16th AUGUST 2017
1. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)
- Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms “disturbed areas”.
- According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 once declared ‘disturbed’, the area has to maintain status quo for a minimum of 3 months.
- One such Act passed on September 11, 1958 was applicable to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam. In the following decades it spread, one by one, to the other states in India’s northeast.
- Another one passed in 1983 and applicable to Punjab and Chandigarh was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came to force.
- An Act passed in 1990 was applied to Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since.
- The AFSPA empowers the Army and Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone breaking the law and arrest and search any premises without warrant.
- Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government’s judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
- Protection of persons acting in good faith under this Act from prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings, except with the sanction of the Central Government, in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.
- The Acts have received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement alleged to have happened.
- It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur (excluding seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal).
- In Arunachal Pradesh, it is in force in 16 police station areas and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.
- Tripura withdrew the AFSPA in 2015.
- It is not in force in Meghalaya (except in a 20-km area along the border with Assam) and Mizoram.
- Supreme Court said that any encounter carried out by armed forces in the garb of AFSPA should be subjected to thorough inquiry. “It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both… This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties.”
- The Union Home Ministry has decided in August 2017, to give up its power to impose the ‘disturbed areas’ tag on Assam and Manipur, both ruled by the BJP.
2. Black Carbon
- Chemically, black carbon (BC) is a component of fine particulate matter (PM ≤ 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter).
- Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms.
- It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.
- Black carbon causes human morbidity and premature mortality.
- Black carbon warms the Earth by absorbing sunlight and heating the atmosphere and by reducing albedo when deposited on snow and ice (direct effects) and indirectly by interaction with clouds.
- Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only several days to weeks, whereas carbon dioxide (CO2) has an atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years.
- Especially in the tropics, black carbon in soils significantly contributes to fertility as it is able to absorb important plant nutrients.
3. National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)
- It is an initiative of the Government of India to make all government services available to the citizens of India via electronic media.
- NeGP was formulated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
- The Government approved the National e-Governance Plan, consisting of 27 “Mission Mode Projects” (MMPs) and 10 components, in 2006.
- Its vision is to make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realize the basic needs of the common man.
- Mission Mode Projects covering a wide range of domains, viz. agriculture, land records, police, courts, municipalities, commercial taxes, treasuries, etc. were initiated.
- In the year 2011, 4 projects – Health, Education, PDS and Posts were introduced to make the list of 27 MMPs to 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs).
- Most of these projects have been made operational and have started providing services.
- The major core infrastructure components are State Data Centres (SDCs), State Wide Area Networks (S.W.A.N), Common Services Centres (CSCs) and middleware gateways i.e National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG), State e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG), and Mobile e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (MSDG).
- The important support components include Core policies and guidelines on Security, HR, Citizen Engagement, Social Media as well as Standards related to Metadata, Interoperability, Enterprise Architecture, Information Security etc.
- New initiatives include a framework for authentication, viz. e-Pramaan and G-I cloud, an initiative which will ensure benefits of cloud computing for e-Governance projects.
- eBiz is one of the integrated services projects and part of the 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of the Government of India.
- eBiz is being implemented by Infosys Technologies Limited (Infosys) under the guidance and aegis of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
- The focus of eBiz is to improve the business environment in the country by enabling fast and efficient access to Government-to-Business (G2B) services through an online portal.
- This will help in reducing unnecessary delays in various regulatory processes required to start and run businesses.
- This project aims at creating an investor-friendly business environment in India by making all regulatory information starting from the establishment of a business, through its ongoing operations, and even its possible closure – easily available to the various stakeholders concerned.
- The vision of eBiz is to be the entry point for all individuals, businesses and organizations (local and international) who would like to do business or have any existing business in India by creating a one-stop-shop of convenient and efficient online G2B services to the business community, by reducing the complexity in obtaining information and services related to starting businesses in India, and dealing with licenses and permits across the business life-cycle.
5. National eGovernance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG)
- NSDG (National e-Governance Services Delivery Gateway) is one of India’s Mission Mode Projects (MMP).
- It is a standard based messaging middleware for e-Governance services.
- It entered operational phase in 2008.
- NSDG can simplify the above task by acting as a standards-based messaging switch and providing seamless interoperability and exchange of data across the departments.
- NSDG acting as a nerve centre, would handle large number of transactions and would help in tracking and time stamping all transactions of the Government.
6. Blockchain technology
- A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
- Each block contains typically a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data.
- By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data.
- Functionally, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.”
- For use as a distributed ledger a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks.
- Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and a collusion of the network majority.
- The first distributed blockchain was conceptualised by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and implemented the following year as a core component of the digital currency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions.
7. Project Magenta
- In June 2017, Google launched Magenta, a research project to explore using artificial intelligence to create art, and make that process easier for TensorFlow users.
- The project exists within Google Brain group.
- The Magenta project will build all of their deep learning models open-source on top of TensorFlow, Google’s open-source artificial intelligence platform.
8. Deep neural networks
- A deep neural network (DNN) is an Artificial Neural Network with multiple hidden layers between the input and output layers.
- DNN architectures generate compositional models where the object is expressed as a layered composition of primitives.