Society related issues
States told to identify ‘illegal’ immigrants(The Hindu)
What has happened?
The Home Ministry has asked State governments to “capture the biographic and biometric particulars” of illegal immigrants and “restrict them to specified locations.
Collect biometric particulars and restrict people to specified locations
- The letter without mentioning “Rohingya” has asked local authorities to identify those illegal immigrants in possession of Aadhaar cards and begin the procedure to deport them.
- Revised guidelines were meant for all illegal immigrants, including those from Bangladesh and Afghanistan
- The State authorities have been asked to report such cards to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for further legal action.
Tribunal has final say
Identifying an undocumented citizen was a tedious process and the final decision lay with a Tribunal, which is set up in such cases to determine their nationality
India, Pak. call truce over envoys(The Hindu)
What has happened?
The protracted spat between India and Pakistan over harassment of respective diplomatic staff ended on Friday. Both sides will ensure safety of each other’s diplomats, families of diplomats and diplomatic premises
Flurry of note verbales
The exchange between the two countries became heated following daily incidents and at one point, Pakistan even recalled its envoy for ‘consultations’.
Code of Conduct for the treatment of diplomatic/consular personnel,1992
- The bilateral 1992 Code of Conduct urges both sides to “ensure dignity and personal inviolability of diplomatic/consular personnel of the Sending State and their families”.
- This bilateral mechanism is a special instrument to ensure safety and security of Indian and Pakistani diplomats who have the critical responsibility of operating in hostile circumstances.
Pak. wants to inspect Indus projects(The Hindu)
What has happened?
Pakistan has asked India to allow its officials to undertake a tour for inspecting Indian projects in the Indus river basin, which New Delhi said will be arranged in line with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), according to government sources.
- Pakistan made the request during the two-day meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) between the two countries here.
- Both countries stuck to their respective positions over India’s hydropower projects Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai, both in Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian Constitution and Polity
Billed for change(The Hindu Opinion)
What has happened?
The Union Cabinet this week approved six out of the dozens of changes to the contentious National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill that were suggested by a Parliamentary Standing Committee earlier this month. These changes address some of the loudest criticisms of the Bill.
Changes approved by the Cabinet
- Final year MBBS exam merged: The final year MBBS exam is now merged with an exit exam for doctors
- No bridge course AYUSH practitioners: A contentious bridge course for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) practitioners has been axed.
- Increase in the State representation: The amendments cleared by the Cabinet also increase State representation in the NMC from three part-time members to six (against a recommendation of 10 by Parliamentary standing committee), in what seems like a gesture to please the States
- Proportion of regulated seats in private colleges raised: Another amendment that doesn’t go far enough is the decision to raise the proportion of private college seats for which fees will be regulated from 40% to 50%. The fees for unregulated seats could then skyrocket, pushing poorer medical aspirants out of the system
Changes not approved
Heavy control of the government: NMC members are to be picked by a search committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, while the Central government is to be the appellate body for those aggrieved by the NMC’s decisions.
The Challenges in implementation
- Logistics of conducting a single exam: How, for one, will the logistical difficulty of conducting a common final year MBBS examination across the country be overcome?
- Keeping the quality of the bridge course high: Another concern is that under the new amendments States now have the freedom to implement an AYUSH bridge course, even if no longer mandatory. How will the Centre ensure the quality of such courses to prevent a new set of poorly trained doctors from emerging?
The coming days may see many more protests against the NMC Bill, perhaps delaying its passage and prompting further discussion. For a Bill that marks the first major reform in medical education since 1956, such an extended debate is not a bad thing.
What has happened?
Monetary policy transmission improves if friction in the financial system diminishes, according to the findings of a study by the Development Research Group (DRG) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The DRG is constituted by the apex bank in its Department of Economic and Policy Research to carry out quick policy-oriented research on subjects of current interest.
The DRG study — ‘Role of financial frictions in monetary policy transmission in India’ — developed a New Keynesian Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (NK-DSGE) model with an imperfectly competitive banking sector and examined the role of various financial frictions in monetary policy transmission (MPT) in India.
Financial market frictions
The credit channel-based explanation of MPT attributes weak transmission of monetary policy in emerging market and developing economies to the predominance of financial market frictions.
Findings of the study
The study findings show MPT improved as friction in the financial system diminished.
Adjusting the policy interest rate to smooth out the credit cycle exacerbates volatility of inflation and output
Inflation stabilization, a desirable policy
It suggested that inflation stabilization was the most desirable policy option for the RBI as it minimized the welfare loss irrespective of policy rules
Overall, it appears that targeting financial stability through monetary policy rule may not be appropriate for the purpose of economic stabilization.
Kaziranga finds a dozen reasons to be happy(The Hindu)
Indian Rhino (one-horned Rhino)
Scientific name: Rhinoceros unicornis
What has happened?
Kaziranga’s iconic one-horned rhino population has risen by 12 individuals. The latest headcount of the armour-plated herbivore in Assam’s world-famous reserve put the estimated number at 2,413 rhinos. This is an increase of a dozen over the 2015 figure.
Fewer Rhinos due to incomplete grass burning
- Fewer rhinos may have been sighted this time due to the incomplete burning of tall grasses and reeds
- This could be due to high moisture content
- Burning of grasses is necessary for regeneration of low-lying vegetation in the 434 sq. km. park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also faces annual floods.
Data released by the Assam Forest Department show that Kaziranga National Park now has 1,641 adult rhinos, of which 793 are females, 642 males and 206 ‘un-sexed’, which means the gender could not be ascertained.
Census at other places too
- Kaziranga is the second of four habitats where the census was conducted.
- The first was at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary near Guwahati, where the count this time was 102, up from 93 in 2012.
- The census at Manas National Park was over, and it would be done on April 2 in Orang National Park.
In 2005, the Assam Forest Department, in partnership with the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and World Wide Fund (WWF) India, launched the ‘Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020).’
- Goals: The goal is to reduce risks to India’s rhino population by ensuring that the animals are spread throughout multiple parks with favourable habitat to encourage population growth.
- Project partners: Assam Forest Department, the Bodoland Territorial Council, WWF, IRF, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service
Location: Kaziranga, Orang and Manas National Parks and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, India
- Activities:Anti-poaching, monitoring, translocations and community conservation
Rivers, floodplains, cities and farmers(The Hindu)
What has happened?
Floodplains of rivers can provide a new source of water. They are a local, non-polluting, perennial and non-invasive source of water for urban centres. Our work and research on the Palla floodplain scheme which was launched by the Delhi Jal Board in 2016 is a tangible realisation of this idea. The scheme (on a 25 km stretch of the Yamuna) is currently running at half its potential and providing water to about one million people in the city — of a daily requirement of 150 litres per person
Conserve and use plan
- It demands that no more than is recharged by rain and floods each year can be withdrawn from this aquifer
- This ensures that the groundwater level in the floodplains remains steadily above that in the river in the lean non-monsoon months when the river is often polluted
- Drawing out any more water than is recharged can contaminate and eventually finish off this precious resource.
A new Scheme: Use of Floodplains as source of water
- Floodplains can be used as aquifer: If we conserve and use the floodplain, it can be a self-sustaining aquifer wherein every year, the river and floodplain are preserved in the same healthy condition as the year before
- Conserve and use scheme: A socio-economic-environmental scheme, can provide water to urban centres along rivers; it can also engage farmers by providing them an assured income and restore rivers to a healthy condition.
- Income for farmers: Farmers on either side of the river can be provided an assured and steady income
- Farmers can grow food forests: Farmers can grow a food forest, fruit orchards or nut trees but not water-intensive crops on this land. It would guarantee not only a good farming income but also great earnings from the water for the farmers without taking the ownership of the land away from them
- No Need of subsidies: The capital cost for building such a scheme would be minimal (a few hundred crores) and the revenue generated would be able to pay for the costs and for farmers’ income without any subsidy
- Prevention of erosion: Ecologically, a water sanctuary would prevent erosion, heal the river ecosystem, and restore the ecological balance in floodplains
- Rivers can be refilled when water levels decrease in them: Even after withdrawal, floodplains would have enough water to slowly release back into the river in a lean season
- Stop illegal extraction of water: This scheme would help curb illegal extraction of water, stop pollution by local agencies and industries and also encourage cities to be more responsible in their waste management.
This scheme will also help improve the quality of rivers, quality of life for citizens, and at the same time guarantee farmers a healthy fixed income. This is a new scheme of living. This is the philosophy of “conserve and use”.