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[op-ed snap] A national register of exclusion

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| I 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 National Register of Citizens.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues and concerns with NRC, in a brief manner.


Context

  • By requiring long-term residents of Assam to prove their citizenship by negotiating a thicket made up of opaque rules and an uncaring bureaucracy, the Indian state has for the past two decades unleashed an unrelenting injustice on most of its vulnerable people.

Distressing cycle

  • The official presumption that they are foreigners has reduced several million of these highly impoverished, mostly rural, powerless and poorly lettered residents to a situation of helplessness and penury.
  • It has also caused them abiding anxiety and uncertainty about their futures.
  • They are required to persuade a variety of usually hostile officials that they are citizens, based on vintage documents which even urban, educated, middle-class citizens would find hard to muster.
  • Even when one set of officials is finally satisfied, another set can question them.
  • Sometimes the same official is free again to send them a notice, starting the frightening cycle afresh.

Issue with National Register of Citizens (NRC)

  • It emerged that the names of many persons were dropped from the draft NRC only because of minor differences in the spelling of Bengali names in English in different documents.
  • Several instances were encountered where the variation of a single letter, for example between Omar and Onar, was enough to rule that a person is a foreigner.
  • Likewise, the rural unlettered are typically vague about their dates of birth.
  • A person could be excluded from citizenship if she told the tribunal that she was 40 when her documents recorded her to be 42.

Tougher on women

  • Women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register.
  • Typically, they have no birth certificates, are not sent to school, and are married before they become adults.
  • Therefore, by the time their names first appear in voters’ lists, these are in the villages where they live after marriage, which are different from those of their parents.
  • They are told that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents.
  • There were cases of being excluded from citizenship on this ground alone.

Migrant workers

  • Impoverished migrant workers often travel to other districts of Assam in search of work, as construction workers, road-builders and coal-miners.
  • In the districts to which they migrate, the local police frequently record their names as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • The police then mark them out as illegal immigrants.
  • They receive notices from foreigners’ tribunals located in districts where they might have worked years earlier, far away from their home districts they have to travel to for every hearing, adding further to their costs.

“Doubtful voters”

  • The NRC is not the only institution through which the state challenges them to prove their citizenship.
  • A second process began in the mid-1990s when the then Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan, as a one-time measure, directed officials to identify “doubtful voters” by marking a “D” against their names on the voters’ list.
  • This would temporarily bar them from voting or standing for elections, until an inquiry was completed.

Temporary measure became permanent

  • The power was vested permanently with junior officials who could doubt the citizenship of any person at any time without assigning any reason.
  • Those with the dreaded “D” beside their names had no recourse for appeal under the rules, with years passing without any inquiry.
  • The “D” also debarred them from being included in the draft NRC.

Assam Police is empowered to identify anyone as ‘foreigner’

  • A third process empowers the Assam Police to identify anyone it suspects to be a ‘foreigner’.
  • Again, all that the police claim in most cases is that the person was unable to show them documents establishing his or her citizenship.
  • People consistently deny that the police even asked them from documents.

Opaque processes and Foreigners’ Tribunals

  • All cases referred by the police are heard by Foreigners’ Tribunals (FTs).
  • Earlier, retired judges were appointed to these tribunals.
  • The present government has appointed many lawyers who have never been judges.
  • There are now FTs in which not a single person has been declared an Indian citizen over several months.
  • Many allege that both the police and presiding officers in FTs work to fulfil informal targets to declare people foreigners.

Issues with Foreigners’ Tribunals

  • Even if a person finds her name in the NRC, the police can still refer her case to an FT;
  • an election official can even deem her to be a “D”-voter.
  • Article 20 of the Constitution includes as a fundamental right that “no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once”.
  • But this principle has been waived for FTs.
  • Even after an FT had confirmed a person to be an Indian citizen, another FT and often the same FT can again issue notice to the same person to prove her legitimate citizenship once more.
  • A person is never be allowed to feel secure that the state has finally accepted that she is an Indian citizen.

Concerns

  • No person was given legal aid by the state, which is bound to deploy lawyers paid by the state to fight their cases in the FTs and higher courts.
  • People instead spoke of panic spending, of enormous amounts of money to pay lawyers, as well as for costs of travel of witnesses who they bring with them to testify in their favour.
  • For this, they have had to sell all their assets or borrow from private moneylenders.
  • The large majority of them are poorly educated and very impoverished, doing low-paid work such as drawing rickshaws, or working as domestic work or farm labour.

Conclusion

  • With the entire burden of proving citizenship on their shoulders and the arbitrary and opaque multiple forums to which they are summoned, people deprived of both education and resources are caught in a bureaucratic maze from which they find it hard to emerge.
  • Trapped at the crossroads of history, their destinies depend on institutions that treat them with undisguised hostility and bias.
Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] Wrong on the Rohingya

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: International relations| Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of Rohingya refugee issue.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the issues with India’s refugee law w.r.t recent deportation of a group of Rohingya refugees, in a brief manner.


Context

  • In January, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for a report from India on the deportation of a group of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar in October 2018.
  • India’s repatriation of the refugees contravenes international principles on refugee law as well as domestic constitutional rights.

Background

  • Refugee law is a part of international human rights law.
  • In order to address the problem of mass inter-state influx of refugees, a Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the UN adopted the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1951.
  • This was followed by the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1967.

Principle of non-refoulement

  • One of the most significant features of the Convention is the principle of non-refoulement.
  • The norm requires that “no contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
  • This idea of prohibition of expulsion lies at the heart of refugee protection in international law.

Non-refoulement principle binding on all States including India

  • It is often argued that the principle does not bind India since it is a party to neither the 1951 Convention nor the Protocol.
  • However, the prohibition of non-refoulement of refugees constitutes a norm of customary international law, which binds even non-parties to the Convention.
  • According to the Advisory Opinion on the Extraterritorial Application of Non-Refoulement Obligations, UNHCR, 2007, the principle “is binding on all States, including those which have not yet become party to the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol.”

Constitution imposes an obligation on the state to respect international laws

  • Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • Moreover, Article 51 of the Constitution imposes an obligation on the state to endeavour to promote international peace and security.
  • Article 51(c) talks about promotion of respect for international law and treaty obligations.
  • Therefore, the Constitution conceives of incorporation of international law into the domestic realm.
  • Thus the argument that the nation has not violated international obligations during the deportation is a mistaken one.

Domestic obligations

  • The chapter on fundamental rights in the Constitution differentiates citizens from persons.
  • While all rights are available to citizens, persons including foreign citizens are entitled to the right to equality and the right to life, among others.
  • The Rohingya refugees, while under the jurisdiction of the national government, cannot be deprived of the right to life and personal liberty.

Rohingya: world’s most persecuted people

  • The Rohingya are “among the world’s least wanted and most persecuted people,” according to a BBC report.
  • In Myanmar, they are denied citizenship, the right to own land and travel, or to even marry without permission, says the report.
  • According to the UN, the Rohingya issue is one of systematic and widespread ethnic cleansing by Myanmar.
  • Therefore, the discrimination that the Rohingya face is unparalleled in contemporary world politics.

State is bound to protect the life and liberty of every human-being

  • In National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh (1996), the Supreme Court held: “Our Constitution confers… rights on every human being and certain other rights on citizens.
  • Every person is entitled to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws.
  • So also, no person can be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
  • Thus the State is bound to protect the life and liberty of every human-being, be he a citizen or otherwise…”

India lacks a specific legislation for refugees

  • India lacks a specific legislation to address the problem of refugees, in spite of their increasing inflow.
  • The Foreigners Act, 1946, fails to address the peculiar problems faced by refugees as a class.
  • It also gives unbridled power to the Central government to deport any foreign citizen.
  • Further, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2019 strikingly excludes Muslims from its purview and seeks to provide citizenship only to Hindu, Christian, Jain, Parsi, Sikh and Buddhist immigrants persecuted in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The majority of the Rohingya are Muslims.
  • This limitation on the basis of religion fails to stand the test of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution and offends secularism, a basic feature of the Constitution.

