Daily Current Affairs : 15th July 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topic Covered

  1. Legion of Honour
  2. East Asia Summit
  3. RTI Act and Data Protection Bill
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Legion of Honour

Context:  French President Emmanuel Macron conferred his country’s highest honour, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What is Legion of Honour?

  • The National Order of the Legion of Honour, or simply The Legion of Honour is the highest French decoration, both civil and military, and is one of the most famous national honours in the world.
  • The Order was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and has been presented for more than the past two centuries on behalf of the French Head of State to its most deserving citizens in all fields of activity. The motto of the Order is Honneur et Patrie, French for Honour and Fatherland.
  • According to the official website of the Legion of Honour, 2,200 French and 300 foreigners are decorated every year, and the Order currently has 79,000 members.

What does the award entail?

  • There is no material or financial benefit attached to the award. The Legion of Honour cannot be applied for; the government identifies the potential honourees.
  • The award badge is a five-armed Maltese asterisk hung on an oak and laurel wreath. On the obverse is the effigy of the Republic and on the reverse two tricolour flags surrounded by the motto Honneur et Patrie. The colour of the ribbon is red. This award is described as the national emblem of France

When can a foreigner be honoured with the Legion?

  • The honour normally recognises the contribution of the French people in the “service of the nation”. Foreigners are honoured for their support to France, and the award is sometimes conferred upon high dignitaries on a state visit to France.

What is the award that Prime Minister Modi has got?

  • The Legion of Honour has five degrees of increasing distinction: three ranks — Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), and Commandeur (Commander) — and two titles — Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-croix (Grand Cross).
  • The Prime Minister has been honoured with the highest French honour, akin to the Bharat Ratna in India.

2 . East Asia Summit

Context: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar discussed “outstanding issues” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi along the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Jakarta.

East Asia Summit

  • The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the Indo-Pacific’s premier forum for strategic dialogue.
  • It is the only leader-led forum at which all key Indo-Pacific partners meet to discuss political, security and economic challenges facing the region, and has an important role to play in advancing closer regional cooperation.  
  • The East Asia Summit (EAS) process was initiated in 2005 with the convening of the 1st East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • The EAS has 18 members – the ten ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. ASEAN leads the forum, and the chair position rotates between ASEAN Member States annually.
  • In 2022, EAS members represented 52.8 per cent of the world’s population and accounted for 60.4 per cent of global GDP.
  • The East Asia Summit refers to the Meeting of Heads of States/Governments of the EAS participating countries which is convened annually.
  • India is a founding member of EAS

Priority Areas

  • There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas. These are –
    • Environment and Energy
    • Education
    • Finance
    • Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases
    • Natural Disaster Management
    • ASEAN Connectivity
    • India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.

EAS Chair

  • The chair of ASEAN is also the chair of the EAS. The role of ASEAN chair rotates annually between the ten ASEAN member states. The chair sets EAS priorities for the year, in consultation with EAS participating countries, and hosts most EAS meetings.

3 . RTI Act and Data Protection Bill

Context: An upcoming amendment to the Right to Information Act, 2005 is set to remove the legal basis allowing government agencies to share personal information in public interest, a move that activists have warned would dilute the transparency law.

About the News

  • In the version of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill cleared for introduction in Parliament, there exists a section that would eliminate the majority of Section 8(1)(j) of the 2005 law.
  • According to that section, personal information cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act “which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless … the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information”. The data Bill would remove all these caveats, prohibiting government agencies from sharing private information of any kind, regardless of the public interest it may entail.

What are the concerns about the amendments?

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 by severely restricting its scope and adversely impacting the ability of people to access information.
  • It is well established that access to granular information, including personal information, is critical to empower people to undertake collective monitoring and ensure they are able to access their rights and entitlements. This principle is well recognised and has been adopted in various welfare programmes and schemes. The proposed Bill will potentially place impediments and restrictions on such public disclosures.

About RTI Act

  • Right to Information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The right to Information empowers every citizen to seek any information from the Government, inspect any Government documents and seek certified photocopies thereof. Right to Information also empowers citizens to official inspect any Government work or to take the sample of material used in any work.
  • Right to Information is a part of fundamental rights under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Article 19 (1) says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression.
  • The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make democracy work for the people in real sense.  
  • An informed citizenry will be better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of government and make the government more accountable to the governed.

Who is covered under RTI?

  • The Central RTI Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. All bodies, which are constituted under the Constitution or under any law or under any Government notification or all bodies, including NGOs, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are covered.
  • All private bodies, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are directly covered. Others are indirectly covered. That is if a government department can access 1information from any private body under any other Act, the same can be accessed by the citizen under the RTI Act through that government department.

Which Government Departments are exempted from the Act?

  • Twenty-odd organisations are exempted from RTI. But all these entities are related to the country’s defence and intelligence, such as RAW, BSF, CRPF, CISF, Intelligence Burearu, National Security Guard etc.
  • Further, there are some specific instances whereby RTI information cannot be furnished. These instances relate to matters which:
  • Would affect national security, sovereignty, strategic, economic and/or scientific interest.
  • Have been disallowed by the court to be released.
  • Have been disallowed by the court to be released.
  • Relates to trade secrets or intellectual property, information which might affect/harm the competitive position of a third party.
  • Relates to information under fiduciary relationship.
  • Relates to foreign government information.
  • Would affect the life/physical safety of any person.
  • Would affect the process of an investigation.
  • Relates to cabinet papers.
  • Relates to personal information without any public interest.

