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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd August 2019

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  • August 22, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 22nd August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Kutch Desert

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains I – Ancient History

In News

    • A recent study has shown that the hot arid desert of Kutch was once a humid sub-tropical forest with a variety of birds, freshwater fish and possibly giraffes and rhinos.
    • The fossils, consisting mostly of ribs, and parts of teeth and bones, were unearthed from Palasava village of Rapar taluk in Kutch, Gujarat.
    • Overall, the fossil finds from Palasava suggest that a rich diversity of fauna and flora sustained in warm, humid/wet, tropical to sub-tropical environmental conditions during the Middle Miocene (14 Million years ago)
    • The bulk of fossils unearthed in Kutch have so far been mainly marine organisms, due to their proximity to the Arabian Sea. 
    • Geological changes eventually closed off the salt-flats’ connection to the sea and the region turned into a large lake, eventually becoming salty wetlands.
  • Significance of the findings
    • Kutch is a potential treasure trove of mammal fossils with possible continuity to vertebrate fossils in the Siwalik, spanning Pakistan to Nepal.
    • It also points to clues on how mammals dispersed between Africa and the Indian subcontinent when part of India was in the Gondwanaland supercontinent that existed nearly 300 million years ago.

State rooftop solar attractiveness Index (SARAL)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Environmental Conservation

In News

  • SARAL Index evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development
  • It has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY).
  • SARAL currently captures five key aspects –
    1. Robustness of policy framework
    2. Implementation environment
    3. Investment climate
    4. Consumer experience
    5. Business ecosystem
  • The Index would incentivise rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the States.

Do You know?

  • India has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops. 
  • Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in SARAL Index. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank respectively.

NISHTHA

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Issues relating to Education

In News

  • Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister launched NISHTHA to build capacities of 42 Lakh government teachers across the country.
  • National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level (NISHTHA) is the world’s largest teachers training programme of its kind
  • Under it, teachers will develop their skills on various aspects related to Learning Outcomes, School Safety and Security, ICT in teaching-learning including Artificial Intelligence, Environmental Concerns and School Based Assessment in a joyful learning manner. 
  • Training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs, who will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, NIEPA, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), CBSE and NGO. 
  • It objective is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


CITIZENSHIP

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Refugee issue; Citizenship Amendment Bill.
  • 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.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

How an Indian citizen is defined

Context:

  • In the run-up to the publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, citizenship has become the most talked about topic in the country.

Concerns:

  • The Assam government has been taking various steps in relation to those who will be left out of the NRC, while the Supreme Court last week rejected a plea to include those born in India between after March 24, 1971 and before July 1, 1987 unless they had ancestral links to India. In any other Indian state, they would have been citizens by birth, but the law is different for Assam

How is citizenship determined?

  • Citizenship signifies the relationship between individual and state. It begins and ends with state and law, and is thus about the state, not people. Citizenship is an idea of exclusion as it excludes non-citizens.
  • There are two well-known principles for grant of citizenship. While jus soli confers citizenship on the basis of place of birth, jus sanguinis gives recognition to blood ties. From the time of the Motilal Nehru Committee (1928), the Indian leadership was in favour of the enlightened concept of jus soli. The racial idea of jus sanguis was rejected by the Constituent Assembly as it was against the Indian ethos.
  • Citizenship is in the Union List under the Constitution and thus under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament. 
  • The Constitution does not define the term ‘citizen’ but gives, in Articles 5 to 11, details of various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship. 
  • Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on January 26, 1950, these articles were enforced on November 26, 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted. However, Article 11 itself confers wide powers on Parliament by laying down that “nothing in the foregoing provisions shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all matters relating to citizenship”. Thus Parliament can go against the citizenship provisions of the Constitution.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 was passed and has been amended four times — in 1986, 2003, 2005, and 2015. The Act empowers the government to determine the citizenship of persons in whose case it is in doubt. 
  • However, over the decades, Parliament has narrowed down the wider and universal principles of citizenship based on the fact of birth. Moreover, the Foreigners Act places a heavy burden on the individual to prove that he is not a foreigner.

So who is, or is not, a citizen of India?

  • Article 5: It provided for citizenship on commencement of the Constitution. All those domiciled and born in India were given citizenship. Even those who were domiciled but not born in India, but either of whose parents was born in India, were considered citizens. Anyone who had been an ordinary resident for more than five years, too, was entitled to apply for citizenship.
  • Article 6: Since Independence was preceded by Partition and migration, Article 6 laid down that anyone who migrated to India before July 19, 1949, would automatically become an Indian citizen if either of his parents or grandparents was born in India. But those who entered India after this date needed to register themselves.
  • Article 7: Even those who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 but subsequently returned on resettlement permits were included within the citizenship net. The law was more sympathetic to those who migrated from Pakistan and called them refugees than to those who, in a state of confusion, were stranded in Pakistan or went there but decided to return soon.
  • Article 8: Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who, or either of whose parents or grandparents, was born in India could register himself or herself as ab Indian citizen with Indian Diplomatic Mission.
  • 1986 amendment: Unlike the constitutional provision and the original Citizenship Act that gave citizenship on the principle of jus soli to everyone born in India, the 1986 amendment to Section 3 was less inclusive as it added the condition that those who were born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987, shall be Indian citizen. Those born after July 1, 1987 and before December 4, 2003, in addition to one’s own birth in India, can get citizenship only if either of his parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.
  • 2003 amendment: The then NDA government made the above condition more stringent, keeping in view infiltration from Bangladesh. Now the law requires that for those born on or after December 4, 2004, in addition to the fact of their own birth, both parents should be Indian citizens or one parent must be Indian citizen and other should not be an illegal migrant. With these restrictive amendments, India has almost moved towards the narrow principle of jus sanguinis or blood relationship. This lays down that an illegal migrant cannot claim citizenship by naturalisation or registration even if he has been a resident of India for seven years.
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: The amendment proposes to permit members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to continue to live in India if they entered India before December 14, 2014. It also reduces the requirement for citizenship from 11 years out of the preceding 14 years, to just 6 years. Two notifications also exempted these migrants from the Passport Act and Foreigner Act. A large number of organisations in Assam protested against this Bill as it may grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants.

What is different in Assam?

  • The Assam Movement against illegal immigration eventually led to the historic Assam Accord of 1985, signed by Movement leaders and the Rajiv Gandhi government. 
  • Accordingly, the 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act created a special category of citizens in relation to Assam. 
  • The newly inserted Section 6A laid down that all persons of Indian origin who entered Assam before January 1, 1966 and have been ordinary residents will be deemed Indian citizens. 
  • Those who came after 1 January, 1966 but before March 25, 1971,and have been ordinary residents, will get citizenship at the expiry of 10 years from their detection as foreigner. During this interim period, they will not have the right to vote but can get an Indian passport.
  • Identification of foreigners was to be done under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, (IMDT Act), 1983, which was applicable only in Assam while the Foreigners Act, 1946 was applicable in the rest of the country. 
  • The provisions of the IMDT Act made it difficult to deport illegal immigrants. On the petition of Sarbananda Sonowal (now Chief Minister), the Act was held unconstitutional and struck down by the Supreme Court in 2005. This was eventually replaced with the Foreigners (Tribunals of Assam) Order, 2006, which again was struck down in 2007 in Sonowal II.
  • In the IMDT case, the court considered classification based on geographical considerations to be a violation of the right to equality under Article 14. In fact, another such variation was already in place. While the cutoff date for Western Pakistan is July 19, 1949, for Eastern Pakistan the Nehru-Liaquat Pact had pushed it to 1950.

Constitutionality of Section 6A

  • A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court is yet to examine the constitutionality of Section 6A under which the current NRC has been prepared. 
  • The Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur did hold its hearing on April 19, 2017, but it was dissolved on the retirement of Justice P C Pant in August 2017. The Supreme Court, in its order last week, refused to extend restrictive provisions of amendments to Assam in view of a different dispensation for them in Section 6A.
  • In Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (2014) where the constitutionality of the 1986 amendment was challenged (the Mahasangha argues that the cutoff year for Assam should be 1951 instead if 1971), the court referred the matter to the Constitution Bench. 
  • While Section 6A was inserted in 1986 as a result of the Assam Accord, which has been discussed at length by the court, the court accepted the challenge to its constitutionality in 2014 and referred to the Constitution Bench 13 questions such as whether Section 6A is constitutional and valid though it prescribes a different cutoff date for Assam (1971) from the one prescribed in the Constitution for the rest of the country (1949). But then, this provision was about citizenship on commencement of the Constitution.

Conclusion:

  • Assam has borne the brunt of migration in ways that unsettled so many identities and created distributive conflicts. 
  • The process of completing the National Register of Citizens is on, and either way its results are going to leave large numbers of people disaffected and vulnerable. 
  • The real challenge for India will begin after the process of identifying immigrants is done. What do we do with people we will have declared stateless? How do we address these concerns without a disproportionate burden falling on Assam

Connecting the dots:

  1. Assam has excluded four million people from its National Register of Citizens (NRC). Now, it doesn’t know what to do with them. Comment.
  2. Modern nations are products of migrations and cultural diffusion and all the richer for it. NRC process doesn’t seem alive to this reality. Discuss.
  3. Political parties must stop feasting on the complexities of Assam’s demography. Examine.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

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.

The ‘Kerala Model’ is unsustainable

Context:

  • Over the years, parties have responded to commercial interests over the welfare of people

Concerns:

  • In 2018 Kerala was overwhelmed by an unprecedented natural event. Flooding combined with landslides caused many deaths. Floods were not new to Kerala, which receives high rainfall. What was new compared to the times of equally high rainfall in the early part of the last century was the flooding due to inept dam management and the vulnerability of the terrain induced by the pattern of land use. 
  • In 2019 we have seen some of this repeated. This year it is the landslides that have caused most deaths. They are a relatively recent phenomenon, pointing to the role of uncontrolled economic expansion.

Kerala Model of Development:

The positive side, -Kerala has

  • Comparatively low levels of basic gender inequality (reflected, for instance, in a high female-male ratio),
  • Relatively equitable educational opportunities (indeed, near-universal literacy, especially among the young), 
  • Extensive social security arrangements (e.g. broad-based entitlements to homestead land, old-age pensions and the ‘public distribution system
  • Limited incidence of caste oppression (e.g. few violent crimes against scheduled castes), 
  • Low rural-urban disparities.
  • The role of basic education (and. particularly of female literacy) in promoting basic capabilities
  • The favourable position and informed agency of women crucial to a wide range of social achievements; 
  • The access to public utilities; 
  • The role of public action in a wide sense, involving the State and the public at large. 
  • Lauded for the high human development indicators it is believed to have bestowed upon the State

Failures:

  • The foremost is the inability to meet the employment aspirations of the people, pushing them to live under authoritarian regimes overseas.
  • Second, the laudable public provision of health and education has been financed by borrowing.
  • Kerala has the highest per capita public debt among States, implying that we are passing on the bill for our own maintenance to future generations.
  • Kerala has not done so well when viewed through the lens of gender justice. High levels of female education have not led to an equally high participation of women in the labour force or in governance, even though they participate equally in elections.
  • The extraordinary events that we have witnessed this year range from fountains sprouting out of the earth due to the hitherto unknown ‘water piping’ to constructed structures shifting, physical phenomena not yet widely understood. 
  • There has been overbuilding in Kerala, with absentee owners having invested in luxury houses they do not always occupy. As a result poorer households are crowded out of safe locations on the plains to precarious ones on the hills.
  • Public policy has failed miserably to regulate land use including rampant quarrying, which destabilises the earth’s surface, with political patronage. Truth is that public policy is part of the problem
  • The floodgates were opened in 2015 when the Congress party did away with environmental clearance for quarries in existence for three years. 
  • Then in 2017 the Pinarayi Vijayan government relaxed the rules for quarrying further. 
  • It also weakened the provisions of the legislation governing conversion of agricultural land into construction sites. 
  • The rice paddies had both produced food and served as gargantuan sinks for rainwater.
  • Kerala’s principal political parties, irrespective of their ideologies, have responded to commercial interests over the welfare of ordinary people.

Conclusion:

  • To come out of this morass the people of Kerala would have to rely on themselves. They need to acknowledge that their consumption pattern must change as it has adversely impacted the natural environment, the consequences of which have begun to hurt them. In this task they are unlikely to be guided by the State’s politicians and intellectuals who led them into this cul-de-sac in the first place.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Compare the kerala model of development with Gujarat model?

(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) Palasava recently seen in news is associated with which of the following fields?

  1. Fibre crop grown in Manipur which got GI tag recently
  2. Ancient Ayurveda medicine found to be useful in cancer research
  3. Village in Kutch area where fossils have been discovered
  4. None of the above

Q.2) State rooftop solar attractiveness Index (SARAL) is designed by which body/organisation?

  1. NITI Aayog
  2. The Energy and Research Institute (TERI)
  3. Ministry of Power
  4. None of the above

Q.3) NISHTHA scheme is being implemented by which Union Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Minority Affairs
  2. Ministry of Women and Child development
  3. Ministry of Human Resources development
  4. Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

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