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Daily Current Affairs

12-October-2023

1. ‘Operation Ajay’ set to evacuate Indian nationals from Israel

Topic: GS3 – evacuation operations

Context:

  • India is initiating “Operation Ajay” to evacuate its citizens who wish to return from conflict-hit Israel.

Additional information

  • Special chartered flights and arrangements are being made for the evacuation.
  • This is the second evacuation operation this year, following “Operation Kaveri” in Sudan.
  • The Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv has informed registered Indian citizens about the special flight’s departure.
  • The evacuation decision follows the suspension of Air India’s Delhi-Tel Aviv route due to recent attacks in Israel.

2. Concerns about govt.’s fact check unit

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • The Bombay High Court has reserved its verdict on petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 (IT Rules).

Supplementary Details:

  • These rules permit a Fact Check Unit (FCU) of the Union Government to identify “fake or false or misleading” online content related to the business of the Central Government and demand its removal.
  • Petitioners, including Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild of India, and the Association of Indian Magazines, argue that the provision allows government-led online censorship.
  • The government argues that the FCU will notify intermediaries or online platforms of false content, which they can choose to take down or leave up with a disclaimer.
  • The amendment places obligations on intermediaries to prevent the hosting of information identified as fake or misleading by the Central government’s fact-check unit regarding the Central government’s business.
  • Failure to comply puts intermediaries at risk of losing safe harbor protection provided by Section 79 of the IT Act, 2000.
  • The High Court has expressed concerns about the lack of safeguards in the amended rules and the subjective nature of terms like “fake” and “misleading.”
  • It questions the sudden need for an FCU, pointing out the Press Information Bureau has been fact-checking efficiently for years.
  • The Court expressed unease that there is no provision in the Rules for an aggrieved intermediary to justify or defend flagged content, violating principles of natural justice.

3. India, China agree to continue ‘dialogue and negotiations’

Topic: GS2 – International organisations

Context:

  • India and China held the 20th round of corps commander-level talks at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point.

More information on this news:

  • The talks took place over two days but failed to make significant progress in resolving the stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
  • Both sides committed to maintaining the momentum of “dialogue and negotiations” and to “maintain” peace and tranquillity on the ground.
  • The discussions aimed to find an early and mutually acceptable resolution to the remaining LAC issues in the western sector.
  • The talks followed the progress made during the previous round of corps commanders’ meeting held on August 13-14, 2023.
  • Additionally, both sides agreed to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas during the interim period.

4. 3.21 lakh appeals pending with Information Commissions: report

Topic: GS2 – governance and administration

Context:

  • More than 3 lakh appeals and complaints are pending in 27 State Information Commissions across India, with the backlog steadily increasing.
  • Maharashtra has the highest number of pending appeals and complaints at 1,15,524, followed by Karnataka with 41,047. Tamil Nadu did not provide information.
  • A report titled ‘Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India, 2022-23’ revealed the backlog increase. In 2019, there were 2,18,347 pending

Reasons for backlog of cases with information commissions:

  • Insufficient appointment of Information Commissioners.
  • Lack of regular hearings and delays in case disposal.
  • Growing caseload due to increased awareness and use of the Right to Information Act.
  • Complex and lengthy appeal processes.
  • Understaffed and underfunded Information Commissions.
  • Legal challenges and pending court cases.
  • Unavailability of infrastructure and resources for efficient functioning.

Way Forward:

  • Commissioner Appointments: Fill vacant Information Commissioner positions.
  • Regular Hearings: Schedule consistent case hearings.
  • Capacity Building: Train and resource staff for efficiency.
  • Streamline Processes: Simplify appeal and complaint procedures.
  • Use Technology: Implement digital case management.
  • Infrastructure Support: Ensure adequate resources.
  • Public Awareness: Educate citizens about RTI.
  • Legal Reforms: Address legal challenges promptly.
  • Transparent Reporting: Regularly report on case status.
  • Collaboration: Foster cooperation between stakeholders.

Question: Inefficient functioning of Information Commissions has led to a substantial backlog of pending appeals and complaints under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Discuss the reasons behind this backlog and suggest measures to enhance the effectiveness of Information Commissions in India.

5. India likely to skip China’s BRI summit

Topic: GS2 – International relations

Context:

  • India is expected to skip China’s third Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit.
  • India had not attended previous BRI summits due to concerns about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
  • China is pushing back against criticism of the BRI and scaling back on investments.

