March 2019
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[op-ed snap] A law for the CBI

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing much

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively explains instances of the weakening of CBI and why there is a need of making a law.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The CBI, legally known as Delhi Special Police Establishment, has been in  controversies lately. It can not function in a state unless the matter is referred to it by a high court or the Supreme Court or by the consent of the state government concerned.

Need to make a law for CBI

  • There was always a demand for an all-India legislation to give the CBI statutory powers over central government employees posted anywhere in the country.
  • State governments have resisted such a law on the plea that a central agency would take away the powers of policing vested in them.
  • The ruling party in a state, sometimes genuinely and many times on flimsy grounds, has denied permission to the CBI to investigate matters. Recently, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and earlier Karnataka, Nagaland and Sikkim had withdrawn consent to the CBI to operate.
  • Recent turmoil was in Kolkata, when the CBI team tried to enter the residence of the Kolkata police commissioner, either to interrogate him or to intimidate him.

Other Instances

  • There have been other instances when the CBI faced off with other law enforcement agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Income Tax Authorities (ITA), Directorate of Enforcement and police forces of different states.
  • These were also due to the CBI lacking legal powers to operate on an all-India basis.
  • Such instances do not sit well with a system where rule of law is paramount.

Conclusion

There is an urgent need to giving statutory backing to the CBI on an all India basis with a constitutional amendment, with the consent of at least half of the state legislatures. Otherwise, such conflict will recur and eventually give rise to unnecessary controversies.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed sanap] An opening in Abu Dhabi

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OIC

Mains level: OIC’s Invitation to India and change in relationship with Islamic world.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The invitation to Swaraj, coming 50 years after Pakistan compelled the OIC to disinvite India from the founding session, marks the emerging possibilities for India.

Importance of this invitation

  • India getting an invite to address the gathering of the foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation may not look like a big deal.
  • OIC has the distinction of competing with the Non Aligned Movement and the League of Arab Nations for the unflattering tag of the world’s most ineffective international organisation.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s participation at the meeting in Abu Dhabi is a significant discontinuity in India’s engagement with the Muslim world.
  • Its recasting India’s relations with the Middle East.

Change in the relationship with the middle east

  • Modi’s felicity to be befriend apparent adversaries — Saudi Arabia and Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, Egypt and Turkey as well as Israel and Palestine.
  • Real breakthrough under Modi is the transformation of India’s engagement with the conservative Arab monarchies, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These two Muslim states have long been Pakistan’s closest international partners. Islamabad has flaunted ties to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as reflecting its special religious connect to the Middle East.
  • dia’s expanding political ties with the UAE and the House of Saud go back a number of years, they have acquired a special strategic character under Modi.

Shared  Interests

  • Relationship is also rooted in the shared interest between India and the Arab conservatives in blunting the edge of religious extremism and terrorism.
  • In the past, the conservative Arab monarchies were happy to turn a blind eye to the dangers of encouraging political Islam and condoning the Pakistan army’s support for terror and religious extremism in South Asia.
  • Today, no governments are more threatened by forces of religious destabilisation than the Arab monarchies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Equally important has been the region’s growing economic and energy interdependence with India, which is emerging as the world’s third-largest economy and one of the biggest hydrocarbon importers and labour exporters.
  • As the region’s geopolitics enters a turbulent period, the potential for India as a military partner is also coming into view.
  • That India has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, of course, is the immediate explanation of the surprising invite for Swaraj to address the OIC.

Pakistan’s expected Response

  • Pakistani establishment must be expected to redouble the effort to poison India’s ties with the OIC.
  • It will not miss any opportunity to use the OIC to criticise India’s Kashmir policy.

Relevance of OIC

  • Like NAM again, the OIC is a toothless tiger when it comes to dealing with squabbles among member states.
  • Since everyone has a veto on what is said, nothing serious can be said,  about the many serious disputes between the member states that are now shaping the Middle East.
  • If Third Worldism in the case of NAM and pan-Arabism in the case of the League did not bind them into a cohesive force, Islamic identity was never going to be too strong a glue for the OIC.
  • While the OIC raises concerns about Muslim minorities in non-member states, it could never take up the problems that Shia or Sunni minorities face in countries across the Middle East.

Conclusion

The invitation to Swaraj, coming 50 years after Pakistan compelled the OIC to disinvite India from the founding session, marks the emerging possibilities for India to break out this unfortunate legacy. A non-ideological and interest-based relationship suits both India and the conservative Islamic states in the Middle East. Moving towards this new framework has allowed both sides to stop being defensive about engaging with each other.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

[op-ed snap] Jobs growth: Digitally-enabled mass services to be game changer

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Internet of things, blockchain tech, big data, etc.

Mains level: Importance of digital technology in creating growth and jobs.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Digital technologies have the same potential to transform the paradigm of economic growth and jobs through mass services, and India is well positioned to lead this paradigm shift as England, the US and China had done earlier.

Nature of revolutions in past and present

  • In the last 150 years, the world has seen three industrial revolutions starting with the steam engine in the 19th century, mass manufacturing in the mid-20th one and the internet in late 20th century.
  • Now we are embarking on the fourth industrial revolution led by digital technologies which will once again reshape the paradigm for economic growth and job.

What is the mass production?

  • Mass production refers to the production of a large number of similar products efficiently and typically is characterized by some type of mechanization to achieve high volume, detailed organization of materials flow, careful control of quality standards and division of labor.

Potential of digital technologies as mass production

  • Digital technologies have the same potential to transform the paradigm of economic growth and jobs through mass services, and India is well positioned to lead this paradigm shift as England, the US and China had done earlier.
  • Like mass manufacturing technologies, digital technologies dramatically alter the cost-price equation of services which can lead to the creation of a virtuous cycle of growth, competition, investments and new jobs.

Ways to create growth

  • Digital technology does this in four different ways. First, it drives productivity. For example, large asset managers, by leveraging the digital technology stack, have reduced customer acquisition and operations costs by 10-100 times.
  • Secondly, it has the unique characteristic of allowing ‘fractionalisation’ or in consumer vocabulary, ‘sachetisation’, i.e, breaking down the service into small consumption offers.
  • The third is its unique characteristic to allow integration of physical and digital assets and processes to drive down price, induce consumption and grow the market, e.g, taxi aggregators or e-commerce.
  • Finally, the digital and digitally-enabled businesses also spur innovation by entrepreneurs to find new value creation opportunities through the exploitation of the power of data and analytics across the value chains.

Factors contributing to India being a leader in digital services growth

  • The first is the huge unmet demand for services and a decent starting position in service sectors.
  • India has both, with services being the largest part of its economy, unlike other developing countries, but still with huge unmet demand existing across sectors, especially health, education, financial services, logistics and transportation, government and municipal services, tourism, and agricultural services.
  • A world-class public digital infrastructure as the backbone of mass service sectors, as high quality public physical infrastructure like roads, ports, and airports was the backbone of the mass manufacturing industry.
  • India has a world-leading starting position on this front with its digital stack consisting of Jan Dhan (banking for all), Aadhaar (digital identifier for all), and mobile connectivity, and public applications like e-KYC (for e-authentication), digi-locker (for digital storage), e-signature (digital signature recognition), BHIM (a national payments gateway).
  • Together, they constitute a comprehensive digital architecture which offers open APIs as public infrastructure which private and public enterprises can integrate into their digital platforms to transform the cost-price equations of a wide range of services.

Interventions that are needed to be  taken

  • The first is setting standards for data flows which are the backbone of any service offering—in terms of both interoperability and privacy.
  • Secondly, a regulator is required which has the technical skills and understanding to develop and regulate the revenue sharing arrangements between partners in the digital ecosystem to create an efficient market.
  • Finally, a public policy case can be made for creating societal digital platforms for all public goods like education and health and which are offered for free for the development of business solutions by entrepreneurs.
  • GSTN can be one such powerful public digital platform which, of course with necessary privacy protections in place, can help entrepreneurs develop truly innovative financial products which can, for example, solve the huge challenge of funding faced by small enterprises.

 

Examples of mass service Success

  • We have experienced it in India to drive growth and create new jobs in the telecom sector after it was liberalised in the mid-1990s. At that time, the price of a phone call was over Rs 16 per minute and the total subscriber base was just above 1 million. As the cost per minute fell below Rs 1 (currently it is Rs 0.19), the number of subscribers expanded exponentially (today we have over 1.13 billion today) showing the scale of unmet need in the market.

Conclusion

The twenty-first century will see the emergence of mass services as the driver of economic and jobs growth, much as mass manufacturing did in the twentieth. India has a great starting point to be an early leader in this fourth industrial era. Whether we grasp this opportunity or lose the plot, as we did with the third industrial transformation (internet-driven low-cost manufacturing), only time will tell.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN Yojana

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: PM JIVAN Yojana

Mains level: Aim and particulars of the Scheme


News

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana.
  • It aims for providing financial support to Integrated Bio-ethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.

PM JI-VAN Scheme

  • Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has targeted to achieve 10% blending percentage of Ethanol in petrol by 2022.
  • Therefore, an alternate route viz. Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from biomass and other wastes is being explored by MoP&NG to bridge the supply gap for EBP programme.
  • The PM JI-VAN Yojana is being launched as a tool to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector.
  • Centre for High Technology (CHT), a technical body under the aegis of MoP&NG, will be the implementation Agency for the scheme.
  • The policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.

Features of the Scheme

  1. The scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.
  2. The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under EBP Programme.
  3. Apart from supplementing the targets envisaged by the Government under EBP programme, the scheme will also have the following benefits:
  • Meeting Government of India vision of reducing import dependence by way of substituting fossil fuels with Biofuels.
  • Achieving the GHG emissions reduction targets through progressive blending/ substitution of fossil fuels.
  • Addressing environment concerns caused due to burning of biomass/ crop residues & improve health of citizens.
  • Improving farmer income by providing them remunerative income for their otherwise waste agriculture residues.
  • Creating rural & urban employment opportunities in 2G Ethanol projects and Biomass supply chain.
  • Contributing to Swacch Bharat Mission by supporting the aggregation of non­food biofuel feedstocks such as waste biomass and urban waste.
  • Indigenizing of Second Generation Biomass to Ethanol technologies.

Implementation

  1. The JI-VAN Yojana will be supported with total financial outlay of Rs.1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24.
  2. Under this project, 12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:
  • Phase-I  (2018-19  to  2022-23)
  • Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24)

Back2Basics

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

  1. Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol.
  2. It aimed to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning, provide remuneration to farmers, subsidize crude imports and achieve forex savings.
  3. Presently, EBP is being run in 21 States and 4 UTs of the country.
  4. Under EBP programme, OMCs are to blend upto 10% of ethanol in Petrol.
Biofuel Policy

[pib] National Policy on Software Products – 2019

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 Policy on Software Products – 2019

Mains level: Software industries in India


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the National Policy on Software Products – 2019 to develop India as a Software Product Nation.
  • It aims to develop India as the global software product hub, driven by innovation, improved commercialization, sustainable Intellectual Property (IP), promoting technology start­ups and specialized skill sets.

National Policy on Software Products – 2019

  1. The Policy will lead to the formulation of several schemes, initiatives, projects and measures for the development of Software products sector in the country as per the roadmap envisaged therein.
  2. To achieve the vision of NPSP-2019, the Policy has the following Missions:
  • To promote the creation of a sustainable Indian software product industry, driven by intellectual property (IP).
  • To nurture 10,000 technology startups in software product industry and generating direct and in-direct employment for 3.5 million people by 2025.
  • To create a talent pool for software product industry
  • To build a cluster-based innovation driven ecosystem
  • In order to evolve and monitor scheme & programmes for the implementation of this policy, National Software Products Mission will be set up with participation from Government, Academia and Industry.

Impact

  1. The Indian IT Industry has predominantly been a service Industry.
  2. Its software product ecosystem is characterized by innovations, Intellectual Property (IP) creation and large value addition increase in productivity.
  3. It has the potential to significantly boost revenues and exports in the sector, create substantive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging technologies.
  4. With this policy, it can leverage opportunities available under the Digital India Programme, thus, leading to a boost in inclusive and sustainable growth.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Rhinos without borders is conservation credo

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Rhino

Mains level: Wildlife conservation efforts


News

  • International boundaries will not come in the way of conservation of rhinos, said representatives of Asian countries where the one-horned herbivore thrives.

New Delhi Declaration

  • The Declaration was recently adopted at the second meeting of the Asian rhino range countries.
  • It underscored trans-boundary collaboration among India, Nepal, and Bhutan for the conservation and protection of the greater one-horned rhino.

Rhinos without Borders

  • There are no rhinos in Bhutan, but some from the Manas National Park in adjoining Assam or Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal are known to cross over occasionally.
  • In Feb, the National Rhino Conservation Strategy for India called for active engagement between India and Nepal to protect the species.
  • The plan said the single population of rhinos in Sukla-Phanta (Nepal), Valmiki Tiger Reserve (India) and Chitwan National Park (Nepal) and Dudhwa (India) is separated by the political boundary between the two countries.

Why such move?

