18 July, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Anti-trafficking bill Indian polity and governance- protection of vulnerable section
- National Centre for biological research Science and technology- Important institutions
- New quad in Asia under process International relations
- Curbs on Mastercard - Indian economy and Security data localisation
- Rare Arctic lightning storms strike north of Alaska Science and technology- Geographical features
- Question for the Day
UPSC Current Affairs: Concerns remain over anti-trafficking Bill | Page – 06
UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper II- Polity and Governance
Sub Theme: Provisions of Anti-Trafficking Bill| Concerns and Challenges |UPSC
Context: Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited comments/suggestions from all the stakeholders on the draft ‘Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021’.
Aim & Objective – 2021 Anti-trafficking Bill
- Prevent and counter trafficking in persons, especially women and children,
- Provide for care, protection, and rehabilitation to the victims, while respecting their rights,
- Creating a supportive legal, economic and social environment for them, and
- To ensure prosecution of offenders
The Bill, once finalized, will be sent to the Cabinet for approval and then for the assent of both the houses of Parliament to become an Act. This Act shall apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
The Anti-Trafficking Bill 2021 shall Apply to:
- All citizens of India within and outside India;
- Persons who commit offences under this Act beyond India against Indian citizens or affecting the interests of Indian citizens or of India;
- Persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be;
- A foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act.
- It shall apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
Anti-Human Trafficking Committees – National, State & District Level
- The Bill constitutes a National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, State Anti-Human Trafficking Committees and District Anti-Human Trafficking Committees.
- The Aim of the committees is to ensure overall effective implementation of the provisions of this Act, for coordination as needed for prevention and countering of the offences under this Act, and for matters relating to emergence, rescue, protection, medical care, psychological assistance, recovery, relief, rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration of victims.
- State Anti-Human Trafficking Committee shall and also advise the State Government and District Anti-Human Trafficking Committees.
- District Anti Human Trafficking Committees or the Child Welfare Committees shall be responsible for repatriation and reintegration of victims into society and family.
Monetary Relief & Compensation
- Upon registration of a First Information Report (FIR) of an offence under this Act, the investigating officer shall forward a copy of the same to the District Anti-Human Trafficking Committee.
- District Legal Services Authority shall provide immediate relief to the victim and dependent including aid and assistance for medical and rehabilitation needs, as maybe required after due assessment, within seven days of the receipt.
- The District Legal Services Authority shall after due assessment, award interim relief to a victim or any dependant within a period of 30 days of an application submitted by the victim.
- The District Anti-Human Trafficking Committee shall ensure that all measures have been taken for relief and rehabilitation of the victim and dependent including for his safety and relocation, at the earliest after registration of First Information Report under this Act, and within 30 days of an application having been made in this regard by or on behalf of the victim.
Offences and Penalties
- Any person who:
- Recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives another person;
- By means of
- threat or use of force or other forms of coercion - of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or
- of a position of authority or of vulnerability, or
- of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person;
- For the purpose of exploitation of that person;
shall be guilty of an offence of trafficking in persons and upon conviction shall be subject to imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to a fine which shall not be less than 1 lakh rupees but which may extend upto 5 lakh rupees.
Aggravated form of Trafficking
- Aggravated offences include cases that may result in the death of the victim or where the victim suffers grievous injury (in cases such as acid attack), organ mutilation or removal of organs, or where the victim is a child.
- Whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term for ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
- In certain cases of aggravated form of trafficking, the bill proposes life imprisonment of 20 or even 30 years along with a fine of Rs 30 lakh.
Role of National Investigation Agency (NIA)
- The National Investigation Agency shall act as the national investigating and coordinating agency responsible for prevention and combating of trafficking in persons and other offences under this Act t in accordance with the provisions of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008.
- NIA shall also be responsible for investigation, prosecution and coordination in cases of trafficking in persons and other offences under this Act including cases which are inter-state or international in nature or such other cases as may be assigned to it by the Central Government.
- Role of NIA Questioned - Many experts have questioned the role of National Investigation Agency but also the applicability of the NIA Act to the investigation of offences under the Bill.
- Stringent Penal Provisions - Professor at National Law School called the inclusion of the death penalty unnecessary, and said the stringent bail provisions and denying the accused the right to anticipatory bail are violative of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
- Presumption of Innocence - The Bill removes the presumption of innocence which is at the heart of criminal jurisprudence. Removal of the presumption of innocence directly impacts the crucial fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution
- Abetment liable for same punishment as that of the offender - Another problematic aspect of the Bill is that it makes ‘abetment’ (encouragement) liable for the same punishment as the offence itself.
- Ill defined terms - The terms including ‘promotion’, ‘procurement’ and ‘facilitation’ are vague and ill defined and the Bill also allows tremendous overreach and misuse by law enforcement agencies.
