Daily Current Affairs : 11th January

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. RBI Financial Inclusion Strategy 2024
  2. Supreme court verdict on J&K curbs
  3. Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) 
  4. Rules of Business Dept of Military Affairs
  5. Australian Bushfire
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . RBI Financial Inclusion Strategy 2024

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has chalked out an ambitious strategy for financial inclusion till 2024

About the Strategy

  • As per RBI Financial inclusion is increasingly being recognised as a key driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation the world over.”
  • Through the Financial inclusion strategy RBI aims to strengthen the ecosystem for various modes of digital financial services in all Tier-II to Tier VI centres to create the necessary infrastructure to move towards a less-cash society by March 2022.

Details of the Strategy

  • One of the objectives of the strategy includes increasing outreach of banking outlets of to provide banking access to every village within a 5-km radius or a hamlet of 500 households in hilly areas by March 2020.
  • The aim was also to see that every adult had access to a financial service provider through a mobile device by March 2024.
  • With the aim of providing basic of financial services, a target has been set that every willing and eligible adult, who has been enrolled under the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yogana, be enrolled under an insurance scheme and a pension scheme by March 2020.
  • The plan is also to make the Public Credit Registry (PCR) fully operational by March 2022 so that authorised financial entities could leverage the same for assessing credit proposals from all citizens.

2 . Supreme court verdict on J&K curbs

Context : The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the government to “forthwith” review any existing orders that restrict basic rights and free movement in Jammu and Kashmir.

Details of the verdict & Key Observations

  • The court upheld the freedoms of free speech, expression and trade or business on the Internet as fundamental rights to be constitutionally protected. It, however, refused to express any views on whether the very access to Internet is a fundamental right or not.
  • The top court directed the government to review orders suspending Internet services in the erstwhile State instantly. Any order suspending Internet found to violate the law should be revoked at once
  • It instructed the government to consider restoring government websites, localised/ limited e-banking facilities, hospitals services and other essential services in areas in the Union Territory
  • SC made it mandatory for the government to publish each and every one of its orders that crippled the fundamental freedoms of over seven million Kashmiri people, including the suspension of the telecom and Internet services in the Valley since August 5 following the abrogation of special status to the erstwhile State under Article 370.Publication of these orders would now enable affected persons to challenge their legality in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court or before any other appropriate forum.

Internet Restriction

  • The Supreme Court rejected the argument of the Jammu and Kashmir government that it opted for a blanket suspension of Internet services in the Valley because it lacked the technology to allow selective online access.
  • As per the verdict “If such a contention is accepted, the government would have a free pass to put a complete Internet blockage every time. Such complete blocking/prohibition perpetually cannot be accepted by this court,” the court said.
  • However, it noted that there was “ample merit” in the government’s argument that Internet could be used to propagate terrorism in J&K, thereby challenging the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
  • But the court held that a restriction imposed on fundamental rights without appropriate justification was disproportionate. The goal behind a restriction should be legitimate. The degree and scope of a restriction should be proportionate what was actually necessary to combat an emergency.
  • The authorities ought to opt for a lesser intrusive mechanism if the same the goal could be attained through that. The State should resort to the least restrictive measure while taking into consideration the facts and circumstances. A restriction should be supported by sufficient material and amenable to judicial review

On Section 144

  • As per the SC, orders of restriction issued under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) could not be used as a tool to suppress legitimate expressions, opinions and grievances in a democracy
  • Referring to the submissions by petitioners that the police were still restricting the movement of people during the day in Jammu and Kashmir, the court said it was neither proper nor correct on the part of the State to resort to such acts.
  • If a government thinks there is a threat to law and order…, it must follow due procedure, taking into consideration the rights of citizens, and pass only appropriate and need-based restrictive orders,” it said.
  • The court noted that the orders issued under Section 144 in Jammu and Kashmir did not explain that restrictions were imposed in anticipation of a threat to law and order or to prevent loss of life and property.
  • The power was meant to be used only in case of public emergency or in the interest of public safety. Magistrates could not apply a strait-jacket formula without assessing the objective and material facts. Restrictions could not be excessive in nature or duration
  • On the contention whether Section 144 could be invoked against the public in general or against specific groups or persons, the court referred to the Madhu Limaye judgment that a general order could be passed if the number of persons was so large that a distinction could not be made without risk.

3 . Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) 

Context : Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)

About I4C

  • The I4C is a seven-pronged system, which includes a cybercrime reporting portal, analysis of threats, capacity building, research and innovation, creating an ecosystem for cybercrime management and a joint cybercrime investigation platform for law enforcement agencies.
  • The project was approved in October 2018 at an estimated cost of ₹415.86 crore, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)

National Crime Reporting Portal

  • The portal enables filing of all cybercrimes with specific focus on crimes against women, children, particularly child pornography, child sex abuse material, online content pertaining to rapes/gang rapes.

4 . Rules of Business Ministry of Military Affairs

Context : The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the Rules of Business for the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) headed by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

About Rules of Business

  • The DMA headed by Gen Bipin Rawat will have two Joint Secretaries, 13 Deputy Secretaries, 25 Under Secretaries and 22 Section officers.
  • The DMA’s mandate includes promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services; facilitating a restructuring of the military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands, and promoting the use of indigenous equipment.
  • The training policy, most of the training establishments and cadre management of the Services will be under the purview of the DMA, defence diplomacy of the neighbourhood countries would also be under the CDS.
  • Similarly, deputations to the training establishments such as the National Defence Academy (NDA), the Indian Military Academy (IMA), the Officers Training Academy (OTA) and the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) would also be under the CDS. “Cadre review of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR) will be looked after by the CDS.

5 . Australian Bushfire

Context : Forest fires, or bushfires as they are known in some parts of the world, are common occurrences in Australia during the summer season, but the scale and intensity this year have been extraordinary, and scientists are already attributing it to climate change. 

What causes forest fires?

  • Forest fires, or wild fires, routinely occur across the world in hot and dry seasons. Dry leaves, grass, shrubs, deadwood etc are easily combustible. Ignition happens naturally, from lightning strikes for example, or accidentally, from sources such as cigarette stubs. Suitable speed and direction of wind helps spread a forest fire faster. It usually comes to an end due to rain or because there is no further contiguous vegetation to spread to.
  • Sometimes, fires are ignited on purpose, either to clear the land, or even to control an incoming forest fire by removing vegetation that would have aided the incoming fire’s further spread.
  • During the summer months, fires are common in the forests of India as well, though their scale and impact are much smaller.

How common are forest fires in Australia ?

  • Australia, where the summer starts around October, is known to be the most fire-prone of all continents. This is mainly because Australia is also the driest inhabited continent.
  • Almost 70 per cent of its area comprises arid or semi-arid land, with average annual rainfall less than 350 mm
  • Australia has about 134 million hectares of forest land, most of it in the north and east. Bushfires are pretty common every year in summer.
  • Australian government data show that about 55 million hectares of forest land, more than 40 per cent of the entire forests, had been affected by at least one such fire in the period between 2011 and 2016.

So, how are the ongoing fires different?

  • This Australian summer, the spread and intensity of forest fires are something never seen before. The fire has impacted more than 10.3 million hectares of forest land so far, an area the size of South Korea.
  • Twenty-seven people have so far died, while reports suggest millions of wild animals might have been killed. Up to 30 per cent of the koala population was feared to have perished in the fires.
  • Several record-breaking weather conditions are believed to have contributed to this unprecedented wave of forest fires.
  • It happened to be the warmest and driest year for the country since 1900. Daytime temperatures were, on an average, 2°C higher than normal, while average rainfall for the country was 40% below normal. Heat and dryness are the key preconditions for the ignition and spread of forest fires.
  • Australia is in the midst of a prolonged drought, now spreading to three consecutive years. For last year at least, the problem has been compounded by the presence of one of the strongest-ever positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events.
  • The IOD, which refers to the difference in sea-surface temperatures in the eastern and western Indian Ocean, either aids or cuts off moisture supply to Australia, depending on whether the western Indian Ocean is cooler or the eastern. This year, the eastern Indian Ocean has been unusually cold, and that contributed to the rainfall deficiency over Australia.
  • Another indicator of the extent of dryness this year is the condition of soil moisture which is at historic lows in the areas most affected by the fires.
  • Scientists also point to a rare stratospheric warming over Antarctica — temperatures were 30°C to 40°C higher than normal in the region 10 to 50 km from Earth’s surface — as yet another extraordinary weather event that could have contributed to the unusual heat and dryness in Australia.

Can it be attributed to climate change?

  • There is strong evidence to indicate that nearly all the drivers of the extraordinary heat and dryness in Australia, which has led to these unprecedented forest fires, could directly be linked to climate change.
  • The warming trend that made 2019 the warmest year on record for Australia, the prolonged drought, severe rainfall deficiencies, the strongly positive IOD and low soil moisture can all be easily attributed to climate change.
  • More significantly, exactly these kinds of bushfires, of higher intensity and wider spread, have been predicted by climate change studies in the past.
  • As far back as 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had said in its fourth assessment report that climate change was likely to increase the frequency of fires in Australia. This has been re-emphasised in all recent IPCC reports.
  • In south-east Australia, the frequency of very high and extreme fire danger days is likely to rise by four to 25 per cent by 2020 and 15 to 70 per cent by 2050, the IPCC report had said in its 2007 report. The fiercest fires this season have also been concentrated in south-east Australia. “In both Australia and New Zealand, the fire season length is likely to be extended.” the report had said.
  • The Australian bushfires are therefore being seen as one of the biggest climate disasters of our times. And it is likely to intensify even further, considering that the Australian summer is not yet over.
  • Thousands of people have already been rendered homeless, and more people are ready for more mass evacuations, particularly those living in the southeastern parts where the fires have caused the maximum devastation.

6 . Facts for Prelims

Different Criteria of Extinction as per Red list

One of the largest freshwater fish The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) has been declared extinct in a study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

  • Extinct in the wild : It means a species survives only in a captive environment
  • Locally extinct : It means a species has ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas.
  • Functionally extinct : It means the species continues to exist but it has too few members to enable to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival.
  • Globally extinct : It means a species has no surviving member anywhere. Such a conclusion is reached when there is no reasonable doubt left that its last member has died.
  • Once declared extinct, a species is not eligible for protective measures and conservation funding; therefore, the declaration has significant consequences.
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