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Daily Current affairs 19 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair







A blinkered understanding of migration -  Draft Emigration Bill 2019



The litchi link



Serious concerns over Bt brinjal    



India to host UN meet on land degradation in September



Walking the trash talk      




1. A blinkered understanding of migration - Draft Emigration Bill 2019 (The Hindu, Page 10)     


Mains: GS Paper I – Urbanisation


Draft Emigration Bill 2019    



This article provides for a critical analysis of the Draft Emigration Bill 2019 proposed by the Ministry of External Affairs.


Background: Need for the Bill

  • The Present Emigration Act, 1983 has become out dated and fails to take into account the present paradigm shift in the nature of Emigration in India.

  • The large scale migration of our skilled professionals to developed countries, students pursuing higher studies abroad and increasing presence of our nationals in the Gulf for employment, are some of the salient developments which have taken place in recent times.

  • For example, as per the latest World Migration Report published by the International Organization for Migration, India features as the largest country of origin for international migrants; the largest recipient of remittances ; and figures in five of the top 20 migration corridors from Asian countries. The 1983 Act, enacted in the specific context of large-scale emigration to the Gulf, falls short in addressing the wide geo-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic impact that emigration has today.

  • Further, the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", has for the first time recognized migration as a core element of the global development agenda

  • Thus, there is an imperative need for putting in place an enabling framework, institutional and legislative, aimed at efficient management of emigration and to address migration related issues in a comprehensive manner with a holistic approach.


Important Provisions of the Bill

Institutional framework:The draft bill proposes for 3 tier institutional framework with the Ministry of External Affairs as the nodal Ministry.

  • Emigration Management Authority (EMA) to ensure the overall welfare and protection of emigrants. EMA will be led by Secretary level Officer from Ministry of External Affairs.

  • Bureau of Emigration Policy and Planning and Bureau of Emigration Administration: These Bureaus will be led at Joint Secretary level and will take care of day to day operational matters and will be responsible for all emigration related issues as well as welfare and protection of Indian nationals abroad.

  • Nodal Authorities in States and UTs: Coordinate aspects of management related to both emigrants and returnees.

  •  Mandatory Registration: Mandatory registration/intimation of all categories of Indian nationals proceeding for overseas employment as well as students pursuing higher studies abroad.Registration of recruitment agencies and student enrolment agencies has been made mandatory. Sub-agents working with recruitment agencies have also been brought under the ambit of proposed Bill.

  • Offences and Penalties: The proposed Bill also takes into account the increasing incidents of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, illicit trafficking of drugs, and harbouring offenders under the garb of recruitment or those offering emigration services without due process. It provides for stringent punishment, in particular for categories classified as aggravated form of offences with regard to women and children.




The Article highlights that the draft bill has failed to take to take into account the following categories of Emigrants:

  • India reuniting with Family members abroad (who could be Indian Emigrants, non-resident Indians or Foreign nationals). These "dependant migrants" have little economic or political freedom. For example, the recent attempt by USA to repeal the employment eligibility of spouses of highly skilled H1B immigrants.

  • Undocumented Migrants: These are the migrants who may not have left India through Informal channels, rather became irregular on account of expired visas/permits.  These two categories of people are as vulnerable as the students and workers and hence the need for separate provision.

  • Return Migrants: Failure to take into account the return migrants who account for almost 25% of emigrants globally.

  • One Size Fits all Approach: Failure to distinguish between the student enrolment agencies and recruitment agents as the same rules and regulations are applied to these two diverse entities as per the draft Bill.

  • Regulation of Intermediaries: The over-regulation of the intermediaries creates barriers to emigration and increases emigration cost. The increase in the emigration from Bangladesh to West Asia can be attributed to liberal regulation.   


Way Forward

  • The draft bill is more about managing the export of human resources rather than providing humanitarian framework. Thus, there is a need to adopt rights-based approach for all the emigrants from India in order to ensure their safety and welfare.

  • Further, since the global migration is highly dynamic process, we need to formulate the bill which takes into account not just the present challenges but future concerns as well. Such a visionary framework can be adopted in India by taking guidance from the "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration".

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2. The litchi link (The Hindu, Page 9/10)


Prelims: Science & Technology  

Mains: GS Paper III - Science & Technology; GS Paper II – Issues relating to health   


Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)       


Why in News

  • In the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar, which has witnessed close to 350 cases and 103 deaths until yesterday evening, have been attributed to hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar.         