- Adverse impact on Adult sex workers – Adult sex workers already a vulnerable section, will be adversely impacted, as the Bill treats victims of human trafficking on par with adult persons in sex work. Trafficking of persons into forced or coerced labour (including sexual exploitation) should not be equated with sex work undertaken by consenting adults. This conflation could lead to misuse and over-broad application of the provisions in the Bill.
UPSC Current Affairs: Paper recall sparks churn in NCBS I Page 08
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology
Theme: National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)| UPSC
Context: There is controversy in one of India’s reputed research labs erupted over a research paper where manipulated data was published in the public domain regarding the RNA findings.
The paper “Discovery of iron-sensing bacterial riboswitches” was published online in the well-regarded journal Nature Chemical Biology.
The paper evoked significant media attention basis its findings, as it was the first instance of an RNA molecule being able to detect iron, opening the possibility of designing specialised iron sensors.
Independent reviewers pointed out anomalies in the images submitted along with the research paper by way of proof.
The issues it has thrown up have now prompted a relook at research practices as well an investigation by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) academic ethics committee. The TIFR is the parent body of the NCBS. The committee concluded that the images were manipulated.
Such malpractices put a dent on the image of a reputed institutions. And this also brings a loss of credibility to the research fraternity in India.
The mandate of research at NCBS is the study of biology. To realize the goals of understanding living systems, NCBS understand that research problems need to be approached from a variety of directions. NCBS has recruited, and actively encourage applications from researchers with a variety of backgrounds in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science.
Biological problems not only require multiple approaches for their solution, but also need researchers of varied expertise to collaborate. Collaboration at every level—within NCBS, within the country and internationally—is strongly encouraged. The research groups are small and with specific strengths that make interactions with complementary groups fruitful.
Their facilities and equipment are accessible, well managed, used optimally and allow most kinds of modern research in modern biology to be conducted in-house. Where large- scale facilities are required for specific projects, NCBS encourage the use of national and international resources and collaborative arrangements. Well-qualified and trained staff manage our facilities and equipment.
Students, research fellows, and post-doctoral fellows are the strength of our research community and keep the environment vibrant and young as do a range of laboratory and lecture courses, seminars, symposia and meetings, with speakers, teachers and participants from all over the world. Academic programmes can lead to a Ph.D. or other degrees, awarded by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, Karnataka, is a research centre specialising in biological research. It is a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) under the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. The mandate of NCBS is basic and interdisciplinary research in the frontier areas of biology. The research interests of the faculty are in four broad areas ranging from the study of single molecules to systems biology.
UPSC Current Affairs: U.S., Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to form quad group I Page 09
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II; International relations
Sub Theme: India-Afghanistan | UPSC
The U.S., Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, US government confirm. These Nations consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.
These nations intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties.
Afghanistan’s strategic location has for a long time been touted as a competitive advantage for the country. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast.
Located at the heart of the historic Silk Road, Afghanistan was long the crossroads of commerce between Asian countries connecting them to Europe, and enhancing religious, cultural, and commercial contacts.
The formation of the new quad group is important amid China’s desire to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan.
The BRI, a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013, aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
By virtue of its location, Afghanistan can provide China with a base to spread its influence across the world.
Since the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. forces by August 31, violence has been rising and efforts to broker a peace settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent Taliban have slowed.
UPSC Current Affairs: Curbs on Mastercard I Page 11
UPSC Syllabus: Mains and Prelims: Indian Economy
Sub Theme: Data Localisation- Pros and Cons | UPSC
Earlier, in 2018, the RBI had issued a circular which mandated all the payment system operators such as Mastercard, Visa etc. to store payment related information of the Indian Citizens in the servers which are physically based in India. In spite of giving sufficient time to the companies to comply with Data localisation norms, Mastercard has failed to store data in servers based in India. In this regard, recently, RBI has decided to ban Mastercard from issuing new debit and credit cards to customers in India.
Data Localization- Pros and Cons
Data localization refers to storage of data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data gets generated. In case of India, the Draft E-Commerce policy has mandated for the data localization norms for the e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon etc. On Similar lines, the RBI has mandated that all the payment system operators such as Mastercard, Visa etc. should compulsorily store the payments related data in the servers which are physically based in India.
Further, the Srikrishna Panel has also recommended for the Data localization norms in order to ensure the privacy of the sensitive users’ data.
Benefits of Data Localization:
Data as Public Good: The Economic Survey 2018-19 has highlighted that the data generated by the Indian users has to be accessible by the people and ultimately used for the benefit of people and that is why the chapter has been aptly titled as "Data of the People, by the People, for the People"; Promotes evidence based policy making in order to improve the education, health and various dimensions of human development.
