Part of: Prelims and GS II – International Relations
Context: Russia’s membership to the Human Rights Council (HRC), was suspended recently after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to adopt a resolution suspending Moscow from the UN body.
- Russia was elected to UNHRC in 2020.
- India abstained from voting during the resolution.
What is the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)?
- The Council was created through the resolution 60/251.
- Established in: 2006.
- Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
- Aim: (1) To Promote and protect human rights around the globe; (2) To investigate alleged human rights violations.
- Features: The UNHRC has 47 members elected for three-year terms on a regional group basis from 5 groups.
- Membership: To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority).
- Members are elected directly by secret ballot by the majority of the UN General Assembly.
- Five regional groups for membership: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.
- The members are elected for a period of three years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
- Sessions: The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Defence and security
Context: The Union Defence Minister recently released third positive indigenisation list of 101 pieces of equipment and platforms, which the Services can procure only from the domestic industry.
- The list includes naval utility helicopters, light tanks, small unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-ship missiles.
- This list is planned to be implemented from December 2022 till December 2027.
Indigenisation of Defence
- Indigenisation is the capability of developing and producing any defence equipment within the country for the dual purpose of achieving self reliance and reducing the burden of imports.
- Self-reliance in defence manufacturing is one of the key objectives of Department of Defence Production.
- Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and private organisations are playing a critical role in indigenisation of defence industries.
- India is among the world’s largest arms importers, and the armed forces are expected to spend about USD 130 billion on defence purchases over the next five years.
News Source: TH
Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions
Context: 7th anniversary of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is being observed on 8th April.
- According to the Finance Ministry, 51 percent of total loans sanctioned under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana went to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, and Other Backward Class categories.
Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)
- The scheme was launched by Prime Minister on April 8, 2015.
- Under this yojana, the government provides financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises to promote startups.
- Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, MFIs and NBFCs have been roped in to provide this loan facility to the right beneficiaries.
- The scheme aims to promote entrepreneurship among the youth, generate employment and enhance income.
- The yojana develops and improves entrepreneurial culture in the country by providing collateral free and cheap credit to “millions of unfunded micro units” which were otherwise struggling to establish due to lack of availability of funds.
News Source: Newsonair
(News from PIB)
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Conservation
Context: Indian tent turtle is listed in Schedule –I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and is thereby provided the highest degree of protection.
- The species is endemic to India and Bangladesh.
- A semi-aquatic species, mainly found in river and associated systems.
- Reproduction is oviparous.
- Damming of river, habitat degradation are other factors posing a great threat to the population.
The Government has taken several steps to protect wildlife and its habitats including for Indian tent turtle species:
- Protected Areas, viz., National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves have been created in the country covering important habitats to provide better protection to wildlife, including threatened species and their habitat.
- Financial assistance is provided to the State/Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, for providing better protection to wildlife and improvement of habitat.
- The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for stringent punishment for violation of its provisions. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence(s).
- The local communities are involved in conservation measures through eco-development activities which help the forest departments in protection of wildlife.
- The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) coordinates with State/UTs and other enforcement agencies to gather intelligence about poaching and unlawful trade in wild animals and animal articles.
News Source: PIB
Six notified minority communities: Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists and Parsis
Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) scheme aims to preserve the rich heritage of traditional arts/crafts of minorities. Hunar Haat has been implemented since 2016-17 as a component of USTTAD scheme to provide an effective platform and opportunity to artisans/craftsmen and culinary experts from across the country to showcase and market their handicrafts and indigenous products.
Nai Roshni is a scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women is being implemented across India with an aim to empower and instil confidence in women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, banks and other institutions at all levels.
Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL)
- To improve community led sustainable ground water management, mainly through convergence among various ongoing Central and State schemes.
- Bring about behavioral change at the community level through awareness programs and capacity building for fostering sustainable ground water management.
POLITY/ GOVERNANCE & CONSTITUTIONAL BODIES
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- GS-2: Constitutional Bodies
Context: Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, has pulled up the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for “deficient data management”.
- UIDAI is the statutory authority established in 2016 to issue Aadhaar to all residents of the country.
- As of October 31, 2021, UIDAI had issued 131.68 crore Aadhaar numbers
What are the problems with UIDAI that have been identified by the CAG?
CAG in its 108-page audit report on the functioning of the UIDAI has brought out some of the following issues:
- Data of Aadhaar card holders have not been matched with their Aadhaar number even after 10 years in some cases.
- There is absence of a system to analyse the factors leading to authentication errors
- Even though UIDAI was maintaining one of the largest biometric databases in the world, it did not have a data archiving policy, which is considered “a vital storage management best practice”.
- CAG also noted that UIDAI provided Authentication services to banks, mobile operators and other agencies free of charge till March 2019, contrary to the provisions of their own Regulations, depriving revenue to the Government.
What about personal information with UIDAI, the security of which has been a persistent concern?
- The CAG has flagged that UIDAI has not ensured that the applications or devices used by agencies or companies for authentication “were not capable of storing the personal information of the residents, which put the privacy of residents at risk”.
- The Authority had not ensured security and safety of data in Aadhaar vaults.
- “They had not independently conducted any verification of compliance to the process involved,” the CAG said in its report.
What are the other concerns raised by CAG?
- CAG has noted that the UIDAI has not prescribed any specific proof, document, or process to confirm whether a person who is applying for Aadhaar has resided in India for the period specified by the Rules.
- Therefore, “there is no assurance that all the Aadhaar holders in the country are ‘Residents’ as defined in the Aadhaar Act”, says the report.
- In the conclusion of its report, the CAG has said that UIDAI generated Aadhaar numbers with incomplete information, which, along with the lack of proper documentation or poor quality biometrics, have resulted in multiple or duplicate Aadhaar cards being issued to the same person.
- CAG report notes that “UIDAI should go beyond self-declaration, and prescribe a procedure and required documentation other than self-declaration, in order to confirm and authenticate the residence status of applicants”.
- CAG has noted that the UIDAI does not have adequate arrangements with the postal department, due to which a large number of Aadhaar cards were returned t
- Aadhaar numbers with poor quality biometrics induces authentication errors. UIDAI takes no responsibility for it and transfers the onus of updating the biometrics to the resident and also charges fees for it.
- GS-2: India & its neighbourhood
Context: It’s rare for any country that is the largest producer and exporter of a product to experience domestic shortages of the same product — so much so as to force its government to introduce price controls and curbs on shipments.
Indonesia & Palm Oil sector
- It has been estimated that Indonesia’s palm oil production for 2021-22 (October-September) at 45.5 million tonnes (mt).
- That’s almost 60% of the total global output and way ahead of the next bigger producer:
- Malaysia (18.7 mt). It is also the world’s No. 1 exporter of the commodity, at 29 mt, followed by Malaysia (16.22 mt).
Recent Crisis in Indonesia
- The country has seen domestic prices of branded cooking oil spiral, from around 14,000 Indonesian rupiah (IDR) to 22,000 IDR per litre between March 2021 and March 2022.
- On February 1, the Indonesian government imposed a ceiling on retail prices.
- The price caps, however, led to the product disappearing from supermarket shelves, amid reports of hoarding and consumers standing in long queues for hours to get a pack or two (14,000 IDR is less than $1 or Rs 74).
- Besides domestic price controls, the government also made it compulsory for exporters to sell 20% of their planned shipments in the domestic market at pre-determined prices.
How does one explain this conundrum — consumers unable to access or paying through the nose for a commodity in which their country is the preeminent producer and exporter?
There are two possible reasons.
- The first has to do supply disruptions — manmade and natural — in other cooking oils, especially sunflower and soyabean.
- Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly 80% of the global trade in sunflower oil, quite comparable to the 90% share of Indonesia and Malaysia in palm.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which is ongoing, has resulted in port closures and exporters avoiding Black Sea shipping routes.
- Sanctions against Russia have further curtailed trade in sunflower oil, the world’s third most exported vegetable oil (12.17 mt, according to USDA estimates for 2021-22) after palm (49.63 mt) and soyabean (12.39 mt).
- Supply tightness in sunflower and soyabean — from war and drought, respectively — has, in turn, transmitted to palm oil
- The second factor is linked to petroleum, more specifically the use of palm oil as a bio-fuel.
- The Indonesian government has, since 2020, made 30% blending of diesel with palm oil mandatory as part of a plan to slash fossil fuel imports.
- Palm oil getting increasingly diverted for bio-diesel is leaving less quantity available, both for the domestic cooking oil and export market.
- Such diversion has become all the more attractive with Brent crude prices hardening post the Ukrainian war — to a closing high of $127.98 per barrel on March 8 and staying elevated at $100-plus levels.
What is the impact on India?
- India is the world’s biggest vegetable oils importer. Out of its annual imports of 14-15 mt, the lion’s share is of palm oil (8-9 mt), followed by soyabean (3-3.5 mt) and sunflower (2.5).
- Indonesia has been India’s top supplier of palm oil, though it was overtaken by Malaysia in 2021-22.
