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Here are the topics covered for 23 September 2023: Quad Ministers hold talks on rules-based order, UN reform, Supreme Court Rejects Plea for Independent Audit of EVM System’s Source Code, Industry on dispute resolution, US and China launch Economic and Financial working groups ,The Quad, Sin tax
Table of Content
- Quad Ministers hold talks on rules-based order, UN reform
- Supreme Court Rejects Plea for Independent Audit of EVM System’s Source Code
- Industry on dispute resolution
- US and China launch Economic and Financial working groups
Facts for Prelims
- The Quad
- Sin tax
Quad Ministers hold talks on rules-based order, UN reform
- Recently Foreign Ministers of the Quad met along the fringes of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA),
- Foreign Ministers of the Quad (India, Australia, Japan and the U.S.) reaffirmed the group’s commitment to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region, where disputes are settled in accordance with international law.
- The Quad also committed itself to the principles of the UN charter and reform of the institution.
- The ministers stressed their commitment to countering terrorism, including terror financing and cross-border movement of terrorists and curbing the use of emerging technologies for terror purposes.
- The Quad also backed the UN’s efforts to restart the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), a deal that secures the export of grain from Ukraine and Russia.
- The joint statement noted that the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness was helping to “combat illicit maritime activities and respond to climate-related and humanitarian events”.
- The Quad has been delivering sustained economic and social value — as an example of its practical support for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Supreme Court Rejects Plea for Independent Audit of EVM System’s Source Code
- The integrity of the EVM system, vital for democratic voting, must be unquestionable to ensure citizens’ trust.
- The Supreme Court recently declined to entertain a writ petition seeking an independent audit of the source code governing the entire Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) system.
- An independent auditing public body that can view such a human-readable set of written instructions source code would ensure confidence that these processes would run exactly as intended and exclude the possibility of concealed Trojan code beyond the prescribed Software Requirement Specifications(SRS).
- IEEE 1028 standard: The independent audit should be undertaken by applying the IEEE 1028 standard. This is a well-established standard for software reviews and audits fixed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organisation.
- Since the ‘EVM System’ has been adopted as a method to exercise the democratic franchise, it is of central concern for all the citizens that its integrity is beyond any slightest shadow of doubt, lest it affect the democratic rights of the citizens and be a cause of concern for national security.
- Technical audit by the manufacturers of the EVM system was not transparent enough.
- The Election Commission of India (EC) is constitutionally entrusted with the superintendence and control of the polls.
- Ultimately, the manner in which the source code ought to be audited and whether the audit should be placed in the public domain bears on sensitive issues pertaining to the integrity of the election process which is conducted under the superintendence of the EC.
Dispute resolution: Industry
- The Mediation Act, 2023 aims to foster a link between mediation and the arbitration of commercial disputes, thus reducing the burden on Indian courts.
- ADR, or Alternative Dispute Resolution, is crucial in India due to delays and costs in court proceedings. It encompasses various methods for parties to resolve disputes amicably without going to court. While arbitration and conciliation were primary topics, mediation is gaining recognition.
- The new Act strengthens ADR in India. It mandates pre-litigation mediation, regardless of prior agreements. Parties must attempt settlement before going to court, with mediators available on court panels.
- Reduces filing of frivolous claims.
- Maintains confidentiality, preserving relationships.
- Safeguards against forced mediations.
- Sets time limit: 180 days for mediation.
- Allows for urgent interim reliefs in exceptional cases.
- Encourages focus on commercial dealings over disputes.
The aspect of mediation and arbitration
- Act positions mediation akin to commercial arbitration in India.
- Similarities in supporting legislation: stringent timelines, confidentiality, court referrals, appointment mechanisms, and termination procedures.
- Both ensure the enforceability of mediated settlement agreements and arbitral awards.
- The establishment of the Mediation Council of India mirrors the proposed Arbitration Council.
- Parliament emphasizes mediation and arbitration over defaulting to courts for commercial dispute resolution.
- The act promotes camaraderie between mediation and arbitration, reducing the burden on Indian courts.
US and China launch Economic and Financial working groups
- In order to ease tensions and deepen ties between the nations, The US Treasury Department and the China Ministry of Finance launched a pair of economic working groups on Friday.
- The working groups will be divided into economic and financial segments.
- The two Working Groups will provide ongoing structured channels for frank and substantive discussions on economic and financial policy matters, as well as an exchange of information on macroeconomic and financial developments.
- Ties between China and the US have soured in recent years over a range of issues, from trade and the status of Taiwan to China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea and an ongoing American push against growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
- The two countries have engaged in trade disputes, with the U.S. accusing China of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, and currency manipulation. Tariffs were imposed by both sides in a trade war that started in 2018.
- Despite the challenges, both nations are economically interdependent. Disruptions in their relationship can have global consequences, affecting trade, investments, and supply chains worldwide.
- Both the U.S. and China should adopt a long-term perspective in their relationship. Recognizing that their interactions will have far-reaching consequences can help guide their actions.
Facts for Prelims
- the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a strategic forum comprising the United States, Japan, India, and Australia.
- It was initiated in 2007 but gained prominence in recent years.
- The Quad aims to promote security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
- It addresses various issues, including regional security, counterterrorism, infrastructure development, climate change, and economic cooperation.
- The Quad countries share common democratic values and interests, and they seek to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Levy sin tax on items like biscuits, noodles: Think tank NAPI
- Think tank Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) said the GST Council must levy sin tax on items like packaged biscuits, instant noodles and ice creams as they contain high levels of salt, sugar and fat.
- Ultra-processed food or junk food is advertised aggressively, and qualitative analysis of 43 advertisements of pre-packaged food products and their composition revealed that they are no less than junk as they are high in one or more nutrients of concern, such as sugars, salt, and saturated fat.
- Existing regulatory policies remain ineffective to minimise any advertisements of junk foods, which are mostly misleading.
Sin tax is a type of excise tax imposed on goods or activities that are considered harmful to society, such as tobacco, alcohol, sugary drinks, and sometimes even activities like gambling.