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Current Affairs 25 January 2024

  1. Police Reform in India
  2. Impact of Winter Storms in the U.S.
  3. National Monetisation Pipeline
  4. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA)
  5. Design-Linked Incentive scheme
  6. Insat-3DS
  7. Election Seizure Management System


Context:

The Supreme Court recently observed that the 2022 incident of 4 Gujarat Police officers publicly flogging Muslim men after tying them to a pole in Kheda district for allegedly disrupting a garba event amounted to an “atrocity”.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. SC Observations on Kheda Flogging Incident: Upholding Human Rights in Policing
  2. Police Reforms in India: Navigating Challenges
  3. Issues Associated with Police Forces
  4. Recommendations for Police Reforms

SC Observations on Kheda Flogging Incident: Upholding Human Rights in Policing

Background:
  • Legal Challenge: Police officers appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) challenging a Gujarat High Court order that sentenced them to 14 days’ imprisonment for contempt of court.
  • Contempt Ruling: The officers’ actions were deemed contemptuous, violating the SC’s 1996 D.K. Basu judgement, which addresses police abuse and custodial violence.
D.K. Basu Verdict (1996):
  • Legal Foundation: The D.K. Basu judgement underscored the imperative to shield individuals from torture and abuse by law enforcement agencies.
SC’s Stance on Kheda Flogging:
  • Legitimate Police Duties: The SC acknowledged the police’s legal duty to arrest and interrogate criminals during investigations.
  • Human Rights Imperative: However, the SC emphasized that the law strictly prohibits the use of third-degree methods or torture on individuals in custody during interrogations, emphasizing the commitment to protecting human rights in policing.

Police Reforms in India: Navigating Challenges

Historical Perspective:
  • Long-Standing Issue: Police reforms have been a persistent subject on the governmental agenda since India’s independence.
  • Challenges: Over the decades, the police force has faced criticism for being selectively efficient, exhibiting a lack of empathy toward the underprivileged, and experiencing issues related to politicization and criminalization.
  • Legacy Framework: The foundational framework for policing in India dates back to 1861, with limited modifications since then.
Contemporary Realities:
  • Dynamic Society: Significant societal transformations have occurred since the enactment of the original police framework.
  • Multiplying Expectations: Evolving public expectations demand a police force that is responsive, efficient, and capable of addressing emerging challenges, including newer forms of crime such as cybercrimes.
Need for Reform:
  • Adaptation: The existing policing system requires comprehensive reforms to align with present-day scenarios.
  • Modernization: Upgrading the police force is essential for effectively dealing with contemporary forms of crime and criminals, ensuring the protection of human rights, and safeguarding the legitimate interests of all citizens.

Issues Associated with Police Forces:

  • Custodial Deaths:
    • Refers to fatalities occurring while a person is in police custody.
    • Despite a decline in previous years, a sharp rise to 175 custodial deaths was reported in 2021-22.
  • Excessive Use of Force:
    • Instances of police using excessive force leading to injuries and fatalities.
    • Lack of proper training and oversight contributes to misuse of force.
  • Corruption and Misconduct:
    • Corruption within the police force, including bribery and misconduct, erodes public trust.
    • High-ranking officials and lower-ranking officers implicated in corrupt practices.
  • Legal Framework and Corruption:
    • Laws creating conditions for police corruption, particularly in relation to banned substances like alcohol.
    • Increased profitability and law enforcement discretion contribute to corrupt practices.
  • Trust Deficit:
    • Significant trust deficit between police and the community affecting cooperation and information sharing.
    • High-profile cases of police misconduct contribute to public skepticism and mistrust.
  • Extrajudicial Killings (‘Encounter’):
    • Instances of extrajudicial killings by the police, commonly known as ‘encounter.’
    • No legal provisions in Indian law legalize encounter killings.
    • Increased cases, with 151 reported in 2021-2022 compared to 82 in 2020-2021.

Recommendations for Police Reforms:

  • Police Complaint Authority:
    • Establishment directed by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh v/s Union of India case (2006).
    • Authorized to investigate misconduct by police officials of various ranks.
  • Separation of Functions:
    • Supreme Court directive for the separation of investigation and law and order functions in police.
    • Creation of State Security Commissions (SSC) with civil society members for improved policing.
  • National Security Commission:
    • Recommendation by the Supreme Court for the formation of a National Security Commission.
  • National Police Commission (1977-1981):
    • Made recommendations for police reforms, emphasizing functional autonomy and accountability.
  • Ribero Committee (1998):
    • Constituted on Supreme Court’s directions to review police reform actions.
    • Endorsed major recommendations of the National Police Commission with modifications.
  • Malimath Committee (2000):
    • Made 158 recommendations for criminal justice system reforms.
    • Suggested the establishment of a central law enforcement agency.
  • Model Police Act (2006):
    • Mandates the establishment of an authority in each state.
    • Comprising retired High Court judges, civil society members, retired police officers, and public administrators from another state.
    • Focuses on functional autonomy, professionalism, and accountability in police agencies.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The recent winter storms in the United States have brought about a series of challenges, impacting multiple states with sub-freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and icy conditions. The adverse weather conditions have led to a significant toll, resulting in at least 72 deaths across the country in January 2024. The fatalities are primarily attributed to hypothermia, emphasizing the life-threatening consequences of prolonged exposure to extreme cold, as well as road accidents exacerbated by slippery road conditions.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Factors Behind Severe Winter Storms in the US
  2. Understanding Winter Storms
  3. Hypothermia

Factors Behind Severe Winter Storms in the US:

Polar Vortex Dynamics:

  • The Polar Vortex, characterized by low pressure and cold air around Earth’s poles, maintains a counterclockwise flow that retains cold air near the Poles.
  • Disruptions in the polar vortex, occasional in winter, can lead to the southward movement of cold air into the United States, causing frigid temperatures.

Arctic Amplification and Climate Change:

  • Climate change induces Arctic amplification, resulting in accelerated warming in the Arctic compared to the global average.
  • This amplified warming weakens the polar vortex, making it more susceptible to disruptions such as stretching or splitting, allowing Arctic cold air to extend southward.

Intrusion of Arctic Air Masses:

  • Arctic air masses, originating in the Arctic region, can intrude into the United States, causing a swift temperature drop and bringing exceptionally cold conditions to regions unaccustomed to such extremes.

Jet Stream Influence:

  • The jet stream, a high-altitude, fast-flowing air current, guides weather systems across the globe.
  • Changes in the jet stream pattern can facilitate the southward movement of cold Arctic air, affecting extensive areas of the United States.

Understanding Winter Storms:

Definition:

  • Winter storms are meteorological events characterized by extreme cold temperatures, precipitation in the form of snow, sleet, or freezing rain, often accompanied by strong winds.
  • These events can disrupt daily activities, impact transportation, and pose various hazards to communities.

Formation Mechanism:

  • Winter storms initiate as moist air ascends into the atmosphere, commonly occurring at cold fronts or when air moves over elevated terrain.
  • Moisture for cloud formation is sourced from air passing over large water bodies, such as lakes or oceans.
  • The crucial element distinguishing winter storms is the presence of cold air, causing precipitation in the form of snow or ice.
Types of Winter Storms:
  • Snowstorms:
    • Precipitation primarily falls as snow, with the air temperature determining whether it manifests as snow, rain, or freezing rain.
  • Blizzards:
    • Characterized by strong winds (≥35 MPH), blizzards create blowing snow conditions, reducing visibility and forming snowdrifts.
  • Lake Effect Storms:
    • Occur due to moisture from the Great Lakes, leading to heavy snowstorms in regions south and east of the lakes.
  • Ice Storms:
    • Feature an accumulation of at least 0.25 inches of ice on outdoor surfaces, creating hazardous conditions for travel and causing damage to branches and powerlines.

Hypothermia:

  • Hypothermia is a critical medical condition where the body loses heat faster than it can generate, resulting in an alarmingly low body temperature.
  • The standard body temperature is approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), and hypothermia typically occurs when it drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius).
  • Cold exposure contributes to hypothermia, disrupting the body’s ability to maintain its core temperature.

