GS Paper- II
Context– Recently, India and Nepal decided to expand their economic and development cooperation for the benefit of both nations and the region as a whole.
- The Foreign Secretary of India recently met with his Nepalese colleague to explore ways to develop comprehensive bilateral cooperation.
- The visit is a continuation of the two amicable neighbours’ frequent exchange of visits.
Issues of discussion:
- During the summit, several elements of Nepal-India ties were covered, including power sector cooperation, commerce, transit, education, culture, healthcare, and connecting infrastructure.
- The summit focused on issues such as extending development aid to Nepal, raising investment, addressing connectivity and bilateral trade issues, and promoting power trade.
- Nepal has requested India to offer an international aviation connection so that the newly opened Gautam Buddha International Airport and Pokhara International Airport can function properly.
- Nepal has advocated establishing a framework for South Asian states to speak with one voice in international forums on climate change problems.
- The ‘Neighborhood First’ strategy of India is an essential component of Indian foreign policy.
- The strategy aims to foster amicable and synergistic connections with India’s South Asian neighbours in a variety of fields, including the economy, science and technology, research and education, and so on.
- This approach opens new doors while also using current regional cooperation programmes like SAARC, SASEC, BBIN, and BIMSTEC.
- It complements India’s Look East strategy, which is centred on Southeast Asia, and Look West policy, which is centred on the Middle East.
- India and Nepal have long-standing historical and cultural ties, as well as open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people relationships.
- Nepal is vital for India in terms of its broader strategic interests in the area, and the two nations’ leaders have frequently referred to the age-old “Roti Beti” connection.
- Over 1,850 kilometres of border are shared with five Indian states: Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
- Nepal is a landlocked country that relies significantly on India for commodities and services transit.
- Nepal’s major economic partner is India, with bilateral trade exceeding US$ 7 billion in fiscal year 2019-20. Nepal’s third-country commerce is nearly entirely transited through India.
- Over the last decade, India’s exports to Nepal have increased more than eightfold, while Nepal’s exports have almost doubled. Despite the challenges posed by the epidemic, India maintained a continuous flow of trade and supplies to Nepal.
- Nepal is now India’s 11th most important export destination, up from 28th in 2014.
- It accounted for 2.34% of India’s exports in fiscal year 2021-22. In reality, Indian exports account for about 22% of Nepal’s GDP.
- The GoI provides substantial financial and technical assistance to Nepal for the implementation of large development and infrastructure and connectivity projects, as well as small development projects/high-impact community development projects throughout the country in key areas such as education, health, irrigation, rural infrastructure, livelihood development, and so on.
- It was introduced in April 2018 and focuses on collaborative initiatives in agriculture, education, and research and development.
- India is assisting in the development of two wide gauge cross-border railway connections, Jayanagar-Bardibas and Jogbani-Biratnagar.
India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA):
- India and Nepal signed a Letter of Exchange (LoE) to the India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA), allowing any authorised cargo train operators, including private container train operators, to transport Nepalese containers and other freight.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed between India and Nepal for the building of a motorable bridge across the Mahakali River between Dharchula (India) and Darchula (Nepal), with Indian grant support.
- Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, India was the first responder and carried out its largest disaster assistance mission outside of India (Operation Maitri).
- India provided Nepal with $1 billion in long-term aid for post-earthquake rehabilitation in the housing, education, health, and cultural heritage sectors.
Issues between India & Nepal
- On 31 July 1950, India and Nepal signed a treaty of peace and friendship in an effort to “strengthen and deepen these connections and to sustain peace between the two nations”.
- Nepal came to consider that the pact was “incompatible with national self-respect” over time.
- India’s entrenched interests in Nepal were harmed in 2015, when a border blockade was imposed in response to demonstrations by Madhesis and other ethnic groups protesting the marginalisation of their interests in the newly-passed Nepalese Constitution.
- The territory is under Indian authority, although Nepal claims it for historical and geographical grounds. The dispute is the biggest between Nepal and India, including at least 37,000 hectares of territory in the High Himalayas.
- Susta is a contested area between Nepal and India. It is governed by India as part of the West Champaran district of Bihar.
- Nepal claims the territory as part of West Nawalparasi District under Susta rural municipality, stating that India has encroached on around 14,860 hectares of Nepali land in Susta.
- Several irritants have emerged, straining this relationship, and for the time being, there appears to be a deliberate effort by both governments to restore goodwill, with the Indian government attempting to use “religious diplomacy” to emphasise the special connection.
- India-Nepal ties must progress to a more meaningful collaboration on economic and geopolitical concerns, with the Indian government continuing to play a significant role in development initiatives with the Nepali leadership.
Source – The Hindu
Boost to Border infrastructure focusing China
GS Paper- III
Context- During an impromptu briefing in Parliament, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar recently detailed India’s border infrastructure and connectivity projects.
- The government’s border infrastructure and connectivity projects will concentrate on efforts in the north and east of India’s 3,488-kilometer border with China (Line of Actual Control or LAC).
- Infrastructure development will also take place on the Indian side in Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Projects linking India to “friendly” neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar will also be revamped.
- The EAM also emphasised the importance of focusing on border preparation, which includes the quality of infrastructure, technology involved, and upkeep.
- The report was issued in response to an official Security Conference report stating that Indian soldiers had lost access to 26 of the 65 patrolling sites along the LAC since 2020.
- The briefing is intended to counter the Opposition’s questions on the India-China situation during the parliamentary session, as well as assuage concerns in neighbouring countries in light of the recent drop in the Adani Group’s share value and credit ratings, which has been closely involved with the government’s foreign policy forays, particularly in the neighbourhood.
- The timing is especially crucial because it comes only a few weeks before Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s travel to Delhi for the G-20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
- The official text emphasised a multifaceted strategy, including increased access to the LAC via roads, bridges, and tunnels.
- India is also working to strengthen cross-border connection with neighbouring nations through the construction of motorways, bridges, inland waterways, trains, power lines, and petroleum pipelines.
- To facilitate commerce, India is upgrading and establishing integrated check points (ICPs) at all border crossings. India is also supporting and developing infrastructure projects in neighbouring nations.
- The study mentions dozens of nearby projects that are being planned, funded, or built, such as railway lines to Nepal and Bangladesh, the Mahakali motorable bridge, and the MaitriSetu between Tripura and Bangladesh.
- India is also involved in the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP), which includes a 158 km waterway, the Sittwe port project and road to Mizoram, and South Asia’s first cross-border petroleum products pipeline. Under an Indian government grant, India is developing a Bhutanese dry port in Pasakha, bordering West Bengal.
Government Schemes to strengthen Indian Borders
- The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is in charge of creating and maintaining road infrastructure in important border areas of India, as well as strengthening border administration.
- The BharatmalaPariyojana is a centrally supported programme that intends to build 65,000 km of national roads throughout the country, including border areas.
- Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) strives to improve road, power, and communication infrastructure along border areas in order to improve security.
- The goal of Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) is to improve border infrastructure, promote trade and commerce, and increase security by simplifying cargo and passenger flow.
- The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) intends to use new technology to develop a seamless and robust monitoring system along border areas.
- The MPF Scheme intends to equip state police forces with modern weaponry, technology, and infrastructure to improve their ability to combat cross-border infiltration and terrorism.
- The Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North East (SARDP-NE) seeks to improve security by increasing the mobility of military and paramilitary troops in the North Eastern Region.
Importance of Border infrastructure:
- Border infrastructure is critical for India’s national security, particularly along its northern and eastern borders with China (Line of Actual Control or LAC).
- Improved border infrastructure assists India in better preparing for any security difficulties that may occur.
- The border infrastructure upgrades also assist to increase communication between India’s distant districts and the rest of the country, allowing economic growth and minimising regional inequities.
- Modernization of integrated border checkpoints facilitates commerce with neighbouring nations and promotes regional economic cooperation.
- Connectivity initiatives with neighbouring nations like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka boost India’s geopolitical and economic ties with these countries.
- Given the continuous border disputes and tensions with China, rapid infrastructure development along India’s northern borders with China is a strategic requirement.
The difficulties of upgrading border infrastructure:
- Climate conditions in several border locations make infrastructure building and maintenance problematic.
- Concerns about ongoing conflicts with neighbouring nations typically need extra measures and delays in development timetables.
- Projects are frequently slowed and delayed due to a lack of money and resources.
- There is a need to strike a balance between development and the preservation of natural resources.
- Concerns over China’s influence in the area impact infrastructure investment choices.
Source – The Hindu
Appointment of Governors
GS Paper- II
Context- Governors have recently been appointed in 12 states and the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.
- The nomination of a former Supreme Court Justice has prompted worries about judicial accountability and independence.
- Concerns have been raised because the appointment was announced shortly after his retirement as a Supreme Court justice.
SC judge appointment as Governor.
- In its 14th report, the Law Commission stated that it is manifestly undesirable for retired Supreme Court justices to seek other government positions.
- In Rajya Sabha, late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stated that practically everyone, except a few honourable persons, wants a job after retirement. If we (the Parliament) do not create it, they will.
- Pre-retirement decisions are influenced by the desire for a post-retirement employment.
- This is a danger to the independence of the judiciary and has a negative influence on its operation.
- Former Chief Justice of India, late J.S. Verma, emphasised the necessity for a post-retirement code of conduct for Judges in 2012.
- A lengthier cooling-off period may aid in the establishment of a quid pro quo between the government (the largest plaintiff before the Supreme Court) and the departing Judge.
Criticism of the Governor’s office
- When two opposing political parties are in power at the national and state levels. Instead of resolving trust concerns, the governor sometimes exacerbates them. While dealing with various political groups within the state, governors are unable to discard their political preferences, predilections, and prejudices.
- Because the Governor is selected by the central government, the Governor’s activities are frequently interpreted as interference by the central government in the operation of the state government. The office has been reduced to a retirement package for legislators who are politically loyal to the current administration.
- Because the Governor serves at the discretion of the President, and the President works with the assistance and advice of the Council of Ministers. As a result, the office is controlled by the ruling party at the centre.
- He/she has the authority to ask the leader of the largest party to form the government following the election, which has frequently been abused to benefit a political party. The Governor is sometimes chastised for selecting without consulting the state government. Vice Chancellors, for example.
- The Governor has the discretionary authority under Article 200 to reserve measures for the President’s approval. Political parties have utilised this clause to further their partisan objectives.
Office of Governor
- “There shall be a Governor for each State,” states Article 153 of the Constitution.
- He or she is the Chief Executive Officer of a State.
- The governor is a notional (or constitutional) head of state.
- Acts as a representative of the central government.
- The Governor of a State is appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal, according to Article 155.
- According to Article 156, the Governor serves at the discretion of the President.
Qualifications and Position
- Only Indian nationals above the age of 35 are eligible for nomination to this post under Article 157.
- The President appoints the Governor of a State for a five-year tenure.
- The Governor’s position is not secure.
- According to Article 163 of the Constitution, the Governor will typically be assisted and advised by the Council of Ministers, except in responsibilities requiring his discretion.
- According to Article 164 of the constitution, the Chief Minister is selected by the Governor, and the other Ministers are nominated by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
- According to Article 163 of the Constitution, the Governor will typically be assisted and advised by the Council of Ministers, except in those responsibilities that need his discretion.
- According to Article 164 of the constitution, the Chief Minister is selected by the Governor, while the other Ministers are nominated by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers serve at the Governor’s leisure.
- Executive Authority: All executive measures done by the administration in the state are taken in his name.
- He appoints the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
- The State Election Commissioner, Chairman and members of the State Public Service Commission, State Advocate General, and Vice-Chancellor of Universities are all appointed by the Governor.
- On the suggestion of the Governor of the concerned state, the President of India imposes President’s rule in that state.
Supreme Court’s view on the Governor’s Office
- In the S.R. Bommai case, the Supreme Court declared that the floor of the Assembly should be the exclusive arena for testing the majority of the government of the day, rather than the Governor’s subjective view.
- In the same important decision, it was established that the President’s Rule would be imposed only if the constitutional machinery failed.
- The Supreme Court ruled in the Rameshwar Prasad Case of 2006 that the Governor could not decide on the declaration of President Rule based on his subjective views.
- In the 2016 Nabam Rebia case from Arunachal Pradesh, the constitutional bench ruled that the Governor can summon, prorogue, and dissolve the House only with the assistance and advice of the Council of Ministers, which is led by the Chief Minister. And not of his own volition.
Suggestions to improve
- The Sarkaria Commission issued the following recommendations on the Governor’s appointment:
- The Governor should be a distinguished individual from outside the state.
- When there are separate parties in the centre and state, the governor should not be from the ruling party in the centre.
- The Governor should be appointed in conjunction with the state’s Chief Minister, Vice President, and Lok Sabha Speaker.
- The term of the Governor must be secured.
M.M. Punchhi Commission
- The appointment of the Governor should be delegated to a committee comprised of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, and Chief Minister of the relevant state.
- The Commission suggested that the theory of pleasure be repealed and the constitution be amended.
Source – The Hindu
Spy Balloon: Another Grey-zone warfare tactics
GS Paper- II
Context- The recent incident involving a Chinese’spy balloon’ seen 60,000 feet above the skies of Montana in the United States (US) and eventually shot down by a missile fired from a US F22 fighter jet off the coast of South Carolina has left far too many questions unanswered.
What does the debris mean?
While some of the hints found in the balloon’s trash have revealed some information, the episode itself is evocative of Cold War period techniques and a foreshadowing of archetypal grey-zone actions that might characterise China’s regular operating procedure in the future.
The US State Department’s confident allegations that the balloon “was plainly for intelligence surveillance and was likely capable of gathering and geo-locating communications” indicate that a crisis in US-China ties is on the way.
Understanding Chinese attitudes
- There is a strategic awareness in Beijing that, even though the war in Europe has been ongoing for over a year, the US may be shifting its focus to the Western Pacific region, where it is rebuilding its naval power, reviving alliances, and consolidating its position as the hub of its hub-and-spokes network in the Pacific theatre.
- The US-Philippines defence cooperation has been renewed, bolstering America’s defences against Taiwan.
- Following Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s warning that East Asia may face the same fate as Ukraine, the country has drastically altered its security posture. On the one hand, Japan is developing internal capabilities such as gradually increasing defence spending and planning for a missile arsenal to deter China, while simultaneously boosting defence cooperation with the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- The Indo-Pacific idea has been red-flagged by Chinese strategists, who compare it to America’s policy of forging connections with China’s neighbours with the goal of creating regional blocs like NATO to constrain China.
Japan’s new military posturing is being viewed with trepidation in Beijing:
- First, it is expected that Japan would station missiles near Taiwan.
- Second, there is a view that Japan’s developing defence capabilities in the area, along with America’s growing military might in the Western Pacific, would eventually surpass China’s total national power.
- A significant characteristic of China’s hostility and expansionism is grey-zone warfare.
- The initial phase in its advance into the South China Sea was the reclamation of reefs, followed by the construction of military facilities.
- Similarly, China has built ‘xiaokang’ towns along the Indian border in an effort to strengthen its territorial claims.
- The spy balloon incident signals a significant turning point in this strategy, since the US has been on the receiving end of China’s grey-zone techniques for the first time.
To monitor China, the US employs a number of technologies, ranging from satellites to intercepted conversations. It is not unrealistic to expect China to do the same to the United States. Between these two points of view is the realisation that the dragon’s concealed grey-zone techniques have spread more brazenly than ever before to the continental US.
Source – Indian Express
AI to improve maternal and child health in India
Context- Although the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies in this sector is still in its early phases, there is promise for these tools to enhance maternal and neonatal healthcare in low-resource settings. AI has the potential to improve mother and child health in poor and middle-income nations by augmenting traditional approaches with modern technology, boosting diagnostic accuracy, expanding access to treatment, and ultimately saving lives.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target
The SDGs aim to eliminate preventable deaths of newborns and children under the age of five by 2030, with a specific goal of lowering neonatal mortality (NMR) to a minimum of 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality (U5MR) to a minimum of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births across all nations.
Challenges and the current state of maternal and child health in India
- According to the most recent SRS Bulletin, India’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) in 2018-2020 was 97 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 35.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019-21.
- The NMR and U5MR in India are 24.9 and 41.9, respectively, according to the most recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS) statistics. These rates exceed the SDG objectives and are reason for worry.
- Many rural and distant locations lack basic healthcare facilities, and even when they do exist, they may be understaffed with skilled healthcare personnel. Furthermore, cultural and socioeconomic barriers might make it difficult for women and children to get healthcare.
- Malnutrition is a key factor to India’s high maternal, neonatal, and infant mortality rates, accounting for around 68 percent of child fatalities.
- Low birth weight is a significant cause of death in the first month of life in low- and middle-income nations such as India. Prematurity and low birth weight contribute for 45.5 percent of infant mortality in India within the first 29 days. Currently, 18.2 percent of children have reported having a low birth weight.
Some positive developments in maternal and child health in India in recent years-
- The government has launched numerous programmes and policies targeted at lowering maternal and infant mortality, like as the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and the Pradhan Mantri SurakshitMatritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), which give monetary incentives and free health check-ups to pregnant women, respectively.
- Efforts have also been made to enhance the number of healthcare facilities in rural and isolated regions, as well as the quality of treatment offered at these institutions.
- In addition, India has been attempting to enhance mother and child health via the use of technology.
- For example: Telemedicine has been introduced in rural locations, and the government has also established RCH ANMOL, an application for tracking the health, immunisation, and nutrition status of pregnant women, babies, and children. The Draft Health Data Management Policy, Health Data Retention Policy, Unified Health Interface, and Health Facility Registry are among the other digital projects.
Potential applications of AI
- AI algorithms may detect risk factors for maternal and foetal problems and forecast the likelihood of particular outcomes by analysing massive volumes of medical data. This can assist healthcare practitioners in identifying high-risk pregnancies early on and taking precautionary measures.
- Malnutrition is the cause of neonatal immunity to infections and illnesses. Predicting neonatal birth weight can help doctors and parents take preventative actions, such as making better use of Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers (NRCs).
- Access to ultrasound equipment is generally restricted in LMICs, and picture quality may be poor. By employing AI to analyse ultrasound pictures, healthcare practitioners may increase diagnosis accuracy and uncover anomalies that might otherwise go undetected.
- Virtual care technologies, such as AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants, can give information and assistance to pregnant moms in LMICs. It has been established that sending customised, scheduled audio messages regarding pregnancy through mobile phone can have a favourable influence on maternal healthcare practises and enhance maternal health outcomes.
- By detecting trends and patterns in this data, healthcare practitioners may make better informed decisions and enhance outcomes for moms and children.
Challenges to using AI to improve maternal and child health in India
- To train models, AI requires enormous volumes of data; but, in India, there is a dearth of data on mother and child health, and the data that is available may be of low quality. This can make developing accurate and dependable AI-based solutions difficult.
- Many portions of India lack basic infrastructure, such as power and internet access, making AI-based solutions challenging to deploy. This is especially problematic in rural regions, where access to healthcare is already restricted.
- AI-based solutions create several ethical challenges, including privacy, prejudice, and responsibility. It is critical to address these problems in order to ensure that AI-based solutions are used responsibly and ethically.
- India has a diverse set of languages and dialects, making it challenging to create AI-based solutions that are accessible to everybody. Due to a paucity of data in various languages or dialects, developing accurate and trustworthy AI-based solutions customised to the specific demands of diverse linguistic communities might be problematic.
- People in poverty may lack access to the technology and services provided by AI-based solutions.
- AI has the potential to make a significant difference in mother and child health in India. However, it is critical to remember that these novel technology should not be used as a replacement for traditional healthcare procedures, but rather as an extra tool.
- The best outcomes would be obtained by integrating AI with existing healthcare systems. Involving healthcare providers and local populations in the development and implementation of AI-based solutions is also critical. As a result, the solutions may be made more relevant, accessible, and relevant to the local context, maximising their beneficial impact.
Source – Indian Express
Freedom of Speech and the Speaker in the House
GS Paper- II
Context- The omission of sections of statements delivered by several Opposition MPs in Parliament recently has created a discussion over a decision made by the Speaker. Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Kharge were both speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President of India for her speech to both Houses of Parliament.
Motion of Thanks
- Following the President’s talk, the two Houses pass a motion thanking the President for her remarks.
- This is common procedure, despite the fact that the Constitution has no provision for such a motion, other than to mandate that each House consider the issues raised in the address.
- This is a practise that has been taken from the British Parliament.
Debate after the motion
- Discussion in When such a motion is debated, MPs are normally free to speak on whatever they like. It is an opportunity to criticise the administration and address a wide range of topics concerning the country’s governance.
- Because the Council of Ministers is collectively accountable to Parliament, MPs have the authority to scrutinise the government’s performance.
- Accountability to Parliament necessitates that the administration fully answer to the questions posed by MPs during the discussion. The Prime Minister is required by House Rules to respond to discussion in both Houses.
The rules that are in place
- Article 105 of the Constitution grants members freedom of expression in the House as well as protection from court intervention for anything spoken in the House. The most significant privilege of a Member of Parliament is the freedom of expression in the House.
- The presiding officers of these Houses have the authority under Rules 380 of the Lok Sabha Rules of Procedure and Rule 261 of the Rajya Sabha Rules of Procedure to erase any remarks used in the discussion that are defamatory, unparliamentary, undignified, or obscene. Once erased, they are no longer on record, and anybody who publishes them after that is liable for breach of House privilege.
- Occasionally, an MP may make an allegation against a fellow MP or an outsider during his speech. The procedure is governed by Lok Sabha Rule 353 in this regard. According to this Rule, the MP must provide “sufficient advance notice” to both the Speaker and the Minister in question. The Rule does not forbid bringing any charge; the only condition is prior notification.
Allegations and Speaker rulings
- Making an allegation against a Minister or the Prime Minister is considered a serious matter; thus, the presiding officers have carefully laid out a stipulation that the MP who makes an imputation against a Minister must be certain of the factual basis of the allegation and must accept responsibility for it.
- If the MP meets with this condition, the accusation will be permitted to stand. There have been several occasions in the Lok Sabha where MPs have levelled accusations against Ministers.
Here are two rulings made by the Speakers on such occasions
- Prakash Vir Shastri, MP, brought personal claims against Humayun Kabir, then Minister of Education, on September 2, 1965. The MP maintained his claim and cited press publications.
- “Normally, the source of information available to members is newspapers,” stated Speaker Sardar Hukam Singh in his judgement. However, such is insufficient grounds for a member to level an accusation against a Minister, a member, or other dignitaries.
- On December 21, 1981, in the Lok Sabha, BapusahebParulekar, MP, referred to an accusation published in the Sunday (a weekly) against the then Railway Minister, Kedar Pande, and his family members in connection with permanent railway card passes.
- “The member should, before presenting an allegation in the House, satisfy himself after conducting enquiries that there is a foundation for the charge,” G. Lakshmanan ruled. The member should be willing to bear responsibility for the claim and to substantiate it.”
Issue of defamation
- According to Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (Second Exception), any comment about a public servant’s conduct in the exercise of his official role or his character is not defamation. If such a comment is made in the House against a Minister who is also a public worker, it does not fall within the’mischief’ provisions of Rules 353 or 380.
- As a result, it does not provide an opportunity for the presiding officers to remove words or sections of a speech because they are defamatory.
Establishing libellous or incriminatory statements as opposed to critical comments, which an MP has the right to express, is vital in a House where freedom of speech is the most fundamental prerogative of a Member of Parliament. It must also be assured that Members of the House’s freedom of expression is not unduly restricted.
Source – Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
Context: According to an Oxford research, the Norwegian Arctic ice is polluted with dangerous PFAS (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds, popularly known as “forever chemicals”).
- These compounds are persistent and have the ability to bioaccumulate in living creatures, posing health and environmental hazards.
- Risk of further contamination: Chemicals can be transported from glaciers to downstream habitats such as Arctic fjords and tundra.
- It has an influence on the entire food web, including plankton, fish, seals, and apex species such as polar bears, and hence on local populations.
What is PFAS?
- PFAS are a family of over 12,000 compounds that are often used to make thousands of consumer items resistant to water, stains, and heat.
- They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not degrade naturally and have been related to cancer, liver illness, renal stress, pregnancy difficulties, and other major health issues.
- They are used in cosmetics (hair conditioner, foundation cream, sunscreen, and so on), electronics (smartphones), textiles (waterproof apparel), kitchenware (nonstick pans), and so on.
Context: Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil exporter, will delay some export licences in order to reduce local cooking oil costs.
- Less of an impact: India is one of the largest consumers of palm oil, yet the government has increased its palm oil inventories.
- Higher worldwide pricing may encourage Indian farmers to build additional oil palm plants.
What exactly is palm oil?
- Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil obtained from the mesocarp (fruit of oil palm plants) (indigenous to Africa and South America). It is high in vitamins A and E and has no trans fats.
G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG)
Context: The inaugural meeting of the G20 Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG) finished in Bengaluru.
What exactly is the ECSWG?
- It is a member of a G20 working group tasked with developing policies for a sustainable climatic environment and biodiversity.
Priority regions include:
- Stopping Land Degradation
- Accelerating Ecosystem Restoration and Biodiversity Enhancement
- Promoting a Climate-Resilient and Sustainable Blue Economy
- Promoting Resource Efficiency and the Circular Economy
New broadband definition
Context: The definition of broadband was recently updated to require a minimum speed of 2Mbps.
Few Fundamental terms:
- Broadband refers to continuous high-speed Internet connectivity that is quicker than typical dial-up access.
- White Spots: These are areas that have no cellular coverage at all.
- Grey Spots: Areas that appear to be “connected” yet have very sluggish and sporadic connectivity.
What is the new definition of Broadband?
- Broadband is a data link that may allow interactive services such as internet access and has a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps to an individual subscriber from the service provider’s point of presence (POP) intending to deliver broadband service.
- Previously, the minimum download speed was 512 kbps (kilobits per second).