- Proposal for NRIs’ Postal Voting: Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots
- Global Slavery Index 2023
- Jal Jeevan Mission
- PM SVANidhi
- Wilful Defaulter
- Ishad mango
- Anak Krakatau volcano
The Chief Election Commissioner recently underscored the importance of enabling postal voting for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). The Election Commission has proposed the implementation of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots (ETPBs) specifically designed for NRIs. This proposal is currently awaiting approval from the government.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System
- Proposal Put Forward by the EC Related to ETPB for NRIs
- Challenges Related to ETPB for NRIs
Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System
Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is a voting system designed to enable remote voting for individuals who are unable to physically vote at a polling station. The system combines electronic transmission and postal services to facilitate the electronic delivery and return of ballots. Here are some key features of the ETPBS:
- Service Voters: The ETPBS is primarily used for service voters, who are members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, and state police forces, as well as government employees posted outside their constituencies.
- Electronic Transmission: Registered service voters receive their postal ballots electronically through the ETPBS. They can download the electronic ballot along with a declaration form and covers.
- Ballot Registration: Once the service voter has received the ETPB, they can register their vote on the ballot as per their preference.
- Return of Ballot: After registering their vote, the service voter is required to send the completed ballot, along with the attested declaration form, to the returning officer of their constituency via ordinary mail.
- Attested Declaration Form: The declaration form included in the postal ballot needs to be signed by the voter in the presence of an appointed senior officer who will then attest it.
- Legal Amendment: The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 was amended in 2016 to allow service voters to use the ETPBS for casting their votes.
Proposal Put Forward by the EC Related to ETPB for NRIs
The Election Commission (EC) has put forward a proposal related to Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots (ETPB) for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Here are the key points of the proposal:
- Amendment to the Representation of the People Act: In 2015, the EC proposed an amendment to Section 60 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to extend the ETPB facility to overseas electors, including NRIs.
- Technical and Administrative Readiness: In 2020, the EC informed the law ministry that it is technically and administratively prepared to implement the proposal.
- Modified ETPBS for NRIs: The EC suggests modifications to the ETPBS to accommodate NRIs. This includes allowing NRIs to download their ballot papers online and return them by post or courier within a specified timeframe.
- Appointment of Proxy Voters: The EC proposes that NRIs should be allowed to appoint a proxy voter in India who can cast their vote on their behalf. The proxy voter would verify the NRI’s identity and obtain their consent.
- Designated Polling Stations: The EC suggests the establishment of designated polling stations at Indian missions abroad, where NRIs can choose to vote using electronic voting machines (EVMs) or paper ballots.
- Pending Approval: The proposal is currently pending with the law ministry. Opposition to the proposal has been raised, citing concerns about the security and authenticity of postal ballots.
Challenges Related to ETPB for NRIs
There are several challenges related to implementing Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballots (ETPB) for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). These challenges include:
- Eligibility Determination: Determining the eligibility of NRIs to participate in remote voting can be complex. Establishing accurate mechanisms to verify their identity, residency status, and eligibility is crucial to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.
- Timely Return of Ballots: The ETPBS requires NRIs to send their postal ballots within a specified time frame after receiving them electronically. However, postal delays or logistical issues in some countries may hinder the timely return of the ballots, potentially resulting in disenfranchisement of some voters.
- Security Risks: The transmission of sensitive electoral data through electronic means in the ETPBS raises concerns about hacking, tampering, or interception by malicious actors. Safeguarding the security and integrity of the system is of utmost importance.
- Secrecy of the Vote: The use of postal ballots may not ensure the secrecy of the vote, as it can be subject to scrutiny or coercion by others. Maintaining voter privacy is a critical aspect of any electoral process.
- Legal Amendments: Implementing the ETPBS for NRIs would require amending the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and 1951, as well as the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, to accommodate the voting rights of overseas electors.
- Technical Infrastructure and Coordination: The successful implementation of the ETPBS requires robust technical infrastructure and effective coordination among various stakeholders, including the Election Commission, the Ministry of External Affairs, the postal department, and the embassies.
-Source: The Hindu
According to the recently published ‘Global Slavery Index 2023’ by the Walk Free Foundation, there has been a significant rise in the global prevalence of modern slavery. The report reveals that the number of individuals living in these exploitative conditions has reached 50 million, marking a concerning increase of 25% over the past five years.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- Modern Slavery
- Major Findings of Global Slavery Index 2023
- Contributing Factors and Challenges
- The report highlights the notable contribution of G20 nations in intensifying the crisis of modern slavery, primarily through their trade activities and global supply chains.
