IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th February 2019
India inks contract for 72,000 assault rifles
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and US ties; Defence
- Indian Army signed a contract with Sig Sauer of the U.S. for 72,400 SIG716 assault rifles for front-line soldiers deployed in operational areas.
- Of the 72,400 rifles, 66,400 are meant for the Army, 2,000 for the Navy and 4,000 for the Air Force.
- The new rifles will replace the Indian National Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles.
Do you know?
- The Defence Ministry also issued the Expression of Interest (EoI) for a deal to buy 111 naval utility helicopters. This is the first project to be executed through the strategic partnership policy.
- Under this, the chosen Indian private company will team up with the Original Equipment Manufacturer to build the product in India.
- The EoI follows the Request for Information (RFI) and then detailed Request for Proposal (RFP).
- The copters will replace the ageing Chetak fleet.
India, Maldives reverse visa stand-off
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations
- India and Maldives exchanged an agreement to facilitate visas for travel between the two countries in a number of categories.
- “Visa Facilitation Agreement” – This Agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education & medical purposes.
- It also makes it easier for Indians to travel to Maldives for business purposes.
- Medical visas will also be granted to attendants to accompany patients. The government has also agreed to grant visas for parents and other dependants to live in India while their children attend school here.
1. Rafale deal not on ‘better terms’ than UPA-era offer
Key findings of the ‘domain experts’ (senior Defence Ministry officials) on the Indian Negotiating Team (INT)
- The new Rafale deal for 36 flyaway aircraft (by current government) was not on “better terms” than the offer made by Dassault Aviation during the procurement process for 126 aircraft under the UPA government.
- Delivery schedule of even the first 18 of the 36 flyaway Rafale aircraft in the new deal was slower than the one offered for the 18 flyaway aircraft in the original procurement process.
These findings are directly contrary to the two central claims made by the Indian government of a cheaper deal and faster delivery of fighter aircraft.
Domain experts also registered serious concern over the Indian government’s acceptance of a ‘Letter of Comfort’ instead of a sovereign or government guarantee or bank guarantees and also acceptance of offset issues and Dassault Aviation’s restrictive trade practices.
Commenting on the final €7.87 billion cost of the new Rafale deal, the domain experts stated that the final price offered by the French Government cannot be considered as ‘better terms’ compared to the MMRCA [medium multi-role combat aircraft] offer.
2. Gujjar stir for reservation
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social/welfare issue; Reservation issue; Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- The Gujjar community’s agitation in Rajasthan for 5% reservation in government jobs and education has created unrest in the state.
- The Gujjars were demanding a lower scheduled tribe status, instead of their current OBC (Other Backward Class) status. As government refused to yield, they started to agitate.
- Quota based reservations were introduced to bring about a change to those communities or caste who were deprived of growth opportunities. (especially SCs/STs)
- However, over the years, more and more castes have started demanding reservation, leading to violence and agitations.
- Examples – Gujjar Agitation; Jat Agitation; Patidar agitation
3. ‘95% of registered realty firms have no PAN’
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it
- Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that a whopping 95% of the real estate sector companies registered with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) did not have a permanent account number (PAN).
- CAG says I-T dept. has no mechanism to ensure all registered companies have PAN and file returns.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
14th CoP-CBD and Principle of ‘Commons’
- 14th CoP-CBD Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity was held at the Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. (Nov 2018)
- Key focus – “How to govern biological resources (or biodiversity) at different levels for the world’s sustainable future?”
- Year 2018 marked the CBD’s 25th year of implementation.
CBD reports and studies highlighted that –
- Humans have mismanaged biodiversity so badly that we have lost 60% of resources (which can never be recouped).
- Convention’s objectives of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits were being compromised, including by the parties themselves.
Concept: Principle of ‘Commons’
- For thousands of years, humans have considered natural resources and the environment as a global public good and communities across the world had carefully managed these resources using the principle of ‘Commons’.
- In simple terms, principle of ‘Commons’ deals with mindset that set of resources such as air, land, water and biodiversity do not belong to one community or individual, but to humanity.
- All developments that we see in the establishment of civilisations across the world as well as agricultural development feeding the world today are a result of such ‘Commons’ being managed by communities for centuries.
- However, then came the urge of those with money and power to privatise these resources for individual prosperity in the form of property management principles, intellectual property rights and others.
Concept: Principle of sovereign rights over biodiversity
- Convention on Biological Diversity, a multi-lateral environmental agreement, provided legal certainty to countries through the principle of sovereign rights over biodiversity.
- Therefore, in one form, the CBD contributed to states now owning the resources, including their rights on use and management.
- Today, states control and manage biodiversity with strict oversight of who can use what and how.
- The intent of the CBD and having sovereign rights was to manage resources better.
- But the results of such management have been questionable.
- A key reason cited is that ‘Commons’ and common property resource management principles and approaches are ignored and compromised.
Why ‘Principle of Commons’ is important?
- According to estimates, a third of the global population depends on ‘Commons’ for their survival.
- 65% of global land area is under ‘Commons’, in different forms.
- The significance of ‘Commons’ in supporting pollination and storing carbon cannot be overlooked.
Importance of ‘Commons’ for India
- In India, the extent of ‘Common’ land constitutes around 15-25% of its total geographical area.
- ‘Common’-pool resources contribute $5 billion a year to the incomes of poor Indian households.
- Around 77% of India’s livestock is kept in grazing-based or extensive systems and dependent on ‘Commons’ pool resources. And 53% of India’s milk and 74% of its meat requirements are met from livestock kept in extensive ‘Common’ systems.
- ‘Commons’ as resources are not only relevant for rural communities but are now a major provider of livelihood options for both urban and peri-urban populations.
- Despite their significance, ‘Commons’ in India have suffered continued decline and degradation.
- National Sample Survey Office data show a 1.9% quinquennial rate of decline in the area of ‘Common’ lands.
- Micro studies show a much more rapid decline of 31-55% over 50 years, jeopardising the health of systemic drivers such as soil, moisture, nutrient, biomass and biodiversity, in turn aggravating food, fodder and water crises.
- As of 2013, India’s annual cost of environmental degradation has been estimated to be ₹3.75 trillion per year, i.e. 5.7% of GDP according to the World Bank.
The way ahead:
- ‘Commons’ becoming uncommon is a major socio-political, economic and environmental problem.
- While the state can have oversight over resource management, but keeping people away from using and managing ‘Commons’ is against effective governance of ‘Commons’.
- The sovereign rights provided for, legally, under the CBD should not be misunderstood by the state as a handle to do away with ‘Commons’-based approaches to managing biodiversity, land, water and other resources.
- Rather State and international governing bodies should focus on how and why ‘Commons’ have been negatively impacted? What needs to be done to save the earth and people?
- There needs to be a review of current governance of biodiversity and natural resources.
Connecting the dots:
- What are various resource management strategies? Discuss.
- Discuss the mandate and significance of Convention on Biological Diversity in managing biodiversity.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Economic Development – Indian Economy and Issues relating to growth and development.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
The shape of the jobs crisis
- Job creation has slowed since 2011-12
- 2011-12 was the year of the last published National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) labour force survey.
- Labour Bureau annual survey (2015-16) data and Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, which has a sample size larger than the NSSO labour force surveys, has also highlighted high unemployment rate in India.
Do you know?
- Both the surveys captures better data than NSSO as they cover rural and urban, and organised and unorganised sector employment.
- They also capture both the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation/National Pension Scheme (organised) as well as such employment as might be generated by Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd (MUDRA) loans or platform economy jobs.
- The latter two job sources were not being captured by the NSSO jobs data available.
- We can conclude that the jobs situation has turned grim since 2012.
According to the leaked NSSO 2017-18 data –
- Open unemployment rate (which does not measure disguised unemployment and informal poor quality jobs) jumped to 6.1% in 2017-18 from 2.6% between 1977-78 and 2011-12.
- There was a sharp increase in the unemployment rate of the educated.
- Reasons for such high jump: More number of young people becoming educated.
- The expectation of such youth is for a urban, regular job in either industry or services, not in agriculture. Therefore, many remained unemployed and open unemployment rates increased.
- As open unemployment rates increased, more and more people got disheartened and fell out of the labour force; in other words, they stopped looking for work.
- Labour force participation rates (LFPR, i.e. those looking for work) for all ages, fell sharply from 43% in 2004-5 to 39.5% in 2011-12, to 36.9% in 2017-18.
- Therefore, number of youth who are NEETs: not in education, employment or training increased.
- They are a potential source of both our demographic dividend but also what is looking to be a mounting demographic disaster.
Do you know?
- In the last 10-12 years, more young people have become educated.
- The tertiary education enrolment rate (for those in the 18-23 age group) rose from 11% in 2006 to 26% in 2016.
- The gross secondary (classes 9-10) enrolment rate for those in the 15-16 age groupshot up from 58% in 2010 to 90% in 2016.
Also according to the leaked NSSO 2017-18 data –
- Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, as many as 7.5 million new non-agricultural jobs were being created every year. The unemployment rate was only 2.2%.
- The volume of open unemployment was almost constant (at around 10 million) until 2011-12, but it increased to 16.5 million by 2015-16.
- However, post 2011-12, non-agricultural jobs were less but the volume of open unemployment was high. This situation got worsened further by 2017-18.
Number of workers in agriculture fell sharply but increased recently
- For an economy at India’s stage of development, an increase of workers in agriculture is a structural retrogression, in a direction opposite to the desired one.
- Between 2004-5 and 2011-12, the number of workers in agriculture fell sharply, which is good, for the first time in India’s economic history.
- However, after 2012, as non-agricultural job growth slowed, the number of youth in agriculture actually increased to 84.8 million till 2015-16 and even more since then. (As per CMIE data)
- These youth were better educated than the earlier cohort, but were forced to be in agriculture.
Drop in manufacturing jobs
- Manufacturing jobs actually fell in absolute terms, from 58.9 million in 2011-12 to 48.3 million in 2015-16. (10.6 million over a four-year period)
- This is consistent with slowing growth in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which consists of manufacturing, mining, and electricity.
- The IIP had sharply risen from 100 in 2004-5 to 172 by 2013-14 (in the 2004-5 series), but only rose from a base of 100 in 2011-12 in the later series to 107 in 2013-14, and to 125.3 in 2017-18.
- Exports fell after 2013 and barely recovered after that.
- Investment-to-GDP ratio also fell and still remaining well below 2013 levels. This holds for both private and public investment.
- The youth (“NEET” and unemployed) together constitute the potential labour force, which can be utilised to realise the demographic dividend in India.
- The number of new entrants into the labour force (especially educated entrants) will go on increasing until 2030.
- By 2040 our demographic dividend will be over.
- China managed to reduce poverty sharply by designing an employment strategy aligned to its industrial strategy. That is why it rode the wave of its demographic dividend.
- Unfortunately, India has neither an industrial policy nor an employment strategy, let alone the two being aligned.
- Policy makers should address the same at the earliest.
India always boasts of having the youngest and largest working age population in the world. An inability to create jobs for them will prevent the country from reaping the much-touted demographic dividend. Hence it is necessary to ensure growth is job oriented, holistic and inclusive to make sustainable.
Connecting the dots:
- Why unemployment will be the biggest challenge for policy makers in the next decade? Analyse. Also discuss the implications of a large unemployed youth population.
- India’s growth story has been marked by jobless growth in recent years. In this light, discuss the plausible reasons and measures of transformation from jobless to real growth.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Aichi target covers a strategic plan from 2011 – 2020. They are related to which of the following:
- Global warming and climate change
- Sustainable development
Q.2) Consider the below statements and identify the incorrect one:
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is not a legally binding convention.
- Cartagena Protocol deals with potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.
- Nagoya Protocol deals with fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
- Gran Canaria Declaration deals with global strategy for plant conservation.
Q.3) Which of the statements given below about Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is/are correct?
- The objective of CBD are: conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.
- It was adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
- Under CBD, years 2001-2010 is considered as United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.
Choose correct answer:
- 1 only
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.4) Which among the following are considered as the three Rio Conventions – derived directly from the 1992 Earth Summit?
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution
- United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Convention on Wetlands or Ramsar Convention
Choose the correct answer:
- 1, 3 and 4
- 1, 4 and 5
- 1, 2 and 4
- 1, 3 and 5
Q.5) Which among the following deals with ‘Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity’?
- Nagoya Protocol
- Cartagena Protocol
- Aichi declaration
- Basel Convention
Q.6) The primary goals of Convention on Biological Diversity do not include –
- preventing anthropogenic interference
- conservation of biological diversity
- sustainable use of biological diversity
- fair and equitable sharing of the benefits
Q.7) Consider the following statements with regard to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)
- National Statistical Office(NSO) consists of CSO, NSSO and CMIE
- CMIE is under Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
Deadly brew: on illicit liquor deaths
Lessons of 1979
Who will pay for sops?
The young are talking back