September – UPSC Daily News Updates

A green rap on the knuckles (The Hindu 01/09/2016)

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 is an Act for the preservation of biological diversity in India, and to provide mechanism for equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge.

The act calls for the protection and management of biodiversity through the setting up of biodiversity management committees (BMC) for managing biodiversity, and managing people’s’ biodiversity registers (PBR) to document biodiversity in each district.

Right to Information responses from 15 States reveal the status of implementation of the act. While these States have more than 61,000 panchayats or municipalities, only 14 per cent of PBRs (less than 1,400) have been set up.

The Act proposed a 3-tier structure- a National Biodiversity Authority; State Biodiversity Boards in every State; and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at panchayat/municipality levels.

The BMCs form a crucial part of the 3-tier structure at the panchayat or municipality level- the cornerstone of governing system in India- and are mandated to document biodiversity in each district through people’s biodiversity registers (PBRs).

Biodiversity crisis

India is facing massive biodiversity loss: each day, 333 acres of forest are legally diverted on an average under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. This figure does not include forests which are illegally felled or encroached.

While the Supreme Court has called for a “species best interest standard”, last year, one rhinoceros was killed almost every two weeks in the Kaziranga National Park. About 30 or less genetically pure wild buffaloes exist in central India while the number of Great Indian Bustards stands at a precarious 150 birds. Our hunger for forest land is also never ending: the construction plan for Amaravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh, includes diverting 13,000 hectares, or 130 sq.km, of forest. The Himalayas are today the world’s mountain range with the most number of dams.

Violations and opacity inaccessible

We have constantly seen fraudulent Environment Impact Assessments (EIA) which undermine the ecological value of areas that are proposed to be dammed, mined or diverted. For example, the Monpa community in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district had to struggle for three years to prove before the NGT that the riverine area proposed for the construction of a dam is the one of the two wintering sites of the black-necked crane, a protected species held sacred by Buddhists. The environmental consultant had deliberately avoided making a reference to the species. Similarly, tribals in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, are struggling to protect the last remaining chilgoza (pine nut) trees from being lost to a series of hydropower projects. Forest Department records do not mention the significant role the tree species plays in providing livelihood security to people.

This is an anthropocentric approach. We should protect biodiversity purely because we have no moral, legal and ethical rights to destroy something not created by us.

One in five marriages in north India is child marriage (The Hindu date- 02/09/2016)

Q 1)Disrupted or lack of education is one of the major hurdles in the abolition of child marriage. An out-of-school child is more likely to be married off quickly.

Q 2)While many children have no access to education, even among those with access, dropouts are a major concern for child marriages

A )

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” ― Brigham Young

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ― Nelson Mandela

“The root of education is bitter, but the fruit is sweet” Aristotle

India has been developing at a galloping pace in terms of economy and threatens many of the developed economies, yet it continues to be stuck in the shackles of social problems. Early marriage is just one of the many social problems that mars the development of the nation in the real sense.

Learning is one of the most important phase of child life .an educated child is more aware of good and bad to his counterpart

More than half of all child marriages occur in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. There was a decrease in the rates of child marriage across South Asia from 1991 to 2007, but the decrease was observed among young adolescent girls and not girls in their late teens. Some scholars believe this age-specific reduction was linked to girls increasingly attending school until about age 15 and then getting married.

Legislation prohibiting early marriage in India was put in place way back in 1929, however, even in the modern times, in spite of the new law (Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006), the problem continues to haunt states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The problem is worse in rural areas in comparison to urban areas. These marriages are low profile, solemnized in complete secrecy and are underreported.

An uneducated child who lacks knowledge of world and of their surrounding they lack dream for himself

GENDER INEQUALITY: In many uneducated communities where child marriage is practised, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family.

CULTURE AND TRADITION: Child marriage is a traditional practice that in many places happens simply because it has happened for generations. In some uneducated communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become women in the eyes of the community. Marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl her status as a wife and mother.Harmful traditional practices can be linked to each other. In southern Ethiopia where education is for namesake  for instance, child marriage usually follows the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, which is considered a rite of passage to womanhood

POVERTY:  It comes from lack of education. More than half of girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married as children.  Where poverty is acute, families and sometimes girls themselves believe that marriage will be a solution to secure their future.Giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have one less person to feed, clothe and educate. Families may also see investing in their son’s education as more worthwhile investment. In some cases marriage of a daughter is a way to repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic and political alliances.

INSECURITY.Many uneducated  parents  marry their daughters young because they feel it is in her best interest, often to ensure her safety in areas where girls are at high risk of harassment and physical or sexual assault.Child marriage can increase in humanitarian crises, such as in conflict or after a natural disaster. When families face even greater hardship, they may see child marriage as a coping mechanism in the face of poverty and violence. Eight out of the ten countries with the highest child marriage rates are considered fragile states.

India data

Link:http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/one-in-five-marriages-in-north-india-is-child-marriage/article9062927.ece

Source: The hindu .

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

Issue of minimum wage in India

issue-of-minimum-wageThe article talks about the criterion that should be included to estimate minimum wage and analyze different aspects of it.

  1. The government again announced a hike in minimum wages, but only for unskilled non-agricultural workers, from Rs.246 to Rs.350 per day, or Rs.9,100 per month.
  2. Do we still need a minimum wage?
  • First argument is that to assert competitiveness and efficiency government should rely on market to determine minimum wage.
  • According to ‘Make In India’ government should keep our wages cheaper than other developing nations.
  • Neither industry bodies nor the state nor unions can claim that the Minimum Wages Act (MWA) is seriously implemented.
  1.    Why have a minimum wage?

             Minimum Wage Act was implemented in 1948 in India. It was focussed towards addressing the condition of militant labour and the conditions where employers get away with paying workers too little generate several social costs, such as poverty, malnutrition, endemic debt leading to bonded labour, and child labour, which could be avoided through fair wages.

  1.    Three levels of wages:
  • Living Wage (what a human being needs to get the basic essentials of food, shelter, clothing, protection against ill-health, security for old age, etc. )
  • Fair Wage(lower than the living wage and takes into account efficiency, from the employer’s perspective.)
  • Minimum wage(similar to the fair wage except in two respects: it is even lower, and has a statutory dimension.)
  1. Labour conference suggests minimum wage to be equivalent of basket of 5 type of basic needs such as food, water, health, education etc.
  2.  Typically, the actual minimum wage is close to or less than Rs.4,800, currently the National Floor Level Minimum Wage.
  3. Author suggests the new criteria for minimum wage where contract workers and permanent workers are paid at par with each other.  

       

Question:

Critically analyze the issue of minimum wage and give your suggestions towards improving its structure

  1. Define minimum wage.
  2. History of minimum wage.
  3. Types of minimum wage.
  4. Suggestions regarding new structure of minimum wage.

Link: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/do-we-need-a-minimum-wage-law/article9056352.ece

Source: The Hindu

Author: G. SAMPATH

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

G20 Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth Framework Working

INTRODUCTION

G20 was initiated in 1999 and consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU).

Before the outbreak of global financial crisis in 2008, G20 meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors were held to discuss international financial and monetary policies, reform of international financial institutions and world economic development. The first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in 2008. In September 2009, the Pittsburgh Summit announced G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, marking an important progress in global economic governance reform. The tenth Summit was held in Antalya ,Turkey in November, 2015.

Some guest countries and the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organisation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) were also invited to attend G20 Summit.

Engagement groups such as B20, L20, T20 also convene to prepare policy recommendations for the G20 Summit during the year.

G-20 accounts for 80% of the world trade and 2/3 of the world population and plays a key role in the world economy. It has played significant role in times of economic crisis

OBJECTIVE OF G20

The following objectives have evolved over the last few years of G20’s working:

  • Ensuring international policy cooperation in a coherent manner that is consistent with the contextual business cycles.
  • Strengthening the financial system, improving the international financial architecture and regulation in an interconnected world to avert and prevent global financial crisis.
  • Promoting economic growth and sustainable development by addressing the current economic problems, by suggesting measures and initiating actions.

