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Daily Current affairs 26 June 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

State of Health- Composite Health Index

01/09

2

Food and Nutritional Security Analysis

09

3

Sinha Panel on MSMEs

13

4

The State of Indian Prisons

10

5

Impressed Tortoise

09

Title

  1. State of Health- Composite Health Index (The Hindu, Page – 01/09)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II : Issues related to Health

Theme

Composite Health Index

 

Context:

The NITI Aayog has released the Second Edition of “Healthy States, Progressive India” . The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance. 

 

Important details

  • The Health Index is a weighted composite Index based on 23 indicators grouped into the domains of Health Outcomes, Governance and Information, and Key Inputs/Processes.  . Each domain has been assigned weights based on its importance and has been equally distributed among indicators.

  • Among the Larger States, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Maharashtra ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance. 

  • Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Tripura followed by Manipur were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance. 

  • Among UTs, Chandigarh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli were ranked on top in terms of overall performance (Chandigarh-1 and Dadra and Nagar Haveli-2) as well as annual incremental performance (Dadra and Nagar Haveli-1 and Chandigarh-2). 

 


 

 

Title

  1. Food and Nutritional Security Analysis – (The Hindu, Page-09)

Area of interest

Mains: GS Paper 2 under Issues related to Health

Theme

Food and Nutritional Security

Highlights

Context

The Food and Security Analysis report 2019 is published by World Food programme in association with Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

 

Important Highlights of the Report

Food Production: Over the last 20 years, total food grain production in India increased from 198 million tonnes to 269 million tonnes. Although there has been a huge increase in production of rice, wheat and other cereals, their per capita net availability has not increased at the same level, due to population growth, food wastage and losses, and exports.

Food Expenditure: According to Engel's law, the share of income spent on food decreases, even as total food expenditure rises. A higher share of total monthly expenditure for food shows lower purchasing power and is related to food access, so it is a relative measure of food insecurity. Between 1972- 73 and 2011-12, the share of expenditure on food has decreased around 33 percent in rural areas and 40 percent in urban areas whereas non-food expenditure and consequently, nonfood expenditures have increased during the same period.

Nutritional Intake: For protein intake, despite the declining trends, per capita consumption in both rural and urban areas is higher than the minimum daily requirement. However fat intake has increased steadily since

1983 and is much higher than the minimum daily requirement.

 

Trends in Malnutrition

  • The prevalence of malnutrition in children 6-59 months in India has declined between 2005-06 to 2015-16 with chronic malnutrition, or stunting, decreasing from 48.0 percent in 2005-06 to 38.4 percent in 2015-16 and underweight decreasing from 42.5 percent in 2005-06 to 35.7 percent in 2015-16. 

  • The prevalence of acute malnutrition, or wasting, has marginally increased during the same period, from 19.8 percent to 21.0 percent. 

  • The prevalence of anaemia in young children has also decreased from 69.5 percent in 2005-06 to 58.5 percent in 2015-16.

  • The Government of India has envisaged a challenging target for itself through National Nutrition Mission (NNM)with the target to reduce stunting by at least 2 percent per annum to reach 25 percent by 2022.

  • Inter and Intra State Variations in Malnutrition: The prevalence of stunting in children under five is the highest in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Meghalaya and lowest in Kerala and Goa.

  • Micronutrient Malnutrition: Vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiency disorders are the most common forms of micronutrient malnutrition in the world.

  • Socio-Economic Determinants of Malnutrition among Children: Just over half the children born to mothers with no schooling are stunted, compared with 24 percent of children born to mothers with 12 or more years of schooling. The prevalence of underweight in children with uneducated mothers is 47 percent compared to 22 percent for those whose mothers have some education

 

Recommendations

Agricultural Diversification: Farmers should be encouraged and incentivized to increase production of micronutrient-rich grains such as millets, as well as other nutritious foods such as soyabeans, vegetables and fruits.

Sustainability of Food Productivity: Additionally, use of innovative and low-cost farming technologies, increase in the irrigation coverage and enhancing knowledge of farmers in areas such as appropriate use of land and water have high potential to improve the sustainability of food productivity

Policy Support: There is a need for promotion of farming, marketing and demand generation of traditional coarse cereals like maize, which are produced in abundance and are good source of energy.

Improvement in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Practices: Achieving India SDG target (NITI Aayog, 2018) for WASH by 2030 looks promising, with targeted efforts by the Government of India through various programmes such as the Poshan Abhiyan and Swachh Bharat Mission.

