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GS 2

Modi letter calls for positive engagement

News:

  1. PM Modi, has called for bilateral engagement with his Pakistani counterpart to get rid the region of violence.

Important facts:

2. He expressed India’s commitment to building good neighbor relations between India and Pakistan and pursuing constructive engagement for the benefit of the people of the region.

3. PM’s decision comes in the backdrop of recent Indian insistence that New Delhi will hold talks only if Islamabad acts against terror suspects and outfits.

4. Pakistan’s new government has already drawn criticism for catering to extremist and terrorist organizations and individuals that are prescribed by the United Nations.

5. Pakistan also indicated that it would stay focused on full implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

 

An enduring threat

Article:

  1. K.Naraynan former National Security advisor has talked about religious and ideological driven terrorism.

Important Facts

  1. Intelligence agency has failed to understand dimensions of religion-based terrorism.
  2. Due to which Iran religious movement has led to establishment of Theocratic state (state which is governed by its religious elite)
  3. Another example is establishment of terror group Al-Qaeda and attack on World trade center.
  4. Islamist state terror group has made their presence in Asia, Africa and part of Europe after they lost territory in Syria and Iraq.
  5. Recently, radicalised Islamist terrorist made indiscriminate attack on Hindu and Sikh convoy in Afghanistan.
  6. India is also facing threat from cross border terrorism by Jaish-e-mohammed (JEM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
  7. Africa has been made new battle ground for Islamic state spreading from Somalia and Kenya in the east through Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal in the west. Leading to loss of more than 10,000 lives.
  8. Other terror groups active in different part of Africa (Al-Shabab in Somalia, the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen in Mali).
  9. Boko Haram once affiliated with IS posed more threat than al-Qaeda.
  10. He also said that intelligence agency failed to understand ethnic oriented violence. Ethnic violence should not be labelled as religious violence.
  11. Kurd in west Asia has been victim of Ethnic oriented violence.
  12. Ethnic violence is mostly based on Local grievances and influenced by outsiders as well.
  13. Resurgence of Sikh radical extremist group has evolved in Canada, USA and UK with their demand for Khalistan.
  14. Exacerbated sentiments of Sikh were shown during ripping off Indian flag during our PM visit in UK.
  15. Variety of terror groups active globally influenced by either on the basis of religion or ideology when intertwined cause extreme form of terrorism.
  16. It is important to understand Ideology based terrorism playing more important role than religion-based terrorism.
  17. Behavioral pattern further influences expansion of terrorism.
  18. India needs to take strong steps to tackle with extreme form of terrorism as it is surrounded by top most wanted terrorist group.

 

GS 3

A brief history of the rupee

News:

  1. Recently, the rupee depreciated to more than 70 to a dollar led to historical comparisons to the value of the rupee.

Important facts:

2. The author discussed the brief history of the rupee:

  • Britain (and France) declared war on Germany in 1939.
  • As a result, India’s preparation was geared up by the colonial government towards the war effort through imposition of controls.
  • Transferring money outside the sterling area required permission under rules that were laid down in London.
  • By the end of the World War II, India had accumulated a sizeable sterling balance.
  • The corresponding increase in rupee circulation stoked war inflation in India.
  • The restrictions on capital goods imports continued because the Bank of England (BoE) had blocked what were called India’s sterling balances.
  • After the war ended, the transfer of the sterling balances was negotiated between India and Britain.
  • The next sterling balance negations were held in London in July 1947.
  • After Aug 15, 1947, India and Pakistan would have had no forex other than the sterling balances to pay for imports.
  • The Indian side,  agreed to two types of deductions from the sterling balances.
  1. Towards the pensions of former British members of the ICS.
  2. The value of military equipment, regardless of the condition and worth, the British forces had left behind.
  • The British side gave credible warnings of an imminent sterling devaluation.
  • India failed to capitalise on them.
  • The sterling was floated against the major international currencies in the early 1970s, the rupee as late as 1993-1994.
  • The two currencies were delinked in 1975.

 

What Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ignores

Article:

  1. Ravichandran Bathranemphasized that the profession of waste removal needs to be made caste-neutral through adoption of technologies.

Important facts:

2. In India, waste carries the stigma that is attached to pollution and caste.

3. The waste remover in India is not a professional, like in the West.

4. PM Modi government announced his government’s agenda to accomplish the vision of a clean India by 2019.

5. According to PM, filthiness all around us, is an obstacle for promoting the tourism that offers jobs to the poorest of the poor.

6. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA):

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) was an unprecedented nationwide initiative aimed to inspire the public to voluntarily clean public spaces as a service to the nation.

7. Loopholes in Swachh Bharat campaign:

  • The campaign hardly addresses a reworking of the underground sewerage system.
  • This is a serious concern because many labourers have died recently while cleaning jammed manholes that open into the sewerage system.
  • As per the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging, mostly from particular caste groups, were reported in 2017.

8. In India, waste carries the stigma that is attached to pollution and caste.

9. In Agraharams (exclusive Brahmin quarters), and even in some non-Brahmin households, for example, toilets are constructed behind the house so that the scavenger is ‘unseeable’.

10. Suggestions:

  • According to the author, western approaches can be followed in India to remove waste systematically.
  • For example, when Londoners experienced the ‘Great Stink’ in 1858, the government realised that it would need a holistic sewerage plan, which would become part of the London water infrastructure, to remove filth and treat waste from the river
  • Punitive measures should exhort the public to learn where and how one should urinate, defecate and dispose of garbage.

 

Educating people about climate change

Article:

  1. Sohini Mitra, Bengaluru-based market research professional, discussed the climate change and its impact in reshaping human lives.

Important facts:

2. Climate Change has the potential to disrupt and reshape lives.  It can impact the health, livelihoods and lives of their families.

3. The UN Sustainable Goals Report, 2018 pointed out that climate change is among the key factors in rising hunger and human displacement.

4. The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heart stress.

5. Much of this loss will be accounted for by low-income groups in developing nations, including India.

6. According to the World Bank, climate change could cost India 2.8% of its GDP, and diminish living standards for nearly half the country’s population, in the next 3 decades.

7. Several initiatives have been implemented to create awareness about climate change such as:

Supreme Court directives:

  • In 1991, the Supreme Court directed the Central government and all State governments to provide compulsory environmental education to all students in schools and colleges.
  • This directive was reiterated in 2003 (M.C Mehta v. Union of India).
  • These initiatives target urban and rural populations.
  • Corporate organisations, research and education institutes, NGOs and foundations have also committed themselves to create awareness about climate change.

8. Hurdles:

  • Most of the nation’s plans for vulnerable populations and finds little space for climate change in their planning strategy.
  • Presently, climate change does not find specific mention in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013.

9. Way ahead:

  • Climate change must receive greater prominence because the lives of a large number of populations are at risk.
  • Need to amend Schedule VII of the Constitution to include climate change as an area for investment.
  • Scaling up current initiatives of the corporate and social sectors to regional or national levels.
  • The National CSR Data Portal reports corporate spends on environment, animal welfare and conservation of resources to be ₹801 crore in 2014-15 and ₹912 crore in 2015-16.
  • The film industry could consider ways to incorporate key aspects of climate change in films.
  • It is need of the hour to educate and equip both rural and urban communities to build resilience against natural disaster, adapt to environmental changes, and manage potential risk.

 

NDRF aid only for severe calamities

News:

  1. The Union government has declared the Kerala floods a “calamity of severe nature”.

Important facts:

2. According to the National Disaster Management Policy, the State governments have to provide disaster relief from their respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRFs).

3. While for a “calamity of severe nature” additional assistance is provided from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

4. There is no provision in the law or rules for the government to designate a disaster as a “national calamity”.

5. Funding of NDRF and SDRFs:

  • The NDRF is funded through a National Calamity Contingent Duty levied on pan masala, chewing tobacco and cigarettes, and with budgetary provisions as and when needed.
  • There is also provision to encourage any person or institution to contribute to the NDRF. However, this source of funding has not been tapped so far.
  • The 14th Finance Commission recommended changes to this structure once the cess was discontinued or subsumed within the GST.
  • However, the government decided to continue with the National Calamity Contingent Duty even in the GST regime.
  • The SDRF corpus is contributed by the Union government and the respective State governments in a 75:25 ratio for general category States and 90:10 for Special Category States.
  • The allocation of the SDRF for each State is done by the Finance Commission and the Centre contributes its specified share each financial year.
  • The Centre share of SDRF is released in two equal installments.
  • Allocation of funds in the recent past:
  • In 2017-18, the Union government released NDRF funds to nine States — Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana — over and above its contributions to their respective SDRFs.
  • Karnataka was the highest recipient of the fund.
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