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[pib] Broadband Readiness Index (BRI)

Mains Paper 2 : E-Governance |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : Utility of the BRI


News

Broadband Readiness Index (BRI)

  • The Department of Telecom and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) signed a MoU to develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) for Indian States and UTs.
  • The first estimate will be made in 2019 and subsequently every year until 2022.

Why such index?

  • The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 acknowledged the need for building a robust digital communications infrastructure leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sectors.
  • Accordingly the policy recommended that a BRI for States and UTs be developed to attract investments and address Right of Way challenges across India.

Utility of the index

  • This index will appraise the condition of the underlying digital infrastructure and related factors at the State/UT level.
  • Such an exercise will provide useful insights into strategic choices made by States for investment allocations in ICT programmes.
  • In the spirit of competitive federalism, the index will encourage states to cross learn and jointly participate in achieving the overall objective of digital inclusion and development in India.
  • The framework will not only evaluate a state’s relative development but will also allow for better understanding of a state’s strengths and weaknesses that can feed into evidence-based policy making.

BRI of components

  • Part I will focus on infrastructure development based on the measurement of nine parameters.
  • Part II consists of demand side parameters which will be captured through primary surveys.
  • It will include indicators such as percentage of households using computers/ laptops with internet connection, percentage of households with fixed broadband connection, internet users as a percentage of the population, smart phones density, percentage of households with at least one digitally literate member, etc.
  • This will be a first of its kind exercise that will comprehensively measure the development of telecom infrastructure at the sub national level.
Digital India Initiatives

Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA)

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AERA

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The Rajya Sabha has passed a Bill allowing the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) to bid out any new airport at a pre-determined tariff structure.
  • The AERA (Amendment) Bill was approved by the Cabinet in December 2017.

About AERA

  • AERA is a regulator that has the powers to set the tariffs charged at airports.
  • Sixteen airports will be under the jurisdiction of AERA.
  • All the other airports which would not be major airports will continue to be looked after by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Govt. of India.
  • Currently, all major airports with an annual capacity of handling 1.5 million passengers come under the purview of AERA.

Promises of the amendment

  • At present the passenger throughput at the airports under Airport Authority of India (AAI) is in the vicinity of 344.69 million.
  • So the limited purpose of this amendment is to substitute the figure 1.5 million which defined a major airport, which reflected 1.3 per cent of the passenger traffic at that point of time, by the figure 3.5 million.
  • This accurately reflects the state of traffic today and maintains proportionality.
  • If the amendment if effected, the definition of major airports will change to any aerodrome which has or is designated to have an annual passenger capacity of 3.5 million.

Why such bill?

  • The number of airports which are carrying high traffic has increased considerably and the government is hoping to ease the cumbersome process of fixing tariffs which the regulator had to undertake every five years.
  • With the advent of privatization and increasing number of airports being privatized, the Airports Authority shall not determine the tariff or tariff structures in the case such airports.
  • This is so because the tariff structure is part of the bid which is offered at the time of privatization.
Civil Aviation Sector – CA Policy 2016, UDAN, Open Skies, etc.

[op-ed snap] Rethinking KUSUM

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Redesigning Kusum


CONTEXT

  • Earlier this year, the Cabinet approved the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM).
  • There is a budgetary allocation of ₹34,000 crore to KUSUM and a similar contribution is expected from the States.

Features of KUSUM

  • KUSUM aims to provide energy sufficiency and sustainable irrigation access to farmers.
  • Objective – Providing financial and water security to farmers.
  • The components of the proposed scheme are
    1. Component-A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants.
    2. Component-B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.
    3. Component-C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps.

Current Situation

  • Despite growing farm power subsidies, nearly 30 million farmers use expensive diesel for their irrigation needs.
  • This is because they have no access to electricity. More than half of India’s net sown area remains unirrigated.
  • KUSUM could radically transform the irrigation economy if the government chooses an approach of equity by design and prudence over populism.

