January 25th, 2021
LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE
1. Mock trials of remote voting project soon: CEC
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the trials of the Election Commission’s remote voting project would be carried out soon. The system being uses block-chain for two-way remote voting at designated centres. “Another significant change we can look forward to is grant of postal ballot facility to over- seas electors,” said the CEC.
In another development, electors will be able to download electronic versions of the elector photo ID card, or eEPIC. The eEPIC would be a non-editable PDF version of the EPIC that can be downloaded on the phone and stored on the DigiLocker app or printed from a computer.
2. UN rights body calls for release of Bhima Koregaon activists
The top human rights body of the United Nations has urged the Indian government to release the activists who are in prison for the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon case, “at the very least on bail”.
The Bhima-Koregaon case dates back to January 1, 2018, which marked the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. The event was organised to celebrate the victory of the British army, which included a large number of Mahars, against Peshwa Baji Rao II’s army. One person was killed and several others were injured during the 2018 event. Several human rights activists, including Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, were arrested during the course of the investigation.
3. Will digitise Affiliation system: CBSE
- The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is restructuring the affiliation system for schools, and making the process completely digital and based on data analytics with least human intervention. The new system, which would come into effect from March 1, has been restructured as per various recommendations for systemic reforms laid down in the new National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
4. Bombay HC overturns conviction under POCSO Act
The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted a man of charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and convicted him under a “minor offence” of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Bench said, “There is no direct physical contact i.e skin to skin with sexual intent without penetration.”
The police filed an FIR under Sections of the IPC and Section 8 (punishment for sexual assault) of the POCSO Act. The special court framed charges under Sections 361 (kidnapping from lawful guardianship) of the IPC also. A single Bench of Justice Pushpa Ganediwala was hearing an appeal filed challenging an order sentencing the convict to three years of imprisonment.
NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS
1. Amid the pandemic gloom, a Republic Day parade like no other
- Unlike previous years, the Republic Day celebrations are scaled down this year due to the pandemic. It would be without the usual festivity and fervour, with rigorous restrictions and stringent protocols. Delhi Police has advised people to watch the live telecast of Republic Day parade at home due to COVID-19 protocols. Invitees attending the parade at Rajpath have to comply with the COVID-19 advisory that includes temperature check, use of sanitiser, mask and social distancing. This time, there would not be a chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
2. The Palk Bay conflict is exacting a high toll, and cries for early resolution
The tragic death of four fishermen from Tamil Nadu – one of them a Sri Lankan Tamil refugee living in India, allegedly when the Sri Lankan Navy was about to arrest them last week, is yet another instance of the unresolved fisheries conflict in the Palk Bay taking an unacceptable toll of lives.
When the two sides decided to create a joint working group some years ago, they had agreed that there would be no violence or loss of life in the handling of the fishermen and that a hotline would be established between the respective Coast Guards. It is unfortunate that the hotline is yet to be operationalised, and deaths continue to occur.
So far there has not been enough political resolve to end this conflict. A comprehensive solution, one that would severely curtail unauthorised fishing and help in an orderly sharing of and sustainable use of resources by fishermen from both sides, is long overdue.
Palk Bay is a semi-enclosed shallow water body with a water depth maximum of 13m. It is located between the southeast coast of India and Sri Lanka
3. Terror groups in Pakistan/Kashmir switch to new messaging apps
Amid a raging debate over data privacy while using messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, terrorist groups and their handlers from Pakistan are switching to new applications, including one developed by a Turkish company, officials here said.
The names of the messaging apps have been withheld for security reasons. While one of the apps is owned by a company based in the U.S., the second is from Europe. The latest is an app developed by a Turkish company frequently used by the handlers and their prospective recruits in the Valley.
The new apps have the ability to work with the slowest Internet connections using 2G technology. All encryption and decryption happen directly on the devices, reducing third-party intervention at any point and these apps use encryption algorithm RSA2048, which was adopted as the most secure encrypted platform. The RSA is an American Network Security and Authentication company founded in 1982. One of the new messaging apps used by terrorists to radicalise the youth in the Valley does not even ask for phone numbers or emails, the officials said.
4. Sundarbans is home to 428 species of birds, says ZSI
The Indian Sundarbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds, a recent publication of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) states. The publication, Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, released earlier this month by the ZSI, not only documents the avifauna of the Sundarbans, but also serves as a comprehensive photographic ﬁeld guide, with detailed distribution and locality data for all the species from the region.
The Indian Sundarbans, which covers 4,200 sq. km, also includes the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq. km – home to about 96 royal Bengal tigers (as per the last census in 2020). It is a world heritage site and a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance). According to studies, India is home to 1300 species of birds in total.
Scientists and nature lovers are observing the 125th birth anniversary year of Salim Ali, the Birdman of India, the ZSI Director said birdwatching not only brings people closer to nature, but also creates awareness and livelihood opportunities for the locals.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES
1. K.P. Sharma Oli expelled from Nepal Communist Party
The ruling Nepal Communist Party, led by rebel leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal expelled Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli from the party. The decision divided the party into two groups and sparked a dispute over the party symbol but the Election Commission declined to recognise either faction as the official party.
The deepening crisis emerged weeks after Mr. Oli dissolved the Lower House, Pratinidhi Sabha, of Parliament on December 20, which was strongly opposed by Mr. Prachanda and Mr. Nepal who wanted the House to be restored.
Soon after the dissolution of the Pratinidhi Sabha, Mr. Oli created a committee of his supporters, which indicated that he would launch a take over of the party in case of an adversarial action by the rebel leaders. The situation is being described as an intense constitutional crisis as the Caretaker Prime Minister is left without any party affiliation because of the EC’s decision.
Mr. Oli had declared that elections would be held in April-May, but in the current situation a lot will depend on the Election Commission and the Supreme Court which is examining the writ petitions filed against the dissolution of the Lower House.
2. On Iran, it is decision time for Biden
Trump withdrawing from nuclear deal : In May 2018, Mr. Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – reached by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany and the European Union with Iran – and reimposed sanctions, especially on shipment of Iranian oil, to put ‘maximum pressure’ on Tehran to force it to accept America’s maximalist demands that went far beyond the agreement. After waiting a year for the European signatories of the JCPOA to persuade Washington to return to the agreement, Iran decided in 2019 to breach the limit for uranium enrichment imposed by the JCPOA.
Biden’s administration under pressure : Mr. Trump’s policy of exerting maximum pressure had produced the exact opposite result, bringing Iran closer to weaponization. This outcome has generated additional pressure on the Biden administration to reverse course and bring Tehran into compliance with the JCPOA by renewing America’s commitment to the agreement and lifting sanctions.
How Iran and US see the nuclear deal : The U.S. sees a return to the JCPOA as the first step towards curbing Iran’s missile programme as well as its regional ambitions that clash with those of the U.S. and its allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Iran considers the JCPOA as a stand alone agreement covering only Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s mighty influence in the neighbourhood : Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has trained proxy militias that have played a major role in helping the Assad regime in Syria to turn the tide of war against U.S. supported opposition forces. Tehran continues to finance and arm the fiercely anti-Israeli Lebanese Hezbollah and is the principal supporter of the Houthis in Yemen who have not only fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill but also attacked major Saudi oil facilities with Iranian supplied drones and missiles. It also continues to train and arm Shia militias in Iraq and to checkmate American policies in that country.
3. U.S. vows support to Taiwan as Chinese incursions enter Day 2
A total of 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, entered the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, the island’s Defence Ministry said, the second day of incursions by China. A map provided by the Ministry showed the Chinese aircraft again flew in between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea.
The overflights were part of a long standing pattern of incursions aimed at pressuring the government of President Tsai Ingwen into caving to Beijing’s demand that she recognise Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory.
This comes on the heels of the U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration, emphasising the island’s enduring position amidst a host of divisive issues between Beijing and Washington that also include human rights, trade disputes and, most recently, questions about China’s initial response to the pandemic.
4. Indonesia seizes Iranian, Panamanian tankers
- Indonesian authorities said that they seized an Iranian tanker and Panamanian tanker suspected of carrying out the illegal transfer of oil in their country's waters. The statement said the tankers are suspected of a variety of violations, including not displaying national flags, shutting off their identification systems, anchoring illegally as well as the illegal transfer of fuel between ships and spilling oil.
5. Scottish leader seeks ‘legal referendum’
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she planned to hold a legal referendum on independence from Britain despite Westminster’s opposition, as an opinion poll showed a majority would vote yes. If her Scottish National Party (SNP) wins a strong showing in regional elections in May, Ms. Sturgeon said she would seek a fresh referendum even though Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said such a vote should only be held once in a generation.
A Sunday Times poll found 50% of Scottish voters wanted another referendum in the next five years and 49% would vote for independence, while 44% would reject it. A 2014 referendum saw 55% vote “no.”The SNP says it will request a Section 30 order from the British government allowing the holding of another referendum. If this is refused it intends to push through its own legislation to prepare for a referendum and “vigorously” oppose a legal challenge from London.
6. Johnson presses Biden for new trade deal
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made clear to President Joe Biden that he’s eager to forge a new U.S.-U.K. trade deal. The push for a new deal came in a broad ranging call between the two leaders that touched on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the Biden administration announcing this week that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, according to a statement from Downing Street.
A new trade agreement between the allies is a higher priority for Mr. Johnson than it is for Mr. Biden. The U.K. regained control over its national trade policy at the start of the month following the end of a post-Brexit transition period.
7. Italy to take legal action against vaccine makers over delays
Italy will take legal action against Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to secure agreed supplies rather than seek damages, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said. On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the delays in vaccine supplies were “unacceptable” and amounted to a serious breach of contractual obligations, adding that Italy would use all available legal tools.
Italy will have to rethink its whole vaccination programme if supply problems persist, a senior health official warned. The cut in supplies announced by the two companies will put back vaccination of those aged 80 and above in Italy by about four weeks and the rest of the population by about 68 weeks, Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said.
1. Anti-Conversion Laws and their Constitutionality https://rb.gy/ulqeik
2. Saving your Privacy https://rb.gy/lopx9e
3. Judgements : P&H High court on maligning a woman's image https://rb.gy/oojk4o
4. State of farming in Punjab https://rb.gy/j0c6wj
Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage
Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench