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What is Drought?, Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021, Impact of Drought, Cost estimates of Drought, About United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Impact of severe droughts on India GDP is 2-5%: UN

In News

  • The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) recently released a report titled Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021.

What is Drought?

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines drought as a period of abnormally dry weather long enough to cause a serious hydrological (water) imbalance.
  • It results from a shortfall of precipitation (rainfall) over a certain period, from the inadequate timing or the ineffectiveness of the precipitation.
  • It also results from a negative water balance due to an increased atmospheric water demand following high temperatures or strong winds.
  • Human activities resulting in water scarcity and changes in the climate system play a key role in drought intensification and propagation.

Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Drought 2021

  • The report explores the current understanding of drought risk, its drivers and the ways in which people, economies and ecosystems are exposed and are vulnerable.
  • It looks into rising water stress across the globe and resulting migration and desertification.
  • The report also provides recommendations for reducing drought risks and mitigating the impacts on communities and economies.

Highlights of the report

  • Drought impacts are intensifying as the world moves towards being 2°C warmer. Climate change has already led to more intense and longer droughts in some regions of the world.
  • Projections indicate more frequent and more severe droughts over wide parts of the world, in particular most of Africa, central and South America, central Asia, southern Australia, southern Europe, Mexico and US.
  • The extent and severity of these projected droughts largely depend on the magnitude of the temperature rise.

Impact of Drought

  • Droughts affect large areas and populations, with widespread impacts on society, economy, the environment and hence sustainable development.
  • The risks resulting from droughts can increase severely, which may also affect societies and economies far from the drought event.
  • When not adequately managed, drought is one of the drivers of desertification and land degradation, increasing fragility of ecosystems, especially in rural communities.
  • Vulnerabilities of food, water and energy increase further by drought and can lead to social vulnerability and conflict.
  • Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years as increasing industrialisation and urbanisation would increase demand beyond supply.

Cost estimates of Drought

  • Drought has directly affected 1.5 billion people so far this century and this number will grow significantly unless the world gets better at managing this risk. However, global cost estimates of drought are significantly underestimated.
  • The report has estimated an annual loss of around $6.4 billion in the US due to drought and Euro 9 billion in Europe.
  • In Australia, the study found its agricultural productivity fell by 18% during 2002-2010 due to drought-like conditions.
  • The effect of severe droughts on India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at 2–5%.

Deccan case study

  • The report conducted case studies in the Deccan plateau, comprising 43% of India’s landmass. As per the findings, the Deccan region sees the highest frequency (of more than 6%) of severe droughts in all of India.
  • The study found significant drought conditions once in every three years in the Deccan plateau leading to large-scale migration and desertification.
  • For instance, in recent major droughts in Tamil Nadu, a 20% reduction in the primary sector caused an overall 5% drop in industry and a 3% reduction in the service sector.
  • Further, a 2019 case study revealed villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka’s districts were deserted (fell empty) as families left due to acute water crisis.

Recommendations

  • The governance and management of droughts must shift from the current reactive crisis management to proactive drought risk management.
  • Proactive drought risk management, includes drought monitoring, forecasting, early warning and measures to reduce vulnerability.
  • Measures for adapting to changing climate and actions to increase societal and environmental resilience should also be developed.
  • Increase in public awareness and development of water-saving practices and policies are needed for successfully introducing required changes.
  • A national drought resilience partnership that works to ensure a link between national and local levels with public, private and civil society partners should be developed.
  • Further, support should be generated for the establishment of a global mechanism for drought management focused on systemic risks.

About United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Headquartered in Geneva, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) was created in 1999 to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
  • It coordinates international efforts in disaster risk reduction and oversees the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
  • The Sendai Framework is a 15-year voluntary people-centred approach to disaster risk reduction.
  • UNDRR brings governments, partners and communities together to reduce disaster risk and losses to ensure a safer, more sustainable future.

 Environment & Ecology

Cryptocurrencies

In Focus: Cryptocurrencies

  • About:
    • A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend.
    • Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology.
    • A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to governmentinterference or manipulation.

  • Types of Cryptocurrency:
    • Bitcoin: Launched in 2009, the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which still remains the most popular and most valuable. Today, the aggregate value of all the cryptocurrencies in existence is around $1.5 trillion (60% Bitcoin).
    • Others: Some of the competing cryptocurrencies spawned by Bitcoin’s success, known as “altcoins,” include Litecoin, Peercoin, Namecoin, Ethereum, Cardano and EOS.

  • Advantages of Cryptocurrency: Easier means to transfer funds, Secure, Minimal processing fee, Promotes privacy etc.
  • Disadvantages: Well suited for illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion; Highly volatile; Entire ecosystem (including exchanges and wallets) is not secure; Absence of regulation etc.

News Summary:

  • The Central American country formally adopted the virtual currency (first country in the world to do so), after its Parliament approved the move announced by the President Nayib Bukele.

  • Reason behind such decision:
    • El Salvador depends heavily on remittances sent by Salvadorians from abroad (around a quarter live in the US and send more than $6 billion in remittances, making up more than 20% of the GDP).
    • A big chunk of these remittances is lost to intermediaries. By using Bitcoin, the amount received by more than a million low income families will increase.
    • It will also help increase financial inclusion in El Salvador, where 70% of the population does not have a bank account and relies on the informal economy.

  • Reaction to the decision:
    • It is seen by some as an innovative step, in a time (pandemic) when the world is looking for new ventures of economic recovery.
    • It is also seen as good news for cryptocurrencies in general, as it will improve the appeal for Bitcoin, which has witnessed major fluctuations this year.
    • However, some crypto experts have criticised the move saying that El Salvador could have looked at other crypto options, as Bitcoin’s transaction rate is too slow compared to other virtual tenders such as Bitcoin Cash or Monero.
    • The lack of a central regulating authority, potential for fraud and money laundering, high energy costs and extreme volatility, further increase skepticism about the private currency.

Understanding El Salvador’s decision in Indian context:

  • From the prism of monetary policy:
    • El Salvador has no monetary policy of its own and hence no local currency to protect. The country was officially ‘dollarized’ in 2001 and runs on the monetary policy of the US Federal Reserve.
    • In India, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is vested with the responsibility of conducting monetary policy. By this, RBI controls the supply of money in the economy by its control over interest rates in order to maintain price stability and achieve high economic growth.

  • Not merely currency but technology: The overall use of Bitcoin appears less motivated by its use as a currency and much more by the image and investment boost this could give the country towards innovation.
  • Potential shift in remittances: The impact Bitcoin has on remittance inflows would be worth monitoring for India, which is home to the largest remittance market in the world.
  • Necessary oversight measures: The implication of this move for illegal activities such as money laundering is unclear at the moment. India may face challenges on this front unless there is a rapid push to put in place the necessary oversight measures.
  • The overall takeaway for India:
    • While deliberations continue in India on the monetary and financial regulations around cryptocurrency, it is important to incentivize Indian developers working on key innovations in the space.

Other countries where the use of cryptocurrencies is fast gathering pace:

  • In many parts of the world that are plagued by economic uncertainties, the use of cryptocurrencies is fast gathering pace.
  • In Cuba, virtual money is being used for making payments for utilities, cross-border transactions as well as for remittances from abroad.
  • In Mexico, where also remittances from the US form a huge source of income, the crypto market has boomed.
  • In Venezuela, which is undergoing an economic and humanitarian crisis, many are adopting crypto money as spiralling hyperinflation has harmed the official currency (Bolivar).
  • The US took a decisive step towards issuing its own central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
    • CBDCs are being touted as a means for extending financial services to those who have remained underserved by traditional banks, while mitigating the risks of unregulated private tokens such as Bitcoin.

  • Recently, China rolled out pilot testing for its home-grown digital currency and issued major curbs on private cryptocurrency transactions.
  • In India, the government has floated The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, which will prohibit all private cryptocurrencies and lay down the regulatory framework for the launch of an “official digital currency”.

 Economics

In Focus: Biodiversity Hotspots

In Focus: Biodiversity Hotspots

  • A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high amount of biodiversity that experiences habitat loss by human activity.
  • The term “biodiversity hotspot” was coined by a British environmentalist Norman Myers in 1988.
  • For a region to qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, it must meet the following two criteria:
    • Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as “endemic” species).
    • Have lost at least 70 percent of its primary native vegetation.

  • There are currently 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots in the world.

    • These are Earth’s most biologically rich—yet threatened—terrestrial regions.
    • They represent just 4% of Earth’s land surface, but they support more than half of the world’s plant species as endemicsand nearly 43% of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibianspecies as endemics.

  • Several international organizations are working in many ways to conserve these biodiversity hotspots.

Biodiversity Hotspots concerning India:

  • There are four biodiversity hotspots in and around India. These are:
    • The Himalayas
    • The Western Ghats
    • Indo-Burma region
    • Sundaland

The Himalayas:

  • The Himalayas include the entire Indian Himalayan region (and that falling in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar).
  • Of the estimated 10,000 species of plants in the Himalaya Hotspot, about 3,160 are endemic.
  • In spite of harsh winter conditions, there are records of vascular plants occurring at some of the highest elevations on Earth.
  • About 300 mammal species have been recorded in the Himalaya, including a dozen that are endemic to the hotspot—the Endangered golden langurand Critically Endangered pygmy hogamong them.

Indo-Burma region:

  • This hotspot includes entire North-eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of Islands (and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China).
  • More than 300 million people live in Indo-Burma, more than any other hotspot.
  • The hotspot is noteworthy for its concentration of globally threatened primates, of which 20 are endemic to the hotspot.
  • The Critically Endangered lesser one-horned rhinocerosrecently disappeared from the hotspot, and now only survives in one location in Java.

Western Ghats:

  • This hotspot includes the entire Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.
  • It is estimated that there are four thousand species of flowering plants known from the Western Ghats and 1,500 (nearly 38 percent) of these are endemic.
  • The Nilgiri Mountains are one of the most important centres of speciation for flowering plants in the Western Ghats, with 82 species restricted to this area alone.
  • Wide-ranging and flagship mammal species such as the tiger and elephant have attracted significant conservation efforts.

Sundaland:

  • The hotspot covers a small portion of southern Thailand; nearly all of Malaysia; Singapore; Brunei; and the western half of Indonesia. The Nicobar Islands of India are also included.
  • The hotspot is one of the biologically richest regions on Earth, holding about 25,000 species of vascular plants, 60 percent of which are endemic.
  • Some 380 mammal species are found here, including two species of orangutans: the Critically Endangered Bornean orangutan, and the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan.
  • Other iconic species include the Endangered proboscis monkey, which lives only on Borneo, and two rhinoceros species: the Critically Endangered Javan rhino and the Critically Endangered Sumatran rhino.

About: Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

About: Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)

  • The Central Vigilance Commission was setup by a Government Resolution in 1964, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • The Commission was given the status of independent statutory authority through the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
  • As the apex integrity institution, the Commission is mandated to fight corruption and to ensure integrity in public administration.
  • It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government.

Mission:

  • To promote integrity in the governance processes by:
    • Creation of a credible deterrence against corruption through enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations.
    • Undertaking effective preventive measures to minimize the scope of corruption.
    • Raising public awareness to inculcate ethical values and reduce society’s tolerance towards corruption.

Members of CVC:

  • The CVC is headed by a Central Vigilance Commissioner, who is assisted by two Vigilance Commissioners.
  • They are appointed by the President, on the recommendation of a three member committee.
  • The three-member committee consists of the Prime Minister as its head, The Union Minister of Home Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • After their tenure, they are not eligible for further appointment under the Central or State government.

Functions of CVC:

  • To inquire or cause an investigation to be made on a reference by the Central Government. The CVC has the powers of a Civil court while conducting any inquiry.
  • Advice the Central Government and its organizations on matters referred to it by them.
  • Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrations of the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government.
  • Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Central Bureau of Investigation) related to:
    • The investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
    • An offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure for certain categories of public servants.

  • Review the progress of investigations conducted by the DSPE.

Jurisdiction of CVC:

  • Members of All India Service serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government.
  • Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks.
  • Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers in Schedule ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Managers and above in General Insurance Companies.
  • Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporations.

 Polity & Governance

Sunderbans and Mangrove

  • Sunderbans is the largest single block mangrove forest in the world.

About: Sundarbans:

  • Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the GangaBrahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal.

  • It is the largest single block mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Sundarbans mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 sq. km, of which forests in Bangladeshextend over 6,017 sq. km and in India, they extend over 4,260 sq. km.
  • About half a million people of India and Bangladesh are dependent on the Sundarbans for their livelihood.
  • It is classified as a moist tropical forest dominated by “Sundri tree”.
    • It yields a hard wood, used for building houses and making boats, furniture and other things.

  • It acts as shelter belt to protect the people fromstorms, cyclones, tidal surges, sea water seepageand intrusion.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • It is the only mangrove reserve in the world inhabited by tigers.
  • There are five reserves in the Sundarbans:
    • The Royal Bengal Tiger Reserve
    • Sundarban National Park
    • Sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary
    • Lothian Island wildlife sanctuary
    • Holiday Island wildlife sanctuary

In Focus: Mangroves

What are Mangroves?

  • Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs, also called halophytes, that live in the saline or brackish water of the coastal intertidal zone.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • Mangrove forests occupy around 2,00,000 sq. km across the world in tropical regions of 30 countries. India has a total mangrove cover of 4,482 sq. km.

  • Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand temperatures below 5o
  • It is an interface between terrestrial forests and aquatic marine ecosystems.
  • There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate.

What is the significance of mangroves?

  • The structural complexities of mangrove vegetation create unique environments which provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms.
  • Mangroves serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for most of the commercial fishes and crustaceans on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood.

  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers. They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion.
  • Mangroves give protection to the coastline and minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.
  • Mangrove forests are able to store three to four times more carbon than the forests which are found on land.
    • They form ecosystems which scientists refer to as “blue carbon ecosystems” as opposed to “green carbon ecosystems” which are found on the land.

  • Mangroves are an intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S).
    • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.

Freedom of Navigation Operations

Freedom of Navigation Operations

Q Why is it in News? 

The US Navy has had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law”.

Q What are  Freedom of Navigation Operations?  

  • Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs)  are closely linked to the concept of freedom of navigation, and in particular to the enforcement of relevant international law and customs regarding freedom of navigation.
  • It involves passage conducted by the US Navy through waters claimed by coastal nations as their exclusive territory.
  • It is carried under the US policy of exercising and asserting its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms around the world”.
  • It says these “assertions communicate that the US does not acquiesce to the excessive maritime claims of other nations, and thus prevents those claims from becoming accepted in international law”.

Q What is Significance of FONOPs ? 

  • FONOPs are a method of enforcing UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and avoiding these negative outcomes by reinforcing freedom of navigation through practice.
  • It is exercised by sailing through all areas of the sea permitted under UNCLOS, and particularly those areas that states have attempted to close off to free navigation as defined under UNCLOS.

Q What is an Exclusive Economic Zone ? 

  • An exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is prescribed by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • It is an area of the sea in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
  • It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the state in question.
  • It is also referred to as a maritime continental margin and, in colloquial usage, may include the continental shelf.
  • The term does not include either the territorial sea or the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit.
  • The difference between the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone is that the first confers full sovereignty over the waters, whereas the second is merely a “sovereign right” which refers to the coastal state’s rights below the surface of the sea.
  • The surface waters, as can be seen on the map, are international waters.

Q Is FONOP violative of India’s EEZ? 

  • As per India’s Territorial Waters Act, 1976, the EEZ of India “is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters, and the limit of such zone is two hundred nautical miles from the baseline”.
  • India’s “limit of the territorial waters is the line every point of which is at a distance of twelve nautical miles from the nearest point of the appropriate baseline”.
  • Under the 1976 law, “all foreign ships (other than warships including submarines and other underwater vehicles) shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters”.

Q What is UNCLOS ? 

  • The Law of the Sea Treaty formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982 at Montego Bay, Jamaica. It entered into force in 1994.
  • The convention establishes a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and replaces previous U.N. Conventions on the Law of the Sea
  • The convention defines the distance of 12 nautical miles from the baseline as Territorial Sea limit and a distance of 200 nautical miles distance as Exclusive Economic Zone limit.

Define minorities. What are the socio cultural problems before them and what measures should be adopted to solve them? [200 Words]

Ans.: A minority group, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications.
In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. 
Louis Wirth defined a minority group as “a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination”. 
Socio-Cultural problems of minorities : 
1. Problem of Identity: 

  1. Because of the differences in socio-cultural practices, history and backgrounds, minorities have to grapple with the issue of identity
  2. This give rise to the problem of adjustment with the majority community. 

2. Problem of Security

  1. Different identity and their small number relative to the rest of the society develop feeling of insecurity about their life, assets and well-being.
  2. This sense of insecurity may get accentuated at times when relations between the majority and the minority communities in a society are strained or not much cordial. 

3. Problem Relating to Equity

  1. The minority community in a society may remain deprived of the benefit of opportunities of development as a result of discrimination.
  2. Because of the difference in identity, the minority community develops the perception of the sense of inequity. 

4. Problem of Communal Tensions and Riots

  1. Communal tensions and riots have been incessantly increasing since independence.
  2. Whenever the communal tensions and riots take place for whatever reason, minority interests get threatened 

5. Lack of Representation in Civil Service and Politics

  1. the Constitution provides for equality and equal opportunities to all its citizens including the religious minorities
  2. the biggest minority community, that is, Muslims have a feeling among them that they are neglected
  3. However, such a feeling does not seem to exist among the other religious minority communities such as the Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, for they seem to be economically and educationally better than the majority community. 

Steps taken to address these issues:

  • The global governance network must recognizes that effort to promote and protect the rights of minorities must be multidimensional and engage the entire System.
  • Discrimination is often at the root of identity-related tensions. Such tensions have a potential to develop into crises that could ultimately lead to conflict, forced displacement and, in the worst cases, to atrocity crimes, including genocide.

Hence, before these instances develops into a broken window syndrome, these must be allayed as early as possible.

  • Their Skills must be upgraded
  • Their rich heritage and culture must be preserved . 

Government Initiatives in this regard :The Government has taken various steps to improve socio-economic and educational status of minority communities 

  • Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities, which is an overarching programme covering various schemes/ initiatives of different Ministries/ Departments.
  • National Commission for Minorities (NCM) was set up by the Union Government of India in 1992 to protect the existence of minorities all over India.
  • USTAAD Scheme aims at upgrading Skills and Training
  • Hamari Darohar Scheme

Minority Cyber Gram programme seeks to introduce digital literacy skills in identified minority clusters in India.

Issue of Same Sex Marriage

Q. Why is this in news? 

  • Recently, the Central Government opposed same-sex marriage in Delhi High Court stating that a marriage in India can be recognised only if it is between a “biological man” and a “biological woman” capable of producing children.

Q. What is the background for it?

  • Petitions, seeking recognition of same sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA), 1955 and the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954, were filed in 2020.

Q. What is Centre’s Response/Argument?

Supreme Court’s Order:

  • In reading down the provision of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Supreme Court only decriminalised a particular human behaviour but neither intended to, nor did in fact, legitimise the human conduct in question.

Societal Morality:

  • There exists a “legitimate State interest” in limiting the recognition of marriage to persons of opposite sex. The considerations of “societal morality” are relevant in considering the validity of a law and it is for the Legislature to enforce such societal morality and public acceptance based upon Indian ethos.

Not in Consonance with Existing Laws:

  • The fundamental right under Article 21 is subject to the procedure established by law and it cannot be expanded to include the fundamental right for same sex marriage to be recognised under the laws which in fact mandate the contrary.
  • Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the right to life. This right cannot be taken away except through a law which is substantively and procedurally fair, just and reasonable.
  • Any interference with the existing marriage laws would cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws in the country.

Sanctity of Marriage:

  • Living together as partners or in a relationship with a same-sex individual is “not comparable” with the “Indian family unit concept” of a husband, wife and children, arguing that the institution of marriage has a “sanctity”.

Legality of same-sex marriages in India:

  • The right to marry is not expressly recognized either as a fundamental or constitutional right under the Indian Constitution.
  • Though marriage is regulated through various statutory enactments, its recognition as a fundamental right has only developed through judicial decisions of India’s Supreme Court.
  • Such declaration of law is binding on all courts throughout India under Article 141 of the Constitution.

Q. Are there any Judicial pronouncements in this regard?

  • Marriage as a Fundamental Right (Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and others 2018):
  • While referring to Article 16 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Puttaswamy case, the SC held that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Article 16 (2) in the Indian constitution provides that there cannot be any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them.
  • The right to marry is intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right, is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness. Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe are at the core of constitutional liberty.
  • LGBTQ Community Entitled to all Constitutional Rights (Navjet Singh Johar and others v. Union of India 2018):
  • The SC held that members of the LGBTQ community “are entitled, as all other citizens, to the full range of constitutional rights including the liberties protected by the Constitution” and are entitled to equal citizenship and “equal protection of law”.

Significance of militants’ surrender in Assam and history of Karbi insurgency.

Q. What is the news?

  • Recently 1,040 militants of five militant groups of Karbi Anglong district ceremonially laid down arms at an event in Guwahati in the presence of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, a development which further bolsters the ‘terrorism-free Assam’ image of the current BJP-led government. Among the surrendered militants is Ingti Kathar Songbijit, a primary accused in multiple cases of militancy and ethnic violence in the state.
Skirmish over kitchen shed - Construction for cooking midday meal sparks  border trouble - Telegraph India

Surrendered Organisation :

  • The surrendered militants comprised cadres from five outfits — Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT), People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK), Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), Kuki Liberation Front (KLF) and United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA). 

Q. What is the history of Karbi insurgency?

  • Insurgency by Karbi — a major ethnic community of Assam — groups, dotted by several factions and splinters, has had a long history in Assam, marked by killings, ethnic violence, abductions and taxation since the late 1980s. These outfits originated from a core demand of forming a separate state. Today, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) is an autonomous district council, protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and Karbi People’s Force (KPF) came together to form the United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) in late 1990s. In November 2011, UPDS gave up arms and signed a tripartite memorandum of settlement with the Centre and the government of Assam, settling for enhanced autonomy and special packages for the KAAC. The then general secretary of the UPDS, Horen Sing Bey, is now the BJP MP from the Autonomous District Lok Sabha constituency.
  • The entire political discourse in this constituency — comprising three districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong (split from the former in 2016) and Dima Hasao — revolves around the demand for granting of “Autonomous State” status to the region and more autonomy and power to the KAAC and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (which administers over Dima Hasao district).

Q. What is the significance of the surrender?

  • It’s a very significant development, not only for Karbi Anglong or Assam but also for Nagaland. It means that all insurgent outfits of Karbi Anglong district have now been brought into the mainstream.”
  • Karbi Anglong is a very important district in the state, and the largest in terms of area. Karbi Anglong militant outfits joining the mainstream means a decline in influence of Naga militant outfits in Assam. With this surrender a huge number of weapons have come overground — and that is a major step towards peace in the state.
  • CM Sonowal congratulated the surrendered militants for coming back to mainstream society and urged them to contribute in the journey of state’s progress.
  • The government’s role is not limited to only bringing back the militants but also it is committed to ensure a life of dignity and respect for those who have surrendered arms by facilitating opportunities for livelihood and employment. 
  • The developments come a year after a peace and development agreement was signed with multiple Bodo militant outfits, bringing an end to a violent movement for a separate Bodoland.

Q. Who is Ingti Kathar Songbijit, the militant who surrendered?

  • Songbijit is the self-styled chief of the outfit PDCK. His surrender is significant because he is a primary accused in multiple cases of militancy and ethnic violence. He has been a ‘most-wanted’ militant in Assam.
  • Interestingly, Songbijit is a Karbi by birth and ethnicity but had long been related to Bodo insurgency. In 2012, he broke away from one faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) — the NDFB(RD) — and formed his own faction, NDFB(S). The faction is alleged to be responsible for the massacre of 70 Adivasis in Assam in December 2014. In 2015, Songbijit was removed as the chief of the group and B Saoraigwra took over. Then, Songbijit went on to form his Karbi outfit.
  • Songbijit has been charge sheeted by the NIA. So now it needs to be seen as to what decision will be taken on him by the NIA, the government of India and the government of Assam.
  • Arms have been laid down. Now an agreement needs to be reached regarding the terms and conditions to be set for the road ahead. 

In Focus: Civilian Awards:

In Focus: Civilian Awards:

  • In 1954, Government of India instituted two civilian awards i.e. Bharat Ratna and Padma Vibhushan.
  • The Padma Vibhushan had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg, which were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri in 1955.

About: Bharat Ratna

  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
  • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
  • It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
  • Recommendations for Bharat Ratna: The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
    • Note: No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
  • Maximum number of Bharat Ratna in a year: The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
  • Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

About: Padma Awards

  • The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India usually announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.
  • These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year.
  • The award seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.
  • The Awards are given in three categories:
    1. Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service)
    2. Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order)
    3. Padma Shri (distinguished service)

The Award:

  • The awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.
  • The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc. if the awardees so desire.
  • The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
  • The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
  • The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name

Fields/Disciplines eligible for Padma Awards: The Padma award seeks to distinguish works of excellence and is given for and extraordinary achievements in all fields of

  • Art
  • Social work
  • Public Affairs
  • Science & Engineering
  • Trade & Industry
  • Medicine
  • Literature & Education
  • Civil Service
  • Sports
  • Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)

Who are eligible for Padma Awards?

  • All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
  • However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.

Recommendations for Padma Award:

  • The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
  • The Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
  • The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.

Nomination Process:

  • The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be done.

Maximum Number of Padma Awards in a year:

  • The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.

 Polity & Governance

India’s UNSC moment Editorial 26th Jan’21 TimesOfIndia

World is changing fast today:

  • The world of today is evolving rapidly.
  • Structurally, we are seeing a re-emergence of great power contestation (now between the US and China) unlike any we have seen since the end of the Cold War (when it was between the US and Soviet).
  • Fragmented world emerging: 
    • A rising China is challenging the fundamentals of the liberal global order.
    • Meanwhile, support for an expansive American global engagement is at its lowest.
    • A fragmented world order is emerging which is redefining the norms and relationships.
  • Economic decoupling:
    • Moving away from globalization, we are now entering the phase of economic decoupling (countries not trying to not be too interlinked economically with any other country).
    • Trade relationships have got affected, with nations looking towards friendlier nations for close cooperation.
  • Multilateral institutions struggling:
    • Credibility of global multilateral institutions is at its lowest, leading to the emergence of various coalitions.
  •  Covid-19 and its impact has accentuated these trends.

India at UNSC:

  • At the beginning of 2021, India commenced its two year stint as a non-permanent member of the 15-nation United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • Besides India, Norway, Mexico, Ireland and Kenya also took their place as non-permanent members.
  • It is the eighth time that India is part of the powerful UNSC platform.
  • India won its eighth UNSC term in 2020 elections when it secured 184 of the 192 votes cast at the UN, signalling a broad acceptance of India’s global role.

India’s action agenda at UNSC:

  • India today is more willing than ever before to contribute to its share for global governance via the UNSC.
  • India made it clear that it intends to use its time at UNSC “to bring human-centric and inclusive solutions to matters of international peace and security”.
  • India also said that it intends to be “a voice for the developing world.”
  • India reiterated its commitment to raise its “voice against the common enemies of humanity like terrorism”.

India remains committed to multilateralism:

  • Today, multilateralism and global governance is facing one of the most serious challenges in the post-Second World War phase.
    In such a time, it is important for a nation like India to step up and contribute its bit, which has been a traditional supporter of multilateralism.
  • India has been emphasizing the need for “reformed multilateralism,” in line with today’s needs.
  • UNSC is a great platform for India to project its image of a responsible global stakeholder.

India is seeking to redefine its role in the changing world:

  • Meanwhile, India is also seeking to redefine its global role in a significant way as rule shaper (not just a rule follower) in the global order.
  • As a consequence, India’ss approach to multilateralism and what it wants from being part of the UNSC has also evolved.
  • Its critique of the UN has become more specific, calling for UNSC to have better representation and a refreshed mandate.

India has called for UN reform and new multilateralism:

  • India has noted that the current outdated leadership structure of the United Nations itself a challenge to its credibility and to its effectiveness.
  • The Indian Prime Minister called for a new template of multilateralism that “reflects today’s reality, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges, and focuses on human welfare.”
  • Underlining growing impatience in India about the pace of reforms in the UN, the Prime Minister asked for how long will India be kept out of the decision making structures of the United Nations.
  • The PM has been warning the UN that despite its inherent faith in the global multilateral order, India’s absence from the decision making structures and lack of genuine reforms might force India to look for alternatives.

Reform at UNSC will not be easy:

  • India will get an opportunity as part of the UNSC to put some of its core concerns on the global agenda.
  • However, it is clear by now that any reform at UNSC will not be easy, and it will definitely not be quick.
  • The divisions among major powers on the UNSC today are perhaps at their sharpest ever since the end of the Cold War, which will preclude anything significant from happening in the realm of global governance.

India should use its UNSC tenure to advance its vital strategic interests:

  • Meanwhile, India should focus on how its UNSC membership can possibly advance its vital strategic interests.
  • From leveraging its role to target issues like terrorism and maritime security to building bridges with Africa, India can do much during its term.

Conclusion:

  • New Delhi should certainly continue to demand that the UNSC becomes more representative of the changing world.
  • In the meantime, it would be wiser to spend its limited diplomatic capital on issues that have a direct bearing on Indian interests.
  • Indian diplomacy should be focussed towards making India powerful – in terms of capabilities, institutions and ideational underpinnings.
  • That alone will ensure making India the critical node of global governance architecture.

Importance:

GS Paper III: International Relations

International Relation: About G-7

About: G-7

  • G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’ is the group of the largest advanced economies of the world comprising of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.
  • It is the only forum where the world’s most influential and democratic, open societies and advanced economies gather for discussions.
  • G-7 has its origins in an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Canada joined the group in 1976.
  • The European Union began attending the G-7 Summits in 1977. It holds all the rights and responsibilities of full members except to chair or host the meeting.
  • The G-7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters.
  • Scope:
    • The initial scope of this group was to discuss economic issues.
    • With time, the scope of deliberations was expanded to other critical challenges, like financial crises, terrorism, arms control and drug trafficking etc.

  • G7 to G8 to G7:
    • Russia joined the G-7 in 1997 and now, G-7 was named as G-8.
    • However, Russia was expelled from G-7 in 2014 after it annexed Crimea region of Ukraine. This was seen by other members as violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine.
    • Thus, G-8 again became G-7.

  • Summits:
    • Annual summits of G-7 are organised and presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
    • The decisions taken by leaders during annual G-7 summits are non-binding.

  • In the recent decades, the global relevance of G-7 has reduced with rise of other economies like China, India and Brazil. Moreover, the share in global GDP of G-7 countries has now fallen to around 40% from about 70% when it was formed.

India and G-7

  • India attended the extended G-7 meet in 2019 which was held in France. The Indian PM was invited as a special guest by the French President.
  • India was also invited for the 2020 summit hosted by the US — which could not take place due to the pandemic.
  • India had earlier attended the G-8 summit (it became G-7 from G-8 with the expulsion of Russia in 2014) five times between 2005 and 2009.

Expanding G7:

  • In 2020, the US President Trump said that G-7 as it exists today doesn’t fully represent the current state of global politics and economics.
  • He wanted to include 4 more countries- India, Australia, South Korea and Russia in it. This grouping will be called as G-10 or G-11 depending upon whether Russia is included or not.
  • However, Russia’s admission will depend on many factors.
    • For example, some of the G7 countries like Germany are opposed to Russia rejoining the group.
    • Geopolitically, Russia is also seen as an ally of China and has been critical of the US in recent times.
    • But, some sections of the strategic community in the US want the US to develop tactical ties with Russia to balance China.

About: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

About: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

  • It is the flagship scheme for skill training of youth being implemented by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
  • The objective of the scheme is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
  • Skill training would be done based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.

PMKVY 1.0:

  • PMKVY 1.0 was launched in July 2015 with the objective of encouraging skill development for youth by providing monetary rewards for successful completion of approved training programs during the period 2015-16.
  • The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was the designated implementing agency of this scheme.
  • PMKVY 1.0 was a target-based scheme, and during this pilot phase in 2015-16, about 20 lakh candidates were trained.

PMKVY 2.0:

  • After the successful implementation of pilot PMKVY 1.0 during 2015-16, PMKVY 2.0 (2016-20) was launched.
  • PMKVY 2.0 involved scaling up of the scheme both in terms of Sector and Geography and by greater alignment with other missions of Government of India.
  • It has been instrumental in bolstering the skilling ecosystem.
  • PMKVY 2.0 broadened the skill development with key components being:
    • Short Term Training (STT) at PMKVY Training Centres (TCs)aimed towards the candidates who are either school/college dropouts or unemployed
    • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – Individuals with prior learning experience or skills are assessed and certified under the RPL component of the Scheme. RPL aims to align the competencies of the unregulated workforce of the country to the NSQF
    • Special Projects – This component of PMKVY envisages to encourage trainings in special areas and premises of Government bodies, corporates / industry bodies. These are the projects which mayrequire some deviation from the terms and conditions of Short-Term Training under PMKVY. 
  • The scheme was  implemented through two components:
    • Centrally Sponsored Centrally Managed (CSCM):
      • This component is implemented by National Skill Development Corporation.
      • 75% of the PMKVY 2016-20 funds and corresponding physical targets have been allocated under CSCM.
    • Centrally Sponsored State Managed (CSSM):
      • This component is implemented by State Governments through State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs).
      • 25% of the PMKVY 2016-20 funds and corresponding physical targets have been allocated under CSSM.

Other aspects:

  • Kaushal and Rozgar Melas:
    • Social and community mobilisation is extremely critical for the success of PMKVY.
    • In line with this, PMKVY assigns special importance to the involvement of the target beneficiaries through a defined mobilisation process. TPs shall conduct Kaushal and Rozgar Melas every six months with press/media coverage, they are also required to participate actively in National Career Service Melas and on-ground activities.
  • Placement Guidelines:
    • PMKVY envisages to link the aptitude, aspiration, and knowledge of the skilled workforce it creates with employment opportunities and demands in the market.
    • Every effort thereby needs to be made by the PMKVY TCs to provide placement opportunities to candidates.
  • Monitoring Guidelines:
    • To ensure that high standards of quality are maintained by PMKVY, TCs, NSDC and empanelled inspection agencies shall use various methodologies, such as self-audit reporting, call validations, surprise visits, and monitoring through the Skills Development Management System (SDMS).

News Summary:

  • In a bid to empower India’s youth with employable skills, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has launched the third phase of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) or PMKVY 3.0.
  • Aimed at supporting the local economy and towards ‘Atmnanirbhar Bharat’, PMKVY 3.0 has been designed to keep pace with changing demands, both at the global and local levels.
  • PMKVY 3.0  was launched in 717 districts in 28 States/eight UTs, making more than 300 skill courses available to the youth, making skill development more demand-driven and decentralised in its approach.

Decentralized approach:

  • PMKVY 3.0 will be implemented in a more decentralized structure with greater responsibilities and support from States/UTs and Districts.
  • District Skill Committees (DSCs), under the guidance of State Skill Development Missions (SSDM), shall play a key role in addressing the skill gap and assessing demand at the district level. 
  • PMKVY 3.0 is a step towards achieving the ‘Vocal for Local’ vision by establishing increased connect at state, district and block level.
  • It will encourage healthy competition between states by making available increased allocation to those states that perform better.

Demand-driven:

  • The government says that PMKVY 3.0 will usher in a new paradigm with focus on demand-driven skill development, digital technology and Industry 4.0 skills.
  • The new scheme will be more trainee- and learner-centric addressing the ambitions of aspirational Bharat.
  • The scheme will have additional courses that will help cater to local demand.
  • The focus will also be on bridging the demand-supply gap by promoting skill development in areas of new-age and Industry 4.0 job roles.
  • PMKVY 3.0 role will be a propagator of vocational education at an early level for youth to capitalize on industry-linked opportunities.

 Economics

About Elephants: Elephant reserves, Project elephant, MIKE Programme, Conservation efforts, Threats faced

About: Elephants

  • The Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) occurs in 16 states of the country and in regions of central and southern Western Ghats, North-east India, eastern India and northern India and in some parts of southern peninsular India.The Indian elephant is one of three extant recognised subspecies of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and native to mainland Asia.
  • The Government of India has declared Indian elephant as National Heritage Animal.
  • Its habitat includes- subtropical broadleaf forest, tropical broadleaf moist forest, dry forest and grasslands.

Numbers:

  • As per the 2017 census of elephants, their population in the country is estimated at about 30,000. The Southern Region accounted for more than 14,000 followed by North East with little over 10,000 elephants.
  • The elephant census is conducted every five years in India by the MoEF&CC.
  • India is home to 60% of the global Asian elephant population.

Threats faced by Elephants in India:

  • Deaths of elephants in India have become commonplace. Primary reasons for this are-
  • Shrinkage of their forest ranges and habitat fragmentation- Shrinking forests means lesser availability of food for them. This incentivises the movement of elephants out of forested lands to crop lands. Thus, they indulge in crop raiding, which brings them into conflict with people. Human-elephant conflict is also a major challenge in elephant conservation.
  • Hunting and poaching- It is done for their body parts like ivory and also for captivity.
  • Climate Change- Other pressures are also arising indirectly due to climate change and altering habitats.

