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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 22 October 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Draft policy on national database of PwD
  2. Guidelines for non-transgenic gene editing
  3. MHA: Update photos on ePrisons database
  4. Pakistan retained on FATF’s ‘greylist’ again
  5. ‘Double-dip’: La Nina formed for second year in a row

Draft policy on national database of PwD

Context:

A national database of persons with disabilities (PwD) linking their Unique Disability Identity (UDID) numbers with welfare schemes and education and health services was among the proposals of the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Vulnerable Sections, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions, Social Empowerment, Issues Relating to Development)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal
  2. About the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021
  3. Understanding what is “Disability”
  4. Disability in India
  5. Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys
  6. Constitutional Provisions and Legislations
  7. About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016
  8. Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal

  • The Unique Disability Identification (UDID) Portal project is being implemented with a view of creating a National Database for persons with disabilities (PwDs), and to issue a Unique Disability Identity Card to each PwDs.
  • The project will not only encourage transparency, efficiency and ease of delivering the government benefits to the person with disabilities, but also ensure uniformity.
  • The project will also help in stream-lining the tracking of physical and financial progress of beneficiaries at all levels of hierarchy of implementation – from village level, block level, District level, State level and National level.
  • The UDID project and a national database had been proposed in 2014 and implemented from 2016 in stages.

The need for a step forward

  • Over 60 lakh UDID cards had been generated through the portal as of October 2021 – however, no other services are offered through it.
  • Reports indicate that budget allocation was only around 0.0039% of the GDP for the persons with disabilities. As per Census 2011, the population of persons with disabilities was 2.68 crore which amounted to 2.21% of the population. Hence, there is a gap in funding that needs to be filled.

About the draft National Policy for PwD, 2021

The draft National Policy for PwD, 2021 will be put in the public domain for comments after approval from Social Justice and Empowerment Minister and such a policy was previously published in 2006.

Suggestions of the draft national policy for PwD, 2021

  • While online certification through the UDID portal was made mandatory on June 2021, the policy suggests taking it forward by integrating services and schemes with the IDs.
  • The database should be linked with all service delivery mechanisms through appropriate Application Programming Interface (API) integration in the near future.
  • The portal would allow the PwD and stakeholders to monitor the progress of applications for various schemes, including distribution of assistive devices.
  • The draft policy also said all educational institutions should keep a record of UDID number of disabled students and all government-run healthcare and rehabilitation centres should also do so
  • The Socio Economic Caste Census database, which is used for implementation of poverty alleviation and d-evelopment programmes, should have disability disaggregated information and must capture UDID number.
  • All schemes and programmes meant for individual citizens should capture disability disaggregated data.
  • The policy also called for formulating an action plan for protecting the human rights of PwD, a comprehensive national programme of disability prevention, cross-disability early intervention centres in every district, universal coverage of PwD under Ayushman Bharat and a national employment portal for PwD.
  • In disaster management planning, there should be priority to PwD for evacuation and relief.
  • The draft said the National Crime Record Bureau needed “to maintain disability segregated data regarding crime against PwDs” and it should start with the annual data of 2021.

Back to Basics: Understanding what is “Disability”

  • Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
  • An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
  • An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
  • A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
  • Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to face discrimination in the workplace. These barriers are social, not personal, and cannot be “overcome” through sheer force of will.
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975): “Any person unable to ensure by himself or herself, wholly or partly the necessities of a normal individual and or social life as a result of a deficiency either congenital or not in his/her physical or mental abilities” could be described as disabled.

Disability in India

  • About 2.2% of India’s population lives with some kind of physical or mental disability, as per the National Statistics Office report on disability released 2019.

How are the disabled identified?

  • Until the 2011 census, there were questions on seven kinds of disabilities in the questionnaire. This list of disabilities was expanded to 21 when the Rights of People with Disabilities was introduced in 2016.
  • Accordingly, the 2019 report included questions to identify people with temporary loss of an ability as well as neurological and blood disorders in addition to the earlier definition, that included mental retardation and permanent inability to move, speak, hear and see.
  • Significantly, the revised definition recognises deformities and injuries of acid attack victims as disabilities, entitling them to various relief measures.

Who are disabled and in what way?

  • Rural men had the highest prevalence of disability in India, according to the NSO report. A higher proportion of men were disabled in India compared with women, and disability was more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas.
  • Inability to move without assistance was the most common disability. More men experienced locomotor disability than women.
  • These numbers were self-reported. In other words, the respondents were asked if they experienced any difficulty in performing tasks like moving, talking, etc.

