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Daily Current affairs 13 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

SL. NO.

TOPICS   

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

India, Pak officials to meet at Wagah for Kartarpur

13

2

Ethanol pumps maybe opened soon

16

3

Game of chicken that can end in disaster

10

4

ISRO’s lunar touchdown has dry run on soil fetched from Tamil

01

5

India, Russia discuss space cooperation

13


 

Title

India, Pak officials to meet at Wagah for Kartarpur  (The Hindu Page 13)

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations and  History 

Mains: GS Paper II –International relations 

Theme

Kartarpur corridor 

Highlights

  • Guru Nanak (29 November 1469 – 22 September 1539) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.

  • His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik Pooranmashi, the full-moon day in the month of Katak, October–November.

  • Guru Nanak's words are registered in the form of 974 poetic hymns in the holy text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib, the Asa di Var and the Sidh-Ghost.

  • It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Guru Nanak's sanctity, divinity and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them.

  • Guru Nanak was born on 29 November 1469 at Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī (present day Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan) near Lahore.

  • His parents were Kalyan Chand Das Bedi, popularly shortened to Mehta Kalu, and Mata Tripta. His father was the local patwari (accountant) for crop revenue in the village of Talwandi.    

The Kartarpur Corridor is a proposed border corridor between the neighbouring nations of India and Pakistan, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (in Punjab, Pakistan).

Currently under planning, the corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively, as part of the Delhi–Lahore Bus diplomacy.

The corridor will reportedly be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.

Currently pilgrims from India have to take a bus to Lahore to get to Kartarpur, which is a 125 km journey, despite the fact that people on the Indian side of the border can physically see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the Pakistani side. An elevated platform has also been constructed for the same on the Indian side, where people use binoculars to get a good view

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Title

Ethanol pumps maybe opened soon  (The Hindu Page 16)

Syllabus 

Prelims: environment 

Mains: GS Paper III Economy and environment  

Theme

Ethanol 

Highlights

Ethanol as a fuel

  • The use of ethanol as a fuel for internal combustion engines, either alone or in combination with other fuels, has been given much attention mostly because of its possible environmental and long-term economical advantages over fossil fuel.

  • The use of ethanol as an automobile fuel is as old as the invention of the internal combustion engine itself. Ethanol was examined as an automotive fuel by Nikolas A Otto in 1897 during his early engine studies. Brazil has been using this fuel since 1920s.

  • Ethanol can be combined with petrol in any concentration up to pure ethanol (E100). Anhydrous ethanol, that is, ethanol without water, can be blended with petrol in varying quantities to reduce the consumption of petroleum fuels, as well as to reduce air pollution.

  • Ethanol is increasingly used as an oxygenate additive for standard petrol, as a replacement for methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE), the latter chemical being responsible for considerable groundwater and soil contamination. Ethanol can also be used to power fuel cells and to produce bio diesel.

  • Ethanol, an alcohol fuel, provides high quality, high octane for exceptional engine performance and reduced emissions. Ethanol has been used in cars since Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T to operate on alcohol.

Some facts about ethanol as a fuel

  • With a 113 octane rating, ethanol is the highest performance fuel on the market and keeps today's high-compression engines running smoothly.

  • Because the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions.

  • Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered a renewable fuel.

  • Ethanol-blended fuel keeps the fuel system clean for optimal performance because it does not leave gummy deposits.

  • Ethanol helps prevent wintertime problems by acting as a gas-line antifreeze.

Ethanol as a fuel in India

  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) issued a notification in September 2002 for mandatory blending of 5 % ethanol in 9 major sugar producing states and four union territories from 2003.

  • In 2008, the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy established a National Policy on Biofuels to limit the country's future carbon footprint and dependence on foreign crude. Under this, the blending level of bio-ethanol at 5 % with petrol was proposed from October 2008, leading to a target of 20 % blending of bio-ethanol by 2017.

