[op-ed snap] Pathways to an income guarantee

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MIG

Mains level: Why there is a need of income support and how ut can be mobilised!


News

CONTEXT

The idea of a minimum income guarantee (MIG) has caught up with political parties. With the promise of the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) by the Congress party, it is clear that the MIG is going to be a major political issue for the coming general election.

What is MIG?

  • A MIG requires the government to pay the targeted set of citizens a fixed amount of money on a regular basis.

Income guarantee schemes at present

  • A limited version of the MIG in the form of the PM KISAN Yojana is already being implemented by the NDA government at the Centre.
  • State governments in Odisha and Telangana have their own versions of the MIG.

What is Nyay

  • NYAY is the most ambitious of these MIG schemes. It promises annual income transfers of ₹72,000 to each of the poorest five crore families comprising approximately 25 crore individuals.
  • If implemented, it will cost the exchequer ₹3.6 lakh crore per annum.

Concerns regarding such income guarantee scheme

  • Is there a case for additional spending of such a large sum on the poor? The answer is yes.
  • Can government finances afford it? No.
  • Even if the government can mobilise the required sum, is the scheme a good way of spending money on the poor? No.

The situation of the marginalised section

A.Situation of farmers

  • Many landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers suffer from multi-dimensional poverty.
  • Benefits of high economic growth during the last three decades have not percolated to these groups.
  • Welfare schemes have also failed to bring them out of destitution.
  • They have remained the poorest of Indians.

B.Workers

  • Contract and informal sector workers in urban areas face a similar problem.
  • Due to rapid mechanisation of low-skill jobs in the construction and retail sectors, employment prospects for them appear increasingly dismal.

Problems faced by the marginalised section

  • These groups are forced to borrow from moneylenders and adhatiyas (middlemen) at usurious rates of 24-60% per annum.
  • For instance, for marginal and small farmers, institutional lending accounts for only about 30% of their total borrowing.
  • The corresponding figure for landless agricultural workers is even worse at 15%.

The relevance of Additional Government spending

  • There is a strong case for direct income transfers to these groups.
  • The additional income can reduce their indebtedness and help them get by without falling into the clutches of the moneylender.

Constraints due to limited finances

  • However, the fiscal space is limited.
  • No government can afford it unless several existing welfare schemes are converted into direct income transfers, or the fiscal deficit is allowed to shoot up way above its existing level, 3.4% the GDP.

Effects of income guarantee

1. Positives

A.On Poverty

  • On the one hand, income transfers will surely reduce income inequalities and help bring a large number of households out of the poverty trap or prevent them from falling into it in the event of shocks such as illness or death of an earner.
  • The poor spend most of their income, and a boost in their income will provide a boost to economic activities by increasing overall demand.

B. On workers

  • In principle, the income supplement can come in handy as interest-free working capital for several categories of beneficiaries such as fruit and vegetable vendors and small artisans, and promote their businesses and employment.

C. On health and education

  • Studies show that even a small income supplement can improve nutrient intake at high levels of impoverishment.
  • Besides, it can increase school attendance for students coming from poor households.
  • This would mean improved health and educational outcomes, which in turn will make the working population more productive.
  • Moreover, with a modest income support the risk of beneficiaries opting out of the workforce will also be small.
  • Besides, a moderate income support can be extended to a larger set of poor households. For the lowest 40% (about 10 crore households), income is less than their consumption expenditure.

2.Negatives-

  • On the other hand, large income transfers can be inflationary, which will hurt the poor more than the rich.
  • At the same time, large cash transfers can result in withdrawal of beneficiaries from the labour force.
  • A MIG can also provide legitimacy to the state’s withdrawal of provisions of the basic services.

Identifying beneficiaries

  • the SECC along with the Agriculture Census of 2015-16 can help identify a larger set of poor based on verifiable criteria; namely, multidimensional poverty, landlessness and the marginal farmer.
  • Together, these criteria cover the bottom 40%, approximately 10 crore households.
  • Drawing upon the experiences with the poor-centric welfare schemes such as MNREGA, Saubhagya and Ujjwala and PM-KISAN, datasets can be prepared and used to update the list of needy households.
  • For these 10 crore households, to start with, the scheme will require ₹1.5 lakh crore per annum.
  • Nonetheless, the required amount is beyond the Centre’s fiscal capacity at the moment.
  • Therefore, the cost will have to be shared by the States. Still the scheme would have to be rolled out in phases, as was done for MGNREGA.

Way Forward

  • All considered, no income transfer scheme can be a substitute for universal basic services
  • The direct income support to the poor can deliver the intended benefits only if it comes as a supplement to the public services such as primary health and education.
  • This means that direct transfers should not be at the expense of public services for primary health and education.
  • Moreover, universal health and life insurance are equally important, and so is the case with crop insurance.
  • Each year, medical shocks and crop failures push many families into the poverty trap.
  • The scope of Ayushman Bharat needs to be expanded to include outdoor patient treatments. The PM Fasal Bima Yojana can be made more comprehensive by providing free and wider insurance coverage.

