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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB: 12 JUNE 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 
 

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

Saving Childhoods

11

2

The importance of being neighbourly

11

3

Squandering the Gender Dividend

10

4

New agency to develop space warfare weapon systems  

13

5

Amitabh’s Twitter data put on dark web  

09

6

Quad one way to fix regional issues: Australian envoy

13




 

Title

1.   Saving Childhoods (The Hindu, Page 11)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper I – (Social Issues)

Theme

Child labour

Highlights

 

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or

  • interferes with a child’s ability to attend and participate in school fully by obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Child labour in India

As per the 2011 Census, in the age group 5-14 years, 10.1 million of 259.6 million constituted working children. Even though there was a decline in the number of working children to 3.9% in 2011 from 5% in 2001.

The decline rate is grossly insufficient to meet target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to end child labour in all forms by 2025. India therefore needs to embark on new and innovative approaches in its fight against child labour.

Causes of Child labour

The factors that contribute to child labour are:

  • Include the poverty and illiteracy of a child’s parents,

  • The family’s social and economic circumstances,

  • Lack of awareness about the harmful effects of child labour,

  • Lack of access to basic and meaningful quality education and skills training,

  • High rates of adult unemployment and under-employment,

  • Poverty and a lack of livelihood options lead to a child’s “need” to contribute to the family income,

  • Due to conflicts, droughts and other natural disasters, and family indebtedness,

  • Rural poverty and urban migration also often exposes children to being trafficked for work.

Steps initiated

The enactment of the Child Labour Amendment (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016 and The Right to Education Act 2009 have paved the way for ratification of ILO’s two core conventions

1. Convention No 138 stipulates that the minimum age at which children can start work should not be below the age of compulsory schooling and in any case not less than 15 years; with a possible exception for developing countries. ‘

2. Convention No. 182 prohibits hazardous work which is likely to jeopardize children’s physical, mental or moral health. It aims at immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour for children below 18 years.

The ratification of the core conventions on child labour gives rise to a range of priorities such as strengthening policy and legislative enforcement, and building the capacities of government, workers’ and employers’ organisations as well as other partners at national, State and community levels. 

Way forward

Child labour is not uniform. It takes many forms depending upon the type of work that children are made to do, the age and sex of the child and whether they work independently or with families. Due to this complex nature of child labour, there is no one strategy that can be used to eliminate it.

Combatting child labour requires long term co-ordinated action which involves many stakeholders and the government. This includes educational institutions, mass media, NGOs and community-based organizations as well as trade unions and employers.

Steps needed:

  • India should invest in enhancing its body of knowledge on child labour, emphasizing quantitative information. 

  • Government should identify factors and drivers that push children into the labour market under each sector and each demographical segment.

  • A sector-wide culture of child labour-free businesses has to be nurtured. The growing interest of the private sector is a great opportunity that has to be further utilized, particularly to leverage key influencers in domestic and multinational supply chains. It is also a matter of competitive advantage for multi-nationals to ensure that child labour is effectively eliminated in their supply chains.

The fight against child labour is not just the responsibility of one; it is the responsibility of all.

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Title

2.  The importance of being neighbourly (The Hindu, Page 11)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS II – International relations

Theme

Indian Foreign Policy - shift from SAARC to BIMSTEC

Highlights

The Modi government has acted swiftly to pursue its foreign policy priorities. Focused on strengthening India’s place in the world, it has begun by shoring up the country’s position in the immediate neighbourhood.

This message emanated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s trip to Bhutan.

Ties with South Asian neighbours were a priority even earlier, as seen in the invitation extended to SAARC leaders to attend Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014. After that there were some difficulties. India’s relations with Pakistan soured, while China continued to expand its footprint in Nepal, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, India’s cooperation with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Myanmar showed tangible progress.

 

As a result, attention was consciously shifted from SAARC to BIMSTEC, thereby giving an eastward shift to India’s neighbourhood policy. In 2016, BIMSTEC leaders were invited to the BRICS summit in Goa. BIMSTEC leaders also attended Mr. Modi’s swearing-in last month.

 

Three visits

  • A week thereafter, Mr. Jaishankar was in Bhutan holding comprehensive discussions with his counterpart and the Prime Minister. He also met King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The visit was perhaps meant to assess the current thinking in Thimphu about Chinese overtures to open diplomatic relations and the border issue before Mr. Modi’s meeting with President Xi Jinping at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

  • Mr. Modi’s visit to the Maldives was astutely designed to showcase that a dramatic turnaround has taken place in India-Maldives relations. Former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen gave a blatantly pro-China tilt to his foreign policy. The result was that Mr. Modi had to wait until Mr. Yameen’s ouster before he could visit the Maldives in November 2018. Working in concert, the two governments have succeeded in deepening mutual understanding. The President conferred the nation’s highest honour on Mr. Modi.

  • Mr. Modi’s visit to Colombo was prudent. It conveyed India’s solidarity with Sri Lanka as the latter struggles to overcome the overwhelming effects of the Easter Sunday attacks. Mr. Modi held discussions with all the main actors: the President, the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, and Tamil leaders. President Maithripala Sirisena reflected the nation’s view as he publicly thanked Mr. Modi for a productive visit.

 

Policy essence

New Delhi has clearly indicated that the neighbourhood will continue to be a priority, but four subtle elements are being introduced in the policy matrix.

 
  • First, without always insisting on reciprocity, India may get into a proactive mode and adopt measures “to incentivise cooperation in the neighbourhood”, as Mr. Jaishankar put it.

  • Second, India will prefer to work on quick impact projects that bring socio-economic benefits to the people.

  • Third, recognising its “limited capabilities”, as Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale disclosed, New Delhi would have no objection in forging a trilateral development partnership, involving India and Japan in a neighbouring country.

  • Fourth, SAARC’s drawbacks have caused India’s conscious shift to BIMSTEC. Mr. Jaishankar explained that India sees a mix of “energy, mindset and possibility” in the latter grouping. The government is moving in the right direction. It could also consider bringing the Maldives into BIMSTEC, at least as an observer.

Finally, Mr. Jaishankar should visit other neighbours soon, particularly Bangladesh and Myanmar.



 

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Title

3. Squandering the Gender Dividend (The Hindu Page 10)   

Syllabus

Prelims: Economy

Mains: GS Paper III – Economy      

Theme

Gender Dividend

Highlights

  • What is Gender Dividend?
    The economic growth potential that can result from a shift that includes increased representation of women in the share of the working population.

  • What has happened?
    Employment trends for women:
    Half the women who were in the workforce in 2004-5 had dropped out in 2017-18. The 61st round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recorded 48.5% rural women above the age of 15 as being employed but this number dropped to 23.7% in the recently released report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). Worker to population ratio (WPR) for rural women aged 15 and above had dropped from 48.5% in 2004-5 to 35.2% in 2011-12, and then to 23.7% in 2017-18. 
    In contrast, the WPR for urban women aged 15 and above declined only mildly, changing from 22.7% in 2004-5 to 19.5% in 2011-12, and to 18.2% in 2017-18.
    Between 2004-5 and 2017-18, women’s WPR declined from 30.6% to 16.5% for the poorest expenditure decile, and from 31.8% to 19.7% for the richest expenditure decile. 
    Women with low levels of education. For illiterate women, the WPR fell from 55% to 29.1% while that for women with secondary education fell from 30.5% to 15.6%.
    The decline in work on family farms and allied activities contributed the most (14.8 percentage points), followed by casual wage labour (8.9 percentage points) and in work on family enterprises in other industries (2.4 percentage points). 
    These were counter-balanced by a 0.7 percentage point increase in regular salaried work and a 0.5 percentage point increase in engagement in public works programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). 

  • Cause of decline:
    Women are unable to find work in a crowded labour market, reflecting disguised unemployment.
    Mechanization and land fragmentation have reduced agricultural work opportunities for both men and women. 
    Other work opportunities, except for work in public works programmes, are not easily open to women. 
    School level literate rural women find it difficult to find work as compared to illiterate women since such jobs include travelling outside rural areas and within rural areas men are given first preference for such jobs.
    in 2016-17, 29.1% illiterate women were employed, compared to only 16% women with at least secondary education.
    Rural women engage in both household activities and provide help in income earning opportunities such as chicken rearing, dairy farming, etc. However such help in income earning opportunities is not counted.
    There is undercounting of women rural workers. The NSSO and PLFS survey assess a person as worker if they have engaged in a working activity for 30 days. So person working in a particular activity such as agricultural field or MGNREGA or other for 30 days is counted as worker. However, women may engage in more than 30 days of working but they do so in different activities such as working one particular activity for 10 days, another for 15, etc. This causes them to not fit the definition of worker in the survey. 
    The current rural economy is unable to provide opportunities for a women desire to work.

     

  • Solution:
    The Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development recently formed can ensure safe transportation infrastructure that allows rural women to seek work as sales clerks, nurses and factory workers in nearby towns.

 

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Title

4. New agency to develop space warfare weapon systems  (The Hindu Page 13)   

Syllabus

Prelims: Science and Technology

Mains: GS Paper III– Science and Technology

Theme

Defence Space Research Agency (DSRO)

Highlights

Defence Space Research Agency (DSRO)

 

To enhance the capabilities of the armed forces to fight wars in space, the government has approved the setting up of a new agency which will develop sophisticated weapon systems and technologies.

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared the setting up of the Defence Space Research Agency (DSRO) which has been entrusted with the task of creating space warfare weapon systems and technologies.

  • The agency would be provided with a team of scientists which would be working in close coordination with the tri-services integrated Defence staff officers.

  • It would be providing the research and development support to the Defence Space Agency (DSA) which comprises members of the three services.

  • The Defence Space Agency is being set up in Bengaluru under an Air Vice Marshal-rank officer and will gradually take over the space-related capabilities of the three forces.

 

Recently, India had carried out the Anti Satellite Test (ASAT) which demonstrated its capability to shoot down satellites and joined an elite club of four nations with similar capability. The test also helped the country develop deterrence capability against adversaries who may want to attack Indian satellites to cripple systems in times of war.

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Title

5. Amitabh’s Twitter data put on dark web  (The Hindu Page 09)

Syllabus

Prelims: Science and Technology

Mains: GS Paper III– Science and Technology

Theme

Dark web  

Highlights

  • Difference between Deep Web & Dark Web:

Deep Web is the area of the Internet which is not accessible through search engines. What we access through search engines is called Surface Web. To get into the Deep Web one should know the right address. Dark Web is part of the Deep Web. While the Deep Web is accessible, the Dark Web is deliberately hidden.

  • How does it work?

Accessing the dark web requires the use of an anonymizing browser called Tor, short for The Onion Ring. The Tor browser routes your web page requests through a series of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers around the globe, rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable. The webpages use .onion domain suffix.

 

  • Why is it used?

The USP of a Dark Web site is the anonymity it offers and the near-impossibility of tracking it down. It therefore allows conducting of illegal trade such as in arms & weapons, drugs, etc. It also used by citizens in authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia or China to communicate. It is also hosts that are not illegal in nature.

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Title

6. Quad one way to fix regional issues: Australian envoy (The Hindu Page 13)   

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations

Mains: GS Paper II – International relations

Theme

Quadrilateral Group

Highlights

 

What is the ‘Quadrilateral Group’?

It is considered as an informal grouping among India, Japan, Australia, and the United States. It has been seen as a prospective coalition among the four
countries with a political and security perspective in the Indo-
Pacific region. The group is currently only a proposal, and has not taken form
of an official alliance/organization or any other designated international group.

Purpose of the Quad
The demand for the group is a causal reaction to China’s emergence as a great power and the fear of China’s growing unilateralism through OBOR, expansion in South China Sea, skirmishes on borders, among other initiatives in Indo Pacific region.
This fear has driven other powers such as India, USA, and Japan to consider banding together and providing a form of collective security arrangement in the Indo-Pacific region.

