Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Current Affairs 26th May-2021

TOPICS

  • New land regulations spark protests in Lakshadweep
  • Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI]
  • New IT Rules 2021
  • National Green Tribunal: Banni Grasslands
  • MCA 21
  • Agricultural crops

 

 

1.New land regulations spark protests in Lakshadweep

Content: Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel is facing opposition from the people of the union territory and politicians — both from within Lakshadweep and neighbouring Kerala — over policies introduced by him since his appointment in December 2020.

Background:

  • The UT administration is accused of exploiting the restrictions, which prevent locals from gathering, to push “arbitrary legislation” brought in by Mr. Patel.
  • New Laws are out of sync with the social, environmental realities.
  • His policies has also made Lakshadweep to loose its ‘COVID Free Region’ tag.
  • The remote island chain has 6,847 cases as on May 24.

The controversial regulations include:

  • The most recent of these is the creation of a Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA) with extensive powers, including removal or relocate of land owners from their property for town planning or any developmental activity to preserve and improve the amenities.
  • The regulation empowers the government, identified as administrator , to constitute planning and development authorities(PDAs) to plan the development of any area identified as having “bad layout or obsolete development”
  • This is widely read as having been pushed by the real estate lobby and against the interest of the islanders.
  • The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA), introduced in January 2021, under which a person can be detained without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year.
  • New regulation in the name of ‘Animal Prevention’ which intends to ban slaughter, transportation, selling or buying of beef products is one among such orders.
  • This is a blatant onslaught on the people who depend on dairy and the growing of bovine as a means of livelihood.
  • The draft panchayat notification, where a member with more than two children is disqualified from being a member.
  • This list of reforms includes a halt on schools serving non-vegetarian food and reports of anganwadis being closed and officials losing their jobs.
  • Unscientific changes were made by administration regarding Standard operating procedure of Covid protocol , which led to increase in cases from ‘zero’ in 2020.

How does Governance in the Union Territory work?

  • Every union territory is administered by the President acting through an agent appointed by him. The President can specify the designation of the agent, which may be Lieutenant Governor or Chief Commissioner or Administrator.
  • An administrator of a union territory, however, is an agent of the President and not the head of state like a governor. Since 2015 administrators in the Union Territory were officers from either the IAS or IPS. However, the present leader Mr Praful Patel belongs to neither group.

Profile of Lakshadweep Islands: Why is it important to avoid unscientific developmental projects and other policies:

  • There are 27 islands, 3 reefs and 6 submerged sand banks. Only 10 islands are inhabited.
  • The islands have been formed by polyps (A small vascular growth on the surface of a mucous membrane) who are the architects and engineers of these atolls (a chain of islands formed of coral).
  • The reef bio composition is quite significant and includes 114 species of Corals, 42 species of seaweeds, 7 species of seagrasses, 108 species of sponges, 4 species of lobsters, 76 species of echinoderms, 600 species of fin fishes. (According to the data.nodc.noaa.gov)
  • It is home to globally significant populations of green and hawksbill turtles; whale sharks, reef sharks and manta rays; and whales and dolphins.
  • The climatic conditions of the islands are similar to Kerala and the Southwest monsoon and northeast monsoons both contribute their shares of rainfall to these islands.
  • Malayalam is spoken in all the islands except Minicoy where people speak Mahl, which is written in Divehi script.
  • The birds of Lakshadweep play an important role in the functioning of ecosystems.
  • Kolkali and Parichakali are the two popular folk art forms of the islands. They are an integral part of the cultural milieu except in Minicoy where “LAVA” is the most popular dance form.

 

  1. Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI]:

Context: Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Director General of the CISF and an IPS officer from the 1985 batch Maharashtra cadre, was named CBI Director.

Body:

  • The Director of the CBI is appointed as per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946.
  • As Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organization.
  • Home Ministry sends a list of eligible candidates to DoPT. Then, the DoPT prepares the final list on basis of seniority, integrity, and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases, and sends it to the committee.
  • Director of CBI has been provided security of two year tenure, by the CVC Act, 2003.