 

Direct Benefits Transfers

[op-ed snap] A stop sign

Note4Students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much.

Mains level: The news-card analyses how carbon emissions are rising in India and what can be done to improve efforts towards Paris Pledges.


NEWS

CONTEXT

International Energy Agency found that India’s carbon emissions grew by 4.8% during 2018, in spite of the national focus on climate change in energy policy.

Background of Indian carbon emission

  • There is wide recognition of the fact that Indians are not historically responsible for the problem.
  • it is the rich nations led by the U.S. that have pumped in the stock of carbon dioxide linked to extreme climate impacts being witnessed around the globe.
  • As the IEA points out, India’s emissions have grown, but per capita they remain less than 40% of the global average.

The situation regarding efforts to handle global climate change

  • Equity among nations is therefore at the centre of the discussion on energy emissions, and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is central to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Reassuring as this may be, the universal challenge of climate change has grown to such proportions that urgent action to sharply cut carbon emissions is crucial, and all countries, including India, must act quickly.
  • Intensive measures in key sectors — scaling up renewables to raise their share in the energy mix, greening transport, updating building codes and raising energy efficiency — will help meet the national pledge under the Paris Agreement to cut energy intensity of GDP by 33-35% by 2030, over 2005 levels.

Progress in the usage of renewables sources

  • At the global level, renewable sources of energy grew by 7% during 2018, but that pace is grossly insufficient, considering the rise in demand.
  • Moreover, it was China and Europe that contributed the bulk of those savings, in large measure from solar and wind power, indicating that India needs to ramp up its capacity in this area.
  • In fact, as the founder of the International Solar Alliance, India should lead the renewables effort.

Challenges in India

A.Rooftop solar photovoltaics

in spite of falling prices and rising efficiency, the potential of rooftop solar photovoltaics remains poorly utilised. It is time State power utilities are made responsible for defined rates of growth in the installation of rooftop systems.

B.coal power plants

A second priority area is the cleaning up of coal power plants, some of which are young and have decades of use ahead.

C. India’s record in promoting green transport has been uninspiring, and emissions from fossil fuels and the resulting pollution are rising rapidly.

Way Forward

  1. Cleaning coal plant – It should be aided by the UNFCCC, which can help transfer the best technologies for carbon capture, use and storage, and provide financial linkage from the $100 billion annual climate fund proposed for 2020.
  2. Reliance on electric vehicles– The Centre’s plan to expand electric mobility through financial incentives for buses, taxis and two-wheelers needs to be pursued vigorously, especially in the large cities.
  3. Inevitably, India will have to raise its ambition on emissions reduction, and participate in the global stocktaking of country-level action in 2023.
  4. It has the rare opportunity to choose green growth, shunning fossil fuels for future energy pathways and infrastructure.

 

Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

[op-ed snap] A reality check

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSC

Mains level: Impact of China’s Block on listing of Masood Azhar and USA’s efforts to counter the chinese move


NEWS

CONTEXT

The U.S. move to take a listing request for Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Masood Azhar directly to the UN Security Council is an indicator of the frustration of a majority of the Council’s permanent members with China’s refusal to budge on the issue.

Reason for banning Azhar

  • JeM was banned in 2001 with a listing at the UNSC that names Azhar as its founder and financier
  • He was accused of working with al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden
  • He was seen by the entire world on TV screens as he was exchanged for hostages at Kandahar following the 1999 Indian Airlines hijack,
  • Since 2001, the JeM and Azhar have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks that resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent persons, including, most recently, the February 14 attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama.

China’s Stand on resolution

  • China has used its veto on Azhar’s listing at the 1267 UNSC Sanctions Committee four times in the past decade, evidently to protect Pakistan.
  • Its stand on Azhar is at variance with the otherwise tough stand on terror in Xinjiang province.
  • Also, it has allowed terrorists and groups based in Pakistan to be listed at the UNSC since 2001 and agreed to “grey list” Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force for terror financing.
  • Just on Thursday, it joined other UNSC members in passing a resolution against terror financing.

Us recent initiatives on issue

  • With the latest proposal, the U.S. plans to “shame” China by bringing the Azhar listing to a public debate at the UNSC.
  • And if that fails, it is reportedly considering a UN General Assembly statement condemning Azhar.
  • The listing of Azhar is an unfinished task India is justified in pursuing.

Concerns with Us’s proposal

  • However, the latest U.S. move comes with some concerns.
  • To begin with, there is no indication that China is ready to change its stand, particularly in the face of coercion or threat from the U.S., and it could veto this proposal as well.
  • There appears to be little to be gained at present by forcing China further into Pakistan’s corner, especially as New Delhi has said it would pursue the Azhar listing with China with “patience and persistence”, in keeping with its desire not to sacrifice the bilateral relationship over the issue.
  • It is equally unlikely that a world power like China would be moved by the threat of public humiliation.

Conclusion

New Delhi must applaud the strong support the U.S. and the other UNSC members have provided on the issue of cross-border terror threats, and on the vexed issue of Azhar’s listing. But it must be careful not to stake too much on an immediate win at the UNSC vis-a-vis China, and keep its expectations realistic.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

[pib] GI Certification for five varieties of Indian coffee

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Issues relating to intellectual property rights

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Various varieties of coffee mentioned

Mains level: GI Indications and their importance


News

  • The DPIIT has recently awarded Geographical Indication (GI) to five varieties of Indian coffee.
  • The recognition and protection that comes with GI certification will allow the coffee producers of India to invest in maintaining the specific qualities of the coffee grown in that particular region.
  • It will also enhance the visibility of Indian coffee in the world and allow growers to get maximum price for their premium coffee.

GI Tag for 5 Indian Coffee varieties

  1. Coorg Arabica coffee 
  • It is grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.
  1. Wayanaad Robusta coffee 
  • It is grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.
  1. Chikmagalur Arabica coffee 
  • It is grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district and it is situated in the Deccan plateau, belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka.
  1. Araku Valley Arabica coffee 
  • It is coffee from the hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region at an elevation of 900-1100 Mt MSL.
  • The coffee produce of Araku, by the tribals, follows an organic approach in which they emphasise management practices involving substantial use of organic manures, green manuring and organic pest management practices.
  1. Bababudangiris Arabica coffee 
  • It is grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and the region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district.
  • Selectively hand-picked and processed by natural fermentation, the cup exhibits full body, acidity, mild flavour and striking aroma with a note of chocolate.
  • This coffee is also called high grown coffee which slowly ripens in the mild climate and thereby the bean acquires a special taste and aroma.

Coffee cultivation in India

  • In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers of which 98% are small farmers. Coffee cultivation is mainly done in the Southern States of India:
  1. Karnataka – 54%
  2. Kerala – 19%
  3. Tamil Nadu – 8%
  • Coffee is also grown in non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (17.2%) and North East States (1.8%).
  • The Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee, a unique specialty coffee from India, was given GI certification earlier.

Unique features of Indian Coffee

  • India is the only country in the world where the entire coffee cultivation is grown under shade, hand-picked and sun dried.
  • India produces some of the best coffee in the world, grown by tribal farmers in the Western and Eastern Ghats, which are the two major bio-diversity hotspots in the world.
  • Indian coffee is highly valued in the world market and sold as premium coffee in Europe.
  • Recently the Coffee Board of India has collaborated with Bengaluru-based digital Eka Software Solutions (Eka Plus) for development of a blockchain-based marketplace application.
GI(Geographical Indicator) Tags

Hump-backed Mahseer

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Hump-backed Mahseer

Mains Level: Read the attached story 


News

  • The hump-backed Mahseer, found in the waters of the Cauvery, has been added to the IUCN Red List with Critically Endangered Status.

Hump-backed Mahseer

  • The hump-backed mahseer is a large freshwater fish also called the tiger of the water and found only in the Cauvery river basin including Kerala’s Pambar, Kabini and Bhavani rivers.
  • It is now “Critically Endangered”: more threatened than the tiger is, as per the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
  • The fish is one of the 229 species added to the Red List last November; this update also reveals that the threat status of 12 other Indian species, including great hornbills, has increased.
  • The inclusion was possible only once the fish got its scientific name last June—Tor remadevii.

5 other species added

  • Five other species have also made it to threatened categories: two wild orchids, the Arabian scad (a marine fish) and two wild coffee species found only in a few localities in the Western Ghats.

More threats to Hornbill

  • The great hornbill was earlier categorised as “Near Threatened”.
  • It is now “Vulnerable” due to high hunting pressure coupled with habitat loss and deforestation, while the wreathed hornbill has moved from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable”.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Government sets up group to monitor terror sympathizers

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Security| Linkages of organized crime with terrorism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: TMG

Mains level: Militancy and cross-border terrorism in India


News

  • To take action against “hard core sympathizers among government employees, including teachers, who are providing covert or overt support” to terror-related activities, the MHA has formed a Terror Monitoring Group (TMG).

Terror Monitoring Group

  • In order to ensure synergized and concerted action against terror financing and other related activities in J&K, a multi-disciplinary monitoring group comprising eight members has been constituted.
  • The TMG has to take coordinated action in all registered cases that relate to terror financing and terror-related activities and bring them to a logical conclusion.

Composition

  • The TMG will be chaired by Additional DGP, CID of J&K Police, and include Inspector General of Police of J&K and Additional Director of IB, J&K, as members.
  • It will also have representatives from the CBI, NIA, CBDT and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.

Terms of reference

  • It will identify all key persons, including leaders of the organisation(s), who are involved in supporting terrorism in any form and take concerted action against them.
  • The TMG will investigate the networks of various channels being used to fund terror and terror activities and take coordinated action to stop flow of such funds.
  • The group will meet on a weekly basis and submit action-taken report regularly to the MHA.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Island Protection Zone (IPZ), 2019

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IPZ notification

Mains level: Features of the IPZ


News

  • The MoEFCC has notified Island Protection Zone (IPZ) 2019 for Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 IPZ Notification, 2019

  • The notification relaxes development norms in the islands compared to the IPZ notification of 2011, which stipulated a no-development zone (NDZ) of 200 metres from the HTL for all islands.
  • This brings the norms for Andaman and Nicobar at par with coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms for other islands close to the mainland and backwater islands where an NDZ only 20 metres from HTL has been stipulated.
  • The cabinet had approved the CRZ notification in 2018 which relaxed a number of provisions in the CRZ 2011 to facilitate infrastructure development and construction on the coast.
  • It included easing floor area ratio (FAR) in coastal urban areas and slashing the NDZ in densely populated coastal rural areas to 50 metres from HTL as compared to 200 metres earlier.
  • The legal changes in the IPZ are aligned with the Niti Ayog’s proposal for holistic development in the Islands which is being taken forward under the guidance of the Island Development Agency.

Features of the IPZ, 2019

  • It allows for eco-tourism activities like mangrove walks, tree huts and nature trails in island coastal regulation zone IA (classified as the most eco-sensitive region of the islands which includes turtle nesting grounds, marshes, coral reefs etc).
  • The notification also allows for construction of roads, roads on stilts by reclaiming land in exceptional cases for defence installations, public utilities or strategic purposes in eco-sensitive zones.
  • It states that in case construction of such roads pass through mangroves, a minimum three times the mangrove area destroyed during the construction process shall be taken up for compensatory plantation of mangroves elsewhere.
  • These were not allowed under the IPZ 2011 notification which only permitted pipelines, transmission lines, trans-harbor links to be laid in the eco-sensitive zone.
  • The new notification also allows a number of new activities in the inter-tidal zone between low tide line and HTL.
  • This includes land reclamation and bunding for foreshore facilities like ports, harbours, jetties, wharves, quays, sea links etc, transfer of hazardous substances from ships to ports, manual mining of atomic minerals, and mining of sand with permission from local authorities in non-eco-sensitive sites.
Coastal Zones Management and Regulations

Parking management plan for Delhi

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: Impact of privately owned vehicles in Delhi’s air pollution


News

  • After the Supreme Court direction, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has put forth a parking management plan for New Delhi.

Management of parking in Delhi

  • In its report, the EPCA assessed the state of residential parking in Delhi and observed that free parking on public land continues to be a city-wide menace.
  • The EPCA highlighted a serious crisis of night-time parking, which was in turn leading to obstruction on roads and problems with the movement of emergency vehicles, including ambulances, fire engines, etc.
  • Lack of regulation or charges over parking on public land also adds to the menace, as most car owners, in order to avoid parking charges, shift to parking on the streets adding to congestion on the road.
  • The EPCA stressed on joint management of parking spaces to ensure that there is coordination between different road type’s service roads and residential lanes and commercial and mixed land use areas.

MCLPs remain un-utilized

  • The Multi-Level Car Parks (MLCPs) remain highly under-utilized in Delhi because there is no parking charge on public land.
  • The parking in residential areas is not regulated or priced. There is, therefore, no incentive to use the multi-level parking lots or to pay for these.
  • Further, it makes note that the MLCPs are working at a loss, and these are just operational costs which “do not account for the price of land, which is exorbitant as these parking lots are located in prime residential areas.”

Key recommendations listed in EPCA report:

  • Implementing agencies are unanimous that residential parking will have to be regulated and managed
  • Parking spill over from residential buildings will require management
  • Multiplicity of responsibility is at the core of the problems of governance in the city and parking regulations must not add to this
  • Pricing for residential parking should be determined jointly by the local agency and RWA/shop-keepers association but it must be based on the principle of charging differential and higher rates for additional cars
  • The local parking plan must ensure that there is provision for movement of emergency vehicles and green areas, parks and footpaths may not be allowed to be used for parking
  • The Delhi Police may be directed to greatly improve enforcement against illegal and unauthorised parking through state-of-the art equipment, including cameras and automated challans
Air Pollution