What’s the 4-nation Quad, where did it come from?
Why In News: Leaders of four countries — India, the United States, Australia, and Japan, met for the second-in person summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad in Tokyo.
What is the Quad and why was it formed?
• The Quad is an informal multilateral grouping of India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan aimed at cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
• Formally the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad began as a loose partnership after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when the four countries joined together to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance to the affected region.
• It was formalised by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, but then fell dormant for nearly a decade.
• The group was resurrected in 2017, reflecting changing attitudes in the region toward China’s growing influence.
What is Indo-Pacific region?
• The Indo-Pacific region is a geopolitical area that spans two regions of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Stretching from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India
• The Indo-Pacific is a 24 nations regional framework comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia.
Is it an “Asian NATO”?
• China has complained that the group represents an attempt at forming an “Asian NATO,” though unlike the European alliance there is no mutual-defence pact in effect.
• Quad members say the group is meant to deepen economic, diplomatic and military ties among the four countries.
• They don’t often explicitly say it, those partnerships are meant to be a bulwark against Chinese aggression.
Principles of Quad
• The motive behind the Quad is to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any military or political influence.
• It is basically seen as a strategic grouping to reduce Chinese domination.
• The core objective of the Quad is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and a liberal trading system.
• The coalition also aims to offer alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
• Promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond
• The Quad leaders exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, pandemic and education.
Significance of Quad for India
It is believed that the forum strategically counters China’s economic and military rise. Interestingly, if Chinese hostilities rise on the borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter the communist nation. In addition, India can even take the help of its naval front and conduct strategic explorations in the Indo-Pacific region.
What has happened in the Quad meetings so far?
• The March 2021 virtual summit gave rise to the main objectives of the Quad, outlined actionable goals, and formed expert working groups in multiple areas.
• The other areas of immediate focus were the pandemic through strengthening equitable vaccine access for the Indo-Pacific, combating climate change, sharing critical technologies, cyber security, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure and connectivity projects.
• Quad leaders launched the Quad Vaccine Initiative (QVI) with the aim of manufacturing and distributing at least a billion COVID-19 vaccines for the Asia region by the end of 2022.
• As for emerging technologies, the four countries aimed to work on the development and diversification of 5G telecommunications and the creation of supply chains for critical minerals and technologies for making semiconductors used in smartphones, another area where China is a leader.
• Quad nations had also agreed to build joint connectivity projects and transparent infrastructure funding for countries in the region.
o The emphasis on connectivity saw the Quad challenge China in another sphere: a coordinated effort to provide financing and sustainable alternatives to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has led many nations to take loans and accept infrastructure bids from Beijing.
• The Quad also created a working group for combatting climate change which would oversee efforts to foster green shipping by decarbonising maritime supply chains and promoting the use of clean hydrogen.
What is QUAD+?
• South Korea has expressed interest in joining the Quad
• The group has held “Quad-plus” meetings that have included South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam, which could form the basis for future expansion or partnership in the region.
• entrusted with the responsibility of earmarking industrial space for e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities, undertaking industrial skill development and establishing measures for protecting the health and safety of workers engaged in the dismantling and recycling facilities for e-waste.
Do you know? 60% e-waste recycling likely by 2023
Why in News: On May 19, 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has published the E-Waste (Management) Draft Rules which shall apply to every Manufacturer, Producer, Recycler, Refurbisher.
• Consumer goods companies and makers of electronics goods have to ensure at least 60% of their electronic waste is collected and recycled by 2023 with targets to increase them to 70% and 80% in 2024 and 2025 respectively.
• The rules also lay out a system of companies securing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates.
o These certificates certify the quantity of e-waste collected and recycled in a particular year by a company and an organisation may sell surplus quantities to another company to help it meet its obligations.
• Companies will have to register on an online portal and specify their annual production and e-waste collection targets.
• The chief entity that will coordinate the trade of EPR certificates and monitor if companies are meeting their targets is the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
• The EPR also requires producers to set up e-waste exchange facilities to facilitate collection and recycling, and assign specific responsibility to bulk consumers of electronic products for safe disposal.
The State governments have been
• The e-waste produced in India as per the data provided by the government is lower than estimates by international agencies.
• According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, India generates about 2 million tonnes (MT) of e-waste annually and ranks fifth among e-waste producing countries, after the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.
Ayushman Bharat Health Account app
Why in News: The National Health Authority (NHA), under its flagship scheme of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), announced the launch of a revamped Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) mobile application.
What was the previous version?
The ABHA app, previously known as the NDHM Health Records app.
What is new in the new App?
• The app has a new user interface (UI) and added functionalities that enable individuals to access their health records anytime and anywhere.
• The existing ABHA app users can also update their previous app versions to the latest one.
• The ABHA app enables an individual to create an ABHA address (username@abdm), an easy-to-remember username that can be linked with the 14-digit randomly generated ABHA number.
• It also enables users to link their health records created at an ABDM-compliant health facility and view them on their smartphones.
• It allows self-uploading of physical health records in the ABDM-compliant health lockers, along with sharing of digital health records such as diagnostic reports, prescriptions and CoWIN vaccination certificate after the consent of an individual through the ABDM network.
• The app has new functionalities such as edit profile and link and unlink ABHA number (14 digit) with ABHA address.
• Other functionalities such as login via face and fingerprint authentication and ability to scan QR code at the counter of the ABDM-compliant facility for express registration shall also be released soon.
Why in news: Recently the West Bengal has announced appointments to key posts in West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Information Commission and Lokayukta.
• The Lokayukta ( “civil commissioner”) is the Indian Parliamentary Ombudsman, executed into power, through and for, each of the State Governments of India.
• It is brought into effect in a state, after passing the Lokayukta Act in respective state Legislature
• The post is created to quickly address grievances against the working integrity and efficiency of the government or its administration (public servants).
Removal and transfer
• Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed or transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing a motion by the state assembly, making it a powerful deterrent against corruption and mal-administration of the governing system.
• The 1st Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Morarji Desai submitted a special interim report on “Problems of Redressal of Citizen’s Grievances” in 1966. In this report, the ARC recommended the setting up of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for the redressal of citizens’ grievances.
• In 1968, the Government of India on the basis of the Administrative Reforms Commission report and its recommendation established the institution of Lokayukta on the pattern of the Ombudsman Institution and introduced a Bill which provided for appointment of Lokpal and his deputies at National level and included Lokayukta for the States.
• As other existing systems to handle these issues, namely courts, departmental authorities and other avenues were not sufficient to deal with issues of corruption other malpractices by public servants and therefore, an alternative and efficient system machinery was needed.
• To investigate complaints against administrative actions
• To improve the standard of public administration in India through investigation of complaints against administrative actions, which includes complaints of corruption, favouritism and indiscipline
You should know
• The Lokayukta, along with the Income Tax Department and the Anti-Corruption Bureau, mainly helps people publicise corruption among the Politicians and Government Officials.
• Many acts of the LokAyukta have resulted in criminal or other consequences for those charged.
• Maharashtra was the first state to introduce the institution of Lokayukta through The Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971.
• Powers of Lokayukta in each state are different and efforts are being made to make them uniform.
• The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the State, through nomination by its Chief Minister in consensus with:
o Chief justice of the State High Court
o Leaders of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
o Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Legislative Council.
• Any person who is a judge or a retired Chief Justice or a retired judge of the High Court is eligible to be appointed as Lokayukta.
Role in combating corruption and maladministration
• The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, makes it compulsory for each state to appoint Lokayukta similar to Lokpal at central level for investigation into complaints of corruption against government officers in public offices.
• As per the Act the institution should have both Judicial and Non-Judicial members.
• Lokayukta investigates cases of corruption committed at state level, and once proved recommends action.
• It is a great check on corruption, brings about transparency in the system, makes administrative machinery citizen friendly.
• He provides for inquiry/investigation into complaints of corruption against public servants.
• He protects Citizens’ Right against mal-administration, corruption, delay, inefficiency, non-transparency, abuse of position, improper conduct etc.
• To keep the powers of Lokayukta neutral and non-biased provision for fixed tenure is made.
• He is representative of Legislature, powerful friend of citizens to act against officials’ action, inaction or corruption. But not anti-administration, rather helps in humanizing relations between the public and the administration
• A step forward in establishing an ‘Open Government’ securing respect for the rule of law, an educator aiming at propagating the prevention of corruption, inefficiency and mal-administration in governance. He is, therefore, a check on corruption.
At the 11th All India Lokayukta Conference, sixteen Lokayuktas sent the following recommendations to the Indian government:
• Make the Lokayukta the central clearinghouse for all corruption charges; Give the Lokayukta jurisdiction over state-run investigation agencies;
• Bring bureaucrats within the Lokayuktas’ jurisdiction;
• grant search and seizure powers, as well as the ability to launch contempt procedures;
• To improve the Lokayukta’s performance, provide it administrative and financial autonomy;
• Bring government-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under the Lokayukta’s authority.