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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd August 2019

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  • August 3, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 3rd August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Institutions of Eminence

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

In News

UGC recommends 20 institutions for Institutes of Eminence

Background:

  • After no Indian University found a place in World University ranking in 2017, the government decided to set up Institutions of eminence in India
  • A notification released by UGC in Sep 2017, proposed to establish 20 such world class institutes (10 public and 10 private).It provides for Greenfield category too.

Benefits of the status

  • Autonomy: The IOE will enjoy greater autonomy in terms of deciding their fee structure and course duration & structure. 
  • They will be exempt from approvals of government or UGC for academic collaboration with foreign institutions
  • Funding: The 10 public institutions selected will get Rs 1000 crore each from HRD ministry to achieve world class status. No financial assistance will be offered to private institutions

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EA9wg2hUwAIjw9d?format=jpg&name=360×360

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EA9whZNUEAEjBxz?format=jpg&name=360×360


Census 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS II – Issues relating to development and management of Human resources.

In News

  • Census 2021 is unlikely to collect “caste wise” data as a similar exercise conducted in 2011 threw up about 40 lakh caste names that were difficult to tabulate
  • Census 2021 exercise will be done in three phases
    • House Listing phase: comprising 34 categories, It will be done from April to September 2020
    • Enumeration phase: Comprising 28 categories will be held between Feb 9 and 28, 2021
    • Revision: It will be done from March 1 to 5,2021
  • Government teachers will conduct the exercise (nearly 3 million enumerators)
  • There will be a third gender category this time
  • Data will be conducted on web based application developed under the Registrar General
  • Every citizen is compelled by law to participate in the exercise and denial could lead to criminal action

Do You know?

  • The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs
  • The results of Census 2011 took nearly nine years to be published. The digitisation of process will ensure that most parameters of 2021 census will be available by 2024-25
  • The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre
  • The SECC, 2011 was conducted through a comprehensive programme involving the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India and the State Governments.

Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) 

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III – changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

In News

  • A joint venture company KABIL has been set up with the participation of three Central PSEs to ensure supply of critical and strategic Minerals to Indian domestic market. 
  • These CPSEs are National Aluminium Company Limited(NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited(HCL) and Mineral Exploration Company limited(MECL). 
  • The equity participation between NALCO, HCL and MECL is in the ratio of 40:30:30
  • Among such twelve minerals identified as strategic minerals, which have meagre resource base, Lithium Cobalt are significant given the recent push for Electric Vehicle Mobility in India
  • The KABIL would carry out identification, acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of strategic minerals overseas for commercial use and meeting country’s requirement of these minerals.

(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT/FOREST

TOPIC:

General Studies 1

  • Social empowerment

General Studies 2

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

The taproot of conservation justice

Context

  • Cutting down the Forests Right Act will only weaken the conservation regime and affect the rights of forest dwellers

What is Forest rights Act?

  • The Forest Rights Act (FRA) is a piece of social legislation which aims to address the historical injustice that our forest dwelling communities have had to face for nearly 150 years by providing them with security of tenure over land for cultivation and habitation through individual right
  • It also provides access to a variety of resources through more than a dozen types of community forest rights. 
  • The FRA also empowers forest dwelling communities to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use. 
  • It has the provision for creating critical wildlife habitats within protected areas which currently is the strongest conservation provision among existing laws of the country.

Background of Forest Rights Act

  • In the colonial era, the British diverted abundant forest wealth of the nation to meet their economic needs. While procedure for settlement of rights was provided under statutes such as the Indian Forest Act, 1927, these were hardly followed. 
  • As a result, tribal and forest-dwelling communities, who had been living within the forests in harmony with the environment and the ecosystem, continued to live inside the forests in tenurial insecurity, a situation which continued even after independence as they were marginalised.
  • The symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dwelling communities found recognition in the National Forest Policy, 1988. 
  • The policy called for the need to associate tribal people in the protection, regeneration and development of forests. 
  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.

Related Acts and Provisions:

Wildlife protection Act 1972

  • This act prohibits the capturing, killing, poisoning or trapping of wild animals.
  • It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir
  • It also regulates and controls trade in parts and products derived from wildlife.

1988 National Forest Policy

  • The policy aims at maintaining of environmental stability.
  • It looks at conserving the natural heritage of the country by preserving the remaining natural forests.
  • Increasing forest/tree cover in the country through massive afforestation and social forestry programmes.
  • Creating a massive people’s movement for achieving these objectives and to minimise pressure on existing forests.

The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Schedule Areas) Act 1996 (PESA)

  • It safeguards and preserves the traditions and customs of the people, and their cultural identity, community resources, customary mode of dispute resolution.
  • PESA empowers Gram Sabha/Panchayat at appropriate level with right to mandatory consultation in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
  • PESA seeks to reduce alienation in tribal areas as they will have better control over the utilisation of public resources.
  • It will help minimise exploitation of tribal population as they will be able to control and manage money lending, consumption and sale of liquor and also village markets.
  • PESA looks to promote cultural heritage through preservation of traditions, customs and cultural identity of tribal population.

What does the Forest Rights Act provide for?

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act or FRA was passed by the Parliament in 2006 and came into effect in 2008.
  • It was intended to correct the “historical injustice” done to forest dwellers from the colonial times.
  • [The traditional rights of such communities were derecognised by the British Raj in the 1850s.]
  • The Act recognises and vests the forest rights and occupation in forest land in the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
  • It also covers other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.
  • The Act recognises –
    • individual rights to forest land and livelihood
    • community rights to forest ‘land’ exercised by their gram sabha
    • community forest ‘resource’ rights, giving gram sabhas the power to protect and manage their forest
  • Conservation plans and developmental projects in these areas would have to be approved by gram sabhas.

Rights under the act

There are different rights recognised under the act which can be summarised as following

  • Title rights– i.e. right to ownership to land farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares, ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family and no new lands will be granted.
  • Use rights– to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  • Relief and development rights– to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection
  • Forest management rights– to protect and conserve forests and wildlife

Legal challenges

  • It is extremely unfortunate that the very constitutionality of the FRA was challenged in the Supreme Court in 2008 by about half a dozen conservation organisations. 
  • The court has tagged many other cases including from several High Courts which are currently being heard jointly. 
  • The court’s order of February 13, 2019 since put in abeyance by its order dated February 28, 2019 highlights the very tardy implementation of the FRA by the State governments.
  • One of the key arguments of the petitioners has been that it is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament to enact the FRA as ‘land’ is a state subject. 
  • Tenuous as this is, if this argument of the petitioners is accepted, the Wildlife Protection Act and the entire architecture of forest laws will have to be dismantled as ultra vires as all of them deal with ‘land’, including the Indian Forest Act and the Forest (Conservation) Act.

Criticism of FRA

  • The FRA has been savagely criticised as a land distribution legislation, which it is not. 
  • The FRA very clearly states that forest dwellers who are either Scheduled Tribes or Other Traditional Forest Dwellers are only entitled to claim both individual and community forest rights through a clear process of submitting a claim and after its verification and subsequent approval or rejection. 
  • For the rejected cases, an appeal process has been outlined. 
  • The FRA aims to only confirm tenure and access rights which in some sense the forest dwellers have been exercising de facto but under severe restrictions and control especially by the forest department. 
  • In fact, it is the failure of the state to settle pre-existing rights under existing forest and conservation laws that created the situation of historical injustice.
  • The FRA does not sanction any fresh clearance of forest, as individual rights over land will only be granted if the forest dweller was in possession of that parcel of land on December 13, 2005.
  • It also limits the extent of land that can be granted to the area that was occupied on December 13, 2005 and places an upper limit of four hectares per claimant for individual rights.
  • These provisions are often overlooked or deliberately suppressed by those who criticise FRA.

Conclusion:

  • The FRA, by design, has tremendous potential to strengthen the conservation regime across India by recognising rights of forest dwellers over land and community forest resources, a key factor for conservation to succeed as shown both by research and practice in many countries.
  • By democratising forest governance and conservation through the provision of rights and authority to local communities and gram sabhas for conservation and management of forests, the FRA will empower gram sabhas of the forest dwelling communities to halt the destruction of forests, as especially highlighted in the Niyamgiri case.
  • Implementing the FRA in letter and spirit with empathy for forest dwellers will be a decisive step by India to achieve conservation justice.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is the genesis of Forest Rights Act? Critically analyse the successful implementation of the act with respect to tribal rights.

ECONOMY

TOPIC: General studies 2 & 3

  • Important International institutions, agencies and forums, their structure, mandate.
  • Indian Growth & Economy
  • Economic Developments

Explaining the Asian rate cuts wave

Content:

  • Policy makers across Asia should ensure enough ammunition to manage a prolonged economic downturn

Concerns:

  • The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Economic Outlook update in July 2019 has confirmed a growing belief that global growth has decelerated and dark clouds seem to be looming in the near term. 
  • Specifically, the IMF has downgraded global growth multiple times since October 2018 and now projects it to be 3.2% compared to 3.6% in 2018.

The China Factor

  • China is one of the few major economies that is expected to continue to decelerate into 2020 (along with Japan which is faced with acutely unfavourable demographics and seems unable to escape persistent deflationary pressures).
  • The country has faced strong headwinds to growth both because of the ongoing supply-side reforms, including dealing with financial risks (reining in of shadow banking and hidden debt of local governments), as well as the negative effects of escalating tariffs and their consequent impact on its exports and investment.
  • While there have been some short-term beneficiaries of the export and trade diversion from China to countries such as Vietnam, the global external demand slowdown has more than outweighed these gains. 

Asian banks to the rescue

  • In response to the global economic slowdown as well as generally subdued inflationary pressures, many Asian central banks (India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea) have begun to ease monetary policy.
  • The recent wave of rate cuts in Asia is consistent with research which suggests that emerging economies tend to be cautious about lowering interest rates 
  • when the base country (usually the U.S.) does not do so as they are concerned about potential capital flight and sharp currency depreciations which in turn could have negative repercussions on domestic firms and other entities with unhedged external borrowings in foreign currencies.
  • However, when interest rates in the base country decline, while emerging economies may experience massive surges in capital inflows if they stand pat on interest rates, they can maintain monetary policy autonomy via a combination of sterilised foreign exchange intervention (leading to sustained reserve accumulation) as well as tightening of capital controls and/or use of macro prudential policies (MaPs)
  • Alternatively, if the emerging economies are themselves faced with an economic slowdown, they are comfortable lowering their interest rates along with the base country, as is the case currently in Asia. 
  • This said, it is wise for Asian policy makers to ensure that they have enough ammunition to manage a prolonged downturn given that 2020 is “precarious” with many downside risks

Where does all of this leave India? 

  • On the one hand, since India has not been well-integrated with the Asian and global supply chains, it has not been as impacted directly by the China-U.S. trade war. 
  • On the other hand, given existing acute domestic bottlenecks, policy missteps and ongoing structural challenges, India has not been able to reap significant benefits as an alternative production and export platform to China.
  • On the back of a prolonged downturn in the capex cycle, the IMF has downgraded projected growth for India to 7% in 2019. 
  • This is broadly in line with the forecasted range by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). While this growth is admirable relative to other major countries, it is well below the country’s likely potential growth of 7.5% and 8%.

The concerns here however have been threefold.

  1. Despite the rapid interest rate cuts, India’s real interest rates are still higher than most other countries, though it remains unclear what the neutral real interest rate consistent with India’s potential output actually is.
  2. More than most other countries in the region, an ongoing concern for India is that interest rate policy transmission to bank rates tends to be rather slow and limited.This is likely due to a combination of factors: 
    1. The banking system has been faced with a deterioration in asset quality and remains saddled with bad debts.
    2. There has been and anaemic deposit growth.
    3. There is limited scope to reduce deposit rates.
  3. Despite the interest rate cuts, India’s real effective exchange rate (REER) has actually appreciated somewhat (around 7%) since October 2018, consistent with the fact that real interest rates have not declined

Way forward:

  • If India is to succeed in its ambition of becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, there can be no substitute for undertaking the necessary structural reforms needed to jump-start private investments and longer-term growth. 
  • However, in the short term, in all likelihood, monetary policy will have to remain accommodative (more so than what it is currently) and much greater attention will be needed to be paid on how to revive public capex without raising the cost of capital further.
  • In the face of constraints in raising revenues in a slowing economy, the government’s preferred solution seems to be to issue overseas sovereign bonds rather than streamline subsidies and revenue expenditures. 
  • The proposed $10 billion sovereign issuance is manageable vis-à-vis the countries stock of forex reserves, while India’s sovereign external debt (as share of GDP) is modest at present. 
  • However, increases in external borrowings add an additional element of risk to the economy. 
  • Such a move also likely complicates monetary policy further, as any adverse exchange rate movements will lead to a ballooning of interest payments on government debt which is already eating up around a quarter of budgetary spending. It is not clear that the current policy mix is ideal for India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine the reasons for slowdown in the global economy with special reference to US and China.

(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 Institutes of Eminence (IOE)

  1. The IOE will enjoy greater autonomy in terms of deciding their fee structure and course duration & structure 
  2. Only existing institutions are given the status of IOE
  3. All the 20 IOC will get Rs 1000 crore each from HRD ministry to achieve world class status

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

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Census

  1. It is a decennial exercise carried out by Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India
  2. Every citizen is compelled by law to participate in the exercise and denial could lead to criminal action
  3. Socio-Economic Caste Census -2011 was conducted by Ministry of Home Affairs

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

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Khanij Bidesh India Limited(KABIL)

  1. It has been set up as subsidiary of National Mineral Development Coporation of India, a Navaratna company
  2. Its objective is to ensure supply of critical and strategic Minerals to Indian domestic market

 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

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