Daily Current Affairs : 10th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Rohingya issue
  2. Central Pollution Control Board
  3. Plan Bee
  4. Automated Facial Recognition
  5. Basel Norms

1 . Rohingya Issue


Context : The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a “substantial question” put forth by the Union government as to whether illegal immigrants can even be considered for ‘refugee’ status.

About the Issue

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was hearing petitions filed by two Rohingya men against the government’s proposed move to deport their 40,000-strong community back to their native land of Myanmar, where ‘discrimination and possibly summary executions await them.
  • Primary prayers made in the petitions were to stop any proposed deportation and allow the community rights under the international law.
  • Solicitor General arguing for the govt said that first there is a need to know whether illegal migrants can even be allowed status of refugees

How India deals with Refugees

  • The Constitution of India only defines who is a citizen of India. The subsequent laws also do not deal with refugees. In legal terms, a person living in India can be either a citizen or a foreigner defined under the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • India has also not been a signatory of the 1951 UN Convention or the 1967 Protocol – both relating to the Status of Refugees and included in the UNHCR statute. According to the UNHCR, a refugee is a person living in another country following persecution in his own on the grounds of “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
  • Before the present Rohingya crisis broke out, there were “2,07,861 persons of concern in India, of whom 2,01,281 were refugees and 6,480 asylum seekers” by the end of 2015, according to UNHCR. 
  • There are about 16,000 UNHCR-certified Rohingya refugees in India. The government estimate puts the figure of Rohingya refugees living in India beyond 40,000 with maximum concentration in and around Jammu.

Issues with Rohingyas living in India

  • Before the Rohingya crisis acquired international proportion, their population in Myanmar was estimated at around 10 lakh. Under the 1982 citizenship law, Myanmar government recognised only about 40,000 Rohingyas as its citizens. The rest were dubbed as “illegal Bengalis” – immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • As the Myanmar government does not recognise the Rohingyas as its citizens, in general, it will be difficult for India to deport them.
  • The Centre has told the Supreme Court that many Rohingyas have acquired documents meant for Indian citizens only like Aadhaar, PAN and Voter-ID. This raises the concern of naturalisation of illegal migrants by fraudulent means. G
  • In the absence of a law to deal with refugees, their identification and surveillance will become difficult especially when the intelligence agencies have warned the jihadi terror outfits are looking to exploit the vulnerability of Rohingyas.

2 . Central Pollution Control Board


Context : The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 52 companies — including Amazon, Flipkart, Danone Foods and Beverages and Patanjali Ayurved Limited — for not specifying a timeline or a plan to collect the plastic waste that results from their business activities.

Background

  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, (which was amended in 2018) prescribed by the Union Environment Ministry, says that companies that use plastic in their processes — packaging and production — have a responsibility to ensure that any resulting plastic waste is safely disposed of.
  • Under this system — called the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) — companies have to specify collection targets as well as a time-line for this process within a year of the rules coming into effect on March 2016. The plastic waste can be collected by the company or outsourced to an intermediary.
  • The Rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators and retailers to manage such waste.

Current situation of Plastic Waste Pollution

  • Inspite of these laws, India has made little progress in managing its plastic waste.
  • According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates in 2015, Indian cities generate about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day and about 70 per cent of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste.
  • Nearly 40 per cent of India’s plastic waste is neither collected nor recycled and ends up polluting the land and water.
  • Plastic packaging has been singled out as one of the key contributors to plastic waste though there isn’t any number on its relative contribution.

About Central Pollution Control Board

  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation constituted in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. Further, CPCB was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
  • It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Principal 
Functions of the Central Board at the National Level
  • Advise the Central Government on any matter concerning prevention and control of water and air pollution and improvement of the quality of air.
  • Plan and cause to be executed a nation-wide programm for the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Co-ordinate the activities of the State Board and resolve disputes among them;
  • Provide technical assistance and guidance to the State Boards, carry out and sponsor investigation and research relating to problems of water and air pollution, and for their prevention, control or abatement;
  • Plan and organise training of persons engaged in programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Organise through mass media, a comprehensive mass awareness programme on the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;
  • Collect, compile and publish technical and statistical data relating to water and air pollution and the measures devised for their effective prevention, control or abatement;
  • Prepare manuals, codes and guidelines relating to treatment and disposal of sewage and trade effluents as well as for stack gas cleaning devices, stacks and ducts;
  • Disseminate information in respect of matters relating to water and air pollution and their prevention and control;
  • Lay down, modify or annul, in consultation with the State Governments concerned, the standards for stream or well, and lay down standards for the quality of air; and
  • Perform such other function as may be prescribed by the Government of india.

3 . Plan Bee


Context : Plan Bee, an amplifying system imitating the buzz of a swarm of honey bees to keep wild elephants away from railway tracks, on Tuesday earned the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) the best innovation award in Indian Railways for the 2018-19 fiscal.

Background

  • There are 29 earmarked elephant corridors with the operating zone of North Frontier Railway spread across the north-eastern states and parts of Bihar and West Bengal. Trains are required to slow down at these corridors and adhere to speed specified on signs.
  • But elephants have ventured into the path of trains even in non-corridor areas, often leading to accidents resulting in elephant deaths.

About Plan Bee

  • A team tested the honey bee buzz on a domestic elephant in north-eastern Assam’s Rangapara.
  • The second test at a tea estate under Rangiya Division proved successful on a herd of wild elephants.
  • A device was subsequently designed to generate the amplified sound of honey bees audible from 700-800 metres.
  • The first instrument was installed at a level crossing west of Guwahati on a track adjoining the Rani Reserve Forest, an elephant habitat. NFR now has 46 such devices installed at vulnerable points
  • Plan Bee device has been helpful in diverting herds of elephants, especially when trains approach and dashing becomes imminent.

4 . Automated Facial Recognition


Context : National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released a Request for Proposal for an Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to be used by police officers across the country.

What is automated facial recognition?

  • AFRS works by maintaining a large database with photos and videos of peoples’ faces. Then, a new image of an unidentified person often taken from CCTV footage is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person.
  • The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called “neural networks”.
  • Current facial recognition in India is done manually. While fingerprints and iris scans provide far more accurate matching results, automatic facial recognition is an easier solution especially for identification amongst crowds
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s “DigiYatra” using facial recognition for airport entry was trialled in the Hyderabad airport.

About NCRB Request

  • The NCRB, which manages crime data for police, would like to use automated facial recognition to identify criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies, as well as for “crime prevention”.
  • Its Request for Proposal calls for gathering CCTV footage, as well as photos from newspapers, raids, and sketches. The project is aimed at being compatible with other biometrics such as iris and fingerprints.
  • It will be a mobile and web application hosted in NCRB’s Data Centre in Delhi, but used by all police stations in the country. “Automated Facial Recognition System can play a very vital role in improving outcomes in the area of Criminal identification and verification by facilitating easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of Information between different organisations.”
  • NCRB has proposed integrating this facial recognition system with multiple existing databases. The most prominent is the NCRB-managed Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS). Facial recognition has been proposed in the CCTNS program since its origin.

About CCTNS Project

  • In 2009, following the Mumbai terror attacks, CCTNS was envisaged as a countrywide integrated database on crime incidents and suspects, connecting FIR registrations, investigations, and chargesheets of all 15,500 police stations and 6,000 higher offices. It also plans to offer citizen services, such as passport verification, crime reporting, online tracking of case progress, grievance reporting against police officers, and more.
  • The new facial recognition system will also be integrated with Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), as well as state-specific systems, the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT), and the Koya Paya portal on missing children.
  • The Rs 2,000-crore project is accessible to the CBI, Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate and the Narcotics Control Bureau. The project did not meet its initial 2015 deadline and was extended to March 2017.
  • In August 2018, the first phase of connecting the police stations was nearly complete. In the second phase, the Home Ministry proposed integrating the database with the fingerprint database of the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB). NCRB is currently rolling out the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and its integration with CCTNS.

Concerns around using facial recognition?

  • Cyber experts across the world have cautioned against government abuse of facial recognition technology, as it can be used as tool of control and risks inaccurate results.
  • International organisations have also condemned the Chinese government on its use of surveillance cameras and facial recognition to constrict the rights of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority.

5 . Basel Norms


What are Basel Norms?

  • Basel is a city in Switzerland. It is the headquarters of Bureau of International Settlement (BIS), which fosters co-operation among central banks with a common goal of financial stability and common standards of banking regulations.
  • Every two months BIS hosts a meeting of the governor and senior officials of central banks of member countries. Currently there are 27 member nations in the committee.
  • Basel guidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by this group of central banks – called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel accord.
  • The purpose of the accord is to ensure that financial institutions have enough capital on account to meet obligations and absorb unexpected losses.
  • India has accepted Basel accords for the banking system. In fact, on a few parameters the RBI has prescribed stringent norms as compared to the norms prescribed by BCBS.

Basel I Norms

  • In 1988, BCBS introduced capital measurement system called Basel capital accord, also called as Basel 1.
  • It focused almost entirely on credit risk. It defined capital and structure of risk weights for banks.
  • The minimum capital requirement was fixed at 8% of risk weighted assets (RWA). RWA means assets with different risk profiles.

Basel II Norms

  • Basel II guidelines were published by BCBS, which were considered to be the refined and reformed versions of Basel I accord.
  • The guidelines were based on three parameters, which the committee calls it as pillars. – Capital Adequacy Requirements: Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets –
  • Supervisory Review: According to this, banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that a bank faces, viz. credit, market and operational risks –
  • Market Discipline: This need increased disclosure requirements. Banks need to mandatorily disclose their CAR, risk exposure, etc to the central bank. Basel II norms in India and overseas are yet to be fully implemented.

Basel III Norms

  • In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released. These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.
  • A need was felt to further strengthen the system as banks in the developed economies were under-capitalized, over-leveraged and had a greater reliance on short-term funding.
  • Also the quantity and quality of capital under Basel II were deemed insufficient to contain any further risk.
  • Basel III norms aim at making most banking activities such as their trading book activities more capital-intensive.
  • The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters viz. capital, leverage, funding and liquidity.
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