DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS 13 March 2024

Homosep Atom

Source: pib

Relevance: GS 3 : Scienec and Technology

Why in News: The Homosep Atom, India’s inaugural robot for cleaning septic tanks, created by the startup Solinas and nurtured at the DST-TBI of IIT Madras, is transforming sanitation methods throughout the country.

Benefits of Homosep Atom:

  • Elimination of Manual Scavenging:Utilizes robotic cleaning techniques to eradicate the need for manual scavenging, ensuring safer and more dignified working conditions.
  • Cost Reduction:Reduces operational costs associated with traditional cleaning methods, offering a more economical solution for sanitation maintenance.
  • Promotion of Sewer Sanitation:Advances sewer sanitation practices through innovative technology, contributing to overall public health and environmental sustainability.

Solinas’ Contribution to Water and Sanitation:

  • Specialization in Miniature Robotics:Focuses on developing miniature robots to tackle various water and sanitation challenges, including climate change impacts and the eradication of manual scavenging.
  • Technological Solutions:Introduces technologies like Endobot and Swasth AI, aimed at detecting and resolving water contamination and pipeline defects, thereby enhancing water accessibility and environmental sustainability.

Usage Values:

  • Promotion of Human Dignity:Prevents individuals from exposure to hazardous and degrading work conditions, preserving their dignity and well-being.
  • Fostering Equality: Creates a safer and more equitable work environment for sanitation workers, irrespective of their background or social standing.
  • Responsibility Towards Society: Addresses a critical social issue, contributing to public health and societal well-being, showcasing a sense of social responsibility.
  • Commitment to Innovation:Demonstrates a dedication to innovation and progress by leveraging technology to tackle long-standing societal challenges and enhance the quality of life for marginalized communities.

Panda Diplomacy

Source: TH

Relevance: GS 2: IR

Why in News: China is reviving its panda diplomacy endeavor by intending to loan a pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo.

Panda Diplomacy: The Chinese government utilizes pandas, native to China, as symbols of goodwill and soft diplomacy when gifting or loaning them to other nations.

Loaning Pandas: China Wildlife Conservation Authority has inked deals with San Diego and Madrid zoos for panda loans, with ongoing discussions for similar arrangements with zoos in Washington D.C. and Vienna, Austria.

Historical Context: Panda diplomacy traces back to ancient times, with mentions dating as far back as the Tang Dynasty (7th-10th century). However, it gained prominence in the mid-to-late 20th century.

Recent Statements: In 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the significance of pandas as symbols of friendship between the Chinese and American people.

Modern Diplomacy:

  • Gifting and Loaning: China has gifted pandas to various countries including the U.S., the U.K., France, and Japan, marking the start of what is considered modern panda diplomacy.
  • Shift to Loaning: Since the early 1980s, China shifted from gifting pandas to loaning them, typically at an annual fee of around $1 million.
  • Coinciding Deals: Panda loan agreements with countries like Canada, France, and Australia often aligned with significant deals such as uranium trades and contracts with China.

Giant Pandas:

  • Scientific Classification:Known scientifically as Ailuropoda melanoleuca.
  • Natural Habitat: Found in temperate forests in the mountainous regions of southwest China.
  • Dietary Habits: Primarily feed on bamboo, comprising their entire diet.
  • Symbolic Representation: The giant panda has been the iconic logo of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) since the organization’s establishment in 1961.
  • Conservation Status: Classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Cockpit of Europe: Belgium leads continent in becoming first to recognise ‘ecocide’ as crime

Source: DTE 

Relevance: GS 2: Places in News

Why in News: Belgium, frequently referred to as the heart of Europe, has taken the lead as the inaugural country on the continent to acknowledge ‘ecocide’ as both a domestic and international offense.

Ecocide: Ecocide entails illegal activities causing significant, extensive, or lasting harm to the environment. Its recognition as a crime aims to ensure accountability for actions detrimental to the planet, with potential penalties including imprisonment and fines. The term was coined by American biologist Arthur Galston in 1970.

Existing Laws: Countries with domestic ecocide laws include France (2021), Ukraine (2001), Kazakhstan (1997), Kyrgyzstan (1997), Russia (1996), Tajikistan (1998), Uzbekistan (1994), Vietnam (1990), among others. However, India has yet to criminalize ecocide.

Overview of Belgium:

  • Geographical Location: Belgium is situated in Northwestern Europe, bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France, and the North Sea.
  • Institutional Structure: The country boasts a complex institutional setup, divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region.
  • Linguistic Diversity: Belgium exhibits linguistic diversity, with a majority Flemish-speaking population, a minority French-speaking community, and a small German-speaking group.
  • Economic Status: It possesses a developed, high-income economy and holds status as a founding member of several prominent international organizations including the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO.
  • European Union Capital: Brussels serves as the de facto capital of the European Union, housing key EU institutions and hosting major international organizations.

