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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st August 2019

  • IASbaba
  • August 1, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Inter-State river water disputes

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS- II – issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

In News

  • Lok Sabha passed a bill to establish a single central tribunal for inter-state water disputes in place of the numerous existing ones so as to speed up resolution process
  • The tribunal can set up multiple benches for different disputes
  • Composition of Central tribunal – Chairperson (retired SC judge), a vice-chairperson, three judiciary members and three experts.
  • Appointment of tribunal members – by the Central government on recommendation of a selection committee comprising the PM, CJI and ministers of law & justice and Jal Shakti
  • The bill proposes to set up a dispute resolution committee of experts, headed by a secretary-level officer of the government.
  • Once a dispute arises, it would be referred to this committee, which would have a year to resolve it, with an extension of six months
  • If the committee fails to arrive at a conclusion, the matter would be referred to a Central tribunal whereby final award will be delivered in two years and whenever it gives the order, the verdict will be notified automatically.
  • The decision of the tribunal would be binding on states and have the “same force as an order of the Supreme Court”

Concerns raised by Opposition

  • A major concern has been over data collection from river basins, the core of adjudication.
  • Centralization of powers as the selection committee to recommend tribunal members does not have any representation from the States 

Do you know?

  • India has 18 % of the world’s population but only 4% replenishable water
  • At present, there are nine tribunals including those on Cauvery, Mahadayi, Ravi and Beas, Vansadhara and Krishna river. 
  • Of the nine tribunals set up to adjudicate such disputes, only four have given their awards and the time taken to do so ranged from seven to 28 years
  • Centre has constituted a National Water Informatics Centre on March 2018, which will collate data from all organizations including the Central Water Commission, IMD and state departments.

Happiness Classes

Part of: Mains GS II- Issues relating to development and management of Education.

In News

  • ‘Happiness Utsav ’was organised by the Delhi government to celebrate a year since the launch of happiness classes in Delhi government schools.
  • “Without happiness, education can never be complete.” CJI Ranjan Gogoi said while speaking at the concluding ceremony
  • Happiness classes in schools is need of the hour as India’s position on the World Happiness Index has dropped from 118 to 140
  • WHI is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
  • Four states -Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and Nagaland – have planned to replicate Delhi’s Happiness classes in their state-run schools.

Equalization Levy

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III- Indian economy and Government Budgeting

In News

  • Domestic SMEs and start-ups have written to centre complaining about the equalisation levy as foreign companies continue to invoice Indian start-ups and SMEs from their overseas office.
  • The equalisation levy, introduced in 2016, is a direct tax on payments made by residents to non-resident companies for online advertisement, provision of digital and advertising space or any other facility or service for online advertisement.
  • Indian start-ups and SMEs are required to deposit 6% equalisation levy (TDS) on behalf of these foreign companies which leads to additional compliance and cost burden on these firms
  • Since this is a levy, these firms are unable to claim Input Tax Credit for this cost incurred
  • In order to rectify this, the start-ups have requested the government to mandate that “any global corporation having sales and marketing operations in India must be required to invoice their customers in India from a registered entity in India.”

Do you know?

  • Market for online ads on which a 6% equalization levy is applied is up from ₹9,800 crore in FY18 to ₹11,870 crore till February 2019
  • The idea behind the equalization levy is to tax services of digital service providers in foreign markets which has customer base in India

(MAINS FOCUS)


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

TOPIC: GS paper 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Fortifying the Africa outreach

Context:

  • This week two important Indian dignitaries began their respective visits to Africa. President Ram Nath Kovind commenced his seven-day state visit to Benin, Gambia and Guinea-Conakry (July 28 to August 3) and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Maputo on a three-day visit (July 28 to July 30) to Mozambique.

Concerns:

  • There seems to be a conspicuous disconnect between Indian developmental assistance to and India’s economic engagement with Africa

Economic ties of India and Africa:

  • During the past five years, Indian leaders have paid 29 visits to African countries. 
  • Forty-one African leaders participated in the last India-Africa Forum Summit in 2015
  • India agreed to provide concessional credit worth $10 billion during the next five years. 

Trade ties of India and Africa:

  • By 2017, India had cumulatively extended 152 Lines of Credit worth $8 billion to 44 African countries. 
  • India has also unilaterally provided free access to its market for the exports of 33 least developed African countries
  • India escalated its commitments to Africa in an era of low-commodity prices when most other partners, including China, have scaled back theirs.
  • India’s trade with Africa totalled $63.3 billion in 2018-19.
  • India was ranked the third largest trading partner of Africa having edged past the United States during the year.

Issues in India and Africa Relations:

  • India is neither a rich country nor has its hands been tainted by a history of slavery, colonisation and the exploitation of Africa. 
  • In fact, it is a developing country with similar domestic challenges of poverty, infrastructure deficit and underdevelopment. 
  • India’s funds committed and seats in our prestigious academic institutions offered to Africa are at the expense of the tax-paying Indians. 
  • India’s aid to Africa should be reciprocated by acknowledgement and quid pro quo in terms of goodwill (beyond the easy-flowing official rhetoric), and institutional preference. 
  • India cannot simply be a cash cow for Africa, particularly when its own economy is slowing down.

