Prison reforms

Daily News Analysis 4th October 2023 (The Hindu)

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Here are the topics covered for  4th October 2023: Prison reforms, PM SVANidhi scheme , Flash floods, Surety Bonds, UAPA, Bird Flu

Table of Content

  • GS-2 :-Prison Reforms
  • GS-3:- PM SVANidhi Scheme, Flash Floods, Surety Bonds

Facts for Prelims

  • UAPA, Bird Flu

Prison reforms


  • SC seeks views of Centre, states on prison reforms report in three weeks. It will examine recommendations for prison reforms, including overcrowding, medical facilities, and vocational training.
What is the Status of Prison reform?
  • The Prisons Act of 1894, which is over 130 years old, primarily emphasizes custody and discipline without provisions for prisoner reform or rehabilitation.
  • Prisons fall under the jurisdiction of State Governments as per the Indian Constitution. While they hold exclusive responsibility for prison management and administration, the Government of India recognizes the vital role efficient prison management plays in the criminal justice system and thus provides substantial support to States/Union Territories.
  • In recent years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identified shortcomings in the current Prisons Act. Except for a few States with new Acts, there are notable deficiencies, particularly in addressing rehabilitation. Consequently, there is a recognized need to modernize and upgrade the Act to meet contemporary prison management needs.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs assigned the task of revision of the Prisons Act, of 1894 to the Bureau of Police Research and Development. The Bureau, after holding wide-ranging discussions with State Prison authorities, correctional experts etc. prepared a draft.
  • The objective is to comprehensively address gaps in the current Prisons Act. This includes incorporating technology in management, allowing parole and furlough, granting remission for good conduct, providing special provisions for women/transgender inmates, prioritizing physical and mental well-being, and emphasizing inmate reformation and rehabilitation.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs finalised a comprehensive ‘Model Prisons Act, 2023’, which may serve as a guiding document for the States, and for adoption in their jurisdiction.
  • The Ministry has reviewed and integrated relevant provisions from \’The Prisons Act, of 1894\’, \’The Prisoners Act, of 1900\’, and \’The Transfer of Prisoners Act, of 1950\’ into the \’Model Prisons Act, of 2023\’. States and Union Territories can adopt this model Act, making necessary modifications, and repeal the existing three Acts in their jurisdictions.Salient features of the new Model Prisons Act are as follows:
  • Provision for security assessment and segregation of prisoners, individual sentence planning,
  • Grievance redressal, prison development board, attitudinal change towards prisoners.
  • Provision of separate accommodation for women prisoners, transgender, etc.
  • Provision for the use of technology in prison administration with a view to bring transparency in prison administration.
  • Provision for video conferencing with courts, scientific and technological interventions in prisons, etc.
  • Provision of punishment for prisoners and jail staff for use of prohibited items like mobile phones etc. in jails.
  • Provision regarding establishment and management of high-security jails, open jails (open and semi-open), etc.
  • Provision for protecting society from the criminal activities of hardened criminals and habitual offenders, etc.
  • Provision for legal aid to prisoners, provision of parole, furlough and premature release etc. to incentivise good conduct.
  • Focus on vocational training and skill development of prisoners and their reintegration into society.
  • By focusing on these areas, prison reforms can contribute to a more effective and humane criminal justice system that prioritizes rehabilitation, public safety, and the successful reintegration of individuals into society. This comprehensive approach will help create a more just and equitable system for all stakeholders involved.

PM SVANidhi scheme


  • The PM SVANidhi scheme has reached a significant milestone by assisting over 50 lakh street vendors nationwide.


  • The PM SVANidhi (Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor\’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi) scheme is an initiative launched by the GoI to support street vendors who have been affected by the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • launched in 2020 with the aim of facilitating collateral-free working capital loans to street vendors to restart their businesses.


  • Facilitate collateral-free working capital loan up to ₹10,000, of 1 year tenure, with enhanced loan of ₹20,000 and ₹50,000 in the second and third tranches respectively, on repayments of earlier loans.
  • Incentivize regular repayment, through interest subsidy @ 7% per annum
  • Reward digital transactions, by way of cash back up to ₹1,200 per year.

The scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in collaboration with state/UT governments, municipal bodies, and urban local bodies.

State/ULBs are responsible for the identification of eligible street vendors and the mobilisation of new applications under the scheme.

While the PM SVANidhi scheme is a commendable initiative to support street vendors, it faces several challenges in its implementation:

  • Lack of Awareness: Many street vendors, especially those in remote or less accessible areas, are not aware of the scheme and its benefits.
  • Documentation and Identification: challenges in providing the necessary documentation or identification required to apply for the scheme. This could be due to issues like lack of formal documentation or incorrect paperwork.
  • Ensuring Timely Disbursement: It\’s crucial that the loans are disbursed in a timely manner to help vendors quickly resume their livelihoods. Delays in disbursement can hinder the effectiveness of the scheme.

The PM SVANidhi scheme is a vital step in supporting India\’s street vendors, especially post-COVID-19. By offering loans and encouraging digital transactions, it aims to boost small businesses. Challenges like awareness, digital accessibility, and inclusivity need attention. Streamlining applications, providing post-loan guidance, and monitoring impact are key. The scheme is a significant commitment to uplifting the informal economy and promoting self-reliance at the grassroots.

Flash floods


  • Rainfall in Sikkim has brought severe Flash Floods in many regions causing unprecedented loss of lives and assets.

What are Flash Floods?


