UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 5th March 2022
Topics for the day:
- KAVACH system
- Operation ganga
- Asian infrastructure investment bank
- National disaster response fund
- Defence acquisition procedure
- General consent withdrawn by meghalaya
- CO location scam at NSE
- India’s indigenously developed technology that can prevent two trains from colliding was tested recently
What is Kavach?
- It is India’s very own automatic protection system in development since 2012, under the name Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), which got rechristened to Kavach or “armour”
- It is a set of electronic devices and Radio Frequency Identification devices installed in locomotives, in the signalling system as well the tracks, that talk to each other using ultra high radio frequencies to control the brakes of trains and also alert drivers, all based on the logic programmed into them.
- One of its features is that by continuously refreshing the movement information of a train, it is able to send out triggers when a loco pilot jumps signal, called Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD), a grave offence in railway operations with respect to safety, and the key to accidents like collision.
- The devices also continuously relay the signals ahead to the locomotive, making it useful for loco pilots in low visibility, especially during dense fog.
- Kavach includes the key elements from already existing, and tried and tested systems like the European Train Protection and Warning System, and the indigenous Anti Collison Device
- The current form of Kavach adheres to the highest level of safety and reliability standard called Safety Integrity Level 4.
What is new about Kavach ?
- India wants to position Kavach as an exportable system, a cheaper alternative to the European systems across the world.
- While now Kavach uses Ultra High Frequency, work is on to make it compatible with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology and make the product for global markets. Work is on to make the system such that it can be compatible with other already installed systems globally.
- The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in Lucknow along with private vendors are developing the system.
- Once rolled out, it may be world’s cheapest Automatic Train Protection System with the cost of rollout pegged at around Rs 30 lakh to 50 lakh per kilometer
- Over 3,700 Indians from Ukraine returned on 17 special flights, as part of the Centre’s ‘Operation Ganga’. Eleven special flights may bring back over 2,200 Indians later.
More on the news :
- As part of the government’s ‘Operation Ganga’, 14 civilian flights mounted by Indian airlines brought back 3,142 people and three C-17 flights by the Indian Air Force brought back 630 Indians from Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.
- Four more C-17 aircraft are expected to reach India later.
- Eleven special flights are expected to bring back over 2,200 Indians on Saturday, which include five flights from Budapest, two from Rzeszow and four from Suceava.
- About 9,364 Indians have been evacuated so far, according to a statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation. These include seven flights of C-17, which have also taken 9.7 tonnes of relief material.
What is operation ganga ?
- Operation Ganga is an ongoing operation by the Government of India to provide humanitarian assistance amidst the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine to Indian citizens who have crossed over to neighboring countries.
- This then involves transport assistance from the neighboring countries of Romania, Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia to reach India.
- Four union ministers were sent to the neighboring countries to assist in prioritising coordination with local authorities.
- The Indian Air Force and multiple private airlines (Air India, IndiGo, Air India Express and SpiceJet) provided logistical support
Other such missions :
Vande bharat mission –
- When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, the Centre launched the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indian citizens stranded in foreign countries.
- In the multiple phases of the operation, about 60 lakh Indians were brought back as on 30th April, 2021
Operation samudra setu –
- It was a naval operation as part of the national effort to bring home Indian citizens from overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- It successfully brought back 3,992 Indian citizens to their homeland by sea.
- Indian Naval ships Jalashwa (Landing Platform Dock), and Airavat, Shardul and Magar (Landing Ship Tanks) participated in this operation which lasted over 55 days and involved traversing more than 23,000 km by sea.
Operation rahat –
- In 2015, a conflict raged between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.
- Thousands of Indians were stranded and Yemen was not accessible by air due to a no-fly zone announced by Saudi Arabia.
- Under Operation Raahat, India evacuated nearly 5,600 people from Yemen.
Operation sankat mochan
- Operation Sankat Mochan was an operation of the Indian Air Force to evacuate Indian citizens and other foreign nationals from South Sudan during the South Sudanese Civil War.
- The operation was carried out in view of 2016 Juba clashes.
Asian infrastructure investment bank
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has put all activities relating to Russia and Belarus on hold and under review in the wake of the current conflict in Ukraine.
- The AIIB referred to the situation as “war in Ukraine”, the closest to “invasion” that any Chinese government-affiliated institution has until now described the situation in the east European country.
More about the AIIB :
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.
- The Parties (57 founding members) to agreement comprise the Membership of the Bank.
- It is headquartered in Beijing.
- The bank started operation after the agreement entered into force on 25 December 2015, after ratifications were received from 10 member states holding a total number of 50% of the initial subscriptions of the Authorized Capital Stock.
Aim of the bank is to :
- Invest in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, aiming to connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.
- China is the largest shareholder with 26.61 % voting shares in the bank
- This is followed by India (7.6%), Russia (6.01%) and Germany (4.2 %). The regional members hold 75% of the total voting power in the Bank.
Impact of sanctions on russia :
- Following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a sweeping wave of sanctions by the European Union and the U.S. has combined with an exodus of foreign companies and investors, leaving Russia more isolated and economically restricted.
- For several days, long lines formed near ATMs around Russia as people rushed to withdraw cash – both foreign currency and rubles – amid fears of a breakdown in electronic banking.
- The value of the ruble has plummeted to a record low, less than 1 cent, as many people watched their savings erode.
- The Kremlin has banned all Russians from transferring foreign currency abroad and ordered exporters to exchange 80% of their foreign currency proceeds for rubles.
- There have been price increases for some products, particularly electronics and appliances.
- Many people in Russia who work for foreign companies have been anxious about being able to receive pay, as the first batch of key Russian banks has been booted from the interbank SWIFT system to target oil and gas profits.
- International artists and cultural organizations have also imposed their own restrictions.
- Russia is not only the world’s third biggest oil (after the US and Saudi Arabia) and the second biggest natural gas (after the US) producer, besides the No. 3 coal exporter (behind Australia and Indonesia). It is also the second largest exporter of wheat. Thereby impacting the supply of all these components.
National disaster response fund
- High Level Committee (HLC) under the Chairmanship of the Union Home Minister has approved additional Central assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to five States and one Union Territory, which were affected by floods/ landslides during 2021
What is the NDRF ?
- The NDRF was set up in accordance with Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- It is meant to “meet the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation” for any disaster situation.
- The NDRF is placed in the “Public Account” of GOI under “reserve funds not bearing interest”.
Financing of the fund :
- Financed through the levy of a cess on certain items, chargeable to excise and customs duty, and approved annually through the Finance Bill.
- Currently, a National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) is levied to finance the NDRF
- Also additional budgetary support is provided as and when necessary.
Control of the fund :
- It is managed by the Central Government for meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation due to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
- It supplements the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in the SDRF.
- SDRF is the primary fund available with the State governments for responses to notified disasters to meet expenditure for providing immediate relief.
- The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF allocation for general category States and Union Territories, and 90% for special category States/UTs (northeast States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir).
Monitoring of the fund:
- Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare monitors relief activities for calamities associated with drought, hailstorms, pest attacks and cold wave/frost
- Rest of the natural calamities are monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audits the accounts of NDRF.
Defence acquisition procedure
- In a renewed push for self-reliance in the defence sector, the government has given in-principle approval to a raft of indigenous defence projects that will involve design and development by the industry.
- The defence ministry has cleared nine such projects:
- four under the ‘Make-I’
- five under the ‘Make-2’ categories of the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020.
- The approved projects include development of light tanks, communication equipment with Indian security protocols, airborne electro-optical pod with ground-based system and airborne stand-off jammers.
- DAP 2020 :
- The new policy superseded the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 from October
- Reservations for Indigenous firms:
- The policy reserves several procurement categories for indigenous firms.
- DAP 2020 defines an “Indian vendor” as a company that is owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens, with foreign direct investment (FDI) not more than 49 per cent.
- New Buy (Global – Manufacture in India) category:
- This stipulates indigenisation of at least 50 per cent of the overall contract value of a foreign purchase bought with the intention of subsequently building it in India with technology transfer.
- Greater indigenous content:
- It promotes greater indigenous content in arms and equipment of the military procures, including equipment manufactured in India under license.
- In most acquisition categories, DAP-2020 stipulates 10 per cent higher indigenisation than DPP 2016.
- Import embargo list:
- The “import embargo list” of 101 items that the government promulgated has been specifically incorporated into DAP 2020. (An embargo is a government order that restricts commerce with a specified country or the exchange of specific goods.)
- Offset liability:
- The government has decided not to have an offset clause in procurement of defence equipment if the deal is done through inter-government agreement (IGA), government-to-government or an ab-initio single vendor.
- The offset clause requires a foreign vendor to invest a part of the contract value in India.
General consent withdrawn by Meghalaya
- Meghalaya has withdrawn consent to the CBI to investigate cases in the state, becoming the ninth state in the country to have taken this step
What is the general consent ?
- The CBI is governed by The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, and it must mandatorily obtain the consent of the state government concerned before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.
- Section 6 of The DSPE Act (“Consent of State Government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction”) says: “Nothing contained in section 5 shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union territory or railway area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”
- The CBI’s position is in this respect different from that of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by The NIA Act, 2008, and has jurisdiction across the country.
- The consent of the state government to CBI can be either case-specific or general.
- General consent is normally given by states to help the CBI in seamless investigation of cases of corruption against central government employees in their states.
- This is consent by default, in the absence of which the CBI would have to apply to the state government in every case, and before taking even small actions.
Which states have withdrawn consent?
- Traditionally, almost all states have given CBI general consent.
- However, since 2015 onward, several states have begun to act differently.
- Before Meghalaya’s action on March 4, eight other states had withdrawn consent to the CBI: Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Mizoram.
- All these states except Mizoram and Meghalaya are ruled by the anti-BJP opposition.
CO location scam at NSE
- Multiple agencies are investigating the NSE co-location scam related to the manipulation of the market at the stock exchange, in which several former top officials are under a cloud.
What is co-location?
- Co-location is typically associated with a facility where a third party can lease a rack/server space along with other computer hardware.
- Co-location facility provides infrastructure such as power supply, bandwidth, and cooling for setting up servers and storage of data.
What happened at the co-location facility of the NSE?
- There are allegations that some brokers who had leased space at the NSE co-location facility were able to log on to the NSE’s systems faster with better hardware specifications while engaged in algorithmic trading, which allowed them unfair access and advantage during the period from 2012 to 2014.
- Even a split-second faster access is believed to result in huge gains for a trader.
- At that time NSE used to disseminate information through unicast, which is a single, direct request sent from one host to another, with only those hosts interacting over the route.
What did the probe by the capital markets regulator find?
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) found that preferential access was given to stock brokers at NSE’s co-location faculty.
- It found that a single stock broker could log on to multiple dissemination servers through multiple IPs assigned to him. It also found that brokers could have multiple logins to a single dissemination server through multiple IPs assigned to it. This gave at least 15 brokers preferential access.
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 5th March 2022
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