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Bye-elections to seats in the Rajya Sabha


Paper : General Studies 2

Topic : Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Why in the news?

The Election Commission of India has decided to hold bye-elections to the Council of States from Bihar, Gujarat and Odisha due to casual vacancies that have occurred due to the election of some of these Rajya Sabha MPs in the Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly (Odisha) and resignation.

What is the Rajya Sabha?

  • Also known as the Council of States, the Rajya Sabha is the Upper Chamber of the Parliament.
  • It consists of members elected indirectly by elected members of state legislative assemblies and nominated members (12 in number) from people who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service.
  • It is a permanent body and is not subject to dissolution (unlike the Lok Sabha which is dissolved before every General election).
  • However, one-third of the members retire every second year. Their seats are filled up by fresh elections or bye-elections in case of a vacancy occurring.
  • The ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is the Vice-President of India
  • The Rajya Sabha has been envisioned as a forum for representation of interests and people of the states. It maintains the federal equilibrium by protecting the interests of the states against the undue interference of the Centre.


What is a bye-election?

A bye-election is an election held to fill a vacancy that has occurred between regular elections. The vacancy can have occurred due to resignation, death, disqualification of the person who had been elected earlier.


World Food India

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Why in the news?

World Food India will be held from 1 – 4 November. For the year 2019, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries is targeting to partner with at least 15 countries and participation from at least 80 countries. The tagline of the event will be “Forging Partnerships for Growth”.

What is World Food India?

  • The government initiated a biennial event- World Food India to promote food processing sector at global level.
  • The first such event was conducted in 2017 and received wide success.
  • The event created Brand India in global food map by positioning India as a World Food Factory.
  • It was for the first time in India that all major policy makers and top industrialists across the globe in Food Processing Industries were together under one roof.
  • World Food India 2017 witnessed the participation of 61 countries, ministers from several countries and India, Chief Ministers of various Indian states, 60 Global CEOs and eminent academicians attended the event. The event saw a footfall of more than 75,000 more than 8,000 B2B meetings and signing of MoUs worth USD 14 Billion.


Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

Paper : General Studies 3, Prelims Specific

Topic : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

The Digital Communications Commission, an inter-ministerial panel has asked the TRAI to review the penalty it had charged on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for denial of interconnection to Jio

What is the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India?

  • It is a statutory body under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, to regulate telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government.
  • The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
  • TDSAT was set up to adjudicate any dispute between a licensor and a licensee, between two or more service providers, between a service provider and a group of consumers, and to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction, decision or order of TRAI.


Data Localization

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security;

Why in the news?

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways, held a meeting with Industry stakeholders on e-Commerce and data localization in New Delhi

What is data localisation?

  • Data localisation is the act of storing data on any device physically present within the borders of a country.
  • Localisation mandates that companies collecting critical data about consumers must store and process them within the borders of the country.
  • RBI had issued a circular mandating that payments-related data collected by payments providers must be stored only in India, setting an October 15, 2018 deadline for compliance. This covered not only card payment services by Visa and MasterCard but also of companies such as Paytm, WhatsApp and Google which offer electronic or digital payment services. Many companies are yet to comply with this rule and the RBI has not specified any fines or penalties for the delay.
  • RBI took the decision by following the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee on the draft data protection law that was submitted last year.


Why is Data localisation important?

  • The main intent behind data localisation is to protect the personal and financial information of the country’s citizens and residents from foreign surveillance and give local governments and regulators the jurisdiction to call for the data when required. This aspect has gained importance after a spate of lynchings across States was linked to WhatsApp rumour.
  • Revelations of social media giant Facebook sharing user data with Cambridge Analytica, which is alleged to have influenced voting outcomes, have led to a global clamour by governments for data localisation.
  • The other argument is that data localisation is essential to national security. Storing of data locally is expected to help law-enforcement agencies to access information that is needed for the detection of a crime or to gather evidence.
  • Where data is not localised, the agencies need to rely on mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) to obtain access, delaying investigations.
  • On-shoring global data could also create domestic jobs and skills in data storage and analytics too, as the Srikrishna report had pointed out.


What are the hurdles to data localisation?

  • Maintaining multiple local data centres may entail significant investments in infrastructure and higher costs for global companies
  • Monitoring use of data from the lens of privacy, security, safety and choice and efficiency gains and losses on utilizing Indian data servers, emails, clouds are the other issues.


IED blast in Pulwama

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.


Why in the news?

Militants triggered an IED near an Army Patrol in Pulwama injuring soldiers and civilians.

What is an IED?

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) is a bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action.
  • It may be constructed of conventional military explosives, such as an artillery shell, attached to a detonating mechanism. IEDs are commonly used as roadside bombs.
  • IEDs may incorporate military or commercially sourced explosives, and often combine both types, or they may otherwise be made with homemade explosives (HME).
  • IEDs made by inexperienced designers or with substandard materials may fail to detonate, and in some cases, they actually detonate on either the maker or the placer of the device.
  • Because the components of these devices are being used in a manner not intended by their manufacturer, and because the method of producing the explosion is limited only by the science and imagination of the perpetrator, it is not possible to follow a step-by-step guide to detect and disarm a device that an individual has only recently developed.


UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Paper : General Studies 3

Topic : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

  • India will host the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September.
  • Ahead of the COP 14, the Environment Minister has launched a flagship project as a part of the Bonn Challenge to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration

What is the UNCCD?

  • Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
  • The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
  • The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.                                      
  • The UNCCD secretariat facilitates cooperation between developed and developing countries, particularly around knowledge and technology transfer for sustainable land management.
  • As the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected, the UNCCD collaborates closely with the other two Rio Conventions; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to meet these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the best possible use of natural resources.

What is the Conference of Parties to the UNCCD?

  • The COP was established by the Convention as the supreme decision-making body; it comprises ratifying governments and regional economic integration organizations, such as the European Union.
  • Up to today, the COP had held thirteen sessions; it has been meeting biennially since 2001. COP13 took place in 2017 in Ordos, China.
  • One of the main functions of the COP is to review reports submitted by the Parties detailing how they are carrying out their commitments; the COP makes recommendations on the basis of these reports.
  • It also has the power to make amendments to the Convention or to adopt new annexes, such as additional regional implementation annexes.
  • In this way, the COP can guide the Convention as global circumstances and national needs change. To assist the COP, the Convention provides for subsidiary bodies and allows the COP to establish additional ones if necessary.        

What is the Bonn Challenge?

  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • It was launched in 2011 by the Government of Germany and IUCN, and later endorsed and extended by the New York Declaration on Forests at the 2014 UN Climate Summit.
  • Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.