IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 23rd July 2018
Place in news: Second century BCE Buddhist site at Thotlakonda in Visakhapatnam
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Protection and conservation of Cultural heritage sites
- Heritage conservationists and members of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has expressed concerns over proposed construction of amphitheatre, rest rooms and information centre at second century BCE Buddhist site, Thotlakonda in Visakhapatnam.
- Buildings might mar the original heritage site and are against the norms laid down by the courts.
- Court had ordered – no construction or development activity of any sort shall be permitted within the boundaries of the ancient site
- Tourism should be developed but not at the cost of protected areas
Important Value Additions
- Thotlakonda site was first discovered in 1976
- The excavations conducted by ASI revealed the ruins of a well-established Theravada (Hinayana Buddhism) monastery
- Under Article 49 of the Constitution, the State is under obligation to protect every monument, place or object of artistic or historic interest declared to be of national importance from spoilation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export, as the case may be. (DPSP)
- Under Article 51A(f) of the Constitution, there is fundamental duty to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. (Fundamental Duties)
Public Affairs Index 2018
Part of: Prelims and GS mains II – Governance, transparency and accountability
Public Affairs Index 2018
- It is an index on the quality of governance, released by Bengaluru-based think tank Public Affairs Centre.
- Kerala tops list (for the third time) of best governed large State in the country.
- Tamil Nadu and Telangana stood second and third respectively.
- Karnataka retained its fourth spot.
States are ranked based on 10 themes, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators, such as power, water, road and housing; Women and Children, Environment etc.
Watershed development projects and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
According to a Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) report on Rural Development –
- Watershed development projects lagging behind badly (only 10% of projects complete)
- Watershed development is vital component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)
What is watershed management?
- A watershed is an area that separates water flowing into rivers or basins.
- Management of a watershed involves the rational utilisation of land and water resources, through preventing soil run-off, increasing the productivity of crops, rain water harvesting and recharging of ground water tables.
Important Value additions:
About Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
- PMKSY has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner.
The major objective of PMKSY is to –
- achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level,
- expand cultivable area under assured irrigation,
- improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water,
- enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop),
- enhance recharge of aquifers and
- introduce sustainable water conservation practices
College principals to have fixed tenures: UGC
Part of: GS Prelims
- College principals across the country could enjoy a minimum fixed tenure of five years, according to recent University Grants Commission
- A college principal shall be appointed for a period of five years, extendable for another term of five years on the basis of performance assessment by a committee appointed by the (respective) university.
- Presently college principals do not have a fixed tenure.
- These regulations would replace the UGC Regulations of 2010.
- All universities in the country have been mandated to amend their statutes to give effect to these amendments within six months.
Amendments to POCSO Act
Part of : GS Prelims and Mains II – Child welfare; vulnerable sections
- Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has proposed amendments to POCSO Act.
- Proposal to enhance punishment in cases of sexual assault of male children.
- The move is being seen as an effort to bring in a gender-neutral law while dealing with cases of sexual assaults.
- Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime in silence because of the stigma and shame attached to male survivors speaking out
Ministry is also working on the proposal to amend the Act to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children below 12 years.
Items under GST
Part of: GS Prelims – Current affairs and Indian Economy
Keep track of items under GST (We never know, UPSC might ask question on similar lines of previous year Prelims GST question :D)
Basic Economics: What is the GDP deflator?
Part of: GS Prelims – Current affairs and Indian Economy
What is GDP deflator?
- The GDP deflator, also called implicit price deflator, is a measure of inflation.
- It is the ratio of the value of goods and services an economy produces in a particular year at current prices to that of prices that prevailed during the base year.
- This ratio helps show the extent to which the increase in gross domestic product has happened on account of higher prices rather than increase in output.
Since the deflator covers the entire range of goods and services produced in the economy — as against the limited commodity baskets for the wholesale or consumer price indices — it is seen as a more comprehensive measure of inflation.
Real vs nominal
- GDP GDP price deflator measures the difference between real GDP and nominal GDP. Nominal GDP differs from real GDP as the former doesn’t include inflation, while the latter does.
- As a result, nominal GDP will most often be higher than real GDP in an expanding economy.
The formula to find the GDP price deflator:
- GDP price deflator = (nominal GDP ÷ real GDP) x 100
A consumer price index (CPI) measures changes over time in the general level of prices of goods and services that households acquire for the purpose of consumption.
However, since CPI is based only a basket of select goods and is calculated on prices included in it, it does not capture inflation across the economy as a whole.
The wholesale price index basket has no representation of the services sector and all the constituents are only goods whose prices are captured at the wholesale/producer level.
Changes in consumption patterns or introduction of goods and services are automatically reflected in the GDP deflator. This allows the GDP deflator to absorb changes to an economy’s consumption or investment patterns. Often, the trends of the GDP deflator will be similar to that of the CPI.
Specifically, for the GDP deflator, the ‘basket’ in each year is the set of all goods that were produced domestically, weighted by the market value of the total consumption of each good.
Therefore, new expenditure patterns are allowed to show up in the deflator as people respond to changing prices. The theory behind this approach is that the GDP deflator reflects up-to-date expenditure patterns.
GDP deflator is available only on a quarterly basis along with GDP estimates, whereas CPI and WPI data are released every month.
General Studies 3:
- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
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
Redressing farmers’ distress: Increasing MSPs (Price Policy) to Income Policy
The present government has increased the MSPs of 14 kharif crops to at least 50 per cent above paid out costs of farmers, including the imputed cost of family labour (Cost A2+FL).
The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), a professional advisory body has toed the government line. It has bypassed its own terms of reference (ToR) that require it to look at demand and supply, domestic and international prices, costs, inter-crop price parity, etc while recommending MSPs.
States like Uttar Pradesh have announced a much higher state-advised price.
- Increasing MSP doesn’t address the roots of the problem, which have to do with excess with the farmers. An extended subsidy will only result in more output, adding to the stocks and further depressing realisations.
- India’s agrarian crisis today — one of surpluses in most farm commodities — isn’t amenable to traditional political fixes, such as announcing MSPs that may be fair and remunerative to farmers, but are divorced from market realities.
- Market-distorting MSPs and subsidies or loan waivers aren’t the best way to help farmers. What they need primarily is income support, which is better done through a flat per-acre subsidy not specific to any crop or production-linked.
Implementation issues- Whether these MSPs can be effectively implemented?
Market prices of most kharif crops are well below the announced MSPs.
Ensuring that farmers really get these MSPs will require a major coordination between the Centre and states.
Given a robust procurement system does not exist for other crops it will become difficult for the government to procure even 25 per cent of the production of various kharif crops, except in paddy and cotton.
- In the case of paddy alone, the government will incur an extra food subsidy bill of Rs 12,000-15,000 crore due to increased procurement.
- The grain stocks are already brimming and the Food Corporation of India is saddled. 50-60 per cent higher than the current buffer stock norms.
- Higher MSPs are likely to make exports globally uncompetitive, leading to further accumulation of stocks at home, and greater economic inefficiency.
- Setting procurement prices higher than global prices is not a new phenomenon in global history. The European Economic Community (EEC) has done this earlier leading to a glut of butter and milk in EU countries.
- Lately, China also raised MSPs of wheat, rice and corn substantially above world prices, leading to grain stocks piling up.
Wisdom lies in learning from the mistakes of other countries.
- As Mr Arun Jaitley recently said, “If there is any area in the economy where we can give an example to the world and to ourselves of cooperative federalism, it is the agriculture sector. It can benefit people more than what GST has done”.
Coordination is needed amongst Union ministries that deal with agriculture, food, food processing, fertilisers, water, rural development and trade. This will enable a holistic approach to agriculture and farmers’ incomes. The process can start with the creation of an agri-council/cabinet.
- Focus should be on long overdue agri- marketing reforms and revisiting the Essential Commodity and APMC Acts to “get the markets right”. Getting the markets right will ensure better and stable prices to farmers, as well as consumers, and also augment farmers’ incomes in a sustained manner.
- India needs to recognise that adressing farmers’ woes by raising procurement prices can have a limit imposed by global prices, especially in a situation of surplus production. The moment one crosses that limit, domestic stocks will start accumulating.
Time has come for India to devise an income policy (DBT) for farmers.
Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme with direct investment support is interesting. It can be refined and made WTO compatible.
It is time the government switch from price policy to income policy approach to redress farmers’ distress.
Connecting the dots:
- Increasing MSPs to help farmers has several limitations. Discuss. Also, highlight the need to switch from price policy approach to income policy to redress farmers’ distress.
TOPIC:General Studies 1:
- Social empowerment
- Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues.
Promoting women entrepreneurs in India
Today’s women have broken the glass ceiling and scaled new frontiers in business and industry, bringing fresh ideas into the commercial and tech landscape of India. These innovations are actively reshaping engineering, technology, design, handicrafts, weaving, shoe-making, agriculture, organic farming and other cultural and creative industries.
The recent World Economic Forum meeting at Davos adds to this notion of the new age women entrepreneur, putting out a call to bring up an equal number of women, in the labour force. This equalisation can enhance the Gross Domestic Product of a developing country like India by over 27 per cent.
As professional entrepreneurs, women are truly living their dreams. India has developed a vibrant entrepreneurial landscape aided by several progressive initiatives and measures instituted by the government.
Today, with more than 20,000 start-ups, India has emerged as the second largest start-up ecosystem in the world and is expected to grow at 10-12 per cent year-on-year.
It is heartening to see that India jumped 50 places in the overall ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings and this is just another reason to keep plouging ahead full steam towards ensuring a groundswell for women leadership in the country.
Women in India:
With women comprising over 48 per cent of the country’s population, it is impossible to think of economic growth without women as the fundamental drivers of change.
It is projected that by 2025, India’s GDP will get an additional boost of 16 per cent, by integrating women into the workforce.
The theme of the 8th edition of Global Entrepreneurship Summit, ‘Women first, Prosperity for all’ highlighted that when women do better, countries do better.
- According to the Sixth Economic Census by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), only 14 per cent businesses in India are run by women.
- It is estimated that over 90 per cent of finance requirement for women entrepreneurs is met through informal channels since they are unable to source formal, collateral free and transparent financing for their enterprises.
- The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018 (MIWE) has observed that cultural bias and a lack of access to financial services were amongst the major hindrances for women business owners in India.
Over the past few years, India has witnessed record growth in women entrepreneurship. The government initiatives includes-
- Stand-Up India- It has covered 12 villages in 4 months.
- NITI Aayog’s recent Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)
Above are steps in the right direction.
Several women-led leadership and mentorship programs such as empoWer, SAHA Fund and Sonder Connect are also gaining traction in India.
There is an urgent need to create an enabling environment for women to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations through progressive policies.
The Indian start-up landscape, with over eight million women entrepreneurs, is at an inflection point where an accelerated pro-women change is of vital importance.
- We must focus on establishing necessary infrastructure, such as women-centric incubator and accelerator models, actualising mentorship initiatives, increasing investment opportunities, as well as redrafting educational policies and skilling initiatives, making them more contemporary and relevant.
- Access to new age alternate funding for women entrepreneurs such as women specific venture funds and crowd funding is important for encouraging their growth.
- We need to encourage women to invest in other female-led companies to balance gender disparity, co-creating both mentorship and networking platforms.
- With emerging technologies such as hashgraph, blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (A.I), deep learning and Internet of Things (IoT), it is of vital importance that the skillset of women be expanded to match the current market trends.
Each small step that we take today will bring us closer towards fulfilling the larger vision for India of our Agenda 25×25 — 25 per cent women entrepreneurs by 2025.
To achieve inclusive and equitable socio-economic growth, we must ensure that at least 25 per cent of entrepreneurs in the country are women by 2025.
Connecting the dots:
- There is an urgent need to create an enabling environment for women to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations through progressive policies. Discuss.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Stupas are known to be the first religious structures in India. Which of the following statements regarding ‘Stupa’ are correct?
- They are pre-Buddhist structures.
- They are built only on the relics of Buddha.
- They are built to commemorate important events in Buddha’s life
Select the correct code from the following:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.2) Second century BCE Buddhist site, Thotlakonda was in news recently. It is found in –
- Tamil Nadu
- Andhra Pradesh
Q.3) Which of the following characteristic feature given below is clearly a distinction between Mahayana and Hinayana form of Buddhism?
- Buddha was a Human being in Mahayana where as he is considered as God in Hinayana
- Mahayana did not believe in idol worship
- Buddha is considered as God in Mahayana sect where as he is just a human being in Hinayana sect
- None of the above
Q.4) ‘To protect monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest which are declared to be of national importance’ – This provision is provided in:
- Fundamental Duties
- Fundamental Rights
- All of the above
Q.5) Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) is related to
- Food Park and Processing
- Irrigation in rural areas
- Financial Inclusion
- Rural Electrification
Q.6) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, PMKSY aims to bring rationality and investment in irrigation and bring water in every field. Consider the following
- Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP)
- Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)
- On Farm Water Management (OFWM)
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchana yojana is formulated by amalgamating which of the above schemes
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.7) Consider the following regarding CPI and GDP deflator
- CPI includes prices of goods consumed by representative consumer and excludes imported goods prices whereas GDP deflator includes prices of imported goods
- In CPI, goods purchased by consumers do not represent all the goods which are produced in a country whereas GDP deflator takes into account all such goods and services
- In CPI weights are constant but they differ according to the production level of each good in GDP deflator.
Select the correct statement/s
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Sunlight and shadow
The cancer refugees
An anti-lynching law is the wrong solution
Why private hospitals should join NHPM?