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Explained: Appointment of the Pro-tem Speaker

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Protem Speaker, Leader of the Rajya Sabha

Mains level : Appointment and Functions of the Protem Speaker


News

  • A MP from Madhya Pradesh Virendra Kumar will be the Pro-tem Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Pro-tem Speaker

  • Pro-tem is a Latin phrase which translates to for the time being in English and so the Pro-tem Speaker is a temporary speaker appointed for a limited period of time.
  • Pro-tem speaker is chosen for the conduct of the house when the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies have been elected and the vote for the speaker and deputy speaker has not taken place.
  • The Pro-tem Speaker presides over the first sitting of the Lok Sabha, administer the oath of office to the newly elected MPs, and oversee the election of the Speaker.
  • Once the new Speaker is elected, the office of the pro tem speaker ceases to exist. He also administers the floor test.

Her/his Appointment

  • After a general election and the formation of a new government, a list of senior Lok Sabha members prepared by the Legislative Section is submitted to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who selects a pro tem speaker.
  • The appointment has to be approved by the President.
  • The first meeting after the election when the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker are selected by members of the Parliament is held under the pro tem Speaker.

Must Read:

Leader of Rajya Sabha

  • Besides the Chairman (Vice-President of India) and the Deputy Chairman, there is also a position called Leader of the House.
  • This is a cabinet minister – the Prime Minister if he is a member of the House, or another nominated Minister.
  • The Leader has a seat next to the Chairman, in the front row.

Defence Space Research Agency (DSRA)

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 : DSRO, Mission Shakti

Mains level : Mission Shakti and India's preparedness for space war


News

  • To enhance the capabilities of the armed forces to fight wars in space, the government has approved the setting up of a new agency which will develop sophisticated weapon systems and technologies.

Defence Space Research Agency

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by PM Modi has cleared the setting up of the DSRO.
  • It has been entrusted with the task of creating space warfare weapon systems and technologies.
  • The agency would be provided with a team of scientists which would be working in close coordination with the tri-services integrated Defence staff officers.
  • It would be providing the research and development support to the Defence Space Agency (DSA) which comprises members of the three services.
  • The DSA has been created “to help the country fight wars in the space”.
  • The Defence Space Agency is being set up in Bengaluru under an Air Vice Marshal-rank officer and will gradually take over the space-related capabilities of the three forces.

Why such move?

  • In March, India had carried out the Anti Satellite Test (ASAT) which demonstrated its capability to shoot down satellites and joined an elite club of four nations with similar capability.
  • The test also helped the country develop deterrence capability against adversaries who may want to attack Indian satellites to cripple systems in times of war.
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[op-ed snap] The middle income illusion

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Why middle income trap might only be a hypothesis and not a reality.


CONTEXT

The World Bank has a definition of middle income. It is a range of per capita income between $996 and $12,055, with $996 to $3,895 defined as lower-middle income and $3,895 to $12,055 defined as upper-middle income (the thresholds are often changed, these are 2019 levels).

With a per capita income of around $2,000, India is still a lower-middle income country and $12,055 is a long way off.

The issue with the estimation

Numbers are based on nominal exchange rates

  • These numbers are based on official exchange rates, the so-called nominal per capita GDP or Atlas method figures.
  • But a country’s per capita income is in local currency, that is, rupees.
  • Typically, when economists use the trap idea, they at PPP (purchasing power parity) dollars, using PPP exchange rates, not official exchange rates. India’s PPP per capita income is now around $7,000.
  • The grist to the mill is usually provided by empirical research, documenting the development experience of a diverse range of countries.

Reasons for such a trap

  • On the one hand, as countries attained middle-income status, they would be squeezed out of manufacturing and other dynamic sectors by poorer, lower-cost competitors.
  • On the other hand, they would lack the institutional, human, and technological capital to carve out niches higher up the value-added chain. Thus, pushed from below and unable to grasp the top, they would find themselves doomed to, well, middle-income status.

Faults in this assumption

  • Middle-income countries as a group continued to grow as fast or faster than the convergence standard demanded.”
  • First, a trap cannot be defined without referring to a time-frame.
  • The time series on PPP per capita is a bit more difficult to get than the official rate per capita.
  • With that caveat, take a look at the time series of any relatively more advanced country. Until a few decades ago (a cut-off in 1960 or 1970 will suffice), all these countries were stuck in middle-income traps.
  • Second, the middle-income trap is sometimes defined not with respect to an absolute threshold level of per capita income, but with per capita income expressed as a share of US per capita income.
  • Even if one uses this relative notion, the case of a middle-income trap existing has not been proven.

Conclusion

  • Does this mean there are no issues with the Indian economy? Certainly not. After the elections, with a new government in place, plenty of people have come up with agendas for reform. In most instances, these are not short-term quick fixes, but medium-term changes.
  • Therefore, they can rightly be called structural reforms, and the suggestions should be debated, accepted and implemented.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

VG Kannan committee to review ATM pricing

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : VG Kannan committee

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

VG Kannan committee

  • The RBI has set up a six-member committee, headed by VG Kannan, Chief Executive, Indian Banks’ Association, to review the ATM interchange fee structure.
  • It aims for giving a fillip to ATM deployment in unbanked areas.

Terms of reference

  • The committee will review the existing structures and patterns of costs, charges and interchange fees for ATM transactions.
  • It will also review the overall patterns of usage of ATMs by cardholders and assess the impact, if any, on charges and interchange fees.
  • It will assess the entire gamut of costs in respect of the ATM ecosystem and make recommendations on the optimal charge/interchange fee structure and pattern.

Why appoint such committee?

  • When a customer transacts at another bank’s ATM, his bank has to pay an interchange fee to the other bank.
  • The cost of operating ATMs has steadfastly increased.
  • Hence, Banks and white-label ATM operators (WLAOs) want the RBI to raise ATM interchange fee from ₹15 to ₹18 for cash withdrawals and card-to-card fund transfers, and from ₹5 to ₹8 for other non-financial transactions.

Back2Basics

White Label ATM

Cashless Society – Digital Payments, Demonetization, etc.

Windrush Scheme

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Diaspora |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Windrush Scheme

Mains level : Changing visa norms across the world and its implication on Indians


News

  • UK has issued another personal apology for the Windrush scandal, involving migrants being wrongly denied their British citizenship rights.
  • A latest official update revealed that hundreds more Indians were confirmed as British Citizens.

Windrush Scheme

  • The Windrush Scheme enables Commonwealth citizens, their children, and some other long term residents of the UK to obtain documentation confirming their status free of charge.
  • The Windrush generation refers to citizens of former British colonies who arrived before 1973, when the rights of such Commonwealth citizens to live and work in Britain were substantially curtailed.
  • While a large proportion of them were of Jamaican/Caribbean descent who came on the ship Windrush, Indians and other South Asians were also affected by the UK government’s handling of their immigration status.
  • A total of 737 Indians have been able to confirm their status in the wake of the scandal involving Commonwealth nationals wrongly denied their citizenship rights in Britain.
  • A majority of them (559) had arrived in the UK before 1973, when the immigration rules had changed, while the others either arrived later or were a family member of the so-called “Windrush generation”.
Citizenship and Related Issues

New paper-based test kit for Malaria Detection

Mains Paper 3 : Achievements Of Indians In S&T |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the test, Mosquirix

Mains level : Malaria and its incidence in India



News

  • With over one million reported cases in 2017, malaria still continues to be a burden for India and most countries of Southeast Asia.
  • Now, a group of researchers from IIT Guwahati has developed a simple detection method that uses an instrument when in the lab or a piece of chromatographic paper when in the field.

Paper Test Kit for Malaria

  • The kit can be used to detect Plasmodium parasite, which causes malaria and also specifically detect Plasmodium falciparum, a notorious species.
  • Using an ordinary syringe fitted with a small magnet, magnetic beads and few chemicals inside, the researchers were able to specifically capture the antigen released by the parasites in the blood of malaria patients.
  • As the blood has many interfering agents, the kit used magnetic bead–tethered aptamers (two small DNA molecules), which capture only the specific antigens and separate these from the blood serum to perform the reaction.
  • This kit also has high stability in hot and humid conditions.

Working mechanism

  • When the captured antigens interact with specific substrates inside the syringe, the blue dye turns pink. The dye is then adsorbed over a modified chromatographic paper.
  • The formation of pink colour on the paper is a direct indication of the presence of parasites in the blood serum. The intensity of the colour increases when the concentration of antigen is high.
  • The intensity of the colour change is measured using a spectrophotometer. This gives a quantitative measurement and can detect very low level of the antigen in blood.

Back2Basics

Malaria

  • Malaria is a potentially life-threatening parasitic disease caused by the parasites Plasmodium viviax (P.vivax), P.falciparum, P.malariae, and P.ovale transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito.
  • World’s first Malaria Vaccine RTS,S (Mosquirix) was recently unveiled.

Incidence of Malaria in India

  • India ranks very high in the list of countries with a serious malaria burden.
  • In 2018, 3,99,134 cases of malaria and 85 deaths due to the disease were reported in the country, according to data from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
  • Six states — Odisha (40%), Chhattisgarh (20%), Jharkhand (20%), Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram (5-7%) — bear the brunt of malaria in India.
  • These states, along with the tribal areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, account for 90% of India’s malaria burden.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

[op-ed snap] Saving childhoods

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing

Mains level : Eliminating Child Labour from India


CONTEXT

On World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) in 2017, India ratified two core conventions of the International Labour Organization on child labour. It now has to double its efforts to ensure that the benefit of those conventions reaches the most vulnerable children.

