Daily Current Affairs 28th September -2021
- Suspected Islamic State sleeper cells in Kerala
- Centre, States outline plans to stem pollution
- Cartelisation of Industries in India
- The airspace map of India for drones
- Geographical Indication (GI) Certification
1) Suspected Islamic State sleeper cells in Kerala
#GS3 #Role of External State & Non-State Actors in Creating Challenges to Internal Security #Challenges to Internal Security Through Communication Networks
Context: The arrest of several persons from Kerala by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with terror-related cases recently has raised concern about suspected sleeper cells of the Islamic State (IS) operating in the State.
- Few days ago, the NIA filed a charge sheet against 03 persons from Kerala.
- The agency had also registered a Suo motu case against seven known and other unknown persons for involvement with the terrorist activities, who have been running several Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) propaganda channels on different social media platforms, including Telegram, Hoop and Instagram, for propagating violent jihad, radicalising and recruiting new members.
- NIA Officials accuse that few of these arrested persons after the decline of the ISIS Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, had visited Kashmir in March, 2020 for ‘Hijrah’ (religious migration) and for engaging in terrorist acts.
- NIA also arrested two women from Kerala on charges of spreading the ISIS activities through the social media.
- They had created a page on Instagram to propagate, motivate and radicalise and recruit Muslim youths for the ISIS.
Growth of Islamic State in India: Concerns
- Islamic State is trying to expand in India through continuous propaganda via online.
- The recent developments have also raised concerns about suspected sleeper cells of the Islamic State (IS) operating in the state of Kerala.
- Gullible youth are targeted on open social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once a person shows interest, he or she is then enticed to communicate with online handlers based abroad using encrypted social media platforms.
- Depending on the gullibility of the person, the handlers then use the person for uploading online content, translation of IS texts to local language, conspiracy, preparation of a module, collection of arms and ammunition, preparation of IEDs, terror funding and even attacks.
- So far, the NIA has investigated 37 cases of terror attacks, conspiracy and funding which have been inspired by the IS ideology.
- A total of 168 accused have been arrested in these cases and charge sheets have been filed in 31 cases, and 27 accused have been convicted after trial.
Kerala and Radicalisation:
- Islamic radicalisation is not a new phenomenon in Kerala, where Muslim’s account for 26.56 per cent of the total population or around 9 million people.
- “When the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was established in 1977, a few students in Kerala joined it and the organisation had units in many campuses in the state.
- However, during the past four decades, only a tiny section within the community has opted for a radical path, while 99 per cent of Muslims in Kerala remained secular and contributed to the social-cultural-economic development of the state.
- Dr Mohamad, who conducted an in-depth study on the migration of Kerala’s Muslims to radical path after 21 youths joined Islamic State territories in Afghanistan, feels that counter radicalisation efforts by the state have checked the problem effectively.
- The arrests by NIA were made throughout the country and not from a specific region.
What is a Sleeper Cell?
- A sleeper cell refers to a cell, or isolated grouping of agents, that lies dormant until it receives orders or decides to act. Given the secrecy with which such a group works, it is more effective in resisting detection or penetration by law enforcement agencies.
- Community-supported surveillance against radical groups and high-tech monitoring of social media groups are the only way to check the radicalisation process.
- Creation of National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) would improve India’s resilience and defence system.
- Monitoring of content on internet by intelligence agencies such as Intelligence Bureau, RAW can prevent any attempt to radicalize youths.
- Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has been designated to act as Nodal agency for coordination of crisis management efforts.
- Given the important role of educational establishments in promoting the values of non-violence, peaceful coexistence and tolerance, education must feature prominently in counter radicalization programs.
- Several initiatives that promote alliance of civilizations and intercultural dialogue must be promoted to counter terrorism.
- For instance, the RashtriyaEktaDiwas celebrated on 31st October promotes unity in India.
- Undertaking policies to tackle economic and social inequalities will help in deterring disgruntled youth from being lured towards terrorism.
2) Centre, States outline plans to stem pollution
#GS3 #Environmental Pollution #Causes/Sources and Prevention & Control of Pollution & Degradation
#National Environment Agencies, Legislations and Policies
Context: The Union Environment Ministry had summoned a meeting with representatives from Delhi and neighbouring states on measures to be taken to tackle the air pollution levels that soar during winter.
- Delhi and several cities in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryanaare on global lists of the places with the worst air.
- This condition is going to take worst turn with upcoming burning of rice chaffahead of the winter-sowing of wheat season and other meteorological conditions.
- The meeting was convened under the ambit of the Commission for Air Quality Improvement in NCR and Adjoining Areas.
- Following the meeting, no new measures were announced and the focus appeared to be on strengthening existing programmes.
- The Haryana government will be spending ?200 crores to discourage farmers from burning the rice stubble.
- Uttar Pradesh is deploying an organic chemical, a ‘decomposer,’ that will dissolve the collected straw and turn it into manure.
- Though small pilot projects were launched last year, the State this year will be deploying it in at least six lakh acres.
- The Haryana government’s target is one lakh acres, Punjab’s five lakh acres and 4,000 acres is the Delhi government’s.
- The use of bio-mass with 50% paddy straw as a supplement fuel in coal plants has been mandated in the National Capital Region (NCR).
- A committee would be set up to look into ways to repurpose the rice stubble as fodder for cattle in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
- Promoting the use of cleaner fuels like natural gas in industries.
- The air quality commission on Wednesday had said Delhi had completely switched over to Piped Natural Gas (PNG)/cleaner fuels in 1,635 identified industries.
- All the identified 124 border entry points of Delhi were equipped with Radio Frequency Identification System to facilitate cashless toll/cess collection thus avoiding huge traffic congestions and resultant heavy air pollution at the border points.
Air pollution in Delhi-NCR: It is decided by a variety of factors.
- North- westerly winds: October usually marks the withdrawal of monsoons in Northwest India and during this time, the predominant direction of winds is north-westerly.
- The direction of the wind is north-westerly in summers as well, which brings the dust from northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- Winters bring a dip in wind speed overall as compared to in summers which makes the region prone to pollution with reduced dispersion of pollutants.
- Also, Delhi lies in a landlocked region which does not have a geographical advantage that eastern, western or southern parts of the country enjoy where the sea breeze disperses the concentrated pollutants.
- Stubble Burning: Stubble burning in Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana causes a thick blanket of smog in Delhi during winters which releases a large amounts of toxic and carcinogenic pollutants in the atmosphere.
- Vehicular Pollution: It is one of the biggest causes of dipping air quality in Delhi in winters and around 20% of PM2.5 in winters comes from it.
- Dust Storms: Dust storms from Gulf countries enhance the already worse condition. Dry cold weather means dust is prevalent in the entire region, which does not see many rainy days between October and June.
- Dust pollution contributes to around 56% of PM10 and the PM2.5 load.
- Dip in Temperatures: As temperature dips, the inversion height is lowered and the concentration of pollutants in the air increases when this happens.
- Inversion height is the layer beyond which pollutants cannot disperse into the upper layer of the atmosphere.
- Large-scale construction in Delhi-NCR is another reason for increasing dust and pollution in the air.
The Commission for Air Quality Improvement in the NCR & adjoining areas:
- The Commission for Air Quality Improvement in the NCR & adjoining areas became an executive body through an Act of Parliament in August.
- The Commission is the most powerful air pollution monitoring body set up by the Centre to date.
- Apart from consolidating all agencies that monitored, investigated and planned mitigation of air pollution in the region, the commission has replaced the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) which had been running for 22 years.
- The rulings by the commission on air pollution will override anything contained in any other law.
- The powers of the commission will also supersede that of any other body in matters of air pollution. Therefore, in cases where conflict may arise between orders or directions issued by the other state governments, state pollution control boards or even the Central Pollution Control Board, the orders of the commission will prevail.
- The Commission will have the power to take measures, issue directions and entertain complaints “for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of air in the National Capital Region”.
- It will also coordinate action taken by states on air pollution and will lay down parameters for air quality and emission or discharge of environmental pollutants.
- It will also have powers to restrict industries in any area, carry out random inspections of any premises including factories and be able to close down an industry or cut its power and water supply in case of non-compliance.
3) Cartelization of Industries in India
#GS2 #Statutory Bodies #GS3 #Changes in Industrial Policy & their Effects on Industrial Growth
Context :Last week, the Competition Commission of India found that three beer companies had conspired to fix beer prices for the period between 2009 and 2018.
- 03 beer companies — United Breweries Ltd (UBL), Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd (CIPL) and Anheuser Busch InBev India — had conspired to fix beer prices for a full decade — between 2009 and 2018.
- As a result, the CCI slapped a penalty of Rs 873 crore on the companies as well as the All-India Brewers Association (AIBA) and 11 individuals for cartelisation in the sale and supply of beer in 10 states and Union Territories.
- However, for helping out the investigations, the CCI gave differing levels of relief to the companies.
- Anheuser Busch In Bev India received a 100% relief from the penalty because its officials helped the CCI investigation into the functioning of the cartel.
- But, the companies held responsible the government rules, which require them to seek approvals from state authorities for any price revisions, as the main reason for forming a cartel.
What is a cartel?
- According to CCI, a “Cartel includes an association of producers, sellers, distributors, traders or service providers who, by agreement amongst themselves, limit, control or attempt to control the production, distribution, sale or price of, or, trade in goods or provision of services”.]
- As per the International Competition Network, the three common components of a cartel are:
- An agreement.
- Between competitors.
- To restrict competition.
- The agreement that forms a cartel need not be formal or written.
- Cartels almost always involve secret conspiracies.
- Here, competitors refers to companies at the same level of the economy (manufacturers, distributors, or retailers) in direct competition with each other to sell goods or provide services.
