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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS | 14 March , 2024

Supreme Court Orders SBI to Share Electoral Bond Details        

UPSC CSE Mains Question     

Why in the News?  

The Supreme Court dismissed the State Bank of India’s (SBI) plea for additional time and directed it to provide details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission (EC), which are to be published on the EC’s website.  

Background  

The Supreme Court had previously declared the electoral bonds scheme unconstitutional. Following this, SBI sought time until June 30 to provide details on the bonds. However, the Court mandated SBI to furnish the information within 24 hours, emphasizing the accessibility of the required information.

Key Points of the News

  1. The Supreme Court’s directive to SBI underscores the judiciary’s commitment to transparency in political financing.
  2. The contention of SBI regarding the complexity and time-consuming nature of divulging bond details highlights potential operational challenges in maintaining anonymity while ensuring transparency.
  3. The Court’s decision reflects on the balance between donor anonymity and the public’s right to know about political funding sources.
  4. This move could have significant implications for political financing in India, potentially affecting the dynamics of electoral funding and political accountability.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Electoral Bonds:
    • Financial instruments allowing donors to anonymously contribute to political parties.
  2. Know Your Customer (KYC):
    • A process used by banks to verify the identity of their clients and assess potential risks of illegal intentions for the business relationship.

Way Forward

The immediate task for SBI is to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive. For the broader electoral system, there may be a need for a reevaluation of funding mechanisms to align with the principles of transparency and accountability. The decision also calls for legislative and regulatory bodies to consider reforms in political funding that ensure both transparency and protection of donor privacy.

UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. What was the Supreme Court's directive to the State Bank of India (SBI) regarding electoral bonds?

a. Extend the scheme until June 30
b. Provide details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission within 24 hours
c. Maintain the anonymity of donors permanently
d. Suspend all transactions related to electoral bonds
Answer: b. Provide details of electoral bonds to the Election Commission within 24 hours
2. Which of the following best describes the purpose of the electoral bonds scheme as challenged in the Supreme Court?
a. To ensure transparency in political funding
b. To facilitate anonymous contributions to political parties
c. To reduce the influence of money in politics
d. To increase the State Bank of India's revenue
Answer: b. To facilitate anonymous contributions to political parties

Modi to Launch 205 ‘One Station, One Product’ Stalls for Southern Railway               

UPSC CSE Mains Question    

 Why in the News?   

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate 205 ‘One Station, One Product’ (OSOP) stalls across Southern Railway through video conferencing, which includes launching various railway projects worth ₹85,000 crore.     

Background

The inauguration is part of a broader initiative by the Government of India to promote its ‘Local for Vocal’ vision. This effort aims to empower local industries and craftsmen by providing them a platform at railway stations to sell their indigenous products, thereby fostering local talent and generating additional income for marginalized communities.

Key Points of the News

  1. The OSOP scheme is a strategic move to support local artisans and businesses by showcasing and selling their products directly at railway stations, potentially boosting the local economy and tourism.
  2. The inauguration of new Vande Bharat Express routes and the extension of existing ones signify the government’s commitment to enhancing connectivity and improving travel experience in Southern India.
  3. Opening of Jan Aushadhi Kendras at select stations aligns with the government’s agenda to make healthcare more affordable and accessible to the public.
  4. The allocation of air-conditioned EMUs to Southern Railway is expected to elevate the commuting experience, addressing the long-standing issue of travel comfort in the region.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. OSOP (One Station, One Product):
    • A scheme aimed at promoting local products by providing them a market at railway stations.
  2. Vande Bharat Express:
    • A semi-high speed, intercity electric multiple unit developed by India.
  3. Jan Aushadhi Kendras:
    • Pharmacies providing quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all.
  4. EMU (Electric Multiple Unit):
    • A multiple-unit train consisting of self-propelled carriages, using electricity as the motive power.   

Way Forward  

The government should continue to identify and implement innovative schemes like OSOP to promote local products and talent. Efforts should be made to ensure the sustainability of these initiatives through continuous support and marketing. Further investments in railway infrastructure and services are crucial for meeting the growing demands of the population.  

UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. What is the primary goal of the 'One Station, One Product' scheme?

a. To provide employment to local artisans
b. To promote local products by providing them a market at railway stations
c. To increase the number of railway stations in India
d. To enhance the speed of trains across India
Answer: b. To promote local products by providing them a market at railway stations
2. Which of the following trains is NOT mentioned as being inaugurated or extended in the news article?
a. Vande Bharat Express between Chennai and Mysuru
b. Express train on the Kollam-Tirupati route
c. Jan Aushadhi Kendra Express
d. Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod Vande Bharat Express extension to Mangaluru Central
Answer: c. Jan Aushadhi Kendra Express

Understanding the Basic Principles of Artificial Intelligence         

UPSC CSE Mains Question

Evaluate the role of artificial intelligence in transforming the healthcare sector. Discuss the potential benefits and challenges, citing examples of AI applications in healthcare.

