U.S To Rejoin Un Human Rights Forum 

#Gs-2 # International Relations


  • The U.S. announced plans to re engage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, as President Joe Biden’s administration reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organisations and agreements. 

A flawed body

  • The pull out in June 2018 “did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of U.S. leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage.” 
  • Biden had instructed the State Department to “re engage immediately and robustly” with the council, but he acknowledged it still needs work.
  • They recognise that the Human Rights Council is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel. 

Reforms Needed In UNHRC

UNHRC was reconstituted from its predecessor organisation, the UN Commission on Human Rights to help overcome the “credibility deficit” of the previous organisation.

 ● Aim - Promoting and protecting human rights around the globe, as well as investigating alleged human rights violations. 



 ● Countries with Dubious Record: With a number of countries with questionable rights records being elected, the current system of entry to UNHRC is in serious need of reform. 

✓ The election of states such as China and Russia “damages the reputation of the HRC, its standing within the international human rights committee and beyond”. 

Non-competitive Elections: Problem of election without opposition. 

✓ For example, the Eastern European group had two available seats but only two countries were nominated to fill those positions, meaning there was no competition for the spots.

 ✓ Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members to the 47-member Human Rights Council was decided in advance because all the other regional groups had unopposed states. 

The Other View 

● Electing nations with dubious human rights records has some positives.

 ● There is a silver lining to repressive countries being elected to the council - their position as the supposed guardian of human rights makes it far more difficult for them to hide their own human rights abuses.

 Members of UNHRC 

● The UNHRC has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis from 5 groups.

● Membership: To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority). 

✓ According to Resolution 60/251, which created the council, members are elected directly by secret ballot by the majority of the UN General Assembly. Membership has to be equally distributed geographically

✓ Five regional groups for membership: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. 

✓ The members are elected for a period of three years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms. 

● Sessions: The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year, in March, June, and September. 

Way Forward 

● The USA withdrew from the UNHRC in 2018 citing its ineffectiveness and bias. 

● For India it is a testing time as Pakistan got re-elected despite dubious status regarding human rights. 

● However, India’s commitment towards respecting institutions of global governance mandates to have a critical voice against some events instead of quitting the membership without reasons backed by principles.



New Labour Codes To Allow Four-Day Work Week 

#Gs-3 # Economy # Internal Insecurity And Related Isssues 


  • The new labour codes set to be implemented soon would provide companies the flexibility of reducing the number of working days to four days a week and provide free medical check-ups to workers through the Employees State Insurance Corporation.
  • The draft rules under the labour codes are being finalised. The process of framing 
  • Most States were in the process of framing their rules and some, including U.P., Punjab and M.P., would be ready with their drafts this week.
  • The concerns about the working hours going up from 10.5 hours to 12 hours, with one hour of rest, that arose during consultations had been addressed.
  • Under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 draft rules, the limit of working hours for a week was 48 hours. 
  • This limit was “sacrosanct” and the employers and workers would have to agree to a change in working days. It cannot be forced.

Right Code For Labour 

  • Labour falls under the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Recently, the Parliament passed three labour codes proposing to simplify the country’s archaic labour laws and give impetus to economic activity without compromising with the workers’ benefits. 

✓ On industrial relations; 

✓ Occupational safety, health and working conditions; 

 ✓ Social security

  • The labour codes were adopted on the recommendations of the Second National Commission on Labour (2002), which suggested consolidating 100 State laws and 40 Central laws across industries, occupations and regions. 

Existing Labour Codes Subsumed

  • The social security code replaces nine laws on social security, including the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, 1952, and the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. 
  • Industrial Relations Code subsumes the Industrial Disputes Act, 1974, the Trade Unions Act, 1926; and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
  • The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code replaces 13 labour laws.

Benefits of Labour Codes:

  • Consolidation and simplification of the Complex laws: The three Codes simplify labour laws by subsuming 25 central labour laws that have been on the table for at least 17 years. 

✓ It will provide a big boost to industry & employment and will reduce multiplicity of definition and multiplicity of authority for businesses. 

  • Single Licensing Mechanism: The codes provide for a single licensing mechanism. 

✓ It will give fillip to industries by ushering in substantive reform in the licensing mechanism. Currently, industries have to apply for their licence under different laws.

  • Easier Dispute resolution: The codes also simplify archaic laws dealing with industrial disputes and revamp the adjudication process, which will pave the way for early resolution of disputes. 
  • Ease of Doing Business: According to the industry and some economists such reform shall boost investment and improve ease of doing business. 

✓ It drastically reduces complexity and internal contradictions, increases flexibility & modernizes regulations on safety/working conditions 

  • Other benefits for Labour: The three codes will promote fixed term employment, reduce influence of trade unions and expand the social security net for informal sector workers. Concerns with the Labour codes 
  • Against the Interests of Employees: The codes provide the liberty to industrial establishments to hire and fire their employees at will. 

✓ This move might enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.

  • Free Hand to States: The central government has also attracted criticism that states have been given a free hand to exempt laws in violation of labour rights. 

✓ However, the Union Labour Minister has said the labour issue is in the Concurrent list of the Constitution and therefore states have been given the flexibility to make changes as they wish. 

  • Affect Industrial Peace: Industrial Relation Code proposes that workers in factories will have to give a notice at least 14 days in advance to employers if they want to go on strike.

 ● However, earlier the Standing Committee on Labour had recommended against the expansion of the required notice period for strike beyond the public utility services like water, electricity, natural gas, telephone and other essential services

● Further, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has also opposed the Code, describing it as a clear attempt to diminish the role of trade unions.



Kerala CM takes up sanctuary zone issue

#Gs-3 # Gs-2 # Biodiversity National Park # Protected Area Networks 


  • Kerala Chief Minister has sought the intervention of Prime Minister to allay the apprehension of the people in Wayanad over the recent draft notification of the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) that envisages a buffer zone around the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS).

Amended proposal for draft notification 

  • The State government had prepared recommendations for notifying eco sensitive zones (ESZ) around 21 protected areas in December 2019. 
  • The government after considering the genuine concerns of the people living near the sanctuaries submitted an amended proposal on January 13, 2020. 
  • According to the amended proposal for draft notification, the ESZ measures 88.2 sq km around the WWS. 
  • The present draft issued by the MOEFCC notifies 118.59 sq km around the WWS as ESZ. 
  • The government is of the view that densely populated areas should be excluded while notifying ESZs.

Rules Eased for Development in Buffer Zones 

  • In 2019, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had relaxed the procedure for environmental clearances of developmental activities in the buffer zone. 
  • Buffer Zone is an area supposed to reinforce conservation of protected area. 
  • This move is likely to weaken the protection offered to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
  • As per an office memorandum (OM), the projects outside the boundary of the notified Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of a sanctuary or national park but within 10 km radius of the park will not need prior clearance from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL). 
  • The Wildlife Conservation Strategy of 2002 recommends a buffer of 10 km around sanctuaries. 
  • ESZ are formed to serve as “shock absorber” for protected areas. 
  • The basic aim here is to regulate certain activities around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to minimise negative impact on the fragile ecosystem around.
  • Such proposals will now get environmental clearance from the ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), which will ensure “appropriate conservation measures in the form of recommendations”. 
  • Projects within the notified ESZ will require the NBWL’s nod, which can be applied for together with the initial “terms of reference” application. 
  • Mining will be prohibited within the notified ESZ or within only one km from the boundary of the park, whichever is higher according to the new OM. 
  • It nullifies previous OMs dated February 27, 2007 and December 2, 2009, which made the NBWL’s approval mandatory for projects within a 10 km radius of the park.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary 

  • Located in Kerala, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It was established in 1973. 
  • Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was the first from India to be included in the UNESCO designated World Network of Biosphere Reserves (designated in 2012). 
  • Other wildlife parks within the Reserve are: Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley. 
  • Spread over 344.44 sq km, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the tiger reserves of Nagerhole and Bandipur of Karnataka and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu. 
  • Kabini river (a tributary of Cauvery river) flows through the sanctuary. 
  • The forest types include South Indian Moist Deciduous forests, West coast semi-evergreen forests and plantations of teak, eucalyptus and Grewelia. 
  • Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Panther,Sambar, Spotted deer, Barking deer, Wild boar, Sloth bear, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Common langur, Wild dog, common otter, Malabar giant squirrel etc are the major mammals.



Megamalai Tiger Reserve-Tamilnadu Srivilliputhur 

#Gs-3 # National Parks

The Central government approved the creation of a 5th tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu. This tiger reserve will enclose the Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel and Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Key Points

  • Many environmental activists have been seeking a tiger reserve linking these two sanctuaries for almost a decade.
  • The activists are also seeking to connect this tiger reserve with the Tirunelveli Wildlife Sanctuary, and then to Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve to make it a contiguous corridor where the tigers can thrive.
  • The proposal of the Forest Department was to declare 1.48 lakh hectares of land encompassing Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, Tirunelveli Wildlife Sanctuary, and Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary as the fifth tiger reserve of Tamil Nadu.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has approved the new tiger reserve.
  • The new tiger reserve will not only help in wildlife protection but will also result in the rejuvenation of the Vaigai River by protecting the river’s origins in these forests.
  • With the creation of Kalakkad Mundanthurai and Periyar Tiger Reserves, the water needs of several southern districts have been met.
  • With the new Megamalai-Srivilliputhur Tiger Reserve, the forests will be better protected and the rivers and streams will start flowing again.

As per a report by the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) direct and indirect evidence of tigers were mostly restricted to the western plateau of the landscape. The report recommended the expansion of Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary. Forest officials have spotted 14 tigers regularly in both the wildlife sanctuaries.



Banking-Cyber Security Incidents In 2020

#GS-3 #Basics of cyber security

On February 4, the Parliament was informed that more than 2.9 lakh cybersecurity incidents related to digital banking were reported in the year 2020.

Key Points

  • According to the data of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a total number of 2,90,445 cybersecurity incidents related to digital banking were reported in the year 2021.
  • On the other hand, 1,59,761 incidents were reported in the year 2018 and 2,46,514 in 2019.
  • These cybersecurity incidents included network scanning and probing, viruses, phishing attacks, and website hacking.

Rise in Digital Transactions

  • The scope of digital payments has now expanded due to the increasing popularity of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) along with e-commerce.
  • Digital transactions rose by 46% in 2020 as compared to 2018-19.
  • The numbers of digital transactions have increased to 4,572 crores in FY 2019-20 in comparison to 3,134 crores in FY 2018-19.

Blocked Websites/Accounts

A total of 9,849 websites/webpages/accounts were blocked in the year 2020.

Earlier, 3,635 websites/webpages/accounts were blocked in 2019 and 2,799 in the year 2018.

IT Act- Section 69A

Section 69A of the IT Act gives the power to the government to block any information transmitted, received, generated, hosted, or stored in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, and friendly relations with foreign states or public order.

Fraud and Cheating Cases

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, a total of 6,233 cases were registered under fraud and cheating (involving communication devices as medium/ target as per Information Technology Act 2000) in the year 2019.
  • The number of cases registered under fraud and cheating for cybercrimes was 6,233 in the year 2019 while 3,353, and 3,466, during the year 2018 and 2017 respectively.



India’s First Thunderstorm Research Testbed

#Gs # Prelims Fact

As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Odisha’s Balasore will get the first thunderstorm research testbed of the country.

Key Points

  • The aim behind setting up the thunderstorm testbed in Balasore is to minimize human fatalities and property loss due to lightning strikes.
  • A first-of-its-kind monsoon testbed is also being planned to be set up near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • These announcements were made by IMD Director-General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.
  • Both these projects are in the planning stage at present and detailed project reports are being made.
  • The thunderstorm testbed will be established in collaboration between the IMD, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • DRDO, ISRO, and IMD already have their units in Balasore. Now, for the project, observatories will be set up to cater to nearby areas. The studies on thunderstorms will be conducted on the testbed.
  • On average, over 350 people die due to lightning strikes in Odisha every year. A total of 3,218 have been killed by lightning strikes in nine years till 2019-20.

India Meteorological Department (IMD)

It is the major agency responsible for weather forecasting, meteorological observations, and seismology. It operates under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It was founded in the year 1875. It is headquartered in Delhi.



Future of 5G in India 


India, which has the highest average monthly mobile data traffic per Smartphone, is expected to surpass 350 million 5G subscriptions by 2026, according to a report by Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson. 

Ericsson Mobility Report, 2020 

  • As per the report, four out of every ten mobile subscriptions in 2026 will be 5G globally with 5G subscriptions forecast to reach 3.5 billion. 
  • In the India region, LTE (long-term evolution technology) subscriptions are forecast to increase from 710 million in 2020 to 820 million in 2026” by which time 3G will be phased out.
  • LTE remains the dominant technology in 2020, accounting for 63%. 
  • Based on the reported timeline for spectrum auction for 5G services, India could have its first 5G connection in 2021. 

Steering Committee on 5G 

  • The committee was set up in September 2017 and submitted its report on August 24, 2018, under the chairmanship of AJ Paulraj to suggest road map for 5G adoption. 
  • It gave wide-ranging recommendations to Department of Telecommunication for areas like spectrum policy, regulatory policy, standards and education. 
  • It has asked for setting up a Standing Committee with five-year term to advice on building Spectrum Technology Infrastructure.
  • It has proposed promulgation of key norms on regulatory matters by March 2019 in order to facilitate early deployment of 5G technology and noted that 5G technologies will start entering service globally beginning 2019 and advance to full range of services by 2024. 
  •  It recommended deployment classification of 5G into three phases based on technologies and expects that economic impact of 5G to be over $1 trillion by 2035. 
  •  It said that the early adoption of 5G will make equipments needed for 5G roll out more expensive but early adoption will fast track India’s embrace of 5G’s benefits. 
  •  The committee pointed out that even after entry of 5G, the earlier generation mobile technologies will continue to remain in use for almost 10 more years.

Government Initiatives:

  • Recently approved, National Electronics Policy 2019 aims to position India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing
  • India is making efforts to have its own Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) as a part of 5G global standards.
  • Indian government also initiated measures to introduce 5G technology via the National Telecom Policy (NTP), which aims to reach 100% teledensity, high-speed internet highways and delivery of citizen-centric services electronically.





Malabar Naval Exercises

#Gs-1# Prelims Fact


The Malabar series of exercises began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992. Japan joined the Naval Exercises in 2015. Malabar 2020 saw the participation of the Australian Navy also.


  • The Malabar Naval exercises enhanced synergy, interoperability and coordination between the four country navies. The exercises highlight the convergence of views among the participating countries on maritime issues and their shared commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.
  • The 24th edition of Malabar maritime exercise, hosted by Indian Navy in 2020, witnessed the participation by Indian Navy, United States Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force and Royal Australian Navy.



Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana

#Gs-2 #Financial Inclusion

A total number of 41.75 crore accounts have been opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) out of which 35.96 crore accounts are operative.

PMJDY are Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) accounts. As per RBI guidelines dated 10.06.2019, banks are required to offer the following minimum banking facilities, free of charge, to the BSBD account holders, without any requirement of minimum balance:

  • Deposit of cash at bank branch as well as ATMs/CDMs
  • Receipt/ credit of money through any electronic channel or by means of deposit /collection of cheques drawn by Central/State Government agencies and departments
  • No limit on number and value of deposits that can be made in a month
  • Minimum of four withdrawals in a month, including ATM withdrawals
  • ATM Card or ATM-cum-Debit Card

Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-DhanYojana (PMJDY) a bank account can be opened with any bank branch or Business Correspondent (BC) including those of Private Sector Banks.



Migration Commission

#Gs-1 # Social Justice

NITI Aayog has constituted a sub-group to prepare a National Action Plan for Migrant Workers. The sub-group comprises the members from various Ministries of Govt. of India, subject experts, NGOs and civil society organisations, to prepare a tangible action plan to address issues related to migrant workers.

In order to safeguard the interest of the migrant workers, the Central Government had enacted the Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. 

 Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 

 OSH Code, provides for 

  • Decent working conditions, minimum wages, 
  • grievances redressal mechanisms, 
  • protection from abuse and exploitation,
  • enhancement of the skills and social security to all category of organised and unorganised workers including Migrant workers.  

The Code is applicable to every establishment in which 10 or more inter-state migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.



Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana

#Gs-2 # Govt. Schemes 

Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY) has been launched to incentivize employers for creation of new employment along with social security benefits and restoration of loss of employment during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Objectives Of The Schemes And Beneficiaries:

  • An employee drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) before 1st October, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to 1st October 2020 is eligible for the benefit.
  • Any EPF member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who made exit from employment during Covid pandemic from 01.03.2020 to 30.09.2020 and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to 30.09.2020 is also eligible to avail benefit.

Implementing Agency: 

  • This scheme being implemented through the 
  • Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), 
  • Reduces the financial burden of the employers of various sectors/industries including MSME and will encourages them to hire more workers.
  • The outlay approved by the Government for the total period of scheme implementation i.e. from 2020 to 2023 is Rs. 22810 Crore.



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