GS PAPER I NEWS

Summer Solstice

Why in News

21st June of every year considered as the longest day of summer season in north of the Equator.

Key Points

  • 21st June referred as the summer solstice, the longest day of the summer season.
  • It occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer, i.e., right over 23.5-degree north latitude.

Reason behind summer solstice

  • Solstice means “sun stands still” in Latin.
  • Since Earth rotates on its axis, the Northern Hemisphere gets more direct sunlight between March and September over the course of a day and people living in the Northern Hemisphere experience summer during this time.
  • The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more sunlight.
  • During the solstice, the Earth’s axis completing one turn each day — is tilted in a way that the North Pole is tipped towards the sun and the South Pole is away from it.
  • This imaginary axis passes right through the middle of the Earth from top to bottom and is always tilted at 23.5 degree with respect to the sun.
  • As per NASA, the solstice is that instant in time when the North Pole points more directly toward the sun that at any other time during the year.
  • This day is characterised by a greater amount of energy received from the sun.
  • According to NASA, the amount of incoming energy the Earth received from the sun on this day is 30 per cent higher at the North Pole than at the Equator.
  • The maximum amount of sunlight received by the Northern Hemisphere during this time is usually on June 20, 21 or 22.
  • In contrast, the Southern Hemisphere receives most sunlight on December 21, 22 or 23 when the northern hemisphere has its longest nights– or the winter solstice.

GS PAPER II

Lakshadweep Administration

Why in News

The Lakshadweep Administration is mooting a proposal to shift legal jurisdiction over the islands from Kerala High Court to Karnataka High Court.

Key Points

  • The proposal was initiated by the administration after several litigation was moved before the Kerala High Court against the decisions taken by the islands’ new Administrator.
  • These decisions included revising standard operating procedures for COVID appropriate behaviour, introduction of the “goonda Act” and demolishing hutments of fishermen for widening of roads.
  • The proposal for shifting the legal jurisdiction from the High Court of Kerala to Karnataka comes amid these developments.

Constitutional Provisions

  • As per Article 241 of the Constitution of India, the jurisdiction of the High Court can only be shifted through an act of the Parliament.
  • According to Article 241 (1), the Parliament may, by law constitute a High Court for a Union Territory or make a court in the territory to be the High Court for any such purposes made by the Constitution.
  • The move to shift High Court jurisdiction comes in the backdrop of several petitions being filed before the Kerala High Court against the new administrator of Lakshadweep regarding the proposed Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goondas Act) and Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulations, which effectively introduces a ban on beef on the island.

Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021

  • Cow Slaughter and beef
  • Administration seeks to ban the slaughter of cow, calf, bull and buffalo without a certificate from a competent authority.
  • It prohibits the sale, transport and storage of beef and beef products.
  • Penalties include imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs 10,000.
  • The Administration has not provided an explanation on why the rule was brought in.
  • Two-child Policy
  • Under the Draft Panchayat Regulation 2021, the Administration aims to bar people with more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat.
  • For those who already have more than two children, the regulation does not disqualify them provided they do not have further children after the date on which the rule comes into effect.
  • Serving liquor to tourist
  • The Administration has decided to allow liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands.
  • Currently, prohibition is in place on all inhabited islands, with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram island.
  • Land acquisition powers
  • The Administration brought in a draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) to oversee development of towns on the islands, with sweeping changes in the way land can be acquired and utilised.
  • It talks of declaration of ‘planning areas’ and constitution of ‘planning and development authorities’ for preparing a land use map and register, ostensibly for large projects.
  • Anti-Goonda regulation
  • The draft Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation provides for powers to detain a person for up to one year to prevent him from “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  • It allows for detention for anti-social activities from six months to a year without legal representation.
  • Covid-19 SOPs
  • For a year, Lakshadweep did not record any case of Covid-19.
  • Last December, Covid-19 SOPs were diluted by doing away with mandatory quarantine for travelers at Kochi and Kavaratti.
  • Instead, anyone with a negative RT-PCR certificate issued in the previous 48 hours could travel to Lakshadweep.

About Lakshadweep Island

  • Lakshadweep is the archipelago of 36 islands across 12 atolls, closest to Kerala, on which it depends for essential supplies.
  • Only 10 of the islands are inhabited.
  • Once a part of Malabar district of the Madras Presidency, Lakshadweep was given Union Territory status following Kerala state’s formation in 1956.
  • With a population of 65,000 (2011 Census), Lakshadweep is India’s smallest Union Territory.
  • It has the highest population share of Muslims (96%) and Scheduled Tribes (94.8%) among the UTs. Residents speak Malayalam and Dhivehi.
  • Apart from the UT Administration, there are dweep panchayat councils.

