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Daily Current affairs 23 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

 

Buried in the sands Editorial 23rd Jan’19 TheHindu

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ):

  • The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) consists of designated areas along the coast that are regulated by the government.
  • CRZ regulations were first introduced in 1991 and subsequently revised in 2011.
  • coastal hazard line was established taking into account natural disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
    • The area seaward of this line will have coastal flooding events with a return interval of less than 1 in 100 years.
    • The area landward of this hazard line will be unaffected by 100 years of coastal erosion at present day rates.

 

Draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018:

  • In December, 2018, the government approved the Draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018 of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • The government says it paves the way for a ‘better life’ for coastal communities and add value to the country’s economy.
  • Replaces hazard line with a fixed setback line:
    • By removing the hazard line altogether, the new notification maintains a uniform CRZ of 500 m from the high tide line.
    • In the new 2018 notification, all reference to a hazard line has been removed and is replaced with a fixed setback line.
  • Environmental clearances:
    • Only the most ecologically sensitive areas (CRZ-I) and water areas (CRZ-IV), any development clearance requires MoEFCC approval.
    • State governments will be responsible for regulating urban and rural coastal areas (CRZ-II and III).
  • Relaxations in the CRZ:
    • The CRZ for land adjoining creeks and backwaters is reduced from 100 to 50 m.
    • CRZ 2018 relaxes important restrictions and permits construction in urban CRZ zones and densely populated rural coastal areas.
    • Rural areas have been bifurcated, with greater allowances for more populated areas.
  • Boost to tourism and business:
    • The greatest number of relaxations has been accorded to hotels, resorts and the tourism sector.
    • Big hotels, restaurants, houses, coastal highways and small and large port facilities can now be built closer to the shoreline.

 

Environmental activists oppose the 2018 notification

  • They say that their recommendations were largely ignored while only select government bodies and departments were consulted.

On hazard line:

  • 2011 notification already insufficient:
    • In this, the CRZ extended up to a minimum of 500 m and up to the area of the hazard line if it was found to be beyond 500 m.
    • Activists say the earlier 2011 notification was itself insufficient.
    • Though the 2011 notification recognised that there were areas of high erosion and vulnerability along the coast, few attempts were made to develop this hazard line scientifically or transparently across the country to regulate development.
  • 2018 notification is more riskier:
    • Hazard line has been removed and is replaced with a fixed setback line at a uniform CRZ of 500 m from the high tide line.
    • The CRZ 2018 moved the concept of vulnerability and the hazard line from being at the heart of the regulatory mechanism to an optional appendage in the law.
    • Activists say that some areas along the coast that experience frequent weather-related coastal vulnerabilities like very high storm surges will not get the protection they require.

On tourism:

  • Activists say increased coastal tourism translates into further destruction of lagoons, marshland and other coastal ecosystems and their services.
  • They note that crores of public investment, ecosystems and land are at risk from a one metre rise in average sea levels.

On permitted activities:

  • The CRZ 2018 reduces the list of restricted activities in the ecologically sensitive CRZ-I areas.
  • It changes the original baselines of coastal zones (where it begins and ends, based on high water marks), what makes for a violation and punishments for violations.
  • Activists say that this is problematic as shorelines are already eroding due to sand mining (controlled by mafias) and building of seawalls along the coast.

 

Recent IPCC report highlights risks of climate change:

  • A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for the world to prepare for severe impacts from climate change if average global temperature was to rise above 1.5º Celsius.
  • The effects from rising seas are already visible and will worsen as temperature rises.
  • Countries need to prepare for an increase in the frequency and intensity of very severe storms and accompanying effects on their coasts.

India at high risk:

  • India is expected to experience some of the worst social and economic impacts from climate change.

CRZ 2018 ignores this report:

  • The CRZ 2018 notification from the Cabinet ignores the anticipated impacts from climate change, as highlighted in the recent IPCC report.

 

Conclusion:

  • Activists say that the changes to CRZ have not been towards improving or implementing the law, but rather to reduce regulatory oversight.
  • The legal mechanisms and innovations that became part of CRZ after the 2004 tsunami and coastal vulnerabilities to climate change have been deleted from the CRZ 2018.
  • This could be disastrous for India's coast and the millions who live on it.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Indian Economy

 

Relevant question:

The Draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018 reduces regulatory oversight over the coastal zone and poses great risk to environment and livelihoods. Critically analyze.

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Section : Editorial Analysis

 

Centre’s debt-to-GDP falls, States’ rises

The News:

  • Recently, a Status Paper on Government Debt for 2017-18 has been released by the central government, which provides a detailed analysis of the Overall Debt Position of the Government of India.
  • According to the status paper, the Centre is moving in the right direction (that is, centre's total debt is decreasing) in terms of meeting the K. Singh Committee recommendations on public debt, while the States are moving in the opposite direction (that is, states' combined debt is increasing).

 

What is debt- to- GDP ratio?

  • The debt-to-GDP ratio is the ratio of a country's public debt to its gross domestic product (GDP), which is often expressed as a percentage.
  • The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates its ability to pay back its debts. It can also be interpreted as the number of years needed to pay back debt if GDP is dedicated entirely to debt repayment.
  • A high debt-to-GDP ratio may make it more difficult for a country to pay external debts, and may lead creditors to seek higher interest rates when lending.

 

Background

N.K Singh Committee

  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Review Committee headed by NK Singh was appointed by the government to review the implementation of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2003.

Key Recommendations:

  • The combined debt-to-GDP ratio of the centre and states should be brought down to 60% by 2023 (Centre-40% and states-20%).
  • For fiscal consolidation, the centre should reduce its fiscal deficit to 2.5% by 2023.
  • The central government should reduce its revenue deficit to 0.8% by 2023.
  • It advocated formation of Fiscal Council to ensure fiscal prudence in accordance with the FRBM.
  • The committee recommended fiscal flexibilities to go above or below the fiscal deficit targets in the form of ‘escape clauses’ (0.5% for fiscal deficit target). The ‘Escape Clause’ is the flexibility to adjust with cyclical fluctuations (boom/recession) and is used (in the case of recession) where temporary and moderate deviations can be made from the baseline fiscal path.
  • Inflation Targeting (IT) regime and Fiscal Rules (FRs) have to interact with each other to ensure growth and macroeconomic stability in a complementary manner.

 

News Summary:

Key Points from the Status Paper:

  • According to the status paper, the Centre’s total debt as a percentage of GDP reduced to 46.5% in 2017-18 from 47.5% in 2014.
  • However, the total debt of the States has increased to 24% in 2017-18, and is estimated to be 24.3% in 2018-19.
  • From 2014 to 2017-18, Centre’s total debt increased 45%, and the total debt of the States increased almost 63% (India's GDP is also increasing, so despite increase in total GDP, the debt-to-GDP ratio has decreased).

(There is no need to memorise the exact figures of debt changes. These are mentioned for basic understanding and clarity)

  • Reason for increasing state debts:
    • Under the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), the scheme launched in 2015, the state DISCOMs transferred 75 per cent of their debt to the government. This has statistically increased the debt burden on states and worsened their fiscal position.
    • Suggestion:
      • States should use their cash surpluses (parked as investment in treasury bills of the Central government) and reduce the quantum of market borrowings.

 

 

The type of question that can be asked in UPSC prelims:

Question (UPSC prelims, 2015)

A decrease in tax to GDP ratio of a country indicates which of the following?

1. Slowing economic growth rates
2. Less equitable distribution of national income

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answer: b

 

 

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Section : Economics

 

ILO urges universal labour guarantee

The News

  • Recently, a report on the ‘Future of Work’ was released in Geneva to mark 100 years of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
  • The report has been released after 15-month review by a 27-member commission set up in 2017.

 

About International Labour Organization (ILO)

  • It was established in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. It was intended to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.
  • India is a founder member of ILO.
  • The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.
  • Head Quarters : Geneva, Switzerland
  • Aim: To promote social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights.
  • Functions: It sets international labour standards, develops policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men and improving working conditions and social rights of all employees.
  • Nobel Prize: In 1969 , for promoting reforms that strengthen the cause of peace by reducing social injustice.
  • The ILO registers complaints but does not impose sanctions on governments for violating international rules.

