- Remote EVM (R-EVM)
- Invisible E-Waste
- World Economic Outlook: IMF
- Inter-Parliamentary Union
- Hepatitis C
- Grey whales
- Amur falcon
The Election Commission of India (ECI) introduced the Remote Electronic Voting Machine (R-EVM) in late 2022 to enhance domestic migrant voting and boost the voter turnout from the 2019 general election, which stood at 67.4%. A recent survey by Lokniti-CSDS in September 2023 targeted 1,017 migrants in Delhi’s slums, consisting of 63% men and 37% women. The survey sought to determine whether the proposed R-EVM system would garner sufficient trust from its intended users, irrespective of legal and logistical challenges raised by political parties.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Overview of Remote EVM (R-EVM)
- Significance of the Migrant Vote
- Concerns and Challenges with Remote Voting for Migrants
- Way Forward for Implementing Remote Voting for Migrants
Overview of Remote EVM (R-EVM)
The “R-EVM” (Remote Electronic Voting Machine) is a proposed system introduced by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to enable domestic migrants to vote in their home constituencies, even if they are residing far from their registered voting location.
Key Features of R-EVM:
- Registration Process:
- Eligible voters interested in using the remote voting facility must register within a specified timeframe. They can do this either online or through offline methods by contacting the Returning Officer (RO) of their home constituency.
- Multi-Constituency Polling Stations:
- Multi-constituency remote polling stations will be established in areas where migrants reside. These stations allow voters from various constituencies to cast their votes from a single location.
- Voting Process:
- Voters visiting the remote polling station will scan their constituency card, which will display the candidates and symbols specific to their home constituency on the R-EVM.
- Security and Functionality:
- R-EVMs incorporate the same security measures as traditional EVMs, providing a secure and familiar voting experience. Electronic ballot displays are used to present candidates and symbols, eliminating the need for paper ballots.
- Multiple Constituencies:
- The R-EVMs have the capability to handle multiple constituencies, accommodating up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth.
- International Examples:
- Some countries, including Estonia, France, Panama, Pakistan, and Armenia, already practice remote voting to allow citizens residing abroad or away from their home constituencies to vote.
Significance of the Migrant Vote:
- Migrants in Delhi predominantly originate from neighboring states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Rajasthan.
- The primary reasons for migration are employment opportunities (58%), followed by family-related factors (18%) and relocation due to marriage (13%).
- A considerable portion of migrants (61%) have resided in Delhi for over five years, indicating a substantial population of long-term migrants.
- Short-term migrants, primarily from Bihar, often come to Delhi for seasonal work.
- Around 53% of migrants have registered as voters in Delhi, while 27% are registered in their respective home states. Migrants tend to participate more actively in national and state-level elections compared to local or panchayat elections.
- Migrants, particularly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, maintain connections with their home states by returning to vote, especially in local and state assembly elections. Reasons for returning to vote include exercising their fundamental right to vote (40%) and utilizing the election season as an opportunity to visit family (25%).
- 47% of respondents express trust in the proposed remote voting system, while 31% express distrust. Notably, trust levels vary by gender, with men (50%) exhibiting higher levels of trust compared to women (40%). Trust in the system is also higher among individuals with better education.
Concerns and Challenges with Remote Voting for Migrants:
Continuation of Existing Challenges:
- The Multi-Constituency Remote Voting Machine (RVM) will share the same security system and voting experience as traditional Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
- Therefore, challenges and concerns related to EVMs will likely persist with RVMs.
- Remote voting necessitates amendments to existing electoral laws, including The Representation of People’s Act of 1950 and 1951, The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
- These changes are required to incorporate the new remote voting method into the legal framework.
Redefining “Migrant Voter”:
- The legal framework must redefine the term “migrant voter” and determine whether such voters maintain registration at their original place of residence.
Voter Portability and Residency Definitions:
- Managing voter portability while adhering to legal constructs such as “ordinary residence” and “temporary absence” poses a significant social challenge.
- Defining the extent of remoteness, whether it pertains to being outside a constituency, district, or state, also requires clarification.
Secrecy and Integrity:
- Ensuring the secrecy of voting at remote locations is crucial to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the voting process.
- Preventing voter impersonation is another security concern that must be addressed to ensure the fairness of remote voting.
Logistics and Administration:
- Arranging for polling agents and effectively supervising remote voting stations present logistical and administrative challenges.
- Adequate measures must be in place to oversee the remote voting process.
- Voter familiarity with the technology and interfaces used for remote voting is essential to prevent confusion and errors during the voting process.
- Proper voter education and training are crucial.
Vote Counting Mechanisms:
- Establishing efficient mechanisms for accurately counting votes cast through remote voting is a technological challenge that must be addressed.
- This includes ensuring the accuracy and security of the vote-counting process.
Way Forward for Implementing Remote Voting for Migrants:
- Machine and Technology Independence:
- Ensure that the voting process is verifiable and correct, independent of the voting machine or technology used. The veracity of the process should not solely depend on the assumption that the Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) is error-free. Establish safeguards to address potential discrepancies or issues in the system.
- Voter Agency and Transparency:
- Empower voters by giving them full agency to cancel their vote if they are dissatisfied with the process or their choice. The process to cancel a vote should be simple and should not require the voter to interact with anyone. Transparency in the voting process is essential to build trust.
- Stakeholder Confidence and Acceptability:
- Consider the confidence and acceptability of all stakeholders involved in the electoral system, including voters, political parties, and the election machinery. Address their concerns, seek their feedback, and ensure that the remote voting system is designed to meet their expectations and requirements.
-Source: The Hindu
The WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment)Forum, in celebration of International E-Waste Day on October 14, 2023, engaged the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to determine the annual quantities of Invisible E-Waste items.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Highlights of the Study on Invisible E-Waste
- Recommendations from the Study
- Provisions regarding E-waste in India
- About the WEEE Forum
Key Highlights of the Study on Invisible E-Waste:
Invisible e-waste refers to electronic waste that often goes unnoticed due to its nature or appearance, leading consumers to overlook its potential for recycling.
- Variety of Items: This category encompasses various electronic items, including cables, e-toys, e-cigarettes, e-bikes, power tools, smoke detectors, USB sticks, wearable health devices, and smart home gadgets.
- Global Unnoticed E-Waste: Approximately one-sixth of global electronic waste, amounting to nearly 9 billion kilograms annually, is overlooked by consumers.
- Contribution of E-Toys: Around 35% of invisible e-waste (roughly 3.2 billion kilograms) comes from e-toys, including race car sets, electric trains, drones, and biking computers.
- Impact of Vaping Devices: An estimated 844 million vaping devices are discarded annually, significantly contributing to the invisible e-waste category.
- Economic Significance: The material value of invisible e-waste is estimated at about USD 9.5 billion each year, primarily due to valuable components like iron, copper, and gold.
- Global E-Waste Management: Globally, only a small fraction of e-waste is properly collected, treated, and recycled. Collection rates vary widely across regions, with the majority of e-waste ending up in landfills or being improperly treated.
- Environmental Risks: Improper disposal of invisible e-waste poses substantial environmental risks, as hazardous components like lead, mercury, and cadmium can contaminate soil and water.
Recommendations from the Study:
- Unlocking Recycling Potential: Invisible e-waste represents an untapped resource with significant economic recovery potential. There is an urgent need to raise awareness about the recycling of valuable materials in this category.
- Economic Value: The total value of raw materials in global e-waste amounted to an estimated USD 57 billion in 2019. A substantial portion, around USD 9.5 billion in material value annually, falls under the invisible e-waste category.
- Awareness and Recycling: Raising awareness is crucial to unlock the recycling potential of invisible e-waste and meet the growing demand for materials in various strategic sectors such as renewable energy, electric mobility, industry, communications, aerospace, and defense.
Provisions regarding E-waste in India
The provisions regarding E-waste management in India are outlined in various rules and regulations. Here are the key provisions:
E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016:
- Enacted in 2017, this rule covers over 21 products listed in Schedule-I.
- It includes Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and other mercury-containing lamps.
- The rules emphasize Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for manufacturers and producers to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products.
E-waste (Management and Handling) Regulations of 2010:
- These regulations were issued under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.
- The main feature was the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which makes manufacturers responsible for the collection and environmentally sound disposal of their end-of-life products.
E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022:
- These updated rules were introduced with the aim of digitizing the e-waste management process and enhancing visibility.
- They restrict the use of hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, in manufacturing electrical and electronic equipment to reduce their adverse impact on human health and the environment.
- Introduces a Deposit Refund Scheme, where producers charge an additional amount as a deposit during the sale of electrical and electronic equipment and refund it, along with interest, when the end-of-life equipment is returned.
About the WEEE Forum:
- The WEEE Forum is the most extensive global center of expertise for managing “waste electrical and electronic equipment” (WEEE).
- Founded in April 2002, it is a not-for-profit organization composed of 46 WEEE producer responsibility organizations worldwide.
Mission and Benefits:
- The WEEE Forum’s mission is to enhance operational knowledge in WEEE management.
- It fosters collaboration and sharing of best practices among its members.
- By offering access to a knowledge base toolbox, the WEEE Forum supports its members in improving their operations.
- The organization helps its members become advocates for the circular economy and sustainable electronic waste management.
-Source: Down To Earth
Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released its World Economic Outlook 2023 titled- Navigating Global Divergence, which stated that the Indian Economy will grow faster than previously estimated.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Highlights of the World Economic Outlook
- Key Recommendations
- IMF’s Purpose and History
Key Highlights of the World Economic Outlook:
Global GDP Growth
- IMF projects a 3% global GDP growth for 2023, consistent with its July forecast.
- Global GDP growth for 2024 has been reduced by 10 basis points to 2.9% compared to the July projection.
- China’s economy is anticipated to grow at 5% in 2023, higher than the 3% growth observed in 2022.
- The IMF’s October forecast for China’s growth in 2023 and 2024 is 20 and 30 basis points lower than the July estimates, indicating potential loss of economic momentum.
- Global inflation is expected to rise to 5.8% in 2024, faster than the 5.2% estimated three months prior.
Factors Affecting Growth
- Tight monetary policies have been implemented by central banks to combat the 8.7% inflation rate in 2022.
- Uneven recovery from the pandemic and supply chain disruptions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also impacted growth.
- Investment remains below pre-pandemic levels due to higher interest rates and stricter lending conditions.
- IMF advises countries to rebuild fiscal buffers as a precaution against future economic shocks.
- There is a 15% chance of growth falling below 2% in 2024, with more downside risks than upside potential.
Findings Related to India:
- The IMF predicts India’s GDP growth for 2023-24 to be 6.3%, marking a 20-basis point increase from its July 2023 projections.
- The 2023-24 growth forecast aligns with the World Bank’s projections in its India Development Update.
- The IMF’s forecast for India’s GDP growth in 2024-25 remains at 6.3%.
- Despite the upward revision for the current fiscal year, India’s projected growth rate is still below the 6.5% projection made by the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
- Encourage Business Investment: Promote business investment to stimulate economic growth, taking cues from the United States where robust business investment has contributed to an improved growth outlook.
- Monitor Economic Divergence: Keep a close watch on economic disparities among major economies, especially in the eurozone, and address the factors causing contraction or slower growth in specific regions.
- Manage Inflation and Monetary Policy: Exercise caution in managing inflation and monetary policy. The IMF underscores the importance of globally synchronized central bank tightening to control inflation and maintain overall economic stability.
IMF’s Purpose and History:
- The IMF is an international organization with the objectives of fostering global economic growth, ensuring financial stability, promoting international trade, and reducing poverty.
- Established in 1945 during the Bretton Woods conference, it initially aimed to coordinate international economic policies to prevent countries from devaluing their currencies in a competitive manner to enhance their exports.
