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Recognizing a National Party

Mains Paper 2 : Representation Of People's Act |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National/State Political Parties

Mains level : Political Parties and their dynamics


News

  • Recently a political party viz. National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya got recognition as a “national party”.
  • The NPP is the eighth party to get that recognition — after INC, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and TMC — and the first from the Northeast.

Recognizing a National Party

  • The Election Commission lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”.
  • The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
  • A party has to satisfy any one of a number of these conditions.

For recognition as a NATIONAL PARTY, the conditions specified are:

  1. a 6% vote share in the last Assembly polls in each of any four states, as well as four seats in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
  2. 2% of all Lok Sabha seats in the last such election, with MPs elected from at least three states; or
  3. recognition as a state party in at least four states.

For recognition as a STATE PARTY, any one of five conditions needs to be satisfied:

  1. two seats plus a 6% vote share in the last Assembly election in that state; or
  2. one seat plus a 6% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election from that state; or
  3. 3% of the total Assembly seats or 3 seats, whichever is more; or
  4. one of every 25 Lok Sabha seats (or an equivalent fraction) from a state; or
  5. an 8% state-wide vote share in either the last Lok Sabha or the last Assembly polls.

Benefits of such recognition

  • The biggest advantage of being recognized is getting the reserved symbol. A party recognized as a state party gets a reserved symbol within the state.
  • For National Parties, the reserved symbol can be used across the country by its contesting candidates. This is one the biggest advantages since symbol plays a very important role in elections.
  • There are also other advantages to the recognized parties like subsidized land for party offices, free air time on Doordarshan & All India Radio, supply of electoral roll copies free of cost during elections etc.

Losing the recognition

  • Once recognised as a national or a state party, a political party retains that status irrespective of its performance in the next elections.
  • It loses the given status only if it fails to fulfil any of the conditions for two successive Assembly and two successive Lok Sabha elections.
Electoral Reforms In India

National Data Warehouse

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Data Warehouse (proposed)

Mains level : Need for NDW


News

Setting up National Data Warehouse

  • The statistical reforms are necessary for ensuring responsiveness to the changing needs of society.
  • The statistics ministry said that it proposes to set up a NDW with a view to leveraging big data analytical tools to further improve the quality of macro-economic aggregates.
  • Here technology will be leveraged for using big data analytical tools for further improving the quality of macro-economic aggregates.
  • Efforts are also on to evolve a legislative framework under which the National Statistical Commission (NSC) may function with independence and give holistic guidance for improving the national statistical system.

Why such move?

  • Over a period of time, there have been increasing demands on the statistical system for the production of relevant and quality statistics.
  • MoSPI has been criticised in some sections for the quality of macro-economic data.
  • The Ministry said revision in GDP estimates occur when data coverage from administrative sources improves over time and these improvements get well documented.
  • Consequently, the initial estimates of GDP tend to be conservative.
  • To improve this, it would require concomitant changes in the sectoral data flows and associated regulatory framework in the data source agencies to facilitate the use of more macro modelling techniques.

Recent initiatives

  • The Ministry has been accommodating these demands by optimizing the available resources and use of technology.
  • The recent step for the merger of CSO and NSSO was aimed at leveraging the strengths of the two organisations so that it can meet the increasing demands, MoSPI said.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

Project Sashakt

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project Sashakt

Mains level : Curbing NPAs


News

  • RBI made it mandatory for lenders to enter into an Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA) during the review of the borrower account within 30 days from date of first default to any lender.
  • ICA allows banks to decide resolution strategy outside the IBC and it will help lenders to accelerate process to resolve stressed assets.

New Framework under Sashakt

  • The Sashakt ICA can be modified to incorporate the requirements of New Framework and serve as the Master Inter-Creditor Agreement for resolution of all stressed asset.
  • Under the new framework, it is a mandatory requirement for lenders to enter into an Inter-Creditor Agreement (ICA) during the review of the borrower account within 30 days from date of first default to any lender.
  • The New Framework further lays down some parameters to be included in the ICA including decision-making by lenders holding 75% (by value of total outstanding facilities) and 60% by number and protection of dissenting lenders.
  • The ICA is required to be executed by all lenders covered under the New Framework and asset reconstruction companies.

What is Project Sashakt?

  • Project Sashakt was proposed by a panel led by PNB chairman Sunil Mehta to help consolidate stressed assets.
  • Bad loans of up to ₹ 50 crore will be managed at the bank level, with a deadline of 90 days.
  • For bad loans of ₹ 50-500 crore, banks will enter an inter-creditor agreement, authorizing the lead bank to implement a resolution plan in 180 days, or refer the asset to NCLT.
  • For loans above ₹ 500 crore, the panel recom­mended an independent AMC, supported by institutional funding through the AIF.

Working

  • According to the committee, banks will have to set up an AMC under which there will be multiple sector-specific AIFs.
  • These funds will invest in the stressed assets bought by existing (Asset Reconstruction Companies) ARCs, such as ARCIL.
  • The ARCs will use the Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) to redeem security receipts issued to banks against the bad loans.
  • Other AMC-AIFs and ARCs will be allowed to bid for these assets, and match the pricing offered by ARCIL or the national AMC.
  • The AMC will be responsible for the operational turnaround of the asset.

Who will own the stressed asset?

  • The ARC after buying the asset from lenders will transfer ownership to the AIF.
  • The new owner, the AMC-AIF, will hold a stake of at least 76%.
NPA Crisis

Cabinet Secretary

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Cabinet Secretariat and its Functions


News

Rules amended to re-appointment

  • The government amended a six-decade-old rule to grant a three-month extension to a serving Cabinet Secretary.
  • According to All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958, the government can give extension in service to a cabinet secretary provided the total tenure does not exceed four years.
  • This move has made him the longest-serving bureaucrat in the country’s history following the change in the rule.

Who is Cabinet Secretary?

  • The Cabinet Secretary is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant of the Government of India.
  • She/he is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the IAS, and all civil services under the rules of business of the government.
  • She/he is the senior-most cadre post of the Indian Administrative Service,[6] ranking eleventh on the Indian order of precedence.
  • She/he is under the direct charge of the PM and is appointed for a fixed tenure of two years. 
  • The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Transaction of Business and the Allocation of Business Rules 1961.

Functions

  • She/he facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.
  • This Secretariat provides:
  1. Secretarial assistance to the Cabinet and its Committees
  2. Assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination ,
  3. Ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments
  4. Evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ adhoc Committees of Secretaries.

Origin of the post

  • Before the adoption of the portfolio system in India, all Governmental business was disposed of by the Governor-General in Council, the Council functioning as a Joint Consultative Board.
  • This procedure was legalized by the Indian Councils Act, 1861 during the time of Lord Canning, leading to the introduction of the portfolio system and the inception of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
  • The Secretariat of the Executive Council was headed by the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, but he did not attend the Council meetings.
  • Lord Willingdon first started the practice of having his Private Secretary by his side at these meetings.
  • Later, this practice continued and in November, 1935, the Viceroy’s Private Secretary was given the additional designation of Secretary to the Executive Council.
  • The constitution of the Interim Government in 1946 brought a change in the name, though little in functions, of this Office. The Executive Council’s Secretariat was then designated as Cabinet Secretariat.
  • It no longer remained concerned with only the work of circulating papers to Ministers and Ministries, but developed into an organisation for effecting coordination between the Ministries.
Civil Services Reforms

ICAT Releases India’s 1st BS – VI Certificate in 2W Segment

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BS VI Norms

Mains level : Bharat Emission Standards


News

  • International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) released India’s first Type Approval Certificate (TAC) for Bharat Stage – VI norms for the two wheeler segment.
  • This is India’s first certification in the two wheeler segment for the BS – VI norms that are the latest emission norms as notified by the GoI.

Quick Recap: BS Norms

  • Bharat Stage norms are the automotive emission norms which the automotive manufacturers have to comply to sell their vehicles in India.
  • These norms are applicable to all two wheelers, three wheelers, four wheelers and construction equipment vehicles.
  • To curb growing menace of air pollution through the vehicles emission, the Govt. has decided to leapfrog from the exiting BS – IV norms to the BS- VI with effect from 1st April 2020.

