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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th March 2021

  • IASbaba
  • March 11, 2021
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Schemes of WCD Ministry under 3 umbrella schemes 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Policies and interventions; Welfare schemes

In news

  • All major schemes of the Ministry of Women and Child Development have been classified under 3 umbrella schemes. 
  • These are Mission Poshan 2.0, Mission Vatsalya and Mission Shakti.

Key takeaways 

  • Mission VATSALYA shall include Child Protection Services and Child Welfare Services.
  • Mission Shakti (Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women) shall include the following:
  • SAMBAL (One Stop Centre, Mahila Police Volunteer, Women’s Helpline/Swadhar/Ujjawala/Widow Homes etc.)
  • SAMARTHYA (Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Creche, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Gender Budgeting/Research)

Information on tap water supply to government schools

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Education; health; Welfare schemes & GS- III – Infrastructure

In news

  • Recently, information on tap water supply was provided to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources. 

Key takeaways 

  • Only half of government schools and anganwadis have tap water supply. 

  • Less than 8% of schools in Uttar Pradesh and 11% in West Bengal have it.  
  • A campaign related to tap water supply was launched by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in October 2020. 
  • Objective: To provide potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes and tap water for washing hands and in toilets in every school, anganwadi and ashramshala or residential tribal school 
  • Duration: 100-day period (till January 10, 2021) 
  • However, as of February 15, only 48.5% of anganwadis and 53.3% of schools had tap water supply,
  • Seven States that achieved 100% coverage: Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab.

Devara Kaadu of Coorg

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Culture

In news

  • Sacred grove or devara kaadu of Coorg, Karnataka, was in news recently. 

Important value additions 

  • Devara Kaadu (Sacred Forest) is a small forest like grove marked as the adobe of the local deities.
  • Coorg has many hundred such sacred groves scattered all over the region.
  • Some of them are sprawling mini forests, while the rest are of smaller scales. 
  • The groves are left untouched due to their scared nature. 
  • Inside the Devara Kaadu there are shrines dedicated to various deities.

100 MW floating solar power plant at Ramagundam

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Infrastructure; Environment and Renewable Energy

In news

  • NTPC is developing country’s biggest floating solar power plant (by generation capacity) in the reservoir of its thermal plant at Ramagundam (in Telangana)

Do you know?

  • India is already on track to reach its goal of 175 GW of installed renewable capacity by 2022. India has also targeted 450 GW by 2030. 

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Govt schemes and initiatives; Health and Social Security

In news

  • Union Cabinet recently approved the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN), a single non-lapsable reserve fund for health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess levied under Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.
  • In the 2018 Budget, the Central government while announcing Ayushman Bharat Scheme, also announced replacement of existing 3% Education Cess by 4% Health and Education Cess.
  • Major benefits of PMSSN 🡪 It will enhance access to universal and affordable health care

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi scheme features 

  1. A non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account.
  2. Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN.
  3. Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare namely, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs), National Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
  4. Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
  5. Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017. Administration and maintenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  6. In any financial year, the expenditure on such schemes of the MoHFW would be initially incurred from the PMSSN and thereafter, from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).

(Mains Focus)


GOVERNANCE/ POLITY

Topic:

  • GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these

Reviewing Reservation

Context: Supreme Court asked states whether they were in favour of extending caste-based reservation beyond the 50 per cent ceiling set by it in Indra Sawhney case (nine-judge bench) of 1992.

Background of the issue

  • The apex court framed this as one among the several questions to be decided while considering the constitutional validity of a 2018 Maharashtra law 
  • 2018 Maharashtra law gave 16% reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and admissions by terming them socially and educationally backward class in the state. 
  • This law got past the scrutiny of the Bombay High Court in June 2019 but the quantum of reservation stood reduced to 12 per cent in admissions and 13 per cent in jobs.
  • With the introduction of this Act, the reservation benefits in the state exceeded 50 per cent.
  • In addition to Maharashtra, there are three other states – Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Chhattisgarh – which have passed similar laws exceeding the 50 per cent reservation mark and are under challenge in the Supreme Court. 

Presently, Constitution Bench will decide on the following broad issues

  • Relook into Reservation limits: Whether the Indira Sawhney case judgement of 1992 requires a relook by larger bench in the light of subsequent Constitutional amendments, judgements and changed social dynamics of the society.
  • Marata Quota Law: The SC will have to decide whether the Marata Quota law is covered by the exemption of “exceptional circumstances” by which reservations can cross the 50% mark
  • Federalism and Power of States: The SC will have to also examine whether 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act deprives a state legislature of its power to enact a legislation to identify socially and economically backward classes within the state to confer quota benefits to them.
  • Article 342A: The article 342A (power of the President to notify a particular caste as Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC). The SC will look into whether the Article 342A abrogates a State’s power to legislate for or classify “any backward classes of citizens” and thereby, affects the federal policy/structure.

Background for Indra Sawhney Case

  • Mandal Commission: The Second Backward Classes Commission, famously known as the Mandal Commission, was set up in 1979 to determine the criteria for defining socially and educationally backward classes. 
  • OBC Reservation: The Mandal report identified 52 percent of the population at that time as ‘Socially and Economically Backward Classes’ (SEBCs) and recommended 27 per cent reservation for SEBCs in addition to the previously existing 22.5 per cent reservation for SC/STs.
  • Challenged in Court: The then V P Singh led-Central government wanted to implement the Mandal Commission report in 1990, but it was challenged in the Supreme Court. The verdict in the Indira Sawhney case, which came up before a nine-judge bench, was delivered in 1992. 
  • Celling on Reservation with exceptions: The pronouncement in the Indra Sawhney v Union of India fixed a cap of 50 percent reservation. The Court had, however, said that the cap can be breached under exceptional circumstances.
  • IR Coelho Case: In this case, SC delivered a unanimous verdict upholding the authority of the judiciary to review any law, which destroy or damage the basic structure as indicated in fundamental rights, even if they have been put in 9th schedule.

102nd Constitution Amendment Act

  • 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provides constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) (earlier it was statutory body)
  • 102nd Constitution Amendment Act inserted new Articles 338 B and 342 A.
  • Article 338B provides authority to NCBC to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
  • Article 342 A empowers President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in various states and union territories. He can do this in consultation with Governor of concerned State. However, law enacted by Parliament will be required if list of backward classes is to be amended.

Read Related Articles


GOVERNANCE/ ELECTIONS

Topic:

  • GS-2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these. 

Electoral Financing

Context: The political system in India has traditionally been hostile to the idea of transparency in electoral financing.

What is Electoral Bond Scheme?

  • An electoral bond is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India. 
  • An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque after disclosing their identity through know your customer (KYC) norms
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice. 
  • The bonds are similar to bank notes that are payable to the bearer on demand and are free of interest. It has to be redeemed by Political parties within 15 days only in their specified account.
  • The electoral bonds were introduced with the Finance Bill (2017). On January 29, 2018 the NDA government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018.

Issues with Electoral Bonds

  • Electoral bonds allows donors to anonymously donate unlimited amounts of funds to political parties.
  • The scheme allows parties to receive these bonds without the public, the Election Commission or even the Income Tax Department knowing the identity of the donors.
  • It has legitimised opacity and opened the floodgates for anonymous donations to parties, dealing a severe blow to voters’ right to know. 
  • People’s ability to track donations by big businesses and expose quid pro quo has been undermined. 
  • They will have an adverse impact on transparency in political party financing and would make it impossible for the ECI to ascertain whether donations received were in compliance with the statutory framework governing political parties.
  • Electoral bonds allow anonymous financing by foreign entities opening Indian elections to the influence of foreign interests.
  • Electoral bonds are likely to abet money laundering since the amendments to the Companies Act in 2017 removed the cap of 7.5% on political contributions by a company as a percentage of its average net profits of the preceding three years. 
  • This allows for black money to be easily routed through shell companies to purchase electoral bonds, which was flagged by both ECI and RBI.
  • As bonds are issued only through the State Bank of India, it would not be difficult for the party in power to access information about the identity of purchasers and details of bonds sold to them, and match those to deposits in political party accounts.

Way Ahead

  • To ensure public trust in the electoral process, it is critical that the Supreme Court immediately adjudicates on the matter. 
  • If bonds are to be retained as an instrument for contributing to political parties, donations must be made transparent and parties should be obligated to file reports with the Election Commission and other oversight bodies disclosing the names of donors and amounts received. 
  • This information must also be placed in the public domain. 
  • These steps are necessary to safeguard democracy and ensure that elections do not become a mere formality.

Connecting the dots:

  • Cash donations to Political Parties also capped at Rs 2000 through Finance Act of 2017. Why cash donations are still allowed?
  • Do Political Parties come under the ambit of RTI?

(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 Devara Kaadu, recently in news, is associated with which of the following?

  1. Sacred groves
  2. Sacred river
  3. Sacred tribe
  4. Sacred marriage

Q.2 Indira Sawhney verdict is associated with which of the following?

  1. Fundamental rights
  2. Basic structure of the Constitution
  3. Emergency provisions
  4. 50% reservation in jobs and education

ANSWERS FOR 10th March 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 C
3 B

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