Five new rights you get as a consumer

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Consumer Rights bill

Mains level : Consumer Protection law - analysis


NEWS

Consumer Protection Bill passed in Rajya Sabha

Provisions

  1. More responsibility on companies for misleading advertising and faulty products
  2. Lays out penalties for celebrities endorsing or promoting false advertising and adulterated goods

Additional consumer rights

  1. RIGHT TO FILE A COMPLAINT FROM ANYWHERE 
    1. file a complaint with the District Consumer Commission or State Consumer Commission from your place of residence or work instead of filing at a place of purchase or where the seller has its registered office
    2. A complaint can also be filed by a recognized consumer body or by multiple consumers with the same interest
    3. Consumer affairs ministry will frame rules for the filing of complaints electronically and will also specify norms for paying the required fee digitally
  2. RIGHT TO SEEK COMPENSATION UNDER PRODUCT LIABILITY 
    1. Can file a case against a product manufacturer or seller for any loss caused on account of a defective product. This applies to all services as well
    2. The manufacturer shall be held liable if there is a manufacturing defect or if there is a deviation from the manufacturing specifications or the product does not conform to the express warranty
    3. Recognizes “sharing personal information of consumers” as an unfair trade practice
  3. RIGHT TO PROTECT CONSUMERS AS A CLASS
    1. A complaint relating to the violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices or misleading advertisements prejudicial to the interests of consumers may be forwarded either in writing or in electronic mode to any one of the authorities — district collector or commissioner of regional office or Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) for class action
  4. RIGHT TO SEEK A HEARING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING
    1. Every complaint shall be heard by district commission on the basis of documentary evidence placed before it
    2. the commission can allow an application made for hearing or for an examination of parties through video conference
  5. RIGHT TO KNOW WHY A COMPLAINT WAS REJECTED
    1. The commission cannot reject a complaint without hearing the complainant
    2. Commission has to decide about admitting or rejecting a complaint within 21 days
    3. If the commission doesn’t decide within the time limit, it shall be deemed to have been admitted
    4. The commission can direct both parties to give their consent to have the dispute settled through mediation

Exceptions

  1. Endorser exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed
  2. The publisher has done an advertisement in the ordinary course of his business

Grey areas

  1. The government removed healthcare as one of the services to make the bill ‘non-controversial’
  2. While the CCPA will be a central regulator for consumer issues, there are other regulators for various sectors like telecom, insurance, which leaves the scope for overlapping jurisdictions and confusion
  3. The law proposes a 21-day deadline for hearing complaints, but 118 posts of president of consumer commissions and 362 posts of commission members are lying vacant in 596 districts

Other penalties

  1. Adulteration
    1. No injury to consumer – Up to 6 months jail with up to Rs 1 lakh fine
    2. Causes injury – Up to 1 year in jail & fine up to Rs 3 lakh
    3. Grievous injury – Up to 7 years in jail & fine up to Rs 5 lakh
  2. Non Compliance
    1. Failure to comply with an order of CCPA – Up to 6 months in jail/jail with fines up to Rs 20 lakh or both
    2. Failure to comply with orders of the district, state or national commission – Jail from 1 month – to 3 years/jail with fine from Rs 25,000 up to Rs 1 lakh or both
Food Safety Standards – FSSAI, food fortification, etc.

India world’s 13th most water-stressed country: WRI

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas

Mains level : Water stress


NEWS

India is placed thirteenth among the world’s 17 ‘extremely water-stressed’ countries according to the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas released by the World Resources Institute (WRI)

Details about the report

  1. Twelve of the 17 were from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region
  2. The gap between supply and demand will likely widen due to climate change and drought-like situations, coupled with uncontrolled groundwater extraction
  3. A region is said to be under ‘water stress’ when the demand for water exceeds the available volume or when poor quality restricts the use
  4. ‘Extremely high’ levels of water stress means an average 80% of the available water in a country is used by irrigated agriculture, industries and municipalities every year

Details about India

  1. Both surface water and groundwater in India was highly exploited
  2. Groundwater levels declined at more than eight centimeters per year between 1990 and 2014 in northern India
  3. Chandigarh was the most water-stressed, followed by Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh
  4. Groundwater resources were over-exploited in 1,186 of 6,881 assessment units in India
  5. Groundwater runs 94.5% of all minor irrigation schemes in India

Way ahead

  1. The government must focus on more sustainable surface water schemes
  2. Reusing wastewater could help countries overcome water stress and become water secure
  3. Using safely-treated wastewater has been included in the water resources management plans of several Arab countries
  4. Oman treats 100% of its collected wastewater and reuses 78% of it
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Now, also an Aadhaar card for cattle and buffaloes

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pashu Aadhaar

Mains level : Animal husbandry and using technology


NEWS

India has the world’s largest livestock population and is also its biggest milk producer. A giant database relating to livestock information is currently being created in India. It issues an animal UID or Pashu Aadhaar to the animals. So far, nearly 22.3 million cows and buffaloes have been assigned UIDs. 

Facts

  1. The nodal agency and repository for this – Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health or INAPH is the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
  2. The similarities with Aadhaar are:
    1. INAPH too assigns a unique random identification number to each animal
    2. It captures a host of data and information useful for the effective and scientific management of India’s livestock resources
    3. It will be the biggest global database of animals when fully captured
  3. The first phase of the INAPH project would cover the country’s 94 million-odd productive “in milk” female cow and buffalo population.
  4. It covers all indigenous, nondescript, crossbred as well as exotic milch animals.
  5. The exercise will subsequently be extended to all bovines, including males, calves and heifers, old and stray animals.
  6. Each animal will be provided a thermoplastic polyurethane ear tag bearing a 12-digit UID.
  7. The data being captured includes the species, breed and pedigree of the particular animal, information relating to its calving, milk production, artificial insemination (AI), vaccination and feeding/nutrition history.

Challenges so far

  1. Low productivity, poor animal health, the prevalence of economically debilitating diseases, and genome selection based on non-scientific and anecdotal methods

Objective

  1. Enable proper identification of animals and traceability of their products, be it milk or meat
  2. Farmers, processors, animal husbandry department officials and healthcare professionals can devise appropriate strategies for livestock management
  3. A major cause of zoonotic diseases and challenges in addressing them today is the absence of animal identification and traceability mechanisms
  4. If our dairy and livestock industry has to meet internationally-accepted sanitary and phytosanitary standards, a robust and comprehensive animal information system that allows traceability of products to their source is sine qua non
  5. The products obtained from healthy or premium animals can be separated from those originating from diseased or nondescript ones
  6. Leverage this data for scientific and risk-based management of animals to deliver better health and reproduction outcomes, enhanced productivity and improved livestock product quality.
  7. The information through INAPH, including the ancestry and production performance of animals, would help identify healthy and productive livestock for breeding, rejuvenation of weaker ones, plan for better nutritional management and systematically manage diseases.
  8. The data can be used to select disease-free, high genetic merit bulls and fertile cows for breeding indigenous breeds that are low on productivity

Step ahead than identity

  1. Artificial Insemination has so far met with limited success in terms of boosting overall animal productivity. One reason is the use of not-so-good quality semen from low genetic merit bulls. The poor records of AI status of most cows or the donor bulls is a caus. AI programme will get a shot in the arm with more reliable data on the insemination history of each animal.
  2. More efficient nutrition management through ration balancing can be achieved based on information on the feeding status of each animal.
  3. The entire chain, from inputs (AI/breeding, vaccination, feed and fodder, and nutrition) to output (milk and meat) can be managed to assure enhanced animal productivity and improved product quality.

The database should be seen as a significant step in heralding the next White Revolution and making livestock a vehicle of rural prosperity.

Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Downgrading Indo-Pak ties — what this means, when has it happened earlier

Mains Paper 2 : India & Its Neighborhood - Relations |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Brief history of India Pak tensions


Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) has taken the decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with New Delhi

What it means

Our ambassadors will no longer be in New Delhi and their counterparts here will also be sent back

History

  1. This is not the first time that India and Pakistan are downgrading ties.
  2. In 2001, India pulled out it’s high commissioner to Islamabad after the JeM attack on Parliament. Pakistan reciprocated by pulling out its high commissioner.
  3. In 2003, India expelled Deputy high commissioner and Pakistan’s acting high commissioner, accusing him of espionage. Pakistan retaliated by sending back the Indian acting high commissioner.
  4. Both India and Pakistan also decided to downgrade the strength of their respective missions to 51, half of the full strength.
  5. India had suspended air, train and bus links to Pakistan.
  6. This time, Pakistan has announced its decision to recall its envoy and expel the Indian High Commissioner. 
  7. It also announced the suspension of bilateral trade, review of bilateral arrangement, taking India’s actions in Kashmir to the United Nations, and observing August 14 in solidarity with Kashmiris.

Background of the relationship

  1. The India-Pakistan official bilateral trade is worth about $2 billion. According to a recent report by ICRIER, it peaked to about $ 2.5 billion, but fell again after the Uri attack.
  2. India’s top exports to Pakistan are chemicals and textiles, accounting for almost 70% of the bilateral trade.
  3. Pakistan’s top exports to India are vegetable fats and oils, and minerals, accounting for about 70% of its trade with India.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

e-Rozgar Samachar launched to spread awareness about job opportunities

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ministry and details of the magazine

Mains level : Nothing much


The e-version of Rozgar Samachar has been launched by the Minister of Information & Broadcasting.

Objectives

  1. Make aspirants aware of job opportunities in government sector including public sector enterprises
  2. Provide information and guidance about admission and career opportunities in various streams through career-oriented articles
  3. Meet the emerging challenge of young readers switching to electronic modes of communication

Background

  1. Rozgar Samachar is the corresponding version of Employment News
  2. Employment News is the flagship weekly job journal from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  3. It was launched in 1976 with a view to providing information on employment opportunities to the unemployed and underemployed youth of the country
  4. The job journal provides information related to job vacancies, job oriented training programs, admission notices related to job oriented exams of :
    1. Ministries/Departments/Offices/Organizations/Autonomous bodies/ Societies/ PSUs of the Central Government, State Government, and UT Administrations
    2. Nationalised banks/ RRBs /UPSC/SSC/ Constitutional and Statutory bodies
    3. Central/State Governments Universities/ Colleges/Institutes recognized by the UGC/AICTE
  5. It also provides editorial content on socio-economic issues and career guidance that helps youth in broadening their horizons
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

[op-ed snap] Allocations are key

Mains Paper 3 : Government Budgeting |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : What are the priority areas in economy now


The budget must focus on the priority areas for the budget allocations. It is expected to provide funds and an assurance that the allocations would be rule-based.

  1. Rural distress needs to be allocated to funds.
    1. Drinking water
    2. Improving the efficiency of existing irrigation systems
    3. Rural finance — including temporary waiver of loan repayments — 
  2. Job creation
    1. It will depend on the revival of industrial production, continuing growth of exports and an agricultural revival. 
    2. Most policies have a lag of around four to six months.
    3. In the short run, the money will be needed for the MGNREGA. 
    4. The budget should concretely raise public investment to revive private investment to reverse the declining growth rate in every quarter.
  3. Fiscal Deficit
    1. The fiscal deficit is a real issue and leads to pressures on the bank rate and exchange rates. 
    2. The need is to raise resources by taxation and not cutting consumption by the government and non-government sectors. 
  4. Banking sector
    1. The cleanup of the banking and NBFC sectors should be immediate and it needs funds.
    2. Though these are outside the budget, they determine the fiscal deficit.
  5. Raise government investment at the central, state and parastatal level.
  6. The economy is suffering from a decline in investment ratios. This is reflected in the declining growth rate, which is below the potential of 8%. 
  7. The last round of the NSS data shows that girl child dropped out of school more than earlier. If she goes to college, marries late, the first child comes later the real demographic dividend starts.

Case study and way ahead

  1. Gujarat’s experience shows that a high manufacturing physical output growth rate reduces the workforce dependent on agriculture.
  2. The allocation for Self Help Groups with a trust fund is a clear solution.
Government Budgets

[op-ed snap] Fiscal wheels must also roll in order to make monetary policy effective

Mains Paper 3 : Issues relating growth and development, employment |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Monetary policy transmission


CONTEXT

Through four successive reductions in this calendar year, RBI has reduced the repo rate by 110 basis points to 5.4%.

Status of the rate cut

  1. The economy has been slow to respond to these incremental monetary stimuli. 
  2. Quarterly growth data show a continuing slowdown, mainly driven by sluggish demand, due to both external and domestic factors.
  3. There is substantial excess capacity in the manufacturing sector.
  4. With unutilized capacity, temporary and casual employees are being laid off and wage hikes are being postponed, reducing levels of aggregate disposable income, which is further reducing demand, particularly for consumer durables.
  5. Unless capacity utilization improves, investment demand from the private sector is not likely to improve. 

Repo rate reductions only provide enabling conditions to reduce the cost of borrowing. To be effective, adequate transmission needs to take place.

Limitations of Monetary Policy

  1. Demand for investment and consumer durables has to increase, which is a function of income, much more than the cost of borrowing. For this, momentum has to be generated at the fiscal side.
  2. Due to revenue constraints and legislative limits on borrowing, suitable countercyclical fiscal measures have not yet been taken.
  3. Public sector investment has been showing signs of stagnation for some time. The central government’s capital expenditure to GDP has stagnated at 1.6% for 2018-19 and 2019-20 as budgeted.
  4. Without a demand push from the public sector, monetary policy alone would not be effective.

What the government should do

  1. The countercyclical policy is primarily the responsibility of the central government. 
  2. A one-year departure from the budgeted fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP for 2019-20 can be justified at the current juncture.
  3. It should be ensured that the entire additional borrowing above the budgeted level is spent on capital expenditure.
  4. It is established fact that increases in government capital expenditures have much larger multiplier effects, as compared to increases in government revenue expenditures.
  5. State governments and the central and state public enterprises should come on board and undertake additional investment spending on infrastructure.
  6. This will push investment from the private sector, uplifting the infrastructure and construction sectors, and later spreading out to other sectors.
  7. This will trigger a virtuous cycle focused on the employment-intensive infrastructure and construction sectors -> private disposable incomes would increase -> reversing the ongoing demand slow down.
  8. As the magnitude of private borrowing grows, the transmission would improve.

Together, the joint impact of the fiscal and monetary stimuli is expected to uplift the country’s growth from its present low level to levels comfortably above 7% and, eventually, closer to 8.5-9%. Sustaining growth at these levels is required if India were to become a $5-trillion economy by the end of FY25.

Monetary Policy Committee Notifications

[op-ed snap] Why we need to look beyond the ‘electric’ smokescreen

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : E-vehicles : an analysis


CONTEXT

The obsession with electric mobility makes it look as if it is the only solution for India’s transportation problems.

What the government must do instead

  1. Bringing down the fuel import bill
  2. Bringing down air pollution

Do not push EVs

  1. We still cannot ensure a 24×7 electricity supply to hospitals. All our villages still do not have a reliable electricity supply.
  2. Close to 80% of the electricity generated is from coal and gas. Yet another 50,000MW of coal-fired power plants are being set up under the National Electricity Plan.
  3. More than 20% of all the electricity generated goes into “transmission and distribution losses”.
  4. Due to inadequate and irregular last-mile supply, close to 15 million tonnes of diesel is used by local generators to produce 80 billion KWh of electricity. 
  5. Close to $2 billion worth of battery storage capacity is imported every year.
  6. Most independent power plants operate at 12-15% below their declared capacity as they over-invoice plant costs. 
  7. There will be immense pressure on the power grid that is not yet fully reliable.

Other solutions available

  1. Air pollution – Construction dust, road dust, thermal power generation, diesel generators, traditional cooking fuels, stubble burning and open waste burning also contribute. Need action against each of these sources.
  2. Dependence on fossil fuels can be cut down not just by banning diesel, but by other more sane and immediate measures. Upgrade to the latest diesel-engine technology in public transport, reduce traffic congestion, ensure adequate power supply and get into diesel-blends.
  3. Ban all Bharat Stage 3 (BS3) vehicles and below. At once, close to 40% of all the 300 million vehicles on the roads will be gone. There’s no “vehicle scrappage policy”.
  4. Public transport
    1. Assure top-notch public transport in India’s top 24 cities. A multi-modal grid of trains, buses, taxis, three-wheelers and two-wheelers could achieve this.
    2. Incentivize the manufacture and purchase of public transport vehicles through lower GST and cheaper loans.
    3. Encourage greater use of public transport among citizens through redemption and loyalty programs. 
    4. Get all organizations with more than 100 employees to use bus fleets.
  5. Decongest the 60 top smart cities. They constitute almost 90% of our vehicular population and thus vehicular pollution. We need to focus on smoother traffic flow, better parking management and pedestrian movement. Close to 12% of vehicular fuel is wasted on idling and traffic snarls. 
  6. Expand the traffic police strength by four-five times in over-jammed cities.
  7. Create and mandate dedicated parking spots for shared mobility services.
  8. Create vast grids of pedestrian skywalks. Operate multi-level parking lots.

Each of these measures would show an immediate impact on vehicle-caused pollution and the use of fossil fuels.

Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.