G20 also aims to foster and adopt internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy, global tax network and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

HOW G20 LEADERSHIP IS DECIDED

One of the G20 countries is selected to hold the Chair on rotational basis, better known as “G20 Presidency”. For selecting a Presidency, a system has come into existence since 2010 when South Korea held the chair. Accordingly, 19 countries have been categorized into the following 5 regional groupings:

Group 1: Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, USA

Group 2: India, Russia, South Africa, Turkey

Group 3: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico

Group 4: France, Germany, Italy, U.K.

Group 5: China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea

Each group holds a maximum of four nations. The chair rotates among the groups and one country from a group is selected in a specific year. Thus, in 2010 South Korea in Group 5 was the chair; in 2011, France in Group 4 was the chair; In 2012, Mexico in Group 3 was the chair; In 2013, Russia in Group 2 was in the Chair; and in 2014, Australia in Group 1 was the Chair, and in 2015, Turkey in Group 2 was the chair.

G20 IS INSTITUTION LIKE WB /IMF /UN?

No. The G20 operates as a forum and is not a multilateral institution like World Bank/IMF/UN. It does not, therefore, have any permanent secretariat or management and administrative structure

Which deparment of India look after G20 issue in India?

G20 India Secretariat in the Department of Economic Affairs provides secretarial and technical support to the Apex Council on G20 Issues, under the Chairmanship of the Finance Minister, established to provide direction to the preparation of policy and country response to issues contemplated in the G20 and to advice the Prime Minister as required; and to consider any other issues of international economic relations or issues that may have wide policy ramifications that may be referred to the Apex Council by the Department of Economic Affairs.

AGENDA OF 2016 MEETING

On June 24-25, 2016, G20 Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth Framework Working Group (FWG) held its third meeting under the Chinese Presidency in Xiamen. The People’s Bank of China and the Ministry of Finance of China participated in the meeting. Participants discussed global economic situation, developing guiding principles and an indicator system for structural reform, growth strategies, and approach of 2016 deliverable documents. Representatives from G20 members, guest countries, as well as international organizations attended the meeting.

Present state of the global economy:

  • The global recovery continues, but it remains uneven and falls short of G20’s ambition for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
  • Faltering growth and market turbulence have exacerbated policy frictions between major economies in recent months.
  • Concerns have also been expressed over escalating geopolitical tensions and Europe’s refugee crisis.

Hence, the G20 ministers have agreed to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – individually and collectively to reach the group’s economic goals.

BENEFIT TO INDIA FROM G20

  • A pre-summit win for India with respect to global trade cooperation.

Even before the start of the Summit, India secured a major victory for its stand on the WTO Bali Package. On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, US and India reached an agreement on the global trade facilitation agreement, which had been earlier vetoed by India until it was given assurances on food security. India secured an indefinite “peace clause” which protects it from being challenged in the WTO court in case it crosses any pre-defined subsidy limit. The agreement was hailed by G20 leaders and the signing of WTO’s first transnational deal now looks highly likely.

  • Increased transparency will help in plugging information gaps

The Brisbane Leaders’ Summit provided an opportunity for the Modi government to share its reforms agenda. From the point of view of tangible outcomes, the Summit managed to deliver on a few items which were critical for India’s financial and economic sovereignty. One of the foremost concerns for the Indian government was the issue of BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting). In other words, the erosion of its tax base due to foreign companies allegedly increasingly adopting aggressive tax avoidance strategies. According to the Financial Times, these strategies rely on gaps that exist between the tax rules of different jurisdictions and are designed to minimise the corporation tax that is payable overall by either making taxable profits “disappear” or by shifting profits to low tax operations where there is little or no genuine activity. In spite of bad press for the Indian tax authorities for the cases being pursued against MNCs like Vodafone, Nokia and Shell, it is generally agreed that a genuine exposure exists in this area.The G20 Leaders’ Communiqué on the issue stated that “profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created”. It also stated the need for modernising international tax rules, allowing taxation of companies claiming unwarranted exemptions for patented technologies and having a Common Reporting Standard for the automatic exchange of tax information (AEOI) on a reciprocal basis. The Hindu reported that the reference to “transparency of taxpayer-specific rulings found to constitute harmful tax practices” was added due to the intervention of Prime Minister Modi. Besides having a more coordinated approach between governments, this would entail exchanging transfer pricing documents that may be submitted to tax authorities in a company’s home country but not necessarily available with the company’s overseas subsidiary. This level of information exchange can give tax authorities in India a leg up in understanding taxation strategies of companies and to insulate itself from the risk of tax base erosion. This can be seen as a major win for India.

  • Global Infrastructure Hub will provide long-term capital

Another significant result from the Summit was the creation of a Global Infrastructure Hub which will receive a funding of US$ 15 million every year. Based in Sydney and funded by eight countries, the hub has a four-year term and is mandated to channelise investments for improving infrastructure globally. The Hub shall work in conjunction with a similar initiative led by the World Bank and will bring together governments, the private sector and international organisations under a common platform. This initiative will result in a greater supply of long-term capital at globally pegged interest rates along with better knowledge-sharing among the three groups.

  • A strong pitch made for renewable energy and access to clean technology

On the energy front, which is strongly linked to the debate on climate change, considered positions were taken by members. Prime Minister Modi made a strong pitch for renewable energy which fits well into his domestic agenda of increasing India’s reliance on solar energy in the coming decade. Close on the heels of a recent government announcement of increasing its targeted output of solar energy from 20,000 MW to 100,000 MW by 2020, Mr. Modi propagated the need for collaborating on a “global virtual centre” for clean energy research; in other words, an open source for developing new technologies for smarter grids and more efficient production.However, he caveated this by saying that developing countries like India needed to rely on coal and natural gas to meet their growing energy needs. In the end, the “G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration” were agreed. While these measures have been discussed often in the past, the test for India would be whether these measures result in easier access to cheaper sources of coal and natural gas.

  • Need for global cooperation on climate change reiterated

In a move that received a degree of criticism from climate change experts, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott endorsed his country’s stand on coal saying that “as the world’s largest producer of coal, I’d like to stand up for coal”. However, the focus on climate change was maintained with several leaders, including US President Obama and French President François Hollande, making strong pitches for global commitment on climate change. While Prime Minister Modi echoed these sentiments, he would be keen on making progress on his domestic agenda for expanding India’s solar energy base ahead of the next critical milestone – the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21), which seeks a universal climate change deal.

Criticism

Though G-20 over the time has supported world economy to revive, G-20 and its summits have been blamed for just talking shops for powerful world leaders because-

1) No concrete action taken to revive the growth, its target to increase groups GDP by 2% by 2018 remains a distant goal

2) It has not been able to put brakes on currency war which led to global turmoil

3) Even after fiscal stimulus demand remains sluggish.

CONCLUSION.

It is vital for the global economy that the G20 is as effective as possible. The forum has achieved much but faces many challenges. To improve its effectiveness,

  • G20 members have to be clearer about their shared objectives given that it is a large and heterogeneous grouping.

To strengthen these key elements,

  • the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth should be the core of the G20.
  • It should be the basis for clarifying members’ shared objectives and priorities, the means for providing a coherent narrative, and the foundation for better transparency and accountability.
  • the Framework has to be elevated and strengthened. Importantly, it has to be seen and presented as an exercise embracing the entire G20 process and not confined to macroeconomic policy

QUESTIONS

Q 1)Do you think the G20 and its summits are just talking shops for powerful world leaders? Discuss its role in the time of economic crises.(200 words)

Q 2)Discuss the role of different institution around the world in solving political,economical and social crises.(200 words)

Q 3.) Social crises are engulfing the world ,discuss how world institutions are helping to solve this problem.(200 words)

American Presidential Race

Image result for American Presidential Race

The article talks about the political affairs of U.S.A. as America gets ready to vote for next President and Vice President

                     The United States presidential election of 2016, scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.

