Current Affairs (7th July 2021)
Output Pact Proposal
- The latest round of meetings among the OPEC+ group has stalled as the UAE has pushed back proposals making an increase in crude oil supply conditional on an extension to an output agreement.
- OPEC+ countries are non-OPEC countries which export crude oil. They are Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan, and Sudan.
- In April 2020, the OPEC+ group of countries had entered into a two-year agreement to cut crude production steeply – to deal with a sharp fall in the price of oil because of the pandemic.
- The initial production cut by OPEC+ was about 10 million barrels per day or about 22% of the reference production of OPEC+ nations.
- In November 2020, however, the price of Brent crude started climbing consistently buoyed by the steady rollout of vaccination programmes.
- However, it maintained lower levels of production despite crude oil prices reaching pre-Covid levels, which boosted rising prices further.
- The UAE agreed that there was a need to increase crude oil production from August 2021.
- But it did not agree to a condition by the OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) that the two-year production agreement be extended by six months.
- The UAE noted that the baseline reference production levels of crude oil were unfair and that it would be opened to extending the agreement if baseline production levels were reviews to be fair to all parties.
Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC):
- OPEC is a permanent intergovernmental organization of 13 oil-exporting developing nations.
- It was founded in 1960 by five countries – Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
- In accordance with its Statute, the mission of the OPEC is to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its Member Countries.
- It should ensure the stabilization of oil markets to secure an efficient, economic, and regular supply of petroleum to consumers.
Use of Sec 66A of IT Act
- The Supreme Court found it distressing that people were still booked and tried under Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act even six years after it struck down the provision as unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.
Section 66A of IT Act:
- Section 66A gave authorities the power to arrest anyone accused of posting content on social media that could be deemed ‘offensive’.
- It provided punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services.
- Under the section, a conviction could fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.
- In Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015), the Supreme Court in 2015 had scrapped Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000.
- The court ruled that as it did not distinguish between speech that was merely “offensive or annoying” and that which was guilty of inciting a disruption of public order, Section 66A was liable to have a chilling effect on free speech.
- The number of cases registered under Section 66A had increased post the judgment.
- A mechanism needs to be set in place to disseminate the Shreya Singhal judgment to every police station and trial court in the country.
- There is no clear definition of what constitutes “hate speech” in the IPC.
- Legally, for criminal sections to be invoked against a speech it must lead to violence or disturbance of law and order.
- Given the increasing threat posed by hate speech, the need of the hour is to define “hate speech”.
Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021
- Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited comments/suggestions from all the stakeholders on the draft Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.
- The draft bill aims to
- Prevent and counter trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
- Provide care, protection, and rehabilitation to the victims, while respecting their rights, while creating a supportive legal, economic and social environment for them.
- Ensure prosecution of offenders and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- A previous draft had been introduced in 2018 and had been passed by Lok Sabha despite stiff opposition from both parliamentarians as well as experts.
- Experts say that nearly all the concerns raised in 2018 have been addressed in this new draft Bill.
- The bill has increased the scope of the nature of offenses of trafficking as well as the kind of victims of these offenses, with stringent penalties including life imprisonment, and even the death penalty in cases of an extreme nature.
- Imprisonment for some years: Penalty will hold a minimum of seven years which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
- Imprisonment for life: In most cases of child trafficking, especially in the case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.
- Death: When a person is convicted of an offence under this section against a child of less than twelve years of age, or against a woman for the purpose of repeated rape, the person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for twenty years, but which may extend to life, or in case of second or subsequent conviction with death, and with fine which may extend up to thirty lakh rupees.
- The law will extend to all citizens inside as well as outside India, persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be, a foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act, and the law will apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
- Property bought via such income as well as used for trafficking can now be forfeited with provisions set in place, like that of the money laundering Act.
- The scope of the Bill vis-a-vis offenders will also include defence personnel, government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.
- The National Investigation Agency, which looks at national security concerns, will be the main investigative agency, and therefore will look at cross-border offenses.
- Exploitation has been given a very encompassing definition, which includes, at a minimum,
- Exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography.
- Any act of physical exploitation.
- Forced labour or services, slavery, and similar practices.
- Forced removal of organs.
- Illegal clinical drug trials.
- Illegal bio-medical research.
- The Bill also extends to now include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.
- The Bill does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.
- After the enactment of the Act, Centre will establish a National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, which will help in ensuring overall effective provisions of the law.
- The Home Secretary will chair it and the Secretary of Women and Child Development will co-chair it.
NIPUN Bharat Programme
- National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat Programme is undertaken by Department of School Education and Literacy.
- It will ensure that every child in India necessarily attains foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.
- It aims to cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9.
- This National Mission, which has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha, will focus on:
- Providing access and retaining children in foundational years of schooling; Tracking the progress of each child in achieving learning outcomes;
- Teacher capacity building; and
- Development of high quality and diversified Student and Teacher Resources/Learning Materials.
- The goals of the Mission are set in the form of Lakshya Soochi or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
- To generate greater awareness among the parents, community, etc. the Lakshyas has been developed from Balvatika (preparatory class that a child will take prior to age 5) to Grade 3.
- The Laskhyas are based on the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT and international research and ORF studies.
- A special package for foundational literacy and Numeracy under NISHTHA is being developed by NCERT. Around 25 lakh teachers at pre-primary to primary grade will be trained this year on FLN.
- Implementing agency – NIPUN Bharat initiative will be implemented by school education department of Union government.
- A 5-tier implementation mechanism will be set up at national, state, district, block, and school levels across all states and Union territories.
Key components and expected outcomes of NIPUN Bharat Mission:
- Foundational skills enable to keep children in class thereby reducing the dropouts and improve transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
- Activity based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
- Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning will be used in classroom transactions thereby making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
- Intensive capacity building of teachers will make them empowered and provide greater autonomy for choosing the pedagogy.