How is BS VI Different from BS IV?

  • The major difference between the existing BS-IV and forthcoming BS-VI norms is the presence of sulphur in the fuel.
  • While the BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, the BS-VI grade fuel only has 10 ppm sulphur content.
  • Also, the harmful NOx from diesel cars can be brought down by nearly 70%. In the petrol cars, they can be reduced by 25%.
  • However, when we talk air pollution, particulate matter like PM 2.5 and PM 10 are the most harmful components and the BS VI will bring the cancer causing particulate matter in diesel cars by a phenomenal 80%.
  • Only those vehicles will be sold and registered in India from 1st April 2020 onwards, which comply to these norms.

About ICAT

  • ICAT is the premier testing and certification agency authorized by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
  • Aim: Providing testing and certification services to the vehicle and component manufacturers in India and abroad.
  • It has the latest equipment, facilities and capabilities to develop, validate, test and certify the engines and vehicles for the latest norms in the field of emission.
  • It tests for many other facilities like crash lab, NVH lab, EMC lab and test tracks.
Bharat Emission Standards

Arabian Sea Cyclones

Mains Paper 1 : Geographical Features & Their Location |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arabian Sea Cyclones

Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India and thier aftermath


News

  • Just over a month after the powerful cyclone Fani devastated large areas of Odisha, another cyclone is headed towards India, this time towards the Gujarat coast.

Arabian Sea cyclones

  • Though cyclones are common in the June, very few of them originate in the Arabian Sea. Most of them are found in the Bay of Bengal.
  • In the last 120 years for which records are available, just about 14% of all cyclonic storms, and 23% of severe cyclones, around India have occurred in the Arabian Sea.
  • Arabian Sea cyclones are also relatively weak compared to those emerging in the Bay of Bengal.
  • This, along with the fact that the Gujarat coastline, which is where most of the cyclones emerging in the Arabian Sea are headed, is not very densely populated.
  • This ensures that the damage potential of the cyclones on the western coast is comparatively low.

About Cyclone Vayu

  • Cyclone Vayu is a deep depression positioned around 250 km northwest of Aminidivi island in Lakshadweep and about 750 km southwest of Mumbai.
  • It is likely to generate winds of speed 110-120 km per hour. In contrast, winds associated with Fani had speeds of about 220 km per hour.
  • Vayu at its most powerful stage would only be categorised as a “severe cyclonic storm”, while Fani was an “extremely severe cyclonic storm”
  • It has almost satisfied the conditions for classification as a “super cyclone”.

Major Impact: It halts Monsoon

  • Cyclones are sustained by very strong low-pressure areas at their core. Winds in surrounding areas are forced to rush towards these low-pressure areas.
  • Vayu is likely to halt the northward progression of the monsoon for a few days.
  • The cyclone is expected to interfere with normal progression, by sucking all the moisture from the monsoon winds towards itself.
  • Similar low-pressure areas, when they develop near or over land, are instrumental in pulling the monsoon winds over the country as well.
  • But right now, the low-pressure area at the centre of the cyclone is far more powerful than any local system that can pull the monsoon winds moving northeast.

Implications

  • What this means is that the places where the monsoon has already reached would continue to get rain, mainly along the western coastline, but other areas would have to wait a little longer.
Global Geological And Climatic Events

[op-ed snap] Foreign policy challenges five years later

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Foreign policy challenges and their resolution


CONTEXT

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his second term, the world looks more disorderly in 2019 than was the case five years ago.

Disruptive global Conditions

  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s election and the new dose of unpredictability in U.S. policy pronouncements;
  • The trade war between the U.S. and China which is becoming a technology war;
  • Brexit and the European Union’s internal preoccupations;
  • Erosion of U.S.-Russia arms control agreements and the likelihood of a new arms race covering nuclear, space and cyber domains;
  • The U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran are some of the developments that add to the complexity of India’s principal foreign policy challenge of dealing with the rise of China.

Redefining neighbourhood

New neighbourhood emphasis –  Since an invitation to Pakistan was out of the question, leaders from the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand) with Kyrgyzstan, added as current Shanghai Cooperation Organisation chair, highlighted a new neighbourhood emphasis.

