The Indian Express


Head Line: Explained: J&K Roshni Act: what it aimed to do, what happened until it was repealed

1) Mains Paper II: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Why in news:

  • The State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by J&K Governor has repealed the J&K State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, popularly known as the Roshni Act.
  • This was so because it failed to realize the desired objectives and there were also reports of misuse of some its provisions.

The original Act

  • The Roshni Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants, subject to the payment of a cost, as determined by the government.
  • It set 1990 as the cutoff for encroachment on state land.
  • The government’s target was to earn Rs 25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanals (one-eighth of an acre) of state land to existing occupants against payment at market rates.
  • The government said the revenue generated would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name “Roshni”.

Amendments in Roshni Act:

  • In 2005 the government relaxed the cutoff year to 2004.
  • Subsequently with new govt coming to power the cutoff was relaxed further to 2007.
  • The government also gave ownership rights of agricultural land to farmers occupying it for free, charging them only Rs 100 per kanal as documentation fee.

Allegations and probe:

  • Investigations into the land transfers subsequently found that land in Gulmarg had been given over to ineligible beneficiaries.
  • However several government officials illegally possessed and vested ownership of state land to occupants who did not satisfy criteria under the Roshni Act.
  • A report by the CAG estimated that against the targeted Rs 25,000 crore, only Rs 76 crore had been realized from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, thus defeating the purpose of the legislation.
  • The report blamed irregularities including arbitrary reduction in prices fixed by a standing committee, and said this was done to benefit politicians and affluent people.
  • In November 2018, the High Court restrained all beneficiaries of the Roshni scheme from selling or carrying out any other transaction in respect of the land transferred to them.

Latest developments:

  • The decision to repeal the Roshni Act came after demands from a hardline religious group approached the High Court seeking court-monitored investigations into the transfer of land under the Act.
  • The group assumed it as jihadi war in the form of demographic invasion of Jammu. This led to a social and economic boycott of the Gujjars and Bakerwals.
  • This was the same group who supported the accused in the gangrape and murder of the 8-year-old Bakerwal girl in January.
  • The Gujjar and Bakerwal groups in Jammu have been upset with the repeal of the Act.
  • They have said that while the rich and influential managed to grab the benefits, their applications had remained pending.



Head Line: This Word Means | Hyperspectral imaging

2) Prelims:

  • Mains Paper III: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in news:

  • On Thursday, ISRO’s rocket PSLV-C43 launched a number of new satellites, among which the major one was HysIS, or Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS).
  • The satellite is being placed in a 636 km-polar sun synchronous orbit with an inclination of 97.957°, the ISRO website states.
  • HysIS, whose life is five years, weighs about 380 kg.

What is Hyperspectral Imaging:

  • Hyperspectral imaging is a technique that creates images with features that would not have been visible to the naked eye.
  • It works by dividing the electromagnetic spectrum into a large number of narrow bands, which helps characterise objects in an image with great precision and detail.
  • Applications range from remote sensing to agriculture, diagnostics, and environmental monitoring.

Objectives of HysIS:

  • The primary mission of HysIS, as described on the ISRO website, is to study the Earth’s surface in visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • It is a result of ISRO’s effort to enter the domain of operational hyperspectral imaging from Earth orbit.
  • The HySIS satellite carries a hyperspectral imaging sensor.
  • This Earth-observing, imaging spectrometer will operate in the 0.4 to 0.95µm spectral range, will have 55 spectral bands with 10-nanometre spectral sampling and 30-metre spatial sampling.


Head Line: MHA brings out booklet to guard teens from cyber bullying, other crimes

3) Mains Paper III: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security.

Why in news:

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has come out with a booklet on cyber safety for teenagers that tries to address their increased use of smartphones, gadgets, online gaming, social media and fake news.
  • The booklet, titled “A Handbook for Students on Cyber Safety”, also deals with the problems of cyber bullying, cyber grooming and email fraud.
  • According to the Indian Computer Response Team (CERT-In), over 53,000 cases of cyber security incidents were reported in 2017 in India, while 1,785 credit/debit cards frauds were recorded, causing a loss of Rs 71.48 crore last year.

Issues discussed in booklet:

  • Mob lynching due to fake news:
    1. On incidents of lynching due to fake news, the 38-page booklet cautions, “Fake news and hoax messages spread like wildfire on social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat).
    2. It may create law and order problem and may end up causing loss of life in a few cases.
    3. Before forwarding or sharing any message on social media or messaging app, check it on other sources also to confirm its authenticity.”
  • Cyber Grooming:
    1. On cyber grooming, the booklet says, “Cyber grooming is growing as one of the major cyber threats faced by children and teenagers.
    2. It is a practice where someone builds an emotional bond with children through social media or messaging platforms with an objective of gaining their trust for sexually abusing and exploiting them…
    3. Our new generation is getting exposure to cyber space at a very young age.
    4. More and more children invest time online to play games, make friends share updates and use social networking sites…
    5. Details shared on internet stay online forever as it is extremely difficult to delete the information completely.”
  • Social engineering:
    1. On social engineering, the booklet says, “Social engineering is a technique used by cyber criminals to gain your confidence to get information from you.
    2. Depending upon what you like most, a cyber criminal may try to interact with you to mine for information.
    3. Suppose you like to play online games, an impersonator behaves like another child and invites you to talk to him and share information.”
  • The booklet also explains various kinds of cyber crimes like identity theft, job fraud, email spoofing and how children can overcome them.
  • It advises teenagers against accepting friend requests from unknown people on social media, “As a thumb rule, only add people online whom you know offline,asking them never to share personal information like date of birth, address, phone number on social media and not install unwanted software or apps like dating app, online games from unknown sources.


