IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th September 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Society
- The decennial census exercise will be undertaken in 2021 and, for the first time, move from paper to digital format.
- The 2011 Census pegged India’s population at 1.21 billion—a 17.6% rise from that of 2001.
- Union Home Minister suggested (no formal proposal) one card for all utilities in future where by Aadhaar, passport, bank account, and driving licence are brought under one platform.
- ₹12,000 crore would be spent on census and preparation of the National Population Register (NPR).
- The NPR exercise is different from the census and is not linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- For the purpose of the NPR, an ordinary resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
- The NPR links biometric and demographic details of any ordinary resident, thus making it a comprehensive database of residents.
- A Census helps us plan our social welfare and entitlement schemes better”, through NPR India would have a “multipurpose identity document that will have all details like Aadhaar and PAN card”.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Health
- Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana (PM-JAY) has completed one year and has recorded 46.4 lakh hospital treatments worth ₹7,500 crore
- 60% of the amountunder the scheme is being spent on tertiary care.
- PM-JAY is the flagship scheme of the government with an aim to bring quality healthcare to around 50 crore poor and vulnerable Indians.
- The scheme gives annual healthcare benefits of up to ₹5 lakh for every entitled family.
- The scheme has resulted in saving of over ₹12,000 crore to the beneficiary families.
- Currently, 32 States and Union Territories are implementing the scheme and more than 10 crore beneficiary cards have been issued.
- PM-JAY aims to ensure improved healthcare delivery, through a combination of government hospitals and strategic purchasing of services from private hospitals, in health care deficit areas
Social stock exchanges
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Economy
- SEBI has constituted a working group on Social Stock Exchanges (SSE) under the chairmanship of Ishaat Hussain.
- The working group shall examine and make recommendations with respect to possible structures and mechanisms, within the securities market domain, to facilitate the raising of funds by social enterprises and voluntary organizations
- In 2019-20 Union Budget, Finance Minister had proposed a social stock exchangewithin the ambit of SEBI, for social enterprises and voluntary organisations working for social welfare to help them raise capital through debt, equity and mutual fund.
- A social stock exchange, broadly, is understood as a platform that allows investors to buy shares in a social enterprise that has been vetted by the exchange.
- In London, similar type of platform acts more as a directory connecting social enterprises with potential investors.
- While in Canada the SVX is an online platform where even retail investors can invest in funds or companies with social impact.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II – Economy
- ChintanShivirwas organized by Ministry of Steel on the theme -Towards a Vibrant, Efficient and Globally Competitive Indian Steel sector.
- The purpose of the event was to bring all stakeholders together to deliberate on a roadmap for making Indian Steel Sector more vibrant, efficient and globally competitive.
- The Ministry urged industry to work towards zero exports of natural resources and focus on value addition.
- During the event, new logo of Steel Ministry “ISPATI IRADA” was launched
- The “ISAPTI IRADA” campaign aims to increase appropriate usage of steel in the country and bring more strength to society.
Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS)
Part of: GS Prelims and Main GS-III – Food processing
- PGS is a process of certifying organic products, which ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards. The certification is in the form of a documented logo or a voluntary statement.
- PGS is a “quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers, and (which) operateoutside the framework of third-party certification”.
- Four pillars of PGS :The government’s 2015 PGS manual underlines that the system in India is based on “participatory approach, a shared vision, transparency and trust”.
- The advantages of PGS over third-party certification
- Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language used.
- Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance; peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs
- Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.
- Unlike the grower group certification system, PGS offers every farmer individual certificates, and the farmer is free to market his own produce independent of the group.
- The limitations of PGS are:
- Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not covered under PGS. They either have to opt for third party certification or join the existing PGS local group.
- PGS ensures traceability until the product is in the custody of the PGS group, which makes PGS ideal for local direct sales and direct trade between producers and consumers.
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.
10 public sector banks to be merged into four
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced consolidation of public sector banks: 10 public sector banks to be merged into four.
- Under the scheme of amalgamation, Indian Bank will be merged with Allahabad Bank (anchor bank – Indian Bank); PNB, OBC and United Bank to be merged (PNB will be the anchor bank); Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank to be merged (anchor bank – Union Bank of India); and Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank to be merged (anchor bank – Canara Bank).
- In place of 27 public sector banks in 2017, now there will be 12 public sector banks after the latest round of consolidation of PSU banks.
Benefits of Merger
- The consolidation of PSBs helps in strengthening its presence globally, nationally and regionally.
- Gives capital but also give good governance.
- It has the potential to reduce operational costs due to the presence of shared overlapping networks. And this enhanced operational efficiency will reduce the lending costs of the banks.
- All merged banks in a particular bucket share common Core Banking Solutions (CBS) platform synergizing them technologically.
Core Banking Solutions (CBS) can be defined as a solution that enables banks to offer a multitude of customer-centric services on a 24×7 basis from a single location, supporting retail as well as corporate banking activities.(UPSC prelims )
- Larger banks have a better ability to raise resources from the market rather than relying on State exchequer.
- The loan tracking mechanism in PSU banks is being improved for the benefit of customers.
- Monitoring would become easier for the government.
- The burden on the central government to recapitalize the public sector banks again and again will come down substantially.
- The potential benefits would take several years to show up and, meanwhile, the turbulence in the banks could take a toll on the real economy.
- The merger move demonstrates once again the lackadaisical approach of policy planners in implementing sensible banking reforms in Public Sector Banks (PSBs), first mooted by the Narasimham Committee
- Narasimham committee had cautioned against merging weak banks, the government has ended doing precisely that.
- The consolidation should have been a gradual and calibrated exercise resulting in a smaller number of well-capitalised and professionally managed PSBs with a sound governance structure..
Ex: SBI had managed the ABs over the years with its own senior team, and all associates had already been functioning on common technology platform
- A key concern about merging the ten PSBs into four in one stroke is a lack of clear articulation of the rationale behind bringing disparate and weak banks together, some of whom were still under the Reserve Bank of India’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA).
- Merger announcements generally trigger confusion, anxiety and insecurity in staff, leading to a slowdown in business.
- The post-merger scale economies that large international banks seek to achieve with ruthless measures are not feasible in India.
Did you know:
- Prompt Corrective Action or PCA is a framework under which banks with weak financial metrics are put under watch by the RBI. The PCA framework deems banks as risky if they slip below certain norms on three parameters — capital ratios, asset quality and profitability.
What should have been done?
- reverse the decline in the PSBs’ Return on Equity (RoE) after investing considerable sums in bringing them on a common technology platform
- introducing better risk management measures.
- The merged entities should become agile and capable of meeting the challenges in retail and mass market segments from private players and open banking sources.
Measures to smoothen the mergers:
- it needs to be ensured that there is no leadership vacuum in the anchor banks.
- The technical skills needed for integration planning, transforming business support functions and value build-up have to be cultivated.
- culturally integrate the expanded workforce through sustained training initiatives.
- The practice over the years of shuffling senior executives from one PSB to another has done more harm than good.(which must be stopped)
- Recruit professionals from the market in key areas of technology, HR and risk management, in all of which PSBs are grossly under-equipped.
- A buoyant exercise of recruitment and training is vital.
- the government should actively plan steps to offset a possible slow expansion in bank credit in the near term.
- Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFCs), which have a better understanding of the market needs, need to be tapped to ensure better credit flow
- the government should resolve the tangles in the ownership of the merging PSBs in insurance, asset management and other ventures.
- the government should consider converting a few ‘weak’ PSBs outside the merger into regional banks.(one of the recommendation of narasimham committee)
- Narasimham committee (1991 and 1998) suggested merger of strong banks both in public sector and even with the developmental financial institutions and NBFCs.
- Khan committee in 1997 stressed the need for harmonization of roles of commercial banks and the financial institutions.
- While such consolidation can result in handsome productivity gains, what matters is the quality of execution by a stable and committed leadership, aided by a shrewd and benign ownership.
- Mergers should be carried out with right banks for the right reasons since the bad loan problem has plunged many public sector banks in an unprecedented crisis.
Connecting the dots:
Along with merger the focus should be on adequate reforms in governance and management of these banks.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Awareness in the fields of IT
Right to Internet access as a fundamental right
- In Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala, the Kerala High Court declared the right to Internet access as a fundamental right forming a part of the right to privacy and the right to education under Article 21 of the Constitution
- This judgment acknowledges the role of the right to access Internet in accessing other fundamental rights
- Digital literacy refers to the wide range of skills, which are necessary to emerge successful and adapt to the digital world.
- skill set which is essential for access and gaining information.
Factors leading to digital inequality:
- In recent times, several government and private sector services have become digital. Some of them are only available online
- social and economic backwardness is exacerbated due to information poverty, lack of infrastructure, and lack of digital literacy
- in mid-2016, digital literacy in India was less than 10%
- in the absence of Internet access and digital literacy enabling that access, there will be further exclusion of large parts of the population
Importance of digital literacy:
- We are moving to a global economy where knowledge of digital processes will transform the way in which people work, collaborate, consume information, and entertain themselves.
- Offering services online has cost and efficiency benefits for the government and also allows citizens to bypass lower-level government bureaucracy.
- Digital literacy allows people to access information and services, collaborate, and navigate socio-cultural networks.
- Recognising the right to internet access and digital literacy will also make it easier to demand accountability from the state, as well as encourage the legislature and the executive to take a more proactive role in furthering this right.
Measures taken by govt:
- The Bharat Net programme, aiming to have an optical fibre network in all gram panchayats, is to act as the infrastructural backbone for having Internet access all across the country.
- The Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA) or National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) Scheme has been formulated to impart IT training .
- Moving governance and service delivery online without the requisite progress in Internet access and digital literacy also does not make economic sense
Ex: Common Service Centres, which operate in rural and remote locations, are physical facilities which help in delivering digital government services and informing communities about government initiatives. a large chunk of citizens cannot access these services since lack of resources.
- The Bharat Net project has consistently missed all its deadlines while the costs involved have doubled.
- the National Digital Literacy Mission has barely touched 1.67% of the population and has been struggling for funds.
- Internet access and digital literacy are dependent on each other, and creation of digital infrastructure must go hand in hand with the creation of digital skills.
- It is important to recognise the right to Internet access and digital literacy to alleviate this situation, and allow citizens increased access to information, services, and the creation of better livelihood opportunities.
Connecting the dots:
We are living in an ‘information society’. Unequal access to the Internet creates and reproduces socio-economic exclusions. Justify
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) The decennial census exercise will be carried out by which body/Ministry?
- Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Union Home Ministry
- National Sample Survey Office
- Prime Minister’s Office
- None of the above
Q.2)Participatory Guarantee Scheme often seen in news is related to which of the following?
- Credit guarantee given by Confederation of Indian Industries(CII) for exports/imports
- Self Help Groups and their access to loans by Commercial banks
- Certification of organic products without involving third-party
- None of the above
Q.3)“ISAPTI IRADA” campaign is being implemented by which Union Minstry?
- Ministry of Labour
- Ministry of Steel
- Ministry of Skill development and Entrepreneurship
- None of the above
Q.4)Consider the following statements about Pradhan Mantri Jan AarogyaYojana
- PM-JAY is the world’s largest government funded healthcare program,with an aim to bring quality healthcare to around 50 crore poor and vulnerable Indians.
- The scheme gives annual healthcare benefits of up to ₹5lakh for every entitled family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
- PMJAY will provide cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1,2 and 3
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