9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 4th, 2019

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana(MKSP)

News:Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers has informed Lok Sabha about the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana(MKSP).


About Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana(MKSP):

  • Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) is a sub component of the National Rural Livelihood Mission(NRLM).
  • The primary objective of the scheme is to empower women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also create and sustain agriculture based livelihoods of rural women.
  • The Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development is implementing the scheme.

Objectives of MKSP:

  • To enhance the productive participation of women in agriculture;
  • To create sustainable agricultural livelihood opportunities for women in agriculture;
  • To improve the skills and capabilities of women in agriculture to support farm and non-farm-based activities;
  • To ensure food and nutrition security at the household and the community level;
  • To enable women to have better access to inputs and services of the government and other agencies;
  • To enhance the managerial capacities of women in agriculture for better management of biodiversity;
  • To improve the capacities of women in agriculture to access the resources of other institutions and schemes within a convergence framework.

Additional information:

About Women in Agriculture:

  • Rural women form the most productive workforce in the economy of the majority of the developing nations including India.
  • Agriculture which is the single largest production endeavour in India, contributing to 16% of the GDP is increasingly becoming a female activity.
  • Agriculture sector employs 80% of all economically active women which they comprise of 33% of the agricultural labour force and 48% of self employed farmers.
  • However,women in Agriculture are generally not able to access extension services and production assets like seeds, water, credit, subsidies among others.
  • Hence,the MKSP scheme aims to empower women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also to create and sustain their agriculture-based livelihoods.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

News:The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been celebrated worldwide on 3rd December 2019.


About International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

  • The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly.
  • The day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities.
  • The theme for 2019 is Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.

Additional information:

Initiatives taken by United Nations:

United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy:

  • The United Nations had launched the Disability Inclusion Strategyin 2019 in line with its commitment to make the UN an inclusive organization for all.
  • It provides for the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD):

  • The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 and it came into force in 2008.
  • The convention aims to ensure that disabled people enjoy the same human rights as everyone else and that they can participate fully in society by receiving the same opportunities as others.

Initiatives taken by Indian Government:

About Accessible India campaign:

  • Accessible India is a nation-wide Campaign launched by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in 2015.
  • It aims to provide universal accessibility to persons with disabilities.
  • It focuses on developing an accessible physical environment, transportation system, and Information & communication ecosystem.

Right of Persons with Disabilities Act,2016:

  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 had replaced the PwD Act,1995.
  • The act has created a progressives right based framework for the welfare of differently abled persons.
  • The act have increased the types of disabilities from 7 (as in PwD Act, 1995) to 21 and the Central Government has been empowered to add more types of disabilities.
  • The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the State Commissioners act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and also monitor implementation of the Act.

Note:Article 41 of the Indian Constitution provides that the State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development make effective provision for securing the right to work, to educa­tion and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.

Power of Siberia gas pipeline cements China-Russia bond

News:Chinese President and Russian President have inaugurated the “Power of Siberia” gas pipeline.


About the Gas Pipeline:

  • Power of Serbia is the first cross-border gas pipeline between Russia and China.
  • The central aim of this gas pipeline is to pump natural gas to China and Russia’s far-east regions.
  • Under this pipeline project,Russia will deliver 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China over the next 30 years.
  • From Siberia to China’s Yangtze River delta in Shanghai, the massive pipeline will cover 8,000 km with 5,111 km inside China passing through nine provinces and municipalities.

Significance of the project:

  • The new gas production centers in eastern Russia is expected to provide additional opportunities for the acceleration of socio-economic development in eastern regions primarily through gas grid expansion.
  • For China, the significance of the pipeline project is that it will feed its industries which are mostly situated in the north.
  • The project will also allow China to move away from coal to cleaner alternatives as the pipeline supply will help secure its demand for energy security.

Additional information:

Indian and Russian Partnership in Oil sector:

  • India and Russia have signed a five-year road map for cooperation in the energy sector comprising joint development of oil and gas fields in Russia and India including offshore fields.
  • Indian has also planned to expand investments in Russian oil refining projects due to political tension in the Middle East that is affecting energy supplies.
  • Indian companies have invested more than $10 billion in major Russian oil projects.

National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan(NOSDCP)

News:Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) and Chemicals & Fertilizers has informed Lok Sabha about the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan(NOSDCP).


About National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan(NOS-DCP):

  • The National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan(NOS-DCP) was originally promulgated in 1996 and subsequently updated to include additional information.The latest updation was in 2014.
  • The Indian Coast Guard is the designated national authority for oil spill response in Indian waters under the National Oil Spill-Disaster Contingency Plan(NOS-DCP).
  • However,the NOS-DCP comes under the purview of the National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Objectives of the plan:

  • To establish an effective system for detection and reporting of spills;
  • To establish adequate measures for preparedness for oil and chemical pollution;
  • To facilitate rapid and effective response to oil pollution;
  • To establish adequate measures for crew, responders, and public health and safety, and protection of the marine environment;
  • To establish appropriate response technique to prevent, control and combat oil pollution and dispose-off the recovered material in an environmentally sound manner
  • To establish record-keeping procedures to facilitate recovery of costs.
  • To maintain the evidence for the purpose of identifying the polluter and taking suitable administrative, civil or criminal action against the polluter.

Additional information:

About Oil Spill:

  • Oil spill is the contamination of seawater due to an oil pour as a result of an accident or human error.
  • Oil is among the most important energy sources in the world and because of its uneven distribution,it is transported by ships across the oceans and by pipelines across the lands.
  • This has resulted in several accidents in the past while transferring the oil to vessels, during transportation, breaking of pipelines, as well as while drilling in the earth’s crust.

About Indian Coast Guard:

  • The Indian Coast Guard is a multi-mission organization entrusted with superintendence and policing of India’s maritime areas including the Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • ICG was formally established in 1978 by the Coast Guard Act,1978 as an independent Armed force of India.It operates under the Ministry of Defence.
  • The organization is headed by the Director General Indian Coast Guard (DGICG).

When is the oath taken by a Minister (in)valid?

News:During the oath-taking ceremony of the Maharashtra government,the Chief Minister with other ministers altered the oath by invoking the names other than mentioned in the Constitution.


Constitutional provisions related to Oath:

Article 164(3):

  • It states that before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out in the Third Schedule.
  • Article 164 also makes it clear that the text of the oath is sacrosanct and the person taking the oath has to read it out exactly as it is, in the given format.

Third Schedule:

  • It requires the taker of the oath to either swear in the name of God or to solemnly affirm to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution.

Role of the Governor:

  • Once Governor takes it as read and the Secretary to the Governor has attested that the oath has been administered,it cannot be legally challenged.
  • However,if the person deviates from the text,it is the responsibility of the Governor to interrupt and ask the person being sworn in to read it out correctly.

Examples of Deviation in Oath:

  • In 1990, the oath by Devi Lal as deputy prime minister was challenged in the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional as the Constitution provides only for the Prime Minister and ministers.
  • However,the Supreme Court upheld the oath as valid and stated that describing a person as Deputy Prime Minister is descriptive only and such description does not confer on him any powers of Prime Minister.
  • It also ruled that the description of a minister as Deputy Prime Minister or any other type of ministers such as minister of state or deputy minister of which there is no mention in the Constitution does not vitiate the oath taken by him so long as the substantive part of the oath is correct.

Explained: What is GDP and why it matters

News:Recently,due to a decline in India’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth rate,the ruling party has questioned the merit of the basic variable used to map economic growth that is, the GDP.


Origin of GDP and GNP:

  • The modern-day definitions of GDP and GNP can be traced back to Simon Kuznets who was entrusted with the task of creating National Accounts in 1933 by the then US President Franklin D Roosevelt.
  • The final report called National Income(1929-32) was presented to the US Congress in January 1934.
  • However, the origins of GDP as a concept date far back.The man credited with inventing the concept is William Petty (1623-1687),an Englishman who was a professor of anatomy at Brasenose College.

About GDP:

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.
  • It includes all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments, private inventories, paid-in construction costs and the foreign balance of trade (exports are added, imports are subtracted).
  • The GDP is calculated using this standard formula which is C + I + G + (X-M).
  • However,the GDP is slightly different from the other commonly used statistic for national income the Gross National Product(GNP).

About GNP:

  • The Gross National Product (GNP) measures the monetary value of all goods and services by the people and companies of a country regardless of where this value was created.
  • It is the total value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a particular year, plus income earned by its citizens (including income of those located abroad) minus income of non-residents located in that country.
  • The formula to calculate the components of GNP is C + I + G + (X-M) + Z.

Significance of GDP:

  • The Gross Domestic Product(GDP) as a measure sums up more information about an economy than any other variable.For instance, countries with higher GDPs have citizens with higher incomes and better standards of living.
  • However,one can point out variations and suggest that a country ranked 1 in GDP is ranked 9 in GDP per capita but these divergences would be relatively small when data is seen at a global level.
  • Hence,it helps not to depend overly on just the GDP of a country but it is also not a good idea to disregard it as a measure.

Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) Scheme

News:Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing the Development of PVTGs scheme for comprehensive socio-economic development of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups(PVTGs).


About Development of PVTGs scheme:

  • The Scheme for Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups(PVTGs) is implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It was first started in 1998-1999 for exclusive development of PVTGs and then later revised in 2015.
  • The scheme aims at planning their socio-economic development in a comprehensive manner while retaining the culture and heritage of the community by adopting habitat development approach.
  • Under the scheme, State Governments submits Conservation cum Development(CCD) plans on the basis of their requirement.
  • The plan is then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and then 100% grants-in-aid are made available to States as per the provisions of the scheme.

Additional information:

About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group(PVTG):

  • The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups(PVTGs) are the marginalized section of the Scheduled tribes of India.
  • They are a section who are relatively isolated, educationally and socio-economically backward living in a habitat far away from amenities.
  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission had created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as PVTGs. However,they are not a Constitutional category nor are these constitutionally recognized communities.
  • The criteria followed for determination of PVTGs are (a)pre-agriculture level of technology (b)stagnant or declining population (c) Extremely low literacy and d)subsistence level of economy.
  • Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12) and among others.

GST Council rings first alarm bells on revenue

News:The GST Council has written to states telling them that the GST and compensation cess collections are unlikely to be met this year.


About GST Compensation Cess:

  • A cess is a tax that is levied by the government to raise funds for a specific purpose.
  • As part of the GST reforms, the GST Compensation Cess has been introduced through the GST (Compensation to States) Act, 2017.
  • According to the Act,states are guaranteed compensation for any revenue shortfall below 14% growth (base year 2015-16) for the first five years ending 2022.
  • The GST Compensation cess has to be paid every two months by the Centre to states.
  • However,due to a shortfall in tax collections,the Centre is unable to compensate states for loss of revenue.

What is the way forward?

  • The GST Council has decided to comprehensively review the tax structure in the wake of growing revenue concerns.
  • The review will include exempted items,GST and compensation cess rates and revenue augmentation measures.
  • However,since the compensation cess is imposed only on luxury and sin goods under GST, any measure to generate more cess collections would either include imposing a higher cess on those items or tinkering at the highest 28% tax slab under the indirect tax regime.

Additional information:

About GST Council:

  • Goods & Services Tax(GST) Council is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax.
  • As per Article 279A (1) of the constitution, the GST Council was constituted by the President.
  • The council consists of the following members: (a) The Union Finance Minister is the Chairperson (b) The Union Minister of State in-charge of Revenue of finance and (c) The Minister In-charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government.

Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System(PPRTMS)

News:Election Commission of India (ECI) is set to implement the Political Parties Registration Tracking Management System(PPRTMS).


About the registration system:

  • The registration tracking system is being implemented to help the applicants track the process of registration of political party.This system will be effective from 1st January,2020.
  • The system will be implemented through an online portal to facilitate tracking of status of application by applicants.
  • The applicant will be able to track the progress of his / her application for registration of political party by providing contact mobile number and email address of the party.

Additional information:

About Registration of Political Parties:

  • The Registration of Political parties is governed by the provisions of Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • A party seeking registration under the said Section with the Commission has to submit an application to the Commission within a period of 30 days.
  • The application should be as per the guidelines prescribed by the Election Commission in the exercise of the powers conferred by Article 324 and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act,1951.

Arsenic and iron in water: 30,000 rural habitations affected, 20,000 in two states

News:Ministry of Jal Shakti has tabled the data on water contamination in the Parliament.


Key takeaways from the data:

  • As of November 27,2019, 3.22% of the rural habitations across all states and UTs which accounts for 3.73% of the population were consuming drinking water with quality issues.
  • Iron is the most common contaminant of drinking water followed by salinity, arsenic, fluoride and heavy metal.
  • Rajasthan has the highest number of rural habitations affected by contamination overall.Most of these are affected by salinity in drinking water.
  • West Bengal has the highest number of rural habitations affected by arsenic contamination followed by Assam.
  • Further,Assam has the highest number of rural habitations affected by iron contamination followed by West Bengal.
  • The States and UTs that are not affected by any of these contaminants include Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu.

Additional information:

About Jal Jeevan Mission:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections (HarGharJal) to all rural households by 2024.
  • The mission is being implemented by the Jal Shakti Ministry.
  • The Mission focuses on integrated demand and supply-side management of water at the local level.
  • It implements source sustainability measures recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, rain water harvesting.
  • The Mission also seeks to converge with other Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water supply management across India.

How seeds are planted from a helicopter or with darts

News:The Delhi High Court has asked the forest authorities whether planting of seeds could be done by throwing dart shots containing them from helicopters into forest areas.


What is Aerial Seeding?

  • Aerial seeding is a technique of sowing seeds by spraying them through aerial mechanical means such as a drone,plane or helicopter.
  • Aerial seeding is adopted because it is quicker and more effective than planting manually.It also allows access to areas where the terrain is rocky or at high elevation.
  • However,Aerial Seeding is generally achieved not with darts but by spraying seeds through an aircraft or a drone.

About Dart Seeding:

  • Dart seeding is used with the same broad objective as aerial seeding for a plantation in inaccessible areas.The process involves throwing darts containing seeds onto open ground.
  • A variation of dart seeding was used in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in the late 1990s but not with a helicopter.
  • Under Dart Seeding,the Forest Department used a long iron rod to access ground that could not be reached due to thick cover of shrubs.Seeds were put into the rod,which had a small opening at the other end.
  • When the rod was inserted and then removed,the soil would cover the seed unlike in aerial plantation when seeds are thrown into open ground.
  • Hence,if dart plantation is done from a low-flying helicopter,seeds have a relatively better chance of survival as they reach deeper into the ground.
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