                     Voters will select presidential electors, who in turn will vote for a new president and vice president through the Electoral College. The term limit established in the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the incumbent president, Barack Obama of the Democratic Party, from being elected to a third term. The 2016 election will likely determine the 45th President and 48th Vice President of the United States.

Candidates:

  • Donald Trump (for President) and Mike Pence (for Vice President)   both of the candidates belongs to Republican Party of USA.
  • Hillary Clinton (for President) and Tim Kaine (for Vice President) both of the candidates belong to Democratic Party of USA.

           There are other candidates for election but these two are often covered in media because they belong to two major political parties of USA.

            The United States is a federal republic in which the President of the United States, United States Congress, and United States federal courts share powers reserved to the national government. At the same time, the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.

           The executive branch is headed by the President and is formally independent of both the legislature and the judiciary. The cabinet serves as advisers to the President. They include the Vice President and heads of the executive departments. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch (or judiciary), composed of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, exercises judicial power (or judiciary). The judiciary’s function is to interpret the United States Constitution and federal laws and regulations. This includes resolving disputes between the executive and legislative branches. The federal government’s layout is explained in the Constitution.

                Two political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, have dominated American politics since the American Civil War, although there are also smaller parties like the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party

Effects on India

  • If democratic party wins, Hillary Clinton will be the next president of America. She would also be 1st female president of America. Her policies toward women empowerment would certainly affect women all over the globe. Her economic policies envisage to strengthen America’s economy by addressing systemic issues. She is soft towards Muslims and pro-Indian.
  • On the other hands if republican party wins the election Donald Trump would become the next president. Real estate mogul Donald Trump has often asked to promote local labour and local jobs. He has vowed to transfer mexicans to Mexico if he wins the election. He is also tough on muslims and has tough policy to tackle terrorism.                                 

       

Linkhttp://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-presidential-elections-2016-presidential-race-tightens/article9077308.ece

Source: The Hindu

Author: VARGHESE K. GEORGE

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

More than 4 lakh train passengers opt for insurance cover

The railways has launched a scheme allowing a person to get an insurance cover of upto Rs 10 lakh on booking a train ticket online by paying less than one rupee 92 paise

  • The facility is reserved for passengers of Indian Railways who book e-ticket, excluding suburban trains, through its official website, irrespective of the class of the ticket.
  • A person booking a train ticket through the IRCTC website will be able to opt for travel insurance cover for a premium of 92 paise only.
  • The cover will not be applicable for children upto 5 years of age and foreign citizens. It will be for passengers holding tickets such as confirmed, RAC and wait-listed ones.
  • The scheme offers travellers/nominees/legal heirs a compensation of Rs 10 lakh in the event of death or total disabilty, Rs 7.5 lakh for partial disability, upto Rs 2 lakh for hospitalisation expenses and Rs 10,000 for transportation of mortal remains from the place of a train accident or where an untoward incident, including terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, shootout or arson, occurs. However, no refund of the premium will be given in case of cancellation of the ticket.
  • The scheme is being implemented by IRCTC in partnership with ICICI Lombard General Insurance, Royal Sundaram General Insurance and Shriram General Insurance selected through a bidding process. A total of 19 companies had participated in the bidding process and 17 were found eligible.
  • The scheme is also applicable for Vikalp trains, short termination and diverted route. In case of short termination, if the passenger opts for alternate mode of transportation arranged by Railway upto the destination station, then this part of the journey of the passenger shall also be covered under the policy taken.

Source: THE HINDU./PIB

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First cargo truck under BBIN pact reaches Delhi  ( The Hindu 06/09/2016)

The first cargo truck under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for cross border movement reached Delhi recently.

Image result for First cargo truck under BBIN pact reaches Delhi

  • The cargo truck was dispatched from Dhaka on August 27 as part of a trial run and arrived at the Inland Customs Depot (ICD).
  • According to the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the trial was organised to develop the protocols for implementing the agreement.
  • In India the truck travelled for more than 1,850 km through the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to reach the customs depot at Patparganj.

IMPORTANCE .

The trial run has demonstrated that time and cost can be saved through facilitation of seamless transport through the sub-region. Cargo trucks often had to be off-loaded at the border and also go through customs clearance. This led to delays and often also caused damage to the goods. The steps being taken to facilitate seamless movement of cargo vehicles will give a major boost to trade and business in the sub-region.

The BBIN agreement was signed on June 15 last year in Thimphu, Bhutan to facilitate cross border movement of both passengers and cargo vehicles. Protocols to implement the agreement are being negotiated by the four countries for passengers and cargo vehicles separately.

The need for a ‘totaliser’ revolution (The Hindu Date- 07/09/2016)

                                                                                                                            

The Election Commission wants to use a new machine to enhance secrecy of votes during counting which prevents disclosure of voting pattern.

The Election Commission has moved the Law Ministry with a proposal for introduction of ‘Totaliser’ machine for counting of votes.

The poll panel is of the view that by use of ‘Totaliser’, a further level of secrecy in voting and the mixing of votes at the time of counting will be achieved, which will prevent the disclosure of pattern of voting at a particular polling station.

WHAT IS TOTALISER ?

Earlier there was a system of mixing ballot papers so that the voting preference in a particular polling station is not known. Now the EVMs are counted one by one and the voting preference of a particular polling station become known to everybody – Can anything be done about it? A device called ‘Totaliser’ has been developed by the manufacturers of the EVMs which can, at a time, connected with several control units. It will then indicate the total number of votes polled in each polling station where these EVMs had been used as well as the grand total of votes polled in those polling stations. The number of votes polled by each candidate will, however, be shown for the whole group of polling stations to which the EVMs were used and not for any individual polling station making it impossible to know the pattern of voting in a particular polling station.

HOW TOTALISER WILL HELP ?

(PROS & CONS)

  • The machine, which is connected to the control unit of electronic voting machines (EVM) after polling, gives out an overall, not booth-wise result.
  • The fact that booth-wise performance is important for parties to devise booth-management strategies. And this strategy making for particular booth will be hampered.
  • The party’s stand is understandable as besides other factors, one factor which contributed to its massive victory during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections was its effective strategy of booth management, identity being a very strong variable in devising the booth-level strategy.
  • When votes are counted at the booth level, the parties and candidates get a fair sense of who voted for them or not, which helps them in planning strategy at the booth level for the next electoral battle.
  • The numerous instances of pre poll intimidation and post-poll reprisal by candidates and political parties of voters at the booth level in recent years have necessitated the need for a ‘totaliser’.
  • Booth-level results have been often used by losing candidates to harass voters of specific villages or castes/communities which voted against the candidate. As such, the Supreme Court’s decision in this direction is a welcome step.
  • The mixing of votes of different polling booths, per se, should not hamper political parties from devising booth-level mobilisation strategies.
  • When votes are counted booth-wise using EVMs, it is not as if candidates know which way each voter voted, but they can get an overall sense of which caste or community largely voted for or against them.
  • The ‘totaliser’ may not completely eliminate the possibility of victimisation of voters, but it will nonetheless go a long way towards maintaining the basic principle of secrecy of votes.
  • In elections, the workers of a political party play an important role in booth management, which includes devising a strategy of mobilising voters, motivating them, and facilitating their arrival at the polling station to cast their ballot.
  • Most parties use caste as an important variable for booth-level management, i.e. having workers as far as possible from the same castes managing the booth as the dominant castes of voters in that particular booth. It is a strategic exercise all political parties engage in but few acknowledge.

CONCLUSION.

Given the social diversity of Indian voters and the frequency of elections at various levels, there is no harm in revising the rules of conduct of elections if the need arises. The introduction of the ‘totaliser’ would be a move forward.

After all when EVMs were introduced, there were many sceptics; their utility for such a vast country as India is now beyond dispute.

 End Of Globalisation

‘FREE TRADE WITH RESTRICTED ENTRY’

There is growing antagonism/dislike to the trade liberalisation that is seen to bring benefits to corporations rather than to workers, at a period in history when secure employment is seen to be the biggest prize of all.

Different agreement at various cause :

ASEAN.      Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Image result for ASEAN Free trade agreements

ASEAN Free trade agreements

ASEAN has bilateral agreements with the following countries and blocs:

  • ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), in effect as of 1 January 2010
  • ASEAN–India Free Trade Area (AIFTA), in effect as of 1 January 2010
  • ASEAN–Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP), in effect as of 1 December 2008
  • ASEAN–Korea Free Trade Area (AKFTA), in effect as of 1 January 2010

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967 with the signing of Bangkok Declaration by the Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. ASEAN was founded as a loose organization. It based on three basic principles: respect for state sovereignty, nonintervention, and renunciation of the threat or use of force in resolving disputes. Thus, ASEAN did not base its foundation on formal dispute-resolution mechanisms and hence was not a collective security arrangement. The founders did not want ASEAN to be mistaken for a military grouping among political allies as some of its unsuccessful predecessors had been.   ASEAN’s objectives were to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to promote regional peace and stability. In doing so, it sought to abide respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adhere to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

 “The countries of East Asia are much more heterogeneous than are the countries of the EU or NAFTA in terms of ethnicity, religion, culture, and political systems, both within the individual countries themselves and between countries of the region.”

Problem with ASEAN.

  • The region is even said to be “ripe for rivalry,” a place likely to emerge as the “cockpit of great-power conflict.”
  • The major problem would be the free movement of labour. This is going to be a big problem for Thailand and other ASEAN nations,”  Jingjai, citing the on-going migrant crisis in the Andaman Sea where thousands of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis are smuggled into some Southeast Asian countries.
  • According to the latest report by UNHCR’s Irregular Maritime Movements in Southeast Asia, some 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have boarded smugglers’ boats between January and March this year, nearly double the number over the same period in 2014.
  • In the first quarter of 2015, an estimated 300 people were believed to have died at sea as a result of starvation, dehydration and maltreatment by boat crews, according to the refugee agency.

India benefit with ASEAN

  • China is a very important partner of ASEAN. By the end of this year, China’s trade with ASEAN will be around US$500 billion. And within five years, it’s going to be US$1 trillion.
  • We need to keep our diplomatic channels open and have constructive discussions with China.

DIFFERENT AGREEMENT

Operating agreements

other-agreementsStages of economic integration around the World (each country colored according to the most integrated form that it participates with):

 Economic and Monetary Union (CSME/EC$, EU/€,Switzerland–Liechtenstein/CHF)

 Economic union (CSME, EU, EAEU, MERCOSUR,GCC, SICA)

 Customs and Monetary Union (CEMAC/XAF,UEMOA/XOF)

 Common market (EEA–Switzerland, ASEAN)

 Customs union (CAN, EAC, EUCU, SACU)

 Multilateral Free Trade Area (CEFTA, CISFTA,COMESA, EFTA, GAFTA, NAFTA, SAFTA, AANZFTA,PAFTA, SADCFTA)

  • Andean Community (1969)
  • ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) – 2010
  • ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) – 1992
  • Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) – 1975
  • Central American Integration System (SICA) – 1993
  • Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) – 1992
  • Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area (CISFTA) – 2011
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) – 1994
  • G-3 Free Trade Agreement (G-3) – 1995
  • Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) -1997
  • Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) – 2004
  • East African Community (EAC) – 2005
  • European Economic Area (EEA; European Union–Norway–Iceland–Liechtenstein) – 1994
  • European Union Customs Union (EUCU; European Union–Turkey–Monaco–San Marino–Andorra) – 1958
  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – 1960
  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – 1981
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – 1994
  • Pacific Alliance Free Trade Area (PAFTA) – 2012
  • South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) – 2004
  • Southern African Development Community Free Trade Area (SADCFTA) – 1980
  • Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) – 1991
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – 2016
  • Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) – 2016

THERE is much angst in the Northern financial media about how the era of globalisation led actively by the United States may well be coming to an end. This is said to be exemplified in the changed political attitudes to mega regional trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that was signed (but has not yet been ratified) by the U.S. and 11 other countries in Latin America, Asia and Oceania; and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) still being negotiated by the U.S. and the European Union (E.U.).

“ International trade helps lower the cost of goods and services to the final consumer”

“ A new global governance system cannot be effective without the comprehensive participation of all countries and without establishing a prominent role for the United Nations within that system.”

“ Business leaders have to realize that it is in their own interests to be more socially responsible”

What is TTIP?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is a trade and investment agreement, which the European Union (EU) is negotiating with the United States –  biggest export market. Customs duties, red tape and restrictions on investment on each side of the Atlantic can make it difficult to buy and sell goods and services on the other. Getting rid of these barriers to trade between the EU and the US would boost our economy, create jobs and widen choice and lower prices for consumers

Whos the part of TTIP?

TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is being negotiated between the European Union (with its EU’s 28 member countries) and the United States. In the case of the EU,the European Commission is at the negotiating table.

How TTIP work?

TTIP would remove tariffs, cut red tape and reduce restrictions on investment.  This would make it easier for EU firms – large and small – to export goods and services to the US.  It would also make it easier for them to invest on the other side of the Atlantic.  And, of course, the same would apply to US companies wanting to export to or invest in Europe.That would be good for Europe’s economy and would help create new jobs.  Already 30 million jobs in the EU depend on exports and US firms employ 3.5 million people in the EU.

What are some of the concerns?

Standards on health, consumer rights and the environment

Problems with TTIP

  • Investors will be able to sue states. The so-called Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement (ISDS) – even in it’s new disguise as the EU’s “Investment Court System” (ICS) model – will grant foreign investors (i.e. Canadian and US companies) the right to sue European states if they believe that laws or measures of the EU or any member state have damaged their investments and reduced their expected profit. This will also affect laws and measures enacted in the interest of the common good, such as environmental and consumer protection.
  • Corporations will be invited to co-write new laws. The so-called “regulatory cooperation” will allow representatives of big business and bureaucrats from both sides of the Atlantic to influence draft laws in expert groups even before these are discussed in elected parliaments. This undermines democracy!
  • Big business has excessive influence on the secret negotiations for CETA and TTIP.In 92% of all stakeholder meetings the EU Commission held in the preparatory phase for TTIP, only representatives of companies were heard. Only in very few cases consumer and trade union representatives were invited to share their views. Corporate influence persists during the negotiations: Even some wordings in draft texts leaked to the public originate directly from corporate lobbyists.
  • The negotiations are conducted in secret. Our public representatives know little about their progress, and the general public is not allowed to see any of the official agreement’s texts until the negotiations are finished. Parliamentarians are only allowed to read these long legal texts (the CETA agreement, for example, has about 1,500 pages) in especially designated reading rooms without expert help, and are not allowed to tell the public what they have read. Once the negotiations are finished, they can only accept or reject the agreements, without being able to ask for changes.
  • Food quality standards and consumer protection could be weakened. Through the alignment of regulations, for which TTIP aims, European standards are endangered, as the US standards are often substantially weaker. Also, the US side wants the EU to accept its approach to risk assessment, which would allow every product to be sold until the state was able to prove it to be harmful. So far, in Europe companies must prove the harmlessness of their products before bringing them on the market.
  • Workers’ rights and jobs are endangered. The USA still refuse to recognise basic rights for employees (it has only ratified two out of the eight ILO core labour standards), and the “race to the bottom” triggered by TTIP could become a danger for employee rights in the EU as well. Also, tougher competition from abroad could lead to massive job losses. A study published by Tufts University (USA) found that 600,000 jobs could be lost due to TTIP.
  • European countries would be falling under pressure to allow high-risk technologies such as fracking or GM technology. As part of TTIP and/or CETA, companies could be allowed to take governments to arbitrators if they regulate or ban high-risk technologies. In 2013, the oil and gas company Lone Pine filed a $250-million ISDS lawsuit against Canada, after the state of Quebec issued a moratorium on fracking. TTIP and CETA will pave the way for an ever increasing number of such lawsuits.
  • CETA and TTIP will further increase inequalities. Those already well off will profit most from CETA and TTIP. Big business will gain even more advantages over small and medium enterprises and citizens. The EU’s economic crisis is likely to deepen further, as the most competitive member states are expected to pocket most of the potential GDP increase. Countries on the EU’s periphery, that are already highly dependent on foreign capital, risk losing out on quality jobs and sustainable investment. On a global scale, inequality between developed and developing countries will increase further, with studies forecasting dramatic GDP drops and job losses in third countries.
  • Liberalisation and privatisation will become one-way streets. CETA and TTIP will make it more difficult – and probably even impossible – to return public utilities, hospitals, or waste collection to the public sector once they have been privatised.

tppPROBLEM FACED BY POOR COUNTRY/SMALL COUNTRY /DEVELOPING COUNTRY

PATENTING/IPR PROBLEM

“Patents are protected by governments because they are held to promote innovation. But there is plenty of evidence that they do not”.