 

Summary of ‘Future of Work’ report

  • According to ILO, around the world, 190 million people are unemployed, while 300 million workers live in extreme poverty.
  • There is declining wage growth and growing wage gaps.
  • The report has outlined the challenges caused by new technologies, climate change and demography and made recommendations regarding that for governments, employers and unions across the world.
  • There has been increase in job losses, as skills become obsolete in light of increased reliance on artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics.
  • There could be creation of 24 million new jobs in implementing Paris Climate Agenda ( the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal), but 6 million workers are estimated to lose their jobs in the transition to a greener economy.
  • According to the report, there is an urgent need of policy intervention by the governments and other stake holders.

 

The commission recommended

  • A human-centered approach that will make people and their work the focal point of economic and social policy, as well as business practice.
  • Establishment of a universal labour guarantee that protects workers’ fundamental rights.
  • Guaranteed social protection from birth to old age that supports people’s needs over their life.
  • A universal entitlement to lifelong learning that enables people to skill, reskill and upskill.
  • Reshaping of business incentives to encourage long-term investments.
  • A human-in-command approach to artificial intelligence.
  • An International governance system to protect the gig economy (short-term contracts or freelance work) to ensure that ‘digital labour platforms’ such as Uber and Swiggy respect certain minimum rights and protections of the workers.
  • To reduce inequalities, the development of the rural economy should become a priority.
  • Adequate living wages, limits on working hours and work safety norms.

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Section : Social Issues

 

SC to take ‘in-chamber’ decision on Art. 35A plea

The News

  • The Supreme Court announced that it will be taking an “in-chamber” decision (a decision issued from the justice's chambers without a formal court proceeding) on the listing of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35 A and Article 370.

 

What is Article 35 A?

  • Article 35A was incorporated in the constitution by a presidential order under article 370 in 1954 on the advice of the Cabinet. 
  • Article 35A provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Article 35A gives the J&K Legislature, full freedom to decide the ‘permanent residents’ of the State and grant them special rights and privileges in-
    • State public sector jobs
    • Acquisition of property in the State
    • Scholarships and other public aid and welfare programmes
  • The provision also provides that any act of the State legislature coming under the ambit of Article 35A cannot be challenged for violating the Indian Constitution or any other law of the land.

 

 

Arguments against Article 35 A

  • Article 368 (i) of the Constitution allows only the Parliament to amend the Constitution. However, Article 35A was incorporated by a presidential order only on the advice of the cabinet without consulting the parliament.
  • By according special privileges to the permanent residents of the state, Article 35A goes against the very spirit of “oneness of India” as it created a class within a class of Indian citizens.
  • Those individuals who do not fit the definition of ‘permanent residents’ are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
  • It is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Moreover, Article 370 itself was only a ‘temporary provision’; the Constitution makers didn’t provide this article to bring permanent amendments in the constitution like Article 35A.

 

Power of president to amend the constitution under Article 370

  • Under Article 370, the president does not have the powers to amend the constitution to insert a new article.
  • It gives power to the president only to make ‘exceptions or modifications’ with the concurrence of the Government of state.
  • However, in Puranlal Lakhanpal v. President of India & Others case, the apex court gave the widest effect to the meaning of the word 'modification" used in Art. 370(l) and held that the president had the power to make the modifications.

 

Highlights of the news

  • Now, the three-judge Bench will be taking an “in-chamber” decision on the listing of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35 A.
  • The bench will decide whether or not to refer the issue to the Constitutional Bench.
  • In chamber decision is a decision by a single justice or judge of a multi-member appellate court, rendered on an issue that the court's rules or procedures allow a single member of the court to decide and such decision is issued from the justice's chambers without a formal court proceeding.

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Section : Polity & Governance

 

India plans to extend coastal surveillance radar system to Maldives

The News

  • In a step to augment its maritime domain awareness, India is set to extend the coastal surveillance radar systems (CSRS) project to Maldives during the upcoming visit of Maldives defence minister.
  • The deployment of coastal radar systems in Maldives comes at the backdrop of improved bilateral relation between India and Maldives.

