Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    Open Network for Digital Commerce

    Recently, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has issued orders appointing an advisory committee for its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) project.

    • About
      • Several operational aspects including onboarding of sellers, vendor discovery, price discovery and product cataloguing could be made open source on the lines of Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
    • Open Source Software
      • Making a software or a process open-source means that the code or the steps of that process is made available freely for others to use, redistribute and modify.
        • For example: While the operating system of Apple’s iPhones, iOS, is closed source, meaning it cannot be legally modified or reverse engineered, Google’s Android operating system is open-source and allows smartphone original equipment manufacturers (OEM) such as Samsung, OnePlus, etc. to modify it for their hardware.
    • Aims
      • To promote open networks developed on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols, independent on any specific platform.
      • To curb “digital monopolies” in order to make e-commerce processes open-source, allowing all online retailers to use the platform.
    • Significance
      • All e-commerce companies will have to operate using the same processes, which can give a huge booster shot to smaller online retailers and new entrants.
      • ONDC is expected to digitise the entire value chain, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiency in logistics and enhance value for consumers.
    • However, the implementation could be problematic for larger e-commerce companies, which have proprietary processes and technology deployed for these segments of operations.

    Ministry of Cooperation

    Recently, the Union Government has created a new Ministry of Cooperation.

    • Aims
      • To strengthen the cooperative movement in the country.
      • To realise the vision of “Sehkar se Samriddhi” (through cooperation to prosperity).
    • Significance
      • It will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement.
      • It will help deepen cooperatives as a true people-based movement reaching up to the grassroots.
        • In India, a cooperative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
      • It will work to streamline processes for ‘ease of doing business’ for cooperatives and enable development of multi-state cooperatives (MSCS). 
      • It is also indicative of the government’s commitment to community based developmental partnership.
    • It is the second ministry to be created since 2019, after the Modi government came to power for the second time.
      • The Jal Shakti Ministry was formed in May 2019 by integrating the existing Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
    • With its creation, there will now be a total of 41 central government ministries.

    Lambda: Covid-19 Variant

    Recently, Lambda (another variant of Covid-19) has been emerging as a new threat.

    • On 14th June the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the Lambda variant, which was previously known by its formal scientific name C.37.
    • It is the seventh and newest variant of interest”, meaning it is something to watch out for.
      • Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, have been designated as “variants of concern” and are considered a bigger threat.
    • It has at least seven significant mutations in the spike protein which could have a range of implications, including the possibility of increased transmissibility or enhanced resistance to antibodies, created either through natural infection or vaccination.
      • A recent study reported that it had greater infectivity than the Alpha and Gamma variants (known to have originated in the UK and Brazil respectively).
    • It has been the dominant variant in Peru and other countries of South America but has not yet been found in the Indian population.
      • A country like India, which is still recovering from the second wave, would need to proactively watch out for, and prevent the spread of any new variant that could trigger a fresh wave.
    • It has been detected in more than 25 countries and is feared to be more transmissible than the original virus.
      • However, its behaviour is not very well understood right now due to limited evidence on the full extent of the impact associated with these genomic changes.
    • Robust studies into the phenotype impacts are needed and are also required to validate the continued effectiveness of vaccines.
    • The designation as a “variant of interest” means that the genetic changes involved are predicted or known to affect transmissibility, disease severity, or immune escape.
      • It is also an acknowledgement of the fact that the variant has caused significant community transmission in multiple countries and population groups.

    Tele-Law Programme

    The Department of Justice organized an event to mark the coverage of more than nine lakh beneficiaries of the government’s tele-law programme.

    • Key Highlights
      • The programme is operational in 633 districts (including 115 aspirational districts) across all the States and Union Territories using a network of 50,000 CSCs. 
      • Tele-law saw a 369% jump in the number of beneficiaries seeking legal advice during the last one year.
    • Tele-Law programme
    • Initiative of Department of Justice in partnership with NALSA and CSC e-Governance Service India Limited.
    • It was launched in 2017 to tackle cases at the pre–litigation stage.
    • Tele-Law means the use of communications and information technology for the delivery of legal information and advice.
    • Aim & Significance: For mainstreaming legal aid to the marginalised communities through Common Services Center (CSC).
      • To ensure seamless penetration in remote geographical hinterlands for better beneficiary coverage.

                               Image Courtesy: Tele-Law

    Section 43D(5) of the UAPA

    • Two days before death, the deceased Stan Swamy had moved the Bombay High Court challenging Section 43D(5) of the UAPA.
    • Section 43D(5)
    • It states- “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code, no person accused of an offence punishable under Chapters IV and VI of this Act shall, if in custody, be released on bail or on his own bond unless the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on the application for such release.”
    • Exception: 
    • Concern: The provision makes grant of bail virtually impossible under UAPA since it leaves little room for judicial reasoning. 
    • Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali Case: the Supreme Court in 2019 confirmed that courts must accept the state’s case without examining its merits while granting bail.
    • Other rulings: The courts have taken an alternative reading of this provision, emphasising the right to a speedy trial and raising the bar for the state to book an individual under UAPA.

    Section 66A of IT Act

    • Recently, the Supreme Court found it “distressing”, “shocking” and “terrible” that people were still booked and tried under Section 66A of IT Act.

    About

    • It was related to punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service.
    • It had prescribed three years’ imprisonment if a social media message caused “annoyance” or was found “grossly offensive”.
    • The court, in the Shreya Singhal judgment authored by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in March 2015, had concluded that the provision was vague and worded arbitrarily.
    • Concerns:
    • Even six years later it struck down the provision as unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.
    • The number of cases registered under Section 66A had actually increased post the judgment.