Enforcement: Enable law enforcement officers to access information required for the detection of crime as well as in gathering evidence for prosecution.
Reducing Vulnerabilities: A large amount of data is transmitted from one country to the other via undersea cables which increases the risk of vulnerability of the internet and cross-border transfer of data.
Thrust to Industrial Revolution 4.0: Data localization norms would force the companies to store their data in India giving a much-needed push to Industrial Revolution 4.0.
Preventing Foreign Surveillance: A significant portion of the data collected and stored by global MNCs in other countries increases the scope of foreign surveillance.
Concerns related to Data Localization
Increase in Compliance Cost: Presently, some of the Indian companies store their data in servers located in the other countries at much cheaper prices. The data localization norms may make it costlier for the Indian companies to create necessary digital infrastructure to store the data within India.
Monopolization of Data: Data Localization would require huge investment in creation of digital infrastructure which can be done only for large MNCs. However, the small and medium sized businesses would have to be dependent upon the infrastructure set up these global MNCs in India.
Cyber Threat: Forcing the companies to store data locally deprives them of the option of distributing information across servers in multiple locations, making it more vulnerable to cyber threats.
Issues related to Privacy: It is to be noted that data localization may not be able to completely eliminate cyber-attacks. Even when, data is stored locally, it is prone to cyber-attacks leading to data breach and loss of privacy.
UPSC Current Affairs: Rare Arctic lightning storms strike north of Alaska I Page 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Arctic Lightning Storms| UPSC
This week three successive thunderstorms swept across the icy Arctic from Siberia to north of Alaska, unleashing lightning bolts in an unusual phenomenon. Meteorologists hadn’t seen anything like that before.
What is strange about Arctic lightning storms
- Lightning requires atmospheric instability, something that’s set up when cold, parched air sits atop warmer, wetter air. At very high latitudes, that hotter, damper air tends not to show up. That’s why it took scientists by surprise when dozens of lightning strikes were detected within 300 nautical miles of the North Pole.
- It is possible that a freakishly warm Arctic, a staggering lack of sea ice, and even possibly smoke from unprecedented wildfires within the Arctic Circle, among other things, contributed to this lightning’s unexpected appearance near the top of the world.
- Lightning in the Arctic Circle as a whole isn’t that unusual, and portions of northern Alaska and Siberia see some lightning almost every summer. But, once one hit the coast of the Arctic Ocean and head north, there is no strong updrafts nor enough atmospheric instability to produce lightning-capable clouds.
- Lightning also prefers tall clouds that allow electrically charged water and ice particles to have room to separate from each other, but near the North Pole, that’s problematic. There, the tropopause—the stable layer that forms the lid on the active weather layer in the atmosphere—is about half as high than it is near the equator. That means clouds would find it difficult to reach the heights necessary to produce that all-important charge separation.
Reason for increasing frequency of lightning storms
- Typically, the air over the Arctic Ocean, especially when the water is covered with ice, lacks the convective heat needed to generate lightning storms. But climate change is warming the Arctic faster than the rest of the world.
- Waters along the Arctic Ocean coastline are extraordinarily warm right now because they have been sitting in the summer sunlight for several months without any reflective sea ice to shield them. Along with the warmer Arctic in general, that mechanism boosted the heat and humidity of the air in the region.
- In the past such a plume of warm, moist air migrating north from Siberia would have encountered ice, quickly cooled down and perhaps petered out. Today’s hotter, ice-free ocean may have allowed the plume to journey far closer to the North Pole.
- At the same time, the intense wildfires raging throughout Siberia may have given the warm air mass an injection of smoke. Those particles help clouds form, so it’s possible, said Swain, they may also have played a role in producing lightning-capable clouds.
- In addition, a warming polar environment will expand the weather-containing troposphere, Thoman said. That may allow more room for those towering, ice and water droplet-containing, lightning-capable clouds to develop.
- Episodes of summer lightning within the Arctic Circle have tripled since 2010, due to climate change and increasing loss of sea ice in the far north.
- As sea ice vanishes, more water is able to evaporate, adding moisture to the warming atmosphere.
- There are frequent lightning over the Arctic’s treeless tundra regions, as well as above the Arctic Ocean and pack ice. In August 2019, lightning even struck within 100 kilometers of the North Pole. With increasing temperature Arctic lightning storms will keep increasing.
These electrical storms threaten boreal forests fringing the Arctic, as they spark fires in remote regions already baking under the round-the-clock summer sun. On the water, the lightning is an increasing hazard to mariners, and vessel traffic is increasing as sea ice retreats.
Remote observations of lightning at such high latitudes only go back a few decades, but its appearance near the North Pole seems to be extremely rare. More research needs to be conducted to confirm the triggering mechanisms, but it has some circumstantial links to the unusual state of the Arctic this summer, which is itself linked to climate change.