About Data protection Bill

  • Data protection bill will be tabled in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament in July
  • The new Bill, if passed by the Parliament, would replace the current Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, which was notified in 2011.
  • The purpose of the 2022 Bill is to “provide for the processing of digital personal data in a manner that recognises both the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to process personal data for lawful purposes”.

Key highlights of the Bill

  • ‘Data’ under the new Bill is defined as a “representation of information, facts, concepts, opinions or instructions in a manner suitable for communication, interpretation or processing by humans or by automated means”.
  • The Bill separately defines data fiduciary as persons who determined the purpose and means of processing of personal data; data principal as the individual to whom the personal data related to; data processor as any person who processes personal data on behalf of a data fiduciary.
  • The central government may exempt government agencies from the application of provisions of the Bill in the interest of specified grounds such as security of the state, public order, and prevention of offences.
  • The central government will establish the Data Protection Board of India to adjudicate non-compliance with the provisions of the Bill.

What are the key issues in the bill?

  • Exemptions to data processing by the State on grounds such as national security may lead to data collection, processing and retention beyond what is necessary.  This may violate the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The Bill accords differential treatment on consent and storage limitation to private and government entities performing the same commercial function such as providing banking or telecom services.   This may violate the right to equality of the private sector providers.
  • The central government will prescribe the composition, and manner and terms of appointments to the Data Protection Board of India.  This raises a question about the independent functioning of the Board.
  • The Bill does not grant the right to data portability and the right to be forgotten to the data principal.
  • The Bill requires all data fiduciaries to obtain verifiable consent from the legal guardian before processing the personal data of a child.   To comply with this provision, every data fiduciary will have to verify the age of everyone signing up for its services.  This may have adverse implications for anonymity in the digital space.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Elliptic Parking Orbit

  • A parking orbit is a temporary orbit used during the launch of a spacecraft. A launch vehicle boosts into the parking orbit, then coasts for a while, then fires again to enter the final desired trajectory.
  • The alternative to a parking orbit is direct injection, where the rocket fires continuously (except during staging) until its fuel is exhausted, ending with the payload on the final trajectory. The technology was first used by the Soviet Venera 1 mission to Venus.

Additional Tier 1 Bond

  • Under the Basel 3 framework, banks’ regulatory capital is divided into tier 1 and tier 2 capital. Tier 1 capital is subdivided into common equity (CET-1) and additional tier 1 capital (AT-1). Equity capital is classified as CET-1. Perpetual bonds that satisfy specific conditions stipulated by RBI are classified as AT-1.
  • AT1 bonds, are a type of perpetual debt instrument that banks use to augment their core equity base and thus comply with Basel III norms. These bonds were introduced by the Basel accord after the global financial crisis to protect depositors.
  • These bonds are perpetual in nature — they do not carry any maturity date. They offer higher returns to investors but compared with other vanilla debt products, these instruments carry a higher risk as well. If the capital ratios of the issuer fall below a certain percentage or in the event of an institutional failure, the rules allow the issuer to stop paying interest or even write down these bonds.

National Calamity

  • As per National disaster Managament Act 2005, “A catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of property, or damage to, or degradation of environment and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.”    
  • This means disaster under the purview of the Disaster Management Act includes natural or man-made disasters as well as disasters caused due to accidents or negligence like an industrial or biological disaster.
  • There is no category as, or definition for National Calamity in the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DM Act). National Calamity does not mean a calamity whose impact is spread over more than one state. What is defined in the guidelines published by National Disaster Management Authority is “calamity of a severe nature”.
  • As per the DM Act 2005 and 14th Finance Commission recommendations, any notified calamity of a severe nature will qualify for assistance from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  • Further, no specific criterion is given in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) or National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) guidelines for declaring a natural calamity as a calamity of severe nature. However, based on the intensity and magnitude of losses to life, property and infrastructure caused by the calamity, or when the situation caused by a calamity becomes unprecedented, beyond the coping capacity of the State Government and extremely difficult to handle through a normal rescue and relief operation, the Central government treats it as a calamity of severe nature. This is mostly based on the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial central Team (IMCT), made in its report based on field observations subsequent to the said natural calamity.

Nawab Wajid Ali Khan

  • Amjad Ali Shah’s eldest son, Wajid Ali shah, who was eventually destined to be the last ruler of Awadh, ascended the throne of Awadh in 1847.
  • Wajid Ali Shah was a great patron of singers, musicians, dancers and artists. He was also greatly interested in architecture. He started building the Qaiser bagh palace complex as soon as he came to the throne.
  • His second wife, Muhammadi Khanum, better known as the Begum Hazrat Mahal, rose against the British East India Company during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 as the regent of Awadh.
  • His kingdom, long protected by the East India Company (EIC) under a treaty, was annexed by the EIC on 11 February 1856, two days before the ninth anniversary of his coronation.
  • The Nawab was exiled to Garden Reach in Metiabruz, then a suburb of Kolkata, where he lived out the rest of his life on a generous pension.
  • He was a poet, playwright, dancer and great patron of the arts.
  • He introduced Kathak, a major form of classical Indian dance as a court dance after the decline of Mughals for recreation activity.

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