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Insights Daily Current Events, 23 April 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 23 April 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Supreme Court stays Uttarakhand high court verdict

The Supreme Court has revived central rule in Uttarakhand by staying the hard-hitting high court verdict until April 27 on the technical ground that the written judgment wasn’t available.

Implications:

The decision provides the Centre a breather from the withering criticism for alleged misuse of Article 356.

What else has the court said?

The court has forbidden the government from revoking Central rule in Uttarakhand without informing it.

Way ahead:

The Supreme Court has asked the Uttarakhand high court to provide the parties with the written judgment and has posted the Centre’s appeal for a detailed hearing. The court has also indicated that it will examine the issues on merit and determine whether the interim order staying the HC verdict is to be continued or not.

Sources: the hindu.


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

‘Telcos may go intranet to bypass Trai’s order’

Existing and new 4G players are planning to offer content such as movies and sports through private servers as they plan to take the intranet route to bypass Trai’s order banning differential tariffs over the internet.

What is the issue?

New entrants in this sector are planning to take intranet route to offer various services. The intranet route would be encouraged by the exemption given to the channel in Trai’s order on differential tariffs.

  • Telcos may attempt to monetize such an opportunity/regulatory exemption. The mobile operators could selectively choose data/content and charge carriage fees from content providers/ e-commerce players for providing them access on their intranet platforms.

Concerns:

  • At present, telcos monetize data connectivity and charge for data usage. But, 4G new entrants are looking at leveraging intranet-based data offerings in an attempt to take market share. They may disrupt the traditional data business model, leveraging intranet-based data offerings.
  • This would also severely violate the tenets of net neutrality as the mobile companies – which will include new ‘4G entrants’ – would subsidize the content, and may even provide it for free, as they look for ways to capture customers.
  • The 4G entrants may also attempt to tweak the traditional business model by providing more value to subscribers via aggregating movie and other content. So, 4G entrants may offer all such intranet-based content virtually free to subscribers in addition to their basic data plan.

Is it allowed under TRAI rules?

Trai’s suggestion that rules prohibiting differential pricing will not be applicable to intranet-based offering, will allow telcos to have a B2B model by charging content providers/e-commerce players a carriage fee and in turn subsidizing subscribers’ data services.

What are intranet services?

Intranet services are a network based on internet protocols belonging to an organization accessible only by that organization’s members, employees and others with authorization. The essence of such services is that they would not be available to the public from the internet.

  • For telcos to provide such services, they will need to store all content on their servers and to avail themselves such offerings, subscribers will still need data connectivity. As data is stored on the servers of telcos, there will be a need for telcos to increase spend on data centers.

Limitations of Intranet:

There may be physical limitations, even with significant investments in data centers. Social network sites may push daily updates; e-commerce sites may push their deals and look for better conversion rates. Movie-based content may have to be provided free by telcos to bring footfall to intranet platform.

Sources: toi.


Paper 3 Topic: biodiversity.

Primate species new to India discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

A new primate species in India has been discovered by a team of biologists and wildlife photographers during their bird watching trip to Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district.

  • With this, White Cheeked Macaque has become a new primate species in India.

Details:

  • The White Cheeked Macaque, hitherto unknown in India, was actually spotted by the team last year, but it took almost a year to confirm.
  • The White Cheeked Macaque differs considerably from all macaque species such as Raesus Macaque, Arunachal Macaque, Tibetan macaque and Assamese macaque.
  • It has relatively hairless short tail, long and thick hair on its neck and chin-whiskers creating a white cheek, among other characteristics.
  • White-cheeked macaques are threatened by illegal hunting and potential habitat loss.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure-energy.

UDAY bonds fetch Rs.99,000 crore

Eight states have issued bonds worth over Rs 98,959.96 crore under UDAY Bonds scheme in 2015-16, which is aimed at improving operational and financial efficiency of state power distribution companies.

  • As part of the scheme, Reserve Bank had issued the special bonds (non-SLR special securities) on behalf of eight state governments in the last fiscal.
  • The securities have been issued by the state governments under the Government Securities Act, 2006 and are eligible for market repo.

The state-wise issuance of UDAY Bonds during 2015-16 is as: Uttar Pradesh (Rs 24,332.47 crore); Rajasthan (Rs 37,349.77 crore); Chhattisgarh (Rs 870.12 crore); Punjab (Rs 9,859.72 crore); Jammu & Kashmir (Rs 2,140 crore); Bihar (Rs 1,554.52 crore); Jharkhand (Rs 5,553.37 crore) and Haryana (Rs 17,300 crore).

About UDAY:

The Power Ministry had launched UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) on November 20, 2015. The scheme is expected to help discoms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The cumulative debt of discoms is Rs 4.37 lakh crore.

