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[op-ed snap] Whose quota is it anyway

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the eligibility criteria for reservation for EWS as provided by the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, in a brief manner.


Context

  • According to experts, the eligibility criteria for reservation for economically weaker sections will enable the well-off to corner benefits of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act.
  • The Act provides 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education to the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category.

Issue

  • Experts have held that the children of the poor from the upper castes — vegetable vendors, construction labourers, challenged individuals, self-employed or unemployed widows — deserve reservation as much as the children from Dalit households, who have enjoyed high economic and social status, say, for two generations.
  • Let us then reserve 10 per cent seats for the poorest 10 per cent of the households, not covered under reservation.

Criteria likely to be fixed for identifying the beneficiaries

  • The dearth of will and capacity to target the new quota to the actual poor is evident from the criteria that are likely to be fixed for identifying the potential beneficiaries.
  • Persons from households with annual earnings below Rs 8 lakh, possessing agricultural land below 5 acres, a plot less than 100 yards in a notified municipality or below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area would be eligible for the reservation.
  • The new amendment also allows the states to set income cut-offs to decide who constitutes EWS.
  • They can even exceed the criteria set by the Centre.
  • It also allows the states to notify EWS “from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage” even if they are “adequately represented” in government jobs.

Who will be the real beneficiary?

  • SCs, STs and OBCs account for 70 per cent of the population and are entitled to 49.5 per cent reservation in the government sector.
  • The eligibility issue thus pertains to the remaining 30 per cent or 39 crore people, who fall under the general category.
  • Calculations based on available data suggest that about 95 per cent of the people in the general category will be eligible under the new criteria.
  • It is not difficult to understand who would be the real beneficiaries of the rather generous eligibility criteria for determining economic deprivation.
  • It is very likely the middle class, those who work in the private sector where it is difficult to establish the income-level and the unscrupulous who can con the system through false declarations, would grab the benefit.
  • The children of street vendors and agricultural labourers have very little chance to benefit from the new quota.

Poor stands very little chance of benefiting from the new quota

  • Indeed, whenever anyone has shown the benevolence of defining poverty with a high cut-off point, the real motives has been to help the top 10 to 20 per cent among the eligible.
  • The poor, as defined by the Tendulkar or Rangarajan Committees, stand very little chance of benefiting from the new quota.
  • It is also hard to believe that Muslims would benefit from the quota, simply because they have a higher share among the poor.
  • Very few Muslims would be in the top 20 per cent among those eligible for the EWS quota.

Conclusion

  • The need of the hour is to rationalise the eligibility criteria for reservation for economically weaker sections so that the well-off do not corner the benefits of the poor.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[op-ed snap] Dancing around the Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity| Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing as such.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the recent SC judgement of statutory provisions and rules governing Maharashtra’s dance bars, in a brief manner.


Context

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has struck down several statutory provisions and rules governing Maharashtra’s dance bars.

Background

  • In 2005, the Maharashtra government imposed a ban on dance performances in bars, with the exception of hotels rated three stars and above.
  • The public rationale offered was that these performances were obscene, morally corrupt, and promoted prostitution.
  • Dance performance licenses were cancelled with immediate effect, prompting affected parties to file petitions in the Bombay High Court.
  • The High Court held against the government, resulting in an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling

  • The Supreme Court affirmed the High Court’s decision in July 2013, pursuing two lines of reasoning.
  • One, the government could not discriminate between luxury hotels and other establishments seeking licenses for dance performances.
  • Two, the ban had proven to be counterproductive, resulting in the unemployment of over 75,000 women, many of whom were forced by circumstances to engage in prostitution.

Government’s response

  • Rather than implementing the Supreme Court’s decision, the government imposed an outright ban on all dance performances, whether in street bars or upmarket hotels.
  • Although the government’s response addressed the court’s first concern, it failed to address the second.
  • This led to fresh proceedings in the Supreme Court.

Subsequent SC ruling and Govt response

  • While the court saw through the government’s attempt to circumvent its decision, it left room for the government to prohibit obscene dances with a view to protecting the dignity of the dancers.
  • This time the government’s response was more sophisticated and took cues from the Supreme Court’s decision.
  • Rather than seeking to impose a ban on dance performances altogether, it only did so to the extent that these performances were obscene or overtly sexual.
  • However, it imposed a number of other conditions on establishments seeking a license for such performances.

Conditions imposed by the govt to seek licence

  • Applicants were required to “possess a good character” with no criminal antecedents.
  • The establishment could not be within one kilometre of an educational or religious institution.
  • A CCTV camera would need to be fitted at the entrance.
  • Customers could not be permitted to throw coins or currency notes on the dancers, but could add tips to the bill.
  • The permit room (where alcohol was served) and the dance room would need to be separated by a partition.
  • The stage could not be smaller than a prescribed size.
  • Some of these conditions were challenged in the Supreme Court on the basis that they were far too onerous.

SC recent ruling

  • On January 17, the court upheld a few of these conditions, but struck down others.
  • For example, it noted that the CCTV requirement violated the right to privacy of the dancers and the patrons,
  • the “good character” requirement was vague,
  • the partition between the permit room and the dance room was unjustified, and
  • the one kilometre distance requirement was impractical.
  • However, the court found revealing that amongst the dozens of applications filed since the new rules were put in place, not a single one had been approved by the government.
  • The court therefore saw the government’s most recent response as a ban on dance bars masquerading as an attempt to regulate them.

Institutional interaction between governments and the courts

  • These developments yield insights on the institutional interaction between governments and the courts.
  • Through each iteration of this case, the Maharashtra government has responded more swiftly to judicial decisions than the Supreme Court has to the government’s attempts to sidestep them.
  • The final judicial decision in the first round took just short of eight years, while the government’s response took about 11 months.
  • In the second round, the court took a year and three months to make its decision; the government responded in six months.
  • In the third round, the court has taken just short of three years. The government’s response time is to be seen.

Reasons for disparity

  • A number of structural reasons may account for this disparity.
  • Despite heavy caseloads, courts must provide an opportunity for a fair hearing, deliberate, and set out reasons for their decisions.
  • Courts will also typically not consider cases unilaterally, but are dependent on parties to bring proceedings in search of a remedy.
  • Separately, the ban on dance bars has also received a disconcerting level of cross-party political support in Maharashtra, despite the regime changes since 2005.
  • This has meant that legislation has often been enacted unopposed, without any meaningful discussion on the floor of the House.
  • The amendments of 2014, for example, were approved by the Maharashtra Cabinet and sailed through the state legislature within minutes on the following day.

Significant delay on the part of Courts

  • The practical implication of the government being more nimble than the courts is that even when government responses are imperfect, the court produces significant delays.
  • This case outlines the vulnerability of Supreme Court, especially when it depends on the government to comply with its decisions in some positive way, such as by issuing dance bar licenses.
  • Even when the courts exercise the putatively “negative” function of striking down legislation or rules, the level of compliance with their decisions often lies in the hands of the executive.

Existing remedial landscape

  • These developments should also lead courts to introspect about the existing remedial landscape in cases where legislation is challenged.
  • The Supreme Court often deploys the writ of continuing mandamus (issuing a series of interim orders over a period of time to monitor compliance with its decisions) in public interest litigation cases that test the limits of its jurisdiction.
  • It has chosen not to adopt that enforcement strategy in this case, which falls squarely within the four corners of its jurisdiction.
  • While the court cannot direct the enactment of legislation, it can monitor compliance with an order to issue licenses to qualified applicants.

Conclusion

  • A further response from the Maharashtra government now seems inevitable.
  • The court struck down the one kilometre distance requirement, but did not say that any distance requirement would be invalid.
  • While unconstitutional in its present form, it noted that the “good character” requirement could be defined more precisely.
  • These are only two among the many options that are now available to the government in responding to the court’s decision.
  • The court concluded its judgment with the hope that applications for licenses would “now be considered more objectively and with an open mind”.
Issues and Judgments related to SC

[op-ed snap] Removing the roots of farmers’ distress

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economic Development| Agriculture| Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of Farmer’s distress.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the farmer’s distress issues and their possible solutions, in a brief manner.


Context

  • Recently, there has been active discussion on the strategies addressing farm distress.
  • There are reports that the ‘interim Budget’ may focus on the farm sector among other things.

Background

  • In the present context, agrarian distress is mainly in terms of low agricultural prices and, consequently, poor farm incomes.
  • Low productivity in agriculture and related supply side factors are equally important.
  • An issue that is connected is the declining average size of farm holdings and the viability of this size for raising farm incomes.