Conservation Efforts for Elephants in India:

  • The Asian Elephant is listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972.
  • Asian Elephant (of which Indian Elephant is a subspecies) is also included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). Asian Elephant was included in Schedule I of CITES based on India’s proposal. This will ensure improved conservation of elephants along its migratory routes.
  • Note: The IUCN status of Indian Elephant is ‘Endangered’ .
  • Project Elephant:
    • Project Elephant (PE) is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched by the MoEF&CC in 1992.
    • Through the scheme, the Central Government provides financial and technical support to major elephant bearing States in the country for protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
    • Its objectives are:
      • To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
      • To address issues of man-animal conflict;Welfare of captive elephants
    • It is mainly being implemented in 16 States/UTs in the country which includes Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • Elephant Reserves:
    • Elephant Reserves are dedicated wildlife areas for elephant conservation in the country.
    • India’s first elephant reserve was created in Jharkhand in 2001 under Project Elephant.
    • Today, there are 32 notified Elephant Reserves in India.
    • However, while Tiger Reserves have legal sanctity, there is not such thing for Elephant Reserveds.
  • Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Programme:
    • It was launched by the CITES in 2003 in South Asia.
    • It is an international collaboration that measures the levels, trends and causes of elephant mortality, thereby facilitating in conservation of elephants in Asia and Africa.
    • Objectives of MIKE Programme:
      • To measure levels and trends in illegal hunting of elephants.
      • To determine changes in these trends overtime.
      • To determine the factors causing these changes and find solutions for elephant conservation.
    • In India, Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE.
  • ‘Gaj Yatra’ is a nationwide awareness campaign launched by MoEF&CC to celebrate elephants and highlight the necessity of securing elephant corridors.

About 3D Printing

Govt readies 3D printing policy for local firms to join new global market

In News

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will soon come up with a policy aimed at promoting 3D printing on an industrial scale.

Objectives of the policy

  • The policy will help to develop an ecosystem for design, development and deployment of 3D printing in the country.
  • It will look to encourage market leaders to establish global bases for 3D manufacturing in India. It will also discourage imports of printed material for domestic requirements.
  • The policy will also help domestic companies to overcome technical and economic barriers so that they can build supportive facilities for world leaders in the technology, such as the US and China.

About 3D Printing

  • Three-dimensional (3-D) printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design.
  • The term 3D printing can refer to a variety of processes in which material is deposited, joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object.
  • The process works by laying down thin layers of material in the form of liquid or powdered plastic, metal or cement, and then fusing (join) the layers together.

Types of 3D Printing

Material extrusion

  • Process where a filament of solid thermoplastic material is melted and deposited, cooling and solidifying, forming a solid object.
  • There is only one type under it: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), also called as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).

Vat Polymerization

  • This process is based on a tank containing photopolymer resin that hardens with exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
  • photopolymer or light-activated resin is a polymer that changes its properties when exposed to light.
  • There are two types under it: Stereolithography (SLA) that use a point laser and Direct Light Processing (DLP) uses a projector.

Power Bed Fusion (Polymers)

  • It is a process where a thermal energy source selectively leads to fusion between the dust particles within a construction area to create a solid object.

Powder Bed Fusion (Metals)

  • Process that uses a thermal source to induce the fusion between metal powder particles (layer by layer).
  • There are different versions of this technology, using different energy sources:
    • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) or Selective Laser Melting (SLM) uses lasers;
    • Electron Beam Melting (EBM) uses electron beams.

Material Jetting

  • Drops of material are selectively deposited on a building plate and harden when exposed to light.
  • It includes two types:
    • Material Jetting (MJ) that works in a similar way to a standard inkjet printer but instead of printing a single layer of ink, several layers are created to create a solid part.
    • Drop on Demand (DOD) where a pair of ink jets are used – one with the printing material and another with the support material (which is usually soluble).

Advantages of 3D printing

  • 3D printing offers a significant advantage over traditional fabrication, as it does not require expensive tools used in milling processes.
  • Another key advantage is the ability to produce very complex shapes or geometries that would be otherwise impossible to construct by hand.
  • Moreover, it leads to less generation of waste.

Disadvantages of 3D printing

  • The disadvantages of 3D printing include low production rates, less precision and surface polish than parts manufactured by machines.
  • Only a limited range of materials can be processed in 3D printing and there are severe limitations on the size of parts that can be made inexpensively and without distortion.

Applications of 3D printing

  • 3D printing has applications in the auto and motor spare part industry, such as engines, interior and exterior parts of luxury vehicles, turbine blades etc.
  • It is already being used in the aircraft industry. The U.S. and Israeli air forces have used 3-D printers to manufacture spare parts.
  • It can be used in consumer electronics, printed circuit boards, clothing, toys and jewellery as well.
  • In the fashion world, Nike, Adidas are using 3-D printing to create prototypes (models) of their shoes.
  • In medical sciences, 3-D printing is being used to customize implants. In the future, organs and body parts may be created using 3D printing techniques.
  • The use of 3-D printing accelerates the process of manufacturing and enables manufacturers to make custom hearing aids.
  • In the construction industry, companies around the world are using 3-D printing to build homes. Using layers of concrete, homes can be built in 48 hours.

Global market of 3D printing

  • The global market for 3D printing is expected to reach $ 34.8 billion by 2024 and is growing at an annual growth rate of 23.2 per cent.
  • Asia leads the world in 3D printing, and about 50 per cent of its market is held by China, followed by Japan at 30 per cent, and South Korea 10 per cent.
  • However, globally, the US remains the leader, with more than 35 per cent market share.
  • At present, India is at the research and development stage and the technology in India has not yet evolved for strategic industrial integration in sectors like aerospace, which require high accuracy.

 Science & Tech

Q. In spite of having several achievements, the green revolution has several defects. Examine

Model Answer

The Green Revolution in India began in the mid-1960s marking a transition from traditional agriculture in India and the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the associated agricultural techniques.

The Main achievements of the Green Revolution are:

  • Increase in Agricultural Production and productivity: The production and productivity of wheat, rice, maize and bajra has substantially increased.
  • Less Dependence on Imports: After the green revolution, India was finally on its way to self-sufficiency. There was now enough production for the population and to build a stock in case of emergencies. In fact, India was able to start exporting its agricultural produce.
  • Employment: The green revolution has created jobs in the supporting industries like Irrigation, transportation, food processing, marketing for the workforce.
  • A Benefit to the Farmers: The Green Revolution has increased the income of farmers and landless labourers. It enabled them to shift to commercial farming from only sustenance farming.

Negative Impacts of the Green Revolution are:

  • Reduction in genetic diversity: Farmers have traditionally planted a wide variety of crops with unique genotypes. The planting of fewer crop varieties for producing high yields can reduce genetic diversity among crop species in a country. This has also led to the loss of distinct indigenous crops from cultivation and also caused extinction.
  • Greater vulnerability to pests: The resistance to one species of pest due to genetic modification might invite other species of pests to attack the crop as in the case of bollworm being replaced by other pest species in the case of Bt cotton.
  • Displacement of small farmers: The Green Revolution has displaced the agricultural labourers, leading to rural unemployment. The mechanical innovations like tractors have displaced agricultural labourers.
  • Land Degradation: The overuse of chemical fertilizers to get high yield causes physical and chemical degradation of the soil by altering the natural microflora and increasing the alkalinity and salinity of the soil
  • Ground water depletion: High-yielding crop varieties can also increase irrigation requirements thus placing stresses on India’s water budget. The excessive use of groundwater for irrigation has depleted the water table in many parts of the country.
  • Ecological and health Impacts: The excessive use of pesticides increases the presence of its residues in foods and environment. There are concerns over increased chemicals being used in growing high-yielding varieties of crops and the consequent health effects.
  • Income disparity among farmers: The high yields, were possible due to the seeds being highly responsive to certain inputs such as irrigation water and fertilizers. By requiring greater investments in agricultural production, the green revolution in India has placed small and marginal farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
  • Increased Social conflicts: It led to polarisation of the rural society. It has created three types of conflicts in the rural community, namely, between large and small farmers, between owner and tenant farmer, between employers and employees on the agricultural farms.

Conclusion:

There is a need of a more comprehensive policy environment that can protect farmers, human health and the environment from the negative impacts of the green revolution in India. A balance must also be found between traditional techniques and modern farming as also with natural growth.

Q. Forest Fires pose a threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime. In view of this statement discuss the various adverse impacts of Forest Fires.

Model Answer

Fires are a major cause of forest degradation and have wide ranging adverse ecological, economic and social impacts including:

Effects of forest fire:

  • Loss of valuable timber resources: Forest fires cause indispensable loss to timber and deteriorate its quality. Valuable timber species like teak, sal, chir, deodar, sheesam, rosewood etc. are adversely affected by fire. However, the adhesive impact of forest fire varies from species to species, depending upon its susceptibility.
  • Impact of forest fire on eco- system: Forest fires pose threat not only to the forest wealth but also to the entire regime to fauna and flora seriously disturbing the bio-diversity and the ecology and environment of a region.
  • Degradation of water catchments areas resulting into loss of water: After forest fire, the chemical and physical changes in upper layer of soil make it impervious and thus reduce water infiltration. The removal of litter also decreases water holding capacity of soil and most of the rainwater is washed away removing top fertile soil of the forest resulting into loss of soil fertility.
  • Loss of wildlife habitat and depletion of wildlife: Wildfire along with killing wild animals also destroys their habitat and thus makes their survival at stake.
  • Loss of natural vegetation and reduction of forest cover: As a result of fires, millions of hectares of the forest area turn to ashes and remains of no use. Among various degradation factors, forest fire is also one of the major factors for overall loss in forest cover. The wild fires also have adverse impact on forest tree growth.
  • Global Warming: Greenhouse gases released during the combustion of vegetations lead to an increased warming of the earth or human induced global climate change.
  • Microclimate change: The changed microclimate caused by removal of litter and duff, opening of the canopy by killing over storey shrubs and trees and darkening of the soil surface by residual soot and charcoal can increase insulation causing temperature increase. As a result the changed area becomes unhealthy for living of both wild habitats and local people.
  • Health problems leading to diseases: The fires in the forest are source of smoke that cause air pollution and rise in the temperature leading to various health issues.
  • Loss of livelihood: Forest fire also adversely affect livelihood resources, especially for tribals, who are directly dependent upon collection of non-timber forest products from forest areas for their livelihood.
  • Carbon sequestration potential: Trees act as carbon sinks when they absorb carbon dioxide from atmosphere and build up the same in the form of wood. However, burning of the vegetation release hundreds of years of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and thus results into permanent destruction of important sink of carbon dioxide
  • Threat to Life and Property: Human life is at risk when fire crews fight fires either at the fire front or from conflict with animals, especially elephants. A forest fire that spreads outside the forest can consume buildings or infrastructure.
  • Reducing Tourism Values: Smoke due to fires affects the visibility and air quality which adversely affect tourism industry.

Taking into consideration the serious nature of the problem, there is urgent need to focus on key forest fire management elements like strategic fire centres, coordination among Ministries, funding, human resource development, fire research, fire management, and extension programmes.  

Q. “Artificial intelligence is going to change every industry, but we have to understand its limits”. In light of this, discuss the benefits and challenges associated with AI in Indian context.

Model Answer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of machines to learn and reason through analogy, analyze, interpret information, recognize speech, visual perception and take decisions. In other words, AI is application of human intelligence by the machines.

Benefits of AI

  • Contribution to Economy: The NITI Aayog estimates that AI could potentially give 15% boost to the gross value added (GVA) for the economy by 2035, adding $957 billion to India’s $6397 billion-dollar GVA projected for that year.
  • Access To Affordable Healthcare: The application of AI could increase access to and affordability of quality healthcare. India, with its acute shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas, could benefit greatly from such a tool.
  • Benefits In Agriculture: It can enhance farmer’s income, increase productivity and reduce wastage when used in agriculture. For instance, in agriculture, Microsoft, in collaboration with ICRISAT, has developed an AI-enabled sowing app that sends advisories to farmers on the best date to sow, soil-test based fertilizer application, manure application, seed treatment, optimal sowing depth, etc. In 2017, 3,000 farmers in Andhra and Karnataka used the app, resulting in a 10-30% increase in kharif yields across crops.
  • Benefit in Education: In areas of education, AI can improve access and quality of education. For ex- to tackle school dropout, the AP government has partnered with Microsoft to keep track of data relating to student’s demographic details, past and current academic performance, teacher skills to identify those likely to drop out.
  • Benefit In Infrastructure And Transportation Sector: The AI can also help in improving connectivity and safer modes of transportation when put to infrastructure and transportation sectors.
  • Manufacturing Sector: Robots are being used for manufacturing since a long time now, however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing), which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.
  • Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases by reducing the time taken while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.

Challenges In AI

The Aayog identified barriers that need to be surmounted to achieve success in the use of AI. These include lack of expertise, absence of enabling data ecosystem, high resource cost and low awareness, privacy and security issues, and absence of collaborative approach to adoption and application of AI.

  • Lack of AI Expertise: India hardly has any AI expertise today. As only around 4% of Indian AI professionals are trained in emerging technologies such as deep learning.
  • Lack Of Adequate Data: AI takes reams of historical data as input, identifies the relationships among data elements, and makes predictions. Unfortunately, India has sparse data in many sectors.
  • Lack Of Funding And Deadline: It is one of the major challenges faced by the AI sector in India.
  • Unemployment: Other major concerns is the possibility of human beings losing out on employment opportunities due to machines’ ability to perform the same tasks more efficiently. Automation has already rendered a huge number of people jobless all around the world. 
  • Challenge In Form Of Regulations: Another major concern is about difficulties in regulation of machines in the human society. For ex- how can the self-driven cars that crash be held accountable for their actions? 

Conclusion

To truly harness AI’s transformative potential, India must address its lack of expertise in AI research. With a billion-plus people populating the unique-ID system Aadhaar and the India Stack of digitally enabled offerings built on top of Aadhaar, the country has a platform for growth unlike any other in the world. It can in principle catalyze innovative applications, nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate a massive amount of data that can train algorithms and help develop more intelligence. The technology can address long-standing societal and human development problems of the kind that abound in India. 

Q. What is Budget Transparency? Scratching its genesis, discuss the benefits associated with budget transparency as well as the ways through which it can be promoted in functioning of a government?

Model Answer

Budgets are key documents since they lay out a government’s priorities in terms of policies and programs. Opening up budgets and democratizing the budget process gives citizens a say in policy formulation and resource allocation. Budget transparency refers to the extent and ease with which citizens can access information about and provide feedback on government revenues, allocations, and expenditures.

Increased transparency in budgeting made significant advances in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was a period associated with unfavourable budget conditions in most countries – high annual deficits and increasing levels of debt. Governments needed to institute large fiscal consolidation programmes. These were often painful and getting the public’s understanding of the problems was necessary. The most effective manner for achieving that was simply to throw open the books to the public and explaining the problem to them in order for an understanding to emerge as to the best course of action to take. This time period also coincided with increased attention being paid to good governance in general which demanded openness about policy intentions, formulation and implementation – answer to all these was Budget Transparency.

Importance Of Budget Transparency

  • Less Corruption: First, budget transparency and oversight over how resources are allocated and spent are powerful disincentives for officials to misuse or misappropriate funds since their actions are more likely to be scrutinized. This leads to less corruption.
  • Efficient Use Of Resource: Budget transparency allows citizens to provide feedback on the quality and adequacy of services and infrastructure provided. This feedback, combined with reduced corruption, results in more efficient use of resources.
  • Enhanced Trust: In many cases, perceptions of high levels of corruption, poor services and infrastructure, and opaqueness of operations lie at the heart of citizens’ distrust of their governments. The gesture of opening up government books of account is likely to lead to more trust in government.
  • Higher Revenues: Budget transparency is also instrumental in generating higher revenues for governments since citizens are more likely to pay taxes and contribute donations to local schools and health centres if they trust that their money will be well spent. In developing countries, where revenues are often inadequate to pay for needed investments in sustainable poverty reduction and development programs, this is of utmost importance.

Ways Through Which Budget Transparency Can Be Promoted

  • Release Of Budget Data: The systematic and timely release of all relevant fiscal information is what we typically associate with budget transparency. It is an absolute pre-requisite. Disclose budget documents and simplified budget information through electronic and print media as well as online portals and cell phones.
  • Effective Role For The Legislature: It must be able to scrutinise the budget reports and independently review them. It must be able to debate and influence budget policy and be in a position to effectively hold the government to account. This is both in terms of the constitutional role of the legislature and the level of resources that the legislature has at its disposal.
  • Effective Role For Civil Society Through Media And NGOs: Citizens, directly or through these vehicles, must be in a position to influence budget policy and must be in a position to hold the government to account. In many ways, it is a similar role to that of the legislature albeit only indirectly.
  • Improving Budget Literacy of parliamentarians, government officials, elected representatives, journalists, and select civil society representatives and Increasing their capacity to analyze budgets.
  • Create budget literacy manuals for capacity-building programs.

Thus, budget transparency, while not a goal in itself, is a prerequisite for public participation and accountability. Such information must be disseminated in a timely manner so that citizens can effectively provide feedback that can influence policy formulation and resource reallocation. 

Q. If Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wants to remain as relevant and look toward a new phase of Asia-Pacific economic integration, it must include India as its member. Comment.

Model Answer

  • APEC was established in 1989 as an intergovernmental platform for 21 Pacific Rim member economies to promote free-trade in the region.
  • The grouping is facing the heat of unilateralism and protectionism. Competition and divergence in the form of US-China tensions was on full display at the 2018 APEC summit
  • As a result, a debate pertaining to the question of the forum’s enlargement, with pointed reference to India, has started.

APEC Needs India

  • Economic strength of India – As the region’s third largest and one of the fastest growing major economy, India presents the most promising market in the wider Asia-Pacific. India’s burgeoning middle class is estimated to become 450 million in 2030. Also India aspires to become a $5 trillion economy.
  • Boost to the economic activities – APEC economies are experiencing sluggish growth. Hence, adding India to APEC would augment regional trade and investment.
  • Labour Supply – India’s labor force, which will be the largest in the world by 2030, will help offset the impact of aging populations and shrinking work forces in APEC economies.
  • Legitimate stakeholder in regional and global governance – India is second largest democracy in the world and an important player in Indo-pacific arena.
  • Complementarity – Outside the west Europe, most of the capital surplus nations are in Asia Pacific. On the other hand, India badly needs investment.
  • Emergence of Indo-Pacific Concept – India has emerged as a key player which is central to the Indo-Pacific concept.

Conclusion

  • Strength of the APEC grouping can be gauged from the fact that it represents more than a third of the world population, 47% of global trade and 60% of world GDP.
  • However, declining multilateralism, increasing protectionism and incidents like trade war are creating a pressure on this institution to reform.
  • Hence, it can be said that without India APEC would not only remain incomplete but also unable to reinvent itself. India, on the other hand, will have to ensure economic reforms and openness to qualify for APEC membership.

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Q. Comment upon the role of women in the Indian freedom struggle. How did the arrival of Gandhiji affect their participation in the political sphere?

Model Answer

Indian freedom struggle was not only a political agitation for freedom but also an inclusive movement that included various sections of the society. The process of inclusion only intensified with the multidimensional role of women with renewed vigour after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.

Role of Women in Indian Freedom Struggle –

  • Earliest examples – Right from the revolt of 1857 there was the participation of women in the Indian freedom struggle. Leaders like Rani Laxmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal played an active role to oppose British rule in their area.
  • Inspirational courage and valour –Likes of Bhikaji Cama who unfurled the Indian flag at Stuttgart and Communist leaders like Bina Das and ChattriSangh who tried an assassination attempt on Governor of Bengal were an inspiration for all Indians.
  • Reformist and constructivist role – As women’s education spread, there was a small yet active women’s movement working inside the national movement. Congress leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant gave them the leadership. Participation of women deepened the meaning of freedom by demanding political rights for women, which were majorly neglected. Various women organizations like Madras Women Indian Association and All India Women’s Conference in 1927 raised voice for voting rights.

Influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Women’s Participation – Gandhiji worked upon at the levels of ideas, techniques as well as programmes.

  • The idea of sisterhood – He described women as the embodiment of sacrifice, humility and knowledge. (Young India 1921). He made the gender issue neutral by emphasizing role models like Sita and Draupadi (who were portrayed as role models of empowered women, albeit in the cloak of traditionalism). He thus emphasised on sisterhood ideal and made the political role of women more acceptable to male counterparts as well as themselves.
  • Erasing public vs private spheres – He provided prabhatpheris, picketing liquor shops, prohibition, flag satyagrahas as well as constructive works like charkha spinning, which facilitated the participation of women. He also took the freedom struggle to the daily activities and impressed upon the people to carry the spirit of nationalism in their routines – thus inspiring them. All these ensured that women could participate from wherever they were in whatever capacity they could.
  • Programmes and methods – Gandhiji emphasized upon values of non-violence and satyagraha. Adherence to non-violence led to an increase in participation of women, which was visible during the Civil Disobedience Movement (From 1930 to 1934). As even men who were reluctant to allow women to participate owing to violence now readily promoted their participation. Gandhiji made women realize their potential of strength and sacrifice, which made women most trusted satyagrahis. It was Sarojini Naidu who took up leadership role during salt satyagraha after the arrest of Gandhi. (Dharasana Satyagraha)

Gandhiji’s mass based struggle drew many women towards Indian freedom struggle changed in the nature of participation from supportive to equal participation. Thus participation of women made Indian Freedom Struggle a true mass-based struggle which not only led to political independence but a great stride towards the emancipation of women and other weaker sections of society. 

Q. In recent years the caste system in India is assuming new identities. In this light discuss the importance and challenges posed by caste system.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (about India’s caste system)
  • Caste assuming new identities
  • Importance of caste system
  • Challenges of caste system
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Caste is an endogamous group based on social hierarchy, where position of individual is ascribed by birth rather than achieved status. There are about 3,000 caste and 25,000 sub caste in India.

In recent times the caste system is assuming new identities in following ways:

  • Formation of caste-based associations/ caste panchayat like– Jaat sabha, Goswami Sammelam
  • Casteism on internet like- #jai bheem, #jai parsuram etc.
  • Casteism in economic sector like– formation of Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Rise of caste based matrimonial sites and caste based matrimonial ads.

Best practices: Maharashtra has recently passed a law (2016) prohibiting social boycott based on caste and other factors.

Caste system has both advantages and disadvantages, the same are described as follows:

  • Caste has accommodated multiple communities by ensuring each of them a monopoly of a specific means of livelihood.
  • It has handed over the knowledge and skills of the hereditary occupation of a caste from one generation to another.
  • Specialization led to quality production of goods and thus promoted economic development.
  • It has helped the preservation of culture and ensured productivity.
  • It has helped maintaining racial purity through endogamy.

However, as noted above the caste system has also its disadvantages, such as:

  • It is a great stumbling block in the way of social reforms.
  • It perpetuates the exploitation of the economically weaker and socially inferior castes, especially the untouchables.
  • It has inflicted hardships on women through its insistence on practices like child-marriage, prohibition of widow-remarriage
  • It has stood in the way of national and collective consciousness and proved to be a disintegrating rather than an integrating factor.
  • It undermines the efficiency of labour and prevents perfect mobility of labour, capital and productive effort.

Thus, there is a need for encouraging inter-caste marriages under Dr. Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter-caste marriages. Moreover, there is a need to depoliticize the caste-based reservation. This will help in promoting national unity and integrity.

Q. What are the different types of ecological succession? In this light also discuss the significance of ecological succession?

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Types of ecological succession
  • Significance of ecological succession
  • Way forward

Model Answer

Ecological succession is the steady and gradual change in a species of a given area with respect to the changing environment. The ultimate aim of this process is to reach equilibrium in the ecosystem. The community that achieves this aim is called a climax community. Further, in an area, the sequence of communities that undergo changes is called sere.

In this background there are following types of Ecological Succession:

  • Primary Succession: It is the succession that starts in lifeless areas such as the regions devoid of soil.
  • Secondary succession: It occurs when the primary ecosystem gets destroyed. For Ex- a climax community gets destroyed by fire. It gets recolonized after the destruction (secondary ecological succession).
  • Cyclic Succession: This is only the change in the structure of an ecosystem on a cyclic basis.
  • Autotrophic Succession: It is characterised by early and continued dominance of autotrophic organisms like green plants.
  • Allogenic Succession: In this the replacement of the existing community is caused largely by external condition and not by the existing organisms.
  • Autogenic Succession: In this the community itself, as a result of its reactions with the environment, modifies its own environment and thus causing its own replacement by new communities.

Ecological succession is a very important form of grown and development of an ecosystem as a whole. Some of the points signifying the same are as follows:

  • The sole purpose of ecological succession is for an ecosystem to reach a state of balance.
  • It is the process by which communities of an ecosystem changes in a defined and its directional way over time.
  • Through this process, a relatively unliveable land is slowly converted into a thriving and vibrant ecosystem.
  • It allows new areas to be colonized and damaged ecosystems to be recolonized, so organisms can adapt to the changes in the environment and continue to survive.

Thus, the ecological succession is important for the survival of the existing species as well as emergence of new species.

Q. India’s quest to land its first spacecraft on the moon got off to a smooth start with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 mission aboard the country’s most powerful rocket – GSLV Mk-III. In light of this statement, discuss the significance of this mission.

Model Answer

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s most challenging, totally indigenous, and India’s second mission to Moon. It is advanced version of previous Chandrayaan-1 mission (launched in 2008) which only involved orbiting around moon, Chandrayaan-2 is much complicated mission as it involves an orbiter, lander and rover. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover was to separate from the Orbiter. After a controlled descent, the Lander was supposed to soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.

Significance of the Mission

  • Technical: The mission will help India and the world gain a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface.
  • Understanding of the Solar System: Unlike the earth, the moon does not have a tilt around its axis. It is almost erect, because of which some areas in the polar region never receive sunlight. Anything here remains frozen, almost for eternity. Scientists believe that rocks found in these craters could have fossil records that can reveal information about the early solar system.
  • Quest for Water: Two instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 provided irrefutable evidence of water on the Moon, something that had been elusive for more than four decades. Chandrayaan-2 will take the search further, trying to assess the abundance and distribution of water on the surface.
  • Colonisation: It is very difficult for humans to survive on Moon’s surface due to hazardous radiation, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperature and dust storms. It will try to find possibilities of sustaining human life on Earth’s natural satellite with an aim to colonising it.
  • Geopolitical
    • Indigenous development: The mighty launch vehicle GSLV Mk -III has been completely designed and made within the country, making it a fully home-grown technology, hence Chandrayaan 2 is a fully indigenous mission.
    • Frugal Engineering: Chandrayaan 2 also stands out for its frugal cost of engineering as its total cost is way lower than several other lunar missions. ISRO has carved a niche for itself across the globe, in the sphere of astronomy and space research for running cost-effective as well as less expensive projects.

  • Led by India’s ‘Rocket Women’: Apart from having many first-time milestones, the Chandrayaan 2 project is being spearheaded by two senior women scientists of ISRO. The mission will inspire a future generation of scientists, engineers and explorers including women who will not only endeavour to break the doors of patriarchy but rise high above in the space.

Conclusion

The soft-landing on the lunar surface of the moon was the most complex part of Chandrayaan 2 mission. Only US, Russia and China have been able to soft land spacecraft on lunar surface. Unfortunately, in the last leg of soft landing, India lost its communication with Vikram Lander. But yet the milestone was a 95% success, as told by the ISRO chief.

Q. Hate speech in India is a result of various facilitating factors. In this light discuss the impact of hate speech and suggestion to effectively deal with the same.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (Meaning)
  • Factors supporting hate speeches
  • Impact of hate speech
  • Way for ward/ suggestion

Model Answer

Hate speech is incitement of hatred primarily against a group of people defined in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc. The issue of hate speech has become a recurrent phenomenon especially before the elections.

There are various factors facilitating hate speeches that are as follows:

  • Social media platforms are susceptible to misuse due to their reach and anonymity. Thus, it is very difficult to trace who is posting such content.
  • Media’s deliberate and unintentional negative portrayals of speeches impact people’s view.
  • There is lack of legal clarity as to what constitute hate speech and what does not. This has led to the culprit not being prosecuted.
  • Moreover, there is also legal loopholes as hate speech has been indirectly under 6-7 provisions of Indian Penal Code.

Impact of such a hate speech has been seen in following terms:

  • Propagation of hate speech by the terror outfit leads to radicalisation of youth and poses a threat to internal security of a nation.
  • Hate speech leads to hate crimes as seen during exodus of North Eastern students from Bangalore (2013).
  • The hate speech has also led to rise of refugee crisis not only within Indian but also around the world. For ex.- Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
  • Hate speech causes fear and lead people to withdraw from public debate and thus impact freedom of speech and expression.

Thus, to effectively deal with issue of hate speech, there is a need to adopt multiprong approach:

  • As recommended by Law Commission of India and TK Vishwanath Committee there is a need for insertion of new Section in IPC in from of Section 153C to effectively deal with hate speech.
  • There is also a need for training among police officers and legal bodies for encouraging reporting of such content.
  • There is a need for awareness generation and contra-narrative on social media network.

There is also a need for involvement of religious heads to build empathy across religious lines.

Q. Regionalism in India is a result of various interconnected factors. In this light discuss the various types regionalism in India and also suggest suitable measures to curtail negative impact of regionalism.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (regionalism)
  • Factors responsible for regionalism
  • Types of regionalism
  • Conclusion/ way forward

Model Answer

Regionalism is a strong attachment to one’s own region. Thus, it is an ideology that seek to advance cause of a region. The rise of regionalism in India is a result of various factors:

  • Historically, formation of various regional kingdoms and frequent regional wars led to rise of regional ideology.
  • Due to specific geography of a region there developed different food, clothing
  • The mother tongue (linguism) also created a profound attachment to one’s own language and hence regional identity developed.
  • Formation of regional parties to protect regional interest also led to rise of regionalism. For Ex- Shiv Sena.
  • Lop sided economic development led to inequality between different state and consequently leading to regionalism. For ex- problem of Naxalism.

In this background, the different types of regionalism are categorised as follows:

  • Parochialism: When people of a region consider regional interest superior and shun nationalist outlook. For ex- Violence by ULFA (Assam) against Bihari.
  • Regionalism: Reflected when people of a region raise voice for their autonomy, rights, fair share in development process and demand separate statehood or autonomy within state. For ex- Bodoland demand.
  • Secessionism: When a region tries to end its association from the nation to see itself as separate entity on the world map. For ex- Z. Phizo demand for Nagaland.
  • Inter-state rivalry: State and its people see other states as its competitors resulting into conflict over sharing of common resources, land boundary issues For ex- Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu-Kerala.

Way forward:

  • The role of National Integration Council must be revamped to resolve conflicting regional aspirations.
  • Reviving national games such as Hockey, which can become symbol of unity.
  • Cultural sensitisation must be taken up in colleges to avoid hatred based on regions. For ex- setting up food stalls from other states.
  • The focus must also be on development of underdeveloped, backward and naxal hit regions.

Such steps will help achieving the aim of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Q. Oceans are the major sources for multiple living and non-living resources that are useful for the growth of blue economy. In this light discuss the concept of Blue economy and its importance for India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (Blue economy)
  • Ocean as the source for various resources
  • Importance of blue economy
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

The concept of blue economy was given by Gunter Pauli. It is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health. Thus, it advocates the greening of ocean development for purposes of higher productivity and at same time conserving ocean’s health.

The oceans are the sources for various resources such as follows:

  • Oceans contain several varieties of fishes and sea weeds that have tremendous potential to be used for industrial and human activities.
  • Minerals derived from the oceans include Petroleum gas, shale gas, Magnesium, Sulphur, Poly-metallic nodules that are useful for industrial usage.
  • Maritime Transport constitute over 80% of international trade and commerce.
  • Ocean and coastal tourism are important source for job creation and economic growth.
  • Tides in ocean release a lot of renewable energy that can be used to operate a turbine and produce electricity. For ex.-
  • Further, oceans are an important carbon sink (blue carbon) and that can help mitigate climate change.

In light of above, the importance of blue economy for India is as follows:

  • Blue economy presents India with an opportunity to meet its national socio-economic objectives as well as strengthen connectivity with neighbors.
  • Blue Economy can help in livelihood generation, achieving energy security, building ecological resilience and improving living standards of coastal communities.
  • Blue economy can reinforce and strengthen efforts of Indian government to achieve the SDGs of hunger and poverty eradication by 2030.
  • Further, marine services sector could serve as the backbone of Indian economy and help it become 10 trillion-dollar economy by 2022.
  • Moreover, international practice of the countries such as Australia, China, Mauritius is also suggestive of the fact that of use of ocean/ blue economy for meeting their development objectives.

Thus, India and world as a whole should look to adopt the Gandhian approach of balancing economic benefits derived from blue economy for meeting the broader goals of growth, employment generation, equity and protection of environment.

Q. World trade organisation (WTO) as a multilateral body is facing challenges on various counts. In this light discuss the relevance of WTO and also suggest suitable reform in its functioning.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction (about WTO)
  • Challenges faced by WTO
  • Relevance of WTO
  • Reform in functioning of WTO

Model Answer

WTO was set up under Marrakesh Treaty (1994) and as an organization aim to improve living standards, generate employment, and expand global trade.

However, in recent years WTO is facing challenges on various counts such as:

  • Consensus based rule making has become a root cause in stagnation in reforms.
  • Further, the very existence of WTO is under threat with rise of trade disputes/ trade war between China and USA.
  • WTO has also failed to change as per the global requirementFor Ex.- WTO lacks any agreement to deal with e-commerce.
  • WTO is facing process challenges/ loopholes such as the negotiation process prime facie seems democratic but Ministerial Conferences are opaque and overly technical.
  • The dispute resolution mechanism is costly and lengthy. It is majorly resorted to by developed countries and developing countries are victims to the mechanism.

But, the WTO remains relevant considering the following points in its favour:

  • It amicably settles disputes among its members through its Dispute Settlement Mechanism.
  • World trade body serves as a platform on new global trade agreementsLike- Doha Round.
  • It ensures that global trade follows rules-based multilateral trading system.
  • WTO by removing trade barriers stimulates global growth.
  • WTO ensure predictability and transparency in trade-related regulations through its binding provisions.
  • It also preserves member’s autonomy as members are free to enter into preferential trade agreements and free trade agreements.

In light of the above challenges following reforms are required in functioning of WTO:

  • Plurilateral negotiations should be promoted as they offer prospect of building coalition among like-minded members.
  • The appointment process to dispute settlement body should be made independent of political control.
  • The issue of abuse of national-security exemption to justify trade restrictions should be solved at the political level, rather than at WTO.
  • WTO should be conferred with penalizing powers to curb wilful non-compliance.

There is also a need for using other platforms for reform talks such as G20, which have the advantage of limited and effective global membership.

Q. The term ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ and ‘ethical governance’ though looks similar, yet signifies different idea. In this background, differentiate the above-mentioned terms in light of governance structure in India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Meaning of different terms with help of example
  • Final analysis/ conclusion

Model Answer

The term ‘governance’, ‘good governance’ and ‘ethical governance’ appears to be used interchangeably and are intrinsically interlinked. Yet, each of them signify different meaning in their own sense.  The same are discussed below with help of examples.

The term ‘governance’ is defined as follows:

  • It is the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs.
  • It is also the process through which various stakeholders articulate their interest, exercises their rights and mediate their differences.
  • Many times it is defined as interface between the government and those governedFor ex.- delivery of public services like food, education, health.

In this context, 2nd ARC suggested various measures to improve governance, therefore the word ‘good governance’ implies:

  • Responsive, accountable, sustainable and efficient administration at all levels.
  • Further, transparency, accountability, rule of law, principle of subsidiarity and citizen first form basics of good governance. For ex.- delivery of services like PDS shall be quick, devoid of middlemen, reach even the most marginalised at minimum cost.

Whereas, the concept of ‘ethical governance’ is value laden, it means:

  • Administrative procedures and policies shall fulfil criteria of ethical handling of public affairs.
  • Utilitarian approach (Bentham’s approach) is followed to serve maximum good and difference between ethical-legal is handled appropriately.

Hence, governance shall be good as well as ethical.  

Q. The British rule was marked by various Peasants movement. In this background discuss the impact of these movement on freedom struggle.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Various peasant movement in British era
  • Impact of peasant movement on freedom struggle
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Peasant movement in India arose due to Britishers economic policies that resulted in the change of ownership of agrarian land, massive debt burden and impoverishment of peasantry.

Thus, the peasants rose in revolt against this injustice on many occasions. Some of these are as follows:

  • Indigo revolt of 1859-1860 was result of European planters persuading the peasants to plant indigo. Further, they provided loans at a very high interest. This led to not only debt burden but also severe exploitation.
  • Similarly, in Pabna movementSome landlords forcefully collected rents and land taxes that triggered the rebellion.
  • Deccan Riots (1875) peasants of Maharashtra revolted against increasing agrarian distress.
  • Further, in Champaran Satyagraha (1917), European planters resorted to all sorts of illegal and inhuman methods of indigo cultivation. That led Gandhiji took up their cause.
  • Other significant movements were Moplah Rebellion, Kheda Peasant Struggle, Bardoli Movement (Gujarat), Tebhaga Movement in Bengal

Considering the collective effort to fight the oppressive system, some of the noteworthy impact of the peasant movement were as follows:

  • The movement helped creating awareness among the Indians about exploitative nature of British rule.
  • It also helped developing a strong awareness among peasants about their legal rights.
  • These localised revolts also prepared the ground for various other uprisings such as Sikh Wars in Punjab, Revolt of 1857
  • These movement had given much strength to the peasants who participated in the movement. Moreover, the movement also contributed to the growth of nationalism.
  • The positive impact was also seen in form of various steps taken by the government following peasant movements. For ex- appointment of indigo, passing of Deccan Agriculturists Relief Act, 1879

In light of spectrum of above-mentioned arguments, it can be said that these movements created an atmosphere for post-independence agrarian reforms, for instance, abolition of Zamindari etc. and also added to the transformation of the agrarian structure.  Click to View More

Q. India is currently facing the issue of rising tsunami of e-waste. In this light discuss the challenges being posed by increasing e-waste and also suggest the suitable measures to tackle these challenges.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Rise of e-waste and issues relating to it
  • Challenges posed by it
  • Measures to handle such an issue
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

Electronic waste/ e-waste is a term used for electronic products that have become unwanted, obsolete and have reached the end of their useful life. India generates near about 2 million metric tonne of e-waste annually and it would reach 5.2 mmt per annum by 2020. The main sources of e-waste in India are the government, public and private sectors, which account for almost 70% of total e-waste generation.

The rising e-waste pose multitude challenges in various forms such as:

  • E-waste also impact human health as dismantling and shredding of it releases dust, toxins, dioxins
  • There is huge gap between present recycling and collection facilities. According to ASSOCHAM study only 5% of the e-waste is formally recycled.
  • Cross-border flow of waste equipment into India is another major issue. For ex- uncontrolled asbestos imports from Canada, used batteries from European nations
  • Further, as per ASSOCHAM report (2014), about 5 lakh child labourers are engaged in e-waste activities and that too without adequate protection and safeguards.
  • Unscientific method of recycling and lack of proper safety gear in handling e-waste leads to occupational health hazards.
  • Finally, e-waste rules are blatantly violated and the informal sector remains unregulated.

To resolve the above issues, there is a need to adopt multiprong approach in following form:

  • There is a need to strengthen the domestic legal framework to address the issue of unregulated imports of e-waste.
  • Further, steps must be taken to formalize the informal sector by using strategy of incentivization.
  • Governments must also encourage research for development of better environmentally sustainable e-waste recycling techniques.
  • There is also a need of an effective take-back program for e-waste handling and collection.

Thus, in light of the above there is a need for creating a mass awareness programme to encourage consumers to reuse/ recycle electronic products. For ex- ‘Take-back’ and ‘Planet ke Rakwale’ campaign by Nokia.  

Q. In recent years there has been number of farmer protest around India demanding increase in Minimum support price (MSP). In this light discuss the effectiveness of MSP and need for replacing it with Price deficiency payment system.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Deficiencies in the MSP system
  • Importance of price deficiency payment system
  • Final analysis

Model Answer

MSP is the base price set by the Government and whenever the market prices fall below the announced MSPs, procurement agencies step in to procure the crop at the support price. In India, the MSP are recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP) for 23 crops based on A2+FL formula i.e. actual cost paid plus imputed value of the family labour.

However, the use of MSP as a method of agricultural pricing is criticized on various grounds such as:

  • NITI Aayog evaluation report (2016) on MSP noted that 79% farmers are not satisfied with MSP regime due to reasons such as delay in payments, distance to the procurement centers, delayed announcement of MSP rates
  • Farmers have also claimed that the prices in wholesale markets are often lower than the MSP. In such a scenario, whatever MSP the government declares might not matter much.
  • Further, only 6% of farmers are able to sell their produce at MSP. Moreover, the MSP operation is limited only to few states.
  • Lastly, the procurement is limited to few crops such as rice and wheat leading to cropping pattern distortion.
    Various PDPS schemes of states:
    • Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) by MP: It applies to eight kharif crops such as soybean, til, maize, urad, tur
    • Rythu Bandhu scheme of Telangana: To relieve farmers from taking loans from moneylenders the scheme provides farmers Rs 4,000 per acre for the kharif and rabi seasons.

This system will address the issue of price crash after the bumper harvest.Therefore, the states such as Madhya Pradesh and Telangana have moved to price deficiency payment system (PDPS). Under it the government simply pays the difference between the MSP and the market-determined price. This system has many advantages such as follows:

  • It will also resolve the issues involved with MSP mechanism such as lack of awareness, procurement confined to selected crops that too from selected states, distortion of the agricultural market and cropping pattern.
  • It will also resolve the issue of needless accumulation of the food stock by FCI involving maintenance cost and storage losses.
  • Such a mechanism is also needed as other risk management instrument such as crop insurance and future trading have not made much headway.

In light of the above, it will be effective and efficient to shift to the new mechanism of PDPS.

Subjects : Economy

Q. Explain how the American War of Independence had transformed the Europe and other parts of the world?

Model Answer

The American Revolution of 1776 had transformed not only the America but also the Europe and other parts of the world. Its direct and indirect influences were felt worldwide in the time to come.

The impact of the American Revolution was as follows:

Ideological impact:

  1. The ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity were popularized all over the world as a result of the American Revolution. These ideas of Enlightenment were absorbed by the common masses everywhere.
  2. The American Revolution provided for the first modern democracy in the world. As a result, democratic ideas gained popularity everywhere and democratic transformation was witnessed in the time to come.
  3. The concept of natural rights of men were also popularized by the American Revolution. The Bills of Rights of 1789 guaranteed a number of Fundamental Rights to American citizens. Through this bill, the idea of natural rights of men put forward by John Locke was given Constitutional guarantee. This act inspired similar guarantees in other parts of the world. The declaration of rights adopted by France in August 1791 was a reflection of the same.
  4. American Revolution paved the way for the first modern written Constitution in the world. The American Constitution was adopted and enacted by the American Congress in September 1787.

Inspired other Revolutions:

  1. The American Revolution played an important role in the outbreak of the revolution in France. Many French soldiers had fought in the support of the liberty and equality of the Americans during the American War of Independence. After the war, on returning to France, they found it difficult to tolerate the denial of those very rights to them in their own mother country.
  2. The flame of Revolution reached Ireland in 1798. A number of nationalist revolutions (led by Simon Bolivar etc) were witnessed in Latin America during the first half of 19th century. Spanish Revolution and the European Revolutions of the 19th century were the continuation of the tradition of revolution triggered by the American Revolution. That is why American Revolution of 1776 is known as the mother of all revolutions.

Effect on India:

  1. The bitter experiences of the American War of Independence made Britain smarter in India. A number of regulations were enacted by Britain particularly after 1783 to strengthen the foundation of its Indian empire.
  2. Having burnt his finger in America, Cornwallis did not take any risk in India. He followed a pro-active approach to wipe out the challenges standing in front of the British East India Company. The Third Anglo-Mysore war fought during 1790-92 was a reflection of the same.

As a result of the success of the American Revolution, America emerged as the most progressive of liberal nations. The liberal and progressive ideas gave an exalted status to the Americans. This process of American ascendancy reached its peak in 1991 when the United States of America remained the only superpower.

Q. In the context of the world history, discuss the achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia.

Model Answer

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 were the two phases of a single revolution where due to the prevailing widespread discontent, Lenin overthrew Kerensky’s government with the help of his revolutionary Red Guard on the night of 6th and 7th November 1917 and declared Russia as a communist nation.

Other significant achievements of the Bolshevik revolution are as follows:

  • Overthrow of power: The overthrow of autocracy, the destruction of the aristocracy and the power of the church were the first achievements of the Bolshevik Revolution.
  • First Communist state: The Bolshevik revolution resulted in the establishment of the first communist state in the world. It transformed communism form and idea to reality.
  • Inspired workers and peasants: The success of Bolshevik Revolution inspired workers and peasants throughout the world. Leftist ideas gained popularity everywhere. Socialist-communist party emerged in Europe as well as in other countries.
  • Emergence of an alternative model: The success of communism in Russia presented an alternative to the capitalist model of political, social and economic life. As a result of which an intense competition in the world to capture the heart and mind of the people took place.
  • Impact on international relations: The emergence of communism in Russia terrified the western capitalist world. Western democracy was forced to pursue a softer policy towards Germany and Italy because the revival of Germany and Italy was considered necessary to counter the spread of communism.
  • Prepared background for the Cold War: The Bolshevik Revolution prepared the background for the Cold War between the capitalist and the communist bloc from 1946-1991.
  • Inspired other countries: The Bolshevik Revolution inspired similar communist movements in many parts of the world. The Chinese communist revolution, and the revolution in Cuba were inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution.

The growing popularity of socialism and subsequent achievements made by the Soviet Union after the Bolshevik revolution helped to recognize that for democracy to be real political rights without social and economic rights were not enough. The idea of the state playing an active role in regulating the economy and planning the economy to improve the condition of the people was accepted. The popularity of socialism also helped to mitigate discrimination based on race, colour and sex.  

Q. Government has promised to double farmer’s income by 2022, in this light discuss the measures taken by government to implement the same. Also suggest suitable strategies to timely and sustainable achievement of this target.

Structure of the answer:   

  • Introduction
  • Measures taken by government
  • Suggestion
  • Way forward

Model Answer

The government has set a target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 to overcome the distressed situation of agriculture. The situation was evident after large scale farmer’s protest in various parts of India.

The reorientation of strategy was needed due to following reasons:

  • Earlier strategy focused primarily on raising agricultural output ignoring need for income augmentation.
  • Farmer’s income remained low as compared to those working in the non-­ farm sector.
  • The need was further felt considering the large scale farmers suicides after introduction of duty free agri trade.

Government has adopted following strategy to help farmer’s cause:

  • To raise output and reduce cost of cultivation schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Prampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana have been started.
  • For protection against crop loss, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been implemented nationwide. .
  • Further, to address price volatility of perishable commodities Operation Green has been started.
  • To reform agricultural marketing and processing sector, PM Kisan Sampada Yojana, E-NAM portal has been started.
  • Lastly, to have sustainable development of agriculture and promote farmers income National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture has been started.

Suggestions to effectively achieve the target of doubling farmer’s income:

  • The focus must be on increasing the use of quality seed, fertiliser and power supply to agriculture.
  • The focus must also be on allied sector, wherein aim must be to improve herd quality, increasing artificial insemination
  • Further, as per experts about one third income of farmer’s can be augmented through better price realization, efficient post-harvest management, competitive value chains
  • Similarly, Farmers producer organization or Farmers Producer Company can also play big role. .

Final analysis:

  • There is also a need for mobilising States to own and achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income.

Further, the reformative steps in agriculture must not be baby steps or incremental changes rather structural reforms are needed.

Q. Reform movements in religion were largely responsible for social reform movements in India. In this context, discuss the contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Approach:

  • Briefly discuss about the social reform movements in India.
  • Discuss the contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Model Answer

Indian Society in the 19th century was caught in a vicious web created by religious superstitions and dogmas. All religions in general and Hinduism in particular had become a compound of magic, animism, and superstitions.

The growing knowledge of India’s past glory provided to the Indian people a sense of pride in their civilization. It also helped the reformers in their work of religious and social reform for their struggle against all type of inhuman practices, superstitions etc. They attacked bigotry, superstition and the hold of the priestly class. They worked for emancipation of women in which sati, infanticide, child marriage and widow re-marriage were taken up, casteism and untouchability, education for bringing about enlightenment in society. All these problems has roots in religious beliefs and superstitions.

The contribution of various socio-cultural reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Brahmo Samaj :Ram Mohan Roy, the father of Indian Renaissance was versatile genius, who opposed the idolatry, denounced Sati, polygamy and abuses of the caste system, favoured remarriage of Hindu widows. He started the ‘AtmiyaSabha’ in 1815 and carried a consistent struggle against the religious and social malpractices. Other prominent reformers of Brahmo Samaj included Debendranath Tagore and Keshub Chandra Sen. They were was instrumental in popularizing the movement, and branches of the samaj were opened outside Bengal.
  • Young Bengal Movement and Henry Vivian Derozio :During the late 1820s and early 1830s, there emerged a radical, intellectual trend among the youth in Bengal, which came to be known as the ‘Young Bengal Movement’. Drawing inspiration from the great French Revolution, Derozio inspired his pupils to think freely and rationally, question all authority, love liberty, equality, and freedom, and oppose decadent customs and traditions.
  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar:-Vidyasagar started a movement in support of widow remarriage which resulted in legislation of widow remarriage. He was also a crusade against child marriage and polygamy. He did much for the cause of Women’s education. As secretary of Bethune School (established in 1849), he was one of the pioneers of higher education for the women in India.
  • DayanandSaraswati and Arya Samaj :Swami Dayanand gave the mantra, “Go back to Vedas” as he believed that priestly class and Puranas had perverted Hindu religion. He wrote a book “SatyarthPrakash” which contains his philosophical and religious ideas. He started the Shuddhi Movement to bring back those Hindus who had converted to Islam and Christianity.
  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the Aligarh Movement : Syed’s progressive social ideas were propagated through his magazine Tahdhib-ul-Akhlaq (Improvement of Manners and Morals). Social reforms among Muslims relating to purdah, polygamy, widow remarriage, women’s education, slavery, divorce, etc.
  • M G Ranade and PrarthanaSamaj :Justice MahadevGovindRanade was a distinguished Indian scholar, social reformer and author. The four point social agenda of PrathanaSamaj were
    • Disapproval of caste system
    • Women education
    • Widow remarriage
    • Raising the age of marriage for both males and females

  • Satyashodhak Samaj and Jyotiba Phule :Jyotiba Phule belonged to the Mali (gardener) community and organized a powerful movement against upper caste domination and brahminical supremacy. Phule founded the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truth Seekers’ Society) in 1873. The main aims of the movement were Social service and spread of education among women and lower caste people.
  • Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda: Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a mystic who sought religious salvation in the traditional ways of renunciation, meditation and devotion. He was saintly person who recognized the fundamental oneness of all religions and emphasized that there were many roads to God and salvation and the service of man is the service of God.
  • Balshastri Jambhekar :He is known as Father of Marathi journalism. He was one of the pioneers in Bombay who attacked orthodoxy and tried to reform popular Hinduism.
  • KandukuriVeeresalingam: He was a social reformer who first brought about a renaissance in Telugu people and Telugu literature. He encouraged education for women.
  • Sri Narayan Guru Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Movement: This movement was an example of a regional movement born out of conflict between the depressed classes and upper non-Brahmin castes.
  • Vaikom Satyagraha: It was led by K P Kesava, was launched in Kerela demanding throwing open of Hindu Temples and roads to untouchables.

The writings and speeches of reformers of the 19th century played an important role in the socio-cultural reform which brought about intellectual revolution in India.  These social and religious reform movements arose among all communities of the Indian people which played a socially transformative role.  

Q. India has moved forward by providing fundamental rights of basic education through Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009. Analyse the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India. Also discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Approach:

  • Briefly write about Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 and its current status.
  • Discuss the challenges faced at primary level of Education in India.
  • Discuss the major reforms suggested at primary level in the recent draft education policy 2019.

Model Answer

With 86th amendment, education was made fundamental rights of the citizen under Article 21(a). Right to education act 2009 was brought in to give effect to Article 21(a). The country has moved forward in bringing every children to the school. But there still remains challenge of huge dropouts and poor learning outcomes.

Various challenges that primary level of education in the country faces are:

  • Poor teaching quality: Teachers are not given proper training. They are engaged in administrative works like implementing Midday meal schemes. 
  • Poor school infrastructure: Schools lack basic facilities like toilets and drinking water. Lack of toilet facility results in huge dropouts among girls.
  • Poor recruitment process of teachers: Since education is a state subject. Some state recruits teachers on contracts without Bachelor of education qualifications.
  • Detention policy: Students are being detained above class 5 level. Detention deters children from completing the primary level of education. Hence, increasing dropouts.
  • Poor pedagogy practices: Child friendly pedagogy is lacking in Indian schools. Curriculum and exam system promotes culture of rote learning and deters creative thinking.
  • Poor regulatory framework: Regulatory framework differs from state to state. Few states like Bihar lacks proper regulatory framework to monitor the functioning of primary schools.

These challenges have hindered India in achieving its objective of providing free and compulsory education with good learning outcomes. The country is still far from achieving the target of 6% of GDP expenditure as suggested under different national education policy.

The recent draft on national education policy 2019 has suggested following reforms keeping in mind the above challenges:

  1. To discontinue detention policy: The draft focuses on adopting continuous and comprehensive assessment (CCA), no detention policy (NDP) together. CCA and NDP if adopted together can reforms the examination system of the country. It will also promote creative learning and end rote learning system.
  2. School infrastructure: The policy suggested that small size of schools makes it operationally complex to deploy teachers. Hence the policy recommends that multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. The school complexes will also include anganwadis, vocational education facilities, and an adult education centre. Each school complex will be a semi-autonomous unit providing integrated education across all stages from early childhood to secondary education.
  3. Teacher management:  Draft Policy recommends that teachers should be deployed with a particular school complex for at least five to seven years.  Further, teachers will not be allowed to participate in any non-teaching activities (such as cooking mid-day meals or participating in vaccination campaigns) during school hours that could affect their teaching capacities.
  4. Teacher training: the policy recommended to replace the existing B.Ed. programme by a four year integrated B.Ed. that combines high quality content, pedagogy and practical training.

The above recommendation can bring significant positive changes in learning outcomes of the children. There is need to effectively implement the target of 6 percent of GDP expenditure and to effectively implement the recommendation of draft policy.Click to View More

Q. The Government of India, through the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has released a draft of the new Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy. Discuss the objective of introducing SSR Policy and the benefits associated with it.

Model Answer

India is going to be possibly the first country in the world to implement a SSR Policy on the lines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Under the proposed policy, individual scientists or knowledge workers will be required to devote at least 10 person-days of SSR per year for exchanging scientific knowledge to society.

Objectives

The main objective of SSR policy is to harness the voluntary potential that is latent in the country’s scientific community to strengthen science and society linkages so as to make S&T ecosystem vibrant. This specifically implies:

  • Science-society connect: Facilitating inclusive and sustainable development by transferring the benefits of scientific work to meet existing and emerging societal needs.
  • Science-science connect: Creating an enabling environment for the sharing of ideas and resources within the knowledge ecosystem.
  • Society-science connect: Collaborating with communities to identify problems and develop scientific and technological solutions.
  • Cultural change: Inculcating social responsibility among the individuals and institutions practicing science; creating awareness about SSR within society; and infusing scientific temperament into day-to-day social existence and interaction.

Benefits

  • It will expand the domain of science and its benefits to the community and encourage students into science through handholding and nurturing their interest.
  • It will provide training for skill development and upgrade scientific knowledge.
  • It will help MSMEs, Startups and informal sector enterprises in increasing their overall productivity.
  • Facilitate scientific intervention in rural innovation and empower women, disadvantaged and weaker sections of the society through the same.
  • Facilitate actions towards addressing Technology Vision 2035 Prerogatives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the country such as water, ecology, health and livelihood.

The government has recognised the need to provide incentives for outreach activities with necessary budgetary support. It has been proposed to give credit to knowledge workers/scientists for individual SSR activities in their annual performance appraisal and evaluation. Thus, with the focus of government, it will encourage science and technology (S&T) institutions and individual scientists in the country to proactively engage in science outreach activities to connect science with the society. 

Q. “Upper House of the Indian Parliament has lost its relevance in contemporary times”. Comment.

Model Answer

India adopted federal form of governance where the states are represented through the Upper House. Except Money Bills, Upper House plays an important role in the law making process in the country. It also plays the role of counsel to states; however, some experts are of the view that this House should be abolished as it is not serving any utilitarian purpose in contemporary times.

Their arguments are:

  1. In the era of coalition politics, Lok Sabha looks a lot like the Rajya Sabha that was perceived at the time of Independence. The fear of states not having enough representation in Parliament is not true anymore. With our polity becoming increasingly fragmented, regions and states are well represented in the Lower House by various parties that have no national interests but narrow regional agendas. The federal structure of India is sound and regional interests are adequately represented in the Lower House, thus rendering the Upper House redundant.
  2. Voting pattern in Rajya Sabha is not on the basis of interests of the states but on the contrary it happens to be on the party line; It has become a platform for parties to further their political agenda than to debate and improve legislation. Important legislations that are passed in the Lok Sabha are scuttled in Rajya Sabha for political reasons.
  3. Rajya Sabha lacks the numbers vis-a-vis Lok Sabha and in a Joint sitting will of the Lower House prevails.
  4. In the case of Money Bill, it is the Lower House which has supremacy over Rajya Sabha and final approval whether a bill is Money Bill or not is a prerogative of the speaker. Upper House has no say in it.
  5. Second chamber is essentially undemocratic as it can override the opinion of a directly elected House. GST bill despite having support of Lower House is incessantly delayed by Upper House.

However above points in no way strengthen the argument for its dissolution. Although some lacunas are there in its functioning but imminent need for reforming and restructuring the Institution and not its abolition.

Some points which prove the worth of this house are:

  1. Upper House provides for detailed scrutiny of bills which may have been rushed through in haste due to political compulsions by the elected members and also acts as a check on such actions.
  2. Second chamber introduces an element of sobriety and second thought. As a revising Chamber also, the Rajya Sabha has revised a number of Bills passed by Lok Sabha. Among some of the important Bills revised are the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 1961 and the National Honor Bill, 1971 wherein some substantial amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha were accepted by the Lok Sabha.
  3. This House brings forth the views of the states and serves as a platform to deliberate concerns of the states. This House is necessary to move in the direction of cooperative federalism.

As Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said “Men are mortal. So are ideas. An idea needs propagation as much as a plant needs watering. Otherwise both will wither and die”. There is need to bring changes in the functioning of House. 

Q. Describe briefly the features of bronze sculpture art that reached its zenith during the Chola era.

Approach:

  • Introduce the Chola bronze art – why it is considered as the high stage of development
  • Divide the answer into subparts – patronage, religious purpose, technology, and iconography
  • Also mention various examples to substantiate the points
  • Within the subparts, try to trace the chronological development.

Model Answer

The Chola period is well known for the aesthetic and technical finesse of its metal sculpture. Although the tradition started in ancient past, it reached a high stage of development in South India during the Chola period when some of the most beautiful and exquisite statues were produced. The distinguished patron during the tenth century was the widowed Chola queen, Sembiyan Maha Devi.

 The Purpose:

The images were clothed and ornamented and formed part of temple rituals and ceremonials. Many of the southern images were carried about in processions. Many Shiva temples of South India have a separate natana-sabha, where the image of Nataraja is placed. This can be seen in the temple at Chidambaram.

 The Technique:

Indian sculptors had mastered the bronze medium and the casting process quite early. The ‘lost-wax’ process for casting was learnt during the Harappan Culture. This technique and art of bronze images was skillfully practised in the urban centres of South India like Kumbakonam.

 The early Pallava bronze representations of Nataraja are metal translations of wooden images. Later, in the Chola period, craftspeople recognized the greater tensile strength of metal in comparison with wood. Unlike the northern images that were made out of an alloy of eight metals (gold, silver, tin, lead, iron, mercury, zinc, and copper) while the southern ones are made of an alloy of five metals (copper, silver, gold, tin, and lead) and were solid, not hollow.

 Themes and Iconography:

The sculptors largely confined to the iconographic conventions established by long tradition and yet exercised their imagination and worked with greater freedom during the eleventh and the twelfth centuries. As a result, the bronzes images of this era show classic grace, grandeur and taste. It also absorbed some folk iconographic elements into the mainstream religious or court art (eg images of Andal)

The well-known dancing figure of Shiva as Nataraja was evolved and fully developed during the Chola period and since then many variations of this complex bronze image have been modelled. It is primarily depicted as performing angry tandava or blissful tandava. There are differences in the expression, ornamentation, the number of arms, and in the attendant figures. A wide range of Shiva iconography was evolved in the Thanjavur region of Tamil Nadu (eg. Kalyanasundara, Panigraha, Ardhinarishwar, Bhikshatana etc). Other themes include Krishna and the Alvar and Nayanmar saints. There are a few Buddhist images as well.

Later on, during the post-Chola era, there was increasing ornamentation and elaboration of bronze art that continued the iconographic features of the Chola period but became more and more baroque.

Q. The large-scale occurrence of floods is a result of multitude of factors. In this background discuss the causes of floods and steps to minimise the vulnerability to floods.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Causes of floods
  • Steps to mitigate vulnerability
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Flood is a state of higher water level along a river channel or on coast leading to inundation of land that is not normally submerge. In India, 40 million hectares out of a geographical area of 3290 lakh hectares is prone to floods. Moreover, every year, 1600 lives are lost and the damage caused to crops, houses and public utilities is Rs. 1800 crores due to floods.

The main causes for floods are as follows:

The rivers bring heavy sediment load from catchments. These, coupled with inadequate carrying capacity of rivers are responsible for causing floods.

  • Some of the general causes are drainage congestion, erosion of river-banks, silting in deltaic areas
  • Moreover, about 75% of the annual rainfall in India is concentrated in 3-4 months of the monsoon season. As a result, there is very heavy discharge from rivers during the period causing widespread floods.
  • Further, cyclones, cloud bursts, storm surge cause flash floods and lead to huge loss of life and property.
  • Lastly, in urban areas the urban flooding is caused by increasing incidence of heavy rainfall in a short period of time, indiscriminate encroachment of waterways, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure. For ex.- Chennai floods.

Steps to mitigate flood vulnerability are as follows:

  • There is a need for identification and marking of flood prone areas and preparation of close contour and flood vulnerability maps.
  • Further, this must be followed by implementation of the schemes for expansion and modernisation of the flood forecasting and warning network, execution of flood protection and drainage improvement schemes
  • The focus must also be on development of hard management techniques like dams, embankments or artificial levees
  • Further, flood walls/ River defences/ Coastal defences can be built around settlements to protect them from floods.
  • Lastly, the focus must also be on afforestation, proper land use management

Thus, the causes of the floods being natural and man made requires, thus to control and mitigate the same requires interdisciplinary approach. 

Q. What was the immediate trigger of the World War-I? What were the reasons for the breakout of the war? Comment

Model Answer

World War-I has its roots in the assassination of a prince. On 28 June 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Austria saw the hands of Serbia behind this and served Serbia an ultimatum. Serbia refused to accept one of the demands of ultimatum. Hence, on 28 July 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia.  Then, Germany declared war on Russia and France. Britain declared war on Germany. Japan declared war on Germany with a view to capture its colonies in the Far East. Turkey and Bulgaria joined on the side of Germany. Italy initially remained neutral and later joined the war against Germany in 1915.

There are various reasons for the breakout of the war:

  1. Imperialist Rivalries: The scramble for colonies led to emergence of conflict between imperialist powers. By the last decade of 19th century almost all areas were under imperialist control and further conquest could only happen by dispossessing some other country. Rivalries resulted in attempts to re-divide the world creating conditions of war.
  2. Progress of the latecomer Germany: Germany made massive progress after its unification in 1870. It became leading producer of iron, steel and coal and left behind France and Britain. It entered shipping trade as well and possessed Imperator, the largest ship in the world. Since Germany was a late comer it could not grab as much colony as it desired.
  3. Clash of interests: Both Italy and Austria had their ambitions in the Ottoman Empire. Japan fought with Russia for extending its territorial possessions in the Far East. There was an intense naval rivalry between Germany and Britain as Britain defended its large territory. Germans accused Britain, Russia and France of trying to ‘encircle’ it.
  4. Serbian Nationalism: Serbia had the ambition of uniting all Slavs many of whom lived in Austria – Hungarian empire, which consisted of people from different nationalities (Slovaks, Czechs, Italian, etc.). Therefore, even Austria wanted to destroy Serbia.
  5. Alliance Formation: Opposing groups were formed and vast sums of money were spent to increase size of army and navy and develop deadly weapons. Europe became a vast armed camp. Propaganda for war and projecting own country as superior to other started.
  6. a) Triple Alliance (1882) – Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
  7. b) Triple Entente or Understanding (1907) – France, Britain and Russia. Loose group based on mutual understanding.

The First World War was the most frightful war the world had seen so far in terms of devastation it caused, the number of people who fought it, the famines and the social problems it created. Instead of destroying imperialism, it helped the victorious powers in enlarging their possessions.  

Q. The Citizen’s Charter is an ideal instrument of organisational transparency and accountability. Identify the importance and components of Citizen’s Charter. Tracing out its limitations, suggest measures for its greater effectiveness.

Approach:

  • Start introduction mentioning the challenges in public service delivery.
  • Define Citizen’s Charter stating its importance and it components.
  • Discuss the limitation in implementation of Citizen’s Charter.
  • Discuss the measures to ensure its effective implementation.

Model Answer

The public service delivery of India faced a problem of bureaucratic corruption and delays. The government functioned in a very opaque and unaccountable manner. There existed a problem of information asymmetry between the government department and the consumers. There was an absence of grievance redress mechanism with in government framework.

Keeping this in concern, Citizen’s Charters were introduced in India in the 1990s. Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) defines Citizen’s Charter as a document which represents a systematic effort to focus on the commitment of the Organisation towards its Citizens in respect of Standard of Services, Information, Choice and Consultation, Accessibility and Grievance Redress.

Citizen’s Charter aims at:

  • Making administration transparent and accountable
  • Bringing time bound delivery of services
  • Promoting awareness among the consumers about the quality of service to be delivered.
  • Promoting citizens friendly administration
  • To improve the experiences of customers by improving service delivery.
  • To address the grievances of citizens through Grievance Redress Mechanism.

Citizen’s charter possess following components to achieve its aim. Its six components are:

  • Vision and Mission Statements
  • Details of business transacted by the Organisation.
  • Details of Clients
  • Details of services provided to each client group.
  • Details of grievance redress mechanisms and how to access them
  • Expectations from clients

The Institutionalisation of concept of Citizen’s charter is there in every government department in India since 1997.  However, its implementation is still in embryonic stage. Earlier, Introduction and implementation of the concept of Citizens’ Charter in the Government of India was much more complicated due to the old bureaucratic set up/procedures and the rigid attitudes of the workforce. 

 Various Limitations/ Hurdles encountered in these initiatives are:

  • Citizen’s charter was viewed as an exercise to be performed by getting direction from top. It lacks participation and consultation process. Hence, it just becomes one of the routine activities of the organisation and had no focus.
  • The concerned staff are not sufficiently trained and sensitised. The commitments of the Charter cannot be expected to be delivered by a workforce that is unaware of the spirit and content of the Charter.
  • Sometimes, transfers and reshuffles of concerned officers at the critical stages of formulation/implementation of a Citizens’ Charter in an organisation severely destabilised the strategic processes which were put in place and hampered the progress of the initiative.
  • Awareness campaign to teach the client about Charter is not conducted properly.
  • There are cases where standard or norms of the services mentioned in the Charter are either too negligent or too tight and are impractical.
  •  The notion behind the Citizens’ Charter is not accurately understood. Information brochures, publicity materials, pamphlets produced earlier by the organisations are mistaken for Citizens’ Charters.

Various effective measures that can be taken to deal with the above hurdles are:

  • The department should guard against the tendency to promise more than they can deliver. A realistic assessment of quality and standard of service delivery is needed.
  • Proper training and sensitisation programme among staff are needed. Implementing the Charters without the staff owning them will defeat the purpose of the Charter.
  • Consultation exercise is a must to ensure bottom up approach in its implementation.
  • Easy grievance redress system and time bound deliver act is needed.
  • Independent audit of results is important after a period of implementation of the Charter.

To summarise, A Citizens’ Charter denotes the promise of an organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redressal mechanism, clearness and accountability.  

Q. Discuss the difference between Himalayas and Peninsular drainage system. Also put forth importance of the river system in India.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Difference between Himalayan and Peninsular river system
  • Importance of river system in India
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

Rivers are considered as the lifelines of a country as they provide the most valuable thing for the survival i.e. water. The rivers in India can be broadly categorized into two different categories based on their origin: the Himalayan Rivers and the Peninsular Rivers.

The difference between the two is tabulated below:

Himalayan RiversPeninsular Rivers
1.      These rivers originate from the Himalayan mountain ranges.1.      These rivers originate from the peninsular plateaus.
2.      They are longer and larger than the peninsular rivers.2.      They are comparatively smaller than the Himalayan Rivers.
3.      They have larger basins and catchment areas.3.      They have smaller basins and catchment areas.
4.      The bedrocks of these rivers are soft, sedimentary and easily erodible.4.      The bedrocks of these rivers is hard and not easily erodible.
5.      They are perennial in nature.5.      They are seasonal and non-perennial.
6.      They are fed by the meltwater from glaciers/ rains.6.      They are fed only by rains.
7.      They form V-shaped valleys.7.      They form U-shaped valleys.
8.      They form meanders.8.      They may not form meanders.
9.      They form big deltas.9.      They form small rivers and estuaries.
10.   They are antecedent rivers.10.   They are consequent rivers.

In light of the aforesaid, it is also important to discuss the importance of the rivers as such:

  • Rivers are the biggest source of fresh water for drinking.
  • Rivers provide fertile soil, which is important for increasing agricultural productivity.
  • Rivers are not only important for human beings but also for animals and trees. Various aquatic animals and plants breed in rivers, which is important to maintain the balance in the food chain.
  • These are also a source of energy as help generating electricity. For ex.- Bhakra Nangal Dam.
  • Rivers also help in improving the economy by providing cheap means of transportation.

Thus, considering the importance of river system and impending climate change, it is important that steps are taken to protect rivers.

Six ‘freedom’ reforms to bolster job creation and employability Editorial 30th Dec’20 LiveMint

Covid highlighted the government’s will to tackle issues taking a long-term view:

  • Covid’s pain reminded us of our economy’s pre-existing issues, including inadequate formalization, financialization, urbanization, industrialization and human capital.
  • In such situations, economists and policymakers often think only of the present, with the belief that current circumstances are special, unique and unprecedented.
  • However, the Indian government has also demonstrated a policy willingness to take the long view by ignoring calls for some quick relief measures, say though unprecedented deficit financing.

Long-term thinking now needed on formal job creation and employability:

  • The next 25 years for our economy will be very different from the last 25 years for many reasons.
  • The upcoming budget has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the covid policy window by amplifying existing long-term thinking on formal job creation and employability.
  • The budget for 2021-22 must build on recent reforms like labour, agriculture and education to grant freedom to our firms and citizens to improve their productivity. 

Freedoms to firms and people for formal jobs and employability of human resources:

  • Despite the covid-induced shortfall in taxes, some non-fiscal reforms that can give freedoms to firms and people for formal job creation and employability.
  • Freedom to employees to spend to invest where they want:
    • The current cycle of enterprise formalization could be accelerated by making employee contributions to their provident fund (EPF) voluntary.
    • This money belongs to employees who should have the freedom to invest it.
  • Freedom to employees to get the insurance they want:
    • India’s largest health insurance programme, Employees’ State Insurance (ESI), has not been helpful during the Covid pandemic because its governance is too large, old and unrepresentative.
    • The budget should announce the modernization of ESI governance.
    • It should also set a deadline after there is freedom to employees from compulsory health insurance contribution deductions from their salary, to allow them to get any insurance they want.
  • Freedom to universities to provide online education:
    • Online degree-linked apprentices are the future of education because they innovate in financing, social signalling, and employer connectivity. Despite the Atmanirbhar Bharat announcement to deregulate online education, only seven of India’s 1,000 universities are licensed for online learning.
    • This, despite the fact that over 200 foreign universities operate online in India, which should be allowed to continue. 
    • The budget must announce that all accredited universities are automatically and immediately licensed for online delivery because covid is reinventing higher education.
  • Freedom to universities for skilling and diplomas/degrees:
    • Skill universities, which are essentially a combination of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), employment exchange and college, are held back by old regulations. 
    • The budget must announce regulations that give unqualified freedom to universities to deliver via four classrooms (online, onsite, on-the-job and on-campus) with various qualifications like certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas and degrees.
  • Freedom from too many labour codes:
    • India’s four new labour codes will soon be notified and increase manufacturing employment.
    • The budget should announce a three-year time- frame to move to a single labour code.
  • Freedom from over-regulation:
    • India’s huge regulatory system involves 65,000-plus compliance requirements and 6,500-plus filings, and the issue of a Universal Enterprise Number.
    • The budget must announce a cross-ministry compliance commission tasked with the rationalization, digitization and decriminalization of regulations, and provide firms freedom from excessive regulation.

The next budget must give freedom to firms and people put India on the path to prosperity:

  • The 2021-22 Budget coincides with the 30th anniversary of the 1991 reforms.
  • Despite the reforms being much praised, it is important to remember that China and India had similar per capita incomes in 1991 but now the Chinese are four times richer than us.
  • Now, the 2021-22 budget provides another crisis induced opportunity to accelerate the rise of India with long-term thinking around enterprise freedom, and to end poverty.  

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Q. The Britishers formed Indian National Congress (INC) to act as a safety valve. However, the Indians used the forum as a lightning conductor much to the whammy of Britishers. In this light the purpose behind formation of INC and the intention of Indians in respect of the same.

Structure of the answer:

  • Introduction
  • Safety valve theory/ Britisher’s intention on formation of INC
  • Use of INC by Indians for propagating nationalist interest
  • Conclusion

Model Answer

There is wide spread belief that reason behind the formation of INC was safety valve theory i.e. Britishers wanted to pacify the raising discontent among Indian masses through INC. The discontent among Indians was due to issues like passing of Vernacular Press act, Illbert bill controversy (1883), general discrimination etc.

In this background the INC was formed by retired British Civil Servant A.O. Hume and some of the reasons put forth for formation of INC are as follows:

  • C Banerjee says that INC was to gauge the extent of discontent among the Indians masses so as to take pre-emptive steps against large scale flare up.
  • Further, the Britishers did not want another face off with the Indians like Revolt of 1857. So, they gave the Indians a tool with which they can vent their frustration.
  • The Britishers also wanted to remain informed of the pulse of the masses.
  • Moreover, the Britishers knowingly allowed formation of INC so that Indian Intelligentsia would be busy inside INC rather than politically instigating mass.

However, the above justification appears to be a half truth after considering the following propositions:

  • Formation of INC was not a sudden incident as since 1860s many regional associations were active in India. For ex.- Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Bombay Presidency Association
  • Leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherojshah Mehta wanted an all India political body to give a proper shape to the movement and to mobilize the whole country against oppressive rule of British.
  • Further, Indians formed this platform with help of Britishers to prevent any suppression as happened in 1857. Thus, wanted to use Hume as a lightning conductor for the same.

Thus, once INC was formed, the reason for its formation did not matter much as INC evolved over a period of time and helped India to get much needed freedom.

Q. Discuss the difference between the code of ethics and the code of conduct.

Approach:

  • Briefly discuss about the code of ethics and the code of conduct.
  • Differentiate between the given terms.
  • Substantiate your answer with relevant examples.

Model Answer

Code of ethics and code of conduct specify the ethical standards that a group (e.g., staff or a professional group) should follow in order to continue as a member of the group. They are generally formally stated and members are required to accept them as part of their membership of the group while accepting employment/membership.  It is generally adopted by organizations to assist members in developing an understanding of right and wrong. Thus, the Code is built on three levels namely:

  • Values and ethical standards 
  • Principles based on these values and ethics (Code of Ethics) 
  • Code of Behaviour which is based on professional ethics (Code of Conduct)

Difference between the code of ethics and the code of conduct:

Code of ethics: 

  • Code of Ethics refers to a set of guidelines to bring about acceptable behaviours in members of a particular group, association or profession. 
  • It is essential to build professional standards by ensuring ethical practices are followed. It boosts confidence in the organization in the public eye. 
  • The Code stands for fundamental values and principles of public service. It sets out general principles that guide behaviour. 
  • The codes focus on broader issues and are often framed as a belief statement regarding the organization’s mission, its values and expectations for its members. 
  • These codes are idealistic, non-punishable, general and implicit. Eg. Helping the needy, respecting co-workers, avoiding conflict of interest etc.

Code of conduct: 

  • It refers to a framework for public officials for carrying out their duties. 
  • It serves as a tool for public officials in making right decisions especially in cases when they are tempted or confused in keeping the public interest. 
  • These are designed to prevent certain types of behaviours like conflict of interest, self-dealing, bribery and inappropriate actions. It is essential to protect the employees and the reputation of the organization.
  • It sets out specific rules designed to outline specific practices and behaviours that are to be encouraged or prohibited under an organization. 
  • The codes lay out guidelines and procedures to be used to determine whether violations of the code have occurred and delineate consequences for such violations. 
  • These are in form of Dos and Don’ts for all employees of the organization and are usually supplemented with a Code of Ethics. 
  • These codes are specific, and explicit and often amount to punishment upon violation. Eg. Model Code of Conduct by Election Commission, not divulging internal company matters to the media, following the orders of seniors etc.
  • The Code can have a legislative or administrative basis and are in line with constitutional conventions. It is thus regularly updated. 

Thus, although both the Codes are different from each other, yet they are important for a public servant. The Codes make sure that the public official should uphold public interest over any personal motive or interest. 

Q. What do you mean by climate forcing? Explain the factors that causes the Earth’s climate to change.

Approach:

  • Explain the meaning of climate forcing  and related phenomenon with relevant examples.
  • Discuss various natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change.
  • Conclude the answer, as per the context.

Model Answer

Any external factor that originates from outside the climate system and can become a cause of climate change is called Climate Forcing. These factors are specifically known as forcings because they drive the climate to change. There are natural forcings and man-made forcings. For examples:

  • Surface reflectivity (Albedo).
  • Human-caused, or anthropogenic climate  forcing include emissions of heat-trapping gases (also known as greenhouse gases) and changes in land use that make land reflect more or less sunlight energy. 
  • Atmospheric aerosols due to human activity or volcanic eruption etc. that put light-reflecting particles into the upper atmosphere.

The peculiar feature of all climate forcing is that they influence the balance of the energy entering and leaving the Earth system i.e, the amount of energy we receive from the sun, and the amount of energy we radiate back into space.  Climate change refers to the change of climate that alters the composition of the global atmosphere. It is usually measured in major shifts in temperature, rainfall, snow, and wind patterns lasting decades or more.

The causes of climate change can be classified into two types; natural and anthropogenic.

Natural causes:

  • Solar Irradiance: The change in energy output of the sun brings changes in climate. Solar output varies according to the 11 year solar cycle.
  • Volcanic Eruptions: When volcanoes erupt, thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide is released into the atmosphere which cause cooling and warming of the earth respectively.
  • Plate tectonics: Tectonic plates rearrange the topography of the earth which  brings changes in the circulation of oceans and subsequently changes the patterns of the global climate.  
  • Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Variations in the orbit of the planet bring changes in seasonal and geographical distribution of the light from the sun that affects the global climate.

Anthropogenic causes:

  • Emission of Greenhouse Gases: Release of greenhouse gases like Carbon dioxide is one of the main reasons for climate change.  For example, human activities such as deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, surface mining, agriculture, emissions from industries etc. are also releasing other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • Land Use Change: Climate change is also assisted by changes in land use and land cover that are caused because of human activities such as agriculture.

Many of these factors are interrelated, and atmospheric, ocean and land interactions can involve complex feedback mechanisms can either enhance or dampen changes to the climate system.

Q. Discuss the relevance of the Legislative Councils in the States in the backdrop of recent demand of certain states to create the second house?

Approach:

  • Briefly write about the constitutional process of formation of Legislative Council.
  • Discuss both the arguments: favour and against the existence of Legislative council.
  • Write the final conclusion mentioning what should be the way forward.

Model Answer

Legislative councils of state are created under Article 169 of the Constitution. Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.

There is enormous debate on the relevance of Legislative councils in the States. In the recent times, Odisha government is planning to create legislative council or upper house.

Arguments in support of Legislative Councils in the States:

  • It provides a forum for academicians and intellectuals, who are arguably not suited for the rough and tumble of electoral politics.
  • It provides a mechanism for a soberer and more considered appraisal of legislation that a State may pass.
  • It acts as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.

Arguments against Legislative Councils in the States:

  • Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  • Today, legislatures draw their talent both from the grassroots level and the higher echelons of learning. There are enough numbers of doctors, teachers and other professionals in most political parties today.
  • If there was any real benefit in having a Legislative Council, all States in the country should, and arguably would have a second chamber. The fact that there are only seven such Councils suggests the lack of any real advantage.
  • It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer.

Looking into both the sides of the arguments, there is a need of a National Policy on having Upper House in State Legislatures. Odisha’s proposal may give the country at large an opportunity to evolve a national consensus on Legislative Councils.

There is a need for wide range of debates and public and intellectual opinion to have an Upper House in all state legislatures. Legislative councils should be strengthen so that it can play its effective role in formulating the policies and programmes for the development of states.

Q. The suburbanisation occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development is creating new challenges for Indian cities. Enumerate the reasons and suggest remedies.

Approach:

  • Brief introduction about suburbanisation phenomenon in most urbanising countries.
  • Enumerating the reasons why it is occurring at a relatively early stage of India’s urban development.
  • Highlight the challenges it is creating for Indian cities and suggest ways forward.

Model Answer

A 2013 World Bank report, “Urbanization beyond Municipal Boundaries”, found that suburban areas (or Suburbs) are generating higher economic growth and employment than the city. Although “suburbanization” is a worldwide phenomenon, it usually occurs in middle to advanced stages of development. In India, it’s happening much more quickly in India than expected.

Reasons:

  • Inadequacy of cities to provide affordable and quality options has resulted in suburbanization. 
  • Suburbs are seen as safer and cheaper place to live and raise a family due to lower population density, lower crime, and a more stable population.
  • Increasing land prices and office rents have pushed companies to suburban areas.
  • With increased incomes, people have the ability to pay more to travel and commute longer distances to work and back home.
  • Indian cities impose quite draconian land use regulations, rent control system and building height restrictions on their cities lead to excessive suburbanization.
  • Suburban municipalities can offer tax breaks and regulatory incentives to attract
  • industrial land users to their area.
  • The development of robust and sophisticated infrastructure is possible only in the peripheries of the city where land is available in plenty and the cost of acquisition is low.
  • Growth of urban agglomerations poses many economic, ecological and institutional
  • challenges which are as follows:
  • Access to – and the quality of – water, sanitation, and electricity is much worse in the urban periphery than at the core.
  • Access to quality and affordable health and education services.
  • With commercialization of agricultural land and encroachment on forest , the areas ecosystem of the region is threatened.  
  • Unplanned urbanisation and uncontrolled encroachment of natural water storage and drainage systems has spelt disaster.
  • Proponents of containing suburbanization argue that it leads to urban decay and a concentration of lower income residents in the inner city.

Solution to the woes of our cities requires a holistic approach to urban reform.

  • Steps are required to address the lacunae in the current rural-urban categorization system.
  • Provide efficient services and reform governance structures to boost overall economic development.
  • India requires robust institutional mechanism to govern land use conversion and land valuation.
  • The efforts to leverage the potential of land markets as a financing tool needs to be complemented by an integrated urban planning process.
  • Indian cities also need to improve connectivity between metropolitan cores and peripheries to ensure ease of mobility for individuals and business.

Third and fifth five year plans advised urban planning to adopt regional approach and to create metropolitan planning regions to take care of the growing areas outside administrative city limits. We need to improve existing urban amenities while simultaneously addressing the problems of suburban sprawl. 

Q. Post- Independence, integration and unification of India demonstrated to be a long process plagued with challenges. In this context, examine the early challenges that India faced as a newly independent country.

Approach:

  • Write about the prevailing conditions after independence in the introduction.
  • Mention how it created challenges for India- both external and internal.
  • Conclude by mentioning India’s democratic credentials which helped India to survive as a nation.

Model Answer

15th August 1947 marked the end of colonial rule in India and the country found itself standing on the threshold of a new era wherein the task was to build a strong nation. While India found itself independent from the British, it was still to find independence from social, economic and political problems that hindered India’s growth story. The problems that India faced right after independence can be divided into three phases:

Phase 1 ( 1947- 1967): The problems that India faced after independence in this phase were as follows:

  • Communal Violence: Partition was marked with large scale communal violence.
  • The Refugee Problem: The partition of India gave way to the refugee problem. By mid-1948 about 5.5 million non-Muslims had moved into India and a very large number of Muslims had left India for Pakistan.
  • Origin of the Kashmir Problem: Kashmir was strategically important for both India and Pakistan, however, the famous movement lead by Sheik Abdullah wanted integration with India. The Maharaja, on the other hand, feared democracy in India and communalism in Pakistan, thus hoping to stay independent.
  • Foundation of the Indian Democracy: The first general elections in India which were held in 1952 was a landmark event in the history of the state which marked the establishment of the Indian democracy.
  • Linguistic Reorganization: Boundaries of the British Indian provinces had been drawn and redrawn in a haphazard manner without any thought to cultural and linguistic cohesion. Most provinces were multilingual and multicultural and after independence, many former princely states were absorbed into them. There was a demand for linguistically homogeneous provinces.
  • The Indus Water Dispute: The dispute started in 1960. The dispute arose because Indus and its tributaries flow through both India and Pakistan.
  • Mass poverty: At the time of Independence, the incidence of poverty in India was about 80% or about 250 million. Famines and hunger pushed India to take external help for its food security.
  • Illiteracy: When India gained Independence, its population numbered about 340 million. The literacy level then was just 12% or about 41 million.
  • Low economic capacity: Stagnant agriculture and poor industrial base. In 1947, agriculture accounted for 54% of India’s GDP. At the time of independence, 60% of India’s population depended on agriculture for a living.

Phase 2 ( 1967-1977): The problems that India faced after independence in this phase were as follows:

  • Linguistic reorganization: Boundaries of the British Indian provinces had been drawn and redrawn in a haphazard manner without any thought to cultural and linguistic cohesion. Continued demand for linguistically homogeneous provinces led to emergence of secessionist trends.
  • The Elections of 1967: In 1967 elections were held in February. The most important feature of the elections of 1967 was the coming together of the opposition parties.
  • Naxal Movement: The Naxalite Movement was a revolutionary movement that was started by the Naxalbari in Bengal which immediately expanded to other regions.
  • JP Movement: From 1973 there was a sharp recession, growing unemployment, rampant inflation and scarcity of basic food. The oil crisis of the mid 70’s had also contributed to the crisis and all of these developments together led to riots and large-scale unrest and strikes and erosion of support for the Congress from the poor and the middle class.
  • Emergency: National Emergency of 1975 as the government’s response to the JP Movement is considered as dark phases of Indian democracy. It curtailed the fundamental rights of the citizens and shook the foundations of Indian democratic credentials.
  • Hostile neighbours: India had to face consequent wars with Pakistan (1965, 1971) and China(1962) during the early phases of its independence. This not only hindered India’s growth and created regional instability.

Phase 3 ( 1977- 1984): The problems that India faced after independence in this phase were as follows:

  • Secessionist movements: Punjab’s Khalistan movement of the 1980s, Insurgency in the North-East, and the Naxal Movement in central-eastern India (1960s) were the biggest internal security challenges to India.
  • Punjab Crisis: During the 80’s the separatist movement in Punjab constituted the greatest threat to the unity and integrity of India.. From 1980, the Akali Dal under the leadership of Harcharan Singh Longowal decided to choose the path of confrontation. He installed in the Golden temple and began to preach his separatist message.
  • Operation Blue Star: In June 1984, Mrs Gandhi and her advisors decided to take some drastic action against the militants in the Golden temple. On 3rd June the Indian army led by General K S Brar surrounded the golden temple and on 5th June they were entered. Many temple employees and devotees died in the crossfire.

Indian democracy is a heterogeneous model with a vast socio-religious and cultural diversity. It was predicted by western political analysts that the Indian model of democracy would not last long. However, it was due to India’s strong commitment to its constitutional principles that led India to not only survive as a nation but also to emerge as the leader of the newly independent countries. 

About: Pfizer Vaccine

  • BNT162b2 is a vaccine that has been developed using mRNA technologye. it makes use of the messenger RNA molecules that tell cells what proteins to build.
  • The mRNA, in this case, is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein of the novel coronavirus.
  • The coronavirus spike protein is a molecular machine that facilitates the entry of coronavirus into host cells.
  • Once the mRNA is injected into the body, the cells use its instructions and create copies of the spike protein.
  • This is expected to prompt (induce) the immune cells to create antibodies to fight the virus.

Advantages of mRNA vaccines:

  • Unlike several other vaccine candidates, mRNA vaccines are synthetically developed i.e. they don’t need the virus to be cultivated and replicated.
  • mRNA vaccines can be manufactured at a large scale in large vats (tanks) called bioreactors.
  • After getting the code for the virus, it is possible to develop the mRNA vaccine within weeks for pre-clinical testing, compared with months taken for more traditional platforms.

Findings of the interim analysis based on phase 3 clinical trials

  • According to the findings, the vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 among participants who had received a second dose compared to those participants who had only received a placebo.
  • Thus, the results demonstrate that Pfizer’s vaccine can help prevent Covid-19 in majority of people who receive it.
  • The data also shows that there were no serious safety concerns.
  • However, the analysis did not provide details on the specifics of the immune response, adverse reactions, and age-specific effectiveness of the vaccine.

Significance of the findings:

  • Several international regulators and health organisations have suggested that a Covid-19 vaccine to be effective, the vaccine has to protect at least 50% of the people who receive it.
  • Based on this, the current findings are a positive sign in the development of a safe and effective vaccine.

Way ahead

Emergency use authorisation:

  • The current findings of the vaccine are based on only 94 out of nearly 40,000 volunteers who have been injected the vaccine. Thus, more data on the effectiveness of the vaccine and its safety is needed.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech have informed that they will accumulate this additional data (by end November), after which they will be able to apply for emergency use authorisation from the American regulator, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Global arrangements for distribution:

  • Pfizer has said, it would manufacture up to 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020, and potentially more than 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
  • It has so far announced agreements to supply hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine to countries including the US, United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada.

Possibility of the vaccine availability in India

  • As of now, Pfizer does not have an agreement with the Indian government, and has not identified any manufacturing facility in India.
  • As per India’s regulatory requirements, a vaccine would have to undergo local trials in the country before it can receive an approval for a launch.
  • Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine candidate requires storage and shipping in sub-zero (below zero) temperature conditions.
  • The 28,000-unit cold storage network that India’s universal immunisation programme uses, currently handles temperatures in the range of 2-8 degrees Celsius. Due to this, there will be logistical issues in the delivery of this vaccine in India.
  • Thus, for the vaccine to be delivered effectively in India, an appropriate ultra-cold storage infrastructure will have to be set-up.

About: Earth observation satellites

About: Earth observation satellites

  • Earth observation satellites are used for land and forest mapping and monitoring, mapping of resources like water or minerals or fishes, weather and climate observations, soil assessment and geospatial contour mapping.
  • Data from Earth-observation satellites are in great demand, both from government agencies, which need it for planning and infrastructure development, as well as private companies looking to execute infrastructure and other projects.

About: EOS-01

  • The EOS-01, is an earth observation satellite intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
  • EOS-01 is a Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT), which was originally named RISAT-2BR2. It will work together with RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1 launched last year. Radar imaging satellites are a type of earth observation satellites.

New naming system for earth observation satellites:

  • With EOS-01, ISRO is moving to a new naming system for its earth observation satellites which till now have been named thematically, according to the purpose they are meant for.
  • For example, the Cartosat series of satellites were meant to provide data for land topography and mapping, while the Oceansat satellites were meant for observations over sea.
  • Some INSAT-series, Resourcesat series, GISAT, Scatsat, and some more are all earth observation satellites, named differently for the jobs they are assigned to do, or the different instruments that they use to do their jobs.

About: Radar imaging

  • Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, weather and terrain (land).
  • An advantage of radar imaging is that it is not affected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight. It can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times.
  • Depending on the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation used by the radar, different properties on land can be captured in the image.
  • For example, a low wavelength signal can capture tree cover or vegetation, while a higher wavelength signal can penetrate even dense tree cover to look at land under the tree cover.

In Focus: Smog @UpscExpress

In Focus: Smog

  • Very simply, smogis a type of air pollution that reduces visibility.
  • The term “smog” was first used in the early 1900s to describe a mix of smoke and fog, when smoke came from burning of fossil fuels like coal in thermal power plants.

Sulphurous Smog

  • It is also called “London smog”.
  • It results from a high concentration of sulphur oxidesin the air and is caused by the use of sulphur-bearing fossil fuels, particularly coal.
  • This type of smog is aggravated by dampness and a high concentration of suspended particulate matter in the air.

Photochemical Smog

  • Another type of smog is photochemical smog.
  • Photochemical smog is produced when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides (NOX) and at least one volatile organic compound (VOC) in the atmosphere.
  • Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions.
  • VOCs are released from gasoline, paints, and many cleaning solvents.
  • When sunlight hits VOCs and NOX, they form a combination of airborne particles and ground-level ozone which is called as smog.
  • Impact of Photochemical Smog:
    • The photochemical smog causes a light brownish coloration of the atmosphere, reduced visibility, plantdamage, irritation of the eyes, and respiratory distress. 
    • Ozone in the lower levels of troposphere can damage lung tissue, and it is especially dangerous to people with respiratory illnesses like asthma.
    • It can also cause itchy, burning eyes.
    • Smog is unhealthy to humans and animals, and it can kill plants.
    • It makes the sky brown or gray and reduces visibility.

In Focus: Smog Towers

  • A smog tower is a structure designed to work as a large-scale air purifier.
  • Smog towers are fitted with multiple layers of filters which trap fine dust particles suspended in the air as it passes through them.
  • Air is drawn through fans installed at the top of the tower, passed through filters, and then released near the ground.

Examples of Smog Towers:

  • Smog towers have been experimented with in recent years in cities of Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland.
  • First Smog Tower of World
    • The first such tower was erected in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, created by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.
    • It is a 7 metre-high ‘smog free tower’ which can filter 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour around it.

  • Smog Towers of China
    • Beijing has a smog tower.
    • Smog tower of Xian- The University of Minnesota has helped design a 100-metre high permanent smog tower in the Chinese city of Xian. This tower was completed in 2017, and is said to be the world’s biggest air purifier.

  • Delhi’s Smog Tower at Lajpat Nagar
    • The first ‘smog tower’ was installed at Lajpat Nagar Central Market of Delhi
    • It became operational in January 2020.
    • This smog tower has a height of around 20 ft.
    • It is estimated to purify the air within a circumference area of almost 500 meters to 750 meters. The purifier aims at treating 2,50,000 to 6,00000 cubic meter air per day and release fresh air in return.

About: Delhi’s Pollution Problem

  • Delhi and its suburbs have ranked among the most polluted cities in the world frequently since 2014, when the WHO declared Delhi the most polluted city in the world.
  • Pollution levels in Delhi increase dramatically during winter- on some days to nearly 10 times above the limits prescribed by WHO, posing a serious risk to vulnerable and also healthy populations.
  • However, an assessment by the CPCB shows that Delhi’s air quality has been improving every year since 2016, even as it remains above acceptable limits, as a result of the pollution control measures being taken
  • Causes of Air Pollution in Delhi
    • Delhi’s air pollution is largely because sources of emissions from construction work, industrial and vehicular pollution in and around the city.
    • The situation is aggravated at the start of winter by smoke from stubble-burning in northwestern states, coupled with unfavourable meteorological conditions, such as calm winds, low temperatures, and fewer sunny days.

  • Measures Taken for Mitigating Air Pollution in Delhi
    • Persuading farmers in Punjab and Haryana to use mechanical alternatives to stubble-burning.
    • Closure of thermal power stations in Delhi.
    • Making industries use piped natural gas, in addition to control measures taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) when pollution levels spike.

Effectiveness of Smog Towers

  • Experts have claimed that the smog towers in Delhi would create “clean air zones” in the city.
  • An estimate made of their impact on air quality shows a tower would reduce 50% of the particulate matter load in an area of 1 kilometre in the direction of the wind, as well as 200 metres each along the sides of the tower and against the direction of the wind.
  • Delhi’s Environment Department is of the view these smog towers may not be useful for the whole city, but they can be useful in creating ‘clean air area’ zones in different parts of the city.
  • Another expert panel set up by the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology had estimated that 213 smog towers may be required across the whole city of Delhi.

The WTO’s dispute settlements mechanism is all but dead

Headline : The WTO’s dispute settlements mechanism is all but dead

Details :

In News:

  • The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) dispute settlement mechanism is on the brink of collapsing.

 

About: World Trade Organisation (WTO)

  • In 1948, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) came in as an ad hoc and provisional mechanism to enable international trade and to establish multilateral rules for the settlement of trade disputes.
  • More than four decades after GATT, the U.S. drove the agenda to establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which came into existence in 1995.
  • It’s an organization for liberalizing trade. It operates a system of trade rules.
  • It’s a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements.
  • It’s a place for governments to settle trade disputes.

Dispute settlement at WTO:

  • Resolving trade disputes is one of the core activities of the WTO.
  • A dispute arises when a member government believes another member government is violating an agreement or a commitment that it has made in the WTO.
  • The WTO has one of the most active international dispute settlement mechanisms in the world.
  • Dispute Settlement Body:
    • Settling disputes is the responsibility of the Dispute Settlement Body, which consists of all WTO members.
    • The Dispute Settlement Body has the sole authority to establish “panels” of experts to consider the case.
    • As the panel’s report can only be rejected by consensus in the Dispute Settlement Body, its conclusions are difficult to overturn.
  • Appellate Body:
    • The appeal to the DSB ruling is heard by the Appellate Body (AB) and a report is submitted to the DSB.
    • The appeal is heard by three member panel of the permanent Appellate Body (consisting of a total  seven-members) set up by the Dispute Settlement Body and broadly representing the range of WTO membership.
    • Once the AB report is adopted by the DSB, the member concerned is obliged to implement the findings and recommendations within a reasonable period of time.
  • Enforcement of dispute settlement:
    • In case of reluctance or refusal to implement of the recommendations by a party, the affected member may seek enforcement by requesting the DSB to authorise retaliatory measures.
    • The DSB may allow retaliation in the same sector (goods, services or intellectual property rights) or even authorise cross-retaliation, but it must be at the same level as the measure complained against.
    • The process of enforcement is, thus, controlled multilaterally to ensure fairness of treatment towards all concerned.

 

Over the years, US has criticized the Appellate Body and called for changes:

  • Over the years, the US in particular found itself on the wrong side of these developments on a few occasions.
    • The US is frustrated at the AB’s rulings against its anti-dumping duties against foreign products, as well as AB’s relaxations for Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
  • The US believes the WTO is biased against it, and has criticised it for being “unfair”.
  • The US President Trump and others also believe the WTO has encouraged China — helping it to strengthen its economy at the cost of other nations including the US.

US caused AB membership to shrink:

  • The US administration, hoping to raise attention to these issues, began blocking the he appointments of new members, and the reappointments of members who had completed their four-year tenures.
  • For more than two years, the US has refused to allow vacancies at AB to be filled up.
  • As a result, the strength of the AB (which can have seven members) has already been reduced to three.

 

News Summary:

AB will be rendered disfunctional:

  • The AB will become dysfunctional as two more members retired on December 10, 2019. This leaves AB with only 1 member and the requirement of a quorum of three members can no longer be met.

What it means:

  • AB becoming disfunctional would mean that dispute resolution would not progress beyond the panel process and there would be no final decision in disputes raised before the body.
  • The importance of AB can be seen from the fact that between 1995 and 2014, around 68% of the 201 panel reports adopted were appealed.
  • It could also signal the demise of the 24-year-old WTO itself, as the system for settling disputes has been the organisation’s most important function.
  • Once the appellate body becomes non-functional, with no avenue for appeal, there could be the risk of arbitration proceedings against any member at the wrong end of the panel report.
  • Shortage of members was already impacting AB:
    • The strength of the AB has already been reduced to three in last year or two.
    • The understaffed appeals body has been unable to stick to its 2-3 month deadline for appeals filed in the last few years. The backlog of cases has prevented it from initiating proceedings in appeals that have been filed in the last year.
    • The three members have been proceeding on all appeals filed since October 1, 2018 (as minimum of three members must hear any appeal).

Impact on India:

  • India has so far been a direct participant in 54 disputes, and has been involved in 158 as a third party.
  • India has been impacted directly as a result of this situation of shortage of AB membership.
  • Case of dispute with Japan:
    • Earlier, the panel had found that India had acted “inconsistently” with some WTO agreements in a dispute with Japan over certain safeguard measures that India had imposed on imports of iron and steel products.
    • India had then notified the Dispute Settlement Body of its decision to appeal certain issues of law and legal interpretations in December 2018.
    • However, India’s appeal could not be heard due to the inability to staff the AB to hear the dispute.
  • The situation could be difficult for India, which is facing a rising number of dispute cases, especially on agricultural products.
Section : 

Retributive justice Editorial 6th Dec’19 TheHindu

Headline : Retributive justice Editorial 6th Dec’19 TheHindu

Details :

Outcry for women’s safety after Hyderabad incident:

  • The heinous rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad in late November shook the collective conscience of India.
  • It resulted in an outcry for justice for the victim and outrage over the persisting lack of safety for women in public spaces.

Creates societal pressure on justice system for quick justice:

  • Such societal pressure for justice invariably weighs upon legal institutions, as the police are required to find the culprits immediately and the judiciary to complete the legal process without undue delay.

But rule of law and procedure must continue to be upheld:

  • But these institutions must uphold the rule of law and procedure even in such circumstances.

 

The ‘encounter’ of the accused was celebrated:

  • The killing of the four accused of the rape and murder of the veterinary doctor by the Hyderabad police was celebrated by people in Hyderabad and across India.

Shows anger against gruesome crimes as well as justice system:

  • The jubilation over the killings by the police stems from the public anger and anguish over the burgeoning crimes against women.
  • There is a perception that the legal institutions are ill-equipped to deal with such crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

However, the encounter raises questions:

  • The police claim that they killed the accused in self-defence does not sound fully convincing, and raises disturbing questions.

The encounter must be probed:

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has deputed a fact-finding team to Hyderabad to probe the incident.
  • The guidelines set by the Supreme Court to deal with such events, including the need for an independent investigation, must be strictly observed.

 

Some improvements in justice system from earlier times for quick justice in gruesome cases:

  • There has been greater awareness and improvement in both the policing and judicial process following the ‘Nirbhaya’ case in December 2012 in New Delhi.
  • The Telangana government had, in this case as well, issued orders for setting up a fast-track court to try the four accused.
  • If the Hyderabad police had followed the successful prosecution similar to the Delhi case, this case could have also brought closure to the case in a time-bound manner.

Much more needs to be done:

  • However, much more needs to done in terms of registration and charge-sheeting of sexual crimes by police and addressing the pendency in court of such cases.
  • Existing laws on sexual crimes and punishment need better application.

 

But severe retribution cannot be justice:

  • In any case, recourse to brutal retribution as in the case of present ‘encounter’ is no solution.
  • On the contrary, the political sanction to deliver such swift retribution would only be a disincentive for the police to follow due process. It may even deter them from pursuing the course of justice.

 

Conclusion:

  • Far from ensuring justice to the victims, bending the law in such cases would only undermine people’s faith in the criminal justice system.
  • Justice in any civilised society is not just about retribution, but also about deterrence, and in less serious crimes, rehabilitation of the offenders.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: Polity

Section : Editorial Analysis

About: Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) and It’s significance

Headline : Manufacturing PMI improves

Details :

In News:
  • The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose in November from October, indicating an increase in manufacturing activity November.
About: Purchasing Manager Index (PMI)
  • The Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI is based on data compiled from monthly survey responses by purchasing managers in more than 400 manufacturing companies, on various factors that represent demand conditions.
  • PMI measures activity at the purchasing or input stage. It is very different from industrial production which is indicative of actual production. For example, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) measures output
  • The PMI is constructed separately for manufacturing and services sector, but the manufacturing sector holds more importance.
  • PMI does not capture informal sector activity.
Significance:
  • The Index is considered as an indicator of the economic health and investor sentiment about the manufacturing sector.
  • PMI is also the earliest indicator of manufacturing activity and economic health, as the manufacturing PMI report for any given month comes out without any delay – either on the last day of that month or on the first day of the next month.
How it is captured:
  • The PMI is derived from survey responses from purchasing managers to a a series of qualitative questions.
  • PMI is composite index based on five individual sub-indices:
    • New orders
    • Output
    • Employment
    • Suppliers’ delivery times
    • Stock of items purchased
Reading the PMI:
  • A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity and anything below 50 denotes contraction.
  • Higher is the difference from this mid-point, greater is the expansion or contraction.
  • The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data. If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate.
News Summary:
  • The October Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, at 50.6, was a two-year low.
  • Now, in November, the Index rose to 51.2. In comparision, the survey average is 53.8.
  • This indicates that, although business conditions in the Indian manufacturing sector improved in November, the upturn remained subdued compared to earlier in the year and the survey history.
  • The rates of expansion in factory orders, production and exports remained far away from those recorded at the start of 2019. Subdued underlying demand is being seen as a major reason for this.
Performance of sub-indices:
  • Good: The Index rise was driven by a modest increase in the growth of new orders and production.
  • Bad: On the other hand, it was concerning that firms shed jobs (for the first time in 20 months) and continued to reduce input buying.
Various segments:
  • The consumer goods segment growth mainly propped up the growth in the overall manufacturing sector.
  • The intermediate goods segment also returned to expansion.
  • However, the capital goods segment reported a deterioration in the operating conditions.
Section : Economics

Transforming farm loans Editorial 1st Dec’19 FinancialExpress

Headline : Transforming farm loans Editorial 1st Dec’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

Importance of crop loans in India:

  • Crop loan is a lifeline for over 145 million farmers in India.
  • Every year, millions of farmers and thousands of bank branches go through a intense process of granting crop loans delivered through Kisan Credit Cards.
  • Banks disbursed Rs 12.5 lakh crore worth farm loans (majority as crop loans) during 2018-19.

Efforts to encourage crop loans:

  • The Centre provides interest subvention on crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh, and with additional incentive for timely repayment, effective interest rate works out to affordable 4%.
  • Banks are also mandated to secure crop insurance cover for farmers, who have to pay a minimal premium.

Still many farmers unable to access loans:

  • Despite these measures to make crop loans affordable, only 61% of farmers have accessed institutional loans (NAFIS 2016-17).
  • Manual crop loaning processes is a big reason for that: Due to predominantly manual crop loaning processes in banks, there are substantial direct and indirect costs inflicted on farmers, including:
    • Loss of precious time and potential wage opportunities
    • Expenses on visits to banks/other offices
    • Legal expenses on verification of land records/documentation
    • Processing fee levied by some banks

 

Banks still do not like these loans much:

  • Yet, this massive loan segment continues to be treated as a necessary evil by banks, rather than mainstreaming as a commercial proposition like retail loans.
  • Denial or delay in crop loans forces farmers to borrow from informal sources, on adverse terms.

 

Farm loan waivers across states:

  • Undue glorification of farm loans through politically-motivated loan waivers is common.
  • While the central government has resisted announcing farm loan waivers, this fiscal prudence was not replicated during the several assembly elections held since 2014.
  • Political parties have been promising loan waivers as their main electoral strategy. Subsequently, the elected state governments announced farm loan waivers aggregating a whopping Rs 2.4 lakh crores.

Loan waivers cause systemic damage:

  • Irrational loan waivers cause systemic damage where:
    • Farmers tend to postpone repayments
    • NPAs rise in banks that show reluctance in extending new loans
    • State governments resort to fiscally-imprudent acts such as higher market borrowings
    • Curtailing expenditure on capital investments and welfare programmes to fund waivers
  • Not surprisingly, agricultural NPAs crossed Rs 1 lakh crore mark in July 2019their proportion to total outstanding agri-loans rose from 9.6% in July 2018 to 11.0% in July 2019, and states that implemented waivers ended up in bad fiscal math.

 

Issues with issuing subsidised crop loans:

  • Today, subsidised crop loans are a necessity for farmers.
  • But there are issues relating to:
    • Accurate targeting
    • End-use
    • Skewed distribution across states
    • Exclusions, adverse selection
    • Actual impact in terms of incremental farm productivity/output, etc.
  • Correct diagnosis and mitigation of crop loan issues can be possible only through analysis of credible micro data and trends on farm credit.

Difficulties in tracking actual progress on loans to agriculture:

  • Within the priority sector norms for agriculture, banks are required to provide 8% loans to small and marginal farmers.
  • The presence of women and lessee farmers, who also need credit, is steadily growing in India.
  • But, with existing manual loan operations and related data, it becomes difficult to track actual progress on these parameters.

 

Need a paradigm shift to make crop loans work better for all stakeholders:

  • This calls for a paradigm shift in approach to adopt disruptive fintech ideas for making crop loans work better for farmers, banks, governments.

Some transformative ideas towards achieving this:

  • Loan process automation:
    • Crop loans should continue to be delivered to farmers based on a well-evolved methodology comprising crop-wise acreage, crop seasonality, district-wise scale of finance etc.
    • However, we need to make crop loan delivery simple, transparent and efficient through process automation to allow timely, hassle-free, cost-effective credit access to farmers.
  • Banks must make crop loans a serious and competitive business:
    • Banks must start seeing crop loans as multi-billion worth banking opportunity with 145 million aspirational rural customers, having cross-selling opportunities.
    • Banks need to act proactively and disruptively to make crop loaning a serious and competitive business, like retail loans.
  • National Agriculture Calamity Fund (NACF):
    • To safeguard financial interests of farmers in the event of a natural calamity or market adversity, the government may create a ‘National Agriculture Calamity Fund (NACF)’ within a credible national-level agency.
    • Mandatory annual contributions to NACF by the central/state governments may be facilitated by the Finance Commission in its resource-sharing formula. States granting loan waivers outside the NACF mechanism may be disincentivised in devolution of the formula.
  •  Seamless integration between crop loaning and insurance processes:
    • There is a need to make crop insurance a preferred choice of farmers, insurance firms and banks.
    • To achieve seamless integration between crop loaning and insurance processes, refinements are needed such as:
      • Early remittance of premium collected by banks to insurance firms
      • Timely payment of premium subsidy by state/central governments
      • Use of advanced remote-sensing and digital technologies for timely and trustworthy conduct of crop cutting experiments at farmer level
      • Building effective grievance mechanism, etc.
  • Big data analytics:
    • With numerous data points involved in crop loan operation for 145 million farmers, the segment is a mammoth big data game.
    • in the absence of digitisation, banks, governments and other stakeholders are deprived of power of data analytics for making informed decisions on policies, products, processes, cross-selling opportunities, etc.
    • Therefore, there is an urgent need to adopt modern financial technology in crop loaning.
  • National Data Platform on Farmers (NDPF):
    • Creating a robust ‘National Data Platform on Farmers (NDPF)’ to warehouse data on individual farmers, covering their demographics, land records etc. is the need of the hour.
    • NDPF may be promoted as a joint venture of central/state governments, financial institutions and other stakeholders.
  • Farmer-level risk assessment:
    • Banks do not systematically factor structured risk assessed at farmer level in their crop loaning decisions.
    • With farmer-level micro data on NDPF, it will be possible to evolve appropriate risk-assessment models and generate a ‘Farmer Rating and Credit Score (FRCS)‘.
    • Crop loan eligibility for a farmer, worked out using usual standard criteria, may be further moderated, based on his/her score.
    • Such a risk-based lending approach would help in promoting judicious borrowing by farmers and responsible lending by banks.
  • National Crop Loaning Portal (NCLP):
    • A standardised ‘National Crop Loaning Portal (NCLP)’ may be developed under the aegis of Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) as a fully digitised end-to-end solution for crop loaning.
    • Farmers may be given access for making online loan application, tracking and viewing loan transaction details.

 

Conclusion:

  • The proposed NACF and NDPF could prove to be major steps towards promoting cooperative federalism in Indian agriculture.
  • Loan process automation would enable banks to easily outsource basic loan processes to other agencies.
  • Data-driven, digital and score-based approaches to crop loaning would help liberate farm loans from the crutches of political patronage.
  • The adoption of a digital and score-based retailing approach to crop loans would enable banks to position this segment as their growth driver, like retail loans, and gradually make it immune to syndromes such as loan waivers.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

What is the project to redevelop Lutyens’ Delhi all about?

Headline : What is the project to redevelop Lutyens’ Delhi all about?

Details :

In News

  • The Central government has started its plan of redeveloping the three-km-long Central Vista and Parliament.
  • The plan also includes constructing a common Central secretariat for all ministries that are currently spread over many buildings across Delhi.
  • This follows calls from Members of Parliament to have their own offices at Parliament House, which only Ministers get as of now.
  • In October, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) selected a Gujarat-based architecture firm, HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd., to serve as its consultant for the project.
  • The work on the ground in Lutyen’s Delhi is expected to start by May 2020.

 

Why did the government feel the need for redeveloping the area?

