Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 01 January 2023

India abstains on UNGA resolution

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India has abstained in the UN General Assembly on a resolution that asked the International Court of Justice for its opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “prolonged occupation” and annexation of the Palestinian territory. The draft resolution ‘Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’ was adopted by a recorded vote, with 87 votes in favour26 against and 53 abstentions, including by India.

What the UNGA Resolution was about

  1. The resolution decided to request the UN's highest judicial body to “render an advisory opinion” on “what are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupationsettlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic compositioncharacter and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”
  2. It also asked the Hague-based top UN court “how do the policies and practices of Israel… affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?
  3. US among 26 votes against 'outrageous resolution,' India among others abstains. The US and Israel voted against the resolution while BrazilJapanMyanmar and France were among those that abstained.

Allegations of 'Bias against Israel'

  1. Following the vote, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement that the vote at the United Nations exemplifies an ongoing pattern of bias against Israel, and “we applaud those 26 countries, including the United States, who voted against this shameful resolution that seeks to isolate and demonize the Jewish state.”
  2. Lauder said the “measure is a direct outgrowth of the biased Commission of Inquiry on Israel, whose commissioners have made antisemitic comments and who have been unabashed critics of Israel. Referral of this issue to the ICJ is yet another barrier to dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.” Lauder added that "peace in the region can only be negotiated by the two sides directly involved.”
  3. World Jewish Congress is an international organisation representing Jewish communities in more than 100 countries to governmentsparliaments and international organizations.

India's stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict

  1. Historically, India held the accolade of being the only major non-Arab, non-Muslim nation to back the Palestinian cause.
  2. In 1974, India was quick to recognise the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
  3. Later in 1975, the first PLO office was set up in New Delhi and an embassy was set up in 1980. In 1988, India became one of the first countries to recognise the newly established state of Palestine.
  4. Through these years, India sustained a policy of hyphenating the ties with Israel – linking them to ties with the Palestinian Authority, wherein a visit of the heads of state to Israel was accompanied by a visit to the Palestinian land as well.
  5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017 for the first time visited Israel but skipped a customary stoppage in Palestine. This has come to be described as a policy of “De-Hyphenation.”
  6. India’s stance on the conflict has shifted from a four-decade long pro-Palestine position to a careful balancing act, following the establishment of India-Israel diplomatic relations in 1992.
  7. Thus, de-hyphenation simply suggests a tilt towards an ‘independent’ foreign policy wherein bilateral relations with Israel are based solely on its own merits, separate from its relationship with the Palestinians.

 

Enzyme to convert into renewable energy

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have found that a specific enzyme can effectively convert woody biomatter into bioethanol — a renewable fuel which can even be used as a substitute for petrol or in food medicineEthanol or ethyl alcohol is not just used in spiritsdrinks or pharmaceutical products, but can also be used to fuel vehicles.

More about enzyme

  1. The enzyme known as RfGH5_4, which was derived from a bacterium called Ruminococcus flavefaciens, effectively breaks down the cellulose and hemicellulose in woody biomatter and converts it into bioethanol.
  2. This bacterium is found in the gut of cows and other cud-chewing animals.
  3. The efficiency of the enzyme, RfGH5_4, was tested by breaking down and fermenting molecules of biomasses such as main stalk and small branches of cottonsorghum stalksugarcane bagassefinger millet stalk and maize leaves, into simple sugars.
  4. While chemical processes can be used to manufacture bioethanol fuel, it is usually produced by fermentation of sugar, normally sourced from fuel or energy crops such as corn, maize, wheat, potato among others.
  5. The study was a collaboration between IIT-Guwahati and University of Lisbon in Portugal, the results of which were published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, in October.

Why it significant

  1. The research is significant as it can help India lower its dependence on crude oil imports, which currently stands at 85 per cent.
  2. Domestically produced ethanol can be blended with petrol to drastically reduce the reliance on other countries.
  3. India hopes to bring in 20 per cent ethanol blending with gas in some parts of the country by 2023, followed by a pan India rollout in 2025-2026.

 

RBI to extensively use AI, MI driven tools

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

According to RBI governor, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) driven tools for data analysis and information creation will be integral part of Reserve Bank's Medium-term Strategy Framework Utkarsh 2.0' for the period 2023-2025.

More about the news

  1. The first strategy framework (Utkarsh 2022) covering the period 2019-2022 was launched in July 2019.
  2. It became a medium-term strategy document guiding the Bank's progress towards realisation of the identified milestones.
  3. RBI says, against the backdrop of a challenging global and domestic environment, Utkarsh 2.0 commences from 2023, when India assumes the G-20 Presidency.
  4. With India's G-20 presidency during the period of Utkarsh 2.0, it confers a unique opportunity to showcase our accomplishments in the realm of digital payments and strive towards broad basing of acceptance of the Indian Rupee in bilateral and multilateral trade.
  5. Utkarsh 2.0 harnesses the strengths of Utkarsh 2022 by retaining the six Vision statements as well as Core Purpose, Values, and Mission statement, and added that collectively, they create a strategic guiding path.

The Vision in Utkarsh 2.0 that will guide the Reserve Bank of India over the period 2023-25 includes:

  1. Excellence in performance of its functions;
  2. Strengthened trust of citizens and Institutions in the RBI;
  3. Enhanced relevance and significance in national and global roles;
  4. In this age of data, the Bank plays the dual role of data collection as well as information dissemination.
  5. With this comes the responsibility of reliability of data collected to create meaningful and accurate information.

UTKARSH 2.0

Utkarsh 2.0, the Strategy Framework being put in place for the period 2023-25, sets out the priorities, activities, and desired outcomes under each of the objectives of the Bank for the period between 2023 and 2025.

Significance of this move

  1. The achievement of the milestones under the Utkarsh 2.0 will strengthen the regulatory landscape for the well-being of the financial sector and enhance the trust of citizens in the RBI.
  2. The strategy framework will also make the Bank a listening oriented, transparent organisation equipped with best-in-class and environment friendly digital and physical infrastructure.

 

Clear long-pending cases by Independence Day

GS Paper -2 (Judiciary)

Voicing concern over long-pending cases, some dating back even to the 1970s, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said courts in the country should ensure that “the judicial clock moves ahead at least 10 years” by Independence Day 2023.  

More about the news

  1. The CJI said, across the country, almost 14 lakh cases have been delayed as some kind of record or document is being awaited.
  2. Across the country, more than 63 lakh cases are considered to be delayed as per the National Judicial Data Grid [NJDG] data, due to non-availability of counsel.
  3. He said, courts really need the support of the Bar to ensure that our courts are functioning at optimum capacity”. 
  4. In the High Court, the oldest case is from 1976, and it needs to dispose of just 138 cases to move 10 years ahead of the curve.
  5. He said, by using simple tools which are now available on the NJDG, we will be able to do justice and revolutionise the image of the judiciary in India.

Benefits technology has given

  1. Underlining the importance of technology, digitisation had immediate benefits in terms of pendency of cases.
  2. With the digitisation of records, the record that is received can immediately be scanned and sent back, so that the trial does not suffer any delay. 

Significance of Rich jurisprudence

  1. It is developed by our Supreme Court and High Courts since independence of our nation, to preserve and protect the liberty of each individual.
  2. There is a brooding sense of fear among courts of the first instance, on how the grant of anticipatory bail or bail will be perceived at the higher level.
  3. At district courts, where litigants are trapped in a judicial whirlpool, needs to be avoided.

Flashback

Issues pertaining to judiciary:

Despite the judiciary’s independence from the executive and legislative branches, the Indian judicial system has a number of issues. Such issues hold the courts back from efficiently functioning and handing over justice to citizens which is a fundamental right for them.

Issues with the Indian judicial system:

  1. The pendency of cases.
  2. Corruption.
  3. Lack of transparency (particularly in the appointment of judges).
  4. Under trials of the accused.
  5. Lack of information and interaction among people and courts.

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