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25 January, 2020

16 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Criminalisation Of Politics
National Security Act (NSA)
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
IT Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018
Global Talent Competitiveness Index, 2020
GS-III Australia bushfires
GS-II :
Criminalisation Of Politics

Syllabus subtopic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the SC remarks on the criminalization of politics; various judgements of SC; about RPA, 1951

 

News: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a proposition made by the Election Commission (EC) to ask political parties to not give ticket to those with criminal antecedents.

 

 

About the SC judgements on this issue

  • In 2002, it made it obligatory for all candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer, disclosing criminal cases pending against them.

 

  • The famous order to introduce NOTA was intended to make political parties think before giving tickets to the tainted.

 

  • In its landmark judgment of March 2014, the SC accepted the urgent need for cleansing politics of criminalisation and directed all subordinate courts to decide on cases involving legislators within a year, or give reasons for not doing so to the chief justice of the high court.

 

  • The September 2018 judgment of a Constitution Bench, which had directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases against their candidates was not complied with by the political parties.

 

  • The judgment had urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes.

 

  • The ruling by a five­judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra concluded that rapid criminalisation of politics cannot be arrested by merely disqualifying tainted legislators but should begin by “cleansing” the political parties.

 

RPA, 1951

  • Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.

 

  • Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections. The Lily Thomas case (2013), however, ended this unfair advantage.

 

 

What does the Law Commission say in its report?

  • The law commission in its report on electoral disqualification in 2014 deliberated on whether disqualification from contesting election should be triggered upon conviction as it exists today, or at the time of framing of charges by the court? It was of the opinion that, “disqualification at the stage of charging, if accompanied by substantial attendant legal safeguards to prevent misuse, has significant potential in curbing the spread of criminalisation of politics.”

 

  • The commission went on to specify some of these safeguards. One of them being that only criminal offences which have a maximum punishment of five years or more are to be included in this provision. The commission suggested that charges filed up to one year before the date of scrutiny of nominations would not lead to a disqualification. This safeguard would then minimise politically motivated cases from being filed against an individual before an upcoming election. It also suggested that in the case charges framed against sitting MPs/MLAs the trial should be conducted on a day-to-day basis and completed within a year. The election commission in its 2016 note on proposed electoral reforms agrees with the recommendation of the law commission.

 

 

Proposed measures to curb criminalization of politics:

  • Bringing greater transparency in campaign financing is going to make it less attractive for political parties to involve gangsters.

 

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties, or political parties’ finances should be brought under the right to information (RTI) law.

 

  • Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians.

 

  • The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.

 

  • The forms prescribed by the Election Commission for candidates disclosing their convictions, cases pending in courts and so on in their nomination papers is a step in the right direction if it applied properly.

 

 

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s long string of judgments against criminalisation of politics had hardly scratched the surface of the deep rot.

 

  • The Election Commission had tried several measures to curb criminalisation of politics, but to no avail.

 

  • Just a move to steer politics away from the denizens of the criminal world would definitely serve national and public interest.
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GS-II :
National Security Act (NSA)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the National security act and why it needs to be amended

News: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass a “blanket order” against Lieutenant Governor’s decision to place Delhi under the National Security Act (NSA), a law which allows the police to place anyone considered a threat to national security, law and order under preventive detention.

 

Background

  • The NSA was imposed from January 19 to April 18.
  • The notification was issued on January 10 amidst widespread protests across the Capital by people belonging to all walks of life against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019, which grants citizenship on the basis of religion.

 

What was the petition about?

  • The petitioner had submitted that the imposition of NSA was a ruse to scare ordinary people from expressing their fundamental right to dissent on issues like the CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register Citizens (NRC).

 

  • The lawyer argued that the January 10 notification was an affront to free speech and expression and the right to dignity.

 

Reasons cited by the court

  • The court cannot pass such general directions, which would “tie” the hands of the authorities.
  • These are law and order issues and therefore the court cannot interfere. SC cannot pass a general direction or a blanket order restraining the government from invoking NSA, but it can definitely do something if individual cases of misuse of NSA by authorities are brought to its attention.

 

About the National Security Act, 1980

  • National Security Act allows Central or State governments to prevent any person from acting as a threat to national security.

 

  • The Act also allows the government to preventively detain any person from disrupting supply or maintenance of essential commodities and services to the community or disrupting public order.

 

  • As per the act, a person can be detained for a maximum of 12 months but can be extended when fresh evidence is produced by the government.

 

Preventive detention in India

  • Preventive Detention is the most contentious part of the scheme fundamental rights in the Indian constitutions Article 22(3) provides that if the person who has been arrested or detained under preventive detention laws then the protection against arrest and detention provided under article22 (1) and22 (2) shall not be available to that person.

 

  • Acts that allow preventive detention in India are present since colonial times.

 

  • From the Bengal Resolution III of 1818 to Rowlatt Acts of 1919 and the Preventive Detention Act of 1950, all allow preventive detention.