  • The British built Parliament House and the North and South Blocks, which contain the offices of the Ministries of Finance, Home, Defence and External Affairs, between 1911 and 1931.
  • Post-1947, the government of independent India added office buildings such as ShastriBhavan, KrishiBhavan and NirmanBhavan.
  • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs these buildings do not have the facilities and space required today.
  • While the British-built buildings are not earthquake-proof, the buildings that came up after 1947 are prone to fires.

What is the plan?

  • The huge rooms for Ministers and secretaries, with corridors lined with clerical staff would be replaced with modern workspaces.
  • The new buildings that come up would have a lifespan of 150 to 200 years, would be energy-efficient and would represent a “new India”.
  • While Parliament House and North and Sout Blocks will not be demolished, their usage may change, for example, they may be used as museums.
  • The rest of the buildings that came up post-Independence, including ShastriBhavan, KrishiBhavan, etc, are likely to be demolished.
  • Through this project the government will also save about ₹1,000 crore a year, which it spends currently on renting office premises for its ministries outside of Lutyens’ Delhi in the Capital.

 

What lies ahead?

  • According to the government’s deadlines, the new Parliament (either as a completely new building or a renovation of the existing one) has to be ready by March 2022, the 75th year of India’s Independence.
  • The revamped Central Vista, complete with public amenities and parking, has to be ready by November 2021 and the new common Central secretariat by March 2024.
  • But after the government’s plan became public in September, concerns about conservation of heritage and the environment have come up.
  • However, CPWD and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has clarified that the green cover and the history of New Delhi will not be damaged in the process of the revamp.
Section : Polity & Governance

India can learn agri-policy lessons from China Editorial 25th Oct’19 FinancialExpress

Headline : India can learn agri-policy lessons from China Editorial 25th Oct’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

India and China have similar challenges in agriculture:
  • India and China are the most populous countries in the world, having a population size of 1.35 billion and 1.39 billion, respectively, in 2018.
  • With limited arable land [about 120 million hectare (m ha) in China, and 156 m ha in India], both face the challenge of producing enough food, fodder, and fibre for their population.
Followed many similar methods to increase output:
  • Both have adopted similiar methods to get more food from limited land, including:
    • Modern technologies in agriculture, starting with High Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds in the mid-1960s
    • Use of more chemical fertilisers
    • Increased irrigation cover
      • China’s irrigation cover is 41% of cultivated area, and India’s is 48%.
      • As a result of this irrigation, China’s total sown area is 166 m ha compared to India’s gross cropped area of 198 m ha.
But China produces more output than India:
  • Even with much lesser land under cultivation, China produces agricultural output valued at $1,367 billion—more than three times that of India’s $407 billion.
Lessons for India from China in agriculture:
  • There are three important lessons for India, if it is to catch up to the levels achieved in China.
 
I) Increased spending on Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems
  • Agriculture studies have revealed that the highest impact is from investments in agriculture Research and Education (R&E).
  • China spends more:
    • China spends a lot more on agriculture knowledge and innovation system (AKIS), which includes agri R&D, and extension.
    • China invested $7.8 billion on AKIS in 2018-19, amounting to 5.6 times the amount spent by India ($1.4 billion).
    • Presently, India invests just about 0.35% of its agri-Gross Value Added (GVA) whereas China spends 0.8%.
  • India needs to spend more:
    • For increasing total factor productivity, India needs to increase expenditure on agri-R&Dwhile making the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) accountable for targeted deliveries.
  • Note: Better seeds that result from higher R&D expenditures generally demand more fertiliser. China’s fertiliser consumption in 2016 was 503 kg/ha of arable area compared to just 166 kg/ha for India, as per World Bank estimates. Consequently, China’s productivity in most crops is 50 to 100% higher than India’s.
II) Better incentive structure to farmers through agri-marketing reforms
  • The incentive structure, as measured by Producer Support Estimates (PSEs), is much better for Chinese farmers than Indian ones.
  • The PSE concept measures the output prices that farmers get in relation to free trade scenario, as well as input subsidies received by them.
    • The PSE concept is adopted by 52 countries that produce more than three-fourths of global agri-output.
  • China’s PSE much higher to India:
    • For Chinese farmers, PSE was 15.3% of gross farm receipts during the triennium average ending (TE) 2018-19.
    • For the same period, Indian farmers had a PSE of -5.7%.
    • In a way, this reflects that Indian farmers had been net taxed, not subsidised, despite high amounts of input subsidies.
  • Due to restrictive trade and marketing practices in India:
    • This negative PSE (support) comes due to restrictive marketing, and trade policies that do not allow Indian farmers to get free trade prices for their outputs.
    • This negative market price support is so strong that it exceeds even the positive input subsidy support the government gives to farmers through low prices of fertilisers, power, irrigation, agri-credit, crop insurance, etc.
  • China’s experience that high MSPs do not work:
    • India can take a leaf out of Chinese bad experience from high MSPs.
    • China, in fact, used to give procurement prices to farmers that were much higher than even international prices.
    • The result was massive accumulation of stocks of wheat, rice, and corn that touched almost 300 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2016-17 (see graphic).
    • As a result, they had to incur large expenditure for withholding these stocks without much purpose.
    • Having learnt lesson, China dropped the price support scheme for corn, and in fact, have been gradually reducing support prices of wheat, and rice.
  • India should learn from China and move away from high MSPs:
    • Indian government has been trying to jack up minimum support prices (MSPs) for 23 crops.
    • As a result, India’s stock situation in July 2019 was 81 MMT as against a buffer stock norm of 41 MMT.
    • India needs to reduce the gamut of commodities under the MSP system, and keep MSPs below international prices.
    • Else, India will also suffer from the same problems of overflowing granaries as China did.
  • Marketing reforms are necessary in India:
    • To improve this situation, large-scale agri-marketing reforms (APMC and Essential Commodities Act) need to be carried out.
III) Implementation of single direct income support scheme:
Single input subsidy scheme in China:
  • China has combined its major input subsidies in a single scheme that allows direct payment to farmers on a per hectare basis, and has spent $20.7 billion in 2018-19.
  • This gives farmers freedom to produce anything, rather than incentivising them to produce specific crops.
  • Inputs are priced at market prices, encouraging farmers to use resources optimally.
India offers heavy input subsidies apart from direct benefits:
  • India spent only $3 billion under its direct income scheme, PM-KISAN, in 2018-19.
  • On the other hand, it spent $27 billion on heavily subsidising fertilisers, power, irrigation, insurance, and credit.
  • This leads to large inefficiencies in their use, and has also created environmental problems.
India needs to consolidate subsidies into a single scheme:
  • It may be better for India to also consolidate all its input subsidies and give them directly to farmers on a per hectare basis, and free up their prices from all controls.
  • This would go a long way to spur efficiency, and productivity in Indian agriculture.
Conclusion:
  • If India needs to learn these three lessons from China, i.e., to invest more in agri-R&D and innovations, improve incentives for farmers by carrying out agri-marketing reforms, and collapse input subsidies into direct income support on a per hectare basis.
  • Through this, India can benefit its farmers and put agriculture on a high growth trajectory.
Importance:
GS Paper III: Indian Economy
Section : Editorial Analysis

Is seawater the ultimate answer?

Headline : Is seawater the ultimate answer?

Details :

Context of the topic:

  • As per National Health Profile (NHP), India’s public health spend as a percentage of GDP has increased by 0.16 percentage points from 1.12% to 1.28% of GDP, between 2009-10 and 2018-19.
    • India’s target is 5% GDP on health spend.
    • The NHP is an annual stocktaking exercise on the health of the health sector.

In News

The key findings of NHP 2019 are as below:

  • Increase in cost of treatmentleading to inequity in access to health care services.
  • Increase in per capita public expenditure on health in nominal terms from Rs 621 in 2009-10 to Rs 1,657 in 2017-18.
  • There has been an improvement in sex ratio and a decline in birth and death rates

Health expenditure as percentage of GDP

  • Spending by states showed deviation with the highest average per capita public expenditure on health by Northeastern states and the lowest by Empowered Action Group (EAG) states plus Assam.
    • EAG states are the eight socio-economically backward states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Among the NE states, highest GSDP spend was by Mizoram (4.20%) and Arunachal Pradesh (3.29%).
    • Tamil Nadu and Kerala though having better performers on health parameters, performed poorly on the health finance index with low GSDP spend (Tamil Nadu – 0.74% and Kerala – 0.93%).
  • Globally, India’s per capita health expenditure was only $16 in 2016. A comparison has provided against other countries that are on the UHC path.

 

Other Findings of NHP 2019

  • As per NHP 2019, there has been a change in disease profile of the country with a shift from communicable onestowards the non-communicable diseases (NCDs)such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, mental health disorder and injuries.
    • This was also documented by the State Level Disease Burden Study 2017. It highlighted an increase in disease burden from NCDs from 30 to 55% between 1990 and 2016.
    • Several initiatives have been taken in this regard. These include:
      • National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) launched in 100 districts across 21 states with the aim to prevent and control thesediseases thorough awareness generation, behavior and lifestyle changes.
      • Free door-to-door screening programme for early detection of cancer, heart disorders and diabetes.
    • As per the NHP, sex ratio in the country has improved from 933 in 2001 to 943 in 2011.
      • The sex ratio in rural areas has increased from 946 to 949, and in urban areas from 900 to 929.
      • Kerala has recorded the highest sex ratio (1,084), and Chandigarh has recorded the lowest sex ratio (690).
    • Also, the estimated birth ratedeath rate and natural growth rate are declining. During 2000 to 2016, the figures were as below:
      • The estimated birth rate reduced from 25.8 to 20.4.
      • The death rate declined from 8.5 to 6.4 per 1,000 population.
      • The natural growth rate declined from 17.3 to 14.
    • The total fertility rate in 12 States has fallen below 2 children per woman and nine States have reached replacement levels of 2.1 and above.
      • Delhi, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have the lowest fertility rate among other States.
    • There has been growth in medical education infrastructure.
      • The country has 529 medical colleges, 313 Dental Colleges for BDS & 253 Dental Colleges for MDS.

About: National Health Profile (NHP)

  • The NHP covers demographic, socio-economic, health status and health finance indicators, human resources in the health sector and health infrastructure.
  • It is an important source of information on various communicable and non-communicable diseases that are not covered under any other major programmes.
    • This information is essential for health system policy development, governance, health research, human resource development, health education and training.

Universal Health Coverage

  • In 2011, the High Level Expert Group of the erstwhile Planning Commission submitted its report on the rollout of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.
  • It recommended that the government (central government and states combined) should increase public expenditures on health from the current level of 1.2% of GDP to at least 2.5% by the end of the 12th plan and to at least 3% of GDP by 2022.
  • The benefit of increasing health expenditure would result in:
    • A five-fold increase in real per capita health expenditures by the government (from around Rs 650-700 in 2011-12 to Rs 3,400-3,500 by 2021- 22).
    • A corresponding decline in real private out-of-pocket expenditures(from around Rs 1,800-1,850 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,700-1,750 by 2021-22).
  • According to the WHO, Universal Health Coveragemeans “all people and communities can use the promotivepreventivecurativerehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
  • The three objectives of UHC are:
    • Equity in access to health services;
    • Quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving them;
    • People should be protected against financial-risk, ensuring that the cost of using services does not put people at risk of financial harm.

About: Central Bureau of Health Intelligence

  • Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) was established in 1961 by the Act of Parliament on the recommendation of Mudaliar committee.
  • It is the Health Intelligence Wing under Directorate General of Health Services (Dte.GHS), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).
  • Vision–To havea strong Health Management Information System (HMIS) in entire country.
  • Mission –To strengthen Health Information System (HIS) in each of the district in the country up to the facility level for evidence based decision-making in the Health Sector.

Important Terms

  • Sex Ratio – The number of females per 1,000 males
  • Total fertility rate – The average number of children that will be born to a woman during her lifetime
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) measures how much of a normal life span of an individual is taken away by a disease related morbidity of mortality.
    • It is an international standard of disease burden.
Section : Social Issues

Explained: Jammu and Kashmir state to two UTs — today, later

Headline : Explained: Jammu and Kashmir state to two UTs — today, later

Details :

In News

  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be officially bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh on October 31. The day will mark the beginning of the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level.
  • This marks an important milestone in the history of J&K and culminates the process that started on August 5 with the landmark announcement for emasculation of Article 370 as well as end of statehood for J&K
  • The period between August 5 and October 31 has been used by the state administration and the Home Ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
  • This is the first time that a state is being bifurcated into two UTs. In the past, there have been instances of a UT becoming a full state or a state being reorganised into two states.

 

Slow process of Reorganization

  • As of now, the state administration has implemented all that is mentioned in the Reorganisation Act as it is.
  • For full-fledged bifurcation of States, the Reorganisation Act gives a period of one year. But, reorganisation of states is a slow process that at times can take years.
  • Issues relating to reorganisation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, which was bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana in 2013, are still being brought to the Union Home Ministry for resolution.

 

Implication of the official bifurcation

  • Post the official bifurcation the Centre will be in direct control of police and law & order in J&K from 31st October.
  • It also puts an end to J&K’s flag and constitution, symbols of the state’s special status.
  • The Lieutenant Governors of the two UTs will take oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
  • On the ground, the two UTs will get their own Chief Secretaries and other top bureaucrats, their own police chiefs and key supervisory officers.

 

Impact on laws that governed the state of Jammu & Kashmir

  • Legislative restructuring is a work in progress, with a lot remaining to be done. While 153 state laws are to be repealed, 166 have been retained.
  • The exercise of repealing Acts that mention “applicable to all of India but not the state of Jammu and Kashmir” will also have to be undertaken.
  • Further, there is a massive legislative exercise of making state-specific insertions into the 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two Union Territories.

 

Impact on staff

  • While the bureaucratic structures are in place, the staff of the state administration are yet to be divided.
  • As of now, the Home Ministry has issued an interim order to maintain the station of all staff in the lower bureaucracy as it is.
  • This is to ensure that the two UTs keep on functioning without any hiccups beginning October 31. However, a subsequent reorganisation of staff will take place in due course.

 

Filling the political void

  • It is early days, but the Centre hopes to slowly fill the political void created following the arrest of almost all notable politicians and prominent workers of mainstream parties in the Valley.
  • A new political alternative being catalyzed by the Centre is starting to take shape in Kashmir.
  • Several young aspiring politicians are ready to look beyond the abrogation of Article 370, and willing to start afresh a dialogue with the people and engage with the Centre.
  • The government is also banking on the emergence of a new crop of political leaders from panchayats and municipal bodies.

 

EU MPs in J&K

  • European Union parliamentarians visiting Kashmir termed the dilution of Article 370 an internal issue of India and said they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism.
  • The 23-member delegation also condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal by militants in Kulgam district.
  • They also acknowledged that terrorism is a severe problem in Kashmir and named Pakistan as its source.

 

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

IMF members delay quota changes, agree to maintain funding

Headline : IMF members delay quota changes, agree to maintain funding

Details :

In News

  • Members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to maintain its funding at $1 trillion but postponed changes to its voting structure.

Highlights of the deal

  • The deal will allow an extension of non-permanent, supplementary sources of funds, such as the New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB) and the bilateral borrowing facility.
  • The agreement extended the bilateral borrowing facility by a year —to the end of 2020 — and a potential doubling of the NAB.
  • The agreed package will leave IMF quotas (the primary source of IMF funds), which determine voting shares, unchanged. Instead, these will be reviewed before the end of 2023.

 

About: IMF Quotas and Voting Share:

  • An important factor that helps the IMF’s functioning is the quota. This quota is basically money that a member country has to give to the IMF and as per the norms, each member has to subscribe a quota of the IMF.
  • For any member country, out of the quota, 25% should be paid in the form of foreign currency or gold (called as reserve tranche or gold tranche) to the Fund.
  • The remaining 75% in the form of domestic currency (called as credit tranche).

How the size of quota for each member country is determined:

  • When a country joins the IMF, it is assigned an initial quota in the same range as the quotas of existing members that are broadly comparable in economic size and characteristics.
  • The IMF uses a quota formula to guide the assessment of a member’s relative position, which depends on its economic importance.
  • The current quota formula (applied for 14th quota review) is a weighted average of GDP (weight of 50 percent), openness (30 percent), economic variability (15 percent), and international reserves (5 percent).
  • India’s quota is 2.76% and China’s is 6.41%, while the U.S.’s quota is 17.46 %.

Multiple purposes of Quotas:

  • Quota subscribed by the members indicates funds provided by the members to the IMF, and hence it constitute to the resource base of the IMF.
  • A member country’s loan availability depends upon size of its quota. The amount of financing a member can obtain from the IMF (called as access limit) thus depends upon its quota.

Voting Power:

  • The size of quota basically determines voting power of a member.
  • As per the IMF rules, for an important resolution to be passed, at least 85% of the votes should be secured. This means that the US, with 16.54 % of voting power, enjoys a veto power.
  • Thus, a member’s quota indicates basic aspects of its financial and organizational relationship with the Fund.

Review of Quotas:

  • Quotas are supposed to be reviewed every five years although these reviews can be delayed — as was the case with the 14th review.
  • That process, completed in 2010, needed approval of the U.S. Congress, and it was not closed out till early 2016.
  • The review’s outcomes included a doubling of the quota total and a shift in some voting rights to under-represented and emerging market countries.

 

About: Permanent Resource Base

  • Quotas are the IMF’s main source of financing, wherein each member of the IMF is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative position in the world economy.
  • Quotas of each of the IMF’s 189 members increased to a combined SDR 477 billion (about US$668 billion) from about SDR 238.5 billion (about US$334 billion) after the 14th quota review.

About: New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB)

  • It is a renewable funding mechanism that has existed since 1998. Through the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) a number of member countries and institutions stand ready to lend additional resources to the IMF.
  • The NAB constitutes a second line of defense to supplement IMF resources to forestall or cope with an impairment of the international monetary system.
  • Concurrent with the quota increases under the 14th Review, the NAB was rolled back from SDR 370 billion to SDR 182 billion in February 2016.
  • The activation of NAB requires support from 85% of creditors eligible to vote

About: Bilateral Borrowing Agreements

  • The IMF had entered into Bilateral Borrowing Arrangements after the 2008 financial crisis to increase its lending ability. BBAs serve as a third line of defense after quotas and the NAB.
  • In 2016, in view of continued uncertainty in the global economy, the membership committed to maintain access to bilateral borrowing, under a revised borrowing framework.
  • The initial term was till the end of 2019 extendable for a further year with creditors’ consents.
  • Activation of the agreements requires support from 85% of creditors eligible to vote

 

Criticisms and call for governance reforms at IMF

Domination of developed countries:

  • Some IMF members are frustrated with the pace of governance reforms, as the balance of economic and geopolitical power has shifted, becoming more dispersed, particularly with the emergence of China and India.
  • Developed countries have been seen to have a more dominant role and control over less developed countries (LDCs).
  • The scholarly consensus is that IMF decision-making is not simply technocratic, but also guided by political and economic concerns.
  • The United States has historically been openly opposed to losing its “leadership role” at the IMF, and its “ability to shape international norms and practices
  • The criticism of the US-and-Europe-dominated IMF has led to what some consider ‘disenfranchising the world’ from the governance of the IMF.

Discrepancy in the calculated and actual quotas:

  • While quotas as computed by the above formula are the basic starting point in allocating shares, they serve as guidance rather than as a rigid rule, since the IMF’s Board of Governors has full discretion in decisions about shares.
  • There are significant differences between actual and calculated quotas. Notably, for Europe and the euro area, actual quotas are higher than calculated quotas.
  • For China, the actual quota, at 6.4 percent, is only about half of the calculated quota.
  • Many developing countries are up in arms that this discrepancy in particular merits quick correction.

Over reliance on non-permanent sources of funding:

  • Out of the three main financing sources, only one is a permanent feature and there has been an overreliance on non-quota sources of funding.
  • This is inconsistent with the IMF’s basic principle that quota subscriptions should be the main source of IMF resources. Hence, the reliance on alternate funding sources should be reduced.

Narrow development concerns:

  • The IMF is only one of many international organisations, and it is a generalist institution that deals only with macroeconomic issues, while its core areas of concern in developing countries are very narrow.
  • Hence, the IMF should work towards close partnerships with other specialist agencies such as UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Section : Economics

Explained: Why interest rates aren’t falling

Headline : Explained: Why interest rates aren’t falling

Details :

Context for the article:
  • This article explores why, despite significant repo rate cuts by the RBI, the interest rates in the banking system are not falling much.
Rate cuts by the RBI:
  • Since February, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has aggressively cut the repo rate.
  • Repo rate is the interest rate that the RBI charges the banks when it lends them money.
Why does RBI want lower interest rates?
  • Since February, India’s economic growth momentum has rapidly decelerated.
  • Projections of GDP growth rate have come down from roughly 7.2%-7.5% in February to 5.8%-6.0%.
  • There are two key problems in the economy – Consumption and Investment – and a lower interest rate regime is expected to help in resolving both.
  • To this end, RBI has been cutting repo rates, especially since overall retail inflation has been well within the RBI’s comfort zone of 4%.
Lower interest rates could revive consumption:
  • The main issue is that people are not consuming at a high enough rate.
  • Some economists argue that if banks reduce their lending rates, they would also have to reduce their deposit rates (the interest rate banks pay when we park our money with them in a savings bank deposits or a fixed deposit).
  • This, in turn, will incentivise people to save less and spend more.
Lower interest rates could revive private investment:
  • The other problem in the economy at present is that businesses are not investing in existing or new facilities.
  • Part of the reason is also that the interest rate charged on loans is quite high.
  • If banks reduce the interest rates on loans, more businesses are likely to be enthused to borrow new loans for investment.
  • This is particularly relevant with the recent corporate tax rate cuts done in the hope that it will boost the corporate sector’s profitability and get it thinking of investing more.
 
The ‘transmission’ of rate cuts by RBI to the banking system is not happening:
  • By cutting the repo rate, the RBI has been sending a signal to the rest of the banking system that the lending rates in the system should come down.
    • Lending rates are the interest rates that banks charge from their customers.
  • This process of repo rate cuts leading to interest rate cuts across the banking system is called “monetary policy transmission”.
  • The transmission process in India is quite inefficient:
    • For example, between February and August, the RBI cut repo rate by 110 basis points — 100 basis points make a percentage point — from 6.5% to 5.4%.
    • But, the interest rate charged by banks on fresh loans that they extended during this period fell by just 29 basis points – that is just 27% of the amount by which the repo rate came down.
To force transmission, RBI is linking bank lending rates to repo rate:
  • Concerned by the sluggish transmission, the RBI in October 2019 (after cutting the repo rate by another 25 basis points) took steps to make banks link their lending rates to the repo rate.
  • The RBI made it mandatory for all banks to link certain loans to external benchmark rates like Repo Rate, Yields on treasury bills etc.
Only few banks have cut rates:
  • For the most part, the banking system has ignored RBI’s signalling and only some banks have reduced lending rates on new loans by 10 basis points.
  • In essence, while the RBI has cut its lending rate to the banks by 135 basis points (or 1.35 percentage points) in the nine months since February, the interest rates being charged to the common consumer have come down by only about 40-odd basis points.
Why aren’t interest rates in the banking system coming down?
  • The interest rates in the banking system are not coming down despite repo rate cuts by the RBI.
  • This is because repo rates have little impact on a bank’s overall cost of funds, and reducing lending rates just because the repo has been cut is not feasible for banks.
Difference between lending and deposit rates allows banks to function:
  • For any bank to be viable, there must be a clear difference between the lending rates (interest rates it charges from borrowers on loans it provides) and the deposit rates (interest rate it gives to consumers on deposits it accepts).
  • The difference between these two sets of interest rates has to be not only positive but also big enough for the bank to make profits.
Banks can be profitable only if they cut deposit rates also:
  • To attract deposits, banks pay a high deposit rate. Such deposits make up almost 80% of all banks’ funds from which they then lend to borrowers.
  • Banks borrow only a small fraction under the repo.
  • So even sharply reducing the repo rate doesn’t change the overall cost of funds.
  • Unless banks reduce their deposit rates, they will not be able to reduce their lending rates.
Why are banks not reducing their deposit rates?
  • Others could offer better rates: That’s because if a bank were to reduce its deposit rates, depositors would shift to a rival bank that pays better interest rates or invest in small saving instruments such as public provident fund, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana etc that pay much higher interest rates.
  • Can’t reduce rates immediately: Even if banks wanted to reduce their deposit rates, they can’t always reduce them immediately. This is because 65% of total deposits are “term” deposits (fixed for a certain duration) and take, on an average, up to two years to get repriced at fresh rates.
What hasn’t linking the lending rate to the repo rate worked?
  • This is not a viable solution for the banks.
  • The banks cannot link their lending to the repo rate because repo doesn’t determine their cost of funds.
  • For a repo-linked regime to work, the whole banking system would have to shift to that – in other words, along with banks’ lending rates, their deposit rates too must go up and down with the repo.
  • But if such a regime were in place, depositors would have earned 1.10 percentage points less interest rate on their savings account.
Is this problem of weak transmission new?
  • As per some experts, this is not a new issue.
  • Never even in the past has monetary transmission been better than 50% (that is, only half the rate cuts by RBI were passed through by the banking system).
  • The reason for weak transmission, too, has been largely the same.
Why doesn’t this happen in developed countries?
  • The slow transmission does not happen in developed countries because the financial system is far more developed and diversified.
  • Banks are not burdened to fund everyone:
    • Most importantly, the banking system there doesn’t have to bear the burden of providing loans to everyone in the economy – from farmers to small businesses to large businesses, like in India.
  • Developed bond market:
    • Most demands for big loans are directed towards the corporate bond market – wherein a company floats bonds (or IOUs) and borrows money from the public by paying whatever interest rate the market demands.
  • Better grasp of borrowing and lending dynamics:
    • Depositors there are not in the habit of getting a fixed interest rate on their savings while expecting a variable interest rate on their loans.
    • The savers there are far more willing to take risk and to invest in higher-risk instruments other than bank deposits.
    • On the other hand, at the current low levels of per capita income, Indian savers are risk averse and prefer saving in banks.
  • Government borrowing does not impact interest rates much:
    • The overall borrowing by the public sector – that is the government and government-owned institutions – is not so high so as to drive up the interest rates in the economy, as it happens in India.
Section : Economics

An independent fiscal watchdog for Parliament Editorial 21st Sep’19 TheHindu

Headline : An independent fiscal watchdog for Parliament Editorial 21st Sep’19 TheHindu

Details :

Access to all of good quality analysis on economic, fiscal or financial matters is important for democracy:

  • For an effective democracy, it is important for our electorate and the representatives to have an independent, non-partisan source for these hard facts and evidence.
  • This is particularly important for our Parliament, which controls where and how money flows into our government and our country.
  • But besides the few Ministers privy to expertise from the civil service, most parliamentarians do not benefit from timely access to good quality analysis on economic, fiscal or financial matters.

Need a non-partisan body like Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) in India:

  • A non-partisan body needs to be appointed with expertise in budgetary, fiscal and economic matters.
  • Regardless of a majority or minority government, this body serves parliamentarians equally and without prejudice.
  • This body exists in many countries around the world, usually called as Parliamentary Budget Offices (PBOs).

 

Work of PBOs:

  • These bodies help shape the debate and discourse around the state of the nation’s finances and the fiscal implications of significant proposals.
  • The work done by PBOs helps drive smarter, more focused debate in the media and with our electorate.
  • Besides costing policies and programmes, PBOs provide significant and sometimes the sole source of information on fiscal and economic projections.
  • Another data point, different from the government’s, generated by an independent, non-partisan office, helps the parliamentarians to ensure that these projections and estimates continue to be reliable enough for them to make decisions on.

Example of how this body will be useful:

  • In the recent time, the Rafale deal controversy in India resulted from uncertainty regarding the true lifecycle costs of the aircraft bought.
  • If parliamentarians could access analysis, information and research about defence costing from a PBO (like they do in Canada), they could hold the government to account in case of any discrepancies.

 

Will there be conflict with the office of CAG?

  • A question that arises is the necessity of such an office when we already have an auditor general (CAG).
  • However, an Auditor General’s role is to provide retrospective audits and analysis of the financial accounts and performance of government operations. These audits are often focused on the day-to-day goings on of government, and often hone in on the performance of the civil service.
  • On the other hand, the PBO provides prospective, forward-looking economic and fiscal projections, as well as policy costings.
  • This distinguishes PBO it from an auditor general, which provides useful information, but only after the fact.

 

Examples of PBO like institutions internationally:

  • Internationally, offices like PBO have been established across the world.
  • The most prominent such office is the Congressional Budget Office in the United Stateswhich provides impartial advice to both the houses of the legislature.
  • Offices in the Netherlands, Korea, Australia and the United Kingdom have also been established for varying lengths of time.
  • PBOs are also making an appearance in emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • Wider role in some countries:
    • In some countries, including Australia, the Netherlands, and most recently, Canada, PBOs have also been playing the role of costing electoral platforms during an election campaign.
    • In this period, PBOs provide independent cost estimates of electoral platform measures to political parties.

 

Way forward – India should consider having a PBO:

  • Legislatures across the world have witnessed an increasingly stronger executive try to wrest away its rightful power of the purse.
  • The amount of information parliamentarians need to scrutinise in Budget documents has exponentially increased and a PBO would assist parliamentarians in this process of scrutiny.
  • As the process toward the Union Budget 2020 has already kicked off, it would be relevant for parliamentarians to examine the case for a PBO more deeply.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: International Relations

Section : Editorial Analysis

Char Dham highway project

Headline : Supreme Court clears 900km Char Dham highway project

Details :

In News

  • The Supreme Court has cleared the Chardham highway project, by modifying an NGT order.
  • It has also ordered to constitute a fresh committee to look into environmental concerns related to the project.
  • It ordered the Ministry of Environment and Forests to form the high-powered committee (HPC).

Background

  • After the project got approval, petitions were filed at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), seeking a stay on the Char Dham project. They said the project violated the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2006.
  • In September, 2018, the NGT gave its conditional approval to the project in view of larger public interest.
  • Some non-profit group had filed a petition against the NGT order in the Supreme Court saying the project would cause an irreversible damage to regional ecology.

News Summary

Supreme Court’s decision

  • Supreme Court has only modified the September NGT order by constituting a fresh high-powered committee (HPC).
  • In addition to this, the court added representatives from Physical Research Laboratory under the government’s Department of Space, Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, MoEF (from Dehradun regional office) and Defence Ministry to the HPC.
  • The top court asked the committee to submit its recommendations within four months.
  • The HPC shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measures after each review meeting.

Committee’s mandate

  • The committee shall consider the cumulative and independent impact of the Chardham project on the entire Himalayan valleys.
  • It will give directions to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
  • The committee will consider whether revision of the full Chardham project should take place with a view to minimize the adverse impact on the environment and social life.
  • It will identify the sites where quarrying has started and recommend measures required to stabilise the area and for safe disposal of muck.
  • It will also assess the environmental degradation – loss of forest lands, trees, green cover, water resources etc. – on the wildlife and will direct mitigation measures.
  • The HPC will also suggest the areas in which afforestation should be taken and the kind of saplings to be planted.

About: Char Dham Highway Project

  • The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna, or the Chardham highway project, is an initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) in the Himalayas.
  • The Prime Minister had launched the construction of the Char Dham Mahamarg in December, 2016, as a tribute to those who died in the 2013 Kedarnath disaster. 
  • The project will develop around 900 km of national highways in Uttarakhand at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
  • It involves widening the existing, geometrically deficient highway that connects the four abodes.
  • Apart from widening, it plans to improve the stretches to two-lane carriageway with paved shoulders, protect landslide hazard zones, construct bypasses, long bridges, tunnels and elevated corridors to ensure safety for the users.

Advantages

  • The project will make travel to Char Dham safer and more convenient. Connectivity & tourism will get a strong boost through the project.
  • Proper slope stabilisation will ensure protection against landslides.
  • The project is also important from a strategic point of view as it is close to the China border.
  • In the eventuality of any aggression, improved roads will facilitate movement of heavy weapons, equipments and artillery guns.

Concerns

  • It is an extremely fragile region. The area forms the Main Central Thrust of the Lesser Himalayan region. This is where the Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.
  • The phenomenon makes the region susceptible to earthquakes and landslides.
  • The Geological Survey of India corroborates this in its report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster.
  • It states that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the toe of the natural slope of the hill.

About: Char Dham

  • Char Dham refers to the 4 pilgrimage centres – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – in the Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand.

Badrinath

  • Badrinath or Badrinarayan Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand.
  • The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River.
  • The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham sites.
  • The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, the holy shrines for Vaishnavites, dedicated to Vishnu (who is worshipped as Badrinath).
  • It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region.

Kedarnath

  • Kedarnath Temple is a Hindu temple (shrine) dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva.
  • It is located in the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river, in Uttarakhand.
  • Kedarnath is seen as a homogenous form of Lord Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
  • Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon).

Gangotri

  • Gangotri is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand.
  • It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi and origin of River Ganges. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100 metres.
  • According to popular Hindu legend, it was here that Goddess Ganga descended when Lord Shiva released the mighty river from the locks of his hair.
  • The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda.
  • The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is 19 kms from Gangotri. The temple is closed from Diwali every year and is reopened in May.

Yamunotri

  • Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 metres in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.
  • River Yamuna originates at Yamunotri.
  • The temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and has a black marble idol of the goddess.

Section : Environment & Ecology

Who are the 19 lakh excluded from Assam NRC, and what next for them?

Headline : Who are the 19 lakh excluded from Assam NRC, and what next for them?

Details :

In News:

  • The recently published final list of people in updated National Register of Citizen (NRC) has stripped nearly 19 lakh people in the north-eastern state of Assam of their citizenship.

About: NRC

  • The NRC for a state is the list of Indian citizens of that state.
  • It was created in 1951 to determine who was born in Assam and is therefore Indian, and who might be a migrant from neighbouring Bangladesh.
  • It is a list of people who can prove that they came to Assam before 24 March 1971, a day before India’s neighbouring country Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan.
  • Objective: to control unabated migration from Bangladesh.
  • The Register is meant to establish the credentials of a bona fide citizen as distinguished from a foreigner.
  • Assam is the country’s only state to create such a document.
  • The NRC has been updated for the first time.

Background of the NRC updation:

  • The NRC updating exercise started in 2013 under the Supreme court’s watch.
  • The process of NRC update in Assam differs from the rest of the country and is governed by Rule 4A and the corresponding Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • These rules were framed as per the cut-off date of the midnight of March 24, 1971, enshrined in the Assam Accord of 1985.
  • First draft of Assam NRC:
    • In accordance with the top court’s direction, the Registrar-General of India published the list on the night of 31-December-2017 to distinguish Indian citizens living in Assam from those who illegally entered the State.
    • Names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated then.
  • Second draft:
    • In July 2018, a draft was published in which 2.89 crore residents were included as Indian citizens, while 40 lakh were left out.
    • Those who were left out were allowed to file claims for inclusion and citizens could object against anyone who they felt was wrongly included.
  • Excluded in additional list:
    • In June 2019, another 1 lakh, originally among the 2.89 crore included in that draft, were removed after subsequent verification.
  • Claims filed against exclusions:
    • As many as 36 lakh of those excluded filed claims against the exclusion, while four lakh residents did not apply.
  • Final NRC:
    • The latest NRC is the result of all those included and excluded.

What will happen to those 19 lakh people excluded from the NRC?

  • The excluded people will have to appeal against it at Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT), a quasi-judicial court and subsequently in the high court or Supreme Court.
  • The government has given 120 days time to appeal in the court.
  • Those excluded from NRC will have to prove that they or their ancestors were living in Assam on or before March 24, 1971.
  • Various other documents such as birth certificates and land records are admissible, as long as these were issued before the cutoff date.
  • However, if a person looses to prove his/her identity in Foreigners’ Tribunal as well as in higher courts, he or she will face a possible arrest and can be sent to a detention centre (However, the prospects sending a large number of people to detention centres is low).
  • If not deported or detained in a camp, such people would officially be entitled as non-citizens.

Foreigners Tribunal: Foreigners Tribunal (FT) was set up in Assam in 1964 through the Foreigners Tribunal Order 1964. The tribunals have been mandated with identifying the legal status of suspected foreigners in Assam.

Key Challenge:

  • The courts , limited in numbers, will be burdened and get exhaustive as the appeal period is short and cases are far too many which may further clog the process.

What makes deportation so uncertain?

  • For a country to be able to deport a mass of individuals to another country, the second country has to accept that they were its citizens who entered the first country illegally.
  • However, Bangladesh has never officially acknowledged that any of its citizens migrated illegally to Assam.
  • Besides, India has no treaty with Bangladesh that would facilitate their deportation.
  • Also, there have been no visible recent efforts by India to push the matter with Bangladesh.

India’s Policy for “stateless” persons:

  • India has no fixed policy for “stateless” persons.
  • The only aspect which is clear is that “stateless” person will not have voting rights.
  • As of now, nothing is clear about their rights to work, housing and government healthcare and education.
  • In India, being “stateless” is not the same as being a refugee.

Refugees in India:

  • India has refugees from Tibet, Sri Lanka (Tamils) and West Pakistan.
  • Among them, only the refugees from West Pakistan has the right to vote in Lok Sabha elections but not in Assembly polls.
  • For Tibetans, the government allows Indian citizenship with a rider that they move out of Tibetan settlements and forgo refugee benefits.
  • Under the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014, adopted in part by a few states, refugees are eligible for certain benefits under government schemes for labour, rations, housing and loans.

Road ahead: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provided for granting citizenship to immigrants of six non-Muslim faiths from three countries, including Bangladesh.
  • However, the Bill lapsed, but is expected to be reintroduced.
  • If the Bill passes Parliament, Hindus from Bangladesh would be eligible for citizenship, even if detected as illegal immigrants, while Muslims who illegally entered from Bangladesh would be treated as illegal immigrants.
  • The Bill has faced protests in Assam on the ground that it runs contrary to the NRC’s objective, which is to detect all illegal immigrants.
  • Whatever the fate of the Bill, a very long battle awaits those who are excluded from the NRC but claim to be Indian citizens.

