Daily Current Affairs: 28th October 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. The Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969
  2. Births and deaths Act 1969
  3. APVAX Initiative
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . SC monitored probe into unauthorized Surveillance

Context : Supreme Court ordered a probe headed by former SC judge R V Raveendran to look into the allegations of unauthorised surveillance using the Israeli-built Pegasus spyware.

Terms of reference

  • The court has set seven terms of reference for the committee, which are essentially facts that need to be ascertained to decide the issue.
  • These range from determining who procured Pegasus and whether the petitioners in the case were indeed targeted by use of the software, to what laws justify the use of such spyware against citizens.
  • The court has also asked the committee to make recommendations on a legal and policy framework on cyber security to ensure the right to privacy of citizens is protected.
  • The committee is expected to submit its report in eight weeks.pegasus, pegasus order, sc pegasus, supreme court, supreme court pegasus, pegasus case, indian express

Why a committee?

  • Decisions in cases seeking enforcement of fundamental rights are based on facts. The task of determining these facts, when they are disputed or unknown, are often assigned to committees, which act as an agent of the court. Such committees or fact-finding teams can summon individuals, prepare ground reports, and inform the court.
  • The government has rejected the global media investigation into the use of Pegasus, but has not supplied any facts in the matter. The case involves technical questions, and requires extensive fact-finding for the court to determine whether fundamental rights were violated, and to pass suitable orders. The Centre’s refusal to file an additional affidavit means the court will require more assistance from the committee.
  • Once the committee answers the fact-based questions, the court will examine questions such as: If the government indeed used Pegasus, can it be justified under law? If not, what relief must be granted to the petitioners? 

Will government respond?

  • The government had argued that since matters of national security were involved, it would not file any further affidavit in the case, but it would be willing to disclose all information before a committee of technical experts.
  • However, the government had sought to appoint the technical committee itself — which the court has not allowed, saying “such a course of action would violate the settled judicial principle against bias, i.e., that ‘justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done’.”
  • Justice Raveendran’s committee could now seek the government’s response afresh. However, probe committees set up by courts into government excesses — such as extra-judicial killings — are often faced by a lack of cooperation from the government
  • Committees, therefore, often engage with other parties and stakeholders; the Justice Raveendran panel has been empowered to “take the assistance of any serving or retired officer(s), legal expert(s) or technical expert(s)”.pegasus, pegasus order, sc pegasus, supreme court, supreme court pegasus, pegasus case, indian express 

Legality of Snooping

  • Communication surveillance in India takes place primarily under two laws — the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • While the Telegraph Act deals with interception of calls, the IT Act was enacted to deal with surveillance of all electronic communication, following the Supreme Court’s intervention in 1996. A comprehensive data protection law to address the gaps in existing frameworks for surveillance is yet to enacted.

Telegraph Act

  • Under this law, the government can intercept calls only in certain situations — the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence. These are the same restrictions imposed on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • Significantly, even these restrictions can be imposed only when there is a condition precedent — the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of public safety.
  • Additionally, a proviso in Section 5(2) states that even this lawful interception cannot take place against journalists. “Provided that press messages intended to be published in India of correspondents accredited to the Central Government or a State Government shall not be intercepted or detained, unless their transmission has been prohibited under this sub-section.”
  • The Supreme Court’s guidelines formed the basis of introducing Rule 419A in the Telegraph Rules in 2007 and later in the rules prescribed under the IT Act in 2009.
  • Rule 419A states that a Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs can pass orders of interception in the case of Centre, and a secretary-level officer who is in-charge of the Home Department can issue such directives in the case of a state government.
  • In unavoidable circumstances, Rule 419A adds, such orders may be made by an officer, not below the rank of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who has been duly authorised by the Union Home Secretary or the state Home Secretary.

Information Technology Act

  • Section 69 of the Information Technology Act and the Information Technology (Procedure for Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009 were enacted to further the legal framework for electronic surveillance.
  • Under the IT Act, all electronic transmission of data can be intercepted. So, for a Pegasus-like spyware to be used lawfully, the government would have to invoke both the IT Act and the Telegraph Act.
  • Apart from the restrictions provided in Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and Article 19(2) of the Constitution, Section 69 the IT Act adds another aspect that makes it broader — interception, monitoring and decryption of digital information “for the investigation of an offence”.
  • Significantly, it dispenses with the condition precedent set under the Telegraph Act that requires “the occurrence of public emergency of the interest of public safety” which widens the ambit of powers under the law.

2 . Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969

Context: The Centre has proposed amendments to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969 that will enable it to “maintain the database of registered birth and deaths at the national level”.


  • The history of Civil Registration System (CRS) in India dates back to the middle of the 19th century. In 1886 a Central Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act was promulgated to provide for voluntary registration throughout British India.

Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969

  • Post-independence, the Registration of Births and Death Act (RBD Act) was enacted in 1969 to promote uniformity and comparability in the registration of Births and Deaths across the country and compilation of vital statistics based thereon.
  • With the enactment of the Act, registration of births, deaths and still births has become mandatory in India. The Registrar General, India (RGI) at the Central Government level coordinates and unifies the activities of registration throughout the country.
  • Implementation of the statute is vested with the State Governments.
  • The Act mandates the use of uniform birth and death reporting forms and certificates throughout the country.

Proposed amendments

  • Presently, the registration of births and deaths is done by the local registrar appointed by States.
  • It is proposed that the Chief Registrar (appointed by the States) would maintain a unified database at the State level and integrate it with the data at the “national level,” maintained by the Registrar General of India (RGI).
  • The amendments will imply that the Centre will be a parallel repository of data.
  • The database may be used to update the Population Register and the electoral register, and Aadhaar, ration card, passport and driving licence databases, says the proposed amendment to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act (RBD), 1969.
  • A new Section 3 A is proposed to be inserted in the Act, which says, “The Registrar General, India shall maintain the database of registered births and deaths at the national level, that may be used, with the approval of the Central government, to update the Population Register prepared under the Citizenship Act, 1955; electoral registers or electoral rolls prepared under the Representation of the People Act, 1951; Aadhaar database prepared under the Aadhaar Act, 2016; ration card database prepared under the National Food Security Act, 2013; passport database prepared under the Passport Act; and the driving licence database under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, and other databases at the national level subject to proviso of Section 17 (1) of the RBD Act, 1969.”
  • Another proposed change is the appointment of “Special Sub-Registrars, in the event of disaster, with any or all of his powers and duties for on the spot registration of deaths and issuance of extract thereof, as may be prescribed.”

3 . Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative)

Context: The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the APVAX initiative.

About Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative)

  • APVAX is a vaccine initiative launched by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) offering rapid and equitable support to its developing member countries (DMCs) as they procure and deliver effective and safe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
  • APVAX will play a critical role in helping DMCs meet these challenges, overcome the pandemic, and focus on economic recovery.
  • The APVAX provides a comprehensive framework and resource envelope for supporting developing Asia’s vaccine access, using two complementary components.
    • The Rapid Response Component : It will provide timely support for critical vaccine diagnostics, procurement of vaccines, and transporting vaccines from the place of purchase to ADB’s DMCs.
    • The Project Investment Component : It will support investments in systems for successful distribution, delivery, and administration of vaccines along with associated investments in building capacity, community outreach, and surveillance. The component may also be used to develop or expand vaccine manufacturing capacity in DMCs.
  • For a vaccine to be eligible for financing, it must meet one of three criteria.
    • It must be procured via COVAX, prequalified by WHO, or authorized by a Stringent Regulatory Authority.
    • Additional access criteria, such as a vaccination needs assessment, a vaccine allocation plan by the DMC, and a mechanism for effective coordination among development partners also help ensure that vaccine support under APVAX can be fairly and effectively implemented.

ADB(Asian Development Bank)

  • It is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 and headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • It is an official United Nations Observer.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP, formerly the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East or ECAFE) and non-regional developed countries.
  • ADB now has 68 members, 49 from within Asia.
  • It is modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  • As of 31 December 2019, ADB’s five largest shareholders are Japan and the United States (each with 15.6% of total shares), the People’s Republic of China (6.4%), India (6.3%), and Australia (5.8%).
  • Roles and functions
    • Dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
    • This is carried out through investments – in the form of loans, grants and information sharing – in infrastructure, health care services, financial and public administration systems, helping nations prepare for the impact of climate change or better manage their natural resources, as well as other areas.

AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Development Bank)

  • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank whose mission is financing the Infrastructure for Tomorrow—infrastructure with sustainability at its core.
  • It began operations in Beijing in January 2016 and have since grown to 104 approved members worldwide.
  • Working with partners, AIIB meets clients’ needs by unlocking new capital and investing in infrastructure that is green, technology-enabled and promotes regional connectivity.
  • It is headquartered in Beijing and began its operations in January 2016.
  • China is the largest shareholder with 26.61 % voting shares in the bank followed by India (7.6%), Russia (6.01%) and Germany (4.2 %). The regional members hold 75% of the total voting power in the Bank.
  • The AIIB has a governance structure similar to other MDBs (multilateral development bank), with two key differences:
    • it does not have a resident board of executive directors that represents member countries’ interests on a day-to-day basis; and
    • the AIIB gives more decision making authority to regional countries and the largest shareholder, China.

4 . Facts for Prelims

“Har Ghar Dastak” (Knock Every Door) campaign

  •  There were more than 10.34 crore people in the country who had missed the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine that they were due to take.
  • ‘Knock every door’ campaign is to boost second-dose vaccination.
  • According Health Ministry, the “Har Ghar Dastak” (Knock Every Door) campaign is scheduled to start soon in districts with low vaccination rates to enthuse and motivate people towards getting their jab.

Time for India drive

  • It is a soon to be launched trade promotion event to boost bilateral trade with India by Sweden

SAMBHAV National Level Awareness Programme, 2021

  • SAMBHAV” is a National Level Awareness Programme-2021 being organised by Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Government of India.
  • The mass outreach program will be a one-month long initiative under the Ministry of MSME in which students from different colleges/ITIs from all parts of the country will be encouraged by 130 field offices of the Ministry to take up entrepreneurship.
  • During the campaign the college students will be made aware of the various schemes being implemented by the Ministry of MSME through Audio/Video film presentations.
  • Awareness programs will be conducted in more than 1,300 colleges across the country in which 1,50,000 students are expected to participate.

Proba-1 mini satellite

  • PROBA is minisatellite technology demonstration mission in ESA’s General Study Program with the objective to address issues of on-board operational autonomy of a generic platform. 
  • The minisatellite remains fully operational for 20 years.
  • It is highly automated and introduced several mainstream technologies to space, such as, lithium-ion batteries, use of star trackers for gyro-free attitude control and gallium arsenide solar panel as well as ESA-developed ERC-32 microprocessors that run its flight computers.

AY 4.2

  • AY 4.2 is the latest mutation of the coronavirus variant
  • AY4.2, has been linked to a rise in cases in the United Kingdom

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