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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th March 2019

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  • March 6, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 5th March 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


PM launches ‘One Nation One Card’

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors; Indian Economy – Digitalization of Economy

In news:

  • PM launched the indigenously-developed National Common Mobility Card to enable people to streamline payments of multiple kinds of transport charges.
  • Dubbed as ‘One Nation One Card’, the inter-operable transport card would allow the holders to pay for their bus travel, toll, parking, retail shopping and money withdrawal.
  • This card runs on RuPay card and it will eliminate all travel related problems.

Do you know?

  • The Indigenous Automatic Fare Collection System based on One Nation One Card Model i.e. National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) is the first of its kind in India.
  • People can also withdraw money using this Common Mobility Card.
  • RuPay card can be used for travelling in metros in any part of the country.

Pakistan bans UNSC designated outfits

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and its neighbouring countries – Bilateral ties; International Relations; Security issues

In news:

  • Facing severe pressure from the Financial Action Task Force, and calls from several countries to crack down on terror groups, the Pakistan government passed an order to effectively ban Lashkar-e-Taiba offshoots Jamat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation.
  • However, India is sceptical about the move, given Pakistan’s attempts to ban these groups in the past, only to drop the ban over a period of time.
  • In February 2018, Islamabad passed a similar order as a Presidential Ordinance, but then allowed it to lapse six months later.

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/05/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/4897be14_2776847_101_mr.jpg


Crop burning raises risk of respiratory illness threefold

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Health Issue; Air Pollution

In news:

According to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) –

  • The burning of agricultural residue a contributor to north India’s winter pollution increases the risk of respiratory illnesses three fold for those who experience it.
  • It may also be responsible for an annual $30 billion (approximately ₹2 trillion) loss in terms of days of work lost in States affected by crop burning.
  • Living in an area where crop burning is practiced is a leading risk factor for respiratory disease in northern India.
  • North India is impacted more compared to South.

Do you know?

  • The researchers used health records and satellite data for crop-burning fires detected by the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra satellite, managed by the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA).
  • In 2013, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a directive to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, asking them to ban stubble burning.
  • The Environment Ministers of these States as well as top officials at the Centre declared a “zero tolerance” policy on the burning of stubble, which has been estimated to contribute anywhere from 7% to 78% of the particulate matter-emission load in Delhi during winter.

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/05/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/56d80f2f_2776857_101_mr.jpg


India to tie-up with 4 nations to save rhinos

In news:

  • India will collaborate with Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia to increase the population of three species of Asian rhinos, including the Greater one-horned rhinoceros found in the Indian sub-continent.
  • The five rhino range nations signed a declaration ‘The Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species at the recently held Second Asian Rhino Range Countries meeting held in Delhi.
  • The declaration includes undertaking studies on health issues of the rhinos, their potential diseases and taking necessary steps; collaborating and strengthening wildlife forensics and strengthening of transboundary collaboration among India, Nepal and Bhutan for conservation of the Greater one-horned rhino.

Do you know?

Three species of Asian rhinos

  1. Greater one-horned rhinoceros (found in the Indian sub-continent)
  2. Javan rhinos
  3. Sumatran rhinos

IUCN Status: Javan and Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered but the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino vulnerable.


Miscellaneous:

Manipur ‘considering’ ST status for Meiteis

Do you know?

  • The Meitei people are the majority ethnic group of Manipur and because of this they are sometimes referred to as Manipuris.
  • Generally speaking, Meitei is an endonym and Manipuri is an exonym.
  • The Meitei people are made up of seven clans, who trace their written history back to 33 AD.
  • The Meitei people speak the Meitei language, a Tibeto-Burman language.
  • Meiteis believe that the ancestor of one of their clans manifested himself as Pakhangba, a mythical dragon.

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and the World ; India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

India-Pakistan and Gulf Countries: The Gulf as a channel of peace

Context:

The below editorial focuses on following issues –

  • India’s and Pakistan’s relations with Gulf countries in the past and present.
  • How Pakistan succeeded to mobilise significant support within the Middle East especially during 1990s?
  • How Undivided-India enjoyed better relationship with Middle-East? How India lost its influence (especially after its independence) in the region and provided Pakistan an edge?

Pakistan and India’s relation with Gulf Countries  

  • We all know that Pakistan has a long-standing history with the Arab Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Many Gulf countries and Middle East countries tended to act as Pakistan’s strategic depth.
  • For decades, shared religious identity and common approach to regional affairs gave Pakistan a political edge over India in the region.

Ties during undivided India

  • In the colonial era, the Gulf and other locations in the Middle East were critical links in the larger architecture of Great Britain’s Imperial defence system in the eastern hemisphere centred on undivided India.
  • The armies of India had to embark on repeated expeditionary operations in the Gulf and the Middle East through the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Indian army played a key role in the Middle Eastern theatre in both the World Wars.

Post-Independence Ties

  • After Independence, India pulled out of any security role in the Gulf and the Middle East (opting NAM policy). Pakistan, however, joined the Anglo-American effort (Central Treaty Organisation -CENTO) to replace the security vacuum created by the Indian withdrawal.
  • CENTO had regional members which included Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Pakistan embraced conservative and pro-Western regimes, while India aligned with the nationalist and non-aligned governments like Egypt.
  • CENTO provided the basis for Pakistan’s external and internal security cooperation with a number of countries in the Gulf region. Some of them like Jordan, Iran and Turkey backed Pakistan during its wars with India in 1965 and 1971.
  • As the Arab nationalist regimes steadily weakened in relation to the regional conservatives, India steadily lost political ground to Pakistan in the 1970s.
  • Matters got worse in the 1980s as India remained silent on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Gulf regimes joined Pakistan in promoting jihad against the Soviet Union.
  • On trade and commerce front, India’s energy and economic dependence on the Gulf grew. But on political front, ties were vulnerable.
  • The 1990s also saw Pakistan mobilise significant support within the Middle East, including at the OIC and other international forums, to castigate India’s internal policies. The attack on the Babri Masjid and India’s troubles in the Kashmir valley gave ample political ammunition to Pakistan.
  • Paradoxically, the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998 and the Kargil crisis in the summer of 1999, opened the possibilities for restructuring South Asia’s relations with the Gulf.
  • The US mobilised Saudi Arabia during the Kargil War to encourage Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept the Indian demand to pull Pakistan’s army back to the Line of Control.

Contemporary Relations

  • After Kargil, the then Indian government brought a new self-confidence and intensity to the engagement with the Gulf and the Middle East.
  • It was during the late 2000, Indian foreign minister first visited Saudi Arabia and underlined how far India and Saudi Arabia had drifted in the decades before.
  • The bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia steadily improved thereafter and has now acquired a fresh momentum under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Today the House of Saud is becoming a valuable partner for Delhi in promoting regional security in the Subcontinent and beyond.
  • Many Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has developed stronger economic and security bonds with India. There has been a significant activism from the Gulf countries to help defuse the current tensions between India and Pakistan.
  • For instance, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pressed Pakistan to release Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was downed after a dogfight in the air with Pakistan Air Force.
  • Some of the Gulf countries could become potential allies in nudging Pakistan towards political moderation and regional accommodation in the Subcontinent.
  • Pakistan’s uncertain state of economy and dependence on financial bailouts from the UAE and Saudi Arabia has made Pakistan more amenable to such an outcome.

Connecting the dots:

  • Examine how Middle East has been crucial for India for decades.
  • Discuss India’s historical ties with Middle East countries.
  • Examine India’s “Look West” policy in context of modern day geopolitical realities.
  • India’s “Link West” policy has seen both continuity and change. Comment.

GOVERNANCE/ECONOMY

TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Important aspects of governance

General studies 3 

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to mobilization of resources, growth, development; Government Budgeting. 
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

The role of finance commissions in sustainable development

Context:

  • Government expects the 15th Finance Commission (FC) to play a key role in fostering sustainable development in India.
  • Its constitutional status and the ability to suggest far-reaching reforms – on financing, allocation and use of funds by three tiers of governance – makes the central and state FCs completely capable to discharge this role of fostering sustainable development.
  • However, effective implementation will be the responsibility of the three tiers, which is an issue of good governance.

Path to sustainable development

Importance of Social Sector Expenditure

  • Education and health expenditure by states play a key role in improving developmental outcomes.
  • Additional financing requirements of ₹12.1 trillion and ₹53.6 trillion have been estimated for health and education, respectively, to meet the sustainable development goal, or SDG targets, by 2030.
  • Aware of the importance of social sector expenditure, many poor states have increased their expenditures in social services.

Concerns:

  • Despite such increase in education and health spending, experts indicate that efficiency of education spending has deteriorated in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha between 2002 and 2015.
  • In other words, even though some of these states spent most out of their budget on capital expenditure, health and education sectors remained impoverished.
  • There is no evidence of poorer states “catching up” with richer states in quality of human capital formation and health-related expenditure.
  • Several of these states now lack sizeable funds to consistently invest in human development. Reasons – Declines in grants-in-aid and their own revenues; Inefficient spending; fiscal deficits due to takeover of debt of distribution companies under the UDAY scheme and farm loan waiver announcements.
  • Achieving long-run sustainability of debt and deficits continue to be a major challenge for such states.

The way ahead:

  • Good governance, coupled with growth, is key in achieving spending efficiency in education, health and social sectors.
  • The role of local governments has often been ignored in human development, despite them being closest to ground and having the ability to make investment choices based on evidence and consistently monitor outcomes.
  • Bottom up approach: State FCs should take into account the requirements of local governments and inform the central FC. Constitution also envisages for bottom up approach in determining resource allocations among the three tiers of governance.
  • Increase local government expenditure: Local government expenditure as a percentage of total public sector expenditure is only around 7% compared with 24% in Europe, 27% in North America and 55% in Denmark.
  • Coordination between central and state FCs: There is no coordination between central and state FCs to understand a consolidated account of the reality at the sub-state level.
  • Realistic assessment of ground realities and course correction: FCs will need to look within and improve internal processes for better coordination, making realistic assessment of ground realities and improving outcomes.
  • Implement suggestions recommended by experts and committees on Fiscal Federalism:
    • Swaminathan A. Aiyar recommended that central FCs propose substantial rewards for states that are serious about decentralisation, and penalties for those that are not.
    • Noted econocrat Vijay Kelkar recommended creating a consolidated fund for municipalities and panchayats to ensure that revenue allocated by central and state FCs flow directly to it.
    • Kelkar also advocated that states and the Centre should share an equal percentage of their respective goods and services tax collection with the third tier. This will lead to creation of better public goods resulting in growth of economic activities, resident citizens’ incomes and consumption which, in turn, will provide high fiscal resources to the local governments.
    • Suggestions have also been made to create market-based mechanisms for financing government expenditures and fixing accountability.
  • Monitor performance through appropriate index:
    • An index of debt sustainability and fiscal prudence performance indicators for measuring performance can be created, wherein fiscally strong governments can get themselves rated to get better rates in auction of bonds.
    • Cash surplus state governments can be allowed to lend to those in deficit at a market-linked rate.

Conclusion:

FCs need to become agents of change. To this end, they must examine these suggestions, and make appropriate recommendations to empower local governments, enable good governance and play their part in fostering sustainable development.

Connecting the dots:

  • Examine how Central and states’ finance commissions can play an important role in fostering sustainable development in India.
  • Analyze how empowerment of local governments and good governance can lead to sustainable development.

(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) Meiteis are majority ethnic group of

  1. Manipur
  2. Mizoram
  3. Assam
  4. Nagaland

Q.2) ‘The Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ was signed between India and –

  1. Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar
  2. Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia
  3. Bhutan, Nepal, China and Bangladesh
  4. Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia

Q.3) Indian rhinoceros are found in

  1. Assam
  2. West Bengal
  3. Uttar Pradesh

Select the correct code:

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

Q.4) ‘One Nation One Card’ is associated with –

  1. Kisan Credit Card
  2. ID cards for Safai Karamcharis
  3. National Common Mobility Card
  4. National Common Insurance Card

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