Approach of Equity 

  • Reducing disparity among States with regard to solar pumps deployment and irrigation access should be the first aim.
  • This disparity highlights poor State budget allocation towards solar pumps and the lack of initiative by State nodal agencies.
  • To encourage equitable deployment, the Centre could incentivise States through target linked financial assistance and create avenues for peer learning.
  • Addressing inequity within a State – This is addressed by a share of central financial assistance under KUSUM should be appropriated for farmers with small landholdings and belonging to socially disadvantaged groups.
  • By providing greater financial assistance to smaller farmers, instead of a one­size­fits­all approach.
  • KUSUM proposes a 60% subsidy for the pumps, borne equally by the Centre and the States, and the other 40% will be the farmer’s contribution.
  • This will exacerbate the inter farmer disparity given the inequity in access to credit and repayment capacity between small and large farmers.
  • A more economical and equitable alternative – A higher capital subsidy support to small and marginal farmers and long-term loans with interest subsidies for large and medium farmers.

 Prudence over populism

  • Solarising existing grid connected pumps needs a complete rethink.
  • Existing grid connected farmers would receive the same financial support as that received by an off-grid farmer.
  • In addition, the farmer would earn regular income from the DISCOM on feeding surplus electricity, furthering the inequitable distribution of taxpayers’ resources.
  • Instead of this, the scheme should only provide Central government subsidy of up to 30% for solarisation, and use the proposed State support to incentivise DISCOMs to procure energy from the farmers.
  • Instead of feeding surplus energy to the grid, solar pump capacity could be used to power post harvesting processes, which complement the seasonal irrigation load.
  • The entire feeder could be solarised through a reverse bidding approach, and provide water conservation linked incentives to farmers as direct benefit transfer.
Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

[op-ed snap] Chinese check: on economic troubles

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : China's Growth is slowing down


CONTEXT

The Chinese economy is seeing the first signs of trouble after long years of sustained growth that rode on cheap labour and high volumes of exports.

Background

  • Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday revealed that the economy grew by 6.2% in the second quarter, its slowest pace in 27 years.
  • This is in contrast to the growth rates of 6.4% and 6.6% reported for the first quarter and the full year of 2018, respectively.
  • The faltering growth rate was due to a slump in exports in June amidst China’s ongoing trade war with the United States and the downturn witnessed by sectors such as housing construction, where investor sentiments play a major role.
  • Many economists believe that the worst may not yet be over for China and that economic growth could further worsen in the coming quarters.

Rise in Domestic Demand –

  • But just as growth seems to be faltering, the latest growth figures also showed that the retail sales and industrial output components of the growth numbers witnessed steady growth, suggesting that domestic demand may be compensating for the dropping appetite for Chinese exports weighed down by high tariffs.
  • But with China still heavily reliant on exports and its trade war with the U.S. showing no signs of coming to an end, the pressure on growth is likely to remain for some more time.

Measures tried by Chinese Government –

So the Chinese government, which has tried to boost the economy through measures such as tax cuts, increased public spending and a relaxation in bank reserve requirements to encourage banks to increase lending, will hope that domestic demand for its goods will hold up the economy.

Challenges in data credibility –

China’s quarterly GDP numbers, while useful in many ways, don’t reveal very much about the underlying challenges facing the country. One is the need to improve the credibility of data released by the Chinese government.

Restructuring of Chinese Economy –

Driven primarily by market forces – An even larger challenge is the urgent need to restructure the Chinese economy from one that is driven heavily by state-led investment and exports to one that is driven primarily by market forces.

Huge amount of liquidity – The high-growth years of the Chinese economy were made possible by the huge amount of liquidity provided by the Chinese state and the large and affordable workforce that helped build China into an export powerhouse.

Conclusion

More sustainable model – But now, with China’s tried and tested growth model facing the threat of getting derailed as the export and investment boom comes to an end, the Chinese will have to build a more sustainable model, or forfeit hopes of double-digit economic growth in the future.

