Archives

GS 1

Social issues


The terrorisms we overlook: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Terrorism puts freedom at a stake

Context:

  • It is high time for the country to address the terror and violence which eradicates the basic freedom of the public.

Lynching:

  • Over the past few years, the country faces incidents of lynching of the minority groups.
  • There also have been incidents where Indians have been physically attacked by rampaging mobs accusing them of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter.
  • Finally, after a massive protest, the Prime Minister of the county made an announcement that Individuals had no right to kill in the name of ‘gau bhakti’.
  • The response to that of lynching it is expected of government to protect citizens from assault by fascist forces and the Prime Minister should mobilize the government machinery to do so.
  • It is clear that the civil administration code in India sufficiently empowers the district-governing authority to deal with the situations related to mob lynching.

Suggestions:

  • The country in association with terrorism, indirectly in the case of the mob lynching or directly in the case of extortion, is not compatible with freedom.
  • India needs to have vigilant governance in order to protect freedom of the common mass.

GS 2

Issues related to governance


SC open to liquor sale on city highways: (The Hindu)


SC open to liquor sale on city highways

Context

  •  A sign of relief may come to hotels, pubs as the Supreme Court on Tuesday prima facie observed that there may be nothing wrong in de-notifying particular stretches of highways running inside city limits as liquor-free zones.
  •  The court has scheduled a detailed hearing for July 11.

Change of stance

  •  As city roads and such de-classification does not violate its order that national and State highways across the country should be liquor-free zones.
  •  Roads in question do not normally see high-speed traffic.
  •  The objective of the liquor ban was to prevent drunken driving in fast-moving traffic.
  • The pace of traffic within city is very different from the traffic outside city limits.
  •  The purpose of the ban is to avoid drivers getting inebriated while driving on highways inter-linking cities

Relief to Hotel and Pub owners

  •  The verdict in March 2017 also encircled larger establishments, including pubs and hotels, such a de-tour of the verdict is a great sign of relief to them.  
  •  The court on March 2017 said exempting establishments other than “shops involved in sale of liquor”, which include bar-attached hotels, wine and beer parlours dotting highways would amount to dilution of its December 15 judgment’s objective to prevent drunk driving, one of the major killers plaguing Indian roads.

Centre may partially lift AFSPA: (The Hindu)


Read the following article over above issue – Removal of AFSPA from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh


‘Make registration of marriages compulsory’: (The Hindu)


Read the following analysis over above issue – Compulsory Marriage Registration: A Necessary Reform


Allow deposit of old notes, Supreme Court tells Centre: (The Hindu)


Allow deposits of Old notes, SC tells Centre

Context

  • The SC on Tuesday instructs Centre to open options for genuine persons to deposit their hard-earned demonetized notes.

SC directs Centre

  •  SC suggests that there should be an open window to approach authorities to prove that it is their money.
  •  If the reason given is proved, such deprivation shouldn’t be allowed.
  •  The Centre restricted the grace period till March 31, 2017 only to Indian citizens who were abroad during the period between November 9 and December 30, 2016.

An argument without Aadhaar: (Indian Express, Editorial)


Why Aadhar’s Privacy Issue is Actually Not an Issue

Context

  • There is a huge furor going on with regard to the privacy issue related to the Aadhar

Lack of Credible Analysis

  • There have been alarming reports of exclusion and disruption in social welfare but it is still unclear whether they are due to fixable teething troubles, careless deployment or something more fundamental
  •  The opponents too have been unable to make precise how exactly Aadhaar violates privacy
  •  At the same time, the UIDAI and ministerial claims declaring Aadhaar to be perfectly has failed to imbibe confidence.
  • The potential privacy breaches that has been identified are actually  trivial and easily fixable

The Controversy

  •  The government clearly wants to use the unique identification of Aadhaar to enforce compliance in a variety of schemes by avoiding duplicates.
  •  The opponents want Aadhaar to be voluntary

The Missing Factor

  •   In midst of the growing debate between the voluntariness and enforcement of Aadhar and the media hype, the potential benefits of Aadhaar beyond de-duplication, for example in analytics, have not even been discussed much.

Biased Verdict in Aadhar-PAN Linkage

  • The petitioner’s argument on legislative competence — that the linkage cannot be made mandatory in the IT Act without first removing the contradiction from the original Aadhaar Act — appeared to be compelling. Yet the court dismissed it.
  •  The petitioner’s arguments under Article 14, that the mandate discriminates between different classes of taxpayers, must have sounded tenuous even to the petitioners and were summarily rejected.
  • The argument that PAN cancellation violates the right to practice any profession was accepted, but so were the state’s arguments on the need for de-duplication.
  •  The court also accepted, without question or calling for any analysis, the state’s assertion that biometric de-duplication is perfect.
  •  The petitioners had put forth another set of problematic arguments based on dignity and bodily autonomy, on the state’s right of eminent domain over the human body and on informational self-determination. The court deferred them for consideration by a larger bench, along with all issues related to privacy.

