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Current Affairs 27 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. DPCGC Recommends Punitive Action on OTT Platform
  2. Flash floods and Landslide
  3. Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)
  4. World Competitiveness Index
  5. Skin bank
  6. Solar Mean Magnetic Field (SMMF)

DPCGC Recommends Punitive Action on OTT Platform


Context:

For the first time, the Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC), self-regulatory body for online curated content (OTT), has recommended punitive action on a platform invoking the Information Technology Rules (2021).

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. DPCGC Orders Removal of Obscene Content from OTT Platform ULLU
  2. About IT Rules 2021 (Major modifications introduced through IT Rules for Intermediaries)
  3. About Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC)

DPCGC Orders Removal of Obscene Content from OTT Platform ULLU

  • The Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC) has issued an order to take down objectionable content being streamed on the OTT platform ULLU.
  • The order came in response to a complaint regarding the explicit and obscene nature of certain web series on ULLU.
  • The DPCGC, as a self-regulatory body for OTT platforms, has the authority to address such grievances.
  • ULLU has denied the allegations and defended its content as being based on viewer discretion and protected by the freedom of speech and expression.
  • However, the DPCGC has reprimanded the platform and advised it to either remove the web series entirely or edit the offending scenes to comply with the IT Rules.

Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021

Due Diligence to Be Followed by Intermediaries: 

  • The Rules prescribe due diligence that must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries.
  • In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism:

  • The Rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.
  • Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer.
  • Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.

Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Especially Women Users: 

  • Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc.
  • Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.

Two Categories of Social Media Intermediaries: 

  • To encourage innovations and enable growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement, the Rules make a distinction between
    • Social Media Intermediaries and
    • Significant Social Media Intermediaries. 
  • This distinction is based on the number of users on the social media platform.
  • Government is empowered to notify the threshold of user base that will distinguish between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries.

The Rules require the Significant Social Media Intermediaries to follow certain additional due diligence. 

  • Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules,
  • Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies,
  • Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under Grievance Redressal Mechanism.
  • Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
  • Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information that is required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
  • Significant social media intermediary shall have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app or both.

Voluntary User Verification Mechanism: 

  • Users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification.

Giving Users an Opportunity to be Heard: 

  • In cases where the significant social media intermediaries removes or disables access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same shall be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such action.
  • Users must be provided an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.

Removal of Unlawful Information: 

  • An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt. or its agencies through authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc.

Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC)

  • The Digital Publisher Content Grievances Council (DPCGC) is an independent self-regulatory body established under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in June 2021.
  • It serves as a platform for addressing grievances related to online curated content providers (OCCPs) and ensuring a balance between viewer complaints and freedom of expression.
  • The DPCGC operates within the framework of the Information Technology Rules 2021 and other relevant statutes, rules, regulations, and guidelines concerning the publishing of online curated content.
  • Its primary objective is to establish a redressal mechanism that upholds a free-speech environment while addressing concerns raised by viewers.
  • By adhering to these guidelines, the DPCGC aims to foster responsible content creation and consumption in the digital space.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


Flash Floods and Landslide


Context:

The Chandigarh-Manali highway was blocked on June 26 following flash floods and landslides. Flash floods were witnessed in Khotinallah near Aut (in HP) on the Pandoh–Kullu stretch due to a heavy downpour.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Flash Floods: Sudden and Destructive Water Events
  2. Differences Between Flash Floods and General Floods
  3. What are Landslides?
  4. Why are Landslides more frequent in the Himalayas than in the Western Ghats?

Flash Floods: Sudden and Destructive Water Events

  • Flash floods are rapid and unexpected floods that occur within a short time, usually hours, following heavy rainfall or intense water accumulation events.
  • The National Weather Service in the United States defines flash floods as floods caused by rainfall within a duration of less than 6 hours.
  • They are characterized by a swift rise in water levels in rivers, streams, or urban areas, often catching people off guard.
Causes:
  • Heavy rainfall is the primary cause of flash floods, but they can also result from dam or levee failures, ice or debris jams, or sudden release of water from natural reservoirs.
  • In India, flash floods are often associated with cloudbursts, which are sudden and intense rainfall episodes.
Factors Contributing to Flash Floods:
  • Intensity and duration of rainfall, steepness of terrain, soil conditions, and the presence of man-made structures affecting water flow can contribute to flash floods.
Features:
  • Flash floods are characterized by their powerful force and velocity, carrying large volumes of water, debris, and sediment.
  • Drainage systems can become overwhelmed, rivers may overflow their banks, and low-lying areas can be inundated.
  • Flash flooding is more common in narrow and steep river systems, as the water flows rapidly.
  • Urban areas located near small rivers are susceptible to flash floods due to the inability of hard surfaces to absorb water.

Differences Between Flash Floods and General Floods:

Flash Floods:
  • Rapid onset, occurring within a short span of time (hours or minutes).
  • Short-lived events that subside quickly after the intense rainfall or water accumulation ends.
  • High intensity with a sudden surge of water, resulting in significant destruction.
  • Little to no warning time, happening rapidly and often catching people off guard.
  • Localized events, usually occurring in specific areas where intense rainfall or other factors lead to rapid water accumulation.
General Floods:
  • Develop gradually over a longer period (days or weeks) due to sustained rainfall or melting snow.
  • Longer duration, lasting for days, weeks, or even months.
  • Lower peak intensity compared to flash floods due to the slower rise in water levels.
  • More advance warning, allowing for evacuation plans and emergency measures to be implemented.
  • Can cover larger areas, including river basins, coastal regions, or expansive low-lying areas.

What are Landslides?

Landslides are physical mass movement of soil, rocks and debris down the mountain slope because of heavy rainfall, earthquake, gravity and other factors.

Why do Landslides Occur?
  • Base of the huge mountains eroded by rivers or due to mining activities or erosion agents resulting in steep slopes.
  • Increased industrialisation leading to climate change and weather disturbances.
  • Change in river flow due to construction of dams, barriers, etc.
  • Loose soil cover and sloping terrain.
Two Primary varieties of Landslides in India

I- Himalayas

  • India has the highest mountain chain on earth, the Himalayas, which are formed due to collision of Indian and Eurasian plate, the northward movement of the Indian plate towards China causes continuous stress on the rocks rendering them friable, weak and prone to landslides and earthquakes.
  • The Northeastern region is badly affected by landslide problems causing recurring economic losses worth billions of rupees.

II- Western Ghats

  • A different variety of landslides, characterized by a lateritic cap (Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium , and is commonly considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas), pose constant threat to the Western Ghats in the South, along the steep slopes overlooking the Konkan coast besides Nilgiris, which is highly landslide prone.

The problem needs to be tackled for mitigation and management for which hazard zones have to be identified and specific slides to be stabilized and managed in addition to monitoring and early warning systems to be placed at selected sites.

Why are Landslides more frequent in the Himalayas than in the Western Ghats?

In the Himalayas, Landslides are very frequent because:

  • Heavy snowfall in winter and melting in summer induces debris flow, which is carried in large quantity by numerous streams and rivers – which results in increases chances of Landslides.
  • Himalayas are made of sedimentary rocks which can easily be eroded – hence, erosions contribute to more landslides.
  • Drifting of Indian plate causes frequent earthquakes and resultant instability in the region.
  • Man-made activities like grazing, construction and cultivation abet soil erosion and risks of landslides.
  • Himalayas not yet reached its isostatic equilibrium which destabilizes the slopes causing landslides.
  • Diurnal changes of temperature are much more in northern India than in southern slopes – weakening the rocks and increasing mass wasting and erosion.

In the Wester Ghats, Landslides are comparatively less frequent because:

  • Western Ghats are eroded, denuded, aged, mature, worn out by exogenic forces and have a much lower height – hence, occurrence of Landslides is lesser.
  • The Western Ghats are on more stable part of Indian plate, hence, there is a lesser occurrence of earthquakes and landslides.
  • While steep slope on western side with high rainfall creates idea condition for landslide but gentle eastern slope with low rainfall and rivers in senile stage, counters the condition.
  • Moving of Indian plates doesn’t affect the Western Ghats much (as they are old block mountains), hence the reduced number of landslides.
  • Small & swift flowing streams of western side and big matured rivers on eastern side (like Krishna, Godavari, etc) cannot carry large amount of debris.

-Source: Indian Express


Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)


Context:

Twenty per cent tax on Liberalised Remittances Scheme (LRS) of the Reserve Bank of India is set to kick off soon.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights
  2. Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)
  3. Possible Impacts

Key Highlights:

Existing Mechanism:
  • Payments made using international credit cards for expenses during trips abroad were not covered under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS).
  • These expenses were excluded under Rule 7 of the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000.
Changes Made:
  • Rule 7 has been omitted, allowing such expenses to be included under the LRS.
  • The 20% Tax Collected at Source (TCS) rule now applies to credit card transactions on international purchases, including direct bookings.
  • However, the TCS does not apply to payments for the purchase of foreign goods/services from India.
Budget 2023-24 and TCS Provisions:
  • In the Budget for 2023-24, the government made changes to the TCS limits for foreign remittances.
  • Tax Collected at Source (TCS) is a direct tax levy collected by the seller from the buyer and deposited to the government.
  • For foreign outward remittances under LRS (excluding education and medical purposes), a 20% TCS will be applicable from July 1, 2023.
  • Previously, a 5% TCS was applicable for foreign outward remittances above Rs 7 lakh, and a 5% TCS without any threshold applied to overseas tour packages.

Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS):

Introduction and Eligibility:
  • The Reserve Bank of India introduced the Liberalised Remittance Scheme in 2004.
  • The scheme allows resident individuals, including minors, to freely remit up to USD 2,50,000 per financial year for permissible current or capital account transactions.
  • Corporations, partnership firms, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), trusts, etc., are not eligible for the scheme.
Remittance Limit and Frequency:
  • There are no restrictions on the frequency of remittances under LRS.
  • Once an individual has remitted up to USD 2,50,000 during the financial year, they cannot make any further remittances under the scheme.
Permissible Usage of Remitted Money:
  • Remittances can be used for various purposes, including travel expenses (personal or business), medical treatment, education, gifts and donations, maintenance of close relatives, etc.
  • Funds can be invested in shares, debt instruments, and immovable properties in overseas markets.
  • Individuals can open and maintain foreign currency accounts with banks outside India for transactions allowed under the scheme.
Prohibited Transactions:
  • Transactions specifically prohibited under Schedule-I or restricted under Schedule-II of the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transactions) Rules, 2000 are not allowed.
  • Trading in foreign exchange abroad is prohibited.
  • Capital account remittances to countries identified as “non-cooperative countries and territories” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are not permitted.
  • Remittances to individuals and entities identified as posing a significant risk of terrorism, as advised by the Reserve Bank, are also prohibited.
Requirements:
  • Resident individuals must provide their Permanent Account Number (PAN) for all transactions under LRS conducted through Authorized Persons.

Possible Impacts:

Tedious Task for Banks:

  • Banks will face a challenging task of monitoring and keeping track of each transaction to ensure compliance with the 20% Tax Collected at Source (TCS) rule.

Transactions Outside TCS Purview:

  • Transactions for education and medical expenses, among others, remain exempt from the higher 20% TCS, creating complexity in tracking and applying the tax.

Increased Cost of Foreign Travel:

  • Foreign travel expenses will become 20% more expensive due to the blocked amount that will be refunded through the income tax process.

Refunds and Income Tax Filing:

  • Taxpayers will have the option to claim the 20% TCS back while filing their Income Tax Returns (ITR). However, this process adds an additional step and time before the amount is refunded.

Widening Pricing Gap:

  • The introduction of a 5% TCS on LRS remittances in 2020 already caused a significant loss of business for domestic travel and tour agents.
  • Global Travel Agents (GTAs) that evade TCS compliance can offer better pricing on their platforms, creating a pricing gap.
  • The four-fold increase in the tax rate further widens the pricing gap, making upfront costs for travelers even higher when booking with domestic travel agents.

-Source: Indian Express


World Competitiveness Index


Context:

Recently, the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) published the World Competitiveness Index.

Relevance:

GS II: Inernational Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About World Competitiveness Index
  2. Key Points from the Index

About World Competitiveness Index

  • History: The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) was first published in 1989.
  • Purpose: It serves as a comprehensive annual report and global benchmark for assessing the competitiveness of countries.
  • Criteria: The index analyzes and ranks countries based on 336 competitiveness criteria, focusing on four key factors: Economic performance, Government efficiency, Business efficiency, and Infrastructure.

Key Points from the Index:

  • Top Performers: Denmark, Ireland, and Switzerland secured the top three positions among the 64 economies assessed for global competitiveness.
  • India’s Ranking: India dropped three places to finish at the 40th position in the index. However, it still showed improvement compared to its consistent ranking of 43rd between 2019 and 2021.
  • Areas of Improvement: India exhibited progress in government efficiency. However, it lagged behind in business efficiency, infrastructure, and economic performance compared to other countries.
  • Positive Factors: India’s score benefited from factors such as exchange rate stability, compensation levels, and advancements in pollution control.

-Source: The Economic Times


Skin Bank


Context:

Recently, North India’s first skin bank was inaugurated in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

About Skin Banks:

  • Skin banks are dedicated facilities where cadaveric skin is processed and preserved under optimal conditions for the purpose of benefiting burn victims.
  • The donated skin can be harvested within 6 hours after the donor’s death.
  • Skin donation is open to individuals of any sex and blood group, with a minimum donor age of 18 years. There is no upper age limit for skin donation.
  • Skin from individuals with certain conditions, such as AIDS, Hepatitis B & C, sexually transmitted diseases, skin cancer, active skin disease, and septicemia, is considered unfit for donation.
  • During the skin harvesting process, a blood sample is taken from the deceased for necessary tests, including HIV, viral markers, and hepatitis.
  • A history of trauma or burns in the donor’s past does not make them unfit for skin donation.
  • Preserved skin is typically stored in a 85% glycerol solution and kept at temperatures between 4-5 degrees Celsius. It can be stored for up to 5 years.
  • In India, there are 16 skin banks across the country. Maharashtra has seven, Chennai has four, Karnataka has three, and Madhya Pradesh and Odisha each have one.

-Source: Indian Express


Solar Mean Magnetic Field (SMMF)


Context:

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) have conducted a study that sheds light on the impact of the sun’s magnetic field on the interplanetary magnetic space. This research has brought them closer to identifying the source of the Solar Mean Magnetic Field (SMMF), as recognized by the Department of Science and Technology.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Solar Mean Magnetic Field (SMMF)
  2. New Discoveries about the SMMF

About Solar Mean Magnetic Field (SMMF):

  • Definition: The SMMF refers to the average value of the line-of-sight component of the solar vector magnetic field, calculated over the visible hemisphere. It is also studied in relation to the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF).
  • Sun’s Structure: The sun consists of the corona (outer atmosphere), the photosphere (visible surface), and the chromosphere (transparent layer above the photosphere). The magnetic field is generated by electrical currents acting as a magnetic dynamo inside the sun.
  • Focus on Photospheric Measurements: Previous studies on the SMMF have primarily focused on magnetic field measurements taken at the photosphere.

New Discoveries about the SMMF

  • Investigating Chromospheric Heights: Scientists aimed to explore the relationship between the SMMF at chromospheric heights and the SMMF at photospheric heights.
  • Similarity Found: The research revealed a significant similarity between the two, indicating a strong correlation.
  • Lower Chromospheric SMMF: The value of the SMMF at chromospheric heights was found to be lower than that at the photosphere, suggesting that the primordial magnetic field within the sun might be a source of the SMMF.
  • Analysis Method: Scientists calculated and analyzed the SMMF by incorporating magnetic field measurements from the chromosphere and comparing them with photospheric measurements.
  • Generation of Electrical Currents: The magnetic field is generated by the flow of hot, ionized gases in the sun’s convection zone.

-Source: The Hindu


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