 

  • The current NSA is close to the 1950 Act.

 

Concerns

  • When a person is arrested normally, he or she has certain guarantees to safeguard their basic rights such as being informed of the reason for the arrest, the right to apply for bail, etc. But these rights do not apply for a person arrested under the NSA.

 

  • No FIR is filed under the Act. He/she will not be informed on the grounds for their arrest for 5 days and in some cases, it may of up to 10 days.

 

  • The arrested person is cannot avail legal assistance before an advisory board constituted by the government to deal with NSA cases.

 

  • Also, the exact data on how many people are detained under the NSA is not clear as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) do not collect data on NSA cases.

 

Arguements against the Act

  • The NSA Act is being misused by all the governments in the country.
  • The intended objective to prevent acts that harm our national security is set aside and is being used for self-interests.
  • It is like the government is using the act as an extra-judicial power.

 

Conclusion

In spreading democracy often acts such as this hampers the progress. Already, the act is 40 years old and reconsidering it is the need of the hour. Or else, the scary scenario of arbitrary detention for personal goals becomes the norm which does not augur well for the country.

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GS-II :
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

Syllabus subtopic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and reasons for it; about the ICDS scheme and its objectives

News: Urban areas are likely to receive a renewed focus under the government’s ICDS programme, which provides for anganwadis or day­care centres across the country for delivery of nutrition and pre­school education.

 

About the move

  • The government’s think tank, the NITI Aayog, has prepared a draft working paper, which once approved would be circulated to different ministries for consultations.

 

  • These include the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Urban Housing and Affairs and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

 

What are the challenges in the urban areas?

  • The first­-ever pan­-India survey on the nutrition status of children, highlighted that malnutrition among children in urban India is characterised by relatively poor levels of breastfeeding as mothers have to travel long distances for work.

 

  • It also found a higher prevalence of obesity because of relative prosperity and lifestyle patterns, along with iron and Vitamin D deficiency.

 

Why a new model for urban areas?

  • According to government data from 2018, of the 14 lakh anganwadis across the country there are only 1.38 lakh anganwadis in urban areas.

 

  • Health and ICDS models that work in rural areas may not work in urban areas because of higher population density, transportation challenges and migration.

 

  • Because of these issues it may not be possible for a community worker to keep in contact with the beneficiaries, which she is able to achieve in rural settings.

 

Way ahead

  • Improving infrastructure in urban areas would be key as the government embarks on improving service delivery under the ICDS programme.

 

  • One thing which will be crucial for anganwadi services in urban areas is strengthening safety and infrastructure.

 

About the ICDS scheme

  • Children in the age group 0-6 years constitute around 158 million of the population of India (2011 census). These Children are the future human resource of the country. Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing various schemes for welfare, development and protection of children.

 

  • Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India and represents one of the world’s largest and unique programmes for early childhood care and development. It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.

 

  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

 

Objectives of the Scheme are:

  • to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;

 

  • to lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;

 

  • to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;

 

  • to achieve effective co-ordination of policy and implementation amongst the various departments to promote child development; and

 

  • to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

 

Services under ICDS

The ICDS Scheme offers a package of six services, viz.

  1. Supplementary Nutrition
  2. Pre-school non-formal education
  3. Nutrition & health education
  4. Immunization
  5. Health check-up and
  6. Referral services

 

  • The last three services are related to health and are provided by Ministry/Department of Health and Family Welfare through NRHM & Health system. The perception of providing a package of services is based primarily on the consideration that the overall impact will be much larger if the different services develop in an integrated manner as the efficacy of a particular service depends upon the support it receives from the related services.

 

  • For better governance in the delivery of the Scheme, convergence is, therefore, one of the key features of the ICDS Scheme. This convergence is in-built in the Scheme which provides a platform in the form of Anganwadi Centres for providing all services under the Scheme.
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GS-II :
IT Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018

Syllabus subtopic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new rules and their implications; the debate between security and right to privacy

Context: Later this month, the government will submit to the Supreme Court, The Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018, the new set of rules on regulation of social media.

 

Background

  • The issue of messaging apps being required to break end-to-end encryption has been a sticky point between governments and messaging apps like Facebook-owned WhatsApp, especially after revelations last year on the use of spy software being used by governments to break into phones and conduct surveillance into private conversations of activists, journalists and lawyers, including in India.

 

  • On November 21 last year, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, confirmed that the Centre was going ahead with new amended rules for social media companies which will have to follow certain due diligence as laid out in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.

 

 

About the new rules

  • There could be two levels of online intermediaries defined in the new set of rules, each with different regulations, for social and non-social media.

 

  • Non-social media may have relatively lighter regulations given that there could be mandatory local legal incorporation for large social media intermediaries. Non-social media intermediaries will still have to appoint a local office for grievance redressal.

 

  • Suggested changes currently need production of a court order before a messaging intermediary is required to break encryption.

 

What could be the implications?

