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GS-2

International grouping


SC frames new norms to evaluate work of HC Additional Judge

Context:

  • The Supreme Court forms new norms to evaluate the work of High Court Judges.

Who are the Additional Judges of High Court?

  • The additional judges are often appointed in order to dispose of the arrears cases.
  • Such appointments are temporary and are terminable after disposal of arrears cases.

Appointment of Additional Judges of High Court:

  • The appointment of additional judges takes place under these situations:
  • If by reason of any temporary increase in the business of High Court or by reason of arrears of work therein, it appears to the President that the number of the Judges of that Court should be for the time being increased, the President may appoint duly qualified persons to be additional Judges of the Court for such period not exceeding two years as he may specific.
  • When any Judge of a High Court other than the Chief Justice is by reason of absence or for any other reason unable to perform the duties of his office or is appointed to act temporarily as Chief Justice, the President may appoint a duly qualified person to act as a Judge of that Court until the permanent Judge has resumed his duties.
  • No person appointed as an additional or acting Judge of a High Court shall hold office after attaining the age of sixty-two years.

Permanent judges of the High Court:

  • There is no fixed minimum number of judges for the High Courts.
  • High Courts are headed by a Chief Justice.
  • The Chief Justices are ranked fourteenth (in their state) and seventeenth (outside their state) in the Indian order of precedence.

Appointments:

  • The Chief Justice of a High Court is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State.
  • While appointing other judges of the High Court, the President consults the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor of the State and the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.
  • The Chief Justices are ranked fourteenth (in their state) and seventeenth (outside their state) in the Indian order of precedence.

What was the earlier practice since 2010?

  • Previously, there used to be a professional evaluation of Additional Judges.
  • The evaluation is done by the Judges of the High Court itself.
  • This practice has been in place since 2010.

What are the latest Supreme Court guidelines?

  • As per the guidelines in October 2010, a committee was to be constituted by High Court Chief Justices for evaluating the judgments of Additional Judges.
  • Since it was a committee of High Court Judges, this was seen as a kind of professional review.
  • In March, 2017 the Collegium ended this practice.
  • Most recently, while reviving the system of professional evaluation, the Collegium’s decision on rejects peer review, as the committee will now comprise Supreme Court Judges.
  • Significantly, the government had recently urged the Collegium to have a relook at the decision to end the practice of evaluating the performance of Additional Judges.

What are the advantages of the change in evaluation?

  • Biasness:  The Supreme Court judges who have been consulted with regard to recruitment of the Additional Judges won’t be part of the committee.
  • So there is less chance of evaluating a biased decision.
  • Less chance corruption: The evaluation is expected to be free from corruption as it is will not be done by the in-house judges.
  • More strict and concrete: The evaluation is also expected to be more strict, concrete and precise.

Tokyo for quadrilateral talks

Context

  • Citing growing international partnerships, India emphasized that it is “open” to work with partner countries for regional issues that are “relevant”.
  • The comments came as a response to Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono declaration that Tokyo would call for a quadrilateral dialogue with Australia, India and the U.S.

The benefit

  • Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar indicated India’s willingness to work with Japan and the United States deals with regional issues.
  • U.S. investments in the power sector of Nepal will be in Indian interest. Regionalism will grow if there are higher comfort levels. Having Japanese or the Americans in room will be more helpful.
  • Indications of regional partnership between India and Japan came also during Mr Abe’s visit, with both sides indicating willingness to manage the maritime domain from Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific zone.

India – Japan relationship

Background

  • In the context of 21st Century, among all the bilateral relations, Indo-Japan relations have all the potential to transcend this era into an ‘Asian century’.
  • Commonalities such as shared democratic values, commitment to human rights, pluralism, open society and rule of law are foundation blocks of this global partnership.

