Context:The Question Hour, whichhad been suspended by thegovernment during the monsoon session, will resumewhen Parliament meets forthe Budget session from January 29.
Topic in syllabus:Prelims – polity
What is question hour?
Question Hour is the first hour of a sitting session of India‘s Lok Sabha devoted to questions that Members of Parliament raise about any aspect of administrative activity.
The concerned Minister is obliged to answer to the Parliament, either orally or in writing, depending on the type of question raised.
Questions are one of the ways Parliament can hold the Executive accountable.
There are four types of question—Starred, non-starred, short notice question and questions to private members.
1) Starred Questions are those for which an oral answer is expected. The member is allowed to as after the reply is obtained from the Minister concerned.
2) Non-starred questions are those for which a written reply is expected. After the reply has been provided, no supplementary question can be asked. A notice period is to be given to the minister to reply to a question.
3)Short notice questions are those which are asked on matters of urgent public importance and thus, can be asked on a shorter notice i.e. less than 10 days. These questions can be answered orally and supplementary questions can be asked.
4) Questions to private members are those which are asked to members who are not ministers. These questions are related to private member bill, parliamentary committees, private member resolutions.
However, if a Member seeks to ask a question urgently and cannot wait for the duration of the notice period, then the member can do so provided it is accepted by the Speaker. Such questions are called supplementary questions.
Context:As India prepares to receivethe first batch of S-400 long-range air defence system byyearend, the first group ofIndian military specialistsare scheduled to depart forMoscow soon to undergotraining courses on theS400, the Russian Embassyhere said in a statement.
Topic in syllabus:Prelims – Defence
About S-400 long-range air defence system:
The S-400 Triumph air defence system integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre.
It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
The system can engage all types of aerial targets, including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles, within the range of 400km at an altitude of up to 30km.
The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets.
The S-400 is twice as effective as the previous Russian air defence systems and can be deployed within five minutes.
It can also be integrated into the existing and future air defence units of the airforce, army and navy.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
Context:The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Constitutional validity of the amendments to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, which, among others, mandated that to trigger an insolvency proceeding against a defaulting builder in respect of a real estate project, the application must be filed by a minimum of 100 allottees or 10 percent of the allottees, whichever was lesser.
Topic in syllabus:Prelims – Economy, polity
About Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code:
What does the IBC aim to do?
IBC applies to companies, partnerships and individuals. It provides for a time-bound process to resolve insolvency. When a default in repayment occurs, creditors gain control over debtor’s assets and must take decisions to resolve insolvency. Under IBC debtor and creditor both can start ‘recovery’ proceedings against each other.
Who regulates the IBC proceedings?
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India has been appointed as a regulator and it can oversee these proceedings. IBBI has 10 members; from Finance Ministry and Law Ministry the Reserve Bank of India.
Who facilitates the insolvency resolution?
A licensed professional administers the resolution process, manage the assets of the debtor, and provide information for creditors to assist them in decision making.
Who adjudicates over the proceedings?
The proceedings of the resolution process will be adjudicated by the National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT), for companies and the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for individuals. The courts approve initiating the resolution process, appointing the insolvency professional and giving nod to the final decision of creditors. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board regulates insolvency professionals, insolvency professional agencies and information utilities set up under the Code.
What is the procedure to resolve insolvency under the Code?
When a default occurs, the resolution process may be initiated by the debtor or creditor. The insolvency professional administers the process. The professional provides financial information of the debtor from the information utilities to the creditor and manage the debtor’s assets. This process lasts for 180 days and any legal action against the debtor is prohibited during this period.
What happens under liquidation?
If the debtor goes into liquidation, an insolvency professional administers the liquidation process. Proceeds from the sale of the debtor’s assets are distributed in the following order of order: First insolvency resolution costs, including the remuneration to the insolvency professional, second secured creditors, whose loans are backed by collateral and third dues to workers, other employees, forth unsecured creditors.
Important news in short
India will begin to ship outlakhs of doses of the novelcoronavirus vaccine toneighbouring countries beginning Wednesday, with thefirst batches expected toreach Bhutan and the Maldives among several countries by special planes as agrant or gift.(Good example to use in India & the neighbourhood relations related questions)
The Union Culture Ministryon Tuesday announced thatJanuary 23, birth anniversary of Subhas ChandraBose, would be celebrated as“Parakram Divas”, day ofcourage, every year.
United States President-electJoe Biden plans to unveil asweeping immigration Billon the first day of his administration, hoping to providean eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S.without legal status — a massive reversal from the Trumpadministration’s harsh immigration policies.
India must remain an integral part of the global economy if it has to grow at 9-10% over the next three decades, NITI Aayog CEOAmitabh Kant said. (can quote in answers)
India’s appetite for 5G is going to be overpowering andtherefore businesses mustplay a proactive role in creating a ‘desi 5G model’ that isinclusive and supportive ofhealthcare, education andfarming, urged Ravi ShankarPrasad, Union Minister forCommunications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice.
The online gaming industry has asked the government think tank NITIAayog to set up a single, self-regulatory body tostandardise regulations governing the entire onlineskill gaming industry, instead of just fantasy sports.
(The Hindu & The Indian Express)
India-Nepal relations in a new transition
Written by:Atul K. Thakur (policy professionaland columnist)
Topic in syllabus:India and its Neighbourhood- Relations. (GS-2)
Analysis about:This editorial talks about the emerging Nepal policy & India – Nepal relationship.
As a unique characteristic, Nepal’s internal political fundamentals continue to shape its foreign policy choices. In the process, what gets lost is the scope of pursuing ‘Enlighted self-interest’.
China’s geostrategic, economic and infrastructural drives were made tempting to a precarious Nepal with its fragile democracy and the adulterated ideological standing of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (CPN).
The CPN is a divided house, and publicly, this was known when Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli dissolved the House of Representatives in late December 2020. The move was termed ‘unconstitutional’ by the experts.
What happened in the recent meeting?
Amidst the domestic politicalchaos, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Pradeep KumarGyawali, visited New Delhi for the sixth meeting of the India Nepal Joint Commission on January 15,2021, thatwas co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
The keenly awaited meetingproved to be more focused on confidence-building measures.
Anearly provision of vaccines to Nepal was positively considered byIndia.
On the development partnership front, the expansion of theMotihari-Amlekhganj petroleumproducts pipeline to Chitwan andthe establishment of a new pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepalformed a part of the discussions.
For the upgraded first passengerrailway line between India and Nepal from Jaynagar to Kurtha via Janakpur, the elusive operating procedures for commencement oftrain services have been discussed. Other “cross border railconnectivity projects, including apossible Raxaul-Kathmandu broadgauge railway line”, were alsodiscussed.
The Joint Commission laid emphasis on the need for facilitatingcross border movement of people and goods, thus giving the sub regional cooperation, its actual due.
Notwithstanding the Nepali side’sdemand to include the boundaryin the Joint Commission Meeting, India made it clear to find a freshmechanism to resolve any suchcrucial long pending issue.
India – Nepal cooperation:
The recently inaugurated Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Birgunjand Biratnagar have helped in the seamless movement of people andtrade between the two countries.
The construction of a third integrated check post at Nepalgunj hasalready commenced, while the new integrated check post at Bhairahwa would begin shortly.
SinceNepal relies on India’s seaports ina big way for trading, and goodsare transported by road, the integrated check posts are expected toease trade and transit.
India’s support to two more cultural heritage projects in Nepal, namely, the Pashupatinath Riverfront Development and the Bhandarkhal Garden Restoration in Patan Durbar is significant in the times when China is exploring all avenues to disrupt Nepal’s natural choice in policymaking.
Moving away from the recent hiatus, Nepal expressed support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council (UNSC) to reflect the changed balance of power.
What is the necessity?
The joint hydropower projects, including the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, should get positive momentum following this round of meeting.
The next meeting of the Joint Commission in Nepal should be crucial in giving a new direction to the bilateral ties, keeping a balance between change and continuity.
What are the vulnerabilities in Nepal?
The growing disenchantment among the Nepali masses over the increased centralisation of power, failure of the Provincial System in addressing the developmental issues, misuse of Presidential authority by Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari, and unprecedented corruption provide ample room for a resetting of Nepal’s democracy.
Worryingly, a large section of the people wants the ‘cultural Monarchy’ back to substitute the Presidential system and a reestablishment of certain traditional ways to governance.
The way forward:
While theunusual developments are takingplace in Nepal, there are manywho still think that India is comfortable with some changes as its Nepal policy is heading very clearlytowards deeper engagement with all sections.
Democracy in Nepal isachieved, not ascribed, and Nepaland its people deserve a betterdeal than what has been offered bythe Oli-Bhandari duo.
Nepalcannot afford to enter in anotherround of political instability, andthose who have commandingauthority to spearhead India Nepal bilateral relations must give ahumane consideration to it. At thecrossroads, Nepal needs actionand to come to term with realities.
The threat of deepfakes
Written by:K. P. Shashidharan (former director-general in theoffice of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India)
Topic in syllabus:Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security. (GS-3)
Analysis about:This editorial talks about why we need AI-backed technological tools to detect thedeepfake content.
The protesters who created chaos in CapitolHill on January 6 believe that the 2020 U.S.election was stolen by the Democrats.
This islargely due to misinformation and disinformation of which deepfakes are a part. Deepfakes — synthetic media, meaning media (including images, audio and video) that areeither manipulated or wholly generated byArtificial Intelligence — even have the powerto threaten the electoral outcome of theworld’s oldest democracy.
The challenge of deepfakes:
AI is usedfor fabricating audios, videos and texts toshow real people saying and doing thingsthey never did, or creating new images andvideos.
These are done so convincingly thatit is hard to detect what is fake and what isreal. Detection can often be done only by AI-generated tools.
Several books caution usagainst the threats of AI-generated content comprising non-existent personalities, synthetic datasets, unreal activities of real people, and content manipulation.
Deepfakescan target anyone, anywhere. They are usedto tarnish reputations, create mistrust, question facts, and spread propaganda.
Concerns for India:
India has not enacted any specific legislation todeal with deepfakes, though there are someprovisions in the Indian Penal Code that criminalise certain forms of online/social media content manipulation.
The InformationTechnology Act, 2000 covers certain cybercrimes. But this law and the InformationTechnology Intermediary Guidelines(Amendment) Rules, 2018 are inadequate todeal with content manipulation on digitalplatforms.
In 2018, the government proposedrules to curtail the misuse of social networks. Social media companies voluntarilyagreed to take action to prevent violationsduring the 2019 general election.
The Election Commission issued instructions on social media use during election campaigns.
Reports show that social media platforms like WhatsApp were used as “vehicles formisinformation and propaganda” by majorpolitical parties during the election.
Existing laws are clearly inadequate to safeguard individuals and entities against deepfakes.
What is to be done?
As innovation in deepfakes gets better, AIbased automated tools must be invented accordingly.
Blockchains are robust against many security threats and can be used to digitally sign and affirm the validity of a video or document.
The University of Washingtonand Microsoft convened a workshop with experts to discuss how to prevent deepfaketechnology from adversely affecting the2020 U.S. presidential election. The workshop identified following themes:
Educating media users about the capabilities of AI algorithms could help.
Deepfakesmust be contextualised within the broaderframework of malicious manipulated media, computational propaganda and disinformation campaigns;
Deepfakes cause multidimensional issues which require a collaborative, multistakeholder response that requireexperts in every sector to find solutions;
Journalistsneed tools to scrutinise images, video andaudio recordings for which they need training and resources;
policymakers must understand how deepfakes can threaten polity,society, economy, culture, individuals andcommunities.
The idea that the mereexistence of deepfakes causes enough distrust that any true evidence can be dismissed as fake is a major concern that needs tobe addressed.
In today’s world, disinformation comes in varied forms, so no single technology can resolve the problem. Hence it has to be tackled by multi-technological tools.
Yes, India can
Source:The Indian express
Written by:Rama Bijapurkar (Market strategy consultant)
Topic in syllabus:Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment. (GS-3)
Analysis about:This editorial talks about why we must push for a self-confident Bharat, instead of self-reliant one.
It is not correct to interpritAtmanirbhar to mean self-sufficiency not self-reliance and to argue that the old xenophobic meaning of the word is consistent with the idea of globalisation.
Our PM should use his considerable pivoting skills and turn Atmanirbhar to AtmaVishwasi Bharat (AVB) or self-confident Bharat.
Why AtmaVishwasi Bharat is necessary?
In AVB, “Make in India” would translate into not feeling paralysed that China dominates manufacturing for the world, but in believing that we can get our own small share of the pie, and working towards it by setting our own targets, devising our own strategy and making it happen our own way.
Instead of confident about being the pharma factory to the world and building it even bigger, we spook ourselves by saying we are hollow, we source active ingredients from China.
The fact is that we used to make them ourselves until Chinese undercut us. We have the know-how and the manufacturing capacity to do it again, so we have the power to make or buy as needed.
We enviously note that western countries are already giving the vaccine and stockpiling it, but when it comes to our own vaccine availability, we comment on approvals with not enough data, instead of giving it a mighty push.
Unlike most countries, including China, we have a totally interoperable digital payments system that removes the power of closed loop groups and is a public utility with the capability to handle enormous volume at a very low price.
HowAtmaVishwasi Bharat is beneficial?
We have created an IT services hub for the world, but we still say “Oh why do we not have products?” AVB would invest to create real global brands, not be content with exporting products around the world with name labels sold to faceless dealers, without visibility of actual user demand.
In AVB, SMEs would force banks to find more appropriate methods to credit appraise them instead of saying “you have nothing to collateralise” and offering high risk pricing.
AVB would make an effort to capture its own domestic demand instead of trying to sell the idea of our demand to lure reluctant FDI or let China dump in our markets because we say we can’t compete.
AVB would celebrate that we have Indianised Amazon and our small producers are getting market access.
AVB would also rap MNCs for violation of rules, when necessary, and not be swayed by cries of “If you do this, no one will invest in us”.
AVB would use the worlds’ businesses to further its own cause, not complain about globalisation making us vulnerable.
AVB is what we are seeing, at last, in our foreign policy.
AVB will solve India’s problems with (to borrow from C K Prahalad) “next practice” (new and better, leading the world) not “best practice” and will not dismiss the considerable Indian innovation in this direction as jugaad until foreigners bless it.
AVB business schools will focus on creating a new body of management experience and research emanating from India that makes the world take note (and we have plenty to show there), and not focus on doing less relevant research that Western peer-reviewed journals will publish.