Daily Current Affairs : 5th January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Multi Agency Centre (MAC),
  2. Antrix Devas deal
  3. SGFT strategy
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Multi Agency Centre (MAC)

Context : The Union government has asked the States to share more intelligence inputs through the Multi Agency Centre (MAC), a common counter-terrorism grid under the Intelligence Bureau that was made operational in 2001 following the Kargil War.

About MAC

  • Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) was formed in December 2001 following the Kargil intrusion and the subsequent overhaul of the Indian national security apparatus suggested by the Kargil Review Committee report and GoM report.
  • Accordingly, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was authorized to create a multi-agency centre (MAC) in New Delhi. Now functioning 24/7 as the nodal body for sharing intelligence inputs, MAC coordinates with representatives from numerous agencies, different ministries, both central and state
  • At present it is operating at national and state level. State capitals have subsidiary MACs (SMACs) where daily meetings are held to analyse inputs received in the previous 24 hours.
  • As many as 28 organisations, including the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), armed forces and State police, are part of the platform. Various security agencies share real-time intelligence inputs on the MAC.
  • Intelligence bureau is the nodal agency of MAC
  • Plans are afoot for more than a decade to link the system up to the district level.

Issues Challenges and Way forward

  • Most of the states share their intelligence with the MAC because matters also pertain to other states. “But there have been a few instances where some state agencies have hesitated to share their intelligence inputs with the MAC
  • Biggest challenge” is how to “coordinate, create and act upon inputs gathered by these units.
  • At times, due to lack of coordination, distrust amongst those intelligence agencies, timely action to prevent terrorist incidents could not be taken
  • Intelligence agencies should strive for increased coordination and cooperation not only at district, state and regional level but also at international level with friendly foreign counterparts in developing and sharing intelligence to “mitigate and nullify threats”.

2 . Antrix – Devas Deal

Context : Recently Canadian court ordered the seizure of more than $30 million worth of AAI’s assets

Background of the case

  • In 2005, Devas Multimedia signed an agreement with Antrix —a commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) —to provide multimedia services to mobile users using the leased S-band satellite spectrum to be provided by Antrix.
  • In 2011, the UPA-2 government annulled this agreement on the ground that it needed the S-band satellite spectrum for national security and other social purposes.
  • This abrupt annulment led to three legal disputes – a commercial arbitration between Antrix and Devas Multimedia at the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC), and two bilateral investment treaty (BIT) arbitrations brought by the Mauritius investors in Devas Multimedia under the India-Mauritius BIT (CC/Devas tribunal) and by Deutsche Telekom – a German company – under the India Germany BIT (DT tribunal). India lost all three disputes.
  • The ICC tribunal ordered Antrix to pay $562.5 million-plus interest as damages to Devas for wrongfully repudiating the contract. A U.S. court, in late 2020, dismissing all the contentions of Antrix, confirmed the 2015 commercial arbitral award in favour of Devas.
  • The CC/Devas and the DT tribunals ordered India to pay damages of $160 million plus accrued interest to Devas’ foreign shareholders and $132 million to Deutsche Telekom respectively.
  • In the meanwhile, the National Company Law Tribunal, last year, on a case filed by the Indian government, ordered the liquidation of Devas Multimedia on the ground that the affairs of the company were being carried on fraudulently.
  • Given India’s non-compliance, the foreign shareholders of Devas initiated multiple attachment proceedings against India in several jurisdictions to recover the money ordered by the CC/Devas tribunal. In this regard, they have succeeded in getting a favourable order from a Canadian court.

How can a Canadian court order the attachment of Indian assets ignoring State immunity?

  • State immunity — a well-established principle of international law — shields a state and its property against legal proceedings in the courts of other countries. This covers immunity from both jurisdiction and execution.
  • However, there is no international legal instrument in force dealing with state immunity in the municipal legal systems of different countries, which has created an international void. Consequently, countries have filled this void through their national legislations and domestic judicial practices on state immunity.
  • Typically, prominent jurisdictions such as Canada follow the concept of restrictive immunity (a foreign State is immune only for sovereign functions) and not absolute immunity (total immunity from all legal proceedings in a foreign court).
  • In the context of the execution of BIT awards, it implies that state property serving sovereign functions (diplomatic mission buildings, central bank assets, etc.) cannot be attached. However, properties serving commercial functions are available for seizure. Since the assets of AAI are used for a commercial, not sovereign, activity, under the Canadian State Immunity Act R.S.C 1985 (CSIA), they can be attached.

How can assets of AAI be seized when the claim is against India ?

  • In execution proceedings, assets of an entity can be seized if that entity is an alter ego of the State that fails to comply with the arbitral award.
  • In other words, if the foreign sovereign exercises such extensive control over the entity, then the presumption that the entity has a separate corporate character is set aside. Thus, the Canadian court must have concluded that the Indian government extensively controls AAI.

What options does India have?

  • The first option is to comply with the two adverse BIT awards. However, it is highly unlikely that India would do so.
  • The second option is to challenge this decision in an appellate court in Canada as per the Canadian law where India can try proving that the ‘extensive control requirement’ is not met in the case of AAI and thus, it is not India’s alter ego.
  • Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind, as it was held in a case known as MINE v Guinea, State immunity from execution is purely a procedural hurdle to the enforcement of the BIT award. It cannot justify India’s breach of its international law obligations enshrined in the two BITs and the continued failure to comply with the arbitral awards.

3 . ‘S’ Gene Target Failure (SGTF)

Context : The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved a testing kit for detecting the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The kit is manufactured by Tata Medical and Diagnostics and is named OmiSure. The kit will be used to confirm Omicron in patients with its S-Gene Target Failure (SGTF) strategy.

About SGTF Strategy

  • COVID Diagnostic test target “multiple genes” of the virus so that a broad range of variants are covered
  • For example, ‘S’ Gene, ORF, ‘N’ gene, Rdrp, ‘E’ gene etc are viral genes that are targeted to detect COVID-19 virus, and multiple genes make up the genetic structure of SARS-Co V-2
  • In case of Omicron variant, the ‘S’ gene is not getting detected in Thermofisher’s Taq Path RT-PCR test due to mutation in the gene, while other gene targets such as ORF gene and N gene are getting detected
  • The occurrence is called as ‘S’ Gene Target Failure (SGTF) positive cases. Such samples can be presumptively reported as Omicron positive and can be sent for fast-track genome sequencing for confirmation
  • SGTF strategy focuses on taking those positive samples in which the RT-PCR test result shows ‘S’ Gene negative result, but ORF and N gene are positive.
  • The SGTF strategy will work as a kind of early detection at RT-PCR stage, and will help in screening COVID-19 positive samples of Omicron variant

4 . Facts for Prelims

National Monument Authority

  • National Monuments Authority (NMA) under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India has been setup as per provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 which was enacted in March, 2010.
  • Several functions have been assigned to the NMA for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments.
  • One amongst these responsibilities of NMA is also to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction related activity in the prohibited and regulated area.
  • These provisions underwent a change in 2010 following the Amendment to the AMASR Act. The NMA and the Competent Authorities (CA) were setup and now all applications for construction related work in the prohibited and regulated area are to be submitted to the CA and then to NMA for consideration of the application.
  • A few important changes have been brought in by the 2010 Act. Some of these are:-
    • Statutory provision for the ‘prohibited’ and regulated areas.
    • Complete ban on construction in the prohibited area.
    • Providing statutory procedures for applications seeking permission for construction/repair/renovation.
    • The authority shall make necessary scrutiny of the Heritage bye laws and accord approval after inviting objections/suggestions from the public.
    • Grading and classification of monuments.
  • The Act provides for NMA to be constituted with a Chairperson and up to 5 Whole Time and 5 Part Time Members each and a Member Secretary. DG ASI is an ex officio Member.
  • They are appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Harpreet Chandi

  • Harpreet Chandi 1st India -origin woman to trek solo to south pole

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