Restructure the economy – As of now, there are no signs to suggest that the Chinese authorities are looking at implementing deep-seated structural reforms reminiscent of its early decades of liberalisation that can help fundamentally restructure the economy.

Boosting domestic consumption –  There might not be a need for radical macroeconomic changes, but China’s economic troubles will not go away unless the government boosts domestic consumption and reduces the reliance on exports.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed of the day] A test of law and justice

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Challenging 103rd Constitutional Amendment


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

  •  The challenges made to the 103rd constitutional amendment, though, which a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court is slated to hear this month, present a rather more difficult test.Here, the issues involved concern questions both over whether the amendment infringes the extant idea of equality, and over whether that idea is so intrinsic to the Constitution, that departing from it will somehow breach the document’s basic structure.
  • The court’s answers to these questions will operate not merely within the realm of the law but will also likely have a deep political bearing — for at stake here is the very nature of justice that India’s democracy embodies.

Background

The law, which was introduced in January this year, amends Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, and grants to the government the power to provide for reservation in appointments to posts under the state and in admissions to educational institutions to “economically weaker sections of citizens [EWS]”.

Reasons for Challenging the amendment

  • According to the petitioners in the Supreme Court, the central hypothesis of the amendment, where reservation is predicated on individual economic status, violates the Constitution’s basic structure.
  • In their belief, the law, by providing for affirmative action unmindful of the structural inequalities inherent in India’s society, overthrows the prevailing rationale for reservations.
  • In doing so, they argue, the amendment destroys the Constitution’s idea of equal opportunity.
  • The Union of India argues that while the Constitution demands equality, it does not confine Parliament to any singular vision.
  • According to it, the power to amend the Constitution must necessarily include a power to decide how to guarantee equal status to all persons.

Meaning and purpose

Constitution’s Idea –

  • The Constitution’s framers saw the measure as a promise against prejudice, as a tool to assimilate deprived groups into public life, and as a means of reparation, to compensate persons belonging to those groups for the reprehensible acts of discrimination wrought on them through history.
  • Marc Galanter has called this a compensatory discrimination principle.

Dismantling the hierarchical structure –

  • By providing for a more proportionate distribution of the share in administration, the programme of reservations, it was believed, would end at least some of caste-based domination of jobs, particularly of employment in the public sector — a domination that was built over thousands of years, where Dalits and Adivasis were denied access to equal status.
  • The strategy behind reservations could, therefore, never have involved an attack on pure economic backwardness.
  • The idea was always to disavow caste-monopoly in the public sector.

The idea of Justice – Behind this thinking was a distinctive theory of justice: that by according a greater share in public life to historically disadvantaged groups the relative position of those groups would stand enhanced.

Challenging Caste Monopoly – No doubt such a policy would not, in and of itself, help eliminate the various inequalities produced by the caste system, but it was believed it would represent a resolute effort to eliminate at least some of the caste-based domination prevailing in society.

Based of Social and educational Backwardness – Indeed, the policy and the idea of justice that undergirds it have been seen as so indispensable to the Constitution’s aims and purposes that the Supreme Court in State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas (1975) held that reservations based on social and educational backwardness, far from being an exception ought to be seen as an intrinsic facet of the idea of equality.

Problem with new logic 

  • Idea of equality is changed – It is in departing from this logic that the 103rd amendment unseats the Constitution’s code of equality.
  • Transient criterion – Pure financial ability is a transient criterion; it doesn’t place people into a definite group requiring special privileges.
  • Favoring powerful – If anything, allowing for reservation on such a principle only further fortifies the ability of powerful castes to retain their positions of authority, by creating an even greater monopolisation of their share in administration.

Court’s Responsibility

  • When the court hears the challenges made to the 103rd amendment, it must see the petitioners’ arguments as representing a credibly defensible view.
  • The least the court ought to do, therefore, is to refer the case to a constitution bench, given that Article 145(3) mandates such an enquiry on any issue involving a substantial question of law concerning the Constitution’s interpretation, and, in the meantime, stay the operation of the amendment until such a bench hears the case fully.
  • Should the court fail to do so the government will surely one day present to it a cruel fait accompli.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[op-ed snap] A WASH for healthcare

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Wash and Primary health Sector


CONTEXT

Without adequate water, sanitation and hygiene amenities, infection control is severely compromised.