Data regarding Child labours

  • As per the 2011 Census, in the age group 5-14 years, 10.1 million of 259.6 million constituted working children.
  • The decline rate is grossly insufficient to meet target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to end child labour in all forms by 2025. India therefore needs to embark on new and innovative approaches in its fight against child labour.

Impact of ratifications

The ratification of the core conventions on child labour gives rise to a range of priorities such as strengthening policy and legislative enforcement and building the capacities of government, workers’ and employers’ organisations as well as other partners at national, State and community levels..

Steps Forward

1. Investment in research

  • India should invest in enhancing its body of knowledge on child labour, emphasising quantitative information.
  • While there are many common factors across the spectrum, each sector and each demographical segment will have its own set of factors and drivers that push children into the labour market.
  • Such factors and drivers can only be identified and analysed through proper research, surveys and assessments.

2. Complementing SDGs

  • Eliminating child labour is firmly placed within Goal 8 of the SDGs.
  • A stronger nexus between the discourse on SDGs and the discourse on eliminating child labour can take the advantage of complementarities and synergies of a wide range of actors engaged in both areas of work.

3. Participation of Private Sector

  • The growing interest of the private sector is a great opportunity that has to be further utilised, particularly to leverage key influencers in domestic and multinational supply chains.
  • It is also a matter of competitive advantage for multi-nationals to ensure that child labour is effectively eliminated in their supply chains.
  • A sector-wide culture of child labour-free businesses has to be nurtured.

Conclusion

As the world of work is transforming and new actors are emerging, one cannot underestimate the importance of creating a sound and vibrant platform to bring together these actors. The fight against child labour is not just the responsibility of one, it is the responsibility of all.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Squandering the gender dividend

Mains Paper 1 : Role Of Women & Women Organization |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Reasons for decline in women work force and possible solutions.


CONTEXT

  • If labour force survey data are to be believed, rural India is in the midst of a gender revolution in which nearly half the women who were in the workforce in 2004-5 had dropped out in 2017-18.
  • The 61st round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recorded 48.5% rural women above the age of 15 as being employed either as their major activity or as their subsidiary activity — but this number dropped to 23.7% in the recently released report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). 

Incremental decline

Rural Women data –Worker to population ratio (WPR) for rural women aged 15 and above had dropped from 48.5% in 2004-5 to 35.2% in 2011-12, and then to 23.7% in 2017-18.

Urban Women Data – In contrast, the WPR for urban women aged 15 and above declined only mildly, changing from 22.7% in 2004-5 to 19.5% in 2011-12, and to 18.2% in 2017-18.

Concerns regarding this data

  • If rising incomes lead households to decide that women’s time is better spent caring for home and children, that is their choice.
  • However, if women are unable to find work in a crowded labour market, reflecting disguised unemployment, that is a national tragedy.
  • Decline is not located primarily among the privileged sections – A comparison of rural female WPRs between 2004-5 and 2017-18 does not suggest that the decline is located primarily among the privileged sections of the rural population.
  • Concentration among lower education strata – More importantly, most of the decline in the WPR has taken place among women with low levels of education. For illiterate women, the WPR fell from 55% to 29.1% while that for women with secondary education fell from 30.5% to 15.6%.

Comparison with men

Easier for men to find a job –

  • Men’s participation in agriculture has also declined.
  • However, men were able to pick up work in other industries whereas women reduced their participation in other industries as well as agriculture — resulting in a lower WPR.
  • Mechanisation and land fragmentation have reduced agricultural work opportunities for both men and women.
  • Other work opportunities, except for work in public works programmes, are not easily open to women.
  • This challenge is particularly severe for rural women with moderate levels of education.
  • A man with class 10 education can be a postal carrier, a truck driver or a mechanic; these opportunities are not open to women.
  • Hence, it is not surprising that education is associated with a lower WPR for women; in 2016-17, 29.1% illiterate women were employed, compared to only 16% women with at least secondary education.
  • On-going experimental research at the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s National Data Innovation Centre (NCAER-NDIC) suggests a tremendous undercount of women’s work using standard labour force questions, particularly in rural areas.
  • Although women try to find whatever work they can, they are unable to gain employment at an intensive level that rises above our labour force survey thresholds. This suggests an enormous untapped pool of female workers that should not be ignored.

Possible solutions

1. Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development –

  • Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development is a welcome move by the new government.
  • It is to be hoped that this committee will take the issue of declining female employment as seriously as it does the issue of rising unemployment among the youth.

Development of transportation infrastructure – 

One of the most powerful ways in which public policies affect rural women’s participation in non-agricultural work is via the development of transportation infrastructure that allows rural women to seek work as sales clerks, nurses and factory workers in nearby towns.

Multi-Sectoral Reforms –

If the cabinet committee were to focus on multi-sectoral reforms that have a positive impact on women’s work opportunities, the potential gender dividend could be far greater than the much celebrated demographic dividend.

Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education