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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 11 September 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Thamirabarani/Porunai civilisation
  2. BRICS seeks ‘inclusive’ intra-Afghan dialogue
  3. Allow spying without nod, says Kerala Bill

Thamirabarani/Porunai civilisation

Context:

A carbon dating analysis of rice with soil, found in a burial urn at Sivakalai in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, by the Miami-based Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory has yielded the date of 1155 BC, indicating that the Thamirabarani civilisation dates back to 3,200 years.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: History (Ancient Indian History)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the study on Thamirabarani civilization
  2. Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots
  3. About Thamirabarani River
  4. Pollution and exploitation of Thamirabarani River

About the study on Thamirabarani civilization

  • The laboratory has conducted the carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn in Sivakalai in southern Tamil Nadu during an archaeological excavation.
  • The analysis has revealed that the Porunai river [Thamirabarani] civilization belongs to 1155 BCE which is 3,200 years ago.
  • Encouraged by this finding, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced the establishment of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of ₹15 crores.
  • This is the oldest civilization perhaps, older than the Vaigai civilization which is believed to be 2,600 years old.
  • The findings of artefacts at the excavation sites proves that the civilisation existed prior to 4th century BC.

Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots

  • The Tamil Nadu government will now conduct archaeological excavations in neighbouring states and countries in search of Tamil roots.
  • In the first phase, studies would be undertaken at the ancient port of Musiri now known as Pattanam, in Kerala. Similar studies would also be conducted at Vengi in Andhra Pradesh and Palur in Odisha.
  • Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department would also conduct research at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt as well as in Khor Rori in Oman to establish the Tamils trade relations with these countries.
  • Pot shreds with Tamil scripts have been found in these countries.
  • Moreover, studies would also be conducted in southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam where king Rajendra Chola had established supremacy.

About Thamirabarani River

  • The Thamirabarani or Porunai is a perennial river that originates from the Agastyarkoodam peak of Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats, above Papanasam in the Ambasamudram taluk. It is the only perennial river in Tamil Nadu.
  • It flows through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of the Tamil Nadu state of southern India into the Gulf of Mannar.
  • It was called the Tamraparni River in the pre-classical period, a name it lent to the island of Sri Lanka. The old Tamil name of the river is Porunai.

Pollution and exploitation of Thamirabarani River

  • Mixing of sewage, paper mill and industrial effluents, dumping etc. into the river is a worrying aspect.
  • Sand mining in this river was banned in 2010 but it still continues illegally.
  • Illegal encroachments of its banks is also a growing concern.
  • Pepsi and other Cola companies bottling facility plants were thought to be exploiting the river water.
  • Religious practices like letting your clothes along the river at Papanasam as an act to wash sins after a bath has also clogged up the river.

-Source: The Hindu

BRICS seeks ‘inclusive’ intra-Afghan dialogue

Context:

The 13th BRICS summit held virtually called for an “inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue” for stability in Afghanistan.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is BRICS?
  2. About the Recent BRICS Summit and Afghanistan issue
  3. About BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

About the Recent BRICS Summit and Afghanistan issue

The summit was dominated by the developments in Afghanistan.

  • The BRICS leaders called for an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue for stability, civil peace, law and order in Afghanistan.
  • The countries stressed the need to prevent attempts by terrorist organisations to use Afghan territory as a terrorist sanctuary and to carry out attacks against other countries.
  • The document issued at the end of the summit, titled the New Delhi Declaration, also called for addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and urged the need to uphold the rights of women, children and minorities.
  • This consensus is all the more significant given that the BRICS countries are evidently divided on engagement with the Taliban with Russia and China adopting a proactive policy on the issue.

About BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy

In 2020, a new counter-terrorism strategy was adopted at the BRICS annual summit to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the member countries for effectively combating the threat.

Overview of the Strategy:

The aim of the strategy is to improve the practical cooperation among security and law-enforcement authorities of the member nations to prevent and combat terrorism, including by sharing timely and accurate information.

  • The focus would be to “suppress” the facilitation of terrorist groups, entities and associated persons by not making available financial and material resources to them.

The BRICS also resolved to counter “extremist narratives” conducive to terrorism and vowed to take steps to ensure that the Internet and social media platforms are not used for recruitment and radicalisation by terror groups.

The BRICS high representatives for security shall be entrusted with leading the review of the implementation of this strategy, and the BRICS counter-terrorism working group (CTWG) shall be entrusted with its implementation.

Developments in the 2021 meeting

  • In the 6th meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group under the Chairship of India, finalized the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan containing specific measures to implement the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy adopted by BRICS Leaders in 2020.
  • The Action Plan is aimed at further strengthening result oriented cooperation between BRICS countries in areas such as preventing and combating terrorism, radicalisation, financing of terrorism, misuse of internet by terrorists, and curbing travel of terrorists.
  • During the Working Group meeting, the BRICS countries also exchanged views on terrorism threat assessment at national, regional and global level and resolved to further enhance counter terrorism cooperation in line with the Action Plan.

-Source: The Hindu

Allow spying without nod, says Kerala Bill

Context:

The police can listen in on any communication, without waiting for official approval, to curb organised crimes, a draft of the Kerala Control of Organised Crimes Bill has proposed.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights, Important Judgements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Legislations on Surveillance
  2. Who can conduct Surveillance?
  3. K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance
  4. Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance
  5. Issues in the past regarding Government’s surveillance

Legislations on Surveillance

  • The laws authorising interception and monitoring of communications are:
    1. Section 92 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
    2. Rule 419A of the Telegraph Rules, and
    3. The rules under Sections 69 and 69B of the IT Act

 

Who can conduct Surveillance?

A limited number of agencies are provided powers to intercept and monitor.

  • In 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs told Parliament that nine central agencies and the DGPs of all States and Delhi were empowered to conduct interception under the Indian Telegraph Act.
  • In 2018, nine central agencies and one State agency were authorised to conduct intercepts under Section 69 of the IT Act.
  • The Intelligence Organisations Act, which restricts the civil liberties of intelligence agency employees, only lists four agencies, while the RTI Act lists 22 agencies as “intelligence and security organisations established by the central government” that are exempt from the RTI Act.

 

K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance

  • The K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017, made it clear that any invasion of privacy could only be justified if it satisfied three tests:
    1. The restriction must be by law;
    2. It must be necessary (only if other means are not available) and proportionate (only as much as needed);
    3. It must promote a legitimate state interest (e.g., national security).
  • It was held that privacy concerns in this day and age of technology can arise from both the state as well as non-state entities and as such, a claim of violation of privacy lies against both of them.
  • The Court also held that informational privacy in the age of the internet is not an absolute right and when an individual exercises his right to control over his data, it may lead to the violation of his privacy to a considerable extent.
  • It was also laid down that the ambit of Article 21 is ever-expanding due to the agreement over the years among the Supreme Court judges as a result of which a plethora of rights has been included within Article 21.
  • The court stated that Right to Privacy is an inherent and integral part of Part III of the Constitution that guarantees fundamental rights. The conflict in this area mainly arises between an individual’s right to privacy and the legitimate aim of the government to implement its policies and a balance needs to be maintained while doing the same.

 

Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance

  • In 2010, then Vice-President alled for a legislative basis for India’s agencies, and the creation of a standing committee of Parliament on intelligence to ensure that they remain accountable and respectful of civil liberties.
  • In 2011, the Cabinet Secretary in a note on surveillance held that the Central Board of Direct Taxes having interception powers was a continuing violation of a 1975 Supreme Court judgment on the Telegraph Act.
  • In 2013, the Ministry of Defence-funded think-tank published a report which recommended that the intelligence agencies in India must be provided a legal framework for their existence and functioning; their functioning must be under Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny.
  • In 2018, the Srikrishna Committee on data protection noted that post the K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, most of India’s intelligence agencies are “potentially unconstitutional”, since they are not constituted under a statute passed by Parliament — the National Investigation Agency being an exception.

Issues in the past regarding Government’s surveillance

  • In 2012 in Himachal Pradesh, the new government raided police agencies and recovered over a lakh phone conversations of over a thousand people, mainly political members, and many senior police officials, including the Director General of Police (DGP), who is legally responsible for conducting phone taps in the State.
  • In 2013, India’s current Home Minister Amit Shah was embroiled in a controversy dubbed “Snoopgate”, with phone recordings alleged to be of him speaking to the head of an anti-terrorism unit to conduct covert surveillance without any legal basis (as there was no order signed by the State’s Home Secretary which is a legal necessity for a phone tap).
  • The UPA government in 2009 said that the CBDT had placed a PR professional, under surveillance due to fears of her being a foreign spy. Later on, the CBDT did not prosecute the person.

Such examples of unlawful surveillance which seem to be for political and personal gain are antithetical to the basic creed of democracy. Consequently, they also bring up the need for ensuring that the surveillance is necessary and proportionate.

-Source: The Hindu

Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 11 September 2021

Contents

  1. Thamirabarani/Porunai civilisation
  2. BRICS seeks ‘inclusive’ intra-Afghan dialogue
  3. Allow spying without nod, says Kerala Bill

Thamirabarani/Porunai civilisation

Context:

A carbon dating analysis of rice with soil, found in a burial urn at Sivakalai in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, by the Miami-based Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory has yielded the date of 1155 BC, indicating that the Thamirabarani civilisation dates back to 3,200 years.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: History (Ancient Indian History)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the study on Thamirabarani civilization
  2. Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots
  3. About Thamirabarani River
  4. Pollution and exploitation of Thamirabarani River

About the study on Thamirabarani civilization

  • The laboratory has conducted the carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn in Sivakalai in southern Tamil Nadu during an archaeological excavation.
  • The analysis has revealed that the Porunai river [Thamirabarani] civilization belongs to 1155 BCE which is 3,200 years ago.
  • Encouraged by this finding, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced the establishment of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of ₹15 crores.
  • This is the oldest civilization perhaps, older than the Vaigai civilization which is believed to be 2,600 years old.
  • The findings of artefacts at the excavation sites proves that the civilisation existed prior to 4th century BC.

Future Excavations to find Tamil Roots

  • The Tamil Nadu government will now conduct archaeological excavations in neighbouring states and countries in search of Tamil roots.
  • In the first phase, studies would be undertaken at the ancient port of Musiri now known as Pattanam, in Kerala. Similar studies would also be conducted at Vengi in Andhra Pradesh and Palur in Odisha.
  • Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department would also conduct research at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt as well as in Khor Rori in Oman to establish the Tamils trade relations with these countries.
  • Pot shreds with Tamil scripts have been found in these countries.
  • Moreover, studies would also be conducted in southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam where king Rajendra Chola had established supremacy.

About Thamirabarani River

  • The Thamirabarani or Porunai is a perennial river that originates from the Agastyarkoodam peak of Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats, above Papanasam in the Ambasamudram taluk. It is the only perennial river in Tamil Nadu.
  • It flows through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts of the Tamil Nadu state of southern India into the Gulf of Mannar.
  • It was called the Tamraparni River in the pre-classical period, a name it lent to the island of Sri Lanka. The old Tamil name of the river is Porunai.

Pollution and exploitation of Thamirabarani River

  • Mixing of sewage, paper mill and industrial effluents, dumping etc. into the river is a worrying aspect.
  • Sand mining in this river was banned in 2010 but it still continues illegally.
  • Illegal encroachments of its banks is also a growing concern.
  • Pepsi and other Cola companies bottling facility plants were thought to be exploiting the river water.
  • Religious practices like letting your clothes along the river at Papanasam as an act to wash sins after a bath has also clogged up the river.

-Source: The Hindu


BRICS seeks ‘inclusive’ intra-Afghan dialogue

Context:

The 13th BRICS summit held virtually called for an “inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue” for stability in Afghanistan.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is BRICS?
  2. About the Recent BRICS Summit and Afghanistan issue
  3. About BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

About the Recent BRICS Summit and Afghanistan issue

The summit was dominated by the developments in Afghanistan.

  • The BRICS leaders called for an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue for stability, civil peace, law and order in Afghanistan.
  • The countries stressed the need to prevent attempts by terrorist organisations to use Afghan territory as a terrorist sanctuary and to carry out attacks against other countries.
  • The document issued at the end of the summit, titled the New Delhi Declaration, also called for addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, and urged the need to uphold the rights of women, children and minorities.
  • This consensus is all the more significant given that the BRICS countries are evidently divided on engagement with the Taliban with Russia and China adopting a proactive policy on the issue.

About BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy

In 2020, a new counter-terrorism strategy was adopted at the BRICS annual summit to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the member countries for effectively combating the threat.

Overview of the Strategy:

The aim of the strategy is to improve the practical cooperation among security and law-enforcement authorities of the member nations to prevent and combat terrorism, including by sharing timely and accurate information.

  • The focus would be to “suppress” the facilitation of terrorist groups, entities and associated persons by not making available financial and material resources to them.

The BRICS also resolved to counter “extremist narratives” conducive to terrorism and vowed to take steps to ensure that the Internet and social media platforms are not used for recruitment and radicalisation by terror groups.

The BRICS high representatives for security shall be entrusted with leading the review of the implementation of this strategy, and the BRICS counter-terrorism working group (CTWG) shall be entrusted with its implementation.

Developments in the 2021 meeting

  • In the 6th meeting of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Working Group under the Chairship of India, finalized the BRICS Counter Terrorism Action Plan containing specific measures to implement the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy adopted by BRICS Leaders in 2020.
  • The Action Plan is aimed at further strengthening result oriented cooperation between BRICS countries in areas such as preventing and combating terrorism, radicalisation, financing of terrorism, misuse of internet by terrorists, and curbing travel of terrorists.
  • During the Working Group meeting, the BRICS countries also exchanged views on terrorism threat assessment at national, regional and global level and resolved to further enhance counter terrorism cooperation in line with the Action Plan.

-Source: The Hindu


Allow spying without nod, says Kerala Bill

Context:

The police can listen in on any communication, without waiting for official approval, to curb organised crimes, a draft of the Kerala Control of Organised Crimes Bill has proposed.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights, Important Judgements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Legislations on Surveillance
  2. Who can conduct Surveillance?
  3. K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance
  4. Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance
  5. Issues in the past regarding Government’s surveillance

Legislations on Surveillance

  • The laws authorising interception and monitoring of communications are:
    1. Section 92 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)
    2. Rule 419A of the Telegraph Rules, and
    3. The rules under Sections 69 and 69B of the IT Act

 

Who can conduct Surveillance?

A limited number of agencies are provided powers to intercept and monitor.

  • In 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs told Parliament that nine central agencies and the DGPs of all States and Delhi were empowered to conduct interception under the Indian Telegraph Act.
  • In 2018, nine central agencies and one State agency were authorised to conduct intercepts under Section 69 of the IT Act.
  • The Intelligence Organisations Act, which restricts the civil liberties of intelligence agency employees, only lists four agencies, while the RTI Act lists 22 agencies as “intelligence and security organisations established by the central government” that are exempt from the RTI Act.

 

K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017 regarding Surveillance

  • The K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, 2017, made it clear that any invasion of privacy could only be justified if it satisfied three tests:
    1. The restriction must be by law;
    2. It must be necessary (only if other means are not available) and proportionate (only as much as needed);
    3. It must promote a legitimate state interest (e.g., national security).
  • It was held that privacy concerns in this day and age of technology can arise from both the state as well as non-state entities and as such, a claim of violation of privacy lies against both of them.
  • The Court also held that informational privacy in the age of the internet is not an absolute right and when an individual exercises his right to control over his data, it may lead to the violation of his privacy to a considerable extent.
  • It was also laid down that the ambit of Article 21 is ever-expanding due to the agreement over the years among the Supreme Court judges as a result of which a plethora of rights has been included within Article 21.
  • The court stated that Right to Privacy is an inherent and integral part of Part III of the Constitution that guarantees fundamental rights. The conflict in this area mainly arises between an individual’s right to privacy and the legitimate aim of the government to implement its policies and a balance needs to be maintained while doing the same.

 

Various recommendations in the past regarding Surveillance

  • In 2010, then Vice-President alled for a legislative basis for India’s agencies, and the creation of a standing committee of Parliament on intelligence to ensure that they remain accountable and respectful of civil liberties.
  • In 2011, the Cabinet Secretary in a note on surveillance held that the Central Board of Direct Taxes having interception powers was a continuing violation of a 1975 Supreme Court judgment on the Telegraph Act.
  • In 2013, the Ministry of Defence-funded think-tank published a report which recommended that the intelligence agencies in India must be provided a legal framework for their existence and functioning; their functioning must be under Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny.
  • In 2018, the Srikrishna Committee on data protection noted that post the K.S. Puttaswamy judgment, most of India’s intelligence agencies are “potentially unconstitutional”, since they are not constituted under a statute passed by Parliament — the National Investigation Agency being an exception.

Issues in the past regarding Government’s surveillance

  • In 2012 in Himachal Pradesh, the new government raided police agencies and recovered over a lakh phone conversations of over a thousand people, mainly political members, and many senior police officials, including the Director General of Police (DGP), who is legally responsible for conducting phone taps in the State.
  • In 2013, India’s current Home Minister Amit Shah was embroiled in a controversy dubbed “Snoopgate”, with phone recordings alleged to be of him speaking to the head of an anti-terrorism unit to conduct covert surveillance without any legal basis (as there was no order signed by the State’s Home Secretary which is a legal necessity for a phone tap).
  • The UPA government in 2009 said that the CBDT had placed a PR professional, under surveillance due to fears of her being a foreign spy. Later on, the CBDT did not prosecute the person.

Such examples of unlawful surveillance which seem to be for political and personal gain are antithetical to the basic creed of democracy. Consequently, they also bring up the need for ensuring that the surveillance is necessary and proportionate.

-Source: The Hindu

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