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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd JUNE 2020

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  • June 23, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 23rd June 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Issue of cross-voting and ‘open ballot’ system

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-II – Polity and Governance; Elections

Context:

What is ‘crossing the floor’ or ‘Cross Voting’?

  • In politics, a politician is said to cross the floor if they change their party allegiance. 
  • Crossing the floor may mean changing to a second party after being elected as a member of a first party, or voting against the approved party lines.
  • For instance, during the election to Rajya Sabha, when an MLA from x party cast his vote in favour of y party candidate then it is termed as cross voting.

Concept of ‘open ballot’ system during the election to Rajya Sabha

  • Rule 39AA of the Conduct of Election Rules of 1961 provides for open ballot system.
  • A voter may show his/her marked ballot paper to the authorised representative of his/her political party before dropping it into the ballot box.
  • Rule 39AA provides that marked votes of MLAs are to be shown only to the authorised representative of their political party before being dropped into the ballot box, and any transgression will amount to their votes being declared invalid.
  • In case of independent MLAs, they do not have to show their votes to “anyone at all”.
  • However, Rule 39AA is silent on who would be the authorised representative for a rebel MLA.
  • ‘Open ballot’ system was adopted to prevent corruption. 

SC on ‘Open’ ballot process

  • ‘Open’ ballot process was challenged in SC by Kuldip Nayar alleging that it stifled free speech and expression of a voter, which is at the core of democracy.
  • In 2006, a five-judge bench led by then CJI Y K Sabharwal unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of the ‘open ballot’ system and said: “if secrecy becomes a source for corruption, then sunlight and transparency have the capacity to remove it.”
  • SC bench also said “Voting in elections to Council of States cannot be compared with a general election. In a general election, the elector have to vote in a secret manner without fear that their votes would be disclosed to anyone or would result in victimization. There is no party affiliation and hence the choice is entirely with voter. This is not the case when elections are held to the Council of States as the electors are elected members of the legislative assemblies who in turn have affiliations.”

Do you know?

  • To deal with money and muscle power, engineering splits in political parties and defections, parliament had enacted anti-defection law to combat this political evil.
  • This provided for disqualification of an MP or MLA if s/he “votes or abstains from voting” contrary to the directions of her/his party.
  • However, the anti-defection law is not applicable to RS elections.
  • According to Election Commission, political parties cannot issue any whip, like they do in the Legislative Assembly, asking their MLAs to vote for a particular candidate. They can issue instructions but it is left to political organisations to take action as they deem fit if an MLA defies the party‘s order. 

Protected Areas in News: Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Environment and Biodiversity; Protected Areas

Why in news?

  • Union government has proposed auctioning of Bander coal mine blocks near the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.
  • Over 1,200 hectare of rich forest land will have to be diverted if mining is allowed in the area. 
  • There are objections and oppositions as the coal block is likely to impact a few hundred acres of the forest and will destroy the wildlife corridor of Tadoba and Andhari.

Do you know?

  • Such auctions were scrapped after evaluation twice before, once in 1999 and then around 2011.
  • Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra – Melghat, Tadoba-Andhari, Pench, Sahyadri, Nawegaon-Nagzira and Bor.
  • According to wildlife experts, Bander blocks falls in the route used by tigers to disperse from Tadoba to Bor Tiger Reserve in Wardha district and Melghat Tiger Reserve in Amravati district. 
  • Man-animal conflict is raging in Chandrapur district as the Tadoba landscape is teeming with tigers and other wildlife and clearing the area for mining will only increase the problem.

Key Prelims Pointers:

  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is located in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in India. 
  • It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.
  • Tadoba reserve is a predominantly southern tropical dry deciduous forest with dense woodlands comprising about eighty seven per cent of the protected area. Teak is the predominant tree species.

Ambubachi Mela: Festival to mark the menstrual period of the goddess

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Culture and Indian society

About 

  • Ambubachi Mela, is a four-day fair to mark the annual menstruation of the goddess at Kamakhya temple, Assam.
  • Kamakhya, atop Nilachal Hills in Guwahati, is one of 51 shaktipeeths or seat of Shakti followers, each representing a body part of Sati, Lord Shiva’s companion. The temple’s sanctum sanctorum houses the yoni — female genital — symbolised by a rock.
  • Temple priests said the ritualistic fair celebrating the goddess’ period is one of the reasons why the taboo associated with menstruation is less in Assam compared to other parts of India. 
  • The attainment of womanhood of girls in Assam is celebrated with a ritual called ‘Tuloni Biya’, meaning small wedding.    

Japan to rename islands disputed with China 

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Affairs

In news:

  • Japan approved plans to change the name of the area covering the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands — known by Taiwan and China as the Diaoyus — from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku”.
  • China said the move is illegal and a “serious provocation”.
  • Senkaku Islands are at the centre of a festering row between Japan and China.

Source file – Click here

Key Prelims Pointers:

  • The Senkaku Islands dispute, or Diaoyu Islands dispute, concerns a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands located in East China Sea known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, the Diaoyu Islands in the China. 
  • It is roughly to east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands.
  • They are currently controlled by Japan. But both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands.
  • Oil and gas reserves had been identified under the seabed surrounding the islands and it makes the dispute tougher to resolve.

China to join UN arms trade treaty

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International affairs

In News:

  • China to join a global pact (UN Arms Trade Treaty) to regulate arms sales, efforts to “enhance peace and stability” in the world.

About UN Arms Trade Treaty

  • The Treaty entered into force in 2014. 
  • UN Arms Trade Treaty seeks to regulate the international trade in conventional arms (from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships).
  • It is designed to control the flow of weapons into conflict zones.
  • It requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that can be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.
  • It establishes common standards for the international trade of conventional weapons and seeks to reduce the illicit arms trade.

Do you know?

  • While 130 countries originally signed the treaty, only 101 have ratified and joined it. India has not signed the treaty.
  • For more information, read – Arms Trade Treaty

(MAINS FOCUS)


ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

Textile Sector and Atmanirbharta

Context: India has embraced ‘atmanirbhar’ or ‘self-reliance’ as a development strategy to reboot the Indian economy in the post-COVID world and this includes relooking at Textile Sector as well

What is the larger vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’?

  • It is not just import substitution but to build capacity for manufacturers in India to dominate the global market
  • This includes building capacity in every step of manufacturing value chain

The Textile Sector in India

  • If there is one sector in the country that is self-reliant end-to-end, it is textiles.
  • Over the years a large spinning, weaving and apparel making capacity has been established in India to convert the raw material into end-products.
  • Unlike Bangladesh and Vietnam or for that matter China, which are dominating the global textile market, India has abundant supply of raw material. 
  • India is the largest producer of cotton, accounting for 25% of the global output. 
  • India is also the second largest producer of man-made fibres — polyester and viscose. 
  • Labour availability is plenty in India which also possess traditional weaving skills
  • A strong domestic market exists which ensures a good return on investment
  • Textile Sector in India accounts for
    • Seven per cent of India’s manufacturing output 
    • Two per cent of GDP
    • 12 per cent of exports 
    • Employs about 10 crore people
  • Every $1 billion increase in textile exports adds 1.5 lakh jobs.

Stagnant Exports of Textile Sector

  • Textile exports from India have remained at the $40-billion level for the last six years (it briefly touched $42 billion in FY15).
  • The share of textiles in India’s overall exports has declined from 15% in FY16 to 12% in FY 19.
  • India’s apparel (finished product) exports declined from $18 billion in FY17 to $17 billion in FY19.
  • Relatively newer entrants like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia have gained substantially during this period.
    • Bangladesh’s apparel exports have risen from $26.60 billion in 2015 to $33 billion in 2019. 
    • Vietnam, in a short span of time, has grown to become the third largest apparel exporter in the world. 

What are the factors for stagnation of India’s textile exports?

Internal factors, more than competition, are responsible for the stagnation of India’s textile exports.

  1. Lack of scale
  • While India’s spinning capacity is of a global scale, the same cannot be said about weaving and apparel making. 
  • Apparel units in India have an average size of 100 machines. Bangladesh has an average of at least 500 machines per factory.
  1. Bias towards cotton
  • Indian policymakers have always favoured cotton. This is because nearly 5.8 million farmers are engaged in cotton cultivation. 
  • GST on cotton is uniformly 5 per cent for fibre, yarn and fabric. 
  • However, GST for man-made fibres (MMF) are taxed at 18 per cent for fibre, 12 per cent for yarn and 5 per cent for fabric. 
  • This inverted tax structure makes MMF textiles costly. Thus it accounts for just $6 billion of the $39-billion textile exports.
  • However, 72% of today’s global textile fibre consumption is MMF
  1. Lack of trade agreements: 
  • Preferential Trade Agreements, including FTAs, help gain duty-free access to large textile markets such as the EU, Australia and the UK which, otherwise, levy 12-14 per cent import duty. 
  • FTAs will help Indian players counter Bangladesh which, as a ‘least developed nation’, gets duty-free access. 
  • Vietnam has signed an FTA with the EU and its apparel exports will face no duty from September 2020. However, India’s FTA negotiation with the EU has remained suspended since 2013 

Way Forward

  • India should set up mega apparel parks close to ports with `plug and play’ facilities and common infrastructure for effluent treatment, etc. This will reduce the cost of India manufacturers and effectively compete in global market
  • India needs to have a fibre neutral tax policy to be a serious player in the global market. 
  • Also, there is an imminent need for an MMF Mission to upgrade the industry’s skill when it comes to non-cotton textiles.
  • India needs to adopt an appropriate ‘give and take’ policy and sign the FTAs so as to increase the stagnated textile exports

Connecting the dots:

  • India-EU broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) – merits and challenges in signing it

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 

Reforms in India’s coal sector- Part I

Context: The kick-starting of commercial coal mine auctioning is a fundamental shift in Coal sector which will help in realizing the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. 

Did You Know?

  • India is having the fifth largest reserves of Coal in the world.
  • India is the second largest producer of coal with its record production at 729 million tonnes (MT) in 2019-20

A brief History of Coal Sector in India

  • Coal sector was Nationalised in 1973 which meant that domestic coal could be mined only by public sector companies.
  • While State-owned coal companies improved production, safety and prioritised employee welfare, the country’s coal demand continued to grow at a very faster rate and often neglected modernization of mining technologies
  • Post liberalisation reforms in 1993, the government decided to allocate coal mines to various players for captive consumption (in captive mining coal is taken out by a company for its own use and it won’t be able to sell it in the market).
  • Despite private sector participation in a restricted manner, state run Coal India Ltd continued to dominate the market (but with inefficiency)
  • During the high growth years of 2000s the increasing demand of Coal could not be fulfilled by the state run Coal India Ltd., leading to higher demand-supply gap. 
  • Increased imports: Demand Supply gap, procedural delays, environmental clearances led to increase in imports – the CAGR of coal import from 2009-10 to 2013-14 was 23%
  • Coal Auction Scam: The CAG report followed by the Supreme Court verdict in 2014 resulted into cancellation of allocation near all coal mines allocated after 1993.

Reforms undertaken post 2014

  • Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015. enabled allocation of coal mines through transparent auctions
  • In February 2018, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs permitted entry of private firms in commercial coal mining in the country
  • In April 2018, The Ministry of Coal has launched UTTAM (Unlocking Transparency by Third Party Assessment of Mined Coal) Application for coal quality monitoring.
  • Ministry of Coal also developed Online Coal Clearances System to provide a single window access to its investors to submit online applications for all the permissions / clearances and approvals granted by Ministry of Coal.
  • Coal Allocation Monitoring System (CAMS) was also developed to monitor the allocation of coal by CIL to States, States to State Nominated Agencies (SNA) and SNA to such consumers in a transparent manner.

Recently announced Reforms in Coal Sector- Easing the process

  • Commercial mining of coal allowed, with 41 blocks to be offered to the private sector
  • The coal mines being auctioned are located in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha. They include partially and fully explored mines. 
  • The coal ministry has simplified the process of the mining plan approval process from 90 days to 30 days. 
  • In previous auctions, only end users of coal, such as companies in the iron and steel and power sectors, were permitted to bid on coal blocks. This restriction has been done away with.
  • Also, the law earlier excluded companies without mining operations in India from participating in the auctions. This bar has been done away with, paving the way for local and foreign mining majors and non-mining ones, too, to participate in the domestic coal sector.
  • The government has introduced a more equitable system of sharing revenues, moving away from fixed rates to an ad-valorem system. So when the prices go up, the miner shares more with the government and if they decrease, he shares less.

Note: The benefits of the above reforms and the challenges which lay ahead will be dealt in part-II of the article

Connecting the dots:


(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1 Ambubachi Mela, a festival to mark the menstrual period of the goddess is celebrated in –

  1. Assam
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. West Bengal
  4. Manipur

Q.2 Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched?

  1. Tadoba Tiger Reserve – Maharashtra
  2. Nameri National Park – Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Pench Tiger Reserve – Madhya Pradesh

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements about Ambubachi Mela

  1. It is an annual Buddhist mela celebrated during the monsoon season.
  2. It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Mother Shakti.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.4 Where are Senkaku Islands located?

  1. Tasman Sea
  2. South China Sea
  3. East China Sea
  4. Bering Sea

ANSWERS FOR 22nd June 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 A
2 C
3 B

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