- Election Commission of India: Aadhaar Linking Not Mandatory
- Tobacco warnings Norms for OTT
- Global Innovation Index 2023
- Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2024
- Pink Bollworm
- Noor-3 Satellite
Election Commission of India: Aadhaar Linking Not Mandatory
In a recent plea before the Supreme Court of India, the Election Commission of India (ECI) clarified that the linking of Aadhaar numbers with the Electoral roll is not mandatory.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Concerns About Aadhaar Linkage with Electoral Roll
- About Election Commission of India
Concerns About Aadhaar Linkage with Electoral Roll
- A petitioner filed a plea to amend enrollment and electoral roll update forms to allow Aadhaar number authentication by April 1, 2023.
- The petitioner raised concerns about voter privacy, alleging that the government and Election Commission (EC) were forcing Aadhaar submission without an alternative, potentially violating Constitutional Articles 14 and 21.
Supreme Court’s Decision:
- Rule 26-B of the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules 2022 makes Aadhaar submission non-mandatory.
- Rule 26B states that individuals listed in the roll may share their Aadhaar number voluntarily using Form 6B, which serves as an information letter for electoral roll authentication.
- The EC clarified that Aadhaar submission is voluntary and is considering clarificatory changes to forms.
- Approximately 66.23 crore Aadhaar numbers have already been uploaded during the electoral roll finalization process.
About Election Commission of India
- The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- It is the Commission that decides the election schedules for the conduct of elections, whether general elections or by-elections.
- ECI decides on the location of polling stations, assignment of voters to the polling stations, location of counting centers, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and counting centres and all allied matters.
- In the performance of its functions, the Election Commission is insulated from executive interference.
- Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
- The Election Commission was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950, hence it is a constitutional body. Article 324 to 329 of the constitution deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc., of the commission and the member.
Litigations against EC
- The decisions of the Commission can be challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court of India by appropriate petitions.
- By long-standing convention and several judicial pronouncements, once the actual process of elections has started, the judiciary does not intervene in the actual conduct of the polls.
Structure of the Election Commission
- Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
- The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
- The secretariat of the commission is located in New Delhi.
- At the state level election commission is helped by Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.
- The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
- They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.
Issues with ECI
- Flaws in the composition: The Constitution doesn’t prescribe qualifications for members of the EC. They are not debarred from future appointments after retiring or resigning.
- No security of tenure: Election commissioners aren’t constitutionally protected with security of tenure.
- Partisan role: The EC has come under the scanner like never before, with increasing incidents of breach of the Model Code of Conduct in the 2019 general elections.
- Political favor: The opposition alleged that the ECI was favoring the ruling party by giving clean chit to the model code of conduct violations made by the PM.
- Non-competence: Increased violence and electoral malpractices under influence of money have resulted in political criminalization, which ECI is unable to arrest.
- The Election Commission of India is considered the guardian of free and reasonable elections.
- It issues the Model Code of Conduct in every election for political parties and candidates so that the decorum of democracy is maintained.
- It regulates political parties and registers them for being eligible to contest elections.
- It publishes the allowed limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
- The political parties must submit their annual reports to the ECI for getting tax benefit on contributions.
- It guarantees that all the political parties regularly submit their audited financial reports.
Other powers handled by the Election Commission of India are as follows:
- The Commission can repress the results of opinion polls if it deems such an action fit for the cause of democracy.
- The Commission can recommend for disqualification of members after the elections if it thinks they have violated certain guidelines.
- In case, a candidate is found guilty of dishonest practices during the elections, the Supreme Court and High Courts consult the Commission.
- The Commission can postpone candidates who fail to submit their election expense accounts timely.
-Source: The Hindu
Tobacco Warnings Norms for OTT
The government is encountering resistance from streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon due to new tobacco warning rules implemented on September 1. To address concerns raised by the OTT industry regarding the feasibility of displaying anti-tobacco warnings, the government is actively seeking practical solutions.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- OTT Platforms
- India’s Tobacco Control Measures
- New Anti-Tobacco Warning Norms for OTT Platforms
- Reasons for OTT Platform Pushback
- OTT platforms, or Over-the-top platforms, provide web-based services to deliver video and audio content directly to viewers via the internet.
- They bypass traditional television platforms such as cable, broadcast, and satellite.
Rapid Adoption in India
- India has witnessed a swift uptake of OTT streaming platforms due to the widespread availability of affordable smartphones and cost-effective internet plans.
- The market includes both domestic and global players like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5, and the recent entrant JioCinema, backed by Reliance.
- Projections indicate that India’s domestic OTT market could grow to $12.5 billion by 2030.
India’s Tobacco Control Measures
Achievements in Health Warning Labels
- India ranks among the top countries in implementing health warning labels on tobacco products, with 85% of cigarette packs featuring warnings on both the front and back.
- Cigarette packaging in India also includes a toll-free quit-line number.
Steps Taken by India
- India has taken a pioneering step by introducing warnings on OTT platform content depicting actors using tobacco products, potentially becoming the world’s first country to do so.
Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003
- COTPA regulates tobacco product advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
- It prohibits smoking in public places and mandates prominent graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging.
- The act also sets rules for selling tobacco products to minors.
- COTPA restricts both direct and indirect tobacco advertising and sponsorship to discourage consumption.
- The government periodically raises taxes on tobacco products to deter consumption.
National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP)
- India established the NTCP to implement tobacco control strategies at the national, state, and district levels.
- The program focuses on awareness campaigns, capacity-building, and strengthening enforcement mechanisms to curb tobacco use.
New Anti-Tobacco Warning Norms for OTT Platforms
- The Union Health Ministry introduced new rules on May 31, 2023, mandating OTT platforms to display anti-tobacco warnings.
- These rules became effective on September 1, 2023.
- OTT platforms are obligated to:
- Show anti-tobacco disclaimers at program beginnings and during intermissions.
- Insert static health warnings during scenes featuring smoking.
- Prominently feature anti-tobacco health warnings on-screen during depictions of tobacco products.
- Display anti-tobacco health advertisements lasting at least 30 seconds at the program’s start and midway.
- The government possesses the authority to enforce compliance using legal measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) commended India as the first and only country to require such ads for OTT platforms.
Reasons for OTT Platform Pushback:
- OTT platforms argued that implementing these rules would necessitate extensive editing of existing content, potentially reducing user experience and limiting creative freedom.
- Suggested alternatives included industry consultation and leveraging existing self-regulatory mechanisms for more effective solutions.
- The rules require adapting static warnings designed for large cinema and TV screens onto small smartphone screens, potentially affecting the viewing experience.
- Unlike theaters and television, OTT platforms offer highly personalized and private viewing experiences, subject to different regulations.
- Concerns were raised that repeated anti-tobacco warnings might desensitize viewers instead of motivating behavioral change.
-Source: Indian Express
Global Innovation Index 2023
India retains 40th rank out of 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index 2023 rankings.
GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Issues related to Development, Important International Organizations and their reports)
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Global Innovation Index (GII)?
- About World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- Highlights of the Global Innovation Index 2022
What is Global Innovation Index (GII)?
- The Global Innovation Index (GII) is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation. It is published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with other organisations and institutions, and is based on both subjective and objective data derived from several sources, including the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
- The GII aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation ranking and rich analysis referencing around 132 economies.
- The GII is commonly used by corporate and government officials to compare countries by their level of innovation.
- The GII is computed by taking a simple average of the scores in two sub-indices, the Innovation Input Index and Innovation Output Index, which are composed of five and two pillars respectively.
- Innovation inputs: Institutions; Human capital and research; Infrastructure; Market sophistication; Business sophistication.
- Innovation outputs: Knowledge and technology outputs; Creative outputs
- Each of these pillars describe an attribute of innovation, and comprise up to five indicators, and their score is calculated by the weighted average method.
About World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN) – headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- WIPO was created to promote and protect intellectual property (IP) across the world by cooperating with countries as well as international organizations.
- WIPO’s activities including hosting forums to discuss and shape international IP rules and policies, providing global services that register and protect IP in different countries, resolving transboundary IP disputes, helping connect IP systems through uniform standards and infrastructure, and serving as a general reference database on all IP matters.
- WIPO also works with governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals to utilize IP for socioeconomic development.
Global Innovation Index 2023: Key Insights
- The GII relies on a robust dataset comprising 80 indicators from international public and private sources, extending beyond traditional innovation metrics due to the evolving definition of innovation.
- The top five countries in the GII 2023 rankings are Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom (4th), and Singapore (5th).
- India is recognized as one of the 21 economies that have consistently outperformed in innovation relative to their level of development for 13 consecutive years.
- India, along with Iran, Philippines, Turkiye, Vietnam, and Indonesia, is among the economies within the top 65 of the GII rankings that have shown the most significant improvement over the past decade.
- In the Central and Southern Asia region, India holds the top rank in categories such as Human capital and research (48th), Business sophistication (57th), and Knowledge and technology outputs (22nd).
- India demonstrates strong indicators in areas like ICT services exports (5th), Venture capital received (6th), Graduates in science and engineering (11th), and Global corporate R&D investors (13th).
-Source: Indian Express
Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2024
Recently, 20th Edition of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2024 have been released, in which as many as 91 Indian institutes have secured a place. The 2024 rankings include 1,904 universities from 108 countries and regions.
Facts for Prelims
Key Highlights of THE World University Rankings 2024
- The 2024 Rankings provide a comprehensive evaluation of research-intensive universities worldwide using 18 key indicators across five categories: teaching (29.5%), research environment (29%), research quality (30%), industry (4%), and international outlook (7.5%).
Indian Universities’ Performance
- Top Indian University: The Indian Institute of Science (IISC) has returned to the global top 250, securing a place in the 201-250 band, a significant achievement for the first time since 2017.
- Other Leading Indian Universities: Anna University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Mahatma Gandhi University, and Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences are the second-highest-ranked Indian universities, all falling within the 501-600 band.
- Significant Gains: Indian universities, including five of the country’s top institutions, made notable progress in this year’s rankings.
- Fourth Best-Represented Nation: India has become the fourth best-represented nation in the THE World University Rankings, with a record-breaking inclusion of 91 Indian institutions on the list.
- Top-Ranked Universities: The University of Oxford (UK) secured the highest ranking globally, followed by Stanford University (USA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA).
Asian Universities’ Presence
- Asian Dominance: Asia is the most well-represented continent in the rankings, featuring a total of 737 universities.
- China and Japan’s Improvement: China and Japan have notably improved their rankings, contributing to the increasing number of Asian universities in the top 200.
-Source: Indian express
The Pangolin, an elusive and highly endangered creature often touted as the world’s most trafficked mammal, has unveiled a hidden secret.
GS III: Species in News
Dimensions of the Article:
- Characteristics of Pangolin
- Protection Measures
Characteristics of Pangolin
- Nocturnal Mammals: Pangolins are nocturnal creatures that burrow and primarily feed on ants and termites.
- Ecosystem Role: They play a vital ecological role by aerating and moisturizing the soil in their habitat.
- Keratin Scales: Pangolins are distinctive for their body covered in scales made of keratin, similar to human hair and nails.
- Defensive Behavior: When threatened, pangolins can roll into a ball to protect themselves.
- Eight Species: Pangolins are categorized into eight species:
- In Africa: Black-bellied pangolin, White-bellied pangolin, Giant Ground pangolin, and Temminck’s Ground pangolin.
- In Asia: Indian pangolin, Philippine pangolin, Sunda pangolin, and Chinese pangolin.
- Wide Habitat Range: Pangolins can adapt to various environments, including primary and secondary tropical forests, limestone and bamboo forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields.
- Geographic Distribution: The Indian Pangolin is found across the Indian subcontinent, with additional presence in Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam for the Chinese pangolin.
- Rapid Population Decline: Pangolin populations have seen a rapid decline due to habitat loss and extensive poaching for their skin, scales, and meat.
- Highly Trafficked: Pangolins are one of the most trafficked wild mammals globally, primarily in Asia, where their scales are used for medicinal purposes, and their meat is considered a delicacy.
- IUCN Red List: The Indian Pangolin is categorized as “Endangered (EN),” while the Chinese pangolin is “critically endangered.”
- Legal Protection: In India, both Indian and Chinese pangolins are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, prohibiting hunting, trade, or any form of utilization.
- CITES Listing: All pangolin species are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I, which prohibits international commercial trade.
-Source: The Hindu
Focus: GS III: Agriculture
Why in News?
The Pink Bollworm is more widespread and serious than ever before in the states of Rajasthan and Haryana which is affecting cotton crop.
About Pink Bollworm:
- Destructive Pest: Pink bollworm is a highly destructive pest that primarily affects cotton crops.
- Scientific Name: Its scientific name is Pectinophora gossypiella.
- Distribution: Originally native to India, it is now found in almost all cotton-growing countries worldwide.
- Description: The adults are small moths, measuring about 3/8 inch in length, with dark brown coloration and markings on the forewing. The larvae, which are the destructive stage, have distinctive pink bands and can grow up to ½ inch in length before pupating.
- Pink bollworms pose a significant threat to cotton plants. Female moths lay over 200 eggs during their two-week lifespan.
- Once hatched, the larvae feed on the cotton seeds and damage the fibers, resulting in reduced crop yield and quality.
- Mature larvae cut out the boll and drop to the ground, where they cocoon near the soil surface.
- In addition to cotton, pink bollworms have been observed to attack hibiscus, okra, and hollyhock plants.
-Source: Indian express
Iran recently launched Noor-3 imaging satellite into space.
GS III: Science and Technology
- Origin and Purpose: Noor-3 is an imaging satellite developed by Iran, with the potential for spying capabilities, enhancing Iran’s space capabilities.
- Orbit: The satellite has been placed in an orbit located 450 kilometers (280 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
- Launch Vehicle: Noor-3 was launched into orbit using the three-stage Qased (messenger) carrier rocket.
- Predecessor Satellites: It follows the launch of two earlier satellites, Noor-1 and Noor-2, which were launched in April 2020 and March 2022, respectively, also aboard Qased rockets.
- Operational Status: Noor-1 re-entered Earth’s atmosphere in April 2022, but Noor-2 remains operational. There are plans for potential cooperation between Noor-2 and Noor-3 when the latter becomes operational.
- Launch Authority: The launch of Noor-3 was carried out by the aerospace arm of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which operates independently of Iran’s regular armed forces and reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
- Space Program: The Revolutionary Guard initiated its space program, achieving its first successful satellite launch with Noor-1 in April 2020.