GS PAPER II
Economically Weaker Sections
Why in News
The Andhra Pradesh has issued orders for implementation of 10 per cent EWS reservation in all government recruitments henceforth.
- The order is in accordance with the Constitution (103rd) Amendment Act 2019 that provides for the creation of the special EWS quota to be implemented by the state.
- Before that Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal have adopted EWS quota.
Economically Weaker Section
- In 2019, under One Hundred and Third Amendment (103rd) Constitutional Amendment Act, the Parliament had passed a reservation act that enables the State (i.e both the Central and State Governments) to provide reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society.
- Articles 15(6) and 16(6) have been inserted in the Constitution, vide the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019.
- It enables the State to provide the benefits of reservation on preferential basis to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs) in civil posts and services in the Government of India and admission in Educational Institutions.
- Accordingly, the provision for 10% reservation to the EWS was implemented by the Government in January 2019.
- 10% reservation under EWS category is applicable to those persons who are not covered under the existing scheme of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
Eligibility of Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs)
- 10% reservation under EWS category is applicable to those persons who are not covered under the existing scheme of reservations for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
- Persons whose family owns or possesses any of the following assets, shall be excluded from being identified as EWS, irrespective of the family income: –
- 5 acres of agricultural land and above;
- Residential at of 1000 sq ft. and above;
- Residential plot of 100 sq. yards and above in notified municipalities;
- Residential, plot of 200 sq. yards and above in areas other than the notified municipalities.
- The property held by a “Family” in different locations or different places/cities would be clubbed while applying the land. Or property holding test to determine EWS status.
- Gujarat becomes first state to implement 10 per cent quota for EWS in general category.
GS PAPER II
Section 66A of IT Act
Why in News
Six years after struck down of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Supreme Court had termed its continued use by law enforcement agencies of various states as “a shocking state of affairs” and sought a response from the Centre.
- The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has requested States and Union Territories (UTs) to direct all police stations under their jurisdiction not to register cases under the repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- It has also asked the States and UTs to sensitize law enforcement agencies for the compliance of the order issued by the Supreme Court on 24th March, 2015.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs has also requested that if any case has been booked in States and UTs under Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, such cases should be immediately withdrawn.
- In 2015, the apex court struck down the law in the landmark case Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, calling it “open-ended and unconstitutionally vague”, and thus expanded the contours of free speech to the Internet.
Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000
- Section 66A of IT Act introduced in 2008, as the amendment to the IT Act, 2000, gave the government power to arrest and imprison an individual for allegedly “offensive and menacing” online posts, and was passed without discussion in Parliament.
- It empowered police to make arrests over what policemen, in terms of their subjective discretion, could construe as “offensive” or “menacing” or for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience, etc.
- It prescribed the punishment for sending messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet, and a conviction could fetch a maximum of three years in jail.
- The problem with the law was the vagueness about what is “offensive”. The word having a very wide connotation, was open to distinctive, varied interpretations.
- It was seen as subjective, and what might have been innocuous for one person, could lead to a complaint from someone else and, consequently, an arrest under Section 66A if the police prima facie accepted the latter person’s view.
- The first petition came up in the court following the arrest of two girls in Maharashtra by Thane Police in November 2012 over a Facebook post.
- The girls had made comments on the shutdown of Mumbai for the funeral of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
- The arrests triggered outrage from all quarters over the manner in which the cyber law was used.
- The petition was filed by Shreya Singhal, then a 21-year-old law student.
Decision by Supreme Court
- While the objective behind the 2008 amendment was to prevent the misuse of information technology, particularly through social media, the petitioners argued that Section 66A came with extremely wide parameters, which allowed whimsical interpretations by law enforcement agencies.
- Hence, on 24th March, 2015, Supreme Court ruled in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India declared Section 66A unconstitutional for “being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2).”
- Article 19(1)(a) gives people the right to speech and expression whereas 19(2) accords the state the power to impose “reasonable restrictions” on the exercise of this right.
- The bench also read down Section 79, defining key rules for the relationship between governments and commercial internet platforms.
- Section 79 says that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted on its platform.
GS PAPER II
Why in News
Recently, Prime Minister inaugurated the International Cooperation and Convention Centre – Rudraksh in Varanasi.
- It has been constructed with Japanese assistance. The ‘International Cooperation and Convention Center – Rudraksh’ is the result of the creativity and dynamism.
- This Centre shows the strong bonding between India and Japan.
- It is spread in 2.87 hectares of land, the two-storey convention centre comprises main hall with a full flying tower, a seating capacity of 1,200, a gallery, meeting rooms, and parking for 120 cars.
- As many as 108 Rudraksha have been installed at this convention centre and its roof is shaped like a Shiva Linga.
- It is ideal for holding international conferences, exhibitions and music concerts and other events and the gallery is done up with murals depicting Varanasi’s art, culture and music.
- It will be an environment-friendly building, fit for level 3 of Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA).
- ‘Rudraksha’ was an amalgam of Kashi’s ancient heritage as well as its modern outlook.
- Varanasi needed a convention centre with modern amenities in view of its cultural and economic importance.
- Kavi sammelans that are a part of Kashi’s culture can be held here.
- Japan International Cooperation Agency-assisted Varanasi International Cooperation and Convention Centre’s (VCC) main hall can be partitioned into smaller spaces when needed.
- The project aims to provide opportunities for social and cultural interactions between people at the international convention centre in Varanasi.
- This is expected to strengthen the city’s competitiveness by developing its tourism sector.