  • It also laid down a roadmap for the phased implementation of the programme. This was taken up by the oil marketing companies (OMCs) in 20 states and 4 union territories. The government has fixed the interim refinery gate price of ethanol at Rs.27 per litre.

 Challenges faced in using Ethanol as a fuel in India

  • The major source for production of bio-ethanol in India is from molasses, a by-product of sugarcane. The availability is hence dependant on the cane and sugar production that are cyclical in nature.

  • Ethanol has many other alternative uses such as potable alcohol and use in chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Hence its use as a fuel faces stiff competition from such uses.

National biofuel policy

In order to promote biofuels in the country, the Union Cabinethas approved National Policy on Biofuels, 2018. The policyexpands the scope of raw material for ethanol production,thereby aims to reduce dependency on crude oil and at thesame time enhance the income of farmers, besides promoting acleaner environment and providing health benefits.

Category of Biofuels

  • The Policy categorises biofuels as "Basic Biofuels" and “Advanced Biofuels”.

  • Basic Biofuels comprise First Generation (1G) bioethanol and biodiesel.

  • Advanced Biofuels comprise- Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) todrop-in fuels + Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc.

  • This category has been done to enable the extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentivesunder each category.

Drop-in fuels are those renewable fuels which can be blended with petroleum products, such asgasoline, and utilized in the current infrastructure of pumps, pipelines and other existing equipment.

Scope of rawmaterial

The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of –

  • Sugarcane Juice,

  • Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet,

  • Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn,

  • Cassava,

  • Damaged food grains like wheat,broken rice,Rotten Potatoes etc. unfit for human consumption.

Usage ofSurplus foodProduction

  • The policy allows the use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol for blending withpetrol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.

  • This measure will benefit farmers who can now get appropriate price for their produce during thesurplus production phase.

Viability gapfunding

  • With a thrust on Advanced Biofuels, the policy indicates a viability gap funding scheme for 2ndGeneration ethanolbio-refineries of Rs.5000 crore in 6 years, in addition to additional tax incentives, higher purchase priceetc. as compared to 1stGeneration biofuels.

Supply chainMechanisms

  • The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from nonedibleoilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops.

Roles andResponsibilities

  • Roles and responsibilities of all the concerned Ministries/Departments with respect to biofuels havebeen captured in the policy document to synergise efforts.

 

Benefits -

Saving of forex

  • The policy will entail more supply of ethanol which will reduce the pressure for importing crude oil resulting in saving of forex in the country.

  • Ethanol supply of around 150 crore liters in 2017-18 alone have saved foreign exchange worth over Rs. 4,000 crores.

CleanerEnvironment

  • The policy promotes the ethanol production, usage of which helps in controlling emission of CO2in the environment.

  • Further, by reducing crop burning and conversion of agricultural residues/wastes to biofuelsthere will be a further reduction in Green House Gas emissions.

HealthBenefits

  • Prolonged reuse of Cooking Oil for preparing food, particularly in deep-frying is a potential healthhazard and can lead to many diseases.

  • Used Cooking Oil is a potential feedstock for biodiesel and its use for making biodiesel willprevent diversion of used cooking oil in the food industry.

Infrastructuralinvestment inRural Areas

  • Addition of 2G bio refineries across the country will spur infrastructural investments especially in the rural areas.

EmploymentGeneration

  • One 100klpd 2G bio refinery can contribute 1200 jobs in plant operations, Village Level Entrepreneursand Supply Chain Management.

AdditionalIncome toFarmers

  • By adopting 2G technologies, agricultural residues/waste which otherwise are burnt by thefarmers can be converted to ethanol and can fetch a price for these wastes if a market isdeveloped for the same.

  • Also, farmers are at a risk of not getting appropriate price for their produce during the surplusproduction phase. Thus, conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can help in pricestabilization.

Addresssupply-sideconstraints

  • The policy primarily tries to address supply-side issues that have discouraged the production ofbiofuels within the country.

