We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
- For previous editions of 9 PM Brief – Click Here
- For individual articles of 9 PM Brief– Click Here
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
- Parliamentary panel flags Fasal Bima plan woes
- the importance of booster dose to plan ahead
- OBC list issue: Quotas solve little
- Medical Educational regulation 2021: Building Consent
- Make House rules more stringent to ensure smooth functioning : Speaker Om Birla
- A Time for Deeper Reform
GS Paper 3
- Can we offer a credible strategy for the reduction of emissions?
- The climate crisis: An opportunity for India
- Why central government schemes to improve financial position of discoms have not worked?
- Animal Spirits Are Back (On upsurge in investment)
- Investing in degraded forest land for the health of our economic system
- An urban jobs safety net
- Bankruptcy code reforms must be handled with special caution
- Why Indian Railways failed to attract private players to run trains?
- Focus on food processing
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- India needs a clear refugee policy based on international principles
- Kaziranga guards equipped with satellite phones
- CEC inaugurates 11th Annual Meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia(FEMBoSA) for 2021
- Vrushka Bandhan Project: A unique initiative by Tribal Affairs Ministry in Aurangabad
- Quality of Life for Elderly Index assesses well-being of India’s ageing population
- In a world first, South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system
- Increasing Cooperative Activities in Agriculture Sector
- EOS-03 mission couldn’t be accomplished due to performance anomaly: ISRO
- RTE Act exemptions hurting minority kids, says NCPCR study
- Our e-com opportunity to raise export earnings
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 2
Parliamentary panel flags Fasal Bima plan woes
Source: Times of India
Syllabus: GS2- Government schemes
Relevance: Analysis of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY).
Synopsis: Issues with PMFBY and recommendations to make it more efficient.
A parliamentary panel has expressed concerns over withdrawal or non-implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY) in few states and held that more such examples will defeat the very purpose of the scheme.
Punjab never joined the PMFBY, whereas Bihar and West Bengal withdrew from it in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Telangana and Jharkhand did not implement the scheme last year.
Panel identified the following issues:
- Decrease in coverage area– The coverage area has decreased from 567.2 Lakh hectares in 2016-17 (highest coverage in the history of crop insurance in India) to 497.5 Lakh hectares in 2019-20. This has happened due to following reasons:
- De-duplication by making Aadhar mandatory
- Announcement of debt waiver scheme by some states
- Land record integration in the states of Maharashtra and Odisha
- Non-implementation/suspension of implementation of the scheme by some states
- Financial constraints and low claim ratio during normal monsoon season
- Delay in claim settlement– Though there is provision of penalties (12% interest rate per annum to be paid by insurance companies to farmers for delay in claim settlement beyond 10 days prescribed cut-off date) it has failed to resolve the problem.
- Make it technology driven: The panel recommended the ministry to make the scheme more technology driven to improve the settlement of claims and make it hassle-free and farmer friendly.
- Return the premium with interest: It also recommended that when the reason for delay is non-payment of subsidy by the state, the premium paid by the farmers be returned along with interest within a fixed time frame.
Terms to know
The importance of booster dose to plan ahead
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS 2 Health
Relevance: To understand the latest developments in the vaccination process.
Synopsis: The COVID crisis, unlike other health issues is new and has devastated the world economies. Recovery from Covid-19 is dependent on faster adoption of the best vaccination process.
- WHO launched an expanded immunization program in 1974, the experience gained through this has greatly helped in vaccine production and rollouts.
- Vaccines may be classified as:
- Live infectious vaccines
- Non-replicating non-infectious vaccines
- The first one contains a live but attenuated virus. They replicate in the body without producing the actual disease. The final effective dose may contain billions and trillions of Viruses. So immune responses to replicating live virus vaccines – both antibody and T-cell immunity – are robust and lost lasting.
- Non-replicating vaccines include commonly known vaccines like DPT, Hepatitis B. In this, a tiny amount of antigen is injected. It may also include stabilizers, preservatives, and adjuvants.
What is the need for a booster dose?
In order to get long-lasting immunity with non-replicating vaccines, we need multiple doses.
Initial doses are given in quick succession. The immune system responds well, but is accompanied by low levels of antibody and T-cell immunity. However, over a period of time, the antibody levels wane away in all individuals. Hence, we need subsequent doses.
There are doses that are administered after ‘priming doses’. Even non-replicating vaccines require priming and boosting. E.g. Tetanus vaccine is given once every 5 to 10 years. The experience shows that booster dose scheduled after 6 to 12 months after priming dose produces a long-term response.
All current Covid-19 vaccines fall in the non-replicating category and hence require booster doses.
The current schedules
- The current doses of all vaccines – J&J, Pfizer, – are only priming doses. After 6 months to 1 year, booster doses will be needed.
- This becomes more important for the elderly, people who have undergone an organ transplant, or have other co-morbidities.
The strategy ahead
- Given the fact that the virus is mutating and becoming deadlier, the pandemic is here to stay. Thus, approvals have been sought by companies like Pfizer for booster doses.
- India faces an ethical dilemma – though booster doses are necessary, this cannot be started till everyone receives priming doses.
- India could plan to give priming dose to everyone and give third or booster dose to special category people. This can then be followed by a booster dose for the rest of the population.
OBC list issue: Quotas solve little
Source: Indian Express TOI TOI
Syllabus: GS 2 – Fundamental rights, Policy making
Relevance: latest developments in the issue of OBC reservation.
Synopsis: Reservation is a sticky issue in Indian politics. The recent move of restoring the rights of States to frame the OBC list (127th amendment bill) is seen by many as a step in the right direction.
Political parties showed unity in passing the bill to restore the right of states to make the OBC list. The clamor for caste census is justified on the following grounds:
- The caste census was last held in 1931 and later discontinued. The government attempted a Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), but its data was not published.
- Parties, ranging from ruling factions and opposition, have demanded the caste census.
- The minister of Home affairs remarked in Parliament that the Government does not wish to enumerate the population caste-wise.
What is the utility of such a census?