- The VCC will be equipped with adequate security and safety systems. It will have a regular entrance, a service entrance and a separate VIP entrance, making it an ideal destination for holding all types of international events.
GS PAPER II
Draft Drone Rules, 2021
Why in news
Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has released the update of the Drone Rules, 2021 for public consultation.
- With the aim of making India a drone-friendly nation, the draft rules abolish the need of various approvals, including certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation and student remote pilot licence.
- Also, the government will be developing a digital sky platform that will have an interactive airspace map dividing the country into four zones — green, yellow, and red zones.
- It reduces the airport perimeter from 45 km to 12 km.
- It also states that no flight permissions would be required to fly upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
Draft Drone Rules, 2021
- Provisions under ‘Draft Drone Rules’ are:
- Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
- No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
- No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drone and for R&D organisations.
- No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
- Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.
- No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.
- No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.
- Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
- Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.
- Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.
- Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.
- Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
- Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
- Drone is an unmanned aircraft which are formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes).
- Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.
- It has been divided into few categories:
- Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams.
- Micro: From 250 grams to 2kg.
- Small: From 2 kg to 25kg.
- Medium: From 25kg to 150kg.
- Large: Greater than 150kg.
GS PAPER III
Why in News
The Amazon forests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, have started emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of absorbing carbon emissions.
- In a study published in the journal Nature, stated that a significant amount of deforestation in eastern and south-eastern Brazil has turned the forest into a source of CO2 that has the ability to warm the planet.
- Not only have the Amazon rainforests, some forests in Southeast Asia also turned into carbon sources in the last few years as a result of formation of plantations and fires.
The Amazon basin
- The Amazon basin is huge with an area covering over 6 million square kilometres, it is nearly twice the size of India.
- The Amazon rainforests cover about 80% of the basin and as per NASA’s Earth observatory, they are home to nearly a fifth of the world’s land species and is also home to about 30 million people including hundreds of indigenous groups and several isolated tribes.
- Other than this, the basin produces about 20% of the world’s flow of freshwater into the oceans.
- Over the last few years, the forest has been under threat due to deforestation and burning.
- In 2019, fires in the Amazon were visible from space. According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), forest fires have doubled since 2013.
- One reason behind the forest fire is when farmers burn their land to clear it for the next crop.
- According to the editorial published in the journal Science Advances in 2019, the precious Amazon is teetering on the edge of functional destruction and, with it, so are we.
- Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, which comprises about two-thirds of the area of the rainforest, started in the 1970s and 1980s when large-scale forest conversion for cattle ranching and soy cultivation began.
- According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, the state policies that encourage economic development, such as railway and road expansion projects have led to “unintentional deforestation” in the Amazon and Central America.
Reason for not absorbing as much CO2 by eastern Amazon
- Over the years as fossil-fuel emissions across the world have increased, the Amazon forests have absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to moderate the global climate.
- But researchers are not saying that because of significant levels of deforestation over the course of 40 years, there has been a long-term decrease in rainfall and increase in temperatures during the dry season.
- Because of these reasons the eastern Amazon forests are no longer carbon sinks, whereas the more intact and wetter forests in the central and western parts are neither carbon sinks nor are they emitters.
- Another reason for the eastern region not being able to absorb as much CO2 as it did previously is the conversion of forests into agricultural land, which has caused a 17% decrease in the forest cover, an area that is almost the size of continental US.
- In the southeast region, which forms about 20% of the Amazon basin and has experienced about 30% of the deforestation in the last four decades, scientists have recorded a 25% reduction in precipitation and a temperature increase of at least 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.5 degrees Celsius during the dry months of August, September and October.
- This means that if the ability of tropical forests to act as carbon sinks is to be maintained, fossil fuel emissions need to be reduced and temperature increases need to be limited as well.
Importance of Amazon Forest
- Diversity in wildlife:
- Amazon has a wide variety of wildlife species, from pond-hopping poison frogs to spotted jaguars slinking around in the dead of night, it is the houses of the world’s most charismatic plants and animals. These species keep the forest healthy and wealthy.
- More than 40,000 plant species have been found in the Amazon rainforest. Many of them have important medicinal uses or are found in the foods we eat. This plays an active role in regulating the ecosystem
- Amazon River’s Riches:
- The Amazon River is the second longest river in the world, next to the Nile.
- It has the highest rate of rainfall in the world.
- A recent study suggested that wetlands in the Amazon hold over 53 percent of the more than 6,727 tree species counted in the Amazon.
- It plays an important part in regulating the world’s oxygen and carbon cycles.
- It produces roughly 6% of the world’s oxygen and has long been thought to act as a carbon sink, meaning it readily absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Effect of forest fires on biodiversity
- Amazon rainforest holds at least 10% of the world’s biodiversity. As per latest reports more than 9000 forest fires has been ragging simultaneously.
- Effect of forest fires on environment:
- Forest fire is the significant source of emitted carbon.
- It contributes to global warming that leads to biodiversity changes.
- At regional and local level, it led to change in biomass stocks, alter hydrological cycle.
- It also has subsequent effects for marine systems like coral reefs.
- It impacts functioning of plant and animal species.
- Smokes from fires reduce photosynthetic activity and can be detrimental to the health of human and animals.
- It increased probability of further burning in subsequent years.
- Consequences of repeated burns are detrimental as it is the key factor in the impoverishment of biodiversity in rainforest ecosystem.
- Replacement of vast areas of forest with grasslands is another negative ecological impact of fires in tropical rain forest.