Mains Test Series


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GS-2

New Asian constellation

News:

  1. Atul Aneja, the China correspondent of the Hindu has analysed the recent SCO summit held in Qingdao, china.

Important facts:

2. India and Pakistan have recently joined Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as full term members.

3. The SCO was formed in 2001.

4. The SCO was formed as intent of calming the Eurasian borders strained by the Sino-Soviet rivalry of the Cold War.

5. The SCO has evolved from its core security orientation and further seeking for greater regional prosperity.

6. The SCO summit has focus on mutual respect and plurality among member nations.

7. China and Russia have been the pillars of the SCO.

8. The SCO summit has gain importance in recent times because the leaders of the G-7 were engaged in bitter Twitter feuds across the Atlantic.

9. India gains from the SCO Summit Include:

  • The SCO summit gave India fresh leads to engage with Central Asia.
  • Uzbekistan will able to access the funnel goods through the Iranian port of Chabahar (a joint undertaking of Iran, India and Afghanistan)
  • India has re-exploring a transit corridor to Central Asia through Pakistan under the SCO’s multilateral connectivity initiative.
  • The SCO platform will provide the opportunity to develop a sustainable working relationship with Pakistan and narrowing down India-Pakistan differences.
  • India has a positive talk with China on the sidelines of SCO summit.
  • The talk between both countries will reinforce the promise of the Wuhan informal summit.
  • Both India and China agrees to end the Doklam military stand-off crisis and start a fresh relationship that has a mixed legacy.

 

GS-3

Cess collected for construction workers too low for their welfare

News:

  1. According to the National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour (NCC-CL), the cess collected from construction companies is extremely low.

Important facts:

2. According to the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996, a 1% cess has to be levied and collected on all types of construction activities.

3. This cess can be collected by government, PSUs or private players.

4. The cess collected from construction companies is meant for the welfare of construction workers.

5. According to NCC-CL calculations (based on data from National Sample Survey Office)-

Cess collection:

  • Average cess collected per worker/ year is only Rs.477.1
  • More than 20 States have collected less than Rs. 1,000.
  • Only 4 states have collected cess Rs. 2000/ worker/ year
  • Worst performers: Manipur (Rs. 113.86), Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu
  • Among major states, only 3 states (Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana) collected cess more than Rs. 1000/ worker/ year

Worker registration:

  • States with the largest number of construction workers- Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu
  • States with high levels of worker registration: Chhattisgarh and West Bengal
  • Large states with low levels of worker registration: Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra

6. Draft model welfare scheme for Construction workers:

  • Recently, the Labour Ministry released the Draft Model Welfare Scheme
  • The Scheme includes pension, health and maternity benefits, life and disability insurance, education scholarships, skill development and housing benefits.

 

India faces worst water crisis: NITI Aayog

News:

  1. According to NITI Aayog report, India is facing its ‘worst’ water crisis in history

Important facts:

2. The study:

  • Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) has been used to evaluate 28 states.
  • The index is based on 9 broad sectors comprising of 28 different indicators
  • Few indicators include:  restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance
  • The states were divided into two groups: Non-Himalayan states and North-Eastern and Himalayan states

3. Key observations:

  • Depletion of Critical groundwater resources is very high. Further 70% of the water supply is contaminated.
  • If steps are not taken, the demand for potable water will exceed supply by 2030
  • Each year about 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress
  • About 2, 00,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water
  • 21 cities are estimated to run out of groundwater by 2020. Among them are Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad
  • 60% of total states were designated as low performers
  • Top three performers among Non-Himalayan states: Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
  • These states have performed well due to restoration of surface water bodies, watershed development activities and rural water supply provision.
  • Bottom three performers among the Non-Himalayan States: Jharkhand, Bihar and Haryana
  • The other poor performing states: Uttar Pradesh, Odhisa, and Chhattisgarh
  • Worst performer among North-eastern and Himalayan states: Himachal Pradesh
  • The report highlights that given the pace of groundwater depletion and limited policy action, India might face food security risk.

 

India calls UN report on human rights abuse in Kashmir ‘fallacious’

News

  1. UN released its first human right report on Kashmir, India calls it fallacious.

Important facts

2. About report

  • The report focused on the human rights situation in the State between January 2016 and April 2018 during which violence escalated.
  • The report covers the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the part of the Kashmir i.e. under Pakistan control.
  • UN said the report is based on information through sources in Jammu and Kashmir rather than on actual ground report across LoC
  • This is because neither India nor Pakistan has granted access to border area across LoC

3. Main finding of the UN report

  • The report calls on India and Pakistan to respect their human right obligations
  • The report urged India to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol.
  • It asks India to repeal AFSPA, and establish independent investigation to probe civilian killings since 2016
  • The Act is used widely in counter-terror operations in Kashmir and cause of suffering for large number of people
  • It urges Pakistan to end misuse of Anti-terror legislation to prosecute those who are engaged in peaceful, political and civil activities, and shows dissent.

