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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 31st August 2018

  • IASbaba
  • September 1, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 31st August 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


Fourth BIMSTEC summit: Kathmandu Declaration

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and its neighbourhood relations

In news:

  • The 4th BIMSTEC Summit was concluded in Kathmandu (Nepal).
  • Theme 2018: ‘Towards a Peaceful Prosperous, and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’.
  • 18-point Kathmandu Declaration was signed.
  • Signed MoU on Establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection.
  • Current chair of BIMSTEC – Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli
  • Chairmanship of the next (5th) BIMSTEC Summit – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

Kathmandu Declaration

  1. Stress on ending poverty from the region by 2030 (in line with UN SDGs)
  2. Common ties – agricultural technology exchange, fight against terrorism, gradual reduction of the impact of climate change, increase trade and investment, and ease the visa processing for the people of BIMSTEC member states.
  3. Importance of multidimensional connectivity as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity of the region.
  4. Importance of trade and investment.

Highlights of PM Modi’s speech

  • PM Modi reiterated India’s commitment to enhance its National Knowledge Network in BIMSTEC countries
  • BIMSTEC countries invited to participate in the International Buddhist Conclave 2020 (will be hosted by India) as the Guests of Honor.
  • Establishment of the Centre for Bay of Bengal Studies at Nalanda University.

About BIMSTEC

  • It was formed in 1997 (Bangkok Declaration)
  • It is an international regional organisation
  • It consists of seven countries from South Asia and South East Asia – lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting contiguous regional unity.

South Asia — Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

South East Asia — Myanmar and Thailand

  • BIMSTEC has also established a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
  • The region is a meeting point for India’s Neighbourhood First, Act East policies.

Animal in news: Nilgiri tahr

National Park at news: Mukurthi National Park

Part of: Prelims – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation

In news:

  • Recent census has revealed that the population of the Nilgiri tahr at the Mukurthi National Park has grown by an impressive 18% in the last two years, from 480 to 568.
  • Mukurthi National Park (MNP) is protected area located in the western corner of the Nilgiris Plateau west of Ootacamund hill station in the northwest corner of Tamil Nadu state in the Western Ghats mountain range of South India.

Key pointers:

  • IUCN Status: Endangered
  • The present distribution of the Nilgiri tahr is limited to approximately 5% of the Western Ghats in southern India, in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in southern India.
  • It is found only in high altitudes in India’s Western Ghats
  • The endangered wild goat could lose approximately 60% of its habitat, starting from the 2030s. (due to Climate change)
  • Largest of the 3 tahr species
  • State animal of Tamil nadu.
  • Threats – habitat loss, overgrazing, illegal hunting


High water discharge from China threatens Arunachal

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and its neighbourhood relations; Disaster management

In news:

  • High discharge of water from China, the highest in 50 years, is threatening to submerge at least 12 villages along the river Siang in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Recently there have been incidents of “unusually high” discharge of water – (Reason) due to sudden release of water from man-made barriers or a natural dam that was formed due to landslides caused by major earthquakes in the Tibetan region of China in November 2017.
  • The government needs to come up with effective anti-erosion measures besides talking to China for ensuring safety of downstream areas in India.
  • There is a lot of concern at the international, national and local levels about the geologically and strategically important Siang that impacts Bangladesh too.

Do you know?

  • Yarlung Tsangpo River is the longest river of Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
  • It is the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/08/31/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/4d10b784_2357441_101_mr.jpg


Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Education reforms

In news:

  • Centre comes up with new annual ranking method for higher educational institutions, based on how they fare in terms of innovation.
  • Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) – will be formally launched on October 15, the birth anniversary of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • The first results will be declared on February 28, 2019, which is also Science Day.
  • ARIIA will work parallel to the overall ranking of institutions captured by the annual National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
  • ARIIA will focus on: budget expenses and revenues generated; facilitating access to advance centres; ideas of entrepreneurship; innovation ecosystems supported through teaching and learning; and innovative solutions to improve governance of the institution.

Do you know?

  • There is slight distinction between Research and Innovation – ‘research produces new knowledge while innovation puts that knowledge to use’.

2013 Bir Singh versus Delhi Jal Board case: SC Reservation issue

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Reservation and Social issue

In news:

  • Bir Singh versus Delhi Jal Board case deals with legal question whether a Scheduled Caste person from a State would be accorded the same concessions in employment in another State.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi held that “a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste in one State cannot be deemed to be a Scheduled Caste person in relation to any other State to which he migrates for the purpose of employment or education.”

Do you know?

  • As per the constitutional provisions (Article 341), the President of India shall prepare the list of such castes and tribes for the first time, in consultation with Governors of States. Parliament has been authorised to make subsequent modifications in such lists as and when required.
  • It means the list of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will not be same for all states but differ from state to state depending upon social and educational backwardness of such castes and communities.
  • The Scheduled Caste order, 1950, issued by the Government of India states and certain castes belonging to only Hindu and Sikh religion are designated as Scheduled Castes. Thus, there are no Scheduled Castes outside these two religions.
  • The Order was amended in 1990 to accommodate the neo-Buddhists. However, the untouchable convertees to Islam and Christianity continue to remain outside its purview.

Constitution provisions dealing with Scheduled Castes:

  • Article 15 of the Constitution says the State shall not discriminate on the basis of caste, religion, race, or place of birth.
  • The above article seeks to check the social isolation and restrictions from visiting common public places that Scheduled Castes were often historically, and still are, subjected to across India.
  • Article 16 of the Constitution also assures equal opportunity to all citizens for employment in any office under the State, including in promotions, without any discrimination based on caste.
  • Apart from this, Article 46 of the Constitution also states that the State shall promote the educational and economic interests of weaker sections, namely “Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”

The Constitution also provides for a proportionate reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in educational institutions and public offices under the State.

  1. Article 243D provides for reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Panchayats in the same proportion as the population of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes in the village.
  2. Article 243T promises the same proportionate reservation of seats in Municipalities.
  3. Article 330 promises reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha, once more, on a proportional basis to the total population of SC/STs to overall population.
  4. Article 335 assures that the claims of members of the SC/ST community [to these seats], while ensuring the efficiency of administration, shall be taken into consideration while making appointments to services and posts in connection with the State.
  5. Article 338 establishes the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes.
  6. Article 340 gives the President the power to appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes, the difficulties they face, and make recommendations on steps to be taken to improve their condition. This was the article under which the Mandal Commission was formed.
  7. Article 341 – (discussed already above)

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment publishes a state-wise list of castes that fall into the schedule, and only those people carrying certificates of caste from the listed states qualify for the protections afforded to members of the SC community.


Miscellaneous

  1. Russia, China set to launch joint military exercises – Vostok 2018 drills. Mongolia will be the third country participating in the drills.
  2. Uber intends to launch ‘Uber Elevate’ – air taxis. Uber had named Dallas and Los Angeles as its first two launch cities in the U.S.. SoftBank-backed company is considering India, along with countries like Japan and France, to be a part of its futuristic dream.

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Development processes- the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations institutional and other stakeholders
  • 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.

Speeding up the adoption process: On the Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill of 2018

Introduction

In India, adoption procedure between child and the family is done by courts. But courts in India are under the burden of heavy work load. To bring about an alternative procedure parliament is considering amendment bill to juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

The Juvenile Justice Act of 2015:

  • The Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 introduces comprehensive provisions for children in conflict with the law and children in need of care and protection.
  • It was enacted keeping in view the standards prescribed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Millennium Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, 1985 (the Beijing Rules), the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (1990), the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Inter-country Adoption (1993) and other related international instruments.
  • Chapter 8 of this Act deals with adoption. Subsection (1) of Section 56 of the Act says “adoption shall be resorted to for ensuring right to family for the orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children.”
  • Section 63 of the Act states that the adoption is final on the issuance of the adoption order by the court
  • Subsection (2) of Section 61 of the Act provides that “the adoption proceedings shall be held in camera and the case shall be disposed of by the court within a period of two months from the date of filing the adoption.”

Need for Amendment to the Act:

  • Early this January, the Supreme Court observed that the “future of the country depends on our children”.
  • An affidavit filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights shows that of 203 special adoption agencies audited, merely eight deserved positive reviews.
  • It has been observed that there is an inordinate delay in issuing adoption orders by the courts due to the heavy workload.
  • As of July 20, 2018, there are 629 cases for adoption pending in various courts across the country.
  • Due to delay in the issuing of adoption orders by the courts, children continue to stay in childcare institutions, even after getting a family.

Proposed Amendment:

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill of 2018 seeks to remedy the situation.
  • In the best interest of the child, it proposes to amend the Juvenile Justice Act to empower the District Magistrate, instead of the court, to issue adoption orders.
  • This would ensure timely processing of adoption cases and provide orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children with familial care and protection.

Do you know?

Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)

  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a statutory body of Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.
  • It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.
  • CARA primarily deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated /recognised adoption agencies.

Conclusion:

Timely proceeding of adoption cases would provide needy childern with desrving families. It will be in line with the SC observation; “future of the country depends on our children”.

Connecting the dots:

  • Explain in brief the Child adoption procedure in India. Do you think it should be made simpler? Give some suggestions to include street children and beggars into this network.

ECONOMY/S&T

TOPIC:General Studies 3

  • Agriculture; issues and related constraints
  • e-technology in the aid of farmers

Big data for farmers

Introduction

Aadhaar card became an instrument of large scale and precise service delivery to the masses. On the similar lines government should consider to expand the applicability of Soil Health Card, to fulfil its commitment of doubling the farmers income by 2022.

Background:

  • When the Government of India introduced the Multipurpose National ID Card (MNIC) scheme in the early 2000s, it had a limited scope.
  • The MNIC was meant to be an ID card to “verify the citizenship of Indians and secure our borders”. In six years, the project was able to provide ID cards to a mere 12 lakh people.
  • Then came Aadhaar, a paradigm shift, which re-imagined what a country can do with an ID system at scale — from targeting government subsidies to driving start-up business models.
  • Aadhaar is today universal, transforming service delivery and spurring innovation.

Can we think of a similar paradigm shift in the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme?

  • The SHC scheme, that was introduced in 2015, intended that every farmer receive a health card for their soils that tells them the status of the nutrients in it, and, as a result, guide them about the fertilisers they should apply to maximise their yields.
  • The entire government agriculture extension and research system galvanised itself, collected samples, analysed them for 12 soil chemical parameters, recommended fertiliser dosages and printed these on the SHCs, which were given to farmers.
  • The scheme delivered on the basic promise — as of June, 2.53 crore samples had been collected, and SHCs distributed to 10.74 crore farmers.

The well-intentioned scheme is falling short at three levels:

First, operational challenges plague the system.

  • The current “census” approach, where soil samples are collected from every 2×2 hectare parcel of land in irrigated areas (10×10 hectare in dry areas), and transported en masse for analysis in a dated network of wet chemistry labs, has put tremendous strain on the system, and the quality of soil analysis has suffered.
  • Studies conducted have shown a low correlation between the results generated by the SHC scheme and those generated by gold standard labs.
  • For instance, a Harvard study in Gujarat last year found accuracy issues in 300 of the 800 plots tested. On the field, such stories abound.

Second, the scheme’s current design

  • It oversimplifies the nutrient recommendations — for example, if the health card shows that a farmer’s soil is deficient in zinc, it recommends topping up zinc.
  • However, increasingly, research is showing that a crop’s “yield response” to a nutrient is far more complex than this.
  • It is determined not only by the deficiency of that nutrient, but also other variables — rainfall, production practices, the presence of other nutrients, soil acidity, and temperature, to name a few.
  • The correct yield response can be predicted from a model with data on the above parameters, a system that the scheme currently does not use.
  • The simplistic recommendation based on deficiency of that nutrient alone is often sub-optimal, and can exacerbate the farmer’s problem, rather than solve it.