Caste has a strong influence on public affairs and access to resources. Even India’s affirmative action is based on caste, so evidence-based policy-making demands caste-wise enumeration. Such data would also maximize the gains of reservation policies.
What are the issues with the current move?
- This bill negates the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment, which said that only GOI can identify OBC groups.
- The youth is leaving agriculture and heading to seek private jobs. As the market is unable to create jobs, political parties are making this an identity issue. Thus, the direction of affirmative action in India has taken a turn towards populism with reservation, becoming a political issue and agenda of many parties e.g. Maratha and Patidar issue.
- Though people are seeking to expand reservations in jobs, the jobs are shrinking. E.g. between 2012 and 2020, the number of people employed by GoI in 79 ministries has shrunk from 3 mn to 1.8 mn.
What is the way forward?
Though there is a need to know the caste data for better policymaking, we should not let the issue be politicized. At the same time, there is a need to strengthen affirmative action through skilling, employment, and other socio-economic interventions.
Medical Educational regulation 2021: Building Consent
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS-2 Government Policies and intervention
Relevance: Concerns of Indian Medical Association (IMA) on draft Postgraduate Medical Educational regulation 2021 & demand of withdrawing that bill
Synopsis: According to the new regulation, there shall be common Counseling for admission to all medical educational institutions including Post Graduate “Broad Specialty courses” on the basis of merit list of “National exit Test”
- The admissions to such programs are based on the post-graduate NEET.
- Half of the seats are based on the All India quota while the rest is under the State governments
What are the concerns/arguments over the present draft?
Draft regulations will leave no discretionary power to the states to manage admissions to state Medical colleges, which rely on state funds. This would make it difficult for the state to provide quality medical services to the local population.
It has been argued that proposed regulations are framed on the same provisions of the National Medical Commission Act 2019 that replaced the Medical Council Act of India. They were the source of friction between the center and state. So these provisions have the potential to become the source of friction between Centre and state professionals
Status of healthcare in India
The Centre plays a critical role in funding, introducing targeted programs to eradicate diseases & to improve the overall healthcare standard across all India. However, health care is a state subject and the implementation of all these have been laid in the hand of states.
What needs to be done?
We have witnessed a declining healthcare system and infrastructure in India, especially during times of pandemics when extreme shortage and unavailability of quality health care was felt. Thus, it becomes important to:
- Bridge the alternative system of medicine with modern medicine without any political and religious interference.
- Involvement of all stakeholders like IMA, State Medical councils, and representation of health care groups
Terms to Know
Make House rules more stringent to ensure smooth functioning: Speaker Om Birla
Syllabus: GS-2 Polity and Governance
Relevance: The article emphasizes the need to strictly follow the rules of the house to ensure its smooth functioning.
Synopsis: Frequent disruptions have been seen in the house, which often stalls the working of the house.
Reasons behind the recent protests
- Pegasus controversy
- Farm Bills
- Other issues
Impact of the deadlocks:
- Parties could not reach a consensus on any particular issue
- No proper respect given to constitutional value and ethics
- Frequent disruptions led to improper function of the house
There is a need to give proper training to house members of parliamentary ethics. It is not a one-time activity but a comprehensive one requiring the collective efforts of all stakeholders. Only this can ensure its smooth functioning.
A Time for Deeper Reform
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger
Relevance: Fighting poverty and ensuring inclusive growth
Synopsis: India should not just rely on redistribution to fight poverty. Faster economic growth is a much better alternative.
India made little progress in poverty reduction between 1952 and 1985. It is only after 1991-92 that India began to make significant progress in fighting poverty. The post-liberalization period lifted over 200 million people out of poverty between 1992 and 2012 on the back of a doubling of India’s GDP growth rate.
- Indian economy was on the decline even before the pandemic hit, resulting in almost 13 quarters of continuous decline in real GDP growth.
- It shrunk by a post-Independence record 7.3% in 2020-21. This contraction was also greater than the 3.3% contraction of the world economy in 2020.
- In other words, India did poorly with respect to both its own past and the rest of the world. The economy is now expected to return to its pre-pandemic level of GDP only in 2022.
- A recent study by researchers at the Azim Premji University estimates that 230 million people may have fallen below poverty measure of Rs 375/day in rural India and Rs 430/day in urban India between January and October 2020.
In other words, the economic contraction of 2020 has reversed a large part of the poverty reduction that was achieved over the past three decades.
Growth prospects for India
Unfortunately, on the most part, both external and domestic conditions look gloomy as of now.
Positives: The economic recovery in the advanced economies will create demand for products from the rest of the world, including India.
- Inflation: There are signs of rising inflation in advanced economies which typically induces a monetary tightening cycle.
- Rise in interest rates: There is rising concern in advanced economies about the need to normalise the monetary policy stance by raising interest rates from their current near-zero levels. As growth and inflation rise in these economies, the pressure to raise rates will only grow. These forces will make foreign capital more expensive.
- Rise in public debt: Public debt levels in advanced economies have risen sharply during the pandemic as they responded to the crisis with debt-financed fiscal expansions. There will be a reduction in spending which will likely reduce demand.
- Fourth, the increase in global oil prices presents yet another external constraint.
Domestic economic conditions:
Domestic economic conditions were already problematic leading into the pandemic and still face following problems:
- The NPA problem in the banking sector has not been resolved, and the economic contraction of last year will have only worsened the situation.
- The uncertainty surrounding the economic environment had already induced an investment slowdown before 2020.
- Vaccine policy has now created additional uncertainty regarding the state of public health going forward.
Given the acute lack of available fiscal resources, the most promising way forward for the government is
- to embrace regulatory reforms in labour and land markets.
- Focus on growth of large-scale low-tech manufacturing. Without reforms that reduce the risks of hiring labour and acquiring land, this sector will not grow.
- Pursue public sector divestment on a war-footing.
The fiscal costs of deep reforms are low, but their economic returns are potentially high.
The key lesson to take away is that the most effective way of helping the poor is faster economic growth. Social welfare programmes that work through redistributive schemes can at best be complementary mechanisms that provide social insurance against bad luck in the labour market or in health. But, in the absence of growth, relying on redistribution to fight poverty only guarantees a lot of poor people.