- India will have to get used to lower supplies from Indonesia.
(Down to Earth: Governance)
April 6th: One nation one ration card: How many know about it – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/one-nation-one-ration-card-how-many-know-about-it-82262
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
- GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources
Context: Every fifth family in India is still unaware about the benefits of the portability facility provided by the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ (ONORC) scheme, considered to be key to the success of the public distribution system (PDS). This is according to a recent study by social impact advisory group, Dalberg.
What is One Nation One Ration Card (ON-ORC)?
- The scheme seeks to provide portability of food security benefits all across the nation.
- Families who have food security cards can buy subsidized food from any ration shop in the country.
- For instance, a migrant worker from, say, Basti district of Uttar Pradesh will be able to access PDS benefits in Mumbai, where he or she may have gone in search of work. While the person can buy foodgrains as per his or her entitlement under the NFSA at the place where he or she is based, members of his or her family can still go to their ration dealer back home.
- Ration cards should be linked with Aadhar Number to avail this service.
- It was started in mid-2019 with pilot project in 4 states and was supposed to be rolled-out across country by June 2020
What did the study observe?
The study was conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, covering 6,700 low-income households and 1,500 PDS dealers. These states have a 40 per cent share in the PDS and were the first to adopt ONORC.
- ONORC was specifically designed to benefit migrants. However, marginalised women have not able to benefit much from it, especially in matters of availing food grains.
- The facility of inter-state portability for food security and that of selecting a fair price ration shop (FPS) of one’s choice was being availed by 58 per cent of migrant workers.
- The ONORC scheme is also leaving a positive impact on non-migrant worker.
- Widows, divorced women are facing more troubles for ration card updates
What are the challenges with ON-ORC?
- First, the fiscal implications: ON-ORC will affect how the financial burden is shared between states.
- Second, the larger issues of federalism and inter-state coordination: Many states are not convinced about a “one size fits all” regime. This is because States have customised the PDS through higher subsidies, higher entitlement limits, and supply of additional items.
- Third, the technology aspect: ON-ORC requires a complex technology backbone that brings over 750 million beneficiaries, 5,33,000 ration shops and 54 million tonnes of food-grain annually on a single platform. Technical failure of FPS and fear of stocks running out have been found to be the main reasons behind ONORC transaction failures.
- Fourth, lack of awareness: Government orders to provide rations have been given even after transactions failed. Most PDS dealers are unaware of what steps should be taken on such occasions.
How does ONORC work?
- ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).
- The system identifies a beneficiary through biometric authentication on ePoS devices at fair price shops.
- The system runs with the support of two portals —
- Annavitran Portal– maintains a record of intra-state transactions — inter-district and intra-district
- Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) – records the inter-state transactions.
- When a ration card holder goes to a fair price shop, he or she identifies himself or herself through biometric authentication on ePoS, which is matched real time with details on the Annavitaran portal.
- Once the ration card details are verified, the dealer hands out the beneficiary’s entitlements.
The Way Forward
There is an urgent need to make people aware of the many benefits it offers.
- Taking States on board: To promote this reform in the archaic Public Distribution System (PDS), the government should provided incentives/ guaranteed compensation to states. This can happen for a minimum of five years.
- Creation of inter-state council: To be effective, this council should meet regularly, have specific decision-making authority, and should operate through consensus building.
- A special technical vehicle for faster implementation, that would track movement of rations, register beneficiaries, issue ration cards, handle grievances and generate analytics. Such a platform should incorporate principles such as inclusion, privacy, security, transparency, and accountability.
- PDS dealers need to be brought on board with adequate training and awareness.
If done well, ON-ORC could lay the foundation of a truly national and portable benefits system that includes other welfare programmes like LPG subsidy and social pensions.
Can you answer the following questions?
Is there further potential of ramping up the public distribution system through technological interventions? Suggest.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1 Indian tent turtle is listed in which of the following Schedules of the WildLife (Protection) Act, 1972?
- Schedule –I
- Schedule –II
- Schedule –III
- None of the above
Q.2 Resolution 60/251 of the United Nations is associated with which of the following?
- Formation of United Nations Human Rights Council
- Economic sanctions on Russia
- Resolution against ISIS
- India’s membership to UNSC
Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY)
Under this yojana, the government provides financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh to non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises to promote startups.
Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, MFIs and NBFCs have been roped in to provide this loan facility to the right beneficiaries.
Which of the above is or are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWERS FOR 8th April 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Ukraine and India’s neutrality:
On petrol price rise in India:
On Intellectual Disability: