Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 05 May 2023

PoSH Act and ICC under it

GS Paper -2 (Governance)

It was revealed that more than half, 16 of India’s 30 national sports federations do not have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), a legal requirement under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) Act, 2013.

Law against sexual harassment of women at the workplace:

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, commonly known as the PoSH Act, was passed in 2013.

  2. In 2013, it got legislative backing known as the Vishaka Guidelines, which were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment passed in 1997.

  3. The Vishaka Guidelines defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.

  4. The Supreme Court directed to establish an Internal Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The court made the guidelines legally binding.

 

Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) under the PoSH Act:

  1. The Act mandated that every employer must constitute an ICC at each office or branch that had 10 or more employees.

  2. It definedvarious aspects of sexual harassment, and lay down procedures for action in case of a complaint.

  3. The aggrieved victim under the Act can be a woman “of any age whether employed at the workplace or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”.

  4. It protects the rights of all women who are working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity.

What constitutes sexual harassment under the PoSH Act?

Under the 2013 law, sexual harassment includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication:

  • Physical contact and advances

  • A demand or request for sexual favours

  • Sexually coloured remarks

  • Showing pornography

  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

  • ‘Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace’ published by the Ministry of Women & Child Development contains more detailed instances of behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment at the workplace.

In addition, the PoSH Act mentions five circumstances that amount to sexual harassment:

  • Implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment;

  • Implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment;

  • Implied or explicit threat about the complainant’s present or future employment status;

  • Interference with the complainant’s work or creating an offensive or hostile work environment;

  • Humiliating treatment of the complainant that is likely to affect her health or safety.

 

De-dollarisation and global reserve currency

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

Countries have tried to dethrone the dollar as the global reserve currency for many decades now for various reasons. But of late, attempts to de-dollarize have picked up pace in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

More about the news:

  1. De-dollarisation refers to the replacement of the U.S. dollar by other currencies as the global reserve currency.

  2. A reserve currency refers to any currency that is widely used in cross-border transactions and is commonly held as reserves by central banks.

Why the race to De- dollarization?

  1. The U.S. imposed several sanctions that restricted the use of the U.S. dollar to purchase oil and other goods from Russia, and this has been seen by many countries as an attempt to weaponise the dollar.

  2. As international transactions carried out in the U.S. dollar are cleared by American banks, this gives the U.S. government significant power to oversee and control these transactions.

Past Reserve currencies and their downfall:

  1. Currencies such as the British pound and the French franc have served as international reserve currencies in the past, currencies of economic superpowers that have usually ended up being used as the global reserve currency.

  2. As the economic clout of these countries waned, their currencies faced a similar downfallFor example, the British pound, which was gradually replaced by the U.S. dollar as Britain lost its status as a global economic superpower in the first half of the 20th century.

Justification to de-dollarisation and advantages of reserve currency:

When a country’s fiat currency enjoys reserve currency status, it gives the country the power to purchase goods and other assets from the rest of the world by simply creating fresh currency out of thin air.

This process has some loopholes:

  1. Irresponsible expansion of the money supply can cause the debasement of the currency and eventually threaten its status as a reserve currency.

  2. The expansionary monetary policy adopted by the U.S. Federal Reserve over the decades to argue that this could threaten the U.S. dollar’s status as a global reserve currency.

  3. The U.S. central bank usually increases the supply of dollars through various means to tackle economic downturns and also to fund the U.S. government’s expenditures.

  4. It should be noted that the U.S. Federal Reserve is not the only central bank in the world that has been debasing its currency by engaging in expansionary monetary policy over several decades.

  5. As long as the U.S. does not debase its currency at a faster pace than other countries, the dollar may manage to hold its value against other currencies and hence its reserve currency status may not come under serious threat.

Reason for the popularity of the U.S. dollar:

  1. Other currencies that have tried to compete against the U.S. dollar are not as popular as the greenbackfor carrying out international transactions.

  2. For example, a recent attempt by India and Russia to carry out trade between the two countries in Indian rupees rather than in U.S. dollars has hit a roadblock because the value of India’s imports from Russia far outweighs its exports to the country.

  3. The global acceptability of the U.S. dollar has primarily been attributed to the popularity of U.S. assets among investors.

  4. It should be noted that the U.S. has been running a persistent trade deficit for decades now (in fact the last time the U.S. ran a trade surplus was way back in 1975).

  5. The excess dollars that the rest of the world accumulates due to the U.S.’s trade deficit has been invested in U.S. assets such as in debt securities issued by the US government.

  6. The high level of trust that global investors have in the U.S. financial markets, perhaps owing to the ‘rule of law’ in the U.S., is considered to be a major reason why investors prefer to invest in U.S. assets.

Way forward:

  1. It is not necessary that a country must run a trade deficit for its currency to be accepted as a reserve currency.

  2. China, for instance, which supplies the world with huge volumes of goods and runs a trade surplus, has been trying to make the yuan a reserve currency.

 

Cyber alert against 'Royal' ransomware

GS Paper -3 (Cyber- Security)

The Indian cyber security agency has issued a warning against "Royal ransomware" virus that attacks critical sectors such as communications, health care, education and even individuals and seeks pay-off in Bitcoins for not leaking personal data in the public domain.

More about the news:

  1. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT-In has stated in a latest advisory that this Internet spread ransomware sneaks in through phishing emails, malicious downloads, abusing RDP (remote desktop protocol) and other forms of social engineering. 

  2. This ransomware was first detected in January 2022 and it got active sometime around September last year even as the U.S. authorities issued advisories against its spread.

  3. The ransomware encrypts the files on a victim's system and attackers ask for ransom payment in bitcoin. Attackers also threaten to leak the data in the public domain if denied payment.

  4. Threat actors have followed many tactics to mislead victims into installing the remote access software as a part of call back phishing, where they pretend to be various service providers."

Working mechanism of the “Royal” ransomware:

  1. The ransomware infects "using a specific approach to encrypt files depending on the size of the content." "It will divide the content into two segments i.e. encrypted and unencrypted.

  2. The malware may choose a small amount of data from a large file to encrypt so as to increase the chances of avoiding caution or detection.

  3. The lethality of this virus can be gauged from the fact that before starting encryption of the data it attacks, the ransomware checks the state of targeted files and deletes shadow copies to “prevent recovery” through service. 

  4. After intruding into the network, the malware tries to make persistence and lateral movement in the network.

  5. Even after getting access to the domain controller, the ransomware disables anti-virus protocols, also ex-filtrates a large amount of data before encryption.

  6. It has been observed that 'Royal ransomware' does not share information such as the ransom amount, any instructions, etc. on a note like other ransomware; instead it connects with the victim directly via an .onion URL route (dark web browser).

Some counter-measures and Internet hygiene protocols to protect from this ransomware attack:

  1. Maintain offline backup of data, and regularly maintain backup and restoration as this practice will ensure the organisation will not be severely interrupted and have irretrievable data.

  2. “It is also recommended to have all backup data encrypted, immutable (i.e., cannot be altered or deleted) covering the entire organisation’s data infrastructure.

  3. The users should enable protected files in the Windows Operating System,to prevent unauthorised changes to critical files and they should disable remote desktop connections.

  4. Users should employ least-privileged accounts and limit users who can log in using remote desktop part from setting an account lockout policy. 

  5. It is also recommended having an updated anti-virus in the computer systems and not clicking on unsolicited emails from unknown links.

Flashback:

  1. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN or ICERT) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Government of India. It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing. It strengthens security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain.

  2. It was formed in 2004 by the Government of India under Information Technology Act, 2000 Section (70B) under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. 

  3. It has overlapping responsibilities with other agencies such as National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) which is under the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) that comes under the Prime Minister's Office and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

 

Foreign Ministers of SCO meeting

GS Paper -2 (International Relations)

External Affairs Minister (EAM) conveyed to his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), of the importance of resolving the eastern Ladakh border row and ensuring peace and tranquillity along the frontier for development of bilateral ties.

More about the news:

India and China Relations should be based on "three mutuals" — mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests.

  1. It said the focus remained on resolving outstanding issues and ensuring peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

  2. The discussions were also held on issues relating to the SCO, G-20 and BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa).

  3. India has conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that the state of India-China relations is "abnormal" because of the lingering border row in eastern Ladakh.

On the sidelines of a conclave of the SCO Defence Ministers Defence on April 27 in New Delhi:

  1. India’s Defence Ministertold his Chinese counterpart that China's violation of existing border agreements "eroded" the entire basis of ties between the two countries and that all issues relating to the frontier must be resolved in accordance with the existing pacts.

  2. The ties between India and China nosedived significantly following the fierce clash in the Galwan Valley in June 2020 that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.

  3. The Indian and the Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in a few friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh for the last three years though they disengaged in several places following a series of military and diplomatic talks.

Flashback:

SCO:

  1. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation.

  2. It began as the Shanghai Five in 1996 by the leaders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, it was rechristened as the SCO in 2001. The SCO entered into force on 19 September 2003.

  3. It comprises China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as permanent members.

  4. The aim of SCO is to establish cooperation between member nations on Security-related concerns, Resolving border issues, Military cooperation, Intelligence sharing, Countering terrorism, Countering American influence in Central Asia.

  5. It is the world's largest regional organisation in terms of geographic scope and population, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.

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