- Scheme for Establishing Protection and Rehabilitation Homes for Trafficking Victims
- Small Finance Banks
- Internationalisation of rupee
- World Investment Report 2023
- BrahMos Supersonic cruise missile
- Peste Des Petits Ruminants
The Government of India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development has given its approval to a scheme that seeks to offer financial aid to states and Union Territories for the establishment of protection and rehabilitation homes catering to victims of trafficking. The scheme specifically focuses on states located along international borders where incidents of trafficking are more prevalent.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Major Provisions of the Scheme
- Status of Human Trafficking in India
- Relevant Laws in India on Human Trafficking
- Constitutional Provisions on Human Trafficking
- Impacts of Human Trafficking
- Way Forward in Combating Human Trafficking
Major Provisions of the Scheme
Financial aid for protection and rehabilitation homes:
- The scheme aims to provide financial assistance to states and Union Territories.
- The funds are meant for establishing protection and rehabilitation homes for victims of trafficking.
- These homes will cater to the specific needs of victims, especially minors and young women.
- Services provided include shelter, food, clothing, counseling, primary health facilities, and essential daily needs.
Strengthening of anti-human trafficking units:
- Funds from the Nirbhaya Fund have been allocated for this purpose.
- The objective is to enhance the effectiveness of anti-human trafficking units in every district across all states and Union Territories.
- The units will receive support to combat human trafficking more efficiently.
Extension of funding:
- The funding is extended to all states and Union Territories.
- Border Guarding Forces like the BSF (Border Security Force) and SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) are also included.
- AHTUs (anti-human trafficking units) within these forces will receive financial assistance.
Current status of AHTUs:
- Currently, there are 788 functional AHTUs across the country.
- This includes 30 AHTUs within Border Guarding Forces.
- These units play a crucial role in combating human trafficking nationwide.
Status of Human Trafficking in India
- Human trafficking is a global issue that affects many countries, including India.
- India’s large population, economic disparities, and complex social dynamics make it a hotspot for various forms of human trafficking.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2022, there were 2,189 reported cases of human trafficking in India, involving 6,533 victims.
- Out of these victims, 4,062 were female, 2,471 were male, and 2,877 were minors.
- In 2021, more underage boys (1,570) were trafficked compared to girls (1,307), but among adult victims, women outnumbered men.
States with high trafficking cases:
- Certain states, such as Telangana, Maharashtra, and Assam, reported a higher number of human trafficking cases in their respective Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in 2021.
- These states, due to factors like geographical location and other vulnerabilities, require special attention and resources to combat trafficking.
Sources and forms of trafficking:
India’s neighboring countries often serve as sources for traffickers who exploit women and girls by offering false promises of employment or a better standard of living.
Various forms of human trafficking exist in India:
- Forced Labor: Victims are coerced or deceived into working under exploitative conditions in industries like agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing.
- Sexual Exploitation: Individuals, particularly women and children, are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography.
- Child Trafficking: Children are trafficked for purposes such as child labor, forced begging, child marriage, adoption scams, and sexual exploitation.
- Bonded Labor: People are trapped in debt bondage, forced to work to repay a debt that often increases due to exploitative practices.
- Organ Trafficking: Illegally trading organs like kidneys, liver, and corneas for transplantation purposes.
Relevant Laws in India on Human Trafficking:
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956: This is the primary legislation in India to prevent trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. It criminalizes prostitution and related activities, while also providing measures for the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of victims.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: This act specifically addresses child sexual abuse and exploitation, including child trafficking for sexual purposes. It defines various offenses against children and prescribes stringent punishments for perpetrators.
- Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1976: This law prohibits bonded labor and aims to liberate individuals trapped in debt bondage. It provides for the identification, release, and rehabilitation of bonded laborers.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015: This act focuses on the protection, rehabilitation, and social reintegration of children in conflict with the law, including victims of trafficking. It establishes special courts and provides for the establishment of child welfare committees and rehabilitation homes.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860: Various sections of the IPC are applicable to cases of trafficking, such as Section 370 (trafficking in persons), Section 372 (selling minors for prostitution), and Section 373 (buying minors for prostitution).
Constitutional Provisions on Human Trafficking:
- Article 23: This article prohibits human trafficking and forced labor. It states that trafficking in human beings and forced labor are prohibited, and any contravention of this provision is an offense punishable by law.
- Article 21: This article guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. It has been interpreted by the courts to include the right to live with dignity, free from exploitation and trafficking.
- Article 39: This article directs the State to ensure that the citizens, men, and women, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood and that there is no exploitation of any kind.
- Article 24: This article prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations.
Impacts of Human Trafficking
Physical and Psychological Consequences:
- Trafficking victims endure physical and psychological abuse, violence, and trauma.
- They often suffer from injuries, sexually transmitted infections, malnutrition, and physical exhaustion.
- Psychological impacts include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a loss of trust in others.
Violation of Human Rights:
- Human trafficking fundamentally violates the victims’ human rights.
- It deprives them of their freedom, dignity, and security.
- Victims are treated as commodities and subjected to exploitation and coercion.
- Trafficked individuals are subjected to harsh working conditions, long hours, and little or no pay.
- In many cases, victims become trapped in debt bondage, where they are forced to work to repay an ever-increasing debt, making escape from exploitation extremely difficult.
Disruption of Social Fabric:
- Human trafficking disrupts the social fabric of communities and families.
- It tears apart families as individuals are forcibly separated from their loved ones.
- This disruption leads to the loss of social support networks and strained relationships within communities.
Way Forward in Combating Human Trafficking
Strengthening Legislation and Law Enforcement:
- Enact and enforce comprehensive anti-trafficking laws that criminalize all forms of trafficking and impose appropriate penalties.
- Enhance training programs for law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and border control officers to effectively identify and respond to trafficking cases.
Utilizing Technology and Data Analysis:
- Develop advanced data analytics tools and artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze large datasets, identify trafficking trends, and predict potential hotspots.
- Explore the use of blockchain technology to enhance transparency in supply chains and prevent forced labor in industries susceptible to trafficking.
International Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange:
- Facilitate international collaboration platforms to share innovative approaches, best practices, and success stories in combating human trafficking.
- Foster partnerships between countries, NGOs, academia, and the private sector to jointly develop and implement innovative solutions.
Victim Support and Rehabilitation:
- Strengthen victim support mechanisms, including safe shelters, counseling services, and access to healthcare and legal aid.
- Promote comprehensive rehabilitation programs to facilitate the recovery and reintegration of trafficking survivors into society.
Public Awareness and Prevention:
- Conduct widespread awareness campaigns to educate communities about the dangers of human trafficking and how to recognize and report potential cases.
- Implement prevention programs targeting vulnerable groups, such as at-risk children, women, and migrant workers.
Strengthening Cross-Border Cooperation:
- Enhance collaboration with neighboring countries and international partners to combat transnational trafficking networks.
- Improve information sharing, joint investigations, and coordinated efforts in the rescue, repatriation, and reintegration of victims.
Source: The Hindu
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently announced its decision to reject three applications for setting up Small Finance Banks as these applications were found not suitable for granting of in-principle approval to set up SFBs.
RBI received approximately a dozen applications under the guidelines for ‘on-tap’ Licensing of Universal Banks and SFBs.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Small Finance Banks (SFBs)
- RBI Guidelines on SFBs in India
About Small Finance Banks (SFBs):
- SFBs are specialized banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cater to the financial needs of low-income individuals and underserved communities.
- They provide financial services and products such as microfinance, micro-enterprise services, and basic banking services.
- The main objective of SFBs is to promote financial inclusion by offering access to financial products to segments of the population who are excluded from the traditional banking system.
- SFBs are registered as public limited companies under the Companies Act, 2013.
- The RBI introduced guidelines for SFBs in 2014 to regulate their operations.
Small Finance Banks are governed by the provisions of the:
- Banking Regulation Act, 1949;
- Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934;
- Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999;
- Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007;
- Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act, 2005;
- Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961;
- Other relevant Statutes and the Directives, Prudential Regulations and other Guidelines/Instructions issued by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other regulators from time to time.
RBI Guidelines on SFBs in India:
- SFBs are granted scheduled bank status after becoming operational and meeting the requirements under Section 42 of the RBI Act, 1934.
- The primary focus of SFBs is to provide financial services to the unbanked and underbanked segments of the population.
- They are required to maintain a minimum Capital to Risk-Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of 15%.
- SFBs must extend at least 75% of their Adjusted Net Bank Credit to Priority Sector Lending.
- They are required to open a minimum of 25% of their branches in unbanked rural areas.
- The minimum paid-up voting equity capital for small finance banks is set at Rs. 200 crore.
- SFBs must maintain at least 50% of their loan portfolio as microfinance and advances of up to Rs. 25,00,000.
- They need to comply with various prudential norms and regulations regarding income recognition, asset classification, and provisioning.
- SFBs are encouraged to adopt technology to enhance their operational efficiency and reach the target segments.
