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Insights Daily Current Events, 31 December 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 31 December 2015

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Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

Centre pushing to revive NATGRID, looking for CEO

The Union government is all set to make an aggressive effort to revive the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).

  • The government is planning to appoint a senior serving government official, in all likelihood one with an intelligence background, to head NATGRID, with a mandate to operationalise it as a federal counter-terrorism centre.

What is NATGRID?

Conceived in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is a centralised agency which stores sensitive personal information on citizens from almost two dozen agencies to be made available for counter-terror investigations.

  • The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been conceived to develop a cutting edge framework to enhance India’s counter-terror capabilities.
  • It will provide an intelligence database that would have networked 21 sets of data sources to provide quick and secure access of information to about 10 intelligence and law-enforcement agencies including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and R&AW.
  • These data sources include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions.

The Union Home Ministry has indicated the grid will be fully functional by 2016.

How is it different from NCTC and NIA?

  • Unlike the NCTC and the NIA which are central organisations, the NATGRID is essentially a tool that enables security agencies to locate and obtain relevant information on terror suspects from pooled data of various organisations and services in the country. It will help identify, capture and prosecute terrorists and help preempt terrorist plots.

Criticisms:

  • NATGRID is facing opposition on charges of possible violations of privacy and leakage of confidential personal information.
  • Its efficacy in preventing terror have also been questioned given that no state agency or police force has access to its database thus reducing chances of immediate, effective action.

Who will head the agency?

  • Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a circular to fill the post of CEO of NATGRID. The circular calls for applicants with a Masters in Electronics, IT or equivalent with an experience of working in the IT-related field for 25 years. Both serving as well as retired government officials can apply.
  • The circular also says that if a private person is hired, his/her salary would be Rs. 10 lakh a month and if it’s a government servant, it will be his last drawn salary or the present salary.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Centre counts on Big Data to grow biotechnology

The Department of Biotechnology is all set to make the Biotech Industry in India a $100-billion industry by 2025, rising from the current $7-$10 billion. The government is hoping to achieve this by harnessing the power of Big Data and promoting the manufacturing of laboratory equipment.

  • The government expects this growth to be largely led by industry and it will play the role of facilitator, in terms of attracting quality manpower and putting in place competent regulatory processes.
  • Critical steps to achieve this would be to ensure that projects are adequately and promptly funded, besides getting biotechnologists and researchers to be more ambitious with their research proposals.

What is Big Data?

It refers to the technology (which includes tools and processes) that an organization requires to handle the large amount of data and storage facilities.

  • It is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Big data “size” is a constantly moving target.
  • It requires exceptional technologies to efficiently process large quantities of data within tolerable elapsed times.

The use and adoption of Big Data within governmental processes is beneficial and allows efficiencies in terms of cost, productivity, and innovation.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.

Missing Malwani youth booked under UAPA

The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has registered a case against missing Malwani youth under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and declared him an absconding accused.

  • The youth went missing in October this year. His disappearance had raised concerns after inquiries revealed that he had shown a radical bent of mind and was heard speaking about joining extremist organisations on more than one occasion.
  • Inquiries by the ATS had revealed that the youth had left the country on November 1 and reached Kabul.

About the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA):

  • This law is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The Act makes it a crime to support any secessionist movement, or to support claims by a foreign power to what India claims as its territory.
  • The UAPA, framed in 1967, has been amended twice since: first in 2008 and then in 2012.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

 

Topic: general awareness.

Maiden Attempt – Barak 8 Missile

India has successfully test-fired a long-range surface-to-air missile, jointly developed with Israel, from its warship in its maiden attempt. With this, India joined a select group of countries which has such an anti-air warfare capability for their navies.

  • The Barak 8 missile fired by the INS Kolkata on the western seaboard successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges.

Factsheet:

  • LRSAM is also called Barak 8 missile in Israel which in Hebrew language means Lightning.
  • Barak 8 is being considered to be a major asset for the Indian Navy because it would add a potent system designed to destroy any anti-ship missile launched by Pakistani or Chinese Navy.
  • Key to Barak 8’s ability to intercept incoming missiles is Israel-made MF-STAR radar system, which is capable of simultaneously tracking hundreds of airborne targets to a range of more than 250 kilometers.
  • The Barak-8 has been designed to defend against a variety of short-to-long-range airborne threats, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and projectiles.
  • The LRSAM programme consists of missiles, weapon control system, MFSTAR (radar), vertical launcher unit and two-way data link.
  • The LRSAM system has been jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.(IAI), Israel.

sources: the hindu, drdo.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

18 States agree to revoke ‘no detention policy’ in RTE

A committee headed by Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani has sent recommendations to the Central government, stating that the ‘no detention policy’ under the Right to Education (RTE) Act should be revoked.

  • The committee had received the consent of 18 States for required amendments in the ‘no detention policy’ under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
  • Under the no detention policy, no student can be failed or expelled till Class VIII. However, States, including Rajasthan, have already done away with the policy.

What has the committee recommended?

  • The committee, formed by the Central government, stated that a ‘learning level’ must be fixed for each class to check whether a student is eligible for the class that he or she is in.
  • The committee also notes, “Students must not be detained in Classes VI and VII. However, they must meet the required ‘learning levels’. A month’s time would be given to students to retake tests and attain the required learning levels, failing which the students would have to be detained.”

What next?

  • Now, for this to happen, the Centre will have to amend the Right To Education law — which prescribes the no-detention policy for students till Class 8.

A key component of the RTE Act, the no-detention policy was enforced on April 1, 2010, with the intention of ensuring that every child between the age of six and 14 gets a school education.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, also called the ‘Raptor MOU‘ with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS).

  • With the signing of this MOU, India will become the 54th signatory to the MOU.

About Raptor MoU:

  • The Raptor MOU is an agreement under the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and is not legally binding.
  • The MOU seeks willingness of the signatory Range States for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats. Under this, an action plan has been formulated which primarily envisages the conservation action for Raptor species.
  • The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out of which 46 species including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India.
  • Raptor MOU was concluded on in October 2008 and came into effect on 1st November 2008.
  • India’s neighbours Pakistan and Nepal are also signatories to this MOU.

Benefits for India:

Considering that the Raptor MOU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, wherein the birds have been accorded protection, India would gain domain knowledge which would be helpful in effectively managing the habitats of these Raptors, including concerted trans-boundary efforts for conservation through interaction with other range countries by signing of the MOU with the CMS.

The CMS or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. India had become a party to the CMS since 1st November 1983.

sources: pib.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Cabinet clears amended textile scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the introduction of “Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS)” in place of the existing Revised Restructured   Technology   Upgradation   Fund  Scheme   (RR-TUFS),for technology upgradation of the textiles industry.

The new scheme specifically targets:

  • Employment generation and export by encouraging apparel and garment industry, which will provide employment to women in particular and increase India’s share inglobal exports.
  • Promotion of Technical Textiles, a sunrise sector, for export and employment.
  • Promoting conversion of existing looms to better technology looms for improvement in quality and productivity.
  • Encouraging better quality in processing industry and checking need for import of fabrics by the garment sector.

Under the new scheme, there will be two broad categories:

  • Apparel, Garment and Technical Textiles, where 15% subsidy would be provided on capital investment, subject to a ceiling of 30 crore rupees for entrepreneurs over a period of five years.
  • Remaining sub-sectors would be eligible for subsidy at a rate of 10%, subject to a ceiling of Rs.20 crore on similar lines.

Significance of the new scheme:

  • The amended scheme would give a boost to “Make in India” in the textiles sector.
  • It is also expected to attract investment to the tune of one lakh crore rupees, and create over 30 lakh jobs.
  • The amendments in the scheme are expected to plug the loopholes in the earlier scheme and improve Ease of Doing Business.

About TUFS:

  • The Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme was introduced by the Government in 1999 to facilitate new and appropriate technology for making the textile industry globally competitive and to reduce the capital cost for the textile industry.
  • A sum of Rs. 21,347 crore has been provided as assistance to the industry during 1999 – 2015. It has led to investments worth Rs. 2,71,480 crore, and created job opportunities for nearly 48 lakh people.
  • The scheme was earlier amended for continuation during the 12th Plan. A sum of Rs.11,952 crore was provided for attracting investment of Rs. 1,51,000 crore during the period 2012-2017. Out of this, Rs. 9,290 crore was meant for committed liabilities and Rs. 2,662 crore for new investment.

sources: pib.