Insights Daily Current Events, 17 March 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Lok Sabha clears Aadhaar Bill
Lok Sabha has finally cleared the Aadhaar Bill. Previously, the opposition in Rajya Sabha had recommended five amendments to the Bill. However, Lok Sabha has not incorporated any of these amendments.
- The Aadhaar Bill was certified as a money Bill by the Lok Sabha Speaker, which meant that the Upper House could only ‘recommend’ amendments, which are not binding on the Lok Sabha. According to the Constitution, the Speaker’s veto on the issue cannot be challenged.
RAJYA SABHA’S FIVE CHANGES:
CHANGE 1: Clause 3
An individual who does not wish to continue as a holder of Aadhaar number should be permitted to have his number deleted from the Central Identities Data Repository. A certificate shall be issued within fifteen days of the request.
CHANGE 2: Clause 7
If an Aadhaar number is not assigned to or if an individual chooses not to opt for enrolment, the person shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefits, or service.
CHANGE 3: Clause 33
For the words “national security”, the words “public emergency or in the interest of public safety” be substituted.
CHANGE 4: Clause 33
The Oversight Committee (which will take a decision on whether to agree to a request to share biometric data of an individual for national security) should also include the central vigilance commissioner or the ‘comptroller and auditor general’.
CHANGE 5: Clause 57
This clause be deleted
Clause 57: states that “nothing contained in this Act shall prevent the use of the Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, whether by the state or any body, company or person.”
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
Ethics panel to probe bribery charges against TMC MPs
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has referred the issue of alleged unethical conduct of some Trinamool Congress members to the Ethics Committee of the House. She termed the allegations as very serious, which could impact the “very credibility” of Parliament.
About Ethics Committee:
The Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha was constituted on 16 May 2000 as an adhoc committee. However, in August 2015 it was given permanent Standing Committee status.
- The Ethics Committee examines every complaint relating to unethical conduct of a member referred to it.
- It is also free to take up suo motu investigation into matters relating to ethics, including matters relating to unethical conduct by a member wherever felt necessary and make such recommendations as it may deem fit.
- Currently, the ethics committee in the Lok Sabha has 15 members chaired by LK Advani.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday.
Google to submit fresh proposal for Loon Project
The government has asked Google for a fresh proposal for testing its balloon-based Internet technology for the Loon Project in India because of interference issues in the frequency band.
Google India had approached the Department of Electronics and Information Technology to conduct a pilot test of the Project Loon in India. The matter was discussed with all stakeholders and it was concluded that frequency band 700-900 MHz, to be used in the pilot test of Project Loon, is being used at present by cellular operators and if the pilot is carried out it will lead to interference with cellular transmissions.
About Project Loon:
Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by Google X with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas.
- The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 32 km to create an aerial wireless network with up to 3G-like speeds. It has already tested this technology in New Zealand, California (in the US), and Brazil.
How it operates?
The balloons are maneuvered by adjusting their altitude to float to a wind layer after identifying the wind layer with the desired speed and direction using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Users of the service connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building.
- The signal travels through the balloon network from balloon to balloon, then to a ground-based station connected to an Internet service provider (ISP), then onto the global Internet.
Why stratosphere was chosen?
Google asserts that the stratosphere is advantageous because of its relatively low wind speeds and minimal turbulence. Google also claims that it can model, with reasonable accuracy, the seasonal, longitudinal, and latitudinal variations in wind speeds within the 18–25 km stratospheric layer.
Significance of this project:
- The technology designed in the project could allow countries to avoid using expensive fiber cable that would have to be installed underground to allow users to connect to the Internet.
- This will also greatly increase Internet usage in developing countries in regions such as Africa and Southeast Asia that can’t afford to lay underground fiber cable.
- The project also brings Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and improves communication during natural disasters to affected regions.
Facts for Prelims:
India ranked 118th in UN’s world happiness index; behind Pak, China
India has been placed at 118th position out of 156 countries in a global list of the happiest nations. This was revealed by The World Happiness Report 2016, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations.
How Happiness is measured?
The report takes into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.
Highlights of the report:
- Denmark takes the top spot as the happiest country in the world, displacing Switzerland.
- Switzerland was ranked second on the list, followed by Iceland (3), Norway (4) and Finland (5).
- India ranked 118th, down from 117th in 2015.
- India was among the group of 10 countries witnessing the largest happiness declines along with Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and Botswana.
- India comes below nations like Somalia (76), China (83), Pakistan (92), Iran (105), Palestinian Territories (108) and Bangladesh (110).
- The US is ranked 13th, coming behind Australia (9) and Israel (11).
- The report notes that Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi are the least happiest countries.
What’s new in this report?
This report for the first time gives a special role to the measurement and consequences of inequality in the distribution of well-being among countries and regions.
- This reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness as a criteria for government policy and can also be used effectively to assess the progress of nations.
- Previous reports have argued that happiness provides a better indicator of human welfare than do income, poverty, education, health and good government measured separately but now experts also point out that the inequality of well-being provides a broader measure of inequality.
- People are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness. They also find that happiness inequality has increased significantly (comparing 2012-2015 to 2005-2011) in most countries, in almost all global regions, and for the population of the world as a whole.
Sources: the hindu.