Topic 1 : SIM swap scam
Why in news: People are losing their money in their bank account after receiving missed calls from unknown numbers.
What is the SIM swap scam?
- With the advancement in banking services, easy payment applications and seamless transactions on smartphones, cybercriminals are misusing the link between physical SIM cards and banking applications.
- All banking applications are linked to phone numbers which help in generating OTPs (to authenticate transactions) or receiving important bank-related messages.
- In the SIM swap scam, fraudsters first take personal details such as phone numbers, bank account details, and addresses with the help of phishing or vishing.
- Phishing is a technique in which scamsters send malware links to victims through mail or messages.
- Once the link is opened, the malware steals all of the victim’s personal information.
- Then the fraudsters attain a duplicate SIM through forgery.
- All the activation messages and details go to the scamster and not the victim.
Why do victims receive multiple missed calls?
- Unlike other scams, where scamsters trick people into giving OTPs and private information on a phone call, SIM swap scam doesn’t require direct communication with the victims.
- Fraudsters give missed calls to their victims so that the latter leave their phones and ignore the lost network connectivity.
- The accused give calls to the (victim’s) mobile number to check where the call goes.
- When the SIM is swapped, the accused gains control of the entire SIM.
How do fraudsters find victims?
- The accused either buy data from hackers involved in data breaches or buy data from online portals.
- In most of the data breaches, private companies, who have lakhs of customers, lose all the data to hackers.Topic 2 : Abua Awas Yojana
Why in news: The Jharkhand Cabinet, recently, approved the ‘Abua Awas Yojna’ (AAY) — a housing scheme for the poor.
- The scheme will provide eight lakhs pucca houses to the homeless in the state.
- It has a total budget of Rs 16,320 crore.
- The scheme will be implemented in three phases:
- with a target of 2 lakh houses in the current financial year;
- 3.5 lakh houses in FY 2024-25 and
- 2.5 lakh houses in FY 2025-26.
Need for the scheme:
- Existing Union Government schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Rural or Ambedkar Awas Yojna have been unable to cover all eligible beneficiaries.
- Around 8 lakh eligible beneficiaries had been left out of the ambit of housing schemes.
Provisions under the scheme:
- A three-room and one kitchen house with a total area of 31 sq m will be provided under this scheme.
- The government has set aside Rs 2 lakh per beneficiary in its budget, to be disbursed in four instalments.
- In comparison, under PMAY-Rural, a house with only two rooms and one kitchen is constructed, with a provision of Rs 1.2-1.3 lakh per beneficiary.
- There is also a provision, under this scheme, for beneficiaries to work under the MGNREGS and get wages of upto 95 unskilled man-days as per the current wage rate, for building the house.
- There is also a provision to add a toilet in the construction of the house, with the help of Swaccha Bharat Mission funds or any other available scheme fund.
- All houses built under AAY will be mandatorily registered on the name of the women in the beneficiary families.
- People belonging to six categories will benefit from AAY:
- People living is kutcha houses;
- The homeless or unattended;
- People from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) will be given priority;
- Families affected by any natural calamity;
- Bonded labourers who were rescued as per the legal process; and
- Such people who have not been made beneficiary of any other housing schemes.
- People owning four wheeler or a fishing boat;
- People owning three or four wheeler vehicle used for agricultural purposes;
- People working or retired from government or semi-government jobs;
- Any member of the family elected as a public representative;
- Any income tax payer;
- Any person paying professional tax;
- A family having a refrigerator;
- A family having a 2.5 acre of land with a minimum of one irrigation equipment, or having 5 acres of irrigated land.
Topic 3 : Jehovah’s Witnesses
Why in news: Two people were killed and scores injured after a series of blasts at a Sunday prayer convention of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect in Kerala.
About Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian sect, but do not believe in the Holy Trinity, that is, the doctrine that God exists in three equal persons of:
- the Father,
- the Son (Jesus Christ) and
- the Holy Spirit.
- They worship Jehovah as the one true and Almighty God, the Creator, who is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
- They believe Jesus Christ to be the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven, but not as the Almighty God.
- They base their beliefs only on the text of the Bible, which they see as the word of God.
- They don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, because they believe such festivals to be inspired by Pagan traditions.
- The origins of the sect lie in a Bible Student movement started in the 1870s by American pastor Charles Taze Russell.
- Today, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is located in Warwick, New York.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses generally keep away from other religious groups.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in India
- Jehovah’s Witnesses have been present in India since 1905.
- They established an office in 1926 in Bombay (now Mumbai), and obtained legal registration in 1978.
- The Witnesses also stand apart from civil society, refusing to:
- run for public office,
- serve in any armed forces,
- salute the flag,
- stand for the National Anthem, or
- recite the pledge of allegiance.
- The case of Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of Kerala & Ors:
- A landmark case involving the sect in India was Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of Kerala & Ors.
- The Supreme Court, in its 1986 verdict, granted protection to three children belonging to the sect, who did not join in the singing of the National Anthem at their school.
- The court held that forcing them to sing the Anthem violated their fundamental right to religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.Topic 4 : China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Why in news: This year marks a decade since China’s ambitious infrastructure funding project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was first outlined by President Xi Jinping.
About the Belt and Road Initiative:
- The BRI is an ambitious plan to develop two new trade routes connecting China with the rest of the world.
- It is an effort to develop an expanded, interdependent market for China, grow China’s economic and political power, and create the right conditions for China to build a high technology economy.
- The Belt
- The Silk Road Economic ‘Belt’ element refers to plans for a revitalized series of ancient overland trading routes connecting Europe and Asia to be built largely with Chinese expertise.
- The Road
- China outlined plans to additionally establish new sea trade infrastructure along the old Marco Polo route – a maritime silk road connecting China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Europe.
- This would be a longer route avoiding the Malacca Strait, incorporating fuelling stations, ports, bridges, industry, and infrastructure through Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean.
- Pakistan is seen as the most crucial partner country in this effort through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
- Basically through the BRI, China wanted to resolve two major concerns, viz:
- capital surplus and
- industrial overcapacity.
- It was also about increasing Chinese political influence in broader regions.
- At the tenth anniversary of the initiative, the Chinese government declared that more than 150 countries and 30 international organisations have embraced the BRI.
- It was also reported that 3,000 BRI projects valued at $1 trillion, are currently underway across the globe.
- Basically through the BRI, China wanted to resolve two major concerns, viz:
- BRI forums:
- China has hosted three BRI Forums in the years 2017, 2019, and 2023.
- These gatherings attracted significant participation from world leaders, leading to the signing of numerous agreements during each of these forums.
Principles of BRI:
- Initially, the BRI was based on five principles:
- policy coordination
- infrastructure connectivity
- financial integration and
- people-to-people connections.
- Later, the sixth principle of ‘Industrial cooperation’ was also added.
- The Chinese state is the underwriter for the initiative, via its four state-owned banks lending to state owned enterprises.
- Other governments have criticized the Belt and Road for the lack of private sector participation.
- Between 2013 and 2018, the World Bank estimated that investment in BRI projects including energy projects was about $575 billion.
- Earlier, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also estimated that the BRI investment projects were likely to add $1 trillion in funding between 2017 and 2027.
- There are many projects in the Belt and Road but two leading prestige projects stand out.
- The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor consists of:
- energy installations,
- a redeveloped highway, and
- expansion of the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
- It is considered the leading part of the Belt element.
- The China-Europe express railway is a cargo railway that has slashed delivery time from China to Europe to 15 days.
- The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor consists of:
- Originally, the initiative proposed six international Economic Corridors (EC):
- the New Eurasia Land Bridge;
- China-Central Asia-West Asia-EC;
- China-Indochina Peninsula-EC,
- the China-Pakistan-EC (CPEC); and
- the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM)-EC.
- At the second BRI Forum in 2019, a list of 35 major corridors/projects was released.