Source: The Hindu
India is aiming to make the rupee a global currency. Pushing for a roadmap towards the internationalisation of the rupee, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) inter-departmental group (IDG) said with India remaining one of the fastest-growing countries and showing remarkable resilience in the face of major headwinds, the rupee has the potential to become an internationalised currency.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Internationalisation of the rupee
- Advantages of Internationalisation of the Rupee
- Recommendations for Internationalisation
About Internationalisation of the rupee:
- Internationalisation of the rupee refers to the process of increasing the use and acceptance of the Indian rupee in cross-border transactions.
- It involves promoting the rupee for import-export trade and other current account transactions, and eventually expanding its use in capital account transactions.
- The goal is to make the rupee a widely recognized and accepted currency in international markets.
Key points about the internationalisation of the rupee:
- Gradual Approach: The process of internationalisation is gradual, starting with promoting the rupee for current account transactions and then expanding its use in capital account transactions.
- Currency Settlement and Forex Market: To facilitate the internationalisation of the rupee, there is a need to further develop the currency settlement infrastructure and strengthen the swap and forex market.
- Convertibility: Full convertibility of the rupee on the capital account, allowing cross-border transfer of funds without restrictions, is an important aspect of internationalisation. Currently, the rupee has full convertibility only on the current account.
- Importance of Reserve Currencies: The leading reserve currencies in the world are the US dollar, Euro, Japanese yen, and pound sterling. The internationalisation of the rupee aims to establish it as a viable alternative to these dominant reserve currencies.
- Relevance and Challenges: The US dollar’s dominance in international transactions provides significant advantages to the United States. China’s renminbi has also emerged as a potential challenger, but its ability to rival the US dollar depends on various factors, including economic policies and the stability of its financial system.
- Need for Alternatives: Some countries, including China and Russia, have expressed a desire to reduce their reliance on the US dollar and international payment mechanisms like SWIFT. They seek alternatives to safeguard against potential economic sanctions imposed by Western governments.
- Exploring Alternatives: India, too, aims to explore alternatives to both the US dollar and the Euro. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed a group to study and recommend strategies to enhance the internationalisation of the rupee.
Advantages of Internationalisation of the Rupee:
- Mitigation of Currency Risk: The internationalisation of the rupee helps to reduce currency risk for Indian businesses engaged in cross-border transactions. Protection from currency volatility lowers the cost of doing business and enhances growth opportunities for Indian companies in the global market.
- Reduced Dependency on Foreign Exchange Reserves: The internationalisation process reduces the need for holding large foreign exchange reserves. This decreased dependence on foreign currency reserves makes India less vulnerable to external shocks and contributes to greater economic stability.
- Improved Bargaining Power: As the use of the rupee becomes more significant in international transactions, Indian businesses gain enhanced bargaining power. This adds weight to the Indian economy, strengthens its position globally, and garners increased respect and influence on the international stage.
Recommendations for Internationalisation:
- Adoption of a standardized approach for evaluating proposals on bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements, including invoicing, settlement, and payment in rupee and local currencies.
- Encouragement of the opening of rupee accounts for non-residents, both within and outside India.
- Integration of Indian payment systems with those of other countries to facilitate cross-border transactions.
- Strengthening the financial market by fostering a 24×5 global market for rupee trading and recalibrating the regulations for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).
Medium-Term Measures (Next 2-5 Years):
- Reviewing taxes on masala bonds (rupee-denominated bonds issued by Indian entities outside India) to promote their international use.
- Exploring the international application of Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) for cross-border trade transactions.
- Inclusion of Indian Government Bonds in global bond indices.
- Efforts should be made to include the rupee in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR), which is an international reserve asset.
- SDR’s value is based on a basket of currencies, including the U.S. dollar, euro, Chinese renminbi, Japanese yen, and British pound sterling.
Source: Indian Express
Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its World Investment Report 2023.
GS II: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Highlights of the report
- About the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Highlights of the report:
- India and ASEAN: India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) experienced significant increases of 10% and 5% respectively in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
- Developing Countries: FDI inflows were higher in developing countries compared to developed economies.
- China: China, the second-largest recipient of FDI globally, saw a 5% increase in FDI inflows.
- Gulf Region: FDI in the Gulf region declined, but the number of project announcements increased by two-thirds.
- Stagnant Inflows: Many smaller developing countries experienced stagnant FDI inflows, and FDI to the least developed countries (LDCs) declined.
- Renewable Energy: The growth in international investment in renewable energy has mainly been concentrated in developed countries.