  • UDAY is an effort to make these DISCOMs financially and operationally healthy, to be able to supply adequate power at affordable rates, and enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification and 24X7 Power For All.
  • It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. Consequently, DISCOM would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply.
  • UDAY has inbuilt incentives encouraging State Governments to voluntarily restructure their debts. These incentives include taking over of DISCOM debt by the States outside the fiscal deficit limits; reduction in the cost of power through various measures such as coal linkage rationalization, liberal coal swaps and priority/additional funding through schemes of MoP & MNRE.
  • UDAY is different from earlier restructuring schemes in several ways including flexibility of keeping debt taken over outside fiscal deficit limit, reduction in cost of power and a series of time bound interventions for improving operational efficiency.
  • UDAY also provides for measures that will reduce the cost of power generation, which would ultimately benefit consumers.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

President nominated six members to Rajya Sabha

The President of India has nominated Shri Swapan Das Gupta, Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Shri Narendra Jadhav, Sh. Suresh Gopi and Ms. Mary Kom to the Rajya Sabha.

  • 12 people can be recommended to the Upper House. As of now, there are seven vacancies among these 12, for which six names have been announced, and one kept in abeyance.

Nominations to the Upper House:

The government recommends names of people having “special knowledge or practical experience in literature, science, art and social service”.

  • As per Article 80 of the Indian constitution, members are nominated by the President to the Upper House on the recommendation of the government.
  • The government recommends members in this category at anytime and it is not bound to an electoral cycle like the other seats.

Sources: the hindu.


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

Centre issues notification for protection of Good Samaritans

The government has issued a notification for the protection of Good Samaritans in the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) direction on helping accident victims.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court had directed all the states to follow the Centre`s guidelines that encouraged witnesses in road accidents to report to police and also help survivors with medical treatment.
  • The apex court had also directed the Centre to publish its guidelines notified last year to ensure that all those who help accident victims/survivors were not harassed by the police.

Standard operating procedure (SOP) for the protection and examination of ‘Good Samaritans’:

The SOP was framed by the government on the orders passed by the Supreme Court on a PIL plea filed by NGO SaveLIFE Foundation in 2012, highlighting the fact that more lives of accident victims can be saved if a law can be made to protect Good Samaritans from legal and procedural hassles at the hands of police and hospitals.

  • Following this, the Centre issued a series of guidelines on May 12, 2015, to protect Good Samaritans. These included assuring them anonymity and protecting them from any civil or criminal liability for taking the victim to the nearest hospital. The government had also indicated that an SOP should be further evolved in this regard.
  • In the January 16 notification, the government highlighted that bystanders or passers-by, who chose to help a person in distress on the road, should be “treated respectfully and without discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other.”
  • Other SOPs include complete anonymity in case the Good Samaritan does not want to reveal his name or details, use of video-conferencing in case of any further interaction with him by the authorities and provision for the police to examine him at his residence or office or any place of his convenience. This should be done only once and in a time-bound manner.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

RCEP draft moots tough curbs on cheap medicines

According to a report, the draft Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, being negotiated by 16 countries, in its current form could reduce access to affordable medicines in many developing countries.

How?

The chapter on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is part of the RCEP agreement. This chapter contains proposals for patent extensions, restrictive rules on exceptions to copyright, and dozens of other anti-consumer measures.

  • These provisions illustrate the power of rights-holder groups to use secret trade negotiations to influence democratic decisions that impact access to knowledge, the freedom to innovate and the right to health in negative ways.

India’s opposition to RCEP proposals is on:

  • Patent extensions.
  • Restrictive rules on copyright.
  • Anti-consumer measures.

Concerns:

The draft proposals will compel governments to commit to newer Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights provisions like TRIPS plus — including the Patent Law Treaty (Geneva, 2000), which involve harmonisation in the examination of patent applications and requirements of patentability.

About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership:

The RCEP is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far – the other two being the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and the TTIP (Trans -atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).

  • The agreement (FTA) is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

Paris Agreement

As many as 175 countries, including India, China and the US, signed the Paris Agreement on climate change at the UN headquarters in New York on 22nd April, to coincide with ‘International Mother Earth Day’.

  • This was the first day of the signing ceremony of the historic global deal. Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar signed the agreement on behalf of India.
  • The agreement aims to take multiple measures to save the world from disastrous consequences of climate change and was adopted by 195 countries in Paris on December 12, 2015.
  • That such a large number of countries signed the agreement in a single day is significant. The previous record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day was set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the ‘Law of the Sea Convention‘.
  • The agreement will be open for signature for one year – till April 21, 2017. However, merely signing the agreement will not make it operational. At least 55 countries, that account for an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions will have to ratify the agreement before it enters into force.