September 2018
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[op-ed snap] Why India should let the Rupee fall

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Exchange rate economics & India’s exchange rate management system


Context

Falling value of the rupee

  1. The Indian rupee has been sliding against the U.S. dollar in recent days as emerging markets come under pressure
  2. That’s made the currency one of Asia’s worst performers, losing 12 percent this year

Effects of falling value on economy

  1. Currency depreciation will have an impact on corporate balance sheets
  2. India’s currency-derivative markets, with many restrictions and limited liquidity, make hedging quite expensive, so these companies are now exposed
  3. India imports about 80 percent of its petroleum needs, a factor only complicated by the country’s exorbitant domestic taxes on fuel — almost 100 percent on gasoline and 60 percent to 70 percent on diesel
  4. This means that when the rupee depreciates, the exchange-rate pass through to fuel prices and, as a result, the rest of the economy, is high

Steps that RBI can take

  1. The central bank has more than $400 billion in reserves at its disposal and it could intervene in foreign-exchange markets by selling dollars
  2. It could raise interest rates, a move justified by the currency weakness, higher oil prices and the latest above-target inflation data
  3. It can also raise dollars by borrowing from non-resident Indians

Previous measures and their impacts

  1. The RBI has used these instruments in the past but rupee fared worse than all other emerging-market currencies
  2. Currency and derivatives markets, money and credit markets, and high costs of borrowing all hurt the economy in subsequent months

A new way to manage the exchange rate

  1. RBI has continued to manage the rupee carefully
  2. This was achieved by reducing the size of the rupee-dollar derivatives market, which made its intervention more effective and then buying rupees forward
  3. By doing this, while the real exchange rate of the rupee appreciated, the currency didn’t weaken in line with India’s higher inflation

How is rupee depreciation beneficial?

  1. A weaker currency helps export growth, which has been weak in recent years
  2. A weaker rupee would also offset competition of cheap imports from countries like China, which could give domestic industries a much-needed boost
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

[op-ed snap] Saving the world by capturing emissions

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: New methodologies available for carbon capture and their usefulness in India


Context

Reducing carbon emissions

  1. Despite the growth of carbon emissions in 2017, we can limit the increase in global temperature
  2. To do so, we must not only reduce carbon emissions but also find a way of capturing existing emissions

Need for reducing carbon emissions

  1. Even if we miraculously stop emitting any carbon today, the planet will still undergo an average temperature increase of 0.6 degree Celsius because of the sheer amount of carbon already present in the atmosphere and oceans
  2. The hottest year on record without an El Nino event was 2017, with the average global temperature being one degree Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels
  3. The aim of the Paris agreement to limit the increase in average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius in the short term and 1.5 degrees Celsius, in the long run, is now under serious threat

Renewable energy a ray of hope

  1. Global renewables-based electricity generation increased by 6.3% in 2017, now meeting a quarter of the world’s energy demand growth
  2. At the same time, the cost of such resources is falling rapidly
  3. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates suggest that the global average cost of electricity generated from new onshore wind and solar photovoltaic sources already matches the cost of fossil fuel-fired electricity
  4. Continuous technology improvements and competitive procurement practices mean that the cost of these renewables will become significantly cheaper than fossil fuel sources by 2020

Shifting from oil-based to electricity based logistics

  1. Steady progress is also being made to shift the oil-dependent transport sector towards renewable options
  2. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that the number of electric vehicles rose from 1.98 million in 2016 to 3.11 million in 2017, an increase of more than 54%
  3. If battery costs continue to fall and countries implement policies that spur investment and help manufacturers achieve economies of scale this figures may keep rising

Using carbon capture technologies

  1. The capturing and storage of CO2 from coal plants can capture emissions quickly and safely
  2. It has floundered in the past, despite the technology being available because there is no market for stored CO2
  3. It can be promoted by:
  • Actively promoting innovations and technologies that facilitate the safe re-utilization, rather than just the storage, of CO2, thereby creating incentives for private investment
  • Appropriately valuing the social benefit of decarbonization and reducing the costs borne by CO2 storage companies accordingly
  • Adopting best practices from successful global CO2 capture programmes to develop the expertise needed

Seweed farming also a good prospect

  1. Farmed seaweed, with its exceptional ability to capture CO2 from the oceans and produce bio-digested methane which can be substituted for natural gas, can play a substantive role in reducing carbon emissions
  2. The relatively low production cost, the speed at which seaweed grows, the vast potential of the Indian coastline and the subsidies and grants offered by the government, are strong incentives for private sector expansion into seaweed farming

Way Forward

  1. With our future hanging in the balance, 2018–2020 is a critical time for countries to peak and then flatten their emissions trajectory, while simultaneously implementing ambitious solutions for reducing them at a pace
  2. Setting ambitious goals, scaling up infant technologies and fostering markets for capturing emissions will be key to mitigate climate change
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[op-ed snap] Cloudy forecast: on climate change

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies & ice-caps) & in flora & fauna & the effects of such changes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNFCCC, Paris agreement

Mains level: India’s commitments to UNFCCC and steps being taken to fulfil them


Context

Recent UNFCCC review meeting

  1. The conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bangkok last week ran into predictable difficulties over the issue of raising funds to help poorer nations
  2. This conference was aimed at drafting a rulebook for the Paris Agreement ahead of a crucial international conference in Poland in December
  3. Some developed countries led by the U.S. — which, under the Trump administration, has rejected the agreement — are unwilling to commit to sound rules on raising climate finance

Paris summit commitments

  1. Under the pact concluded in Paris, rich countries pledged to raise $100 billion a year by 2020
  2. This was to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aid populations to cope with extreme events such as floods, droughts and storms

Developed nations refusing responsibility

  1. By trying to stall climate justice to millions of poor people in vulnerable countries, the developed nations are refusing to accept their responsibility for historical emissions of GHGs
  2. Those emissions raised living standards for their citizens but contributed heavily to the accumulated carbon dioxide burden, now measured at about 410 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, up from 280 ppm before the industrial revolution

Impact of climate change

  1. If scientific estimates are correct, the damage already done to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is set to raise sea levels
  2. A 2° Celsius rise will also destabilise the Greenland Ice Sheet
  3. Failed agriculture in populous countries will drive more mass migrations of people, creating conflict

Role of India, China & other developing nations

  1. China and India have committed themselves to a cleaner growth path
  2. India, which reported annual CO2 equivalent emissions of 2.136 billion tonnes in 2010 to the UNFCCC two years ago, estimates that the GHG emissions intensity of its GDP has declined by 12% for the 2005-2010 period
  3. China and India have the responsibility for climate leadership in the developing world and have to green their growth

Way Forward

  1. Obstructing the transition to a carbon-neutral pathway and preserving the status quo is short-sighted, simply because the losses caused by weather events are proving severely detrimental to all economies
  2. Developing countries need a supportive framework in the form of a rulebook that binds the developed countries to their funding pledges, provides support for capacity building and transfer of green technologies on liberal terms
  3. This is the time for the world’s leaders to demonstrate that they are ready to go beyond expediency and take the actions needed to avert long-term catastrophe
Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

Heritage tag for 2 irrigation facilities in Telangana

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation & irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICID, HIS, Ana-katta, Pedda-Cheruvu

Mains level: Irrigation systems in India


News

Context

The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) has accepted Telangana’s nomination of Sadarmatt anicut across river Godavari in Nirmal district and Pedda Cheruvu in Kamareddy district in the ICID Register of Heritage Irrigation Structures (HIS).

Sadarmatt anicut

  1. The HIS award is a deserving recognition to this irrigation facility which has provided precious water for paddy crops in its designed ayacut of 13,100 acres since its construction in 1891-92.
  2. It has also served as a picnic spot for people from an area which may not be as vast its catchment area of nearly 40,000 sq miles but is spread over old undivided Adilabad, Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts.
  3. The anicut, which is English word for Telugu’s ana-katta, meaning a rainfall bund, was built by Nawab Ikbal-ud-Dowla who bore the tile of Vicar-ul-Umrah Bahadur in 1891-92 about 50 km downstream of the Sri Ram Sagar Project (SRSP).
  4. Ottley was the engineer and Khanapur was a jagir of the Nawabs during the rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad.
  5. Sadarmatt bund is 437.4 m long on its left flank and 23.8 m on its right flank.
  6. The left canal is 21.5 km long while the right canal is 10 km and the distributory is 12 km in length irrigating 5,700 acres, 3,400 acres and 4,000 acres respectively.

Pedda Cheruvu

  1. The Pedda Cheruvu (big tank in Telugu) located on the outskirts of this district headquarters town is spread over an area of 618 acres.
  2. It was built in 1897 during the rule of Mir Mahaboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad State.
  3. It has a 1.8-km-long tank bund and 145-metre weir and three sluices. It’s catchment area is spread over 68.97 sq. km.
  4. With a capacity of 0.175 tmcft it provides water for irrigation to over 900 acres in Kamareddy, Sarampally, Narsampally and old Rajampet.
  5. It also provides drinking water for residents of the area.
  6. Womenfolk play Bathukamma during the Navaratrotsavalu on its bund and immerse them in its waters.
  7. This tank was taken up under the second round of Mission Kakatiya to be developed as a mini tank bund with an estimated outlay of ₹ 6.6 crore.

Back2Basics

International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID)

  1. The ICID is a Technical and Voluntary Not-for-profit, International NGO, dedicated to enhance the world-wide supply of food and fibre for all people by improving water and land management, and the productivity of irrigated and drained lands.
  2. The ICID By-laws have been enacted its International Executive Council for the due implementation of the provisions of the Constitution of the Commission.
  3. It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  4. ICID has been involved in the global discussions leading to Agenda 21, World Water Vision, World Water Forums etc., which have become the focal point of several of its technical activities.
  5. In recognition of its significant contribution to the programs and objectives of International Year of Peace proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, on 15 September 1987 ICID was designated as a Peace Messenger by the UN Secretary General.
Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Limit for filing cases in Debt Recovery Tribunal doubled

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DRT

Mains level:  Resolving NPAs


News

Reducing Pendency in DRTs

  1. The central government has raised the pecuniary limit from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for filing application for recovery of debts in the Debts Recovery Tribunals by such banks and financial institutions.
  2. The move is aimed at helping reduce pendency of cases in the 39 DRTs in the country.
  3. As a result, no bank or financial institution or a consortium of banks or financial institutions can approach the DRTs if the amount due is less than Rs 20 lakh.

NPAs on decline

  1. According to RBI data on global operations (as on March 2018), an aggregate amount of Rs 3,98,671 crore was written off by banks over the last four financial years.
  2. Over the same period, their NPAs declined by Rs 2, 57,980 crore due to recoveries.

Mechanisms empowering Debt Recovery

  1. Banks and financial institutions recovery of dues takes place on an ongoing basis through legal mechanisms, which inter alia includes-
  • Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act
  • Recovery of Debts to Banks and Financial Institution (DRT) Act and Lok Adalats.
  1. The borrowers of such loans continue to be liable for repayment even when the loans have been removed from the balance sheet of the bank(s) concerned.
  2. To make the tribunals more effective and to facilitate disposal of debt recovery cases, the government has made several amendments in different laws, including the SARFAESI Act.

Back2Basics

Debts Recovery Tribunals

  1. Debt Recovery Tribunals were established to facilitate the debt recovery involving banks and other financial institutions with their customers.
  2. DRTs were set up after the passing of Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDBBFI), 1993.
  3. The Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) enforces provisions of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993 and also Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.
  4. Appeals against orders passed by DRTs lie before Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT).
  5. Section 3 of the RDDBFI Act empowers the Central government to establish DRTs.
  6. A DRT is presided over by a presiding officer who is appointed by the central govt. and who shall be qualified to be a District Judge; with tenure of 5 years or the age of 62, whichever is earlier.
  7. No court in the country other than the SC and the HCs and that too, only under articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution have jurisdiction over this matter.
NPA Crisis

UN Chief appeals for Ratification of CTBT to India and US

Image Source

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CTBT

Mains level: India’s track record in nuclear disarmament and its current position across various international groupings and organizations.


News

Context

  1. UN chief Antonio Guterres reiterated his appeal to eight nations, including India and the US, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
  2. More than 180 countries have signed the CTBT, and mostly ratified it.
  3. The treaty can only enter into force after it is ratified by eight countries with nuclear technology capacity i.e. China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

  1. The CTBT is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, for both civilian and military purposes, in all environments.
  2. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996 but has not entered into force as eight specific states have not ratified the treaty.

No enforcement since negotiation

  1. More than 20 years since its negotiation, the Treaty has yet to enter into force.
  2. The failure to bring the treaty into force prevents its full implementation and undermines its permanence in the international security architecture.

The Korean Deviance

  1. Since the turn of the century only the North Korea, has broken this norm, leading to condemnation from the Security Council and repeated imposition of sanctions.
  2. These tests have shown that no ad hoc measure can replace a global, legally binding ban on nuclear-testing.

India’s stance on CTBT

  1. India did not support the treaty in 1996 — and still does not — but it had been very supportive during negotiations.
  2. The roots of that exuberance can be traced to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous initiative in 1954 for a “standstill agreement” on nuclear testing.
  3. His intervention came at a time when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were detonating powerful nuclear weapons with increasing frequency.
  4. Nehru played an important role in building international momentum for the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which India joined.
  5. India has been observing a unilateral moratorium since 1998 and is a champion of nuclear disarmament.

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  1. On the annual observance of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, Guterres highlighted the inextricable connection” between testing and eliminating nuclear weapons across the world.
  2. He recalled the testimony of the survivors, the ‘Hibakusha.
  3. Hibakusha is the Japanese word for the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  4. The word literally translates as “explosion-affected people” and is used to refer to people who were exposed to radiation from the bombings.
Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

India, France to collaborate on Gaganyaan mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima Mission, CADMOS, MEDES.

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

Learning from French Experience

  1. CNES, the French space agency, is to share the experience it has acquired from the first French human spaceflights to Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima Mission for Gaganyaan in the field of crew transport.
  2. ISRO and CNES will be combining their expertise in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems.
  3. Engineering teams have already begun discussions and it is envisioned that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations.
  4. The MEDES space clinic will be used for training of future Indian astronauts, as well as exchange of specialist personnel.
  5. ISRO plans to conduct experiments on microgravity through its astronauts.

Other areas of cooperation

  1. French-Indian space cooperation spans in areas of climate monitoring, with a fleet of joint satellites devoted to research and operational applications, innovation, through a joint technical group tasked with inventing the launch vehicles of the future.
  2. The two also have plans to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Union HRD Ministry Inaugurates 4th World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA-2018)

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WOSA, NBA

Mains level: Enhancing competency of Higher Educational Institutions through best global practices of Accreditation.


News

Context

  1. Union Minister for HRD has inaugurated 4th World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA-2018) at New Delhi.
  2. Ministry highlighted that we need to cover each and every institution under accreditation but right now the number of accredited institutions is very less.
  3. Only 15% institutions come under accreditation and 85% institutions are still not coming for accreditation.

World Summit on Accreditation (WOSA) 2018

  1. It is a biennial Summit organised by NBA, which provides platform to stakeholders to share their knowledge and information on accreditation.
  2. NBA has already organised three Summits in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
  3. All these Summits were well attended (WOSA 2012 was attended by 800 participants, WOSA 2014 was attended by 850 participants and WOSA 2016 was attended by 800 participants).
  4. Continuing this tradition, NBA is organizing WOSA 2018 with focus on “CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN OUTCOME BASED ACCREDITATION”.
  5. The Summit will facilitate exchange of information on various challenges being faced during the transition between input-output based accreditation to outcome based accreditation.
  6. The discussion and global participation in WOSA 2018 will bring about new ideas and help in establishing new trends of identifying opportunities and challenges in professional and technical education world-wide.

Expected Outcomes

  1. WOSA 2018 is an opportunity for academia and the industry to explore avenues for future partnerships and to create an environment for open dialogue to facilitate mobility of students and professionals world-wide to gain international experience.
  2. The educational institutions will have an opportunity to interact with industry, policy makers and accreditation agencies from the globe and learn about their perspectives.
  3. It will also be a unique chance for the educational institutions to develop and fortify ties with the industry.
  4. Industry would be able to interact with educational institutions and accrediting agencies for exchanging views on their requirements of quality manpower and accreditation parameters.

Why less accredited institutions in India?

  1. It may be for two reasons first some institutions do not want to come under accreditation.
  2. And the second we have some restriction in our own accreditation mechanism.
  3. Hence government wants to increase the strength of NBA and NAAC so that more number of institutions can be accredited.

Importance of Ranking

  1. Ranking and rating increase competitiveness among institutions for better performance.
  2. Under NIRF every institute has constituted an internal committee to improve the ranking. Students also see institutions ranking before taking admission.
  3. The government wants to boost quality education in the country therefore every year it is closing some non-performing institutions.
  4. The Ministry is promoting expansion and autonomy of the institutions and benchmark for the same is quality. It has declared such Institutes of Eminence which are completely autonomous.

Back2Basics

National Board of Accreditation (NBA)

  1. The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) is an autonomous organisation under Ministry of Human Resource Development engaged in quality assurance of the programs offered by the professional and technical institutions in India through accreditation.
  2. NBA has been accorded Permanent Signatory Status of Washington Accord since June, 2014.
  3. It has adopted internationally implemented outcome based assessment and accreditation, to ensure that the graduates of the NBA accredited programs is globally competent and relevant.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.