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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th July 2019

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  • July 17, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th July 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Pakistan opens its airspace after 6 months

Part of : Mains GS paper II – India and its neighbourhood- relations

In news : 

  • Pakistan reopened its airspace for all flights early  after a gap of six months 
  • Pakistan shut its airspace in February after India carried out an air strike against what it said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistani territory.

How does the curb affect India? 

  • Airlines had to take a longer route to their destinations and burn more fuel, 
  • stop midway for refuelling
  • Roster more pilots and cabin crew as their duty hours are regulated.
  • An increase in fuel expenses, which constitute 40% of an airline’s operational costs

Advantage of lifting the curb on airspace

  • The move will benefit Indian carriers as well as the airlines that enter or exit Pakistan from its eastern border with India.
  • Flights between Delhi and the west will see travel times drop by up to four hours

Close polluting units in critical areas: NGT

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS paper III – Environmental pollution and degradation

In news: 

  • National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to shut down all polluting industries in “critically polluted” and “severely polluted” areas within three months.
  • It also directed all States and Union Territories to furnish a report on the amount of biomedical waste generated and asked them to set up common treatment and disposal facilities, if not done yet.

Do you know?

  • National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 to dispose of cases having environmental ramification. 
  • Its headed by retired judge of supreme court or being chief justice of high court and almost 20 experts and 20 judicial members.

Mandate of NGT

  • To dispose of cases dealing with any environment law violation, conservation of forests and natural resources.

Eg:

  • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
  • The Environmental Protection Act ,1986
  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 etc.
  • Indian forest act, 1927 and wildlife protection act, 1972 are out of purview from this jurisdiction.

Powers:

  • Recommend penalties and fine
  • Recommend policies for environment protection
  • Disposal of cases within 6 months
  • Enforcement of any legal right relating to environment
  • Giving relief and compensation for damages
  • Has power of civil courts

Significance

  • Helps reduce burden on higher courts
  • Faster resolution of cases
  • Specialised member brings efficiency to justice
  • Less expensive than courts

Fulfils constitutional provision like article 21 i.e. right to clean environment and article 48(a) i.e. protection of environment and safeguarding of forests

The rapid pace of development is harming the environment. The NGT provides a check and balance for this.

It takes suo – moto cases like banning the crackers, directing states to speed up action to clean Ganga.


All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) demanded that the Centre scrap the Manual for Drought Management, 2016

Part of : Mains GS paper III – Agricultural produce and issues

In news :

  • Manual for Drought Management, 2016, had changed the way that droughts are declared and the circumstances under which Central help can be sought by affected States.

Data:

  • Data from the India Meteorological Department show over half the country’s land area still faces rainfall deficits of more than 20% this monsoon season. 
  • Saurashtra and Kutch are the worst affected region, with a 60% deficit 

Before 2016, it was considered a drought year in a particular area if there was deficient rainfall and the crop yield was less than 50% of the average of the previous 10 years.

Manual for Drought Management, 2016 parameter

  • States are required to assess conditions using five indicators: rainfall, agriculture, soil moisture, hydrology and crop health. 
  • The Manual allows States to request for support from the National Disaster Response Fund if a drought is declared as “severe”. This can only happen if three impact indicators (apart from rainfall) fall into the “severe” category,

These conditions are so stringent that an area may not be officially declared as facing a severe drought even while its farmers are suffering


Centre, Assam move SC for sample re-verification of NRC

Part of : Mains GS paper II – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

In news : 

  • The Centre and the State of Assam  made an urgent mention before the Chief Justice of India for an extension of the deadline for final publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State from July 31, 2019 to a “future date”.

Why?

To conduct a “sample re-verification process” in relation to names included in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018.

Background:

The first draft of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam has been published recently by the Office of the State Coordinator of NRC on December 31, 2017.

The objective behind updating and publishing the 1951 NRC is to compile a list of the names of genuine Indian citizens residing in Assam and, in the process, detect foreigners (read Bangladeshis) who may have illegally entered the state after March 24, 1971.