About: Assam Accord, 1985

  • Assam witnessed a range of law and order problems and political turbulence driven by the anti-foreigners movement, in the early 1980s.
  • The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed, signed by the Centre and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
  • Accordingly, those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote while the entrants between 1961 and 1971were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
  • In addition to economic development, the Accord also had assured to safeguards the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

Section : Polity & Governance

Science for disaster management Editorial 31st Aug’19 TimesOfIndia

Headline : Science for disaster management Editorial 31st Aug’19 TimesOfIndia

Details :

Managing disaster and emergency risks:

  • In an increasingly interconnected world, disaster and emergency risks are becoming more complex and difficult to manage.
  • Therefore, it is critically important to optimise the application of scientific and technological capabilities to understand, reduce and manage disaster and emergency risks.

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Use of science and technology:

  • Over the last 20 years, science and technology have brought a deeper understanding of how disaster risks are created and how they can be managed.
  • We now have reliable information on hazard patterns, data on people (their exposure to hazards), capital assets and economic activity.
  • We also have a much greater understanding of fragility or vulnerability of people, assets and systems.
  • This can be seen from the huge improvements in various things like
    • Forecasting extreme climate and weather events
    • Our improved understanding of disasters (like earthquakes and landslides)
    • Our ability to model risks and anticipate the impact of disasters even before reaching the disaster site

Increased outreach to scientific community:

  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is reaching out to the scientific community and working towards a futuristic agenda for disaster risk management in the country.

However, challenges remain in application of Science & Technology:

  • At the systemic level, there are two principal challenges worth highlighting.
  1. On-the-ground application of technology:
  • There is still a time lag between the availability of scientific and technological capability and its on-the-ground application.
  • For example, mobile computing has been around for more than a decade, yet few post-disaster damage assessments make full use of the technology to come up with quick, rigorous and geo-referenced assessments.
  • Similarly, new products and technologies are emanating from the defence establishment that may be useful in disaster response, but their usage is minimal.
  1. Giving right direction to scientific development:
  • The second challenge is on the scientific development side.
  • We need to ensure that research is focussed on developing methodologies and tools that respond to real-world challenges and facilitate the shift from disaster management to disaster risk management.
  • In this context, there have been some positives in India as it has pursued the application of science and technology for disaster risk management.
  • For example, India has systematically pursued the application of space-based technologies for disaster risk management.
  • Our national system of science has also continually evolved over the years to meet the needs of disaster risk management professionals.
    • For example, some years ago, a number of scientific disciplines were brought together under the umbrella of ministry of earth sciences.

Principles for the next generation of our scientific efforts for disaster risk management:

  • We now have to look at the next generation of our scientific efforts to address disaster risk management challenges.
  • The next generation of scientific efforts need to be guided by the following three principles:
  • Sharper definition of disaster risk management problems:
    • We need a sharper definition of disaster risk management problems to galvanise scientific efforts that lead to progress.
    • With disaster risk management maturing in India, should be possible to articulate specific requirements from the scientific community.
  • Search for scalable, affordable and sustainable solutions:
    • While promoting the application of science for disaster risk management at the local level, we should search for scalable, affordable and sustainable solutions.
    • In most parts of the country and indeed the world, disaster risks are building up at an alarming rate.
    • Our ambition must match the scale of the problem.
  • Multi-disciplinary approach:
    • We need to enlarge the scope of multi-disciplinary work.
      • For example, this may include seismologists interacting with landslide experts, flash flood experts and meteorologists.
    • We need to study the interaction between hazards, current and future exposure (population, property and economic activity), and vulnerability.
    • This will require multi-disciplinary effort that will push us beyond our comfort zones.

Technology should be complemented by deeper understanding of social and economic processes:

  • Over the last few years, there is a lot of enthusiasm for application of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence for disaster risk management.
  • However, we must recognise that these technologies are not a substitute for a deeper understanding of social and economic processes that make our society vulnerable.

Good risk governance practices should not be overlooked:

  • Technology can be complementary, but is not a substitute for the fundamental principles of good risk governance characterised by a responsive government and a risk-aware community.
  • The new methods and tools should supplement and not supplant the time tested practices of good disaster risk management.

Way ahead – Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure:

  • In this context, India, with UK and other partners, will be launching a global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  • The Coalition would prove to be a key milestone towards further strengthening our collaboration.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Disaster Management

Section : Editorial Analysis

India’s water crisis: All stakeholders must come together Editorial 29th Aug’19 HindustanTimes

Headline : India’s water crisis: All stakeholders must come together Editorial 29th Aug’19 HindustanTimes

Details :

Water stress in India:

  • India is home to 17% of world’s population, but has only 4% of the world’s fresh water resources.
  • At present, 75% of Indian households do not have access to drinking water, and close to 90% of rural households have no access to piped water.
  • India is a water-stressed country, and with 1,544 cubic metre per capita annual availability, we are advancing towards becoming water-scarce.
  • Five of the world’s 20 largest cities under water stress are in India.
  • As per the Economic Survey 2018-19, by 2050, India will be extremely susceptible to water insecurity.

Telegram: https://t.me/SimplifiedIAS

Economic cost of environmental degradation:

  • There are some other aspects that pertain to the economic cost of environmental degradation that India is faced with.
  • A 2018 World Bank study pegged the cost of environmental degradation to India at approximately $80 billion per year, which amounts to around 5.7% of our GDP.
  • Further, an environment survey of 178 countries ranked India at 155.
  • This is extremely worrying, especially since among the BRIC nations, India ranked last.

Water management crucial for India’s future

  • Water and its management will determine India’s ability to achieve high economic growth, ensure environmental sustainability, and improve the quality of life.

NITI’s Composite water management index (CWMI) tracking States’ efforts:

  • State-led efforts to manage water have been assessed and shared by the NITI Aayog, which has developed the composite water management index (CWMI).
  • States are ranked on the management of water and progress in 28 indicators relating to water management.

Community management of water needed:

  • Community management of water will be crucial if India is to become water secure.
  • For local community driven initiatives, work on community engagement has begun.

Corporations can also play a key role:

  • Corporate sector has been playing a role in driving innovation in many sectors.
  • Given the magnitude of the challenges India faces, there is a growing role for leading enterprises to help meet development targets.
  • In water management, corporations must can a more active role in using their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts towards innovation and conservation of water, along with the dissemination of proven practices that help conserve and harness water recharge.
  • Corporations should ensure that their CSR commitment and sustainability initiatives are effective and pervasive enough to make a substantial impact.

Examples of effective initiatives by corporations:

  • There are flag bearers for conservation efforts among Indian and multinational corporations, and their efforts must be emulated across the board.
  • ITC’s integrated water management:
    • ITC’s integrated water management approach has been a successful initiative.
    • Today, ITC’s integrated watershed development programme covers over one million acres spread across 15,000 water harvesting structures, benefiting over 300,000 people in 43 districts across 16 states.
    • This initiative has generated over six million person-days of employment within project villages, reducing levels of distress migration.
    • It is now extended to implement four large-scale river basin regeneration projects for achieving water balance and year-round environmental flows in select sub-basins in Maharastra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
    • Pilot programme on water use efficiency in agriculture:
      • In addition, a pilot programme at scale on “water use efficiency in agriculture” is also being promoted to enable effective demand-side management.
      • This initiative has yielded water savings of 20% to 45% in crops like sugarcane, wheat, rice and banana.
  • Tata’s Water Mission:
    • Tata’s Water Mission aims to provide better access to pure water for six million people spread across 7,000 villages in 12 states, by 2020.
    • Key focus areas are to improve access to safe water and sanitation, and to make a difference through rigorous and technologically advanced interventions.
  • Pepsico’s sustainability agenda:
    • Under its 2025 sustainability agenda, Pepsico is said to aim for a global improvement in water use efficiency in high water risk areas of its direct agricultural supply chain by 15% by 2025.
  • Mahindra Hariyali programme:
    • Mahindra too is doing extensive work under its Mahindra Hariyali programme.
    • As its climate change resistance movement, the initiative is a social upsurge where tree planting is not merely a duty, but, in fact, is termed a celebration.
    • Since 2007, this initiative has achieved a target of planting 16 million saplings. 

Corporations must make water conservation and management their top CSR concern:

  • Many of the CSR activities currently are geared towards water conservation and management.
  • But now they need to make it a top priority rather than one of the many avenues where CSR initiatives are undertaken.

Conclusion:

  • Water is a critical resource and community water management is a must.
  • This will range from corporate engagement to smaller scale community initiatives, to individual efforts.
  • Now, the entire ecosystem must work in a cooperative manner to ensure India’s water conservation efforts are forward-thinking, while leveraging synergies from the State, corporations, and the community as a whole.

Importance:

GS Paper III: EconomySection : Editorial Analysis

Headline : Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state

Headline : Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state

Details :

In News:

  • Recently, Sikkim’s longest serving Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, became the sole elected Opposition representative in the Assembly after the remaining 12 Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) MLAs defected, with 10 joining the BJP and another two joining the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM).

Telegram: https://t.me/ShubhraRanjanPSIR www.UpscExpress.com

Context of the topic:

  • The current political instability follows a unique event: the voting out of a government in power for the first time in Sikkim’s history.
  • However, since joining India in 1975, Sikkim has seen its government changed only twice and in both cases, the government had fallen before the new one was voted in.
  • The current events has been described as a departure from monarchic psychology to strengthening democracy.

Theme of the Topic: The topic gives a background on the transition of Sikkim from monarchy to full Indian statehood.

In Focus: History of Sikkim

Sikkim under Chogyal rule:

  • Sikkim was under the rule of Chogyals (or kings) of the Namgyal dynasty of Tibetan descent for 333 years before 1975.
  • The first ruler of Sikkim, Penchu Namgyal, was installed as king by Tibetan lamas in 1642.
  • At its zenith, the Sikkim kingdom included the Chumbi valley and Darjeeling. However, after 1706, there were a series of conflicts between the powers of the region, which included Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, resulting in a shrinking of Sikkim’s territorial boundaries.

Alliance with East India Company (EIC):

  • In 1814, Sikkim allied with the East India Company (EIC) in the EIC’s campaign against Nepal.
  • In reward, Company restored to Sikkim some of the territories that Nepal had wrested from it in 1780.

EIC purchased Darjeeling

  • In 1841, the Company purchased Darjeeling from the Namgyal rulers.

Treaty of Tumlong of 1861:

  • The Treaty of Tumlong effectively made Sikkim a de facto protectorate of the British India.

Anglo-Chinese Convention, 1890:

  • The Convention also known as Calcutta Convention demarcated the border between Sikkim and Tibet, and was signed by Viceroy Lord Lansdowne and Qing China’s Imperial Associate Resident in Tibet.
  • Later, the Lhasa Convention of 1904 affirmed the Calcutta Convention.

Indo-Sikkim Treaty, 1950:

  • Under the Indo-Sikkim Treaty of 1950, Sikkim was to become a protectorate of the Indian Government while maintaining its autonomy.

Formation of Sikkim State Congress:

  • The gaping income inequality and feudal control over key resources led to popular discontent against the Chogyal rulers.
  • In December 1947, diverse political groupings came together to form the Sikkim State Congress.
  • In 1949, the Chogyal agreed to appoint a five-member Council of Ministers, with three Congress nominees, and two of his own.

Introduction of a new Constitution and elections in the state:

  • In 1953, the Chogyal introduced a new Constitution, and four general elections were held based on separate electorates in 1957, 1960, 1967, and 1970.
  • However, plagued by distrust between the Chogyal and the Congress, none of these elections helped further democracy.

Break down of law and order:

  • In the early 1970s, violent protests took place in the state, demanding a more democratic constitution for Sikkim, as well as more powers for the elected representatives.
  • This led to a breakdown of law and order in the princely state.

May 8 Agreement of 1973:

  • This was an agreement entered into by the Chogyal, the Government of India and leaders of the political parties of Sikkim following complete breakdown of the law and order situation.
  • Both the demands of the agitators (i.e. “a more democratic constitution” and “greater legislative and executive powers for the elected representatives of the people”) were provided in the Agreement.
  • In addition, the Indian Government was “requested” to take “responsibility” for law and order and appoint a chief executive or head of administration in Sikkim.
  • Elections on the basis of one-man one-vote were introduced.
  • The Indian chief executive held complete administrative authority.
  • If any difference of opinion rose between him and the Chogyal, it was to be “referred to the political officer in Sikkim, who shall obtain the advise of the Government of India, which shall be binding”.

New Government in state:

  • In 1974, elections were held, in which the Congress led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji emerged victorious over pro-independence parties.

Abolition of institution of the Chogyal:

  • In 1974, a new constitution was also adopted, which restricted the role of the Chogyal to a titular post.
  • The Chogyal resented this, and refused to deliver the customary address to the elected Assembly.

Protectorate to associated State

  • Also, in 1974, India upgraded Sikkim’s status from protectorate to “associated state”, allotting to it one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

Referendum in 1975:

  • The Chogyal was unhappy with this move, and sought to internationalise the issue. This did not go down well with Sikkim’s elected leaders, and a referendum was held in 1975.
  • A total 59,637 voted in favour of abolishing the monarchy and joining India, with only 1,496 voting against.
  • Subsequently, India’s Parliament approved an amendment to make Sikkim a full state.

Special Constitutional provisions regarding Sikkim:

  • Article 371(F) of the Constitution, provides special status to the Sikkim.

The important Special Provisions include:

  • It states that the Legislative Assembly shall consist of not less than 30 members.
  • In order to protect the rights and interests of the different sections of the population in the state of Sikkim, seats in the assembly are provided to people of these different sections.
  • The Governor shall have special responsibility for peace and equitable arrangement for ensuring the social and economic advancement of different sections of the population of Sikkim.
    • The Governor of Sikkim shall, subject to such directions as the President may, from time to time, deem fit to issue, act in his discretion
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall have jurisdiction in respect of any dispute or other matter arising out of any treaty, agreement, engagement or other similar instrument relating to Sikkim.

Section : Polity & Governance

Explained: Madhya Pradesh may get a second House. Why do some states have Vidhan Parishads?

Headline : Explained: Madhya Pradesh may get a second House. Why do some states have Vidhan Parishads?

Details :The News

  • The State government in Madhya Pradesh has moved to create a Legislative Council for the state.

Bicameral System:

  • India has a bicameral system of legislature at the Union level, with the Parliament having two Houses, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • Similarly, individual states too, can choose to have a Legislative Council (Upper House) in addition to the Legislative Assembly (Lower House).

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Legislative Council

  • Article 169 of the Constitution of India provides for the establishment of a Vidhan Parishad.
  • Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad is the upper house in bicameral legislatures in some states of India.
  • While most states have unicameral legislature with only legislative assembly, currently, seven states viz. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh have legislative councils.
  • Legislative council is a permanent body (term 6 years) & not subjected to dissolution. After every 2 years, 1/3rd of its members retire.

Establishing Councils:

  • Power of abolition or creation of Legislative council lies with the Parliament.
  • To set up the council, the legislative assembly of state must pass a resolution by a majority of total membership & not less than 2/3rd of the members of the assembly present & voting.
  • However, a resolution passed by legislative assembly of state for creation or abolition of its council is not binding on the Parliament. Parliament may or may not approve the resolution with simple majority.

Membership:

  • The members are known as Members of Legislative Councils (MLCs).
  • Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the total number of MLAs of that state, and not less than 40 members.
  • As in the Rajya Sabha, members of a state Legislative Council too, are not directly elected by voters. They are elected by local bodies, legislative assembly, governor, graduates, teacher, etc.

Membership Qualification

  • Must be citizen of India
  • Must be of 30 years of age for Legislative Council
  • Must not hold any office of profit
  • Must not be of unsound mind
  • If a situation arises for disqualification of a member, Decision of Governor shall be final (Governor must obtain opinion of election commission of India prior to action)

Powers:

  • The legislative power of the Councils are limited. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so.
  • State Assemblies can override the suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
  • Unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President.

Merits and Demerits of having Councils:

  • The Constituent Assembly was divided on the idea of having a second House in States.
  • Merits:
    • It was argued that a second House would help check hasty actions by the directly elected House.
    • Also, non-elected individuals in the Upper House would be able to contribute to the legislative process.
  • Demerits:
    • Opponents of the idea argued that political parties would be able to use the Legislative Council in the states to delay legislation.
    • Also, Councils will be used as a sop or sinecure for leaders who have failed to win an election.

Section : Polity & Governance

Appointment of CDS will fill a void in India’s defence system Editorial 16th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Headline : Appointment of CDS will fill a void in India’s defence system Editorial 16th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

PM announcing the creation of CDS:

  • One of the most significant announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day in 2019 is the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
  • The CDS is expected to be a four-star military officer, who would act as the single point adviser to the government on military matters.
  • The CDS would also coordinate amongst the three services and bridge the differences.
  • The appointment of the CDS will make the armed forces more effective. 
  • The CDS should be one with a good understanding of the global security environment and functioning of the three services. 

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Significance of having a CDS:

  • Modern military battles cannot be fought by each service fighting independently. 
  • The present Indian Armed Forces are colonial constructs and were configured primarily to serve the interest of their colonial masters during the great wars. 
  • The restructuring of armed forces, therefore, is required necessarily as the future wars are going to be short intense affairs where all organs of the state are likely to be employed simultaneously. 
  • Such a scenario would require unity of command, which is feasible only when the country has a unified command structure led by the CDS. 
  • Office of CDS has been a long pending demand of the defence forces. It was also recommended by both the Kargil Review Committee led by K Subrahmanyam in 1999, as well as the Committee of Experts set up by Ministry of Defence under the chairmanship of General D B Shekatkar. 

Earlier efforts at creating a CDS:

  • The Kargil Review Committee had recommended a CDS as well as a Vice Chief of Defence Staff (VCDS).
  • A group of ministers headed by the then Deputy Prime Minister examined it and recommended CDS with a tri-service joint planning staff. 
  • Accordingly, the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQIDS) was created in 2001. 

They failed as bureaucrats created hurdles:

  • Despite the importance of the office of CDS, political insecurities and bureaucratic stranglehold over the Ministry of Defence have prevented it from coming into effect.
  • In 2001, the bureaucrats succeeded in stalling the appointment of the CDS by creating the perception that it would be far easier for a CDS to stage a coup. 
  • Consequently, an anomalous situation was created wherein the HDQIDS has been functioning without a head for the past 18 years.
  • Ineffective office of Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) was created:
  • The VCDS was reconfigured to create the office of the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC).
  • The absence of the CDS has limited the ability of CISC to mediate between the three services.
  • More significantly, being lower in rank, he could not find acceptance as the sole adviser to the government in a rigidly hierarchical organisation like the military.

Making CDS effective:

  • Access to highest levels: For the CDS to be effective, he must have direct access to the defence minister and through him to the prime minister.
  • Non-rotational appointments: The post of CDS should not be a rotational appointment; the government must select one after interviewing top officials of the three services.
  • Also, to begin with, all defence land and capital budget must be put under the CDS and appointments in inter-service organisations must be made essential for further promotions. 
  • The government may take inspiration from the US Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act and push the three services.

Challenges:

  • Despite the PM’s announcement, it is not going to be a smooth affair. 
  • Bureaucratic resistance: The bureaucrats afraid of losing their salience will create bottlenecks. 
  • Services resistance: On top of that, individual services, afraid of losing their turf, are bound to resist the CDS’s involvement in their affairs. 

It should be followed by Integrated Theatre Commands

  • The mere creation of the office is not enough. 
  • This will need to be augmented by restructuring of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and creating integrated theatre commands. 

Conclusion:

  • After the reorganisation of MoD and establishment of theatre commands, they should directly be responsible to the defence minister through the CDS for all combat operations. 
  • Each service chief should majorly be responsible for equipping, organising and training of the forces. 
  • The creation of the CDS will need to be followed up with further reforms to reconfigure the armed forces to meet India’s aspirations to be a global power.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Defence & Security

Section : Defence & Security

Technology: Indian space industry, SSLV, NSIL, Antrix, Indian space industry, Commercial Space Industry, ISRO and Private Sector

Headline : ISRO’s new commercial arm gets first booking for launch

Details :

In News

  • NEWSPACE INDIA Limited (NSIL), the newly created second commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, recently got its first contract.
  • A private US space services provider, Spaceflight, has booked ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is yet to be tested, for launching a spacecraft.
  • Spaceflight has had nine launches in the past with ISRO involving over 100 spacecraft on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

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About: SSLV

  • ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) was originally scheduled to have its first development flight in July, 2019 but the flight has been pushed to the end of the year.
  • It is suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • The SSLV can carry satellites weighing up to 500 kg to low earth orbit while the PSLV can launch satellites weighing in the range of 1,000 kg.
  • It is the smallest vehicle at 110-tonne mass at ISRO and takes only 72 hours to integrate, unlike the 70 days taken now for a launch vehicle.
  • Further, only six people will be required to do the job, instead of 60 people. This leads to the entire job being done in a very short time.
  • The cost of the vehicle is only around Rs 30 crore which is one tenth of a PSLV.
  • About 15 to 20 SSLVs would be required every year to meet the national demand alone.

About: NSIL

  • NSIL was incorporated in March 2019 under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS).
  • The aim of NSIL is to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
  • It will mass produce and manufacture the SSLV and the more powerful PSLV with the private sector in India through technology transfers.
  • It will be involved in marketing spin-off technologies and products/services, both in India and abroad, and in any other subject which the government deems fit.
  • It will deal with capacity building of local industry for space manufacturing.

About: Antrix

  • Antrix is the first commercial arm of ISRO incorporated in 1992.
  • It is under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS). 
  • It promotes and commercially markets the products and services emanating from the Indian Space Programme. 
  • The current business activities of Antrix include:
    • Provisioning of communication satellite transponders to various users
    • Providing launch services for customer satellites
    • Marketing of data from Indian and foreign remote sensing satellites
    • Building and marketing of satellites as well as satellite sub-systems
    • Establishing ground infrastructure for space applications
    • Mission support services for satellites

Indian space industry

  • The Indian space programme is one of the world’s fastest growing programmes.
  • Ever since India sent a spacecraft to Mars in 2014, India has India has become one of the top-ranking space-faring nations which include the US, Europe, Russia, China and Japan.
  • The space sector in India can broadly be categorized into upstream and downstream industries.
  • Upstream industries include manufacturing of satellites, their parts and subsystems, and launch vehicles.
  • Downstream industries include satellite-based services, such as satellite TV, communications, imagery etc.
  • India is moving towards increasing its capacity and capabilities of using space technology not only for societal applications but also to support commercial space activities and pursue diplomatic and security objectives.

Indian Private sector participation

  • India has a large Small-Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) base that caters within the traditional space agency-driven model.
  • However, there is a stark gap in the capacity builtup in the private industry where the industry is mostly involved as tier-2/3 based vendors
  • Presently there is no single industry vendor who has the capacity to deliver end-to-end systems.
  • This creates bottleneck effects in the possible expansion of industry to the global supply chain, especially from an export perspective.
  • ISRO’s opportunities for smaller players in the space sector are very restricted compared to larger national space programs, stifling the growth of private enterprise in the process.

Commercial Space Industry

  • The value of the global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025.
  • A revolution is also under way in the small satellite market. Globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between now and 2030.
  • Despite ISRO’s impressive capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market).
  • It covers broadband and Direct-to-Home television (accounting for two-thirds of the share), satellite imagery and navigation.

How ISRO can benefit commercially

Launch multiple satellites

  • Many private companies are developing satellites that they need for their operations, but most cannot afford to launch these independently.
  • So they need to take help of missions from agencies like Isro that have launch facilities.
  • ISRO’s ability to launch multiple satellites in a single mission has improved its standing significantly in the global market.

Cost

  • The need for launches is growing exponentially worldwide.
  • New companies are planning to launch entire commercial constellations [groups] of satellites, where a single company might need to launch between 24 to 648 satellites.
  • The cost factor, remains a significant aspect of India’s space program.
  • ISRO has a proven track record in launching small satellites with the success of the PSLV.
  • The development of the SSLV will give India a further boost in this segment. SSLV will offer an even more cost-effective option than the existing PSLV.

Frequency

  • Another thing that makes India an attractive proposition is the frequency of its launches and its ability to meet deadlines.
  • So far it has been able to meet the time requirements of all the customers

Heavy Satellites

  • India has been launching heavy satellites on its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) but so far it has only been used for domestic satellites.
  • In recent months, there have been queries from foreign companies for launches on the GSLV.
  • If India can successfully start taking more heavy satellites to space, it could significantly improve its position in a market that’s worth billions of dollars.

Section : Science & Tech

People’s Plan Campaign, also known as Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas

Headline : Coming, digital push to Gram Panchayats

Details :

In News:

  • The Union government has decided to start People’s Plan Campaign, also known as Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas in September, after consultations with the representatives of 16 key ministries.
  • Earlier, from October to December, 2018, the government conducted a similar exercise in 2.48 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the country, which showed several GPs have improved vastly on many indicators while some have slipped. Therefore, a fresh survey is significant.

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News Summary:

  • Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas aims to draw up a development plan for each Gram Panchayat (GP) in the country and place it on a website where the development status can be viewed by anyone.
  • Gram Panchayats will be mandated for the preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.

How the Gram Panchayat Development Plans will be created?

  • Each Gram Panchayat (GP) will be scored out of 100 based on an array of 48 indicators covering various aspects such as health and sanitation, education, agriculture, housing, roads, drinking water, electrification, poverty alleviation programmes, social welfare etc.
    • Out of 100 marks, 30 marks will be for infrastructure, 30 marks for human development, and 40 marks for economic activity.
  • Based on the marks scored, the GPs will be ranked and the score for each GP will reflect the local needs and priorities.
  • The ranking exercise will identify the gaps at the GP level, making an assessment of where it stands, and accordingly plan the interventions.
  • For example, for a drought-prone area, water conservation would be accorded the highest priority.
  • Within this ranking, households suffering the worst deprivations would be prioritised further.

Source of data on the indicators: The data on the 48 indicators would come from:

  • Census 2011 (for physical infrastructure),
  • Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (for Household-level deprivation data), and
  • Fresh survey starting September that will be carried out by local facilitators.

GPs performance in 2018:

  • A majority of the GPs scored between 41 per cent and 50 per cent on a scale of 100: This shows glaring deficiencies.
  • Merely 0.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent GPs fell in the high 91-100 and 81-90 score respectively.
  • Top Scorers:
    • Kerala
    • Tamil Nadu
    • Andhra Pradesh
  • Bottom Performers:
    • Jharkhand
    • Assam
    • Bihar
    • Madhya Pradesh

Section : Polity & Governance

Economy: RBI has done its bit, now over to the government Editorial 9th Aug’19 HindustanTimes

Headline : RBI has done its bit, now over to the government Editorial 9th Aug’19 HindustanTimes

Details :

Rate cut by RBI:

  • Inflation is within control.
  • The economy is slowing down.  RBI has lowered its growth projections for the first half of the year sharply.
    • The RBI’s projections indicate that it expects growth to improve in the second half of the year, and will be 6.9 for the year.
  • In light of this, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut the repo rate by 35 basis points, a little more than what it usually does (usually, it’s 25 basis points).

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This itself is not enough to induce higher growth rate:

  • There is only so much that a monetary policy can achieve.
  • This is because of other issues in the financial system, like a weak rate cut transmission mechanism, a stressed banking sector, and difficulties in the non-bank financial (NBFC) sector.
  • This means that other policy changes will be needed to achieve higher growth in the second half of the year.

 

Need to revive Private investment:

  • Private investment is a critical engine of growth for the economy.
  • The government neither has the capacity, nor the fiscal space, to lift investment and growth without the participation of entrepreneurs across the country.
  • The only way investment in India can pick up is if entrepreneurs are upbeat about the opportunities that the economy has to offer them to make a decent living from doing business.

Government tried some measures to achieve this:

  • Between 2014 and 2019, India took some measures to help private sector, including:
    • Enacting Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
    • Enacting Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    • Improving ease of doing business
    • Pushing both public investment and micro, small and medium enterprises credit

But private investment has not picked up:

  • The policy initiatives already undertaken have not helped pick up the private investment.

 

India’s tax regime hurts businesses:

  • The most important department that perhaps affects the economy is the tax department or the department of revenue.
  • Its job is to increase the share of gross domestic product (GDP) that it collects as taxes.
  • To do so, it often proposes new taxes or increases in tax rates.
  • Increasing tax rate easier than increasing tax base:
    • Often, given the narrow tax base that India has, increasing revenues is easier done by increasing the tax rate or the tax burden of those already paying taxes, than by increasing compliance.
  • Lead to evasion:
    • In recent years, marginal tax rates have been increasing.  This has made trying to evade taxes more attractive.
  • Tax department increases harassment in the name of compliance:
    • To counter the subsequent loss of revenue through evasion, the tax department has been given greater powers to go after those who they feel are evading taxes.

Tax department not worried about its impact on business sentiment and investment:

  • The tax department is not expected to assess the impact of its greater powers on businesses, and the sentiment of businessmen.
    • India today has a number of taxes, like the surcharge on income and corporate tax, the Securities Transaction Tax (STT) and, now, the tax on the super-rich, where no analysis is done about the impact of the tax on the economy.
  • It is not expected to focus on the impact its proposals on new taxes and tax rates have on GDP or investment.
    • For example, what is the impact of the tax on the super-rich? What is the effect of the tax on foreign portfolio investors and stock markets? How is it going to impact investment? The department is not worried about that

Increasing the tax rates indiscriminately is counter-productive:

  • Economic theory and the Laffer curve suggest that, beyond a point, increasing the tax rate is counterproductive, even in terms of collecting more revenue.
  • Beyond a point, high tax rates can also have negative effects on incentives for investment in the country, for encouraging growth and job creation.

 

What other steps the government can take to achieve higher growth rates?

Assess potential impact of any new proposals:

  • Seeing the business environment today, there is a need for a thorough analysis of the economy-wide impact of policies before new proposals are accepted.
  • This needs to be an integral part of policymaking.
  • The finance minister has to turn down many proposals that may appear attractive in the short run, and keep tax administration under a tight leash.

Restore the role of DEA in reform and productivity growth in the economy:

  • The department of economic affairs (DEA) in the ministry of finance traditionally had the task of pushing for reform and productivity growth in the economy by looking beyond short term and sectoral issues.
  • This helped the finance ministry in the past push for lowering taxes, import tariffs, push for greater foreign investment since 1991, and liberalisation and better regulation of the financial sector.
  • While sector-specific ministries (such as aviation, railways, steel etc.) focus on their areas or sectors, they may, at times, lobby for what is good for their sector, but not for the economy as a whole.
  • The DEA’s traditional role could be restored so that it studies the investment and growth impact of policy proposals before they are accepted.

 

Conclusion:

  • The general sense of gloom in business needs to change before we can expect that growth will be higher in the second half of the year.
  • RBI has done its bit, now the government needs to do its share.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

Economy: Dividend Tax Distribution, Long Term Capital Gain Tax (LTCG), Surcharge on FPIs

Headline : Market participants seek rollback of surcharge on FPIs, lower LTCG tax

Details :

The News:
  • In a meeting with Finance Minister, foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) and finance industry players presented a series of proposals to revive investment sentiment.
Important Terminologies:
About: Dividend Tax Distribution
  • A dividend is a return given by a company to its shareholders out of the profits earned by the company in a particular year.
  • Dividend constitutes income in the hands of the shareholders which ideally should be subject to income tax.
  • However, the income tax laws in India provide for an exemption of the dividend income received from Indian companies by the investors by levying a tax called the Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) on the company paying the dividend.
  • Therefore, Dividend distribution tax is the tax imposed by the government on Indian companies according to the dividend paid to a company’s investors.
  • Any domestic company which is declaring/distributing dividend is required to pay DDT on the gross amount of dividend.
About: Long Term Capital Gain Tax (LTCG)
  • Profits or gains arising from transfer of a capital asset are called Capital Gains and are charged to tax under the head Capital Gains.
  • A capital asset is officially defined as any kind of property held by an assessee, excluding goods held as stock-in-trade, agricultural land and personal effects.
  • Income from capital gains is classified as “Short Term Capital Gains” and “Long Term Capital Gains”.
    • Short Term Capital Gains: If an asset is held for less than 36 months, any gain arising from selling it is treated as a short-term capital gain (STCG).
    • Long Term Capital Gains: If the asset is held for 36 months or more , any gain arising from selling it is treated as a ‘long-term’ capital gain (LTCG).
  •  Shares and equity mutual funds alone enjoy a special dispensation on capital gains tax. In their case, a holding period of 12 months or more qualifies as ‘long-term’.
Background: Surcharge on FPIs:
  • In the recent Budget, the government had raised surcharge on income tax from 15 per cent to 25 per cent on taxable income between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore, and from 15 per cent to 37 per cent for income above Rs 5 crore.
  • It would also be applicable for FPIs operating as trusts or as association of persons.
  • Most of these funds would have an income of more than Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore and their tax burden would go up.
  • This is being seen as the key reason for the outflow of funds.
  • The tax surcharge could discourage FPIs from participating in the divestment offerings in the coming months and hence need to be urgently reviewed
News Summary:
  • The private equity players, FPIs registered as trusts and companies presented their inputs and suggestions to the government on what is required on reviving investment sentiment.
  • Key Suggestions given include:
    • Rollback of surcharge on FPIs
    • Review of dividend distribution tax
    • Abolition or lowering of long term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equities
    • Easier Know Your Customer (KYC) norms for retail and institutional investors
    • Increasing Employees’ provident fund and pension funds exposure in the stock market, which in turn would improve liquidity.
    • Liquidity injection in NBFCs: More liquidity injection into the Non-banking financial companies that would help them boost lending activity.
  • The government has taken the suggestions ‘positively’ and has hinted that it would take all possible steps to revive overseas investor interest in the Indian capital markets.
Section : Economics

China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods,UN-SPIDER, International Charter Space and Major Disasters

Headline : China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods

Details :

In News:

  • The above-average rainfall has led to floods in Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, with Assam being the hardest hit.
  • India has acquired satellite imagery related to floods from eight international space agencies, due to its membership of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.

Note: There is apprehension about further floods, after Bhutan released excess water from Kuricchu Hydropower reservoirs which could lead to rise in water level in seven districts in Assam.

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About UN-SPIDER

  • United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) was established in 2006 under the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which is the United Nations office responsible for international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space.
  • It develops solution to address the limited access developing countries have to specialized technologies that can be essential in the management of disasters and the reducing of disaster risks.
  • It facilitates the use of space based disaster management and emergency response technologies.
  • The International Charter Space and Major Disasters has been set up under the UN-SPIDER.

 

About International Charter Space and Major Disasters

  • The International Charter Space and Major Disasters is a non-binding charter which provides for the charitable and humanitarian retasked acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
  • It was initiated by the European Space Agency and the French space agency CNES after the UNISPACE III conference held in Vienna, Austria in 1999 and it officially came into operation in 2000.
  • Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.
  • Every member agency has committed certain resources to support the provisions of the Charter and is therefore helping to mitigate the effects of disaster on human life and property.

How the Charter works?

  • Whenever there is a natural disaster, any of the member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter.
  • The Charter seeks the information pertaining to disaster- hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies
  • By combining earth observation assets from different space agencies, the charter allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations
  • ISRO has also provided information to other Space Agencies in response to requests under the charter.

 

News Summary:

  • The National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) represents the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as a member of the charter..
  • Due to the heavy floods in India, the Charter was activated on July 17 by NRSC.
  • Under the Charter, so far data has been received from 8 countries, including USGS, CNES, ESA, ROSCOSMOS, Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and 3 others.
  • ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.

Note: In 2018 also, India had activated the Charter after Kerala was inundated by floods.

 

Use satellites for Disaster Management

  • The data from earth observation and meteorological satellites in conjunction with ground based information, and services derived from communication & navigation satellites are being used towards Disaster Management Support.

Data Obtained

  • From meteorological satellites: For cyclone tracking, intensity & landfall predictions and forecasting of extreme weather events
  • From earth observation satellites: For monitoring disaster events and assessing the damages
  • The communication satellites: Help to establish emergency communication in remote and inaccessible areas
  • Navigation satellites: For providing location based services

CARTOSAT:

  • The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built and operated by the ISRO, as part of Indian Remote Sensing Program.
  • The Cartosat-2 series satellites, placed in a sun synchronous orbit, provide high resolution images of earth’s surface.
  • The images obtained from these satellites are useful in variety of applications requiring high resolution images, which include cartography, infrastructure planning, natural resources management, disaster management.
  • The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO has the mandate to develop the technologies for effective use of remote sensing and GIS based information services for disaster mitigation, relief and management at local/state/central level.
Section : Science & Tech

Health: National Deworming Day, National Deworming  Initiative, Significance of Deworming Programme

Headline : Telangana government stalls deworming drive for children

Details :

The News:

  • The deworming drive aimed at distribution of Albendazole tablets to around 6.68 lakh children in both some districts of Telangana as part of the National Deworming Programme (NDP) could not be held as per schedule.
  • The drive has been put off after two batches of the anti-worm tablets supplied to both the districts were found to be ‘Not of Standard Quality’ (NSQ).

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In Focus: National Deworming  Initiative

Background:

  • According to World Health Organization, 241 million children between the ages of 1 and 14 years are at risk of parasitic intestinal worms in India, also known as Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH).
  • More than 1.5 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population, are infected with soil-transmitted helminth infections worldwide.
  • As per WHO, 64% of the Indian population less than 14 years are at risk of STH infections.

About STH:

  • Helminths (worms) which are transmitted through soil contaminated with faecal matter are called soil-transmitted helminths (Intestinal parasitic worms).
  • Roundworm, whipworm and hookworms are worms that infect people.

STH transmission:

  • They are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces which in turn contaminate soil in areas where sanitation is poor.

Effects of STH infections:

  • STH infections can lead to anemia, malnutrition, impaired mental and physical & cognitive development, and reduced school participation.

 

About: National Deworming Day

  • It is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years, and is held on 10 February and 10 August each year.
    • Note: This year the NDD was being conducted on 8th February and mop up day on the 14th February.
  • National Deworming Day program initiative is implemented with an objective to reduce the prevalence of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or parasitic intestinal worms so that they are no longer a public health problem.
  • The programme was first launched in 2015 and was implemented in 11 States/UTs across all Government and Government-aided schools and Anganwadi centres targeting children aged 1 to 19 years.
  • After conducting five rounds of National Deworming Day since 2015, the program has been scaled up throughout the country.
  • Albendazole tablets given: The NDD program is a cost-effective program at scale that continues to reach crores of children and adolescents with deworming benefits through a safe medicine Albendazole.
  • Objective:
    • To deworm all preschool and school-age children (enrolled and non-enrolled) between theages of 1-19 years through the platform of schools and Anganwadi Centers in order to improve their overall health, nutritional status, access to education and quality of life.
  • Awareness:
    • To increase programme outreach to private schools and maximize deworming benefits for large number of children various awareness activities (media mix) are involved under the programme.
    • Campaigns are conducted to spread awareness about importance and benefits of dewarming, as well as prevention strategies related to improved behaviors and practices for hygiene and sanitation.
  • Reaching out to Private Schools and Out-of-School children:
    • In addition to including government and government-aided schools and anganwadis, all states makes special efforts to reach out-of-school children, who are most vulnerable to worm infections.
    • Private schools across the country, since they have high enrolment of children, have also enthusiastically joined the program, so that children in these schools, too, get deworming treatment and contribute to overall reduction in worm prevalence in communities.

 

Significance of Deworming Programme:

  • reduce absenteeism in schools;
  • improve health, nutritional, and learning outcomes; and
  • increase the likelihood of higher-wage jobs later in life.

 

Way ahead:

  • Apart from being dewormed, maintaining healthy and hygienic practices will help children and communities remain safe from worm infections.
  • The MoHFW envisions an open-defecation-free India which holds the capacity to reduce the overall worm burden in a community.
Section : Social Issues

Sovereign foreign borrowing

Headline : Sovereign foreign borrowing is a bold move Editorial 12th Jul’19 HindustanTimes

Details :

Sovereign Bonds:

  • During the recent Budget, the Indian finance minister announced plan of the government of India to borrow in foreign currency to finance the fiscal deficit.
  • The plan is to raise up to 10-15% of government borrowing — $10 billion — from the first overseas sovereign bond.

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How would it help?

  • Foreign borrowing is critical if the government is to meet its target of Rs 100 lakh crore of infrastructure investment, and build a $5 trillion economy.
  • Sovereign foreign borrowing in international markets would help in attracting more foreign capital and pushing up domestic investment beyond what India saves.
  • The risk free rate (as it if sovereing borrowing) can serve as a benchmark for dollar borrowing by Indian corporates.
  • It can help reduce the cost of capital for both governments and corporates.

Fiscal discipline is an essential prerequisite:

  • However, to reap the benefits from foreign sovereign borrowing, fiscal discipline is an essential prerequisite.
  • If fiscal discipline is not maintained, it can make foreign markets mistrust the government of India and raise the cost of borrowing.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act and an inflation targeting monetary policy are in place in India but it needs greater fiscal transparency.

 

India’s CAD being funded through foreign inflows:

  • When fiscal deficits become large, they spill over onto the current account and the country ends up with a large current account deficit (CAD).
  • The CAD is financed by money from abroad or capital inflows.
  • Until now, the government and RBI have been more comfortable with the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio (FPI) flows, and less with foreign debt.
  • Over the years, the fear of hot money (like in FPI) has reduced as despite having large foreign portfolio flows in the equity markets, India has not witnessed the crisis that were feared to accompany them.

Liberalized foreign debt policy in recent years:

  • In the last few years, India’s foreign debt policy has been liberalising.
  • This has happened for Rupee denominated bonds for both government and corporate, where limits for the bond holding by foreigners have been slowly hiked.
  • India has also liberalised the regime for external commercial borrowing, or dollar borrowing by corporates.

 

Government of India’s international borrowing

International bond markets

  • No direct borrowing:
    • The Government of India has so far not borrowed directly in the international bond markets.
  • Done through PSBs:
    • Instances in the past when the government has borrowed in times of need has been done through public sector banks.
    • Resurgent India Bonds and Millennium India bonds were issued through banks like the State Bank of India.
    • Bonds were sold to the Non Resident Indians who were given high interest rates.
    • RBI would compensate banks in case they suffered losses due to the currency risk they were taking.

Multilateral/Bilateral borrowing for specific projects:

  • In addition to emergency borrowing through PSB and NRI bonds, the Government of India borrows through the bilateral and multilateral route.
  • This is borrowing from countries, at negotiated interest rates in yen, dollar, for example from Japan, and from multilateral agencies like the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.
  • This borrowing is done by the ministry of finance and rates are concessional.
  • The borrowing flows to central and state governments for projects approved by the ministry.

Much room for Indian govt to borrow more internationally:

  • At present, global money markets are awash with liquidity.
  • Emerging economies are able to borrow at low interest rates.
  • With only 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being currently borrowed by the Indian government in foreign currency, there is room for the government to borrow more.

 

Government stayed away from sovereign foreign borrowing so far due to certain fears:

  • Since the 1991 balance of payment crisis, sovereign foreign borrowing has terrified the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • The proposal has come up internally a few times, but was rejected on concerns that cheap foreign money will be too attractive for governments and they may borrow too much.
  • This could lead to balance of payment crisis, currency depreciation and greater difficulty in paying back the loan.

 

Borrowing without raising risks:

  • The question today is whether such borrowing can be done in a prudent manner without raising risks for the economy.
  • Even if the borrowing is kept in control, the costs of borrowing should also be kept low.
  • Interest rate should not exceed the growth rate of the economy:
    • For the debt to be sustainable, it should not blow up beyond our capability to service it.
    • If the ratio of debt to GDP grows very fast, then we would reach a point when we are unable to pay back debt.
    • Debt grows at the interest rate while GDP grows at the growth rate of the economy. This means that the stability of the debt to GDP ratio requires that the interest rate should not exceed the growth rate of the economy.
  • Good quality economic data:
    • To be able to borrow at low interest rates in foreign markets, it is not enough that we trust our data. Foreigners must also trust our data.
    • In addition to transparent fiscal data, borrowing abroad should be accompanied by good quality GDP data.
    • If the data is untrustworthy and markets suspect errors in budget estimates, off-budget borrowing, or delayed payments to achieve annual fiscal targets, it can make foreign markets mistrust the government of India and raise the cost of borrowing.
    • This will mean paying for a higher expectation of default, even though we may never intend to default.

 

Conclusion:

  • This is the first time the proposal for foreign sovereign borrowing has made it to the budget speech, and it is being described as a bold move.
  • For this to work, we need to produce good quality government data and national accounts and stick to FRBM and inflation target in letter and in spirit.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

How will India contribute to LIGO?

Headline : How will India contribute to LIGO?

Details :

Context:

  • LIGO India project is coming up in Maharashtra, near Aundha in Hingoli district.
  • This article explain about the LIGO projects across the world, their significance and India’s part in the global LIGO project.

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Background

  • In September 2015, LIGO’s US detectors made the first discovery of gravitational waves travelling outwards from a point 1.3 billion light years away from the earth.
  • At this point, two massive black holes with masses 29 and 36 times that of the sun had merged to give off gravitational wave disturbances. This discovery led to the confirmation of Einsteins’ prediction and launched a new way of studying the Universe.
    • Black holes are exotic objects that have immense gravitational pull and they trap even the fastest object in the world, which is light.
  • When objects with such an immense gravity merge, the disturbance is felt by the very fabric of space time and travels outward from the merger, Thus, gravitational waves have been described as “ripples in the fabric of space time”.

 

LIGO

  • LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. It consists of a pair of huge interferometers, each having two arms which are 4 km long.
  • LIGO, unlike usual telescopes, does not “see” the incoming ripples in spacetime because gravitational waves are not a part of electromagnetic spectrum or light.
  • They are not light waves but a different phenomenon altogether — a stretching of spacetime due to immense gravity.

Detection of gravitational waves:

  • Remarkable precision is needed to detect a signal as faint as a gravitational wave, and the two LIGO detectors work as one unit to ensure this.
  • This requires weeding out noise very carefully, for when such a faint signal is being detected, even a slight human presence near the detector could derail the experiment by drowning out the signal.
  • A single LIGO detector cannot confidently detect this disturbance on its own and at least two detectors are needed. This is because the signal is so weak that even a random noise could give out a signal that can mislead one into thinking a genuine gravitational wave has been detected.
  • It is because two detectors detect the faint signal in coincidence that leads to the certainty of it being read as a genuine reading and not noise.

 

Other LIGO detectors

  • Following the 2015 detection, which later won the Physics Nobel (2017), the two LIGO detectors detected seven such binary black hole merger events before they were joined by the European Virgo detector in 2017. The two facilities have now detected 10 events.
  • The Japanese detector, KAGRA, or Kamioka Gravitational-wave Detector, is expected to join the international network soon.
  • In the meantime, in a collaboration with LIGO, a gravitational wave detector is being set up in India.
  • The LIGO India project is expected to join the international network in a first science run in 2025.

 

Sources of Gravitational Waves

  • Mergers of black holes or neutron stars, rapidly rotating neutron stars, supernova explosions and the remnants of the disturbance caused by the formation of the universe and the Big Bang, are the strongest sources.
  • There can be many other sources, but these are likely to be too weak to detect.

Significance of Gravitational Waves

  • The data collected by LIGO, may have far-reaching effects on many areas of physics including gravitation, relativity, astrophysics, cosmology, particle physics, and nuclear physics.
  • It has opened a completely new window with which scientists are starting to probe hitherto unexplored phenomena such as the formation of black holes, exploding neutron stars and witnessing the birth of the Universe.
  • It enriches multi-messenger astronomy complementing the conventional means of observing and studying the Universe with telescopes using light.
  • As more detectors would be in place, the study would also offer a new way to map out the universe, using gravitational-wave astronomy. Perhaps one day with highly accurate detection facilities, signatures of gravitational waves bouncing off celestial objects will help in detecting and mapping them.

 

LIGO India

  • LIGO India will come up in Maharashtra, near Aundha in Hingoli district. The observatory will cost 12.6 billion rupees (US$177 million) and is scheduled for completion in 2024.
  • Like the LIGO detectors, the one at LIGO India will also have two arms of 4 km length. But while there are similarities there will be differences too.
  • Being an ultra-high precision large-scale apparatus, LIGO India is expected to show a unique “temperament” determined by the local site characteristics.
  • The LIGO Laboratory — which is operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge — will provide the hardware for a complete LIGO interferometer in India, technical data on its design, as well as training and assistance with installation and commissioning for the supporting infrastructure.
  • India will provide the site, the vacuum system and other infrastructure required to house and operate the interferometer — as well as all labour, materials and supplies for installation.

Agencies involved

  • The LIGO-India project will be built by by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA, signed in 2016, along with several national and international research and academic institutions.

Significance of LIGO India

  • It will dramatically increase the sensitivity with which gravitational events will be detected.
  • It will allow accurate calculation of sizes of black holes.
  • Help to better understand the Universe’s rate of expansion.
  • Detection of gravitational waves: With the current number of detectors in the world, there is huge uncertainty in determining where in the sky the disturbance came from. Observations from a new detector in a far-off position will help locate the source of the gravitational waves five to ten times more accurately than current efforts allow.
  • Development of Astronomy: India is conventionally strong in theoretical astronomy. It will help Indian astronomers partner with the global community and bring new insights into this vibrant area.
  • Careers in Science: Presence of such a world-leading facility in India will inspire and attract generations of students to pursue challenging careers in science, technology and innovation.
Section : Science & Tech

J&K Statehood and 370 Article: Analysis

Headline : The state has its reasons Editorial 7th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

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Status of J&K stuck in ambiguity:

  • For over seven decades, the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been masked in ambiguity and deceit.
  • Successive governments of both India and Pakistan had tried but failed to arrive at an amicable “final solution” because of the play of vested interests on both sides.

Two potential routes to a resolution:

  • The resolution attempts over time shaped two potential routes to a resolution.
  • One may be termed the “hard” option and the other the “soft” option.

 

Pakistan tried the hard option of war first:

  • Pakistan tried the hard option of occupying the territory as early as in 1947 when it sent troops into the erstwhile kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir and grabbed territory.
  • It tried the hard option a second time but failed, in 1998 when it crossed the Line of Control (LoC) at Kargil.

Then it was ready for soft option:

  • It was only after these attempts at a military soluti on on the part of Pakistan failed that the two countries began considering the “soft” options.

 

Soft option of LoC as IB pursued: 

  • Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the first step in defining a final “soft” solution when he was open to the idea that the LoC could be defined as the “international border” (IB).
  • Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pursued that option through dialogue with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, conducted largely through a back channel.
  • The Manmohan-Musharraf formula:
    • It was based on the premise that terrorism and cross-border attacks would cease, and the LoC would become the IB.
    • In Kashmir, it would be a soft border that would enable Kashmiris on both sides to travel to and fro.
    • It advocated free trade across the border, and “self-governance for internal management in all areas on the same basis on both sides of the LoC”.
    • Once such a benign environment was established, both sides would reduce to the bare minimum the presence of their respective militaries on their side of the border.

The soft option did not work out:

  • All those ideas did not progress.
  • Musharraf in Pakistan and then Singh in India lost the already little support to pursue this “soft” solution.
  • The Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 and other events ultimately increased pressure for the burial of the soft solution.
  • Pakistan’s military and hardline political leadership went against the soft solution.
  • In India, the changed government also rejected the Manmohan-Musharraf formula.

End of pursuit of soft solution:

  • Since 2014, there have been no takers for the soft solution both in India and Pakistan.
  • On the contrary, attitudes began to harden on both sides.
  • No credible political leader in Pakistan or India seems interested any longer in pursuing the now abandoned soft solution.

 

India’s pursuit of hard solution – End of Article 370:

  • India tried all options to resolve the Kashmir issue but nothing yielded a convincing result.
  • Having exhausted soft options, a hard solution has been opted for.
  • The Indian leadership was convinced that change needs to be brought in Kashmir and this was an opportune moment.
  • The result was the end of Art 370 in Kashmir and the change of its position to that of a Union Territory.

 

Despite criticism, securing borders as important as the minds of the people:

  • Critics of the government’s action have said it was motivated by a desire to secure land rather than its inhabitants.
  • Every state has to be as mindful of its territory as of its inhabitants.
  • More wars have been fought between nations over land than only over the interests of its peoples.
  • Even Abraham Lincoln did not wage a civil war only to define the rights of US citizens but to also define the territorial limits of the US state.
  • A state that cannot define its borders and protect them has no reason to survive.
  • Significantly, most political parties have backed the government’s action. They are not necessarily defending the government but are defending the interests of the Indian state.

Conclusion:

  • India has tried both soft and hard solutions to define its borders.
  • The only remaining unresolved issues are with Pakistan and China.
  • With China, a negotiated settlement is still possible since its leadership has demonstrated greater maturity in dealing with India.
  • Pakistan too could have secured a peaceful resolution by ceasing to make India more anxious about its security.
  • In choosing not to do so, Pakistan forced India into a hard solution.

Importance:

GS Paper II: International Relations

Section : Editorial Analysis

Economy – MSME Sector :Problems,Demands, Significance, Schemes, Committees

Headline : MSME loans: Delay in disbursal of loans to MSMEs

Details :

In  News:

  • The union finance minister held a meeting with MSME representatives to devise plans for this critical sector.
  • The MSMEs representatives highlighted problems faced by the sector, and made certain demands for the revival of the sector.
  • She also asked industry representatives to send their response to the U K Sinha committee over the next three-four days,indicating that the recommendations would be implemented quickly.

Telegram: https://t.me/UpscExpress

News Summary

Problems afflicting the MSME sector:

  • Limited loan disbursal by banks even after sanctioning under 59 minutes scheme: As against loans sanctioned in just 59 minutes by PSBs through an online lending marketplace called psbloanin59minutes, only 10 per cent is being disbursed by banks.
  • Long delays in settlement of dues by the government departments and PSUs
  • Access to credit: Despite 70 per cent guarantee from the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE), the firms have not been able to secure loans from banks in many cases.
  • The issue of VAT refunds not being transferred to GST regime by states.

Impact:

  • It has undermined the MSMEs’ ability to sustain their business cycles, liquidity-starved micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Key Demands of the MSMEs representatives:

  • Revise the turnover/investment-related definition of MSMEs upwards. The definitions, where a firm with Rs 5 crore investment is classified as ‘small’ while investment over Rs 5 crore are ‘medium’, were brought in 2006 and have since become dated due to inflation.
  • Exemption from capital gains tax for the sector if gains are reinvested in business.
  • Rationalization of penalty for late filing on Ministry of Corporate Affairs as it is same for large and small companies.

Telegram: https://t.me/UpscExpress

Significance of the MSME sector:

  • MSMEs are the backbone of the Indian economy, contributing nearly 45% in the manufacturing sector, 30 per cent of the GDP and 49 per cent of country’s exports. They are key engines of job creation and economic growth in developing countries.
  • MSME sector is also the second largest employer, next only to agriculture. Over 6 crore MSME units provided employment to about 11 crore people (NSSO, 2016).

 

12 Historic decisions by government for the MSME sector

 

About: PSBLoansIn59Minutes Scheme

  • Under the scheme, MSMEs registered under the Goods and Services Tax are eligible for loan up to Rs 1 crore in just 59 minutes from public sector banks (PSBs) through an online lending marketplace called ‘psbloanin59minutes’.
  • This objective of the scheme is to reduce the time and effort required to secure credit from PSBs, thus easing the life of an entrepreneur.

Need for the Scheme:

  • The difficulties in getting a loan from PSBs stem from unwillingness of the ground-level staff to even accept the loan application.
  • Even after a loan is approved, the high turnaround around time for the disbursal remains a challenge.

Scheme saw huge response:

  • The demand for such a portal is validated by both the large number of applications (around 1.31 lakh) received within two months of its launch.

Issues:

  • As against loan sanctioned in 59 minutes scheme, only 10 per cent loans have disbursed by banks.

Way Forward for the 59 minutes scheme:

  • There is a need of deeper integration of the portal with banks’ processes.
  • The credit approval process should capture the existing liabilities of the borrower so that there are no disputes on quantum of credit to be sanctioned.
  • The availability of other resources such as land/technology with the borrower should also be assessed before sanctioning term loan for a new asset.
  • On the policy front, the norms for takeover of loans among lenders should be relaxed.

 

About: UK Sinha committee

  • RBI constituted the expert committee on MSMEs to study the problems faced by MSMEs, identify the causes, and propose long-term solutions for the economic and financial sustainability of the MSME sector.
  • This includes the review the current institutional framework in place to support the MSME sector, studying the global best practices with respect to MSMEs.

Key recommendations:

  • The creation of a distressed asset fund to assist MSMEs units in clusters.
  • The creation of a government-sponsored Fund of Funds of Rs. 10,000 crore to support venture capital and private equity firms investing in MSMEs.
  • Amendments to the Act to address the sector’s bottlenecks like access to credit and risk capital, prioritizing market facilitation and ease of doing business.
  • SIDBI should deepen credit markets for MSMEs in underserved districts and regions.
  • It suggested to fix a timeline of 7-10 days for disposal of applications..
  • It had suggested for greater adoption of technology-facilitated solutions to many of the problems encountered by the MSME sector.
Section : Economics

River water disputes: Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), Inter State Water Dispute Act, 1956

Headline : One tribunal for all river water disputes: why the proposal, how it will work

Details :

In News:
  • The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by Lok Sabha.
  • It seeks to streamline the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
News Summary:
  • The Bill cleared by Lok Sabha seeks to make amendments to the Inter-State River Waters Disputes Act of 1956, that provides for setting up of a separate tribunal every time a dispute arises.
  • Once it becomes law, the amendment will ensure the transfer of all existing water disputes to the single Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal with different Benches in states.
  • All five existing tribunals under the 1956 Act would cease to exist.
What changes after the amendment?
Dispute resolution system:
Earlier:
  • Under the 1956 Act, a separate tribunal was needed to be set up every time a dispute arises.
Now:
  • Once it becomes law, the amendment will ensure the transfer of all existing water disputes to the single new tribunal.
  • The current system of dispute resolution would give way to a new two-tier approach:
    • Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC):
      • Under the new system, the Centre would set up a DRC once states raise a dispute.
      • The DRC would be headed by a serving or retired secretary-rank officer with experience in the water sector and would have other expert members and a representative of each state government concerned.
      • The DRC would try to resolve the dispute through negotiations within a year (extendable by another 6 months) and submit a report to the Centre.
      • Only if the DRC fails to resolve the dispute will the matter be referred to the tribunal.
  • Bench constituted by the tribunal:
    • If the DRC fails to settle the dispute, it would be referred to the permanent tribunal.
    • The chairperson would then constitute a three-member bench that would consider the DRC report before investigating on its own.
    • It would have to finalise its decision within two years (extendable by another year).
  •  The decision of the tribunal would carry the weight of an order of the Supreme Court.
 
Time taken to settle the disputes:
Earlier:
  • Under the 1956 Act, nine tribunals have so far been set up. It has taken 17 to 27 years to resolve disputes by these tribunals.
  • Only four of them have given their awards.
  • Though the tribunal was supposed to give its award within three years (extendable by another two years), the tribunals have taken much longer to give their decisions.
    • For example, the dispute over Cauvery waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu took 28 years to settle.
    • The Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal was set up in April 1986 and it is still to give the final award.
    • The minimum a tribunal has taken to settle a dispute is seven years, by the first Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal in 1976.
  • The multiplicity of tribunals has led to an increase in bureaucracy, delays, and possible duplication of work.
Now:
  • The amendment is bringing a time limit for adjudicating the disputes.
  • All disputes would now have to be resolved within a maximum of four-and-a-half years.
About: Inter State Water Dispute Act, 1956
  • The Parliament has enacted Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-State rivers and river valley thereof.
  • Setting up of Tribunal: When any request under the said Act is received from any State Government in respect of any water dispute on the inter-State rivers and the Central Government is of the opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, the Central Government constitutes a Water Disputes Tribunal for the adjudication of the water dispute.
    • Note: The 2019 amendment Bill seeks to modify this to have a single permanent Tribunal with multiple benches constitutes as and when necessary to adjudicate the disputes.
  • Make recommendations to government: The Tribunal so constituted investigates the matters referred to it and forward to the Central Government a report setting out the facts as found by it and giving its decision on the mattes referred to it.
  • Sole body to adjudicate disputes: Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, neither the Supreme Court nor any other Court shall have or exercise jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to a Tribunal under this Act.
  • Final and Binding: The Central Government shall publish the decision of the Tribunal in the Official Gazette and the decision shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute and shall be given effect to by them.
    • Judicial Review: However, the Supreme Court, while hearing a civil suit in the Cauvery dispute, had said the decision of that tribunal could be challenged before it through a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution.
  • Implementation: The Central Government may establish any authority/body for the implementation of the decision or directions of the Tribunal.
Section : Polity & Governance

India and Global Innovation Index

Headline : India rises in global innovation ranking

Details :

The News
  • India has jumped five places to rank 52 in the Global Innovation Index 2019 (GII).
  • The GII is a global benchmark that helps policy makers better understand how to stimulate and measure innovative activity, a main driver of economic and social development.
 
News Summary:
  • The latest Global Innovation index rankings were released at an event organised by the Indian Commerce Ministry and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • The rankings put India at 52nd in the world.
  • Switzerland is the most innovative economy, followed by Sweden, US, Netherlands and United Kingdom.
  • China, which has invested heavily in research and development, moved up three positions to rank 14.
  • Israel secured the 10th rank, marking the first time an economy from the Northern Africa and Western Asia region broke into the top 10.
India’s GII ranking:
  • India improved its ranking consistently in the recent years, from 88 in 2015 to 57 in 2018 to 52 in 2019.
  • India is now the most innovative economy in the Central and South Asian region.
  • India will continue its efforts to breach the top 50 in the GII soon, with the ultimate aim of reaching the top 10.
Factors that helped India improve its ranking:
  • Strong information and communication technology services exports,
  • Scientific publications
  • Investment by its top three companies in research and development
  • Quality of some of its educational institutions, including some IITs and IIMs
  • The proportion of science and engineering graduates on offer globally
  • State of cluster development, especially the performance of Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai
Major areas where India needs to improve include:
  • Proportion of women with advanced degrees in the workforce.
  • Overall quality of education
  • Access and use of information and communication technologies
  • Student to teacher ratio in secondary level education
What are the strengths of India which has helped in improving its ranking?
  • India’s human capital (graduates in science & engineering)
  • Growth rate of GDP per worker
  • Exports of information and communication technology (ICT) and services
  • Productivity growth
  • Creative goods exports among others
 
Global Innovation Index
  • The Global Innovation Index (GII) aims to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation and provide the tools that can assist in tailoring policies to promote long-term output growth, improved productivity, and job growth.
  • The global ranking is published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) – a specialized agency of the United Nations – in association with Cornell University and graduate business school INSEAD.
  • GII is published annually since 2007.
  • It is considered a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. It is being used by them to evaluate progress on a continual basis.
  • GII ranks 126 economies based on 80 indicators, ranging from intellectual property filing rates to R&D, mobile application creation, online creativity, computer software spending, education spending, scientific & technical publications and ease of starting business.
Section : Economics

India needs to be geared to a single-minded pursuit of growth Editorial 5th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Headline : India needs to be geared to a single-minded pursuit of growth Editorial 5th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Telegram: https://t.me/UpscExpress

Details :

Path to $5 trillion economy:

  • India needs to transition towards a $5 trillion economy, taking it from lower-middle income status to upper-middle income.
  • The path of this transition can only be paved with reforms.

Some of the measures undertaken in the past five years:

  • The introduction of goods and services tax (GST)
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)
  • Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA)
  • Monetary Policy Framework
  • A focus on ease of doing business
  • Formalisation of the economy
  • Enhanced foreign direct investment (FDI) limits
  • Recognition of the scale of the nonperforming asset (NPA) problem
  • Recapitalisation of public sector banks (PSBs)

 

Major measures often have short time negative impact:

  • Structural reforms of this magnitude always bring with them consequent headwinds.
  • Demand, both internal and external, is subdued and private investments are yet to take off.
  • Expansionary monetary and fiscal policies are needed to bring aggregate demand out of its slump.
  • However, with both fiscal deficit and inflation targets, the extent of monetary and fiscal expansion to stimulate aggregate demand is limited.

 

Reforms should be focused on growth:

  • The focus of second-generation reforms should be a single-minded pursuit of growth that is investment- and exported.
  • In 1965, South Korea’s income level was around $700. By 1996, it had risen to $16,230 thanks to the annual average growth of 10.7% over 31 years.
  • China’s per-capita income in 1993 was $530. In 2008, it had reached around $2,720 with average annual growth at 11.5%.

 

Steps India must take to drive a $5 trillion economy:

Improved credit flow:

  • A slew of recent events have triggered a liquidity crunch.
  • Banks and mutual funds are reluctant to lend to nonbanking financial companies (NBFCs), and bank lending growth is meagre.
  • Given the undercapitalised nature of PSBs, the liquidity crunch is further compounded.
  • Ensuring sufficient credit flows is the need of the hour.
  • The Indian financial sector is overly reliant on banks as source of funding.
  • Deep Bond market necessary for this:
    • In India, the bond market represents only 20% of total corporate debt as compared to 80% in the US.
    • India needs to deepen the corporate bond markets to lessen the load on banks as drivers of credit in the financial system.

Asset monetisation and recycling:

  • Innovative ideas such as asset monetisation and recycling need to be vigorously pursued to fund government capital expenditure.
  • Reverse BOT (build-operate-transfer) and TOT (tolloperate-transfer) for airports, roads, infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs) of power transmission grids and gas pipelines, along with monetising land lying idle with public sector enterprises, can raise significant funds.
  • Strategic disinvestment can raise further non-tax revenues for GoI. NITI Aayog has recommended strategic disinvestment of 46 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs). These need to be expeditiously taken forward.
  • Government must get out of business enterprises and become a facilitator and catalyst.

Lower Interest Rates:

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) must also recognise that the real cost of borrowing in India is inordinately high when compared to peer nations.
  • The imperfect monetary transmission mechanism implies that successive and large rate cuts from RBI are needed to bring down the cost of capital.
  • Liquidity needs to be infused into the system, increasing the pool of loanable funds available in the market.

Agriculture Reforms:

  • Several sectors remain unreformed, agriculture being the biggest example.
  • We need to unleash the productive spirit of our farmers by eliminating outdated laws such as the Essential Commodities Act, the APMC Act, and replace them with modern regulations such as the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act, the Contract Farming Act, and the Land Leasing Act.
  • Along with marketing reforms, investments in the value chain are needed. This will boost both exports and the domestic food processing industry.
  • Dependence on agriculture as a source of livelihood also needs to be reduced.

Smart cities:

  • 80% of global economic production happens in cities, lifting vast segments above poverty lines.
  • They are centres of growth, innovation and creativity.
  • We must focus on making Indian cities smart, sustainable and innovative.
  • They hold the key to growth and job creation.

Manufacturing boost:

  • Manufacturing will play an important role in growth and job creation.
  • Export-led growth needs to be targeted, particularly in labour-intensive sectors.
  • To capture larger shares of export markets, our firms must be globally competitive.
  • Rationalising electricity tariffs, labour and land laws are critical enablers of firm competitiveness.

Textile sector reform:

  • The textiles and apparel sector presents significant employment opportunities, especially to the labour force exiting agriculture.
  • A focus on man-made fibres, through removal of the inverted duty structure, is a first step.
  • India also needs to focus on scale. Nearly 95% of our fabric is produced in small-scale industries, leading to a loss in competitiveness in destination markets.
  • Largescale textile parks, providing common infrastructure and plug-and-play facilities to entrepreneurs, would make this sector competitive.

Power and railway sector reforms:

  • We need vibrant and dynamic power and railway sectors.
  • In power sector, we need to bring in franchise and public-private partnership (PPP) modes in distribution, permit open access and free renewable from licensing requirement for generation and supply.
  • In railways, we need to rationalise passenger fares, and projects like dedicated freight corridors to be completed. Private sector play in train operations and station redevelopment will fast-track infrastructure to global standards and bring efficiency.

Mining sector reforms:

  • Opening up the coal sector for commercial mining, along with enhancing domestic oil and gas production and exploration, will reduce India’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels.
  • In allocating these blocks, the focus should be on production, rather than revenue maximisation.

Tourism:

  • Tourism is an area where significant growth and employment opportunities emerge.
  • While India has many destinations, we do not have many circuits.
  • Developing the ‘Buddhist Circuit’, by providing air connectivity through UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) to destinations such as Kushinagar and Bodh Gaya, will help us capture the burgeoning East Asian tourist market.
  • India needs to bring down GST on hotel rooms from 28% to 18%, and reduce visa fees to $25, so that we can offer attractive and competitive packages.

Improving saving and investment levels:

  • For India to grow at 8-9% over the coming years, the structural reforms need to aim at boosting domestic investment and savings levels, especially from the private and household sectors.
  • Domestic infrastructure creation, funded through non-tax revenues, can ‘crowd-in’ private investment.

Ease of business:

  • Similarly, stability, predictability and consistency in policies can boost and maintain investor confidence.
  • Reforms in ease of doing business must continue with the aim of making India one of the easiest places in the world to do business.
  • Tax laws need to be simplified, the processes fully digitised, and the tax research unit needs to be manned by professional tax experts.

Enabling private sector:

  • Finally, we need to do everything possible to unleash the animal spirits of the private sector.
  • Wealth creation on a sustained basis requires the private sector to play a key and significant role.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

For Naya Kashmir Editorial 6th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Headline : For Naya Kashmir Editorial 6th Aug’19 IndianExpress

Details :

Kashmiri leaders also sought progress:
  • Naya Kashmir was a memorandum that Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah submitted to the King of erstwhile Kashmir kingdom Maharaja Hari Singh in 1944.
  • It outlined a plan to convert J&K from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy, called for universal franchise, freedom of expression and press, ability of women to work in all trades and professions, and a detailed economic plan.
  • That vision of social justice, economic progress and poverty reduction wasn’t achieved, and is highly relevant for Kashmir today.
Low economic complexity in Kashmir:
  • Kashmir is an economic infant with low economic complexity.
  • Government finances poor:
    • The state accounts for less than 0.7 per cent of India’s GDP.
    • The fiscal deficit is more than twice the prescribed ratio and government debt is 50 per cent of GDP.
    • Private Credit to GDP is less than Bihar and the J&K Bank is a shame.
  • Hardly any private sector:
    • More than 30 per cent of families directly work for the government.
    • There is no wage premium in handicrafts; carpet weavers get Rs 150 a day while construction labour costs Rs 600 per day (and comes from outside the state).
    • Less than five per cent of fruits and nuts are processed.
    • Private investment last year was less than Rs 1,000 crore.
    • There is only one listed company and only one company with a paid up capital of Rs 10 crore.
    • There is no employer in the Kashmir Valley who pays provident fund and no private employer with more 1
    • Their 28 employment exchanges cost almost Rs 50 crore a year to run and have given few jobs to anybody in a decade.than 500 formal employees.
The real Kashmiri aspirational Youth hoping for progress:
  • Most Kashmiri elites have economically diversified away from the Valley but the masses can’t exit.
  • The masses have lost their voices because of Kashmir’s economic infancy and democracy controlled by few politicians.
  • While the political royalty speaks about the threats to civilisation, the Kashmiri youth, which is more skilled, entrepreneurial, and aspirational than the past generations, is looking for progress.
Economic complexity needed in kashmir:
  • Such a situation is hardly fertile soil for economic vibrancy.
  • Some economists say that the only predictor of sustained economic success is economic complexity.
  • Kashmiris should spend the next decade creating the economic complexity that blunts passions by creating interests (jobs, skills, enterprises, assets, income, growth).
What should be done?
  • A 10-year strategy for education, employment and employability that leverages India’s economic complexity is the need of the hour.
  • Kashmir needs a new skill university that spreads higher education with employability.
  • We should convert Hari Niwas into a world class hotel management institute in partnership with ITE Singapore or EHL Lausanne.
  • We must double the direct flights and directly connect Srinagar to Jammu and Delhi with a three-hour and 12-hour train.
  • We need revamped employment exchanges that operate a digital job site that offers job matching, assessments, apprentices, and online degrees.
  • Massive funds must be committed to infrastructure and cluster creation.
  • We need a massive design and distribution mission for handicrafts and fruits that raises the realisation of actual producers.
  • Most importantly, we must get the huge, skilled, and motivated Kashmiri diaspora to return and reduce informal self-employment by creating more formal wage employment.
Conclusion:
  • India and J&K are tremendously and permanently intertwined.
  • When one does well, the other does well.
  • And when we both do well, we are unstoppable.
Importance:
GS Paper III: Economy
Section : Editorial Analysis

International Organisations and Reports: Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

Headline : India protests over UN chief’s report

Details :

In News:

  • The United Nation has recently released its Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.
  • India is disappointed with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for including in the report situations in India that are neither armed conflicts nor a threat to international security.

 

About Annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

  • The present report covers the period from January to December 2018, was submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2427 (2018).

UN Resolution 2427In 2018, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at a framework for mainstreaming protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children throughout the conflict cycle.

  • The report highlights global trends regarding the impact  of  armed  conflict  on  children  and  provides  information  on  violations committed as well as related protection concerns.
  • The present report also include a list of parties that, in violation of international law, engage in the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel,1and the abduction of children.

Highlights of the Report:

  • Violence against Children: More than 12,000 children were killed or maimed in around 20 conflict situations of 2018. Children continue to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria. They also continue to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence,
  • Sexual Violence against children: Some 933 cases of sexual violence against boys and girls were reported, but this is believed to be an under-estimate, due to lack of access, stigma and fear of reprisals.
  • Overall decrease in attacks on schools and hospitals: Attacks on schools and hospitals have decreased overall, but have intensified in some conflict situations, such as Afghanistan and Syria, which has seen the highest number of such attacks since the beginning of the conflict in the country.
  • Access to education: Mali provides the most serious example of children being deprived of access to education, and the military use of schools.
  • Detention and release of children involved in conflict: Rather than being seen as victims of recruitment, thousands of children around the world were detained for their actual or alleged association with armed groups in 2018 (in Syria and Iraq), the majority of children deprived of their liberty are under the age of five.
  • Increase in number of children benefiting from release and reintegration: The number of children benefiting from release and reintegration support, however, rose in 2018 to 13,600 (up from 12,000 in 2017).

Recommendations given:

  • All parties to conflict must refrain from directing attacks against civilians, including children, as peace remains the best protection for children affected by armed conflict.
  • Parties to conflict must protect children and put in place tangible measures to end and prevent these violations.
  • The nations to work with the UN to help relocate foreign children and women actually or allegedly affiliated with extremist groups, with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.
  • Increased resources and funding to meet the growing needs, as more children are separated from armed groups.

 

About India in the report:

  • India was mentioned under a section of the report titled “Situations not on the agenda of the Security Council or other situations”.
  • The report mentions terrorist groups in Jammu & Kashmir and Maoist groups elsewhere that recruit child fighters, children killed in these areas, and sexual violence against them, although India is not in armed conflict.
    • According to the report, terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoists groups elsewhere have recruited children as fighters.
    • It also added that children continued to be killed or injured in operations by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and in areas of Maoist activity.
    • The report noted that there were reports of sexual violence against girls by security forces in Kashmir citing the Kathua rape case.

