Current Affairs 21 November

edited November 2018 in Daily Current Affairs

Witness protection scheme

The Supreme Court of India has directed all the states to implement the draft witness protection scheme framed by the Centre in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).

Background:

In April this year, the Centre had informed the top court that it had framed a draft witness protection scheme and it was circulated among the states and Union Territories administration for comments. The court had asked the Centre to finalise the scheme after getting response from the states and Union Territories.

In November last year, the court had asked the Centre as to why a draft scheme cannot be formulated for witness protection in the country when specific provisions in this regard were already there in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act.

Objectives of the Witness Protection Scheme-2018:

To enable a witness to give testimony in a judicial setting or to cooperate with law enforcement and investigations without fear of intimidation or reprisal.
To ensure that the investigation, prosecution and trial of criminal offences is not prejudiced because witnesses are intimidated or frightened to give evidence without protection from violent or other criminal recrimination.
To promote law enforcement by facilitating the protection of persons who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance to criminal law enforcement agencies and the overall administration of Justice.
To give witnesses the confidence to come forward to assist law enforcement and Judicial Authorities with full assurance of safety.
To identify a series of measures that may be adopted to safeguard witnesses and their family members from intimidation and threats against their lives, reputation and property.

Need for the scheme:

Victims and witnesses of serious crimes are particularly at risk when the perpetrator is powerful, influential, or rich and the victims or witnesses belong to a socially or economically marginalised community. Girls and women who report sexual violence are often even more vulnerable and face extreme pressure or direct threats from the accused.

Also, witnesses need to have the confidence to come forward to assist law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities. They need to be assured that they will receive support and protection from intimidation and the harm that criminal groups may seek to inflict upon them in attempts to discourage or punish them from co-operating. Hence, legislative measures to emphasise prohibition against tampering of witnesses have become the imminent and inevitable need of the day.
What to study?

For Prelims: Highlights of the draft.
For Mains: Need for the scheme, need for protection of witness, challenges and issues associated.

UN migration pact

The Australian Government has announced that it would not sign the UN Global Compact for Migration saying that the agreement would undermine its existing immigration policies. Australia argues that the Compact is inconsistent with its well-established policies and not in Australia’s interest.

Australia’s arguments:

Australia believes that its immigration policy already promotes safe, orderly and regular migration. Hence, adopting the pact would risk encouraging illegal entry to Australia and reverse the hard-won successes in combating the people-smuggling trade.

Background:

Australia’s harsh immigration policy detains asylum-seekers who try to reach the country by boat on remote Pacific islands. While the policy has led to a decline in people-smuggling, hundreds of people are now being held in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

About Global Compact on Migration:

United Nations for first time has finalized Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to better manage international migration, address its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development. The agreement will be formally adopted by world leaders in Morocco in December 2018.

Key facts:

The compact is the first intergovernmental agreement to cover wide-ranging dimensions of international migration in holistic and comprehensive manner, agreed upon by all the UN member states minus the United States.
It sets out 23 objectives to deal issues ranging from factors that compel people to move, legal channels for migration, combating trafficking and smuggling, harnessing the economic benefits of migration and return of the migrants.
It is not legally binding.

Need for a global compact:

Over 250 million migrants worldwide account for 3% of the world’s entire population, but contribute 10% of the global gross domestic production (GDP). Migrants remittance is huge contributor to their home countries’ development.

Way ahead:

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) offers the international community the opportunity to improve workplace productivity and deliver decent work outcomes for migrant and national workers, as well as to shift current misperceptions of migration, by readjusting migration policies to effectively include all labour market aspects.

Facts for Prelims:

The GCM is meant to be consistent with target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – in which Member States committed to cooperate internationally to facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration.

What to study?

For Prelims: Global compact for migration- highlights.
For Mains: Need for a global compact and the pattern of migration worldwide.

Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge

The government has launched Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge on resolving seven identified Ease of Doing Business problems with use of cutting edge technologies.

About Ease of Doing Business Grand Challenge:

The objective of this challenge is to tap potential of young Indians, startups and other private enterprises to provide solutions to complex problems using current technology. It is in pursuance of Government’s resolve to make India one of the easiest places to conduct business in the world.
This challenge is aimed at attracting innovative ideas on artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, blockchain and other cutting edge technology to reform government processes. The platform for this grand challenge will be on Start Up India portal.

Ease of Doing business in India:

In World Bank’s Doing Business Report (DBR, 2019), India has recorded jump of 23 positions against its rank of 100 in 2017 to be placed at 77th rank among 190 countries. India has improved its rank by 53 positions in the last two years and 65 positions in the last four years (2014-18).
World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index ranks 190 countries based on 10 parameters, including starting a business, construction permits, getting electricity, getting credit, paying taxes, trade across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.
What to study?

For Prelims: About the challenge and its objectives.
For Mains: About the Ease of Doing Business, significance, India’s performance and challenges ahead.


City Gas Distribution (CGD) Projects
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for City Gas Distribution (CGD) projects across 129 districts to boost availability of gas supply for half of the country’s population in 26 states and Union Territories.

The projects, recently awarded by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) would cover 65 Geographical Areas (GAs) under the ninth round of bidding.

Significance:

Government of India has put thrust to promote the usage of environment friendly clean fuel i.e. natural gas as a fuel/feedstock across the country to move towards a gas based economy.

Accordingly, development of CGD networks has been focused to increase the availability of cleaner cooking fuel (i.e. PNG) and transportation fuel (i.e. CNG) to the citizens of the country. The expansion of CGD network will also benefit to industrial and commercial units by ensuring the uninterrupted supply of natural gas.

Why Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a superior fuel as compared with coal and other liquid fuels being an environment friendly, safer and cheaper fuel. Natural Gas is supplied through pipelines just like one gets water from the tap. There is no need to store cylinders in the kitchen and thus saves space.
Natural Gas (as CNG) is cheaper by 60% as compared with petrol and 45 % w.r.t. Diesel. Similarly, Natural Gas (as PNG) is cheaper by 40 % as compared with market price LPG and price of PNG almost matches with that of subsidised LPG (based on prices in Delhi).

PNGRB:

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) was constituted under The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006.
The Act provide for the establishment of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board to protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The board has also been mandated to regulate the refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in all parts of the country.

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