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[op-ed snap] Silent revolution in the countryside

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of SBA, Swachh Survekshan

Mains level: The newscard discusses SBA achievements and shortcomings, in a brief manner.


Background

The Government of India had launched “Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)” on 2nd October, 2014 with the following objectives:-

  • Eliminate open defecation,
  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets,
  • Eradication of manual scavenging,
  • 100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste,
  • To bring about a behavioral change in people regarding healthy sanitation practices,
  • Generate awareness among the citizens about sanitation and its linkages with public health.
  • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems,
  • To create enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.

The Mission has following components:-

  • Construction of Household Toilets,
  • Community and Public Toilets,
  • Solid Waste Management,
  • Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness,
  • Capacity Building and Administrative & Office Expenses (A&OE).

HOW FAR HAS IT BEEN SUCCESSFUL

ACHIEVEMENTS

  1. Increased Coverage
  • Since October 2014, 91.5 million toilets have been constructed and 154.3 million rural households have toilets now.
  • Survey Conducted by the World Bank, the survey found that 77 per cent of households (between November 2017 and March 2018) had access to toilets (not the same as possessing individual household toilets) and 93.4 per cent of people who had access to toilets used them.
  1. Out of the 541,433 villages declared as ODF, 438,342 have been verified to be ODF. There can be a two part answer.
  2. First, that the 2017-18 survey again shows 95.6 per cent villages declared and verified as ODF continued to remain ODF. T
  3. here is some slippage, but not as much as one might have thought.
  4. Use of media and campaigns like “DarwazaBandh” have led to behavior change and public awareness of the need for sanitation.
  5. The Swachh Bharat urban and rural projects have set-off healthy competition among cities and districts.
  6. SHGs, NGOs and popular icons have pitched in and the results are showing in the form of a record number of sustainable toilets, open defecation-free towns, schools with gender specific toilets and decrease in water borne diseases in ODF villages and towns.
  7. Making functional toilets a compulsory qualification for contesting panchayat elections in Haryana and Rajasthan shows the determination to achieve the dream
  8. The dropout rate of females from schools and colleges is decreasing and those that had left have come to school after construction of toilets.
  9. The spread of communicable diseases has seen a downward trend in villages that have performed well in SBM.

SHORTCOMINGS

  1. Swachha Bharat Kosh, a fund created for SBM programs hasn’t taken off well.
  2. Private participation by way of CSR is less as interested private companies do not have detailed project report.
  3. Most of the money is going towards latrine construction, and very little towards information, education, and communication.
  4. No Proper facilities for disposal of human solid waste.
  5. Villages don’t have sewage systems because of which pit-latrines are constructed. which require manual scavengers to pick up the faeces, or for faeces to be washed away and potentially pollute water sources.
  6. Mission is still struggling in bringing behavioral changes in rural population, i.e. World Bank research states that-
  • “A staggering 48 per cent of Indians continue to defecate in the open despite large scale efforts from the government to raise awareness about the harmful aspects of open defecation and subsidise latrine construction, and growing latrine ownership.

Way Forward

  1. Sanitation needs to be seen as a life cycle issue and hence providing sanitation facilities at work, education and other public spaces is important.
  2. This requires investing in the right place at the right time and in the most appropriate manner.
  3. The SBM should not become yet another government scheme that makes the right noises initially only to die a quiet death once the spotlight moves away.
  4. SBM is definitely with great goals and objectives, the issues associated with finance, implementation & awareness needs to be tackled in the right manner, every citizen of India should involve themselves and inculcate the behavioural changes to the literates and the illiterates towards cleanliness respectively.

Back2Basics

Swachh Survekshan

  • Swachh Survekshan is a ranking exercise taken up by the Government of India to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner.
  • The objective of the survey is to encourage large scale citizen participation and create awareness amongst all sections of society about the importance of working together towards making towns and cities a better place to live in. Additionally, the survey also intends to foster a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, towards creating cleaner cities and towns.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India takes up the SwachhSurvekshan in urban areas and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in rural areas.
  • The Quality Council of India (QCI) has been commissioned the responsibility of carrying out the assessment.

Swachhagrahi

  1. Swachhagrahis are the foot soldiers of the SBM (G) and the motivators for bringing about behaviour change with respect to key sanitation practices in rural areas.
  2. Role of swachhagrahis is one of the key factors in achieving the ODF status and sustaining it through post ODF activities.
  3. A swachhagrahi is a volunteer who can come from any background, including a local ASHA worker, ANM, anganwadi worker, and staff, water line man, pump operator, member of NCO/CSOs, youth organisations or from the general public living in villages.”
  4. Beyond the obvious, there are several things swachhagrahis do – geo-tagging toilets, verifying household behaviour, converting old toilets and retro-fitting them, engaging in other forms of cleanliness.
Swachh Bharat Mission

[op-ed snap] Why MCQ isn’t an option

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: Not much.

Mains level: The newscard discusses impact of introducing MCQ based examination is in every domain, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The growing legitimisation of the MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) pattern of exams for all sorts of entrance tests, particularly in the field of liberal arts and social sciences, indicates the poverty of pedagogic imagination that seems to have inflicted a team of techno-managers and academic bureaucrats.

Background

  • The JJNU will be adopting the online MCQ mode for conducting entrance examinations for all its academic programmes, based on the recommendations by a committee formed to study the feasibility of conducting the entrance test online.
  • The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), however, raised objections about the online mode for conducting entrance examinations saying that the JNU administration’s decision to convert the present robust system of written examination for BA, MA and MPhil-PhD which is conducted in various centres around the country in physical form into online mode defies any logic and reason.

Issues

  1. First, thinking all disciplines, be it English literature or mathematics, on the same scale, love for mindless standardization has been reduced into a set of “objective” postulates, or “puzzles” with only one “correct” answer thereby deteriorating the status of the liberal arts and social sciences. and destroy thinking and creative imagination.
  2. Second, tend to see knowledge as the acquisition of mere “facts”, free from “ideological” aberrations or “subjective” prejudices.
  3. And third, with the hallucination of “mathematical precision”, feeling that creative articulation is dangerous or equivalent to madness because everything has to be fitted into the standardised/dominant formula or theorem.
  4. The idea of having a question to which there is only one correct answer is problematic, Manufacturing one-dimensional consciousness — a mind incapable of living with plurality, ambiguities and unresolved paradoxes.
  5. It has done severe damage to the culture of learning. The fetish of 99 per cent marks in the board exams is killing the creative faculty of schoolchildren. With rote learning, they have mastered the technique of reducing everything into a set of bullet points depending on the marks allotted to a question.
  6. Teachers, too have lost their agency. Even for selecting M.Phil/Ph.D candidates they have been asked to rely on the MCQ pattern of entrance test.
  7. The idea of complete objective examination defeats the comprehensive evaluation policy of the subjective paper which looks into the holistic requirements in student for MA and MPhil-PhD which covers both the knowledge potential and writing skills.
  8. As teachers are not supposed to think or evolve our unique modes of selection and evaluation. Only formulate “objective” questions, and specialise ourselves in generating an MCQ bank.

The case for multiple choice questions

  1. Despite his reservations, there is merit in multiple choice questions for two reasons – they guarantee objectivity in marking, he feels, and when the number of candidates is large, relieves teachers of the responsibility of checking. They have eliminated “the space for bias”.
  2. The responsibility of maintaining the sanctity of the evaluation process in terms of preservation of the answer sheets that undergo a subjective evaluation is also a challenge.
  3. It argued that the reform and outsourcing the conduct of the test to another party, will “minimise man hour losses to the university” and be eco-friendly.

Way Forward

  1. Tests would not reward rote-learning if there were a few short answer questions and the multiple-choice ones were more carefully designed.
  2. It is possible to set good multiple-choice questions if the paper-setters spend a bit more time making them more confusing or indirect.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] SC Bt cotton verdict is relief for Monsanto

Note4students

Mains Paper 3 Science and Technology| Bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of IPR, GM, GEAC.

Mains level: The newscard discusses impact of SC ruling on IPR environment, in a brief manner.


Context

  1. The Supreme Court restored Monsanto Co.’s patent claim on genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton until its validity is decided by a single judge of the Delhi high court.
  2. It ought to reassure biotech companies that had held back on introducing new technologies in India after the controversy over genetically modified (GM) cotton erupted.

