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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd March 2019

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  • March 4, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd March 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Foreign Ministers Meet at OIC

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Organizations and their mandate.

In news:

  • In a major diplomatic move, India hit out at Pakistan during a meeting of Foreign Ministers at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
  • The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers was held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.
  • For the first time, India was invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as guest of honour.

Highlights:

  • India stressed that the anti-terror fight was not a clash among civilisations.
  • In order to save humanity, it urged to all the states who provide shelter and funding to the terrorists to dismantle the infrastructure of the terrorist camps and stop providing funding and shelter to the terror organisations based in their country.

Do you know?

  • India is not a member of the OIC, but was invited to the Abu Dhabi meeting as the guest of honour.
  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969.
  • Consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015 with 40 countries being Muslim Majority countries.
  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  • The official languages of the OIC are Arabic, English, and French.
  • Despite India having the second largest population of Muslims next to Indonesia in the world, it has not yet found a desirable position within the organisation.
  • For more on OIC, Objectives etc, visit – Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and India

Fires are a crucial component of some forest systems, says group of scientists

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Ecosystem services; Natural Hazards

In news:

  • According to the scientists, forest fires have been occurring in India from at least 60,000 years ago, ever since modern humans appeared here.
  • They added that “forests that we think are natural and ‘pristine’ have often been created by anthropogenic burning for thousands of years.”
  • Some scientists said several native trees and plants in these landscapes have “co-evolved” with fire: fire helps revive dormant seeds of many species.
  • Another study revealed that fires, along with seasonal droughts, should not be painted as problematic and need to be considered important drivers of dry deciduous tracts across Andhra Pradesh-Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • More evidence points to fires even suppressing invasive species.

Mukti, an alliance to combat bonded labour

Part of: GS Mains II – Role of NGOs or Civil Society Organizations; Social/Welfare issue

In news:

  • Over 60 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from across Karnataka came together to form Mukti.
  • Mukti is an alliance to end bonded labour and human trafficking.
  • The alliance is an excellent example of how various institutions of government, civil society, and concerned citizens have come together to collaborate and address the issue.

Order on surveillance meant to protect privacy, govt. tells SC

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Fundamental Rights; Constitution and Polity; Security issues

In news:

  • The Centre told the Supreme Court that its December 20, 2018 notification allowing 10 central agencies to snoop on people is in fact a measure to protect citizens’ privacy.
  • The Order on surveillance allows central agencies, from the Intelligence Bureau to the Central Board of Direct Taxes to the Cabinet Secretariat (RAW) to the Commissioner of Delhi Police, to intercept, monitor and de-crypt “any information” generated, transmitted, received or stored in “any computer resource”.
  • The order is based on Section 69 (1) of the Information Technology Act of 2000 and Rule 4 of the Information Technology 2009 Rules (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/02/BGL/Bangalore/TH/5_07/d678d7f9_2769759_101_mr.jpg

What the government says?

  • Government has said that the very purpose of the order is to ensure that surveillance is done as per due process of law – any interception, monitoring, decryption will be done only by authorised agencies and with approval of competent authority
  • Right to privacy of citizen will not be violated as it prevents unauthorized use of these powers by any agency, individual or intermediary
  • Surveillance is necessary “in the modern world where modern tools of information communication, including encryption, is used
  • Surveillance is done only in the defence of India, to maintain public order, etc.
  • There are grave threats to the country from terrorism, radicalisation, cross border terrorism, cyber-crime, drug cartels and these cannot be ignored or under-stated.
  • There is a need for “speedy collection of actionable intelligence” to counter threat to national interests.

Swine flu cases on the rise in Gujarat

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Welfare/Social issue

In news:

  • With more than 3000 cases and 99 deaths in two months, Swine Flu in Gujarat has become an epidemic as almost 100 new cases are reported from across the state per day.
  • As per data released by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), several States are on alert.
  • The high H1N1 flu toll points to a failure to put necessary systems and precautions in place.

Important Value Additions:

About H1N1 influenza (or swine flu)

  • H1N1 virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that was the most common cause of human influenza in 2009. H1N1 flu is also known as swine flu caused by swine influenza virus that is endemic in pigs.
  • The ‘H’ stands for hemagglutinin and ‘N’ for neuraminidase – both proteins on the outer layer of the virus.
  • It is a pandemic outbreak – Means Disease outbreak occurs over a wide geographic area and affects a very high proportion of the population.
  • Swine influenza is a respiratory disease that occurs in pigs that is caused by the Influenza A virus.
  • It’s a highly contagious disease that can easily spread from person to person.

About Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP)

  • IDSP was launched with World Bank assistance in November 2004 to detect and respond to disease outbreaks quickly, for a period up to March 2010.
  • The project was restructured and extended up to March 2012.
  • The project continues in the 12th Plan with domestic budget as Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme under NHM for all States with Budgetary allocation of 640 Cr.
  • Under IDSP data is collected on epidemic prone diseases on weekly basis.

Ayushman Bharat cover for Uber cab drivers

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Welfare/Social issue

In news:

  • The Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) has joined hands with Uber to extend health cover to their driver and delivery partners.
  • The facility will not be available in Delhi, Odisha and Telangana — States that have not joined AB-PMJAY.

Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Scheme (AB-NHPS)

  • The scheme aims to provide coverage of ₹5 lakh per family annually and benefiting more than 10 crore poor families in the country.
  • AB-NHPM will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes — Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).

Salient features of the AB-NHPM scheme:

  • This scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on SECC database.
  • The Rs. 5 lakh per family a year cover will take care of almost all secondary care and most of tertiary care procedures. To ensure that nobody is left out (especially women, children and elderly) there will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.
  • The benefit cover will also include pre- and post-hospitalisation expenses.
  • All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy.
  • A defined transport allowance per hospitalisation will also be paid to the beneficiary.
  • Also, benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospital across the country.
  • AB-NHPM will be an entitlement based scheme with entitlement decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.

(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.

Poverty Alleviation through an Assured Minimum Income

Context:

We earlier had covered many articles on universal basic income (UBI)

To know about

  • UBI
  • Positives of UBI
  • How UBI works?
  • UBI policies in other countries
  • Criticisms

Visit the link here – Universal Basic Income

Introduction:

  • We know that the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is gaining ground globally.
  • Concept – A UBI requires the government to pay every citizen a fixed amount of money on a regular basis and without any conditionalities.

Why do we need such mechanism? Or Why there is demand for UBI?

  • Millions of people remain unemployed and are extremely poor, despite rapid economic growth in the last three decades. (Especially the landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers)
  • Vulenerable groups have not benefited from economic growth. UBI is considered a viable way to reform social security to address the shortcomings that the current system is rife with – targeting and delivery.
  • To address the behavioural, design, and implementation downsides in the currently used systems of unemployment and social security benefits.
  • It is proposed as a solution to high inequality and job loss caused by increased automation in the developed countries.
  • Various welfare schemes have also failed to bring them out of penury.

We also read about Pradhanmantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN)

  • PM Kisan is a limited version of the UBI launched by the current government.
  • It promises ₹6,000 per annum to farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land.

However, there are some concerns.

Do you know?

  • UBI is neither an antidote to the vagaries of market forces nor a substitute for basic public services, especially health and education.
  • There is no need to transfer money to middle- and high-income earners as well as large landowners.
  • Institutional credit: Less than 15% of the total borrowing by landless agricultural workers and the figure for marginal and small farmers is only 30%.
  • Subsidies for well-off: The benefits of subsidised fertilizers and power are enjoyed largely by big farmers.

The way ahead:

Assured Minimum Income

  • An income support of, say, ₹15,000 per annum can be a good supplement to their livelihoods.
  • Additional income can reduce the incidence of indebtedness among marginal farmers, thereby helping them escape moneylenders and adhatiyas.
  • It can go a long way in helping the poor to make ends meet.
  • Several studies have shown that even a small income supplement can improve nutrient intake and increase enrolment and school attendance for students coming from poor households.
  • In other words, income transfers to the poor will lead to improved health and educational outcomes, which in turn would lead to a more productive workforce.

Transfer the money into the bank accounts of women

  • Women tend to spend more of their income on health and the education of children.
  • It will help bring a large number of households out of the poverty trap or prevent them from falling into it in the event of exigencies such as illness.

However, an income transfer scheme cannot be a substitute for universal basic services.

  • The direct income support to the poor will deliver the benefits mentioned only if it comes on top of public services such as primary health and education.
  • In other words, direct transfers should not be at the expense of public services for primary health and education.
  • Budgetary allocation for these services should be raised significantly.
  • Programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should also stay.

How to make income transfer scheme feasible with limited fiscal space?

1. By better targeting, especially through SECC data, Agricultural Census combined with Aadhar:

  • Direct income support will have to be restricted to the poorest of poor households.
  • Therefore, the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 can be used to identify the groups suffering from multidimensional poverty.
  • Small and marginal farmers who are missing from the SECC can be identified through Agricultural Census.
  • The Aadhaar identity can be used to rule out duplications and update the list of eligible households.

2. By aligning other direct income transfer scheme to it:

  • For instance, PM-KISAN Yojana can be aligned to meet a part of the cost.

3. Sharing fiscal space with States:

  • The required amount is beyond the Centre’s fiscal capacity at the moment. Therefore, the cost will have to be shared by States.

4. Innovating new ways to improve revenue:

  • The tax space can be expanded by reintroducing wealth tax and introducing other innovative tax where tax should not be felt burden to tax payer and at the same time tax collection should be affordable.

Conclusion:

The income transfer scheme is costly. However, the cost of persistent poverty is much higher.

Connecting the dots:


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 – Fishermen communities

General studies 3 

  • Issues related to Fisheries Sector
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
  • Infrastructure

Strength to Blue revolution

Context:

  • The below article deals with the current government’s proposal to create a separate department for fisheries.

Key facts:

  • Fisheries are the primary source of livelihood for several communities in India.
  • India is the world’s second-largest fish producer with exports worth more than Rs 47,000 crore.
  • Fisheries are the country’s single-largest agriculture export, with a growth rate of 6 to 10 per cent in the past five years.

Concerns:

  • According to FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture reports – 90% of the global marine fish stocks have either been fully-exploited, or over-fished or depleted to an extent that recovery may not be biologically possible.
  • In order to meet the ever-increasing demand for animal protein, global fish production should touch 196 million tonnes by 2025 — it currently stands at 171 million tonnes.
  • India has a marine fisher population of 3.5 million; 10.5 million people are engaged in inland fishery and fish farming. However, the productivity in both sectors is low.

Why creation of a separate department for fisheries is a significant step?

  • Fisheries sector significance is often underscored. Therefore, a concentrated effort by an independent department could help the government achieve its objective of doubling farmers’ income and improve exports.
  • India’s fisheries sector faces the challenge of sustainability. A separate department can held to overcome this challenge through dedicated policies to address the challenge of sustainability.
  • India has the potential to bridge the gap between increasing demand and depleting production, provided it concentrates on aquaculture — fish farming. The country has a comparative advantage in this respect.
  • The fisheries sector is one that is in dire need of cold storage facilities, landing points and cold chain. Until now, these have received little focus from policy-makers.
  • The creation of a separate department can help in ensuring coordination of measures such as conservation, regulation and protection of the fishermen’s interests.
  • The department can also focus on concerns like falling catch, marine pollution and potential market opportunities.
  • The creation of the department can help bring in the much required funding for the sector.

Blue Revolution scheme

  • Realizing the immense scope for development of fisheries and aquaculture, the Government of India had restructured the Central Plan Scheme under an umbrella of Blue Revolution.
  • It provides for a focused development and management of the fisheries sector to increase both fish production and fish productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources of the inland and marine fisheries sector including deep sea fishing.

Do you know?

  • The scheme adopted a two-pronged approach: Sustainable capture fishery to harness marine and inland water resources and expanding the horizon of fish farming through increased coverage, enhanced productivity, species diversification and better market returns.
  • India’s marine capture fishery comprises largely of small fishermen who operate their vessels or boats in near-shore coastal waters, which are highly overfished.
  • India lacks modernized vessels to capture high value fish stock, which proliferates in the deep seas.
  • Therefore, harnessing these resources sustainably will bring immense benefits to fishing communities.

New National Policy on Marine Fisheries

  • The new policy provides guidance for promoting ‘Blue Growth Initiative’ which focus on ushering ‘Blue Revolution’.
  • The policy talks of introducing deep-sea fishing vessels and assisting fishing communities to convert their vessels and gears for the waters beyond.
  • The policy envisages intensive fish farming through increased stocking of seed, better feed quality and diversification of species.
  • Innovative practices such as re-circulatory aquaculture system aim to realise the goal of more crop per drop.
  • The government has invested in hatcheries to meet the ever-increasing demand for good quality fish seed.
  • Productivity of freshwater fish farms and productivity of brackish water coastal aquaculture has gone up.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund

  • The investment of Rs 3,000 crore in the Blue Revolution is being supplemented through the Rs 7,523-crore Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund. This will meet the capital investment requirement of this sector.

Conclusion:

  • India right now has opportunity to introduce large-scale industrial fishing; however, it must also factor in the sustainability challenges and acknowledge that fishing is a primary livelihood activity for a large number of communities and individuals.
  • The policies framed by the new department should aim at enhancing productivity, better returns and increased incomes.
  • Future policies must prioritise seed production in order to attain self-sufficiency in the sector.
  • Open sea cage culture is at a pilot stage and the initial trials have given promising results. This may prove another game changer.
  • The new department will give undivided attention to creating and strengthening infrastructure facilities in marine and inland fisheries and give a boost to aquaculture and post-harvest activities.

Connecting the dots:

  • Examine the bottlenecks associated with the current Fisheries Sector in India. Also suggest ways to address them.
  • What is Blue Revolution? Examine why the creation of a separate Fisheries Department is significant.

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