Terms to know:
GS Paper 3
Can we offer a credible strategy for the reduction of emissions?
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment
Relevance: Understanding India’s strategy for COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) meeting at Glasgow in Nov 2021.
Synopsis: With the recent IPCC report highlighting code red for our planet, India needs to evolve its emission reduction strategy too. A brief look at the India’s current strategy, why it needs changing, associated challenges and potential solutions.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that we are set to exceed the target of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The upcoming COP26 meeting assumes significance in this respect.
India must consider what its strategy should be for the meeting.
India’s traditional view
Traditionally, India has argued that expecting it to cut emissions is unfair because the main cause of global warming is the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to the actions of developed countries. Hence, the burden of reducing emissions should fall mainly on them.
Accordingly, India set its targets in Paris 2015 agreement, but the situation has now changed in the light of recent IPCC report.
Should India change its view now?
Yes. Due to the following reasons:
- Other developing countries have agreed: In light of IPCC 6th assessment report, many countries (including developing ones) have agreed on measures to reduce emissions drastically, we will be under pressure to do the same.
- Technological progress: Also, the central assumption underlying our traditional position, that accepting a reduction in emissions will undermine our development objectives, is no longer valid. Technological changes now make it possible to get almost all the energy we need without any emissions.
|Must Read: IPCC 6th Assessment Report – Explained in detail|
An effective strategy for India
An effective strategy for reducing emissions would involve action on four fronts:
- Increasing the efficiency of energy use in all sectors to reduce our total demand for energy
- Shifting from fossil fuels towards electricity as the final energy carrier in different sectors, like in transport, where all kinds of passenger vehicles including city buses can be electrified and railways.
- Moving away from fossil fuels to renewables, mainly solar and wind, for power generation. These steps can be combined with the fourth one,
- Removing emissions from the unavoidable use of fossil fuels through technologies such as carbon capture or by afforestation.
- Areas where fossil fuel use cannot be avoided: Long-distance freight transported by road, air transport and shipping are some areas where the use of fossil fuel cannot be avoided for some time.
- Industrial processes requiring high temperatures, or in those needing fossil fuel as feedstock, such as cement, steel and fertilizers.
- Grid management: Increasing the share of renewables will pose problems for grid management because of its intermittent nature. Battery storage at grid scale will be essential to stabilize supply to match demand, and this will involve additional costs.
- The energy transition needed calls for close collaboration between the Centre and states.
- Cost-effectiveness: Substituting thermal electricity with green electricity can only work if it is cost-effective.
- Systematic plan to attract investment: Since the scale of India’s demand for batteries for grid stabilization and for electric vehicles will be huge, we need to plan systematically to attract investment in the production of technologically-advanced batteries to meet our domestic demand as well as for exports.
- Green hydrogen: Commercial breakthroughs in the production of green hydrogen in the coming decades may make a big difference too.
- Niti Aayog should be tasked with reviewing studies, consulting stakeholders, and produce a credible transition plan for consideration by the government.
- An important part of the transition should be the phasing out of coal-based generation.
- Massive funding: This transition will require massive investments. The IPCC has estimated that the developing world as a whole will need $600 billion per year up to 2050 for the energy sector alone. India will need $150 billion per year, or about 1.8% of GDP. Some of this will have to come from the central government or its public sector undertakings and some from states, but most from private investors and multilateral development banks.
India should put forward a proposed emission-reduction strategy, based on Niti Aayog’s review of available studies, and offer an emission path based upon a global package that includes adequate access to financing.
The climate crisis: An opportunity for India
Source: Business Standard
Syllabus: GS3 – Environment and Biodiversity
Relevance: Fighting climate change.
Synopsis: Global warming threat has opened a new path to growth for India that will only advance its economic prospects.
IPCC’s 6th Assessment report has unambiguously stated that various significant impacts of climate change have already taken place. These may in fact be irreversible. Also, that the Indian sub-continent is and will be one of the most seriously impacted by climate change.
So the challenge now is to not only adapt to what has already occurred in our planet’s ecology, but to avoid further such consequences that threaten the fragile life sustaining systems.
The global effort will not succeed unless India is part of the solution. Equally, India will not succeed unless global climate change is addressed at the same time.
Apart from this, India will need to be fully and actively engaged in multilateral negotiations to ensure a global regime that enhances rather than limits India’s developmental prospects.
India’s stand at the multilateral negotiations should be aligned with a significantly transformed development strategy domestically to ensure that the positions the country takes at the negotiations carry credibility.
A transformed eco dev strategy
In its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) adopted in 2008, India put forward a comprehensive strategy for environmentally sustainable development. Various components of NAPCC provides the following pointers for a transformed economic development strategy for India:
- Shifting from fossil fuels: A strategic shift from our current reliance on fossil fuels to a pattern of economic activity based on renewable sources of energy such as solar energy.
- Expand energy targets: India should expand its ambitious renewable energy targets, given the declining relative costs of renewable energy vis-à-vis fossil fuels.
- Improving urban mobility and mass transportation: In a densely-populated country, the emphasis has to be on providing mobility rather than encouraging private vehicular ownership. The policy ought to be to heavily tax the possession of private vehicles and invest, on a large scale, in mass transportation networks providing affordable and efficient mobility to the ordinary citizen.
- Promoting sustainable agriculture: NAPCC envisaged a major shift away from a water-intensive, chemical fertiliser and toxic pesticide-dependent intensive agriculture strategy to a water-frugal, micronutrient-based and non-pesticide agriculture. This would address the intense scarcity of water that is beginning to affect all aspects of our well-being, stop and reverse the declining natural fertility of the soil due to over-use of chemical fertilisers and prevent the entry of carcinogenic substances into our food-chains from the use of increasingly toxic pesticides. This shift in agricultural strategy would not only bring about major productivity gains but also address climate change since the current practices are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
India has the opportunity to pioneer a new developmental model that is aligned with the necessities of a climate-constrained world. It cannot pursue the energy-intensive and mass consumption model of advanced economies, which China adopted as well. There is no room in the world for another China-like major economy. India has no choice but to explore a different trajectory.
