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GS: 1

Society related issues:

The problems with a DNA registry(The Hindu Opinion)

Context

Building such a database is not easy, does not always offer justice, and is an ethical landmine

What has happened?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, only about a quarter of rape cases ended in conviction in 2016. These rates are low in other countries too. The outrage over these attacks has reinforced the belief that India needs a sex offenders’ database or a DNA database of those accused and charged with rape.

Concerns regarding using DNA profiling

  • Civil liberties and rights: Protecting innocent people’s privacy and their civil liberties and rights are the main concerns e.g. the police sometimes may use DNA dragnets whereby all the people in a community are persuaded to give their saliva or blood in order to identify a possible suspect amongst them. Such samples later get included in forensic DNA databanks, thus violating people’s civil liberties.
  • Planting of DNA: Planting of DNA in a crime scene, misinterpretation of tests, and errors in analyses
  • Phantom DNA: Everybody leaves traces of DNA in numerous places, as cells are shed, leading to ridiculous mistakes such as the Phantom of Heilbronn (when the German police admitted that a woman they were searching for more than 15 years based on DNA traces at crime scenes never in fact existed)
  • DNA data mining: Dangers of misuse as how our digital data is being used by Data mining companies today
  • Targeting of particular groups: Targeting of particular communities, groups based on race, ethnicity or color etc.
  • Unethical ways of DNA collection: In a number of cases, the police may follow persons they suspect and then gather their DNA secretly (for example, by taking a bottle or cup they were drinking from) and without warrants. Collecting this so-called “abandoned DNA” has been challenged as being clearly unethical and unlawful.
  • Police bias towards minorities: Law enforcement is responsible for gathering DNA for forensics, and police bias towards minorities leads to the latter’s over-representation in the DNA databanks

Chance of False positive increases with number

Experience with the U.K. and U.S. databanks has shown that having more innocent people’s DNA stored increases the chances of a false positive and has not increased the chances of finding a guilty match 

Amidst these concerns then the question arises: How can DNA information be used in a way that respects the rights of people and their privacy?

  • It is absolutely essential that the people from whom DNA is taken give their informed consent; taking DNA surreptitiously should be prohibited
  • A court order should be required for obtaining DNA without informed consent and the DNA should only be compared with the crime scene DNA for the suspect
  • Those who are cleared for a crime should not have their DNA information stored, and DNA gathered from offenders should be destroyed after identification so that such information is not used for profiling in future
  • A court order should be necessary to access medical records for genetic data. 

GS: 2

International Relations:

‘Coordinated patrol can prevent another Doklam’(The Hindu) 

Context

India, China can avoid standoffs in grey areas

What has happened?

Referring to the maritime dimension of the China-India ties, the researcher signaled that Beijing and New Delhi could become joint stakeholders in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Need of institutionalizing

After last month’s Wuhan informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, coordinated patrolling could be more strongly “institutionalised”.

Stakeholders in western pacific

A comprehensive bilateral maritime dialogue at a ministerial level should be established first, which “ not only included diplomats but also high ranking representatives of military and other field related to traditional and non- traditional security

Indian Constitution and Polity:

Protest over citizenship for Hindu migrants(The Hindu)

Context

During a JPC hearing, parties and organisations say it’s a move to legitimise post-1971 settlers 

What has happened?

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 began a hearing in Assam on Monday amid protests across the Brahmaputra Valley against the Union government’s alleged move to make the State a “legitimise Hindus who have migrated from Bangladesh after 1971”.

Violation of Assam Accords 1985

  • The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims who had fled persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, indigenous groups in Assam view it as a move to legitimise post-1971 Hindu migrants.
  • They see it as a violation of the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985 — it ended a six-year anti-foreigners’ agitation — that prescribes deportation for everyone who entered the State illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971

No religion breeds hatred: SC(The Hindu) 

Context

There is a constitutional obligation to preserve the religious practices of all religions and culture, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

The case

  • The judgment was pronounced on the basis of a petition highlighting the “erosion” of the Mahakaleshwar Linga.
  • The petition said the “idol of Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam is in danger and it has deteriorated as such notice was issued to ensure its preservation

Constitutional duty

  • The court said there is “a constitutional duty to protect it” and “a fundamental duty under Article 51A to preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture”
  • State is duty bound to spend the amount so that not only the archaeological, historical and ancient monuments are preserved but sanctum sanctorum, as well as the deity, otherwise no useful purpose would be served by spending so much amount on Simhastha/ Kumbh Melas

GS: 3

Economy:

Rupee hits 15-month low; crosses 67/$(The Hindu)

Context

Oil prices hit $75 a barrel while Indian indices rise with support from bank, metal and media stocks

What has happened?

The rupee breached the psychological barrier of Rs. 67 against the dollar amid strong demand for the U.S. currency from importers, as crude oil rose to $75 a barrel.

Rs. the worst performer

  • The rupee has been the worst Asian currency performer this year so far against the dollar, losing 5.1% since January.
  • Oil jumped to its highest levels since late-2014 on Monday to cross the significant $75 a barrel tag, boosted by Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis and a looming decision on whether the United States would reimpose sanctions on Iran.
  • Brent crude, an international benchmark, was trading at $75.57 per barrel in early Asian trade.

Government policies and plans:

India gets $200 million loan for nutrition mission(The Hindu) 

What has happened?

India on Monday signed an agreement with the World Bank for a $200 million loan for implementing the National Nutrition Mission across 315 districts of the country. 

National Nutrition mission

  • Approved by the Union Cabinet last year, the mission aims at reaching 10 crore beneficiaries, mainly children upto the age of six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers and adolescent girls
  • The programme will be implemented in three phases between 2017 and 2020 across all districts of the country.

Targeted reductions

  • The mission targets a 2% reduction in both under-nutrition and low birth weight per annum. It also aims to bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% per year until 2020.
  • The government will also strive to reduce the prevalence of stunting from the current level of 38.4% (as per the National Family Health Survey 4) to 25% by 2022.

Budget division

  • The National Nutrition Mission has an approved budget of Rs. 9,046.17 crore
  • The total contribution of the Centre will be Rs. 2,849.54 crore and nearly Rs. 1,700 crore will be contributed by the States.
  • The remaining will be funded through the government’s tie-up with multilateral agencies such as the World Bank.

LSGIs may find the going tough(The Hindu)

Context

Local self-government institutions (LSGIs) will find Plan implementation for 2018-19 a tough task under the new norms issued by the government on the allocation and utilisation of funds for spillover projects from 2017-18.

Local bodies would have to provide funds

  • Under the new norms, the local bodies will have to provide funds for the completion of spillover projects from the budget allocation for 2018-19
  • Additional funds will be available only after the allocation for 2018-19 is fully utilized.

Categories of spillover projects

The spillover projects have been classified into two

  • The first category comprises new projects taken up in 2017-18 and were processed to the extent of signing agreements or where purchase orders were issued, and projects that were submitted to the treasury before March 31, 2018 and were queued for bill payment but payment was not released
  • All those which do not come under the above two types are in the second category.

Deadline

  • The local bodies are expected to complete their preparations of the 2018-19 annual Plan by May 31.
  • The ongoing financial crunch could have prevented completion of projects.
  • The exact extent of spillover projects will be known only after the local bodies complete their stock taking. Once the stock taking is over, it would be possible to gauge the actual physical achievements of the annual Plan for 2017-28.

Internal Security:

Separate NIA unit all set to probe funding pattern of Naxalites(The Hindu)

Context

Huge amounts paid to fund education of Maoist leaders’ kin’ 

What has happened?

Following reports of Maoist leaders having amassed huge assets in property and cash, the Centre said a separate unit will be created in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for investigating “important” cases of Left Wing Extremism

Multi agency group created

  • Government has set up a multi-disciplinary group to initiate action to choke funding sources of Maoists and to seize assets of their leaders
  • The group comprises officers from various central agencies and the State police departments
  • It is headed by an additional secretary and has representatives from the Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, NIA and the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) and the CBI, as also State intelligence departments and CID

Sources of Maoists funds

  • The LWE movement in the country is financed through a large network of dubious activities, which include illegal levy collected from private contractors including those involved in execution of government works and schemes, mining contractors, transporters and owners of small and medium industries.
  • Similarly, funds are said to be garnered through collections from illegal stone crushing and distribution of Maoist ideology papers.
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