IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th September 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy
- Government to peg MGNREGA wages to inflation in bid to hike incomes thus increasing purchasing power and reviving rural demand.
- The consumption basket of CPI-AL [which determines MGNREGA wage revisions] has not been updated for more than three decades, and rural consumption patterns have changed drastically in that time,
- Food items make up more than two-thirds of the CPI-AL consumption basket, but rural workers today spend a much smaller percentage of their money on subsidised food, and an increasingly larger amount on health, education and transport costs.
- Government has now agreed to update the indices annually and link MGNREGA wages with it.
- The national average wage of an MGNREGA worker is ₹178.44 per day, less than half of the ₹375 per day minimum wage recommended by a Labour Ministry panel
- MGNREGA received a budgetary allocation of ₹60,000 crores in 2019-20.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Health
- Government bans e-cigarettes citing health risk to youth.
- Union Cabinet had approved an ordinance banning production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes.
- The draft ordinance provides for a maximum imprisonment of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first-time violators. This can go up to three years of jail and a penalty of Rs 5 lakh for repeat offenders.
- E-cigarettes do not burn tobacco, but use a heating element to vaporize liquid nicotine, which the user inhales.
- These are not licensed in India and are often marketed as products to help smokers quit, and harmless than cigarettes.
- A typical cartridge contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes and can act as a potential source for nicotine addiction
Do You Know?
- Some states, including Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Mizoram, have already banned use and sale of e-cigarettes, vape and e-hookah
- New York and Michigan have also banned e-cigarettes recently this year.
- More than 9,00,000 people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses. But India has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world
Right to Information Act
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Governance
- The Supreme Court has held that Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of RTI
- Case: D.A.V. College Trust And Management Society vs. Director Of Public Instructions
- This means that they have to disclose vital information, ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to citizens who apply under RTI.
- An NGO may also include societies which are neither owned or controlled by the government, but if they are significantly funded by the government, directly or indirectly, they come under the RTI Act.
- The court defined “substantial” as a “large portion.”
- It does not necessarily have to mean a major portion or more than 50%. Substantial financing can be both direct or indirect.
- If government gives land in a city free of cost or on heavy discount to hospitals, educational institutions or any such body, this could also be substantial financing.
National Centre for Clean Coal Research and Development (NCCCR&D)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III – Environmental Conservation
- Government of India through Department of Science & Technology, has set up the NCCCR&D as a national level consortium on clean coal R&D, led by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)-Bengaluru.
- The primary goal is to address several critical R&D challenges towards the development of clean coal technologies, in tandem with developing supercritical power plant technologies, both at the materials and system level.
- Clean coal technology is a collection of technologies being developed in attempts to lessen the negative environmental impact of coal energy generation and to mitigate worldwide climate change.
- The term “clean coal” has been applied to many technologies, ranging from wet scrubbers, which remove sulfur dioxide from coal-generated gas, to coal washing, which removes soil and rock from coal before it’s sent to a factory.
- The research in clean coal domain could potentially be game changer for meeting the energy needs of the country in terms of higher efficiency and capacity at lower operating costs and size.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
India would be a $5-trillion economy in 2024
On Independence Day, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that India would be a $5-trillion economy in 2024
Adverse impact of economic growth on different sectors:
The economic growth experience in India in recent decades has shown that growth has had an adverse impact on developmental goals such as education, health and overall human development/human capital formation, employment for all and environmentally sustainable development.
For example, 1% of the wealthiest in India increased their share in wealth from 40% in 2010 to more than 60% in the last five years. if we proceed on the same growth path, the top 10% will take away the lion’s share of the $5-trillion incomes when we reach the target of $5-trillion economy.
- The literacy rate has grown very slowly and according to the United Nations, India’s literacy was 71.1% in 2015. India is now far behind many African countries such as Rwanda, Morocco and Congo in terms of literacy.
- The quality of education is far from satisfactory
- Against the norm of 6% of GDP, the government spend is around 4% of GDP on education.
- The rate of growth of employment has declined with increasing economic growth causing jobless growth
- With rising labour force, India will soon experience demographic disaster rather than demographic dividend.
- Decline in malnutrition, particularly among women and children is very slow;
- against the norm of 3% of GDP, the government spends around 1.5% of GDP on health
- industries are declining rapidly — examples are automobile ,diamond cutting and polishing, textiles and garments, and several Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
- Agriculture is in crisis on account of rising costs of inputs and low prices of produces, and low public investments in this sector.
As a consequence of all these developments, there is a crash in the aggregate demand in the economy.
Need for hour:
- There is an urgent need for a quantum jump in public expenditure on education in order to fill wide gaps in infrastructure, training and retraining of teachers and to ensure a strong follow up on the quality of education
- it would be very difficult to raise the rate of growth to reach $5 trillion in 2024 unless we focus on human capital formation and address the real reasons for the recent slowdown.
- Government must increase public expenditure in investing in agriculture — in infrastructure, inputs, extension, marketing and storage and training — and in providing profitable prices to farmers.
- It should also raise funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
- It should raise public employment by filling all vacant sanctioned posts in the Central and State governments, which would be around 2.5 million jobs.
- The government should also regularise contract, casual and “honorary” jobs and make them regular jobs
- The government should focus on promoting labour intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, textiles and garments and leather goods.
Did you know?
- Demographic dividend, as defined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) means, “the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older)”.
- In other words, it is “a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.
Connecting the dots:
- NITI Aayog has observed recently, the present crisis is the worst crisis India is facing since the Independence. Analyse
- The impact of economic growth on major development goals depends on the nature and composition of growth. Substantiate
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interest
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
Israeli and Pakistan relations
Recently, Israeli and Pakistani scholars and opinion-makers appear to have speculated about the possibility of the two states establishing diplomatic ties.
- In 1947, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, and rejected by Arab leaders
- Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries
- Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world’s longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement.
- Israel’s economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state’s sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition
- Apart from Turkey (1949), Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994), none of the states in the region have recognised Israel.
- The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) routinely pillories Israel for its “occupation” of Palestinian lands.
- Israel has been successful in gradually expanding its diplomatic profile beyond its immediate neighbourhood. Israel has established diplomatic relations with a large majority of the 193 UN member states.
Pakistan and Israel relations:
- An attempt to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan and Israel was made in 1947, when Israel’s first Prime minister David Ben-Gurion sent a telegram to Jinnah—Pakistan’s main founding father—but Jinnah gave no particular response.
- The Pakistani government was asked to issue passage permits to India for a few hundred Jews who wanted to leave Afghanistan and wished to emigrate to Israel (1950)
- In 1952, Sir Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan’s foreign minister promoted his hardline policies toward Israel, and pressed his policies toward the unity of Arab states.
- Pakistan religious political parties such as the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba fiercely oppose any relationship with Israel, and have repeatedly called Israel as the enemy of Islam
- Israel and Pakistan were both allied to the United States and the western bloc during the Cold War, while India was allied to the Soviet Union’s bloc.
- A key factor in Pakistan’s rethink has been its difficulty in mobilising international support against India’s policies towards Pakistan and Kashmir.
- It is keen to correct the emerging international tilt in favour of India.
Advantages for Pakistan:
- Pakistan’s national interests would better be served by having ties with Israel, particularly since Israel carries weight in Washington and could perhaps mediate on recurring U.S.-Pakistan tensions.
- It would help to deal with India’s influence in U.S. and disrupt its partnership with the influential Jewish community in America.
Demerits for Pakistan:
- Pakistan has used the platform provided by the OIC to drum up support for its stand on Kashmir, just as the OIC has done for the Palestinian issue.
- If Pakistan were to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, it would dilute its Islamic credentials and lead to a weakened support base within the OIC on Kashmir.
- Iran is recognised as a potent threat by Israel and the Shia-Sunni divide in Pakistan is frequently a point of friction between Iran and Pakistan. However Israel cannot expect Pakistan to be used against neighbouring Iran and risk the dangers of escalation in sectarian conflict, given that more than 20% of its population is Shia. Pakistan is unlikely to take any steps that could rock its relations with Iran.
What is Israel looking for ?
- Israel is also looking at increasing its diplomatic footprint in South Asia and beyond.
- Forging closer ties with populous Asian Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia would help it to gain greater legitimacy in the Islamic world.
- India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India after Russia
- with India abstaining from voting against Israel in the United Nations in several resolutions the relation further developed
- As of 2015, the two nations are negotiating an extensive bilateral free trade agreement, focusing on areas such as information technology, biotechnology, and agriculture
- In July 2017, Narendra Modi became the first ever Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.
Both Israel and India have been victims of asymmetric warfare such as terrorism, which they continue to tackle with resolve.
Do you know?
- The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969
- The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony
- The OIC supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
- The OIC has called for boycott of Israeli products in effort to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories
- The OIC lately condemned Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex the eastern portion of the occupied West Bank known as the Jordan Valley.
- India has successfully walked a tightrope between Israel and Palestine, and Israel may well hope to do so between Pakistan and India. However, it is not in Israel’s interest to seek diplomatic ties with a state that sponsors terrorism.
Connecting the dots:
- India has successfully walked a tightrope between Israel and Palestine. Justify
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) CPI for Agricultural Labourers (AL) is compiled and released by which body?
- Central Statistical Organisation
- Ministry of Labour
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) “substantially” financed by the government fall within the ambit of RTI
- This means that they have to disclose vital information, ranging from finances to hierarchy to decisions to functioning, to citizens who apply under RTI
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
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