4 India’s reaction

  • India rejected the report and calls it fallacious
  • India calls the report is ‘selective compilation of unverified information’
  • The report violates India’s Sovereignty and Integrity as description of Indian Territory in report is misleading. India consider ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ and ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ as an Integral part of India not a separate entity.
  • The report failed to take into account the global consensus on terrorism. The report describe internationally designated and UN-recognized terrorist entities as ‘armed groups’ and terrorists as ‘leaders.’

5. Pakistan in its response said that UN has to play a key role to resolve problem of Jammu and Kashmir

 

Couples in live-in relations cannot adopt, says CARA

News:

  1. Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has prohibited partners in live-in relationships from adopting a child.

Important Facts:

2. CARA has decided that the cases of single PAP (prospective adopting parent) in a live-in relationship with a partner will not be considered eligible to adopt a child.

3. Registration of such PAP through the AFAAs (authorised foreign adoption agencies) will not be considered for approval

4. The rationale behind the decision: In India, cohabitation without marriage is not considered a stable family

5. However, there is no rule yet in case a single parent decides to enter into a live-in relationship after adopting a child.

6. Highlights of the Adoption Regulations 2017

  • A single woman can adopt a child of any gender
  • A single man can adopt only boys
  • If an applicant is married, both spouses have to give their consent for adoption.
  • The applicant must be in a stable marriage for at least two years.
  • Applicant must be physically fit, financially sound, mentally alert and highly motivated to adopt a child

7. SC Verdicts on live-in relationship:

  • Recently, SC has upheld that adult couples have the right to live together even if they were not married.
  • Further, the legislature recognises live-in relationships through the provisions under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • Under the Act, women in a live-in relationship have been given protection. A woman in a marriage like relationship can file a complaint of domestic violence

 

For stronger employee representation

Article:

  1. Krishnadas Rajagopal discusses the amendments to the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016

Important Analysis:

2. The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee.

3. Changes incorporated:

Number of the Labour representatives to be appointed in the Port Authority Board among the serving employees of the Port- Increased from 1 to 2

  • Number of independent members in the Port Authority Board- Minimum 2 and Maximum 4
  • Member representing the interest of the employees shall hold office- for of 3 years and not more than 2 consecutive terms
  • Persons receiving any retirement benefit from the Board of Trustees under the Major Port Trust Act, 1963 immediately before such date- to continue to receive the same benefit from the Board.
  • Presiding Officer and Members of the Adjudicatory Board will be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendations of the Selection Committee.
  • The government will have the power to remove the presiding officer or any member of the adjudicatory board from office
  • Amounts received by or on behalf of the Board will be credited to a general account or accounts of the Ports opened with a Nationalised or scheduled bank
  • Board of each major port to be entitled to create a specific master plan for any established or to be established infrastructure within the port limits. This master plan would be independent of any local or State government regulations
  • After the Act commences, the holder of the concession of PPP projects is free to fix the tariff based on market conditions
  • Saving Clause: existing benefit enjoyed by Mumbai and Kolkata Ports for municipal assessment of property under the Bombay Port Trust Act, 1879 and the Calcutta Port Act, 1890 can continue

4. Significance:

  • The amendments are expected to strengthen employee representation

Decongesting our cities

Article:

  1. P. Agarwal, CEO, World Resources Institute India, suggests adoption of app-based public transport survives.

Important Analysis:

2.  Objective:

  • Aimed at improving public transport systems.

3. Consequences of using private transport:

  • Severe traffic congestion
  • Air pollution
  • Impact on energy security of the nation.
  • Impact on economic efficiency of cities

4. Advantages of using public transport:

  • Uses less road space
  • Consumes less fuel
  • Emit fewer pollutants on a per passenger basis.

5. Steps taken by government to enhance the use of public transport.

  • India has invested large amounts in high quality metro systems in cities such Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Jaipur and Lucknow.
  • Other cities are also planning to build new metros.
  • Bus systems have also been augmented at a high cost.

6. Solutions:

  • Public transport need to provide more convenience facilities to the people.
  • The emerging slew of shared mobility options and app-based ride providers become important here.
  • Sustainable mode of transport.
  • App-based services wean people away from the public transport, so should not be allowed.
  • Development in technology
  • Modify regulations to accommodate app-based services.
  • Safeguard investment in public transport

7. Hurdles:

  • Services like the app-based mini-buses do not find favour with regulators.
  • They are neither “stage carriages” nor “contract carriages” under the Motor Vehicles Act.
  • Stage carriages are those that ply along fixed routes and stop at predetermined stations to pick up and drop passengers.
  • Contract carriages are vehicles that serve a single customer or a group of customers, to be picked and dropped between two designated places.
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