Background

  1. The ruling is the result legal battles between Monsanto and domestic seed companies, led by Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd.
  2. In 2004 Monsanto entered into a sub-license agreement with domestic company Nuziveedu for an initial period of 10 years.
  3. The agreement had entitled the Indian firms to commercially exploit genetically modified hybrid cotton planting seeds with help of Monsanto’s technology within the limits of the agreement on the payment of a license fee.
  4. Local seed firms, which get licenses from Monsanto to sell genetically-modified seeds, used to pay a “trait fee” fixed by the government.
  5. Recently Nuziveedu Seeds was arguing that the U.S. company was not entitled to get any more money from them and had petitioned in the court to cancel Monsanto’s patent
  6. Soon after, Monsanto had lodged counter cases for patent infringements by Indian companies.
  7. The agreement was terminated in November 2015, giving rise to the patent suit.
  8. The Single Judge, in March 2017, restored the agreement and ordered the parties (Monsanto and companies like Nuziveedu) to adhere to their obligations under it.

Why did the Delhi HC reject patent?

  1. The judge reasoned that Monsanto’s Bt gene was useless to farmers unless inserted into a cotton hybrid, which farmers could then grow to repel pests.
  2. This insertion is carried out by seed companies, who cross a Bt gene-containing plant (from Monsanto’s donor seeds) with their proprietary cotton varieties.
  3. The judge argued that this crossing of plants was a natural and biological process.
  4. This argument undermined Monsanto’s patent, because under Section 3(j) of India’s Patents Act, a seed or a plant, or a biological process to create a seed or plant cannot be patented.
  5. If this argument is correct, few plant biotechnology innovations would be patentable in India.
  6. This is a dangerous conclusion because the lack of patent protection would discourage crucial research by the agri-biotech industry.

Significance of SC ruling

  1. SC order validates that patents are integral to innovation and reinforces faith in the Indian judiciary and the Indian patent system.
  2. Technology developers will now be encouraged to invest more money into bringing new technologies to the market.
  3. The court has recognised that products of biotechnological processes such as man-made DNA constructs are patentable in India.
  4. The ruling may prompt some biotech companies to revive expansion plans that were placed on hold amid restrictions imposed by the government and local courts in recent years.
  5. SC ruling will bring certainty in the policy environment and looking to improve Indian cotton farmer’s competitiveness.

Regulatory fog

  1. IPR issue-
  • Protecting intellectual property rights is vital to improving the competitiveness of the Indian farmer.
  • The Supreme Court’s suggestion to the Delhi high court—a division bench of which had ruled that life forms cannot be patented—that all aspects related to Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds can be considered could allay apprehensions among technology developers over losing pricing freedom in India.
  1. Reduced Royalty
  • The government has capped royalty payments to Monsanto and asked it to grant licences to more seed companies for using Bt cotton. Indian seed companies pay a government-mandated trait fee, as such royalty is called, on genetically modified seeds.
  • Multinational biotechnology companies like Monsanto which has held back other Bt cotton varieties from India and Bayer has gone slow in introducing a hybrid rice seed that can withstand flooding for two weeks.
  1. Maze over field trials
  • Regulatory clarity over field trials for genetically modified seeds is overdue. A moratorium on field trials for Bt brinjal, for instance, is in its ninth year and the government wants more research done for GM mustard, which involves more field trials that, in turn, await permissions from state governments.

Way forward

  1. Transgenic technologies such as Bt cotton are an important part of India’s cotton production arsenal. They are not infallible.
  2. But this is true of all technologies, like antibiotics, that fail when used improperly, as was the case with Bollgard-2.
  3. The important thing for India is to keep incentivizing the development of such technologies and to use them properly. Strong patent protection is a crucial part of this process.

Back2Basics

GM Crops in India

  1. India has the world’s 5th largest GM crop acreage. The world order is – USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, India.
  2. If that’s not interesting enough, then let me add another fact on this – this rank is largely on the strength of Bt cotton, the only genetically modified crop allowed in the country. 
  3. At present, 96% of India’s cotton cultivation area is under Bt cotton crops.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  • GEAC is apex body under Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for regulating manufacturing, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organisms or genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and cells in the country.
  • It is also responsible for giving technical approval of proposals relating to release of GMOs and products including experimental field trials.
  • However, Environment Minister gives final approval for GMOs.

What is Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis)?

  1. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacterium that occurs naturally in the soil and produces proteins that kill certain insects.
  2. Through biotechnology, scientists can use these naturally occurring Bt proteins to develop insect-protected crops that protect against insect damage and destruction.
  3. When targeted insects eat the plant containing the protein, they ultimately die; but impact of Bt on humans and other animals is still being questioned.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

What a Harappan grave says about marriage

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Indus Valley civilization sites

Mains level: Important historical findings related to IVC


News

  • A team of Indian and South Korean researchers have excavated the skeletal remains of the couple from a site where nine graves were unearthed in one trench.

What’s So Special?

  1. Except for the foot bones, the two skeletons have been found almost entirely intact.
  2. Of the 62 graves discovered in Rakhigarhi, only this one had more than one skeleton — and of individuals of the opposite sex, together.
  3. The researchers believe the couple was buried at almost the same time, perhaps even together, following their deaths which could have occurred about 4,700 years ago.
  4. They believe the male was around 38 years old at the time of his death, while the female was around 25.
  5. Most archaeological recoveries show individuals were buried separately in Harappan times.
  6. Joint graves have been very rare, and almost none have been found containing a couple.

Deductions made

Relationship Status

  1. In the present case the skeletal remains were found in a supine position (lying face upwards) with arms and legs extended.
  2. The head of the male was found facing towards the female’s, possibly indicating an intimate relationship.

Economic Status

  1. Remains of pots and stone-bead jewellery found close to the burial site of the couple point to the possibility of a ceremonial burial with rituals.
  2. These remains also suggest they belonged to a middle-class family.

Legal Acceptance of Marriage

  1. The Harappan people were generally known to strictly adhere to only legal relations, and the fact that the couple were buried in the same pit together could be an indication of societal acceptance of their relationship.
  2. The researchers were inclined to believe that they could have been married which would in turn suggest the possibility that the institution of marriage originated in the Harappan civilization.
  3. Excavations of cemeteries so far have found that graves of women were positioned in the centre of the cemetery, and surrounded with bangles, jewellery, and other ornaments.
  4. This could mean that the Harappan society gave a higher status to women.
  5. No lesions have been found on the bones the couple, leading researchers to rule out the possibility of their having been murdered.
  6. It is possible a heart ailment of some kind led to the deaths.

Most graves are of Men

  1. So far at Harappan sites, most graves have been that of men.
  2. Only 20% of graves are of women, while fewer than 1% are of children.
  3. This implies that the most men died during war.

Burial Patterns

  1. Broadly, three types of graves have been discovered at Harappan sites.
  2. In the most common type, known as the primary grave, archaeologists have found full-body remains of the person placed inside a pit.
  3. Secondary pits were those that contained partial remains of a few bones placed in the pit.
  4. In the third type of the grave, skeletal remains were completely missing in the burial pit.
  5. Instead, there were some accessories, presumably the belongings of the deceased person.
  6. Perhaps the body could not be ever retrieved, possibly in cases of deaths caused by wild animals or during wars.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Sikkim to roll out Universal Basic Income

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Universal Basic Income

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


News

  • Sikkim will be the first state to roll out Universal Basic Income (UBI) by 2022 and has started the process to introduce the unconditional direct cash transfer scheme.

Background

  1. The 2017 Economic Survey had flagged the UBI scheme as a conceptually appealing idea and a possible alternative to social welfare programmes targeted at reducing poverty.
  2. It has been tested even in India, debated within the Finance Ministry as early as 2017.
  3. It has been tried in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and tribal belts with fairly large samples and it has shown it works.

What is UBI?

  1. A UBI would mean every single individual, regardless of their identity or economic status, is guaranteed a monthly income, transferred directly into their bank account by the government every month.
  2. It has three key components: universality, unconditionality and agency – the last condition as a way to give people a choice in how to spend the transferred money.

How will it be financed?

  1. The successful implementation of the hydropower projects by Sikkim has made it a surplus power generating state.
  2. The state produces 2200 MW and it will go up to 3000 MW in the next few years.
  3. The state’s requirement is only 200-300 MW and the rest goes to power trading firms.
  4. This money will be utilized by UTI and it will be for everyone and every household.
  5. The idea is to subsume other subsidies and allowances in order to provide a particular amount every month to people.

Feasibility Check

  1. Sikkim has a literacy rate of 98 per cent and its monthly per capita expenditure in rural areas is Rs 1,444.06 and it is Rs Rs 2,538.11 for urban areas.
  2. The BPL percentage has come down from 41.43% in 1994 to 8.19% in 2011-12.
  3. The state will also restructure some social schemes and the “skewed” tax structure to find more resources.
  4. With tourism being another source of revenue for the state – the state gets around 2.5 million tourists a year –there could be some cess in future to generate additional resource to implement the scheme.

Also refer:

Should India adopt Universal Basic income Model

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Enrolment under PMFBY crop insurance scheme sees steep decline

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: PMFBY

Mains level: Ensuring better implementation of PMFBY through additional provisions.


News

Falling Enrollment in PMFBY

  1. Data from the agriculture ministry shows that enrolment (during the rain-fed kharif season) rose from 30.9 million farmers in 2015 to 40.3 million in 2016, an impressive 30% jump.
  2. However, the enrolment fell to 34.8 million in 2017 and further plunged to 33.3 million in kharif 2018.

What led this?

  • Part of the decline was also because fewer farmers accessed fresh credit (due to a spate of farm loan waivers since mid-2017) since enrolment under crop insurance scheme is mandatory for farmers availing crop loans.

I. Insurance procedures

  1. To begin with, insurance companies are selling the product piggy backing on the banking infrastructure.
  2. For farmers availing crop loans, banks deduct the premium amount from the loan without even issuing a receipt.
  3. Farmers are never asked if they want insurance, and the product has became an easy way for banks to insure their loans.
  4. Further, in the event of any crop damage, farmers are at a loss as to whom to reach out to since most companies have not set up field offices to attend to customer complaints.

II. Assessment     

  1. Delayed assessment of crop loss and settlement of claims took six to nine months to complete led to farmers losing interest.
  2. Assessment is often delayed due to a paucity of local staff.
  3. Lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling are some of the reasons.

III. Issue of Premiums

  1. A reason why insurance companies charge high actuarial premiums is that cut-off dates for enrolment are frequently extended by states, often beyond the forecast and onset dates of the annual monsoon.
  2. The litmus test of any crop insurance programme is quick assessment of crop damages and payment of claims into farmers’ accounts directly.

IV. Inadequate and delayed claim payment

  • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.

V.  Massive profits for insurance companies

  • CSE’s analysis indicates that during kharif 2016, companies made close to Rs 10,000 crore as ‘gross profits’.

VI. Coverage only for loanee farmers

  1. PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers – farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance.
  2. The percentage of non-loanee farmers availing insurance remained less than 5 per cent during kharif 2016 and 2015.
  3. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers.

VII. Institutional Bottlenecks

  1. There has been no concerted effort by the state governments and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
  2. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY.
  3. There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.

What needs to be done?

A New Delhi based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment has released series of recommendations to improve implementation of the insurance scheme:

  • Coverage of tenant and sharecropper farmers should increase.
  • Coverage of all important crops should be covered under crop insurance
  • Instead of threshold yield, ‘Potential yield’ should be used for crops
  • Damage caused by wild animals, fire, cold waves and frost to crops should also be considered at the individual level.
  • Damage caused by unforeseen weather events like hailstorms should also be included in the category of post-harvest losses.
  • Farmers must be informed before deducting crop insurance premium. They must be given a proper insurance policy document, with all relevant details.
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions and farmers need to be involved at different stages of implementation.
  • Sum insured should not be less than scale of finance and/or cost of production.
  • Incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.
  • All PMFBY related data related to farmers must be available in the public domain and shared openly with farmers.
  • Robust scheme monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism should be in place.

Way Forward

  1. In an era of climate change, a universal, subsidised agriculture insurance is crucial to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of farmers.
  2. But we need a farmer-friendly, fair and transparent agriculture insurance.
  3. An agriculture insurance driven by profit-motives will do more harm than good.
  4. Policymakers should improve the provisions and implementation of PMFBY and make it a truly effective scheme.

With inputs from: Down to Earth

Crop Insurance – PMFBY, etc.

Government plans to rename Indian Forest Service

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IFS and its mandate

Mains level:  IFS and its role in tribal development


News

  • The Centre has proposed a pro-tribal measure – renaming of the Indian Forest Service as Indian Forest and Tribal Service.

Why such move?

  1. The move follows a directive from the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to this effect.
  2. Forest Service officials have always been the first point of government contact for tribals.
  3. But there is no awareness among the service officials on the different problems.
  4. In fact, tribals often complain of harassment like not being allowed to carry out their headloads of minor forest produce.

About Indian Forest Service

  1. IFS is one of the three All India Services of the Government of India after IAS and IPS.
  2. It was constituted in the year 1966 under the All India Services Act, 1951.
  3. The main mandate of the service is the implementation of the National Forest Policyin order to ensure the ecological stability of the country through the protection and participatory sustainable management of natural resources.
  4. An IFS officer is wholly independent of the district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in his own domain.
  5. Earlier, the colonial govt. had constituted the Imperial Forest Service in 1867 which functioned under the Federal Government until ‘Forestry’ was transferred to the Provincial List by the Government of India Act, 1935.
  6. Thereafter subsequent recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service was discontinued.
Civil Services Reforms

[pib] “Web- Wonder Women” Campaign

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WWW campaign

Mains level:  Role of Social Media in Women Empowerment


News

  • The Union WCD has launched an online campaign, ‘#www :  Web- Wonder Women’.

Web-Wonder Women Campaign

  1. Indian women have always been enterprising and have created a positive impact on society with their hard-work, experience and knowledge.
  2. #www: WebWonderWomen is a campaign to specially honour and encourage such voices that have in their own capacity driven a positive impact on social media platforms.
  3. The Campaign’s Partners aim to recognize the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe that has used the power of social media to run positive & niche campaigns to steer a change in society.

Rules for Nomination

  1. The Campaign invites Entries via Nominations from across the world, as per the laid out criteria.
  2. Indian-origin women, working or settled anywhere in the world, are eligible for nomination.
  3. The shortlisted entries will be open for public voting on Twitter and the finalists will be selected by a specialized panel of judges.
  4. Nominations have been invited in a large number of categories including Health, Media, Literature, Art, Sports, Environmental protection, fashion among others.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GST, GST COUNCIL, NAA

Mains level: Role and mandate NAA in strengthening GST Infrastructure


News

National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA)

  1. The NAA has been constituted under Section 171 of the Central GST Act, 2017 to ensure that the reduction in rate of tax or the benefit of input tax credit is passed on to the recipient by way of commensurate reduction in prices.
  2. Decision about the formation the NAA comes in the background of rate reduction of large number of items by the GST Council in its 22ndmeeting at Guwahati.
  3. At the meeting, the Council reduced rates of more than 200 items including goods and services.
  4. This has made tremendous price reduction effect and the consumers will be benefited only if the traders are making quick reduction of the prices of respective items.
  5. There was a concern that traders are reluctant to make price cut so that they can make profit.

What is profiteering?

  1. Profiteering means unfair profit realized by traders by manipulating prices, tax rate adjustment etc.
  2. In the context of the newly launched GST, profiteering means that traders are not reducing the prices of the commodities when the GST Council reduces the tax rates of commodities and services.
  3. Conventionally, several traders will have a strong tendency to quickly increase the price of a commodity whose tax rate has been increased.
  4. But on the opposite side, they may delay the price reduction of a commodity whose tax rate has been cut by the government.
  5. A delayed or postponed price reduction helps business firms to make higher profit. The losers here are the consumers.

Functioning of NAA

  1. The Authority’s main function is to ensure that traders are not realizing unfair profit by charging high price from the consumers in the name of GST.
  2. Traders may charge high price from the consumers by naming the GST factor.
  3. Similarly, they may not make quick and corresponding price reduction when the GST Council makes tax cut. All these constitute profiteering.
  4. The responsibility of the NAA is to examine and check such profiteering activities and recommend punitive actions including cancellation of licenses.

Steps taken by the NAA to ensure that customers get the full benefit of tax cuts:

  • Holding regular meetings with the Zonal Screening Committees and the Chief Commissioners of Central Tax to stress upon consumer awareness programmes;
  • Launching a helpline to resolve the queries of citizens regarding registration of complaints against profiteering.
  • Receiving complaints through email and NAA portal.
  • Working with consumer welfare organizations in order to facilitate outreach activities.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)