- Investment Gap: The investment gap across all sectors of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has increased to over $4 trillion per year, up from $2.5 trillion in 2015.
- Infrastructure Gaps: The largest investment gaps are observed in energy, water, and transport infrastructure.
About the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):
- Establishment: UNCTAD is a permanent inter-governmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964.
- Mandate: UNCTAD’s primary focus is on development issues, particularly international trade. It plays a role in framing policies in various domains, including trade, technology, finance, aid, and transport.
- Conference: The UNCTAD Conference typically convenes once every four years to discuss and address development-related matters. The second UNCTAD Conference took place in New Delhi, India in 1968.
- Membership: UNCTAD has 195 member countries.
- Headquarters: UNCTAD is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Reports: UNCTAD publishes various reports, including the Trade and Development Report, The Least Developed Countries Report, and the Commodities and Development Report, among others.
Source: The Economic Times
The Philippine Army has started negotiations with India’s BrahMos Corporation to acquire batteries of the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile.
GS-III Internal Security Challenges, Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
- About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
About BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
- The BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.
- It is the fastest supersonic cruise missile in the world.
- BRAHMOS is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India (DRDO) and the NPOM of Russia.
- Brahmos is named on the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva.
- It is a two-stage (solid propellant engine in the first stage and liquid ramjet in second) air to surface missile with a flight range of around 300 km.
- However, India’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has extended the range of the BRAHMOS missile to reach 450 km-600km, a shade above its current MTCR capped range of 300 km.
- Brahmos is a multiplatform i.e., it can be launched from land, air, and sea and multi capability missile with pinpoint accuracy that works in both day and night irrespective of the weather conditions.
- It operates on the “Fire and Forgets” principle i.e., it does not require further guidance after launch.
- Brahmos is one of the fastest cruise missiles currently operationally deployed with speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.
About Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
- The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is an agency of the Government of India, charged with the military’s research and development.
- It is headquartered in Delhi, India and has its 50+ labs all across the country.
- It was formed in 1958.
- It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.
- With a network of 52 laboratories, which are engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems, DRDO is India’s largest and most diverse research organisation.
Objectives of DRDO
- Design, develop and lead to production state-of-the-art sensors, weapon systems, platforms and allied equipment for our Defence Services.
- Provide technological solutions to the Services to optimise combat effectiveness and to promote well-being of the troops.
- Develop infrastructure and committed quality manpower and build strong indigenous technology base.
Issues with DRDO:
- Inadequate Budgetary Support
- It also suffers from inadequate manpower in critical areas to the lack of proper synergy with the armed forces.
- Cost escalation and long delays have damaged the reputation of DRDO.
- DRDO is big on promise and small on delivery. There is no accountability. Nobody is taken to task for time and cost overruns.
- Equipments are obsolete and is just tinkering with World War II equipment instead of working on cutting-edge technology.
-Source: The Hindu
An outbreak of a highly contagious animal disease, Peste Des Petits Ruminants, has recently killed 60 sheep and goats and affected around 200 in the highland pastures of the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
GS II: Health
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Peste Des Petits Ruminants (PPR)
- Impact and Eradication Efforts
About Peste Des Petits Ruminants (PPR):
- PPR is a highly contagious viral disease affecting sheep and goats, characterized by high mortality rates.
- It is caused by a virus belonging to the family Paramyxoviridae and the genus Morbillivirus, closely related to viruses such as rinderpest, measles, and canine distemper.
- PPRV causes a variety of clinical signs and immunosuppression, making affected animals more susceptible to other infections.
- Clinical signs include fever, eye and nasal discharges, mouth sores, diarrhea, listlessness, respiratory signs (coughing and pneumonia), abortion, and death.
- Case fatality rates can be as high as 90%, although the average is around 20%.
- PPR primarily spreads through close contact, with susceptible animals inhaling the virus from coughing and sneezing of infected animals.
- Indirect transmission can occur through contact with contaminated objects (fomites) such as feed troughs and bedding.
- Secretions from infected animals’ eyes, nose, mouth, and feces serve as sources of PPRV.
- PPR was first described in 1942 in Côte d’Ivoire and has since spread across large regions in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
- Outbreaks have been reported in various states of India, including Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh.
Impact and Eradication Efforts:
- PPR can cause significant losses, with high mortality rates and economic implications for livestock owners.
- It is important to note that the PPR virus does not infect humans.
- A global initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) aims to eradicate PPR by 2030 through coordinated vaccination campaigns and control measures.
Source: Indian Express