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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th February 2019

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  • February 15, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th February 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Kerala takes the lead in the fight against trans fat

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Government schemes and programmes

In news:

  • Kerala Health Department has drawn up an action plan to generate public awareness on the harmful effects of trans fatty acids (TFA) in commercially available food items.
  • The action plan will also encourage the local food industry to meet the current statutory limits set for TFA and keep their food TFA-free.
  • Salt being a major contributor to hypertension and stroke, the action plan also plans to address the high salt content in processed foods, pickles, papads and condiments by encouraging manufacturers to move to low sodium options.

Pic: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/4pwlk1/article26261767.ece/alternates/FREE_615/14tv-Trans-fatcol

Do you know?

  • Various studies suggest that an unhealthy diet with a high TFA content is a significant factor that pushes up metabolic syndrome and the burden of its associated complications.

Article 35A

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian Polity; Centre and State Relations; Constitution of India

About:

  • Article 35A deals with providing special status to the State and people of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The article empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.
  • The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.
  • It was added to the constitution through a presidential order of 1954 with the then J&K government’s concurrence.
  • Article 35A does not allow people from outside the state of Jammu & Kashmir to work, settle or own property in the state.

Why in news?

  • The Article, which was unknown to the public domain till recent times, has raked up an intense debate in the country when a Kashmiri woman, Charu Wali Khan filed a petition to change the constitutional provision as she wanted succession rights in the state though she is settled outside the state.
  • An NGO, ‘We the Citizens’ had also filed a writ petition to strike down Article 35A.
  • The NDA Government wants to have a larger debate over the Article 35A challenging the constitutional validity of the clause.
  • Supreme Court to hear petitions challenging Article 35A soon.

99.82% projects in forests got nod

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Biodiversity; Role of NBWL

In news:

  • National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny. Only five projects were rejected since August 2014.
  • NBWL is the apex body charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry.
  • From 2009-2013, under the UPA regime, NBWL recommended 260 of the 328 that came into its purview — or about 80% of the projects.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/02/14/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/39f1cdc6_2733469_101_mr.jpg

About National Board for Wild Life (NBWL)

  • It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It is a very important body because it serves as apex body to review all wildlife-related matters and approve projects in and around national parks and sanctuaries.
  • The NBWL adjudicates on industrial projects, road diversions or the like that could encroach into Protected Areas or eco-sensitive zones of forests.
  • A smaller Standing Committee of the NBWL is charged with deliberating on the merits of projects that come to it for scrutiny; the committee comprises scientists and government officials and is chaired by Union Environment Minister.

‘Only 84% rural households have electricity in four States’

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government schemes and programmes; Infrastructure/Energy

In news:

According to a comprehensive private sector survey of 10,000 households –

  • Only 84% of rural households have electricity connection in the four States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan.
  • Only 75% of all households used electricity from the grid. In other words, several households that relied on off-grid sources of electricity despite having a connection.

The findings of the Survey is in contrast to the government’s Saubhagya Scheme data, which shows that 100% household electrification has been achieved in U.P., Bihar and Odisha; and 99.9% in Rajasthan.

Do you know: about Saubhagya Scheme?

  • PM launched Rs. 16320 crore scheme to supply electricity to all households by December 2018, providing free connection to poor and at low cost to others.
  • The PM Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana named SAUBHAGYA aims to improve environment, public health and education and connectivity with help of last mile power connections across India.

Miscellaneous:

1. Citizenship, triple talaq Bills lapse

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian Polity; Centre-State Relations; Citizenship

In news:

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that had set off a series of violent protests across the northeastern States, lapsed as the government failed to push it through Rajya Sabha.
  • Along with the Citizenship Bill, the triple talaq Bill that criminalises instant divorce in a Muslim marriage has also lapsed.

Do you know?

  • There have been widespread protests against the Citizenship Bill that proposed to grant citizenship to six religious minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014.
  • The Bill was seen as violating the terms of the 1985 Assam Accord that had set March 24, 1971 as the cut-off for granting citizenship.

CAG Report on Rafale deal

Context:

  • In previous DNA, we read about key findings of ‘domain experts’ (senior Defence Ministry officials) on the Indian Negotiating Team (INT)
  • Domain experts findings were 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.

Do you know?

  • There have been varying claims from government officials on how much cheaper the 2016 deal was, with estimates ranging from 9% to 20%.

In news:

However, CAG report provides the following key highlights –

  • The contract signed in 2016 to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from France through the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) was 86% lower in value than “Audit’s aligned price” of the bid received in 2007 when the then UPA government had sought to purchase 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
  • The CAG also observed that the price could have been reduced further had the benefits of waiving of the bank guarantees for the vendor (Dassault Aviation) been passed on to India.
  • On the delivery schedule, the CAG found that the 2016 deal’s terms would ensure only a month’s advantage over the timeline offered in the 2007 bid.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/02/14/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/0218af94_2733460_101_mr.jpg


(MAINS FOCUS)


WELFARE/ECONOMY

TOPIC: 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

General studies 3 

  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

For effective implementation of PM-KISAN

Context:

In previous DNA editorials, we covered –

  • About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme (Click here)
  • Analysis of PM-KISAN: Will the Rs6,000 farmer payout help? (Click Here)
  • Need of the scheme (Click Here)
  • Challenges to the scheme (Click Here)
  • Why MGNREGA better than PM-KISAN? (Click Here)

After going through above editorials, we feel even though PM-KISAN is a progressive step, is it enough to mitigate India’s severe agrarian distress?

Concerns with Agriculture Sector:

  • Agriculture sector employs over 50% of the workforce either directly or indirectly
  • The sector remains the main source of livelihood for over 70% of rural households
  • Droughts of 2014 and 2015, ad-hoc export and import policies, lack of infrastructure, and uncertainty in agricultural markets have adversely affected agricultural productivity and stability of farm incomes.

Agriculture growth rates in the last five years: It has been inconsistent

Year Growth Rate
2013-14 5.6%
2014-15 (-) 0.2%
2015-16 0.7%
2016-17 4.9%
2017-18 2.1%

Pic: https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/agri1.png

Therefore, PM-KISAN is aimed at boosting rural consumption and helping poor farmers recover from distress.

However, without adequate focus on proper strategy and implementation, the scheme is unlikely to make any meaningful impact.

Need of the hour: For successful implementation of PM-KISAN

1. Adequate financial support

  • Cash transfers are mooted for their potential greater efficiency in enabling poor households to directly purchase the required goods and services as well as enhance their market choices.
  • PM-KISAN effectiveness can only be realised through financial support that provides farmers with adequate purchasing power.
  • However, the income support of ₹17 a day for a household (as against ₹32 per person per day in rural areas, according to the Rangarajan Committee), which is the amount offered by PM-KISAN, is largely insufficient for even bare minimum sustenance of vulnerable farmers.
  • Therefore, PM-KISAN should first ensure that there is enough cash provided to help bring an affected community out of poverty.

2. Inflation adjusted Cash Transfer

  • Given the volatile market and price fluctuations in different regions, it is important to index the cash transfers to local inflation.
  • Failure of DBT in kerosene in Rajasthan can be attributed to this insufficient cash transfers which was not adjusted based on market price fluctuations or inflation.

3. Well-planned Implementation Mechanism

  • The scheme requires significant implementation capabilities.
  • Majority of the States have incomplete tenancy records and land data are not digitized. Therefore, identification of beneficiaries is daunting.
  • Many pilot schemes aimed to replace subsidised food grains with cash in three Union Territories (Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry) have failed due to data inconsistencies.
  • In the absence of updated land records and complete databases, the scheme may end up benefitting only those who hold land titles and not the small, marginal or tenant farmers who are the most vulnerable.

Conclusion:

PM-KISAN is an ambitious scheme that has the potential to deliver significant welfare outcomes. However, the current top-down, rushed approach of the government ignores governance constraints and is therefore likely to result in failure.

An alternative bottom-up strategy and well-planned implementation mechanism would allow weaknesses to be identified and rectified at the local level.

The most effective modalities can then be scaled nationally and ensure success.

Connecting the dots:

  • PM-KISAN is an ambitious scheme that has the potential to deliver significant welfare outcomes. Do you agree? Also discuss what measures are needed for its successful implementation?

NATIONAL/ECONOMY

TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Governance issues; Role of Civil Society Organizations

General Studies 3 

  • Environment versus development.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

New Coastal Regulation Zone Notification and Role of Civil Societies

Context:

In previous DNA editorials, we covered –

  • Salient features of the New CRZ Notification, 2018 (Click Here)
  • Difference between New CRZ Notification, 2018 and the previous CRZ Notification, 2011 (Click Here)
  • Loopholes in New Coastal Regulation Zone Notification (Click Here)

In news:

  • Experts had opined that the recent Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2018 ignores the vulnerabilities of coastal regions to climate change.
  • The new CRZ notification is said to benefit hospitality/tourism industries and local economies, however, the lives and livelihood of thousands of citizens continue to be at risk.

Concerns:

  • India’s vulnerabilities to climate challenges should not be ignored.
  • Government, businesses and civil society have the responsibility of constructive action to address this environmental challenge. However, governments in India do not prioritise climate change mitigation, fearing that it will impede economic growth and efforts to alleviate poverty.

The role of civil society

  • Civil societies have played important role in containing policies that can contribute to climate catastrophes and precarious situations.
  • It helps to establish sustainable mitigative measures and improve quality of life in multiple dimensions — physical environment, health and finance.
  • It helps to bring changes in consumption-related thinking and behaviour.
  • Their involvement offers tremendous opportunity for citizens’ needs to be heard.
  • It plays an assertive role in forcing a shift in the current stance and shaping the country’s climate policy.

Vital tool: Bringing changes in consumption-related thinking and behaviour

  • Important for sustainability
  • Making mobility choices that result in efficient fuel use and lower carbon emissions.
  • It calls for considering alternative sources of domestic electricity.
  • Alter the use of cooling devices and power.

Altering our lifestyles for sustainability has a silver lining — we have a valuable chance to re-orient our lives for substantive improvement. The sooner we act, the more significant the gain.

In the emerging multi- faceted nature of governance, the civil society institutions can play a constructive role not only in harnessing the resources of the government but also in tapping the structure and resources of the market to give a fair deal to the people, and in creating an environment where sustainable development takes place.

Connecting the dots:


(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 below statements:

  1. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) targets eliminating trans fat in India by the year 2022.
  2. World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a new mass media campaign called “Heart Attack Rewind” which targets eliminating trans fat globally by the year 2023.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.2) Consider the following

  1. Transfat are saturated fatty acids
  2. They are formed during the process of addition of hydrogen atoms to oil
  3. Trans fat are naturally found in nature

Which of the following statements is/are false with respect to “Trans fat”?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. None

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Article 35A

  1. It is a part of original constitution.
  2. The provision discriminates against a woman’s right to property.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.4) Consider the following advantages of conserving Biodiversity

  1. It ensures the sustainable utilization of life support systems on earth.
  2. The genetic diversity of plants and animals are preserved.
  3. It ensures that it will fulfil all the development needs of people.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.5) Consider the following about National Board for Wild Life (NBWL)

  1. It is a “Statutory Organization” constituted under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  2. It is is the apex body charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.6) ‘Saubhagya Web Portal’ has been launched by government of India to track

  1. Gas connections in rural and urban households
  2. Electrification of rural and urban households
  3. Domestic violence in urban areas
  4. Swachch Bharat Abhiyan

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