Was it preventable? –

  • The death of 100’s of children could have easily been prevented with some foresight and early care.

  • In 2014, the team saved 74% of sick children through a simple intervention — infusing 10% dextrose within four hours of the onset of illness.

  • Dextrose infusion to maintain the blood sugar level could have been done even as children were being transported to hospitals in ambulances.   

The underpinning cause of epidemic

  • AES is a broad term involving several infections, and affects young children. The syndrome can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. In India, the most common cause is the virus that causes Japanese encephalitis (JE). Health Ministry estimates attribute 5-35% of AES cases to the JE virus.

  • Under-nourished children lack sufficient glucose reserve in the form of glycogen and the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate source is blocked midway leading to low blood sugar level. This causes serious brain function derangement leading to seizures, coma, and death in many cases.

  • Six years ago, a two-member team invited by the State government suspected that a toxin (methylenecyclopropylglycine, MCPG, also known as hypoglycin A) naturally present in litchi fruit was responsible for the mysterious deaths; the Indo-US team confirmed it in 2017.

  • The two-member team found that undernourished children who ate the fruit during the day and went to bed on an empty stomach presented with serious illness early the next morning.

Way forward

AES prevention and cure requires multipronged strategy including long term measures like improving general nutrition and health of children and immediate measures like early care and prevention, sending medical teams to affected regions to attend and administer the preventive and curative care on site.         




3. Serious concerns over Bt brinjal (The Hindu Page 10)


Prelims: Science & Technology

Mains: GS Paper III - Science & Technology


Bt Brinjal      



  • Brinjal or eggplant (Solanum melongena) is the major vegetable crop in India and is vulnerable to many diseases caused by insects, pests, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

  • Brinjal production is extensively affected by the brinjal fruit and shoot borer (FSB, Leucinodes orbonalis). Thus, Bt Brinjal was developed to combat brinjal fruit and shoot borer which impacted its growth.    

  • Cultivation of Bt Brinjal was cleared by Genetically Appraisal Committee which is regulatory body for GM Crops in India but later a moratorium was imposed on Bt Brinjal in 2010 by the Ministry of Environment.   

  • Now, there has been a growing demand to cultivate Bt Brinjal by farmers despite certain concerns with respect to eating of GM food and its unknown long term impact on human health.   

  • In India, Mahyco developed the first Bt brinjal seed but is not able to sell Bt seeds because of the ban imposed by the government. Mahyco is the largest seed company in which Monsanto has 26% stake.         


About Genetically Modified Organism & GM Food

  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using molecular biology techniques.  

  • These plants are modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to plant diseases, germs or improved nutrition content.  

  • GM Foods offers a novel way to improve crop characteristics such as yield, pest resistance, herbicide tolerance. Herbicide tolerance is a plants' ability to withstand a particular chemical herbicide. This allows the farmer to kill weeds while not harming the crops.

  • GMOs can be defined as organisms i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms in which the genetic material i.e. DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.       

  • The technology is often called “modern biotechnology” or “gene technology”, sometimes also “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”.      

  • It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are often referred to as GM foods.   

Concerns highlighted in the Article

Bt Seeds will benefit consumer more than farmers

  • Before the ban, various comments from range of experts were sought as to probable benefit to farmers on growing Bt. Brinjal whose seeds were to be provided by Mahyco.

  • National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research in its report anticipated increase in output of brinjal resulting in fall in prices.

  • This would have benefitted Mahyco and consumers more than the farmers.

  • Increase in demand of Bt Brinjal also might have prompted Mahyco to increase the price of Bt seeds which would have further reduced benefits or profits of farmers.

Biosafety issues

  • Biosafety issues on introducing Bt Brinjal were divided. Some scientists are in favour of introducing Bt Brinjal in the market whereas some of them have expressed serious concerns on the characteristics of such Bt Brinjal including its impact on the environment.

  • Ecologists Madhav Gadgil has warned of contamination of India’s diverse brinjal varieties.  

  • Report of the Task Force on Application of Agricultural Biotechnology by M. S. Swaminathan of 2004 had recommended that no GM crop be allowed in biodiversity-rich areas as biodiversity is critical for nutrition and sustainability

  • Majority of members of Technical Advisory Committee appointed by Supreme Court in the PIL over use of GM crops also recommended a ban on genetically modification of those crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity. India is a centre of origin for Brinjal.    

Nutrition Issues

  • There is no concrete evidence as to long term toxicity of Bt Brinjal. However, there are lots of diverse opinion on the topic.

  • M.S. Swaminathan and V.M. Katoch, then the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research had asked for independent report on long-term chronic toxicity studies before taking any decision on Bt brinjal and had also asked not to rely solely on data provided by Mahyco.  

  • Even state governments did not support the idea to introduce Bt Brinjal in market taking health and nutrition aspects into consideration.

  • The government constituted two Parliamentary Standing Committees in 2012 and 2017. The Committee on Agriculture (2012) and the Committee on Science & Technology, Environment and Forests (2017). Both committees assessed the GM controversy and expressed grave concerns about

  • lapses in the regulatory system &

  • Irregularities in assessment of Bt Brinjal.

  • Further, both standing committees endorsed the idea to label GM foods to protect a consumer’s right to know. However, this proposal was rejected by the government citing practical difficulties in a diverse agricultural market of India.

Way Forward – There is a moratorium on Bt Brinjal as there is no scientific consensus on its safety and efficacy. Now pest have developed resistance to even Bt cotton forcing farmers to spray lethal pesticides. These pesticides have lead to deaths in Vidarbha. Thus, there is a need to know long term impacts on ecology and health on account of bt brinjal.


The government must -

  • gather scientific consensus on commercial use of Bt Brinjal,

  • provide for a logical infrastructure for labeling of GM foods,

  • Ensure farmers benefit through Bt Brinjal

  • Demonstrate use of bt brinjal along with sustainable farming and biodiversity conservation.



4. India to host UN meet on land degradation in September (The Hindu Page 13)    


Prelims: Environment

Mains: GS Paper III – Environment & Ecology


India to host UN Meet on land degradation in September    



India for the first time will host the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September.

It will see participation from at least 5,000 delegates from nearly 197 countries and will be held between September 2 and 14 in Delhi.

About Land degradation

Land degradation is "the aggregate diminution of the productive potential of the land, including its major uses (rain-fed, arable, irrigated, rangeland, forest), its farming systems (e.g. smallholder subsistence) and its value as an economic resource."

The causes of land degradation can be divided into:

  • Natural hazards are the conditions of the physical environment which lead to the existence of a high degradation hazard, for example steep slopes as a hazard for water erosion.

  • Direct causes are unsuitable land use and inappropriate land management practices, for example the cultivation of steep slopes without measures for soil conservation.

  • Underlying causes are the reasons why these inappropriate types of land use and management are practised; for example, the slopes may be cultivated because the landless poor need food, and conservation measures not adopted because these farmers lack security of tenure.

A 2016 report by the Indian Space Research Organisation found that about 29% of India’s land (in 2011-13) was degraded, this being a 0.57% increase from 2003-05.


Consequences of land degradation

The impacts of land degradation and desertification include:

  • Loss of soil organic matter and nutrients.

  • Loss of soil structure.

  • Loss of soil biodiversity.

  • Loss of water holding capacity and water infiltration.

  • Soil pollution.

  • Reduced yields of crops.

  • Reduced land value and resilience to future events.

  • Impact on food security.

  • Reduces ability to adapt to climate change.

SDG Goal 15: Life on Land –


“Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”.

  1. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification: It is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The Convention addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, India is committed to reducing its land degradation and desertification. In fact, India’s goal is to achieve land degradation neutral status by 2030 whereby increases in land degradation would be offset by gains in land reclamation.

  2. Recently government has launched a flagship project, part of a larger international initiative called the Bonn Challenge, to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration (FLR). It will be implemented during a pilot phase of three-and-a-half years in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka. The project will aim to develop and adapt the best practices and monitoring protocols for the country, and build capacity within the five pilot States.

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.


About CoP

  • COP review reports submitted by the Country Parties, detailing how they are carrying out their commitments.

  • India will take over the COP presidency from China for two years until the next COP in 2021.

  • At the previous edition of the COP, India had committed to restore 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.

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5. Walking the trash talk (The Hindu Page 15)     


Prelims: Environment

Mains: GS Paper I – Urbanisation; GS Paper III – Environment


Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016      


 What’s the news?

  • With a one-year deadline set by NGT in March 2018 to ensure full compliance, civic bodies are running against time to streamline waste segregation and disposal in the ‘model wards’. 


Salient Features of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Rules are now applicable beyond municipal areas and extends to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, areas under the control of Indian Railways, airports, airbase, port and harbour, defence establishments, special economic zones, State and Central government organizations, places of pilgrims, religious & historical importance.  

  •  Responsibilities of waste generators have been introduced to segregate waste in to three streams – 1. Wet (Biodegradable), 2. Dry (Plastic, Paper, metal, wood, etc.) and 3. Domestic Hazardous Wastes (diapers, napkins, empty containers of cleaning agents, mosquito repellents, etc.) and handover segregated wastes to authorized rag-pickers or waste collectors or local bodies.

  • All hotels and restaurants to segregate biodegradable waste and set up a system of collection or follow the system of collection set up by local body to ensure that such food waste is utilized for composting.

  • New townships and Group Housing Societies have been made responsible to develop in-house waste handling, and processing arrangements for bio-degradable waste.

  • The government intends to set up waste processing facilities at local levels having a population of 10 lakhs or more.

  • The Government has constituted a Central Monitoring Committee under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to monitor the overall implementation of the Rules. The Committee will meet once an year to monitor the implementation of these Rules.   

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Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Operation sunrise and Kaladan Project


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of the project, overview of Sittwe port, Operation Sunrise.


Context: Operation Sunrise: India-Myanmar target insurgent groups camp in North East.

  • Named Operation Sunrise, the strategy is aimed at hitting militant groups that are impacting both India and Myanmar.
  • It was carried out by the armies of India and Myanmar.
  • In the operation, Other than NSCN (K), the groups hit were Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the the United Liberation Front of Assam, and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB).



In February when the first phase of the Operation Sunrise was launched, the trigger was a threat to the mega Kaladan Project.


About Kaladan project:

The Kaladan project connects Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border.

The project was jointly initiated by India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal platform for cargo shipments from the eastern ports to Myanmar and to the North-eastern parts of the country through Myanmar.

Significance: It is expected to open up sea routes and promote economic development in the North-eastern states, and also add value to the economic, commercial and strategic ties between India and Myanmar. This project will reduce distance from Kolkata to Sittwe by approximately 1328 km and will reduce the need to transport good through the narrow Siliguri corridor, also known as Chicken’s Neck.


Where is Sittwe located?

Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State (which has been in the news for the plight of Rohingya Muslims) in south-western Myanmar. It is located at the mouth of the Kaladan river, which flows into Mizoram in north-eastern India.


Significance of this port for India:

India has for years sought transit access through Bangladesh to ship goods to the landlocked north-eastern States. At present, the only route to this region from the rest of India is a rather circuitous one through a narrow strip of Indian territory nicknamed the Chicken’s Neck in West Bengal, sandwiched between Bhutan and Bangladesh. The new route through Sittwe would significantly lower the cost and distance of movement from Kolkata to Mizoram and beyond.

Sources: the Hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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


Brazil’s slavery ‘dirty list’


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Meaning of dirty list, features, what it contains and significance?


Context: Brazil’s “dirty list” is under scrutiny as major firms have been found to have used legal means to avoid being put on it.


What is the “dirty list”?

It is a registry of employers that have been found by the government to have engaged in slave labour. It gives transparency to a decision already reached by the Brazilian state. Created in 2004, it has been hailed by the United Nations as a key tool in Brazil’s anti-slavery drive.

The list is edited by the Division of Inspection for the Eradication of Slave Labor (DETRAE), a state body staffed by labour inspectors.


How does a company get added to it?

If a labour inspector fines someone for employing slave labour, it starts an internal government procedure where the employer can defend himself.

After all possibility of appeal is exhausted, if the employer is found guilty, his name or the name of his firm is added to the list.


Why is the “dirty list” feared by employers?

Beyond having their brand or names associated with slave labour, employers on the list have their access to credit lines by state banks restricted.

Private banks also use it to gauge credit risk. International buyers concerned with their supply chain also look up names on the list.


Sources: India’s Express.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.


Bt Cotton


What to study?

For Prelims: About GM crops, their production and other Genetic engineering related key facts.

For Mains: Concerns raised over the introduction of GM crops, arguments in favour and against.


Context: Recently, a group of more than 1,000 farmers gathered in a village in Akola of Maharashtra to sow seeds of an unapproved, genetically modified variety of cotton, defying government regulations. The government is now investigating what was planted.


What is allowed?

Bt cotton remains the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in the country.

Developed by US giant Bayer-Monsanto, it involves insertion of two genes viz ‘Cry1Ab’ and ‘Cry2Bc’ from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton seeds. This modification codes the plant to produce protein toxic to Heliothis bollworm (pink bollworm) thus making it resistant to their attack. The commercial release of this hybrid was sanctioned by the government in 2002.


Role of GEAC:

In India, it is the responsibility of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Environment Ministry to assess the safety of a genetically modified plant, and decide whether it is fit for cultivation.

The GEAC comprises experts and government representatives, and a decision it takes has to be approved by the Environment Minister before any crop is allowed for cultivation.

Besides Bt cotton, the GEAC has cleared two other genetically modified crops — brinjal and mustard — but these have not received the consent of the Environment Minister.


What’s the concern now?

The farmers in Akola planted a herbicide-tolerant variety of Bt cotton. This variety (HtBt) involves the addition of another gene, ‘Cp4-Epsps’ from another soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. It is not cleared by GEAC. The farmers claim that the HtBt variety can withstand the spray of glyphosate, a herbicide that is used to remove weeds, and thus it substantially saves them de-weeding costs.


Why it’s a concern?

Genetic changes made in a plant can make it unsafe for consumption, have adverse impacts on human or animal health, or introduce problems in the soil or neighbouring crops. There is an elaborate process of tests and field trials to be followed. Critics of GM technology argue that some traits of genes start expressing themselves only after several generations, and thus one can never be sure about their safety.


What the law says?

Legally, sale, storage, transportation and usage of unapproved GM seeds is a punishable offence under the Rules of Environmental Protection Act 1989. Also, sale of unapproved seeds can attract action under the Seed Act of 1966 and the Cotton Act of 1957. The Environmental Protection Act provides for a jail term of five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for violation of its provisions, and cases can be filed under the other two Acts.


Sources: Indian express.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Speaker of the Lok Sabha


What to study?

For prelims and mains: The office of Speaker, powers, roles, appointment and functions.


Context: Om Birla has been named as the new Lok Sabha Speaker by the NDA. He is elected Member of Parliament from Kota, Rajasthan.


Speaker of the Lok Sabha:

The chairman or the Presiding Officer of Lok Sabha is called Speaker.

The speaker of the Lok Sabha is elected from all other members by simple majority.

Any member of Parliament is eligible to be nominated as a speaker but most commonly the candidate of ruling party or the party with majority wins this post.

However, there are certain cases when the elected Speaker does not belonged to the majority ruling party of Lok Sabha (G. M. C. Balyogi, Manohar Joshi, Somnath Chatterjee).


Functions and Powers of Lok Sabha Speakers:

  • Speaker of Lok Sabha is basically the head of the house and presides over the sittings of Parliament and controls its working.
  • The constitution has tried to ensure the independence of Speaker by charging his salary on the consolidated Fund of India and the same is not subject to vote of Parliament.
  • While debating or during general discussion on a bill, the members of the parliament have to address only to the Speaker.
  • Whenever there is a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha) the Speaker of the Lok Sabha presides over this meeting.
  • The Speaker of Lok Sabha comes at sixth position in the Order of Precedence of Government of India.
  • In the normal circumstances the Speaker does not casts his vote over any matter in Lok Sabha. But when ever there is a tie on votes between the ruling party and opposition, the Speaker at that time can exercise his vote.
  • It is the Speaker who decides the agenda of various discussions.
  • The speaker has the power to adjourn or suspend the house/meetings if the quorum is not met.
  • The Speaker ensures the discipline and decorum of the house. If the speaker finds the behaviour and a member of Parliament is not good, he/she can punish the unruly members by suspending.
  • The Speaker decides weather a bill brought to the house is a money bill or not. In the case Speaker decides some bill as a money bill, this decision can not be challenged.
  • Speaker is the final and sole authority to allow different types of motions and resolutions such as No Confidence Motion, Motion of Adjournment, Censure Motion etc.
  • The Speaker of Lok Sabha does not leave the office just after dissolution of the assembly. He continues to be in the office till the newly formed assembly takes its first meeting and elects the new Speaker.


The Speaker of Lok Sabha automatically disqualifies from his post if:

  • he is no longer the Member of Parliament.
  • if he tenders his resignation to the Deputy Speaker.
  • if he holds the office of profit under central government or any state government.
  • if he is of unsound mind and that too declared by the court of law.
  • if he is declared undischarged insolvent.
  • if he is no longer the citizen of India or voluntarily accepts the citizenship of any other country.
  • if he is removed from the post of Speaker by passing a resolution by majority of the members of Lok Sabha. This is to note that during resolution for removal of Speaker, the Speaker is not in position to cast his vote even if there is tie.


Speaker and the Committees:

  • The Committees of the House function under the overall direction of the Speaker. All such Committees are constituted by her or by the House.
  • The Chairmen of all Parliamentary Committees are nominated by her.
  • Any procedural problems in the functioning of the Committees are referred to her for directions.
  • Committees like the Business Advisory Committee, the General Purposes Committee and the Rules Committee work directly under her Chairmanship. 

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.
  3. Cyber security related issues.


Data Localization


What to study?

For Prelims: What is data localization, Highlights of Srikrishna panel report.

For Mains: Data localisation- Why government wants this? Concerns expressed by stakeholders and possible solutions.


Context:  Commerce & Industry Minister Meets Industry Stakeholders on E-Commerce & Data Localization.

Common issues for discussion include opportunities for India in the growing digital economy, value addition in Indian GDP due to advent of e-commerce, understanding data flows from four aspects – privacy, security, safety and free choice, ownership and sharing of data, gains and costs of cross border flow of data and means to monitor use of data.



What does Data Localization mean?

Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated.


Why data localization is necessary for India?

  • For securing citizen’s data, data privacy, data sovereignty, national security, and economic development of the country.
  • Recommendations by the RBI, the committee of experts led by Justice BN Srikrishna, the draft ecommerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localisation.
  • The extensive data collection by technology companies, has allowed them to process and monetize Indian users’ data outside the country. Therefore, to curtail the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data, data localization is necessary.
  • Digital technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) can generate tremendous value out of various data. It can turn disastrous if not contained within certain boundaries.
  • With the advent of cloud computing, Indian users’ data is outside the country’s boundaries, leading to a conflict of jurisdiction in case of any dispute.
  • Data localization is an opportunity for Indian technology companies to evolve an outlook from services to products. International companies will also be looking at the Indian market, and this will benefit the growth of the local ecosystem.
  • More data centres in India could mean new, power-hungry customers for India’s renewable energy market. That means Data localisation could boost India’s renewable energy.


Policies that imply data localization:

  1. The Srikrishna Committeewants to localise data for law enforcement to have easy access to data, to prevent foreign surveillance, to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India, and because undersea cables through which data transfers take place are vulnerable to attacks.
  2. In April, the Reserve Bank of India imposed a hard data localisation mandate on payment systems providersto store payment systems data only in India.
  3. Barring limited exceptions, telecom service providers are not allowed to transfer user information and accounting information outside India.
  4. Goals set in the Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018, and the Guidelines for Government Departments for Contractual Terms related to Cloud Storage 2017, draft e-commerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localization.


Concerns / Challenges:

  • Several of the recommendations in including the draft e-commerce policy, falter on a key ground like they gloss over the negative economic impact of data localization. This approach exhibits lack of evidence-based policy making.
  • Having data in India does not mean that domestic companies will be able to access this data. Localization might aid the growth of the data centre and the cloud computing industry in India, but as matter of wider public policy, such an approach is extremely myopic.
  • Mandating localization is less of a solution for data protection and might be less relevant to promote e-commerce.
  • Given the comparative trade advantages enjoyed by one section of Indian industry in this context, mandating a strict data localization regime could be perceived as a restrictive trade barrier and spur retaliatory measures.
  • There is a possible rise in prices of foreign cloud computing services in case of a data localisation, and its impact on MSMEs as well as start-ups relying on these services.
  • The possibility of triggering a vicious cycle of data localisation requirements by other countries as a response to India’s possible data localisation will be detrimental for the global data economy.
  • Growth will be restricted if data cannot be aggregated internationally. Infrastructure in India for efficient data collection and management is lacking.


Need of the hour:

  • There is an urgent need to have an integrated, long-term strategy for policy creation for data localisation.
  • Data localisation needs to integrate a wide range of social, political and economic perspectives.
  • Creating an opportunity for local data centres all over the country.
  • Devising an optimal regulatory and legislative framework for data processors and data centres operating in the country.
  • Adequate infrastructure in terms of energy, real estate, and internet connectivity also needs to be made available for India to become a global hub for data centres.
  • Adequate attention needs to be given to the interests of India’s Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries, which are thriving on cross border data flow.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
  2. Conservation related issues.


Forest landscape restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge


What to study?

For prelims and mains: FLR and Bonn challenge- features and significance.


Context: The centre has launched a flagship project on enhancing capacity on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge in India, through a pilot phase of 3.5 years implemented in the States of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.



At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.


What is Bonn Challenge? What is FLR approach?

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.

The 2020 target was launched at a high level event in Bonn in 2011 organised by the Government of Germany and IUCN, and was later endorsed and extended to 2030 by the New York Declaration on Forests of the 2014UN Climate Summit.

The Bonn Challenge is an implementation vehicle for national priorities such as water and food security and rural development while simultaneously helping countries contribute to the achievement of international climate change, biodiversity and land degradation commitments.


Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.

It will create approximately USD 84 billion per year in net benefits that could bring direct additional income opportunities for rural communities.


What is FLR?

  • Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is the on-going process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
  • FLR is more than just planting trees – it is restoring a whole landscape to meet present and future needs.
  • It is long-term because it requires a multi-year vision of the ecological functions.
  • The majority of restoration opportunities are found on or adjacent to agricultural or pastoral land. In these situations, restoration must complement and not displace existing land uses.
  • This result in a mosaic of different land uses including: agriculture, agroforestry systems and improved ecological corridors.
  • It integrates a number of guiding principles, including: Focus on landscapes, restore functionality, Involve stakeholders, Tailor to local conditions and Avoid further reduction of natural forest cover.


Facts for prelims:


World Food India 2019:

The government initiated a biennial event– World Food India to promote food processing sector at global level.

  • The first such event was conducted in 2017 and received wide success.
  • The event created Brand India in global food map by positioning India as a World Food Factory.
  • It was for the first time in India that all major policy makers and top industrialists across the globe in Food Processing Industries were together under one roof.


Summaries of important Editorials:


Unleashing the potential of urban India:

Context: Metropolises are going to be a key feature of India’s urbanisation and will play a crucial role in fuelling growth.


The Global Metro Monitor 2018 reports that 36% of employment growth and 67% of GDP growth were contributed by the 300 largest global metros, with those in emerging economies outperforming those in advanced economies.

Nine Indian metros feature in the top 150 ranks of the economic performance index. By 2030, India will have 71 metropolitan cities, of which seven would have a population of more than 10 million.



Article 243P(c) of the Constitution defines ‘metropolitan areas’ as those having “population of ten lakhs [a million] or more, comprised in one or more districts and consisting of two or more municipalities/panchayats/ other contiguous areas, specified by the governor through public notification to be a metropolitan area”.


Constitutional provisions:

  • It recognises metropolitan areas as multi-municipal and multi-district entities.
  • It mandates the formation of a Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for preparing draft development plans, considering common interests between local authorities, objectives and priorities set by Central and State governments, and investments likely to be made in the area by various agencies.
  • To ensure the democratic character of the MPC, it is mandated that at least two-thirds of the members of the committee must be elected by and from among the elected members of the municipalities and chairpersons of the panchayats in the metropolitan area, proportionate to the ratio of their respective populations.
  • The size and manner of filling such seats are left to the State’s discretion.


Issues with MPCs:

  • Only nine out of 18 cities mandated to form MPCs have constituted them. 
  • Where constituted, their functionality is questionable, with the limited role of local elected representatives raising further questions on democratic decentralisation. 
  • Thus, the provision for an MPC has not introduced robust governance of metropolises, as the metropolises continue to be a collection of parastatals and local bodies in an entirely fragmented architecture.


What can we learn from the UK model?

The U.K. has rolled out ‘City Deals’, an agreement between the Union government and a city economic region, modelled on a ‘competition policy style’ approach. 

The city economic region is represented by a ‘combined authority’.

This is a statutory body set up through national legislation that enables a group of two or more councils to collaborate decisions, and which is steered by a directly elected Mayor. 

This is to further democratise and incentivise local authorities to collaborate and reduce fragmented governance, drive economic prosperity, job growth, etc. 

‘City Deals’ move from budget silos and promote ‘economic growth budget’ across regions.