Inadequate Consideration of Privacy Issue

  • The main issue is privacy, which the court has been deferring, and little has been said on it to enable an informed decision.
  •  Fingerprints and iris scans (both can be contact-less) are fundamentally no different from facial photographs; they are images and not parts of one’s body. They can be used for matching and de-duplication either manually or automatically. They differ only in efficacy and not in principle.
  • However, the response from the state — claiming that the state indeed has a right over the human body — was irrelevant and disproportionate
  •  On the one hand, the state’s position that Aadhaar is safe because UIDAI stores only minimal data required for biometric matching and demographic details, is untenable.
  • The government and UIDAI cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility of protecting users from privacy breaches through possible correlation attacks on linked databases.
  •  Further, the possibilities of insider attacks also need to be considered.
  • On the other hand, the opponent’s claim — that collecting biometric information and storing them in a central database and linking multiple databases through the Aadhaar number fundamentally violates privacy — is also without any careful evaluation of a precise threat model
  •  For example, PAN cards are already linked to bank accounts, ITR and major purchases. How does linking Aadhaar increase the possibilities for correlation attacks?
  • Biometric and demographic details are publicly available anyway, and anybody determined enough can obtain these from touched objects and using a powerful camera even without the victim’s cooperation.
  •   There is no doubt that using biometrics for authentication, to access bank accounts will be unsafe but poses no threat in case of identity verification and de-duplication

Way Forward

  •  There is a  need to exhaustively enumerate the possible ways in which privacy may be compromised and model an attack surface
  •  Only then can the questions related to privacy protection, either through technical or legal means, even be asked.
  •  The assertion that privacy protection is impossible with biometrics and a global ID is far from established

Conclusion

  •  It will not be enough to apply a traditional understanding of privacy to the new scenarios presented by digital identity and the internet
  •  The need of the hour is for our institutions to wake up and carry out conservative, detailed and rigorous analysis of all issues involved — social, economic, technical and legal.
  •  Till then, it will be best to go slow with Aadhaar, engage, analyse, correct, and ensure that there are no hardships.

Signs of a Persian gulf: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Read the following article over above issue – India-Iran relations


India talks tough with U.K. on terrorism: (The Hindu)


Read the following article over above issue – India -UK relations post Brexit


The rebirth of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: (Live Mint, Editorial)

Read the following article over above issue – Should India stay out of TPP: implications and way ahead

GS 3

Science and Tech


Drug-resistant TB higher among children than expected: report: (The Hindu)


Context

It has emerged that Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB is higher among children than expected.

What is the issue?

  • Many children tested in nine Indian cities have been diagnosed with TB.
  • Nine per cent of these paediatric TB cases have been diagnosed to have MDR TB, according to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) that conducted the tests.

What is Drug-resistant TB?

  • Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of tuberculosis (TB) infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line anti-TB medications (drugs).
  • Resistant strains of TB are already present in the population, so MDR-TB can be directly transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person.
  • Because MDR tuberculosis is an airborne pathogen, persons with active, pulmonary tuberculosis caused by a multidrug-resistant strain can transmit the disease if they are alive and coughing.
  • Treatment of MDR-TB requires treatment with second-line drugs, usually four or more anti-TB drugs for a minimum of 6 months, and possibly extending for 18–24 months if rifampin resistance has been identified in the specific strain of TB with which the patient has been infected.

About the Initiative

  • The aim of the project is to provide rapid access to quality TB diagnosis for all presumptive paediatric TB patients in the project intervention areas.
  • In 2016, the proportion of children among new TB patients reported was 6%. Absence of appropriate samples coupled with decentralised capacity to get good samples from children to test for TB remains a challenge in paediatric TB case detection.

Outcomes

  • TB diagnosis in children is complicated due to challenges associated with sample collection and poor sensitivity of tests like the Acid fast bacilli (AFB) smear.
  • FIND, through this project, has collaborated with the Central TB Division to improve access to more sensitive diagnostic tools like the GeneXpert in the paediatric population.

‘Display new GST price on products’: (The Hindu)


Display of New Price on Products

Context

  • GST implementation resulted in some price changes. Prices of some items have gone up while the prices of others have gone down. How the price change is being displayed is a matter of discussion

The Pricing Process

  • Those products whose tax burden has increased after the launch of GST, the price of such products can be increased as long as manufacturers advertise the raise in a local newspaper.
  •  They will also have to put a sticker with the new price on the product.
  •  In case the price has to be lowered manufacturers will have to paste the sticker but will not have to    place any advertisements in the local newspaper.
  •  The provision to use goods manufactured before July 1 is extended for three months
  •  The government has granted relaxation till 30.9.17 to industry under Packaged Commodities Rules to write new MRP on items of reduced prices due to GST

Why the Concern over Price Display

  •  These rules for price rise/fall and corresponding advertisements in paper and sticker showing the new price has been issued, so that the benefits of decreased prices, by reduction of tax after imposition of GST, should reach the consumers.

 Tap GST for jobs data: PM-appointed panel: (The Hindu)


Context

  •   NITI Aayog has proposed a plan of using Goods and Services Tax (GST) as the sample set to collect employment-unemployment data

The Proposal

  • NITI Aayog recently recommended scrapping of the traditional employment-unemployment surveys that are carried out by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) every five years.
  •  The last such survey was carried out in 2011-12 and the one due in 2016-17 was skipped implying irregularity and inefficiency in data collection. Thus the very purpose of the office is getting compromised.

Justification of this Proposal

  • The GST Network (GSTN) will include enterprises of all sizes in the goods and services sectors with turnover exceeding 20 lakh
  •  Continuous updating of GSTN will provide for an updated sample frame. Over 80 lakh firms are registered with the GSTN already.
  •  A subset of the GSTN database-backed surveys could be used to generate monthly or quarterly enterprise-based employment estimates
  •  For firms outside the GST net, Aayog has recommended separate annual surveys and an economic census every three years.

Way Forward

  • A new periodic labor force survey will be conducted annually to provide estimates of labor force, employment, unemployment, nature of employment and industry.
  • The first such labor force survey has already been initiated in this April
  • Apart from a new GST-backed Survey approach, the NITI Aayog has called for a fresh definition of  formal employment to include any person who gets a Form 16 reflecting income tax deductions at source.
  • Also workers covered under any one of the The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 or EPF and miscellaneous Provision Act 1952, government and other public sector employees, workers having coverage under private insurance or pension schemes of PFs,” be considered formal workers.

Conclusion

  • A time use survey should also be conducted at three-year intervals to provide data on the time spent in various occupations and non-market activities.
  • If the inputs are implemented, India will be able to generate reliable estimates of a number of critical variables for informed policy making.

UDAY covers 97% of discom debt: Centre: (The Hindu)


  •  Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is the financial turnaround and revival package for electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs) initiated by the Government of India with the intent to find a permanent solution to the financial mess that the power distribution is in

Why in News

  • Recently, government announced that  97% of the total outstanding debt of all state power distribution companies (discoms) has been covered under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
  • So far, 86% of the restructurable debt has been revamped under the scheme

Some Relevant Facts

  • In 2015, the total debt of all state-owned discoms was 3.95 lakh crore
  •  The 26 states and 1 UT which have joined the UDAY scheme account for total outstanding debt of 3.82 lakh crore.
  • Hence, about 97% of the total outstanding debt of all State discoms has been covered under UDAY
  • The national average of aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses (from all UDAY states) stood at 20.2% in FY17
  •  Also the difference between the average cost of supply (ACS) and the average revenue realized (ARR) had come down in the last year.

India’s quest for armed drones: (Live Mint, Editorial)


Context

Given India’s complex security challenges, UAVs have the potential to aid the Indian military not only in fighting wars but also in intelligence and surveillance.

What has happened?

  • The US government’s decision to grant India the licence for the export of 22 Guardian drones through the US foreign military sales programme will address gaps in India’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
  • India’s quest for armed drones in the absence of a defined strategy for the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has created misconceptions about their utility for India in conducting cross-border strikes or “surgical strikes” against Pakistan-based terrorists.

India’s pursuit of armed drones

  • The Guardian drones will complement India’s maritime surveillance aircraft at sea in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, helping boost battle space awareness and target acquisition or guide forces on suspected surface threats.
  • The additional capability will free up the navy’s Boeing P-81s for anti-submarine warfare (ASW). This will be critical given the increasing forays of Chinese submarines in the India Ocean region and India’s capacity-deficit in ASW.
  • India’s pursuit of armed drones has led it to order 10 Heron TP drones from Israel and this will likely be the highlight of Indo-Israeli defence cooperation.

What are UAVs?

  • An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that carries no human pilot or passengers.
  • UAVs, sometimes called “drones” can be fully or partially autonomous but are more often controlled remotely by a human pilot.
  • UAVs are currently used for a number of missions, including reconnaissance and attack roles.

Use of UAVs

  • The use of UAVs permits Indian policymakers to exercise the use of force while substantially lowering the risk to military personnel and acts as a force multiplier in enhancing surveillance capabilities. This expands the variety of missions the Indian Armed Forces can conduct.
  • The use of unmanned systems such as drones removes potential political costs and makes it easier for policymakers to opt for “clean and quick” use of military force rather than the slow and often difficult political and diplomatic options.
  • In India’s case, the Indian military hopes that armed UAVs will give it the capability to conduct symbolic retaliatory attacks against Pakistan-based terrorists while limiting the violation of Pakistani sovereignty and hopefully avoiding any escalatory spiral.

About modern air defences

  • Modern air defences are more dangerous and effective than ever before.
  • Armed drones against targets in Afghanistan or Yemen have succeeded as these have undefended air spaces or in Syria and Pakistan because air defences have not been employed to target them.
  • To mitigate the threat to manned and unmanned aircraft from air defences, India needs long-range stand-off weapons systems along with the requisite advances in intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance.

Conclusion

Given India’s complex security challenges, UAVs have the potential to play a role in enabling the Indian military not only in fighting wars but also in intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance, and deterring cross-border terrorist attacks. Currently, however, the integration of unmanned assets, especially armed drones, with manned fighters and combined arms concepts remains at a nascent stage.

‘Make registration of marriages compulsory’: (The Hindu)

Please read the following article over the above issue –Compulsory Marriage Registration: A Necessary Reform


 

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