News: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to respond to a petition concerning the disclosure of statistical information on State-sponsored electronic surveillance under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
About Central Information Commission:
The Central Information Commission is a statutory body, set up under the Right to Information Act in 2005 under the Government of India to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the Right to Information Act.
The commission includes one chief information commissioner and not more than ten information commissioners who are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
2. INDIAN ANTARCTIC BILL
News: The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 introduced in the Lok Sabha envisages regulating visits and activities to the Antarctic.
It also prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
India is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty which came into force on June 23, 1961.
Of the 54 signatory countries, 29 have ‘consultative’ status that give them voting rights.
The Treaty parties meet each year at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
India has now established two standing research stations in Antarctica, Bharati and Maitri.
The major thrust areas of the Indian Antarctic Programme are climate processes and links to climate change, environmental processes and conservation and polar technology.
The Bill also lays out a structure for government officials to inspect a vessel and conduct checks of research facilities.
The draft also directs the creation of a fund called the Antarctic fund that will be used for protecting the Antarctic environment. The Bill extends the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica and lays out penal provision for crimes on the continent by Indian citizens, foreign citizens who are a part of Indian expeditions, or are in the precincts of Indian research stations.
Following its first expedition to Antarctica in 1982, India has now established two standing research stations, Bharati and Maitri, at Antarctica. Both these places are permanently manned by researchers.
The Bill also establishes a ‘Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection.’
The Bill prohibits mining, dredging and activities that threaten the pristine conditions of the continent.
It bans any person, vessel or aircraft from disposing waste in Antarctica and bars the testing of nuclear devices.
About Antarctic Treaty System:
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth’s only continent without a native human population.
It was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, setting aside the continent as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation, and banning military activity; for the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude.
Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, which implements the treaty system, is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961.
The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
These countries had established over 55 Antarctic research stations for the IGY, and the subsequent promulgation of the treaty was seen as a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific cooperation that had been achieved. As of 2019, the treaty has 54 parties.
3. CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
News: Out of the ₹1.25 lakh crore which companies have spent as part of their mandatory corporate social responsibility (CSR) over the last seven years, only ₹8 crore — about 0.006% — has been spent in Nagaland, according to government data presented in the Rajya Sabha.
About Corporate Social Responsibility:
On April 1, 2014, India became the first country to legally mandate corporate social responsibility.
The rules in Section 135 of India’s Companies Act make it mandatory for companies of a certain turnover and profitability to spend 2% of their average net profit for the past three years on CSR.
According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Corporate Social Responsibility is defined as a business management concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and interactions with their stakeholders.
CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives, while at the same time addressing the expectations of shareholders and stakeholders.
The distinction between CSR and Philanthropy/Charity is that CSR is part of a business strategy. Business operations, supply chain, and human resource are all affected by a company’s CSR policy, which is not true for its philanthropic work.
The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere.
The CSR law or more popularly known as the CSR mandate, which came into effect from April 2014, applies to every company registered under the Companies Act, 2013, and any other previous companies law qualifying following conditions.
Having a net worth of rupees five hundred crores or more, or
Having a turnover of rupees one thousand crores or more, or
Having a net profit of rupees five crores or more, during a financial year.
The eligible companies are required to formulate a CSR Committee, in order to carry out the programs or activities as approved by the Committee. The programs or activities under CSR in India are carried out through a registered trust, society or company. As per the law, the CSR activities that only benefit employees of the companies and their families do not qualify as CSR expenditure.
In case a company fails to spend the said amount within a year, it will have to transfer the unutilised CSR funds to an escrow account and ensure its utilisation within three years. If a company fails to do even that, it will have to transfer the balance amount to the National CSR Fund.
The CSR mandate is a celebrated law in India. Year over year, the companies have spent more than 2% of their net profits over CSR.
4. BRAHMOS MISSILE
News: While the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was a joint development between India and Russia, the sale of the systems to the Philippines was a transaction between the two countries, and India would be able to move ahead on a “bilateral basis”.
About Brahmos Missile:
The BrahMos (also designated as PJ-10) is a medium-range stealth ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft or land. It is the fastest supersonic cruise missiles in the world.
It is a joint-venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), who together have formed BrahMos Aerospace.
It is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missile.
The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia.
It is the world’s fastest Anti-Ship Cruise Missile currently in operation.
A hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos-II, is also presently under development with a speed of Mach 7–8 to boost aerial fast strike capability. It was expected to be ready for testing by 2024.
Its propulsion is based on the Russian missile, and missile guidance has been developed by BrahMos Aerospace.
In 2016, as India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), India and Russia are now planning to jointly develop a new generation of Brahmos missiles with 800 km range and an ability to hit protected targets with pinpoint accuracy.