GS PAPER II

EU-India Joint Naval Exercise

Why in News

Recently, the Indian Navy and European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) conducted a joint Naval Exercise in the Gulf of Aden.

Key Points

  • The exercise involved Indian Navy frigate INS Trikand, EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta assets, including Italian frigate Carabiniere (Atalanta’s flagship) and Spanish frigate Navarra, French frigate Surcouf and French amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre.
  • The exercise was based on the anti-piracy operation. It included cross-deck helicopter landings, complex tactical evolutions at sea, live firing, a night-time joint patrol and a naval parade in the high seas off the coast of Somalia.
  • The EU and India are committed to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, democracy, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • They reaffirm the primacy of international law, including the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • In January 2021, the EU and India launched a dialogue on maritime security and agreed to deepen their dialogue and cooperation in this domain.
  • The Indian Navy has been providing escort to World Food Programme chartered vessels, coordinated by EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta.
  • The Indian Navy has previously participated in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference, co-hosted by Operation Atalanta, whose assets conducted several joint exercises with Indian vessels in the past.
  • The EU and India intend to strengthen their operational cooperation at sea, including joint naval exercises and port calls, and to protect the sea-lanes of communication.
  • They also intend to boost maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific through mutual coordination and exchanges.
  • The EU and India reaffirm their interest to enhance their cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.

GS PAPER III

Nilssonia nigricans

Why in News

A major temple in Assam has signed a memorandum of understanding with two green NGOs, the Assam State Zoo­cum­Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration for the long-term conservation of the rare freshwater black softshell turtle or the Nilssonia nigricans.

Key Points

  • A vision document 2030 was also launched after Turtle Survival Alliance India and Help Earth signed the pact involving the Hayagriva Madhava Temple Committee.
  • Until sightings along the Brahmaputra’s drainage in Assam, the black softshell turtle was thought to be “extinct in the wild” and confined only to ponds of temples in north-eastern India and Bangladesh.
  • This multi­stakeholder association aims to restock the wild with viable, self-sufficient and genetically pure threatened turtle populations in the region.

Nilssonia nigricans

  • The black softshell turtle or Bostami turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) is a species of freshwater turtle found in India (Assam) and Bangladesh (Chittagong and Sylhet).
  • Previously declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2002, these turtles were found still to exist the in a temple’s pond called Hayagriva Madhava Temple located in Assam, India.

About IUCN status of Turtle

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature had in 2021 listed the turtle as “critically endangered”. But not protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
  • Although it has traditionally been hunted for its meat and cartilage, traded in regional and international markets.
  • Various temple ponds in Assam such as that of the Hayagriva Madhava Temple harbour various threatened species of turtles.
  • Since the turtles are conserved in these ponds only based on religious grounds, many biological requirements for building a sustainable wild population have since long been overlooked.

GS PAPER III

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the new Information Technology Rules

Why in News

The government will bring out a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the new Information Technology Rules in consultation with the industry concerned and stakeholders, addressing some of the concerns raised by them.

Key Points

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will be soon releasing a set of “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) to simplify the requirements in the rules on lines similar to what was done by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting a few days ago.
  • The industry has been asking for clarity on several issues apart from appointing officers under the new IT Rules, or the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, notified by the government.
  • The I&B Ministry had released FAQs for the Digital Media Ethics Code, which is part of the IT Rules, 2021.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

  • A standard operating procedure (SOP) is a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out routine operations.
  • It aims to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations.

Industry concerns

  • The industry has been awaiting the SOPs on the new IT Rules, 2021 because they require more clarity on certain matters. One of the most pressing ones is publishing monthly compliance reports.
  • The rules ask significant social media intermediaries to publish a compliance, report every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken, the number of specific communication links, or parts of information that the intermediary removed or disabled access to as a result of proactive monitoring conducted by using automated tools or any other relevant information as may be specified.

New Information and Technology Rules

  • New Guidelines for social media/Intermediaries:
  • Categories of Social Media Intermediaries: Based on the number of users, on the social media platform intermediaries have been divided in two groups:
  • Social media intermediaries.
  • Significant social media intermediaries.
  • Due Diligence to be Followed by Intermediaries: In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them. The safe harbour provisions have been defined under Section 79 of the IT Act, and protect social media intermediaries by giving them immunity from legal prosecution for any content posted on their platforms.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism is Mandatory: Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with complaints and share the name and contact details of such officers. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty-four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.
  • Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc. Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.
  • Additional Due Diligence for the Significant Social Media Intermediaries:
  • Appointments: Need to appoint Chief Compliance Officer, a Nodal Contact Person and a Resident Grievance Officer, all of whom should be resident in India.
  • Compliance Report: Need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively.
  • Enabling Identity of the Originator: Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information. Required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order,
  • Removal of Unlawful Information: An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt. or its agencies through authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc.