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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 1st May 2018

  • IASbaba
  • May 1, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 1st May 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


AFSPA: Active Areas

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Internal Security

Key pointers:

Article link: Click here

  • Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said AFSPA, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, will continue in Nagaland as it is a “special case” and the “peace agreement” hasn’t been finalised there yet.
  • Nagaland is the only State in the northeast, apart from eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, where ASFPA continues to be imposed by the Union Home Ministry.
  • Nagaland, Manipur and Assam are the only three States in the northeast that continue to be under AFSPA.
  • The Act gives powers to the Army and the Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction.

Article link: Click here


White Stem Border: Hits Coffee(Arabica) estates

Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Internal Security

Key pointers:

  • White stem borer (WSB) continues to wreak havoc in the country’s key coffee growing regions of Kodagu, Chikmagaluru and Hassanin Karnataka.
  • The movement of plant, soil or manure affected by the white stem borer is being prohibited in a bid to control the spread of the pest, which mainly infests the arabica variety of coffee plants.
  • Karnataka is the largest coffee producing State, accounting for over 70 per cent (3 lakh tonnes) of India’s 3.4-lakh-tonne output.
  • The WSB thrives in the trunk region of arabica plants, the pest has become a menace for the growers, inflicting huge economic losses on them.
  • With no effective solution in sight to tackle WSB, the area under arabica has been coming down over the years.

Article link: Click here


The definition of electrification in India

Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Energy Security

Key pointers:

Pic credits: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/article23734161.ece/alternates/FREE_660/30NDSRN01VillaG8Q3TB4UQ1jpgjpg

  • As per the current definition of an electrified village, a village is counted as electrified if at least 10% of its households have an electricity connection.
  • According to the definition, in place since October 1997, a village is deemed to be electrified if basic infrastructure such as a distribution transformer and distribution lines are in place in the inhabited locality, electricity is provided to public places like schools, panchayat office, health centres, dispensaries, community centres, and at least 10% of the households in the village are electrified.
  • As of today, the rural household electrification is about 83%. From State to State, it ranges from 47% to 100%.
  • The government is not considering modifying the current definition. The criticism is that electrified now is about connectivity to the grid but not actual access to electricity.

The Saubhagya Scheme:

  • The government had in September 2017 launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), aimed at covering the last-mile connectivity of taking electricity to the household level. The target for the scheme is March 31, 2019.
  • The Saubhagya scheme defines the electrification of a household as including a service line cable, energy meter, and single point wiring.
  • For unelectrified households in remote areas, electrification will involve the provision of power packs of 200 to 300 W (with battery bank) with a maximum of 5 LED lights, 1 DC Fan, and 1 DC power plug.

Article link: Click here


(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC:

General Studies 2:

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

General Studies 3:

  • Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Economic growth Versus Pollution

Introduction:

In recent years, the pollution load has increased, sometimes beyond the carrying capacity of the environment.
Though various measures have been adopted to manage pollution, significant progress has not been achieved.

The environmental Kuznets curve:

India’s developmental activities are affecting the environment to a considerable extent, through over-exploitation of natural resources and indiscriminate discharge of waste. This has been interpreted by the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) hypothesis.

The EKC hypothesis:

As per the hypothesis, as per capita income grows, the increase in environmental impact hits the maximum and thereafter declines.
In the initial stages of economic growth, when more resources are used, there is greater waste generation and more emissions. But when a country has achieved a certain level of development, pollution reduces with greater protection of the environment, technological improvements, diversification of the economy from manufacturing to services, and increasing scarcity and prices of environmental resources, leading to lower consumption.

Where does India lies?

India is on the upward part of the EKC.
For achieving sustainable development, it must move to the second stage.
However, it is not wise to wait for that stage. India can’t ignore the environmental consequences of its rapid growth.

Environmental consequences of India’s growth:

Over the last few decades, water-intensive and polluting industries such as textiles, leather, sugar and paper have shifted from developed to developing countries. They withdraw huge quantities of water and discharge effluents without adequate treatment.
Before 1980, countries like the U.K. and the U.S. played a vital role in textile production and export. But by 2000, their dominance had substantially reduced and the share of developing countries like India and China had increased. One of the factors attributed to this shift is that there are relatively less stringent environmental policies in developing nations. Countries like India are now manufacturing products which contribute to pollution for domestic and international markets.

Impact of pollution:

  • At the household level, the economic loss on account of pollution includes the cost of treatment and wage loss during sickness.
  • Pollution impacts ecosystems and related economic activities like agriculture and livestock.
  • Air pollution causes climate change.

Hence, pollution leads to the real and potential loss of the overall development opportunity in an economy.
Generally, pollution impacts the socially vulnerable and poor communities more due to their weak coping options.
When traditional drinking water sources get contaminated, the rich can buy packaged water. But the poor cannot afford it and are hence compelled to use contaminated water. They are also less aware of the health hazards caused by pollution.

Concerns:

Pollution is not a disease, it is only a symptom. Hence, its root cause should be investigated.

  • Natural resources management agencies have centralised structures and function without the consultation of multi stakeholders.
  • Emission-based standards have not been very effective so far, since they are rarely monitored and only occasionally enforced.
  • The ‘polluters pay’ principle is not in force. For the most part, polluters are not willing to internalise the external and social costs.
  • Pollution is also neglected by funding agencies worldwide and by governments in budgets.

Remedial measures:

Economic growth is an inevitable requirement, but it need not be at the cost of health. To tackle pollution, there should be-

  • Public awareness about its consequences.
  • Adequate pollution-linked databases.
  • Integration of pollution prevention policies into the development sector.
  • Strict enforcement of pollution control policies.
  • Eco-friendly inputs in production.
  • Reliance on renewable energy.
  • Introduction of market-based/economic instruments (charges/taxes/levies, tradable permits, subsidies and soft loans).
  • Increase in ecosystem resilience through the conservation of biodiversity.

Conclusion:

Experiences from the U.S. and Europe reveal that pollution mitigation can yield large gains to human health and the economy. With India growing fast, we shouldn’t wait for us to reach to the second stage of Kuzents curve. Sustainable economic growth is only way forward.

Connecting the dots:

  • Pollution is a challenge to developing countries like India which try to achieve rapid economic development without adequately managing the environment. This needs to change. Comment.

NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

The state of local democracy in India: After 25 years of institutionalization

Background:

It’s been 25 years since decentralised democratic governance was introduced in India by the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendments, which came into force on April 24 and June 1, 1993, respectively.
The structural reforms that followed heralded an inclusive, responsive, participatory democracy which was tasked to deliver economic development and social justice at the grass-roots level.

  • The creation of lakhs of “self-governing” village panchayats and gram sabhas, with over three million elected representatives mandated to manage local development, was a unique democratic experiment in the contemporary world.
  • Parts IX and IXA of the Constitution, introduced the two Constitution Amendments, initiated a process with standardised features such as elections every five years; reservations for historically marginalised communities and women; the creation of participatory institutions; the establishment of State Finance Commissions (SFCs), a counterpart of the Finance Commission at the sub-national level; the creation of District Planning Committees (DPCs); and so on.
  • Moving the 73rd Amendment Bill on December 1, 1992, the Minister of State in the Rural Development Ministry underscored the “duty on the Centre as well as the States to establish and nourish the village panchayats so as to make them effective-self-governing institutions.”

What impact has this reform package had on democratic practices in India?
Have these reforms ensured every citizen a comparable level of basic services irrespective of one’s choice of residential jurisdiction?

A systemic failure:

Skipping the several success stories, which are exceptions, what happened to the third tier may be hypothesised as a systemic failure.

  • There was no perceptible hand-holding and support by the States (political class and the bureaucracy) to foster decentralised governance. (The people’s planning in Kerala is an exception.)
  • From the beginning, whether it was postponing elections or the failure to constitute SFCs and DPCs, it became evident that States can violate the various provisions of Parts IX and IXA with impunity.
  • There was no institutional decentralisation except in Kerala.
    The roles and responsibilities of local governments remain ill-defined despite activity mapping in several States.
  • States control funds, functions and functionaries, making autonomous governance almost impossible.
  • Most States continue to create parallel bodies (often fiefdoms of ministers and senior bureaucrats) that make inroads into the functional domain of local governments.
    For example, Haryana has created a Rural Development Agency, presided over by the Chief Minister, to enter into the functional domain of panchayats. Legislative approval of these parallel bodies legitimises the process of weakening decentralised democracy.
  • Increasing allocations to Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, or MPLADS, which started in 1993, and their State-level counterparts, known as the MLALADS, too has affected the local institutions.

Fiscal weakness of village panchayats:

  • Even after 25 years, local government expenditure as a percentage of total public-sector expenditure comprising Union, State and local governments is only around 7% as compared to 24% in Europe, 27% in North America and 55% in Denmark.
  • The own source revenue of local governments as a share of total public sector own source revenue is only a little over 2% and if disaggregated, the Panchayat share is a negligible 0.3% (several States like Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana have abolished property taxes and others do not collect taxes).

Conclusion:

Local democracy in India is in deep disarray. The village panchayats have not succeeded in enhancing the well-being, capabilities and freedom of citizens. The government should thus take remedial action in the interest of democracy, social inclusion and cooperative federalism.

Connecting the dots:

  • Local democracy in India is in deep disarray. The village panchayats have not succeeded in enhancing the well-being, capabilities and freedom of citizens. Comment.

Also read: Panchayati Raj System: What remains to be done after 25 years? 


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