IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st July 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
GST enters its third year
Part of Mains GS III Indian Economy
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has entered its third year.
- There is a need to ease the complexity surrounding procedures, especially with regard to registration and return filing.
- Addressing procedural complexities of the GST portal system, implementation concerns and making compliance easier will further accelerate ease of doing business for industry in India
- A key highlight of the new indirect tax system, according to trade bodies, has been the way the GST Council, the nodal body deciding rates and procedures, has addressed industry’s concerns and modified rules to make the system easier.
- While the proactive manner in which the GST Council has addressed concerns has put industry at ease, there are still several procedural issues that need resolution.
General studies 1
- Changes in critical geographical features(including water-bodies and ice-caps) and the effects of such changes.
General studies 3
- Environmental degradation and conservation
Things to do to avoid another water crisis
- Chennai has been reeling under its worst water crisis in decades with its four main reservoirs nearly empty.
- Groundwater too has been over extracted.
Rainwater harvesting is mandatory in Tamil Nadu since 2003. This meant that building approval for new apartments and dwellings were not to be granted by the Chennai City Corporation unless the building plan included a RWH component. The order also mandated that all existing buildings in Tamil Nadu install RWH structures.
Sixteen years later, an audit by the non-governmental organisation Rain Centre has shown that most government buildings in Chennai do not have a functioning RWH structure; these include several police stations and municipality buildings.
Do you know?
Rain Water Harvesting
Rain water harvesting is collection and storage of rain water that runs off from roof tops, parks, roads, open grounds, etc. This water run-off can be either stored or recharged into the ground water.
Suggestions to solve water crisis
Need for water governance
- According to a recent NITI Aayog report, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020 if usage continues at the current rate. Water governance in cities across India has been ad hoc.
- Learning their lessons from the Chennai crisis, other metropolitan cities should now set up urban water planning and management boards, a permanent body similar to urban development authorities, that regulate the supply, demand and maintenance of water services and structures.
- The authorities shall monitor and regulate groundwater supply in these metropolitan areas.
- Desalination plants must also be set up especially in coastal cities to increase drinkable supply of water for citizens.
- Increased supply of drinking water will reduce the dependency on water tankers which in times of crisis charge exorbitant prices.
- Considering opinion of experts, beds of existing lakes can be deepened for greater water storage and better water percolation.
- The urban water management board should also oversee the desilting of lakes in the city on a regular basis.
- Government can apply water tariff on the line of electricity supply especially in areas where there is extreme water crisis.
- Government can apply differential pricing and cross-subsidise households based on per capita income and water usage.
Practices adopted across the world
We can benefit from best practices adopted in cities across the world facing severe water crisis. For eg. Cape Town introduced the idea of Day Zero to reduce water usage and manage water consumption as per need. Day Zero refers to when most of the city’s tap will be switched off.
Nal se Jal Scheme
Providing drinking water to all households including rural areas is an important mission for the new government and in this regard Nal se Jal scheme aims to provide piped drinking water to every rural home by 2024.
Jal Shakti Abhiyan
- The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, in line with the government’s promise to focus on water.
- Though water is a State issue, the campaign will be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence, according to a notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
- The campaign will run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon will be covered from October 1 to November 30.
- It would aim to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes.
- Progress would be monitored in real time through mobile applications and an online dashboard at indiawater.gov.in
- A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media will be carried out, with celebrities mobilized to generate awareness for the campaign.
- The issue with any crisis in India is the fire-fighting strategy that we adopt in response as opposed to systematised solutions. These stop-gap arrangements are soon forgotten when things temporarily go back to normal instead of making an attempt to deeply ingrain these practices in the system.
- The scarcity of essential resources not only leads to economic losses but also social unrest.
- A sustainable governance solution to this problem along with public participation is essential to ensure that our future generations do not suffer as a result of our failures.
Connecting the dots:
- Comment on the need of Water governance in India.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- Development processes and the development industry
- Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance, applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential
A digital power
- The visionary initiative of Digital India was launched in 2015. Digital India strives to bring inclusive growth and bridge the digital divide by leveraging technology solutions that are low cost, developmental, transformative and designed to empower ordinary Indians.
- Four years down the line, the success of Digital India is finding global resonance and its transformative character is being appreciated.