  • The new rules will push for “traceability” of content which in effect means breaking end-to-end encryption, even of messaging intermediaries.
  • This will make it difficult for large social media intermediaries, mostly international business conglomerates, to give in without a battle.
  • The guidelines, which are not being discussed or debated publicly with only a few in the government privy to the details, are meant to control online content deemed “unlawful”. But these will raise fundamental questions on both freedom of speech and privacy of ordinary users.

 

Conclusion

The need to conduct surveillance for reasons of security versus the right to privacy of citizens and users has been a heated debate, and remains unresolved — the government appears to be pushing for more and intermediaries are insisting on greater transparency in the rules-framing process.

 

Note: To read about the ‘encryption debate in India’ in detail, click on the click given below.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2019/05/30/encryption-debate-in-india-pub-79213

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GS-II :
Global Talent Competitiveness Index, 2020

Syllabus subtopic: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora - their Structure, Mandate.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the index and its findings; India performance in the index

 

News: Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) 2020 was released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 22, 2020.

 

What is this index?

  • The GTCI report was launched by INSEAD, a partner and sponsor of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Tent, with the help of Google and Adecco Group

 

  • This index shows the ability of countries to make the world progress, retain and attract talent. They are ranked based on their abilities.

 

  • GTCI gives ranking based on six indicators – attract, retain, enable, grow, vocational skills and global knowledge skills.

 

 

  • The GTCI is an input-output based ranking system that takes ‘what does the country produce and acquires’ as input and ‘result from the skill’ as output.

 

 

Global Findings

  • Switzerland secured the first position while the USA is on second and Singapore got third place.
  • Among the top ten countries, Sweden ranked fourth, Denmark fifth, Netherlands sixth, Finland seventh, Luxembourg eighth, Norway ninth and Australia 10th.
  • China ranked 42nd, Russia at 48th, Brazil secured 80th while South Africa grabbed the 70th position in the list

 

GTCI 2020: Top 10 Countries

Rank

Country

Score

1

Switzerland

81.26

2

USA

79.09

3

Singapore

78.48

4

Sweden

75.82

5

Denmark

75.18

6

Netherlands

74.99

7

Finland

74.47

8

Luxemburg

73.94

9

Norway

72.91

10

Australia

72.53

 

India Specific Findings

  • India has secured 72nd place in the list while last year India was ranked 80th in Global Talent Competitive Index.

 

  • Kazakhstan, India and Sri Lanka have occupied the top 3 spots in the Central and South Asia region.

 

  • According to the GTCI, India's biggest challenge is to attract talent and retain them in the country. India got 92nd and 95th place respectively in this category.

 

  • India’s Vocational and Technical Skill score is 76 while secured 113th place in the Mid-Level Skills list.

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GS-III :
Australia bushfires

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the impact of Australian bushfires on global temperature

 

Context: Australia’s bushfires are contributing to one of the biggest annual increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere since record-keeping began more than 60 years ago, according to a forecast published by Britain’s Met Office on Friday.

 

Observations made by the Britain’s Met Office

  • A forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon-dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, 1958.

 

  • It said the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is expected to peak above 417 parts per million in May, with the average for the year forecast to be 414.2 ± 0.6ppm. This annual average represents a 2.74 ± 0.57 ppm rise on the 2019 average.

 

  • While human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the bulk of the increase in CO2 levels, Australia’s bushfires have made the problem measurably worse, underscoring the impact of the catastrophe on the global climate system.

 

  • Although the data series started in 1958 has always shown CO2 concentrations increasing year-on-year, driven by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the rate of rise has not been perfectly even.

 

  • Fluctations in the amount of CO2 absorbed by tropical forests and other natural carbon sinks can affect overall levels of the gas in the atmosphere.

 

  • This year, the Met forecasts that the impact of weather patterns on global ecosystems will increase the annual human-caused rise in CO2 concentration by 10%, with emissions from the Australian fires accounting for one-fifth of that increase.

 

Alarming levels of CO2 concentration

  • Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere have already far surpassed what scientists consider to be safe limits.

 

  • At a climate summit in Madrid in December, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that 400 ppm had once been considered “an unthinkable tipping point.”

 

  • The last time there was a comparable concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was between 3 and 5 million years ago, when the temperature was between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea levels were 10 to 20 meters higher than today, scientists say.

 

  • Australia’s fires are themselves a foretaste of the kind of catastrophes that are liable to become normal as the planet warms, with prolonged drought and low humidity making arid landscapes more vulnerable to huge blazes, scientists say.

 

Conclusion

  • The CO2 forecast underscored the urgency of the task facing negotiators trying to persuade big countries to cut emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change, which is still nowhere near on track to spare the world from devastating temperature increases.

 

  • The accord enters a crucial implementation phase this year, with governments due to submit more ambitious plans for climate action ahead of a summit in Glasgow in November. Australia’s government is regarded as among the main laggards.

 

  • The 2020 Climate Change Performance Index rated Australia as one of the worst performers among 57 high-emitters, awarding it 0 out of 100 possible points for its policies.
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