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Current Affairs – 28 May 2021

Current Affairs (28th May 2021)

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)

Context:

  • PFRDA announced crossing the milestone of Rs 6 lakh crore of Assets Under Management (AUM).

About:

  • The milestone of Rs 6 lakh crore of AUM has been crossed under the National Pension System (NPS) and Atal Pension Yojana (APY), after 13 years.
  • AUM is the total market value of the investments that a person or entity manages on behalf of clients.
  • In the calculation of AUM, some financial institutions include bank deposits, mutual funds, and cash.
  • AUM fluctuates daily, reflecting the flow of money in and out of a particular fund and the price performance of the assets.
  • The AUM growth of the last Rs 1 trillion has been achieved in just 7 months.
  • PFRDA has witnessed remarkable growth in NPS subscribers over the years with 74.10 lakh government employees in the scheme and 28.37 lakh individuals joining from the non-government sector.
  • The total subscriber base of PFRDA has increased to 4.28 crore.

PFRDA:

  • It is the statutory authority established by an enactment of the Parliament.
  • It aims to regulate, promote, and ensure orderly growth of the National Pension System (NPS) and pension schemes to which this Act applies.
  • NPS was initially notified for central government employees recruits w.e.f. 1st January 2004.
  • Subsequently adopted by almost all State Governments for its employees.
  • NPS was extended to all Indian citizens (resident/non-resident/overseas) on a voluntary basis and to corporations for its employees.

 

“OFFENCES RELATING TO SPEECH AND EXPRESSION”

Context:

  • As there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “hate speech” in the British-era Indian Penal Code(IPC), the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws is attempting for the first time to define such speech.

About:

  • Earlier, Bureau of Police Research and Development had defined hate speech as a “language that denigrates insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”
  • Also, United Nations Secretary-General released Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech which sets out strategic guidance for the United Nations system to address hate speech at the national and global level.
  • Issues with regulating hate speech: It may shrink the space for criticism and dissent, which are covered by the human right of a person to free speech and expression.

Legal provisions of hate speech in India:

  • Restrictions imposed by Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • Section 124A IPC penalizes sedition
  • Section 505 (1) and (2) IPC penalizes publication or circulation of any statement, rumour or report causing public mischief and enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

 

New IT Rules 2021

Context:

  • The Information Technology Rules, 2021 have now come into force. Social Media companies will lose their protection under Section 79 of the IT Act if they fail to comply with new rules.

Background:

  • The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 came into force on 26th May 2021.
  • They aim to regulate the flow of information over social media, digital news media, and over-the-top (OTT) content providers.

About the new IT rules:

  • It mandates all social media platforms to set up a grievances, redressal, and compliance mechanism.
  • This includes appointing a resident grievance officer,chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person.
    • Chief Compliance Officer shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
    • Nodal Contact Person will do 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
    • Resident Grievance Officer shall receive and resolve complaints from users. The officer must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days of receipt.
  • The platforms must submit monthly reports on complaints received from users and actions taken.
  • Further, the platforms providing the feature of instant messaging need to track the first originator of a message.
  • However, non-compliance with new rules would take away the protection granted to social media intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act.

What is Section 79 of the IT Act?

  • It states that any intermediary shall not be held legally or otherwise liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted on its platform.
  • The protection is available if the intermediary doesn’t:
    • initiate the transmission of the message in question,
    • select the receiver of the transmitted message
    • modify any information contained in the transmission
    • tamper with any evidence of the concerned messages
  • Further, the intermediary would not be granted protection if it does not immediately disable access to the material under question as per the government order.
  • The need to provide protection to intermediaries from actions of third parties came into focus following a police case in 2004.
    • Under this, the chief executive officer of bazee.com and his associates were booked for allowing the auctioning of pornographic material on their website. They were held guilty under Section 85 of the IT Act.
      • The section says that when a company commits an offense under the IT Act, all its executives should be held liable and proceeded against.
  • However, this decision was overturned by SC in 2012. The court held that the website and its executives could not be held accountable since they were not directly involved in the said transaction. After this, the IT Act was amended to introduce Section 79.

Issue:

  • WhatsApp argues against the requirement for social media platforms to compulsorily enable “the identification of the first originator of the information” in India upon government or court order, which is included in the rules.
  • It argued that breaking end-to-end encryption infringes on citizens’ rights’ such as the fundamental rights to privacy and free speech.
  • It highlighted the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the KS Puttaswamy case, where it held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Also, recently the Supreme Court has affirmed that the right to privacy included the right to anonymity.
  • Besides, petitions have been filed by several news portals, over its attempt to regulate digital news media.
    • They claim that the new rules seek to regulate online news portals by imposing a vaguely worded “Code of Ethics”.

 

Makedatu Dam

Context:

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has appointed a joint committee to look into allegations of unauthorised construction activity taking place for Mekedatu dam.

About:

  • Acting suo motu based on a media report, NGT has directed the panel to submit a report.
  • The NGT also directed the joint committee to assess the damage caused to the environment in case of any construction made and determine the compensation payable by the respective authorities who are responsible.
  • If the project is to be implemented without conducting any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study and without obtaining necessary clearance, if any required, then it will be an unauthorized act affecting the environment.
    • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, considering inter-related socio-economic, cultural, and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.

About Dam:

  • It is being constructed by the Karnataka government across the Cauvery River.
  • The proposal is aimed at providing drinking water facilities to Bengaluru Metropolitan region and its surrounding areas (4.75 TMC) and generate 400 MW of power as an additional benefit.
  • The project cost is estimated at Rs 9,000 crore.

Significance of Dam

  • As per the plan, Bengaluru and other areas would get regular potable water.
  • It would be able to help the city address its water woes.

 

Ban on trawling operations

Context:

  • Kerala will impose a 52-Day trawling ban from June 9, 2021.

About:

  • Ban on trawling operations during the monsoon is a measure to conserve marine fish resources.
  • Monsoon is the spawning (release or deposit eggs) season of many fish species.
  • However, ban is opposed by several fisherman groups as it makes an impact on their income level.
  • Trawling is one of the most common methods of fishing.
  • Trawl nets are designed to be towed by a boat through the water column (midwater trawl) or along the sea floor (bottom trawl).
  • Bottom trawls (also known as demersal trawl) are used to catch fish and prawns that live on or near the sea floor.

Issues:

  • Environmental: Bottom trawls might result in removal or damage of sedentary living organisms (including seaweed and corals).
  • Strained- relations: Bottom trawling by India fisherman in Palk strait has been a major issue with Sri Lanka, which has banned it back in 2017.

Other measures taken to wean away fishermen from deep-sea trawling

  • Schemes promoting seaweed farming and sea-cage farming.
  • Subsidy for conversion of trawler into resource specific deep-sea vessel.

About fisheries sector in India

  • Total fisheries potential of India has been estimated at 22.31 million metric tons (in 2018).
  • Of this, the marine fisheries potential stands at an estimated 5.31 million metric tons and the inland fisheries potential have been estimated at 17 million metric tons.
  • Marine fisheries resources are spread along the country’s vast coastline and 2.02 million square km Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and 0.53 million sq.km. continental and shelf area.
  • The sector also has a huge employment potential.
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