 

About World Food Programme

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. The WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.

  • WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. The WFP is governed by an Executive Board which consists of representatives from member states.

  • The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors. WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS.

 

The objectives of the World Food Programme are:

  • Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies.

  • Support food security and nutrition and (re)build livelihoods in fragile settings and following emergencies.

  • Reduce risk and enable people, communities and countries to meet their own food and nutrition needs.

  • Reduce under-nutrition and break the inter-generational cycle of hunger.

  • Zero Hunger in 2030.

 



 

Title

  1. Sinha Panel on MSMEs (The Hindu, Page-13)

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper 3: Indian Economy

Theme

MSME Sector

Highlights

Context:

The MSME sector contributes about 45% to manufacturing output, more than 40% of exports, over 28% of the GDP while creating employment for about 111 million people, which in terms of volume stands next to agricultural sector. However, the MSME sector is facing a number of challenges which in turn is hindering this sector from achieving full potential. Hence, the RBI had appointed a committee under the leadership of U.K. Sinha to address these problems of the MSME sector.

 

Important Recommendations of the Committee:

Amendments to the MSMED Act, 2006: It is important that the thrust of this important legislation should be focused more on market facilitation and promoting ease of doing business for MSMEs. Accordingly, the legislation may be reimagined as a comprehensive and holistic MSME Code having a provision for sunset on plethora of complex laws scattered all over the legislative framework. The new law will be able to address the major challenges, relating to physical infrastructural bottlenecks, absence of formalisation, technology adoption, capacity building, backward and forward linkages, lack of access to credit, risk capital, perennial problem of delayed payments, etc. 

 

Definition of MSMEs: MSMEs are presently defined based on investment in plant and machinery / equipment. To facilitate ease of doing business, the Government has proposed turnover based definition by replacing the current investment-based definition of MSMEs. 

Classification of the MSME

New Classification (annual turnover)

Previous classification – Ceiling on Investment in Plant and Machinery (in Rs)

Micro

Not exceeding Rs 5 crores

Below 25 lakhs

Small

Between Rs 5 crores to Rs 75 crores

25 lakhs to 5 crores

Medium

Rs 75 to Rs 250 crores

5 crores to 10 crores

The Committee found the revised definition of MSMEs  rational, transparent, progressive and easier to implement with the introduction  of Goods and Services Tax (GST). Further, in order to have flexibility in the definition of MSMEs, the committee has proposed that   the Parliament may consider delegating the power of classifying MSMEs to the Executive.

 

Addressing delays in Payments to MSMEs: The Committee has recommended amendment to the MSMED Act requiring all MSMEs to mandatorily upload all their invoices above an amount to be specified by Government  to an Information Utility. Further, a monitoring authority should be set up under the office of Development Commissioner MSME. While this mechanism will entail automatic display of the names of the defaulting buyers, it will also act as a moral suasion on the buyers to release payment to MSE suppliers.  Further, majority of the States have only one MSE Facilitation Council (MSEFC) which is not adequate to cater to delayed payment cases arising in the entire State. Hence, there is a need to increase the number of Facilitation Councils particularly in larger States.

 

Expanding the Scope of GeM Portal:  As per the MSMED Act, Government has notified procurement policy wherein PSUs/ Government Departments have to make 25% of their procurement from MSEs. To further strengthen the procurement mechanism, the Government has also launched the GeM portal. The Committee recommends that Government should make it mandatory for PSUs/ Government Department to procure from MSEs up to the mandated target of 25% through the GeM portal only. Further, the portal can be developed as a full-fledged market place enabling MSE sellers to procure raw-material as well. 

 

Improving Ease of Doing Business: 

Presently, MSMEs must do multiple registrations with various entities such as Udyog Aadhaar portal, GSTN, National State Insurance Corporation (NSIC) etc. This leads to cumbersome registration process and duplication of efforts. It is, therefore, recommended that the Government should make PAN as a Unique Enterprise Identifier (UEI) and the same should be used for various purposes like procurement, availing government sponsored benefits, etc.

Further, enabling environment,  tax concessions, well developed infrastructure, ease of doing business, exit policy, etc. available in other countries is incentivising the Indian startups to migrate. It is recommended that suitable financial and non-financial incentives must be deployed to retain successful Indian startups entities in India.

 

Capacity Building: The Government's proposal to establish Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs) within District Industries Centres (DICs) has to be expedited. The setting up of EDCs  would provide necessary handholding support to the entrepreneurs in various aspects such as technical know-how, managerial skill, filling up of the knowledge gap, etc. leading to a multiplier effect.