Convergence

Mutual importance for each other

  • Varied factors have supported momentum of this partnership viz. India’s economic resurgence, its engagement with USA and its increasing interest and stakes in East Asia in the form of Look East Policy in 1992 and Act East Asia Policy in 2015.
  • On similar lines, for Japan, India has emerged as an alternative economic partner and important constituent of Asia’s emerging security order.
  • A transition of power is unfolding in Asian continent and the shape and substance of Indo-Japan relationship is one of its spin-off.
  • Notwithstanding, strengthening of the Indo-Japan relations is not the only consequence of rise of china and USA’s shifting of regional policy in the form of “Rebalancing of Asia”.
  • Factors like domestic perception of the alliance partner, which is amicable, have stimulated this relationship.
  • Japanese perception of India has also been molded by the dissenting opinion of Radha Binod Pal- the Indian judge at famous Tokyo trials – who declined to convict Japan’s top military brass as war criminal proving that Japan’s imperial history has been discounted by Indian consciousness.
  • In addition to this, personal bonding between Japanese PM and his Indian counterpart, who are leading single party majority government in respective countries, is a class by itself.

Strategic Partnership

  • Increment in china’s military expenditure was almost one and half times bigger in 2014 than defense outlay in 2010. This expansion is a cause of concern for both countries, since both countries are engaged in negotiation with China over Arunachal Pradesh (India) and Shenkaku Island (Japan).
  • New Delhi and Tokyo are apt to hedge against USA’s possible failure in containing china’s growing assertiveness in the region in the backdrop of this era of power transition. This hedging strategy can be analyzed in three main categories-
  • Firstly, increasing bilateral defence partnership against fear of American retrenchment,
  • Secondly, economic engagement against an over-dependence on china and
  • Finally, multilateral hedge against China’s rising influence in international and regional institutions.

Defense Cooperation

  • In the sphere of defense, in 2009, 2+2 dialogue (foreign and defense ministerial) were initiated.
  • India has always supported freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce in international waters in sync with UNCLOS vis-à-vis South China Sea dispute and East China Sea issue.
  • India invited Japanese navy to participate in annual Malabar exercise in 2014 with USA in pacific waters, reviving an earlier practice of joint India-USA-Japan trilateral exercise.
  • Negotiations on possible trade in defense equipment from Japan, as per Tokyo deceleration, are in the pipeline.
  • Indian interest is in Japanese US-2 amphibious aircraft for surveillance purpose in the Indian Ocean is high.
  • If this deal is realized, then it will signify for the first time Japanese export of defence goods and technology since World War II.

Economic Cooperation

  • 2011-12 India-Japan bilateral trade stood at $18.31 billion. The comprehensive trade pact between India and Japan aims to double bilateral trade nearly to $25 billion.
  • Japan is looking to boost trade and investment ties with India. The reasons behind this interest in India is obvious. India offers a large domestic market base.
  • Besides, mutual synergies between businesses in the two countries are driving initiatives-
  • Firstly, Japan’s ageing population (23% above 65 years) and India’s youthful dynamism (over 50% below 25 years)
  • Secondly, Japan is a relatively labour scarce, capital abundant country that complements India’s rich spectrum of human capital.
  • Thirdly, India’s prowess in the software sector lends synergy to Japan’s excellence in the hardware sector
  • India’s abundance of raw materials and minerals matches well with Japan’s capabilities in technology and capital to produce knowledge-intensive manufactured goods 5.
  • India’s large domestic market has been the main factor for investments by Japanese companies.
  • The majority of investments are in traditional fields like machinery, automobiles and auto parts. Japanese small and medium enterprises have begun to discover India as the new growth market.
  • Japan and India share a common vision for the world. This is aptly illustrated by the fact that there has been an increase in the number of joint declarations, delegation visits and other business events between the two countries.

India Japan CEPA

  • The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan came into force in August 2011.Despite this agreement India-Japan bilateral trade stands at measly USD16 billion as compared to Sino-Indian trade amounting to USD 70 billion and Sino-Japanese trade at whooping amount of USD 343 billion in 2014.
  • The agreement had two major concerns, namely: the infrastructure in India, and non-tariff barriers in Japan. On the infrastructure front, the two countries are collaborating on the huge, US $90-billion Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project.
  • The project agreement appears highly promising in the environment of the new manufacturing policy whereby India is targeting to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent within a decade, potentially creating 100 million jobs.
  • Japan had invested in dedicated freight corridor west project, strategic port facility in Chennai, development of strategic assets including highways and dams in North East Region where India’s immediate neighbor is eyeing for territorial expansion.