  Why in the News?

The article provides an insightful overview of the fundamental concepts and methodologies behind artificial intelligence (AI), highlighting its significance and the processes through which machines learn and make decisions.   

Background  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents the capacity for machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. This includes learning from experiences, recognizing patterns, solving problems, and making decisions. The article delves into the mechanics of AI, explaining how machines learn from data and the different types of learning methodologies employed.  

Key Points of the News

  1. AI’s capability to mimic human intelligence involves complex algorithms and models, including the ability to learn and make decisions based on data.
  2. The process of training AI involves various methodologies, such as supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning, depending on the nature of the data and the desired outcomes.
  3. Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT signify a leap in AI’s ability to understand and generate human-like text, powered by billions of parameters and extensive training data.
  4. The role of artificial neural networks (ANNs) is crucial in mimicking the neural processing of the human brain, facilitating AI’s learning process.
  5. Nvidia’s dominance in the AI field highlights the importance of GPUs in running complex AI algorithms efficiently, prompting developments in hardware and software to optimize AI performance.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI):
    • Intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals.
  2. Large Language Models (LLMs):
    • AI models trained on vast amounts of text data to predict the next word in a sentence and generate human-like text.
  3. Supervised Learning:
    • A type of machine learning where the model is trained on labeled data.
  4. Unsupervised Learning:
    • A machine learning method used when the model is trained on data without predefined labels.
  5. Reinforcement Learning:
    • A learning method where an agent learns to behave in an environment by performing actions and seeing the results.
  6. Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs):
    • Computing systems vaguely inspired by the neural networks that constitute animal brains.

Way Forward

Advancements in AI research and development should focus on ethical considerations, transparency, and reducing resource consumption. There’s a growing need for collaborative efforts in the AI community to address these challenges, ensuring AI’s benefits are maximized while mitigating potential risks.  

UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. Which learning method involves the AI model being scored on its output, using the scores to adjust its performance?

a. Supervised Learning
b. Unsupervised Learning
c. Reinforcement Learning
d. Predictive Learning
Answer: c. Reinforcement Learning
2. What is the primary function of a GPU in the context of AI?
a. To store large amounts of data
b. To render high-definition video content
c. To run computing tasks in parallel, facilitating the operation of ANNs
d. To provide an interface between the AI model and the user
Answer: c. To run computing tasks in parallel, facilitating the operation of ANNs

ASI Ordered to Conduct Scientific Survey of Bhojshala Complex         

UPSC CSE Mains Question     

Why in the News?     

The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to perform a scientific survey of the Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex to clarify its historical and religious nature.  

Background

The Bhojshala complex, a monument protected by the ASI and dating back to the 11th century, has been a subject of contention between Hindu and Muslim communities regarding its religious significance. Hindus perform puja on Tuesdays, while Muslims offer namaz on Fridays as per an agreement with ASI. A petition demanded the complex be exclusively handed over to Hindus, prompting the court’s decision for a scientific survey.

Key Points of the News

  1. The court’s directive for a scientific survey indicates a judicial approach to resolving disputes over historical and religious sites based on empirical evidence rather than communal claims.
  2. The use of modern archaeological techniques like GPR-GPS and carbon dating underscores the importance of technology in understanding and preserving India’s cultural heritage.
  3. The principle of res judicata raised by one of the respondents highlights the legal complexity of revisiting cases or claims that have been previously settled by the courts.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI):
    • The Indian government agency responsible for archaeological research and the preservation of cultural heritage.
  2. GPR-GPS:
    • Ground Penetrating Radar and Global Positioning System, technologies used in archaeological surveys to map and analyze subsurface features.
  3. Carbon Dating:
    • A scientific method used to determine the age of an archaeological artifact or feature made from organic materials by measuring its carbon-14 content.
  4. Res Judicata:
    • A legal principle that a matter that has been adjudicated by a competent court and therefore may not be pursued further by the same parties.

Way Forward  

The ASI’s findings from the scientific survey will be crucial in determining the future management of the Bhojshala complex. It is essential for all parties involved to respect the outcomes of the survey and work towards a solution that preserves the site’s historical integrity while accommodating the religious sentiments of both communities.

UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. What is the main purpose of conducting a scientific survey of the Bhojshala Temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex?

a. To convert the complex into a museum
b. To establish the site exclusively for Hindu or Muslim religious practices
c. To determine the historical and religious nature of the complex
d. To relocate the complex to a different site
Answer: c. To determine the historical and religious nature of the complex
2. Which technology is NOT mentioned as being part of the proposed scientific survey for the Bhojshala complex?
a. GPR-GPS
b. Carbon Dating
c. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)
d. Both A and B are mentioned
Answer: c. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)

Editorial Analysis (I) – Time to prohibit judges from joining politics      

  1. Context
    • Kaleeswaram Raj discusses the recent controversy surrounding Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay’s resignation from the Calcutta High Court to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), critiquing the practice of judges entering politics directly after or during their judicial tenure. This editorial delves into the broader implications of such actions for judicial independence and the perceived impartiality of the judiciary.
  2. Background
    • The editorial is set against a backdrop of concerns about the neutrality and integrity of the judiciary in India. The issue is exemplified by Justice Gangopadhyay’s transition from a judicial role to a political one, sparking debate over the need for legal or institutional barriers to prevent such moves, aimed at preserving judicial independence and public trust in the judiciary.
  3. Important Terminology
    • Judicial Independence: The principle that the judiciary should be independent from other branches of government, ensuring judges can make decisions free from external pressures.
    • Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct (2002): An internationally recognized set of principles outlining expectations for judicial conduct, emphasizing independence, impartiality, and integrity among others.
    • Constitutional Courts: Courts which have the authority to interpret the constitution and oversee the legality of actions taken by the government.
    • Impeachment: A formal process for removing judges from office, requiring significant legislative action.
  4. Detailed Analysis
    • Judicial Conduct and Integrity: The editorial emphasizes the importance of judges upholding the highest standards of conduct and integrity, as outlined in the Bangalore Principles and the Indian Constitution. It highlights several instances of perceived breaches by Justice Gangopadhyay, raising concerns over the impact on public trust.
    • Precedents and Comparisons: The mention of past judges resigning to enter politics serves as a reminder that while not unprecedented, such actions are increasingly scrutinized in light of modern expectations for judicial conduct.
  5. Significance
    • This editorial is significant for its critical examination of a recent event that has broader implications for the integrity of the judiciary in India. It calls for a reevaluation of the norms governing judicial conduct, suggesting that reforms are necessary to safeguard the independence and trust in the judiciary.
  6. Concluding Thoughts
    • The author argues for the imperative need to restrict judges from transitioning directly into political roles post-residency or during their tenure. This is presented not just as a matter of preserving judicial integrity, but also as a crucial step towards maintaining public confidence in the judicial system.
  7. Way Forward   
    • Raj proposes that the judiciary itself should take proactive steps to establish clear guidelines or laws preventing judges from entering politics. This approach emphasizes the judiciary’s role in self-regulation and the importance of adapting to evolving standards of conduct to reflect societal expectations and international norms.

Editorial Analysis (II) –Drugs, a money trail, and politics     

  1. Context
    • D. Suresh Kumar’s editorial addresses the arrest of Jaffer Sadiq, a former deputy organiser of the DMK’s NRI wing, and his alleged connections with an international drug cartel. This event has stirred a political controversy in Tamil Nadu, particularly as the state faces election season. The DMK leadership’s silence on the matter and the political implications of Sadiq’s arrest, including the potential impact on the DMK’s reputation and the broader political landscape in Tamil Nadu, are key focal points.
  2. Background
    • The arrest comes amidst a broader anti-drug campaign in Tamil Nadu, initiated in response to opposition claims of rampant drug supply in the state. The editorial provides a detailed account of the events leading to Sadiq’s arrest, the accusations against him, and the political fallout following the revelation of his connections with high-ranking DMK officials and law enforcement.
  3. Important Terminology
    • Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB): An Indian federal law enforcement and intelligence agency tasked with combating drug trafficking and use within the nation.
    • Methamphetamine: A powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system.
    • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985: The primary narcotics law in India, which prohibits a person from producing/manufacturing/cultivating, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, warehousing, using, consuming, importing inter-State, exporting inter-State, importing into India, exporting from India or transhipping any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  4. In-depth Analysis
    • Political Implications: The editorial scrutinizes the DMK’s decision-making and vetting processes, questioning how Sadiq, with his criminal activities, was allowed a significant position within the party. The situation has provided ammunition for political opponents, notably the AIADMK and BJP, to challenge the DMK’s governance and ethical standards.
    • Law Enforcement’s Role: The active role of the NCB and the public nature of their investigation raise questions about the balance between law enforcement diligence and political bias, especially given the timing relative to upcoming elections.
    • Public Perception and Responsibility: The editorial underscores the importance of transparency and accountability from both the ruling party and law enforcement agencies to maintain public trust, particularly in matters that intersect public safety and politics.
  5. Significance
    • The case holds significance beyond its immediate political repercussions, highlighting the challenges of policing drug trafficking in a politically charged environment. It reflects on the broader issue of criminal elements within political structures and the difficulty of addressing such issues without politicization.
  6. Concluding Thoughts
    • Kumar’s editorial calls for a nuanced approach to the investigation and public discourse surrounding the case, advocating for fairness, transparency, and the avoidance of undue politicization in addressing drug trafficking and political accountability.  
  7. Way Forward   
    • A balanced and impartial investigation by the NCB, devoid of political motivations, is imperative. Additionally, the DMK and other political parties must ensure rigorous internal vetting processes to prevent individuals with criminal backgrounds from holding significant positions. This approach not only aids in maintaining public trust but also in strengthening the political integrity and governance standards in Tamil Nadu and beyond.
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