IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 20th August 2018
Forest Rights Act
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government schemes and policies; Social issue; Vulnerable section
Why in news?
- Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (commonly known as Forest Rights Act or ROFR Act) is in news.
- Supreme Court had issued directive asking states to detail about actions taken against the forest rights claimants whose claims have been rejected.
- Forest department has highlighted that there was no provision to act on ‘illegal’ occupants of forest land or penalise such claimants.
Important Value Additions:
About ROFR Act/FRA
- ROFR Act is also known as Forest Rights Act, the Tribal Rights Act, the Tribal Bill, and the Tribal Land Act.
- The law deals with the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
Do you know?
- India’s forests are governed by two main laws, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
- The former empowers the government to declare any area to be a reserved forest, protected forest or village forest.
- The latter allows any area to be constituted as a “protected area”, namely a national park, wildlife sanctuary, tiger reserve or community conservation area.
- Under these laws, the rights of people living in or depending on the area to be declared as a forest or protected area are to be “settled” by a “forest settlement officer.” This basically requires that officer to enquire into the claims of people to land, minor forest produce, etc., and, in the case of claims found to be valid, to allow them to continue or to extinguish them by paying compensation.
- Studies have shown that in many areas this process either did not take place at all or took place in a highly faulty manner.
- Therefore the Forest Rights Act was intended to correct the “historical injustice” done to forest dwellers by the failure to recognise their rights
Eligibility to get rights under the Act
- Eligibility is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” and who depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood.
- Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.
Misunderstanding the Act as a land distribution scheme
- A great deal of the debate is fuelled by misunderstandings of the purpose of the Act.
- The most common is that the purpose of the law is to distribute forest land to forest dwellers or tribals, often claimed to be at the rate of 4 hectares per family.
- The Act is intended to recognise lands that are already under cultivation as on 13 December 2005, not to grant title to any new lands.
Rythu Bima group life insurance scheme
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Government schemes and policies; Social issue; Farmers issue
- Rythu Bima life insurance scheme, introduced by the Telangana government, is being touted as the most unique of life insurance schemes wherein the death of farmers on any reason is compensated within a maximum period of seven days.
United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) and World Urban Campaign
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International fora and conventions
- UN–Habitat is the UN agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.
- Its mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.
- The mandate of UN-Habitat derives from the Habitat Agenda, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996.
- It runs two major worldwide campaigns – the Global Campaign on Urban Governance, and the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure.
- Through these campaigns and by other means the agency focuses on a range of issues and special projects which it helps implement.
- The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.
Do you know?
- Most of UN-Habitat’s funding comes from voluntary contributions from governmental and intergovernmental donors, while the UN General Assembly provides part of the regular budget.
World Urban Campaign
- It is a global coalition of public, private and civil society partners seeking to raise the urban agenda.
- It is coordinated by UN-Habitat.
NABARD All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and Agriculture
- More than half the agricultural households in the country have outstanding debt.
- Their average outstanding debt is almost as high as the average annual income of all agricultural households.
- NABARD found that 52.5% of the agricultural households had an outstanding loan.
- For non-agricultural households in rural India, that figure was 10 percentage points lower, at only 42.8%.
- The average debt of an indebted agricultural household stood at ₹1,04,602 in comparison to ₹76,731 for indebted non-agricultural households.
- According to the survey, the average annual income of an agricultural household is ₹1.07 lakh.
- Only 10.5% of agricultural households were found to have a valid Kisan Credit Card.
- Households who had the card utilised 66% of the sanctioned credit limit.
What happens when the rupee falls?
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it
- We already read about Rupee Depreciation, Appreciation, Devaluation and Revaluation. (Read here – Why is the rupee falling continuously?)
Now let us see what happens when the rupee falls?
- Country’s imports become more expensive and exports cheaper.
- It takes more rupees to pay for the same quantum of imports and fewer dollars for a buyer to pay for the same quantity of exports.
- More expensive imports are likely to drive inflation upward, especially in India where input products constitute a large part of our imports.
- It impacts the oil import bill since it costs more rupees per barrel of oil, which plays its own part in pushing inflation up.
- GDP growth – On the one hand, costlier inputs and the subsequent increase in the prices of finished goods should have a positive impact on GDP. But the consequent decrease in demand due to higher prices could nullify this. ‘Household consumption of goods and services’ plays a big role here.
- Domestic tourism could grow as more tourists visit India since their currency now buys more here. In the medium term, export-oriented industries may also create more jobs.
- ‘Operation Karuna’ – Code name of rescue operations in Kerala
- United Arab Emirates has formed an emergency committee under the leadership of the Emirates Red Crescent to help victims of the floods in Kerala. Similar initiatives are being taken by Saudi Arabia, Oman and private individuals in the Gulf region.
- The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), India’s next indigenous fighter, is expected to make its first flight by 2032.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- International Relations
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- India and the World
Sovereignty and sensitivity: India-Bhutan Relations
Issues in the news:
- The Border Roads Organisation, which helps build Bhutanese roads under Project Dantak, decided in July to make reflective stickers on the road sides and railings, in shades of the Indian tricolour, it raised red flags among the Bhutanese on social media.
- Citizens were worried that this was an attempt by India to impose its flag on their countryside. Eventually, the stickers were changed to blue and white.
- In April last year, the Department of Roads had to remove a board which read “Dantak welcomes you to Bhutan” at the Paro international airport.
- On an arterial highway, another board that credited the “Government of India” had to be painted over.
- Such incidences are a blip in India-Bhutan relations, but it is a clear indicator of heightened sensitivities in the Himalayan kingdom as it heads to its third general election.
- Previous Indian government’s decision to cut cooking gas subsidy just before the 2013 elections in Bhutan has often been shown as proof of Indian interference.
- Since then, the present Indian government’s actions, indicating a preference for one party (Bangladesh) or antipathy for another (Sri Lanka), have been noted closely in Bhutan.
Sovereignty and self-sufficiency
- The present Bhutanese government achieved the 8% GDP growth, along with a construction and tourist boom in Bhutan.
- They were successful in stabilising the rupee-ngultrum crises as well as for economic reforms. But Bhutan failed to curb the national debt, owed mostly to India for hydropower loans.
- Competing parties in the forthcoming elections are giving top priorities to “sovereignty, security and self-sufficiency” of Bhutan.
- This election comes days after India-China stand-off in 2017 in the Bhutan-claimed area of Doklam. Therefore the election candidates advocate a Bhutanese foreign policy that is less dependent on India.
- Another party has a similarly worded campaign manifesto title: “For a self-reliant Bhutan: our concern, our responsibility”.
- It can be concluded that, the concerns over India’s or any other country’s presence in Bhutan’s domestic and foreign policy are not being dismissed.
What India should do?
- India must step lightly and thoughtfully around the upcoming Bhutan’s national election.
- The government should keep high-profile visits at an arm’s length from the election process; especially given that there will be several such visits after the National Assembly is chosen.
- Revisiting policies and issues; The preceding months may also be a useful gape to revise India’s Bhutan policy and address several issues that have come up in the past few years — for example, the hydropower projects where delays in constructing and commissioning in Bhutan by Indian companies have led to the country’s burgeoning national debt.
- India’s power-surplus status and the advent of other renewable energies like wind and solar power will make it more difficult for Bhutan to ensure that its hydropower sector becomes profitable.
- Unless India finds ways to help, it will be accused of the same sort of “debt-trapping” that China is accused of today.
- India also needs to focus on policing cross-border trade The goods and services tax still hurts Bhutanese exporters, and demonetisation has left lasting scars on the banking system.
The China question
- Doklam, which has long been discussed as part of a possible “package solution” to the Bhutan-China border dispute, could become a point of India-China land dispute, with Bhutan becoming a hapless spectator in the middle.
- Experts point out that China’s actions since last June, to build a permanent military presence above the stand-off point, mean that Bhutan has a much reduced advantage in any forthcoming negotiations on the issue.
- Given concerns over Indian influence, New Delhi must exercise caution in the run-up to Bhutan’s elections.
- Empirically, India has advocated and supported sovereignty and right of self-determination of nations across the world. Considering this legacy of Independent democratic India, she should refrain from interfering in sovereign matters of Bhutan.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically comment on the nature of India – Bhutan relationship.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Constitution: Elections
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.
Simultaneous elections: Not Soon
- Chief Election Commissioner O.P. Rawat’s view that it is not possible to hold simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies soon.
- It is a humongous task ahead of the Election Commission.
Arguments in favour of simultaneous elections:
- The country is perpetually in election mode, resulting in a lack of adequate focus on governance.
- The second contention is that scattered polling results in extra expenditure.
Reasons compelling postponement of simultaneous elections:
- Along with a legal framework under which the extension or curtailment of the term of any Assembly is constitutionally permissible, simultaneous elections would demand a massive increase in the number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units. Ensuring the availability of VVPATs everywhere poses a logistical challenge.
- According to CEC altering the term of an Assembly needs an amendment to the Constitution.
- Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assemblies are going to end their term between December and January. A new batch of VVPAT units is expected only by the end of November.
- It takes a month for first-level checking, rendering the possibility of using them in the next round of elections remote.
- Simultaneous elections will require the use of 24 lakh EVMs, needing the procurement of 12 lakh EVMs and an equal number of VVPAT units, according to its estimate.
- These figures ought to give pause to the plan to hold simultaneous Assembly elections with the next Lok Sabha polls.
- A wide political consensus, as well as legislative cooperation from various parties at the Centre and in the States, is required for holding simultaneous elections.
- It is natural that parties that control legislatures constituted in recent months or years would resist any curtailment of their tenures, while those in the Opposition may prefer simultaneous polls if it means Assembly elections being advanced.
- Simultaneous polls pose too big a legal and logistical challenge to be implemented now.
- Given the procedural and logistical challenges that holding of simultaneous elections pose, it would be far more productive for political parties to focus on basic electoral reforms and find ways to curb excessive election expenditure.
Connecting the dots:
- Simultaneous elections in India are still a distant dream. Critically analyse.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Particularly Vulnerable Tribal groups (PVTG)
- They are centrally recognized special category from among the Scheduled Tribes
- Forest Rights Act, 2006 provided scope for the recognition of the PVTGs’ forest and habitat rights for the first time.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Consider the following statements about ‘Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006’
- It grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws
- It gives the community the right to protect and manage the forest
- It provides for rights to use and/or collect the following ‘Minor forest produce’
Select the correct statements
- 1 Only
- 1 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
- 2 and 3
Q.3) With reference to the role of UN-Habitat in the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future, which of the statements is/are correct?
- UN-Habitat has been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities to provide adequate shelter for all.
- Its partners are either governments or local urban authorities only.
- UN-Habitat contributes to the overall objective of the United Nations system to reduce poverty and to promote access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1, 2 and 3
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 only
Q.4) Consider the following statements regarding UN-Habitat
- It is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development
- It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development
- It is headquartered at Athens, Greece
Which of the given statements is/are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
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