 

Focussing on MSME Clusters:  The MSME clusters should collaborate with companies having innovation infrastructure, R&D institutions and universities that specialize in a specific industry or knowledge area. Most cluster development initiatives are funded to a large extent by the public agencies and private sector contribution for such common initiatives is miniscule. It is recommended that ways and means to enhance private sector contribution must be found.

 

Institutional Framework:  In order to have convergence of various MSME related policies, a National Council for MSMEs should be set up at the apex level under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister . The States should have a similar State Council for MSMEs, for better co-ordination of developmental initiatives.

Further, Ministry of MSME may consider setting up of a Non-Profit Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to support crowd sourcing of investments by various agencies particularly to pave the way for conducive business ecosystem for MSMEs.

 

Distressed Asset Fund:  The Committee recommends for the creation of a Distressed Asset Fund, with a corpus of ₹ 5000 crore, structured to assist units in clusters where a change in the external environment, e.g. a ban on plastics or ‘dumping’ has led to a large number of MSMEs becoming NPA. This would be of significant size in order to make equity investments that help unlock debt or help revive sick units.

 

Access to Finance:

The PSBLoansIn59Minutes portal as of now caters only to existing entrepreneurs having information required for in-principle approval such as GSTIN, Income Tax returns, bank statement, etc. The Committee recommends that the portal should also cater to new entrepreneurs, who may not necessarily have such information, including those applying under PMMY loan and Standup India.

The Priority sector lending guidelines apply uniformly to all the lenders and mandates specific targets to banks to lend to priority sectors, i.e. agriculture, small and marginal farmers, micro enterprises, weaker sections, etc.  At present, the overall target for the universal bank is 40% and target for small finance bank is 75%.

The committee has recommended that for banks that wish to specialize in MSME lending, the requirements to do agricultural lending under PSL can be waived provided they achieve 50% SME-PSL lending target in the case of Universal Banks and 80% in the case of Small Finance Banks.

The RBI should increase the limit for non-collateralised loans to Rs 20 Lakh from the present limit of Rs 10 Lakh. This limit of Rs 20 lakh should also be applicable to the loans provided under the MUDRA scheme.

 

Loan Service Providers: The committee has suggested that the RBI should create a new category  of Loan Service Providers (LSPs). The LSPs would act as agents of the borrowers (MSMEs) and offer individualised advice to them catering to all the aspects of finance.  The RBI should facilitate the creation of a Self-Regulatory Organization to organize and provide light touch regulation for Loan Service Providers.

 

Title

4. The State of Indian Prisons  (The Hindu, Page-10)

Syllabus

GS Paper II: Polity & Governance

Theme

Prison Reforms

Highlights

Prison Statistics India 2016, published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) states:

Undertrials

There were 4,33,033 people in prison; of them 68% were undertrials, or people who have yet to be found guilty of the crimes they are accused of.  India’s under-trial population remains among the highest in the world and more than half of all undertrials were detained for less than six months in 2016. This suggests that the high proportion of undertrials in the overall prison population may be the result of unnecessary arrests and ineffective legal aid during remand hearings.

 

Rise in preventive detention

There is rise in the number of people held under administrative (or ‘prevention’) detention laws in Jammu and Kashmir (a 300% increase), with 431 detainees in 2016, compared to 90 in 2015. Administrative, or ‘preventive’, detention is used by authorities in J&K and other States to unfairly detain persons without charge or trial and circumvent regular criminal justice procedures.

 Underuse of CrPC section 436A

The report added the number of prisoners eligible to be released and actually released, under Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows undertrials to be released on a personal bond if they have undergone half of the maximum term of imprisonment they would have faced if convicted. In 2016, out of 1,557 undertrials found eligible for release under Section 436A, only 929 were released.

 

Suicides and unnatural death

The number of “unnatural” deaths in prisons, which doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 115 to 231. The rate of suicide among prisoners also increased by 28%, from 77 suicides in 2015 to 102 in 2016. The National Human Rights Commission in 2014 had stated that on average, a person is one-and-a-half times more likely to commit suicide in prison than outside, which is an indicator perhaps of the magnitude of mental health concerns within prisons.

 

Issue of Mental illness

About 6,013 individuals with mental illness were in jail in 2016. There was only one mental health professional for every 21,650 prisoners in 2016, with only six States and one Union Territory having psychologists/psychiatrists. Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the three States with the most prisoners with mental illness, did not have a single psychologist or psychiatrist.

 

Major Problems of Prisons Relevant to India

Overcrowding:  Congestion in jails, particularly among undertrials has been a source of concern. India’s prisons are overcrowded with an occupancy ratio of 14% more than the capacity. More than two-thirds of the inmates are undertrials. Chhattisgarh and Delhi are among the top three in the list with an occupancy ratio of more than double the capacity. 

Lack of resources:  While 33% of the total requirement of prison officials still lies vacant, almost 36% of vacancy for supervising officers is still unfulfilled. Delhi’s Tihar jail ranks third in terms of a severe staff crunch. The manpower recruited inside this prison is almost 50% short of its actual requirement. As the nation’s capital, Delhi has the most over-crowded jails and suffers from acute shortage of prison guards and senior supervisory staff. States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have the most scantily guarded jails, seeing over 65% staff vacancies among jailers, prison guards and supervisory levels. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails.

Unsatisfactory living conditions : The overcrowding in the prisons leads itself to unsatisfactory living conditions such as “appalling” sanitary facilities and a shortage of medical staff. In India, an average of US$ 333 (INR 10 474) per inmate per year was spent by prison authorities during the year of 2005, distributed under the heads of food, clothing, medical expenses, vocational & educational, welfare activities and others.

 

Lack of legal aid:  In India, legal aid to those who cannot afford to retain the counsel which is only available at the time of trial and not when the detainee is brought to the remand court. Since the majority of prisoners, those are in lock up as well as those in prisons have not been tried, the absence of legal aid until the point of trial reduces greatly the value of the country’s system of legal representation to the poor. The lawyers are not available at the point when many of them need such assistance.

 

Abuse of prisoners : Physical abuse of prisoners by the guards is another chronic problem in the prison of India. Some countries allowed continuationof corporal punishments and the routine uses of leg irons, fetters, shackles, and chains. In many prison systems in India, the unwarranted beatings are an integral part of the prison life. Women prisoners in Indian Prison are particularly vulnerable for the custodial sexual abuse.

 

Recent Steps in Prison Reforms

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently approved a New Prison Manual 2016, which aims at uniformity in laws, rules and regulations governing the administration of prisons and the management of prisoners across India. 

The new manual has given special attention on access to free legal services (Article 39A of the Indian Constitution), the needs of women prisoners, rights of prisoners sentenced to death, modernization and computerization of prisons, provisions for children of women prisoners, inspection of prisons, etc.

 

Guidelines include:  

  • Under Trial Review Committee to be set up in each district;

  • Earliest release of under trials as per the provision of law;

  • Empaneling competent lawyers for the under trials;

  • Improvement in the living conditions of jails specially for women;

  • Management Information System to be in place in all jails; and

  • Annual review of the implementation of the Model Prison Manual 2016.

 

Title

5. Impressed Tortoise (The Hindu, Page-09)

Syllabus

Prelims: Environment and Biodiversity

Theme

About Impressed Tortoise

Highlights

IMPRESSED TORTOISE (IUCN Status: Critically Endangered) (Manouria impressa)

This species has been for the first time been found in India in Arunachal Pradesh by a joint expedition of Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department, Help Earth, and Turtle Survival Alliance India Program. 

This is the first record of the species from India, and increases the country’s turtle and tortoise richness to 42 taxa, thus making India the 3rd most turtle rich country in the world. 

This elusive, medium-sized tortoise species inhabits moist primary forest hill tracts of the Indo-Burma hot-spot (Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam). The last reported range extension of the species was from Gwa, Myanmar.

Male Impressed Tortoise is smaller than the female which is 30 cm in length. It is one-third the size of ASIAN FOREST TORTOISE. 

With this India has 5 tortoise species and 29 non-marine chelonian species. Chelonian is an order of reptile that includes turtles, terrapins and tortoises.

There are only two species of tortoises under the Manouria genus. Before this discovery, India was known to be the home of only the Asian Forest Tortoise. 

 

ASIAN FOREST TORTOISE (IUCN Status: Critically Endangered) (Manouria emys)

Asian Forest Tortoise, the largest in mainland Asia, is found only in the northeast. 

Manouria emys is the only tortoise which lays its eggs above ground in a nest, which the female constructs of leaf litter. The female uses both front and rear legs to gather material for the nest and lays up to 50 eggs deep inside it. She then sits on and near the nest to protect it, and will "chase" predators and intruders away

 

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Beekeeping Development Committee report

 

What to study?

For prelims: India’s rank in honey production, key recommendations.

For mains: Challenges faced by the industry and what needs to be done to realise the full potential of the industry.

 

ContextBeekeeping Development Committee under EAC-PM releases its report.

 

Background:

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister set up a Beekeeping Development Committee under the Chairmanship of Professor Bibek Debroy.

BDC was constituted with the objective of identifying ways of advancing beekeeping in India, that can help in improving agricultural productivity, enhancing employment generation, augmenting nutritional security and sustaining biodiversity.

 

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  • Recognizing honeybees as inputs to agriculture and considering landless Beekeepers as farmers.
  • Plantation of bee friendly flora at appropriate places and engaging women self-help groups in managing such plantations.
  • Institutionalizing the National Bee Board and rechristening it as the Honey and Pollinators Board of India under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. Such a body would engage in advancing beekeeping through multiple mechanisms such as setting up of new Integrated Bee Development Centres, strengthening the existing ones, creating a honey price stabilization fund and collection of data on important aspects of apiculture.
  • Recognition of apiculture as a subject for advanced research under the aegis of Indian Council for Agricultural Research. 
  • Training and development of beekeepers by state governments. 
  • Development of national and regional infrastructure for storage, processing and marketing of honey and other bee products. 
  • Simplifying procedures and specifying clear standards for ease of exporting honey and other bee products.

 

Significance of Beekeeping:

As per Food and Agricultural Organization database, in 2017-18, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of honey production (64.9 thousand tonnes) while China stood first with a production level of 551 thousand tonnes.

Further, beekeeping can be an important contributor in achieving the 2022 target of doubling farmer incomes

 

What needs to be done?

Expand the scope: Beekeeping cannot be restricted to honey and wax only, products such as pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee venom are also marketable and can greatly help Indian farmers.

Increase in area: Based on the area under cultivation in India and bee forage crops, India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against 3.4 million bee colonies today. Increasing the number of bee colonies will not only increase the production of bee-related products but will boost overall agricultural and horticultural productivity. 

 

Way ahead:

India’s recent efforts to improve the state of beekeeping have helped increase the volume of honey exports from 29.6 to 51.5 thousand tonnes between 2014-15 and 2017-18 (as per data from National Bee Board and Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare). However, challenges persist and a lot more can be done to enhance the scope and scale of beekeeping.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
  2. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Motion of thanks to President’s Address

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: What is Motion of thanks, what it contains? Its significance and what happens if it is not passed.

 

What is “Motion of Thanks” and what it contains?

The President makes an address to a joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, which is prepared by the government and lists its achievements. It is essentially a statement of the legislative and policy achievements of the government during the preceding year and gives a broad indication of the agenda for the year ahead.

The address is followed by a motion of thanks moved in each House by ruling party MPs. During the session, political parties discuss the motion of thanks also suggesting amendments.

 

Amendments to the “Motion of Thanks”:

Notices of amendments to Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address. Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention. Amendments can be moved to the Motion of Thanks in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Speaker.

 

Limitations:

The only limitations are that members cannot refer to matters which are not the direct responsibility of the Central Government and that the name of the President cannot be brought in during the debate since the Government and not the President is responsible for the contents of the Address.

 

Provisions governing them:

President’s Address and Motion of Thanks are governed by Articles 86 (1) and 87 (1) of the Constitution and Rules 16 to 24 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.

 

Its passage:

Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses.

A failure to get motion of thanks passed amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government. This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion.

 

Constitutional provisions on this:

Article 86(1) of the Constitution provides that the President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members.

Article 87 provides for the special address by the President. Clause (1) of that article provides that at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. No other business is transacted till the President has addressed both Houses of Parliament assembled together.

 

Mains Question: What is an amendment to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address? Why is it resorted to? Give examples and examine significance of this amendment.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

North Eastern Council

 

What to study?

For Prelims: NEC, its functions and composition.

For Mains: Significance of North Eastern region of the country and efforts by government for the development of the region.

 

Context: Centre releases 3rd issue of Newsletter of North Eastern Council.

 

About NEC:

  • NEC was established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971as an apex level body for securing balanced and coordinated development and facilitating coordination with the States.
  • Subsequent to the Amendment of 2002, NEC has been mandated to function as a regional planning body for the North Eastern Area and while formulating a regional plan for this area, shall give priority to the schemes and projects benefiting two or more states provided that in the case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State.
  • The Union Cabinet, in June 2018, approved the proposal of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) for the nomination of the Union Home Minister as ex-officio Chairman of North Eastern Council (NEC). The Cabinet also approved that Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of DoNER would serve as Vice Chairman of the Council.
  • NEC and all the Governors and Chief Ministers of North Eastern States will be Members.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Fall Armyworm (FAW)

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: FAW- causes, effects, concerns and measures needed.

 

Context: The Department has taken note of Fall Army Worm (FAW) infestation in the country. The infestation has been found primarily on maize and to a small extent on Ragi and Sorghum.

 

What is FAW?

native of the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas, FAW was first detected in the African continent in 2016. Since then, it has spread to other countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

In India: It was reported in India for the first-time last year, when it affected crops in Karnataka. Within a span of only six months, almost 50 per cent of the country, including Mizoram, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal, has reported FAW infestations.

 

Life cycle:

In its 45-day-long lifecycle, the female moth of this pest lays around 1,500-2,000 eggs on the top of leaves. In the roughly 30-day larval stage, the caterpillar goes through six stages of development or instars.

This is the most dangerous part of the lifecycle as the caterpillar feeds on leaves, whorls, stalks and flowers of crop plants. Once this stage is completed, the growing moth pupates in the soil — for 8-9 days in summer and 20-30 days in cold weather. The nocturnal egg-laying adults live for about 10 days, during which they migrate long distances.

 

What makes FAW dangerous?

It is the polyphagous (ability to feed on different kinds of food) nature of the caterpillar and the ability of the adult moth to fly more than 100 km per night.

Given its ability to feed on multiple crops — nearly 80 different crops ranging from maize to sugarcane — FAW can attack multiple crops.

Similarly, it can spread across large tracts of land as it can fly over large distances. This explains the quick spread of the pest across India.

 

How FAW affects output?

Till date, India has reported FAW infestation on maize, sorghum (jowar) and sugarcane crops. Maize has been the worst affected as most maize-growing states in southern India have been affected by the pest.

FAW infestation and drought has led to a shortfall of nearly 5 lakh tonnes in output, prompting the central government to allow import of maize under concessional duty. Maize is the third most important cereal crop grown in the country and the infestation, if not checked in time, can wreck havoc.

 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

 

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

National Register of Citizens (NRC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Particulars of NRC.

For Mains: Update of NRC- issues associated including ethical concerns.

 

Context: Over one lakh people who were part of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in July last year but were found ineligible thereafter — they have been named in the Additional Draft Exclusion List published recently.

 

Why they are out of Assam NRC additional draft exclusion list?

These over one lakh people were found ineligible during re-verification for any one of the following reasons: Persons who were found to be DF (Declared Foreigner) or DV (Doubtful Voter) or PFT (persons with cases Pending at Foreigners Tribunals) or their descendants, as applicable, discovered after publication of draft NRC, persons who were found to be ineligible while appearing as witness in hearings held for disposal of Claims & Objections, persons who were found to be ineligible during the process of verification carried out by the Local Registrars of Citizens Registration (LRCRs) after publication of draft NRC.

 

NRC Assam Additional Draft List 2019: What happens now?

People in the latest list will be informed individually through Letters of Information (LOI) to be delivered at their residential addresses along with the reason for exclusion.

Such persons will have the opportunity to file their Claims which will be disposed through a hearing by a Disposing Officer. The submission of Claim and it’s disposal by the Disposing Officer through a hearing will happen together.

 

On what basis was the Assam NRC additional draft exclusion list prepared?

The preparation of the draft exclusion list of the NRC was approved by the SC under the Clause 5 of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

The provision of suo moto verification is mentioned in Section 4 (3) of the Schedule of the above mentioned Citizenship Rules, 2003, which says that the local registrar of citizen registration (LRCR) may at any time before the final publication of NRC in the state of Assam may verify names already in the final draft NRC if considered necessary.

 

What is the Assam NRC?

The NRC is basically a list of Indian citizens of Assam.

NRC prepared in 1951 is being updated to include the names of people or their descendants who appear in the 1951 NRC, in any of the Electoral Rolls, or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to the midnight of March 24, 1971.

 

Why is March 24, 1971 the cut-off date?

There have been several waves of migration to Assam from Bangladesh, but the biggest was in March 1971 when the Pakistan army crackdown forced many to flee to India. The Assam Accord of 1985 that ended the six-year anti-foreigners’ agitation decided upon the midnight of March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

 

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