Evolution of Quad

in 2017, Officials from secretarial level in the Ministry of External Affairs of India met with their counter-parts from each of the member nations in November, 2017 in Manila, Philippines, on the side- lines of the East Asia Summit & ASEAN Summit.

They had consultations on issues of common interest in the Indo-Pacific region, which included issues of connectivity, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, among other topics.
The four nations put out four different national statements instead of a joint statement. This has been seen as either an inability to frame a common vision or an effort to avoid antagonizing China. China has contended that the ‘Quad’ should not be pursued as being an Anti-China grouping.

 




 

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Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.
  2. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

 

National Programme for prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and strokes (NPCDCS)

 

What to study?

For prelims: Key features, objectives of NPCDCS.

For mains: NCDs- burden, Concerns, efforts by government and global efforts on this.

 

Context: A meeting to review the status of National Programme for prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and strokes (NPCDCS) was held recently.

 

About NPCDCS:

National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) was launched in 2010 in 100 districts across 21 States, in order to prevent and control the major NCDs.

The main focus of the programme is on health promotion, early diagnosis, management and referral of cases, besides strengthening the infrastructure and capacity building.

 

The main strategies of the programme are as follows:

  1. a)      Health promotion through behavior change with involvement of community, civil society, community-based organizations, media etc.
  2. b)      Outreach Camps are envisaged for opportunistic screening at all levels in the health care delivery system from sub-centre and above for early detection of diabetes, hypertension and common cancers. 
  3. c)      Management of chronic Non-Communicable diseases, especially Cancer, Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke through early diagnosis, treatment and follow up through setting up of NCD clinics. 
  4. d)     Build capacity at various levels of health care for prevention, early diagnosis, treatment, IEC/BCC, operational research and rehabilitation.
  5. e)      Provide support for diagnosis and cost-effective treatment at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of health care.
  6. f)       Provide support for development of database of NCDs through a robust Surveillance System and to monitor NCD morbidity, mortality and risk factors.

 

Funding:

The funds are being provided to States under NCD Flexi-Pool through State PIPs of respective States/UTs, with the Centre to State share in ratio of 60:40 (except for North-Eastern and Hilly States, where the share is 90:10).

 

What are NCDs?

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.

The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.

 

What are the socioeconomic impacts of NCDs?

NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.

Poverty is closely linked with NCDs. The rapid rise in NCDs is predicted to impede poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, particularly by increasing household costs associated with health care. Vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people get sicker and die sooner than people of higher social positions, especially because they are at greater risk of being exposed to harmful products, such as tobacco, or unhealthy dietary practices, and have limited access to health services.

In low-resource settings, health-care costs for NCDs quickly drain household resources. The exorbitant costs of NCDs, including often lengthy and expensive treatment and loss of breadwinners, force millions of people into poverty annually and stifle development.

 

NCDs and Concerns associated:

  • Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people. These include 15 million people dying prematurely, aged between 30 and 69.
  • One third of these deaths are premature and occur before the age of 70, affecting economically productive individuals.
  • The four ‘major’ NCDs are caused, to a large extent, by four modifiable behavioural risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and harmful use of alcohol.
  • The NCDs disproportionately affect the poor, impoverish families, and place a growing burden on health care systems.

 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Issues related to health.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: AES- causes, symptoms, effects and prevention.

 

Context: An epidemic of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has broken out in five north Bihar districts.

Locally known as Chamki Bukhar in the state.

 

About AES:

Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is a serious public health problem in India.

It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and/or new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year.

The disease most commonly affects children and young adults and can lead to considerable morbidity and mortality.

Viruses are the main causative agents in AES cases, although other sources such as bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemicals, toxins and noninfectious agents have also been reported over the past few decades.

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India (ranging from 5%-35%).

Nipah virus, Zika virus are also found as causative agents for AES.

In India, AES outbreaks in north and eastern India have been linked to children eating unripe litchi fruit on empty stomachs. Unripe fruit contain the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), which cause vomiting if ingested in large quantities. Hypoglycin A is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the unripened litchi that causes severe vomiting (Jamaican vomiting sickness), while MCPG is a poisonous compound found in litchi seeds.

 

Sources: down to earth.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Abuja Maria’s and other PVTGs

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About PVTGs, spread in different states, issues related to their protection and statutory rights given to them.

 

Why in News? The Chhattisgarh government is processing habitat rights for Abujh Marias, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).

 

Key facts:

  • Since AbujhMarias is a PVTG community, they are entitled to the habitat rights under FRA.
  • Abujhmarh, where this tribe lives, is considered by the government to be one of the last remaining strongholds of Left-wing extremism. 
  • Abujh Marias have their own governance structure.
  • The Abujhmarh forest is spread over 1,500 square miles in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.

The FRA has a provision that says, “In view of the differential vulnerability of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTGs) among the forest dwellers, the District Level Committee should play a pro-active role in ensuring that all PTGs receive habitat rights in consultation with the concerned PTGs’ traditional institutions of these groups, after filing claims before the gram sabha”.

 

Habitat is defined under the act as, “the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.”

 

About ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)’:

PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).

Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them .

Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry.

Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme(TSS), Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Schedule Tribes and Strengthening of Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts.

 

The criteria followed for determination of PVTGs are as under:

  • A pre-agriculture level of technology.
  • A stagnant or declining population.
  • Extremely low literacy.
  • A subsistence level of economy.

 

Sources: Down to Earth.

Mains Question: Who are the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in India? Examine why they are classified as such and discuss their characteristics and social conditions.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

 

Pro-tem Speaker

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Pro- tem Speaker- appointment, oath, functions and powers.

 

Context: Virendra Kumar a BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh will be the Pro-tem Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha.

 

What is Pro-tem Speaker?

It is a Latin phrase which translates to for the ‘time being’ in English. So the Pro-tem Speaker is a temporary speaker appointed for a limited period of time.

 

The need for pro- tem speaker:

The speaker of the Lok Sabha/legislative assembly vacates the office immediately before the first meeting of the newly elected house.

Hence President/governor appoints the pro-tem speaker to preside over the sittings of the house.

 

Appointment:

Usually the senior most member is elected as the pro-tem speaker.

The president/governor will administer the oath of the office for the pro-tem speaker.

When the house elects the new speaker the office of the pro-tem speaker ceases to exist. Hence the office of the pro-tem speaker is a temporary one which will be in existence for few days.

 

Duties and functions:

The main duty of the pro-tem speaker is to administer the oath to the newly elected members.

Pro-tem also enables the house to elect the new speaker.

 

Powers:

The Bombay High Court in its 1994 judgement in the Surendra Vassant Sirsat case holds that a pro-tem is Speaker of the House “for all purposes with all powers, privileges and immunities” until the Speaker is elected.

The Odisha High Court also agreed in the Godavaris Misra versus Nandakisore Das, Speaker, Orissa Legislative Assembly case when it said the “powers of the Speaker pro-tem are co-extensive with the powers of elected Speaker”.

The pro-tem speaker also has same powers, privileges as that of the Speaker.

 

Key facts:

Article 180 (1) of the Constitution gives the Governor the power to appoint a pro-tem Speaker. The Article says that if the chair of the Speaker falls vacant and there is no Deputy Speaker to fill the position, the duties of the office shall be performed “by such member of the Assembly as the Governor may appoint for the purpose”.

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Indian and its neighbourhood.

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: FATF, Grey list, G7.

For Mains: What is Grey list and Black list, how are countries in the list affected?

 

Context: With little action against terrorism, Pak likely to stay on FATF grey list.

 

Background:

Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 for failing to curb anti-terror financing. It has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the Paris-based FATF, a measure that officials here fear could further hurt its economy.

 

Implications of this move:

  • Pakistani analysts say being put on the FATF watchlist could deal a blow to Pakistan’s economy, making it harder for foreign investors and companies to do business in the country.
  • It would be counterproductive to put Pakistan on the watch list as it would hurt its capability to fight terrorism. Also, being put back on the grey list would heighten Pakistan’s risk profile and some financial institutions would be wary of transacting with Pakistani banks and counterparties.
  • Being placed on the FATF watchlist carries no direct legal implications but brings extra scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions that can chill trade and investment and increase transaction costs.

 

About FATF:

What is it? The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7.  It is a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in various areas. The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Objectives: The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

Functions: The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.  In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

 

What is blacklist and grey list?

FATF maintains two different lists of countries: those that have deficiencies in their AML/CTF regimes, but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, and those that do not end up doing enough. The former is commonly known as grey list and latter as blacklist.

Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether. As of now there are only two countries in the blacklist — Iran and North Korea — and seven on the grey list, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: What is the mandate and objectives of Financial Action Task Force? Discuss its importance for India – Pakistan relations


 

Facts for prelims:

 

IRSDC:

Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) enters into Tripartite Agreement with French National Railways (SNCF) & AFD, a French Agency.
AFD a French agency, has agreed to provide in-kind grant financing up to 7,00,000 EURO, through French National Railways (SNCF)-Hubs and Connexions as a Technical Partner to IRSDC to support the Railway Station Development Program in India This will impose no financial liability on IRSDC or Indian Railways.

 

NASAMS-II:

Context: US approves sale of NASAMS-II air defence systems to India.

NASAMS-II (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System – NASAMS) is an upgraded version of the NASAMS developed by Raytheon in partnership with KONGSBERG Defence and Aerospace of Norway. 

  • It features new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers for quicker reaction.
  • It provides tailor-able, state-of-the-art defence system that can maximise the ability to quickly identify, engage and destroy current and evolving enemy aircraft, UAV or emerging cruise missile threats.
  • NASAMS-II is armed with 3D Sentinel radars, short and medium-range missiles, launchers, fire-distribution centres and command and control units to quickly detect, track and shoot down multiple airborne threats.

 

Defence Space Research Agency (DSRA):

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared the setting up of the Defence Space Research Agency (DSRA).

DSRA has been entrusted with the task of creating space warfare weapon systems and technologies.

The agency would be provided with a team of scientists which would be working in close coordination with the tri-services integrated Defence staff officers.

It would be providing the research and development support to the Defence Space Agency (DSA) which comprises members of the three services.

The DSA has been created “to help the country fight wars in the space”.

The Defence Space Agency is being set up in Bengaluru under an Air Vice Marshal-rank officer and will gradually take over the space-related capabilities of the three forces.

 


 

Summaries of important editorials:

 

Artificial Intelligence, the law and the future:

Context: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived in our everyday lives. For eg:

In February, the Kerala police inducted a robot for police work.

The same month, Chennai got its second robot-themed restaurant, where robots not only serve as waiters but also interact with customers in English and Tamil.

In Ahmedabad, in December 2018, a cardiologist performed the world’s first in-human telerobotic coronary intervention on a patient nearly 32 km away.

 

Concerns:

AI has several positive applications, as seen in these examples. But the capability of AI systems to learn from experience and to perform autonomously for humans makes AI the most disruptive and self-transformative technology of the 21st century.

Therefore, if AI is not regulated properly, it is bound to have unmanageable implications.

 

Challenges of AI:

Regulation of AI: no comprehensive legislation to regulate this growing industry has been formulated in the country till date.

Lack of broad-based expertise in research and application of AI. 

Absence of access to intelligent data

High resource cost.

Low awareness for adoption of the technology.

Privacy and security issues

Shortage of skilled manpower.

 

Need of the hour:

legal definition of AI.

Establish the legal personality of AI (which means AI will have a bundle of rights and obligations), and whether any sort of intention can be attributed to it.

Since privacy is a fundamental right, certain rules to regulate the usage of data possessed by an AI entityshould be framed as part of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.

 

National strategy for artificial intelligence:

The National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence published by NITI Aayog narrates the different pain points and key challenges involved in implementing Artificial Intelligence in India. It has also tried to touch upon many sectors where AI can play a significant role in bringing India to the forefront of AI revolution.

  

 

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