Achievements of Digital India
- One of the largest digital infrastructures of the world was conceived to connect all the 250,000 gram panchayats by a high-speed optical fiber network.
- Today with 3.40 lakh km of optical fiber laid, Bharat Net has reached 1.29 lakh gram panchayats.
- India of 2019 is recognised as a country with the second largest internet user base, and which offers internet access, data and mobile at the cheapest tariffs in the world.
Aadhaar and Mobile
- Aadhaar-based eKYC has made it easy to open bank accounts or to get instant mobile SIMs without any paperwork.
- The Aadhaar-linked universal account number (UAN) has made it a hassle free transfer of provident fund deposits.
- The eHospital services have made it easy to take online appointments in 322 major hospitals.
- The UMANG mobile app has created a mega digital mobile platform where 362 services of 18 states and the union government can be accessed in 13 Indian languages.
- Online scholarships, e-Visa, soil health cards etc. have made the delivery of services faster.
- The trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) has facilitated direct benefit transfers of financial entitlements of various government schemes directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
- This has resulted in saving of Rs 1.41 lakh crore of tax payers’ money by plugging leakages, curbing corruption and eliminating fake beneficiaries.
- The world’s largest digital literacy programme, the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), which aims to train six crore rural adults, has trained 2.21 crore beneficiaries.
Common Service Centres
- Retired persons can withdraw their pensions from common service centres (CSC) in villages by making a simple biometric authentication.
- About 3.76 lakh CSCs started offering a wide variety of digital services like banking, insurance, utility bill payment, pension, MGNREGA wage payments, ticket booking, digital skilling, public Wi-Fi in villages, tele-medicine services and are playing a key role in developing digital villages.
- This has created a new breed of rural digital entrepreneurs across the country, and have created 12 lakh jobs locally.
- In March, 2019, the total number of digital payment transactions hit an all-time high of 332.34 crore. India’s home grown fin-tech innovation, BHIM-UPI, whose humble beginning in December, 2016, is scaling new heights of popularity.
IT industry and BPO
- To promote the IT industry beyond a few big urban clusters, and to provide IT jobs to youth in semi-urban areas, a humble beginning was made under the BPO promotion scheme.
- Today 202 BPO centres at 100 locations across India are giving jobs to thousands of young men and women.
- Electronics manufacturing in India has doubled in last few years. India was home to only two mobile phone manufacturing units in 2014.
- Now, India stands tall in the global community as the second largest mobile phone manufacturer, with 268 mobile handset and accessories manufacturing units having started functioning in last five years.
- Changes in the economy due to growing digitisation will also require frequent training and retraining of human resources.
- Future Skills online platform has been launched for continuous skill development and upgradation of workforce.
- Digital initiatives like smart cities, digitisation of governance, digital villages, high speed internet in every part of India, digital inclusion and digital empowerment shall be fueled by emerging technologies like the internet of things, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
- The next level of digitisation in governance will strive to digitise internal processes of the government.
- The use of data analytics and artificial intelligence will also help in effective monitoring of performance and develop system automation for future.
- Besides friendly policies, the government shall strive to explore more ways to improve participation of India’s startups in the digital transformation.
- India’s growing digital profile has made it a data powerhouse. A personal data protection law should be brought soon that will not only address the privacy concerns of individuals, curb misuse of personal data, but will also be an enabler for creating a vibrant data economy.
Creating a faceless, paperless, cashless and digital interface between government and citizens has immensely helped in curbing corruption, delays in service delivery and leakages.
India has taken a leap towards digital transformation. Its successes in leveraging digital technologies for transforming governance and lives of ordinary Indians is being appreciated by the world.
Connecting the dots:
- India is emerging as a data powerhouse. Comment in the light of achievements of ‘Digital India’.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) The Jal Shakti Abhiyan mission is related to,
- Water harvesting and conservation.
- It is a mission against agencies running illegal water tankers.
- Checking encroachment of water bodies.
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements about Nal se Jal scheme
- It aims to provide piped drinking water to households in rural areas.
- It aims to do so by 2024.
Select the Correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Start with preventive care
A thumbs down to unilateralism
It’s time to act, not do more research
Be soft, smart and quite