Causes and Body’s Response:

  • Cold conditions prompt the body to generate heat and conserve warmth, a process primarily regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain.
Symptoms:
  • Shivering: Initial response to cold, serving as a sign of active heat regulation systems.
  • Slow, Shallow Breathing: As hypothermia progresses, breathing may become slower and shallower.
  • Confusion and Memory Loss: Cognitive functions may be impaired.
  • Drowsiness or Exhaustion: Individuals may experience increased fatigue and lethargy.
Considerations:
  • Hypothermia is a medical emergency requiring prompt attention.
  • Protective measures, such as insulation and warming strategies, are crucial to prevent and manage hypothermia in cold environments.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Centre has decided to conduct an Asset Recycling Drive under the National Monetization Pipeline (NMP), aiming to generate resources for new investments in infrastructure.

Relevance:

GS III: Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)
  2. Need and Significance of National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)
  3. Challenges Associated with National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)

National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP):

  • The NMP outlines a comprehensive plan to leverage core assets of the Central government through leasing in various sectors, including roads, railways, power, oil and gas pipelines, telecom, and civil aviation.
  • The primary objective is to unlock a total monetisation potential of Rs 6-lakh crore over a four-year period (FY 2022-25).

Scope and Inclusions:

  • Monetisation focuses solely on core assets, excluding non-core assets disinvestment.
  • Currently encompasses assets from central government line ministries and Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in infrastructure sectors.

Expansion Plans:

  • The government is actively working on expanding the scope of the NMP by coordinating with states to include assets at both central and state levels.
  • The process involves transferring the monetisation of non-core assets, including land, real estate, and infrastructure, from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) to the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) within the Ministry of Finance.

Strategic Alignment:

  • The NMP aligns strategically with the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), which aims at investments totaling Rs 111 trillion in six years through FY25.
  • The timeline for the NMP is synchronized with the remaining period under the NIP, ensuring cohesive infrastructure development.

Need and Significance of National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP):

Need for NMP:
  • Overcapitalisation Challenges: Some projects experience time overruns and increased costs, making them financially unviable at launch.
  • Inefficient Resource Utilization: Government infrastructure projects often lack optimal input-output ratios, leading to overcapitalisation.
  • Resource Optimization Through NMP: Aims to introduce private sector efficiency and market-driven approaches for better resource alignment.
  • Coordination Challenges: Inter-ministerial and inter-departmental coordination issues contribute to delays and inefficiencies.
  • Private-Public Collaboration: Encourages collaboration between the public and private sectors for streamlined infrastructure development.
  • Addressing Governance Issues: Targets issues like reluctance to implement labour reforms, poor decision-making, and ineffective governance.
Significance of NMP:
  • Economic Boost and Employment: A groundbreaking initiative expected to boost the economy, generate employment, and enhance competitiveness.
  • Integration with PM Gati Shakti: Aligned with PM Gati Shakti, fostering holistic and integrated infrastructure development in India.
  • Synergy Between Initiatives: Mutual reinforcement between NMP and PM Gati Shakti contributes to overall economic growth.
  • Unlocking Idle Capital: Advocates unlocking capital from underperforming government assets, promoting financial efficiency.
  • Reinvestment in Infrastructure: Envisages reinvesting funds from monetisation into new projects and asset augmentation, including greenfield infrastructure.

Challenges Associated with National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP):

  • Double Charges Concerns: Taxpayers express worry about facing additional costs for utilizing assets after funding their creation.
  • Balancing Public and Private Involvement: Navigating perceived duplication of charges, a challenge in balancing public investment and private asset management.
  • Vicious Cycle of Asset Monetization: Concerns about creating assets and subsequently monetizing them when they become government liabilities.
  • Capacity Underutilization in Infrastructure: Challenges include low capacity utilization in gas and petroleum pipeline networks and regulated tariffs in the power sector.
  • Investor Interest and Stakeholder Complexity: Low investor interest in national highways below four lanes and complexity arising from multiple stakeholders in entities.
  • Monopolization Risks: Potential for monopolization, especially in highways and railway lines, raising concerns about reduced competition and increased costs.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) registration of two prominent NGOs — Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and World Vision India (WVI) have been cancelled this month.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies & Interventions, Non-Governmental Organisations -NGOs), GS-III: Indian Economy (External Sector, Mobilization of Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the FCRA?
  1. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010
  2. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020
  3. Issues Related to FCRA
  4. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India

What is the FCRA?

