Remote Voting for Migrant Workers
Context: The Election Commission (EC) has indicated that it is ready to test remote voting for domestic migrants.
About the Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM):
- The Election Commission (EC) has created a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) that can manage several constituencies from a single remote polling station.
- It is built on the present EVM system.
- The VVPAT system is anticipated to function similarly to the new technology.
- The RVM was created in collaboration with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).
Characteristics & Functioning:
- The RVMs are stand-alone, non-networked devices that will provide voters with the same experience as current EVMs.
- They will be put up in remote areas outside of the state, under comparable conditions as present voting booths.
- RVMs are distinguished by the fact that a single Remote Ballot Unit (RBU) may serve several constituencies (up to 72) by employing a “dynamic ballot display board” rather than the traditional printed paper ballot sheet seen on EVMs.
- Based on the constituency number read from the voter’s Constituency card, the Ballot Unit Overlay Display (BUOD) will display the required candidates.
- These cards will be read using a barcode scanning technology.
The voting process will be as follows:
- Following the verification of a voter’s identification, their constituency card will be read and shown publicly, displaying the constituency data and candidates.
- This will be shown privately as well, on the BUOD in the RVM’s RBU.
- The voter will then vote, and each vote will be saved constituency by constituency in the voting machine’s control unit.
- Pilot remote voting for domestic migrants so that they do not have to return to their home states to vote.
- This follows the EC’s recognition of migration-based disenfranchisement.
- The EC expects that by doing so, it would be able to increase voter turnout and enhance India’s democratic process.
Issue of migration-based disenfranchisement:
- While registered voters might not vote for a number of reasons, domestic migration is a significant contribution in India.
- According to the 2011 census (which will have increased since then), there are around 45.36 crore migrants in India (both intra and interstate), accounting for approximately 37% of the country’s population.
- Migration can be motivated by a variety of factors, including marriage, natural disasters, and work.
Election Commission’s Committee:
- A “Committee of Officers on Domestic Migrants” had been constituted by the EC.
- After exploring different possibilities such as online voting, proxy voting, early voting, and postal votes for migratory workers, the committee delivered a report in late 2016.
- However, all of these suggestions were rejected for a variety of reasons, including a lack of vote confidentiality, a disregard for the one person, one vote principle, concerns of accessibility for unliterate voters, and so on.
Proposal of Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM):
- As a result, a technical solution (RVM) was offered, which depends on the development of a robust electoral register and identification methods (to prevent duplicate voting) and allows people to vote remotely, in a safe and regulated environment.
Article 326 provides – Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage.
- Every citizen of India who is not less than eighteen years old on the day specified by law and who is not otherwise disqualified will be eligible to vote in any such election.
- Remote voting can help us get closer to this goal.
- Migrants are a fluid class with fluid identities, places, and situations.
- In the backdrop of India’s transience of migration, the EC’s challenge is to develop an inclusive definition of migrants that does not expose the system to abuse.
- The EC has yet to determine on migrant voter eligibility or the length of time a migrant must stay outside the country to qualify.
- In light of the growing interest in technology-based voting, how do RVMs fit into the picture?
- As more nations reject EVMs in favour of paper ballots, this move has the potential to cast greater doubt on the integrity of the voting process itself.
- While the EC argues that RVMs are as safe as currently deployed EVMs, the addition of new technical components is certain to generate further concerns.
- Remote voting may potentially provide larger parties and wealthier candidates an advantage in campaigning across the area and beyond.
- Existing laws will need to be altered in order to carry out this massive undertaking, which will also need political unanimity.
Source: The Hindu
Context:Member nations approved the “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF) during the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which comprises four goals and 23 targets to be met by 2030.
What is target 30×30 among 23 targets?
- Among the 23 targets, Target 3, colloquially known as “30×30,” requires that “at least 30 percent of terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative.
- This region should be well-connected and equally controlled networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
Assessment of protected areas:
- Place-based conservation has typically taken the form of Protected Areas, where human habitation or, at the very least, resource exploitation is restricted. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) concept for protected areas in its categorization criteria has been broadly recognised across regional and global frameworks.
- There are several types of protected places, with varying levels of protection based on each country’s enabling legislation or the requirements of the international organisations involved.
- Currently, approximately 17% of land and 8% of marine regions are protected and preserved areas.
- The quality of these areas has fallen far short of the commitments; less than 8 percent of land is both protected and connected. In the face of such a lacuna, the 30×30 target represents a significant commitment.
What are the challenges towards conservation of biodiversity areas?
- As biodiversity continues to deteriorate, even inside many Protected Places, one of the key tasks will be to improve the quality of both current and future areas. Protected and preserved areas will need to be better linked in order for animals to travel and biological processes to work.
- Large, densely populated countries, as well as highly densely populated tiny and city-states, are unlikely to be able to put considerable new terrestrial, inland water, coastal, and marine regions under Protected Area administration.
- Furthermore, species range changes caused by the effects of climate change must be considered. Protected Areas that are undergoing coastal strain owing to increasing sea level on one side and hard human settlements on the other will confront additional challenges.
- All of these approaches will need large investments for successful management and community participation, particularly in places with megafauna. So far, the Global North’s track record of honouring funding pledges for climate and biodiversity projects has been dismal.
What should be the way forward?
- Innovative area-based conservation methods must be developed for improved connectivity of species megafauna migration, particularly between protected and preserved regions. neighbouring and/or adjacent areas Protected Areas that are not explicitly maintained for conservation must be considered for protection; agricultural fields are one example.
- A carbon offset programme similar to the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism that allows nations to fund greenhouse gas emission-reducing projects in other countries and claim the avoided emissions as part of their own efforts to fulfil international emissions objectives.
- Innovative management will be necessary for Protected Areas that are being squeezed along the coast by increasing sea levels on one side and dense human populations on the other. Protected Locations will have to be viewed of as dynamic rather than static, bound to a set of geographical coordinates, in high altitude and coastal areas. Alpine and mangrove habitats
Declaring a certain area as a protected area will not increase the quality of the protected area and is only lip service to conservation efforts. The route forward should be investment underpinned by an effective, result-oriented, and time-bound action plan for place-based conservation.
Source: The Hindu
Context:In recent years, India-China ties have been severely strained. S. Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, has emphasised on several occasions that India-China ties are at a tough period. He said that for the two to return to normalcy in their relationship, three mutualswill be required: mutual sensitivity, mutual respect, and mutual interest.
Chinese Foreign Minister Statement:
- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated that China is willing to collaborate with India to strengthen bilateral ties.
- Speaking at a symposium on the world situation and China’s foreign relations in 2022, Wang allegedly stated that both nations “have maintained contact through the diplomatic and military-to-military channels, and both countries are committed to sustaining stability in the border areas. We stand ready to collaborate with India to advance China-India ties steadily and soundly.
- The Chinese foreign minister’s remarks came in the aftermath of a December 9 incident near Tawang in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, in which soldiers from both sides were injured.
Strained relationship between India-China:
- Even though the two sides were able to bring the Tawang situation under control, the reality is that the number of forces deployed on either side of the border following the Galwan clash two years ago shows no sign of being reduced, serving as a stark reminder of India-China relations that are far from normal.
- Despite 17 rounds of military discussions at the army commander level, the two parties have unable to reconcile their disagreements and complete their military withdrawal.
- Following the 17th session of military talks last week, the Indian Ministry of Defense issued a statement that blandly stated that both sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels in order to work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues as soon as possible.
Is there any positive change in Chinese strategic thinking?
- It is unclear whether Wang’s remarks on India-China ties represent a fundamental shift in China’s foreign policy. There has clearly been no broad easing of China’s stance.
- The minister’s remarks on India were part of a lengthy speech in which he assessed China’s diplomacy and international relations in 2022.
- The statement emphasised the difficult nature of its ties with the United States, pointing out Washington’s incorrect China policy. Wang went on to remark that the United States’ insistence on viewing China as a peer competitor, as well as Washington’s “blatant embargo, oppression, and provocation against China,” has caused “severe challenges” in the relationship.
- Taiwan, according to the minister, is a red line that must not be crossed in China-US ties. He also mentioned US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s travel to Taiwan, saying that China has taken clear and determined steps that have firmly discouraged anti-China groups in the US and Taiwan independence movements.
- Wang made an indirect reference to the Quad, which consists of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia. China is opposed to “bloc confrontation and zero-sum rivalry,” he said.
- Each of India’s new security allies among the Quad countries has been subjected to China’s aggressive military, political, and economic actions, which has given the Quad a new depth of strategic purpose.
- India’s relationship with China has been teetering from bad to worse in the 32 months since the Ladakh conflict began, and it is unlikely to improve until Beijing’s approach toward India and the region changes dramatically.
- On the present condition of relations, S. Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, stated that “the state of the border will decide the nature of the relationship.”
- While Delhi’s G20 presidency may provide possibilities for dialogue with Beijing, what is needed first is a clear vision and a comprehensive plan to deal with the China problem, rather than responding to each crisis as it arises.
- Inconsistencies, both in China’s words and in words and deeds, would likely limit other nations’ willingness to take China’s declarations about wanting to restore relations seriously, particularly India.
Source: Indian Express
India-Saudi Arabia Relations
Context: The presidency, which India just took for the term 1 December 2022-30 November 2023, would likely create new possibilities for collaboration on various fronts with nations such as Saudi Arabia, a prominent member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and also a G20 member.
India-Saudi Arabia Relationship:
- India-Saudi Arabia ties have grown comprehensive and robust in recent years, with the kingdom not only being New Delhi’s fourth largest economic partner but also a vital collaborator in the combined fight against all types of terrorism, money laundering, and terror funding.
- It is worth noting that bilateral trade in fiscal year 2021-2022 totaled $42.8 billion, and the kingdom alone accounts for 18 percent of India’s energy imports, demonstrating the country’s importance in New Delhi’s energy and economic security equation.
- Simultaneously, military-security and defence cooperation have gained traction, owing to a shared set of security risks and concerns, as well as the respective governments’ desire to engage in the defence industrial sector (within the ambit of their military modernisation programmes).
- The two nations’ connections are no longer just focused on oil and energy commerce (as has been the case in the past), but both sides have begun to investigate the possibility of cooperating in areas such as renewable energy, climate change, healthcare, food security, education, technology, and so on.
Partnership in Green and Clean Energy:
- In November 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged international businesses to “invest on their own” or cooperate with Indian firms in the country’s green energy sector.
- Similarly, Saudi Arabia is investing in the same industry in order to minimise its reliance on a hydrocarbon-based economy.
- In accordance with its Saudi Vision 2030 strategy, it started (in 2021) the Saudi Green Initiative which works on “raising Saudi Arabia’s dependence on renewable energy, offsetting emissions, and conserving the environment.
- Riyadh, ushering in a new age of oil diplomacy, is forming alliances with nations that share similar goals. This has greatly aided the need to strengthen collaboration with India in the field of renewable energy. While the Indian government plans to generate 450 gigatonnes of power from renewable and clean sources by 2030, Saudi Arabia aspires for 50% by then.
India-Saudi Arabia cooperation in health sector and during Covid19:
- India has increased its healthcare-related connections with the larger West Asian area, notably in vaccine manufacturing, cooperative medical research, best-fit practises sharing, and so on.
- During the height of the epidemic, the Indian government aided its Saudi counterpart in combating the outbreak, primarily by deploying hundreds of Indian healthcare experts.
- Saudi Arabia was also one of the few nations that recognised “Serum Institute of India’s Covishield as an authorised COVID-19 vaccination” for any visitors to the country.
- The Indo-Saudi Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on health and medical product laws, agreed during Modi’s 2019 visit to Riyadh, might now function as a catalyst in upgrading the relations from their current level.
Cooperation in Food Security:
- It should be highlighted that, in order to avoid food insecurity, the UAE and Saudi Arabia GCC governments planned to invest in India’s organic and food processing sectors in 2019.
- With India’s expertise in crop production and overall agricultural activities, as well as its status as a net exporter of agricultural commodities (particularly rice), strengthening partnerships could be extremely beneficial for the people of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other GCC countries that continue to rely on external sources for food security, owing to a lack of fertile soil.
- While India-Saudi Arabia relations are projected to strengthen further, there is also the possibility of collaboration beyond this bilateral engagement. This is because, under the evolving international order, there is a rising desire for a collective response to the world’s multiple issues.
Source: Indian Express
Facts For Prelims
Mango blossoming has begun in Telangana and Odisha since the third week of December, which is at least a month earlier than the regular time.
Reasons for early blossoming include:
- Unusual rainfall and a warmer-than-average winter.
Shower with mangoes:
- The phrase “mango showers” refers to the occurrence of pre-monsoon rainfall.
- Mango showers occur in India as a result of thunderstorm formation over the Bay of Bengal.
- In Bengal, they are known as ‘Kaal Baisakhi,’ in Assam as Bordoisila, and in Karnataka as Cherry Blossom Showers or Coffee Showers.
- They aid in the early ripening of mangoes and are hence commonly known as “Mango showers.”
- The first NilgiriTahr conservation initiative in India will be launched to protect Tamil Nadu’s state animal.
- The initiative will consist of nine components, including bi-annual synchronised surveys across the division, diagnosis and treatment for sick persons, and a Shola grassland restoration pilot project in Upper Bhavani.
The Border Security Force (BSF) smartphone app ‘Prahari’ was released by Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah.
Importance of the app:
- Jawans can access personal and service-related information, housing, Ayushman-CAPF, and leave-related information on their mobile phones.
- Through the app, BSF Jawans may also obtain GPF, Bio Data, or grievance redressal on the “Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System” (CP-GRAMS), as well as information on other benefit programmes.
- This software will also link users to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ portal.
- The Border Security Force is an Indian border guarding organisation that guards India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was created on December 1, 1965, by KhusroFaramurzRustamji.
- The Border Security Force has received several bravery honours, including one Mahavir Chakra, four Kirti Chakras, thirteen Vir Chakras, and thirteen Shaurya Chakras. The BSF has fought so many valiant fights that a book could be written on each one.