IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 16th June 2018
Centre allows pulses import despite overflowing godowns
- Union government is enforcing an additional import agreement with Mozambique at a time when domestic stocks are at their highest, domestic production is expected to be high and prices are crashing.
- In 2016, India has signed an MoU to double pulses imports — mostly arhar — from the east African nation over a five-year period. This obligates India to buy 1.5 lakh tonnes from Mozambique this year.
- The government has also explored the possibility of similar long-term agreements with countries such as Kenya.
- Farmers’ groups have been agitating about falling crop prices.
Note: Just know that India imports pulses (esp arhar or pigeon pea) from the east African nations.
Tur (Arhar) – Kharif crop = called pigeon pea, tropical (central + southern – MH is a major producer)
Article link: Centre allows pulses import despite overflowing godowns
India-US: Apaches deal
U.S. State Department has approved the sale of six additional AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to India. The Army will operate them.
Already we have covered this issue. Below points are for revision.
Key points: Defence deals between India and US
- AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
- Chinook heavy-lift helicopters
- C-130J Hercules
- M777 howitzer
- Harpoon anti-ship missile system
Defence deals between India and Russian
- Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters
SoftBank decides to invest $100 billion in solar power generation
Part of: Mains GS Paper I, III- Social issues, Inclusive growth
- SoftBank Group Corp has decided to invest $60 billion-$100 billion in solar power generation in India.
- Japan’s internet conglomerate and the Indian government are expected to reach a formal agreement.
- The company is expected to make the investment through a fund backed by Saudi Arabia’s government. Saudi Arabia is the largest investor in SoftBank’s Vision Fund, which raised over $93 billion last year.
- In 2015 SoftBank pledged to invest $20 billion in Indian solar projects with a goal of generating 20 gigawatts (GW) of energy as the majority partner in a joint venture with India’s Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan’s Foxconn.
- India has set a target to achieve an operational solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2022, five times current levels, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s renewable energy strategy.
- SoftBank’s Vision Fund has exposure to solar energy through its investment in the world’s largest such project in Saudi Arabia.
General Studies 1:
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues
- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
General Studies 2:
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
- Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
Secularism in India
The below article tries to answer how did the idea of secularism take root in India.
During colonial rule in India, England was not a secular country and there was no wall of separation between church and state.
- The “Act of Supremacy” enacted in 1534 declared that the monarch was the “Supreme Head of the Church of England”. The Archbishops and other high-level church officials were appointed by the government.
- New monarchs were crowned by a senior member of the clergy, and senior bishops were represented in the House of Lords.
Much of this remains true today.
Even in British India, initially East India Company (EIC) got itself intricately entangled with the administration of religious institutions.
- Temple employees were appointed by government officials.
- Royal salutes were fired from the batteries of Fort St. George in Madras, at the celebration of Pongal, and at Ramzan.
- Under the orders of the public officer of the district, a religious offering was made at temples for a good monsoon.
- Laws were enacted which said that the “general superintendence of all lands granted for the support of mosques [and] Hindu temples” was vested in the colonial government.
However, all this annoyed Christian missionaries and members of the clergy in England and India who put pressure on the government.
Religious Endowments Act of 1833
Consequently, in 1833, the Court of Directors of the EIC sent instructions to the colonial government outlining its policy towards India’s religions. (Religious Endowments Act)
- All “religious rites” that were harmless were tolerated, however false the creed by which they are sanctioned.”
- The interference of British Functionaries in the interior management of native temples, in the customs, habits and religious proceedings of their priests and attendants, in the arrangement of their ceremonies, rites and festivals, and generally in the conduct of their interior economy, were ceased.
It was in this manner that the seeds of secularism were sown in India.
In other words, the colonial government was directed to disentangle itself from “superstitious” Indian religious institutions, because Indian religions were considered heathen and false. However, the Church of England in India was still established for a long time.
Therefore the wall of separation between temple and colonial state in India was achieved in 1863 (Religious Endowments Act). With this law the Colonial government got rid of its burden.
However, this colonial vision of secularism was rejected by India’s founding fathers.
Vision of India’s founding fathers
After the Government of India Act, 1919, Indian legislators came to power at the provinces.
- Indian political leaders enacted the far-reaching Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, which virtually took over the management and administration of Hindu temples in the province.
- It established “boards” appointed by the government. Temple trustees had to furnish accounts to and obey the instructions of the boards.
- Temples’ surplus funds could be spent by the boards themselves, on any “religious, educational or charitable purposes not inconsistent with [their] objects”.
Constitutional framers were inspired by the US Constitution provision which prohibits Congress from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion”.
- In the Constituent Assembly, B.R. Ambedkar drafted an establishment clause which said that “[t]he State shall not recognize any religion as State religion.”
- K.T. Shah’s draft said that the government would be “entirely a secular institution”, which would “maintain no official religion [or] established church”.
However, these clauses didn’t find their way into the Constitution. If it had, then the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, could possibly have been found unconstitutional.
Later, H.V. Kamath tried to move an amendment in the Constituent Assembly to introduce an establishment clause – “The State shall not establish, endow, or patronize any particular religion.” However, his amendment was put to vote and rejected.
The Supreme Court has allowed governments to heavily regulate Hindu temples on the theory that the freedom of religion does not include secular matters of administration which are not essential to the religion.
Sometimes, the court has perhaps gone a little too far since the line between integral religious practice and non-essential secular activity is often hard to draw.
For instance, though the government cannot interfere with rituals and prayers at temples, it can regulate the amount that temples spend on such things. Even the appointment of priests in Hindu temples has been held to be a secular activity, which the government can regulate.
- In a letter written in 1802, President Thomas Jefferson advanced the idea of a “wall of eternal separation between church & state” in the U.S.
- The wall of separation between temple and state in India was first constructed by a colonial government which wanted to distance itself from religions that it considered heathen and false.
- That wall was then pulled down by Indian leaders who felt that government entanglement in religious institutions, especially Hindu temples, was essential, even in a secular state.
Connecting the dots:
- Give your views on the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Do they make India a secular state?
- What is secularism? Also discuss how did the idea of secularism take root in India.
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.
- Water Pollution, Wastewater management.
Plastic Waste Management: Requires much more
Every piece of plastic ever disposed of is damaging the earth. It’s lying somewhere in the earth, floating in the ocean, or been broken down into microparticles and in the food chain. Although a fraction of the plastic disposed of is recycled, most of it eventually ends up in the ocean or in dump sites outside city limits.
The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to reduce and phase out its consumption.
India’s Plastic Waste Management Rules (published in March 2016) called for a ban on plastic bags below 50 micron thickness and a phasing out, within two years, of the manufacture and sale of non-recyclable, multi-layered plastic.
- More than 20 Indian States have announced a ban on plastic bags.
- Cities such as Bengaluru announced a complete ban (gazette notification), in 2016, on the manufacture, supply, sale and use of thermocol and plastic items irrespective of thickness.
There are stiff fines that cover manufacturing and disposal.
A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report has said that the above-mentioned ban is barely effective.
- Citizens need to be aware of the rules.
- Governments need to work with citizens to collect fines.
- Companies need to be held accountable in terms of their environmental and social responsibilities.
- There should be research on ways to implement these rules, waste generation quantities and trends and find innovative alternatives to plastic.
- We also need strategies to deal with the plastic that has already been disposed of. India generates an estimated 16 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. If sold at the global average rate of 50 cents a kg, it can generate a revenue of Rs. 5,600 crore a year.
Segregation at source:
In order to realise the potential for recycling, waste must first be segregated at source. This segregated waste should be then transported and treated separately.
As mentioned in the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, waste has to be segregated separately at source. This includes separation of dry (plastic, paper, metal, glass) and wet (kitchen and garden) waste at source.
Collection of waste:
The primary responsibility for collection of used plastic and multi-layered plastic sachets (branded chips, biscuit and snack packets) lies with their producers, importers and brand owners.
Companies should have already submitted plans, by September 2016, for waste collection systems based on extended producer responsibility (EPR) either through their own distribution channels or with the local body concerned. Here, the onus of disposal and recycling of products and materials is with producers, rather than on taxpayers and governments.
However, none of this has happened at any perceivable scale. Companies say that plastic waste is too complex or pretend to be completely unaware of these rules.
Implementing EPR collectively:
The complexity of dealing with plastic waste is because of its ubiquity and distributed market. Several companies produce the same type of packaging so it is impossible for a given company to collect and recycle only its own packaging.
Instead, these companies can collectively implement EPR by geographically dividing a region into zones and handle the waste generated in their designated zones.
This strategy was used in Switzerland to recycle thermocol used for insulation of buildings.
This also reduces collection, transportation and recycling costs. Companies and governments should interact and research on how to implement such plans.
Adopting innovative means:
In India, some companies have helped empower the informal recycling sector, giving waste pickers dignity and steady incomes. Another firm has worked with the informal sector and engineered the production of high quality recycled plastic.
These companies, large corporates and governments could cooperate to implement innovative means to realise the value of plastic disposed of while simultaneously investing in phasing it out.
Example- A Canadian company monetises plastic waste in novel ways. It has one of the largest chains of waste plastic collection centres, where waste can be exchanged for anything (from cash to medical insurance to cooking fuel). Through this, multinational corporations have invested in recycling infrastructure. Such collection centres, like the ones operated by informal aggregators in India, can be very low-cost investments (a storage facility with a weighing scale and a smart phone).
It is time we rethink, reduce, segregate and recycle every time we encounter a piece of plastic so that it stops damaging our environment and our lives.
Connecting the dots:
- Given the huge toll of plastic waste on our environment and health, it is time to focus on plastic waste management is more robust manner. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Consider the following crops of India:
- Green gram
- Pigeon pea
Which of the above is/are used as pulse, fodder and green manure?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Article 27 of Constitution of India deals with
- Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion
- Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
- Freedom to manage religious affairs
- Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions
Temple and state
A spate of lynchings
Little power, great responsibility
India without water
How digitisation can drive growth in India
Trump has a point about rule-based trade
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