Third, the scheme underestimates its own potential

  • Because of its large-scale collection of soil data, it sees little use outside of filling out a physical card.
  • This vast repository of data, painstakingly aggregated from millions of samples, remains largely isolated from researchers, start-ups and even state governments.
  • These shortcomings, however, present a remarkable opportunity for Indian agriculture.

What if? (Way forward)

  • What if we could move to a sampling-based soil information system that reduces the need for the tens of millions of samples that strain our lab capacity, and produces better results four times faster, at half the cost?
  • What if we could develop predictive models using big data to provide recommendations to farmers that account for all the factors that affect a crop’s yield response?
  • What if we could go beyond health cards the way we went beyond mere identity cards with Aadhaar and re-imagine how to structure and use the vast repositories of agriculture-related data that currently reside within silos — soil, rainfall, cropping patterns, temperature, irrigation?
  • Can we make these datasets available through an open API platform?

Integrating SHC with other stake holders

  • It could help start-ups to combine soil health card data with rainfall and irrigation data and deliver precision irrigation advisories to our farmers on their mobile phones.
  • Fertiliser companies, building upon such a platform, leveraging soils data, weather data, and farmer demand patterns, can shape the distribution of fertiliser blends in different districts.
  • Such a platform can catalyse a wave of innovations in agriculture, in much the same way as IndiaStack has done in financial services.

Some examples: application big data in agriculture

  • In data starved Tanzania, a version of such a platform already exists — the Africa Soil Information Service uses machine learning to bring together various pieces of data (soil, climate, production practices) to enable the government and fertiliser companies determine what blended fertilisers could improve soil nutrition.
  • In India, states like Andhra Pradesh and Bihar have begun to go down this path.
  • Andhra Pradesh, for example, is currently bringing together years’ worth of cropping pattern data, precipitation data, temperature readings, irrigation information and SHC data, and combining them with farmer production practices to determine what impact different nutrients have on yield.
  • As a first step, this will act as a decision support system to do more targeted extension, and produce more customised fertiliser blends. Eventually, it can be used to offer recommendations to farmers to help improve yields.

Conclusion:

  • Stories of farm distress make headlines almost every day. Farm data and intelligent digital platforms that build on the SHC programme and leverage big data analytics can be a solution.
  • Incorporating all factors that affect crop yields into Soil Health Cards will make them a comprehensive guide for farmers.

Connecting the dots:

  • What are the causes of agriculture stagnation and farmers’ distress in India? Suggest some solutions for making “doubling the farmers’ income by 2022” possible.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note:

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements:

  1. 4th BIMSTEC Summit and International Buddhist Conclave was held in Nepal.
  2. 2018 Theme is ‘Towards a Peaceful Prosperous, and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements:

  1. BIMSTEC was formed in 1997 (Bangkok Declaration)
  2. It consists of all countries from South Asia and South East Asia

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3) Mukurthi National Park was in news recently. The national park is located in –

  1. Tamil Nadu
  2. Kerala
  3. Arunachal Pradesh
  4. Odisha

Q.4) Consider the following statements about ‘Nilgiri Tahr’

  1. It is widely distributed along the Western Ghats from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu
  2. It is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Consider the following statements with reference to the Siang River

  1. Brahmaputra River is called Siang in China.
  2. The river is called Padma in Bangladesh.
  3. Kanchenjunga Mountain is the highest elevation of the river basin.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. 1 and 2
  3. Only 3
  4. 2 and 3

Q.6) 2013 Bir Singh versus Delhi Jal Board case deals with –

  1. Landmark judgment which declared that Preamble is part of the Constitution.
  2. Landmark judgment which played the most significant role towards the transformation of the judicial view on Article 21 of the Constitution of India so as to imply many more fundamental rights from article 21.
  3. Legal question whether a Scheduled Caste person from a State would be accorded the same concessions in employment in another State.
  4. Enforcement of the fundamental rights of working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

Q.7) Consider the following statements:

  1. Only Hindu and Sikh religion are designated as Scheduled Castes in India.
  2. Untouchable convertees to Islam and Christianity continue to remain outside its purview.
  3. Article 340 gives the President the power to appoint a commission to investigate the conditions of backward classes

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

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