Conclusion

  • The deportation of refugees by India is not only unlawful but breaches a significant moral obligation.
Rohingya Conflict

[op-ed snap] Missing the healing touch

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Social Justice| 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: Basic knowledge of the health sector allocation in Budget 2019.

Mains level: The news-card analyses this year’s budgetary allocation in the primary health care system in India, in a brief manner.


Context

  • People expected some measures to strengthen the country’s ailing public healthcare system from this year’s Union budget.
  • However, the much-needed strengthening of the country’s primary healthcare system has once again taken a backseat indicating the government’s misplaced priorities.

Outlay on health has increased

  • There is, indeed, an increase of more than Rs 7,000 crore in nominal terms from last year’s expenditure on health in this year’s budget — the outlay has increased from Rs 56,045 crore to Rs 63,298 crore.
  • Accounting for inflation, this amounts to a 9.2 per cent increase in real terms.

Issue

  • However, allocation under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) — which provides funds for rural primary healthcare — has been reduced in real terms (accounting for inflation).
  • Its share in the health component of the budget has declined steeply over the past four years — from 52 per cent in 2015-16 to 41 per cent this year.

Neglecting the major components of primary care

  • Within the NRHM, there have been budget cuts for reproductive and child healthcare projects and maintenance of rural healthcare infrastructure.
  • The allocation for controlling communicable diseases under the NRHM has been reduced in real terms.
  • Communicable diseases like TB, diarrhoea, pneumonia, hepatitis and other infections are still a major problem for India.
  • Conversion of health sub-centres to health and wellness centres that put more emphasis on non-communicable diseases does not augur well for primary care in the country.
  • Neglecting these major components of primary care seems to be a continuation of the policies that have led to the virtual dismantling of the rural public health infrastructure.

Allocation for Urban and tertiary care reduced too

  • The National Urban Health Mission has been allocated only Rs 950 crore — this, when the estimated average yearly budgetary requirement for the mission is Rs 3,391 crore from Central funds.
  • Allocation for tertiary care components — the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (a programme for building-AIIMS like institutes), for example — has also remained stagnant in real terms.
  • Funds for upgrading district hospitals have been reduced by 39 per cent in real terms.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

  • Majority of the increase in the budget’s health component has gone to fund the Rs 6,556-crore Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
  •  The scheme is supposed to give a Rs 5-lakh annual coverage for in-patient care to 10-crore poor families. However, the budgetary allocations do not match up to that promise.

Concerns

  • The National Sample Survey’s (NSS) health data of 2014 shows that out of an estimated total 24.85 crore families in India, 5.72 crore hospitalisations had to be made.
  • By that calculation, out of the 10-crore families, there would be roughly 2.3 crore hospitalisations in a year.
  • This means that from the Rs 6,556 crore government funds, health insurance agencies on average have only Rs 2,850 to pay per hospitalisation (assuming there are no administrative costs or insurance overheads).
  • The average out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) per hospitalisation is much higher — around Rs 15,244 as per NSS 2014 data, which amounts to Rs 19,500 in 2019-20 assuming a 5 per cent annual inflation.
  • The PMJAY’s budgetary provisions for insurance agencies will barely cover 15 per cent of this expenditure.

Under-utilisation of funds in the allied sectors

  • In the allied sectors, there was an alarming under-utilisation of funds in the 2018-19 fiscal.
  • The revised estimates for the year show that the National Rural Drinking Water Mission and the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana have utilised only 78 per cent and 50 per cent of the budgeted funds, respectively.
  • The government’s flagship programme, Swachh Bharat Mission (rural), also did not fully utilise the Rs 15,343 crore allocated in 2018-19.
  • Its allocation has been further reduced to Rs 10,000 crore for 2019-20.
  • The neglect of the ICDS under the UPA government has accelerated since 2014.
  • This year’s budgetary allocation for the scheme, in real terms, is still a touch below the expenditure of 2013-14.

Increasing out-of-pocket expenditure: majority of the treatment not covered by the insurance schemes

  • The modest increase in budgetary allocations in health should have been prioritised towards improving the worn-out public sector district hospitals, community health centres, primary health centres and sub-centres in under-served areas.
  • Instead, public money has been inefficiently used for the more expensive intervention of insurance, which can cover just 15 per cent of only in-patient OOPE.
  • NSS 2014 data shows that 97 per cent episodes of illnesses in India are treated in out-patient care centres and this accounts for 63 per cent of the overall medical expenditures.
  • So, a majority of the treatment and expenditures are not even covered by the insurance scheme for in-patient treatment.

Conclusion

  • Neglecting public health infrastructure and public provisioning to make way for monetary support in the form of insurance for buying healthcare services from the private sector is not pro-poor policy.
  • It is transfer of public funds to the corporate sector in the name of pumping technological interventions.
  • There is no surprise that the private sector has welcomed the government’s insurance initiative.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

A third of Hindu Kush Himalaya glaciers will melt by 2100

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | Changes in critical geographical features including water-bodies & ice-caps

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hindukush Range

Mains level: Impact of global warming on Himalayas


News

  • Two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers, the world’s “Third Pole”, could melt by 2100 if global emissions are not reduced, scientists warned in a major new study.

Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment

  1. The ‘Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment’ is released by the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).
  2. It provides insights into changes affecting one of the greatest mountain systems in the world.
  3. At least a third of the ice in the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush will melt down this century as temperatures rise, disrupting river flows vital for growing crops from China to India.
  4. And even if the “most ambitious” Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5° C is achieved, one-third of the glaciers would go, says the report.

Findings of the report

  1. Even if efforts are made to limit global warming to 1.5̊C by the end of the Century, the Hindu Kush Himalaya will warm by around 1.8 ̊C, the report has found.
  2. The warming will at least be 0.7 ̊C higher in the northwest Himalaya and Karakoram region.
  3. The HKH will warm more than the global mean and more rapidly at higher elevations.
  4. Even the most ambitious goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming would lead to a 2.1 spike in temperature in the HKH region leading to melting of one-third of the region’s glaciers.
  5. It also points out that the Tibetan Plateau, Central Himalayan Range and Karakoram will warm more than the HKH average.

About Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH)

  1. HKH region covers 3500 kms across eight countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
  2. It is the source of ten major river basins including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus in India.
  3. Two billion people are dependent on the HKH for their water needs across Asia.
  4. Glaciers in the HKH region are a critical water source for some 250 million people in the mountains as well as to 1.65 billion others in the river valleys below.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Emission levels rising faster in Indian cities than in China

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: Problem of Vehicular Pollution in India


News

  • Urbanisation is accelerating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in India at a faster than in China says a study that analysed the link between population density and emissions from transport, across India’s districts.
  • The study is to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

Vehicular emissions

  1. The experience in most developed countries was that urbanisation led to a reduction in emissions.
  2. More urbanisation meant shorter distances between the workplace and home and thereby, a preference for public transport.
  3. However this didn’t effectively apply to developing countries.
  4. On an average, an Indian emitted about 20 kg per capita while commuting for work, with the highest (140 kg CO2) in Gurugram district (Haryana) and the lowest (1.8 kg CO2) in Shrawasti district (UP).

Why blame New Delhi?

  1. Delhi had the highest commuting emissions per capita — a factor that also contributed to its high level of pollution — and the national capital region had 2.5 times higher commuting emissions than Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.
  2. Delhi’s higher socio-economic status and heavy reliance on private travel modes led to higher commuting emissions than in other megacities.
  3. There were several instances of districts with similar population density but varying per capita emissions.

Indian emission exceeds China

  1. In China a 1% increase in urbanisation was linked with a 0.12% increase in CO2 emissions whereas, in India, it translated into 0.24% increase in emissions, said the study.
  2. India’s CO2 emission grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2017 and its per-capita emission was about 1.8 tonnes.
  3. In spite of being the 4th largest emitter, India’s per capita emissions are much lower than the world average of 4.2 tonnes.
  4. But those emissions have been growing steadily, with an average growth rate over the past decade of 6%, according to data from the Global Carbon Project.