  • The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in India’s affairs by pumping money into the country through independent organisations.
  • These concerns were, in fact, even older — they had been expressed in Parliament as early as in 1969.
  • The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations so that they functioned “in a manner consistent with the values of a sovereign democratic republic”.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

The Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act, 2010 is a consolidating act whose scope is to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Key Points regarding FCRA
  • Foreign funding of voluntary organizations in India is regulated under FCRA act and is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The FCRA regulates the receipt of funding from sources outside of India to NGOs working in India.
  • It prohibits the receipt of foreign contribution “for any activities detrimental to the national interest”.
  • The Act held that the government can refuse permission if it believes that the donation to the NGO will adversely affect “public interest” or the “economic interest of the state”. However, there is no clear guidance on what constitutes “public interest”.
  • The Acts ensures that the recipients of foreign contributions adhere to the stated purpose for which such contribution has been obtained.
  • Under the Act, organisations require to register themselves every five years.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020

  • The Act bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions. Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
  • The Act prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person not registered to accept foreign contributions.
  • The Act makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document.
  • The Act states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi.
  • The Act proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
  • The Act allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.

Issues Related to FCRA

  • The Act also held that the government can refuse permission if it believes that the donation to the NGO will adversely affect “public interest” or the “economic interest of the state” – however, there is no clear guidance on what constitutes “public interest”.
  • By allowing only some political groups to receive foreign donations and disallowing some others, can induce biases in favour of the government. NGOs need to tread carefully when they criticise the regime, knowing that too much criticism could cost their survival. FCRA norms can reduce critical voices by declaring them to be against the public interest – Hence, it can be said that FCRA restrictions have serious consequences on both the rights to free speech and freedom of association under Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(c) of the Constitution.
  • In 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association undertook a legal analysis of the FCRA and stated that restrictions in the name of “public interest” and “economic interest” failed the test of “legitimate restrictions” as they were too vague and gave the state excessive discretionary powers to apply the provision in an arbitrary manner.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in India

  • Worldwide, the term ‘NGO’ is used to describe a body that is neither part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business organisation.
  • NGOs are groups of ordinary citizens that are involved in a wide range of activities that may have charitable, social, political, religious or other interests.
  • In India, NGOs can be registered under a plethora of Acts such as the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, Religious Endowments Act,1863, Indian Trusts Act, etc.
  • India has possibly the largest number of active NGOs in the world.
  • Ministries such as Health and Family Welfare, Human Resource Department, etc., provide funding to NGOs, but only a handful of NGOs get hefty government funds.
  • NGOs also receive funds from abroad, if they are registered with the Home Ministry under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). There are more than 22,500 FCRA-registered NGOs.
  • Registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution under five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Since announcement, the Design-Linked Incentive scheme (DLI) scheme has approved only seven start-ups, markedly short of its target of supporting 100 over five years.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Design-Linked Incentive Scheme Overview:

The scheme is geared towards providing financial incentives and design infrastructure support throughout the development and deployment phases of semiconductor designs, including Integrated Circuits (ICs), Chipsets, System on Chips (SoCs), Systems & IP Cores and semiconductor linked design(s) over a period of 5 years.

Objectives of the Scheme:
  • Nurturing Growth: Facilitating and nurturing the growth of domestic companies, startups, and MSMEs in the semiconductor design sector.
  • Indigenization Goals: Achieving significant indigenization in semiconductor content and IPs for electronic products, promoting import substitution and adding value to the electronics sector.
  • Access Facilitation: Strengthening and facilitating access to semiconductor design infrastructure for startups and MSMEs.
Duration and Components:
  • Scheme Duration: Initially spanning three years from January 1, 2022.
  • Chip Design Infrastructure Support: C-DAC will establish the India Chip Centre, hosting cutting-edge design infrastructure (EDA Tools, IP Cores, MPW support, and post-silicon validation) accessible to supported companies.
  • Product Design Linked Incentive: Reimbursing up to 50% of eligible expenditure, capped at ₹15 Crore per application, providing fiscal support to approved applicants engaged in semiconductor design.
  • Deployment Linked Incentive: Offering incentives of 6% to 4% of net sales turnover over 5 years, capped at ₹30 Crore per application, for approved applicants deploying semiconductor designs in electronic products.
Nodal Agency:
  • C-DAC: The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) will serve as the nodal agency overseeing the implementation of the scheme.

-Source: The Times of India



Context:

Indian Space Research Organisation has completed all key tests on Insat-3DS satellite before the final review which will be followed by its shipping to the spaceport in Srihari Kota, Andhra Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Insat-3DS
  2. GSLV-F14 Overview
  3. Key Facts about INSAT-3DR

About Insat-3DS:

  • Collaborative Initiative: Developed through collaboration between ISRO and the India Meteorological Organisation (IMD).
  • Climate Observatory Series: Forms part of a series of climate observatory satellites designed to enhance climate services, joining the ranks of dedicated Earth observation satellites like INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR already in operation.
  • Launch Method: Scheduled to be launched using the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F14).

GSLV-F14 Overview:

  • Advanced Rocket Technology: GSLV-F14 represents a more advanced rocket employing liquid propellant for its operation.
  • Enhanced Capacity: Distinguished by its higher capacity and utilization of cryogenic liquid propellants across all three stages, presenting a more intricate engineering challenge but allowing for a significantly increased lift-off weight capacity.

Key Facts about INSAT-3DR:

  • Advanced Meteorological Satellite: INSAT-3DR stands as an advanced meteorological satellite for India, equipped with an imaging system and an Atmospheric Sounder.
  • Noteworthy Improvements: Significant enhancements in INSAT-3DR include imaging in the Middle Infrared band for night-time pictures of low clouds and fog, imaging in two Thermal Infrared bands for more accurate Sea Surface Temperature (SST) estimation, and higher spatial resolution in the Visible and Thermal Infrared bands.
  • Payloads: Features a multi-spectral imager, 19-channel sounder, data relay transponder, and search and rescue transponder.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has conducted a training programme in virtual mode on the recently introduced Election Seizure Management System (ESMS) for the officers concerned from Andhra Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS  II: Polity and Governance

About Election Seizure Management System:

  • Dedicated Technology Platform: Tailored technology platform aimed at the digitization of data related to intercepted or seized items, including cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals, freebies, and other items. The data is collected directly from the field through a mobile app.
  • QR Code-Based Receipts: Enables banks to generate QR code-based receipts for the movement of cases, adding a layer of transparency and traceability to cash transfers.
Key Features:
  • Automated Reporting: Streamlines the process of generating desired reports in the required format for all stakeholders involved.
  • Dashboard Analytics: Provides a comprehensive dashboard for analytics, aggregating data received from multiple agencies.
  • Elimination of Duplicate Entry: Prevents duplication of data entry by different enforcement agencies.
  • QR Code-Based Receipts by Banks: Allows banks to generate receipts in PDF format, incorporating QR codes for legal cash transfers.
Operational Mechanism:
  • Real-Time Information Sharing: Facilitates real-time information sharing among various enforcement agencies, including police, transportation authorities, and central tax agencies.
  • Seamless Coordination: Ensures seamless coordination and intelligence sharing, enhancing the overall effectiveness of enforcement efforts.
  • Comprehensive Onboarding: Serves as a platform where central and state enforcement agencies are onboarded, contributing to a unified system for recording and reporting movements and seizures of illicit items such as cash, liquor, and drugs.

-Source: The Hindu


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