- As a large number of BRI projects are being carried out in nearly all parts of the world, they are affecting all major economies even if they are not participating in the initiative.
Progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC):
- The CPEC has been a flagship BRI project from the beginning.
- The $60 billion CPEC is now central to China-Pakistan’s all weather strategic partnership and bilateral free trade agreement.
- A large part of the CPEC is energy-related projects.
- The rest of the projects are in the road and railway infrastructure and Gwadar port.
- There has been some progress:
- the Sukkur-Multan section of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway,
- the Havelian-Thakot section of the Karakoram Highway Phase II and
- the Lahore Orange Line Metro are operational.
- Many energy projects including coal-fired plants at Sahiwal, Port Qasim and Hub are also operational.
- A few CPEC projects are also likely to be extended to Afghanistan.
India and BRI
- India’s position on the BRI has remained relatively consistent since 2013.
- India had reservations about the BRI – mainly due to sovereignty-related issues, as the CPEC goes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), and geopolitical implications of projects in the Indian Ocean.
- The arm of the BRI project that links mainland China to the Arabian Sea runs from Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region to Gwadar port in southwestern Baluchistan in Pakistan.
- The project enters Indian territory occupied by Pakistan in Gilgit Baltistan, and traverses the entire length of Pakistan from north to south before reaching the Arabian Sea.
- This arm of the BRI is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, and consists of multiple modern highway and railway projects.
- India has repeatedly voiced its concern and opposition to the CPEC, and flagged the violation of international law in its building by China and Pakistan.
- It started expanding its footprints in India’s neighbourhood through investments in various ports in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
- As commercial ports could be easily converted into military use, these developments have troubled India.
- China’s economic presence in India’s neighbourhood, including in South Asia, has already undergone substantial expansion.
- Many negative developments in broader India-China ties (trade deficit, border tensions, etc.) have also affected India’s perceptions of the BRI.
- India and AIIB:
- While India has refrained from endorsing the BRI and has not taken part in any BRI Forums, it has been an active participant in the China-headquartered Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) since its inception.
- The Silk Road Fund (SRF) and the AIIB are the two main channels for BRI investment and financing.
- With about $10 billion in borrowing, which is about 20 per cent of AIIB’s total lending, India has emerged as a top market for the agency.
Topic 5 : Exercise KAZIND-2023
Why in news: Indian Army and Air Force Contingent Departs for India-Kazakhstan Joint Military Exercise KAZIND-2023
- India will take part in the 7th edition of Joint Military ‘Exercise KAZIND-2023’.
- The Exercise will be conducted at Otar, Kazakhstan.
- The Joint Exercise between India and Kazakhstan was instituted as ‘Exercise PRABAL DOSTYK’ in the year 2016.
- After the second edition, the Exercise was upgraded to a company-level exercise and renamed as ‘Exercise KAZIND’.
- The Exercise has been further upgraded as a Bi-service Exercise this year by including the Air Force component.
Topic 6 : QR codes on food labels
Why in news: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recommended the inclusion of a QR (quick response) code on food products for accessibility by visually impaired individuals stating that this will ensure access to safe food for all.
Significance of the move:
- The move is vital as India is one of the largest markets of packaged foods in the world.
- It is currently witnessing a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which have seen an abrupt rise globally since the last two decades.
- This trend is attributed to aggressively marketed, cheaper, and more easily available pre-packaged foods which is finding a growing preference among consumers.
- Every consumer has the right to know exactly what he is paying for and if he is getting what he is promised and advertised.
- With this new initiative an informed choice will be offered to consumers.
What information will the QR codes provide?
- The FSSAI has advised that these new QR codes should encompass comprehensive details about the product, including:
- nutritional information,
- manufacturing date,
- best before/expiry/use by date,
- allergen warning, and
- contact information for customer enquiries.
- The inclusion of a QR code for the accessibility of information does not replace or negate the requirement to provide mandatory information on the product label, as prescribed by relevant regulations.
- The latest advisory caters to two important regulations:
- the FSSAI’s Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020 which outlines the information to be included on labels of food products and
- the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which recognises the rights of individuals with disabilities and emphasises accessibility of health for persons with disabilities.
How did the QR code come into being?
- A QR code is a type of two-dimensional matrix barcode, invented in 1994, by the Japanese company Denso Wave for labelling automobile parts.
- For the food manufacturers, using QR codes on food products can help improve their brand image, customer loyalty, and operational efficiency.
- Consumers now consider food packaging equally important as a product.
- The increase in smartphone usage by consumers indicate that QR codes are emerging as one of the most promising technologies to enhance the information provided to consumers and influence their buying behaviour.
- Steps taken by FSSAI:
- To prevent or control further widespread of NCDs, the FSSAI has issued numerous food and packaging laws and acts to control their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import so that a safe and wholesome food is available to consumers.
- The front-of-pack labelling (FOPL), proposed by FSSAI in 2019, is a key strategy to alert and educate consumers in making an informed choice.
Trends in QR use worldwide
- The U.S., India, France and the U.K. are among the top users of QR code.
- The size of the global packaged food market is estimated at $303.26 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.2% over this period.
- According to the results of a survey:
- 57% scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product,
- 38.99% of respondents want to see QR codes used more and
- 67% of the respondents agreed that these codes make life easier.Topic 7 : DNA systems in Police Stations
Why in news: The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CrPI) enables police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of arrested persons.
- The Act is yet to be implemented fully as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the nodal agency, is still preparing the guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to implement the legislation.
- The NCRB operates under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Need for the legislation:
- The CrPI Act repealed the British-era Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 whose scope was limited to collecting and recording finger impressions, footprint impressions and photographs of certain category of convicted persons and impressions of non-convicted persons on the orders of a Magistrate.
- The new Act made provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.
Role of the NCRB
- The central body has been entrusted with the task to store, process, share, disseminate and destroy records of measurements.
- Impressions taken at any police station will be stored in a common database maintained by the NCRB.
- The database could be accessed by authorised police and prison officials across the country.
- The NCRB will prescribe:
- the specifications of the equipments or devices to be used for taking measurements in digital and physical format,
- the method of handling and storing measurements by the State police in a format compatible with the NCRB database and
- the information technology system to be used for taking the measurements.
- Police and prison officials have been authorised to take measurements and the Act expanded the scope to also allow any person skilled in taking the measurements or a registered medical practitioner or any person authorised to take such measurements.
- The records are to be stored for 75 years.
Status on the ground
- Police across States have been trained to record finger impressions through the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).
- NAFIS, also under the NCRB, is a separate project that was launched in 2022.
- It assigns a unique ten-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to all suspects arrested by the police.
- State police have their own fingerprint database.
- NAFIS integrates the data on a common platform, enabling the police to run a countrywide search to match fingerprint impressions lifted from a crime scene.
- Violation of fundamental rights:
- When the Bill was being debated in Parliament, it was argued that it violated fundamental rights, including the right to privacy.
- With plans to include DNA samples and facial-recognition technology, questions arose about the protection of such data.
- Destruction of data:
- It takes the onus of destruction and disposal of records of an individual from the central database in case a person has been falsely implicated in a crime or has been acquitted by the court.
- For such a disposal/destruction, the request will have to be made to the nodal officer.
- The onus for destruction of data in this 75-year time period has also been placed on the people whose data has been collected.
- This would impact people from sections of society who do not have access to the law and would therefore be unable to apply for deletion.
- The provision should be read in terms of the Right to be Forgotten and should not be at the mere discretion of the Nodal Officer.
- No definition of data to be collected:
- The type of DNA samples that could be collected by the police have not been defined yet.
- Handling DNA sample requires proper training.
- The storage is also a concern.
- It is compulsory in offences registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
- What is its scope in other crimes such as cheating and snatching is yet to be spelt out clearly.Topic 8 : The Lewis Model of development
Why in news: The Lewis Model has worked in China, not in India, according to experts.
About the Lewis Model:
- It is also known as the Dual Sector model.
- The Lewis model is a model in Developmental economics that explains the growth of a developing economy in terms of a labour transitionbetween two sectors:
- a traditional agricultural sector and
- a modern industrial sector.
- It is a theory of development in which surplus labor from traditional agricultural sector is transferred to the modern industrial sector whose growth over time absorbs the surplus labor, promotes industrialization and stimulates sustained development.
- In the model, the traditional agricultural sector is typically characterized by:
- low wages,
- an abundance of labour, and
- low productivity through a labour intensive production process.
- In contrast, the modern manufacturing sector is defined by:
- higher wage rates than the agricultural sector,
- higher marginal productivity, and
- a demand for more workers initially.
- Diminishing marginal returns:
- The manufacturing sector is assumed to use a production process that is capital intensive.
- Improvement in the marginal productivity of labour in the agricultural sector is assumed to be a low priority as the hypothetical developing nation’s investment is going towards the physical capital stock in the manufacturing sector.
- Since the agricultural sector has a limited amount of land to cultivate, the marginal product of an additional farmer is assumed to be zero as the law of diminishing marginal returns has run its course due to the fixed input, land.
- As a result, the agricultural sector has a quantity of farm workers that are not contributing to agricultural output since their marginal productivities are zero.
- Equalisation of both sectors:
- If a quantity of workers moves from the agricultural to the manufacturing sector equal to the quantity of surplus labour in the agricultural sector, regardless of who actually transfers, general welfare and productivity will improve.
- Total agricultural product will remain unchanged while total industrial product increases due to the addition of labour, but the additional labour also drives down marginal productivity and wages in the manufacturing sector.
- Eventually, the wage rates of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors will equalise as workers leave the agriculture sector for the manufacturing sector.
- This will increase marginal productivity and wages in agriculture whilst driving down productivity and wages in manufacturing.
- The end result of this transition process is that:
- the agricultural wage equals the manufacturing wage,
- the agricultural marginal product of labour equals the manufacturing marginal product of labour, and
- no further manufacturing sector enlargement takes place as workers no longer have a monetary incentive to transition.
- The turning point
- The Lewisian turning point is the point where the surplus labour pool is depleted.
- The economy then begins to resemble a developed economy.
How has the model panned out in India?
- Agriculture employed about two-thirds of India’s workforce till the early nineties.
- The below chart shows that share falling from 64.6% to 48.9% between 1993-94 and 2011-12.
- But not much of it was courtesy of manufacturing, whose share in employment rose marginally, from 10.4% to 12.6%, during this period.
- Rise in agricultural share:
- The subsequent period has seen the farm sector’s share in the country’s employed labour force first drop slowly, to a low of 42.5% in 2018-19, and then increase to 45.6% and 46.5% in the following two Covid-impacted years.
- The current 45.8% share, as per the National Sample Survey Office’s Periodic Labour Force Survey report for 2022-23 (July-June), is still higher than the pre-pandemic levels.
- Dip in manufacturing share:
- There is a dip in manufacturing’s share, from the 2011-12 high of 12.6% to 11.4% in 2022-23.
- The declining trendpreceded the pandemic, so much so that this sector now employs less than even the workforce in construction (13%) and trade, hotels & restaurants (12.1%).
- Employment in the latter two sectors is much similar to agriculture:
- low marginal productivity (output per worker),
- informal and
- paying just-about subsistence wages.
- Employment in the latter two sectors is much similar to agriculture:
- Simply put, the virtuous structural transformation, entailing a transfer of surplus labour from subsistence to capitalist sectors that Lewis talked about, hasn’t really played out.
- It has stalled, if not reversed, in recent times.
- The movement of labour has been largely happening within the subsistence sectors.
- The jobs being generated outside agriculture are mostly in low-paid services and construction, not in manufacturing and high-productivity services (think gig workers versus IT professionals).