- Among the G20 countries, India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, and the U.S. stand out as having the highest number of individuals subjected to forced labor.
- Definition: Modern slavery includes forced labour, forced marriage, debt bondage, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children.
- Consequences: Modern slavery has severe impacts on individuals, communities, and societies.
- Human Rights Violation: It violates human rights, undermines human dignity, and erodes social cohesion.
- Economic Impact: It hampers economic development, perpetuates inequality, and fuels corruption.
- Threat to Security: Modern slavery poses a threat to global security and stability by contributing to conflict, terrorism, and organized crime.
Major Findings of Global Slavery Index 2023
- Global Estimate: The report estimates that around 50 million people were living in modern slavery in 2021, a significant increase of 10 million since 2016.
- Prevalence: The prevalence of modern slavery is approximately one in every 160 people worldwide.
- Country Rankings: The index ranks 160 countries based on their estimated prevalence of modern slavery per 1,000 people.
- Highest Prevalence: North Korea, Eritrea, and Mauritania are identified as countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery, where it is widespread and often state-sponsored.
- Lowest Prevalence: Switzerland, Norway, and Germany are ranked among the countries with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery, indicating strong governance and effective responses to combat it.
- Asia and the Pacific: This region has the highest number of people in modern slavery, with an estimated 29.3 million individuals affected.
- India’s Prevalence: India is highlighted with a prevalence score of 8, indicating a significant proportion of the population living in modern slavery per thousand people.
Contributing Factors and Challenges
- Climate Change and Environmental Factors: The report identifies climate change as a contributing factor to the rise of modern slavery, along with other environmental factors. Displacement and resource scarcity increase vulnerability to exploitation.
- Armed Conflict: Ongoing armed conflicts create conditions conducive to modern slavery, with armed groups and militias exploiting vulnerable populations.
- Weak Governance: Countries with weak governance structures and inadequate enforcement of labor laws are more susceptible to modern slavery.
- Health Emergencies: The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, disrupted economies, and worsened working conditions, leading to an increase in modern slavery.
Role of G20 Nations:
- G20 Contribution: G20 nations account for over half of all people living in modern slavery. Importing products worth billions of dollars from countries with weak worker protection contributes to forced labor conditions.
- Importation of High-Risk Products: Certain products, such as electronics, textiles, palm oil, and solar panels, are associated with forced labor and human trafficking. G20 countries import significant amounts of these high-risk goods.
Global Supply Chains:
- Complex Supply Chains: Global supply chains, involving multiple stages from sourcing to transportation, are interconnected with forced labor. Lack of transparency makes it difficult to identify and address instances of modern slavery.
- High-Risk Products: The importation of textiles and apparel goods by G20 countries exposes them to forced labor risks.
- Vulnerability Factors: The index assesses nations’ vulnerability to modern slavery based on factors like political instability, inequality, lack of basic needs, criminal justice mechanisms, internal conflicts, and displacement.
- Data Sources: The report relies on data from reputable organizations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
- Exploitative Conditions: The textiles industry is highlighted as a significant contributor to forced labor. Issues include forced and unpaid work, unsafe conditions, low wages, lack of benefits, and debt bondage.
- Sumangali Scheme: The report cites the Sumangali scheme in Tamil Nadu as an example of exploitative conditions in spinning mills, particularly affecting women and girls.
Strengthen Measures and Legislation:
- The Global Slavery Index recommends the implementation of more robust measures and legislation to prevent governments and businesses from engaging in the sourcing of goods and services associated with modern slavery.
- This includes enacting stricter regulations and enforcing them effectively to hold accountable those involved in exploitative practices.
Integrate Anti-Slavery Measures into Climate Change Sustainability Plans:
- The report suggests incorporating anti-slavery measures into plans addressing climate change sustainability.
- This involves recognizing the connection between climate change and modern slavery, and taking proactive steps to address vulnerabilities created by climate change while ensuring that efforts to combat climate change do not contribute to forced labor and exploitation.
Provide Education to Children:
- It is recommended to prioritize education for children, particularly those in vulnerable communities, as a means to prevent and protect against modern slavery.
- By ensuring accessible and quality education, children can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize and avoid exploitative situations.
Tighten Regulations on Child Marriage:
- The report emphasizes the importance of tightening regulations around child marriage, which is a form of modern slavery affecting numerous girls globally.
- This includes raising the minimum age of marriage, enforcing penalties for those involved, and providing support for survivors of child marriage.
Ensure Transparency in Value Chains:
- Promoting transparency and accountability in global value chains is essential to identify and address instances of modern slavery.
- The report recommends measures such as supply chain audits, certification programs, and public reporting requirements to encourage businesses to take responsibility for their supply chains and eliminate forced labor practices.
-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its study, it highlighted the potential impact of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) including significant health and socio-economic benefits.
GS II: Government Policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key highlights of the study
- About Jal Jeevan Mission
- JJM’s Performance
Key highlights of the study:
- Impact on Health: Implementing the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) and providing piped potable water to all households in India has the potential to prevent close to 4 lakh deaths from diarrhoea. This underscores the life-saving benefits of ensuring access to safe drinking water.
- Avoiding Disease Burden: By preventing diarrhoeal cases, JJM can help avoid approximately 14 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). DALYs are a measure of the overall disease burden, taking into account both premature mortality and years lived with disability.
- Economic and Time Savings: Implementing JJM would save around USD 101 billion and 66.6 million hours every day that would have otherwise been spent collecting water. This significant time and financial savings are particularly relevant for women who are traditionally burdened with the task of water collection.
- Understanding DALYs: DALYs provide a comprehensive way to measure the impact of disease on a population. They consider both years of life lost due to premature mortality and years lived with a disability caused by a specific health condition.
- Gender Equality: The availability of piped water through JJM can contribute to gender equality by reducing the burden of water collection on women. This would free up their time and provide them with more opportunities for education and employment.
About Jal Jeevan Mission:
Nodal: Ministry of Jal Shakti
- Jal Jeevan Mission, a central government initiative under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, aims to ensure access of piped water for every household in India.
- National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) was restructured and subsumed into Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) – to provide Functional Household Tap Water (FHTC) to every rural household with service level at the rate of 55 lpcd i.e., Har Ghar Nal Se Jal (HGNSJ) by 2024.
- Supply of water to all households is a basic necessity
- Reduction in water borne diseases which was due to due to consumption of substandard water
- Critical situation of Decrease in ground water table.
- Water demand and supply is a miss match
- Contamination of local ground level sources of water like, ponds lakes and wells.
- Sustaining the provision of water to all households is a challenge, not just starting it.
- Increase in Piped Water Connections: As of the latest available data, around 12.3 crore rural households in India, accounting for 62% of the total, have been provided with piped water connections. This is a significant increase from 3.2 crore households (16.6%) in 2019. The mission has made substantial progress in expanding access to piped water in rural areas.
- States and Union Territories with 100% Coverage: Five states, namely Gujarat, Telangana, Goa, Haryana, and Punjab, have achieved 100% coverage of piped water connections in rural households. Additionally, three Union Territories—Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Daman Diu & Dadra Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry—have also reported 100% coverage. This demonstrates successful implementation and achievement of the mission’s objectives in these regions.
- Near-Saturation States: Himachal Pradesh has achieved a piped water coverage rate of 98.87% in rural households, indicating that it is nearing saturation in terms of providing access to piped water. Bihar follows closely with a coverage rate of 96.30%. These states are making substantial progress and are expected to achieve full coverage in the near future.
-Source: The Hindu
About 41% of the beneficiaries of the government’s loan scheme for street vendors – PM SVANidhi (PM Street Vendors’ AtmaNirbhar Nidhi) – are women, but southern states fare much better than those in the north.
GS II- Government policies and interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- PM Street Vendor’s Atmanitbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
- PM SVANidhi and SIDBI
- Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)
- Performance of the Scheme on 3-year Completion
PM Street Vendor’s Atmanitbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
- PM SVANidhi is a Special Micro-Credit Facility.
- PM SVANidhi was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs for providing affordable Working Capital loan to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to Covid-19 lockdown.
- Under the Scheme, the vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
- The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash back incentives.
- Beneficiaries: 50 lakh Street Vendors.
- The Government of India has extended the PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme beyond March, 2022 with the following provisions:
- Extension of lending period till December 2024;
- Introduction of 3rd loan of upto ₹50,000 in addition to 1st & 2nd loans of ₹10,000 and ₹20,000 respectively.
- To extend ‘SVANidhi Se Samriddhi’ component for all beneficiaries of PM SVANidhi scheme across the country
The eligible vendors are identified as per following criteria:
- Street vendors in possession of Certificate of Vending / Identity Card issued by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs);
- The vendors, who have been identified in the survey but have not been issued Certificate of Vending / Identity Card;
- Street Vendors, left out of the ULB led identification survey or who have started vending after completion of the survey and have been issued Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to that effect by the ULB / Town Vending Committee (TVC); and
- The vendors of surrounding development/ peri-urban / rural areas vending in the geographical limits of the ULBs and have been issued Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to that effect by the ULB / TVC.
PM SVANidhi and SIDBI
- Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is the Implementation Agency for PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)
- SIDBI will also manage the credit guarantee to the lending institutions through Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).
- SIDBI will leverage the network of lending Institutions like Non-Bank Finance Companies (NBFCs), Co-operative Banks etc., for the Scheme implementation.
Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE)
- The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, GoI and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), established a Trust named Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) to implement the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises.
- Beneficiaries: New and existing Micro and Small Enterprises engaged in manufacturing or service activity excluding Educational Institutions, Agriculture, Self Help Groups (SHGs), Training Institutions etc., are eligible.
- Fund and non-fund based (Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantee etc.) credit facilities up to Rs 200 lakh per eligible borrower are covered under the guarantee scheme provided they are extended on the project viability without collateral security or third-party guarantee.
Performance of the Scheme on 3-year Completion:
- In 10 states and UTs, primarily in the Southern and North-East regions, women constitute the majority of the beneficiaries.
- Kerala is an exception as it has implemented its own programs like Kudumbashree, which promotes women’s empowerment.
- The social fabric of these regions, such as matrilineal societies in Meghalaya, contributes to women outnumbering men as beneficiaries.
- In Meghalaya, where the youngest daughter inherits property and women are involved in operating enterprises, the scheme has had a significant impact.
Targeting Women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs):
- In certain states, the scheme has specifically targeted women’s self-help groups (SHGs) as beneficiaries.
- Andhra Pradesh’s MEPMA (Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas) was already collaborating with SHGs and included them as beneficiaries of the scheme.
-Source: The Hindu
As per a recent circular by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Wilful defaulters and companies involved in fraud can go for a compromise settlement or technical write-offs by banks and finance companies.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Wilful Defaulter
- Criteria for Wilful Default
- Consequences of being a Wilful Defaulter
About Wilful Defaulter:
- Wilful defaulters are entities that have the ability to repay money but intentionally fail to do so.
- The concept of ‘Wilful Defaulter’ was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through its Master Circular, which defined the term and provided guidelines for banks and financial institutions to determine instances of wilful default.
Criteria for Wilful Default:
According to the RBI, a wilful default is deemed to have occurred in the following circumstances:
- When there is a default in repayment obligations by a unit (company/individual) despite having the capacity to repay, indicating a deliberate intention not to repay the loan.
- When funds obtained for a specific purpose are diverted for other uses.
- When funds have been siphoned off and not utilized for the intended purpose, without any justifiable assets to account for the usage.
- When assets purchased with lenders’ funds are sold off without the knowledge of the bank/lender.
- In cases where group companies of wilfully defaulting units fail to honor guarantees or letters of comfort provided to lenders when invoked, such group companies are also considered wilful defaulters.
Consequences of being a Wilful Defaulter:
- Banks and institutions are required to submit the list of suit-filed accounts of wilful defaulters to Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd (CIBIL) on a quarterly basis.
- Banks report the names of current and former directors associated with the defaulter at the time of classification, which serves as a warning to other financial entities.
- A wilful defaulter is prohibited from starting a new business for a period of five years from the date of being declared as such.
- Lenders are expected to initiate legal action, including criminal proceedings if necessary, against the defaulting borrowers/guarantors, expediting the recovery process.
- Banks and institutions have the authority to change the management of a wilfully defaulting company.
- While there is no specific law for legal action against wilful defaulters, banks can initiate action under existing laws such as the SARFAESI Act, Companies Act, 2013, Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, etc.
- Overall, the designation of wilful defaulter carries significant consequences for the entities involved, aiming to discourage deliberate non-repayment and promote accountability in the financial system.