Cost reduction

  • Availability of more raw material to be used as inputs to produce ethanol will reduce the cost ofproducing biofuels and improve affordability for consumers, particularly during times when oil pricesreach discomforting levels.

StrategicImportance

  • Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of theGovernment such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers greatopportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction,Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation etc.

  • NBP is a step towardsEnergy security and reduced dependence on fossil fuel imports.

 

 

 

Title

Game of chicken that can end in disaster (The Hindu Page 10)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II – International relations 

Theme

US Iran Conflict 

Highlights

Context:

  • The editorial talks about the ongoing U.S. - Iran conflict & this editorial should be seen as part of the continued converage of US - Iran tensions. 

  • Recently, Iran announced that it would begin enriching uranium above a concentration of 3.67% permitted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

  • This is after Iran announced that it had breached the limit of the 300 kg of enriched uranium stockpile that was allowed by the JCPOA. 

  • These steps by Iran is further fuelling its confrontation with U.S. & is leading towards a game of chicken.

 

Title

ISRO’s lunar touchdown has dry run on soil fetched from Tamil  (The Hindu Page 1)      

Syllabus 

Prelims: science and technology 

Mains: GS Paper III – science and technology  

Theme

  ISRO Lunar surface simulation

Highlights

What is the news?

  • The news highlight about the testing of Chandrayaan-2 mission’s Lander named VIKRAM and Rover named PRAGYAN which was conducted by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by creating a Proto-Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) at its advanced satellite testing unit, ISITE, in Bengaluru almost a decade ago.   

  • The testing facility was prepared by modifying a balloon research lab which was about 30-40 metre high, long and wide. 

  • In those times, sending a lander and rover for moon was a distant dream and had low priority among other important works to be carried on by ISRO. ISRO was then trying to execute the cryogenic stage for its GSLV MkII rocket indigenously without any foreign help.    

Challenges in testing the landing of Lander & Rover   

  • The first challenge was to equip the proto-Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) with lunar features including create atmosphere like moon including having lunar soil with almost all its features and texture, lunar temperatures, low gravity and the same amount of sunlight as on the moon.      

  • Thus, having 60-70 tonnes of lunar soil became a major challenge whose procurement cost from US was $150 per kg. 

  • ISITE’s parent, the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) did buy a small amount of simulated lunar soil from the United States for testing but soon decided to find its own solution at a lower cost. 

  • The team then decided to take soil from Sithampoondi and Kunnamalai villages near Salem in Tamil Nadu as these soil had anorthosite rock that somewhat matched lunar soil in composition and features.     

Anorthosite, type of intrusive igneous rock composed predominantly of calcium-rich plagioclase feldspar. All anorthosites found on earth consist of coarse crystals, but some samples of the rock taken from the Moon are finely crystalline. Most anorthosites have formed during Precambrian times.         

  • Anorthosite rock was broken into micro granular pieces as was required by team of ISRO. At the LTTF, the team spread the soil trucked in from Salem up to a height of about 2 metres. Studios were hired to illuminate the facility exactly as sunlight would play on the lunar terrain. 

  • After creating necessary lunar conditions including soil, testing of these rover and lander began as the 27kg rover was supposed to move for almost 500 metres during its expected life of 14 Earth days which is equivalent to one lunar day.       

Rover tests began as early as in 2015. The ISRO team had to reckon with the weak lunar gravity which is about 16.5% of Earth’s gravity. The rover’s weight was artificially reduced using helium balloons.      

 

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Title

India, Russia discuss space cooperation (The Hindu Page  13)

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II – international relations

Theme

India-Russia Relations

Highlights

INDIA & RUSSIA RELATIONSHIP 

  • India-Russia cooperation is based on the solid foundations of the 1971 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation, 1993 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, 2000 Declaration on Strategic Partnership and 2010 Joint Statement elevating the Partnership to a Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin also held their first informal Summit in the city of Sochi in the Russian Federation in May, 2018. India and Russia had designated their relationship as Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership whereby they share the view that India and Russia have an important role to play in contributing to an open and equitable world order, recognition of each other’s respective roles as major powers, common responsibilities for maintaining global peace and stability and building a multipolar world order.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS 

  • India and Russia intend for the need to reform the UN Security Council to better reflect the current world order and make it more effective in dealing with emerging global challenges. Russia reiterated its support to India for Permanent Membership in an expanded UNSC.

  • Russia has reaffirmed its support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is currently being opposed by China. 

  • India and Russia expressed the serious concern about the possibility of an arms race in outer space and of outer space turning into an arena for military confrontation. Both countries intend that the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), would avert a grave danger for international peace and security.

COMMERCIAL & CONNECTIVITY COOPERATION 

  • India and Russia intend to increase two-way investment to USD 30 billion by the year 2025, whereby both countries would also support to promoting bilateral trade in national currencies. 

  • India and the members of the Eurasian Economic Union intend to expedite the negotiation process for a Free Trade Agreement. 

  • Russia will augment implementation of Priority Investment Projects in the spheres of mining, metallurgy, power, oil & gas, railways, pharmaceuticals, Information Technology, chemicals, infrastructure, automobile, aviation, space, shipbuilding and manufacturing of different equipment. 

  • India has invited Russian companies to participate in the development of industrial corridors in India, including in areas of road and rail infrastructure, smart cities, construction of wagons and creation of a joint transportation logistics company. Russia has offered its expertise in tax collection based on satellite navigation technologies for the realization of joint projects in India including in the framework of above mentioned industrial corridors. 

  • India and Russia reaffirmed their commitment for the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) by finalizing pending issues related to customs authorities, development of road and rail infrastructure & financial facilitation. 

  • India and Russia have also recently agreed to mutually share the mandatory inspections/regulations requirement to be fulfilled at the time of exporting/importing of any product so that any delay related to such inspection could be reduced. 

  • India and Russia intend to further institutionalize cooperation between Indian States and Russian Regions. Both countries intend for direct contacts between business, entrepreneurs and governmental bodies with aim of signing of agreements between Assam and Sakhalin, Haryana and Bashkortostan, Goa and Kaliningrad and Odisha and Irkutsk. 

  • India and Russia support to companies from both sides for development of cooperation and exploring opportunities for joint development of oil fields in the Russian territory, including arctic shelf of Russia shelf of the Pechora Sea & Okhotsk Sea. 

  • India-Russia would setup measurement data collection ground stations of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System NavIC and the Russian Navigation Satellite System GLONASS in the territory of the Russia and India respectively. 

  • India and Russia reaffirmed their commitment in the construction of the remainder of the six power units at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant as well as for having components manufacturing for localization. Both countries would also expedite the implementation of the MoU on trilateral cooperation in implementation of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project in Bangladesh.

POLITICAL & SECURITY COOPERATION 

  • India and Russia had completed the first ever TriServices Exercise INDRA 2017. This was India’s first triservices military exercise. Both countries also engage in Joint Military Exercises – INDRA Navy, INDRA Army and Avia INDRA. 

  • India and Russia signed a contract for the supply of the S400 Long Range Surface to Air Missile System from Russia to India. The purchase was pushed forward by achieving a waiver from US CAATSA law which sanctioned defence engagement with Russia. 

  • India and Russia denounce terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated the need to combat international terrorism with decisive and collective response without any double standards. Both countries condemned all kinds of state support to terrorists including cross border terrorism and providing safe havens to terrorists and their network. 

  • To combat the threats of chemical and biological terrorism, both countries support the need for launching RAU’S IAS FOCUS SPECIAL EDITIONS | MAINS COMPASS (C3CURATION) for CSE 2019 18 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS multilateral negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism.


Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act, 2019 or HR 1044

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: What is green card? Recent changes proposed and impact of these changes.

 

What is it? It is a Bill passed by the US lawmakers aimed at lifting the current seven per cent country-cap on issuing Green Cards.

 

Key changes proposed:

  • As per the present system, out of the total number of family-based immigrant visas to be given by the US in a particular year, the people of a country can be given a maximum of seven per cent of such visas. The new Bill seeks to increase this seven per cent per-country limit to 15 per cent.
  • Similarly, it also seeks to eliminate the seven per cent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas.
  • It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.
  • The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a per centage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers) and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals from other than the two countries that get the largest number of such visas.
  • As per another provision of the Bill, not more than 85 per cent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

 

Impact:

The Bill will create a first-come, first-served system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling the US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs, regardless of where they were born.

 

How will this law help the Indian IT professionals working there?

Lifting the per-country cap on Green Card would mainly benefit high-tech professionals on H-1B work visas from countries like India, for whom the wait for Green Card is more than a decade.

Under current rules, citizens of India are getting about 25 percent of all the professional employment green cards each year. If this bill becomes law citizens of India will get more than 90 percent of the professional employment green cards.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

1.Indian Constitution- Important amendments and parts.

2.Salient features of RPA.

 

10th Schedule of the Constitution

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of 10th schedule of the constitution, dismissal, exceptions and judicial review of the decision.

For Mains: Significance of anti- defection law, concerns associated with its misuse and measures to improve its transparency.

 

Context: 10 MLAs from Karnataka may face disqualification for anti-party activities and defying whips. The ball is now in speaker’s court as he has powers to invoke the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the Anti-defection Act.

 

What is the anti-defection law?

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.

It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.

The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.

The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.

 

Disqualification:

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  1. Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  2. Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  3. If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  4. If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

 

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

 

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

 

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  • Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  • Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  • Promotes party discipline.
  • Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  • Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  • Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

 

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

  1. Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to following cases:

A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party

A member abstains from voting, or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.

 

  1. Law Commission (170th Report)

Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.

Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection

Political parties should limit issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

 

  1. Election Commission:

Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

Mains Question: What are the main features of India’s anti-defection law? Also examine interpretations and recommendations made by the courts and committees on the law. Do you think, instead of the Speaker, the decision on defections should be decided by an external neutral body such as the Election Commission? Comment


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Private member’s Bill calls for two-child norm

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Concerns and issues associated with the proposed two- child policy.

 

Context: A nominated MP has introduced a private member’s Bill- Population Regulation Bill, 2019- in the Rajya Sabha, seeking to enforce a two-child norm by giving incentives for those adopting the small family practice and penalties for those contravening it.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  1. It suggests that people with more than two living children should be “disqualified” from being chosen as an MP, MLA or a member of any body of the local self government after the commencement of the Act.
  2. Similarly, it suggests that government employees should give an undertaking that she or he will not procreate more than two children.
  3. It says those government employees who have more than two children on or before the commencement of the Act should be exempted.
  4. Other penalties include reduction in subsidies on loans and interest rates on savings instruments, reduction in benefits under the public distribution system, and higher than normal interest rates for availing loans from banks and financial institutions.
  5. The provisions of the Bill also list out several benefits for Central and public sector enterprise employees who adopt the two-child norm “by undergoing sterilization operation himself or of the spouse”.

 

Criticisms related to two- child policy:

