07 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Law Commission of India’ (GS2: Role of Executive body)
Issue: The Law Commission of India submitted a report to the government, saying that since it is impossible to stop illegal gambling, the only viable option left is to “regulate” gambling in sports.
What the commission suggests?
- Transactions between gamblers and operators should be linked to their Aadhaar and PAN cards so that the government could keep an eye on its users
- The commission recommended a classification of ‘proper gambling’ and ‘small gambling.’ ‘Proper gambling’ would be for the rich who play for high stakes, while ‘small gambling’ would be for the low income groups
- The panel wanted the government to introduce a cap on the number of gambling transactions for each individual, that is, monthly, half-yearly and annual. Restrictions on amount should be prescribed while using electronic money facilities like credit cards, debit cards, and net banking. Gambling websites should not solicit pornography
- Regulations needed to protect vulnerable groups, minors and those below poverty line, those who draw their sustenance from social welfare measures, government subsidies and Jan Dhan account holders from exploitation through gambling
- According to the commission, Foreign Exchange Management and Foreign Direct Investment laws and policies should be amended to encourage investment in the casino/online gaming industry. This would propel tourism and employment
However, one of the members filed a dissent report on this issue saying a country as poor as India should not allow ‘legalized gambling’ on its soil. Such a move would leave the poor poorer and only vested interests wanted legalization of gambling.
About Law Commission of India
Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. Its major function is to work for legal reform. Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government. The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice
The first Law Commission was established during the British Raj era in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833.
‘General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Services’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: India’s largest IT services company Tata Consultancy Services (TCSNSE 1.74 %) has been recognized as a leader in offering General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Services by Nelson Hall’s NEAT evaluation.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive set of directives put in place by the European Union to protect personal data of all its citizens. The new regime that came into effect on May 25 in EU seeks to reshape the way organisations have approached data privacy in the region.
This has opened up consulting and services opportunities for IT services companies to help their clients understand new data rights for users such as the lawful basis for processing personal data, privacy impact assessment, redesign systems and sign-up forms to get explicit consent, requirements for data storage, and other obligations mandated by the regulator to protect user data.
‘Kepler’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Kepler Space Telescope is almost out of fuel, which means its life is coming to an end, NASA announced. The space agency says it put the planet-hunting spacecraft into a “hibernation” safe mode
About Space Telescope
NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope in 2009 in an effort to learn more about the number and frequency of planets in our galaxy. To the delight of many, scientists using Kepler have found an abundance of exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. The spacecraft, which is some 94 million miles away from Earth, has scanned just a small section of our galactic neighborhood, but its efforts have led scientists to discover 2,650 confirmed planets so far
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, hitched a ride off the planet on a SpaceX Falcon 9 earlier this year, and has already snapped its first image of the galactic sky. TESS has a field of view that’s 400 times bigger than Kepler’s, which will let it study hundreds of thousands more stars than its predecessor. TESS will also search for planets around stars that are tens to hundreds of light years away from us, as opposed to Kepler, which studied stars that are thousands of light years from our solar system.
‘Alternative cereals’ (GS3: Cropping patterns)
Issue: If Indian farmers were to switch from growing rice and wheat to ‘alternative cereals,’ such as maize, sorghum, and millet, it could reduce the demand for irrigation water by 33%, according to a study
This could also improve nutritional availability to consumers
What the study says?
For their analysis, the scientists considered water as well as cereal-production data from 1996-2009. Because actual water consumption data was not available, they used a proxy — Crop Water Requirement (CWR), which is the product of the water required by a crop and the harvested area — to calculate water consumption in every district in this period.
In this time, cereal production grew by 230%. Although the combined production of alternative cereals was larger than that of wheat in the 1960s, their relative contribution to the cereal supply has steadily dwindled.
The nub was that rice is the least water-efficient cereal when it came to producing nutrients, and was the main driver in increasing irrigation stresses.
What the study suggests?
Replacing rice with maize, finger millet, pearl millet, or sorghum could save irrigation and improving production of nutrients such as iron by 27% and zinc by 13%, according to the study
‘Aspirational Districts’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Central government IAS officers has been drafted to ensure on the ground implementation as the Centre races to saturate 117 “Aspirational districts” with seven flagship social welfare schemes by Independence Day.
About the scheme
- At least 800 Deputy Secretaries, Under-Secretaries and Director-level officers, drawn from Ministries as diverse as Defence and Urban Affairs, have been assigned about 75 villages to visit, as part of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA) from June 1 to August 15. In total, 49,178 villages — most with a majority SC/ST population
- Over the two-and-a-half month period, these Central officials are being absorbed into GSA duty for at least 15 working days.
- In each village, the Central team convenes a meeting of villagers and beneficiaries along with a State government or district official, a lead bank representative and local officials from the agencies responsible for enrolling people into the schemes.
- Central officers could direct the local representatives to give immediate sanction for gas cylinders, bank accounts or electricity connections.
- Senior Ministry officials also make direct daily calls to a section of District Collectors to monitor progress, while third-party observers for each district —mostly from NGOs or academia — have been drafted in to do random checks of villages and report back to the Ministry.
The approved scheme of GSA will help more than 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to develop governance capabilities to deliver on SDGs through inclusive local governance with focus on optimum utilization of available resources. The key principles of SDGs, i.e. leaving no one behind, reaching the farthest first and universal coverage, along with gender equality will be embedded in the design of all capacity building interventions including trainings, training modules and materials. Priority will be given to subjects of national importance that affects the excluded groups the most, e.g. poverty, primary health services, nutrition, immunization, sanitation, education, water conservation, digital transactions etc.
The scheme is designed keeping in view programmatic convergence with Mission Antyodaya GPs and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog. As Panchayats have representation of Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and women, and are institutions closest to the grassroots, strengthening Panchayats will promote equity and inclusiveness, along with Social Justice and economic development of the community.
Increased use of e-governance by PRIs will help achieve improved service delivery and transparency. The scheme will strengthen Gram Sabhas to function as effective institutions with social inclusion of citizens particularly the vulnerable groups. It will establish the institutional structure for capacity building of PRIs at the national, state and district level with adequate human resources and infrastructure. Panchayats will progressively be strengthened through incentivization on the basis of nationally important criteria which will encourage competitive spirit among them.
‘Elderly population in India’ (GS2: Issue related to Human resources)
Issue: A large majority of the elderly in India do not get long-term and palliative care, revealed a study conducted for the United Nations
What the study says?
- The survey of more than 10,000 respondents across northern, southern, western, eastern, and central India during May-June 2018, showed that 62.1% of the elderly did not get such care. More than half of these people, 52.4%, said they primarily need traditional family support
- Older people in India often face problems such as disability, restricted mobility, loneliness, poverty and lack of awareness on accessing old-term care. With a fast growing population of older people, the ever-increasing gap between generations and the fast and demanding lifestyle of young people, for a majority of older people, life is still a struggle for independence.
- According to 64% of elderly respondents, loneliness, marginalization, and isolation are the most critical issues faced by bedridden, elderly patients as they cannot visit, meet or interact with their relatives, friends and neighbors
- It highlighted that 67.6% of the elderly being taken care of their family members have to look after the children of the families. They have to perform tasks such as babysitting in return for proper care and support.
- Over 75% of respondents have to limit their personal social interactions as their family members direct them to do so, otherwise their family members can avoid providing their basic needs of food and medicines.
Note: From Mains perspective, this issue holds a significant importance. Questions on Elderly condition in India can be asked in GS1 and also GS2 paper. Quoting this study would increase the quality of your argument
‘Mobile Transactions’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The value of transactions through mobile wallets reached an all-time high in May. Transactions worth ₹14,170 crore took place in May, up 21% from ₹11,695 crore in April, according to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
What the data suggests?
The volume of mobile wallet transactions, which fell sharply in March as mandatory know-your-customer (KYC) requirements took effect, has also bounced back. Around 325.78 million transactions took place in May—the highest after the 326.30 million recorded in January.
The central bank’s directive that all wallet issuers follow strict KYC guidelines starting 1 March caused considerable disruption, as customers struggled to get their KYC done amid inadequate infrastructure.
RBI is expected to issue operational guidelines on interoperability this month. This is likely to increase the use cases for mobile wallet customers and bring it at par with banks.
‘Kharif crop sowing’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Deficit rain in parts of India has led to lower planting of crops such as pulses, oilseeds, cotton and paddy, shows data released by the agriculture ministry on the progress of kharif sowing. Overall, the area planted under these crops is 14.2% less than last year and about 9.8% less than the five-year average.
The four-month monsoon is critical to the rain-fed kharif crop season in India as more than 50% of agricultural land lacks assured irrigation. Planting of crops normally begins with the onset of monsoon in June and harvests begin in October.
Trends observed in the data released
Among different crops, planting is the lowest for cotton with 5.5 million hectares sown so far compared to 7.2 million hectares by this time last year—a decrease of 24% year-on-year. This is largely because of deficient rain in Gujarat, where the planting is lower by 1.2 million hectares. Among pulses, farmers have sown a smaller area under arhar or pigeon peas, because of deficit rain in the central Indian states. So far 3.4 million hectares have been planted under different pulses, 19% lower than the 4.2 million hectares planted by this time last year.
‘Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: October 2016 was the last month before the twin blows of demonetization and the goods and services tax (GST) beset the Indian economy. The fact that the composite PMI is now at its highest since October 2016 indicates that the economy has recovered its momentum.
The rebound was strong both in the services and manufacturing sectors, with the manufacturing PMI at 53.1 and the services PMI at 52.6. New orders and staffing levels have improved. Those surveyed said they saw increased demand for their products and services.
There is an indication that firms are facing margin pressures, as fuel and commodity prices rise.
The Nikkei India Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for June 2018 came in at 53.3, its highest level since October 2016. The Composite PMI is a snapshot of private sector activity in the economy, a seasonally adjusted index that includes both manufacturing and services. A reading above 50 indicates expansion from the preceding month, while one below 50 denotes contraction.
‘Google and Wi-Fi’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The Mountain View tech giant, Google, is all set to widen its horizons by providing Wi-Fi services in public places such as malls, cafes, and universities.
In September 2016, Google had rolled out free Wi-Fi services across railway stations in India in collaboration with the Indian Railways and RailTel, which focuses on providing broadband and VPN services at railway stations. With the success of the endeavor – given that it has connected 400 railway stations across the country with Wi-Fi and covers 8 million people every month – the US-based company expanded the service to Mexico and Indonesia.