Way Forward:

  • With exposure to social media growing among children, cyber crimes have increasingly become a matter of concern for parents as well as the government.
  • According to experts in the field, children, especially those in their adolocence, fall in the high risk category and are prone to cyber crime that may range from cyber bullying to email frauds and sexual exploitation.
  • The ministry last year set up a Cyber and Information Security (C&IS) division to check the rapid growth of cyber crimes and cyber threats.
  • It now aims to introduce the cyber crime handbook in schools as a component of the school curriculum.
  • The handbook on cyber security may go a long way in educating the child about risks on social media as well as methods commonly used by cyber criminals to entrap their victims.



Head Line: Simply Put: On the table, a climate ‘rulebook’

4) Mains Paper III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Why in news:

  • From Sunday, climate negotiators from around the world have gathered in Poland to renew their efforts towards finalising a global action plan to prevent adverse impacts of climate change.
  • The two-week year-end annual meeting, informally called COP24 (short for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), is being organised this time in Katowice, an important city in southern Poland’s coal belt.
  • It is being held amidst a series of fresh warnings that current measures announced by countries, some already under way and others to be implemented in the coming years, were hugely inadequate for achieving the agreed objective of keeping the rise in global temperatures within 2°C from pre-industrial times.

Agenda of Katowice Conference:

  • The main task on the hands of negotiators gathered in Katowice would be to finalise the “rulebook” for the implementation of the Paris Agreement that was clinched at a similar meeting in 2015, and came into effect the following year after the required number of countries had ratified it.
  • These include such things as agreeing on accounting standards to measure emissions, processes for monitoring, reporting and verification (commonly referred to as MRV in climate negotiation circles) of actions being taken by individual countries, mechanisms to raise financial resources and ensure the flow of funds for climate projects, and institutions to facilitate the diffusion of appropriate technologies to countries and regions that need them.
  • As the negotiators dive into the tortuous details of the “rulebook”, most of the attention is expected to be on the responses of countries to increasing demands to step up the ambition of their action plans in view of the gathering scientific evidence that current actions were just not adequate to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
  • At the same time, there is a growing noise about the need to aim for a 1.5°C target instead of 2°C. Countries would need to do much more to achieve that.
  • A recent special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the pathways to the 1.5° target is an important item on the agenda for discussions in Katowice.

Post Paris agreement 2015 developments:

  • Two years ago, at the COP22 meeting in Marrakech, countries had set themselves a 2018 deadline for the completion of the “rulebook”.
  • Though extra rounds of meetings have been held this year in the run-up to the Katowice summit, the countries are still far away from finalising the “rulebook”.
  • That is because most of the issues to be dealt with and agreed upon, notably those relating to finance, technology, and MRV, are highly contentious, and the negotiators face an uphill task in their attempt to wrap it up in the next two weeks.

The 1.5°C debate:

  • The Paris Agreement, while seeking to “hold” the increase in global average temperature to “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial times, also promises to keep “pursuing efforts” to attain the 1.5° target.
  • This was done to accommodate the concerns of smaller countries, mainly island nations, that face the greatest threat from climate change.
  • At the Paris meeting in 2015, the countries had also called upon the IPCC, a global body of scientists that does periodic reviews of scientific literature to make projections about the Earth’s future climate, to prepare a special report on the feasibility of the 1.5°C target.
  • That report presented last month said that to attain the 1.5°C target, the world needs to bring down its greenhouse gas emissions to about half of its 2010 levels by 2030, and to net zero by about 2050.
  • Net-zero is achieved when total emissions is balanced by the amount of absorption of carbon dioxide through natural sinks like forests, or removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through technological interventions.

Ongoing global efforts to tackle global warming:

  • Right now, the countries are aiming to reduce global emissions only by 20%, from 2010 levels, by the year 2030, and achieve a net-zero emission level by the year 2075.
  • And even these efforts are inadequate, as several recent studies have pointed out.
  • The response of the countries to the IPCC report is expected to be one of the key outcomes of the Katowice conference.

Talanoa Dialogue:

  • This year, countries have been carrying out another stock-taking exercise, named “Talanoa Dialogue” by Fiji, the host and president of last year’s conference, to reflect a traditional form of community conversation in that country.
  • This stock-take was meant to assess where exactly the world stood in its fight against climate change, and what more needed to be done.
  • The inputs from this exercise, 473 in total, will also be up for discussion at the Katowice meeting.

Emissions Gap report by the UN Environment Program

  • This week’s Emissions Gap report, released by the UN Environment Program, has said if the countries do not substantially enhance their actions before 2030, the 1.5° target would get out of reach.
  • Calling for “unprecedented and urgent action”, it has reported that total annual global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, at 53.5 billion tonnes carbon dioxide-equivalent, was 0.7 billion tonnes higher than the previous year.
  • This is the first time in four years that the total emission has shown an increase.
  • The total emissions in 2030 need to be at least 25% below the 2017 level to continue on the 2% pathway, and at least 55% lower if 1.5° target has to be achieved, it said.

The World Meteorological Organization report:

  • Last week, the World Meteorological Organization reported that global average surface temperatures in 2018 was all set to be the fourth highest ever recorded.
  • The 20 warmest years have all been in the last 22 years, with the top four being the last four years.
  • The report also said that data for the first 10 months of the year showed that global average temperatures were already nearly 1°C above pre-industrial levels (average of 1850-1990).

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