- Over time, its role expanded to include providing financial assistance to governments facing severe currency crises, acting as a lender of last resort.
Key Reports by the IMF:
- The IMF produces essential reports, including the Global Financial Stability Report and the World Economic Outlook.
- These reports are typically issued biannually in April and October.
Main Functions of the IMF:
- Promoting global economic growth and stability.
- Encouraging international trade.
- Alleviating poverty through its financial assistance programs.
- Acting as a stabilizing force during currency crises.
-Source: Economic Times
Vice President of India recently interacted with the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the sidelines of the G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit (P20).
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
About Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU):
- The IPU is a global organization representing Parliaments worldwide.
- It was founded in 1889 in Paris with the goals of promoting representative democracy and global peace.
- The IPU plays a pivotal role in parliamentary diplomacy, empowering Parliaments and parliamentarians to advocate for peace, democracy, and sustainable development on a global scale.
- It was the world’s first multilateral political organization, fostering cooperation and dialogue among all nations.
- Slogan: “For democracy. For everyone.”
- Presently, the IPU comprises 179 member parliaments and 13 associate members.
- It works to enhance democracy, promote stronger, more diverse, gender-balanced parliaments, and defend the human rights of parliamentarians through a dedicated committee consisting of MPs from across the globe.
- The IPU moved its headquarters to Geneva in 1921.
- Funding: The IPU is primarily funded by its members using public funds.
- The primary statutory body representing the IPU’s views on political matters.
- Gathers parliamentarians to address international issues and make recommendations for action.
- The principal policymaking body of the IPU.
- Comprised of three representatives from each member parliament.
- The IPU President also serves as the Council’s President.
- Responsible for establishing the IPU’s annual program and budget.
- Occasionally addresses substantive issues and adopts thematic resolutions and policy statements.
- Oversees various committees and working groups reporting to the Council.
- A 17-member body that administers the IPU and advises the Governing Council.
- Of these members, 15 are elected by the Council for a four-year term.
- The IPU President is an ex officio member and serves as the Committee’s President.
- Three Standing Committees established by the IPU Governing Council to support the Assembly’s work.
Meeting of Women Parliamentarians:
- A distinct body within the IPU that convenes during the first round of Statutory Meetings.
- Reports its work to the Governing Council and includes both male and female parliamentarians.
- Focuses on one to two substantive debate topics related to the Assembly’s competence.
-Source: The Times of India
According to the World Health Organisation WHO Egypt became the first country to achieve “gold tier” status on the path to elimination of hepatitis C as per the global health body criteria.
GS II: Health
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Hepatitis C
- Gold Tier Status
About Hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver.
- It can lead to both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) illnesses, which can be life-threatening.
- The virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood.
- This transmission can occur via practices like sharing needles or syringes, or as a result of unsafe medical procedures, such as receiving blood transfusions with unscreened blood products.
- It can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby and through sexual activities that expose individuals to blood.
- Importantly, hepatitis C is not transmitted through breast milk, food, water, or casual contact, such as hugging, kissing, and sharing food or drinks with an infected person.
- Symptoms of hepatitis C may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).
- Hepatitis C is found in all WHO regions, with the highest disease burden occurring in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and European Region.
- New hepatitis C infections often do not exhibit symptoms, making early diagnosis challenging.
- In individuals who develop chronic hepatitis C infection, it often remains asymptomatic until decades after the initial infection, when symptoms emerge due to severe liver damage.
Prevention and Treatment:
- There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.
- However, the infection can be treated with antiviral medications.
Gold Tier Status:
Gold tier status is a designation that is achieved by meeting specific criteria and requirements related to healthcare and public health, particularly in the context of hepatitis C control and prevention. The criteria for obtaining gold tier status typically include:
- Blood and Injection Safety: Ensuring 100% safety when it comes to blood transfusions and injections. This includes implementing rigorous measures to prevent the transmission of infections, including hepatitis C, through these medical procedures.
