Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 08 March 2023

One Nation, One Challan initiative

GS Paper - 2 (Schemes)

The Gujarat government told the High Court, which was hearing a public interest litigation seeking setting up of virtual traffic courts in the state, that it was already in the process of doing so under the ‘One Nation One Challan’ initiative.

What is the One Nation, One Challan initiative?

  1. One Nation, One Challan is an initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to bring all related agencies, such as the traffic police and the Regional Transport Office (RTO), on one platform, to enable seamless collection of challans as well as data transfer.
  2. The integrated system involves detection of traffic violations through the CCTV network and getting the registration number of the erring vehicle from applications like VAHAN (detecting the vehicle’s ownership details) and SARATHI (compilation of driving licenses).
  3. An e-challan is then generated with the relevant penalty amount, and sent to the mobile number linked with the vehicle.

How do virtual traffic courts work?

  1. If someone doesn’t pay the challan amount within 90 days, the challan will be automatically forwarded to a virtual court and proceedings will be initiated. Summons will be sent on the mobile phone of the offender. If the fine is still not paid, further legal proceedings will follow.
  2. Virtual courts are aimed at eliminating the presence of litigants in the court. An accused can search their case on the virtual court’s website. Upon successful payment of fine, the case will be shown as disposed.
  3. For now, one court is in the process of being designated as a virtual court for the whole of Gujarat — court number 16 of Ahmedabad city sessions court, which will deal dedicatedly with the ‘One Nation, One Challan’ cases. Gradually, more jurisdictional courts may be added.


Judicial custody and Police custody

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court sent former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to judicial custody till 20 March 2023 in connection with a corruption case related to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped excise policy. Sisodia was arrested on 26 February 2023 and has been in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) since then.

What is judicial custody?

  1. Judicial custody means that the person detained by a judicial magistrate is lodged in central or state prison.
  2. In some cases, investigation agencies may not seek police custody immediately and one of the reasons can be the judicious use of the maximum of 15 days at their disposal.
  3. In some cases, courts may directly remand a person to judicial custody, if the court concludes that there is no need for police custody or extension of police custody.
  4. The judicial custody can extend up to 60 or 90 days as a whole, depending upon the maximum punishment prescribed for the offense.
  5. According to Section 436A of CrPC, a person in judicial custody, who has served half the maximum punishment that can be given for an offense, can apply for default bail, if their trial is pending.

How is judicial custody different from police custody?

  1. Police custody refers to when a person is detained in a police station or lock-up when he is believed to have committed a crime.
  2. However, unlike judicial custody, police custody requires the accused to be furnished before the magistrate in 24 hours.
  3. Apart from differing in the purview and place of detention, there are some distinctions between the two forms of custody.
  4. In police custody, the investigating authority can interrogate a person while in judicial custody; officials need the permission of the court for questioning. In police custody, the person has the right to legal counsel, and the right to be informed of the grounds which the police have to ensure.
  5. In judicial custody, the person is under the responsibility of the magistrate, while the Prison Manual comes into the picture for the routine conduct of the person.


‘Bio-computers’ and about the human brain

GS-3 (Science & Technology)

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently outlined a plan for a potentially revolutionary new area of research called “organoid intelligence”, which aims to create “bio-computers”: where brain cultures grown in the lab are coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices.

More about the news:

The scientists expect the technology to harness the processing power of the brain and understand the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and various neurological disorders.

What is the premise of this technology?

  • To understand how the human brain works has been a difficult challenge. Traditionally, researchers have used rat brains to investigate various human neurological disorders.
  • While rats provide a simpler and more accessible system to study the brain, there are several differences in structure and function and obvious differences in the cognitive capacities of rodents and humans.
  • In a quest to develop systems that are more relevant to humans, scientists are building 3D cultures of brain tissue in the lab, also called brain organoids.
  • These “mini-brains” (with a size of up to 4 mm) are built using human stem cells and capture many structural and functional features of a developing human brain.
  • Researchers are now using them to study human brain development and test drugs to see how they respond.
  • The organoids currently also don’t have blood circulation, which limits how they can grow.

Other ways to study the human brain:

v  Scientists transplanted these human brain organoid cultures into rat brains, where they formed connections with the rat brain, which in turn provided circulating blood.

v  Since the organoids had been transplanted to the visual system, when the scientists showed the experimental rats a light flash, the human neurons were activated, too, indicating that the human brain organoids were also functionally active.

v  Scientists have touted such a system as a way to study brain diseases in a human context.

What is the new ‘bio-computer’?

v  The JHU researchers’ scheme will combine brain organoids with modern computing methods to create “bio-computers”.

v  They have announced plans to couple the organoids with machine learning by growing the organoids inside flexible structures affixed with multiple electrodes (similar to the ones used to take EEG readings from the brain).

v  These structures will be able to record the firing patterns of the neurons and also deliver electrical stimuli, to mimic sensory stimuli.

v  The response pattern of the neurons and their effect on human behaviour or biology will then be analysed by machine-learning techniques.

Opportunities for ‘bio-computers’:

Ø  Human brains are slower than computers at, say, simple arithmetic; they outshine machines at processing complex information.

Ø  Brain organoids can also be developed using stem cells from individuals with neurodegenerative diseases or cognitive disorders.

Ø  Comparing the data on brain structure, connections, and signalling between ‘healthy’ and ‘patient-derived’ organoids can reveal the biological basis of human cognition, learning, and memory.

Ø  They could also help decode the pathology and drug development for devastating neurodevelopmental and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly.


Qualified Stock Brokers

GS-3 (Economy)

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) issued a list of 15 designated Qualified Stock Brokers (QSBs), including Zerodha Broking, 5paisa Capital, HDFC Securities, and ICICI Securities etc. This list was announced following a February 2023 direction by the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

About Qualified Stock Brokers:

  • Sebi defines QSBs as entities who, because of their size and scale of operations, can likely impact investors and the securities market, as well as governance and service standards.
  • These stock brokers cater to the needs of a large number of investors.

QSBs significance:

v  QSBs occupy a significant position in the Indian securities marketdue to their size, trading volumes, and amount of clients’ funds handled by them.

v  The stock market activity is concentrated to these designated stock brokers.

v  The failure of such stock brokers has the potential to cause disruption in the services they provide to large numbers of investors, causing widespread impact in the securities market.

How are Qualified Stock Brokers designated?

Ø  A stock broker will be designated as QSB on the basis of four parameters:

  • Number of active clients
  • Total available assets of clients
  • Trading volumes
  • End-of-day margin obligations

Ø  All stock brokers with a total score greater than or equal to five on these four parameters are identified as QSBs.

Ø  The capital markets regulator said it may include more stock brokers in its list of designated QSBs by considering additional parameters such as compliance, grievance redressal scores and proprietary trading volumes.

Ø  The scores are to be calculated on an annual basis (financial year) and the revised list of QSBs will be released jointly by stock exchanges, in consultation with Sebi.

Additional regulatory requirements for QSBs:

  • A stock broker designated as a QSB is required to meet enhanced obligations and discharge responsibilities to ensure appropriate governance structure, appropriate risk management policy and processes, scalable infrastructure and appropriate technical capacity, framework for orderly winding down, robust cyber security framework, and investor services including online complaint redressal mechanism.
  • The risk management framework of QSBs should have measures for carrying out surveillance of client behaviour through analysing the pattern of trading done by them and detection of any unusual activity.
  • QSBs will have to red flag any unusual client behaviour to stock exchanges and take necessary measures to prevent fraudulent activity in the market.