February 3, 2023

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (JULY 21, 2022)

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THE INDIAN POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1.CYBER FRAUD CASES

THE CONTEXT: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) compiles and publishes the statistical data on crimes in its publication “Crime in India”. The latest published report is for the year 2020.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • As per the data published by the NCRB, State/UT-wise details of the cases registered under Fraud (includes Credit/Debit Card, ATM, Online Banking Fraud, OTP  Fraud & Others)  for  The NCRB started collecting such data only from 2017.
  • Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for deployment of adequate manpower, training of police personnel and developing mechanism to combat cyber crime.

To strengthen the mechanism to deal with cyber crime, including cyber frauds, in a comprehensive and coordinated manner, the Central Government has taken measures which, inter-alia, include the following:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has set up the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre(I4C) to provide a framework and eco-system for LEAs to deal with cyber crime in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
  • Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System has been launched for immediate reporting of financial frauds and to stop siphoning off fund by the fraudsters. A toll-free Helpline number ‘1930’ has been operationalized to get assistance in lodging online cyber complaints.
  • The ‘National Cyber Forensic Laboratory (NCFL)’ a state of the art facility has been set up under the I4C to train & assist the State/UT Investigation Officers. The NCFL has been made functional and its facilities are being extended to States/UTs.
  • The Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform under the I4C called ‘CyTrain’ portal has been developed. CyTrain portal helps in the capacity building of Police Officers/ Judicial Officers through online course on critical aspects of cybercrime investigation, forensics, prosecution, etc., along with certification. So far, more than 21,300 Police Officers from States/UTs are registered and more than 5700 Certificates issued through the portal.

MEASURES TO TACKLE:

  • Need for Massive Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign: In order to proactively deal with cybercrime, the governments need to carry out a massive cybersecurity awareness campaign, regarding cyber frauds, use strong, unique passwords, being careful using public wi-fi, etc.
  • Need for Data Protection Law: In the 21st century, Data is referred to as the new currency. Thus, there is a requirement for a stringent data protection regime.
  • In this context, the European union’s General Data Protection Regulation and India’s Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 are steps in the right direction.
  • Need for Collaborative Trigger Mechanism: For developing countries like India where the citizenry is more vulnerable to cybercrime, there is an urgent need for a collaborative trigger mechanism.

2.NATIONAL MISSION FOR JUSTICE DELIVERY & LEGAL REFORMS

THE CONTEXT: According to Ministry of Law of Justice, National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms was set up in August, 2011 with the twin objectives of increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system and enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities

THE EXPLANATION:  

The Mission has been pursuing a co-ordinated approach for phased liquidation of arrears and pendency in judicial administration, which, inter-alia, involves better infrastructure for courts including computerization, increase in strength of subordinate judiciary, policy and legislative measures in the areas prone to excessive litigation, re-engineering of court procedure for quick disposal of cases and emphasis on human resource development.

The major steps taken during the last eight years under various initiatives are as follows:

  • Improving infrastructure for Judicial Officers of District and Subordinate Courts: As on date, Rs. 9,13.21 crores have been released since the inception of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary in 1993-94. The number of court halls has increased from 15,818 as on 30.06.2014 to 20,993 as on 30.06.2022 and number of residential units has increased from 10,211 as on 30.06.2014 to 18,502 as on 30.06.2022 under this scheme.
  • Leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improved justice delivery: Government has been implementing the e-Courts Mission Mode Project throughout the country for information and communication technology enablement of district and subordinate courts. The Department has developed an online portal for reporting by all High Courts on the compliance of Arrears Eradication Scheme guidelines of the Malimath Committee Report.
  • Emphasis on Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR): Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (as amended on 20th August, 2018) stipulates mandatory pre-institution mediation and settlement of commercial disputes. Amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has been made by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015 for expediting the speedy resolution of disputes by prescribing timelines.
  • Initiatives to Fast Track Special Type of Cases: The Fourteenth Finance Commission endorsed the proposal of the Government to strengthen the judicial system in States which included, inter-alia, establishing Fast Track Courts for cases of heinous crimes; cases involving senior citizens, women, children etc., and urged the State Governments to use the additional fiscal space provided in the form of enhanced tax devolution form 32% to 42% to meet such requirements.

VALUE ADDITION:

NATIONAL JUDICIAL INFRASTRUCTURE AUTHORITY OF INDIA (NIJAC)

  • The idea for such an agency was first proposed by CJI Ramana in March this year, even before he took office.
  • Soon after he was sworn in, the CJI commenced work on the NJIC and a survey of 6,000 trial courts in various states was undertaken as part of this exercise.
  • budgetary allocation for state judiciary often lapses since there is no independent body to supervise and execute works related to improving court premises. NJIC is expected to fill this vacuum and overcome problems related to infrastructure.
  • The basic idea behind NJIC is not to leave HC chief justices — who mostly undertake infrastructure-related projects in trial courts — at the mercy of state governments.
  • the NJIC will be an “honest” agency that will monitor the execution of work for which the funds are earmarked.

What are the reasons behind infrastructural lag?

Insufficient funds:

  • The Centrally-Sponsored Scheme for the development of Judiciary Infrastructure, which began in 1993 and was extended for another five years in July 2021, provides funds for the development of judicial infrastructure.
  • States, on the other hand, do not provide their fair share of funds, and as a result, money allotted under the system is frequently left unutilized and lapses.

Funding for Non-Judicial Purposes:

  • In some cases, the claimed, states have allegedly transferred a portion of the funds for non-judicial purposes in some cases.
  • Nobody is willing to assume responsibility for infrastructure projects, even in the judiciary, particularly in trial courts.

THE ENVIRONMENT, ECOLOGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

3.CHEETAHS LIKELY TO ARRIVE IN MADHYA PRADESH’S KUNO NATIONAL PARK BEFORE AUGUST 15, 2022

THE CONTEXT: The agreement, which has been negotiated for some years, will prepare the ground for the relocation of the first batch of cheetahs from southern Africa to Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park, with officials trying to complete the first transfer before August 15, 2022.

THE EXPLANATION:  

  • India came one step closer to bringing back the world’s fastest animal, which has been extinct in the country since 1952, with an agreement between the government and the visiting Namibian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations.
  • According to the Environment Ministry, “Completing 75 glorious years of Independence with restoring the fastest terrestrial flagship species, the cheetah, in India, will rekindle the ecological dynamics of the landscape.
  • The MoU focused on biodiversity conservation, and the sharing of expertise between the two countries, technological applications, collaborations on climate change, pollution and waste management, and the exchange of personnel for training and education in wildlife management. However, the government has yet to reveal whether it has already procured the cheetahs, how many will be transferred in the first trial, and when they are likely to be brought to India.
  • According to officials, plans for the Cheetah translocations to Kuno are in compliance with the IUCN’s guidelines, with particular focus on the forest site quality, prey density and the current carrying capacity for a large mammal like the Cheetah.
  • As per United Nations, Cheetahs have been listed as “Vulnerable” in the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, recent study revealed the decline in its population.

One-year trial period

  • The cheetahs will arrive in India for a one-year trial period. The project for the cheetah — the only wild cat to go extinct in independent India — was put back on track in 2020 when the Supreme Court lifted a stay on the original proposal to introduce African cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat on an experimental basis.
  • In May 2012, the court had stalled the plan to initiate the foreign cheetahs into the Kuno sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh fearing they would come into conflict with the plan for bringing lions into the same sanctuary.

VALUE ADDITION:

ABOUT KUNO NATIONAL PARK

  • It is located in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Kuno River, one of the major tributaries of Chambal River flows through the entire length bisecting the National Park division.
  • Kuno park is known for the leopard, Jackal, Chinkara.
  • Wildlife Institute of India and Wildlife Trust of India had shortlisted Palpur-Kuno park as habitats for Cheetahs and Asiatic lions.
  • Cheetah which once roamed in the northern plains of India became extinct in India in 1948.
  • The Kuno has the potential to carry populations of all four of India’s big cats the tiger, the leopard, the Asiatic lion and also cheetah, all four of which have coexisted within the same habitats historically before they were exhausted thanks to overhunting and habitat destruction.
  • Currently, the leopard and striped hyena are the only larger carnivores within the Kuno National Park, the single lone tiger T-38 having returned to Ranthambore earlier this year (2021).

THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

4.MSP AND GOVT PANEL’S TASK

THE CONTEXT: Recently, the government notified a committee to “promote zero budget based farming”, to “change” crop pattern keeping in mind the changing needs of the country, and to make MSP (minimum support price) more “effective and transparent”.

THE EXPLANATION:  

Why has the committee been set up?

  • It has been constituted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, as a follow-up to an announcement by Prime Minister 2021 when he had declared the government’s intention to withdraw the three farm laws.
  • The protesting farm unions led by the SKM had demanded a legal guarantee on MSP, based on Swaminathan Commission’s ‘C2+50% formula’ (C2 is a type of cost incurred by farmers; see box). This was in addition to their demand for repeal of the three farm laws — Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

So, will the committee deliberate on the legal guarantee of MSP?

Its terms and references do not mention legal guarantee of MSP. What they do mention is making MSP “more effective and transparent”. “As per announcement of Hon’ble Prime Minister that ‘A committee will be constituted to promote Zero budget based farming, to change crop pattern keeping in mind the changing needs of the country, and to make MSP more effective and transparent.

What is the committee tasked with, then?

  • Under the heading ‘Subject matter of constitution of the Committee’, the committee is to look at MSP, natural farming, and crop diversification. For MSP, its agenda is:

Suggestions to make available MSP to farmers of the country by making the system more effective and transparent

Suggestions on practicality to give more autonomy to Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and measures to make it more scientific

To strengthen the Agricultural Marketing System as per the changing requirements… to ensure higher value to the farmers through remunerative prices… by taking advantage of the domestic and export opportunities.

  • On natural farming, the committee has been asked to give “suggestions for programmes and schemes for value chain development, protocol validation & research for future needs and support for area expansion under the Indian Natural Farming System by publicity and through involvement and contribution of farmer organizations”.
  • It has also been tasked with suggesting strategies for research and development institutions being made knowledge centres, and introducing a natural farming system curriculum in educational institutions; suggesting a farmer-friendly alternative certification system and marketing system for natural farming processes and products; deliberating on issues related to chain of laboratories for organic certification of natural farming products, and other aspects.
  • For crop diversification, the committee will deliberate on, among various aspects, mapping of cropping patterns of agro-ecological zones; strategy for a diversification policy to change the cropping pattern according to changing needs; arrangement for agricultural diversification and a system to ensure remunerative prices for the sale of new crops.

Value Addition:

About MSP:

  • MSP is the rate at which the government purchases crops from farmers and is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.
  • The government of India sets the MSP twice a year for 23 crops (13 Kharif, 6 Rabi and 4 commercial crops).
  • The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)attached the Ministry of Agriculture office, which decides the minimum support price and recommends it to the government. It is an advisory body whose recommendations are not binding to the government.

FRP for Sugarcane:

  • The central government and State Government determine them.
  • The Central Government announces Fair and Remunerative Prices, which are determined on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and are announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which the Prime Minister chairs.
  • The State Advised Prices (SAP) are announced by key sugarcane producing states generally higher than FRP.

 Additional information about crops:

 5.NITI AAYOG RELEASES REPORT ON DIGITAL BANKS; PROPOSES A LICENSING AND REGULATORY REGIME FOR INDIA

THE CONTEXT: NITI Aayog’s report makes a case and offers a template and roadmap for a licensing and regulatory regime for digital banks. It focuses on avoiding any regulatory or policy arbitrage and offers a level playing field to incumbents as well as competitors.

THE EXPLANATION:  

According to the NITI Aayog CEO,Given the need for leveraging technology effectively to cater to the needs of banking in India, this report studies the prevailing gaps, the niches that remain underserved, and the global regulatory best practices in licensing digital banks’.

Recommendations:

The report recommends a carefully calibrated approach, comprising the following steps:

  • Issue of a restricted digital bank licence (to a given applicant) (the license would be restricted in terms of volume/value of customers serviced and the like).
  • Enlistment (of the licensee) in a regulatory sandbox framework enacted by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Issue of a ‘full-scale’ digital bank licence (contingent on satisfactory performance of the licensee in the regulatory sandbox, including salient, prudential and technological risk management).
  • The report also maps prevalent business models in this domain and highlights the challenges presented by the ‘partnership model’ of neo-banking—which has emerged in India due to a regulatory vacuum and in the absence of a digital bank licence.
  • The methodology for the licensing and regulatory template offered by the report is based on an equally weighted ‘digital bank regulatory index’. This comprises four factors—(i) entry barriers; (ii) competition; (iii) business restrictions; and (iv) technological neutrality. The elements of these four factors are then mapped against the five benchmark jurisdictions of Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and South Korea.

The Context for the Case of Digital Banks in India: Financial Inclusion

  • In recent years, India has made rapid strides in furthering financial inclusion, catalysed by the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and India Stack. However, credit penetration remains a policy challenge, especially for the nation’s 63-million-odd MSMEs that contribute 30% to GDP, 45% to manufacturing output, and 40% to exports, while creating employment for a significant section of the population.
  • Over the past few years, thanks to digitization—ushered in by the Jan Dan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) trinity and Aadhaar—financial inclusion has become a reality for Indians. This has only been furthered by the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which has witnessed extraordinary adoption. UPI recorded over 4.2 billion transactions worth ₹7.7 trillion in October 2021. The platform approach taken by the government in conceptualizing UPI has resulted in valuable payment products being developed on top of it. As a result, payments can now be made with a click not just at retail outlets but also peer to peer—completely redefining the way in which money is transferred between individuals.
  • A ‘whole-of-India approach’ towards financial inclusion has also resulted in Direct Benefit Transfer through apps such as PM-KISAN and extending microcredit facilities to street vendors through PM-SVANIDHI.
  • India has also taken steps towards operationalizing its own version of ‘open banking’ through the Account Aggregator (AA) regulatory framework enacted by the Reserve Bank of India. Once commercially deployed, the AA framework is envisaged to catalyse credit deepening among groups that have been hitherto under-served.
  • The success that India has witnessed on the payments front is yet to be replicated when it comes to the credit needs of its micro, small and medium businesses. The current credit gap and the business and policy constraints reveal a need for leveraging technology effectively to cater to these needs and bring the under-served further within the formal financial fold.

 THE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS AND SCHEMES

6.WHY HAS THE GOVERNMENT OPENED OPIUM PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING TO PRIVATE PLAYERS?

THE CONTEXT: India has opened up the highly regulated sector of producing and processing opium to private players. Bajaj Healthcare has become the first company to win tenders for producing concentrated poppy straw that is used to derive alkaloids that are the active pharmaceutical ingredient in pain medication and cough syrups.

THE EXPLANATION:

Since when has opium been grown in India?

  • India has been growing poppy at least since the 15th century, as per historical records. The British East India Company assumed monopoly on the cultivation of poppy when the Mughal Empire was on the decline, and the entire trade was brought under government control by 1873.
  • After India gained independence, the cultivation and trade of opium passed on to the Indian government, with the activity being controlled by The Opium Act, 1857, The Opium Act, 1878, and The Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. At present, the cultivation and processing of poppy and opium is controlled by the provisions of The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and Rules.

What is the process of growing and processing opium in India?

Uses

Opium is unique in its therapeutic value and is indispensable in the medical world.

It also finds use in Homeopathy and Ayurveda or Unani systems of indigenous medicines.

The opium which is used as Analgesics, Anti-Tussive, Anti spasmodic and as a source of edible seed-oil, acts as a medicinal herb.

  • Due to the potential for illicit trade and risk of addiction, the cultivation of opium poppy is strictly regulated in the country, with the crops being allowed to be sown only in tracts of land notified by the central government in 22 districts in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
  • The government announces the licensing policy for opium cultivation every year, providing details on minimum qualifying yield, the maximum area that can be cultivated by a single cultivator, and the maximum benefit that is allowed to cultivators for damage to the crop due to natural causes.
  • “The cultivation of opium poppy is strictly monitored — the government uses satellite images to check for illicit cultivation. Once the crop is ready, they have a formula on how much the yield should be. This entire quantity is then bought by the government and processed in its own factories.

How does the involvement of private players help?

  • The private company will process 6,000 MT of unopened poppy capsules and opium gum to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients over the next five years.
  • The involvement of the private sector might boost the domestic production of various alkaloids such as morphine and codeine, bring in modern technology, and reduce imports. Despite being one of the few global cultivators of poppy, India still imports these active pharmaceutical ingredients as well as poppy seeds, which is also consumed as a food item in the country.
  • The move is also aimed at offsetting the declining area under cultivation of poppy in India. In 2017 and 2019, under a trial phase, two private companies were allowed to produce concentrated poppy straw.

VALUE ADDITION:

Opium Cultivation In India

  • After independence, the control over cultivation and manufacture of opium became responsibility of the Central Government with effect from April, 1950.
  • At present the Narcotics Commissioner along with the subordinates exercises all powers and performs all functions relating to superintendence of the cultivation of the opium poppy and production of opium.
  • The Commissioner derives this power from the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 and Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Rules, 198
  • License for manufacture of certain types of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as well as permits for export and import of narcotic drugs, psychotropic and controlled substances are issued with the approval and permission of the Narcotics Commissioner.
  • The opium poppy can be cultivated only in such tracts as are notified by the Government.
  • India is one of the few countries internationally permitted (by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) to cultivate opium poppy for export.

THE PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Q.Consider the following statements with respect to Minimum Support Price:

  1. The government of India sets the MSP twice a year.
  2. The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) which advises the minimum price, and the recommendations are binding ton the government.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWER FOR 20TH JULY 2022

ANSWER: A

EXPLANATION:

  • It is a research design for experimental studies, which economists Michael R Kremer, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo used in their research.
  • They went on to win the 2019 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.
  • They had made use of RCT for their research on poverty.
  • It is usually undertaken to study the effects of a new entrant in an environment.
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