27 th Sep, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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Shaping digital destiny (GS2: Polity, prelims: adhar act)
SC verdict on the validity of Aadhar
- After six years of litigation, the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution Bench has given a landmark judgment declaring Aadhaar as constitutional
- SC has ruled that Aadhaar ensures the dignity of individuals and empowers marginalised section of the society
- The Court has held that Aadhaar’s architecture does not create a surveillance state
- It has gone on to say that “the Aadhaar Act meets the concept of limited government, good governance and constitutional trust”
Four important decisions
- First, it strikes down section 57 of the Aadhaar Act
- Section 57 was used by the government to compel private companies to demand Aadhaar verification for services
- The Court accepted the argument that no rationale exists for this power and declared it invalid
- Consequently, the Court has struck downlinking of Aadhaar with mobiles and bank accounts
- It has further directed that the data collected shall be deleted within six months
- Second, it transfers sovereignty and ownership of data back to the citizen to whom it belongs
- The Aadhaar law did not give ownership rights to the individual but to the Unique Identification Authority of India
- In case of a breach or misuse of his or her data, the individual had no legal remedy
- This has been rectified with citizens now having the right to file cases against the government in case of misuse or theft of their data
- Third, no citizen can be denied benefits if there is a failure of Aadhaar authentication
- Various citizens had been denied basic services as they did not have an Aadhaar number
- This will help citizens who were unable to get an Aadhar card, particularly the marginalised and underprivileged sections of the society
- Fourth and perhaps most important that the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on whether a Bill can be classified as a Money Bill can be subject to judicial review
- Prior to this landmark decision, the Speaker enjoyed almost complete immunity from judicial review
- The judgment would instil a fear in minds of lawmakers that taking the money bill route will no longer save them from the court’s scrutiny
Adultery no longer a criminal offence as SC strikes down Section 497 of IPC
- A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court scrapped the pre-Independence provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which treats a married woman as a commodity owned by her husband.
- The Apex court said that Adultery can be a civil wrong and a ground for divorce but it cannot be a criminal offence.
- SC said Section 497 offends sexual freedom of women. Marriage does not mean ceding autonomy of one to the other. Ability to make sexual choices is essential to human liberty. Even within private zones, an individual should be allowed her choice.
- Section 497 of the IPC, mandates that “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished.”
PM Narendra Modi awarded prestigious UN Champions of Earth Award (Prelims)
- UN Environment has announced that Mr. Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron have been awarded in the Policy Leadership category, for their efforts regarding their International Solar Alliance.
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) established Champions of the Earth in 2005.
- It is an annual awards programme to recognize outstanding environmental leaders from the public and private sectors, and from civil society.
- This awards programme is a successor to UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour.
Cabinet approves National Digital Communication Policy (GS3: science & tech, prelims)
The new telecom policy has been formulated, in place of the existing National Telecom Policy-2012 and aims to facilitate India’s effective participation in the global digital economy.
National Digital Communication Policy 2018
- It aims to provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 megabits per second (MBPS) to every citizen.
- It will also provide one Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022.
- This estimated speed is much faster than the present speed being provided to Gram Panchayats and will enable fast Internet surfing and download of data.
- The policy advocates establishment of National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority.
- It also aims at expanding IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices.
Internet of Things (IoT)
- The IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity.
- This enables these things to connect, collect and exchange data, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems.
Successful Flight Test of Astra BVR Air-to-Air Missile (GS3: Internal security, prelims)
- Astra, the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), was successfully test fired by the Indian Air Force from Su-30 aircraft, from Air Force Station, Kalaikunda.
- The missile successfully engaged a manoeuvring target with high precision meeting the mission objectives.
- In the series of trials held to date, Astra has been launched in the complete Su-30 flight envelope.
- Astra is the best in the class weapon system.
- Astra an all-weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
- Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
- It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India.
- It features mid-course inertial guidance with terminal active radar homing.
- Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km (12 mi) and long-range targets up to a distance of 80 km (50 mi).
Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) (GS3: Disaster management, prelims)
- In the series of meetings of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Working Group (IWG) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), the 3rd meeting is being held at Headquarters Eastern Naval Command, Vishakhapatnam.
- IONS, the 21st century’s first significant international maritime security initiative launched in February 2008, provides a forum for discussion of regional maritime issues and promotes friendly relationships among member nations. It presently has 24 members and eight observer navies.
- It is a voluntary initiativethat seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.
- Under the charter of business adopted in 2014, the grouping has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security
Finance Ministry Launches Mobile Application “ Jan Dhan Darshak” as A Part of Financial Inclusion (Prelims)
- As the name suggests, this app will act as a guide for the common people in locating a financial service touch point at a given location in the country.
- The app will be in a unique position to provide a citizen centric platform for locating financial service touch points across all providers such as banks, post office, CSC, etc. These services could be availed as per the needs and convenience of the common people.
- Find nearby Financial touch points, based on current location (Branches/ATM/Post offices).
- Search by place name.
- Search by place name also available with Voice Interface.
- Phone number of bank branches available in app, with the facility of call button for integrated dialing.
- Users’ feedback will go directly to the concerned bank for carrying out the necessary updation in data on financial touch points.
propping up glaciers to avoid cataclysmic sea level rise (GS3: ENVIRONMENT )
- As global warming outpaces efforts to tame it, scientists have proposed building massive underwater structures to prevent an Antarctic glacier the size of Britain from sliding into the sea and lifting the world’s oceans by several meters.
- The more modest of two engineering schemes which is still on the scale of a Panama or Suez Canal to shore up Thwaites Glacier would require the construction of Eiel Tower-sized columns resting on the seabed to support the glacier’s ocean-facing edge, or ice shelf.
- Option Two is a 100-metre tall underwater wall, or berm, running 80-100 kilometers (55-60 miles) beneath the ice shelf to block bottom-flowing warm water that erodes the glacier’s underbelly, rendering it unstable.
- The ambitious projects, detailed in the European Geophysical Union journal The Cryosphere, reflect a gathering awareness that slashing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions while essential may not happen quickly enough to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts.
- Geoengineering schemes once dismissed as impractical, unnecessary or outright dangerous injecting particles
- into space to deect the sun, storing CO2 in the ground, planting millions of square kilometres in biofuels have rapidly moved from the margins toward the centre of scientic and policy discussion.
- Until recently, sea level rise was caused mainly by ocean water expanding under the inuence of global warming. Today, the biggest driver is run off from ice sheets sitting atop the island of Greenland and the continent of Antarctica.
- Taken together, Greenland and West Antarctica more vulnerable to global warming than East Antarctica contain enough frozen water to lift the ocean watermark by about 12 metres.
- Wolovick and Moore ran computer models to test their geoengineering schemes, taking into account the known variables influencing glacier-ocean dynamics.
- The underwater towers which could be built with material dredged from the continental shelf or quarried from exposed rock stood a 30 percent change of significantly slowing the glacier’s disintegration.
- The researchers also emphasised that geoengineering solutions do not lessen the need for reducing humanity’s output of greenhouse gases, which hit record levels in 2017.