[op-ed snap] Towards dignity

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Constitutional and other provisions to end manual scavenging and their lax implementation leading to loss of lives of manual scavengers.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The Delhi government introduced o a fleet of 200 machine-equipped trucks to eliminate manual scavenging.

Technology led initiative

  • The sewer-cleaning machines have been designed to meet the demands of the small lanes in the capital’s slums and urban villages.
  • Each unit has a tank to spray water and a sludge compartment to collect the silt cleaned up by the machine — this sludge was usually left along the sewer during manual cleaning.
  • The machines will be given to manual scavengers, who will be trained to operate them.
  • The sanitation workers, who will be given the new machines, were identified by a Delhi government survey last year.

State’s denial in Identification of manual scavengers

  • Delhi lacks an accurate count of the people engaged in manual scavenging.
  • During a survey last year by the Centre, the governments of Haryana, Bihar and Telangana did not report even a single manual scavenger.
  • But the task force conducting the survey — it comprised members from the ministries of social justice, rural development, drinking water and sanitation, and housing and urban affairs and the National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation — found that there were 1,221 manual scavengers in Bihar, Haryana had 846 such workers and 288 people in Telangana were engaged in this dehumanising practice.

Failure in the implementation of the law

  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, allows the use of manual labour to clean sewage if the employer provides safety gear.
  • But, in practice, this provision is more flouted than followed.
  • According to the social justice ministry’s records, one person dies every five days while cleaning sewers — unofficial reports indicate that the figure could be much higher.
  • Municipal corporations and local bodies very often outsource the sewer cleaning tasks to private contractors, who do not maintain proper rolls of workers.
  • In case after case of sanitation workers being asphyxiated to death while working toxic sludge pools in different parts of the country, these contractors have denied any association with the deceased.

Way forward

The Delhi government’s move to use machines is a first step towards according dignity and respect to sewer workers. It should be emulated in other parts of the country. However, technology’s emancipatory powers will be realised at their fullest only when the states stop living in denial about manual scavenging.

Swachh Bharat Mission

[op-ed snap]The basics are vital

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), National Health Mission

Mains level: Need to increase expenditure on Primary health care to build a robust health infrastructure


NEWS

CONTEXT

The overall situation with the NHM, India’s flagship programme in primary health care, continues to be dismal.

Expected expenditure on primary health care services

  • In 2011, a high-level expert group on universal health coverage reckoned that nearly 70% of government health spending should go to primary health care.
  • The National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 also advocated allocating resources of up to two-thirds or more to primary care as it enunciated the goal of achieving “the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation”.

Current spending on primary health care

  • Last year, an outlay of ₹1,200 crore was proposed to transform 1.5 lakh sub-health centres into health and wellness centres by 2022, which would provide a wider range of primary care services than existing sub- and primary health centres (PHC).
  • Going by the government’s own estimate, in 2017, it would cost ₹16 lakh to convert a sub-health centre into a health and wellness centre.
  • This year, the outlay is ₹1,600 crore (a 33% increase) clubbed under the National Health Mission (NHM) budget.
  • The current outlay is less than half the conservative estimate — not to mention that building health and wellness centres at the given rate (15,000 per year) can fulfil not even half the proposed target of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres till 2022.

Allocation to National Health Mission

  • The overall situation with the NHM, India’s flagship programme in primary health care, continues to be dismal.
  • The NHM’s share in the health budget fell from 73% in 2006 to 50% in 2019 in the absence of uniform and substantial increases in health spending by States.
  • The NHM budget for this year (₹31,745 crore) barely crosses the actual spending on the programme in 2017-18 (₹ 31,510 crore).

Allocation to Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)

  • The Centre looks fairly committed to increasing access to hospitalisation care, predominantly through private players.
  • This reflects in the 167% increase in allocation this year for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) — the insurance programme which aims to cover 10 crore poor families for hospitalisation expenses of up to ₹5 lakh per family per annum — and the government’s recent steps to incentivise the private sector to open hospitals in Tier II and Tier III cities.
  • The increase in the PMJAY budget is a welcome step — spending on this colossal insurance programme will need to rise considerably with every passing year so that its commitments can be met.
  • However, the same coming at the expense of other critical areas is ill-advised.

Staff shortage

  • There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%), while only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
  • There is a shortage of PHCs (22%) and sub-health centres (20%), while only 7% sub-health centres and 12% primary health centres meet Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) norms.
  • Data by IndiaSpend show that there is a staggering shortage of medical and paramedical staff at all levels of care: 10,907 auxiliary nurse midwives and 3,673 doctors are needed at sub-health and primary health centres, while for community health centres the figure is 18,422 specialists.

Way forward

  • While making hospitalisation affordable brings readily noticeable relief, there is no alternative to strengthening primary health care in the pursuit of an effective and efficient health system.
  • The achievement of a “distress-free and comprehensive wellness system for all”, , hinges on the performance of health and wellness centres as they will be instrumental in reducing the greater burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on health.
  • Their role shall also be critical in the medium and long terms to ensure the success and sustainability of the PMJAY insurance scheme, as a weak primary health-care system will only increase the burden of hospitalisation.
  • Apart from an adequate emphasis on primary health care, there is a need to depart from the current trend of erratic and insufficient increases in health spending and make substantial and sustained investments in public health over the next decade. Without this, the ninth dimension (‘Healthy India’) of “Vision 2030” will remain unfulfilled.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Kanyashree stipends are no shield against trafficking

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kanyashree and Syawangsiddha Schemes

Mains level: Various laws/schemes against trafficking and their effectiveness in curbing it


News

  • Despite being 56.09 lakh beneficiaries of the scheme in 2016-18 Human trafficking still persists in West Bengal at an unprecedented level.
  • As the per NCRB data, West Bengal reports the highest number of cases.
  • Data for 2016 shows that of the 8,132 cases in the country, 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal.

Kanyashree Prakalpa

  • The Kanyashree Prakalpa (KP) introduced by the Govt. of West Bengal in 2013 is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme aimed at simultaneously reducing underage marriage and adolescent dropout among girls.
  • This scheme received widespread recognition at both national and international levels.
  • Most recently it awarded the first in the Asia-Pacific group for the category “reaching the poorest and most vulnerable through inclusive services and participation” by the United Nations in 2017.
  • This two-tier scheme consists of an annual grant of Rs750 for unmarried girls between the age of 13 and 18 years who are enrolled in some educational institution (KP1).
  • And a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 upon the attainment of 18 years, conditional upon her remaining both unmarried and continuing studies till that age (KP2).

Multiple schemes

  • Kanyashree is an overarching scheme apart from several other schemes aimed at combating trafficking.
  • In September 2018, West Bengal government rolled out Swayangsiddha scheme run by the West Bengal police to prevent trafficking.
  • Under the scheme (which means self reliance) complaint boxes have been installed in the schools where girls can submit any complaint of stalking or harassment faced by them or any of their friends.
  • Syawangsiddha is a scheme and is not as widespread as Kanyashree.

Lacunae in the Schemes

  • The situation had somewhat improved due to intervention of Kanyashree, still there were cases of girls from school going missing and being trafficked.
  • Trafficking is a complex problem and one scheme, which provides impetus to girls to remain in school, cannot put an end to trafficking.
  • Under the K1 scheme the benefit of Rs. 750 annually is hardly a deterrent to trafficking.
Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

RCEP nations to intensify talks to conclude trade pact

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RCEP, ASEAN

Mains level: Impact of joining RCEP on Indian economy as well as foreign policy


News

  • The 7th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting was recently held in Cambodia.
  • Commerce ministers of RCEP countries including India and china, which are negotiating a mega trade deal, held a crucial meeting in Cambodia.

Importance of the Summit

  • After five years of intense negotiations, India at the end of the 2nd RCEP summit is now perceived as a constructive player.
  • This will ensure that there is no marginalisation of request of smaller countries.
  • There is room for policy space for developing countries in transition as it will help moderate ambitions, particularly in the goods negotiations and lead to balanced and mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • India’s flexibility helped in facilitating successful conclusion of three chapters – institutional provisions; sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment.

Outcomes of the Summit

  • The 16 members of the RCEP group, including India and China has agreed to intensify ongoing negotiations for a proposed mega trade agreement to resolve all issues and conclude the talks this year.
  • To ensure that progress is made towards meeting the target for conclusion in 2019, the Ministers agreed to intensify engagement, including by convening more inter-sessional meetings.
  • All Ministers resolved to exert utmost effort to achieve the target of concluding negotiations this year.
  • The leaders commended the Trade Negotiating Committee for the progress made to date on both market access and text-based negotiations.

Eyes on India

  • RCEP members want India to eliminate or significantly reduce customs duties on maximum number of goods it traded with them. India’s huge domestic market provides immense opportunity of exports for RCEP countries.
  • But lower level of ambitions in services and investments, a key area of interest for India, does not augur well for the agreement that seeks to be comprehensive in nature.

Back2Basics

RCEP

  • RCEP bloc includes 10 countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their six free trade pact partners namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
  • The RCEP bloc aims to cover among the issues related to goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, competition and intellectual property rights.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AWE mission

Mains level: Space missions and their objectives


News

  • NASA has selected a $42 million mission that will help scientists understand and, ultimately, forecast the vast space weather system around our planet.

Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission

  • AWE is a Mission of Opportunity under NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers Program, which conducts focused scientific research and develops instrumentation to fill the scientific gaps between the agency’s larger missions.
  • The AWE mission will cost $42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS).
  • The new experiment will obtain global observations of an important driver of space weather in a dynamic region of Earth’s upper atmosphere that can cause interference with radio and GPS communications.
  • The AWE will focus on colourful bands of light in Earth’s atmosphere, called airglow, to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in the upper atmosphere.

Why new mission?

  • Space weather is important because it can have profound impacts affecting technology and astronauts in space, disrupting radio communications and, at its most severe, overwhelming power grids.
  • Researchers once thought that only the Sun’s constant outflow of ultraviolet light and particles, the solar wind, could affect the region.
  • However, recently they have learned that solar variability is not enough to drive the changes observed, and Earth’s weather also must be having an effect.
  • To help unravel that connection, AWE will investigate how waves in the lower atmosphere, caused by variations in the densities of different packets of air, impact the upper atmosphere.
  • This proposed mission would investigate how giant space weather storms from the Sun, called solar particle storms, are accelerated and released into planetary space.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Ensure a minimum income for all

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UBI

Mains level: Debate surrounding Universal Basic Income


News

Context

  • The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is gaining ground globally.
  • It has supporters among the political left and right, and among proponents as well as opponents of the free-market economy.

Working of the UBI

  • The UBI is neither an antidote to the vagaries of market forces nor a substitute for basic public services, especially health and education.
  • Besides, there is no need to transfer money to middle- and high-income earners as well as large landowners.
  • However, there is a strong case for direct income transfers to some groups: landless labourers, agricultural workers and marginal farmers who suffer from multi-dimensional poverty.
  • These groups have not benefited from economic growth.
  • They were and still are the poorest Indians. Various welfare schemes have also failed to bring them out of penury.

Credit Alternatives

  • A case in point is the access to institutional credit issued by banks and cooperative societies.
  • According to NSSO data from the 70th round, institutional credits account for less than 15% of the total borrowing by landless agricultural workers; the figure for marginal and small farmers is only 30%.
  • These groups have to borrow from moneylenders and adhatiyas at exorbitant interest rates ranging from 24 to 60%.
  • As a result, they do not stand to benefit much from the interest rate subsidy for the agriculture sector. Likewise, the benefits of subsidised fertilizers and power are enjoyed largely by big farmers.
  • In urban areas, contract workers and those in the informal sector face a similar problem.

Alternative Schemes

  • A UBI requires the government to pay every citizen a fixed amount of money on a regular basis and without any conditionalities.
  • Crucial to the appeal for such a demand for a UBI — is that millions of people remain unemployed and are extremely poor, despite rapid economic growth in the last three decades.
  • The government has already unfolded a limited version of the UBI in the form of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) which promises ₹6,000 per annum to farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land.

How UBI will work?

  • An income support of, say ₹15,000 per annum can be a good supplement to their livelihoods — an amount worth more than a third of the average consumption of the poorest 25% households, and more than a fourth of the annual income of marginal farmers.
  • This additional income can reduce the incidence of indebtedness among marginal farmers, thereby helping them escape moneylenders and adhatiyas.
  • Besides, it can go a long way in helping the poor to make ends meet.
  • At high levels of impoverishment, even a small income supplement can improve nutrient intake, and increase enrolment and school attendance for students coming from poor households.

Better productivity

  • In other words, income transfers to the poor will lead to improved health and educational outcomes, which in turn would lead to a more productive workforce.
  • It seems to be a good idea to transfer the money into the bank accounts of women of the beneficiary households.
  • Women tend to spend more of their income on health and the education of children.
  • The effect of an income transfer scheme on unemployment is a moot point. In principle, cash transfers can result in withdrawal of beneficiaries from the labour force.

Encourages employment

  • The income support suggested above is not too large to discourage beneficiaries from seeking work.
  • In fact, it can promote employment and economic activities. Moreover, such a scheme will have three immediate benefits.
  • One, it will help bring a large number of households out of the poverty trap or prevent them from falling into it in the event of exigencies such as illness.
  • Two, it will reduce income inequalities.
  • Three, since the poor spend most of their income, a boost in their income will increase demand and promote economic activities in rural areas.

Income Transfer: A better Alternative?

  • Nonetheless, an income transfer scheme cannot be a substitute for universal basic services.
  • The direct income support to the poor will deliver the benefits mentioned only if it comes on top of 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.
  • If anything, budgetary allocation for these services should be raised significantly.
  • Programmes such as the MGNREGS should also stay. With direct income support, the demand for the programmes will come down naturally.
  • However, in the interim, it will serve to screen the poorest in the country and give them a crucial safety net.

Targeting beneficiaries

  • The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 can be used to identify the neediest.
  • Groups suffering from multidimensional poverty such as the destitute, the shelter-less, manual scavengers, tribal groups, and former bonded labourers are automatically included.
  • The dataset includes more than six crore landless labourers.
  • It also includes many small farmers who face deprivation criteria such as families without any bread-earning adult member, and those without a pucca house.
  • The other needy group, small farmers, missing from the SECC can be identified using the dataset from the Agriculture Census of 2015-16.
  • The Aadhaar identity can be used to rule out duplications and update the list of eligible households.

Limited corpus: The only hurdle

  • As an approximation, the number of eligible households is 10 crore.
  • That is, even in its basic form, the scheme will require approximately ₹1.5 lakh crore per annum.
  • The PM-KISAN Yojana can be aligned to meet a part of the cost.
  • Moreover, the tax kitty can be expanded by reintroducing wealth tax.
  • Nonetheless, the required amount is beyond the Centre’s fiscal capacity at the moment.
  • Therefore, the cost will have to be shared by States. States such as Telangana and Odisha are already providing direct income support to their farmers.
Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

Explained: How a Prisoner of War must be treated

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geneva Convention

Mains level: Prospects of the Geneva Convention


News

Background

  • India has demanded the immediate return of IAF pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan captured by Pakistan after his Mig-21 fighter aircraft was shot down in PoK during a dogfight with Pakistani fighter jets.
  • India has also lashed out at the “vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention”.
  • A look at the provisions of the Geneva Conventions:

The Geneva Conventions

  • The 1949 Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties that ensure that warring parties conduct themselves in a humane way with non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel, as well as with combatants no longer actively engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war, and wounded or sick soldiers.
  • All countries are signatories to the Geneva Conventions.
  • There are four conventions, with three protocols added on since 1949.

Does the captured pilot count as a prisoner of war?

  • The provisions of the conventions apply in peacetime situations, in declared wars, and in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties.
  • Even though India and Pakistan have been careful not to use the ‘w’ word for the operations each has conducted on the other’s territory over two successive days.
  • India has said its airstrikes were a “non-military” intelligence-led operation — both sides are bound by the Geneva Conventions.
  • This means the IAF officer is a prisoner of war, and his treatment has to be in accordance with the provisions for PoWs under the Geneva Conventions.

What are the provisions for PoWs?

  • The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the Third Convention or treaty.
  • Its 143 articles spread over five sections and annexure are exhaustive, and deal with every kind of situation that may arise for a captive and captor, including the place of internment, religious needs, recreation, financial resources, the kinds of work that captors can make PoWs do, the treatment, and the repatriation of prisoners.
  • The Third Convention is unambiguous about how prisoners must be treated: “humanely”.
  • And the responsibility for this lies with the detaining power, not just the individuals who captured the PoW.

What rights is a PoW entitled to?

  • Article 14 of the Convention lays down that PoWs are “entitled to in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour”.
  • In captivity, a PoW must not be forced to provide information of any kind under “physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion”.
  • Refusal to answer questions should not invite punishment. A PoW must be protected from exposure to fighting.
  • Use of PoWs as hostages or human shields is prohibited, and a PoW has to be given the same access to safety and evacuation facilities as those affiliated to the detaining power.
  • Access to health facilities, prayer, recreation and exercise are also written into the Convention.
  • The detaining power has to facilitate correspondence between the PoW and his family, and must ensure that this is done without delays.
  • A PoW is also entitled to receive books or care packages from the outside world.

Releasing prisoners

  • Parties to the conflict “are bound to send back” or repatriate PoWs, regardless of rank, who are seriously wounded or sick, after having cared for them until they are fit to travel”.
  • The conflicting parties are expected to write into any agreement they may reach to end hostilities the expeditious return of PoWs.
  • Parties to the conflict can also arrive at special arrangements for the improvement of the conditions of internment of PoWs, or for their release and repatriation.
  • At the end of the 1971 war, India had more than 80,000 Pakistani troops who had surrendered to the Indian Army after the liberation of Dhaka.
  • India agreed to release them under the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

Monitoring the Geneva Conventions

  • The Geneva Conventions have a system of “Protecting Powers” who ensure that the provisions of the conventions are being followed by the parties in a conflict.
  • In theory, each side must designate states that are not party to the conflict as their “Protecting Powers”.
  • In practice, the International Committee of the Red Cross usually plays this role.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

Cabinet approves promulgation of Ordinance to amend SEZ Act

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  SEZ Policy (2005)

Mains level:  Reconsidering the SEZ Policy in India


News

Trusts can set up SEZ

  • Trusts now can approach the government to set up units in special economic zones as the Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an Ordinance for amendment to the SEZ Act, 2005.
  • The definition of “person” as defined in the SEZ Act would now to include trust.
  • The present provisions of the Act do not permit ‘trusts’ to set up units in SEZs.

Benefits

  • The amendment will enable a trust to be considered for grant of permission to set up a unit in SEZs.
  • The amendment would also provide flexibility to the central government to include ‘trusts’ in the definition of a ‘person’, any entity that the central government may notify from time to time.
  • This will facilitate investments in SEZs.

Defining a person for SEZ

  • Currently, the definition of “person” includes an individual, whether resident in India or outside India, a Hindu undivided family, co-operative society, a company, whether incorporated in India or outside India, a firm, proprietary concern, or an association of persons or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, local authority and any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by such individual.

Back2Basics

SEZs

  • SEZs are major export hubs in the country as the government provides several incentives including tax benefits and single-window clearance system.
  • The developers and units of these zones enjoy certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as no licence requirement for import; full freedom for subcontracting; and no routine examination by customs authorities of export/import cargo.
  • They also enjoy direct and indirect tax benefits.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Cabinet approves Petroleum Ministry joining of IEA Bioenergy TCP

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IEA Bioenergy TCP

Mains level: Various initiatives for waste to energy conversions


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the joining of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to International Energy Agency’s Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme as its 25th member.
  • The other members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the US, and the EU.

Harnessing bioenergy sources

  • Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources.
  • Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy.
  • As a fuel it may include wood, wood waste, straw, and other crop residues, manure, sugarcane, and many other by-products from a variety of agricultural processes.

About the TCP

  • Bioenergy TCP is an international platform for co-operation among countries with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programmes in bioenergy research, development and deployment.
  • IEA Bioenergy TCP works under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) to which India has “Association” status since 30 March 2017.

Why join the TCP?

  • The primary goal of joining is to facilitate the market introduction of advanced biofuels with an aim to bring down emissions and reduce crude imports.
  • Benefits of participation in TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
  • It also provides a platform for policy analysis with a focus on overcoming the environmental, institutional, technological, social, ‘and market barriers to the near-and long-term deployment of bioenergy technologies.

Tasks under TCP

  • The R&D work in IEA Bioenergy TCP is carried out carried out within well-defined 3-years programmes called “Tasks”.
  • Each year the progress of the Tasks is evaluated and scrutinized and each 3 years the content of the Tasks is reformulated and new Tasks can be initiated.
  • Technical persons from Public sector Oil Marketing companies will also be contributor in the Tasks participated by MoP&NG.

General Benefits

  • The benefits of participation in IEA Bioenergy TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
  • The duplication of efforts is avoided and national Research and Development capabilities are strengthened.
  • There is an information exchange about best practices, network of researchers and linking research with practical implementation.

Benefits for India

  • Engagement with International Agencies will also apprise the Ministry of the developments taking place Worldwide in Biofuel sector, provide opportunity of personal interaction with innovators/ Researchers and help in bringing suitable policy ecosystem.
  • In addition, after becoming member, India can participate in other related Tasks focussing on Biogas, Solid waste Management, Biorefining etc. which could be participated by relevant Ministries/ Departments/ Organizations of the Country.
Biofuel Policy

Second phase of fame to electrify public transport

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: FAME Scheme

Mains level:  Issues related to the (possible) early adoption of the EVs in India.


News

  • The second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (hybrid) Electric vehicles (FAME) scheme will come into force from April 1, 2019 with the Union Cabinet nod.
  • The scheme will be in effect for a period of three years at a proposed budget of Rs 10,000 crore.

FAME India II Scheme

  • The scheme is the expanded version of the present scheme titled ‘FAME India 1’ which was launched in April 2015.
  • The phase two of the scheme plans to support ten lakhs electric two-wheelers, five lakhs electric three-wheelers, 55 thousands four-wheelers and 7,000 buses.
  • The main objective is to encourage faster adoption of EVs by way of offering upfront incentive on the purchase and also by way of establishing a necessary charging Infrastructure.
  • The largely increased allocation for the new phase is a sign of the critical importance that India’s policy makers are currently placing on shifting to an all-electric Indian mobility sector.

Focus areas

  • In this phase two, emphasis is on electrification of the public transportation that includes shared transport.
  • The second phase will also not provide any incentive for passenger cars used for personal use.
  • In the two-wheelers segment, however, the focus will be on the private vehicles.
  • Demand Incentives on operational expenditure mode for electric buses will be delivered through State/city transport corporation (STUs).
  • In 3W and 4W segment incentives will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or registered for commercial purposes.
  • To encourage advanced technologies, the benefits of incentives will be extended to only those vehicles which are fitted with advanced batteries like a Lithium Ion.

Necessary charging infrastructure

  • It also proposes for establishment of charging infrastructure, whereby about 2700 charging stations will be established in metros, other million-plus cities, smart cities and cities of hilly states across the country.
  • It will ensure availability of at least one charging station in a grid of 3 km x 3 km.

Impact

  • Inclusion of buses, taxi and e-rickshaws under Fame 2 will play a critical role to promote EVs.
  • The transition to electric buses is expected to not only help reduce carbon footprint but also save fuel.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

How the Moon got ‘sunburns’: A result of sheer magnetism

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ARTEMIS Mission

Mains level: Space missions and their objectives


News

  • The Moon has visible ‘sunburns’, or distinctive patterns of swirls on its surface.
  • NASA has now analysed data to show that these are a result of interactions between the Sun’s damaging radiation with pockets of lunar magnetic field.

Sunburns on Moon

  • Every object, planet or person travelling through space has to contend with the Sun’s damaging radiation.
  • Research using data from NASA’s ARTEMIS mission suggests how the solar wind and the Moon’s crustal magnetic fields work together to give the Moon a distinctive pattern of darker and lighter swirls.
  • The Sun releases a continuous outflow of particles and radiation called the solar wind.
  • Because the solar wind is magnetised, Earth’s natural magnetic field deflects the solar wind particles so that only a small fraction of them reach the planet’s atmosphere.
  • But the Moon has no global magnetic field; magnetised rocks near the lunar surface do create small, localised spots of magnetic field.

‘Magnetic Sunscreen’

  • The magnetic fields in some regions are locally acting as this magnetic sunscreen.
  • Under these miniature magnetic umbrellas, the material that makes up the Moon’s surface, called regolith, is shielded from the Sun’s particles.
  • As those particles flow toward the Moon, they are deflected to the areas just around the magnetic bubbles, where chemical reactions with the regolith darken the surface.
  • This creates the distinctive swirls of darker and lighter material.

About ARTEMIS Mission

  • ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun (ARTEMIS).
  • The mission is focusing on measuring pickup ions from the exosphere, the electrostatic charging of the surface, the plasma wake, and the interaction of the solar wind with remnant crustal magnetic anomalies.
  • It also uses lunar orbit as a platform to observe the solar wind and (around full Moon) the distant terrestrial magnetotail.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] A law for the CBI

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing much

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


NEWS

CONTEXT

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

Need to make a law for CBI

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

Other Instances

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

Conclusion

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

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed sanap] An opening in Abu Dhabi

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OIC

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


NEWS

CONTEXT

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

Importance of this invitation

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

Change in the relationship with the middle east

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

Shared  Interests

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

Pakistan’s expected Response

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

Relevance of OIC

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

Conclusion

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

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

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


NEWS

CONTEXT

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

Nature of revolutions in past and present

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

What is the mass production?

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

Potential of digital technologies as mass production

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

Ways to create growth

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

Factors contributing to India being a leader in digital services growth

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

Interventions that are needed to be  taken

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

 

Examples of mass service Success

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

Conclusion

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

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN Yojana

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PM JIVAN Yojana

Mains level: Aim and particulars of the Scheme


News

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

PM JI-VAN Scheme

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

Features of the Scheme

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

Implementation

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

Back2Basics

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme

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

[pib] National Policy on Software Products – 2019

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Policy on Software Products – 2019

Mains level: Software industries in India


News

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

National Policy on Software Products – 2019

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

Impact

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

Rhinos without borders is conservation credo

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Rhino

Mains level: Wildlife conservation efforts


News

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

New Delhi Declaration

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

Rhinos without Borders

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

Why such move?

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

Almost extinct

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

Back2Basics

India Rhinos

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

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ordinance

Mains level: Impact of reservations in J&K


News

Reservations to J&K people

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

Background

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

Impact

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

Why such move?

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

[pib] National Mineral Policy, 2019

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  National Mineral Policy, 2008

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

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

National Mineral Policy, 2019

Key features

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

Other Features

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

Inter-Generational Equity

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