-Source: Indian Express
Recently, the delicious Ishad mango from Uttara Kannada (Karnataka) has earned its much-awaited geological indicator (GI) tag.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Ishad mango
- Geographical Indications (GI) Tag
About Ishad Mango:
- Ishad mango is a variety of mango grown primarily in the Ankola region.
- This mango is known for its delicious taste and abundance of pulp.
- It has been cultivated for approximately 400 years.
- There are two variants of Ishad mango: Kari Ishad and Bili Ishad.
- Kari Ishad has a thin skin, more pulp, and is sweeter in taste.
- Bili Ishad, on the other hand, has a thicker skin, less pulp, and sweetness.
- Kari Ishad is widely recognized as one of the finest mango varieties due to its unique aroma, delectable flavor, ample pulp, and appealing shape and size.
Geographical Indications (GI) Tag
Definition and Importance:
- Geographical Indications of Goods indicate the country or place of origin of a product.
- They assure consumers of the product’s quality and distinctiveness derived from its specific geographical locality.
- GI tags are an essential component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and are protected under international agreements like the Paris Convention and TRIPS.
Administration and Registration:
- Geographical Indications registration in India is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
- The registration and protection are administered by the Geographical Indication Registry under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade (DIPIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The registration is valid for 10 years, and it can be renewed for further periods of 10 years each.
Significance and Examples:
- GI tags provide a unique identity and reputation to products based on their geographical origin.
- The first product in India to receive a GI tag was Darjeeling tea.
- Karnataka has the highest number of GI tags with 47 registered products, followed by Tamil Nadu with 39.
Ownership and Proprietorship:
- Any association, organization, or authority established by law can be a registered proprietor of a GI tag.
- The registered proprietor’s name is entered in the Register of Geographical Indication for the applied product.
- Protection and Enforcement:
- Geographical Indications protect the interests of producers and prevent unauthorized use of the product’s name or origin.
- Enforcement of GI rights helps maintain the quality and reputation of the products associated with their specific geographical regions.
Location of the Geographical Indications Registry:
- The Geographical Indications Registry is located in Chennai, India.
-Source: Times of India
Recently, Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano has erupted, spewing ash as high as 3 kilometres into the air.
GS I: Geography, Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Anak Krakatau Volcano
- Key facts about the Sunda Strait
About Anak Krakatau Volcano:
- Anak Krakatau is a volcano island situated in the Sunda Strait, between the main islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia.
- The name “Anak Krakatau” translates to “child of Krakatau,” indicating its connection to the famous Krakatau volcano.
- The original Krakatau volcano gained worldwide attention for its massive eruption in 1883, which had far-reaching consequences and caused a global cooling effect.
- Anak Krakatau is considered the offspring of the original Krakatau, emerging after the eruption in 1883.
- In 2018, Anak Krakatau experienced a prolonged eruption, marking the volcano’s longest eruption since its formation.
- The eruption in 2018 resulted in a catastrophic event when the volcano’s explosive collapse triggered a deadly tsunami.
Key facts about the Sunda Strait
- Location: The Sunda Strait is located between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, connecting the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.
- Width and Length: The strait is approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles) wide at its narrowest point and stretches for about 290 kilometers (180 miles) in length.
- Volcanic Activity: The Sunda Strait is known for its active volcanic activity, with notable volcanoes such as Krakatau (Krakatoa) and Anak Krakatau situated in the region. These volcanoes have had significant eruptions throughout history, including the famous Krakatau eruption in 1883.
- Important Maritime Route: The strait serves as a crucial maritime route, connecting the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean. It is an important passage for international shipping and trade, providing access to major ports in Indonesia and facilitating maritime transportation between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
- Tsunamis: The Sunda Strait has experienced devastating tsunamis in the past, including the catastrophic tsunami in 2004 caused by a powerful earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. The tsunami resulted in significant loss of life and infrastructure in the surrounding areas.
- Biodiversity: The Sunda Strait is home to diverse marine life and supports various ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests. These habitats contribute to the region’s rich marine biodiversity, supporting a wide range of species.
- Naval History: The Sunda Strait has witnessed significant naval battles throughout history. One notable event was the Battle of Sunda Strait during World War II, where Allied naval forces engaged Japanese warships in a fierce confrontation.
- Cultural Significance: The Sunda Strait holds cultural and historical significance for the local communities residing on Java and Sumatra islands. It has been a part of the region’s trade routes and cultural exchange for centuries, shaping the lives and traditions of the people in the surrounding areas.
-Source: Indian Express