Numbers regarding Disables in Other surveys

  • The 2011 census estimated that the number of people with disabilities in India is close to 2.68 crore (or 2.2% of the population) — that is more than the entire population of Australia.
  • This number was based on the older definition of disability, yet the proportion of disabled people in the population is not different from the 2019 NSO report, which used the expanded definition of disability. However, the 2019 edition of disability statistics reported a slightly higher prevalence than those reported in earlier editions of the survey.
  • Other metrics for evaluating disability have provided different estimates. A 2019 study by the Public Health Foundation of India found that the use of the Annual Health Survey’s metrics results in a lower prevalence. Similarly, a group of doctors from AIIMS found that alternate questionnaires like the Rapid Assessment of Disability have resulted in a prevalence ranging from 1.6%-43.3%.

How can the range be so wide?

The proportion of population facing disability becomes bigger as one moves from a narrow definition to a broader one. For instance, if one defines disability as the difficulty in accessing public services for all kinds of reasons, even social or economic, then the proportion goes up.

Constitutional Provisions and Legislations

  • The Preamble, Article 14, Article 21 and DPSP provide right to equality, justice and dignity of all individuals leading to an inclusive development which also includes the Disabled Persons.
  • The Indian Lunacy Act 1912, The Lepers Act, 1899, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple    Disabilities Act 1999, The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 are enacted for the betterment of disabled people.

 

About the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
  • It fulfills the obligations to the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.

Key Changes brought in the by the 2016 act

Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.

  • The types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21.
  • The act added mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, speech and language disability, thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack victims and Parkinson’s disease which were largely ignored in earlier act.
  • It increases the quantum of reservation for people suffering from disabilities from 3% to 4% in government jobs and from 3% to 5% in higher education institutes.
  • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education (Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions).
  • Stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time frame along with Accessible India Campaign.
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies, monitoring implementation of the Act.
  • A separate National and State Fund be created to provide financial support to the persons with disabilities.
  • The Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.

Other Schemes in India regarding Disabled people

  1. ADIP Scheme: The main objective of the Assistance to Disabled persons for purchasing / fitting of aids / appliances (ADIP) scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential. The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme shall conform to BIS specifications to the extent possible. The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).
  2. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan): Achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication eco-system.
  3. Sugamya Pustakalaya: “Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.
  4. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme: The Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme is aimed to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice and empowerment of persons with disabilities. Its objective is also to encourage voluntary action for ensuring effective implementation of the People with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities and Protection of Rights) Act of 1995.
  5. National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities: In order to recognise dedicated efforts of persons and institutions involved in the process of empowerment of disabled and encourage others to strive to achieve excellence in this field, the National Awards for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities are being awarded every year.

-Source: The Hindu


Guidelines for non-transgenic gene editing

Context:

The Government is yet to decide on a research proposal from its own scientists which would allow plants to be genetically modified without the need for conventional transgenic technology.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology (Biotechnology, Genetically Modified crops), GS-III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Newer technologies for GM
  2. About the GEAC’s pending decision on new technologies
  3. Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
  4. Cartagena Protocol

About the Newer technologies for GM

  • Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute have now moved to newer technologies such as Site Directed Nuclease (SDN) 1 and 2 – which aim to bring precision and efficiency into the breeding process using gene editing tools such as CRISPR.
  • In the case of these new technologies, scientists are just tweaking a gene that is already there in the plant, without bringing in any gene from outside.
  • When a protein comes from an outside organism, then there is a need to test for safety. But in this case, this protein is right there in the plant, and is being changed a little bit, just as nature does through mutation.
  • A research coalition under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which includes the IARI, is using these techniques to develop rice varieties which are drought-tolerant, salinity-tolerant and high-yielding.

About the GEAC’s pending decision on new technologies

  • Unlike the older GM technology which involves the introduction of foreign DNA, the new proposal involves the use of gene editing tools to directly tweak the plant’s own genes instead.
  • Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute are in the process of developing resilient and high-yield rice varieties using such gene editing techniques, which have already been approved by many countries, and they hope to have such rice varieties in the hands of the Indian farmers by 2024.
  • However, the proposal for Indian regulators to consider this technique as equivalent to conventional breeding method has been pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for almost two years.
  • As on October 2021, India has not approved any Genetically Modified (GM) FOOD crop for commercial cultivation.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

  • The top biotech regulator in India is Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
  • The committee functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).
  • GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experimental and large-scale open field trials and also grant approval for commercial release of biotech crops.
  • The Rules of 1989 also define five competent authorities for handling of various aspects of the rules:
    • The Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSC),
    • Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation (RCGM),
    • Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC),
    • State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) and
    • District Level Committee (DLC)

Cartagena Protocol

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement on biosafety as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity effective since 2003.
  • The Biosafety Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

-Source: The Hindu


MHA: Update photos on ePrisons database

Context:

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised the States to update recent photographs of prisoners released on parole in the ‘ePrisons’ and ‘Interoperable Criminal Justice System’ database.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives, e-Governance, Accountability in Governance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the e-Prisons project
  2. About the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System

About the e-Prisons project

  • The e-Prisons project aims at computerization of the functioning of prisons in the country. It has been operationalised in all States and Union Territories.
  • e-Prisons data has been integrated with the Police and Court system under the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System.
  • ePrisons application suite has been developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC), Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY).
  • It has 3 components:
    1. e-Prison Management Information System (MIS): It is used at the prisons for their day-to-day regular activities.
    2. National Prisons Information Portal: It is a citizen centric portal showing statistical data of various prisons in the country.
    3. Kara Bazaar: Portal for showcasing and selling the products manufactured in various prisons of the country by inmates.

About the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System

  • The Inter-operable Criminal Justice System s a common platform for information exchange and analytics of all the pillars of the criminal justice system comprising Police, Forensics, Prosecution, Courts, Prisons.
  • Its primary purpose is to reduce errors and time taken in sharing of necessary information between the pillars, which often lead to larger challenges like longer duration of trials, poorer convictions, transit losses of documents etc.
  • Some other critical benefits arising out of the ICJS ecosystem are usable analytics products like the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) to identify & track repeat and habitual sexual offenders.

-Source: The Hindu


Pakistan retained on FATF’s ‘greylist’ again

Context:

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on October 2021  retained Pakistan in the ‘greylist’ yet again, observing that it needed to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions were being pursued against the senior leadership of U.N.-designated terror groups, which include Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (International Groupings or Agreements affecting India’s Interests, India’s neighbors), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Terrorism in Hinterland & Border Areas)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
  2. FATF Greylists
  3. FATF Blacklists

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • FATF is a “policy-making body” that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries.
  • Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the FATF greylist (formally called the “Other monitored jurisdictions”).
  • The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

FATF Greylists

  • FATF greylist is officially referred to as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring.
  • FATF grey list represent a much higher risk of money laundering and terrorism financing but have formally committed to working with the FATF to develop action plans that will address their AML/CFT deficiencies.
  • The countries on the grey list are subject to increased monitoring by the FATF, which either assesses them directly or uses FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) to report on the progress they are making towards their AML/CFT goals.
  • While grey-list classification is not as negative as the blacklist, countries on the list may still face economic sanctions from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and experience adverse effects on trade.
  • Unlike the next level “blacklist”, greylisting carries no legal sanctions, but it attracts economic strictures and restricts a country’s access to international loans

FATF Blacklists

  • FATF Blacklists is Officially known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.
  • FATF blacklist sets out the countries that are considered deficient in their anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulatory regimes.
  • The list is intended to serve not only as a way of negatively highlighting these countries on the world stage, but as a warning of the high money laundering and terror financing risk that they present.
  • It is extremely likely that blacklisted countries will be subject to economic sanctions and other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organizations.

Effects of FATF Blacklisting

  • The effect of the FATF Blacklist has been significant, and arguably has proven more important in international efforts against money laundering than has the FATF Recommendations.
  • While, under international law, the FATF Blacklist carried with it no formal sanction, in reality, a jurisdiction placed on the FATF Blacklist often found itself under intense financial pressure.
  • FATF makes sure funds are not easily accessible by terror organisations that are causing crimes against humanity.
  • FATF has helped to fight against corruption by ‘grey-listing’ countries that do not meet Recommended Criteria and this helps to cripple economies and states that are aiding terrorist and corrupted organisations.

-Source: The Hindu


‘Double-dip’: La Nina formed for second year in a row

Context:

  • A La Nina system has formed for the second year in a row, according to the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • Two La Ninas happening one after the other (with a transition through ENSO neutral conditions in between) is not uncommon. It is usually referred to as a ‘double-dip’.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Climatology, Important Geophysical Phenomena), GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Impact of Climate Change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. La Nina and El Nino and ENSO
  2. About the current Double-Dip La Nina

Click Here to read about La Nina and El Nino and ENSO

About the current Double-Dip La Nina

  • La Nina is one part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, which is characterized by opposing warm and cool phases of oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Consecutive La Ninas following a transition through ENSO neutral conditions are referred to as a “Double-Dip.”
  • Previous La Ninas occurred during the winter of 2020-2021 and 2017-2018, and an El Nino developed in 2018-2019. When neither climate pattern is present, ENSO is neutral and does not influence global climate patterns.
  • The Current Double Dip: In 2020, La Nina developed during the month of August and then dissipated in April 2021 as ENSO-neutral conditions returned. For the upcoming winter season, which extends from December 2021 through February 2022, there is an 87% chance of La Nina.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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