Written-off in the hinterland: (The Hindu, Editorial)
- The educational system in rural India is not able to create favorable conditions to be at par with the urban system.
- Retrospectively, educational institutes represented the dream of a philanthropist to export the best human talent of his region to the global market.
- But the fact that education can serve a village in ways that allow it to retain its best boys and girls had been discarded long ago.
- The rural institutions gave its metropolitan counterparts stiff competition on global playgrounds.
- They invested in technological aids to give the rural youth an opportunity to aspire for legitimate heights.
- For those financially backward, school is meant to be a potential break from the likelihood of a life dependent on shrinking income from agriculture and labor.
Introduction to Rural development:
- The term rural development represents an essentially colonial view of the village.
- Also, rural development represents an essentially colonial view of the village; modernity for the village can only mean its merger in the urban landscape.
- Moreover, migration from rural areas has a positive side to it because the state’s services are more accessible in cities.
Education in the rural context:
- Schools in rural areas remained neglected and attempts to improve them never gained momentum.
- The larger unit of rural children suffered the consequences of low budgeting and poor staffing.
- Education of the rural child has failed to depart from the stereotype which associates modernity with city life.
- Education has worsened the rural-urban asymmetry, deepening the alienation of the rural citizen.
- The idea that education can serve a village in ways that allow it to retain its best boys and girls had been discarded long ago.
- It’s often seen that villages became the supplier of talent to the city and so thus the concept coaching takes its roots.
- Lakhs of students from rural and semi-urban areas spend their youth getting coached indiscriminately for competitive entry into an ever-shrinking opportunity market.
- Moreover, with the scarcity of employment, there’s the struggle to sustain one’s aspiration and the other part is living with frustration.
- To sum up, the education system in India as a whole is rote memorization, leading to behavior which encourages cramming and forgetting rather than lifelong learning.
The missing learning curve: (Indian Express, Editorial)
- There’s an urgent need to improve decision making along with institutional knowledge.
- In accordance with accelerating learning curve of the human species, can the collective brain also refuse to learn some lessons or even unlearn?
- Writers have penned down that either due to rapid population growth, a breakdown of social mores, changing economic incentives or all of these results in negligence of maintaining the old skills.
- Moreover, though all the three arms of government, legislature may be progressive in nature, but there’s an absence of a learning curve on several fronts.
- This absence is the reason for which we know most of our problems reasonably well but have struggled to solve them.
- One can observe policies swinging between extremes even in the developed economies.
- But those swings are minimal and can easily be diagnosed and a learning curve is visible.
Policy makers and institutional memory
- Policy-making should not suffer while the policy-maker is on a learning curve.
- As economic analysis often has political implications, making biases unavoidable, data can be the starting point that all sides to an argument can agree on.
- Economic history in India lacks depth, and explanations of even basic questions lack rigor.
- The lack of technology research in Indian universities is much lamented, but the lack of quality research on economic history could be as damaging if not more.
- As a matter of fact, decision-makers are individuals or groups of individuals, and no one person or group of persons can learn it all before they start drafting policy.
- An institutional framework is much needed; an empowered institutions supported by a body of researchers in academia and industry to make sure past lessons are not forgotten, and mistakes not repeated.
- For example, several Indian states have annual output of hundreds of billions of dollars, but lack chief economic advisors when even small business groups have chief economists.
- Data analysis needs manifold improvement in quality, depth and accessibility. It may also be the easiest to rectify.
What lynchings say about the Indian state: (Live Mint, Editorial)
- In the last few years, cow vigilantism has been the catalyst of violence across India.
- The government fails to respond to mob violence in line with constitutional principles.
Briefing of the incident:
- Just when on 29th June, 2017 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a public statement about condemning for killing in the name of cow protection, a small mob lynched a man in Jharkhand.
- The victim is beaten to death for allegedly carrying beef.
Aspects of the problem:
- One of the major aspects of such lynching is executed either for religion or caste.
- The second aspect is the individual notions of justice in its crudest form over the constitutional ideals. It is a deep-rooted problem in Indian polity.
- Many are of the opinion that Muslim men are becoming soft targets in the name of beef trade.
- They further added that these lynching are not accidents but a deliberate act of few groups supported by the administration.
- The minorities were the target of 51 percent of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017).
- Moreover, millions of people in the minority Muslim and lower-caste Hindu communities depend on work in the meat and leather industries.
- Finally, with every lynching new excuses are found to justify the violence, statistics are reeled out of lynching during a previous administration in an attempt to create a moral equivalence between a murder and targeted violence.
- Governments at both the Central and state levels must take on themselves for such violence in the nation.
- The Government has often looked away, and in some instances, been direct enablers, either victim-blaming or equivocating.
- The judiciary too has not always played its role adequately either.
- As for example, Mahesh Chandra Sharma’s Jago Janta Society v. State of Rajasthan & Ors, 2017 ruling in the Rajasthan high court recommends in making the cow the national animal, and life imprisonment for cow slaughter—and made it clear that his ruling was informed by religion.
- Lynching does not find mention in the Indian Penal Code. No particular law has been passed to deal with lynching.
- Lynching is one of the standard techniques of popular politics in India, which are rarely prosecuted or even treated as crimes.
- When the government is unable to control such lynching, the state’s capacity to keep society’s worst impulses in check is further eroded.
- The recent lynching in Jharkhand has provoked the Muslim women to pick up arms in future to save their men. If this happens so, there will be a massive communal violence.
- Each violent event hardened community boundaries, none more so than the widening divide between the majority and the minority.
- There’s an urgent need for police reforms by improving organizational capabilities or insulating the police from political pressure.
- A concrete result will require political will to initiate reforms.
- Government needs to hold the law and order machinery accountable through transparent mechanisms when it fails to deliver.
- Mob violence in India has stemmed from ignorance and would recede with education and modernity.
- Lynching is not only shameful for the cumulative effect on the moral life of the nation and also for those who excuse them and the troubling message it sends about the state’s abilities and prerogatives.
International groupings and agreements
Read the following analysis over above issue – India-Palestine Issue –
India and neighbors
Step back: (The Hindu, Editorial)
Effects of developed and developing countries policies
Climate-proofed and inclusive: (The Hindu, Editorial)
Policy-makers in India and other developing countries face a big problem to address poverty and climate change together.
Dimensions of Poverty
- Poverty is multi-dimensional. People living in poverty in various parts of the world share multiple conditions and life circumstances that have been measured and studied as a proxy to assessing poverty.
- The conditions that are often considered while assessing poverty include living standards, assets, health, income, consumption and status in the societies.
- Therefore, measures such as nutrition, quality of the floor and roof of houses, access to energy services and drinking water, the level of education, jobs, and social conditions such as caste all become relevant when one tries to understand the different manifestations of poverty.
- Some countries like Mexico, Colombia, and Chile use several dimensions to record poverty using the Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
- Measures such as MPI help us to estimate not only how many people are poor, but also the quality and depth of their poverty.
Status of Poverty in India
- In India, the government uses income or consumption to estimate poverty, with specified thresholds associated with the ‘poverty line’.
- On this basis, using consumption expenditure data, the erstwhile Planning Commission estimated poverty in India to be 22% of the population in 2011-2012.
- Estimated rural poverty: 25.7%
- Estimated urban poverty: 13.7%
- The most recent MPI (Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index) for India calculated using India Human Development Survey data of 2011-12, estimates that 41% of the people were multi-dimensionally poor.
How are the poor impacted by Climate change?
- The anticipated adverse effects of climate change in South Asia are droughts, floods, heat waves, sea level rise and related problems such as food shortages, the spread of diseases, loss of jobs and migration.
- The poor are often on the front lines of climate change, living in the most vulnerable areas with the fewest resources to help them adapt.
- Climate change disproportionately affects the poor. It’s the poor who suffers more during disasters, and of course, the same hazard causes a much bigger disaster in poorer countries, making it even poorer.
- Another impact is through the reduction in crop yields, which leads to higher prices. Poor countries in the drier and warmer regions of the earth will feel the crop yield decrease early.
Challenge for India
- In 2015, countries agreed to meet 17 universal goals by 2030. These goals are officially known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- The Sustainable Development Goals cover a broad range of concerns for human welfare: food security, education, poverty alleviation, access to safe and adequate water, energy, sanitation etc.
- It is critical for India to recognise that climate variability and climate change impacts can prevent the country from reaching and maintaining the SDG targets.
- Along with the consumption measures, measuring poverty through its different dimensions would help policymakers figure out which aspects of poverty expose the poor and aggravate their vulnerability to climate change.
Climate- proofed and inclusive development
- Projects and programs designed to help people adapt to the effects of climate change should not inadvertently degrade the living conditions of the poor
- Adaptation programmes should be designed so that challenges faced by people living in poverty are recognised and reduced.
- Development policies that consider the context of climate change is often called “climate proofing development”.
- Multi-dimensional understanding of poverty becomes important in this context of research and policy.
- Measuring poverty through its different dimensions, along with the consumption measures, would help policymakers figure out which aspects of poverty expose the poor and aggravate their vulnerability to climate change.
|What is Climate Proofing for Development?
Ø Climate Proofing for Development is a methodological approach aimed at incorporating issues of climate change into development planning.
Ø It enables development measures to be analysed with regard to the current and future challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.
Ø It can be applied at national, sectoral, local and project level.
- There is a district with severe nutritional deficiency. The same district has the possibility of experiencing extended periods of drought from climate change. In such a case, the focus should be on improving local food access and combine this with managing water efficiently to prepare for future water shortages.
- The focus should be on improving sanitation and housing conditions in low-lying areas which are prone to increased flood events.
- Population and production in many developing countries are highly dependent on natural resources and often have limited adaptive capacity. Many of these countries thus are the ones most seriously affected by climate change.
- The need of the hour is thus, ‘climate-proofed’, sustainable and inclusive development efforts.
Learn more about climate change – Climate change the burning issue
Indian Economy. Planning, Growth and Employment
- 48 hours before launch of GST, one lakh companies lost registration for post-demonetization lapses. Registrar of Companies (RoC) has removed these one lakh companies.
- Two lakh other registered companies are under the scanner for involvement in what looked like dubious transactions in the aftermath of demonetization.
What is the Issue?
- The registration of over one lakh companies which had allegedly engaged in suspicious transactions post-demonetization had been scrapped.
- The de-registration was done on the basis of the mining of the deposits made in banks after demonetization wherein many companies were found to have engaged in serious irregularities
- Government has identified 37,000 shell companies which engage in money laundering and help those with black money.
Why such Bold Step?
- After the move of demonetization, Government of India seeks to cast Goods and Service Tax (GST) as the second strike against black money and corruption.
- The government is acting tough with the ones who are being part of corruption, black money, parallel economy.
- This is a move to curb tax evasion and generate resources for the poor and needy
- The government has clearly stated that the government will not get influenced by the pressure of the high income group class that are reluctant to pay taxes.
Norms of De-registration
- There is nothing unusual about striking off names of companies from the ‘register of companies.
- As per the norms, the RoC can issue a show cause notice to a company if it has failed to start business within one year of incorporation or has not been carrying on any business for two immediately preceding financial years or has not applied for dormant status.
- The companies that get such a notice are given 30 days to submit their replies.
- If not satisfied with the response, the entity’s name can be struck off from the ‘register of companies’
- The government had in December last year notified the Companies Act provisions for striking off the names of companies.
- As per details submitted to Parliament, the names of 10,826 companies were struck off in 2014-15 (till November 4), while 10,344 companies were struck off in 2013-14, 13,414 companies in 2012-13 and 38,241 in 2011-12.
