Current Affairs, 10 November 2018
Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, features, significance and issues associated with Article 20 of the Constitution.
Context: The Supreme Court of India has ruled that the bar of double jeopardy does not arise if an accused was discharged of a criminal offence, even before the commencement of trial, on the basis of an invalid sanction for prosecution.
The judgment is based on an appeal filed by the State of Mizoram against an order passed by the Gauhati High Court in August 2015.
- The corruption case was filed by the Aizawl police in February 2009 for misappropriation of public money. During inquiry, it was detected that the respondent had acquired valuable assets disproportionate to known sources of income.
- The first invalid sanction for prosecution was issued by the Commissioner-Secretary, Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms (DP & AR) directly without the Governor’s approval.
- Following the discharge of the accused by the special court, the Governor accorded a fresh sanction in December 2013. However, the high Court upheld a Special Court decision to decline to entertain a second chargesheet filed in a corruption case against the accused on the ground of double jeopardy.
What has the Court ruled?
- Article 20 (2) of the Constitution mandates that a person cannot be prosecuted or punished twice for the same offence.
- The court held that if an accused has not been tried at all and convicted or acquitted, the principles of double jeopardy cannot be invoked at all. If an earlier order of sanction was found to be invalid, there is no bar for the competent authority to issue a proper order of sanction for prosecution.
- The courts are not to quash or stay the proceedings under any Act merely on the ground of an error, omission or irregularity in the sanction granted by the authority unless it is satisfied that such error, omission or irregularity has resulted in failure of justice, the SC observed.
About Article 20- Protection in respect of conviction for offences:
- No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of the law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.
- No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.
- No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
- Article 20 has taken care to safeguard the rights of persons accused of crimes.
- Persons here means the citizens, non-citizens as well as corporations.
- This article cannot be suspended even during an emergency in operation under article 359.
- Article 20 also constitutes the limitation on the legislative powers of the Union and State legislatures.
Ex-Post facto Law Article 20 (1):
It says that no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the Act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence. This is called Ex-Post facto Law. It means that legislature can not make a law which provides for punishment of acts which were committed prior to the date when it came into force. This means that a new law can not punish an old act.
Doctrine of Double Jeopardy:
Article 20(2) says that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once. This is called Doctrine of Double Jeopardy. The objective of this article is to avoid harassment, which must be caused for successive criminal proceedings, where the person has committed only one crime.
There are two aspects of Doctrine of Jeopardy viz. autrefois convict and autrefois acquit. Autrefois convict means that the person has been previously convicted in respect of the same offence. The autrefois acquit means that the person has been acquitted on a same charge on which he is being prosecuted. Please note that Constitution bars double punishment for the same offence. The conviction for such offence does not bar for subsequent trial and conviction for another offence and it does not matter the some ingredients of these two offences are common.
Self Incrimination Law:
Article 20(3) of the constitution says that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. This is based upon a legal maxim which means that No man is bound to accuse himself. The accused is presumed to be innocent till his guilt is proved. It is the duty of the prosecution to establish his guilt.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.
Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities 2018
What to study?
- For Prelims: Objectives, features and organizers of the event.
- For Mains: Significance of the event, role of ICT in the welfare of people with disabilities.
Context: The Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities, 2018, being organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in association with Rehabilitation International Korea and their associated partner LG Electronics, is being held in New Delhi.
About the Global ICT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities:
The Global ICT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities is a capacity building project that helps youth with disabilities to overcome their limitations and challenge themselves for a better future by providing them with access to ICT and related experiences, improving their ability to leverage information and social participation while setting ICT agendas for participant countries related to disabilities and boosting international cooperation and exchange.
The objective of the event is to leverage IT skills among youth with disabilities and also to spread awareness about the application of Information and Computer Technology (ICT) in enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities especially in Asia-Pacific region.
Participants: This year around 100 youth with disabilities (visual disability, hearing disability, locomotor disability and intellectual disability/developmental disorder) from 18 countries are participating in the event.
The competition is focused on strategies for strengthening IT skills of youth with disabilities as a critical requirement for enhancing their access to information and communication services on an equal basis with others. It is being held with a total of four events including e-Tool Challenge to evaluate the skills of using the MS Office programme and e-Life Map Challenge to evaluate the online information search ability in specific situations.
Significance of ICT:
Today, we have plethora of applications and softwares across the world that can be used for improving the life skills of persons with disabilities to enable them to lead the dignified life such ICT tools can work as communication bridge for the persons with disabilities. The use of ICT can reduce digital divide and expand social integration of persons with disabilities across communities and counties by creating an accessible global information network.
India has always been in the forefront of software development in the world. However, there is a need to create deeper and wider awareness about the application of ICT at the grass root level for empowering the person with disabilities.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Pneumonia and diarrhoea in India
What to study?
- For Prelims: Pneumonia and Diarrhoea- causes, symptoms and treatment.
- For Mains: Concerns raised by the report and what needs to be done?
Context: The Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report 2018 has been released.
- The report is released by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
- The report, released ahead of the 10th annual World Pneumonia Day, on November 12, reviews progress and gaps in coverage of interventions to “protect against, prevent and treat” pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Highlights of the report:
- Even as vaccine coverage has significantly improved in India, other interventions against pneumonia and diarrhoea, the two major causes of child deaths in the country, declined in last one year.
- ORS coverage dropped by 13 percentage points, exclusive breastfeeding by 10 percentage points, whereas access to pneumonia care decreased by four percentage points in one year.
- With a total of 2,60,990 deaths of children under 5 years of age due to pneumonia and diarrhoea, India continues to top the list of 15 countries with the most casualties. While 1,58,176 children under 5 died of pneumonia, diarrhoea accounted for 1,02,813 deaths in 2016.
- Female children in India lose out on vaccination despite improvements in full immunisation coverage. Only 78 females were fully immunised for every 100 males fully immunised in poor areas of Delhi. Addressing these disparities can help reduce pneumonia and diarrhoea burden.
- Globally, pneumonia and diarrhoea cause 1.36 million deaths in children in the same category in 2016. Over two thirds of the global burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea mortality occurs in just 15 countries. Despite significant reductions of disease in recent years with improvements in access to and use of health interventions, nearly half a million pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths still occurred in just India and Nigeria.
- The report lists exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care and use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution, and zinc supplementation as key interventions to help prevent and treat pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Sources: the hindu.
Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Features, significance and benefits of the programme.
Context: The Union Cabinet has been apprised of India joining as Member of Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme (AMF TCP) under International Energy Agency (IEA).
- The primary goal of joining AMF TCP by India to bring down emissions and achieve higher fuel efficiency in transport sector.
What is Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme?
- AMF TCP is an international platform under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) for co-operation among countries to promote cleaner and more energy efficient fuels & vehicle technologies.
- The activities of AMF TCP are deployment and dissemination of Advanced Motor Fuels. It looks upon the transport fuel issues in a systemic way taking into account the production, distribution and end use related aspects.
- AMF TCP also provides an opportunity for fuel analysis, identifying new/ alternate fuels for deployment in transport sector and allied R&D activities for reduction in emissions in fuel intensive sectors.
India and Other Members:
Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has joined AMF TCP as its 16th member in May, 2018. The other member Countries of AMF TCP are USA, China, Japan, Canada, Chile, Israel, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Thailand.
Benefits for India:
- India’s association with AMF TCP will help in furthering its efforts in identification & deployment of suitable fuels for transport sector for higher efficiency and lesser emissions.
- The benefits of participation in AMF TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
- The duplication of efforts is avoided and national Research and Development capabilities are strengthened.
- There is an information exchange about best practices, network of researchers and linking research with practical implementation.
- After becoming member, India will initiate R&D in other areas of its interest in advanced biofuels and other motor fuels in view of their crucial role in substituting fossil fuel imports.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation related issues.
Global Cooling Innovation Summit
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of the summit.
Context: Two-day Global Cooling Innovation Summit will be held in New Delhi.
About the Global Cooling Innovation Summit:
- The Summit is a first-of-its-kind solutions-focused event that will bring together leaders from around the world to explore concrete means and pathways to address the climate threat that comes from the growing demand from room air conditioners.
- The event is jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance for An Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.
Global Cooling Prize:
- The summit will also see the launching of Global Cooling Prize— Mission Innovation challenge that aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard.
- Global Cooling Prize is a competition with global reach and participation to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies. The objective of this competition would be to develop a cooling technology that requires radically less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale.
- This awards programme will call world-wide attention to the most promising ideas across the globe. This award will celebrate successes and facilitate endeavours of innovators through providing recognition, encouragement and support.
- The award will also be able to build a collaborative platform that can utilize the potential of researchers so that public research contributes towards fostering innovation and create impact which is of social and economic good.
- This recognition will not only recognise the eminent contributions to clean energy research development and demonstration, but would also motivate younger researchers to focus on innovations needed in clean energy domain to make world a better place to live.
Facts for Prelims:
SIMBEX 18 – marks Silver Jubilee this Year:
- The 25th edition of SIMBEX, an acronym for “Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise” is being held off Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. SIMBEX 2018 will be the largest edition since 1994 in terms of scale and complexity.
World’s first AI news anchor debuts in China:
Context: The world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor made “his” debut at the ongoing fifth World Internet Conference in east China’s Zhejiang province.
- The AI news anchor has a male image with a voice, facial expressions and actions of a real person.
- He learns from live broadcasting videos by himself and can read texts as naturally as a professional news anchor.
- The AI news anchor was jointly developed by Xinhua and the Chinese search engine company, Sogou.com. The AI anchor has become a member of reporting team and can work 24 hours a day on its official website and various social media platforms, reducing news production costs and improving efficiency.
Editorial: The importance of blockchain for India
Introduction: what blockchain is?
Blockchain is a public ledger, an ordered and time-stamped record of transactions.
This system is used to protect against double spending and modification of previous transaction records where transactions are recorded and confirmed anonymously.
In common words, it’s a record of events that is shared among many parties (nodes). More importantly, once information is entered, it cannot be altered. Each full node in the network independently stores a block chain containing only blocks validated by that node.
When several nodes all have the same blocks in their block chain, they are considered to be in consensus. The validation rules these nodes follow to maintain consensus are called “consensus rules.”
Blockchain transforms Internet of Information to Internet of Value:
Blockchain is the promise of completely new Internet, the Internet of Value. Blockchain’s economic impact is projected to exceed $3 trillion in the next decade.
Internet is going to transform from Internet of Information to Internet of Value.
The ownership of digital assets of any type, say money, deeds, Government records, financial instruments or art can be securely stored, transacted and tracked.
It is considered revolutionary for its ability to enable the secure movement of assets without intermediaries. The true value lies in creating consensus and trust between the strangers.
That creates trusted transaction networks between entities that do not know or trust each other.
India’s Position in Blockchain Technology:
Globally, we are still in an exciting but nascent stage of blockchain’s evolution as it moves from the protocol stage to infrastructure, before mass consumer interfaces and application layers.
This is the perfect juncture for a rising power such as India to pay careful attention and capitalize on the enormous opportunities of this new Internet.
Sectors such as financial services, agriculture, healthcare, real estate and utilities all crucial for an emerging economy like India can see tremendous benefits from the application of blockchain technology.
Gains for India: Blockchain is now the fastest-growing skill set demanded on job sites, with job growth rates at 2,000-6,000% and salaries for blockchain developers 50-100% higher than regular developer jobs.
The decentralized nature of projects with distributed teams can translate into lakhs of high-paying jobs from all over the world being available to Indian developers.
With its strong IT ecosystem, India can become a leading blockchain development hub and a major net beneficiary of global capital inflows.
Solving Indian problems: Decentralized applications on public blockchains can solve myriad Indian problems, such as eliminating middlemen, providing data security, reducing corruption and tampering of financial ledgers, and improving the speed of service delivery by governments and corporations.
India’s global positioning as a technology powerhouse: Different emerging technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things will not work in silos but will converge. That is the space where the next Googles and Amazons of the world will get created.
Blockchain is a foundational data/transaction layer and missing out on it will hurt India’s overall tech competitiveness.
Regulation in India: The current debate in India has, unfortunately, focused too heavily on trading and speculation, looking at cryptocurrencies as an investment tool, rather than understanding the potential of core blockchain technology and the basic role of cryptocurrencies as an incentive mechanism to securedecentralized transactions.
There are sufficient global examples of countries that have taken nuanced and cautious steps in regulating the technology, and are focusing on stopping illegal activity without hurting innovation.
As core developers/shapers of this technology in India, all citizens should fully cognizant and sympathetic to government concerns of money laundering, tax evasion, investor protection and capital flight.
Public blockchains offer tremendous opportunity for India across four dimensions, jobs, capital, solutions to India’s problems and global strategic positioning.
Blockchain is a digital technology for recording and verifying transactions.
The distributed ledger is a permanent, secure tool that makes it easier to create cost-efficient business networks without requiring a centralized point of control.
The application of this emerging technology is showing great promise in the enterprise.
With the noble intentions of Start-up India and Digital India, blockchain technology can be an effective way to achieve the goals of the initiatives and ease the business in India.
Blockchain technology has been proven and provides all the required security features to implement the solution quickly.
In the current regulatory environment, Indian developers do not have to ability to develop open blockchain solutions at scale.
Serious blockchain professionals are migrating rapidly to countries with more friendly regulations.
As a result, India’s ability to benefit from jobs, capital, local innovation and positioning is all curtailed without the talent ecosystem in place.
The government has legitimate concerns around money laundering, tax evasion and capital flight using cryptocurrencies. However, regulating the space is not too difficult with a light touch and intelligent policies.