  • Flash floods are sudden and rapid floods characterized by a swift onset of rising water levels, often caused by heavy rainfall, dam breaks, or rapid melting of ice or snow.
  • These floods can occur with little to no warning, making them particularly dangerous.

What was the factor for such flash floods in Sikkim?

  • A flash flood in the Teesta River in Lachen Valley was caused by to sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim.
  • A cloud burst is an extreme and sudden weather phenomenon characterized by a rapid and intense release of precipitation. This can result in an extraordinarily high amount of rainfall over a relatively small area within a short period of time, typically in a matter of minutes or hours.

Impacts of flash floods

  • Flash floods occur within a short period, typically within six hours of the triggering event, such as heavy rainfall or dam failure.
  • In urban areas, impermeable surfaces like roads and buildings can exacerbate runoff, leading to faster flooding.
  • Flash floods can lead to soil erosion, damage to ecosystems, and the displacement of wildlife.
  • Climate change can exacerbate flash flood events, as altered weather patterns may lead to more intense and unpredictable rainfall.

Way forward:

  • Implementing flood control infrastructure, early warning systems, and land-use planning that takes flood risk into account are critical measures to mitigate the impact of flash floods.
  • Education, community drills, and awareness campaigns are essential in preparing communities to respond effectively to flash floods.
  • Given their sudden and destructive nature, flash floods require proactive planning, early warning systems, and community education to minimize their impact on vulnerable areas.

Surety Bond


  • Despite announcements by prominent general insurers like New India Assurance and SBI General Insurance regarding their intention to issue Surety Bonds, none have been able to do so thus far due to the absence of necessary supporting elements.


  • A surety bond is a legal contract involving three parties: the principal, the obligee, and the surety. It guarantees that the principal will fulfil their obligations to the obligee. If the principal fails to meet these obligations, the surety steps in to cover the financial losses or perform the agreed-upon duties.

A surety bond is distinctive in that it involves a three-party arrangement. The parties involved are as follows:

  • Principal: This party procures the bond and commits to fulfilling a specified obligation.
  • Surety: This entity, typically an insurance or surety company, assures that the obligation will be carried out. If the principal falls short, the surety is legally responsible for any resulting losses.
  • Obligee: This party necessitates and typically benefits from the surety bond. In most cases, the obligee is a government entity at the local, state, or federal level.

Types of Surety Bonds:

  • Contract Surety Bonds: These are commonly used in construction projects. They guarantee that the contractor will complete the project according to the contract terms.
  • Commercial Surety Bonds: These cover a wide range of obligations, including license and permit bonds, fiduciary bonds, and public official bonds. They are often required by government agencies or regulatory bodies.
  • Court Surety Bonds: These are used in legal proceedings to guarantee that a party will fulfil their obligations as ordered by the court.
  • Fidelity Bonds: Also known as employee dishonesty bonds, these protect businesses from losses due to fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by employees.

Benefits of Surety Bonds:

  • Risk Mitigation: Surety bonds provide a financial safety net for the obligee, ensuring that they are compensated if the principal fails to meet their obligations.
  • Increased Credibility: Having a surety bond in place can enhance the reputation and credibility of the principal, especially in industries where they are commonly required.
  • Contract Opportunities: Many government and private projects require contractors to obtain surety bonds, allowing businesses to bid on and secure lucrative contracts.
  • Legal Compliance: Certain industries and professions require practitioners to obtain surety bonds as a regulatory requirement.
  • Financial Security: Surety bonds provide a reliable mechanism for parties to guarantee financial performance without tying up significant capital.

Surety bonds are not insurance policies. While they provide financial security, they do not protect the principal from losses; instead, they hold the principal accountable for their obligations.

Surety bonds are pivotal in establishing trust in contracts. The three parties involved – the principal, surety, and obligee – ensure obligations are met. This unique structure bolsters economic stability and regulatory compliance across industries, making surety bonds a crucial tool in business transactions.

Facts for Prelims


  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) is a law aimed at the prevention of unlawful activities and associations related to terrorism.
  • It was enacted to provide more effective measures to deal with activities and individuals involved in activities detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • The Act defines what constitutes an \”unlawful activity.\” It includes actions that threaten the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • UAPA includes provisions for the most severe penalties, such as the death penalty and life imprisonment.
  • The UAPA applies uniformly to both Indian and foreign nationals, even if the offence is committed outside India\’s borders.
  • The investigating agency is required to file a charge sheet within a maximum of 180 days after making arrests. This duration can be extended further, provided the court is duly informed.

Bird Flu

  • Avian influenza or bird flu refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.
  • These viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
  • Bird flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with bird flu viruses have occurred.
  • There are lots of different strains of bird flu virus. Most of them don\’t infect humans. But there are 4 strains that have caused concern in recent years:
    • H5N1 (since 1997)
    • H7N9 (since 2013)
    • H5N6 (since 2014)
    • H5N8 (since 2016)
  • Although H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6 don\’t infect people easily and aren\’t usually spread from human to human, several people have been infected around the world, leading to a number of deaths.
  • Bird flu is spread by close contact with an infected bird (dead or alive).
  • You can\’t catch bird flu by eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even in areas with an outbreak of bird flu.
  • It usually takes 3 to 5 days for the first symptoms to appear after you\’ve been infected.

Main symptoms:

  • a very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery
  • aching muscles
  • Headache
  • a cough or shortness of breath

Other early symptoms may include diarrhoea, sickness, stomach pain, chest pain, bleeding from the nose and gums, and conjunctivitis.

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