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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th April 2022

  • IASbaba
  • April 25, 2022
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(Prelims Focus)


Zero Shadow Day: A phenomenon that happens twice a year when the sun is exactly overhead


Bihu

Part of: Prelims

  • Assamese celebrate Bihu thrice a year, which signify the distinct cycles of farming – Bhogali/Magh Bihu (January), Bohag/Rongali Bihu (April), and Kongali Bihu (October).
  • Bihuis a fast-paced, extremely joyful dance, hailing from the state of Assam. It is performed by young girls and boys during the festivals of Bihu, Assam’s three important agricultural festivals.

National Panchayati Raj Day: 24th April

Part of: Prelims and GS- II – Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

  • The Panchayati Raj system of local self-government was introduced by the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India.
  • Part IX was inserted in the Constitution as a sequel to the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1993, bestowing the Constitutional mandatory status to the ‘Panchayats’.
  • Panchayat, being “Local Government”, is a State subject and part of State list of Seventh Schedule of Constitution of India. Accordingly, the Panchayats are setup and operate through the respective State Panchayati Raj Acts.
  • Article 243G of the Constitution of India empowers the Legislature of a State to make provisions, by law, for the devolution of power and responsibilities upon Panchayatat appropriate level.

Note: The Cholas were the pioneers in the formation of local bodies as part of a well-organised hierarchy to oversee the implementation of progressive plans.


The Olga Tellis judgment

Part of: Prelims and GS-II: Judiciary

Context: A 37-year-old Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court which held that pavement dwellers are different from trespassers may become a game-changer in the Jahangirpuri case.

About the Case:

  • The Olga Tellis vs Bombay Municipal Corporation judgment in 1985 ruled that eviction of pavement dwellers using unreasonable force, without giving them a chance to explain is unconstitutional. It is a violation of their right to livelihood.
  • The judgment agrees that pavement dwellers do occupy public spaces unauthorised. However, they should be given a chance to be heard and a reasonable opportunity to depart “before force is used to expel them.
  • The case started in 1981 when the State of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal Corporation decided that pavement and slum dwellers in Bombay city should be evicted and “deported to their respective places of origin or places outside the city of Bombay.”
  • Pavement dwellers, too, have a right to life and dignity. The right to life included the right to livelihood. They earn a meagre livelihood by living and working on the footpaths.

(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.

Arunachal-Assam border dispute

Context: After the recent progress made in Assam-Meghalaya border dispute, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma decided to form district-level committees for settling their inter-state boundary disputes.

  • This has set the ball rolling for the two States to address the issue on the basis of the “fifty-fifty” or “give-and-take” model Assam and Meghalaya followed for closure of the disputes in six of its 12 troublesome sectors.

Why does Arunachal Pradesh have a boundary dispute with Assam?

  • Assam has had boundary disputes with all the north-eastern States that were carved out of it.
  • While Nagaland became a State in 1963, Meghalaya first became an Autonomous State in 1970 and a full-fledged State in 1972.
  • Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were separated from Assam as Union Territories in 1972 and as States in 1987.
  • None of the new States accepted the “constitutional boundary” that they said was dictated by the partisan administration of undivided Assam without consulting the tribal stakeholders.
  • They also claimed that the disputed areas were traditionally under the control of tribal chieftains before Assam, post-India’s independence, inherited the “imaginary boundaries” drawn during British rule.
  • The issue with Arunachal Pradesh has more to do with a 1951 report prepared by a sub-committee headed by Assam’s first Chief Minister, Gopinath Bordoloi.

What is the genesis of the dispute?

  • Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have disputes at about 1,200 points along their 804 km boundary.
  • The disputes cropped up in the 1970s and intensified in the 1990s with frequent flare-ups along the border.
  • However, the issue dates back to 1873 when the British government introduced the inner-line regulation vaguely separating the plains from the frontier hills that were later designated as the North-East Frontier Tracts in 1915.
  • This area became the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) in 1954, three years after a notification based on the 1951 report saw 3,648 sq. km of the “plain” area of Balipara and Sadiya foothills being transferred to the Darrang and Lakhimpur districts of Assam.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has been celebrating its statehood on a grand scale with an eye on China since 1987, but what has been causing resentment is the inability of the people living in the transferred patches to join in the celebration.
  • Leaders in Arunachal Pradesh claim the transfer was done arbitrarily without consulting its tribes who had customary rights over these lands.
  • Their counterparts in Assam say the 1951 demarcation is constitutional and legal.

Did the two States try settling the boundary dispute earlier?

  • There were several efforts to demarcate the boundary between Assam and NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh between 1971 and 1974.
  • To end the stalemate, a high-powered tripartite committee involving the Centre and the two States was formed in April 1979 to delineate the boundary based on Survey of India maps.
  • About 489 km of the inter-state boundary north of the Brahmaputra River was demarcated by 1984, but Arunachal Pradesh did not accept the recommendations and staked claim to much of the areas transferred in 1951.
  • Assam objected and approached the Supreme Court in 1989, accusing Arunachal Pradesh of “encroachment”.
  • The apex court appointed a local boundary commission in 2006 headed by one of its retired judges.
  • In its September 2014 report, this commission recommended that Arunachal Pradesh should get back some of the areas transferred in 1951 besides advising both the States to find a middle path through discussions. This did not work out.

What are the chances of a solution emerging this time?

  • The Assam-Meghalaya boundary agreement has raised hopes of the Assam-Arunachal boundary dispute being resolved, especially with the Centre pushing the north-eastern States to end their territorial issues once and for all by August 15, 2022, when the country celebrates 75 years of independence.
  • Moreover, there is a general belief that the region’s sister-States are in a better position to fast-track the resolution since they are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party with the same political dispensation at the Centre.
  • Following the model adopted in the exercise to resolve the dispute with Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have agreed to form district-level committees that will be tasked with undertaking joint surveys in the disputed sectors.
  • The intention is find tangible solutions to the long-pending issue based on
    • historical perspective,
    • ethnicity
    • contiguity
    • people’s will
    • administrative convenience of both the States.
  • The two States have decided to form 12 such committees involving the districts sharing the boundary. Assam has eight districts touching the boundary with Arunachal Pradesh, which has 12 such districts.

Connecting the dots


ENVIRONMENT/ INTERNATIONAL

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Climate Change and Carbon Pricing

Context: Pennsylvania has become the first major fossil fuel-producing state in the US to adopt a carbon pricing policy to address climate change.

  • It joins 11 states where coal, oil and natural gas power plants must buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.
  • President Joe Biden is attempting a less direct approach — known as the social cost of carbon — that calculates future climate damages to justify tougher restrictions on polluting industries.
  • Canada imposes fuel charges on individuals and also makes big polluters pay for emissions. It’s one of 27 nations with some kind of carbon tax, according to The World Bank.

So what’s the price tag?

  • It varies depending on governments.
  • The US administration’s social cost estimate is about $51, meaning every ton of carbon dioxide emitted from a power plant or tail pipe today is projected to contribute to $51 in economic damages in coming years.
  • The state of New York has its own social cost of carbon, updated in 2020 to $125 a ton to account for economic trends.
  • By contrast, emissions were most recently valued at $13.50 per ton at auction under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeast, which Pennsylvania is joining
  • Canada’s carbon taxes include a minimum fuel charge for individuals equivalent to about $40 per ton.

Why the big differences?

  • The social cost of carbon attempts to capture the value of all climate damage, centuries into the future.
  • Carbon pricing reflects how much companies are willing to pay today for a limited amount of emission credits offered at auction.
  • In other words, the social cost of carbon guides policy, while carbon pricing represents policy in practice.
  • A more stringent policy would have a higher carbon price. A more lax policy would give you a lower carbon price.
    • Trump administration had cut the social cost of carbon from about $50 per ton to $7 or less. The lower number included only domestic climate impacts and not global damages.

A smart approach is pricing carbon which can be done in following ways:

Emission Trading

  • One way to price carbon is through emission trading, i.e., setting a maximum amount of allowable effluents from industries, and permitting those with low emissions to sell their extra space.
  • It is a market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for reducing the emissions of pollutants.
  • This is in contrast to command-and-control environmental regulations imposed by governments

Carbon Tax

  • Another way is to put a carbon tax on economic activities — for example, on the use of fossil fuels like coal, as done in Canada and Sweden.
  • A carbon tax is a fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels
  • It is a powerful monetary disincentive that motivates transition to clean energy across the economy, simply by making it more economically rewarding to move to non-carbon fuels and energy efficiency.
  • Example: Canada imposed a carbon tax at $20 per tonne of CO2 emissions in 2019 and gradually increasing it. This is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by between 80 and 90 million tonnes by 2022.
  • The fiscal gains from pricing carbon can be sizeable. A carbon tax at $35 per tonne of CO2 emissions in India is estimated to be capable of generating some 2% of GDP through 2030.

Carbon Tariff on Imports

  • Carbon emissions continue unabated by developed world as they outsource it in developing countries and import the goods produced through such process. Therefore, imports are having substantial carbon footprint in any economy.
  • Big economies like India & EU should also use their global monopsony, or the power of a large buyer in international trade, to impose a carbon tariff & move towards green trade prospects.

Is any of this working?

  • Emissions from northeastern states of USA would have been about 24% higher if the carbon pricing mechanism hadn’t been in place.
  • The carbon auctions also have brought in almost $5 billion that can be used to reduce household energy cost increases and promote renewable energy.
  • The expansion of carbon pricing into Pennsylvania remains tenuous. A legal challenge is pending and the state’s term-limited Democratic governor could soon be replaced by a successor who opposes the state’s participation
  • While pricing carbon would be the gold standard, it seems politically difficult to actually get there.

Conclusion

  • Without a nationwide cap and trade program, environmentalists and economists want the government to be more aggressive in using the social cost of carbon to overhaul government energy policy.

Connecting the dots


Must Read

On India-UK recent summit:

The Hindu

On polio eradication:

The Hindu

On reforming free food system:

Indian Express


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