Issues and Possible solutions

  1. Prices and incomes
  • Prices play a key role in affecting the incomes of farmers.
  • Even during the Green Revolution, along with technology and associated packages, price factor was considered important.
  • In the last two years, inflation in agriculture was much lower than overall inflation.
  • The implicit price deflator for Gross Value Added (GVA) in agriculture was 1.1% while it was 3.2% for total GVA in 2017-18.
  • The advance estimates for 2018-19 show that the implicit deflator for GVA in agriculture is 0%, and 4.8% for total GVA.
  • Agriculture GVA growth was at 3.8% for both nominal prices and constant prices in 2018-19, giving the price deflator of 0%.
  • The consumer price index (CPI) also shows that the rise in prices for agriculture was much lower than general inflation in recent years.
  • Market prices for several agricultural commodities have been lower than those of minimum support prices (MSP).
  • All these trends show that the terms of trade to be moving against agriculture in the last two years.

Declining market price

  • When output increases well beyond the market demand at a price remunerative to producers, market prices decline.
  • In the absence of an effective price support policy, farmers are faced with a loss in income, depending on how much the price decline is.
  • The ‘farm distress’ in recent years has been partly on account of this situation, as the loss of income is beyond the ability, particularly of small farmers, to absorb.
  • It is the success in increasing production that has resulted in this adverse consequence.

Schemes to address this problem

  • A few schemes have been suggested to address the problem of managing declining output prices when output increases significantly.

(a) Price deficiency compensation scheme: It is one such mechanism which amounts to paying the difference between market price and the MSP.

(b) Open procurement system scheme: It has been in vogue quite effectively in the case of rice and wheat, where procurement is open ended at the MSP.

(c) Limited procurement scheme for price stabilisation:

  • A ‘price deficiency’ scheme may compensate farmers when prices decrease below a certain specified level. However, market prices may continue to fall as supply exceeds ‘normal demand’.
  • Under this scheme, the government will procure the ‘excess’, leaving the normal production level to clear the market at a remunerative price.
  • Thus, procurement will continue until the market price rises to touch the MSP.
  • The suggested ‘limited procurement system’ will not work if the MSP is fixed at a level to which the market price will never rise.
  • There are costs involved which will go up as production increases above the average level.
  • The government can sell the procured grain in later years or use them in welfare programmes.

(d) Rythu Bandhu and KALIA scheme

  • Some States have introduced farm support schemes, examples being the Rythu Bandhu Scheme (Telangana) and the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme (Odisha).
  • One problem with the Telangana model is that it does not cover tenants, who are the actual cultivators.
  • These schemes are income support schemes which will be in operation year after year.
  • Thus, raising the MSP, price deficiency payments or income support schemes can only be a partial solution to the problem of providing remunerative returns to farmers.

Sustainable solution: Reforming Agricultural Markets

  • A sustainable solution is market reforms to enable better price discovery combined with long-term trade policies favourable to exports.
  • The creation of a competitive, stable and unified national market is needed for farmers to get better prices.
  • Agricultural markets have witnessed only limited reforms.
  • They are characterised by inefficient physical operations, excessive crowding of intermediaries, and fragmented market chains.
  • Due to this, farmers are deprived of a fair share of the price paid by final consumers.
  • For better price for farmers, agriculture has to go beyond farming and develop a value chain comprising farming, wholesaling, warehousing, logistics, processing and retailing.

2. Low productivity of Indian agriculture

  • Basics such as seeds, fertilizers, credit, land and water management and technology are important and should not be forgotten.
  • Similarly, investment in infrastructure and research and development are needed.

Improving Water use efficiency

  • Water is the leading input in agriculture.
  • More than 60% of irrigation water is consumed by two crops: rice and sugar cane.
  • It is not investment alone but efficiency in water management in both canal and groundwater that is important.
  • India uses upto three times the water used to produce one tonne of grain in countries such as Brazil, China and the U.S.
  • This implies that water-use efficiency can be improved significantly with better use of technologies that include drip irrigation.
  • Yields of several crops are lower in India when compared to several other countries.
  • Technology can help to reduce ‘yield gaps’ and thus improve productivity.
  • Government policies have been biased towards cereals particularly rice and wheat.
  • There is a need to make a shift from rice and wheat-centric policies to millets, pulses, fruits, vegetables, livestock and fish.

3. Land size: shrinking size of farms

  • Another major issue relates to the shrinking size of farms which is also responsible for low incomes and farmers’ distress.
  • The average size of farm holdings declined from 2.3 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16.
  • The share of small and marginal farmers increased from 70% in 1980-81 to 86% in 2015-16.
  • The average size of marginal holdings is only 0.38 hectares (less than one acre) in 2015-16.
  • The monthly income of small and marginal farmers from all sources is only around ₹4,000 and ₹5,000 as compared to ₹41,000 for large farmers.
  • Thus, the viability of marginal and small farmers is a major challenge for Indian agriculture.

Lack of opportunities in the non-farm sector

  • Many small farmers cannot leave agriculture because of a lack of opportunities in the non-farm sector.
  • They can get only partial income from the non-farm sector.
  • In this context, a consolidation of land holdings becomes important to raise farmer incomes.

Consolidation of land holdings

  • Experts had argued that compulsory consolidation of land holdings alongside land development activities could enhance the incomes/livelihoods of the poor in rural areas.
  • Unfortunately, there is little discussion now on land fragmentation and consolidation of farm holdings.
  • We need to have policies for land consolidation along with land development activities in order to tackle the challenge of the low average size of holdings.
  • Farmers can voluntarily come together and pool land to gain the benefits of size.
  • Through consolidation, farmers can reap the economies of scale both in input procurement and output marketing.

Conclusion

  • Farmers’ distress is due to low prices and low productivity.
  • The suggestions made above, such as limited procurement, measures to improve low productivity, and consolidation of land holdings to gain the benefits of size, can help in reducing agrarian distress.
  • However, a long-term policy is needed to tackle the situation.
Agricultural Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MRSAM

Mains level: Army’s need for new types of equipment and their development in India


News

  • India displayed its latest surface-to-air missile system, called the MRSAM, in a parade held on 26 January to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding.

About MRSAM

  1. The new missile system is developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
  2. The MRSAM provides the armed forces with air defense capability against a variety of aerial threats at medium ranges.
  3. The missile launcher and the command post would be made in India, with the rest of the complex system – including the missile itself – to be made in Israel.
  4. IAI will reportedly supply India with 2,000 missiles capable of intercepting enemy aircraft and missiles within a 70-kilometer range.
  5. The proposed MRSAM, to replace the old Pechora missiles which currently in service of Indian Defense Forces.

Combat Capability

  1. The MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced rotating phased array radar and a bidirectional data link.
  2. The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather conditions.
  3. The MRSAM surface-to-air missile is powered by a dual-pulse solid propulsion system developed by DRDO.
  4. The propulsion system, coupled with a thrust vector control system, allows the missile to move at a maximum speed of Mach 2.
  5. The weapon has the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously at ranges of 70km.
Indian Missile Program Updates

Citizenship Bill: the concerns behind Mizoram’s strong protests

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Citizenship Bill

Mains level: Issues with the Citizenship Amendment Bill


News

Context

  • Among various NE states where protests have broken out over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Mizoram witnessed massive amongst them.
  • These came into focus particularly because of photos, widely circulated on social media, that showed protesters with posters that proclaimed “Hello China, bye bye India”.
  • This protest was organised by the influential Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP).

What the Bill says

  1. The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955, relaxing the citizenship eligibility rules for immigrants belonging to six minority (non-Muslim) religions from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.
  2. Read with various other provisions, the cutoff for eligibility becomes December 2014.
  3. Various groups in the NE have protested on grounds of its potential impact on the region’s demography, and questioned its constitutionality as it grants citizenship on the basis of religion.
  4. For protesters in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, the concern is about Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh.
  5. The Assam Accord, protesters in that state point out, lays down 1971 as the cutoff for acceptance as citizens; the NRC is being updated based on this cutoff, which does not differentiate on the basis of religion.

Concerns of Mizoram

  1. In Mizoram, the concern is not about Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh but about Chakmas, a tribal and largely Buddhist group.
  2. The Chakmas are present in parts of the Northeast, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, with which Mizoram shares an international border.
  3. While Christians form 87% of Mizoram’s 11 lakh population (2011), Chakmas number about 1 lakh.
  4. Certain sections in Mizoram blame Chakmas for illegal migration from Bangladesh, which the community denies.
  5. The state has seen ethnic violence, with instances of arson, names of Chakmas being struck off voters’ lists, and denial of admission to Chakma students in college.

Data on Chakmas

  1. The apex students’ body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and the YMA, which are leading the current agitation, have often cited figures they attribute to the Census.
  2. In 1901, there were only 198 Chakmas in Mizoram and by 1991 it was over 80,000. The growth rate is far more than normally possible.
  3. This proves their constant influx from Bangladesh.
  4. Chakma activists cite a 2015 report submitted by the government of Mizoram to the NHRC.
  5. The veracity of the Census figures between 1901 and 1941 cannot be ascertained as the same are not available with the Census Directorate, Mizoram,” the then state Deputy Secretary (Home) wrote in the report.
  6. The report cites Census data that puts the Chakma population at 15,297 in 1951 and 96,972 in 2011.

Its Mizos Vs Non-Mizos

  1. Mizos clearly identify the Chakmas as ‘non-Mizo’.
  2. Radical groups often make calls to expel them from Mizoram as they were considered illegal immigrants.
  3. Their large-scale migrations having taken place in 1964 (caused by inundation of their land due to the damming of the Karnaphuli river for a hydro-electric project in Bangladesh) and 1980-4 (caused by insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts led by the Hills Peoples’ Movement of Bangladesh).
  4. Nor did the Chakmas want to identify themselves as Mizo.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Why India-South Africa relations are unique

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: Red Fort Declaration

Mains level: India’s recent Africa focus and its strategic as well as economic importance


News

Background

  1. President Cyril Ramaphosa of the South Africa was the Chief Guest at the 70th Republic Day
  2. This is the second time a South African Head of State is Chief Guest for Republic Day — the first occasion was in 1995 with late Nelson Mandela.

India and South Africa

  1. India’s relations with South Africa go back centuries and have a powerful emotional component.
  2. It is here that Mahatma Gandhi began his political career, and over the decades of the 20th century, India stood solidly behind their struggle against apartheid.

Historical Significance

  1. India was the first country to sever trade relations with the apartheid government, and subsequently imposed a complete — diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports — official ban on South Africa.
  2. India worked consistently to put the issue of apartheid on the agenda of the UN, NAM and other multilateral organizations and for the imposition of comprehensive international sanctions against South Africa.
  3. The African National Congress (ANC) maintained a representative office in New Delhi from the 1960s onwards.
  4. India actively worked for the AFRICA Fund to help sustain the struggle through support to the frontline states.
  5. In March 1997, during the visit of President Mandela to India, the two countries signed the historic Red Fort Declaration for Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa.

Red Fort Declaration

  1. South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, it was the Red Fort Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, signed in March 1997 by which set the parameters for a rekindled relationship.
  2. The 20th anniversary of signing of the declaration was commemorated by an India-South African cultural extravaganza at High Commission of India, Pretoria on April 9, 2017.
  3. This Strategic Partnership between the two countries was again re-affirmed in the Tshwane Declaration (October 2006).
  4. Both these declarations have been instrumental mechanisms that has contributed in the past to both South Africa and India for achieving their respective national objectives.

Growth in Bilateral Trade

  1. India’s has had fairly flourishing commercial relations with South Africa since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1993.
  2. However, despite bilateral trade having been “on the upswing”, having “crossed the $10-billion benchmark in 2017-18.

Way Forward

  1. The uniquely intertwined histories of India and South Africa have ensured that the bonds much deeper than we generally realize.
  2. The partnership is about a shared and prosperous future, which realizes the dreams of Madiba and Mahatma for our people.

For more comprehensive reading on India-South Africa Relations, must navigate to:

Observer Research Foundation

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

Skill Ministry strengthens Jan Shikshan Sansthans

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jan Shikshan Sansthan, NSQF

Mains level: State of skill development institutes in the country


News

  • The government unveiled new guidelines for Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS) aligning them to the National Skills Qualification Framework with an aim to providing standardised training across sectors.

About Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS)

  1. The scheme of JSS was initially launched in 1967 as Shramik Vidyapeeth, a polyvalent or multi-faceted adult education institution.
  2. Formerly under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, JSS was transferred to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2018.
  3. It was aimed at improving the vocational skills and quality of life of the industrial workers and their family members as well as those persons who had been migrating from rural to urban settings.
  4. Now it has challenging mandate of providing vocational skills to non-literate, neo-literates as well as school drop-outs by identifying skills that have a market in the region of their establishment.

Scope of work of JSS includes:

  • Develop/Source appropriate curriculum and training modules covering vocational elements general awareness and life enrichment components.
  • Wherever possible, JSSs are encouraged to undertake training equivalent to courses designed by the Directorate of Adult Education, National Institute of Open Schooling and Director General, Employment & Training.
  • Provide training to a pool of resource persons and master trainers for conducting training as also availability of infrastructure and training – specific equipment.
  • Administer simple tests and award certificates.
  • Network with employers and industries for trainees to get suitable placements

Benefits of new Norms

  1. JSS guidelines have been reformed keeping in mind the diverse stake-holders engaged in running these institutions.
  2. The JSS can play an important role in bridging information asymmetry between skill training and market opportunities thereby giving an impetus to the creation of a workforce equipped in technology-driven skills.
  3. By aligning JSSs to the National Skill Framework, the government aims to provide standardised training across sectors.

Impactful progress till now

  1. Out of the 247 active JSSs, 43 have been established across 42 Aspirational Districts identified by NITI Aayog.
  2. The ministry will soon be introducing a few more in the LWE (left-wing extremism affected) regions to promote skill development of the youth in the region.
  3. In the past five years, over eight lakh people have benefitted from the JSS scheme. More than 86,000 men have been registered.
  4. More importantly there has been an unprecedented surge in the registration of women, with over 7 lakh registrations.
  5. It further said the JSSs have helped open over 1 lakh bank accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana and mobilised around 7.5 lakh beneficiaries who were enrolled in PM Suraksha Bima Yojana.
  6. With a substantial rise in establishment of more than 1 lakh entrepreneurs, JSS has successfully generated employment across various sectors.

Back2Basics

National Skills Qualification Framework

  1. The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) is a competency-based framework that organizes all qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude.
  2. These levels, graded from one to ten, are defined in terms of learning outcomes which the learner must possess regardless of whether they are obtained through formal, non-formal or informal learning.
  3. NSQF in India was notified on 27th December 2013.
  4. All other frameworks, including the NVEQF (National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework) released by the Ministry of HRD, stand superceded by the NSQF.
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.

Centre’s debt-to-GDP falls, States’ rises

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of the present situation of economy has been tested by UPSC in recent times

Mains level: The news-card analyses Public Debt situation


News

  • While the Centre is moving in the right direction in terms of meeting the N.K. Singh Committee recommendations on public debt, the States are moving in the opposite direction, data released by the government show.

States are lagging

  1. According to the Status Paper on Government Debt for 2017-18, the Centre’s total debt as a percentage of GDP reduced to 46.5% in 2017-18 from 47.5% as of March 31, 2014.
  2. The total debt of the States, however, has been rising over this period, to 24% in 2017-18, and is estimated to be 24.3% in 2018-19.
  3. In absolute terms, the Centre’s total debt from the end of March 2014 to till 2017-18, represents a 45% increase.
  4. The total debt of the States increased up to almost 63%.

Alarming for States

  1. The Central debt has been within control because the government has been trying to stick by-and-large to the fiscal deficit parameters.
  2. The increase in the debt stock at the State level is worrying because they don’t have the other means to service the debt if it goes beyond a certain point.
  3. The report says that the States do have some fiscal space to reduce their borrowing in the coming years due to the large cash surpluses they hold.
  4. State governments as a group have exhibited a tendency to hold large cash surpluses/investments in Cash Balance Investment Account on a consistent basis while at the same time resorting to market borrowings to finance their GFD (Gross Fiscal Deficit).
  5. This indicates scope for reducing the quantum of market borrowings by State governments in case they bring down their cash surpluses (parked as investment in treasury bills of the Central government).

N.K. Singh Recommends

  1. The N.K. Singh-headed FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Review Committee report had recommended the ratio to be 40% for the Centre and 20% for the States, respectively, by 2023.
  2. It said that the 60% consolidated Central and State debt limit was consistent with international best practices, and was an essential parameter to attract a better rating from the credit ratings agencies.

Role of UDAY bonds

  1. Outstanding liabilities of States have increased sharply during 2015-16 and 2016-17, following the issuance of UDAY bonds in these two years.
  2. It was reflected in an increase in liability-GDP ratio from 21.7% at end-March 2015 to 23.4% at end-March 2016 and further to 23.8% at end-March 2017.
  3. The total outstanding liabilities as a percentage of GDP stood at 24% as at end-March 2018 and are expected to move upward to 24.3% at end-March 2019.

Implications

  1. The ratings agencies have predicted that the combined fiscal deficit of the States to be 3.2% of GDP in financial year 2020 (higher than the prescribed 3%).
  2. It is unlikely that the States will meet their 20% debt-GDP ratio target by 2023.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

Yuva Swabhiman Yojana

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Yuva Swabhiman Yojana

Mains level:  Various initiatives for EWS


News

  • The Madhya Pradesh government has announced the launch of a scheme to ensure temporary employment to the youths from the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the urban areas.

Yuva Swabhiman Yojana

  1. The Scheme would guarantee 100 days of employment every year to the EWS youths.
  2. During their employment, youths would be given skills training of their choice, so that they can take benefits of the available job opportunities.
  3. While those in rural areas get employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the urban poor youth are left out.
  4. This scheme will effectively cover them.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.