Way ahead

  • India and Japan are two powerful democratic forces in Asia which are searching for more options to work and prosper jointly.
  • Economic front needs to be strengthened to reach “Low Hanging Fruit of Asia” wherein demographic dividend of the India and other Asian countries can be deployed to benefit Asia as whole.
  • Both need to join hand to establish peace and order in not only disturbed region of Asia but of the whole world.
  • India-Japan defense and security cooperation remains a work in progress.

Big vision, hazy detail: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

Of the seven countries he visited last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chose to focus on India while spelling out his strategic vision. He highlighted the role of India in the U.S’s plans in two spheres.

1-      In Afghanistan, as part of President Donald Trump’s new South Asia Policy, and

2-  In the Indo-Pacific, as part of U.S. plans to counter China’s influence and contain North Korea.

Outcome of visit:

  •  Both India and U.S spoke about building an alternative coalition to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as its aggressive moves in the South China Sea.
  • For its part, India desisted from any clear commitments on joint patrols to ensure freedom of navigation  in the South China Sea, or even on the foundational agreements the Indian and the U.S. militaries must conclude to deepen cooperation in the region.

Challenges:

While India and the U.S. have taken great strides in aligning their vision and their hopes for future partnership, reality often trips up such lofty goals. The reasons for this are:

1-      Geography:

  • American troops remain in Afghanistan, it is difficult for the U.S. to completely disengage from Pakistan
  • For India, while a maritime relationship with the U.S. is desirable, geographic proximity to China makes a very close alliance with the U.S. difficult.
  • The other issue pertains to the strategic confusion within Washington and Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from U.S. commitments in Asia, Europe and at the UN, drawing questions about its reliability as a partner.

Recent development on India-US relations:

  • The India-U.S.  Commercial ties have seen an uptick in recent years with NDA government’s market oriented reforms.
  • India is presently the US’s ninth largest goods trading partner.
  • India is also one of the fastest growing sources of foreign direct investment in the US, at nearly $11 billion.
  • In a groundbreaking development illustrating growing economic convergence, the US delivered its first shipment of crude oil to the Paradip port a few weeks ago. This will lay the foundation for a burgeoning cooperation in the energy sector.
  • Indian startups are now open to receiving 100 per cent funding from foreign venture capitalists — a recent reform implemented by the government of India.
  •  A recent report predicts dramatic shifts in the global economic order by 2050 — six of the seven largest economies will be emerging economies led by China and India.
  • India will need $4.5 trillion in investment by 2040 for infrastructure and economic growth.
  • It is crucial for India to be able to develop its infrastructure, attract capital and cutting-edge technology, grow its economy and advance opportunities for its people.
  • America has become a major arms supplier for India.
  • America has begun to clear the path for strategic regional coordination between two nations.

India-US Defence Relations

 

  • The defence partnership has been blossoming, growing and expanding over the last many years. In 2005 India-US framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed. This was renewed in 2015.
  • Recently India was designated as “a major defence partner”.This is a designation that the US provides to its NATO members, to its allies like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. India will also be stepping into these ranges of countries.
  • There are large numbers of initiatives on defence cooperation and one of them is Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
  • Starting from the base level of zero in 2005 where there was no exchange, US has become the second largest supplier of defence equipments to India with orders more than $15 billion.  There is scope of making it trilateral by bringing in India-US-Japan or India-US-Australia. The Malabar exercise is in good progress.
  • There are so many indicators to prove that India – U.S relationship in defence and also in other areas like science, knowledge, and culture is in bright spot for both the countries.There are talks about Counter terrorism where we see prospects of greater relations.
  • In 2016, India and United States signed the LEMOA.

Significance of Present visit for India-U.S bilateral relations:

    • The visit set the course for India-U.S. relations going ahead, mapping convergences in connectivity, trade and economics and counter-terrorism cooperation.
    • America wants to be India’s most “reliable partner” in an increasingly uncertain world.
    • The U.S. put India at the very heart of America’s efforts to balance an increasingly assertive China.
  • The meeting will lead to more intensive regional collaboration between the US and Asian democracies- India, Japan and Australia — to ensure peace and promote prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In facing up to India’s concerns about Pakistan’s use of terror as an instrument of foreign policy and China’s quest for hegemony in the Indo-Pacific, Trump and Tillerson have raised hopes for a closer regional alignment between Delhi and Washington.
  • Tillerson sketched out a crucial role for India in maintaining in stability in the Asia Pacific region—along with partners like Japan and Australia besides the US. This was against the backdrop of the unpredictable rise of China.

Conclusion:

India should resist the temptation for an endless debate on whether America can move away from China and Pakistan and be India’s reliable partner. Delhi should focus, instead, on strengthening practical cooperation wherever possible with Trump’s Washington.

Both the countries need to work together on the political and security challenges across the Indo- Pacific region, from mounting tensions with North Korea, the Rohingya crisis, and India’s own standoff with China over Dokhlam to the lingering challenges in Afghanistan


India and neighbors


All the roads that lead to Kabul: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

India must expand its development role further and enhance its security profile in Afghanistan

Introduction:

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s recent visit to New Delhi came at a time when the Trump administration’s South Asia policy has underscored India’s centrality in the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre.
  • Washington plans to increase its military footprint in Afghanistan; it is tightening the screws on Pakistan for supporting terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
  • Both Washington and Kabul now view New Delhi as a player with considerable leverage over the evolving regional dynamic.

Outcomes of recent visit:

  • India and Afghanistan deliberated on regional counter-terror efforts and emphasized on enhancing New Delhi’s defence assistance to Kabul .
  • Mr Ghani  also praised the new United States (U.S) strategy  calling it a ‘game – changer’ as it aims at ensuring a regional approach to fighting terrorism, including making Pakistan act against “state sponsorship of sanctuaries” along the border with Afghanistan.
  • Both the nations emphasized that bilateral and sincere regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region.
  • Both sides welcomed the opportunities created by the new US strategy for bringing peace and security in Afghanistan,”

Afghanistan’s’ reaction on Pakistan:

  •   He suggest that Afghanistan would restrict Pakistan’s access to Central Asia if it is not given access to India through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He referred to the Indo-Afghan air corridor as an effective response to Pakistan’s attempt to deny India and Afghanistan any direct access.
  •  He also strongly rejected Islamabad’s claims that India was using Afghanistan as a base to destabilise Pakistan.
  • Mr. Ghani also rejected “Pakistan-managed” efforts to broker peace in his country, and in line with this India too has emphasised that it believes peace efforts in Afghanistan should be “Afghan-led” and “Afghan-controlled”.

Meeting with Tillerson

  • Both India and Afghanistan expressed an appreciation for the U.S.’s new South Asia policy, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson continued his travels in the region.
  • President Ghani and  Prime Minister Modi following the new U.S. Strategy, agreed that the strategy is an opportunity for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan & South Asia; expansion of cooperation between the countries and the region.

Pros of the new South Asia policy:

More military deployment in Afghanistan

  • The decision of U.S accompanying South Asian countries in throwing out terrorism from the region provides for a significant change in the nature of military peace.
  • The security scenario will result into sophistication of military operations. The new strategy will be dictated by “the conditions on the ground” not “arbitrary timetables”.  Such a move is necessary to avoid the collapse of the US-backed government in Kabul.

India playing an important role:

  • The third part of the Trump strategy is his outreach to India, saying a “critical part” of his administration’s South Asia policy is to further develop the US’s strategic partnership with India.
  • U.S expects from India to play a greater role with the credible image it holds in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has also in return nodded in the friendly manner.
  •  Mr. Trump’s South Asia policy is a remarkable turnaround for Washington which had wanted to keep India out of its ‘Af-Pak’ policy for long for fear of offending Rawalpindi.
  •  India was viewed as part of the problem and now the Trump administration is arguing that India should be viewed as part of a solution to the Afghan imbroglio.
  •   This is a welcome change and holds significant implications for India, Afghanistan and the wider region.

India – Afghanistan relations

Defense Cooperation:

  • India provides training to Afghanistan military officers in Indian military academies.
  • In 2014 India signed an agreement with Afghanistan and Russia. According to this agreement Russia will provide all military equipment needed by Afghanistan and India will pay for it.
  • India has directly provided three Russian-made Mi-25 attack helicopters to Afghan Air Force in 2015.

Cooperation in fighting Terrorism

  • India wants a democratic and peaceful Afghanistan for stability in its relations. But the country faces terror threats in the following ways –
  • Afghani Taliban is a major terrorist group. They are attempting to take over the democratically elected Government in Afghanistan.
  • Al Qaeda and many other terrorist groups like Haqqani Network are very active in Afghanistan.
  • The recent rise of Islamic State terrorists may have spillover effects on India in future.

Economic Cooperation:

  • India is the second largest destination for Afghanistan exports.
  • Afghanistan possess many minerals like gold, iron, copper etc. Indian companies have invested in its mining sector
  • More than 100 companies have invested in various sectors of its economy including agriculture, communications, Information Technology etc.
  • The proposed TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan and India) pipeline passes through Afghanistan. It is for importing Natural Gas from Turkmenistan to India.
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have jointly signed a trade deal. The deal aims at investment in Chabahar port for accessing landlocked Afghanistan by circumventing Pakistan.

Why is Afghanistan important to India?

Pipeline Routes

  • The country is located strategically adjacent to the oil and gas rich Middle East & Central Asia giving it an important geostrategic location.
  • Afghanistan becomes an attractive real estate for dominance on the pipeline routes.

Natural Resources

  • Afghanistan is rich in natural resources such as precious metals and minerals.

Regional Balance of Power

  • India needs Afghanistan to keep Pakistan in check just like China has been using Pakistan against India
  • When Afghanistan was invaded by US in 2001, its objectives were to oust Taliban and control of natural resources of Afghanistan.
  • There was an agenda for the US and India to prevent Russian and Chinese hegemony in Central Asia.
  • Russia maintains Afghanistan as embankment to protect its vulnerable southern border from illegal narcotics and Islamic extremism.
  • These factors make Afghanistan has become a center of power struggle between superpowers.

India’s role in Afghanistan:

  •  In recent years, India has not shied away from taking a high-profile role in Afghanistan.
  •  It remains one of the biggest donors of aid to Afghanistan, having committed $3.1 billion since 2001.
  •   Recently, it announced that it will be working on 116 new development projects in more than 30 areas.
  •  India’s agenda is to build the capacity of the Afghan state as well as of Afghan security forces, enabling them to fight their own battles more effectively. This is in line with the requirements of the Afghan government as well as the international community.

Way ahead:

  •   Expanding India’s development role further and enhancing its security profile with greater military assistance to Afghanistan should be a priority as new strategic opportunities open up in Afghanistan.
  •  While the U.S. has its own priorities in the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre, India’s should be able to leverage the present opening to further its interests and regional security.
  • The recent bout of diplomatic activity in the region is a clear signal that India can no longer be treated as a marginal player in Afghanistan. Even Russia wants to keep India in the loop, as was underscored by Moscow’s special envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov’s visit to New Delhi for consultations in last month.

‘Decision on fishing subsidies certain in WTO’s Dec. meet’

Context

  • An agreement on elimination of ‘harmful’ fisheries subsidies is likely to be the only major outcome at the forthcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) highest decision-making body called the ‘Ministerial Conference’ and there seems to have no progress at e-commerce.

What is the issue?

  • In May, a UN statement cited fisheries experts from UNCTAD mentioned that Harmful fishing subsidies (globally) that contribute to overfishing are estimated to be as high as $35 billion.
  • Seeking permanent solution to the issue of public stock-holding for food security purposes’ would be a part of the outcomes as it is an issue of huge importance to developing countries including India.
  • India has rejected fresh efforts by a clutch of countries led by the European Union (EU), Japan, Canada and Australia to negotiate new global e-commerce rules under the aegis of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

‘No’ to e-commerce talks

  • The probability of introduction of “new issues” like ‘e-commerce’, ‘trade facilitation in services’ and ‘investment facilitation’ into the WTO’s ongoing Doha Round negotiations remains timid.
  • The main argument of many developing countries currently remains that there is a lot of stuff on the deck already, which needs to be sorted out before going into new issues like e-commerce.
  • Developing countries are not ready to allow e-commerce to be negotiated at the WTO at this stage. They want to ensure that e-commerce is an enabler for development, without going into rule-making at the WTO.

Why did India say no?

  • India fears that the new global e-commerce rules could provide unfair market access to foreign online retail firms, hurting the rapidly growing domestic start-ups.
  • During an informal meeting at the WTO, the EU, Canada, Australia, Chile, Korea, Norway and Paraguay, among other countries, circulated a restricted draft ministerial decision to establish “a working party” at the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires and authorizing it to “conduct preparations for and carry out negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce on the basis of proposal by Members”.
  • A key demand by the developed countries is to make permanent the current ban on customs duties on global electronic transactions—they were suspended in 1998.

What is E-Commerce?

  • Electronic commerce or e-commerce 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, mainly from the internet.
  • Electronic commerce operates in all four of the major market segments: business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer and consumer to business.
  • E-Commerce processes are conducted using applications, such as email, fax, online catalogues and shopping carts, electronic data interchange (EDI), file transfer protocol and web services and e-newsletters to subscribers.
  • Electronic commerce emerged in the early 1990’s and its use has increased at a rapid rate. Today the majority of companies have an online presence.

Types of e-commerce:

  • There are several types of electronic commerce. The most common is business to consumer, in which a business sells products or services directly to consumers over the Internet.
  • Another type of electronic commerce is business to business, where companies sell products or services to other companies over the Internet.
  • Consumer to business electronic commerce involves consumers selling products or services to businesses.
  • There is consumer to consumer e-commerce, which is where consumers sell their products to other consumers.

The issues and problems affecting the development of Internet, e-commerce and e-business applications:

  • There is no guarantee of product quality.
  • Mechanical failures can cause unpredictable effects on the total processes.
  • As there is minimum chance of direct customer to company interactions, customer loyalty is always on a check.
  • There are many hackers who look for opportunities, and thus an e-commerce site, service, payment gateways; all are always prone to attack.
  • E-commerce is lack of human interaction for customers, especially who prefer face-to-face consumption.

Challenges e-commerce business facing in India:

India, the second most populous country in the world, is home to 1.2 billion people. Despite lower per-capita purchasing power, this still makes India one of the most attractive emerging markets for ecommerce. But India is far from being a bed of roses.

Here are some challenges that ecommerce businesses face in India:

  • Indian customers return much of the merchandise they purchase online.
  • Cash on delivery is the preferred payment mode
  • Ecommerce companies using Indian payment gateways are losing out on business, as several customers do not reattempt payment after a transaction fails.
  • Though the total number of mobile phone users in India is very high, a significant majority still use feature phones, not smart phones. So, for all practical purposes this consumer group is unable to make ecommerce purchases on the move.
  • The logistics challenge in India is not just about the lack of standardization in postal addresses. Given the large size of the country, there are thousands of towns that are not easily accessible. Metropolitan cities and other major urban centers have a fairly robust logistics infrastructure.
  • Overfunded competitors are driving up cost of customer acquisition.
  • The vibrancy in the Indian startup ecosystem over the past couple of years has channeled a lot of investment into the ecommerce sector. The long-term prospects for ecommerce companies are so exciting that some investors are willing to spend irrationally high amounts of money to acquire market share today. Naturally the Indian consumer is spoiled for choice.

Solutions:

  • E-commerce readiness: It is essential to fully understand the payment and logistical infrastructure, consumer behaviour, retail opportunity and technological developments.
  • Scope of growth: It is also important to look at the internet penetration, demographics of the online buying population.
  • Barriers to entry: Players should understand the regulatory environment and connect with solution providers, content distribution networks, and digital agencies.
  • Competition: There is also a need to do an in-depth assessment of what competitors are doing, their online strategy and the nature of each offering.

Government initiatives:

  • In India, the Information Technology Act 2000 governs the basic applicability of e-commerce.
  • The Indian Government’s “Digital India” initiative is also expected to boost the e-commerce industry. The government will deliver service via mobile connectivity and in doing so, is expected to bring the internet and broadband to remote corners of the country.
  • The Indian Government is also modernizing Indian Post and aims to develop it as a distribution channel for e-commerce related services. It will improve delivery services and cash transactions in more remote and rural areas, thus increasing the reach of e-commerce players and expanding the potential market.
  • An online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC) for e-commerce complaints was launched in December 2016 is in the process of being opertaionalized. A mobile app named “Smart Consumer” has also been launched in December 2016.

Information Technology Act, 2000:

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000, is an Act of the Indian Parliament. It is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce.
  • It is based on theUnited Nations Model Law on Electronic Commerce 1996 (UNCITRAL Model) recommended by the General Assembly of United Nations by a resolution dated 30 January 1997.
  • An Act to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as “electronic commerce”, which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information, to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the Government agencies and further to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • A major amendment was made in 2008. It introduced the Section 66A which penalized sending of “offensive messages”.
  • It also introduced the Section 69, which gave authorities the power of “interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource”.
  • It also introduced penalties for child porn, cyber terrorism, and voyeurism.

Conclusion:

  • The E-Commerce industry in India may currently be behind its counterparts in a number of developed countries and even some emerging markets. The Indian e-Commerce industry has access to funds from within the country and international investors. Overall, the e-Commerce sector is maturing and a number of serious players are entering the market.

GS-3

Cropping pattern, Agriculture, e-technology


The flaming fields of Punjab: (The Hindu, Editorial)

Context:

  • Despite the 2015 ban on crop burning, farmers in the State continue to set fire to paddy residue to make way for the next crop.

What is crop residue?

  • Crop residue or commonly known as agricultural waste, is increasingly being viewed as a valuable resource.
  • Corn stalks, corn cobs, wheat straw and other leftovers from grain production are now being viewed as a resource with economic value.
  • Crop residue is seen to be a co-product of grain production where both the grain and the residue have significant value.
  • Crop residues represent substantial global stores of fiber, energy, and plant nutrients.

What are the uses of crop residue?

  • Crop have been an important source of household fuel and building material in many low-income countries;
  • provided indispensable bedding and feed for animals, particularly ruminants, of all continents;
  • Offered an excellent substrate for cultivation of mushrooms;
  • been used for making paper; and
  • been tapped as sources for extracting organic compounds.

What is the reason behind burning crop residue?

  • Residue burning gives fields to farmers that are easier to seed and less pest infested.
  • Burning residue gives the farmers a seedbed that is easy to work and will not obstruct the growth of a new crop.

What are the adverse effects of crop residue?

  • Most importantly, it gives way to a significant amount of air pollution.
  • Recent data says that concentration of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide rises by 7% and 2.1%,
  • Weakens the local capacity of the agroecosystem services, ranging from protection of soils against erosion to recycling of nitrogen.
  • Erosion thus leads to loss of necessary nutrition of the soil.
  • It raises health issues such as acute respiratory problems and heart problems.

What is the order by National Green Tribunal (NGT)?

  • In 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned the burning of paddy straw in four States i.e. in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
  • In its order, the tribunal also fixed a penalty for burning paddy residue.
  • The NGT also ordered State governments to take strict action against persistent offenders.
  • It also directed the four States and Delhi to make arrangements to provide machinery free of cost to farmers with less than two acres of land, Rs. 5,000 to farmers with medium-sized land holdings, and Rs. 15,000 to those with large land holdings for residue management.

Other government measure taken:

  • The government has said that through the ministry of agriculture, cooperation and farmers welfare, it had drawn the National Policy for Management of Crop Residues 2014, which envisaged the adoption of technical measures, including diversified uses of crop residue, capacity building and training along with the formulation of suitable legislation.
  • The policy also envisaged satellite-based remote sensing technologies to monitor crop residue management, with active involvement from the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

What are the measures to be taken?

  • There is a need of stronger monitoring and enforcement mechanism through the use of remote sensing technology and use of real-time satellite imagery.
  • There should be strict village-level enforcement teams with the aim of zero incidence rate of crop residue burning, through prevention and penalisation.
  • Most importantly, farmers need to understand that this practice will only damage their soil and farm in the long run and will result in loss of agriculture.
  • Establishment of a larger number of biomass-based power projects utilising greater amounts of paddy straw is needed.
  • Effective and greater scope of subsidy provision, so that agricultural implements can be made widely available.
  • Creation of a market for paddy straw, along with a mechanism for commercial procurement of paddy straw for use in biomass-based power projects.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Functions:

  • It serves as a field formation and provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
  • It Co-ordinates the activities of the State Pollution Control Boards by providing technical assistance and guidance and also resolves disputes among them.
  • It is responsible for maintaining national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with zonal offices, tribal, and local governments.
  • It has responsibilities to conduct monitoring of water and air quality, and maintains monitoring data.
  • CPCB is responsible for implementation of legislation relating to prevention and control of environmental pollution.

State Pollution Control Boards:

  • There are State Pollution Control Boards at various state capitals of the country to advise respective state governments to control and protect environment.

Functions:

  • All SPCBs look after the interest of the respective states where they function.
  • It is also responsible for implementation of legislation relating to prevention and control of environmental pollution.
  • They implement the directives from CPCB and all Acts which are enacted from time to time.
  • The various provisions present in Water Act, Air Act and Environmental Protection Act are carried out by the industries and factories in the state with the supervision of SPCB.

Prelims Related News


Air programme on dangers of Blue Whale game

Context:

  • With alarming cases of suicides because of the recent Blue Whale Game, the Supreme Court has ordered educational programmes about the dangers of the online.
  • It is to be a public broadcasted through Doordarshan.

What is the Blue Whale game or Blue Whale Challenge?

  • The Blue Whale game or Blue Whale Challenge is believed to be a suicide game wherein a group of administrators or a certain curator gives a participant a task to complete daily.
  • It is for a period of 50 days.
  • The final of which is the participant committing suicide.
  • Participants are expected to share photos of the challenges/tasks completed by them.

Consequences of the game:

  • The game leads to complete a series of dark challenges.
  • For example, self-harming, and ultimately goading the youngster to commit suicide.
  • The game leaves vulnerable children vulnerable children at risk of
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic forms of contact.
  • Online shaming: Online shaming is a form of Internet vigilantism in which targets are publicly humiliated using technology like social and new media.

What is being done?

  • The Supreme Court directed public broadcaster Doordarshan to conceive a cautionary and educational programme about the dangers of the online game which goads players, mostly students, to commit suicide.
  • A Bench gave the public broadcaster a week’s time to prepare the programme and air it on prime time.
  • The idea behind the programme is to make parents and children aware of the dangers of online games like Blue Whale.
  • Many state governments and schools put out a list of guidelines to raise awareness about the twisted game and also urged parents to keep a strict check on their children’s online activities

What are the other measures to be taken?

  • Schools as well as police should issue advisories to parents urging them to be vigilant.
  • There must be firewalls against potentially deadly and violent online games.
  • The internet safety organisations across the world should have a strict surveillance over such games which are harmful in any means.
  • The organisations should provide general advice to parents and educators on suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and online safety.

 

 

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