Background

Healthcare facilities are many and varied. Some are primary, others are tertiary. Many are public, some are private. Some meet specific needs, whether dentistry or occupational therapy, and some are temporary, providing acute care when disaster strikes.

  • Whatever their differences, and wherever they’re located, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) amenities, including waste management and environmental cleaning services, are critical to their safe functioning.
  • When a healthcare facility lacks adequate WASH services, infection prevention and control are severely compromised.
  • This has the potential to make patients and health workers sick from avoidable infections.
  • As a result (and in addition), efforts to improve maternal, neonatal and child health are undermined. Lack of WASH facilities also results in unnecessary use of antibiotics, thereby spreading antimicrobial resistance.

Report’s Findings

  • As a joint report published earlier this year by the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) outlines, WASH services in many facilities across the world are missing or substandard.
  • According to data from 2016, an estimated 896 million people globally had no water service at their healthcare facility.
  • More than 1.5 billion had no sanitation service.
  • One in every six healthcare facilities was estimated to have no hygiene service (meaning it lacked hand hygiene facilities at points of care, as well as soap and water at toilets), while data on waste management and environmental cleaning was inadequate across the board.

Enhancing primary healthcare

  • In WHO’s South-East Asia region, efforts to tackle the problem and achieve related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets are being vigorously pursued.
  • As outlined at a WHO-supported meeting in New Delhi in March, improving WASH services in healthcare facilities is crucial to accelerating progress towards each of the region’s ‘flagship priorities’, especially the achievement of universal health coverage.
  • Notably, improving WASH services was deemed essential to enhancing the quality of primary healthcare services, increasing equity and bridging the rural-urban divide.

WHO’s Initiative 

  • A World Health Assembly Resolution passed in May is hoping to catalyse domestic and external investments to help reach the global targets.
  • These include ensuring at least 60% of all healthcare facilities have basic WASH services by 2022; at least 80% have the same by 2025; and 100% of all facilities provide basic WASH services by 2030.
  • For this, member states should implement each of the WHO- and UNICEF-recommended practical steps.
  • Assessments – First, health authorities should conduct in-depth assessments and establish national standards and accountability mechanisms. Across the region, and the world, a lack of quality baseline data limits authorities’ understanding of the problem.
  • National Road Maps  – As this is done, and national road-maps to improve WASH services are developed, health authorities should create clear and measurable benchmarks that can be used to improve and maintain infrastructure and ensure that facilities are ‘fit to serve’.

Educating the health workers

Cleanliness in centres – Second, health authorities should increase engagement and work to instil a culture of cleanliness and safety in all healthcare facilities.

Information Campaign – Alongside information campaigns that target facility administrators, all workers in the health system — from doctors and nurses to midwives and cleaners — should be made aware of, and made to practise, current WASH and infection prevention and control procedures (IPC).

Pre Service Training – To help do this, modules on WASH services and IPC should be included in pre-service training and as part of ongoing professional development.

Inclusive Approach – In addition, authorities should work more closely with communities, especially in rural areas, to promote demand for WASH services.

And third, authorities should ensure that collection of data on key WASH indicators becomes routine. Doing so will help accelerate progress by promoting continued action and accountability. It will also help spur innovation by documenting the links between policies and outcomes. To make that happen, WHO is working with member states as well as key partners to develop a data dashboard that brings together and tracks indicators on health facilities, including WASH services, with a focus on the primary care level.

As member states strive to achieve the ‘flagship priorities’ and work towards the SDG targets, that outcome is crucial. Indeed, whatever the healthcare facility, whoever the provider, and wherever it is located, securing safe health services is an objective member states must boldly pursue.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: Changes in NIA (Amendment) Bill 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Various Security Forces, Agencies & Their Mandates |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIA and its mandate

Mains level : Impact of the proposed amendments



News

  • Recently Lok Sabha has passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a heated debate in the House.
  • It is a move to foster ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy towards terrorism and other crimes.