 

Improved Bilateral Relations between India and Maldives

  • Under former President Yameen, China significantly increased its presence in Maldives.
  • Whereas, India’s relation with Maldives had hit an all-time low when Yameen imposed an emergency and arrested key leaders in February 2018.
  • However India’s bilateral relation with Maldives has improved substantially after the October 2018 elections in Maldives.
  • The new government in Maldives now talk about “India first” policy.
  • India and Maldives have agreed to enhance cooperation in maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region through coordinated patrolling and aerial surveillance, exchange of information and capacity building.
  • In this direction, India has offered to deploy Coastal Radar Surveillance Systems in Maldives.

 

About Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems

  • The Costal Surveillance Radar is the primary sensor for Integrated Costal Surveillance System (ICSS).
  • These radars consist of shipborne surface search, air searchradars and land-based coastal surveillance radars.
  • The system is capable of detecting all types of ships and boats - county boats, dinghies and fishing vessels in sea under all weather conditions.

Applications:

  • To detect and track vessels for Coastal surveillance
  • The radar can also be directly used for VTS (Vessel Traffic management Services)
  • For harbor surveillance
  • For navigation
  • By mounting on ship, it can also be used for Sea Surface Target Surveillance Radar.
  • It can also be used for Airport Surface Target Surveillance as it is solid state coherent radar with Doppler processing.

 

Need for Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems

  • Importance of Coastal Surveillance Radar System for India in Indian Ocean Region:
    • Indian Ocean Region in recent years has seen China’s heightened naval operations with Chinese submarine often spotted in the region like Sri Lanka. China is also planning invest in port facilities in and around the Indian Ocean.
    • The sea-based terror and piracy are on the rise in the Indian Ocean requiring India to step up its ISR capabilities in order to be net security provider in the region.
    • IOR is significant because 2/3rd of the global oil, ½ of the container traffic and 1/3rd of the cargo traffic passes through it.
    • India wants to become the significant net security provider in Indian Ocean Region and is stepping up efforts to bolster its maritime ISR capabilities (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance).
  • For these reasons, India is partnering with countries in the Indian Ocean Region for deployment of network of coastal surveillance radars which will aid maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Since, 2015 India has deployed radar systems in Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

 

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Section : International Relation

 

India has a 26,000-tonne plastic waste problem

Why in News?

  • The latest data from Central Pollution Control Board has flagged the menace of uncollected plastic waste in India.

 

Key Highlights

  • The country-wide data on plastic waste released by CPCB shows that India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day, and around 40% of this remains uncollected.
  • About 1/6th of the total plastic waste is generated by 60 major cities.
  • Delhi contributes highest plastic waste followed by Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

 

 

About Plastic Waste

  • Plastic waste in general is classified into 2 categories:
    • Thermoplastic: 94% of total plastic waste in India and is recyclable
    • Thermoset: 6% of the total plastic waste and in non-recyclable
  • The main reason of high amount of plastic waste in Indian cities is because of low level of recycling.
  • Segregation of the waste at the source is the foundation of recycling, which has not been enforced effectively.

 

Types of Plastic Waste and their sources

  1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
  • Source: Mainly drinking water and soft drink bottles, plastic jars, plastics films, plastic sheets.
  • Recyclability: Easily Recyclable.
  1. High Density Polyethylene and Low Density Polyethylene
  • Source: Plastics bags, food containers, woven sacks, plastics Toys, milk pouches & shopping bags.
  • Recyclability: Commonly recyclable as it does not break under exposure to extreme heat and cold.
  1. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
  • Source: Pipes, Hoses, Sheets, Wire, cable insulations, Multilayer Tubes
  • Recyclability: It is least recycled and is called as ‘poison plastic’.
  1. Polypropylene 
  • Source: Disposable Cups, Bottle caps, Straws
  • Recyclability: Difficult to recycle.
  1. Polystyrene 
  • Source: Disposable cups, glasses, plates, spoons, trays, CD covers, foams
  • Recyclability: Not recyclable as it breaks easily.
  1. Thermoset
  • Source: CD, Helmets, Shoe soles.
  • Recyclability: Not recyclable

 

Single-use plastics

  • Single-use plastics are disposable plastic items that are commonly used for packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.
  • As a host to World Environment Day in 2018, India committed to end the use of single-use plastic by 2022.
  • In September 2018, the government prioritized 4 single-use plastic products for complete phase out- styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, disposable plastic cutlery and all plastic carry bags.

 

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Section : Environment & Ecology

 

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