E-evidence, new criminal law, its implementation

Source: TH 

Relevance: GS 2: Indian Polity

Why in News:

  • Three novel criminal statutes, Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, set to come into effect from July 1, 2024.
  • Implementation excludes Section 106(2) of Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, which mandates 10 years imprisonment for unreported fatal accidents.

Preparation for Transition:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and State governments are gearing up for a seamless transition.
  • Amendments in Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita pertain to investigation and police functions.
  • Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita undergoes minor changes and introduces new offenses.

Electronic Evidence and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam:

  • Limited alterations in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, under Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam.
  • Definitions section provides clarity on electronic and digital records, including emails, server logs, and messages.
  • Enhanced provisions for primary (electronic) evidence and the admissibility of electronic records.

Clarity on Definitions:

  • The laws precisely define “document” to encompass various forms of electronic records.
  • Illustrations under the definition highlight examples such as server logs, emails, and locational evidence.

Key Changes in Electronic Evidence Laws:

  • Clearer definitions for primary electronic evidence.
  • Introduction of terms like ‘semi-conductor memory’ and ‘communication device’ in Section 63 for better visibility.
  • Section 63 deals with the admissibility of electronic records.

Legal Clarity on Electronic Record Admissibility:

  • Law settled on the admissibility of electronic records based on the Supreme Court judgment.
  • Certificate under Section 65-B(4) (now Section 63(4) of BSA) is crucial for electronic record admissibility.
  • Section 65-B and Section 63 considered a complete code by themselves.

Certificate Requirements:

  • Section 63(4) mandates a certificate signed by two persons, one in charge of the device and an expert.
  • Standard format of the certificate prescribed in the Schedule to the BSA.

Impact on Cyber Laboratories:

  • Increased workload for cyber laboratories due to expert certifications.
  • Potential strain on cyberlabs lacking sufficient manpower and infrastructure.
  • Expert opinion necessary when integrity of electronic record is disputed during trial.

Concerns and Recommendations:

  • Increased workload necessitates a general awareness drive on encryption modes and methods.
  • Private agencies using electronic devices for security purposes urged to be informed about encryption.
  • Enforcement agencies need to prepare infrastructure for added responsibilities before the implementation date.

Should Minimum Support Price be legalised?

Source: TH

Relevance: GS 3: Indian Agriculture

Why in News: Farmers in India march towards New Delhi, demanding legal assurance for Minimum Support Price (MSP) on 23 crops and various other requests.

Introduction:

Groups of farmers commence a march to New Delhi, urging the fulfillment of diverse demands, including legal assurance for Minimum Support Price (MSP) on crops and India’s withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Farmers’ Perspective:

  • Farmers express distress over low crop prices and stress the need for legal assurance of MSP on 23 crops.
  • They highlight the historical neglect of agriculture amidst economic reforms since 1991, leading to a crisis in the sector.
  • Advocates for MSP legalization argue it’s essential for national food security and aligns with the global trend of de-globalization towards nutrition security.

Government’s Stance and Challenges:

  • The government cites challenges in implementing MSP for all crops due to limited functionality of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and dominance of informal markets.
  • The functionality of mandi system is limited to few states, making it challenging to track transactions and implement legal MSP effectively.

Feasibility of Extending MSP Nationwide:

  • Arguments supporting MSP legalization align with the government’s goal of digitizing and formalizing agricultural transactions.
  • Advocates suggest even modest intervention, like purchasing 5-10% of produce, can stabilize prices and alleviate farmer distress.

Concerns about Excessive Government Procurement:

  • Concerns arise about extensive government procurement, particularly for staple crops like rice and wheat.
  • Debates on whether legalizing MSP for all crops might escalate prices, impacting consumers.

Addressing Regional Variations and State Policies:

  • Proposals for a State-specific MSP approach considering diverse agricultural regimes across states.
  • Emphasizing collaboration between experts and policymakers to ensure fair and remunerative prices for farmers.

Balancing Interests and Food Inflation:

  • Acknowledgment of the delicate balance required between safeguarding farmers’ interests and addressing food inflation concerns.
  • Farmers argue that legalizing MSP could curb inflation, protect consumers, and ensure reasonable income for farmers.

Market Regulation and Role of Cooperatives:

  • Stress on market regulation to mitigate inflationary pressures from unorganized markets.
  • Discussions on the potential role of cooperatives as farmer alternatives, with the necessity for a legal framework and supportive infrastructure.

Challenges:

  • Recognition of successful cooperative models like the White Revolution in Gujarat’s milk sector.
  • Acknowledgment of government-supported cooperatives’ failure due to corruption, highlighting the need for a legal framework and supportive infrastructure.

Conclusion:

  • Addressing farmers’ demands necessitates a thorough review of agricultural policies considering regional variations, market dynamics, and the balance between safeguarding farmers and consumers.
  • Legalizing MSP emerges as a potential solution, yet challenges related to implementation, excessive government procurement, and the role of cooperatives warrant careful consideration and strategic planning.

Mains: What do you mean by Minimum Support Price (MSP)? How will MSP rescue the farmers from the low income trap? ( 2018)

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