Belt and Road Initiative:

  • The BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 and aims to promote economic cooperation, connectivity, and development across countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond.
  • It consists of two main components: the Silk Road Economic Belt, which focuses on land-based transportation routes, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which emphasizes sea-based connections.
  • The BRI involves various infrastructure projects, including railways, roads, ports, pipelines, and telecommunications networks, as well as economic corridors and industrial parks.
  • China provides financing for these projects through loans, investments, and partnerships with participating countries and international organizations.
  • The initiative has faced criticism and concerns from some countries, including issues related to debt sustainability, environmental impact, and geopolitical implications.
  • The Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is an annual event where countries and organizations discuss BRI projects, partnerships, and cooperation.

Issues raised by India about the Belt and Road Initiative:

  • Territorial Integrity: India opposes BRI projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) because they pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), an area India claims as its own.
  • Sovereignty Concerns: India is worried that BRI projects could lead to smaller participating countries accumulating debt, giving China undue influence over their policies.
  • Transparency: India seeks more transparency in BRI projects, including cost details and environmental impact assessments, to ensure their viability.
  • Environmental Impact: Concerns are raised about BRI projects’ environmental impact, potentially causing deforestation and pollution.
  • Financial Sustainability: India questions the long-term financial sustainability of BRI projects, especially for countries with limited resources.
  • Geopolitical Implications: India sees BRI as a strategic tool that could shift the regional balance of power, raising geopolitical concerns.
  • Lack of Consultation: India emphasizes the importance of consulting all stakeholders and neighboring countries before initiating BRI projects to prevent tensions.
  • Security Concerns: BRI projects may have military implications, raising concerns about dual-use infrastructure and potential military access.
  • Alternate Connectivity Initiatives: India advocates for alternative connectivity projects that are transparent, inclusive, and adhere to international law to promote regional cooperation.

Question:  Discuss India’s concerns and objections regarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its implications for regional geopolitics. How can India address these concerns while fostering connectivity and cooperation in the region?

6. India launches Op Ajay to bring home citizens from warzone

Topic: Prelims, GS2-IR

Context:

  • Amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, India on Wednesday (October 11) launched ‘Operation Ajay’ to facilitate the return of Indians from Israel who wish to come back.
  • The Indian government will facilitate the return of Indian citizens through special chartered flights, and Indian Navy ships will also be pressed into service if there is a need.

About the Recent Israel-Hamas Conflict:

  • Attackers: The gunmen of the militant group Hamas have attacked Israeli troops and taken many civilians hostage. This has caused a state of emergency in the country.
  • Reasons: Hamas has referred to the attack as a response to military raids of Israel in the West Bank and violence at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
  • Casualties: More than 5,000 rockets were launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. People on both sides of the border have suffered casualties due to the conflict.
  • Operation Iron Swords: Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have launched Operation ‘Iron Swords’ in retaliation for an unprecedented and “surprise” attack by Hamas.

7. Cabinet okays one-stop portal for youth, to be unveiled on October 31

Topic: GS2-Governance

Context:

  • The Union Cabinet approved the establishment of an autonomous body called Mera Yuva Bharat’ (MY Bharat) for “youth-led development and provide equitable access to youth”.

Details:

  • The primary objective of ‘MY Bharat’ is to become an overarching platform for youth development.
  • The portal will be unveiled on October 31, to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • The country has 40 crore individuals in the age group of 15-29 years, which constitutes 27 per cent of India’s population.
  • This platform will help integrate different schemes related to youths.
  • The objective of voluntary community participation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will also be achieved through this platform.
  • The platform is meant to offer suitable opportunities for youngsters to engage in voluntary work in the field of their choice and look for such opportunities across the country.
  • Once active, the platform will act as a one-stop shop for young people and various Central government ministries and will also create a centralised youth database.
  • However, there will be no financial remuneration involved.

8. NIA conducts raids against PFI in 6 states.

Topic: GS3-Internal Security

Context:

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) searched 20 locations across six states in connection with a case against the banned Popular Front of India (PFI) for allegedly attempting to disturb a rally of the Prime Minister in Bihar last year.

What is the Popular Front of India?

  • The Karnataka Forum for Dignity, The National Democratic Front in Kerala, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu were all Muslim organizations that came together to form the PFI in 2007.
  • On February 16, 2007, the PFI was publicly introduced at a rally held in Bengaluru as part of the “Empower India Conference.”

What caused the Center to ban PFI?

About the Ban:

  • The PFI and its affiliates, including the Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala, were deemed a “unlawful association” by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Cause of the Ban:

  • The government claims that the PFI has connections to Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and that some of its founding members are leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), both of which are banned organizations.
  • PFI, on a number of occasions, had connections with international terrorist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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