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9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 19, 2021

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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GS- Paper 2

  • Need and ways of Decongesting Indian prisons
  • India-US relations under Joe Biden administration

GS- Paper 3

  • Ensuring Intergenerational Equity in Mining in India

Factly Articles for Prelims Examination


GS- Paper 2

Need and ways of Decongesting Indian prisons

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Reforms in Indian criminal justice system

Synopsis: Health Experts are calling federal prisons a “breeding grounds for uncontrolled transmission” of the virus. There is an urgent need of decongesting them. What are the ways to decongest Indian prisons?

Background

  • In India there are around 1,400 prisons, ‘housing’ over 5 lakh prisoners. These prisoners are facing the threat of Covid pandemic, with no organisational support.
  • Whereas, in the countries such as U.K and U.S, activists are strong enough to influence public policy and voice against human rights abuse in prison.
  • Also, these Countries have accurate data over the impact of pandemic on prisoners in public domain. For example
    • The data from Texas state shows that the pandemic has killed more than 230 people in prisons, 80% of whom had not been convicted of a crime.
    • Similarly, The United Kingdom Ministry of Justice figures shows that prisoners testing positive in October stood at 1,529, with five deaths.
  • However, India lacks such crucial data on Prison Statistics in public domain and also such statistics are not being demanded of our criminal justice system.

How a lack of effective criminal laws is affecting under-trial prisoners in India?

According to the Prisons Act of 1894, prisons come under the exclusive responsibility of State governments. Over the years, despite being upgraded to the status of correctional homes, these prisons are facing the challenge of Congestion of Under Trial Prisoners (UTPs).

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2019 out of 4.5 lakh prisoners, 3.3 lakh are ‘under-trial prisoners’, i.e., investigation or trial is supposed to be ‘in progress’.
  • These UTPs are detained under Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which provides for “Procedure when investigation cannot be completed in 24 hours”.
  • The original Cr.PC of 1898 specified the period of detention as 15 days. Later, through amendments, it was extended to periods that can go up to 90 days and, in some exceptions, to an indefinite period.
  • Out of 3.3 lakh, about 2.2 lakh are either not likely to be even charge-sheeted, or they are likely to be acquitted.”
  • This is a huge violation of the basic human rights of UTPs, who are already facing the issue of inadequate healthcare facilities and torture by other rowdy prisoners.
  • Moreover, it is a huge injustice to the families of the UTPs. For example, their children are denied a normal childhood, proper education, and are exploited by a cruel section of the society and are forced to take to the path of crime.

What needs to be done?

Pandemic provides an opportunity for an immediate review of all prisoners’ vulnerability to the epidemic,

  • First, we need to conduct repeated testing in all prisons, especially sub-jails. An arrangement for the isolation and hospitalization of who testing positive needs to be planned.
  • Second, to de-congest prisons, the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005, which contains the much-needed Section 436-A needs to be activated.
    • it provides for an under-trial to be released on a personal bond, with or without sureties if the under-trial has spent half of the period of prescribed imprisonment in detention.
  • Third, ‘Prisons’ is purely a ‘State subject’. But it is imperative of the centre to support the states as the Constitutional responsibility of handling infectious and contagious diseases listed in the Concurrent List.

It is the duty of the state to vaccinate inmates at the ‘Hospitals of Correction’. It is similar to anyone in a state hospital may rightly expect to be vaccinated on a priority against the virus.


India-US relation under Joe Biden administration

Synopsis: Biden’s administration is focussed on ensuring economic security of the middle class by reducing the expansive globalist ambitions. What does it mean for India?

Source: Indian Express

GS- 2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Background

  • Two important themes that are at the centre of Biden’s vision are,
    • To “restore the soul of America” by resolving the multiple economic and political challenges confronting the US.
    • To rebuild the backbone of the nation, the middle class.
  • Biden’s emphasis on the middle class is not very different from Trump’s emphasis on “America First”. But it will not be called the same due to negatives associated with it.

Understanding this continuity of “America First” policy under Joe Biden will help India to engage productively with the new American administration.

What are the possible elements of Biden’s foreign policy?

The report titled “Making US Foreign Policy Work Better for the Middle Class”, co-authored by Sullivan (designated National security advisor under Biden administration) offers insight into the future of American foreign policy. It has pointed the following observations,

  • Economic anxiety and discontent in the American heartland are deepening.
  • Similar to Trump’s view on Free trade, the report highlights that trade liberalisation has not benefitted everyone in the US
    • The report recommends addressing the deepening income inequality at home and domestic investment and industrial strategy that will allow America to become more competitive in the world.
  • It recognizes that the expansive globalist ambitions of the American foreign policy have lost much domestic political support. For example,
    • Escalating a new Cold War with China.
    • Or waging struggle between the world’s democracies and authoritarian governments.
  • Pointing to the overreach of American foreign policy in recent decades the report proposes for a “less ambitious” foreign policy in the future.

The report signifies under Biden’s administration, the US will adopt a less interventionist approach in geopolitical issues, reduced international military interventions, absence of trade wars as against Trump years.

What does it mean to India?

  • First, in trump years India-US relation saw both developments and confrontations going together. For example, sharpening tensions on trade was going parallel with deepening defence and security cooperation
    • Under Biden administration, India finds an opportunity to overcome the bilateral differences on trade and elevate defence cooperation to a higher level.
  • Second, India’s pragmatic international orientation to the Atmanirbhar strategy could open some space for working with Biden on reforming the global trading system and make it more politically sustainable.
  • Finally, America that plans for a less ambitious” foreign policy will need strong partners like India who can contribute more.

A political understanding of strategic burden-sharing would help India-US to develop deeper military cooperation and more intensive diplomatic coordination in the Indo-Pacific.


GS- Paper 3

Ensuring Intergenerational Equity in Mining in India 

Source: Click here 

Syllabus: GS 3 

Synopsis:  For ensuring Intergenerational Equity, it is important to ensure availability of resources for future generation. For this, sustainable mining should be ensured.  

Introduction  

India’s National Mineral Policy 2019 states that “natural resources, including minerals, are a shared inheritance where the state is the trustee on behalf of the people to make sure that future generations receive the benefit of inheritance.” 

But Present trend of mining as much as possible, is not according to the role of trustee acquired by the government in its policyThe extraction of oil, gas and minerals is effectively the sale of this inheritance.  

What are the issues in mining trends at present? 

  • First, governments without their role of trustee in mind, end up with a mineral price that is considerably lesser than what they are worth.  
    • For example, it is projected from the yearly reports of Vedanta that from 2004 to 2012, Goa lost more than 95% of the value of its minerals. They sold mineral wealth worth 100 rupees for 5 rupees. 
  • Second, extractors try to extract as much as possible and move on quickly to reduce their cost and maximize their profits from an area 
  • Third, the government also allows the hasty extraction, as it perceives more mining equals more government revenue.  

What are the steps to be taken? 

The Government Accounting Standards Advisory Board needs to correct this error in the standards for public sector accounting and reporting for mineral wealth. 

  • There should be legal safeguards against unregulated mining and minerals should be considered as a shared inheritance.  
  • The state as trustee of mineral wealth must collect the full economic rent i.e., sale price minus the cost of extraction and cost including profit for the extractor. The full value of the extracted minerals should be received by the state, according to India’s national mineral policy 2019. 
  • India can also maintain the entire mineral sale profits in a Future Generations Fund like Norway did. This Fund could be submissively financed through the National Pension Scheme framework. 
  • The Supreme Court gave a judgement in Goa Foundation vs UOI & Ors and ordered the creation of a Goa Iron Ore Permanent Fund in 2014, which already has an amount of ₹500 crores.  
  • This may be distributed as a citizens’ dividend, equally to all the owners and future generations would benefit from the dividend in their turn. 

Way forward  

  • The principle of fair mining in return of its real value is fully constitutional, promoting justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. The reduction in losses would also limit corruption, crony capitalism and growing inequality. 

Daily Factly Articles – 19th Jan. 2021

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Jan 19, 2021

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