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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 13th April, 2016

  • April 13, 2016
  • 3
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs April 2016, International, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 13th April, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:  General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections;

 

The LPG reform – Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • Until 2013, 75 lakh predominantly rural, subsidised BPL connections were disbursed under various schemes
  • Fifty-five lakh subsidised BPL connections are claimed to have been provided in the last year under the “Give Back” scheme linked to the “Give It Up” campaign.

 

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • The Rs.8,000-crore scheme aims to provide subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections to about 60 per cent of below poverty line (BPL) households (five crore households in three years)
  • Real test: how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas

 

Concerns related to PMUY

Household air pollution

  • Use of: solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking
  • HAP: the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden
  • Poor sanitation: ranks 15th
  • According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13 per cent of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40 per cent of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30 per cent of cataract incidences, and over 20 per cent each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection

 

Cost and distribution

Cooking fuel should be available at an affordable cost to back up the initial provision of subsidised connections as each BPL household would have to spend up to Rs.5,000 each year on LPG even at current subsidised prices — in addition to a one-time cost of Rs.1,800 for the connection (unaffordable to many).

PMUY- has proposed payment in instalments for stoves and cylinders to address this challenge

The distribution system needs to be strengthened to be able to meet the expected increase in demand, particularly in rural areas, as non-availability of fuel could push people back towards using solid fuels

Steps needed to ensure reliable, sustained, last-mile supply—

  • A large extension of distribution networks, especially in rural areas, since each rural distribution agency typically caters to fewer customers than urban agencies
  • Robust implementation of direct benefit transfer schemes
  • Effective monitoring and grievance redressal systems to ensure that the problems in the scheme are highlighted and addressed early
  • Accompanied by a focussed public relations campaign, similar to the national tuberculosis or Swachh Bharat campaigns, to build awareness and create a “demand pull”, not only for clean cooking but also for good service
  • Strengthening the refining, bottling and pipeline infrastructure

Widening the reach

Need to widen the net for two reasons:

  1. Known inclusion and exclusion errors in BPL lists
  2. BPL may be a narrow definition of deprivation and many non-BPL households may also not be able to afford LPG connections

What do you mean by the wider net—All rural households or all households except those meeting well-defined exclusion criteria such as ownership of certain categories of assets

The Aadhaar legislation—

  • Imperative to first determine who is eligible for that subsidy
  • Information required: Income and other such information, which is outside the domain of the Aadhaar programme
  • Aadhaar database- only demographic information of individual
  • As per the new bill, Aadhaar’s only purpose is to “target” those individuals for subsidies
  • Aadhaar— Not a sole Saver; a sum of Rs 14,672 crore was saved in LPG subsidy for the year 2014-15 under the direct benefits transfer scheme but the savings can be attributed to a fall in global oil prices
  • Question of ‘unidentified identity’—
    • Of the 15.7 crore active LPG consumers who received an average annual subsidy of Rs 3,327 each in FY14, 13.7 crore have switched to getting cash subsidy in their bank accounts rather than subsidised LPG cylinders
    • But as of March 2016, only 12.3 crore LPG consumers have provided their Aadhaar numbers
    • Question— Who are that the remaining beneficiaries then— claims of Rs 15,000 crore of saving in LPG subsidy solely through Aadhaar are erroneous and deceitful

Connecting the Dots:

  • Does there exist a direct relation of smokeless kitchens with economic development. Discuss

 

INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:  General studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional , global groupings and agreement involving India and affecting its interest
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

 

India- US relationship- a Strategic Imperative

Background:

  • In a significant decision that could have far-reaching implications for India’s military posture, India and the U.S. have agreed “in principle” on a logistics support agreement — Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) , this would make it easier for both militaries to share each other’s facilities. The two countries agreed in principle to sign an agreement on providing logistics but have yet to finalize the draft of the agreement
  • LEMOA is a fine tuned version of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and LEMOA will be tailored for India and will not be a general Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).
  • LSA was part of the three controversial agreements that the US has been pursuing India to sign for nearly a decade.
  • The U.S. administration has wanted India to sign three agreements to deepen the already existing India-US military relationship.

 

Three agreements:

  • Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA);
  • Logistics Support Agreement (LSA)
  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence.

 

What are these agreements all about?

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)  :

  • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) is fine tuned version of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) is an agreement on sharing of military logistics between India and the American forces and will facilitate support such as refuelling and berthing facilities for each other’s warships and aircrafts on a reimbursable basis.
  • A formal agreement, when inked, will access supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land facilities, air bases and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • An agreement in principle on logistics would move India closer to [the] US as a strategic partner

Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA):

  • Signing the CISMOA would enable India to get encrypted communications equipment and systems allowing military commanders to communicate with aircraft and ships through a secure network.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence:

  • BECA would provide India with topographical and aeronautical data and products, which will aid navigation and targeting.

 

What is the significance of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) agreement?

  • The LEMOA would be beneficial at the time of disaster relief operations like the one India undertook in the wake of the Asian Tsunami and exercise done in wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
  • Maritime security, maritime domain Awareness
  • Military-to-military relations will deepen
  • Rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean will be established.
  • Defence Trade and Technology Initiative and initiate two new pathfinder projects on digital helmet mounted displays and the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System.

 

How do US see this LEMOA agreement with India?

  • US want a stronger Indian military to deter, not provoke, conflict with China. Indeed, this was not the case about 20 years ago. The most significant difference between now and then is the growing capability and assertiveness of the Chinese military.
  • The trajectory of China’s growing military capabilities threatens to widen the gap between China’s military capabilities and those of India. This is the kind of gap that increases the chance of conflict. And the US and India have an undeniable common interest in trying to prevent it from growing further.
  • The new approach has been branded the “Third Offset Strategy”. Like the two earlier offsets — tactical nuclear weapons and precision-guided conventional munitions — the US hopes that AI and associated technologies will help America counter the quantitative superiority its rivals Russia and China enjoy in Eurasia and the Western Pacific.
  • The US has other interests as well, such as maintaining its military edge and ensuring that its “crown jewel” defence technology doesn’t find its way into the hands of adversaries like Russia.

 

What is India’s point of view regarding deepening military ties with US?

  • India needs a policy framework and engagement with Washington to take advantage of a tech revolution critical for its own security.
  • Rapid advances in robotics, machine-learning and big-data analytics are at once driving the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” and the transformation of modern warfare. At the centre of it all is the science and engineering of artificial intelligence (AI), or computer algorithms that can perform many functions, such as vision, voice recognition, decision-making and the capacity to process vast quantities of information, which are usually associated with humans.
  • For India too, artificial intelligence (AI), might be critical in coping with the growing gap in conventional military capabilities that has opened up with China. The Chinese defence budget is now more than four times that of India and Beijing has devoted considerable intellectual and policy energies to transform the organization and doctrine of its armed forces.
  • AI is also likely to play an important role in countering Pakistan’s low-intensity conflict against India through such proxies as the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
  • Effective use of these will help India accelerate its own economic growth, address its national security challenges and gain an effective voice in the international regulation of autonomous weapons and robotic warfare. India was rather slow in waking up to the impact of the cyber revolution; it can’t afford to make the same error in relation to the AI transformation.

 

Why there is anxiety amongst Indian strategic community that India is about to embrace the US strategically and get locked in an anti-China alliance?

This anxiety is fuelled by three mistaken factors:

  • Firstly, lack of reading of China’s Defence White Paper of 2015, wherein the debate between the continentalists and the maritime people has been settled in favor of the maritime lobby. China is going to become a maritime power in the Indian Ocean.
  • Second, “One belt one road” is the larger plan to change the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean to support the permanent presence of a Chinese fleet. It’s admittedly a long-term plan.
  • Third, the Chinese are going full speed to get Gwadar and Djibouti ready for the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean.

 

Way ahead:

  • Though in surface combatants, the Indian navy will outnumber the Chinese taskforce 2:1, outnumber the maritime patrol aircraft 2:1 and be superior in strategic anti-submarine warfare and satellite communication infrastructure. India could put the squeeze in the Indian Ocean but Indian navy is required to play a supporting role in ensuring freedom of navigation and ensure a peaceful Chinese rise than the ability to squeeze the Malacca jugular as a strategic threat.
  • As India work with the United States to realize the full potential of India’s Act East policy, India also seeks a closer partnership with the United States to promote shared interests in India’s west, especially in the context of the emerging situation in West Asia
  • India-US relationship will be one of the key global partnerships of this century. Defence cooperation is a central pillar of India’s multi-faceted relationship with the US. A stronger India-US partnership will promote peace, stability and progress in Indian Ocean region and the world.

 

Connecting the dots:

  • Is Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) viewed as a move India supporting US in forming any alliance against China?
  • Will the agreement Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) lead to establish Rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean? Comment.

 

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