Fuel Price hike has no impact

  1. Fuel price hikes aren’t always a solution to curb emissions, the study says.
  2. With a ₹1 increase in diesel price, commuting emissions decreased by 11% in some districts whereas it only fell by about 3% in low-income districts.
  3. In total, India’s transport patterns are very climate friendly, and much better than those of Europe and the United States.
  4. Some districts are mostly relying on three-wheelers for short commuting distances, while others are highly urban, rich, and rely on cars.
  5. The mean commuting distance (among commuters) is 5.9 km, with the lowest 1.3 km in Longleng district (Nagaland) and the highest 14 km in Dharmapuri district (Tamil Nadu).
Air Pollution

Government submits resolution plan for IL&FS

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IL&FS crisis

Mains level: Too big to fail institutions and their risk of failing


News

  • The government has submitted the debt resolution plan for crisis-hit IL&FS to the NCLAT and also suggested the name of retired Supreme Court judge Justice D K Jain to supervise the entire process.

What is IL&FS Crisis?

  1. The IL&FS Ltd is an infrastructure finance company registered with the Reserve Bank of India as a ‘Systemically Important Non-Deposit Accepting Core Investment Company’, with over Rs.1,15,000 crore of assets and Rs. 91,000 crore of debt.
  2. IL&FS defaulted on a few payments and failed to service its commercial papers (CP) on the due date—which means the company has run out of cash or it is facing a liquidity crunch.
  3. The company piled up too much debt to be paid back in the short-term while revenues from its assets is skewed towards the longer term.

The Resolution Plan

  1. The entire resolution process would be based on the principles enunciated in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
  2. Under the plan, the government has categorised IL&FS group companies into green, amber and red based on their respective financial positions.
  3. The corporate affairs ministry has fixed September 30, 2018 as the cut-off date for entertaining the claims submitted by the lenders.
  4. During the conduct of the resolution process, payments will be permitted only to maintain and preserve the going concern status of the companies of the IL&FS group.

Declaring a bidder

  1. Upon receipt of the recommendations, a successful bidder would be declared, who will deposit the earnest money.
  2. Upon declaration of the bidder, documentation of the sale will be completed and the forwarded to National Company Law Tribunal for the final approval.
  3. According to the affidavit filed before the NCLAT, the classification of the IL&FS group companies is “based on a 12-month cash flow based solvency test”.

3 Categories

  1. Companies falling in the green categories are the entities, which will continue to meet their payment obligation.
  2. While companies falling in the amber category are those who are not able to meet their obligations but can meet only operational payment obligations to senior secured financial creditors.
  3. Amber category entities “are permitted to make only payments necessary to maintain and preserve the going concern”.
  4. Companies falling in the red category are the entities which can not meet their payment obligations towards even senior secured financial creditors.
  5. These companies would be permitted to make payment necessary to maintain and preserve the going concern status.

Asset Monetization Plan

  1. The distribution of the sale proceeds would be in accordance with the waterfall mechanism specified under section 53 of the IBC.
  2. Under Section 53 of IBC, senior secured creditors loans are cleared first and any surplus that remains thereafter is given to unsecured or subordinated creditors and thereafter to the equity owners.

For detailed reading on IL&FS crisis , navigate to the page:

[Burning Issue] IL&FS Crisis

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Centre may relax angel tax norms for start-ups, sets up panel

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Angel Tax

Mains level: Interventions required by the government to diversify India’s startup’s financing


News

  • The government has decided to set up a five-member working committee to look into the angel tax issue and come up with guidelines in one week.

What is angel tax?

  1. The ‘angel tax’, as it is commonly called, is a tax on the excess capital raised by an unlisted company through the issue of shares over and above the fair market value of those shares.
  2. This excess capital is treated as income and taxed accordingly.
  3. It most commonly affects start-ups and the angel investors who back them.

Who is an Angel Investor?

  1. An angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.
  2. It is also known as a business angel, informal investor, angel funder, private investor, or seed investor.

Problems with Angel tax

  1. There is no definitive or objective way to measure the ‘fair market value’ of a startup.
  2. Investors pay a premium for the idea and the business potential at the angel funding stage.
  3. However, tax officials seem to be assessing the value of the startups based on their net asset value at one point.
  4. Several startups say that they find it difficult to justify the higher valuation to tax officials.
  5. In a notification in May, 2018, the CBDT had exempted angel investors from the Angel Tax clause subject to fulfillment of certain terms and conditions, as specified by the DIPP (now DPIIT).

Proposed reforms

  1. Earlier, start-ups whose aggregate amount of paid-up share capital and share premium after the proposed issue of share does not exceed ₹10 crore are eligible for exemption from the tax.
  2. Officials representing the government agreed to raise this limit to ₹25 crore.
  3. They also agreed to amend the definition of a start-up to include companies that have been in operation for up to 10 years rather than the previous limit of seven years.
  4. The notification had said that the angel investor should have filed IT returns of at least ₹50 lakh for the year preceding the year in which the investment was made and have a net worth of ₹2 crore.
  5. This would be modified to be ₹25 lakh and ₹1 crore, respectively.

Scrapping Angel Tax is not possible

  1. The government is concerned about how to differentiate genuine start-ups from companies set up for money-laundering purposes.
  2. The angel tax could not be scrapped as money laundering is a major problem.
  3. There was a network of 200 shell companies and they have been under control since 2012, so it cannot be scrapped.
  4. However, concessions are under consideration with the size of the start-up, the duration of its operation, and the income of the angel investor.
Tax Reforms

[pib] Shekatkar Committee Recommendations

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Shekatkar Committee recommendations

Mains level: Modernization of Army


News

  • The Committee of Experts (CoE) constituted by the Ministry of Defence under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen (Retd) DB Shekatkar to recommend measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces, submitted its report in December 2016.
  • The Report was taken up by the Ministry of Defence to frame key action points and roadmap for implementation.

Recommendations taken up for implementation

  • Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies
  • Restructuring of repair echelons (designated rank) in the Army
  • Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.
  • Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport units.
  • Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
  • Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.
  • Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.
Indian Army Updates

[pib] Gems and Jewellery Domestic Council

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Committee for Gems and Jewellery

Mains level: The importance of gems and jewellery industry in India’s external trade


News

National Committee for Gems and Jewellery

  1. An Ad-hoc National Committee for Gems and Jewellery consisting 14 Members representing various associations of Gems and Jewellery Sector has been constituted.
  2. It is set to draft Memorandum and Article of Association and other Rules/Bye-laws of the Domestic Council.
  3. The Government is supporting the process of setting up of Domestic Council for Gems and Jewellery, to encourage and boost domestic gems and jewellery sector.
  4. It is envisaged that the domestic industry would be benefited from such a representative body which would be the forum for highlighting the issues and concerns of the industry that require redressal through policy measures.

Promoting Gems and Jewellery industries

Further, with a view to strengthen the National Committee for Gems and Jewellery in the country, the Government has taken a number of steps such as:

  • Establishment of Special Notified Zone (SNZ);
  • Setting up of Common Facility Centres for gem and jewellery sector;
  • Announcement of separate ITC HS Code for lab-grown diamonds;
  • Providing financial assistance for participation in international fairs,
  • Organizing buyer-seller meets,
  • Creation of export related infrastructure, etc.

Gems and Jewellery industries in India

  1. India is one of the largest exporters of Gems and Jewellery.
  2. The industry plays a vital role in the Indian economy for its role as a major contributor to the total foreign exchange reserves of the country.
  3. The overall net exports of Gems and Jewellery includes -cut and polished diamonds, gold jewellery and silver jewellery, gold coins and medallions.
  4. US, Hong Kong and UAE are the major exporters, who accounted for 75% of the total gems and jewellery exports from India during 2016-17.
  5. Other big importers of Indian jewellery include Russia, Singapore, Latin America and China.