GS 2 AND GS 5
CATEGORY: GOVT. POLICIES, GOVERNANCE, ETHICS (E-GOVERNANCE)
- Aarogya Setu: Open API Service
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The government recently announced a new feature ‘Open API Service’ for its contact tracing app Aarogya Setu.
- Open API Service of Aarogya Setu addresses the fear of Covid-19 infections and will help the people/businesses/economy to return to normalcy.
- This service can be availed by organizations and business entities.
- Entities who are registered in India.
- Entities with more than 50 employees.
Benefits for Organizations and Businesses:
- They can use the Open API Service to query the Aarogya Setu Application in realtime.
- They can get the health status of their employees or any other Aarogya Setu User.
- The Open API Service enables organizations to check the status of Aarogya Setu and integrate it into its various Work from Home features.
Privacy Issue Addressed:
- The Open API shall only provide the Aarogya Setu status and name of the Aarogya Setu User (strictly, with User’s consent only).
- No other personal data shall be provided through the API.
- ‘API’ stands for ‘Application Programming Interface’. it is an interface that can be used to program software that interacts with an existing
- In practice, an API is “a set of functions and procedures” that allow one to access and build upon the data and functionality of an existing application.
Open Source API
- An API, also called public API, is an application programming interface made publicly available to software developers.
- Open APIs are published on the internet and shared freely, allowing the owner of a network-accessible service to give universal access to consumers.
- These are to support businesses with limited capital to invest in digital applications.
- An overlapping term web service is a resource that’s made available over the
- A Web service is a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network.
APIs vs Web Services
- APIs and web services are not mutually exclusive.
- one is a subset of the other: every web service is an API — since it exposes an application’s data and/or functionality — but not every API is a web service. This is because the definition of a web service is quite restrictive:
- Web services require a network. While APIs can be online or offline, web services must use a network.
- Web services are not open source generally: Instead, they tend to offer specific data and/or functionality to specific partners. Thus they are less prone to hacking than API.
- it was launched in April 2020. It was developed by the National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
- The motto of Aarogya Setu is ‘Main Surakshit, Hum Surakshit, Bharat Surakshit’.
- It aids the efforts of frontline health workers and the Government in Covid-19 mitigation and management efforts.
- The Aarogya Setu ITIHAS interface which uses location data and Aarogya Setu analytics to predict emerging hotspots at Sub Pincode levels has been very effective in helping the health officials and administration to take necessary precautionary steps.
- Government has issued guidelines to the employers to ensure that all their employees install this app.
- This violates the right to privacy, which is a fundamental right as held by the Supreme court in Puttaswamy case 2017.
- The data-sharing and knowledge-sharing protocol for the Aarogya Setu is prone to misuse, considering that India still doesn’t have data protection laws.
- Vulnerable sections like migrant workers can’t afford the smartphone and the internet.
- In May 2020, the government opened sourced the code for its contact tracing app Aarogya Setu’s Android and iOS versions.
- Open sourcing the code for an app allows developers to take a closer look at how the app functions. They can also find bugs in the system and report the same to the creator.
- National Food Security Act 2013: Inclusion of the Disabled in the act
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution recently asked State Governments/UTs to include all eligible disabled persons under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.
- The disabled persons should get their entitled quota of food grains under NFSA & Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) as per provisions of the Act.
- Those not already covered should be issued fresh ration cards as per the eligibility criteria.
- The disable person should also be covered by States/UTs under the priority households as per the criteria of identification evolved by them.
- PMGKAY is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.
- The scheme is aimed at providing each person who is covered under the National Food Security Act with an additional 5 kg grains (wheat or rice) for free, in addition to the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain already provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- The beneficiaries are also entitled to 1 kg of pulse for free, according to regional preferences.
- The Section 10 of the NFSA provides for identification and coverage of persons under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and the remaining households as priority households by the State Government.
- Disability is one of the criteria for inclusion of beneficiaries under AAY households. The Section 38 of the NFSA mandates that the Central Government may from time to time give directions to the State Governments for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.
- The Atmanirbhar Bharat Package of the Government of India provides free food, along with other benefits, to the migrant labourers, who are not covered either under NFSA or any States Scheme Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) Cards (Under Economic Stimulus-II).
- Hence, the disabled persons without ration cards are also eligible for getting benefits under Atmanirbhar Bharat package.
National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- Coverage: 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- Priority Households to be covered under TPDS, according to guidelines by the State government.
- Households covered under existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana.
- 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains.
- The existing AAY household will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.
- Meal and maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, Meals to children upto 14 years of age.
- Food security allowance to beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.
- Setting up of grievance redressal mechanisms at the district and state level.
Antyodaya Anna Yojana
- It was launched in December, 2000. It involved identification of one crore poorest of the poor families from amongst the number of Below Poverty Line families covered under TPDS within the States and providing them food grains at a highly subsidized rate.
- Some target groups identified under AAY are:
- Landless agricultural labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen and persons earning their livelihood on a daily basis in the informal sector.
- Households headed by widows/terminally ill persons/disabled persons/senior citizens.
- Widows or terminally ill persons or disabled persons or senior citizens. All primitive tribal
CATEGORY: GOVERNANCE, POLITY
- Sale of Electoral Bonds
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The Govt. may likely allow the sale of electoral bonds ahead of Assembly elections in Bihar in October-November 2020.
- The Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 was notified in the official gazette on 2 January 2018 and allows periodic issuances of electoral bonds.
- Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties.
- The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
- State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.
- These bonds are redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.
- Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 and has secured at least 1% of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India.
- Electoral bond transactions can be made only via this account. The bonds are available for purchase by any person (who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India) for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
- A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
- Donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.
- During general elections, the central government may specify an additional period of thirty days for sale of these bonds.
- There have been some occasions when the government has deviated from the specified periodicity for issuance of these bonds.
- For example, the sixth tranche of electoral bonds was issued from 1 -10 November 2018 and electoral bonds were sold in the months of March, April and May during 2019 general elections.
- While the Scheme acts as a check against traditional under-the-table donations as it insists on cheque and digital paper trails of transactions, several key provisions of the scheme make it highly controversial.
- Neither the donor (who could be an individual or a corporate) nor the political party is obligated to reveal whom the donation comes from.
- In 2019, the Supreme Court held that all political parties who had received donations through electoral bonds must submit details to the Election Commission of India.
- This undercuts a fundamental constitutional principle, the freedom of political information, which is an integral element of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.
- It defeats the fundamental principle of transparency in political finance because it conceals from public scrutiny the identity of the corporates and moneybags.
- The government is always in a position to know who the donor is because the bonds are purchased through the SBI.
- This asymmetry of information threatens to colour the process in favour of whichever political party is ruling at the time.
Chanel of Blackmoney:
- Elimination of a cap of 7.5% on corporate donations, elimination of requirement to reveal political contributions in profit and loss statements and also the elimination of the provision that a corporation must be three years in existence, undercuts the intent of the scheme.
- Any troubled, dying or shell companies can donate an unlimited amount anonymously to a political party giving them a convenient channel for business to round-trip their cash parked in tax havens for a favour or advantage granted in return for something.
- Wildfires in California
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
California (USA) is facing sprawling wildfires destroying more than 400,000 acres of forests in Northern and Central California.
- The spark for many of these fires come from around 11,000 lightning strikes California has been hit by.
- California has had nemerous wildfires, which have increased manifold in recent times.
- The 10 largest fires have occurred since 2000, including the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest in history of the USA..
- The frequency of western U.S. wildfires has increased by 400% since 1970. California has two distinct fire seasons:
- First or western fire season: From June through September, Due to warmer and drier weather. Fires are more inland and in higher-elevation forests.
- Second Fire Season: From October through April, Due to Santa Ana Winds. Burn closer to urban areas. Three times faster than first season fires Responsible for 80% of the economic losses over two decades
Santa Ana Winds
- The winds’ name derives its name from the Santa Ana canyon in Orange County, California.
- Santa Anas are dry, warm (often hot) winds that blow westward through Southern California toward the coast.
- They’re usually seasonal, and typically occur between October and March and peak in December.
- They originate when high pressure systems form over the high-elevation deserts of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevadas and the Rocky Mountains.
- As they flow downwards and cross desserts, they become very dry, warm, and gain speed.
- The lack of humidity in Santa Ana winds dries out vegetation, making it better fuel for a fire.
- The wind also fan the flames and helps spread them.
Reasons for California’s Wildfires:
- Climate: California, like much of the West, gets most of its moisture in the fall and winter. Its vegetation then stays dry throughout the summer because of a lack of rainfall and warmer temperatures, which ultimately serves as ignition for fires.
- However with global warming, the temperature has increased by 1-2 degree Celsius, leading to an upsurge in cases of wildfires.
- Human intervention: The spark for many fires arise due to human-made causes such as fallen power lines, accidents etc.
- Due to urbanization, human habitation is increasingly moving areas near forests, known as the urban-wildland interface, that are inclined to burn.
- Suppressing Fires: Owing to suppression of natural fires artificially for a long time, which would consume the dry inflammable materials in the forest, a lot of dry material has accumulated causing even more fires.
- The United States Forest Service is now trying to rectify the previous practice through the use of prescribed or “controlled” or cool burning.
- Cool Burning : Cool burning is done in a controlled manner by artificially creating small, localised fires to limit the amount of vegetation available in any given area. It means that any fires will not have any build-up of “vegetative fuel” to use to become a large, uncontrollable fire.
Santa Ana Winds:
- Santa Ana winds dry out vegetation and also move embers around, spreading fires.
- Economic loss from destruction of life and property.
- Air pollution by small particulate matter and also acids, organic chemicals, and metals along with dust and allergens.
- Land degradation as high temperatures consume all nutrients and vegetation from a land, leaving it barren and infertile.
- Loss of biodiversity.
- Some immediate solutions to wildfires include not planting easily flammable tree species such as eucalyptus and pine in forest fire regions, not allowing human development near forest zones, and promoting policies that conserve water like waste-water recycling, desert landscaping, and low-water consumption appliances.
- However in long -term working on controlling greenhouse gas emission and thus, climate change is crucial to controlling such incidents which have affected the whole world and not just California.
- Recent Australian Bushfires, and Forest Fires in Uttarakhand are some other examples