Steps to be considered by India:

  1. we need to take direct control of our development programme instead of handing our funds to intermediaries such as the African Union, the African Development Bank Group and the Techno-Economic Approach for Africa-India Movement (TEAM 9), whose priorities are often different from India’s
    • To make an impact, our aid should be disbursed bilaterally and aligned with national priorities of the recipient state, which should be a substantial stakeholder and co-investor in schemes and projects from initiation to operation.
  2. India’s development assistance should prefer the countries with its substantial interests, both existing and potential
    • For Example: Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Angola and Algeria are India’s top six trading partners in Africa, accounting for nearly two-thirds of its trade and half its exports to the continent;
    • yet, they do not figure commensurately in India’s developmental pecking order. 
    • India’s own needs for raw materials, commodities and markets should be factored in its aid calculus
  3. We ought to prefer aiding countries which are willing to help us — from access to their natural resources to using our generics.
  4. The aided project selected should be compatible with local requirements. They should be cost-effective, scalable, future ready and commercially replicable.
  5. For greater transparency, India should prefer its public sector to implement the aid projects.
  6. The Indian Head of Mission in the recipient African state must be an integral part of the aid stream including project selection, co-ordination and implementation. 
  7. The aforementioned should not distract us from our duty to provide the needed humanitarian assistance to Africa to be rendered promptly and with sensitivity, but without noise.

Conclusion:

  • There seems to be a conspicuous disconnect between Indian developmental assistance to and India’s economic engagement with Africa. 
  • The time has now come to integrate these two axes for a more comprehensive and sustainable engagement. 
  • It would also facilitate aided pilot projects being scaled up seamlessly into commercially viable joint ventures.
  • The simultaneity of the two visits may be a coincidence, but it also indicates enhanced priority to Africa. This should be welcomed.

Connecting the dots:

  • What makes India and African relations Unique? Discuss how these relations help the Indian economy?

AGRICULTURE

TOPIC-General studies Paper 3

  • Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce 
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Concept of Farm ponds

Context:

  • Ponds can be an effective tool for rainwater harvesting

Concerns:

  • With an increased variability of monsoons and rapidly depleting groundwater tables, large parts of India are reeling under water stress.
  • A number of peninsular regions like Bundelkhand, Vidarbha and Marathwada have been facing recurring drought-like situations. 
  • There is a need to implement innovative water management measures, stressing particularly the importance of rainwater harvesting both at the household and community levels.

What are Farm Ponds?

  • A farm pond is a large hole dug out in the earth, usually square or rectangular in shape, to harvest rainwater and store it for future use.
  • It has an inlet to regulate inflow and an outlet to discharge excess water. 
  • Farmers build ponds for many reasons: irrigation, water for livestock, fire protection, erosion control, aquaculture, wildlife value, recreation and aesthetics.
  • The size and depth depend on the amount of land available, type of soil, the farmer’s water requirements, cost of excavation, and the possible uses of the excavated earth. 
  • Water from the farm pond is conveyed to the fields manually, by pumping, or by both methods.

Retention of water through Farm ponds:

  • Farm ponds retained water for 8-10 months of the year; thus farmers could enhance cropping intensity and crop diversification within and across seasons.
  • The area used to cultivate vegetables and other commercial crops also increased
  • In parts of peninsular India, They are being used as intermediate storage points, accelerating groundwater depletion and increasing evaporation losses as the groundwater is brought to the surface and stored in relatively shallow structures.

Why it is necessary to have  inlet and outlet provisions to the Farm ponds?

  • Farm ponds cannot arrest the excess run-off  if there is no inlet, and therefore they cannot be used effectively for rainwater harvesting as the same happened with Maharastra
  • Further, farmers line them at the bottom with plastic, restricting seepage and converting the ponds into intermediate storage points.
  • Such farm ponds have an adverse impact on the water tables and accelerate water loss. 
  • The usual practice here is to lift water from a dug well and/or a borewell, store it in the pond and then draw it once again to irrigate the fields, often using micro-irrigation.

What are the advantages of Farm Ponds?

  • Farm ponds can be cost-effective structures that transform rural livelihoods. 
  • They can help enhance water control, contribute to agriculture intensification and boost farm incomes
  • They aided in superior water control through the harvesting not just of rainfall but also of surface run-off and subsurface flows especially in the states of Jharkhand and west Bengal.
  • They functioned exclusively as recharge points, contributing to groundwater replenishment.
  • They also helped in providing supplemental irrigation in the kharif season and an enhanced irrigation coverage in rabi. 
  • The yield of paddy, the most important crop in kharif, stabilised, thus contributing to greater food security.

Conclusion:

Overall, farm ponds can act as effective harvesting structures and also yield healthy financial returns. But if they are promoted merely for on-farm storage of groundwater and canal water, they could accelerate, rather than reduce, the water crisis in the countryside.

Connecting the dots:

  • Agriculture is always a gamble in India with multiple factors being contingent. Critically analyse the budget provisions for agriculture and suggest the necessary modifications.

(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 statement about Equalization levy

  1. It is an indirect tax on payments made by residents to non-resident companies for online advertisement services provided in India
  2. Indian start-ups and SMEs are required to deposit 6% equalisation levy on behalf of these foreign companies which leads to additional compliance
  3. These start-ups and SMES are able to claim Input Tax Credit for this cost incurred

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Q.2) World Happiness Index is brought out by which of the following organisation?

  1. World Economic forum
  2. World Bank
  3. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  4. UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Q.3) Consider the following statements.

  1. Article 280 of the constitution empowers the Parliament to make laws for the adjudication of inter-state water dispute.
  2. National Water Informatics centre was setup in 2018 as a single window source of updated data on water resources 

 Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.4) Which of the following states has a serious conflict on the sharing of waters of the Vansadhara Water Disputes?

  1. Andhra Pradesh and Odisha
  2. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  3. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh
  4. Karnataka and Telangana

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