Ways to develop prosperous neighbourhood

  • Multi-pronged diplomatic efforts and being generous as the larger economy.
  • It also needs a more confident and coordinated approach in handling neighbourhood organisations — SAARC, BIMSTEC, the Bangladesh, the Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation, the Indian Ocean Rim Association.
  • This should be preferably in tandem with bilateralism because our bilateral relations provide us with significant advantages.
  • With all our neighbours, ties of kinship, culture and language among the people straddle boundaries, making the role of governments in States bordering neighbours vital in fostering closer linkages.
  • This means investing attention in State governments, both at the political and bureaucratic levels.

Managing China and the U.S.

India and China

  • The informal summit in Wuhan restored a semblance of calm but does not address the long-term implications of the growing gap between the two countries.
  • Meanwhile, there is the growing strategic rivalry between the U.S. and China unfolding on our doorstep. We no longer have the luxury of distance to be non-aligned.

India and USA

 Crude oil – As part of its policy on tightening sanctions pressure on Iran, the U.S. has terminated the sanctions waiver that had enabled India to import limited quantities of Iranian crude till last month.

GSP – The Generalised System of Preferences scheme has been withdrawn, adversely impacting about 12% of India’s exports to the U.S., as a sign of growing impatience with India’s inability to address the U.S.’s concerns regarding market access, tariff lines and recent changes in the e-commerce policy.

Sanctions under CAATSA – A third looming issue, perhaps the most critical, is the threat of sanctions under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), were India to proceed with the purchase of the S-400 air and missile defence system from Russia.

Huawei – Other potential tricky issues could relate to whether Huawei, which is currently the prime target in the U.S.-China technology war, is allowed to participate in the 5G trials (telecom) in India.

Afghanistan – The reconciliation talks between the U.S. and the Taliban as the U.S. negotiates its exit from Afghanistan raise New Delhi’s apprehensions about the Taliban’s return, constituting another potential irritant.

Way Ahead

Resource limitations – In a post-ideology age of promiscuity with rivalries unfolding around us, the harsh reality is that India lacks the ability to shape events around it on account of resource limitations.

Seasoned professional – These require domestic decisions in terms of expanding the foreign policy establishment though having a seasoned professional at the top does help.

Coordination among the different ministries and agencies – We need to ensure far more coordination among the different ministries and agencies than has been the case so far. Our record in implementation projects is patchy at best and needs urgent attention.

Focus on the neighbourhood – The focus on the neighbourhood is certainly desirable, for only if we can shape events here can we look beyond. However, the fact that China too is part of the neighbourhood compounds Mr. Modi’s foreign policy challenges in his second term.

External balancing – Employing external balancing to create a conducive regional environment is a new game that will also require building a new consensus at home.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] Artificial Intelligence, the law and the future

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Regulation of AI


CONTEXT

In February, the Kerala police inducted a robot for police work. The same month, Chennai got its second robot-themed restaurant, where robots not only serve as waiters but also interact with customers in English and Tamil. In Ahmedabad, in December 2018, a cardiologist performed the world’s first in-human telerobotic coronary intervention on a patient nearly 32 km away. All these examples symbolise the arrival of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our everyday lives.

Need for regulation of AI

  • If AI is not regulated properly, it is bound to have unmanageable implications. Example – Imagine, for instance, that electricity supply suddenly stops while a robot is performing a surgery, and access to a doctor is lost?
  • All countries, including India, need to be legally prepared to face such kind of disruptive technology.

Challenges of AI

Predicting and analysing legal issues and their solutions, however, is not that simple.

Existential Questions

  • What if an AI-based driverless car gets into an accident that causes harm to humans or damages property?
  • Who should the courts hold liable for the same?
  • Can AI be thought to have knowingly or carelessly caused bodily injury to another?
  • Can robots act as a witness or as a tool for committing various crimes?
  • Scenario in other countries –In the U.S., there is a lot of discussion about the regulation of AI. Germany has come up with ethical rules for autonomous vehicles stipulating that human life should always have priority over property or animal life. China, Japan and Korea are following Germany in developing a law on self-driven cars.
  • In India, NITI Aayog released a policy paper, ‘National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’, in June 2018, which considered the importance of AI in different sectors.
  • The Budget 2019 also proposed to launch a national programme on AI.
  • No comprehensive legislation to regulate this growing industry has been formulated in the country till date.

Legal personality of AI

  • Definition of AI – First we need a legal definition of AI.
  • Establishing legal personality – Also, given the importance of intention in India’s criminal law jurisprudence, it is essential to establish the legal personality of AI (which means AI will have a bundle of rights and obligations), and whether any sort of intention can be attributed to it.
  • Ensuring liability – To answer the question on liability, since AI is considered to be inanimate, a strict liability scheme that holds the producer or manufacturer of the product liable for harm, regardless of the fault, might be an approach to consider.
  • Privacy Rights – Since privacy is a fundamental right, certain rules to regulate the usage of data possessed by an AI entity should be framed as part of the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.

Conclusion

  • Reducing traffic accidents – Traffic accidents lead to about 400 deaths a day in India, 90% of which are caused by preventable human errors. Autonomous vehicles that rely on AI can reduce this significantly, through smart warnings and preventive and defensive techniques.
  • Availability of doctors – Patients sometimes die due to non-availability of specialised doctors. AI can reduce the distance between patients and doctors.
  • But as futurist Gray Scott says, “The real question is, when will we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist of? And who will get to decide that?”
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

[op-ed snap] A new India for farmers

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : These hard times are asking for innovative ways to secure farmers livelihoods.


CONTEXT

After half a century, India is under a major locust attack from breeding grounds in Balochistan, Pakistan. Other international tidings are also not favourable for Indian farmers. In 2014, crude prices had hit rock bottom and the government received a bonanza of a few lakh crore. Circumstances have changed today: India’s finances are in a perilous state and we face the spectre of a drought.

1.US-China trade dispute – The escalation of the US-China trade dispute is pushing the world towards a prolonged economic stagnation.

2.Crude prices – President Donald Trump is also engineering a conflict in the strait of Hormuz to jack up crude prices.

3.Pressure on India to import US agriculture commodities  – In the aftermath of the imposition of duties on US agriculture produce by China, there are fears that the US government will pressure India to import US agriculture commodities like livestock feed, chicken and milk products — and, the country will succumb to such pressure.

4.Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – On the eastern front, the commerce ministry is all prepared to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will commit the country to become a gateway for Asian agriculture imports. We are also being sucked into a similar treaty with the EU.

5.Climate change and GDP-led policy – But now all these combine with a system that fails to value climate change-related externalities. Besides, they also persist with the GDP-led policy modelling. All this is literally killing us.

  • The government’s inflation-targeting priorities obviate all possibilities of it passing all of the escalating costs (diesel, LPG, food) to the consumers.
  • The complexities in MSP procurement and fertiliser prices will compound the morass of stagnating food prices.
7.PM Kisan –
  • “PM Kisan” is a wonderful initiative of the government, but there is an apprehension that it may be funded by withdrawing resources from existing agriculture initiatives and programmes.
  • Farmers have shown repeatedly that they are easily distracted from livelihood issues. They must now be prepared for a precarious future.

 

Vision for government

  •  Governments, notorious for rolling out policies that can’t be implemented, generate truckloads of paperwork but are loathe to document failure.
  • Till such time the system doesn’t record failure and establish accountability, framing new policies would be like playing a game of dice.
  • Case Study – For example, the policy on food parks has failed and private investments in the agriculture value chain remain elusive. The bureaucracy, having only dealt in food shortages, is clueless on how to respond to food surpluses and fluctuations while farmers have been quick to respond to market signals. This has created new problems, which lead to unprecedented number of farmer agitations and suicides.

Ways to improve farmer livelihoods

  • To improve farmer livelihoods, it’s absolutely essential to quickly resolve issues of the animal husbandry sector.
  • Incidentally, 80 per cent of the stray cattle on the roads today are Holstein, Jersey and basically crossbreeds.
  • A clear distinction can be made between these foreign breeds and the pure desi .This is how the New India can be visualised.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc