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Current Affairs 29 October 2022

CONTENTS

  1. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
  2. ‘One Nation, One Uniform’ for police
  3. Air quality index
  4. Global TB Report 2022

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)


Context:

The Prime Minister has said that Central laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) had given an impetus to the system in a decisive fight against terrorism.

Relevance:

 GS III- Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967
  2. Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019
  3. Some Concerning Points about the designation of someone as terrorist
  4. Issues with UAPA

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).
  • Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.
  • However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019

  • The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.
  • It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.

Key Provisions of the Amendment

  • The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:
    • commits or participates in acts of terrorism
    • prepares for terrorism
    • promotes terrorism
    • is otherwise involved in terrorism
  • The word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.
  • However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –
    • to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India
    • to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country
  • The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.
  • The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.

Some Concerning Points about the designation of someone as terrorist

  • The government is NOT required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
  • At present, legally, a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
  • In this line, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a ‘terrorist’.
  • And those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as ‘terror accused’.
  • The Bill does NOT clarify the standard of proof required to establish that an individual is involved or is likely to be involved in terrorist activities.
  • The Bill also does not require the filing of cases or arresting individuals while designating them as terrorists.

Issues with UAPA

  • UAPA gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities. Thus, the state gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • UAPA empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society. The right of dissent is a part and parcel of fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).
  • UAPA can also be thought of to go against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.
How can the names be removed?
  • Application – The Bill seeks to give the central government the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application.
  • The procedure for such an application and the process of decision-making will also be decided by the central government.
  • If an application filed is rejected by the government, the Bill gives the person the right to seek a review within one month of rejection.
  • Review committee – Under the amendment Bill, the central government will set up a review committee.
  • It will consist of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and 3 other members.
  • It will be empowered to order the government to delete the name of an individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
  • Apart from these two avenues, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.

-Source: The Hindu


‘One Nation, One Uniform’ For Police


Context:

Addressing the first Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) of state home ministers and top police officers on Friday (October 28), Prime Minister pitched the idea of “One Nation, One Uniform” for Indian police forces.

Relevance:

GS II: Civil service

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. One Nation One Uniform
  2. Law and order is a State Subject
  3. Changes in police uniforms

One Nation One Uniform

  • PM urged that the identity of police across the country should be the same.
  • This suggestion is in line with his broader attempt to introduce a uniform set of policies across the country.
Law and order is a State Subject
  • The Indian Constitution puts police forces under the jurisdiction of state governments, and each of the 28 states have their own police force.
  • Both ‘public order’ and the ‘police’ are placed in List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the division of powers between the Union and States.
  • In the circumstances, it is unclear how the PM’s suggestion, if the government were to take it up seriously, might be implemented.
Why such move?
  • While police personnel in India are often associated with the colour khaki, their uniforms do differ in varying degrees in different regions. Since state governments and even an individual force can decide the uniform their personnel wear, there are at times inconsistencies in their official attire. For example:
    • The Kolkata Police wear white uniforms.
    • Puducherry Police constables wear a bright red cap with their khaki uniforms.
    • Delhi Traffic Police personnel wear white and blue uniforms.

Changes in police uniforms

  • Over the years, police departments of various states have made various attempts to reform uniforms for their personnel.
  • In February 2018, in a bid to prevent colour variation in the uniform of its personnel, the Maharashtra police had decided to provide dope-dyed khaki fabric for its staff. Members of the force buying khaki cloth on their own led to inconsistencies in the shade of the uniform, the police had argued.
  • In October 2018, the Karnataka Police announced that women personnel would no longer wear khaki saris, rather a khaki shirt and trousers while on duty. This would make it easier for policewomen to do their job and improve their effectiveness in dealing with crime.
  • The Delhi Police had asked the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to design fresh uniforms, with an immediate focus on clothing that would be more comfortable.

-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express


Air Quality Index


Context:

If you logged on to social media to check the air quality index in your city the morning after Diwali, chances are you saw multiple numbers floating around for the same time and location. But none of them are credibly correct.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Air Quality Index
  2. About National Ambient Air Quality Standards:

About Air Quality Index

  • National Air Quality Index was launched by the Prime Minister in April, 2015 starting with 14 cities to disseminate air quality information.
  • The AQI has six categories of air quality, viz Good, Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe with distinct colour scheme. Each of these categories is associated with likely health impacts.
  • AQI considers eight pollutants (PM10, PM 2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb) for which (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.

About National Ambient Air Quality Standards:

  • The mandate provided to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act empowers it to set standards for the quality of air.
  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were notified in the year 1982, duly revised in 1994 based on health criteria and land uses.
  • The NAAQS have been revisited and revised in November 2009 for 12 pollutants, which include
    • Sulphur dioxide (SO2),
    • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2),
    • Particulate matter having size less than 10 micron (PM10),
    • Particulate matter having size less than 2.5 micron (PM2.5),
    • Ozone,
    • Lead,
    • Carbon monoxide (CO),
    • Arsenic,
    • Nickel,
    • Benzene,
    • Ammonia,
    • Benzopyrene

-Source: The Hindu 


Global TB Report 2022


Context:

Recently, The WHO released the Global TB Report 2022. The Report notes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the diagnosis, treatment and burden of disease for TB all over the world

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Report:
  2. About Tuberculosis
  3. About Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY)
  4. About Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan

Highlights of the Report:

  • India’s TB incidence for the year 2021 is 210 per 100,000 population – compared to the baseline year of 2015 (incidence was 256 per lakh population in India) and there has been an 18% decline which is 7 percentage points better than the global average of 11%, said the Health Ministry, while reacting to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report 2022.
  • These figures also place India at the 36th position in terms of incidence rates (from largest to smallest incidence numbers).
  • According to the WHO report, an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2021, an increase of 4.5% from 2020, and 1.6 million people died from TB (including 187 000 among HIV positive people).

About Tuberculosis

  • TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious killer.
  • Each day, over 4000 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease
  • TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
  • Transmission: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
  • Symptoms: Cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
  • Treatment: TB is a treatable and curable disease. It is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer.
  • Anti-TB medicines have been used for decades and strains that are resistant to 1 or more of the medicines have been documented in every country surveyed.
  • Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a form of TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to isoniazid and rifampicin, the 2 most powerful, first-line anti-TB drugs. MDR-TB is treatable and curable by using second-line drugs.
  • Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is a more serious form of MDR-TB caused by bacteria that do not respond to the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs, often leaving patients without any further treatment options.

Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY)

  • It is a direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for nutritional support to Tuberculosis (TB) patients rolled out in April 2018 by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme under National Health Mission (NHM).
    • Financial norms of NHM in terms of cost sharing are applicable to the scheme.
  • This scheme is implemented across all States and UTs in India.
  • All TB patients notified on or after 1st April 2018 including all existing TB patients under treatment are eligible to receive incentives.
  • The patient must be registered\notified on the NIKSHAY portal.

About Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan

  • It has been envisioned to bring together all community stakeholders to support those on TB treatment and accelerate the country’s progress towards TB elimination.
  • This is aimed at working towards TB elimination from the country by 2025.
  • Under the scheme, individuals, NGOs and corporates can adopt TB patients by committing support for 1-3 years. 
  • To join the initiative, they have to register on the site, which has an anonymous list of TB patients, categorized according to the primary health centres, blocks, districts and states. 
  • The sponsors can select the number of patients as per their capacity.
Components of the scheme: 
  • The Ni-kshay Mitra initiative which forms a vital component of the `Abhiyaan’ is also launched along with the Abhiyaan. 
    • This portal provides a platform for donors to provide various forms of support to those undergoing TB treatment. 
  • The three-pronged support includes:
    • Nutritional, 
    • Additional diagnostic,
    • Vocational support. 

-Source: The Hindu


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