The public-good position on patents is simple enough: in return for registering and publishing your idea, which must be new, useful and non-obvious, you get a temporary monopoly—nowadays usually 20 years—on using it. This provides an incentive to innovate because it assures the innovator of some material gain if the innovation finds favour. It also provides the tools whereby others can innovate, because the publication of good ideas increases the speed of technological advance as one innovation builds upon another.

Developing countries fear that a proposed treaty to harmonize patent laws globally could have a devastating impact on their access to essential medicines, diagnostics and vaccines. A passionate and fractious debate around the proposed treaty underscores the vital role of trade and intellectual property for public health.

Indian HIV/AIDS activists and an international lawyers’ group lodged an objection in late March 2006 to a patent application for an AIDS drug filed by a multinational company in India, arguing the patent would restrict access to this medicine. The case illustrates the impact that global harmonization of patent law could have on public health in developing countries, as it could remove the legal basis for such objections in future.Last year, India, an important global provider of cheap generic medicines to other developing nations, adopted a new law on patents to bring the country in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).Many small and underdeveloped and developing country depend on generic medicine for their healthcare and other facilities ,india one of the largest producer of generic medicine and one of the cheapest place for medical tourism .India who is also a largest exporter of generic medicine to african continent and other parts of world where people are really poor to afford expensive medicine this is a life saving for them and by patenting we will strangle these helpless people to death .TTIP/TPP would strengthen, lengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies on cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) drugs, and in general make even life-saving drugs more expensive and inaccessible in all the member countries. It would require further transformation of countries’ laws on patents and medical test data. It would reduce the scope of exemption in use of medical formulations through public procurement for public purposes. All this is likely to lead to reductions in access to drugs and medical procedures because of rising prices, and also impede innovation rather than encourage it, across member countries.

There are also very restrictive copyright protection rules that will affect Internet usage as Internet service providers are to be forced to adhere to them. There are further restrictions on branding that will reinforce the market power of established players.

The TPP and TTIP also contain restrictions on regulatory practices that greatly increase the power of corporations relative to states and can even prevent states from engaging in countercyclical measures designed to boost domestic demand. It has been pointed out by consumer groups in the U.S. that the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate products that affect the health of citizens could be constrained and curtailed by this agreement. Similarly, macroeconomic stimulus packages that focus on boosting domestic demand for local production would be explicitly prohibited by such agreements.

The Investor-state dispute settlement mechanism enabled by these agreements is seen to be one of their most deadly features. Such litigation is then subject to supranational tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards and which do not see the rights of citizen as in any way superior to the “rights” of corporations to their profits.

If all these features of the TPP and the TTIP were more widely known, it is likely that there would be even greater public resistance to them in the U.S. and in other countries.

Pros and cons of FDI in India (The Hindu; 08/09/2016)

pros-and-cons-of-fdi-in-indiaThe article talks about the short term/ long term impacts of FDI on the nation as a whole.

            Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in a business by an investor from another country for which the foreign investor has control over the company purchased. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines control as owning 10% or more of the business. Businesses that make foreign direct investments are often called multinational corporations (MNCs) or multinational enterprises (MNEs).

                There are many advantages to both the MNC and host country. Few of them are listed here.

  • Access to markets: FDI can be an effective way for you to enter into a foreign market. Some countries may extremely limit foreign company access to their domestic markets.
  • Access to resources: FDI is also an effective way for you to acquire important natural resources, such as precious metals and fossil fuels.
  • Reduces cost of production: FDI is a means for you to reduce your cost of production if the labor market is cheaper and the regulations are less restrictive in the target foreign market. For example, it’s a well-known fact that the shoe and clothing industries have been able to drastically reduce their costs of production by moving operations to developing countries.
  • FDI offers a source of external capital and increased revenue. It can be a tremendous source of external capital for a developing country, which can lead to economic development.
  • Tax revenue is generated from the products and activities of the factory, taxes imposed on factory employee income and purchases, and taxes on the income and purchases now possible because of the added economic activity created by the factory.
  • Development of new industries.
  • Increasing FDI is symbol of increasing economic growth.

Apart from many advantages of FDI there are certain disadvantages of it:

  • One central character of private investment makes it unreliable in the long term: volatility.
  • Technology transfer which may appear to be an advantage actually doesn’t work. Very less technology gets diffused.

Author suggests alternative to FDI as public sector investment. One long-term solution is substantial public investment in education, health and environment, which will not only improve India’s socio-economic condition but also crowd in domestic private investment.

Link: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-foreign-hand-isnt-enough/article9081728.ece

Source: The Hindu

Author: ALEX M. THOMAS

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

Projects approved under Swadesh Darshan

The Tourism Ministry has sanctioned 25 projects worth Rs 2,048 crore for 21 states and Union Territories under ‘Swadesh Darshan’ since January last year, when the scheme was launched. Of the sanctioned amount, about Rs 403 crore has been released to the states and UTs for projects which have been approved, The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in Ministry of Tourism has approved projects to the tune of Rs. 450 Crore for development of Heritage circuit in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit of Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, For the northeastern states, the ministry has sanctioned nine projects worth Rs 821 crore, while three projects worth Rs 282 crore have been approved for tribal areas in Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.For Buddhist Circuit, the ministry has sanctioned two projects worth Rs 108.11 crore for Bihar and Madhya Pradesh,Under this, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development, namely North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

swadesh-darshanKey facts:

The Heritage Circuit in state of Madhya Pradesh: It covers Gwalior- Orchha- Khajuraho-Chanderi-Bhimbetka-Mandu with total project cost of approximately Rs. 100.00 Crore. The project envisages world class infrastructural development of the sites which includes developing a Theme Park and Convention centre in Khajuraho, Sound and Light Show in Mandu.

The Heritage Circuit in Uttarakhand: It is on developing Tourism Infrastructure in Jageshwar-Devidhura-Katarmal-Baijnath sites with total project cost of approximately Rs.83 Crore. The highlights of project in Uttarakhand are development of Eco Log Huts, Sound and Light Show and Upgradation of Temple Pathways.

Coastal circuit in State of Tamil Nadu: It envisages development Chennai- Mamamallapuram-Rameshwaram-Manpadu–Kanyakumari with total project cost of approximately Rs.100 Crore has been approved. Sound and Light Show, development of Beach amenities, Construction of Pedestrian Bridge connecting Vivekananda memorial with Tiruvalluvar Statue are major highlights of project.

Ramayana Circuit in State of Uttar Pradesh: It envisages development of two destinations viz. Chitrakoot and Shringverpur. The Project cost for this circuit is approximately Rs.70 Crore for development of Parikrama marg, food Plaza, Laser Show, Foot Over Bridge connecting MP and UP part of Chitrakoot. It also includes Ayodhya for which the State Tourism Department of Uttar Pradesh is preparing Detailed Project Report (DPR).

North East circuit in State of Sikkim: With approximate project cost of Rs.95.50 Crore it includes development of eco log huts, cultural centre, paragliding centre, craft bazaar, base camp for mountaineering and meditation hall.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.

Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
  • To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
  • Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
  • A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
  • A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
  • PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.

