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Here are the topics covered for 30 September 2023:POCSO Act,15-point action plan to deal with air pollution, Illicit trade, Global Biofuels Alliance, Electoral bonds, Conocarpus tree
Table of Content
- POCSO Act
- 15-point action plan to deal with air pollution
- Illicit trade
- Global Biofuels Alliance
Facts for Prelims
- Electoral bonds
- Conocarpus tree
- Recently Law Commission in its report was against lowering the age of consent under the POCSO Act.
- The Law Commission said in its report that the government should not tinker with the age of consent currently 18 years under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
- The Panel advises the introduction of “guided judicial discretion” while sentencing in cases that involve the tacit approval of children in the 16 to 18 years age bracket.
- In the report, the Law panel noted that certain amendments would be required in the POCSO Act, 2012 to remedy the situation in cases involving tacit approval, though not consent under law, on the part of children aged between 16 and 18 years.
- Reducing the age of consent would have a direct and negative bearing on the fight against child marriage and child trafficking
- It also advised the courts to tread with caution even in cases related to “adolescent love”, where criminal intention may be missing.
- Taking note of previous judicial observations, the Commission noted that cases where there is tacit approval do not merit the same severity as “cases that were ideally imagined to fall under the POCSO Act”.
- The Commission, therefore, deems it fit to introduce guided judicial discretion in the matter of sentencing in such cases. This will ensure that the law is balanced, thus safeguarding the best interests of the child.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is a legal framework enacted by the Government of India in 2012. It is a crucial law aimed at providing legal protection to children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
- The Act establishes a clear age of consent for sexual activity, which is 18 years. Any sexual activity with a child below this age is considered an offence.
- The Act is gender-neutral, meaning it applies to both male and female children.
- The Act mandates the establishment of special courts for the speedy trial of cases related to child sexual abuse.
- The Act prescribes stringent punishments for offenders, including imprisonment and fines, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.
- A new FICCI report puts the overall score of the illegal economy in India higher than the average of 122 countries. It indicates that various criminal markets have a major impact on India’s economic structure.
- As per a new report from FICCI CASCADE, there are fewer criminal actors in India, but they are widespread and engage in a variety of unlawful activities – such as drug and human trafficking and the illegal trade in wildlife products.
- ILLICIT MARKETS (illegal trade in drugs, arms, etc.) and financial flows pose a significant threat to Indian society and economy. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that when the Indian economy surpassed $3 trillion in 2021, the quantum of money laundering was $159 billion, about 5% of the country’s GDP.
- Illicit trade casts a shadow over India’s progress towards becoming a $5 trillion economy.
- A report by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (FICCI CASCADE) released recently puts the mean percentage of trade-based money laundering at 19.8% from 2009 to 2018, and the total aggregate value gap of mis-invoicing for these 10 years at more than $674.9 billion.
- The report, Hidden Streams: Linkages Between Illicit Markets, Financial Flows. Organised Crime and Terrorism, give the illegal economy in India an overall score of 6.3 higher than the average of 5 for 122 countries around the world.
- The report has been prepared by Thought Arbitrage Research Institute for FICCI CASCADE with inputs from multiple sources such as the Global Terror Index (CTI), Global Organised Crime Index (GOCI), and government data.
- Between 2009-2018, India’s total potential revenue loss due to mis-invoiced imports and exports was approximately $13 billion, including a loss of $9 billion due to import mis-invoicing.
- The uncollected value-added tax (VAT) amounted to a total of $3.4 billion, customs charges approximately $2 billion, and corporate income tax, $3.6 billion.
- TERROR & CRIME:
- In 2021, the economic cost of violence paid by India was $1,170 billion at purchasing power parity (PPP), which is approximately 6% of the country’s GDP. The violence per capita impact is estimated at $841 at PPP.
- The report states that almost 80% of containment costs relate to security and as the economy and the illegal economy grow, India’s cost of addressing terror and crime will be significant.
ORGANISED CRIME & ILLEGAL
- ECONOMY: the aggregate score of organised crime actors in India is low at 4.3 on a scale of 1-10, compared to the average of 5.2. The criminal network, however, has a significant influence in India with a score of 6, which is higher than the average score of 5.8.
- On the other hand, the illegal economy in India has an overall score of 6.3. which is higher than the average score of 5 for 122 countries.
- although there are fewer criminal actors, they are widespread and engage in a variety of unlawful activities, including drug and human trafficking and the illegal trade in wildlife products. This apparent contradiction may be attributable to the efficacy of criminal networks in India, which enables them to generate substantial illicit financial flows despite their small numbers.
- Perfume and cosmetics are counterfeited the most in India. Products like toys, games, clothing, leather goods, handbags, and footwear have relatively low counterfeiting indices.
- Household and personal goods have the highest illicit market share in India at almost 35%.
- DRUG ECONOMY:
- India is located near major drug-producing regions, including the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos, Thailand) and Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran), has witnessed a surge in illicit drug trade. According to FICCI, cases of drug seizures rose from 1,257 (2006-13) to 3,172 (2014-22).
- Addressing illicit trade requires a multi-faceted approach involving governments, law enforcement, international cooperation, and societal engagement.
- tackling counterfeiting, smuggling, and tax evasion are fundamental to safeguarding India’s economic stability.
- Provide opportunities for individuals engaged in illicit trade to transition into legal and sustainable livelihoods.
- Bolster law enforcement agencies with resources, training, and technology to effectively combat illicit trade networks.
- By adopting a comprehensive and coordinated approach, involving various stakeholders at national and international levels, it is possible to make significant strides in combating illicit trade.
15-point action plan to deal with air pollution
- Delhi CM announces 15-point winter action plan to fight air pollution.
- Delhi government to focus on controlling pollution caused by dust and vehicles; special teams, war room to help enforce the existing prohibitions; bio-decomposer to be used over 5,000 acres of farmland to prevent stubble burning.
- Chief Minister recently announced a 15-point action plan to deal with air pollution during winter, when the city struggles with smog, poor visibility, and a drop in air quality mainly due to meteorological factors and stubble burning.
- The plan announced recently includes several focus areas, including controlling stubble burning, vehicular pollution, open burning, and dust pollution.
- It also calls for the formation of special teams to enforce some of the existing bans, such as the one on open garbage burning.
- measures taken to prevent stubble burning in the city: using a bio-decomposer made by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa. The bio-decomposer will be used on over 5,000 acres of farmland this year.
- The bio-decomposer is a microbial liquid spray that, when sprayed onto paddy stubble, breaks it down in a way that can be easily absorbed into the soil, whereby farmers then have no need to burn the stubble.
- PM2.5 and PM10 levels in the city had reduced by nearly 30% between 2014 and 2022, marking a significant improvement in the air quality.
- PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matter 2.5 and 10) are fine inhalable particles that can get into the lungs and bloodstream and lead to various respiratory and other diseases.
- In a bid to contain the spread of harmful particulate matter, the government decided to impose a complete ban on the sale, storage, production, and bursting of firecrackers for the third consecutive year.
- To control dust pollution on roads, mechanical road sweeping machines, water sprinkling machines, and anti-smog guns will be deployed during winter.
Effective government action requires political will, adequate resources, and sustained commitment to combat air pollution and protect public health. It is also important for governments to engage with experts, stakeholders, and the public to develop and implement effective policies and strategies.
Global Biofuels Alliance(GBA)
- The grouping, called the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) attempts to bring countries together to co-develop, accelerate technological advances in production processes, and advocate for the use of biofuels particularly in the transport sector.
- The three founding members, India, the U.S. and Brazil, were joined by Argentina, Canada, Italy and South Africa, who are also G-20 member countries.
What are biofuels?
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines biofuels as “liquid fuels derived from biomass and used as an alternative to fossil fuel-based liquid transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels.
Why is there a renewed focus on biofuels?
- With severe disruptions to global crude oil supplies following the Ukraine war, several countries have been scrambling to find alternatives to the import dependence on petrol and diesel.
- India, for instance, imports 87% of its crude oil, and it is the main reserve currency expenditure for the country.
- With transport accounting for about one-quarter of global carbon emissions, there have been renewed attempts to accelerate the decarbonising of this sector, with several countries announcing battery production and electric vehicle (EV) policies and legacy automakers entering the now thriving EV sector.
- But some modes of transport like aviation, shipping and long-haul trucking will find it harder to reduce carbon emissions than self-driven cars or say, motorbikes. It is here that some experts feel that 2G ethanol could be a valuable substitute.
Do biofuels aid energy transition?
- Biofuels are currently blended with traditional fuels, with India planning to double its 10% blend. While some advocate for prioritizing EVs and alternatives like green hydrogen, others suggest 2G ethanol. This could lower emissions, extend the internal combustion engine lifespan, give automakers time for alternative development, and boost farmers’ income while creating jobs.
What happens next?
- The GBA’s three founding members produce 85% of global biofuels and use 81% of them.
- The U.S. plans to substantially increase biofuel production, aiming to replace 1,40,000 barrels per day of crude oil imports by 2025.
- India aims for 20% ethanol blending by 2025, aligning with its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
- The IEA predicts that India, Brazil, and Indonesia will drive two-thirds of global biofuel demand due to ample resources and favourable policies.
- Whether this accelerates the decarbonization of the energy sector remains to be seen.
Facts for Prelims
- Electoral bonds are financial instruments that can be used by individuals, organizations, and corporate entities to donate money to political parties in India.
- They were introduced by the Government of India in 2017 as a way to bring transparency to political funding and reduce the influence of black money in elections.
- Electoral bonds are issued by notified branches of the State Bank of India (SBI).
- Electoral bonds are available in multiple denominations, ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1 crore.
- Only political parties that are registered under the Representation of People Act, 1951 and have secured at least 1% of the votes in the most recent Lok Sabha or State election are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
- Electoral bonds have a validity of 15 days from the date of issue.
- The political party receiving the electoral bond does not have to disclose the identity of the donor to the public or the Election Commission.
- As per the original scheme, the bonds are made available for 10 days each in January, April, July and October, on dates specified by the central government, and an additional 30-day period in the year of the Lok Sabha elections.
- In November 2022, the government amended the scheme to grant itself the power to declare an extra fortnight of electoral bond sales in years when States and Union Territories with a legislature have polls.
- Conocarpus is an evergreen species with dark-green shiny leaves.
- It is a fast-growing species that is reported to be not palatable to wild herbivores or domesticated animals.
- Conocarpus is a hardy mangrove species that grows easily, from inter-tidal zones to deserts to urban landscapes. It stores a lot of carbon.
- The roots of this species go deep inside the soil and develop extensively, damaging telecommunication lines, drainage lines and freshwater systems.
- Trees of this species flower in winter and spread pollen in nearby areas.
- This is causing diseases like cold, cough, asthma, allergies etc