  • Once ranging from China to Bangladesh, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are nearing extinction.
  • Indonesia and Malaysia are the other Asian countries where the last of the rhinos live.
  • The current global population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros is 3,584.
  • Assam’s Kaziranga National Park has the bulk of 2,938 rhinos in India while Nepal 646.

Almost extinct

  • The Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhino species and the only Asian rhino with two horns, became extinct in the wild in Malaysia.
  • There is only one found now in the Sabah island of Malaysia while Indonesia has a few.

Back2Basics

India Rhinos

  • The greater one-horned rhinoceros or the great Indian rhinoceros, is a rhinoceros native to the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as populations are fragmented and restricted to less than 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi).
  • It is found in the Terai grasslands of southern Nepal, northern Uttar Pradesh, northern Bihar, northern West Bengal, and in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam.
  • As of 2008, a total of 2,575 mature individuals were estimated to live in the wild.
  • Kaziranga had less than 10 rhinos when it was declared a protected area for the animal in 1905.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[pib] Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019

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: Particulars of the ordinance

Mains level: Impact of reservations in J&K


News

Reservations to J&K people

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of Jammu & Kashmir Government to issue “The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019′ by the President of India.
  • It provides for amendments in the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 to bringing persons residing in the areas adjoining International Border within the ambit of reservation.
  • It will pave the way to extend reservation in jobs, promotions and education to people living 10 km from the International Border (IB) in Jammu.
  • Earlier the benefits were only reserved for people living 10 km beyond the Line of Control (LoC) and affected by shelling and firing from across the border.

Background

  • People living near the International Border have been brought at par with those living near the LoC for reservation in State Government jobs by amending the J&K Reservation Act, 2004 through an Ordinance.
  • Earlier, the provision of 3% reservation was available only for youth living within 6 kms of LoC in J&K.
  • Now, this provision will be applicable for people living near the international border also.
  • This has been a long-pending demand of the population living near the international border, as they have been facing the brunt of cross border firing in J&K.

Impact

  • 10% reservation for economically weaker sections made applicable in J&K also.
  • Benefit of promotion to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which include Gujjars and Bakarwals amongst others, has also been made applicable to the State of J&K.
  • After a long wait of 24 years, the 77th Constitution Amendment of 1995 has now been applied to the State of J&K.

Why such move?

  • The reservation benefits under the 2004 act are not extended to the persons residing in the areas adjoining International Border.
  • Due to continuous cross border tensions, persons living alongside International Border suffer from socio-economic and educational backwardness.
  • Shelling from across the border often compels these residents to move to safer places and is adversely impacting their education as Educational Institutions remain closed for long periods.
  • Hence, it was felt justifiable to extend the reservation benefits to persons residing in the areas adjoining International Border on the similar lines of the persons living in areas adjoining Actual Line of Control (ALoC).
J&K – The issues around the state

[pib] National Mineral Policy, 2019

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  National Mineral Policy, 2008

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved National Mineral Policy 2019.
  • National Mineral Policy 2019 replaces the extant National Mineral Policy 2008 (“NMP 2008”) which was announced in year 2008.

National Mineral Policy, 2019

Key features

  • The 2019 Policy proposes to grant status of industry to mining activity to boost financing of mining for private sector and for acquisitions of mineral assets in other countries by private sector.
  • It also mentions that Long term import export policy for mineral will help private sector in better planning and stability in business.
  • The Policy also mentions rationalize reserved areas given to PSUs which have not been used and to put these areas to auction, which will give more opportunity to private sector for participation.
  • It also mentions to make efforts to harmonize taxes, levies & royalty with world benchmarks to help private sector.

Other Features

  • NMP 2019 proposes a long term export import policy for the mineral sector to provide stability and as an incentive for investing in large scale commercial mining activity.
  • Regarding the role of state in mineral development online public portal with provision for generating triggers at higher level in the event of delay of clearances has been put in place.
  • NMP 2019 aims to attract private investment through incentives while the efforts would be made to maintain a database of mineral resources and tenements under mining tenement systems.
  • The new policy focuses on use coastal waterways and inland shipping for evacuation and transportation of minerals and encourages dedicated mineral corridors to facilitate the transportation of minerals.
  • The utilization of the district mineral fund for equitable development of project affected persons and areas.

Inter-Generational Equity

  • The 2019 Policy also introduces the concept of Inter-Generational Equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the generations to come.
  • It also proposes to constitute an inter-ministerial body to institutionalize the mechanism for ensuring sustainable development in mining.
Coal and Mining Sector