Objective of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Integrated development of Infrastructure in identified theme based circuits.
  • Provide complete tourism experience with varied thematic circuits.
  • Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism approach.
  • Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increase in sources of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area.
  • Promote local arts, culture, handicrafts, cuisine, etc to generate livelihoods in the identified regions.
  • Harness tourism potential for its direct and multiplier effects in employment generation and economic development.

Source: The Financial Express/Economic Times/The Hindu/pib.

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

Paris Talks (The Hindu; 09/09/2016)

paris-talksThis article about UNFCCC Paris Talks and analyze its impact on India and the world.

            The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

          The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it.The agreement will enter into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions.

Outcomes:

  • Agreement signed is of non-binding nature. In addition to that government has not provided proper enforcement mechanisms.
  • United States and China have ratified it. Together these countries are responsible for more than 38%  of green house gases.

Impact on the world:

  • By the ratification by China and USA. Both countries have sent a positive wave.
  • Green Climate Fund and Technology Transfer would make it possible to phase out fossil fuel.

Impact on India:

  • India has been a very supportive the of the idea of ‘common and differentiated responsibility’.
  • India would be able to avail credit from green climate fund and use it to fund its climate change projects.

About UNFCCC:

    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992, then entered into force on 21 March 1994.Some important milestones are given below:

  • The parties to the convention have met annually from 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was concluded and established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012.
  • In 2010 it was decided that the future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level.

Linkhttp://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-taking-the-paris-process-forward/article9086406.ece

Source: The Hindu

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

Dark clouds over the PDS

(The Hindu Date-11/09/2016)

 

The National Food Security Act (NFSA), enacted three years ago, was — and still is — a chance to complete the process of PDS reform and ensure a modicum of food security for everyone.

 

The imposition of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the Public Distribution System threatens to disrupt recent progress with PDS reforms. It also deprives millions of people of essential food entitlements.

The ‘Chhattisgarh model’

India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) has improved steadily during the last 10 years. The system used to be most ineffective and corruption-ridden, with leakages of around 50 per cent at the national level, going up to 80 or 90 per cent in some States. Around 2007, Chhattisgarh took the lead in reforming the PDS — making it more inclusive, methodical and transparent. Within a few years, the system was overhauled. Today, most rural households in Chhattisgarh have a ration card, and are able to secure their entitlements (typically 7 kg of rice per person per month) on time every month. Odisha was among the first States to emulate Chhattisgarh’s experience, with similar results. Many other States also initiated Chhattisgarh-style PDS reforms: broad coverage, clear entitlements, de-privatisation of PDS shops, separation of transport agencies from distribution agencies, computerisation, fixed distribution schedules, tight monitoring, active grievance redressal, and more.

Problems of  PDS in India.

In the last few years,  several surveys of the PDS initiated by independent researchers with student volunteers. In 2011,  studied the PDS in nine States: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. They found that the system was working reasonably well for “below poverty line” (BPL) households: on average, they were receiving 84 per cent of their foodgrain entitlements from the PDS. A similar picture emerged from a follow-up survey in 2013. However, high leakages continued in the “above poverty line” (APL) quota, which tended to be used by the Central government at that time as a dumping ground for excess food stocks.

In June this year, they  went back to six of India’s poorest States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal) for an update. They found that four out of six had a fairly good PDS, with most NFSA cardholders receiving the bulk of their entitlements every month and relatively low exclusion errors. The last two, Jharkhand and especially Bihar, still have a long way to go. Even there, however, the situation is much better than it was a few years ago. In Jharkhand, for instance, the transparency of the system has vastly improved, and the official NFSA website is among the best in the country. However, recent progress is in danger of being undone soon due to the Central government’s counter-productive push for Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the PDS. This involves installing “Point of Sale” (PoS) machines at PDS shops,and verifying the identity of cardholders by matching their fingerprints against the Aadhaar database over the Internet.

This system requires multiple fragile technologies to work at the same time: the PoS machine, the biometrics, the Internet connection, remote servers, and often other elements such as the local mobile network. Further, it requires at least some household members to have an Aadhaar number, correctly seeded in the PDS database.

Recent developments in Rajasthan illustrate the dangers of forcing biometric authentication on the PDS. During the last few months, the Government of Rajasthan has tried hard to enforce the system. The use of PoS machines is compulsory and every PDS shop has one. Yet, according to official data compiled by Nikhil Dey, only 61 per cent of Rajasthan’s foodgrain allocation found its way through the PoS system in July 2016, with a similar figure (63 per cent) for August. The rest is either siphoned off or delivered using the old “register” system which of the two is hard to say since utter confusion prevails about the permissibility of using registers as a fallback option.

As in Rajasthan, it is not clear whether those for whom the PoS system does not work in Ranchi are getting any grain through the old “register” system. Officially, that is not allowed, according to local PDS dealers and officials (indeed, some dealers have been suspended for using this fallback option). Even if it happens unofficially, this dual system, where PDS grain goes partly through the PoS system and partly through the fallback register system, is the worst. The reason is that only PDS dealers know whether and when the register system is permissible, and they have no incentive to share that information with the cardholders. Quite likely, the new system is reviving PDS corruption in Jharkhand, reversing a healthy trend towards lower leakages in recent years.A short visit to a PDS shop just outside Ranchi quickly brings out the multiple vulnerabilities of the new system. Within minutes we met many people who had been deprived of their food rations for months because they had no Aadhaar number; or because their Aadhaar number had not been correctly seeded; or because their biometrics did not work, or simply because the PoS machine returned various error messages.

Even those for whom the system works face huge inconvenience. Often they have to make repeated trips to the PDS shop, or send different members in turn, until the machine cooperates. Sometimes schoolchildren are asked to skip classes and try their luck at the PDS shop. This unreliable system causes a colossal waste of time for everyone.

Aadhaar vs PDS

In spite of ample warnings, the Central government continues to push for compulsory Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the PDS. Incidentally, this is a violation of Supreme Court orders. The court did allow the use of Aadhaar in the PDS, but not making it compulsory for PDS users. Nor can the government invoke the Aadhaar Act to justify this move: the relevant sections of the Act are yet to be notified.

PoS machines seem to be expected to ensure a corruption-free PDS. This expectation, however, builds on a misunderstanding of PDS leakages. The main vulnerability today, at least in the States , is not identity fraud (e.g. bogus cards), but quantity fraud: PDS dealers often give people less than what they are entitled to, and pocket the rest. PoS machines are ineffective in preventing quantity fraud. They may help in reducing identity fraud, such as it is, but that does not justify depriving people of their food entitlements when the technology fails.

Conclusion

The drive to impose biometric authentication on the PDS must stop immediately to avoid further damage. There are better ways of plugging last-mile leakages, including the use of simpler technologies not dependent on the Internet. Imposing a technology that does not work on people who depend on it for their survival is a grave injustice.

Source: The Financial Express/The Hindu.

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team.

 Effects of 911 on the world

(The Guardian; 12/09/2016)

This article is about the effects of  911 on the world after 15 years since the attack.

911 refers to the series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by Al Queda on American soil on the morning of 11 september, 2001. These attacks killed around 3000 persons and cost around 10 billion dollar. Attacks were done by hijacking four civil airplanes and crashing them on different sites . Attack took place at following locations.

  • World Trade Centre (both towers)
  • Pentagon
  • Crashed near Pennsylvania

Osama Bin Laden took responsibility for the attack on behalf of Al Queda. It fuelled the war against terrorism and culminated into various problems of the current state of our world.Its impact on the world and it geopolitics is enormous. Let us try to enumerate all the factors which were impacted by 911.

 Impacts on the world:

  • Terrorism acquired the centerstage on the world politics. It is almost an essential agenda on the meetings of world leaders like G 20, G 8 etc.
  • It started an era of war, attacks, struggles and dislocations. America attacked Afghanistan to hunt Al Queda. Afterwords it attacked Iraq on false premise of having weapon of mass destruction. Right now both countries are facing civil war like conditions.
  • Terrorism boomed in mostly Islamic countries. Frequency and damage of terrorist attacks increased. New terrorist groups boomed.
  • Hostility towards muslim persons increased. Islamophobia was seen in almost every country of the world.
  • Surveillance increased as a tool to counter terrorism. ‘National security’ was favoured more than ‘privacy concerns’.
  • Two wars weakened the economy of America which collapsed after 7 years of attack.
  • Arab Spring would not have happened if there was no war. It culminated into the creation of ISIS.

 Impact on India:

  • The attacks on Indian soil increased.
  • Hate crimes against muslims increased.
  • Airport security was improved.
  • New terrorist groups were also created in India.
  • Effect of recession was also seen in India.

Link https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/sep/05/9-11-impact-world-al-qaida

Source: The Guardian

Author: Cane Ross

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

 Unicef’s report on child refugees

(The Hindu; 13/09/2016)

This article is about the UNICEF report titled Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children.

Of that total, 28 million are child refugees who fled conflict, states the UNICEF report, “Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children.” An additional 20 million are child migrants who left their homes in search of better lives.

The report defines a child as any person below the age of 18. Although a migrant can be a refugee, the term refugee is specifically used to note people fleeing persecution.Some findings of report are given below:

  • The number of child refugees has jumped by 75% in the past five years spurred by new and ongoing conflicts.
  • Children now make up more than half of the world’s refugees.
  • About one in three children who live outside their country of birth is a refugee.
  • Many of them get conscripted in the army as a child soldier or get exploited in sex trade.
  • They have to face xenophobia, exclusion, poverty and discrimination.
  • The vast majority of child migrants – some 3.7 million children – live in the US, followed by Saudi Arabia and Jordan, while in Europe, the UK hosts the largest number of migrants under the age of 18.

Report also suggests some remedies and tries to find the root cause for this problem.Some of them are given below:

  • Many refugee children belong to Afghanistan and Syria due to conflict and war.
  • Education should be provided to refugees so that they can secure a future.
  • To dispense with the detention of children seeking refugee status and to do away with reporting requirements, potentially benefiting 11 million.
  • Governments should address the root causes of conflict, violence and extreme poverty, and instead divert scarce resources to fulfil more fundamental necessities of life.
  • The report calls on the international community to fulfil the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, which obliges ratifying countries to respect and protect the rights of all children within their territories, regardless of a child’s background or migration status.

Question: ‘In war and conflict attack children suffers the most.’Elucidate.

Answer:  

  • Introduction (mention the report and some stats)
  • Findings of the report
  • Comparison between adult and children refugee problems.
  • Conclusion

 

Link https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/sep/05/9-11-impact-world-al-qaida

Source: The Hindu

Author:     –

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

AFSPA – Necessity Or A Misused Power? (The Hindu Date-13/09/2016)

AFSPA sees 93% drop in cases; govt not to withdraw Act from J&K, North East

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms “disturbed areas”.

 

AFSPA has been under review for quite some time. While the defence ministry and Army headquarters are opposed to changes in the basic provisions of the Act, the home ministry is reported to have recommended a major overhaul of the Act to bring it in line with egalitarian human rights practices.

 

What is AFSPA?

 

AFSPA enacted in 1958 give power to army,state force and central police force (paramilitary force) to search ,shoot to kill,and destroy any property or area used by insurgent to spread the violence in disturb area.under home ministry.

 

  • The Act provides army personnel with Constitutional safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

 Which state are under AFSPA?

It is in force in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area). In Arunachal Pradesh, only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam come under its purview. And in Meghalaya Afspa is confined to a 20-km area bordering Assam.

How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?

Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

What is state government’s role?

The state governments can suggest whether the act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the act, their opinion can be overruled by the governor or the Centre.

SUPREME COURT ON AFSPA.

Supreme Court in its decision  said that any encounter carried out by armed forces in the garb of AFSPA should be subjected to thorough inquiry.

“It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both… This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties,” a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit said in an 85-page judgment.

 

What sort of immunity/protection  does AFSPA give an officer?

According to AFSPA, an officer can exercise the following powers:

  • After giving due warning, an officer is allowed to open fire or use other kinds of force even if it causes death.
  • Destroy any arms dump, hide-outs, prepared or fortified position or shelter or training camp from which armed attacks are made or can be made by by the armed volunteers.
  • To arrest anyone without warrant who has committed cognizable offences or is reasonably suspected of having done so.
  • To enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests, or to recover any person wrongfully restrained or any arms, ammunition or explosive substances and seize it.
  • Stop and search any vehicle or vessel reasonably suspected to be carrying such person or weapons.
  • Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under AFSPA.
  • Government’s judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed isn’t subject to judicial review.

Criticism of APSPA

Be it the ending Irom Sharmila’s hunger strike in Manipur or the protesters out on candle marches against AFSPA in capital or anywhere else, AFSPA has been under severe criticism from all quarters of the society for being a draconian law widely misused  by the armed forces. Lately, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court on Friday said that all the encounters carried out by armed forces including police under AFSPA act too should be subjected to inquiry. The decision came after hundreds of Manipur families filled a plea that over the years more 1500 cases of fake encounters have taken place where armed forces have murdered innocent people under the garb of AFSPA. Many human right activists and organisations too have been demanding its removal from north-east as well as Kashmir

It has been dubbed as a license to kill. The main criticism of the Act is directed against the provisions of Section 4  which gives the armed forces the power to open fire and even cause death if prohibitory orders are violated. Human rights activists object on the grounds that these provisions give the security forces unbridled powers to arrest,  search,  seize and even shoot to kill.Activists accuse the security forces of having destroyed homes and entire villages merely on the suspicion that insurgents were hiding there. They point out that Section 4 empowers the armed forces to arrest citizens without warrant and keep them in custody for several days.They also object to Section 6, which protects security forces personnel from prosecution except with the prior sanction of the central government. Critics say this provision has on many occasions led to even non-commissioned officers brazenly opening fire on crowds without having to justify their action. Critics say the act has failed to contain terrorism and restore normalcy in disturbed areas, as the number of armed groups has gone up after the act was established.  Many even hold it responsible for the spiralling violence in areas it is in force. The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law. Hence, several cases of human rights violations go unnoticed.

The key recommendations of the Reddy Committee were:

  • In case the situation so warrants, the state government may request the Union government to deploy the army for not more than six months.
  • The Union government may also deploy the armed forces without a request from the state. However, the situation should be reviewed after six months and Parliament’s approval should be sought for extending the deployment.
  • Non-commissioned officers may continue to have the power to fire.
  • The Union government should set up an independent grievances cell in each district where the Act is in force.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission headed by then Union law minister M Veerappa Moily also recommended that AFSPA should be repealed and its essential provisions should be incorporated in the UAPA. If this course of action is adopted, it would be a retrograde step that will substantially harm the national cause.

 

Source: The Financial Express/indiatimes/The Hindu/

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

GM mustard is tolerant of herbicides (The Hindu Date-13/09/2016)

Former vice chancellor of Delhi University and geneticist Deepak Kumar Pental, who spearheaded the effort to develop transgenic mustard called DMH-11 that contains three genes sourced from soil bacterium,  that one of the DMH-11 genes, called the bar gene, made the plant resistant to a herbicide (or weed killer) brand-named Basta, a product sold by multinational company Bayer Cropscience.

 

Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11) the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had consulted with plant biologists, ecologists and environmentalists before tasking a sub-committee with compiling all evidence and addressing key questions. In 2010, the GEAC had cleared Bt brinjal but it’s decision was over-ruled by the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Why in news?

If cleared by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, a regulator that reports to the Ministry of Environment and Forests — it will be the first time a herbicide tolerant crop would be cleared for commercial use in India.

Why it is objected?

Activists objections

In 2002, India’s biotech regulators had refused to clear a herbicide tolerant plant developed by Bayer Crop Science. Activist organisations from Greenpeace to the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture have protested over decades that using herbicide tolerant genes in plants locks farmers into using select brands of agrochemicals.

What are scientist saying ?

Dr Pental, however, said such an argument was bizarre. “Germany uses four times more herbicide than India…There is no agriculture without herbicide in Western countries — even in countries that swear by organic farming,”

Enables hybridisation

perfected a system over two decades that allows seed companies to more easily develop hybrid mustard varieties. This is done using a system already perfected in the 1990s and employed in Canada to make hybrid versions of rapeseed,

. Two genes — that weren’t patented in India — called barnase and barstar — are used to make mustard varieties more amenable to becoming hybrids. Crossing Indian and East European varieties of mustard improves their yield.. The third gene, called the bar gene, was necessary because when seeds varieties are crossed to make hybrids, only a fixed proportion of the next generation of seeds carry all the desirable genes.Spraying these seeds with the herbicide Basta would ensure only the right kind of seed remained.

A first step to wholesome reform

(The Hindu 14.9.16)

The Supreme Court directive on quick uploading of first information reports will promote transparency and curb arbitrariness in police work.

What is an FIR?

 

First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognizable offence. It is a report of information that reaches the police first in point of time and that is why it is called the First Information Report. It is generally a complaint lodged with the police by the victim of a cognizable offence or by someone on his/her behalf. Anyone can report the commission of a cognizable offence either orally or in writing to the police. Even a telephonic message can be treated as an FIR.

The procedure for filing an FIR is mentioned under Section 154 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.  Usually one needs to visit the police station to file a complaint or an FIR.

An e-FIR can be filed only for cognisable offences like murder, rape, dowry death, kidnap, etc. In these cases the police can make the arrest without the court order.

In non-cognisable offences, like assault, cheating, stalking etc., only a complaint can be filed online. It can be later escalated into an FIR by the police after seeking permission from the Magistrate. Some states allow for online submission of FIR/complaint.

 

Why is this been implemented ?

  • Aimed principally at protecting the accused who may come to know that he figures in an FIR, but has no idea of the allegations which formed its basis, this order is also a shot in the arm for activists who want to protect citizens from State harassment on flimsy grounds.
  • The apex court direction, incidentally, also benefits victims of crime who have no means of getting to know whether their complaint had been brought on record or not. This is welcome because of the Indian police’s dubious record of suppressing crime
  • Viewed in this perspective, the court’s prescription makes it difficult for station house officers to ignore crime, a common practice adopted with a view to helping an offender or to dress police statistics up so that they conceal even a slight rise in crime.
  • It was also bought to bring in to increase the transparency between citizen and police.

By whom?

This was  momentous order, Youth Bar Association of India v Union of India and others, Justices Dipak Misra and C. Nagappan laid down several guidelines which could help to promote transparency and curb arbitrariness in police work.

Who all will be benefited ?

  • All the citizen whom against the crime is been held and are worried it to disclose it in open.
  • Citizen who are not able to file their FIR due to hurrey eg while travelling.
  • People who have little knowledge of particular region or not able to interact with the present people around him.
  • All those who have little knowledge of what particular sanction(offence) is put in his FIR.
  • It will be easy for the people who have less time to go and check their complaint file manually can do it online.
  • It will be also helpful to police to check that any other FIR is file against same person in different region.
  • It will be quicker and time saving.

Role of supreme court in protecting citizen’s fundamental right.

Right through its history, the Supreme Court of India has distinguished itself by coming out with directions which seek to buttress the fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution. We need to recall how the court has been tirelessly active in ensuring that police arrests of individuals are kept to the minimum, and when taken in custody, the accused/suspects are accorded civilised treatment, including access to legal assistance. The decision prescribing expeditious uploading of FIRs on to the Internet is therefore in sync with the court’s consistent stand that human rights are sacrosanct and cannot be trampled upon out of malice or at the instigation of the political executive.

In writing its order, the court demonstrated an intense application of mind in respect of two issues: the need to protect national security, as well as the privacy of a citizen; and the technical feasibility of implementing its directive that FIRs should be uploaded within 48 hours of their registration. According to the order, there will be exemption from the directive when the alleged offence is sensitive, such as sexual violence or one in which there is an angle of national security, insurgency or terrorism. We endorse this exception, because we are living in times when both privacy and terror issues matter greatly.

Who will be giving approval of this ?

The uploading of FIRs will also not be mechanical and as a simple rule of thumb. The order visualises a circumstance in which the authorities could sometimes decide against uploading on grounds of security. The court however laid down that such decisions could not be taken unilaterally by a single police official. First, such decisions cannot be taken at a level lower that a deputy superintendent of police. Second, such a decision is appealable by an aggrieved party to a committee to be set up by a district superintendent of police or a commissioner of police.

Problems of uploading online.

  • One principal negative response to the order points to existing modest police resources, especially in the rural areas, that could hinder easy implementation of the court directive. Many police stations, especially those in remote areas, may have a computer, but may not necessarily be connected to the Web.

Solution of logistical problem.

  • Taking cognisance of this logistical problem, the court permits the latitude of extending the deadline for uploading FIRs from 24 to 48 hours, or even to 72 hours, under special circumstances arising from the remote location of a police station. Such relaxation of the time limit for uploading would be related only to connectivity difficulties, and nothing else.
  • where there is a connectivity issue, the solution would be to hand deliver expeditiously a hard copy of the FIR to the district police headquarters — where connectivity may not be a problem — through a special messenger. An alternative would be for the State Crime Branch CID at police headquarters to act as the repository or nodal agency to undertake the task of uploading of FIRs. Most States are small and transmission of FIRs even to the CID by special police messengers is practical. it estimate that each State may, at the maximum, have about 100 FIRs each day to upload to the Net. In  view, the Supreme Court order is therefore eminently practical.

A more painful fact is the extent of graft that prevails at police stations in many regions of the country. There are very few police stations where a citizen can get his complaint registered without greasing the palm of the station house officer. This goes unchecked because of the graft at supervisory levels. Choice of officers to head districts police forces is often on the basis of their political leaning and pliability, rather than on their professional competence. As long as this situation remains unchanged, prescriptions such as transparency in FIR-related matters may end up being purely cosmetic.

Link: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/on-the-sc-order-for-quick-uploading-of-firs-by-police/article9104526.ece

Source: The Hindu/indian express.

Author: R.K. Raghavan is a former CBI Director. D. Sivanandhan is a former Commissioner of Police, Mumbai and a former DGP Maharashtra.

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

 The ceasefire in Syria

(The Hindu; 14/09/2016)

This article is about the current state of Syria and effects of ceasefire on its current state.

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from so-called Islamic State.

 

A Little Background:  Syrian crisis started with Arab spring and slowly culminated into civil war. Many players are active in Syria due to a proxy war going there. For example Iran and Saudi Arabia are having a proxy war by supporting different groups.Due to use of heavy use of modern weapon and also the use of chemical weapons; a humanitarian crisis has developed in Syria. Many civilians are leaving the country and heading for safe refuge. This has resulted in biggest refugee crisis in recent history.

 

The ceasefire agreement:In recent news there is an agreement reached between Russia and the United States in Geneva on a ceasefire in Syria.Under it, Russia will prevent the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from bombing rebel-held areas, while the U.S. will join hands with Russia in the fight against jihadist groups, including the Islamic State. The broad framework of the deal is the Putin Plan, made public a year ago while announcing Russia’s intervention in Syria. Vladimir Putin wanted Syrian statehood to be restored and the major powers to come together in the fight against the jihadists.

 

Its impact on the current situation:Important thing to note here is that USA and Russia are collaborating with each other after such a long time to help save lives. SInce both rebels and regime has agreed with the terms of ceasefire, it may prove out to be a successful move compared to previous attempts to ceasefire.

 

Question: ‘In war and conflict attack children suffers the most.’Elucidate.

Answer:  

  • Introduction (mention the report and some stats)
  • Findings of the report
  • Comparison between adult and children refugee problems.
  • Conclusion

 

Link http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-on-the-ceasefire-in-syria/article9104519.ece

Source: The Hindu

Author:     –

Compiled by: SuperProfs Acads Team

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