July 2018
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Coming home to jail: on the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, UN Model Agreement on the Transfer of Foreign Prisoners and Recommendations on the Treatment of Foreign Prisoners 1985, Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad, Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Repatriation of Prisoners Act 2003

Mains level: Repatriation status of Indian nationals in various countries and mechanism available for it


Problems faced in the repatriation of Indian nationals

  1. Two cases of repatriation of Indian nationals, the first being 52-year-old Ismail Samma of Gujarat, and the second, of a sick 21-year-old, Jetendaera Arjanwara of Madhya Pradesh, highlights the tribulations of being imprisoned in a foreign prison
  2. Ismail’s imprisonment in Karachi, Pakistan, came to light last January after being given up for dead for nine years by his family
  3. Jetendaera’s case became known in May after five years of detention
  4. Both men had accidentally crossed the border with Pakistan and were sentenced for illegal entry
  5. They were detained well past their terms as a result of delayed consular attention and nationality verification

Global conventions related to repatriation

  1. The right to return to one’s home country is assured under Article 12(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  2. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, provides for information to consulate, consular protection and consultation upon arrest, detention and during trial in a foreign country including entitlement to travel documents
  3. Similarly, the UN Model Agreement on the Transfer of Foreign Prisoners and Recommendations on the Treatment of Foreign Prisoners 1985, lays emphasis on the social rehabilitation of foreign prisoners through early repatriation to their home countries to serve their remaining sentence
  4. The legacy of transfer of sentenced prisoners lies in the post-war humanitarian exchange of prisoners of war and in two UN Conventions of 2004 (against transnational organised crime and against corruption) which have laid emphasis on the issue of inter-country transfer of prisoners
  5. Both anticipate, under Articles 17 and 45, respectively, that state parties may consider entering into bilateral or multilateral agreements for transfer to their territory of persons sentenced to imprisonment or other forms of deprivation of liberty for completion of their sentences

Repatriation of Prisoners Act

  1. In consonance with these international humanitarian commitments, most countries have legislated on a Repatriation of Prisoners Act
  2. The transfer framework under the Act is premised on the principles that an offence committed abroad is also an offence in the home country and the sentence implemented upon transfer shall not be aggravated
  3. India legislated its Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, which came into force on January 1, 2004
  4. The first part deals with the transfer of sentenced foreign national prisoners from India, while the second deals with the transfer of sentenced Indian nationals into India
  5. It explains the eligibility for transfer, the transfer process and obligations upon the transferring and receiving states with regard to consent, communication and custody of a prisoner
  6. Every sentenced foreign prisoner in an Indian prison and every Indian national in a prison abroad is technically eligible for repatriation to a prison in their home country under these conditions:
  • they are willing
  • have no pending appeals
  • the offence is not an offence under military law
  • the sentence is not a death sentence
  • they have at least six months of their sentence still left to serve, and
  • their transfer has the consent of both treaty countries

Importance of act for India

  1. The Act is significant for India which sees considerable outflow and inflow annually by blue- and white-collar workers, fishermen, students, stateless persons and other groups
  2. Several come into conflict with the law
  3. More than 2,095 Indian nationals (2017) were known to be sentenced abroad
  4. They would be eligible for repatriation subject to nationality verification

Implementation by India

  1. India has taken steps for reciprocal transfers under the Act
  2. It has developed a Standard Draft Agreement and signed 30 bilateral transfer agreements
  3. It also entered into transfer arrangements with signatories of the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad and the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

Status of repatriation

  1. Between 2003 and March 2018, only 63 of 171 prisoner applicants abroad have been transferred to India

Way Forward

  1. Effecting transfers under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act presents a win-win situation for India as it need not spend unduly on the housing of foreign national prisoners
  2. It can also save the cost of providing consular services abroad by bringing back Indian prisoners
  3. It can simultaneously satisfy the public expectation of bringing nationals home and the meeting of international humanitarian commitments
Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] The whole picture


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hybrid pixel detector technology (Medipix3), Large Hadron Collider

Mains level: LHC experiment key findings and avenues that it has opened up for further research


The next wave in medical imaging

  1. The hybrid pixel detector technology which the Large Hadron Collider used to track accelerated particles has been used to produce the first three-dimensional colour images of the human body
  2. A chip of the Medipix family developed by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, has been used to take colour see-through images of body parts which are a generation ahead of the currently available technology

Current technologies and their shortcomings

  1. The traditional radiological practices are complementary
  2. Techniques based on X-rays suffer from the deficit that they can sharply visualise only hard tissues
  3. The shadows of soft tissues are less precise
  4. Blood vessels and other conduits are imaged with invasive dyes
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a slightly different picture, based on the difference in water and fat content in tissues
  6. Positron emission tomography (PET) finds widest use in oncology

New Technology and its advantages

  1. The Medipix3 promises a single solution superior to its predecessors
  2. Using algorithms to model very accurate spectroscopic data in three dimensions, it shows all tissues with equal clarity, in colour
  3. In the case of a fracture, for instance, not only would it show physical damage to a bone — which is what an X-ray depicts — but it would also reveal trauma to surrounding tissue and reveal if blood and nerve supply is compromised
  4. Also, it would depict structures exactly as they are, and not all of us are built exactly the same
  5. In the near future, when medical care will be customised to the individual, this exactitude would make a difference to the efficacy of care
  6. If a complete image of a human were taken by a future iteration of this technology, it might even be possible to 3D print a lost limb or a malfunctioning organ
  7. Researchers have already used Medipix to image cancerous tissue, bones and joints and the blood supply to the heart
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

[op-ed snap] Towards a culture of moral responsibility


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media & social networking sites in internal security challenges

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Mob lynching cases and ways to prevent them (Curated from the article written by Kailash Satyarthi)


Mob Rage- depicting lack of trust in state

  1. Twenty people have been killed by raging mobs, on the suspicion of being child-lifters, across the country in the last few weeks.
  2. The trigger for the fears in these violent incidents was undoubtedly WhatsApp rumours that were unfounded.
  3. Recent incidents of child rape and the sale of newborn by religious factions further fuelled their spark.

What frustrates people more?

  1. Many people fear that their children could be abducted for prostitution, organ trade, forced beggary or any other form of slavery.
  2. Eight children go missing every hour in India to remain untraced and four are sexually abused.
  3. Fears triggered by such insecurities quickly take the form of collective frustration.
  4. Mob action, condemnable no doubt, is the most violent expression of such frustration.

All these incidences raise serious questions

  1. Why are many of these residential religious institutions allowed to run without stringent regulations and checks?
  2. The government has information on 1.4 lakh missing children on one hand and on the other, has a database of three lakh children staying in state and NGO-run children’s homes.
  3. Why can’t it effectively use simple technological solutions like facial recognition software and try to reunite missing children with their families?
  4. Further, what stops us, the largest democracy in the world from passing more stringent laws against child trafficking and child pornography?

This is how we dispense our outrage

  1. Demanding capital punishment for the perpetrators of child rape is the easiest way to show social media heroism.
  2. The government’s response, which includes setting up an enquiry or bringing an ordinance, is equally convenient.

Moral responsibility is an individual decision and moral accountability is a culture.

  1. Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non-Cooperation Movement against the British because some of his supporters turned violent in Chauri Chaura.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. repeatedly called for compassion and hope despite facing vicious racist insults.
  3. More recently, Nelson Mandela adopted the approach of reconciliation to bring about justice, despite being a brutalised victim of apartheid.
  4. A culture of accountability can be created if the society and the state are guided by a moral compass.

Way Forward

  1. However, we never come across an incident where an individual or institution ever took moral responsibility for such a pathetic situation on child safety.
  2. We must develop a culture of moral responsibility and accountability among our institutions, as opposed to the prevalent culture of superficial, convenient responses.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Year since Group of Ministers nod, draft national women’s policy stuck


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: National Policy for Women and its key provisions


National Policy for Women pending approval

  1. This month marks a year since the draft National Policy for Women is pending approval of the government
  2. The policy, mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was passed with some modifications by the Group of Ministers in July 2017

Changed perspective

  1. The draft policy is a revision of the first National Policy for Women, firmed up in 2001
  2. It marks a shift from the previous policy’s view of women as welfare recipients to taking a rights-based approach
  3. The policy recommends for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, and at least 50 per cent quota in all local bodies
  4. The provision for greater representation for women in the political arena was to be a significant part of such an approach to creating an enabling environment through affirmative action

Key proposals

  1. The draft talks of promoting women’s presence in all three branches of the government — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary — as also in corporate boardrooms
  2. It mandates one-third reservation for women in the police force and also details the need to look at policies across all ministries through a gendered lens
  3. A key recommendation in the draft policy is making it mandatory for every ministry to maintain sex-disaggregated data on all schemes and programmes
  4. Noting that India’s data system has remained largely gender neutral, it states that for better policy formulation, data has to be disaggregated as per gender especially on issues concerning poverty, economic participation, violence, environment, health, education, governance, and media
  5. It also asked for qualitative data on the impact on men of policies regarding paternity leave, gender-based violence, and gender equality
  6. It focuses on emerging gender issues, such as those relating to single women, a segment that has grown by 39 per cent between 2001 and 2011, or the growing incidence of cybercrime

Implementation of the policy

  1. The policy was to be operationalised and its implementation monitored through an inter-ministerial committee headed by Women and Child Development (WCD)
  2. Similar state-level committees were to be set up, headed by the respective chief ministers
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Surveillance state if every message is monitored: Supreme Court


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution

Mains level: Government move to monitor social media and concerns related to the right to privacy


Opposing Social Media Communications Hub

  1. The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre on a plea challenging its proposed move to set up a Social Media Communications Hub
  2. SC observed that “we will be moving to a surveillance state” if every tweet and WhatsApp message is monitored

What’s the issue?

  1. The government has already issued the Request For Proposal (RFP) by the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL), a public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  2. It invited proposals to select a bidder for the supply, installation, testing and commissioning (SITC) of a software tool for the hub of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  3. The stated aim of the project was to enable the government to understand the impact of social media campaigns on welfare schemes and improve the reach of such campaigns
  4. The project had two aspects — “mass surveillance apparatus that aims at collecting and analysing huge volumes of data, and profiling people based on that” and “utilising this data to predict the mood of people online and issue responses, including those targeted at individuals or groups”

Violation of Right to Privacy

  1. The social media analytical tool is expected to ‘listen’ to conversations on all major digital channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, as well as blogs and news channels and also to be able to monitor email
  2. Such intrusive action on the part of the government is not only without the authority of law but brazenly infringes the fundamental right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution
  3. Such action of the government also violates the right to privacy
  4. The entire scheme/scope of the SMCH, as sought to be set up through the impugned RFP, is violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21
Right To Privacy

Proposed DNA bank will not store data permanently


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Particulars of the DNA Bill.

Mains level:  Addressing concerns related to the Bill.


Data will be erased once case ends

  1. India’s proposed DNA databank, to be used during an investigation into crimes or to find missing persons, will not permanently store details of people.
  2. The DNA details will be removed, subject to judicial orders.
  3. The DNA Profiling Board, according to the proposed legislation, is supposed to be the regulatory authority that will grant accreditation to DNA laboratories.
  4. The Board, in consultation with members of the judiciary, will frame rules on how long the DNA details of an entrant on a crime index would be maintained.
  5. The rules will come after Parliament approves the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, framed by the Department of Biotechnology in 2015.

Proposed DNA Data Bank

  1. The aim of that draft legislation was to establish an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or to identify missing persons.
  2. The Bill envisages a DNA Profiling Board and a DNA Data Bank.
  3. To help in investigations, there would be a central databank as well as regional ones, and these would store DNA profiles under various heads, such as a ‘crime scene index’ or ‘suspects index’ or ‘offenders index.’

What were the concerns raised by the Bill?

  1. It necessitated a Law Commission analysis —whether the databanks were secure enough to protect the privacy of those from whom DNA details were collected.
  2. It also deliberated on how, and who were authorised, to collect such information.
  3. An important thing that the Bill achieves is to ensure that private laboratories don’t proliferate and work without scientific validation.

Global Scenario on DNA Data Storage

  1. In France, for instance, the profiles of convicted persons are kept for 40 years after conviction. Crime scene stains are deleted forty years after they have been analysed.
  2. In the United Kingdom, the profiles of convicted persons and suspects are retained indefinitely, and crime scene stains are kept until they have been identified.


DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017

  1. DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
  2. It seeks to establish regulatory institutions and standards for DNA testing, and supervise the activities of all laboratories authorised to carry out such tests.
  3. It prohibits the collection of any “bodily substance” from an arrested individual (for the purposes of a DNA test) without his/her consent, except if the individual is arrested for certain specific offences.
  4. The penalty for misuse of data remains a prison term of up to three years and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, a reference to a minimum prison term of one month has been removed.
  5. The Bill seeks to set up two new institutions — a DNA Profiling Board and a DNA Data Bank.
  6. The Board, with 11 members, is supposed to be the regulatory authority that will grant accreditation to DNA laboratories and lay down guidelines, standards and procedures for their functioning.
  7. A national databank of DNA profiles is proposed to be set up, along with regional databanks in every state.
Right To Privacy

NGT to hear pleas via videoconference


Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: New proposals, NGT

Mains level: Issues related to quasi-judicial bodies.


To tackle staff shortage

  1. Due to non-availability of the members, petitioners from across the country with environmental concerns, have been forced to approach the principal Bench in Delhi.
  2. With no recent appointments to the regional Benches in Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Bhopal, the NGT has been functioning with less than one-third of its sanctioned strength of 20 judicial and expert members.
  3. In a bid to tackle vacancies at the regional Benches of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the green panel is set to start hearing matters of the other Benches via video conferencing.
  4. Once hearing through video conferencing begins, the disposal rates will hopefully improve.

Preventing “denial of justice”

  1. Travelling to Delhi for every hearing is not a feasible solution and leads to huge financial loss.
  2. However, petitioners who are in a desperate situation have no other option but to approach the Principal Bench. This is an outright denial of justice.
  3. Even though video conferencing has its own limitations, through this people can probably get access to justice, even if for an interim period.


National Green Tribunal

  1. The National Green Tribunal has been established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  2. It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment.
  3. It aims for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  4. It has Original Jurisdiction on matters of “substantial question relating to environment” and & “damage to the environment due to specific activity” (such as pollution).
  5. It follows principles of Natural Justice
National Green Tribunal’s Role and Contributions

[pib] Shwet Ashwa Drass Expedition


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shwet Ashwa Ride

Mains level: Not much


Tribute to Kargil War Heroes

  1. Shwet Ashwa, the elite motorcycle display team of the Corps of Military Police, commenced a motorcycle expedition from Bengaluru to Drass on 2nd July 2018 as a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil war.
  2. After a gruelling ride through the Western Ghats and encountering heavy rains at Mumbai and Jaipur, the expedition reached New Delhi from where it will be flagged off for Drass.
  3. The expedition is being undertaken by five highly experienced riders of the Army’s Shwet Ashwa Motor Cycle Display team and will travel a distance of more than 3250 km across eight states before they reach Drass.
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[pib] Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Launches the Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018

Mains level: Progress monitoring of Swachh Bharat Mission


Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018

  1. An independent survey agency will conduct the survey in all districts and the results will be announced in the form of a ranking of all districts and states on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation (Swachhata) parameters.
  2. The top-performing states and districts are expected to be awarded on 2nd October 2018.

Particulars of the Survey

  1. As part of Swachh Survekshan Grameen 6,980 villages in 698 districts across India will be covered.
  2. Total 34,000 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat/bazaars/religious places in these villages will be visited for the survey.
  3. Citizens’ feedback will be collected from over 50 lakh citizens on SBM related issues through direct interaction as well as online feedback.
  4. During the process, 65% weightage has been assigned to the findings and outcome from the survey and 35% to the service level parameters to be obtained from the IMIS of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
  5. The weights to different elements of the SSG would be as below:
  • Direct Observation of sanitation in public places: 30%
  • Citizen’s Feedback on sanitation parameters: 35%
  • Service Level Progress on sanitation progress in the country as per SBMG- MIS: 35%

The progress of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)

  1. Over 7.7 crore toilets have been built in rural India under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) since its launch in October 2014, with a usage of 93% as per an independent third-party survey conducted in 2017-18 across all States/UTs.
  2. Nearly 4 lakh villages, over 400 districts and 19 States and Union Territories have declared themselves free from open defecation.
Swachh Bharat Mission