  1. India is a country with a booming technology industry, one that relies on young people. There is fear that, by restricting the number of children that can be born, there will not be enough educated young people in the next generation to carry on India’s technological revolution.
  2. Critics also argue that the population growth of India will slow down naturally as the country grows richer and becomes more educated.
  3. There are already well-documented problems with China’s one-child policy, namely the gender imbalance resulting from a strong preference for boys and millions of undocumented children who were born to parents that already had their one child. These problems risk being replicated in India with the implementation of their two-child policy.
  4. By interfering with the birth rate, India faces a future with severe negative population growth, a serious problem that most developed countries are trying to reverse. With negative population growth, the number of old people receiving social services is larger than the young tax base that is paying for the social services. In this case, taxes must be increased and young people risk contributing way more than they will receive in the future.
  5. The law related may also be anti-women. Human rights activists argue that, not only does the law discriminate against women right from birth (through abortion or infanticide of female fetuses and babies), but divorce and familial abandonment are at risk of increasing if a man with a large family wants to run for political office. In addition, women in India are, by and large, uneducated and illiterate and, as such, are often unaware of the two-child policy.
  6. A legal restriction to two children could force couples to go for sex-selective abortions as there are only two ‘attempts’. A significant proportion of such women, especially those from lower socio-economic strata, would be forced to go for unsafe abortions because of issues of access and affordability. Besides being inhumane, this is bound to create gender imbalances.

 

Are urgent and aggressive steps to control population required for India?

  • It is indeed a fact that population of India is growing and will continue to grow for the next couple of decades. This is because, as compared to the past, there is a higher proportion of people in the marriageable age group who will produce children, and people are now living longer.
  • However, the fertility rates are also declining. The average number of children that a woman is expected to bear in her lifetime is called the total fertility rate (TFR). A TFR of about 2.1 is considered as replacement-level fertility – if achieved, it will lead the population to stabilise in the long run.
  • As per National Family Health Survey data, the country-level TFR in India is 2.23, which is not hugely above the desired level of 2.1.
  • Twenty states/UTs have achieved the replacement-level TFR, another five have got it below 2.2, with the remaining 11 states (including Bihar, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh) having a higher rate. Though these 11 states/UTs accounts for 42% of country’s population, they are already showing a fall in their TFRs.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Mains Question: In 2050, India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion, which will be higher than that of China. Do you think with Population Regulation Bill, India be able to handle its overpopulation crisis? Critically analyse. 


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

 

Global MPI 2018

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of MPI.

For Mains: Highlights, key findings and significance of the report, concerns for India and measures needed to reduce the poverty.

 

ContextGlobal MPI 2019 Report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

In the 101 countries assessed– 31 low income, 68 middle income and 2 high income –about 1.3 billion people are “multi-dimensionally poor“.

 

Definition of MPI poor: 

Multi-dimensional poverty defines poor not only on the basis of income, but on other indicators, including poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence.

 

Key findings:

India specific:

  1. Incidence of multidimensional poverty almost halved between 2005-06 and 2015-16, climbing down to 27.5%, indicating that the number of poor people in India fell by more than 271 million within ten years.
  2. Incidence of multidimensional poverty halved in India due to faster progress among the poorest in the country. Among states, Jharkhand had the greatest improvement, with Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland only slightly behind.
  3. However, Bihar was still the poorest state in 2015- 16, with more than half of its population living in poverty. In 2015-16, the four poorest states – Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh – were home to 196 million multidimensional poor people – over half of all the people living in multidimensional poverty in India.
  4. Least poor regions also saw reduction in poverty. Relative to their starting levels, they netted some of the highest rates of reduction. For example, Kerala, one of the least poor regions in 2006, reduced its MPI by around 92%.
  5. The positive trend of pro-poor poverty reduction was seen also across religions and caste groups. In both cases, the poorest groups (Muslims and Scheduled Tribes) reduced poverty the most over the ten years from 2005-06 to 2015-16.
  6. The poorest district is Alirajpur in Madhya Pradesh, where 76.5% of people are poor – the same as Sierra Leone in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only eight countries have higher rates of MPI.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Draft tenancy law

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the draft and need for a law in this regard.

 

Context: Centre has proposed a Model Tenancy Law to regulate renting of premises.