Working of the cartels:
- Output restrictions.
- Market allocation.
- In simple terms, “participants in hard-core cartels agree to insulate themselves from the rigours of a competitive marketplace, substituting cooperation for competition”.
Ill effects of the Cartels:
- They indirectly, undermine overall economic efficiency and innovations.
- By artificially holding back the supply or raising prices in a coordinated manner, companies either force some consumers out of the market by making the commodity (say, beer) more scarce or by earning profits that free competition would not have allowed.
- A cartel shelters its members from full exposure to market forces, reducing pressures on them to control costs and to innovate.
- As per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “A successful cartel raises the price above the competitive level and reduces output.
- Consumers choose either not to pay the higher price for some or all of the cartelised product that they desire, thus forgoing the product, or they pay the cartel price and thereby unknowingly transfer wealth to the cartel operators”.
About the Competition Commission of India:
- The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is the chief national competition regulator in India.
- It is a statutory body within the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and is responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 in order to promote competition and prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
- It was duly constituted in March 2009.
- Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.
To achieve its objectives, the Competition Commission of India endeavours to do the following:
- Make the markets work for the benefit and welfare of consumers.
- Ensure fair and healthy competition in economic activities in the country for faster and inclusive growth and development of the economy.
- Implement competition policies with an aim to effectuate the most efficient utilization of economic resources.
- Develop and nurture effective relations and interactions with sectoral regulators to ensure smooth alignment of sectoral regulatory laws in tandem with the competition law.
- Effectively carry out competition advocacy and spread the information on benefits of competition among all stakeholders to establish and nurture competition culture in Indian economy.
4) The airspace map of India for drones
#GS2 #Government policies and interventions #GS3 #Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology
Context: Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched an airspace map of India for drone operations.
- This allows civilian drone operators to check the demarcated no-fly zones or where they need to undergo certain formalities before flying one.
- This map has been developed by MapMyIndia and IT services firm Happiest Minds and is put up on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) digital sky platform.
What does this map show?
- It is an interactive map which shows red, yellow and green zones across the country.
- Green zone:
- It is the airspace up to 400 feet that has not been designated as a red or yellow zone, and
- Up to 200 feet above the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an operational airport.
- In green zones, no permission whatsoever is required for operating drones with an all-up weight upto 500 kg.
- Yellow Zone:
- Yellow zone is the airspace above 400 feet in a designated green zone, and
- Above 200 feet in the area located between 8-12 km from the perimeter of an airport, and
- Above ground in the area located between 5-8 km from the perimeter of an airport.
- The Yellow zone has been reduced from 45 km earlier to 12 km from the airport’s perimeter.
- Drone operations in yellow zone require permission from the concerned air traffic control authorities — which could be either the Airports Authority of India, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, etc as the case may be.
- Red zone is the ‘no-drone zone’ within which drones can be operated only after a permission from the Union government.
How to check the airspace map?
- The map is available on DGCA’s digital sky platform and it may be updated and modified by authorised entities from time to time.
5) Geographical Indication (GI) Certification
#GS2 #Government policies and Interventions #GS3 #Issues Relating to Intellectual Property Rights
Context: Recently, the Goa government’s Feni Policy 2021 has paved the way to take the GI Certified Goan Cashew Feni forward at par with other international Liquors such as Mexico’s tequila, Japanese Sake and Russia’s Vodka.
- The Goa government in 2016 classified Feni as the Heritage Spirit of Goa.
- Goa’s Feni Policy, published in the Official Gazette on August 19, 2019, sets standards for production, methods, quality and hygiene for making a Feni and lists local terminology such as Bhaticar (distiller), Pantlo (cane basket for collecting cashew fruit) and Pinjrem (metal cage for extracting juice).
About Goan Cashew Feni:
- Feni is a spirit produced in Goa, India.
- The two most popular types of feni are cashew feni and toddy palm feni, depending on the original ingredient; however, many other varieties are sold.
- It is the first liquor product in the country to obtain ‘Heritage Drink’ status and got its GI certification in 2000.
- Only the cashew feni has been GI-tagged.
- Feni distilleries are usually family-run affairs, and the history of the drink goes back to at least 1585.
- Feni was first manufactured in Goa after the Portuguese imported the cashew plant from Brazil to India.
- There are currently 26 varieties of feni manufactured in Goa.
- It is used in various cultural traditions, cuisines and is well known for its medicinal value also.
Other Liquors with GI tag:
Other GI-Tags from Goa:
- Khola red chilies/Canacona Chillies,
- Spicy Harmal Chillies,
- Myndoli Banana or Moira Banana, and
- Traditional sweet dish GoanKhaje.
Geographical Indication (GI) Certification:
- A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
- Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.
- It is also a part of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
- Protection for a geographical indication (GI) is granted by a national (regional) competent authority upon request.
- The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years.
- It can be renewed from time to time for a further period of 10 years each.
Daily Current Affairs 28th September -2021
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