- Needle and Syringe Distribution: Maintaining a minimum annual distribution of 150 needles or syringes per year for people who inject drugs (PWID). This is a harm reduction strategy aimed at reducing the transmission of bloodborne infections, including hepatitis C, among PWID.
- Diagnosis of Chronic Hepatitis C: Ensuring that over 80% of people living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) are correctly diagnosed. Timely and accurate diagnosis is critical for initiating treatment and preventing further transmission of the virus.
- Treatment of Diagnosed Cases: Treating over 70% of individuals diagnosed with HCV. This involves providing appropriate medical care and antiviral treatment to individuals who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C to manage and potentially cure the infection.
- Sentinel Surveillance Programme: Establishing a sentinel surveillance program for hepatitis sequelae. This program monitors and tracks the long-term consequences or outcomes of hepatitis C, including liver cancer.
-Source: The Hindu
As per a new study, population swings in eastern North Pacific grey whales — some of which have resulted in recent mass mortality events — are driven by changing prey biomass and ice cover in the Arctic.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Grey Whales
- Conservation Status
About Grey Whales:
- Grey whales are fascinating marine mammals known for their unique characteristics and behaviors.
Here are some key points about them:
- Physical Features: Grey whales are recognized by their humpbacked appearance and the presence of a ridge of sharp bumps along their backs instead of a dorsal fin.
- Dietary Habits: They belong to the group of baleen whales, which means they use special bristly structures in their mouths (baleen plates) to filter food, such as small crustaceans, from the water.
- Habitat: Grey whales primarily inhabit shallow coastal waters in the North Pacific Ocean. While feeding, they stay close to the shore. During migration, they sometimes venture into deeper waters far from the coast.
- Geographic Distribution: There are two distinct populations of grey whales in the North Pacific:
- The eastern North Pacific stock or DPS, found along the west coast of North America.
- The western North Pacific stock or DPS, primarily found along the coast of eastern Asia.
- Grey whales are famous for their remarkable migrations, which can cover up to 12,000 miles round trip.
- Western grey whales migrate between their summer feeding grounds near Sahkalin Island, Russia, and their winter feeding grounds in the South China Sea.
- Eastern grey whales migrate from the Bering and Chukchi Seas in Alaska and Russia to the west coast of the United States and Mexico for breeding and calving during the winter.
- Grey whales have different conservation statuses based on their geographic populations.
- The western grey whale is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), while the eastern grey whale is categorized as “Least Concern.”
- This distinction reflects the varying population trends and threats faced by these two groups.
-Source: The Hindu
The Manipur Forest Department will carry out a head count of Amur falcons-the world’s longest travelling raptors- in Tamenglong district.
GS III: Species in News
About the Amur Falcon:
The Amur falcon is a small raptor belonging to the falcon family. Here are some key details about this remarkable bird:
- Local Name: Locally known as “Akhuipuina,” the Amur falcon is often spotted in the regions of Manipur and Nagaland.
- Breeding Habitat: These birds breed in southeastern Siberia and northern China, where they make their nests and raise their young.
- Migratory Patterns: Amur falcons are known for their impressive long-distance migrations. They travel in large flocks to wintering grounds in Southern and East Africa. The migration route takes them through India, covering a one-way journey of about 20,000 kilometers. They make this arduous journey twice a year, during their migration to and from their wintering grounds.
- Conservation Status: The Amur falcon is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and is listed under Schedule IV of the Act. This legal protection prohibits hunting the birds or possessing their meat, with potential penalties including imprisonment for up to three years or fines of up to 25,000 rupees or bonds.
- Conservation Initiatives: In 2018, the forest department initiated a conservation program to better understand the Amur falcon’s migratory routes by radio-tagging the birds. This effort aims to monitor their movements and protect them during migration.
- IUCN Status: The Amur falcon is classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Threats: The main threats to the Amur falcon’s population include illegal trapping and killing during migration, habitat loss due to agricultural practices and land reclamation. Conservation efforts and legal protections are essential to safeguard these birds and their migratory routes.
-Source: Hindustan Times