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1.India gets admission into Wassenaar Arrangement (The Hindu)

2.Centre’s disaccord with Standing Committee on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill (The Hindu)

3.National Conference on E-Courts Project held (The Hindu)

 

1.India gets admission into Wassenaar Arrangement (The Hindu)

The Ministry of External Affairs welcomed the decision of the Wassenaar Arrangement to admit India as the 42nd member of the organization.

Implications:

  • Officials said that following admission into the club, India will get access to high technology, which will help address the demands of Indian space and defence sectors.
  • It will also boost New Delhi’s chances of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

What is Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)?

  • It is an arrangement to control the export of conventional arms and dual use goods and technology.
  • Dual use goods and technology refers to goods and technology which can be used for both civilian and military purposes.
  • It is the successor to the Cold War–era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), and was established in 1996, in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, which is near The Hague.
  • The Wassenaar Arrangement is considerably less strict than COCOM, focusing primarily on the transparency of national export control regimes. Like COCOM, however, it is not a treaty, and therefore is not legally binding.

Who are all members of the Wassenaar Arrangement?

  • The WA has 42 members, the latest entrant being India. With the exception of China, all the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are signatories of the WA, which is headquartered in Vienna.

How does the Wassenaar Arrangement work?

  • The goal of the Arrangement is to “promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies”.
  • Participants are required to “ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine the goal”. The aim, according to WA, is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.
  • Every six months, member countries exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-Wassenaar members members.

What does this mean to India?

  • Since it’s a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India would look up to the WA membership to boost its credentials to enter NSG. Crucially, China, which stands in the way of India’s NSG entry, is not a member of WA.
  • Membership in the Arrangement has been part of India?s quest for membership in the export control organizations.

Are there any catches?

  • Critics see WA simply as a Cold War instrument with a different name. According to them, Arrangement perpetuates a divide by restricting western companies and governments from supplying crucial technologies to emerging markets.
  • Computer scientists and policy analysts have also expressed concern about developed economies using less developed countries as Guinea Pigs for their cyber security research by supplying them with intrusive technologies that could be used for mass surveillance.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, has accused the United States of going for even narrower restrictions on technology transfer.

 

2.Centre’s disaccord with Standing Committee on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill (The Hindu)

Centre has brushed aside a parliamentary standing committees report and plan to introduce the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill without a change is a disappointment.

About Standing Committee:

  • Standing committee is a committee consisting of Members of Parliament. It is a permanent and regular committee which is constituted from time to time according to the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.
  • These standing committees are elected or appointed every year, or periodically by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

How the need of separate legislation for transgender community was realized?

  • The process of recognizing the rights of the community and seeking to protect it by legislation gained momentum in 2014, when the Supreme Court gave a landmark verdict.
  • The court recognized the community as a third gender entitled to the same rights and constitutional protection as other citizens. It called for an end to discrimination based on gender against those who do not conform to the gender assigned to them at birth.
  • Besides this negative right against discrimination, the court ruled that transgender persons had a positive right to make decisions about themselves, express themselves and participate in community life.
  • It directed the government to accord them ?socially and educationally backward status so they could benefit from affirmative action.

How the bill paved its way to parliament?

  • In 2014, a private member?s Bill moved by DMK MP Tiruchi N. Siva was passed in the Rajya Sabha. In the Lok Sabha, the government introduced its own Bill, which was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The Standing Committee, in its July 2017 report, suggested some modifications and additions to the draft.
  • In particular, it disagreed with the definition of transgender in the draft Bill and wanted modifications to bring it in line with global norms. The Committee felt that the definition violated the principle that transgender persons have a right to self-identification of their gender.
  • Activists and experts have also rightly pointed to the absence of any reference to the implications of criminal and civil laws that are based on the traditional gender binary.

Conclusion:

  • While provisions on equality and non-discrimination would promote equal opportunity, in the process the real benefit of reservation in jobs should not be denied.
  • Social legislation should not be merely benevolent; rather, it should be imbued with an approach that extends to the marginalized sections the freedom, dignity and autonomy that other citizens enjoy.
  • In the domain of legislation, disagreements over drafts are natural. It is up to the government of the day to adopt an inclusive approach towards divergent opinions and come up with the best law possible.
  • Ignoring the opinions of experts and parliamentary committees does not help the process.
  • The Centre should revisit its draft and incorporate the inputs of the standing committee and an expert panel that submitted a report in 2014.

 

3.National Conference on E-Courts Project held (The Hindu)

The Committee of the Supreme Court of India in association with the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the Government of India held a two-day National Conference on National e-Courts Project.

About e-Courts Mission Mode Project:

  • The e-Courts Mission Mode Project is a national e-Governance project for ICT enablement of district and subordinate courts of the country. It is being implemented by the Government of India.
  • The major objectives of the Project are to make whole judicial system ICT enabled by putting in place adequate and modern hardware and connectivity; automation of workflow management in all courts; electronic movement of records from taluka/trial to appeal courts; installation of video conferencing (VC) facility and recording of witness through Video Conferencing; connecting all courts in the country to the National Judicial Data Grid
  • (NJDG) through WAN and additional redundant connectivity; citizen centric facilities such as electronic filing, e-payment and use of mobile applications in all courts; touch screen based kiosks in each court complex, full computerisation of State and district level judicial and service academies and centres.

Specific targets set under the Project include:

  • Computerization of all the courts (around 20400) and internet connectivity in 3500 court complexes; full Installation and use of Video Conferencing facility at 3000 Court Complexes and 1150 prisons; charting out key identified citizen services like electronic filing, daily orders, delivery of decrees, online case status in all the district courts etc.

Highlights of the Conference:

  • E-Filing software was launched for district courts and High Courts. e-Filing software has the facility to e-sign uploaded documents.
  • Through e-Filing software, registered advocates and registered parties or persons will be able to file their cases in the district courts.
  • Further, a demonstration was made by NIC Pune of a new version of Case Information System CIS 3.0. In the new improved version, various tools relating to court management, case management and judicial planning and monitoring will also be shown.
  • Use of National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) for Judicial planning and monitoring, generating various statistical reports for administration and policy decisions, was demonstrated.