This will not only advance India’s economic prospects but also make it a powerful voice for persuading other countries to take on much more ambitious commitments, without which the looming climate emergency could overwhelm humanity.
Terms to know
Why central government schemes to improve financial position of discoms have not worked?
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS3 – Infrastructure: Energy
Relevance: issues related to assistance schemes for discom sector
Synopsis: Due to the problems associated with reform-linked assistance schemes, an alternate approach would be to provide only transitional financial support to all discoms, which are privatised under the private-public partnership mode.
Recently, the government launched a new scheme to improve the distribution infrastructure of the distribution companies (discoms) with the primary intention of improving their financial health. Under this scheme, the discoms will be offered financial assistance provided they meet certain laid down criteria.
- Read more: Reform based power distribution scheme
Failure of assistance programs
The recently launched scheme is nothing new, and such assistance programs for discoms have been going on since 2001, when the Accelerated Power Development Scheme was initiated. The government also launched the UDAY scheme in 2015.
The overall principle of all such schemes is broadly the same
- Financial assistance is offered in the form of grants and loans provided some pre-identified parameters are satisfied, indicating better performance of discoms.
- UDAY, however, did not involve any monetary assistance to the states, but only promised to help the states in reducing the cost of power through coal linkage rationalisation, etc.
The problem with all these schemes (including UDAY) is that they have not delivered and the financial position of the discoms has only worsened.
Situation has worsened
- The Power Finance Corporation reports that the aggregate loss of the discoms (after tax) was about Rs 49,600 crore in 2018-19.
- A recent report of Niti Aayog has assessed the losses to be about Rs 90,000 crore in 2020-21
Issues with schemes
- Governance is difficult: The governance of such reform-linked schemes is a complex issue because the performance of the discoms needs to be monitored quarterly to facilitate the release of funds to deserving discoms. The two most popular parameters which are monitored are the loss levels and the difference between the ACS (Average cost of supply) and ARR (Average revenue realised). These parameters keep fluctuating, and it is very difficult to know their trend on a quarter-wise basis, rendering the release of funds to be tricky and cumbersome.
Transitional financial support
An alternate approach that can be considered by the Centre (in lieu of such assistance schemes) is providing only transitional financial support to all discoms, which are privatised under the private-public partnership mode.
- Performance monitoring: The quantum of support can be worked out and the performance of the discom can be monitored over a five-year period.
- The onus would be on the privatised utility to use this support judiciously under the supervision of the regulatory commission.
- Targets: Targets of loss reduction can be laid down on a year-wise basis and if these targets are not met, the privatised utilities would have to bear the loss.
- Incentives: Incentives could also be thought of in case there was over-achievement vis-à-vis the targets.
This is exactly the approach followed in the case of Delhi.
- In Delhi, a transitional support of Rs 3,450 crore spread over five years proved to be exceedingly beneficial since it allowed the privatised utilities some breathing time to bring down their losses.
- On the flip side, one can also mention the case of the first phase of privatisation of discoms in Odisha (late 1990s), which proved to be a failure and one of the reasons often cited was the lack of any transitional support.
Adopting this approach will ensure that the central government moves away from the micro-management of discoms, which inevitably happens if the release of funds is linked to reform-linked parameters on a quarter-wise basis. It would also give an opportunity to try a new approach, different from what was done in the past which clearly has not paid dividends despite the huge quantum of money spent.
Animal Spirits Are Back (On upsurge in investment)
Source: Times of India
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment
Relevance: Private investment to boost economic growth post-COVID
Synopsis: The post-demonetisation, post-GST, and post-Covid economy is witnessing the rise of a new middle sector among Indian companies, that want to grow.
The pandemic that caused economic damage all over the world has led most governments to provide enormous stimulus support for economic growth, and this easy money has triggered a stock market boom.
In just the past seven months, India has created more than 20 unicorns (startups that are valued by investors at more than $1 billion), and the chances of another 20 may be created before the calendar year is over, which is expected to create jobs and demand for various goods and services.
Apart from the foreign capital, following govt reforms have led to this upsurge in investments.
- Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy code 2016
- Aadhaar-enabled financial transactions and digitisation
- Increasing bandwidth for telecom businesses
- Direct and Indirect tax reforms
To this list of favourable reforms and changes we must also add two other game-changing factors of the last five years.
- Huge investment made by Reliance to create two new customer-facing businesses in telecom (Jio) and retail. This not only democratised data usage in India, but created supportive conditions for a rapid expansion in digital businesses in India. Improving bandwidth is now aiding the rise of businesses that are a combination of digital and physical – dubbed as ‘phygital’.
- Government’s decision to abandon its obsession with tax compliance and black money. This has been crucial, as businesses now feel more confident that legitimate money will not be targeted for tax terrorism.
- Improving on Contact Enforcement: We must take steps to improve our ranking in Ease of Doing Business on contract enforcement (Presently, India ranks 163rd).
- Judicial reforms: for quick disposals of commercial cases
Investing in degraded forest land for the health of our economic system
Source: Down to Earth
Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment
Relevance: Importance of effective management of land resources.
Synopsis: Arresting forest land degradation can help India achieve its SDG targets in a most cost-effective manner. Significance of a healthy forest ecosystem and its benefits.
Speaking at the high-level virtual dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought organised by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, Indian PM said that India is on track to restore 26 million hectares (mha) of degraded land in order to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.
Managing land resources is crucial to not only achieving climate targets by way of carbon sequestration and other pathways, but also in securing the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG) equitably.
From this perspective, it is necessary to understand the multiple benefits that are associated with arresting land degradation and desertification, along with their associated economics.
Impact of forest land degradation
Globally, almost 30% of the total land area is degraded and nearly 3 billion people live on degraded land
- The economic cost of land degradation is approximately $300 billion annually (Rs 22 lakh crore).
- Impact on agricultural productivity: Agricultural productivity is heavily dependent on soil fertility and availability of water. An important ecosystem service provided by the forest is to prevent soil erosion and provision, as well as regulate water supply.
- Impact on India:
- India, forest land degradation is affecting rural economy and our ability to combat climate change
- It is also adversely impacting India’s targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Significance of the forest ecosystem
- Impact on multiple sectors: The health of our forest ecosystems has an impact on other sectors such as agriculture, energy, tourism, and health. A World Bank project found that support for small and medium forest improved the quality of dense forest cover, reduced seasonal out-migration by 23% as well as increase cash income
- Human health: Forest health is also linked to human health. Good forest enables water regulation cycles, reducing the microbial load of downstream communities
- Green employment: Forest sector can generate Green employment. Green jobs require low capital investment, generate multiplier effect through purchase of goods and services locally, and remain highly adaptive to changing scenarios. In India, roughly 250 million people are fully or partially dependent on forest and a majority of them belong to economically backward groups. Hence, public works programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 can be used to generate jobs in the forestry sector.
- Fulfillment of SDGs: Green employment will also restrict land degradation and help in the fulfillment of several SDGs.
- Reduction in pandemics: Forest health has a close relation with the outbreak of zoonotic diseases. A strategy consisting of reducing deforestation, restricting wildlife trade and building early detection and control mechanisms can potentially reduce the risk of future pandemics
In light of the benefits of a forest ecosystem, India can, therefore, formulate appropriate economic incentives through public finance schemes and other measures to promote growth in the sector.
In the post-COVID-19 world, pandemic resilience is going to be a significant indicator in maintaining investors’ confidence across all sectors.
As a policy action, arresting forest land degradation is the most cost-effective option to attain various SDGs. This is especially true in urban areas, where the benefits of greening are greatly undervalued.
Understanding the economics of forest land degradation is, therefore, crucial to designing the appropriate policy mechanisms to improve the health of degraded forest ecosystems and restrict human activities in such areas.
Terms to know
An urban jobs safety net
Syllabus: GS-3 issues related to Indian economy and unemployment
Relevance: Impact of COVID on economy & employment
Synopsis: The article signifies the need to formulate a wage employment-based national urban livelihood scheme on lines of MGNREGA.
Impact of COVID on the economy
World Economic outlook report presents a grim picture of the global economy. It states that – all of the world countries excluding China experienced economic contraction last year. Global GDP shrunk by 3.3% and Indian GDP shrunk by 8%. A similar impact can be seen on the unemployment rate
At the same time, an analysis of the Indian economy by the Centre for Monitoring India’s Economy estimates that the unemployment rate in India peaked at 23.5% in April 2020 before falling to 6.9% in February 2021
Rural-Urban Livelihood Divide
Presently, MGNREGA scheme is implemented only in rural areas. Urban areas do not have any guaranteed safety cover. During the Corona pandemic, a large amount of migration was seen to rural areas because of the guaranteed livelihood safety net. There is a need to introduce similar programs for the urban areas on lines of MGNREGA.
Lessons need to be learnt from Himachal Pradesh (HP)
HP launched Mukhya Mantri Shahri Ajeevika Guarantee Yojana (MMSAGY). Its objective was to enhance livelihood security in urban areas by providing 120 days of guaranteed wage employment to every household at minimum wages in FY 2020-21
- Any adult member of a household, less than 65 years of age, willing to do unskilled work is eligible for that scheme.
- The member should be residing in the jurisdiction of the Urban Local Body (ULB)
- Issue of job card within seven days of registration to the beneficiaries & employment is provided within a fortnight
- Compensation of Rs 75/day to a beneficiary in event of failure to provide job within the prescribed time
Insights into the functioning of schemes:
- The scheme can be launched with existing fiscal space or by pooling the resources of the Centre and State together
- Separate minimum wages for rural and urban areas will not cause migration to urban areas because of the high cost of living in urban areas
- The focus must shift from asset creation to service delivery & on enhancing the quality of municipal services
- The scheme will work as an “economic vaccine” and will protect people against unemployment.
- The scheme should be administered at the national level rather than the State level to boost the rural and urban economies.
Terms to Know
Bankruptcy code reforms must be handled with special caution
Source: Live Mint
Syllabus: GS3- Changes in Industrial Policy and their Effects on Industrial Growth.
Relevance: Improving the Insolvency and bankruptcy law.
Synopsis: Rather than focussing too much on haircuts and debt recovery, IBC should focus on maximization of value, as intended originally. Few suggestions for reforming the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016.
- A parliamentary standing committee has called for an overhaul of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016.
- The major concern has been over large haircuts and a high rate of liquidation.
- A haircut refers to the lower-than-market value placed on an asset being used as collateral for a loan.
- While the suggestion to overhaul the law is welcome, it is important to understand the root cause of the problem and address the same.
Too much focus on haricuts
While assessing the effectiveness of the Code, too much emphasis has been laid on haircuts, which is often seen as the only determinant of its success. This approach is wrong due to the following reasons:
- The IBC is not responsible for large haircuts. This is the result of losses in enterprise value. Why should the market pay ₹1,000 for an asset that is worth only ₹100 by the time it comes under IBC?
- Fixing a limit on a haircut is like asking the market to pay a minimum of, say, ₹1,000 for an asset which is worth merely ₹100.
- Nothing except market forces should determine the haircut that creditors must take on their dues.
Should haircuts be fixed?
No. Fixing any benchmark for haircuts will have two harmful effects:
- Firstly, it will incentivize banks to extend riskier loans, as they would be assured of getting a minimum proportion of their dues back.
- Secondly, it will discourage prospective bids for assets, as their market value may not be worth the minimum proposed. This will push companies further towards liquidation. This, in turn, will be terrible for the economy, which is already grappling with high non-performing assets and high unemployment.
Debt recovery was never the objective of this law. The primary objective of the IBC is maximization of value. Even, the Banking Law Reform Committee had noted that value should be determined by net present value calculations.
Recovery should be measured only against the value that’s left in the company on the day it becomes an IBC case.
1]. There is a need to revamp the judicial infrastructure.
- The law must provide a strict timeline for the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to look into insolvency matters.
- The court should also be given legislative guidance on how its powers are to be used, so that there are no judicial delays.
2]. Create a fresh cadre of insolvency and restructuring professionals
- Currently, the work of insolvency professionals is overregulated and most of their energy is wasted on compliance fulfilment. They should be given training on the operational turnaround of stressed companies.
3]. The regulatory regime governing insolvency professionals should encourage pragmatism and business risk-taking.
- It should incentivize ethical conduct. For this, the entry barrier for these professionals should be raised, with focused training imparted at a younger age.
4]. There is a dire need to develop a market for stressed assets so that sales are not a challenge.
- India’s stressed asset market, which is estimated at $115 billion, presents a large opportunity for investors through the IBC process as well as out-of-court alternatives.
- The regulatory regime should allow the entry of global capital to this space and strengthen the process based on best practices observed in better developed stressed-asset markets.
5]. The participation of asset reconstruction companies in insolvency resolutions should be encouraged and not prohibited.
6]. Sixth, the success of any business regulation rests on the effectiveness of the court system. The role of courts should be limited, while their effectiveness and capacity are enhanced.
Terms to know:
Why Indian Railways failed to attract private players to run trains?
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS3- Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.,
Relevance: Issues related to Privatization of Railways
Synopsis: Private sector’s interest should be taken care of if Indian railways (IR) wants to attract private capital.
- On July 1, 2020, the Indian Railways launched the formal process of inviting private parties to run trains on the Indian railway system.
- However, hopes of a large participation were dashed as there were no bids for nine clusters and only two bids for three clusters.
- Even for these three clusters, the only serious bid was by Indian Railways’ (IR) own company IRCTC, which in effect negated the basic objectives of bringing in private capital.
- It is an outcome of the lack of alignment of the interests of IR and the concessioners.
- IR wants the capital and technology without giving up control, while the concessioner wants a far more equal relationship to be moderated by a regulator.
- IR has adopted an organisational design that does not take into account the characteristics and associated risks that will determine outcomes and investment decisions.
Risks and constraints
- The biggest concern is the requirement for a huge investment before a single passenger can be carried. Train sets have to be purchased without really knowing how much traffic the service will be able to attract in the face of rising competition from airlines.
- IR does not guarantee the investor that, in case the concession fails, it will acquire the train sets.
- The other big concern is the absence of a regulator for resolving disputes. The proposed independent engineer is far from satisfactory.
The central issue is how to align the three interests:
- India’s need to be capable of designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art rolling stock (rolling stock in the rail transport industry refers to railway vehicles, including both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches, private railroad cars and wagons)
- IR’s need for private capital participation
- Private capital’s necessity of earning a profit.
These can be aligned provided the following suggestions are taken care of.
- First, reduce the risks for the concessioners.
- Requirement of huge investments in train sets can be eliminated by establishing a company that leases rolling stock not only to concessioners but also to IR.
- Second, reduce the period of the concession to around 15 years from 35 bringing in competition.
- Third, establish a regulator and moderate charges like the amount for the maintenance of tracks and stations.
- Fourth, the rolling stock company, apart from leasing train sets, can also be the window for bringing in new technology.
- For starters, IRFC, which is already into leasing rolling stock, can be that company.
- However, technology transfer calls for the investment of large sums of money and the involvement of universities, research institutes and national laboratories.
- For example, for developing high-speed train technology, the Chinese involved 25 national first-class key universities, 11 first-class research institutes, and 51 national-level laboratories for research, development and production. India will also need to do something similar.
With these changes, the plan may still take off. However, the initiative will remain limited to just running trains if there is no long-term vision.
Focus on food processing
Source: Business Standard
Syllabus: GS3- Food Processing and Related Industries in India- Scope’ and Significance
Relevance: issues related to Food processing sector in India
Synopsis: If India intends to catch up with developed countries where a sizeable part of the produce is processed to add value, then the government needs to address the constraints faced by the food processing industry swiftly.
Of late, the food processing sector is clocking double-digit annual growth. Proactive Governments policy and measures are one of the major reasons for the growth of Food processing sector in India.
However, there is a lot more that needs to be done, as the food processing industry still faces some formidable constraints.
Govt has taken various measures for development of food processing sector:
- The government in recent years have incentivised private investment in the food processing sector to facilitate value-addition of farm produce and reduce its wastage.
- The government’s production-linked incentive has facilitated the availability of world-class food products for the domestic and export market. It will also help in building of global brands to boost exports, which are already rising rapidly but still have untapped potential.
- Another well-thought-out scheme, the one-district-one-product, aims at promoting micro food processing units to capitalize on the popularity of local food products.
The key constraints faced by food processing industry include:
- Various limitations of supply chain infrastructure
- Seasonal production
- Lack of preliminary farm level freshness-retaining treatment
- Small scale of production
- A lack of focus on quality, and
- Compulsion to source the raw material through the mandis run by the agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs)
Need to focus on food preservation techniques
In a country like India where a sizeable part of the population lives in tiny villages with no or difficult access to the market, food preservation is as important as food processing.
- Food preservation has, in fact, been traditionally practised as a means of stretching the availability of seasonal foods in India. Conventional techniques like dehydration (sun drying), pickling (salted pickles or sweetened Murrabas) continue to be the chief methods of food preservation.
There is a need for greater research and development effort to refine the preservation methods to retain the quality and safety of preserved foods by preventing their contamination by hazardous bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
India needs a clear refugee policy based on international principles
What is the news?
Afghanistan is moving towards a Taliban-induced refugee crisis. Major countries are advising citizens to leave. GoI has asked all Indian firms operating in Afghanistan to immediately withdraw their Indian employees. Should Afghanistan descend into civil war, New Delhi won’t be able to shy away from taking a call on accepting Afghan refugees.
India has hosted lakhs of refugees in its 74-year history.
- Tibetan refugees fleeing persecution in communist China – said to number 73,404 in India in 2019
- 59,506 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees staying in 108 camps in Tamil Nadu and Odisha to
- Hosting an estimated 10 million East Pakistani refugees during Bangladesh’s 1971 Liberation War.
|Must Read: India’s refugee problem – Explained|
India’s refugee policy
India doesn’t have a refugee policy.
- It is neither party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, nor does it have a domestic refugee law.
- India has largely stuck, in practice, to the principle of non-refoulement.
Each country has a certain capacity to absorb refugees. But that should be determined through guidelines, principles and data. Besides, if India sees itself as a middle power with deep interests in the South Asian region, it has to deal with the refugee issue as a responsible nation. Having a domestic refugee law will be a start.
Terms to know:
Kaziranga guards equipped with satellite phones
Source: The Hindu
What is the news?
Kaziranga has become the first National Park in India to have been equipped with satellite phones. The satellite phones will be used in pockets of the park’s six ranges with no wireless or poor mobile connectivity.
|Must Read: Kaziranga National Park|
The satellite phones will give an edge to the forest personnel over the poachers and also during emergencies like floods.
Services by BSNL
The service will be provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
Note: The public is barred from using satellite phones in India.
Terms to know:
CEC inaugurates 11th Annual Meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia(FEMBoSA) for 2021
What is the News?
The Chief Election Commissioner of India has inaugurated the 11th Annual meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of SouthAsia (FEMBoSA) for the year 2021.
About 11th Annual meeting of FEMBoSA:
- The Annual meeting was hosted by the Election Commission of Bhutan.
- Participating Countries: India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka (All except Pakistan).
- Theme: “Use of Technology in Elections”.
- Thimphu Resolution: It was unanimously adopted by the FEMBoSA members at this meeting to extend the tenure of the chairmanship to two years during the current pandemic situation.
- FEMBoSA was established at the 3rd Conference of Heads of Election Management Bodies(EMBs) of SAARC Countries in 2012.
- Aim: To increase mutual cooperation in respect to the common interests of the SAARC’s EMBs.
- Member Countries: The Forum has eight Member Election Management Bodies from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Election Commission of India is the current Chair of the Forum.
- Meeting: The annual FEMBoSA meeting is held by rotation among the members.
Objectives of the forum:
- Promote contact among the EMBs of the SAARC countries.
- Share experiences with a view to learning from each other.
- Cooperate with one another in enhancing the capabilities of the EMBs towards conducting free and fair elections.
Vrushka Bandhan Project: A unique initiative by Tribal Affairs Ministry in Aurangabad
What is the News?
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs in partnership with The Art of Living Foundation has launched the Vrushka Bandhan Project in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
About Vrushka Bandhan Project:
Under the Project, tribal women are making Rakhis for Raksha Bandhan with seeds of indigenous trees. This is a unique contribution to increasing forest cover & combating climate change. 1100 members of the MahilaKissanManch germinated this idea.
Key Features of the Project:
- The Rakhis are made of indigenous seeds, stuck on naturally dyed, soft indigenous, non-toxic, biodegradable cotton. Once used, the seeds can be sown in the soil, thereby benefiting the environment.
- It is expected that these seed rakhis can be used to plant thousands of trees, after their use, under this project. The project will provide employment to tribal women associated with the project.
Significance of the Project:
The project is based on Gauadharitparamparagatkheti or Go-Adharith farming techniques. This technique seeks to preserve and revive the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of tribal communities and protect them from the negative effects of chemical agriculture.
Quality of Life for Elderly Index assesses well-being of India’s ageing population
What is the News?
The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) has released the Quality of Life for Elderly Index.
About Quality of Life for Elderly Index:
- Created by: Institute for Competitiveness at the request of EAC-PM.
- Purpose: The report identifies the regional patterns of ageing across the Indian States and assesses the overall ageing situation in India. It also presents a deeper insight into how well India is doing to support the well-being of its ageing population.
Pillars and Sub Pillars of the index:
- Four Pillars: Financial Well-being, Social Well-being, Health System and Income Security
- Eight Sub-Pillars: Economic Empowerment, Educational Attainment & Employment, Social Status, Physical Security, Basic Health, Psychological Well being, Social Security and Enabling Environment.
Key Findings of the Index:
- India is currently enjoying the demographic dividend. But the age group above the age of 65 will become the fastest-growing age group by 2050.
- The share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
- Further, there will be a significantly higher proportion of women than men in the higher age cohort due to higher life expectancy.
- Rajasthan is the top scorer in the aged states’ category, defined as states with an elderly population of more than 5 million.
- Himachal Pradesh leads in the Relatively-Aged States section (below 5 million population).
- Mizoram leads in the North Eastern States category and Chandigarh among all UTs.
- The Health System pillar observes the highest national average, 66.97 at an all-India level, followed by 62.34 in Social Well-being.
- Financial Well-being observes a score of 44.7. It is at a lower stage due to the low performance of 21 States across the Education Attainment & Employment pillar, which showcases scope for improvement.
- States have performed particularly worse in the Income Security pillar because over half of the States have a score below the national average in Income Security, which is the lowest across all pillars.
In a world first, South Africa grants patent to an artificial intelligence system
Source: The Hindu
What is the news?
Recently, South Africa granted a patent to an Artificial Intelligence system named DABUS, for invention of “food containers based on fractal geometry”. The AI has designed interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp.
It should be noted that the UK’s Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office had both rejected patent applications regarding inventions made by DABUS.
South Africa’s decision has received widespread backlash from intellectual property experts. Some have labelled it a mistake, or an oversight by the patent office because the inventor in this case is not a human being.
- Under present patent law, only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application.
- Also, ideas, for the purposes of patents, require the element of “mental conception” — something of which only a human mind is capable.
- Further, inventorship comes with rights, which AI is not legally capable of possessing.
DABUS stands for device for the autonomous bootstrapping of unified sentience, created by Stephen Thaler, a pioneer in the field of AI and programming.
The system mimics human brainstorming and creates new inventions. DABUS is a particular type of AI, often referred to as “creativity machines” because they are capable of independent and complex functioning.
What are Creativity Machines?
Machines which can process and critically analyse data, and learn from it, are referred to as creativity machines. This process is known as machine learning.”Once the machine learning phase has occurred, the machine is able to “autonomously” create without human intervention.
Terms to know
Increasing Cooperative Activities in Agriculture Sector
What is the News?
The Minister of State for Cooperation has informed Rajya Sabha about the Central Sector Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (CSISAC) scheme.
About Central Sector Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (CSISAC) scheme:
- CSISAC scheme is the result of a merger of two erstwhile schemes of 11th Five-Year Plan viz;
- Restructured Central Sector Scheme for Assistance to National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) Programmes for Development of Cooperatives and
- Central Sector Scheme for Education & Training.
- Objective: To provide financial assistance for improving the economic conditions of cooperatives, remove regional imbalances, and speed up cooperative development in agricultural and allied sectors.
- Implementing Agency: Assistance is provided under the scheme through the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)
Key Features of the Scheme:
- Financial assistance is provided under the scheme for marketing, storage, and processing of agricultural produce, besides the supply of agricultural inputs.
- Subsidy to the tune of 15% to 25% is provided to Cooperatives depending on the category of state in addition to the term loan.
- The government also provides a Guarantee for procurement operations of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
- Moreover, assistance is provided for providing training to farmers who are members and employees of various types of cooperative societies through the National Cooperative Union of India(NCUI) and the National Council for Cooperative Training (NCCT).
EOS-03 mission couldn’t be accomplished due to performance anomaly: ISRO
Source: Indian Express
What is the News?
Indian Space Research Organisation’s(ISRO) second mission “EOS-03” faced a setback. It could not be accomplished fully due to a performance anomaly in the cryogenic stage of the rocket.
EOS-03 is a state-of-the-art agile Earth observation satellite. It was launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10(GSLV-F10).
Objectives of the Mission:
- To provide real-time imaging of large area regions at frequent intervals
- To provide quick monitoring of natural disasters
- Furthermore, to obtain spectral signatures for agriculture, forestry, water bodies as well as for disaster warning, cyclone monitoring, cloudburst, and thunderstorm monitoring.
What is the cryogenic stage?
- A cryogenic stage is the last stage of space launch vehicles, which makes use of cryogenics. The word refers to the technology of sub-zero temperature, where production and behavior of materials are studied at below -150 degrees Centigrade.
- A Cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant, compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages.
- However, the cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages. It is because of the use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems.
The anomaly in the cryogenic stage
- According to ISRO, the engines failed to ignite in the cryogenic stage, which was called a “technical anomaly”. Hence, due to this, the mission couldn’t be accomplished as intended.
RTE Act exemptions hurting minority kids, says NCPCR study
What is the News?
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has released a report titled “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities”.
Objective: to assess the impact of exemption of minority educational institutions from implementing The Right to Education policy.
Key Findings of the Study:
- Many students in minority institutions or schools are not able to enjoy the entitlements that are provided to the children of non-minority institutions.
- For ensuring free and compulsory quality education to children, the RTE Act, 2009 provides for norms pertaining to basic minimum infrastructure, number of teachers, books, uniform, Mid-day Meal, etc. Students in minority schools are not receiving these benefits.
- Christians comprise 11.54% of the minority population but run 71.96% of schools, whereas Muslims comprise 69.18% of the minority population but run 22.75% of schools,
- Around 74% of students studying at Christian missionary schools are non-minority students. Further, only 8.76% of total students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Madrasas: According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
- Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious and secular education
- Unrecognised Madrasas: These have been found deficient for registration by state governments, as secular education is not imparted.
- Unmapped Madrasas: These have never applied for registration.
- The report has found the syllabus of these madrasas that have evolved over centuries are not uniform.
- Moreover, Sachar Committee report 2005, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
Recommendations of the Report:
- The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
- The report has also backed reservations for students from minority communities in minority schools.
How are minority schools exempt from RTE and SSA?
- 86th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002: It provided the Right to Education as a fundamental right. The same amendment inserted Article 21A, which made the RTE a fundamental right for children aged between six and 14 years.
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA): It is a central government scheme implemented in partnership with the state governments. It aims to provide useful and relevant elementary education to all children between six and 14 years.
- Article 15(5): In 2006, the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act inserted Clause (5) in Article 15 which enabled the State to create special provisions such as reservations for the advancement of any backward classes of citizens like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in all aided or unaided educational institutes, except minority educational institutes.
- Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009: Section 12(1)(c) of the Act provided for 25% reservation of seats in unaided schools for admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
- However, Article 30 of the Constitution provides for the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, with a view to provide opportunities to children from different religious and linguistic minority communities to have and conserve a distinct culture, script, and language.
- Subsequently, in 2012, through an amendment, the institutions imparting religious education were exempted from following the RTE Act.
- Later on, in 2014, the Supreme Court in the Pramati judgment declared the RTE Act inapplicable to schools with minority status.
For further read – The arbitrariness in Right To Education Act
Our e-com opportunity to raise export earnings
What is the news?
The finance ministry’s report on Indian economy for July indicates that Indian economy is witnessing a revival. Recent rise in consumer demand among the rich nations is providing an opportunity to Indian exporters to expand their market.
Parameters indicating economic revival
- Increase in Purchasing Manager’s Index for manufacturing sector – due to increase in demand as a result of ‘revenge shopping’
- The term ‘revenge shopping’ means spending excessively after a period when one has had limited opportunities to spend.
- Increase in GST collection above Rs. 1 trillion
- Rail freight movement carried goods of 112.7 million tonnes which is highest ever achieved target
- Other indicators like automotive sales, highway toll, e-way bill generation also reflect a revival of the economy.
Opportunity in exports
- India’s recent performance at ports is impressive. Our export shipment has gathered momentum and if this momentum sustains we can achieve our target of $400 billion in merchandise exports for the year 2020-21.
- Even WTO expects the global trade in goods to rise by 8% this year from -5.3% growth in last year.
- Fiscal stimulus in America is offering a robust market for exporter. Increase in household savings in America due to this policy creating a room for expenditure boom in the economy which can have a multiplier effect on other economies too
What needs to be done?
- Removing barriers to our global competitiveness – like high tariffs on inputs, duty inversions of intermediate and ready to use products need to be removed.
- Empowering e-commerce platforms – since there is increase in online spending as a fallout of covid we need to encourage and empower e-commerce platforms to reach richer markets.
- Improving the supply quality and back end operations (backward and forward linkages) for e-commerce entities
Terms to know