 

India’s Objections to the Report:

  • India has strongly expressed its disappointment over the report.
  • The section on “Situations on the agenda of the Security Council”, which conforms to its mandate, deals with countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are in a civil war situation that overwhelms the nations. (This section also included Israel and Palestine territories.)
  • The inclusion of India and countries like Thailand and even Pakistan in an added section appears to be arbitrary because it places them on the same level as those countries covered by the Council mandate.
  • However, at the same time the report ignored countries in Central America, for example, where violence has led to an exodus of thousands of children escaping the brutalities.
  • Such attempt to expand mandate in a selective manner to certain situations only politicises and instrumentalises the agenda, obfuscating and diverting attention from the real threats to international peace and security.
Section : International Relation

Environment: Deep-sea mining, Poly metallic nodules, Central Indian Ocean Basin, Economic viability, Policy Challenges

Headline : Why is India pulled to deep-sea mining?

Details :

In News:
  • India’s ambitious ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ (DOM), the Rs 8,000-crore plan to explore deep ocean minerals, is all set to be launched this year.
Mining the deep ocean for polymetallic nodules:
  • One of the main aims of the mission is to explore and extract polymetallic nodules.
  • These are small potato-like rounded accretions composed of minerals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron hydroxide.
  • They lie scattered on the Indian Ocean floor at depths of about 6,000 m and the size can vary from a few millimetres to centimetres.
  • These metals can be extracted and used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries and even for solar panels.
India will mine in the Central Indian Ocean Basin:
  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA), which governs non-living resources of the seabed of international waters, allots the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining.
    • It is an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
  • India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor ‘ in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration.
Potential polymetallic nodules in the basin:
  • In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA and after complete resource analysis of the seabed 50% was surrendered and the country retained an area of 75,000 sq km.
  • As per the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential in this area is 380 million tonnes (MT), containing 4.7 MT of nickel, 4.29 MT of copper, 0.55 MT of cobalt and 92.59 MT of manganese.
  • First Generation Mine-site: Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sq km which will be the ‘First Generation Mine-site’.
India is current testing technologies to extract:
  • India’s mining site is at about a depth of 5,500 metres, where there is a high pressure and extremely low temperature.
  • Using Remotely Operated Vehicle and In-situ Soil Tester in the depth of 6,000 metres, India is gaining a thorough understanding of the mining area at the CIOB.
  • Newly developed mining machines will be tested this year at 6000 metres depth.
  • More tests are being conducted to understand how to bring the nodules up to the surface.
Other countries interested in mining the deep sea:
  • Apart from the CIOB, polymetallic nodules have been identified from the Central Pacific Ocean. It is known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
  • According to the ISA’s website, it has entered into 15-year contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the deep seabed with 29 contractors.
  • Later it was extended for five more years till 2022.
  • China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and also some small islands such as the Cook Islands, Kiribati have joined the race for deep sea mining.
  • Most of the countries have tested their technologies in shallow waters and are yet to start deep-sea extraction.
Potential environmental impact of deep-sea mining:
  • The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.
  • According to the IUCN, these deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.
  • Mining expeditions can make them go extinct.
  • Environmentalists are also worried about the sediment plumes that will be generated as the suspended particles can rise to the surface harming the filter feeders in the upper ocean layers.
  • Additional concerns have been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.
Economic viability of deep sea mining:
  • The latest estimate from the ISA says it will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined per year.
  • More studies are being carried out to understand how the technology can be scaled up and used efficiently.
Section : Science & Tech

About Consular access, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)

Headline : Consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav: What ICJ ordered; Pakistan has ‘offered’ to India

Details :

In News:

  • Pakistan has offered India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the India who’s been in jail in Pakistan since 2016.
  • India is “evaluating” the Pakistani proposal which comes with some strict conditions.

Background:

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, who was arrested by Pakistani officials in 2016, on suspicion of spying and obstructing activities against the country.
  • Claiming that Jadhav was an Indian spy, the Pakistani military court sentenced him to death.
  • However, India insists that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government.
  • As a last resort of appeal, India went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which stayed the execution.
  • India accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by failing to provide Jadhav with consular access, as well as breaking human rights laws.
  • On 17 July 2019, International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and sentencing, and grant consular access to him without delay.
  • The ICJ also upheld India’s stand that Pakistan is in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

 

What is the concept of “consular access”?

  • Consular access simply means that a diplomat or an official will have a meeting with the prisoner who is in the custody of another country.
  • The Diplomat will first confirm the identity of the person, and then will ask some basic questions on his treatment in the custody and about his needs.
  • Depending on the response, the diplomat/official will report back to his/her government, and the next steps will be initiated.
  • The principle of consular access was agreed to in the 1950s and 60s.

 

About Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)

  • The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) is an international treaty that defines consular relations between independent states and was framed in 1963, at the height of Cold War.
  • During the Cold war era, “spies” from the US and USSR were caught in each other’s countries and across the world, and the idea was to ensure that they were not denied consular access.
  • All countries agreed to the principle, and more than 170 have ratified the Vienna Convention, making it one of the most universally recognised treaties in the world.
  • The object and purpose of the Vienna Convention is to contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations.
  • Under Article 36 of the VCCR,
    • At the request of a detained foreign national, the consulate of the sending State must be notified of the detention “without delay”.
    • The consulate has the right “to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation”.

Challenges in the implementation of the treaty:

  • The ability of a consulate to provide effective aid has been heavily dependent on the prompt receipt of information of the detention, and timely access to the detainee.
  • No time interval is indicated for granting consular access.
    • However, consular access must be provided in all cases where a foreigner is “arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial or is detained in any other manner”, regardless of the circumstances or charges.

 

News Summary:

  • After the ICJ verdict, Pakistan has finally offered India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav.
  • Pakistan’s Proposal: Pakistan has laid down 3 conditions for consular access to Jadhav:
    • The presence of a Pakistani official in the room where Indian officials will speak to Jadhav.
    • The room to have CCTVs
    • Sound recording facilities in the room.
  • Pakistan’s proposal violative of Article 36, 1 para (a) of VCCR:
    • According to Article 36, 1 para (a) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR): Consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State (India) and to have access to them.
    • Nationals of the sending State (Kulbhushan Jadhav) shall have the same freedom with respect to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending State (India).
    • The conditions being laid down by Pakistan are violative of that spirit of free access to Jadhav.
  • India is evaluating the Pakistan proposal in light of the ICJ judgment and will maintain communication with Pakistan on this through diplomatic channels.
  • While Islamabad has given a date and time, it is unlikely that India would accept such a monitored meeting.
Section : International Relation

Productivity of Parliament

Headline : Lawmakers work overtime, Lok Sabha session set to be most productive in 20 years

Details :

In News:

  • In this session of the Parliament, Lok Sabha has already passed 30 Bills, while Rajya Sabha has passes 25 Bills.
  • In terms of legislative business transacted during the first session of a fresh Lok Sabha, the government claims the current session is on course to be one of the most productive since the first Lok Sabha in 1952.
  • On the other hand, the Opposition has accused the government of rushing through bills.

Parliament Productivity

  • Productivity means the number of hours the House actually functioned compared to the number of hours officially earmarked for it to work.
  • Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are scheduled to meet for six hours every day when in session.
  • Productivity goes beyond 100% when the houses meets for more than 6 hours in a day by working late.

Factors on which Productivity depends:

  • The productivity declines when the proceedings of the house are disrupted.
  • Productivity is also impacted when the house adjourns before transacting any business. For example, when the house adjourns to mourn the demise of a sitting member or a dignitary.

Most Productive Session:

Lok Sabha Productivity

  • According to an analysis conducted by PRS Legislative Research, the Lower House had registered a record productivity of 128 per cent between June 17 and July 16, which is expected to push up further.
  • In comparative terms, the first session of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 had seen a productivity of 67 per cent and the first session of the 16th Lok Sabha a productivity of 66 per cent.
  • The current session is set to be the most productive session for the Lok Sabha in the last 20 years.
  • The members sit late into the night, sometimes even past midnight, to ensure full debates.

Rajya Sabha Productivity

  • The high output of legislations makes the current 249th session of the Rajya Sabha among its most productive ever.
  • However, the the record for the passage of the highest number of Bills is held by the 9th session of the Rajya Sabha when 50 Bills were passed when Jawaharlal Nehru was the PM.

Note: The Lok Sabha, which dissolves after every five years, the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House and is counted by the number of sessions

More Bills to be Introduced:

  • The government proposes to pass four more legislations in the remaining three sittings of the Upper House.
  • These are the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (second amendment) Bill, Dam Safety Bill, Chit funds Amendment Bill and SC Judges Bill.
Section : Polity & Governance

Everything about About Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)

Headline : US ends Cold War nuke treaty with aim of countering China

Details :

In News:
  • The USA has withdrawn from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) signed in 1987.
About INF Treaty
  • The missile crisis of 1970s and 80s represented the high-point of cold war, with both USA (and its NATO allies) on one side and USSR on the other, building up their nuclear arsenal.
  • In this backdrop, the landmark  Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987 aimed to arrest the global arms race of the time.
  • The INF treaty put an obligation on the parties (USA, NATO allies and Russia) to eliminate and permanently abjure all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
    • The INF treaty does not cover missiles launched from air or water.
  • As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed nearly 2,700 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of 1991.
Background to US withdrawal:
  • Russian missile development:
    • The United States has since 2014 been alleging that Russia was in violation of its INF Treaty obligations.
    • It said that for years Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the US and its allies, particularly in Europe.
  • Chinese missile development:
    • The US officials said that China also was making similar noncompliant weapons, leaving the US alone in complying with the aging arms control pact.
    • Russia was also concerned about the treaty as it prevents it from possessing weapons that its neighbors, such as China, are developing and fielding.
News Summary:
  • With worries over Russian and Chinese missiles, the US suspended its own obligations under the INF Treaty in early 2019 and formally announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty.
  • Russia also announced that Russia will be officially suspending its treaty obligations as well.
  • With the expiry of 6 months since US announced its intention to withdraw, the US has now formally withdrawn from the INF Treaty.
Way ahead
US to develop intermediate range missiles:
  • After exiting the treaty, the US is free to develop weapons systems that were previously banned.
  • The US plans to test a new missile in coming weeks that would have been prohibited under the INF.
  • However, some experts say that the US is now years away from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the INF agreement.
New START treaty under threat:
  • Arms control advocates worry that America’s exit from the INF treaty will lead the two nations (US and Russia) to also scrap the larger New START treaty, which expires in early 2021.
  • Trump hasn’t committed to extending or replacing New START, which beginning in 2018 imposed limits on the number of US and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.
Calls for inclusion of China in arms control agreements:
  • The US administration claims that with China’s growing arsenal of nuclear warheads, Beijing can no longer be excluded from nuclear arms control agreements.
  • Most experts now assess that China has the most advanced conventional missile arsenal in the world, based throughout the mainland.
  • US President Trump has expressed a desire to negotiate a trilateral arms control deal signed by the US, Russia and China.
About: START Treaties
START I:
  • START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the US and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet, in short) on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms.
  • The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and bombers.
  • It had a duration of 15 years. Reductions mandated by the treaty were to be completed no later than 7 years after its entry into force, and parties were then obligated to maintain those limits during the next 8 years.
  • START includes an intrusive verification regime consisting of a detailed data exchange, extensive notifications, 12 types of on-site inspection, and continuous monitoring activities designed to help verify that signatories are complying with their treaty obligations.
  • It was signed in 1991, and entered into force in 1994 (delay in enforcement was due to break up of the Soviet Union).
  • Significance:
    • Start-I played an indispensable role in ensuring the predictability and stability of the strategic balance and serving as a framework for even deeper reductions.
    • By the time of the treaty’s expiration, the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals were significantly below those stipulated in the treaty.
  • Issues:
    • START I proved to be excessively complicated, cumbersome and expensive to continue, which eventually led the United States and Russia to replace it with a new treaty in 2010.
New START:
  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was signed in 2010 in Prague and entered into force in 2011.
  • The treaty capped deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs at 1,550 while the deployed missiles and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions were limited to 700.
  • Both Russia and the United States announced that they met New START limitations by 2018, meeting the due date set by the treaty.
  • New START does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provide for continuous information on their locations and on-site inspections to confirm that they are not added to the deployed force.
  • Non-deployed missiles must be located at specified facilities away from deployment sites and labeled with “unique identifiers” to reduce concerns about hidden missile stocks.
  • New START’s verification regime includes relevant parts of START I as well as new provisions to cover items not previously monitored.
  • The treaty’s duration is ten years from entry into force (i.e till 2021) unless it is superseded by a subsequent agreement and can be extended for an additional five years.
Section : International Relation

Urbanisation key to driving growth engines Editorial 3rd Aug’19 FinancialExpress

Headline : Urbanisation key to driving growth engines Editorial 3rd Aug’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

Development and urbanisation:

  • Development and urbanisation are two sides of the same coin.
  • No society in recent history remained agrarian while adequately providing for its population.
  • Urbanisation aggregates human activity—aggregation leads to specialisation, specialisation to increased productivity. This enables greater availability of goods, delivery of services, increased wages, and job opportunities.
  • Urban areas are engines of growth in any modern economy.

Example of China:

  • China is a shining example of how urbanisation drives economic growth.
  • China rapidly urbanised from 26.4% in 1990 to 59.2% today, with the impact of dramatically improved quality of life and life expectancy.
  • This also has an effect on China’s specialised workforce and productivity improvements—making China a Top 2 economy with nominal GDP of $14.1 trillion.
  • In contrast, India is at $2.7 trillion, moving towards the target of $5 trillion by 2025.

India lagging the world in urbanisation:

  • The world, on average, is at 55.3% urbanisation, whereas India lags at 34% (see graphic).
  • India has been slow to urbanise because of the fixation on being a village-based society.

Leads to inequity:

  • Most planners still look to Gandhiji’s sentiments from 1947 on this topic—‘The future of India lies in its villages’.
  • Over the last 5 decades, complexity has increased, people’s economic needs and aspirations have grown, and it is impossible to supply adequate resources to India’s six lakh villages.
  • Keeping India’s population in villages while being unable to meet their economic needs has resulted in high inequity.

Rural areas with agriculture dependency can only see little progress:

  • Rural employment is mostly in agriculture. 42.7% of India’s workforce in 2016-17 was engaged in the agriculture sector, seeing only a 3.4% growth rate and contributing only 17.3% to the GDP.
  • Meanwhile, 57.3% of the workforce was engaged in industry and services, growing at 5.5% and 7.6%, respectively.
  • The income differential is very high, with the average wages of dependents on agriculture to industry to services being in the ratio 1:3:4 .
  • Left unaddressed, this large group of agricultural dependents will always be limited to a sub-aspirational existence—with increasing distress and perpetual dependence on subsidies from the government.

Leading to urban migration:

  • Lack of opportunities is also accelerating large-scale internal migration towards India’s few urban growth engines—such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and others.
  • 2011 Census indicates 43,324 uninhabited villages, presumably abandoned due to migration.

But our current urban areas can mostly only accommodate contract labour:

  • Employment is unable to keep up with the inflow.
  • Due to high costs, it is uncompetitive to set up industries in cities.
  • Without industries to absorb the incoming rural population, they are mostly making low wages as contract labour.
  • They can’t keep up with living costs—resulting in a growing urban population with unfavourable living conditions.

Indian urbanisation skewed towards just a few cities and towns:

  • The 2011 census indicates there are 7,933 towns/cities housing 31.16% of the population, with an average population of 47,536.
  • Of these, 465 towns have a population over one lakh and 53 cities, over ten lakh.
  • This means the remaining 7,468 towns must have significantly lesser populations than the 47,536 average.
  • The upcoming 2021 census will inform us of the current situation.

Deficit infra in these urban areas:

  • Large cities are reeling under the strain of overpopulation, with problems like inadequate infrastructure and rocketing living costs.
  • Because of the policymakers’ focus on villages, cities aren’t allocated enough to develop infrastructure to handle their rapidly expanding populations.

Need a systemic plan for urban migration:

  • A compelling solution to this unstable situation is the systematic shift of people from rural to urban areas.
  • Census data must be used to suitably identify 4,000-5,000 smaller towns all over India and develop them to absorb the rural-to-urban shift sustainably.
  • GoI’s Smart Cities initiative has identified 100 cities so far, focusing on roads, solar, water, and control centres.

While expanding to 5,000 towns, certain critical aspects must be incorporated:

  1. Infrastructure and connectivity:
  • From the planning stage, it is essential to prioritise providing infrastructure like roads and airport access, internet connectivity, and other amenities.
  • Not only is state-of-the-art infrastructure crucial for quality of life, it also provides the logistical backbone for a productive industrial environment.
  • Moreover, commissioning large-scale infrastructure development will also boost the construction sector—another means of mass employment.
  • We need strategic investments from both the central and state governments in these towns for parallelised infrastructure development.
  1. Labour-intensive industry (LII) clusters:
  • Creating many LIIs in and around the 5,000 towns is the best way to provide gainful employment to the transitioning population.
  • By focusing on the right type of industries—garments, fabrication, electronics assembly, automobiles, so on—this move will also boost India’s export capabilities.
  • With focused skilling programs, LIIs will offer excellent income opportunities to the incoming population.
  • Even a lower wage than cities will go a long way towards quality of life, especially since living costs are lower in towns.
  • Women, who cannot afford to move long distance from home, can also now find employment near their villages and towns, commute and earn a living.
  • Governments, apart from focusing investment here, must also provide incentives for the private sector to create LIIs.
  1. New sustainable technologies:
  • While urbanisation improves delivery of services, it poses several challenges like congestion, restricted mobility, high waste production, and pollution.
  • India must invest in understanding state-of-the-art technologies and implement them.
  • The newly developed towns will have the advantage of getting sustainable infrastructure integrated from the planning stage itself, including:
    • Renewables like solar panels and wind turbines
    • Planned tree cover to offset urban spread
    • Water treatment facilities based on phytoremediation and other plant-based technologies
    • Integrated recycling
    • EV infrastructure
    • Public transportation with last-mile connectivity
  • Older cities will need careful planning to incorporate new technologies into unwieldy city plans.
  1. Planning for capacity:
  • Indian policymaking has a tiresome tradition of planning projects based on latest available data—usually outdated—like the previous census.
  • By the time projects are completed 5-10 years later, they are operationally overloaded.
  • Instead, it is necessary to plan projects for sewage treatment, airports, roads, water supply, and so on with at least a 20-30-year forecast with provisions for future expansion.
  • Again, China paves the way—many major airports have received the go-ahead to build a third runway and increase seating capacity by forecasting the demand to 2030.

Conclusion:

  • Rapid urbanisation is essential to sustain India’s impressive 10-year growth trajectory and meet PM Modi’s 2025 economic target of $5 trillion.
  • The proposed network of small towns and industry clusters can become India’s engine of growth and provide jobs at scale, thus improving overall economic prosperity.
  • Sustainable urbanisation can be the force multiplier to mobilise India’s potential.

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

Everything about Tiger, Tiger Census,Project Tiger, Tiger and Ecosystem

Headline : Tiger no. up 33% in 4 years, India has 75% of global population

Details :

In News

  • The 4th Tiger census report, Status of Tigers Co-predators & Prey in India, 2018, has been recently released by PM Modi.
  • According to the report, India has recorded its highest ever rise, at 33%, in the numbers of tigers i.e. from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018.
  • Also, a report on the management of various reserves has also been released based on an evaluation of India’s 50 tiger sanctuaries

 

Why Tigers are important for ecosystem?

  • Tiger is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed.
  • The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.

Telegram: https://t.me/UpscExpress

About Tiger Census:

  • The tiger estimation exercise includes habitat assessment and prey estimation.

Significance:

  • More than 80% of the world’s wild tigers are in India, and thus it is crucial to keep track of their numbers.
  • The numbers reflect the success or failure of conservation efforts.
  • Census is an especially important indicator in a fast-growing economy like India where the pressures of development often run counter to the demands of conservation.

Note: The Global Tiger Forum, an international collaboration of tiger-bearing countries, has set a goal of doubling the count of wild tigers by 2022.

 

Tiger Landscapes in India: India has five tiger landscapes where Tiger is found:

  • Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains,
  • Central Indian Landscape and Eastern Ghats,
  • Western Ghats,
    North-East Hills and Brahmaputra Plains
  • Sundarbans

 

About Tiger Census of India:

  • In India, tiger census is carried out every four years since 2006.
  • It is being conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in collaboration with the State Forest Departments, Conservation NGOs and coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Presence of Tiger in world:

  • India is now home to 75% of the global tiger population.
  • The world-wide population of wild tigers stands at around 3,950 with Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh and Bhutan being other key countries contributing to the remaining 25% count.

 

How do Tigers are counted?

  • Pug Mark Method:
    • In this method, the pug mark i.e. the foot print of the tiger is important.
    • It is considered that each pug mark is unique in itself and by analyzing various foot prints in the areas of tigers, the number of tigers in that area can be counted
  • Camera Trap:
    • In this, cameras are installed in the tiger areas having night vision facility (the ability of the camera to record at night) as well.
    • By recording various tigers in the camera, the number of tigers can be estimated.
  • Poop/scat Method:
    • In this method the number of tigers is counted by poop/scat (droppings of the tiger).
    • The poop is analyzed by DNA sampling and then we can arrive at a more accurate count.
  • Radio Collar Method:
    • In this method, Tigers are captured and are fitted with a radio collar. In this way the tigers can be counted. (This method fails when the concerned tiger enters the salty water)

 

Tiger Census 2018:

  • An area of 3,81,400 square kilometres (sq km) of forest was surveyed.

Phases of Census:The census was carried out in Four phases.

Phase 1

  • Recorded carnivore tracks and signs, data sampling of prey species, vegetation and human disturbance.

Phase 2:

  • Phase 2 consists of remote sensing data by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which partners the NTCA in this assessment every four years in collaboration with state forest departments.

Phase 3:

  • The information was plotted on the forest map prepared with remote-sensing and GIS application.
  • Sample areas were divided in 2-sq-km parcels, and trap cameras were laid in these grids.

Phase 4:

  • Data were extrapolated to areas where cameras could not be deployed.

 

Report Summary:

  • Increase in number of Tigers:
    • India’s tiger population has jumped to an estimated 2,967, a rise by 33% over 2,226 reported in 2014.
    • This is also an incredible 210% rise from 1,411 recorded in 2006

  • Shrink in Tiger occupied areas: Overall, areas occupied by tigers shrunk by 17,881 sq km (2014-18).
  • Reason for shrink in areas:
    • not finding evidence of tiger presence in sampled forests (20 per cent actual loss)
    • not sampling forests that had tiger presence in 2014 (eight per cent).
  • Decline in area occupied by Tigers in three out of India’s five tiger landscapes:
    • The Shivalik
    • Western Ghats
    • North East Hills
  • However, other two landscapes i.e. Central India and the Sundarbans landscapes registered an increase.

Increase in Tiger Population:

  • The maximum increase has been in Madhya Pradesh, a massive 218 individuals (71%) from 308 in 2014 to 526.
  • In Maharashtra, the number has gone up from 190 to 312 (64%), and in Karnataka, from 406 to 524 (118, or 29%).
  • Uttarakhand has gained over 100 tigers (340 to 442; 30%)

State that have not performed well:

  • In Chhattisgarh there has been fall in number from 46 in 2014 to 19 tigers.
  • Reason cited for fall in numbers: law and order problem as large parts of the state are hit by the Maoist insurgency.

Report on the management of various reserves

Best managed tiger reserves in the country:

  • Kerala’s Periyar sanctuary.
  • Madhya Pradesh’s Pench sanctuary

Highest numbers of Tigers:

  • Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers

Maximum Improvement:

  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014

Worst performers:

  • The Dampa in Mizoram
  • Rajaji reserves in Uttarakhand

Note:

  • No tiger has been found in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (TR) in West Bengal, Palamu TR in Jharkhand and Dampa TR in Mizoram.
  • Also, greater conservation efforts are needed in the “critically vulnerable” Northeast hills and Odisha.

Reasons for increase in number of Tigers:

  • Increased vigilance:
    • Organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed and there has been no organised poaching by traditional gangs in Central Indian landscapes since 2013.
  • Conservation efforts:
    • Increase in number of Tiger Reserves from 28 in 2006, to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years.
    • The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed and thus led to increase in population.
  • Rehabilitation of villages:
  • The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
  • More accurate estimation:
    • Estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time.
  • Discrepancy in methodology:
    • In 2014, tigers aged 1.5 years or older were counted. The current report has the cut-off age as 1 year.

Milestone initiatives taken by the Government of India through the National Tiger Conservation Authority for conservation and protection of tiger:

  • Legal Steps:
    • Amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in 2006 to provide enabling provisions for constituting the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
    • Enhancement of punishment for offence in relation to the core area of a tiger reserve or where the offence relate to hunting in the tiger reserves or altering the boundaries of tiger reserves, etc.
  • Administrative Steps:
    • Constitution of a multidisciplinary Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau (Wildlife Crime Control Bureau) with effect from the 6th June, 2007 to effectively control illegal trade in wildlife.
    • Strengthening of antipoaching activities, including special strategy for monsoon patrolling, by providing funding support to tiger reserve States.
  • Financial Steps:
    • Financial and technical help is provided to the State Governments under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes, such as “Project Tiger” and “Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats” for enhancing the capacity and infrastructure of the State Governments for providing effective protection to wild animals.
  • International Cooperation:
    • Bilateral understanding with neighboring countries on controlling trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife and conservation.
  • Others:
    • Creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF): The Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) has been made operational in states with 60% central assistance under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.
    • Online Tiger Mortality database: In collaboration with TRAFFIC-INDIA, an online tiger mortality data base has been launched, and Generic Guidelines for preparation of reserve specific Security Plan has been evolved.

 

About Project Tiger:

  • For conserving national animal, Tiger, Government of India launched the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
  • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states.
  • Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
    • The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple use area.
  • Aim: To foster an exclusive tiger agenda in the core areas of tiger reserves, with an inclusive people oriented agenda in the buffer.

About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body of the Ministry, with an overarching supervisory / coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Objectives:

  • Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
  • Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
  • Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
  • Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.

About Wildlife Institute of India

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change,established in May 1982.
  • It carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco-development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
  • WII has a research facility which includes Forensics, Remote Sensing and GIS, Laboratory, Herbarium, and an Electronic Library.
  • The institute is based in Dehradun, India.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Ban or regulate? Editorial 29th Jul’19 TheHindu

Headline : Ban or regulate? Editorial 29th Jul’19 TheHindu

Details :

Use of Cryptocurrencies  at this moment in a bit shady:

  • Bitcoin, the most prominent among cryptocurrencies, has fluctuated wildly in value, even over short periods of time.
  • As per some analysts, for now, “speculation remains Bitcoin’s primary use case”.
  • Its use in illegal online marketplaces that deal with drugs and child pornography is well-documented.
  • There have been cases of consumers being defrauded, including in India.

World is cautious about the cryptocurrencies:

  • Governments and economic regulators across the world are wary of private cryptocurrencies.
  • As they need neither a central issuing authority nor a central validating agency for transactions, these currencies can exist and thrive outside the realm of authority and regulation.
  • They are even deemed a threat to the official currency and monetary system.

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Few takers for cryptocurrencies in Indian government:

  • Indian policymakers and administrators have time and again made clear their distaste for cryptocurrencies.
  • In his Budget speech in 2018, Finance Minister said the government doesn’t consider them legal tender.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has repeatedly warned the public of the risks associated with dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Recommendation to ban all private cryptocurrencies:

  • An inter-ministerial committee recently recommended that India should ban all private cryptocurrencies, that is, Bitcoin and others like it.
  • The committee even drafted a law that mandates a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years for the offences of mining, generating, holding, selling, dealing in, transferring, disposing of, or issuing cryptocurrencies.
  • The decision hardly comes as a surprise, considering they have little backing in Indian government.
  • Their existence owed almost entirely to advanced encryption technologies.
  • Committee in favour of Central bank-issued cryptocurrency:
    • The committee while recommending ban on private cryptocurrencies has advocated a central bank-issued cryptocurrency.

 

Is banning the most effective way to deal with cryptocurrencies?

  • The question then is whether banning cryptocurrencies is the most effective way to respond.
  • The inter-ministerial committee believing in ban, and recommended it.
  • China, which India has taken a cue from, has gone for an outright ban.

But it cites countries which haven’t actually banned them:

  • Six of the seven jurisdictions that the committee’s report cites have not banned cryptocurrencies outright.
  • They are regulating them, not banning them:
    • Many of them, including Canada, Thailand, Russia and Japan, seem to be moving on the path of regulation, so that transactions are within the purview of anti-money laundering and prevention of terror laws.

Banning could be ineffective as private traders can use overseas platforms:

  • Owing to the network-based nature of cryptocurrencies, after banning domestic crypto exchanges, many traders turned to overseas platforms to continue participating in crypto transactions.
  • Even in China, trading in cryptocurrencies is now low but not non-existent.

 

Regulation rather than ban could be considered:

  • It is not clear from the report on why an outright ban is a superior choice to regulation, especially in a field driven by fast-paced technological innovations.
  • There should be more debate before government brings in any law to ban the cryptocurrencies, than regulate them.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

Section : Editorial Analysis

 Explained: The new debate on defence funding

Headline : Explained: The new debate on defence funding

Details :

In News

  • The Union Cabinet has amended the terms of reference (ToR) of the 15th Finance Commission (FC) to widen their scope.
  • Through the change, the government has requested the FC to look into the possibility of a separate mechanism for the funding of defence and internal security.

 

Finance Commission

  • The Finance Commission is a constitutional body that owes its existence to Article 280 of the Indian Constitution. It has a five-year term.
  • There have been fifteen commissions to date. The most recent (15th FC) was constituted in November 2017 and its recommendations will apply from 2020 to 2025. It is chaired by N. K.Singh, a former member of the Planning Commission.

 

Mandate

  • Its mandate is to determine the distribution of tax revenues between the Centre and the states, and amongst the states themselves.
  • Federal structure: In a federal structure such as India’s, powers and responsibilities are divided between the Centre and the states. While the Union collects a majority of the tax revenue, states have a greater responsibility for the delivery of public goods.
  • Thus, FCs aim to do two types of adjustments.
    • Vertical imbalance: Address the vertical imbalance between the taxation powers of the Centre and the expenditure priorities of the states.
    • Horizontal imbalance: Allay the horizontal imbalances between the states themselves with the objective of ensuring balanced regional development.
  • In the past, FCs have also dwelt on the distribution of central grants to states, as well as the flow of resources to the third tier of governance — the panchayats and the municipalities.

 

Members

  • The Chairman is selected from people with experience of public affairs.
  • The other four members should be
    • A judge of high court or one qualified to be appointed as one.
    • A person who has specialised knowledge of finance and accounts of the government
    • A person who has wide experience in financial matters and in administration.
    • A person who has special knowledge of Economics

 

  • Recommendations: The Commission submits its report to the President. He/She lays it before both the Houses of the Parliament, along with an explanatory memorandum as to the actions taken on its recommendations. The recommendations are only advisory in nature and not binding on the government.

 

Role of Terms of Reference

  • One of the reasons why FCs are reconstituted every five years is to ensure that they can take into account the changing dynamics of the political and fiscal landscape.
  • Even though the ToRs are essentially in the nature of guidelines to the FC, yet a change in ToRs over the years has reflected the changing needs of India’s overall development.

 

Current updation of ToR

  • The latest addition to the 15th FC’s ToR calls for the FC to examine the possibility of allocation of adequate, secure and non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security of India.
  • In other words, the Centre has requested the FC to examine whether a separate mechanism for funding of defence and internal security ought to be set up, and how such a mechanism could be operationalised.

 

Seventh Schedule

  • The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution lists the separate (Union List and State List) and joint (Concurrent List) responsibilities of the Centre and the states.
  • Defence is in the Union List.

 

Why is the Centre resorting to this move?

  • The Centre’s request to the FC for greater resources is rooted in its limited ability to ramp up expenditure on items in the Union list due to the limited fiscal space at its disposal.
  • The Centre’s expenditure on items in the State and Concurrent Lists has been increasing over the years.
  • Research has shown that the share of the Centre’s revenue expenditure on items in the State List has broadly grown over the years; it went up from 13.4 per cent in 2002-03 to 23.1 per cent in 2008-09, before declining to16.2 per cent in 2015-16.
  • Similarly, the Centre spent 16.4 per cent of its revenue expenditure on Concurrent List subjects in 2015-16, up from 11.8 per cent in 2002-03.
  • This increase in spending by the Centre on items in the State and the Concurrent Lists has led to a reduction in its spending on items in the Union List.

 

Are states being squeezed out of funding?

  • The added fiscal pressures of the Centre and the requirement of having to share tax revenues with states has left the Centre in a peculiar position.
  • To shore up its revenues, the Centre has, over the years, begun to rely more on cesses and surcharges.
  • In the recent Union Budget, too, it increased the special additional excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel by one rupee each.
  • But the revenue from cesses and surcharges is not part of the divisible tax pool that is shared with the states. It is kept by the Centre. This leads to the states receiving a lower share of the Centre’s gross tax revenue collections.

 

Impact of the move

  • With capital spending on defence continuing to fall short of requirements, it is difficult to contest the basic premise that spending on defence needs to be bolstered.
  • However, sequestering funds for defence from the Centre’s gross tax revenues means a reduction in the overall tax pool that is shared with states.
  • This is likely to be protested by the states, several of whom are already arguing for an increase in their share in taxes collected to 50 per cent from the current 42 per cent.
Section : Economics

Quotes for Essays:

Quotes for Essays:

1) Gandhi: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/mahatma-gandhi-quotes-for-essays/

2) Marx: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/karl-marx-quotes/

3) Aristotle: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/aristotle-quotes-for-essay/

4) Buddha: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/indian-political-thoughts-buddha-quotes/

5) Plato: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/plato-quotes-for-essay/

6) Ambedkar: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/dr-babasaheb-ambedkar-quotes/

7) Kautilya: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/kautilya-chanakya-quotes/

8) Aurobindo Ghosh: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/aurobindo-ghosh-quotes-for-essay/

9) Socrates: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/western-political-thoughts-socrates-quotes/

10) Machiaveli : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/%E2%80%8Bmachiavelli-father-of-realism-quotes/

11) Hobbes: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/wesrer-political-thoughts-thomas-hobbes-quotes/

12) Rousseau: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/rousseaus-quotes-father-of-french-revolution/

!3) John Locke: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/16/john-locke-quotes-man-who-influenced-american-constitution/

14) J.S. Mill: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/j-s-mill-quotes-father-of-liberalism/

15) Gramsci : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/gramsci-follower-of-marxism-quotes-for-essay-and-ethics/

16) Vivekananda : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/vivekananda-quotes-on-spiritualism-and-life/

17) Montesquieu: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/montesquieu-quotes-use-in-political-essays/

18) Bentham: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/jeremy-benthams-quotes-father-of-utilitarianism/

19) Voltaire : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/voltaire-quotes-for-ethical-and-political-questions-and-essays/

20) Hannah Ardent: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/hannah-arendt-vip-quotes-for-essay-and-ethics/

21) Simone de Beauvoir: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/%E2%80%8Bsimone-de-beauvoirs-quotes-an-ardent-feminist/

22) Immanuel Kant https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/immanuel-kant-quotes-use-for-ethical-case-studies/

23) Mother Teresa: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/mother-teresa-quotes-on-peace/

24) F riedrich Nietzsche : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/%E2%80%8Briedrich-nietzsche/

25) Edmund Burke : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/17/edmund-burke/

26) Jean-Paul Satre: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/18/jean-paul-saree-quotes/

27) Sigmund Freud: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/18/sigmund-freud-quotes/

28) Friedrich Hegel: https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/20/friedrich-hegel-quotes-ardent-defendant-of-state-as-an-institution/

29) Henry David Thoreau : https://upscexpress.com/2017/07/20/%E2%80%8Bhenry-david-thoreau/

National Mineral Policy 2019

National Mineral Policy 2019
National Mineral Policy 2019 replaces the extant National Mineral Policy 2008.
Objective :
The aim of the policy is to have a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.
Benefits:
Bringing about more effective regulation to the sector and more sustainable approach while addressing the issues of those affected by mining.
Provisions which will give boost to mining sector :
Introduction of Right of First Refusal for the reconnaissance permit (RP) and prospecting license (PL) holders,
Encouraging the private sector to take up exploration,
Auctioning in virgin areas on revenue share basis,
Encouragement of merger and acquisition of mining entities and
Transfer of mining leases and creation of dedicated mineral corridors to boost private sector mining areas.
The policy proposes to grant status of industry to mining activity, it will boost financing of mining for private sector and for acquisitions of mineral assets in other countries by private sector.
Long term import export policy for mineral will help private sector in better planning and stability in business.
The Policy also mentions rationalize reserved areas given to PSUs and putting these areas to auction, will give more opportunity to private sector for participation.
The Policy also mentions to make efforts to harmonize taxes, levies & royalty with world benchmarks to help private sector.
Other Important Features:
Changes introduced in the new policy include focus on Make-in-India initiative and gender sensitivity in terms of the vision.
It also introduces the concept of inter-generational equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the generations to come.
It also proposes to constitute an inter-ministerial body to institutionalise the mechanism for ensuring sustainable development in mining
The policy proposes utilization of the district mineral fund for equitable development of project affected persons and areas

Prelims 2019 : Current Affairs by Sriram’s IAS

Prelims 2019 : Current Affairs by Sriram’s IAS

Download Here

Covered points:
Artificial sun
AIIB loan
Indo-Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd
Strategic sale of Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL)
BOLD–QIT in Dhubri, Assam
Gandhi Peace Prize
ISRO and Reusable Rocket Technology

Telegram: https://t.me/SimplifiedIAS

Download: Rau’s IAS Prelims Compass Compilation

Rau’s IAS Prelims Compass Compilation

1) History Culture
2) Polity and Governance
3) Government Scheme
4) Science and Technology
5) International Affairs
6) Economy

Telegram: https://t.me/SimplifiedIAS

Website: www.upscexpress.com

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