 

Highlights of the draft:

  • It mandates the landowner to give a notice in writing three months before revising rent.
  • It advocates appointing district collector as rent authority and heavy penalty on tenants for overstaying.
  • According to it, tenants overstaying will have to pay double the rent for two times and four times thereafter.
  • The security deposit to be paid by the tenant in advance will be a maximum of two months’ rent.
  • Both landlord and tenant will have to submit a copy of rent agreement to the district Rent Authoritywhich will also have the power to revise or fix rent following a request either by landlord or tenant.
  • States will be free to adopt the law owing to land being state subject.
  • States will be required to constitute rent courts and rent tribunal.
  • If the landowner refuses to carry out the required repairs, the tenant can get the work done and deduct the same from periodic rent.
  • landowner cannot enter the rented premises without 24-hour prior notice to carry out repairs or replacement.
  • Landowner cannot cut power and water supply in case of a dispute with the tenant.
  • Rent Authority may direct for compensation on the person responsible for cutting off or withholding the essential supply.
  • The Rent Authority may levy a penalty be paid to the landowner or tenant if it finds that the application was made frivolously or vexatiously.

 

Significance:

It is an important piece of legislation that promises to ease the burden on civil courts, unlock rental properties stuck in legal disputes, and prevent future tangles by balancing the interests of tenants and landlords.

 

Need for a law in this regard:

Young, educated job seekers migrating to large metropolises often complain of onerous tenancy conditions and obscene sums of money as security deposits that they are asked to fork out to lease accommodation. In some cities, tenants are asked to pay security deposits amounting to 11 months of rent. Also, some house owners routinely breach tenants’ right to privacy by visiting the premises unannounced for sundry repair works. Whimsical rent raises are another problem for tenants, many of whom complain of being squeezed as “captive customers“.

Besides, Tenants are often accused of “squatting” on the rented premises, or trying to grab the property.


GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

LaQshya 

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features, objectives and significance of the programme.

 

Context: Government of India has launched “LaQshya” (Labour room Quality improvement Initiative) to improve quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres in public health facilities.

 

About LaQshya:

It’s a multipronged approach focused at Intrapartum and immediate postpartum period.

Aim: To reduce preventable maternal and newborn mortality, morbidity and stillbirths associated with the care around delivery in Labour room and Maternity Operation Theatre and ensure respectful maternity care.

Objectives

  1. To reduce maternal and newborn mortality & morbidity due to hemorrhage, retained placenta, preterm, preeclampsia and eclampsia, obstructed labour, puerperal sepsis, newborn asphyxia, and newborn sepsis, etc.
  2. To improve Quality of care during the delivery and immediate post-partum care, stabilization of complications and ensure timely referrals, and enable an effective two-way follow-up system.
  3. To enhance satisfaction of beneficiaries visiting the health facilities and provide Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) to all pregnant women attending the public health facilities.

 

Following types of healthcare facilities have been identified for implementation of LaQshya program:

  1. Government medical college hospitals.
  2. District Hospitals & equivalent health facilities.
  3. Designated FRUs and high case load CHCs with over 100 deliveries/month (60 in hills and desert areas)

 

Facts for Prelims:

 

‘Kharchi Puja’ Begins in Tripura:

The annual “Kharchi Puja” and festival is meant to cleanse the sins of mortal souls.

Originally a Hindu tribals’ festivity, it is now observed by all communities and religions.

The festival features 14 deities – Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesha, Brahma, Abadhi (God of water), Chandra, Ganga, Agni, Kamdev and Himadri (Himalaya).

This year the Kharchi Puja mela will be celebrated with the theme of ‘Nesha Mukta Tripura and Save Water’.

 

Gafa tax:

What is it? It is a legislation — dubbed the GAFA tax — an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – passed recently by France Parliament.

With this, France has become the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants.

The new law aims at plugging a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits.

The law will levy a 3 per cent tax on total annual revenues of the largest tech firms providing services to French consumers.

 

What is Merchant Discount Rate and why does it matter?

Merchant Discount Rate (alternatively referred to as the Transaction Discount Rate or TDR) is the sum total of all the charges and taxes that a digital payment entails.

 

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