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Daily Current affairs 03 March 2019

UPSC Past papers

Sl. No.

Topics

The Hindu

Page No.

1

‘Soft loans to sugar mills poll sop’

03

2

UN Blacklists Osama’s son   

14

3

The lowdown on the Forest Rights Act (Magazine)      

05

4

RCEP nations to intensify talks to conclude trade pact

15

5

Theyyam Art form (Magazine)         

8/9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title

1. ‘Soft loans to sugar mills poll sop’ (The Hindu, Page 3)

Syllabus

Prelims: Economic and social development initiatives

Mains: GS paper, II: social sector initiatives

Theme

Providing loan to sugar mills          

Highlights

What is the news?

  • In a major decision to improve liquidity position of sugar mills and to help the sugar industry clear its cane dues arrears to farmers, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the proposal to provide soft loans to the extent of Rs. 7900-10540 crore to the sugar industry.
  • Government will bear the interest subvention cost @ 7 - 10% to the extent of Rs. 553 crore to Rs 1054 crore for one year. "Interest subvention" means a subsidy offered on interest rates.     

How this will be done?   

  • Government has mandated the banks to obtain from the sugar mills such list of farmers whose cane dues are to be paid along with the farmer’s bank account details. This will help in paying the dues directly in the farmer’s account on behalf of the sugar mills. 
  • Furthermore, in order to incentivize the mills to clear their dues, CCEA has also decided that the approved soft loans will be provided to those units which have already cleared at least 25 percent of their outstanding dues in the sugar season 2018-19.       

Reason for such liquidity crisis

  • Surplus sugar production over domestic consumption requirement during the last sugar season 2017-18 (October, 2017 to September, 2018) has adversely affected the liquidity position of the sugar mills.
  • This resulted in increasing of cane price arrears of farmers which reached to an alarming level of Rs 23232 crores in May, 2018.
  • Surplus sugar production over domestic consumption requirement during the last sugar season 2017-18 (October, 2017 to September, 2018) has adversely affected the liquidity position of the sugar mills.
  • Demand and supply mismatch is the root cause of such huge arrears. 
  • Emergence of alternative sweeteners replacing sugar and increasing health consciousness has resulted in decreasing global sugar demand.
  • While demand growth is decelerating, production has continued to rise due to superior seeds, better productivity of sugarcane per acre and sharply rising sugar recovery over the past decade.
  • Sugar production in India has increased from 24.8 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 32.25 million tonnes in 2017-18 and is expected to touch 35.5 million tonnes in 2018-19. 
  • But the domestic demand remains stagnant at around 25 million tonnes. Increasing mismatch has further depressed sugar prices, resulting in increasing sugar arrears.
  • Revenue of sugar manufacturers depends on the price of sugar and three primary by-products: molasses, bagasse and press mud. Molasses is used for manufacturing ethanol, while bagasse is used in the paper and pulp industry or for cogeneration of electricity surplus which is sold to the state and press mud compost is used as manure by farmers.
  • However, ethanol contributes only 10-15% in total revenue of integrated mills.
  • Sugarcane prices are decided by the government and sugar prices are determined by market demand and supply. Government decides prices without buying either sugar or sugarcane to support the prices it determines, unlike in case of minimum support price (MSP) provided to some farmers
  • Sugarcane prices generally move in upward direction, irrespective of sugar price.
  • Rangarajan committee (2012) proposed decontrol of sugar industry and linking sugarcane prices with market price of sugar to account for this structural imbalance.

Steps taken by the government to improve liquidity of sugar mills

  • Surplus production is also estimated in the current sugar season 2018-19 which has affected the liquidity position of sugar mills resulting in building up of cane price arrears of farmers.
  • In order to improve to liquidity of sugar mills to enable them to clear cane dues of farmers, the Government has taken the following steps:
  • Has increased minimum selling price of white sugar from Rs.29/kg to Rs.31/kg with effect from 14.02.2019.
  • Has allocated mill wise Minimum Indicative Export Quota (MIEQ) of 50 Lakh Million Ton (LMT).
  • Has extended assistance to sugar mills @ Rs.13.88/ quintal for sugar season and has also extended assistance for defraying expenditure towards internal transport, freight, handling and other charges to facilitate export of sugar. 
  • Has extended soft loans to sugar mills through banks to facilitate payment of cane dues of the farmers for the current sugar season 2018-19 for which Government would bear interest subvention of about Rs 553 crore to Rs 1054 crore for one year.

 

Title

2. UN Blacklists Osama’s son (The Hindu, Page 14)  

Syllabus

Mains: GS paper, II: International Relations

Theme

Blacklisting by UN Sanctions Committee

Highlights

What is the news?

  • The UN Security Council has designated Hamza bin Laden, the son of slain Al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, under its sanctions list. 
  • Hamza bin Laden, the son of slain Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, had his Saudi citizenship revoked after United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Sanctions Committee blacklisted the terrorist leader. The UN Security Council also described Hamza as the “most probable successor” of Al Qaeda’s present chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.        
  • Apart from the UNSC blacklisting, the United States government, as a part of its ‘Rewards for Justice’ programme, had also announced a bounty of $1 million for any information that leads to the capture of Hamza.   

What does it mean?

  • The blacklisting of Hamza would mean that he is subjected to a travel ban, freezing of assets along with an arms embargo.  
  • When the UNSC Sanctions Committee freezes the assets of a targeted individual/entity, it is required that all United Nations member governments across the globe immediately freeze the funds, financial assets or any economic resources that come under direct or indirect ownership of the designated individual.   
  • Thus, the travel ban against Hamza implies that his entry or transit in any of the countries that are UN members will be not be allowed in accordance with the travel sanctions.     

Arms Embargo

  • In adherence to the arms embargo that prevents Hamza from acquiring arms and ammunition, all member countries are directed to block the channels that might directly or indirectly facilitate the sale of arms to the Al Qaeda leader. In addition to this, all member states are required to prevent the transfer of arms, ammunition, spare parts, and related paraphernalia to Hamza.  

What else is prohibited?

  • Non material support in the form of technical advice, assistance, logistic support or training in relation to military activities to the designated terrorist by the citizens of UN member countries as well as via flag vessels or aircraft of these countries are also prohibited.     

About UN Security Council

  • The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.    
  • The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement.
  • In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Sanctions Committee 

  • The Security Council can take action to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Sanctions measures, under Article 41 of the UN Charter, encompass a broad range of enforcement options that do not involve the use of armed force.
  • There are 14 ongoing sanctions regimes which focus on supporting political settlement of conflicts, nuclear non-proliferation, and counter-terrorism. Each regime is administered by a Sanctions Committee chaired by a non-permanent member of the Security Council.    
  • Sanctions offer the Security Council an important instrument to enforce its decisions. The universal character of the United Nations makes it an especially appropriate body to establish and monitor such measures.
  • The Council has resorted to mandatory sanctions as an enforcement tool when peace has been threatened and diplomatic efforts have failed.
  • The range of sanctions includes comprehensive economic and trade sanctions and/or more targeted measures such as arms embargoes, travel bans, financial or diplomatic restrictions. 

 

Title

3. The lowdown on the Forest Rights Act (Magazine)  (The Hindu, Page 5)   

Syllabus

Prelims: Social Issues

Mains: GS Paper II – Social Issues

Theme

Forest Right Act

Highlights

 

The forest act 1878 truncated the centuries-old traditional use by communities of their forests and secured the colonial governments control over the forestry. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 was largely based on previous Indian Forest Acts implemented under the British. Both the 1878 act and the 1927 act sought to consolidate and reserve the areas having forest cover, or significant wildlife, to regulate movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.      

 

Forest Related Policy& Act

Salient Features

Constitution of India under section 10 ( 42nd Amendment) Act 1976 Article 48A

The state shall endeavour Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife

Constitution of India under section 11 ( 42nd Amendment) Act 1976 Article 51A

Protect and improve natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life is one of the fundamental duties of every citizen.

Forest Act , 1865

The first Forest Act was enacted in 1865 mainly to facilitate the acquisition of forest areas that could supply timber to the railways without abridging the existing rights of the people.

Forest Policy, 1894

First policy statement aimed at managing the state forest for public benefits. Provided rights and restrictions to the neighbouring population. Allowed local communities to mange inferior forest for fulfilling fodder and grazing needs.

National Forest Policy, 1952

A resolution on the first post-independence Forest Policy was issued in 1952. It emphasized a balance across economic, ecological and social benefits from the forests. It thus proposed to classify the forests on a functional basis into (i) protection forests, (ii) national forests, (iii) Village forests, and (iv) tree lands. The provision of centralised management was continued in this policy.

National Commission on Agriculture ( NCA) 1976

Ushered major shift in the sector. Emphasized need to address the production of industrial wood for forest based industry, defence and communication. Need of business management skill in forest managers. To meet the present and future demands for protective and re-creative functions.

National Forest policy, 1988

It was only about 25 years later that the Forest Policy 1988 underscored community Participation in protection and development of forests. The policy is in effect on date. It is comprehensive document with directives on afforestation, farm forestry, management of forests, rights and concessions, diversion of forest land wild life conservation, tribal communities, forest fire and grazing, forest based industries, forest extension, education, research, personnel management, data base, legal and financial support.

 

 

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 also known as Forest Rights Act.

  • The Forest Rights Act, 2006 is a radical change in the sense that during colonial time forests have all been declared to be owned by government and people living on forest produce, living along the forest suddenly became trespasses. The reality on ground is that these people are not intruders, they have been living in the forest traditionally for generations.
  • Post-Independence most of the forests have degraded and when the government started course correction in 1990 onwards , the idea that people have rights over forest land and forest resources was acknowledged.

 

Basics about Forest Rights Act (FRA):

  • Forest Right Act was enacted by the parliament in 2006 to recognize the claim of Tribals on forest resources and ownership on land.
  • The act Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities and makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.

 

Rights under the Act:

  • Title rights – i.e. ownership to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family, meaning that no new lands are granted.
  • Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  • Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
  • Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife.  

 

Eligibility under the act

  • Primarily residing in forests or forest lands and depending on forests and forest land for a livelihood
  • Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years

 

Who decides?

  • Gram Sabha recommends whose rights should be recognized
  • Recommendations are screened and approved by a screening committee consisting of 3 government official and 3 elected members of the local body.

 

 

 

 

Title

4.  RCEP nations to intensify talks to conclude trade pact (The Hindu, Page 15)

Syllabus

Prelims: Economy, Current Events of International Importance

Mains: GS Paper III – Economy  

Theme

7th RCEP Meet

Highlights

About 7th RCEP Meet  

  • The Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs) attended the 7th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held on 2 March 2019 in Siem Reap, in Cambodia.
  • The Meeting, which was chaired by Chutima Bunyapraphasara, Acting Minister of Commerce of Thailand, reviewed the developments since the 2nd RCEP Summit on 14 November 2018 in Singapore.
  • The 7th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting in Cambodia was also attended by Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu.   

The problem so far

  • The 16-member RCEP bloc aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights. 
  • However, the free trade deal has been stuck in the discussion stage for over half a decade now, and seeks to bring together the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam with their six free trade partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
  • So far, the 16 nations have been unable to arrive at a mutually agreeable conclusion.       

Commitments made

  • The Ministers recalled the Leaders’ determination to conclude a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial RCEP in 2019, and resolved to exert utmost effort to achieve this target.     
  • They commended the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) for the good progress made to date on both market access and text-based negotiations but at the same time recognized that more work still needs to be done to advance both aspects of the negotiations.     
  • The Ministers urged all RPCs to address specific sensitivities while working towards achieving commercially meaningful outcomes.