Appointment:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013) amended the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (1946) and made the following changes with respect to appointment of the Director of CBI:
  • The Central Government shall appoint the Director of CBI on the recommendation of a three-member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him. (where there is no recognized leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha would be a member of that committee.)
  • As per march 2019 guidelines of the Supreme Court, no officer with less than six months to retirement should be appointed a state police chief which also applies to CBI director.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • The CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

  • The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
  • The CBI is not a statutory body. It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.
  • Investigate cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws, i.e., breach of laws concerning customs and central excise, export and import control, income tax, foreign exchange regulations, etc. But cases of this nature are taken up by the CBI either at the request of the department concerned or in consultation with the concerned department.
  • Investigate crimes of a serious nature, that have national and international ramifications, and committed by professional criminals or organised gangs.
  • At the behest of a state govt., the CBI can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it.
  • It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.

Issues:

  • The agency is dependent on the home ministry for staffing since many of its investigators come from the Indian Police Service.
  • The CBI, run by IPS officers on deputation, is also vulnerable to the government’s ability to manipulate the senior officers because they are dependent on the Central government for future postings.
  • Since police is a State subject under the Constitution, and the CBI acts as per the procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which makes it a police agency, the CBI needs the consent of the State government in question before it can make its presence in that State. This can lead to certain cases not being investigated and seeing a silent deadlock. Recently, states like Andhra Pradesh (consent is again given after change of government in-state) and West Bengal withdrew consent.

Institutional reforms needed:

  • Government should ensure that CBI operates under a formal, modern legal framework that has been written for a contemporary investigative agency.
  • A new law should be enacted to govern the working of the CBI to ensure credibility and impartiality.
  • The 19th and 24th reports of the parliamentary standing committees (2007 and 2008) recommended that the need of the hour is to strengthen the CBI in terms of legal mandate, infrastructure and resources.
  • With the required legal mandate it should be given pan-India jurisdiction. It must have inherent powers to investigate corruption cases against officers of All India Services irrespective of the assignments they are holding or the state they are serving in.
  • As recommended by the Lokpal Act, the government must ensure financial autonomy for the outfit.
  • CBI should develop its own dedicated cadre of officers who are not bothered about deputation and abrupt transfers.
  • A more efficient parliamentary oversight over the federal criminal and intelligence agencies could be a way forward to ensure better accountability, despite concerns regarding political misuse of the oversight.

 

  1. New IT Rules 2021

Context: India’s new IT rules of intermediaries, to come in effect from may 26, 2021.

Background:

  • The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were notified on February 25, 2021. The Rules have been notified under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • The Act provides for the regulation of electronic transactions and cybercrime.
  • The 2021 Rules replace the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.
  • These new rules broadly deal with the regulation of social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms and digital news.

Provisions of new rules:

  • Due diligence by intermediaries: Intermediaries are entities that store or transmit data on behalf of other persons. They include internet or telecom service providers, online marketplaces, and social media platforms.
  • The due diligence to be observed by intermediaries includes provisions like
  • Informing users about rules and regulations
  • Privacy policy retaining information collected for the registration of a user for 180 days after cancellation or withdrawal of registration.
  • Intermediaries are required to report cybersecurity incidents and share related information with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team.
  • Intermediaries which provide messaging as a primary service must enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its platform for specified purposes including investigation of offences related to sovereignty and security of the state, public order, or sexual violence.
  • Rules prescribe the code of ethics to be observed by publishers of digital media.
  • The Rules require the intermediaries and digital media publishers to provide for a grievance redressal mechanism.

Need for Digital Media Regulation:

  • Major digital media platforms operating in India are of foreign origin. In order to ensure their compliance to domestic laws these rules are necessary.
  • Setting Accountability: It extends its approach to instill a sense of accountability against misuse and abuse by social media users and is the first of its kind to bring social media use under the regulatory framework of the Information Technology Act.
  • The recent rules envisage bringing uniform application of many laws to combat unlawful content that are already in place.
  • Social Imperative: It lays a special emphasis on the protection of women against the progression of sexual offenses on social media. It also envisages checking the proliferation of fake news and hate speech.

 Issues with the Rules:

  • The new rules issued under the Information Technology Act appears to be unconstitutional. Instead of taking a legislative route, it was done by expanding the purview of the IT Act, 2000.
  • Compliance Burden: The sheer process of three tier grievance handling can impede the operations of a relatively smaller digital venture in the news and current affairs space.
  • Potential Misuse: Apart from imposing a compliance burden on digital publishers, this also opens the floodgates for all kinds of interventions.
  • Any criticism of the ruling party or government could trigger an orchestrated avalanche of grievances.
  • The Rules give the executive the judicial powers as the oversight mechanism, consisting of the Inter-Departmental Committee comprises entirely of members of the executive.
  • The Rules give the government emergency blocking powers in cases where no delay is acceptable. This leaves no opportunity to persons, publishers or intermediaries for any hearing before blocking the content.
  • As any government presence could have a chilling effect on free speech and conversations, these rules weaken the dynamic relationship of checks and balances vis-à-vis the Media and other three pillars: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.
  • Problems in Tracking the First Originator: About how apps like WhatsApp and signal will be able to adhere to such orders, as their messages are encrypted end-to-end.

Conclusion:

  • Regulation has an important place in a liberal democracy. However, given an environment where people are sensitive to content, the regulatory mechanism with a scope of strong government intervention could become an operational burden and hamper creativity & freedom of expression.
  • The government envisages controlling hate speech which gets proliferated through these platforms and threatens national security. However, critics pointed that the question of stricter regulation of digital media will lead to restriction of free speech and undermining of democracy.

 

  1. National Green Tribunal: Banni Grasslands

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments to be removed from Gujarat’s Banni grasslands within six months.

Background:

  • The Maldhari community had filed a case against the rampant encroachment in the ecologically-sensitive grassland in May, 2018.
  • In 2019, the tribunal ordered to demarcate the boundaries of the Banni grassland and restricted non-forest activities.
  • Regarding this, NGT ordered all encroachments to be removed from grasslands within six months and directed a joint committee to prepare an action plan in a month
  • The court also said the Maldharis will continue to hold the right to conserve the community forests in the area, granted to them as per the provisions in Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Who are Maldharis?

  • Maldharis are a tribal herdsmen community in Gujarat, India.( The name Maldhari means owner of goods – in this case, goods referring to cattle)
  • Maldhari community breeds Banni Buffaloes, a species endemic to the region. The buffaloes are adaptive to Kutch’s hot weather conditions.
  • The Maldharis have lived in the Gir National Park, in the Banni Grasslands Reserve area, for the past thousand years.
  • The livestock include sheep, goats, cows, buffalo, and camels.

Threats:

  • The rampant development over past few years has disturbed the centuries-long lifestyle of these nomadic herdsmen.
  • Although the grassland reserve is off-limits to industries, several exist at its periphery and have been dumping toxic contaminants into the reserve’s natural resources.
  • Recently built dams, overgrazing have also taken their toll.
  • Creation of a sanctuary for lions necessitated movement of humans out of the region, so as to provide a safe shelter for the large cats.
  • In addition, due to mismanagement of the existing population of lions in the National Park, the interaction between the lions and the tribals have increased over the past few decades.

About Banni Grasslands:

  • Banni grassland is spread over 2,618 kilometres and accounts for almost 45 per cent of the pastures in Gujarat which make it the largest grassland of Asia.
  • It has a population of about 40,000.
  • Two ecosystems, wetlands and grasslands, are mixed side by side in Banni.
  • Vegetation in Banni is sparse and highly dependent on rainfall.
  • Banni grasslands, traditionally, were managed following a system of rotational grazing.
  • Banni is dominated by low-growing plants, forbs and graminoids, many of which are halophiles (salt tolerant), as well as scattered tree cover and scrub.
  • The area is rich in flora and fauna, with 192 species of plants, 262 species of birds, several species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
  • In 1955, the court notified that the grassland will be a reserve forest (the most restricted forests classified according to Indian Forest Act 1927).
  • Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has identified this grassland reserve as one of the last remaining habitats of the cheetah in India and a possible reintroduction site for the species.

National Green tribunal:

  • It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
  • It draws inspiration from Article 21 of the India Constitution which assures to provide a healthy environment to the citizens of India.
  • NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing the same.
  • The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
  • The decision of the NGT is binding on the parties unless they approach the Supreme Court in appeal and the NGT’s order is either stayed or reversed.
  • Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).

 

  1. MCA 21

Context: Recently, the government launched the first phase of the latest update to its digital corporate compliance portal, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) 21 Version 3.0.

Background:

  • MCA21 is an e-Governance initiative of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) that enables easy and secure access of the MCA services to the corporate entities, professionals and citizens of India.
  • It is the first Mission Mode e-Governance project of GoI.
  • It will help in improving Ease of Doing Business in India.

What is Mission mode project?

Mission mode project (MMP) is an individual project within the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that focuses on one aspect of electronic governance, such as banking, land records or commercial taxes etc.

Within NeGP, “mission mode” implies that projects have clearly defined objectives, scopes, and implementation timelines and milestones, as well as measurable outcomes and service levels.

NeGP comprises 31 mission mode projects (MMPs), which are further classified as state, central or integrated projects. Each state government can also define five MMPs specific to its individual needs.]

Version 3.0:

  • MCA21 Version 3.0 is part of the 2021 Budget announcement.
  • It will leverage the use of latest technologies to further streamline the Corporate Compliance and stakeholders experience.
  • It will enhance the user experience, and facilitate seamless integration and data exchange among Regulators.
  • The project will have Micro-services architecture with high scalability and capabilities for advanced analytics.
  • The MCA V3.0 is going to be implemented in two phases. The second and final phase shall be launched from October 2021 onwards. The entire project is proposed to be launched within this Financial Year and will be data analytics and machine learning driven.
  • The MCA21 V3.0 in its entirety will not only improve the existing services and modules, but will also create new functionalities like e-adjudication, compliance management system, advanced helpdesk, feedback services, user dashboards , self-reporting tools and revamped master data service.
  • It is designed to fully automate all processes related to the proactive enforcement and compliance of the legal requirements under the Companies Act, 1956, New Companies Act, 2013 and Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008. This will help the business community to meet their statutory obligations.

Advantages:

  • Easy access to the updated legislations along with a tracking mechanism for historical changes in law.
  • it will give new meaning to corporate compliance culture and will further enhance the trust and confidence in the Corporate regulatory and governance system.

Other Measures taken to Improve Ease of Doing Business:

  • Integrated Incorporation Form
  • Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically (SPICe) was introduced which extends 8 services from three Ministries through a single form.
  • RUN – Reserve Unique Name: It is a web service used for reserving a name for a new company or for changing its existing name. The web service helps verify whether the name chosen for the company is unique.
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

 

  1. Agricultural crops

Context: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare releases Third Advance Estimates of Principal Crops for 2020-21

Key points:

  • The total food grain production is estimated at 305.44 million tonnes.
  • The assessment of production of different crops is based on the data received from States and validated with information available from other sources.

As per 3rd Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2020-21 is as under: (Numbers not important)

  • As per Third Advance Estimates for 2020-21, total Food grain production in the country is estimated at record 305.44 million tonnes which is higher by 7.94 million tonnes than the production of food grain of 297.50 million tonnes achieved during 2019-20.
  • Further, the production during 2020-21 is higher by 26.66 million tonnes than the previous five years’ (2015-16 to 2019-20) average production of food grain((Point to remember for prelims)
  • Total production of Rice during 2020-21 is estimated at record 121.46 million tonnes. It is higher by 9.01 million tonnes than the last five years’ average. (Point to remember for prelims)
  • Total Pulses production during 2020-21 is estimated at 25.58 million tonnes which is higher by 3.64 million tonnes than the last five years’ average.
  • Total Oilseeds production in the country during 2020-21 is estimated at record 36.57 million tonnes which is higher by 3.35 million tonnes than the production of 33.22 million tonnes during 2019-20.

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