The publication of the initial NRC list is the outcome of a long-standing demand of the Assamese people to detect and deport illegal Bangladeshi migrants from their state.

  • The Assam Accord of 1985 did not contain any specific mention of updating the NRC.
  • The Government of India constituted a number of Tribunals and Appellate Courts under both the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act of 1983 and the Foreigners Tribunal Act of 1964 to detect illegal Bangladeshis.
  • In May 2005 that the first step towards updating the NRC of 1951 was taken, when a tripartite meeting between the Centre, the Assam government and AASU was held to review the progress made in the implementation of the Assam Accord.
  • Successive governments have been extremely reluctant to update the NRC of 1951 due to various political considerations and vested interests. Supreme Court ordered the Union and State governments to begin the process of updating of the NRC in Assam.
  • Accordingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs, issued the notification for starting the work of updating the NRC. The Supreme Court constituted a Committee “to take care of any clarification that would be required with regard to the modalities in the preparation of the NRC.”

(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC: General studies 3:

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
  • Impact of Climate Change and Global Warming

Reducing Carbon emissions from road transport

Introduction:
Congested streets and polluted air are common experiences in India’s metropolises.
Delhi tops the charts and emissions are more than twice as high as other Indian megacities, such as Mumbai, Bengaluru or Ahmedabad.
India’s road transport emissions are small in global comparison but is increasing exponentially. The Global Carbon Project reports that India’s carbon emissions are rising more than two times as fast as the global rise in 2018.
Reducing CO2 emissions of road transport leverages multiple co-benefits, for example, improving air quality and increasing physical activity, which are critical for well-being, particularly in urban areas.

Factors:

  • Climate action requires an understanding of how emissions vary with spatial context. Income and urbanisation are the key determinants of travel distance and travel mode choice and, therefore, commuting emissions. 
  • The way cities are built and the design of public transit are critical for low-carbon mobility systems. 
  • Average per capita commuting emissions are highest for the most affluent districts, which are predominantly urban, and that heavily use four-wheelers for commuting. In contrast, average per capita commuting emissions are lowest for Indian districts that are poor, and commuting distances are short and rarely use three-wheelers.

Way ahead:

  • Focusing on well-being:
    Mayors and town planners should organise cities around public transport and cycling, thereby improving mobility for many, while limiting car use. Uptake of non-motorised transport emerges as a sweet spot of sustainable development, resulting in both lower emissions and better public health in cities.
    According to the recent National Family Health Survey (2015-16), nearly 30% of all men are overweight or obese in southwest Delhi, but only 25% in Thiruvananthapuram and 13% in Allahabad. These data correlate with high reliance of car use in Delhi and low demand for walking.
    Increase in cycling will lower chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, while also abating emissions. Car use, in contrast, correlates with higher rates of diabetes.
    Fuel price increases, congestion charges or parking management could be a strategy that improves the well-being of individuals living in urban areas.
  • Technology transition:
    India should double down in its strategy to transition to electric two and three-wheelers.
    India is the third-largest market for automobiles and is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers in two- and three- wheelers and Indian companies can take a leading role in switching to electric vehicles. This will also help in transforming India’s vision of ‘Make in India’.
  • City planning:
    Compact cities improve accessibility and reduce emissions from transport and even the building sector. Most Indian cities are already very dense, with few benefits expected by further high-rise.
    City managers should ensure that existing urban areas provide short routes and fast access to schools, hospitals and jobs, otherwise, residents would be required to travel long distances. 

Conclusion:
Providing access to public service, choosing rapid transit over car driving in cities and supporting the rise of electric two and three-wheelers will help drive India to a modern and low-carbon transport system fit for the 21st century.

Connecting the dots:

  • Reducing CO2 emissions of road transport leverages multiple co-benefits, for example, improving air quality and increasing physical activity, which are critical for well-being, particularly in urban areas. Comment.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

General studies 3:

  • Indian agriculture

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)

Introduction:
Earlier this year, the Cabinet approved the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM).
With a Budget allocation of Rs. 34,000 crore, and a similar contribution expected from the States, KUSUM aims to provide energy sufficiency and sustainable irrigation access to farmers. It is also essential to achieve the country’s 100 GW solar target by 2022.

Present situation:

  • At present, despite burgeoning farm power subsidies, nearly 30 million farmers, especially marginal landholders, use expensive diesel for their irrigation needs as they have no access to electricity. 
  • More than half of India’s net sown-area remains unirrigated. 

Three components of the scheme:

  • 10,000 MW of de-centralised ground- mounted grid-connected renewable power plants. 
  • Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone solar powered agricultural pumps.
  • Solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected solar-powered agricultural pumps

Way ahead:

  • Addressing inequity between States:
    KUSUM should aim to reduce the existing disparity among States with regard to solar pumps deployment and irrigation access.
    Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan together account for about half of the two lakh solar pumps currently deployed in the country. On the other hand, States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, where penetration of diesel pumps is among the highest, have not managed to deploy any significant number of solar pumps.
    This disparity highlights poor State budget allocation towards solar pumps and the lack of initiative by State nodal agencies.
    To encourage more equitable deployment of 17.5 lakh off-grid pumps by 2022, the Centre should incentivise States through target-linked financial assistance, and create avenues for peer learning.
  • Addressing inequity within a State:
    90% of Bihar’s farmers are small and marginal. Yet, they have received only 50% of government subsidies on solar pumps. On the other hand, in Chhattisgarh, about 95% of beneficiaries are from socially disadvantaged groups due to the mandate of the State.
    Learning from these contrasting examples, a share of central financial assistance under KUSUM should be appropriated for farmers with small landholdings and belonging to socially disadvantaged groups.
  • Addressing inequity between farmers:
    Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, KUSUM should provide greater financial assistance to smaller farmers.
    KUSUM proposes a 60% subsidy for the pumps, borne equally by the Centre and the States, and the remaining 40% will be the farmer’s contribution — 10% as down payment and 30% through loans.
    This unilateral financing approach will exacerbate the inter-farmer disparity given the inequity in access to credit and repayment capacity between small and large farmers.
    A higher capital subsidy support to small and marginal farmers and long-term loans with interest subsidies for large and medium farmers would be a more economical and equitable alternative.
    KUSUM should not woo a certain section of farmers with short-sighted objectives.
  • Solarising existing grid-connected pumps, as proposed under the scheme, needs a complete rethink.
    Existing grid-connected farmers, who have enjoyed power subsidies for decades, would receive the same financial support as that received by an off-grid farmer. In addition, they would earn regular income from the DISCOM on feeding surplus electricity, furthering the inequitable distribution of taxpayers’ resources. 
  • Solarising grid-connected pumps must include replacement of the pump.
    Poor efficiency levels of the existing pumps would mean unnecessary oversizing of the solar panels and lesser available energy to feed into the grid. 
  • It is also essential that distribution companies pay fair rates to farmers for the electricity they purchase from their solar arrays.
    The scheme holds the potential of enabling farmers to become exporters of clean solar energy from importers of subsidized energy.

Conclusion:

If designed better and implemented effectively, KUSUM holds the potential to catapult the Indian irrigation economy from an era mired in perpetual subsidy, unreliable supply, and inequitable distribution of resources to a regime of affordable, reliable, and equitable access to energy and water.

Connecting the dots:

  • KUSUM could radically transform the irrigation economy if the government chooses an approach of equity by design and prudence over populism. Analyze.

(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 following statements about ‘Kaziranga National Park’

  1. It has the largest population of the Wild water buffalo
  2. It has been identified as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International
  3. It is a World Heritage Site

Select the correct statements

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

Q.2) Which of the following statements is/are correct about National Green Tribunal (NGT)?

  1. Establishment of NGT made National Environment Appellate Authority defunct.
  2. Mumbai is one of the place of sitting of Tribunal.

Code:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

Q.3) Which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. All India Kisan Sabha (All India Peasants Union)was the name of the peasants front of the undivided Communist Party of India
  2. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar

Choose correct code:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

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