November 27, 2021

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (OCTOBER 12, 2021)

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INDIAN POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

1. DRY RUN OF FIRST E-VOTING SYSTEM IN INDIA

THE CONTEXT: Future elections in Telangana could witness a major change in the voting process, with the state government gearing up for a dry run of the first-ever smartphone-based e-voting system in the country.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The system allows voters to cast their ballots through their mobile phones by downloading an application.
  • A dummy election will be held to test this application on 20 October in the Khammam district. All eligible voters from the district can participate by applying on the app from 8 to 18 October.
  • The initiative for the e-voting system was taken by the Telangana State Election Commission (TSEC) and implemented with support from the Emerging Technologies Wing of the state’s IT Electronics and Communications Department, with technical development by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).
  • The technical development was also guided by an expert committee comprising Prof. RajatMoona, director of IIT Bhilai and technical advisor to the Election Commission of India, and professors from IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi.
  • The mobile application will carry out a three-factor authentication of valid voters using artificial intelligence. This includes matching voters’ names to their Aadhaar cards, live detection of individuals and matching their image with the EPIC (electoral photo identity cards) database with records dating back to 15 to 20 years.
  • The dry run will be carried out using the ‘TSEC eVote’ Android application, which is a “security hardened” app to prevent tampering. It also binds the device ID and phone number to a specific citizen during registration to ensure the same device is used for voting to enhance security.
  • The entire process will be monitored and controlled by the admin using a web portal, wherein the generation and access of results is further protected with the requirement of a physical security token-based decryption.
  • Experts such as former chief election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi have raised concerns over the perils of online voting and how easily it can be manipulated. Voting on the internet can be manipulated, which is why ECI has not considered it.
  • Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher working on data and governance, also said if implemented, app-based voting poses a risk to the idea of a “secret ballot” and that the “source code” of the app cannot ensure secrecy. Kodali also pointed how Kenya’s electronic voting system in the 2017 Presidential Election created challenges.

SOURCE: THE PRINT

 

2. KILLING OF MINORITIES A THREAT TO DEMOCRATIC FABRIC OF INDIA: NHRC

THE CONTEXT:  The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Jammu and Kashmir government and police over the recent spate of targeted killings of civilians from minority communities. They are an attempt to keep non-Muslims out of the Valley.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • The Commission takes suomotucognisance of the incident and directs the issuance of notices to the Chief Secretary, Jammu & Kashmir and the DGP, Jammu & Kashmir, calling for a detailed report in the matter, including the present status of the investigation being conducted and steps be taken or proposed to be taken by the authorities to safeguard innocent citizens’ lives from being killed in a targeted manner.

ABOUT NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (NHRC)

  • It is a statutory body (Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993).
  • Composition: A multi-member body consisting of a chairman and five members
  • Qualification: The chairman should be retired chief justice of India or judge of Supreme Court, and members should be serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court, a serving or retired chief justice of a high court and three persons (out of which at least one should be a woman) having knowledge or practical experience with respect to human rights. In addition, the Commission also has seven ex-officio members.
  • Appointment: Appointed by the president on recommendations of a six-member committee.
  • Term: The chairman and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • Removal: The president can remove the chairman or any member from the office.
  • The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government.
  • It has all the powers of a civil court, and its proceedings have a judicial character.
  • The Commission is not empowered to inquire into any matter after the expiry of one year from the date on which the act constituting a violation of human rights is alleged to have been committed.
  • The Commission is mainly recommendatory in nature. It has no power to punish the violators of human rights nor to award any relief, including monetary relief, to the victim. But, it should be informed about the action taken on its recommendations within one month.
  • The Commission submits its annual or special reports to the Central government and to the state government concerned.

SOURCE: TH

 

ENVIRONMENT, GEOGRAPHY AND AGRICULTURE

3. PUNJAB GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL TO USE PADDY STRAW AS CATTLE FEED

THE CONTEXT:  Producing over 20 million tonnes of paddy straw every year, most of which is burnt in fields by farmers, leading to widespread air pollution, Punjab has now proposed to use the paddy crop residue as fodder for animals.

THE EXPLANATION: 

  • A research report prepared by the state’s only vet varsity — Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana — was submitted to the government under the project ‘Preparation for the control of stubble burning during Kharif season 2021’, which has recommended usage of paddy straw as animal feed
  • High silica and lignin content reduce its digestive properties. Higher selenium content in paddy straw also limits its use as fodder in animals compared to wheat straw. However, if given in moderate quantities (up to 5 kg per animal per day), selenium poses no health hazard to the animal.
  • Paddy straw also contains oxalates (2-2.5%), leading to calcium deficiency, so the mineral mixture should always be fed along with the straw.
  • There are two methods that have been recommended in the report submitted by GADVASU: Urea-only treatment and urea plus molasses treatment for paddy straw before using it as cattle fodder.

SOURCE:TH

 

4. CONSERVING INDIA’S DHOLE POPULATION

THE CONTEXT:   A recent study has identified 114 priority talukas/tehsils where habitats can be consolidated to enhance population connectivity for the dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuonalpinus), a Schedule II species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The scientists combined animal movement models and spatial conservation prioritisation methods to map connectivity hotspots for dholes across the entire country. This information was further used to demarcate ‘dhole conservation landscapes’ and assess the relative importance of different protected areas.
  • Efforts should especially be focussed on vulnerable dhole populations in the Western and Eastern Ghats and central India.
  • Particular focus should be on habitat patches and talukas that facilitate movement between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats.
  • The dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuonalpinus) is found in three clusters across India, namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India.
  • The Western and Eastern Ghats is a stronghold region for dholes. It harbours a large number of source populations with a large proportion of land under protection.
  • Central India appeared to be weak in terms of connectivity, and there was a lot less forest cover and more isolated protected areas.
  • The North East had the largest proportion of forested land. Therefore the patterns of connectivity were diffused.
  • It was also used to identify the talukas where targeting conservation efforts would help maintain or improve connectivity for dholes.

SOURCE: DTE

 

INDIAN ECONOMY

5. INDIA GETS THIRD SET OF SWISS BANK DETAILS

THE CONTEXT: India has received the third set of Swiss bank account details of its nationals under automatic exchange of information pact with Switzerland, as part of an annual exercise under which the European nation has shared particulars of nearly 33 lakh financial accounts with 96 countries.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said that this year’s exchange of information involved 10 more countries— Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Dominica, Ghana, Lebanon, Macau, Pakistan, Qatar, Samoa and Vauatu.
  • While the exchange of information was reciprocal with 70 countries, Switzerland received information but did not provide any in the case of 26 countries — either because those countries do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security (14) or because they chose not to receive data (12).
  • The exchange took place last month, and Switzerland will share the next information set in September 2022.
  • India had received the first set of details from Switzerland under AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) in September 2019, and it was among 75 countries to get such information that year.

SOURCE: TH

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

6. INDIAN SPACE ASSOCIATION

THE CONTEXT:  The Indian Space Association (ISA) was formally launched by Prime Minister as an industry body representing the various stakeholders in the Indian space domain with members comprising the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bharti Airtel, OneWeb, Tata Group’s Nelco, L&T, MapMyIndia among others.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • While India has made progress in the space sector over the years, ISRO has primarily been at the centre of this progress. Along the lines of the US, now several private sector companies, both global and domestic, have taken an interest in India’s space domain, with space-based communication networks coming to the fore.
  • Several Indian and international companies have bet on satellite communications as the next frontier to provide internet connectivity at the retail level. This includes SpaceX’sStarLink, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, US satellite maker Hughes Communications, etc.
  • OneWeb, for example, is building its initial constellation of 648 low-earth orbit satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit. Its services are expected to begin this year in the Arctic region, including Alaska, Canada, and the UK.
  • By late 2022, OneWeb will offer its high-speed, low latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world. In addition, StarLink and Amazon are also in discussions with the Indian government for a licence to offer satellite-based internet services.
  • SpaceX has a plan to create a network of 12,000 satellites, of which over 1,300 are already sky-borne.
  • Industry experts suggest that satellite internet will be essential for broadband inclusion in remote areas and sparsely populated locations where terrestrial networks have not reached.
  • However, satellite communications remain limited to use by corporates and institutions that use it for emergency use, critical trans-continental communications, and for connecting to remote areas with no connectivity.
  • As of August this year, India had only 3 lakh satellite communications customers, compared with 45 lakh in the US and 21 lakh in the European Union.

SOURCE: IE

 

MISCELLANEOUS

7. NOBEL PRIZE 2021 IN ECONOMICS

THE CONTEXT: Three US-based economists won the 2021 Nobel Prize for economics for pioneering research on the labour market impacts of minimum wage, immigration and education, and for creating the scientific framework to draw conclusions from such studies that can’t use traditional methodology.

SOURCE: PIB

 

 

PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS FOR THE DAY

Q1. Consider the following statements about NHRC:

  1. It consists of a Chairman and four members.
  2. The chairman and members hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  3. The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the chairman or a member are determined by the Central government.

Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2

c) 2 and 3

d) 1 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR OCTOBER 11, 2021 PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Answer: d)

Explanation:

  • Bioremediation uses microorganisms to degrade organic contaminants in soil, groundwater, sludge and solids. The microorganisms break down contaminants by using them as an energy source or cometabolizing them with an energy source.
  • Phytoremediation technologies use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.
  • Phytoremediation is defined as the “use of algae to treat wastes or wastewaters”. The algae comprise both the microalgae as well as the marine macroalgae, more commonly known as the seaweeds.
  • The island was formed by Himalayan silt in 2006. It spans 40 square kilometres.
  • Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being relocated on the island.
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