IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 30th March 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Five varieties of Indian coffee awarded GI certification
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Economy and development; Intellectual Property Rights
- Five varieties of Indian coffee have been awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
- The move is expected to enhance their visibility globally and allow growers to get the right value.
- The initiative will also help integrate farmers with markets in a transparent manner, and lead to realisation of fair prices for coffee producers.
5 varieties of Indian coffee which got GI tag
- Coorg Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.
- Wayanad Robusta coffee is grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.
- Chikmagalur Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district and it is situated in the Deccan plateau, belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka.
- Araku Valley Arabica coffee can be described as coffee from the hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region at an elevation of 900-1100 Mt MSL. The coffee produce of Araku, by the tribals, follows an organic approach in which they emphasise management practices involving substantial use of organic manures, green manuring and organic pest management practices.
- Bababudangiris Arabica coffee is grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and the region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district. Selectively hand-picked and processed by natural fermentation, the cup exhibits full body, acidity, mild flavour and striking aroma with a note of chocolate. This coffee is also called high grown coffee which slowly ripens in the mild climate and thereby the bean acquires a special taste and aroma.
Do you know?
- The Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee, a unique specialty coffee from India, was given GI certification earlier.
Important value additions:
- According to the World Intellectual Property Rights, “Geographical Indication is the sign used on the products that have specific geographical origin and posses’ reputation and some qualities that are due to the origin.”
- In India Geographical Indication tag is governed by the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registry and Protection) Act of 1999.
About GI Act, 1999:
- GIs indicate goods as originating in a specific geographical region, the characteristics, qualities or reputation thereof essentially attributable to such region.
- Complying with the World Trade Organisation-Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO-TRIPS) obligations, India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) and has set up a registry in Chennai to register such names.
- Covering agricultural goods, manufactured and natural goods, textiles, handicrafts and foodstuffs, the GI Registry’s website lists popular GIs like Basmati rice, Darjeeling tea and Pashmina shawls etc.
MPs reject Brexit deal for third time
Part of: GS Mains II – International affairs
- British MPs rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal for a third time.
- It is yet another blow to a Prime Minister who has all but lost control of her government and the Brexit process particularly after she offered to quit if MPs backed the deal.
- MPs fear it could leave Britain tied to the EU indefinitely with no say over its rules and no ability to strike trade deals with other countries.
Do you know?
- Brexit denotes shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU
- A referendum was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%.
- Theresa May triggered this process on 29 March, 2017, meaning the UK was scheduled to leave on 29 March 2019.
About European Union
- EU is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War II to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together were more likely to avoid going to war with each other.
- It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country.
- It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things such as mobile phone charges.
Ministry of Home Affairs forms Terror Monitoring Group (TMG)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Security issues
- Ministry of Home Affairs has formed a Terror Monitoring Group (TMG) to monitor terror sympathisers.
- TMG to take coordinated action in all registered cases that relate to terror financing and terror-related activities.
- The TMG will “investigate the networks of various channels being used to fund terror and terror activities and take coordinated action to stop flow of such funds.
1. Blockchain based market place app
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Innovation; Indian Economy
- With a view to enabling growers find better price for their produce, the Coffee Board has launched Coffee Blockchain, a marketplace app, developed in coordination with Eka Software Solutions.
- The pilot project has about 20 participants, including 14 coffee growers, and will run for four-to-six months.
- The block chain-enabled marketplace was aimed at reducing growers’ dependency on intermediaries, bring in trust and efficiency in the chain, help farmers with market access, and ensure traceability.
- Anyone willing to participate in the marketplace will have to register on the app and will get a smart contract number.
Important Value Additions:
About Blockchain technology
- Blockchain can be thought of as a public account ledger, an immutable, transparent and permanent one. Each transaction is recorded and stored in the ledger that is out on a public bulletin board. Every transaction adds a block to the chain of transactions and each one is evaluated by every user based on algorithms they’ve agreed upon. Rather than being kept in single location, a copy of the blockchain is stored on every user’s server so that a user cannot alter it without other users finding out. Even though blockchain was conceived for financial transactions, its characteristics make it an apt solution that can support voting systems.
- Due to its unique attributes of trust, transparency and immutability, such a system is expected to mitigate issues like vote manipulation in political processes.
- Blockchain is the backbone technology on which bitcoins run. Simply put, it is a digital public ledger that records every transaction. Once a transaction is entered in the blockchain, it cannot be erased or modified. Blockchain removes the need for using a trusted third party such as a bank to make a transaction by directly connecting the customers and suppliers.
- Each transaction is recorded to the ledger after verification by the network participants, mainly a chain of computers, called nodes. While the origin of the technology is not clear, it is widely believed that a person or group of people by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented bitcoins, released the technology to support cryptocurrency.
- Bitcoin is just one of the applications for the technology, whose use is being tested across industries. It is witnessing a lot of traction within India, in sectors such as banking and insurance. In most of these industries, players are coming together to form a consortium to realise the benefits of blockchain at an industry level.
- For example, in India, there is a consortium ‘BankChain’ which has about 27 banks from India (including State Bank of India or SBI and ICICI) and the Middle East as its members. The consortium is exploring using usage of Blockchain technology to make business safer, faster and cheaper.
- The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), an arm of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), is developing a model platform for blockchain technology.
- Blockchain is expected to improve the efficiency of a transaction by eliminating the middlemen, while also reducing the cost of all transactions. It is also likely to increase transparency and bring down fraud as every transaction would be recorded and distributed on a public ledger.
2. Wildlife Sanctuary in news: Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary
Person/Awardee in news: Alemba Yimchunger
Why in news?
- Alemba Yimchunger got Earth Day Network Star or Earth Day award.
- The services of Alemba Yimchunger, a forest guard at the Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagaland, have been recognised with Earth Day Network Star, an award by a U.S.-based international environment organisation that engages with green groups in 195 countries.
- Yimchunger has played a major role in protection of forests and wild animals in and around Fakim sanctuary.
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.
Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) and Poverty
- The idea of a minimum income guarantee (MIG) has caught up with political parties.
- A MIG requires the government to pay the targeted set of citizens a fixed amount of money on a regular basis.
Why MIG in news?
- Congress party recently promised MIG programme called Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), if the party was voted to power.
- A limited version of the MIG in the form of the PM KISAN Yojana is already being implemented by the NDA government at the Centre.
- State governments in Odisha and Telangana have their own versions of the MIG.
About Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY)
- NYAY promises annual income transfers of ₹72,000 to each of the poorest five crore families comprising approximately 25 crore individuals.
- If implemented, it will cost the exchequer ₹3.6 lakh crore per annum.
Even though the case for additional spending of such a large sum on the poor is good and required, such schemes are not a good way of spending money on the poor.
Why there is a strong case for MIG?
- Multi-dimensional poverty: Many landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers suffer from multi-dimensional poverty. According to the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, around six crore households suffer from multidimensional poverty.
- Benefits of growth not percolated: Benefits of high economic growth during the last three decades have not percolated to these groups.
- Failure of welfare schemes: Welfare schemes have also failed to bring them out of destitution. They have remained the poorest of Indians.
(Contract and informal sector workers in urban areas face a similar problem.)
- Unemployment: Due to rapid mechanisation of low-skill jobs in the construction and retail sectors, employment prospects for them appear increasingly dismal.
- Informal credit: Poor people are forced to borrow from moneylenders and adhatiyas (middlemen) at high rates of 24-60% per annum. For example, institutional lending for marginal and small farmers accounts for only about 30% of their total borrowing. Figure for landless agricultural workers is even worse at 15%.
- Improve nutrient intake and health: Studies show that even a small income supplement can improve nutrient intake at high levels of impoverishment. It will make the working population more productive.
- Improve education: It can increase school attendance for students coming from poor households.
Therefore, there is a strong case for direct income transfers to these groups. The additional income from MIG can reduce their indebtedness and help them get by without falling into the clutches of the moneylender.
- Concerns over the fiscal burden: Government finances cannot afford such high additional spending, as the fiscal space is limited.
- Withdrawal of provisions of the basic services: No government can afford MIG unless several existing welfare schemes are converted into direct income transfers, or the fiscal deficit is allowed to shoot up way above its existing level, 3.4% the GDP. No income transfer scheme can be a substitute for universal basic services.
- Withdrawal of beneficiaries from the labour force: Large cash transfers can result in withdrawal of beneficiaries from the labour force.
Income transfers will surely reduce income inequalities and help bring a large number of households out of the poverty trap or prevent them from falling into it in the event of shocks such as illness or death of an earner.
However, the form of an income transfer scheme should be decided carefully. The scheme should be launched in incremental steps.
The poor spend most of their income, and a boost in their income will provide a boost to economic activities by increasing overall demand. On the other hand, large income transfers can be inflationary, which will hurt the poor more than the rich.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the merits and challenges associated with Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG).
- Serious consideration must be given to the idea of a minimum income guarantee (MIG) as a more effective way to address mass poverty concern. Comment.
- Do you think replacing the existing public distribution system and other benefits for the BPL families with a Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) will be a fiscally prudent decision? Critically analyse.
TOPIC: General studies 1 and 2
- Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
- Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries
The irrelevance of secularism
- The below article deals with India’s unique concept of ‘secularism’ and how its definition is confusing and clearly unworkable.
Unique definition of Secularism
According to the founding fathers of the Constitution, “the Indian state must be equidistant from all religions while allowing religions equal space in the public sphere”.
Western concept of secularism defines mutual exclusivity between state and religion. Indian concept of secularism believes in equality of all religions and respect for all religions by state.
In other words, unlike western notion of secularism, here in India the state is not separated from religion rather the government is obliged to take steps so that all religions are treated equally.
- For several reasons this definition of secularism has created a lot of confusion as to what the term stands for.
- The framers of the Constitution, Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar included, failed to erect an unbreachable firewall between state and religion that would clearly prevent the intrusion of religious idioms, practices and agendas into the political arena and insulate the state from the religious sphere.
- The innate religious nature of Indian society and the after-effects of Partition on religious grounds precluded this option.
Secularism is one of the fundamental principle meant for uniting the society, given huge religious cultural diversity. However, inspite of uniting it has led to animosity between different religious groups in following ways:
- No clear distinction between state and religion- State interferes in religious issues when they involve human rights, for example banning untouchability, Sabarimala judgment and passage of triple talaq bill.
- Vote bank politics– propounding the religious beliefs of one community over other. Ban on caw slaughter has been envisaged under DPSP, but the way it has been implemented, not keeping in mind the livelihood of many, especially the Muslims has resulted into violence. Eg- The Mohammad Akhlaq incident- he was beaten to death by a mob. Vote bank politics has resulted in minority appeasement at the cost of basic pillars of democracy.
- Appeasement policy of the government– Petty matters converts into riots as in Muzaffarpur because of administrative negligence.
- Rise of communalism- Riots, Mandir-Masjid issues keep cropping up every now and then.
- Uneven development among different religious groups- Political mileage has prevented necessary interventions in some communities resulting in their backwardness.
- The Uniform civil code debate rather than being an informed one, with an objective of improving lives of Muslim women, the debate took a turn which made it seem as majoritarianism dominating over minorities.
- The social gap between the OBCs, SCs and STs on one hand and the communities like Jat(Haryana), Patidars(Gujarat) has widened further because of the reservation policy.
From above analysis it can be concluded that it is not the concept of secularism per se but the misconception around it which has resulted into polarization of Indian society hurting the growth and development of those alienated.
However, in this context, to call the ideological foundation of the Constitution secularism, although the term was not explicitly included in the document until 1976, has done great harm to the concept.
The formula that the state must remain equidistant from all religions, the unique Indian definition of secularism, is clearly unworkable.
Connecting the dots:
- The formula that the state must remain equidistant from all religions is proving to be unworkable. Do you agree? Elucidate.
- Instead of uniting our society, secularism in India it has fomented fragmentation and alienation among our diverse religious communities. Critically Comment.
- “Secularism is all about erecting a wall of separation between State and Religion and thereby devaluing religion”. Critically analyze this statement in the Indian context.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Department for Promotion of Industrial Policy & Internal Trade is responsible for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) relating to
- Geographical Indication of goods
- Semiconductor integrated circuits’ layout design
Select the correct code:
- 1 and 2
- Only 2
- 2 and 3
- All of the above
Q.2) Araku Valley Arabica coffee was awarded GI certification recently. Araku Valley is located in –
- Kodagu district, Karnataka
- Wayanad district, Kerala
- Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh
- Chikmagalur district, Karnataka
Q.3) With the boom of the bitcoin – a variety of cryptocurrency – the blockchain technology has come into prominence. What does this technology promise to do, even though it is still in its infancy?
- Help facilitate secure, online transactions in a decentralized way
- Keep out malware
- Connect servers with common reasons for existence, remotely
- Helps to remove inequality and promote inclusive development
Q.4) Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary is located in –
- Arunachal Pradesh
- Andhra Pradesh
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