Author: Tanay Rathi

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Temple entry for women : Gender Equality v/s Religious Freedom Constitution

[op-ed snap] Do all women have a right to enter Sabarimala?

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fundamental rights, DPSP, SC judgements

Mains level: Temple entry issue and all aspects related to it


Context

  1. The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly struck down discriminatory religious practices, the latest of which is the triple talaq (in Shayara Bano v. Union of India, 2017)
  2. Reference of the Sabarimala entry row to a five-member Constitution Bench is in itself a radical judicial move

Violation of rights in Sabarimala temple issue

  1. Preventing women’s entry to the Sabarimala temple with an irrational and obsolete notion of “purity” clearly offends the equality clauses in the Constitution
  2. It denotes a patriarchal and partisan approach
  3. The entry prohibition takes away the woman’s right against discrimination guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the Constitution
  4. It curtails her religious freedom assured by Article 25(1)
  5. Prohibition of women’s entry to the shrine solely on the basis of womanhood and the biological features associated with womanhood is derogatory to women, which Article 51A(e) aims to renounce
  6. The classification based on age is, in essence, an act of discrimination based on sex

How did the age bar start at Sabarimala temple?

  1. The practice rests on a fragile rule and an equally fragile judgment of the Kerala High Court ( S. Mahendran v. The Secretary, Travancore Devaswom Board, 1991)
  2. There is no unanimity on whether the Sabarimala temple bar is ‘age-old’

Rules for facilitating temple entry and contradictory clause

  1. The very purpose of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965 is to ensure entry of all Hindus to temples without being discriminatory
  2. Rule 3(b), which instigates obstruction to women’s entry on the ground of menstruation, apparently runs counter to the very object of the parent enactment and is therefore untenable

View of the framers of constitution, judiciary, and international jurists

  1. B.R. Ambedkar famously said that public temples, like public roads and schools, are places meant for public access and so the question of entry is, essentially, a question of equality
  2. The managerial rights of religious authorities under Article 26(b) of the Constitution cannot override the individual woman’s religious freedom guaranteed under Article 25(1)
  3. The former is intended to safeguard, not annihilate, the latter
  4. Liberty is tested at the individual level, for individuals alone can constitute the public in a republic
  5. In S.R. Bommai (1994), the Supreme Court said that “secularism operates as a bridge” for the country to move on from “tradition to modernity.”
  6. As American jurist Ronald Dworkin opined, political morality is to be brought into the heart of constitutional law

Not just about individual freedom

  1. It is erroneous to conceive of the issue only as one involving a fissure between individual freedom and gender justice on the one hand and religious practice on the other
  2. It also reflects a conflict among believers themselves
  3. It is essential to prevent monopolisation of religious rights by a few under the guise of management of religious institutions
  4. Article 25(2)(b) enables the state “(to provide) for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of the Hindus.”
Air Pollution: Issues & Challenges Climate Change

At 2.5 million, India tops list of pollution-linked deaths: Study

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, NGO Pure Earth, Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, Global Burden of Disease study

Mains level: Various aspects related to air and other forms of pollution


News

India has highest death rate due to pollution

  1. India has topped the list of countries with pollution-related deaths in 2015
  2. 2.51 million people died prematurely in the country that year due to diseases linked to air, water and other forms of pollution
  3. This is according to a new study published in the reputed medical journal, The Lancet

Pollution is now the largest environmental cause of disease and death

  1. The Lancet study concluded that pollution is now the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today
  2. Three times more than those from HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria put together
  3. The report found that pollution from outdoor and indoor air, water and soil contamination, and chemical pollutants is one of the largest risk factors leading to premature death

Low and middle-income countries more affected

  1. Most of the pollution-related deaths — 92 percent — were reported in low and middle-income countries
  2. And in rapidly industrializing nations such as India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya

Diseases caused by pollution

  1. Most of these deaths were due to non-communicable diseases caused by pollution
  2. Such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

About Study and stakeholders

  1. The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’s study is part of a two-year project that involved more than 40 international health and environmental authors
  2. These include Philip Landrigan, an environmental scientist, and Richard Fuller, founder of NGO Pure Earth
  3. The secretariat of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution is also involved
  4. For the study, researchers also used data from the Global Burden of Disease study
  5. It brings together comprehensive estimates on the effects of pollution on health, provides economic costs, and reveals the extent of contaminated sites across the world for the first time

Aim of commission

The aim of the Lancet Commission is to

  1. raise global awareness on pollution,
  2. end neglect of pollution-related diseases, and
  3. mobilize resources and political will to effectively confront pollution

Back2Basics

Global Alliance on Health and Pollution

  1. The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) was formed in 2012 by Pure Earth, the World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Ministries of Environment and Health of many low- and middle-income countries to address pollution and health at scale
  2. GAHP envisions a world where the health of present and future generations, especially children and pregnant women, is safe from toxic pollution
  3. GAHP is a collaborative body, made up of more than 50 members and dozens of observers that advocates on behalf of its low- and middle-income country members for resources and solutions to pollution problems
  4. GAHP seeks to build demand for pollution prevention and mitigation programs that are implemented by its members
  5. GAHP builds public, political, technical and financial support to address pollution globally, tracks pollution impact and interventions, promotes scientific research on pollution and raises awareness on the scope and impacts of all types of pollution
  6. GAHP also directly assists low- and middle-income countries to prioritize and address pollution through health and pollution action planning (HPAP) and other development planning processes, in collaboration with its members

 

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

[op-ed snap] Retrench India’s farm economy to sustain it

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Agriculture Market (eNAM), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana

Mains level: Long pending agricultural reforms in India


Context

  1. In 2007-08, Madhya Pradesh government announced a bonus of Rs 150 above the minimum support price (MSP) per quintal of wheat
  2. Predictably, a large segment of farmers in the state shifted to the crop
  3. The bonus was stopped in 2014
  4. Farmers who had shifted production were not pleased
  5. It fed into the resentment that would eventually erupt in widespread farmer agitations in the state this year

Artificial incentives for agriculture

  1. The Indian state has often played the same role in the agricultural sector
  2. Its policies have created artificial incentives that are unsustainable, an inefficient drain on public funds, or both

Another such scheme by MP government

  1. The Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana will replace government procurement with compensatory payments
  2. This will be when market prices are below the MSP
  3. It is being implemented as a pilot scheme for eight crops

Hope from the scheme

  1. The hope is that this will sidestep the implementation shortcomings of the procurement system
  2. These extend from the lack of government storage facilities and supply chain logistics
  3. Also, the fact that despite the government declaring MSPs for 25 crops, it largely procures only rice and wheat
  4. It will be less distortionary, freeing up space for the market to set rates

Reality check

  1. The knowledge that the government will make up the shortfall will incentivize traders to set rates well below the MSP
  2. The scheme has a two-month window, which means that the rush to sell in that period will also push prices down

Need for government intervention

  1. The agricultural sector is one of the handful where inelastic demand for the products, the deleterious public effects of supply shocks and inherent risks for suppliers mandate a government role

Agricultural reforms: What is needed?

Truly transformative agricultural reforms will require work on three levels

  1. The first level is mandi system
  • With the 2003 and 2017 versions of the model Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, governments have attempted to liberalize this system, providing for private markets and integrated state markets
  • This was a step towards a national market facilitated by the National Agriculture Market (eNAM)
  • The problem with this is that it still operates within the mandi system
  • Solution: Government needs to get out of the business altogether—and that is only possible with a switch from the public distribution system to direct benefit transfers

2. The second level of reforms should be aimed at inputs

  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana aims to extend irrigation cover to all forms and maximize water-use efficiency over a period of five years
  • In a water-stressed yet groundwater-dependent country like India, this is only possible with comprehensive rural electrification, allowing for techniques such as drip irrigation
  • The other major reform needed here is access to formal credit
  • The current dependence on informal credit leaves farmers beholden to middlemen and traders who are often the credit suppliers, thus undercutting the former’s bargaining power

3.  The third level of reforms should be reduction in number of people participating in Agriculture

  • As per the last Agriculture Census, the average farm holding in India is a minuscule 1.15 hectares
  • Their number has been on the rise since the 1970s and is expected to touch 91% by 2030
  • There is no feasible way to make such a fragmented agricultural economy workable
  • For a sustainably healthy agricultural economy, the number of people participating in it must be drastically reduced
  • Measures such as enabling large-scale contract farming and corporate farming will help here—but the only genuine solution is job creation in non-agricultural sectors
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Iran India Beyond its Neighbours

U.S. ploy against Iran: envoy

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Chabahar port, Iran (geographical features, countries surrounding), India-Afghanistan-Iran trilateral agreement

Mains level: India-Iran relationship over years


News

Iran envoy lashes out at the US

  1. Iranian Ambassador said that U.S. was trying to ensure that India reduced oil imports from his country
  2. It is working to deprive Tehran of the Indian energy market
  3. This is after the U.S. announcement of a tougher line on Iran, even imposition of possible new sanctions

Change in trade stats

  1. India has cut its oil imports from Iran by approximately 20% in 2017, though its global imports have risen by 5.4%
  2. The Petroleum Ministry says India has been trying to “diversify” its imports so as to get more competitive rates
  3. One major development is India’s decision to import its first shipment of crude oil from the U.S., giving rise to speculation that New Delhi’s new policy will come at the cost of imports from Iran

Effect on India-Iran relations

  1. He said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy shift would not affect the India-Iran relationship
  2. Development of the Chabahar port project will remain on track

Other projects

  1. The India-Afghanistan-Iran trilateral agreement for Chabahar should be ratified by the Iranian parliament in the next few months
  2. India committed about $1.6 billion to build the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line, which will facilitate trade to Afghanistan along with Chabahar port
Direct Benefits Transfer: The Big Reform Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] Universal Basic Income is not feasible for India

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Inclusive growth & issues arising from it.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fiscal Monitor, GDP, Economic Survey, Universal Basic Income

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


Context

IMF joins in the UBI debate

  1. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has added its bit to the ongoing debate on Universal Basic Income in India.
  2. The latest Fiscal Monitor of the IMF, in its analysis, used fiscal space equivalent to the cost of the public distribution system and energy subsidies in 2011-12
  3. It showed that this can finance an annual Universal Basic Income of Rs 2,600 per person
  4. It is equivalent to about 20% of that year’s median per capita consumption, with the estimated cost at about 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP)

UBI: New to India?

  1. The basic idea of Universal Basic Income is not new for India
  2. The erstwhile Planning Commission had worked on it in the early 1960s

Why UBI debate started?

  1. Economists in the Union finance ministry published an excellent chapter on Universal Basic Income in the 2016-17 Economic Survey
  2. A large proportion of the population in India still lives below the poverty line and a number of government programmes providing subsidies and support to the poor are marred by inefficiencies
  3. There are leakages in the system, and often, people who actually need government support are left out
  4. Universal Basic Income is seen by many as an alternative to the existing system of subsidies, which is often associated with systemic inefficiencies

Why can India not opt for Universal Basic Income?

  1. Fiscal capacity
  • The Economic Survey calculations showed that a 75% universality rate with an annual Universal Basic Income of Rs 7,620 per year at 2016-17 prices will cost about 5% of the GDP
  • Economists calculated that an inflation-indexed Universal Basic Income of Rs 10,000 at 2014-15 prices—about three-quarters of that year’s poverty line—will cost about 10% of the GDP
  • Thinking: It is often assumed that resources can be raised by rationalizing subsidies and capturing a part of the revenue foregone on account of various tax exemptions, including in the personal income tax
  • Reality: The revenue forgone in most cases is optical and the result of poor design. In any case, a part of it is now out of the system with the implementation of the goods and services tax
  • Further, politically, it will be extremely difficult to roll back subsidies in order to create fiscal space for Universal Basic Income

2. Can create distortions in the labour market

  • A steady, permanent and guaranteed income without any work is likely to affect labour mobility and participation
  • It is also likely to increase wages, as has been witnessed after the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
  • Problem: Higher wages without a commensurate increase in productivity will affect India’s competitiveness
  • This could also have longer-term implications in terms of higher inflation and lower growth

3. Nature of Indian politics

  • It is highly likely that political parties, in order to improve their chances in elections, would want to increase the amount of Universal Basic Income
  • Or try to bring back subsidies in some form or the other, which will have fiscal implications
  • India still has to prove that it can actually run balanced budgets for an extended period
  • The political class always has this temptation to declare premature victories and give away fiscal gains

What India actually needs?

  1. India needs rationalization of subsidies, better targeting and operational efficiency
  2. It needs to move to cash transfers at an accelerated pace with the use of Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile
  3. This will help reduce costs and spare resources for capital spending to augment growth
  4. As history has shown, the best way to pull people out of poverty is sustained higher growth

Back2Basics

Read Economic survey all chapters here- Click2get

Gravitational Waves Detected by LIGO: Complete Coverage Space Technology

Simply put: Now confirmed, mergers of neutron stars are factories of heavy chemical elements

Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), European Southern Observatory (ESO), constellation Hydra, Kilonova

Mains level: Important findings in space have been one of the favorite areas of UPSC


News

First direct visual identification of the source of a gravitational wave

  1. European Southern Observatory (ESO) has announced the first direct, visual identification of the source of a gravitational wave
  2. Detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) on August 17
  3. This is the first time that such an event has been seen, rather than detected, and the output of numerous telescopes, terrestrial and in orbit, compared to identify a single source
  4. Radiations were detected in optical/near-infrared wavelengths as the counterpart of a gravitational wave source

Nobel Prize for LIGO scientists

  1. On October 3, LIGO founders Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish and Kip S Thorne were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for detecting gravitational waves in 2015, generated by the collision of two black holes

What led to this finding?

  1. In August this year LIGO, together with the Virgo observatory in Italy, detected waves from the cataclysmic merger of two neutron stars, designated GW170817
  2. Soon after, the Fermi space telescope detected a burst of gamma rays from the same region of space, which is a signature of massive stars in collision
  3. The ESO then organized the astrophysical equivalent of a manhunt, marshaling its own resources and those of allied organizations
  4. Its Vista, VST and La Silla telescopes in Chile, along with the US DECam telescope, located the source of light near the galaxy NEC 4993 in the constellation Hydra
  5. The signal was picked up in Hawaii and over the following weeks, about 70 observatories watched the event unfold when they were on the dark side of the earth
  6. The Hubble Space Telescope tracked it, too

What do the observations tell?

  1. The observations place the electromagnetic source at 130 light years away, which matches with the distance to GW170817
  2. It confirms that when neutron stars collide into a kilonova — a body 1,000 times brighter than the average Nova — it produces a gamma-ray burst and gravitational waves
  3. This enormous exercise has joined the dots between various forms of imaging events and objects in deep space
  4. Also, ESO’s experiment has established a much more important principle — that it is now possible to correlate the findings of instruments looking into the sky in different spectra

Back2Basics

Gravitational waves and kilonova

  1. A gravitational wave is a ripple distorting the fabric of spacetime — literally, the universe itself – created when heavy bodies accelerate rapidly
  2. A kilonova (macronova or r-process supernova) is a type of supernova that occurs when two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole merge in a binary system
  3. The kilonova was a phenomenon theoretically predicted 30 years ago and was expected to emit short bursts of gamma rays
  4. Gravitational waves were predicted by general relativity a century ago, and it was surmised that colliding neutron stars would emit them
  5. Both phenomena are now observationally confirmed, and a single event is identified as the source
  6. Such phenomena are believed to have generated and spewed out into the universe metals heavier than iron, including precious metals like gold, silver and platinum
PIB: Updates

[pib] Rural people to get affordable life insurance services

What

  1. Launching of  Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and an initiative for expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance

Vision

  1. To provide banking services through the postal network needs to be taken forward to provide affordable life insurance services to people living in rural areas of the country.
  2. At least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavor will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each.
  3. Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village

Benefits

  1. PLI will no more be confined to Government and semi-Government employees, but will also be available to professionals such as Doctors, Engineers, Management Consultants, Charted Accountants, Architects, Lawyers, Bankers etc. and to employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange)
  2. The postal policies have low premium and high bonus, unlike the Private ones

Back2Basics

Postal Life Insurance

  1. Postal Life Insurance (PLI), introduced in 1884, is one of the oldest life insurance schemes for benefit of Government and semi-Government employees.
  2. Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995, on recommendations of Malhotra Committee, provides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas.
  3. Low Premium and High Bonus is the unique feature of PLI and RPLI schemes
PIB: Updates

[pib] Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission

What

  1. Approval of two new World Bank supported schemes – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE)

Why

  1. for a national architecture for promoting convergence, ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training and catalyzing industry efforts in vocational training space.
  2. To converge the efforts of various central, state and private sector institutions thereby avoiding duplication of activities and bringing about uniformity in vocational training thus, creating better impact

How

  1. The two schemes shall address this need by setting up national bodies for accreditation & certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short-term Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Aim

  1. Institutional reforms and improving quality & market relevance of skill development training programs in long and short-term VET

Aligned with other schemes/programmes

  1. The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub-missions
  2. The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements
PIB
PIB: Updates

[pib] Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on establishing a Liquid, Flexible and Global LNG Market

  1. The MoC will promote bilateral relationship between India and Japan in the energy sector
  2. It will contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India
  3. This will strengthen our energy security and lead to more competitive prices for consumers
  4. The MoC provides a framework to cooperate in facilitating flexibility in LNG contracts, abolition of Destination Restriction Clause

Background

  1. India and Japan are major consumers of energy in the world.
  2. In the LNG sector, Japan is the world’s largest importer and India is the 4th largest importer.
  3. Under the Japan-India Energy Partnership Initiative signed in January 2016, the two sides had agreed to work together in promoting well-functioning energy markets and affirmed to promote a transparent and diversified Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market through the relaxation of Destination Restriction Clause
PIB
PIB: Updates

[pib] India’s trade and investment relationship with Ethiopia is very strong, says President; symbolic of India’s commitment to African Continent

From the past

Trade relations between Ethiopia and India flourished during the ancient Axumite Empire from the 1st century AD

Now

The President said,

  1. Today the economic relationship covers trade, private investment, concessional loans for infrastructure projects and development assistance, largely for capacity building.
  2. India is now among the top three foreign investors in Ethiopia.
  3. India’s relationship with Ethiopia is symbolic of its engagement with the African continent, of which Addis Ababa is such a vital hub.
  4. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is another initiative brimming with potential.

Development & Agreements

  1. Support for power transmission projects in Ethiopia, as well as specific assistance in the areas of healthcare, education and agriculture.
  2. The signing of two bilateral agreements –
  • The first on Trade Facilitation and,
  • The second related to the Information Communication and Media sector

Back2Basics

Asia-Africa Growth Corridor

  1. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan
  2. It aims for Indo-Japanese collaboration to develop quality infrastructure in Africa, complemented by digital connectivity, which would undertake the realization of the idea of creating free and open Indo-Pacific Region
  3. The AAGC will give priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill enhancement
  4. Unlike OBOR, now BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which entails development of both land corridor (new economic belt) and ocean (marine silk road), AAGC will essentially be a sea corridor
  5. It will be linking Africa with India and other countries of South-East Asia and Oceania by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors
PIB
PIB: Updates

[pib] Embryo Transfer Technology, a promising revolution in Bovine breeding

Revolution in bovine breeding

  1. Embryo transfer technology (ETT) has revolutionized the breeding strategies in Bovines as a tool to optimize the genetic improvement in cattle.
  2. Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in co-operation with 12 States has undertaken a Mass Embryo Transfer programme in Indigenous Breeds under the scheme, National Mission on Bovine Productivity

Objective

For conservation and development of indigenous breeds under Rashtriya Gokul Mission

Uses

  1. a farmer can get a 5-6 fold increase in the number of offsprings
  2. the calves so born will be of high genetic merit and
  3. the offsprings born will be free from diseases

Advantage

The technology now being taken up to the doorstep of the farmers will result in rapid propagation of high genetic merit indigenous cattle


Back2Basics

Know all about Rashtriya Gokul Mission here- click2read

PIB
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Finance and Banking

GST composition scheme: GoM consensus on providing relief to small restaurants

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composition scheme under GST

Mains level: Implementation of GST and its effect on overall economy


News

GoM provides relief to small and medium businesses

  1. Group of Ministers (GoM), constituted to make the composition scheme more attractive, agreed to provide more relief for small and medium businesses
  2. The five-member committee is learnt to have agreed upon the need to reduce the GST composition rate for dhabas/roadside eateries/small restaurants, from the existing 5 percent
  3. Also to have a differential GST rate for non-AC restaurants
  4. The GoM will also examine if inter-state outward supplies of goods can be a part of composition scheme and if input tax credit can be allowed to registered taxpayers receiving inward supplies from composition dealers

More representation

  1. GoM has agreed to invite representatives from the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the next GST Council meeting
  2. This is to incorporate their views while deciding on some more relief measures for the MSME sector

Measures already taken for MSME sector

  1. The measures taken for the MSME sector by the GST Council earlier this month include increase in the turnover threshold for Composition Scheme to Rs 1 crore as compared to the earlier turnover threshold of Rs 75 lakh
  2. Composition scheme dealers have to pay GST at the rate of 1 percent of the turnover, manufacturers at the rate of 2 percent and restaurants at the rate of 5 percent

Reliefs to other businesses 

  1. The GST Council had also allowed assesses with turnover less than Rs 1.5 crore to pay taxes and file returns on a quarterly basis instead of monthly basis, starting from October-December quarter
  2. The Council had also allowed small service providers to operate across multiple states without registering with the GST Network
  3. It has exempted service providers with annual aggregate turnover less than Rs 20 lakh from obtaining registration even if they are making inter-state taxable supplies of services

Back2Basics

Composition Scheme

  1. Under composition scheme, small taxpayers can get rid of tedious GST formalities and pay GST at a fixed rate of turnover
  2. This scheme can be opted by any taxpayer whose turnover is less than Rs. 1 crore
  3. No Input Tax Credit can be claimed by a dealer opting for composition scheme
  4. The dealer cannot supply GST exempted goods
  5. If a taxable person has different segments of businesses (such as textile, electronic accessories, groceries, etc.) under the same PAN, they must register all such businesses under the scheme collectively or opt out of the scheme
  6. A composition dealer cannot issue tax invoice. This is because a composition dealer cannot charge tax from their customers. They need to pay tax out of their own pocket

Read all about GST here- Click2read

Issues related to Economic growth

[op-ed snap] Six steps to job creation

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AMRUT Scheme, inverted duty structures

Mains level: National health policy, National manufacturing policy and other initiatives related to industrial growth


Context

  1. India is indeed the fastest growing large economy in the world
  2. Yet with investment low, credit offtake low, capacity utilisation in industry low, agricultural growth low, plant load factor low, it is hardly surprising that job growth is low as well

Groups in need of jobs

  1. In India’s highly segmented labour market, there are at least three demographic groups that are in urgent need of jobs
  2. These are: A growing number of better-educated youth; uneducated agricultural workers who wish to leave agricultural distress behind; and young women, who too are better educated than ever before

Reason(s) for low job growth

  1. Among many dimensions of this problem is the fact that in the quarter-century since economic reforms began, it is not manufacturing that has been the leading sector driving growth
  2. Manufacturing should drive productivity in the whole economy
  3. Services cannot, as services by definition ‘service’ the distribution of produced goods

What can policy-makers do to revive job growth?

  1. Industrial, trade policy
  • An industrial and trade policy is needed
  • For 20 years after economic reforms began in 1991 there was no National Manufacturing Policy, and the Policy, when it came in 2011, was not even implemented
  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is finally preparing an industrial policy
  • It is essential that trade policy is consistent with such an industrial policy
  • Otherwise, the two may work at cross purposes and undermine each other’s objectives
  • Manufacturing has been badly affected by inverted duty structures

    2. Special packages needed for labour-intensive industries

  • There are a number of labour intensive manufacturing sectors in India such as food processing, leather and footwear, wood manufacturers and furniture, textiles and apparel and garments
  • The nature of the package will need to be individually designed for each sector defined as quickly as possible

   3. Cluster development

  • There should be cluster development to support job creation in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
  • Most of the unorganized sector employment is in MSMEs, which tend to be concentrated in specific geographic locations
  • There is a cluster development programme of the Ministry of MSMEs, which is poorly funded and could be better designed as well

   4. Align urban development with manufacturing clusters

  • Infrastructure investment by the government always creates many jobs
  • The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has a programme called AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) aimed at improving infrastructure for small towns
  • An engagement between the Urban Development and MSME Ministries is necessary to ensure that the infrastructure investment under it is taking place in towns which have clusters of unorganised sector economic activities
  • It will attract more investment to industrial clusters, which is where most non-agricultural jobs are

   5. Focus on women

  • Girls are losing out in jobs, or those with increasing education can’t find them, despite having gotten higher levels of education in the last 10 years
  • The problem with skilling programmes has been low placement after skilling is complete
  • Skilling close to clusters (rather than standalone vocational training providers), which is where the jobs are, is likely to be more successful
  • The availability of jobs close to where the skilling is conducted will also enhance the demand for skilling

   6. Public investments in health, education, police, and judiciary 

This can create many government jobs

Health

  • Public investment in the health sector has remained even in the last three years at 1.15% of GDP, despite the creation of the National health policy at the beginning of 2017
  • Given the state of health and nutrition of the population, it is critical that public expenditure on health is increased faster
  • More government expenditure in health means more jobs in government and better health outcomes
  • Preventive and public health has always been in all countries the responsibility of government

Education

  • Government schools have poor quality and parents are voting with their feet by spending money on private schools, whether or not the poor parents can afford it
  • The number of teachers required, at secondary and higher secondary levels, is very high, particularly in science and mathematics
  • Many new government jobs can be provided if more young people could be trained specially to become teachers for science and mathematics at the secondary and higher secondary levels

Police and Judiciary

  • While the number of paramilitary personnel continues to grow, State governments are not filling even sanctioned posts in the policy and in the judiciary (at all levels there are vacancies)
  • More police and a larger judiciary can both reduce crime as well as speed up the process of justice for the ordinary citizen

Back2Basics

Inverted duty structures

  1. An inverted duty structure has the following features: higher duty on intermediate goods compared to final finished goods, with the latter often enjoying concessional customs duty
  2. As a result, domestic manufacturers face high tariffs, leading to higher raw material cost at home
  3. This has prevented many manufacturing sectors from growing since economic reforms began
Rohingya Conflict India & Neighbours

Rohingya issue of great magnitude, state has big role: Supreme Court

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state & non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rohingyas, their origin country

Mains level: Rising problem of illegal migrants and solutions to it


News

SC view on Rohingya issue

  1. The Supreme Court said that the Rohingya refugee problem was of a “great magnitude”
  2. The state would have to play a “big role” in striking a balance between national interests and human rights while dealing with the contentious issue
  3. During the hearing, the bench observed that aspects of national security, economic interests, labour interests as also protection of children, women, sick and innocent persons would come up while dealing with the matter
  4. The bench said there cannot be an “iota of doubt” that humanitarian issue is involved, but it also has to keep in mind the national interest
  5. The top court also said that “constitutional ethos makes us lean sympathetically towards humanitarian issues.”
  6. The role of the state in such a situation has to be multipronged

Rohingyas in India

  1. The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, have settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan

Rohingyas to be deported

  1. Government has decided to deport Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar
  2. In a communication to all states, the union home ministry had said the rise of terrorism in last few decades has become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants are prone to get recruited by terrorist organizations
  3. It had directed the state governments to set up a task force at district level to identify and deport illegally- staying foreign nationals
  4. The apex court has decided to give a detailed and “holistic hearing” from November 21 on the government’s decision

SC suggestion to government on deporting Rohingyas

  1. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra suggested to the Centre not to deport the Rohingya refugees
  2. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) requested to court that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record would have international ramifications

 

Air Pollution: Issues & Challenges Climate Change

Simply put: How firecrackers work, impact your health

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Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Pollution Control Board, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA), Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Yanshui Festival, Guy Fawkes Night

Mains level: Air pollution and various aspects related to it


News

Context

  1. Citing toxins in the air, Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR this Diwali
  2. In November 2016, as a great smog enveloped Delhi for days after Diwali, the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) told the Supreme Court that the capital’s terrible air quality had been “compounded” by the burning of firecrackers

Document available for impact of fireworks

  1. The only official document on the ‘known health impact’ of fireworks is a compilation of findings of surveys, put together by Central Pollution Control Board
  2. This was also done after the court ordered the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to study the harmful effects of firecrackers following the EPCA’s submission
  3. The CPCB did not carry out the detailed study that the Supreme Court asked for
  4. Why? It said the competence lay with the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the explosives regulator under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Existing guidelines

  1. The CPCB affidavit refers to four types of explosive firecrackers — atom bombs, Chinese crackers, garland crackers and maroons — for which guidelines exist
  2. According to these guidelines, the sulphur content must not exceed 20%, nitrates 57%, and aluminium powder contents, 24%
  3. The guidelines were silent on heavy metals such as cobalt, copper and magnesium, extremely toxic compounds of which are widely used as colouring or regulating agents
  4. In July 2016, the Supreme Court ordered that “no firecrackers manufactured by the respondents shall contain antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead”

How firecrackers impact health

  1. Studies in Europe, Canada and China have found links between increases in the concentration of fireworks, and variations in air quality
  2. Most of these studies have focused on festivals such as the Yanshui Festival in Taiwan, Montreal International Fireworks competition, Lantern Festival in Beijing, Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, etc
  3. According to 2014 study, ‘Potential Impact of Fireworks on Respiratory Health’, in Lung India, “Adults exposed to high levels of ambient air pollution have shown increased prevalence of chronic cough, phlegm, and breathlessness and are, therefore, at an increased risk of developing respiratory symptoms, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic rhinitis, lower respiratory tract infections, and lung cancers.”
  4. A 2007 study, ‘Recreational Atmospheric Pollution Episodes: Inhalable Metalliferous Particles from Firework Displays’, had found that children were susceptible in particular since their defenses against particulate matter and other gaseous air pollutants were weaker

Back2Basics

Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)

  1. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) formerly Department of Explosives, Nagpur is the nodal Organization to look after safety requirements in manufacture, storage, transport and use of explosives and petroleum
  2. This Organisation comes under, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India
  3. As a statutory authority, PESO is entrusted with the responsibilities under the Explosives Act, 1884; Petroleum Act, 1934; Inflammable Substances Act, 1952, Environment (Protection Act), 1986

Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA)

  1. It is a Central Government constituted committee for the National Capital Region in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated January 7, 199893
  2. It was constituted under subsection (1) and (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 by MoEFCC
  3. This authority was constituted with sole objective of assisting SC for protecting and improving the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating air pollution in Delhi NCR
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