- With regard to the current issue, in April this year, the government (RoCs in several States and union territories) had issued show cause notices to over two lakh companies under the Companies Act for striking off their names.
Reactions to this De-registration
- The chartered accounting fraternity and lawyers have said that they are unclear as to how alleged “suspicious and questionable operations” following demonetization to the cancellation of registration of one lakh companies by the government
- They are strongly questioning the move and are upset with the instantaneous decision that was brought forward “with one stroke of a pen in one minute.”
- The CAs and lawyers are waiting for a list of companies and the reasons for de-registration, as well as how this issue was linked to demonetization.
- They are also seeking a clarification whether under the provisions of the Income Tax Act or Companies Act, the companies are always given an opportunity to respond before any action has been taken against them, including striking off the names.
Want to know more about GST – Read Critical analysis of GST
- Lot of discussion is going around the launch of GST and its corresponding impact on various sectors.
- It is being identified that the new tax regime- GST will have positive impact on India’s credit profile.
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will be positive for India’s credit profile as it will contribute to productivity gains and higher GDP growth
- It will also support higher government revenue generation through improved tax compliance
- The Indian industry is prepared for the rollout of the GST
- The regime will contribute to ease of doing business and accelerate new business ventures.
- Over the medium term, we expect that the GST will contribute to productivity gains and higher GDP growth
- GST will improve the ease of doing business, unifying the national market and enhancing India’s attractiveness as a foreign investment destination.
- It will improve tax compliance and administration driven by:
- incentivisation of tax credits in a GST system
- greater ease of compliance through usage of a common, shared IT infrastructure between the central government and the states; and
- a reduction in the overall cost of compliance from simplified tax rates, uniform across the country
- GST comes with the assurance that the Government will continue to facilitate investments and simplify the business environment
- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Indian industry are committed to work in coordination so as to ensure the success of GST for boosting India’s growth and development.
Want to know more about GST – Read Critical analysis of GST
- GST has been recently launched. What is its effect across different industries is a much discussed issue now.
GST and Various Sectors
- Following the implementation of the GST, the hospitality and travel sectors expect teething issues in the first few months but are not unduly worried, expecting support from government.
- It is being expected that there may be challenges in compliance and implementation but over time, there will be more clarity and familiarity, enabling all stakeholders to adjust, adapt and adhere
- However, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India feels that the 28% GST for hospitality industry is too high.
- With regard to export industry, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has approached the government to reduce the restrictions on using duty credit scrips — a pass that allows holders to import goods by not paying a certain amount in import duties
- With the implementation of GST, these scrips can now be utilized only for payment of basic customs duty and not Integrated Goods and Services Tax.
- Earlier, manufacturing exporters who imported raw material for export purposes were allowed to utilize these scrips for payment of customs, excise duty and service tax.
- Exporters are worried as they have to arrange funds for payment of GST, which will be refunded to them upon exports
- This may lead to a blocking of funds thus affecting competitiveness of exports.
- The steel sector is feeling bullish after the GST rollout. Players in the sector said that with GST, unorganized players will have to move to the organized form of doing business.
- Steel Users Federation of India has said GST has abolished the special additional duty on imported goods which was a very cumbersome procedure.
- It is being expected that GST will give the unorganized sector no other choice but to be tech-compliant.
- The cotton textile industry is also feeling positive because the entire cotton textile value chain has been brought under the lowest slab rate of 5% GST.
Want to know more about GST – Read Critical analysis of GST
- In the recent budget, the idea of an integrated oil and gas sector was rediscussed
- The idea first made its appearance during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in 1998.
- The proposal was then rejected for encouraging a monopolistic scenario in distribution of essential goods like LPG, petrol, kerosene etc.
- In 2005, the Krishnamurthy committee formed by the UPA government debunked the idea as it would reduce competition and manpower in the oil and gas sector.
Why the Issue was Revisited ?
- Finance Ministry stated five major reason for rethinking over the potential prospects of oil and gas
- Integration of gas and oil will lead to better and increased capacity to bear high risks
- Merging of two major sectors will provide with the benefit of economies of scale
- An obvious reason, integration of the oil and gas sector will create more shareholders.
- A collaborated sector will imply more detailed and efficient decision making and thus better investments
- Last, but not the least, the joint production of the oil and gas sector would enstrengthen the whole sector and make it more competent globally.
Unsuccessful Merger Incidence
- Indian firms are much smaller in size compared with top international oil companies
- The Government’s track record of consolidating state run firms has not borne good results.
- The aviation sector suffered a major setback following the merger of Air India and India Airlines in 2007 and has not yet fully recovered.
Positive Merger Incidence
- In oil and gas, minimum political interference and liberalization have proven better in creating more shareholder value compared with integration.
- ONGC’s decision to bail out debt-ridden Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation has been said to be the result of political interference.
- With oil firms facing such allegations and inefficiencies, giving complete autonomy to one entity can risk the nation’s energy security.
- Another concern is employment generation. Oil and gas sector has seen a continuous decline in manpower since FY11
- Integration will result in manpower reduction. At a time when the government is struggling with job creation, it will be difficult to justify job losses due to restructuring.
Factors be taken into Consideration
- The ability of a company to take higher risks depends on the amount of capital it has.
- The financials of all major oil PSUs show that they have more than the minimum amount of capital required.
- Size is also not the only factor that facilitates acquisition of offshore projects
What should be the Next Step?
- Companies should focus on better strategy, techniques and management practices to negate shortcomings of their size.
- The Indian oil market today has hardly any competition and is dominated by IOCL, HPCL and BPCL.
- Curbing competition in the past has already adversely affected the aviation and banking sectors
- Optimum efficiency has to be reached and with it the competitiveness of the sector has to be regained.
- Any decision that creates a monopoly in the oil and gas sector must be carefully thought through.
- And whether a bigger, extended and merged oil and gas sector will actually achieve the aims as stated by the Government of India has to be critically analyzed.
In a new regime: (Indian Express, Editorial)
- Sections of the Opposition are critical of the GST and have boycotted the Joint Session of Parliament that formally began the GST regime
- Efficient Implementation of GST will require coming together of all stakeholders
- The government has assured that procedural lapses in the first two months of the new tax regime will not result in penalties.
- However, Confederation of All India Traders has appealed to the government to treat the first nine months of the new tax regime as an interim period during which non-compliance will not result in penalties.
- The Government must treat Confederation of All India Traders’ appeal with generosity.
- The coming months will be a learning experience for all the stakeholders: the government, the opposition and different sectors of the economy.
- Efficient implementation of GST will require coming together of all the stakeholders.
Pollution and conservation
Researchers have come to the conclusion that aerosols may be weakening the Indian monsoon even more than greenhouse gases.
- A team led by climatologist R. Krishnan of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, has come up to the conclusion that aerosols affect the strength of the Indian monsoon.
- The team had used an upgraded forecasting model that was used this year by the India Meteorological Department for forecasts.
- This model is expected to help India prepare its first home-grown forecast of climate change from global warming, and be part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
How do aerosols weaken the Indian Monsoon?
- The monsoon is mainly driven by the thermal contrast between the Indian subcontinent and the adjoining ocean.
- As the land warms up the air above the land surface is heated and rises up and is less dense than the cool air over the ocean.
- This contrast in temperatures and densities causes the cool moisture-bearing winds from the western Indian Ocean to move into the land mass and bring monsoon rains to the subcontinent.
- However, the scenario is changed due to the presence of greenhouse gases, aerosols in the atmosphere or if the land has been subjected to increased deforestation. The researchers have come to the conclusion that aerosols may be weakening the monsoon more than greenhouse gases (GHCs)
- Anthropogenic atmospheric aerosols, including sulphates, black carbon, nitrates and dust accumulate over the Indo-Gangetic plains.
- These reduce incoming solar radiation over northern India and the northern Indian Ocean and lead to cooling on both land and sea resulting in a lowered thermal contrast.
- Hence, monsoon winds and circulation are weakened as both land and sea are cooled due to aerosol accumulation.
What are aerosols?
- An aerosol is a colloid of fine solid particles or liquid droplets, in the air or another gas.
- Aerosols can occur naturally, originating from volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, living vegetation, and sea spray.
- Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and the alteration of natural surface cover, also generate aerosols
- Aerosol particles larger than about 1 micrometre in size are produced by windblown dust and sea salt from sea spray and bursting bubbles.
- Aerosols smaller than 1 micrometre are mostly formed by condensation processes such as conversion of sulphur dioxide (SO2) gas (released from volcanic eruptions) to sulphate particles and by formation of soot and smoke during burning processes
- After formation, the aerosols are mixed and transported by atmospheric motions and are primarily removed by cloud and precipitation processes.
Importance of Aerosols
Aerosols serve as media upon which chemical reactions can occur.
- The most significant of these reactions are those that lead to the destruction of stratospheric ozone.
- During winter in the Polar Regions, aerosols grow to form polar stratospheric clouds.
- The large surface areas of these cloud particles provide sites for chemical reactions to take place.
- These reactions lead to the formation of large amounts of reactive chlorine and, ultimately, to the destruction of ozone in the stratosphere.
- Aerosols are also believed to have an “indirect” effect on climate by changing the properties of clouds.
- Had there been no aerosols, there would have been no clouds.
- It is very difficult to form cloud droplets without small aerosol particles acting as “seeds” to start the formation of cloud droplets.
- As aerosol concentration increases within a cloud, the water in the cloud gets spread over many more particles, each of which is correspondingly smaller.
- Smaller particles fall more slowly in the atmosphere and decrease the amount of rainfall.
In this way, changing aerosols in the atmosphere can change the frequency of cloud occurrence, cloud thickness, and rainfall amounts.
Prelims Related News
NASA’s Earth-bound Gemini North telescope has beamed back a stunning image of Jupiter showing haze particles over a range of altitudes.
What has happened?
- As the Juno spacecraft orbits Jupiter, the Gemini telescope is providing high-resolution images to help guide its exploration of the giant planet.
- In addition to images captured using adaptive optics, longer wavelength filter on the telescope are used to look at cloud opacity on the planet.
- The observations trace vertical flows that cannot be measured any other way, illuminating the weather, climate and general circulation in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
- Juno spacecraft was 5.5 million miles (8.9 million kilometers) from its July 4th appointment with Jupiter. Over the past two weeks, several milestones occurred that were key to a successful 35-minute burn of its rocket motor, which will place the robotic explorer into a polar orbit around the gas giant.
|Details on Juno Spacecraft
· Juno is a NASA space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.
· Juno’s mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. It will also search for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds of 618 kilometers per hour.
The combination of Earth-based and spacecraft observations is a powerful one-two punch in exploring Jupiter.
Scientists have developed the world’s sharpest laser with record-breaking precision that can help make optical atomic clocks more precise as well as test Einstein’s theory of relativity.
About laser lights
- Theoretically, laser light has only one colour, frequency or wavelength.
- In reality, however, there is always a certain linewidth.
- This precision is useful for various applications such as optical atomic clocks, precision spectroscopy, radio astronomy and for testing the theory of relativity.
- More than 50 years have passed since the first technical realization of the laser, and we cannot imagine how we could live without them today.
Applications of Laser light
- Laser light is used in numerous applications in industry, medicine and information technologies.
- Lasers have brought about a real revolution in fields of research and in metrology — or have even made some new fields possible in the first place.
- One of laser’s outstanding properties is the excellent coherence of the emitted light.
- Ideally, laser light has only one fixed wavelength or frequency. In practice, the spectrum of most types of lasers can, however, reach from a few kHz to a few MHz in width, which is not good enough for numerous experiments requiring high precision.
|Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity