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[op-ed snap] Why expanding India’s direct tax net is relevant

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Direct taxes- types and trends

Mains level: India’s rising middle class and its impact on tax collections


Context

Widening tax base

  1. Most citizens pay direct taxes in successful democracies, but not so in India—partly because of high levels of poverty but also because of rampant tax evasion
  2. Finance minister predicted earlier this month that India can have around 120 million taxpayers as more Indians become part of the formal economy
  3. The number of people filing income tax returns in the current assessment year is already at around 60 million, or 50% higher than the previous year
  4. The finance minister is thus predicting a doubling of the number of income taxpayers in the coming years

Will the number actually double?

  1. India has around 250 million families, more than half of whom will anyway be outside the tax net either because they are farmers or they are too poor to pay taxes
  2. That leaves around 125 million families that can potentially pay income tax
  3. FM is implicitly suggesting that most Indians who should be paying taxes will be doing so soon, even if you adjust for the fact that many families will have more than one taxpayer
  4. However, it is important to remember that a tax filing is not the same as a tax payment, and many Indians who file returns do not actually report any tax liabilities

Why the fiscal deepening of the Indian state is important now?

  1. Neither faster economic growth nor foreign aid will suffice to end extreme poverty by 2030
  2. To end extreme poverty sustainably and as quickly as possible, the states governing the world’s poor need to be strengthened such that they are both accountable to the needs of the poor and have the capacity to meet those needs
  3. Most of the poorest people in the world live in countries such as India that are classified as middle-income countries based on average incomes
  4. These countries are unlikely to get enough foreign aid but they do not have the deep fiscal resources to help their poor either directly through redistribution or indirectly through the provision of public goods that will raise their ability to earn extra income
  5. Countries such as India are thus trapped between the very poor countries that get a lot of foreign aid and the wealthy ones with very strong tax collections

Important consequences of getting more people into the direct tax net

  1. First, the overall boost to tax collections means that the Indian state will be in a better position to perform its key duties without running into repeated fiscal crises
  2. Second, higher direct taxes could provide space for significant cuts in indirect taxes such as the goods and services tax, which in effect means a shift from a regressive to a progressive tax system
  3. Third, a widening tax pool because of formalization means the current perverse system in which efficient firms are taxed at a high rate because inefficient firms manage to slip outside the tax system will end

Way forward

  1. The Indian state has historically battled immense fiscal constraints
  2. The recent trends in direct taxes offer hope but are too preliminary to jump to any conclusion
Tax Reforms

[op-ed snap] Review and revise

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Transgender rights bill 2018, Private members bill

Mains level: Need of protecting and uplifting transgender community


Context

Transgender rights bill 2018

  1. A Supreme Court judgment in 2014 laid out, for the first time, a bill of rights for the country’s much-exploited transgender community
  2. Four years on, despite misgivings of the community, the Lok Sabha has rushed through a bill that imperils many of the gains of the Nalsa judgment

Flaws in the bill

  1. The trans/queer movement is known for its radical insistence that gender is not a one-time fixed membership, but a flowing, subjective and personal experience
  2. In this reimagination, an individual’s freedom to define herself as male or female or neither is entirely hers — with no quarter given to social or parental vetoes
  3. This freedom is enshrined at the heart of the Nalsa judgment — and completely missing from the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016
  4. Instead, the bill envisions a district screening committee which will be invested the power to certify people as trans or not
  5. A person who wishes to transition from one gender identity to another will be certified as male/female only after a gender reassignment surgery — in effect, turning an issue of personal identity into a medical procedure, and making vast swathes of marginalised persons dependent on the whims of an often hostile bureaucracy
  6. There is a provision that they should either live with their natal “family” — defined as blood or adoptive relations — or sent to rehabilitation centres, without factoring in the extent to which discrimination begins at home
  7. It also ignores the fact that hijra communities have for long sheltered young trans-people from the violence and coercion of family
  8. The bill is also silent on the issue of reserving jobs or educational opportunities for trans-people, or ways to punish the prevalent social and economic discrimination that impoverishes them

Taking a cue from the model law

  1. It is not as if the government had no model to follow while drawing up this bill
  2. A private member’s bill, moved by DMK’s Thiruchi Siva, in 2015 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2015
  3. Its progressive provisions on reservation, education and employment, its understanding of gender self-determination, are a measure of what the newly amended bill could have become

Way forward

  1. It is hoped that as the bill moves to the Rajya Sabha, these fundamental errors are removed to allow it to become a piece of legislation that is an ally for the transgender community, rather than one more element in their exploitation
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

How India fuelled slavery with the export of cotton

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Modern Indian History | From about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  The attached story is full of factual details

Mains level: Colonial trade and its impact on domestic artisans


News

200 years since cotton mills in India

  1. In 1708, the old English East India Company had just merged with the United Company of Merchants of England to become the East India Company.
  2. That same year, the company’s Indian headquarters shifted from Bombay to Calcutta.
  3. A century later, in 1818, the first Indian cotton mill, the Bowreah Mills, was created by Henry Gouger at Fort Gloster in the Hughli district of Calcutta.

Indian owned mills

  1. The first truly Indian cotton mill is usually attributed to Cowasjee Nanabhai Davar of Bombay Spinning and Weaving Company.
  2. Built in Bombay in 1851, it started work in 1854.
  3. The very first cotton mills in India, however, were powered by the British.

Quest for Indian Cotton

  1. When the American Civil War broke out (1861-65), the export of long-staple American cotton to the Lancashire Mills stopped, becoming the chief reason why Britain began to look towards India for raw cotton.
  2. Britain thus bought India’s crop, grown under strict regulations of imperial revenue and taxation, finished it into cheap textiles and oversold it to the colony under the monopoly of its administration.
  3. The number of cotton mills in India rose from 58 in 1880 to 79 in 1883, 193 in 1900, 271 in 1914, and 334 in 1929 — mostly in Bombay and Ahmedabad.

Fuelling slavery

  1. Indian cotton was the gasoline for the Industrial Revolution in Britain as well as the accelerator of railway projects in India.
  2. It is famously remarked that India “paid for its own oppression” under British rule.
  3. India has exported cotton and fabrics to Europe since the 16th century — in the process procuring its own slavery and that of Africa.
  4. And this came about a little over a century after driving millions of homespun cotton weavers and craftsmen to mortal bankruptcy.

Dhaka Muslin lost its popularity

  1. Indian muslins were known as aab-e-rawan (running water), shabnam (evening dew) and beft hawa (woven air).
  2. Before this revolution, Dhaka muslin was the lavish article in Britain, but soon the delicacy of Indian cotton was being feted.
  3. French travellers Francois Bernier and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier wrote of its ubiquity in Mughal harems and on the bodies of royal personages.

The three-continent spanning enterprise

  1. Even when East India Company took control of over 70% of the world’s saltpetre by controlling Bengal, cotton continued to be its principal export, occupying 75% of the company’s total trade in 1766.
  2. The India cotton trade became a three-continent spanning enterprise: “cotton from India, slaves from Africa, and sugar from the Caribbean moved across the planet in a complex commercial dance,” writes Beckert.
  3. Lancashire and Manchester — the cotton textile manufacturing and retailing cities of Britain — profited tremendously from the market for Indian cotton that had already existed in pre-industrial Europe.
  4. Mining the ‘white gold,’ as cotton was also called, became Britain’s native industry.

Deep paradox

  1. Gandhi understood the ghostliness of an industry that had mummified weavers into power looms.
  2. And one of the first strikes he led was at a cotton mill in Ahmedabad in 1918.
  3. The charkha was Gandhi’s attempt to crystallize the very deep paradox of an Indian economy and culture in the hands of Western imperialism.
  4. The real colonization was not just British economic exploitation, but the transition of India from a self-sustained economy to an industrialized nation, which would preserve and perpetuate the class divide.

India’s staggering cotton exports

  1. Five years ago, in 2013, there were about 2,000 cotton mills in India.
  2. This was still 600 less than the number of mills in Lancashire alone in 1860.
  3. Two hundred years after its first cotton mill, India has been unable to come close to the scale that Britain enjoyed during the Industrial Revolution.
  4. And from 2013 to 2017, although still the third biggest cotton exporter in the world, India’s total cotton exports have fallen by a staggering 59%.
History- Important places, persons in news

[op-ed snap] What’s in climate change Rulebook

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rulebook for implementing Paris Agreement

Mains level:  Outcomes of COP-24


News

The quest for a global Rulebook

  1. During the weekend, the global fight against climate change reached another milestone when negotiators from 196 countries finalised a rulebook for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  2. The finalization paves the way for implementation of the Paris Agreement, which is supposed to replace the existing Kyoto Protocol in 2020.
  3. The creation of the rulebook has been hailed as an important step that has breathed life into the Paris Agreement.
  4. At the same time, several countries and nongovernmental organisations have said the deal reached in Katowice, though welcome, was not enough.

The Rulebook

  1. The rulebook contains various other processes and guidelines needed for implementing the other provisions of the Paris Agreement.
  2. In short, it holds the operational details of the Paris Agreement.

What is in the Rulebook?

  1. Broadly, the Paris Agreement, which seeks to keep the global average temperatures “well below” 2°C from pre-industrial times, specifies what steps countries need to take in the fight against climate change.
  2. The rulebook prescribes how to do those things, and how each of them would be measured and verified.
  3. For example, the Paris Agreement says every country must have a climate action plan, and that this should be periodically updated and submitted to the UN climate body.
  4. The rulebook now specifies what actions can be included in the action plan, how and when to submit them.
  5. Further, the Paris Agreement asks every member nation to submit information about their greenhouse gas emissions every two years.
  6. The rulebook specifies which gases to measure, what methodologies and standards to apply while measuring them, and the kinds of information to be included in their submissions.

Climate Finance: A crucial element of Rulebook

  1. Again, under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are supposed to provide “climate finance” to developing countries to help them deal with climate change, and submit an account of this.
  2. The rulebook says what kinds of financial flows — loans, concessions, grants — can be classified as climate finance, how they should be accounted for, and the kind of information about them needed to be submitted.

Was Katowice only about the rulebook?

  1. It was primarily about the rulebook.
  2. But a few other discussions had also become important.
  3. The current level of climate actions was insufficient to hold the global average temperature within 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Lack of Ambition & Spat over IPCC report

  1. The special report of the IPCC on the feasibility of attaining a 1.5°C target, which had come out weeks ahead of the Katowice meeting, had added urgency to the discussions.
  2. It was expected that the countries would give some indication of their willingness to do more that what they were currently committed to, and would agree to start a process towards that.
  3. But that did not happen.
  4. Instead, an ugly battle was fought over how to acknowledge the IPCC report, which had been requested by this same conference three years ago, in the final outcome.

Has the rulebook addressed all issues it was meant to look at?

  1. One important element could not be agreed upon and had to be deferred for until next year.
  2. This relates to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which talks about setting up a market mechanism for trading of carbon emissions.
  3. An emission trading system already exists under the Kyoto Protocol, though it has become ineffective over the last few years and is meant to end with the end of Kyoto Protocol in 2020.
  4. A carbon market allows countries, or industries, to earn carbon credits for the emission reductions they make in excess of what is required of them.
  5. These carbon credits can be traded to the highest bidder in exchange of money. The buyers of carbon credits can show the emission reductions as their own and use them to meet their own reduction targets.

Unused Carbon Credits

  1. In the last few years, as several countries walked out of the Kyoto Protocol, and no country was feeling compelled to meet its 2020 emission reduction targets, there has been virtually no demand for carbon credits.
  2. As a result, developing countries like China, India and Brazil have accumulated huge amounts of unused carbon credits.
  3. Together, China and Brazil are estimated to account for about 70% of global unused carbon credits.
  4. When the rulebook was being discussed in Katowice, these countries argued that their unused carbon credits should be considered valid in the new market mechanism that was being created, something that the developed countries opposed strongly.

Negligence by Developed Countries

  1. The developed countries questioned the authenticity of the unused carbon credits, pointing to weak verification mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol that allowed dubious projects to claim carbon credits.
  2. The developed countries also argued that some of the proposals being put forward by Brazil for the carbon markets would lead to double-counting of emission reductions.

Procrastination: The ultimate Option

  1. With no side willing to concede ground, there was no option but to defer the discussion over carbon markets to next year, while allowing for the rest of the rulebook to be finalised.
  2. The fact that no side was ready for a compromise, and preferred to reengage at some other time, is an indication of the importance that countries are attaching to the new emission trading system, and their high stakes in that market.
  3. The reemergence of the carbon market could be the next big thing to watch out for in the climate space.

Hits & Misses: Takeaways from COP24

Article 4: Pledges
Article 4 of the 2015 Paris Agreement mandates nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by countries.

Article 6: Carbon markets
Article 6 covers voluntary carbon markets.

Article 9: Climate finance
Developed countries are supposed to provide climate finance to developing countries to help deal with climate change, and submit an account of this.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Centre drafts child protection policy

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Governance| Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not Much

Mains level:  Facilitating more ease for reporting child sexual abuse cases.


News

  • The WCD Ministry has drafted a policy dedicated to the protection of children, an area that until now was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013.

Background

  1. The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to investigate allegations involving 17 shelter homes for children, destitute women, beggars and senior citizens in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.
  2. The apex court had also asked the Centre to consider framing a national policy on protection of children.

Provisions under draft Policy

  1. As per the draft, the policy will apply to all institutions, and organisations (including corporate and media houses), government or private sector.
  2. The draft policy recommends that all organisations must have a code of conduct based on zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation.
  3. It requires organisations to lay down that employees don’t use language or behaviour that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.
  4. A code of conduct for employees of all organisations and a declaration was signed by them agreeing to ensure the safety of

Easy Reporting

  1. Institutions should also designate a staff member to ensure that procedures are in place to ensure the protection of children as well as to report any abuse.
  2. Any individual who suspects physical, sexual or emotional abuse must report it to the helpline number 1098, police or a child welfare committee.

What’s not included?

  1. Unlike the NCP, 2013, the latest draft doesn’t talk about children who may need additional special protection measures.
  2. It doesn’t include protecting those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS.
  3. It also doesn’t talk about the role of the state for ensuring the protection of child rights or addressing local grievances.

What’s more needed?

  1. A policy has four aspects — creating awareness, prevention, reporting and responding.
  2. This draft policy needs to go into all these aspects, especially a reporting structure involving various nodal bodies and a monitoring mechanism for implementation of the guidelines.
  3. Moreover, while it talks about organisations laying down a code of conduct, it doesn’t explain what is acceptable behaviour such as conduct of teachers in schools.
  4. The policy makers should use the opportunity to go beyond the role of institutions and look at the role of individuals.
  5. The norms should be designed in such a way that organisations can customize their policies according to the nature of their work, thereby, giving them a sense of ownership on safeguarding children’s rights.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Gender equality at work more than 200 years off: WEF

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: Statistical data mentioned in the newscard


News

  • Women may be shouting louder than ever for equal treatment and pay, but a World Economic Forum (WEF) report indicates it will take centuries to achieve gender parity in workplaces around the globe.

Global Gender Gap Report

  1. The Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum.
  2. It releases an Gender Gap Index designed to measure gender equality.
  3. The index  ranks countries according to calculated gender gap between women and men in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
  4. The report measures women’s disadvantage compared to men, and is not strictly a measure of equality.

Highlights of 2018 Report

  1. At current rates, the global gender gap across a range of areas will not close for another 108 years, while it is expected to take 202 years to close the workplace gap, WEF found.
  2. After years of advances in education, health and political representation, women registered setbacks in all three areas this year, WEF said.
  3. Only in the area of economic opportunity did the gender gap narrow somewhat, although there is not much to celebrate, with the global wage gap narrowing to nearly 51%.
  4. And the number of women in leadership roles has risen to 34% globally, WEF said.
  5. The report said there had been some improvements in wage equality this year compared to 2017, when the global gender gap widened for the first time in a decade.

Impact of Automation and AI

  1. The report showed that there are now proportionately fewer women than men participating in the workforce, suggesting that automation is having a disproportionate impact on jobs traditionally performed by women.
  2. And women are significantly under-represented in growing areas of employment that require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, WEF said.
  3. It decried the particularly low participation of women within the artificial intelligence field, where they make up just 22% of the workforce.
  4. This gap is three times larger than in other industry talent pools.
  5. Women in AI are less likely to be positioned in senior roles

Global Scenario

  1. For instance, while Western European countries could close their gender gaps within 61 years, countries in the Middle East and North Africa will take 153 years.
  2. Overall, the Nordic countries once again dominated the top of the table: men and women were most equal in Iceland, followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.
  3. Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.
  4. Among the world’s 20 leading economies, France fared the best, taking 12th place overall, followed by Germany in 14th place, Britain in 15th, Canada in 16th and South Africa in 19th.
  5. The US continued its decline, slipping two places to 51st, with the report in particular blaming a decrease in gender parity in ministerial-level positions.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Volcano erupts in Indonesia

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mount Soputan

Mains level: Volcanic eruptions and Plate Tectonics Theory


News

Mount Soputan erupts

  1. A volcano, Mount Soputan has erupted in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province spewing a column of ash measuring 7.5 km to the sky.
  2. Soputan is a small stratovolcano that rises to an elevation of 1,784m (5,853 ft).
  3. The cone is made of andesite and basalt rock.
  4. The volcano is one of Sulawesi’s most active, with 39 confirmed eruptions in the last 600 years.
  5. It is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia which lies on a vulnerable quake-hit zone called “the Pacific Ring of Fire”.

Pacific Ring of Fire

  1. The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
  2. In a large 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements.
  3. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes).
  4. About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.
  5. The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics: the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates, especially subduction in the northern portion.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: Time for Techplomacy

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Telecommunication Union

Mains level: The trend of techplomacy and changes required in India’s foreign policy


Context

Technology usage in diplomacy

  1. As a far more sweeping technological revolution envelops the world today, governments are finding new ways to adapt
  2. Whether it is in using social media to influence public opinion at home and abroad, conducting espionage on other states, securing one’s critical infrastructure against foreign interference, setting terms for cross-border data flows, governing the internet, countering terrorism, or preventing the militarization of Artificial Intelligence, all major governments are reorganising their diplomatic mechanisms
  3. To enhance the effectiveness of its voice in the new domain, France appointed a full time “digital ambassador” in 2017
  4. Denmark has set up offices of “TechPlomacy” in Silicon Valley, Copenhagen and Beijing
  5. A major part of their mandate is to deal with technology giants like Google, Facebook and Alibaba and Huawei
  6. India too needs to review and reorganise its technology diplomacy

History of technology usage in foreign policy

  1. The slow pace of long-distance communication until the 19th century meant that ambassadors acted on their own
  2. Because they had no way to get frequent instructions from the sovereign, they were conferred with the title “ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary” and given the full authority to negotiate with the sovereigns to whom they were accredited
  3. The communications revolution ended the age of the aristocrat diplomat and turned the envoy and his staff into professional bureaucracies run from the governments at home
  4. Beyond the process of diplomacy, the envoys had to deal with the substantive impact of new communications technologies on international affairs
  5. In finding ways to facilitate wireless communication across territorial borders, major nations negotiated the establishment of the International Telegraph Union in 1865 that would later become the International Telecommunication Union
  6. The ITU is one of the oldest international organisations

Changing roles 

  1. As the impact of science and technology on the world expanded, diplomats had to go beyond their traditional focus on negotiating peace pacts and territorial settlements
  2. Over the last century, the diplomatic mandate on science and technology has ranged from chemical weapons to climate change and naval arms limitation to nuclear proliferation

India’s journey in technological adoption

  1. Due to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s deep commitment to the creation of national technical capabilities through international cooperation, technology diplomacy became an important priority for independent India’s foreign policy
  2. But Delhi’s so-called “peaceful nuclear explosion” in 1974 resulted in an expanding regime of technology sanctions against India
  3. As Delhi reconnected to the world and embarked on a high growth path in the 1990s, options opened up for ending the international technology blockade against India
  4. In two decades of productive diplomacy, built around the historic civil nuclear initiative with the US, Delhi has largely completed India’s integration with the international non-proliferation regime
  5. From being a major target of technology sanctions, it is now part of the community that sets the rules for international transfers of sensitive technologies

Way forward

  1. The nuclear problem that Delhi had to address through the second half of the 20th century might pale into insignificance with the kind of challenges that the new technological revolution presents
  2. The nuclear revolution affected only a small fraction of India’s economy and security
  3. The current technological transformations, especially in the digital and genetic domains, will have far-reaching consequences for India’s economy, society, politics and international relations
  4. The challenges and opportunities presented by the unfolding technological revolution are too important to be left to individual departments and ministries
  5. What India needs is a “whole-of-government” approach to technology diplomacy led by the Prime Minister’s Office
Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[op-ed snap] Making every citizen an auditor

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of social audits


Context

Social audits in India

  1. Social audits show how people’s participation in the planning, execution and monitoring of public programmes leads to better outcomes
  2. They have strengthened the role of the gram sabha
  3. Social audits were first mandated by law in 2005 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
  4. Subsequently, Parliament, the Supreme Court and many Central ministries mandated them in other areas as well
  5. Following a sustained push from the Rural Development Ministry, the CAG and civil society organisations, social audit units (SAUs) have been established in 26 States (Rajasthan, Haryana and Goa are yet to establish them)

Shortcomings in implementation

  1. The governing bodies of most SAUs are not independent
  2. Some SAUs have to obtain sanction from the implementation agency before spending funds
  3. More than half the States have not followed the open process specified in the standards for the appointment of the SAU’s director
  4. Some States have conducted very few audits and a few have not conducted any
  5. Several do not have adequate staff to cover all the panchayats even once a year
  6. The action taken by the State governments in response to the social audit findings has been extremely poor

What needs to be done?

  1. In 2017, the Supreme Court mandated social audits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to be conducted using the machinery that facilitates the social audits of MGNREGA
  2. Social audits of the NFSA have failed to take off due to lack of funds
  3. Like the Rural Development Ministry, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution should give funds to the SAUs and ask them to facilitate the social audits of the NFSA
  4. Social audit units should have an independent governing body and adequate staff
  5. Rules must be framed so that implementation agencies are mandated to play a supportive role in the social audit process and take prompt action on the findings
  6. Also, a real-time management information system should track the calendar, the social audit findings and the action taken, and reports on these should be made publicly available
  7. The CAG as an institution could partner with local citizens and state audit societies to train them, build capacities and issue advisories on framing of guidelines, developing criteria, methodology and reporting for audit

Way forward

  1. Social audit processes need mentoring and support as they expand into newer programmes
  2. Social audits in India need to become an integral and robust part of the formal audit process
MGNREGA Scheme

[op-ed snap] Right prescription: the ban on retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Oxytocin

Mains level: Flaws in the framing of health policies in India and the need of making the system better


Context

HC lifts the ban on the sale of oxytocin

  1. In a crucial development that exposes the flaws in health policy-making in the country, the Delhi High Court quashed a government ban on the retail sale and private manufacture of oxytocin
  2. Notified by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in April, the ban referred to a 2016 Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment, which discussed oxytocin’s misuse in dairy cattle, fruits and vegetables

Importance of Oxytocin

  1. Oxytocin is a life-saving drug used to stem post-partum bleeding among new mothers
  2. Because of this, it had been listed by both the World Health Organization and the Health Ministry as an essential medicine
  3. Around 45,000 women die from post-partum complications in India each year, and in 38% of the cases the reason is haemorrhaging
  4. Without the easy availability of inexpensive oxytocin, efforts to stem the maternal mortality epidemic could have suffered a costly setback

HC observations

  1. The court found that the government had failed to weigh the danger the ban posed to thousands of young mothers
  2. What is more, it had failed to show that the drug was widely misused for veterinary purposes, the purported reason behind the order
  3. The most damning observation in the judgment is that the Centre focussed on the health of milch animals, without considering the well-being of women
  4. This was despite the fact that all statutory bodies, including the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, had advised against a ban

Way forward

  1. It is time for a post-mortem of how health policy is made, because that is the only way to safeguard the right to health of Indian citizens
Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

[pib] Bhasha Sangam Programme

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bhasha Sangam

Mains level:  Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat Programme


News

  • The Department of School Education & Literacy has initiated Bhasha Sangam Programme to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages

Bhasha Sangam Programme

  1. The Bhasha Sangam is an initiative under the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ which aims to make the students aware about the unique cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of our country.
  2. In order to celebrate the unique characteristic of our country, Bhasha Sangam provides an opportunity to schools and educational institution to provide multilingual exposure to students in Indian Languages.
  3. The objective is to familiarize every child with simple dialogues in all the 22 languages under Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
  4. They will be taking up one language on each working day, to enhance linguistic tolerance and promote national integration.
  5. The initiative has been widely received and accepted by States and UTs in very positive manner and schools are introducing five simple and commonly used sentences as per the convenience of students.

Lingual provisions

  1. Section 29(2)(F) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 states that “medium of instruction shall, as far as practicable, be in child’s mother tongue”.
  2. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 emphasises the importance of imparting primary education in the mother tongue of the child.
  3. Since education is in the Concurrent List, States have the liberty to decide the medium of instruction in schools.

Three Language Formula

  1. The NCF also states that the ‘Three Language Formula’ is an attempt to address the challenges and opportunities of the linguistic situation in India.
  2. As per the ‘Three Language Formula’ the first language to be studied, must be the mother tongue or the regional language.
  3. In the case of Hindi speaking States, children learn a language not spoken in their area.
  4. Sanskrit may also be studied as a modern Indian language in addition to these languages.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[pib] Expansion of beneficiaries list under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: Success of Ujjwala Yojana


News

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the proposal to release deposit free LPG connections to poor families, who have not been considered earlier under PMUY on account of their names not been covered in Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • Poor families who could not get LPG connection under PMUY are now eligible to get a connection subject to fulfilling the eligibility norms and furnishing required documents.

New beneficiaries will include:

  • SC/STs households
  • Beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin),
  • Beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana(AAY),
  • Forest dwellers,
  • Most Backward Classes (MBC),
  • Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes,
  • People residing in Islands / river islands

Back2Basics

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  1. PMUY is a welfare scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to families below the poverty line, guided by the strong commitment to bring about changes in the life of poor women and also protect their health
  2. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is used to identify the beneficiaries (adult woman of a BPL family) and is given a deposit free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs.1600 per connection by the centre
  3. This scheme will help prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] IMPRESS scheme launched to promote Social Science Research in the country

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IMPRESS, RISE 2022

Mains level:  Facilitating research in India through various mechanisms


News

Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS)

  1. The Government of India, in August 2018, had sanctioned the scheme IMPRESS at a total cost of Rs. 414 Cr for implementation up to 2021.
  2. Under the Scheme, 1500 research projects will be awarded for 2 years to support the social science research in the higher educational institutions and to enable research to guide policy making.
  3. The Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) will be the project implementing agency.
  4. The broad objectives of the scheme are:
  • To identify and fund research proposals in social sciences with maximum impact on the governance and society.
  • To focus research on (11) broad thematic areas such as : State and Democracy, Urban transformation, Media, Culture and Society, Employment, Skills and Rural transformation , Governance, Innovation and Public Policy, Growth, etc.
  • To ensure selection of projects through a transparent, competitive process on online mode.
  • To provide opportunity for social science researchers in any institution in the country, including all Universities (Central and State), private institutions with 12(B) status conferred by UGC.
  • ICSSR funded/ recognized research institutes will also be eligible to submit research proposals on the given themes and sub-themes.

Recent developments for Credit Facilitation

  1. The Government has approved Revitalizing Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE), as per which the scope of institutions to be funded through Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) has been enlarged.
  2. These will encompass School Education and Medical Education institutions, apart from Higher Education.
  3. There is an window of financing for school and medical education institutions where the sponsoring Department would undertake to repay the principal and interest to HEFA.
  4. All funds for educational infrastructure in centrally funded educational institutions will henceforth be in the form of ten year loans through HEFA to the institution.
  5. The interest liability of which would be borne by the Government.
  6. The principal repayment would be undertaken by the institutions in part or full depending on their age profile and financial capability.
  7. For new institutions and those which have limited internal fund generating capacity, the entire principal and interest repayment would be undertaken by the Government.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

India Post’s e-commerce portal aims to boost parcel business network

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-commerce Regulation in India

Mains level: Providing e-market place for various groups of entrepreneurs.


News

  • Leveraging its parcel business network, India Post has announced the soft launch of its e-commerce portal.

Particulars of the Portal

  1. The primary objective is to provide a medium to sell products for small artisans and anyone who wants to sell their product can sell on the site.
  2. Unlike other e-commerce players, the India Post service will be able to pick up and deliver products in over 1.5 lakh places through its well spread out network.
  3. The products will be shipped through the postal department’s Speed Post service.
  4. A separate parcel directorate has been formed which is empowered to decide on the rates of parcel and other related issues.
  5. The Portal will provide an e-market place to sellers especially to rural artisans, self-help groups, women entrepreneurs, state and central PSUs, autonomous bodies to sell their products to buyers across the country.

Other initiatives

  1. The Minister also launched the internet banking facility for Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) customers who are under Core Banking Solution.
  2. Around 17 crore POSB accounts will be intra-operable and customers can also transfer funds online to RD (Recurring Deposit) and PPF (Public Provident Fund) accounts of post offices/

Why such move?

  1. The Department of Posts has been focussing on the e-commerce sector to increase its revenue receipts.
  2. The Department facilitates has collected and remitted more than Rs 27 billion under cash on-delivery till January 2018 since its introduction in December 2013.
  3. The ongoing e-commerce business segment has resulted in an increase of 13 per cent revenue of India Post in the 2017-18.
e-Commerce: The New Boom

NASA’s HiRISE photographs Mars InSight lander from space

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: HiRISE

Mains level: Importance of the Mars mission


News

  • NASA has pinpointed the exact landing location of its newly launched InSight lander, using a powerful camera onboard another of the agency’s spacecraft, hovering around the Red Planet.

After InSight’s landing

  1. On November 26, InSight landed within a 130 km ellipse at Elysium Planitia on Mars.
  2. However, there was no way to determine exactly where it touched down within this region.
  3. InSight was set to study the interior of Mars, and will explore valuable science as NASA prepares to send astronauts to the Moon and later to Mars.
  4. The spacecraft will operate on the surface for one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days, or sols, until November 24, 2020.

HiRISE

  1. The HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) aboard Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spotted Martian landscape and ground around the lander.
  2. It released three new features on the Martian landscape, which appear to be teal.
  3. However, it is not their actual colour, but light reflected off their surfaces caused the colour to be saturated.
  4. The ground around the lander appears dark, having been blasted by its retro-rockets during descent.

Back2Basics

InSight Mars Mission

  • Please navigate to the page:

Nasa Mars InSight blasts off from California Air Base to check on ‘Marsquakes’

International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

India, Nepal, Bhutan plan joint task force to protect wildlife

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kanchenjunga Landscape

Mains level: Regional collaboration for Wildlife Conservation


News

  • The governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan are actively considering having a joint task force for allowing free movement of wildlife across political boundaries and checking smuggling of wildlife across the Kanchenjunga Landscape.

About Kanchenjunga Landscape

  1. The Kanchenjunga Landscape is a trans-boundary region spread across Nepal, India and Bhutan.
  2. The landscape stretches along the southern side of Mount Kanchenjunga covers an area of 25,080 sq km spread across parts of eastern Nepal (21%), Sikkim and West Bengal (56%) and western and south-western parts of Bhutan (23%).
  3. Other than seven million people, the Kanchenjunga Landscape is also home to 169 species of mammals and 713 species of birds.
  4. The trio is setting up a joint task force in the road map on achieving the objectives of free movement of wildlife and checking smuggling of wildlife.

Why such move?

  1. According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) 1,118 sq km of riverine grassland and tree cover were lost in the landscape between 2000 and 2010.
  2. 74 % of the area was converted into rangeland and 26% to agricultural land.
  3. Studies by the ICIMOD suggest that between 1986 and 2015, as many as 425 people were killed by elephants and 144 elephants were killed between 1958 and 2013.
  4. Every few months there are cases of elephants, rhino and gaurs and other mammals crossing over political boundaries, triggering panic among locals across the border and also posing danger to the wildlife.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Lok Sabha passes Transgender Persons Bill with 27 changes

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Definition of Trans-gender

Mains level: Upholding fundamental as well as human rights of transgender community


News

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Bill to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under law through a voice vote.

Background

  1. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, was passed with 27 amendments introduced by the government.
  2. Work on the Bill has been going on since 2015.
  3. The Bill had gone to the standing committee, and as many as 27 amendments have been accepted by the government.
  4. Whatever other suggestions are there will be incorporated in the rules of the Act.
  5. The Supreme Court, in the landmark April 2014 NALSA judgment, had issued a directive “to extend all kinds of reservations in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments” by treating transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes.
  6. They were to be given reservations under the 27 per cent OBC quota, a suggestion that was also endorsed by the National Commission for Backward Classes in its recommendations to the Social Justice Ministry in 2014.

Re-definition of Trans-persons

  1. The amendments passed include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female nor wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.
  2. The new definition terms a transgender person as one “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta”.

Gender Certificate

  1. The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee.
  2. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.
  3. It is very unclear what the term ‘self-perceived gender identity’ entails and how it will be enforced.

Issues surrounding the Bill

  1. Several civil society groups have been vocal about their opposition to the Bill.
  2. The Bill disregards many of their suggestions as also some of the crucial points raised by the standing committee report of July 2017.
  3. This includes the right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee.
  4. The panel had also pointed out that the Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.

A liberal perspective on Trans People

  1. The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience.
  2. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
  3. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

Criticisms of the Bill

  1. The Bill so passed has prescribed punishments for organised begging.
  2. Trans youth who don’t find jobs join their gurus in begging due to systematic discrimination in education, job, and healthcare.
  3. This Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.
  4. It upholds lighter consequences for discrimination and assault on trans people compared to cis-gender people.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] No time left to waste on waste

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bioremediation

Mains level: Issues related to waste management and how to tackle this problem seeing urbanization trend in India


Context

Waste management problem in Delhi

  1. Delhi’s garbage woes have been hurtling towards some sort of an endgame ever since a portion of the landfill at Ghazipur, on the city’s eastern edge, collapsed onto an adjoining road and buried two people in September 2017
  2. A temporary ban on dumping at the site was immediately announced, but the Ghazipur garbage mountain is already nearly as tall as the Qutub Minar, as the Supreme Court caustically observed recently
  3. With the quest for another dumpsite going nowhere (as nobody wants a mound of garbage next to their neighbourhood), there is no clarity yet on what to do with the thousands of tonnes of solid waste Delhi generates every day

Garbage problem set to rise

  1. The impasse in Delhi is a reflection of India’s troubling relationship with waste
  2. India’s cities already generate over 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day, with Mumbai being the world’s fifth most wasteful city
  3. The waste heaps that dot the edges of India’s cities are set to double in size by 2025
  4. Only one-third of the waste undergoes even rudimentary treatment, according to the urban ministry and hardly any of it is segregated, which would make processing easier
  5. As India’s economic growth accelerates, the garbage problem would only get bigger, unless immediate solutions are found to delink growth from garbage generation
  6. According to the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, cities are already beginning to run out of land on which to dump their waste and have begun throwing it in the backyards of smaller towns, suburbs and villages
  7. Thus, garbage may soon become a flashpoint that sets off recurrent conflict across the urban landscape

How India plans to deal with the waste?

  1. The only big national idea on offer has been to incinerate or burn the garbage. That is what the NITI Aayog had proposed in its medium-term three-year vision for the country, which was released in August 2017
  2. By burning the waste, a small amount of energy could also be produced, at least in theory
  3. Currently, about 3% of urban India’s daily garbage output gets fed into waste-to-energy incinerators
  4. A minuscule amount of energy is generated, but there has been very little debate on whether incinerators work in the Indian context

Problems with incineration

  1. Unlike the Western world, a large chunk of India’s waste is still organic kitchen waste—almost 40% of the total volume
  2. Since segregation of waste is yet to become a reality, incineration is a highly inefficient solution
  3. In the Indian context, there is also very little certainty on whether the harmful gases, which are a byproduct of incineration, are adequately contained and treated

Using bioremediation

  1. Apart from incineration, the other big idea that several cities have tried is bioremediation, which effectively involves the use of living micro-organisms to degrade the contaminants in a landfill into less toxic forms
  2. While the technology is somewhat effective in dealing with existing landfills, in an ideal future, the waste processing chain should abolish the need for a landfill to begin with
  3. Various Indian cities have set on aim to build a “zero landfill” city
  4. Segregation and composting are a big part of the mix of solutions that are being implemented
  5. Their experience in inducing collective action among ordinary citizens to segregate waste may hold important lessons for India’s large cities

Way forward

  1. Global examples show that the national mood changes under the influence of an adequate trigger, which makes a radical change in collective behaviour possible
  2. When PM Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, the hope was that it would serve as India’s trigger. Four years down the line, nothing much has changed
  3. Indians should start demanding clean and healthy cities as a basic right and governments must step up and deliver that basic human need
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] The spectre of deportation

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Mains level: How NRC process can impact India-Bangladesh ties


Context

NRC date extended

  1. The last date for filing claims and objections for Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been extended by the Supreme Court to December 31, from December 15
  2. This exercise of compiling the NRC in the first place has sparked a debate around its political, economic and humanitarian consequences, and its implications for India’s relationship with its neighbours, particularly Bangladesh

Are illegal immigrants only in India?

  1. There are legal as well as illegal Indian immigrants in Bangladesh too
  2. According to the latest available Bangladesh government estimates of 2009, more than 500,000 Indians were working in Bangladesh

Importance of Bangladeshi remittances

  1. Bangladesh was reported to be among the highest source of remittances to India, behind the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K.
  2. Many Indian citizens are securing coveted employment opportunities in Bangladesh through multinational companies, non-governmental organisations, and trading activities
  3. To put things into perspective, most of them are employed in advantageous jobs in Bangladesh while Bangladeshis in India are largely employed in low-paying jobs

Bangladesh’s silent reluctance

  1. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the Bangladesh government that those excluded from the NRC will not be deported, Dhaka has so far been silent on the issue, terming it as an ‘internal matter of India’
  2. This is seen as a signal that Bangladesh, already stretched in terms of resources and manpower to host Rohingya refugees, would not be acceding to a request of taking back Bengali-speaking Muslims in case deportation is initiated

Neighbourhood first policy in shambles- China Effect

  1. PM Modi came to power with proclamation of a ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Midway in the final year of his term, the reality speaks quite differently
  2. Nepal, once a time-tested ally, has tilted towards China since the 2015 Nepal blockade barring the entry of fuel, medicine and other vital supplies and holding the state to a literal siege
  3. Nepal now has been given access to four Chinese ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang in addition to its dry (land) ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse, as well as roads to these facilities, ending India’s monopoly to its trading routes
  4. The India-Bhutan relationship has also been strained ever since India temporarily withdrew subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene in 2013, constraining bilateral ties
  5. The Doklam stand-off in the summer of 2017 reinforced Bhutan’s scepticism towards Chinese expansionist plans across the region
  6. Simultaneously, Thimphu has been underlining the landlocked kingdom’s aspiration to affirm its sovereignty
  7. It has, for instance, stepped out of India’s diplomatic influence, as evidenced by its withdrawal from the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement
  8. The India-China power play has also cast its shadow over Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the last few years

Bangladesh’s importance

  1. Against this backdrop of China making inroads into South Asia and India’s backyard, Bangladesh has so far been the most trusted ally of India
  2. On the security front, it has cooperated in India’s crackdown on insurgents
  3. Annual bilateral trade is set to cross the $9 billion mark, making it India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia
  4. In addition, Bangladesh has facilitated connectivity with the Northeast by allowing the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports
  5. However, the Teesta water-sharing issue remains unaddressed, non-tariff barriers on Bangladeshi exports persist and border killings are yet to become a thing of the past

Way forward

  1. The NRC issue threatens to disturb the equilibrium in India-Bangladesh ties
  2. Plans for deportation of those not on the NRC list are not only politically imprudent but also risk inciting unrest across the region
  3. Previous similar exercises have not been effective and only resulted in alienating individuals from their natural rights
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

Navy to helm centre on maritime security

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IFC-IOR

Mains level: Enhancing maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region


News

  • The Indian Navy will formally inaugurate the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) this week.

Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

  1. The IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
  2. The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
  3. IMAC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  4. All countries that have already signed white shipping information exchange agreements with us, about 21 of them, are IFC partners.

Benefits of IFC

  1. With the launch of the IFC, countries now have the option of positioning liaison officers at the IFC.
  2. Through this Centre, information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.
  3. Establishment of the IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.

Maritime network

  1. In a related development, India has signed the ascension agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) which facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas.
  2. Such multilateral agreements are necessitated due to the large traffic in the Indian Ocean which cannot be entirely monitored by any one nation.
  3. The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

AIS systems on ships

  1. The information is available primarily through the Automatic Identification System (AIS) fitted on merchant ships with more than 300 gross registered tonnages as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation.
  2. The AIS information comprises name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, destination and so on.
  3. This information can be picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite based receivers.
Indian Navy Updates