidentally contaminated, investigators make a digital copy of the device's storage media.
  • Once the original media has been copied, it is locked in a safe or another secure facility to maintain its pristine condition. All investigation is done on the digital copy.

Here are the 7 steps about How the Cyber Forensics Experts work

  1. Copying the hard drive of the system under investigation.
  2. Verification of the copied data.
  3. Ensuring the copied data is forensically sound.
  4. Deleted files recovery.
  5. Finding data in free space.
  6. Performing keyword searches.
  7. The technical report.
  • Investigators use a variety of techniques and proprietary software forensic applications to examine the copy, searching hidden folders and unallocated disk space for copies of deleted, encrypted, or damaged files.
  • Any evidence found on the digital copy is carefully documented in a "finding report" and verified with the original in preparation for legal proceedings that involve discovery, depositions, or actual litigation.
  • Computer forensics has become its own area of scientific expertise, with accompanying coursework and certification.

What does it cover?

  • Cybercrimes cover a broad spectrum, from email scams to downloading copyrighted works for distribution, and are fueled by a desire to profit from another person's intellectual property or private information.
  • Cyber forensics can readily display a digital audit trail for analysis by experts or law enforcement.
  • Developers often build program applications to combat and capture online criminals; these applications are the crux of cyber forensics.

Resource Centre for Cyber Forensics (RCCF)

  • Resource Centre for Cyber Forensics (RCCF) is a pioneering institute, pursuing research activities in the area of Cyber Forensics.
  • The centre was dedicated to the nation by the then Honorable union minister in August 2008.

Objectives of RCCF:

  • Developing indigenous Cyber Forensics tools.
  • Providing training on Cyber Forensics to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs)
  • Providing technical support to LEAs for cybercrime investigation and analysis.
  • Supporting LEAs for setting up of Cyber Forensics Laboratories.

RCCF has identified the following thrust research areas:

  • Disk Forensics
  • Network Forensics
  • Mobile Device Forensics
  • Live Forensics.
  • Memory Forensics
  • Multimedia Forensics
  • Internet Forensics

Conclusion

People will rely on computers, for security, and there will be people who will break them. The world will need people who can stop this from happening and think as these hackers do. Therefore, the demand for security professionals will continue to rise and cyber forensics is an evergreen field.

Cyber Police in India: A Case study of Delhi

  • When Inspector Vijay Gahlawat joined the Delhi Police cyber cell in 2008, it comprised a small office in Malviya Nagar with two workstations and a team of around eight officers.
  • Thirteen years later, the force’s cyber unit is running full throttle from its very own National Cyber Forensic Laboratory (NCFL) and catering to technical investigation requirements of cases from across the country.
  • A major change came in 2011-12, when the number of workstations increased to around seven, and the office shifted to Mandir Marg, said Mr. Gahlawat.
  • In 2015, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy joined the unit.
  • Six years ago, there was no dedicated institutional mechanism to attend to cybercrimes or even a dedicated platform to report them.
  • It was still under the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police, Mr. Roy said, adding: “Special units like Crime Branch and Special Cell had their own cyber cells but they only concentrated on their own needs. This cyber cell was taking care of headquarter-level requirements.”
  • In 2019, CyPAD was inaugurated and was brought directly under the Special Cell while the Economic Offences Wing remained a separate unit.
  • Mr. Roy, however, said the nature of complaints has mostly remained the same and only the platforms have changed. The two broad categories include online harassment and online fraud. “In the last couple of years, the numbers of cas\es have increased under both heads, proportionally,” he said.
  • There are two aspects in a cybercrime investigation: digital footprint and money trail. The digital footprint essentially involves investigating the platform used: the victim’s device and the suspect’s device.
  • “When it comes to platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, we have to ask them for information. The difficulty for any law enforcement agency is that most of these platforms are foreign-based private entities and it’s a challenge to get information, but since 2018, the government at the highest level is following up with these platforms to ensure that they respond to these agencies,” he said.
  • Over the years, every district of the Capital has set up a separate cyber cell, apart from the CyPAD unit which constantly interacts with the district cyber cells.
  • The police are currently using Encase, Forensic Tool Kit (FTK), and Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) among other tools that are able to copy, analyse, and extract deleted information from most devices.
  • Citing an example, Mr. Gahlawat shared how the unit had been given a burnt and damaged phone from a spot where a man was found murdered. “After deleted data from those phones were extracted, it turned out that the wife had killed the man,” he said.
  • With the current technology available to the police, data from over 40,000 types of phones can be extracted, he said. Earlier, there was no way to extract deleted information, Mr. Roy said. “The FTK existed in 2008 as well but in a very primitive form,” Mr. Gahlawat said.
  • Another technology the department is proud of is malware and spyware-detection tools such as FireEye, which enables them to detect if a system is being attacked for spying.
  • “Previously, we did not have any technology to detect an infected or hacked system. This particular technology enables us to analyse the type of attack and where the information is being sent,” Mr. Roy said.
  • Since 2020, a technology that is widely being used during investigations is video and photograph enhancement.
  • It has proved to be a boon in probes related to last year’s communal riots. Currently, the force is using programmes called Amped Five and Kanescence for the purpose.
  • Giving an example, Mr. Gahlawat said that while investigating a kidnapping case, they managed to enhance a video grab from grainy CCTV footage to ascertain the number plate of a motorbike. “This helped the police trace the accused and rescue the child,” he said.
  • At present, the Delhi police have 10 dedicated labs, including memory forensics, mobile forensics, cloud forensics, network forensics, crypto forensics, malware forensics, image and video enhancement, damaged device labs for mobile and laptops, and audio forensics where not only officials from the Information Technology cadre are working but also domain experts have been hired from outside the force.
  • While the city police have come a long way from the “dark ages”, they still face some challenges, including retrieving encrypted data from locked devices and issue of privacy, which “enables service providers to wash their hands off when information is asked for”.
  • Another major challenge is the increased use of Virtual Private networks, which makes it tough to track online activities.

Source: TH

Gregarious bamboo flowering in India

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Biodiversity & Environment

Gregarious bamboo flowering in India

What is the Gregarious flowering of bamboo?

  • Gregarious bamboo flowering refers to the phenomenon when all populations of a particular species flower roughly at the same time.
  • The bamboo plants die after flowering and setting seeds.
  • Such synchronised flowering, sometimes at intervals as long as 50 to 120 years, may bring in its wake a swarm of rats, subsequent famine and loss of lives and livelihoods.

National Bamboo Mission is a subscheme of MIDH

  • India has the highest area (14 million ha) under bamboo and is the 2nd richest country in diversity, after China, with 136 species (125 indigenous). Still, India is a net importer of bamboo.
  • Till recently, it has remained confined to the forests (12.8% of forest cover); 2/3rd located in the North-Eastern States.
  • In India, around 16 million hectares (160,000 square km) is estimated to be under bamboo.
  • As many as 125 indigenous and 11 exotic bamboo species are found in India. More than 50 per cent of the bamboo species occur in eastern India including eight states in the northeast region.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
  • Funding: Centrally Sponsored with 60:40 for all States; 90:10 for NE and Hilly States and 100% for UTs.

Components:

  1. Adopting area-based, regionally differentiated strategy.
  2. To increase the area under bamboo cultivation. It proposes to bring about 1 lakh hectares under plantation.
  3. For marketing of bamboo and bamboo products especially of handicraft items.
  4. Setting up of new nurseries and strengthening of existing ones.
  5. Pest management and disease management will be a major part.
  6. The scheme would help in cutting down on the import of bamboo products.

Gregarious Flowering of Bamboo in Wayanad

  • The “gregarious flowering of bamboo” inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) and the nearby Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Gudalur forest division in Tamil Nadu this year may pose a threat to wildlife in the Nilgiri biosphere, a major tiger and elephant habitat.
  • The bamboo groves in the Wayanad forest are the mainstay of herbivores in the Nilgiri biosphere during summer.
  • With the advent of the season, migration of wild animals starts from the adjacent sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to Wayanad due to a shortage of fodder and water.
  • “The gregarious flowering may adversely affect migration, especially by elephants, wild gaur, and other lower herbivores owing to the mass destruction of bamboo groves after the flowering.
  • Bamboo groves, which grow in more than 500 hectares of the 344.44 sq km of the sanctuary, have fully bloomed, a phenomenon said to occur once in the life cycle of bamboo plants.
  • Moreover, pointing to a threat to wildlife as well as the ecology of the Nilgiri biosphere, it is reported that over 25% of bamboo groves in the WWS and nearby sanctuaries have bloomed since 2010, and the phenomenon is continuing.
  • Thorny bamboo (Bamboosa bambos) is a monocarpic (flowering only once) plant belonging to the Poaceae family (grass family), and its flowering cycle varies from 40 to 60 years.
  • Profuse natural regeneration occurs from seeds after gregarious flowering. Seeds have no dormancy, and it helps germination under favourable conditions soon after seed fall, Mr. Babu said.
  • But protection from fire and grazing is essential for proper establishment of seedlings, he observed.
  • Fire incidents have been comparatively low in the sanctuary for the past five years owing to summer rain and conservation measures implemented by the Forest Department.

Gregarious Flowering of Bamboo in the Northeast

  • Gregarious bamboo flowering is notorious for causing famine in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. A saying goes in the northeast states, “when bamboo flowers, death and destruction will follow.”
  • In Mizoram, which has about 31 percent of its geographical area under bamboo, the famine associated with the flowering of the bamboo species Melocanna baccifera (locally called ‘mautak’) is referred to as ‘mautam’ or ‘bamboo death’.
  • Of the over twenty species of bamboo in the state, Melocanna baccifera is the dominant forest resource. It is a unique bamboo that produces the largest fruits among all bamboos. It flowers once every half a century, signalling death and destruction to the locals.
  • The mautak bamboo grows naturally in northeast India, as also in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh and is cultivated in several gardens world over.
  • There are two major reasons for the fear surrounding mautam in Mizoram, observed Shyamal Biswas of the National Centre for Disease Control, Plague Surveillance Unit, Bengaluru.
  • “The bamboo clumps die after flowering after every 48 years and it takes a few years before bamboo plants produce seeds again, leaving the soil bare and exposed which is disastrous in mountainous regions. This would lead to food scarcity, since several animals depend on this plant,” Biswas said.
  • As the flowers bloom in synchronicity across vast swathes, hungry rats descend on them like a plague and feed on the flowers and seeds of the dying bamboo tree. Most outbreaks are usually due to rats (Rattus spp).
  • “Because of the high nutritive value of bamboo fruits, there is a spontaneous increase in rat population. In addition, there is a drop in cannibalism [among rats] due to the availability of plenty of food during bamboo flowering.
  • This leads to multiplication in rat numbers and they feed on agricultural crops in the fields and granaries, leading to famine,” Biswas told Mongabay-India.
  • The rats not only devastate the naturally regenerating seeds and seedlings, they also reduce the regeneration rate of bamboo.

Source: TH

eCommerce rules in India

GS-III : Economic Issues eCommerce

E-commerce rules in India

Definition

  • Electronic commerce or e-commerce is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the Internet.
  • The Indian e-commerce industry has been on an upward growth trajectory and is expected to surpass the US to become the second-largest e-commerce market in the world by 2034.
  • It is a type of business model, or segment of a larger business model, that enables a firm or individual to conduct business over an electronic network, typically the internet.
  • e-Commerce matters were transferred to DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industries in 2018. DPIIT also provides FDI rules in e-commerce.
  • According to DPIIT e-Commerce means buying and selling goods and services over digital networks based on internet.
  • India’s e-commerce retail market is seen growing to $200 billion a year by 2026, from $30 billion in 2019, investment promotion agency Invest India estimates.
  • They are governed by many Acts like Shop and Establishment Act, Sales of Goods Act, Companies Act, Income Tax Laws, IT Act, Competition Act, Consumer Protection Act, etc.

Types of e-Commerce in India

In India, there are three types of e-commerce business models:

  • Inventory base model of e-commerce
  • Marketplace base model of e-commerce
  • The hybrid model of inventory-based and marketplace model.

Marketplace and Inventory-Based Model

  • Marketplace based model of e-commerce means providing an information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital & electronic network to act as a facilitator between the buyer and seller. In a marketplace model, the e-commerce firm is not allowed to directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and is required to offer a level playing field to all vendors. Ex. Amazon, OYO etc.
  • Inventory based model of e-commerce means an e-commerce activity where the inventory of goods and services is owned by an e-commerce entity and is sold to the consumers directly. Ex. Big basket.

Advantages of e-Commerce

  • The process of e-commerce enables sellers to come closer to customers which lead to increased productivity and perfect competition.
  • The customer can also choose between different sellers and buy the most relevant products as per requirements, preferences, and budget. Moreover, customers now have access to virtual stores 24/7.
  • e-Commerce also leads to significant transaction cost reduction for consumers.
  • It provides a wider reach and reception across the global market, with minimum investments. It enables sellers to sell to a global audience and also customers to make a global choice. Geographical boundaries and challenges are eradicated/drastically reduced.
  • Through direct interaction with final customers, this e-commerce process cuts the product distribution chain to a significant extent.
  • A direct and transparent channel between the producer or service provider and the final customer is made.
  • This way products and services that are created to cater to the individual preferences of the target audience.
  • Customers can easily locate products since e-commerce can be one store set up for all the customers’ business needs
  • Ease of doing business: It makes starting, and managing a business easy and simple.
  • The growth in the e-commerce sector can boost employment, increase revenues from export, increase tax collection by ex-chequers, and provide better products and services to customers in the long term.
  • The e-commerce industry has been directly impacting the micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) in India by providing means of financing, technology and training and has a favourable cascading effect on other industries as well.

Disadvantages of e-Commerce

  • There is lesser accountability on part of e-commerce companies and the product quality may or may not meet the expectations of the customers.
  • It depends strongly on network connectivity and information technology. Mechanical failures can cause unpredictable effects on total processes.
  • Definite legislations both domestically and internationally to regulate e-commerce transactions are still to be framed leading to a lack of regulation of the sector.
  • At times, there is a loss of privacy, culture or economic identity of the customer.
  • There is a chance of fraudulent financial transactions and loss of sensitive financial information.
  • The Internet is borderless with minimum regulation, and therefore protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) on the Internet is a growing concern. There are currently several significant IPR issues including misuse of trademark rights.

Government Initiatives Regarding e-Commerce in India

1) Draft National e-Commerce Policy, 2019

  • In February 2019, a draft National e-Commerce policy has been prepared and placed in the public domain, which addresses six broad issues of the e-commerce ecosystem viz. e-commerce marketplaces; regulatory issues; infrastructure development; data; stimulating domestic digital economy and export promotion through e-commerce.

Data

  • An Individual owns the right to his data. Therefore, data of an individual is must be used with his/ her express consent.
  • Indian Control Over Data: There should be a restriction on cross-border data flow. The policy bats for data localization and states that the data generated within India must be stored within India.
  • If a business entity collects or processes any sensitive data in India and stores it abroad, should not share data with business entities outside India, for any purpose, even with customer consent.
  • A request from Indian authorities to have access to all such data stored abroad shall be complied with immediately.
  • All e-Commerce websites, and apps available for download in India should have a registered business entity here. Non-compliant e-Commerce app/website to be denied access here.

Infrastructure development

  • It stressed developing physical infrastructure for a robust digital economy and suggested steps for developing the capacity for data storage in India.
  • Incentives will be provided to companies for establishing data localization location facilities like data centers, server farms within India.
  • Firms to get 3 years to comply with local data storage requirements and data storage facilities should be given ‘infrastructure status’.
  • Domestic alternatives to foreign-based clouds and email facilities should be promoted through budgetary support.

e-Commerce marketplaces

  • The policy mentions that foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed only in the marketplace model, not in inventory-based model.
  • This is in line with the e-Commerce guidelines given by the government in December.
  • The policy also takes into account the interests of domestic manufacturers and Micro, Small and medium enterprises and seeks to create a level playing field for them in online retail.
  • To curb on Chinese e-commerce exports the Gifting route (where goods are shipped as gifts), often used by Chinese apps, and websites should be banned for all parcels except life-saving drugs.
  • To prevent fake products, Seller details should be made available on the website for all products and sellers must provide an undertaking to the platform about the genuineness of products.

Stimulating the domestic digital economy

  • There is a need to formulate domestic industrial standards for smart devices and IoT devices to meet the goals of the country like consumer protection.
  • Online custom clearance will eliminate the need for manual processes and will help in ease of doing business.
  • Continued focus on Digital India initiatives by the Government will help in the development of the e-Commerce sector.

Export promotion

  • e-Commerce startups may get ‘infant industry’ status raising the limit for courier shipments from Rs 25,000 to boost e-Commerce export.
  • To promote export it is necessary to lower the cost of transport, reduce paperwork, reduce delays at ports and airports etc.
  • Integrating Customs, RBI and India Post to improve tracking of imports through e-Commerce.

2) New FDI rules for e-commerce

The government has issued new rules regarding Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in e-commerce. The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) issued a clarification of the existing rules pertaining to FDI in e-commerce companies.

Why New Rules?

  • Large e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart, while not owning inventory themselves, have been providing a platform for their group companies such as CloudTail and WS Retail respectively.
  • E-commerce companies with foreign investments can only operate under the marketplace model, and not under the inventory model, which has allowed them to sell products much cheaper than independent sellers.
  • Some see this as skewing the playing field, especially as these vendors enjoyed special incentives from the e-commerce firm, over others.

  • In India 100% FDI is permitted in B2B e-commerce, however, No FDI is permitted in B2C e-commerce. 100% FDI under automatic route is permitted in the marketplace model of e-commerce, while FDI is not permitted in inventory-based model of e-commerce.
  • The vendors that have any stake owned by an e-commerce company (equity stake) cannot sell their products on that e-commerce company’s portal.
  • Any vendor who purchases 25% or more of its inventory from an e-commerce group company will be considered to be controlled by that e-commerce company, and thereby barred from selling on its portal.
  • The policy mandates that no seller can sell its products exclusively on any marketplace platform and that all vendors on the e-commerce platform should be provided services in a “fair and non-discriminatory manner”.
  • Services include fulfilment, logistics, warehousing, advertisement, payments, and financing among others.

Impact of DIPP Norms

  • The DIPP policy is directed at protecting small vendors on e-commerce websites. It seeks to ensure small players selling on the portals are not discriminated against in favour of vendors in which e-commerce companies have a stake.
  • Smaller marketplaces that do not have a stake in any vendors will also be able to now compete with the big firms. It can also boost the Start-Up India initiative of the government.

3) Other efforts by the Government

  • The Department of Commerce initiated an exercise and established a Think Tank on ‘Framework for National Policy on e-Commerce’ and a Task Force under it to deliberate on the challenges confronting India in the arena of the digital economy and electronic commerce (e-commerce).
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to allow "interoperability" among Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) such as digital wallets, prepaid cash coupons and prepaid telephone top-up cards. RBI has also instructed banks and companies to make all know-your-customer (KYC)-compliant prepaid payment instruments (PPIs), like mobile wallets, interoperable amongst themselves via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Government e-Marketplace (GeM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Bank of India to facilitate a cashless, paperless and transparent payment system for an array of services in October 2019.
  • The heavy investment of the Government of India in rolling out the fibre network for 5G will help boost e-commerce in India
  • In the Union Budget of 2018-19, the government has allocated Rs 8,000 crore (US$ 1.24 billion) to BharatNet Project, to provide broadband services to 150,000-gram panchayats.

Conclusion

e-Commerce has become an important part of many multilateral negotiations such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), WTO, BRICS etc. e-Commerce still faces various issues like international trade, domestic trade, competition policy, consumer protection, information technology etc. As a growing sector with huge interest from both domestic and international players, it becomes pertinent to regulate it keeping in mind the interest of both entrepreneurs and consumers. A conducive environment and a level playing field should be encouraged.

Source: TH

AsterX – France’s First Military Exer-cise in Space

GS-III : S&T Space mission

Asterix – France’s First Military Exercise in Space

French Space Command launched its first military space exercise called Asterix.

AsterX:

  • The exercise has been named AsterX in reference to the first French satellite, which was put into orbit in 1965.
  • During the exercise, the French Military aims to monitor a potentially dangerous space object.
  • It will also analyze threats to its own satellite from another foreign power possessing a considerable space force.
  • The new US Space Force and German space agencies are also taking part in this exercise along with France.
  • These space military exercises are also the first-ever attempt not only for France but also for Europe.
  • In 2017, Russian spy satellite “Olymp-K” tried to intercept the transmissions from a Franco-Italian satellite “Athena-Fidus”.
  • This satellite was in use by both Italian and French armies for secure communications.

Source: TH

Influx of Illegal Migrants From Myanmar

GS-III : Internal security Border Areas

The influx of Illegal Migrants From Myanmar

Ministry of Home Affairs has written to states, sharing international boundaries with Myanmar.

Why was this directive issued?

  • Myanmar’s military ordered a crackdown on protesters several Myanmar citizens are illegally entering India.
  • The State governments had no powers to grant refugee status to any foreigner.
  • India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

About United Nations Refugee Convention,1951:

  • The 1951 Refugee Convention also known as Geneva Convention.
  • It is a United Nations multilateral treaty for the protection of refugees.
  • The convention defines a refugee as a person who fled their homes and countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is a refugee.
  • The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
  • non-refoulement: According to this principle, a refugee should not be returned to a country where he or she faces serious threats to his or her life or freedom.

Source: TH

Commemorative Dandi March to mark 75 years of Independence

GS-I : Modern History Significant Events

Commemorative Dandi March to mark 75 years of Independence

The Prime Minister flagged off a commemorative 2021 Dandi March to launch the celebrations of the 75th year of Independence – ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

About the Dandi March:

  • It was a 24-day march from March 12 to April 5, 1930.
  • It was a tax resistance campaign against the British salt monopoly.
  • The march was based on Gandhi’s principle of non-violence or Satyagraha.

Why did Gandhiji call for the Dandi March?

  • The 1882 Salt Act gave the British a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of salt.
  • Indians were forced to buy salt from the colonizers despite its abundance
  • Hence, Gandhi decided to inaugurate the civil disobedience using salt.
  • Gandhiji started the march from Sabarmati with 78 followers to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea.
  • There, Gandhiji picked up a small amount of natural salt lying in a small pit.
  • The act was symbolic but hugely covered by the press.
  • After that, Gandhiji planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works.
  • However, Gandhiji was arrested just days before the planned action at Dharasana.

Impact:

  • In Bengal, led by Satish Chandra Dasgupta and in Bombay led K.F Nariman walked with volunteers to prepare salt.
  • Forest laws were also flouted in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and the Central Provinces.
  • Peasants in Gujarat and Bengal refused to pay land and chowkidari taxes.

Source: TH

Sharks Conservation in India

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Animals

Sharks Conservation in India

As per a recent study, the global population of sharks and rays reduced by over 70% in the past 5 decades.

About Sharks:

  • Sharks come under a subclass of fish species called Elasmobranchii.
  • The species in this subclass have skeletons made from cartilage and not bones.
  • They use gills to filter oxygen from the water.
  • Sharks inhabit 3 major marine habitats such as continental shelves, deep-sea and open ocean.
  • Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years—long before the dinosaurs- In the Silurian era.
  • India is the second-largest shark fishing nation in the world.

Conservation Measures in India:

  • Whale Sharks were the first-ever species to be included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972.
  • After this, the Ganges shark and spear tooth shark were also added to Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Whale Shark Conservation Programme:

  • Sharks were caught and then used for the liver that was used for commercial trade & thus their population was reduced.
  • Whale Shark Conservation Programme was launched by Wildlife Trust of India in Gujarat in 2004 to convey the consequences of hunting whale sharks.
  • Smooth Hammerhead is categorised as Vulnerable and Scalloped Hammerhead as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List.

Source: IE

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