About NIA

  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realized.
  • The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008 Headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The conviction rate of this anti-terrorism agency is currently 95 per cent as it has managed to convict 167 accused in the 185 cases registered by it since its inception.

What are changes introduced in the NIA (Amendment) Bill?

There are three major amendments to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008:

I. Type of offences

  • Under the existing Act, the NIA can investigate offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
  • The latest amendments will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

II. NIA’s jurisdiction

  • Under the Act, for the offences under its purview, NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these extend across the country.
  • The Bill amends this to give NIA officers the power to investigate offences committed outside India.
  • Of course, NIA’s jurisdiction will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.

III. Special trial courts

  • The amendment seeks for special trials courts for the offences that come under NIA’s purview or the so-called “scheduled offences”.
  • The existing Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials.
  • But the Bill enables the Central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for such trials.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NDHM

Mains level : Need for digital health record


News

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recommended the setting up of a National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) to manage “enormous amounts of health data” generated by Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s flagship health programme.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  • The NDHM would provide technology to manage and analyse data, and create a system of personal health records and health applications. Central to the “ecosystem” would be a Personal Health Identifier (PHI) to maintain a Personal Health Record (PHR).
  • The PHI would contain the names of patients and those of their immediate family, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address, location, family ID and photograph.
  • While Aadhaar assures uniqueness of identity and provides an online mechanism for authentication, it cannot be used in every health context as per the applicable regulations.
  • The design of PHI, therefore, must allow multiple identifiers (chosen from the specified types of identifiers) for designing the structure and processes relating to PHI.

Blueprint of the mission

  • The Health Ministry has decided to consult Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in the design of the PHI.
  • These recommendations come from a National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) created by a committee.
  • The 14-member committee included officials from the Health Ministry, state governments, NITI Aayog, MeitY, National eGovernance Division (NeGD), NIC, CDAC and AIIMS.
  • The panel envisions the new Mission to be autonomous like UIDAI and GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network).
  • It would be partly funded by the government but will also “raise a part of its funding through a transaction fee” with private players.
  • The committee has also suggested a Command, Control, and Communication Center (CCCC) as a single point of contact in public health emergencies.
  • It estimates that all the components of the Mission would take about 18 months to develop.
Digital India Initiatives

Centre for Research and Planning (CRP)

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Centre for Research and Planning (CRP)

Mains level : Reform measures in Judiciary


News

  • Nine months after it was set up with an ambitious mandate to reform the judiciary, the Centre for Research and Planning (CRP), the Supreme Court’s in-house think tank, is now virtually disbanded.

Centre for Research and Planning (CRP)

  • The CRP was CJI Gogoi’s brainchild, and setting it up was one of the first decisions he took after assuming office in October 2018.
  • It was intended to improve public confidence in the judiciary that had taken a knocking after four most senior judges took to media to express their discontent.
  • Few Supreme Court judges had held a press conference in January 2018 to raise concerns on the functioning of the court, especially the allocation of cases by then CJI Dipak Misra.

Terms of reference for CRP

  • The CRP was asked to come up with short versions of key judgments without the jargon to connect with ordinary citizens.
  • The idea was mooted after the criticism the court received following the Sabarimala verdict in September 2018, allowing entry of women into the Kerala shrine.
  • The CRP was also tasked with creating a network of leading independent scholars in key domain areas, complementing state and national judicial academies in strengthening the knowledge infrastructure of the judiciary.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

‘Blue Flag’ Certification

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blue Flag certification

Mains level : Blue Flag Beaches



News

  • The MoEFCC has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

Blue Flag Programme

  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

Proposed Beaches

  • These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
Swachh Bharat Mission

Sahiwal Cattle

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sahiwal breed of Cattles

Mains level : Not Much



News

  • The Sahiwal migrated to Kenya around 80 years ago from the Subcontinent and is now considered as the backbone of the Kenya’s milk production.
  • The breed is the main source of earning for many dairy farmers and is also helping adaption in the face of climate change.

Sahiwal Cattle

  • The British, who ruled both British India (today’s India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) as well as Kenya, brought the Sahiwal breed to Kenya in the 1930s for increasing milk production to help their army.
  • The origin of the Sahiwal is the similarly named town (known in the British Era as Montgomery) in today’s Pakistani province of Punjab.
  • It is commonly of a reddish dun colour, with more of a dark brownish colour around the hump and the neck.
  • Also, during the 1930s, the British introduced the Red Sindhi breed of cow in Tanganyika, their colony to the south of Kenya (today’s Tanzania).
  • According to the International Livestock Research Institute, the present Sahiwal cattle in Kenya are descendants of some 60 bulls and 12 cows imported between 1939 and 1963.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

[pib] Seva Bhoj Yojana

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Seva Bhoj Yojana

Mains level : Particulars of the scheme



News

Seva Bhoj Yojna

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme for providing reimbursement of CGST and Central Government’s share of IGST paid by charitable/religious institutions on purchase of specific raw food items for serving free food to public / devotees.
  • The specific raw food items covered under the Scheme are (i) Ghee (ii) Edible Oil (iii) Sugar/Burra/Jaggery (iv) Rice (v) Atta/Maida/Rava/Flour and (vi) Pulses.
  • Under the scheme the financial assistance will be provided for free ‘prasad’ or free food or free ‘langar’ / ‘bhandara’ (community kitchen) offered by charitable/religious institutions like Gurudwara, Temples, Dharmik Ashram, Mosques, Dargah, Church, Math, Monasteries etc.

Criteria for financial assistance

  • The applicant must be involved in charitable/religious activities by way of free and philanthropic distribution of food/prasad/langar(Community Kitchen)/ bhandara free of cost and without discrimination.
  • The institutions/organizations should have been distributing free food, langar and prasad to atleast 5000 persons in a calendar month can apply under the scheme.
  • Financial Assistance under the scheme shall be given only to those institutions which are not in receipt of any Financial Assistance from the Central/State Government for the purpose of distributing free food.
  • The Institution/Organization blacklisted under the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) or under the provisions of any Act/Rules of the Central/State shall not be eligible for financial assistance under the scheme.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)

[pib] Museum Grant Scheme

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Museum Grant Scheme

Mains level : Not Much


News

Museum Grant Scheme

  • Ministry of Culture provides financial assistance under the Scheme to the State Governments and Societies, Autonomous bodies, Local Bodies and Trusts registered under the Societies Act, for setting up new Museums.
  • It aims to strengthen and modernize the existing museums at the Regional, State and District level.

Funding pattern

  • The maximum amount of financial assistance which may be given would be 80% of the total project cost.
  • In case of museums in North-Eastern region including Sikkim the financial assistance would be 90% of the total project cost.
  • The remaining amount i.e. 20% of the project cost (in case of North Eastern region, 10% of the project cost), will have to be borne by the organization.
  • The organization may arrange the balance amount either from its own resources or may receive assistance through Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • There is no condition in the scheme for receiving assistance through Corporate Social Responsibility.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

[op-ed of the day] India’s foreign policy needs rework in the next five years

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Changes required in India's Foreign Policy


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

In the coming five years, a host of geopolitical and economic issues need to be reconciled.

Background

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained a frenetic pace, renewing contacts with world leaders ever since the results of general election 2019.
  • G-20 – He was the cynosure of all eyes at the G-20 meeting in June, in Osaka.
  • BRICs informal meeting – At the BRICs informal meeting, also in Osaka, he called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation and for a global conference on terrorism. He discussed counter-terrorism and climate change issues at separate meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
  • Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping – He participated in the Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping, arguing for a “rules based order” in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • He met with U.S. President Donald Trump, to discuss the future of India-U.S. relations.

Present Situation

  • The global situation has altered.
  • Rivalries among nations have intensified.
  • There is virtual elimination of the middle ground in global politics, and it has become far more adversarial than at any time previously.
  • Even the definition of a liberal order seems to be undergoing changes.
  • Several more countries today profess support for their kind of liberalism, including Russia and China.
  • At the other end, western democracy appears far less liberal today.

China, U.S. and Asian realities

1.South Asia –

  • South Asia, in particular, and the region of our highest priority, according to the new External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, needs close attention.
  • The region is one of the most disturbed in the world and India has little or no say in any of the outcomes taking place.
  • Pakistan – India-Pakistan relations are perhaps at their lowest point.
  • Afghanistan – India has no role in Afghan affairs and is also excluded from current talks involving the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, the U.S. and even Russia and China.
  • India might have recouped its position more recently in the Maldives, but its position in Nepal and Sri Lanka remains tenuous.

2.China

  • Across much of Asia, China is the major challenge that India has to contend with.
  • BRI – Smaller countries in the region are being inveigled to participate in China’s programmes such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • India and Bhutan are the only two countries in this region that have opted out of the BRI, and they seem like the odd men out.
  • The challenge in the coming years for India is to check the slide, especially in Asia, and try and restore India to the position it held previously.

3.USA

  • New Cold War – Deepening India-U.S. relations today again carry the danger of India becoming involved in a new kind of Cold War.
  • Not to be a paw – India must ensure that it does not become a party to the conflicts and rivalries between the U.S. and a rising China, the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and also avoid becoming a pawn in the U.S.-Iran conflict.
  • National Defence Authorisation Act  – There is little doubt that current India-U.S. relations provide India better access to state-of-the-art defence items; the recent passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act in the U.S. makes India virtually a non-NATO ally. However, such close identification comes with a price.
  • Tensions between India and China – Closer relations with the U.S. also carries the risk of aggravating tensions between India and China, even as China and the U.S. engage in contesting every domain and are involved in intense rivalry in military matters as well as competition on technology issues.

The U.S.-China-Russia conflict –

  • The U.S.-China-Russia conflict has another dimension which could affect India adversely.
  • The strategic axis forged between the Mr. Putin’s Russia and Mr. Xi’s China will impact not only the U.S. but also India’s position in both Asia and Eurasia, with India being seen as increasingly aligned to the U.S. Hence, India needs to devise a policy that does not leave it isolated in the region.

Disruptive Technology domain

  • Dominant power – Today, disruptive technologies have tremendous danger potential and nations that possess these technologies have the ability to become the dominant powers in the 21st and 22nd Centuries.
  • Lagging Behind others – A major challenge for India will hence be how to overcome our current inadequacies in the realm of disruptive technologies rather than remaining confined to the purely military domain.
  • Cyberspace – The U.S., China, Russia, Israel and few other countries dominate these spheres as also cyberspace and cyber methodologies.
  • Growth in disruptive technology matrix – New policy parameters will need to be drawn up by India, and our capabilities enhanced in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber methodology, all of which constitute critical elements of the disruptive technology matrix.

Focus on Economy

Notwithstanding India’s ambition to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, the reality today is that the economy appears to be in a state of decline. Jobs, especially skilled jobs, are not available in sufficient numbers and this should be a matter for concern.

Conclusion

The looming challenge for India in the coming five years, therefore, would be how to build a strong economic foundation, one that is capable of providing the kind of power structure needed for an emerging power, and also one possessing the best liberal credentials.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations

[op-ed snap] Karnataka conundrum

Mains Paper 2 : Parliament & State Legislatures |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Issues in Anti-defection


CONTEXT

The Supreme Court’s decision to ask the parties to the political crisis in Karnataka to maintain the status quo until it examines the questions of law involved, is pragmatic and expedient.

Details Of Order

  • The Speaker has been asked not to decide the issue of MLAs’ resignation or disqualification.
  • An order has been passed when one of the questions to be decided is whether the court can give such a direction to the Speaker.
  • It now transpires that legislators can be prevented from resigning by claiming that they have incurred disqualification.

Order of events

  • It was argued in court that “the rebel MLAs are trying to avoid disqualification by tendering resignations.”
  • This is astounding, as the penalty for defection is loss of legislative office.
  • Quitting the current post before joining another party is a legal and moral obligation.
  • Defection is condemnable, especially if it is to bring down one regime and form another.
  • But politicians cannot be tied down to parties against their will by not letting them leave even their legislative positions.
  • Even if it can be argued that two MLAs had pending disqualification proceedings against them, what about the rest?
  • They say they tried to meet the Speaker, but could not.
  • They may have been wrong to rush to the court without getting an appointment with the Speaker, but in the few intervening days, their parties issued a whip to all MLAs to be present in the House and vote for the government.
  • Converting resignation into a disqualification matter is an attempt to deny a member’s right to quit his seat in the legislature before joining another party, even if the crossing-over is a politically expedient measure.
  • The logic seems to be that a disqualified member cannot become a Minister without getting elected again, whereas one who resigns can be inducted into an alternative Cabinet without being a member.
  • Accepting a resignation is a simple function of being satisfied if it is voluntary, while disqualification is decided on evidence and inquiry.
  • The two should not be mixed up.

Constitutional Issue

  • The ongoing proceedings represent an increasingly common trend in litigation on constitutional issues: the propensity of the political class to twist and stretch the law in their favour and leave it to the court to set things right.
  • The Speaker already enjoys extraordinary powers under the Constitution.
  • In addition to immunity from judicial scrutiny for legislative matters, such as whether a Bill is a money bill, presiding officers get to decide whether a member has incurred disqualification under the anti-defection law.
  • Though the decision is subject to judicial review, many Speakers have evaded judicial scrutiny by merely not acting on disqualification matters.

Conclusion

  • The question whether the Speaker’s inaction can be challenged in court is pending before another Constitution Bench. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have instances of Speakers not acting on disqualification questions for years.
  • The current crisis in Karnataka has exposed a new dimension to such partisan action.
Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

[op-ed snap] Ecological perils of discounting the future

Mains Paper 1 : Urbanization, Their Problems & Remedies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Managing urban water bodies


CONTEXT

  • In a report last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) called the Chennai floods of 2015 a “man made disaster”, a pointer to how the encroachment of lakes and river floodplains has driven India’s sixth largest city to this ineluctable situation.
  • The Chennai floods are a symbol of consistent human failings and poor urban design which are common to most urban centres in India if not urban centres across the world. Now, Chennai is in the midst of another crisis — one of water scarcity.

Urban Situation

  • Unlike issues such as traffic congestion or crime which are visible, environmental degradation is not what most people can easily see or feel in their every day lives.
  • Therefore, when the consequences of such degradation begin to wreak havoc, it becomes difficult to draw the correlation between nature’s vengeance with human failings.
  • In Chennai, more than 30 waterbodies of significance have disappeared in the past century.
  • Concretisation or the increase in paved surfaces has affected the percolation of rainwater into the soil, thereby depleting groundwater levels to a point of no return.

Urbanisation without vision

  • Chennai, however, is not alone in terms of suffering from the consequences of human folly.
  • Urbanisation at the cost of reclaiming water bodies is a pan-India if not worldwide phenomenon.
  • There are examples in cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and even Mexico city.
  • In Bengaluru, 15 lakes have lost their ecological character in less than five years according to a High Court notice to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s administrative body responsible for civic amenities and some infrastructural assets.
  • The lakes, which are now encroached areas, find use as a bus stand, a stadium and, quite ironically, as an office of the Pollution Control Board.
  • In Mexico city, what was once a network of lakes built by the Aztecs in the 11th and 12th centuries, has given way to a downtown city centre.
  • Parts of the city, especially downtown, sink a few metres every year causing immense damage to buildings.
  • Mismanaged urbanisation and encroachments: Chennai continues to lose out on its water resources

     

    Case study of Telangana

  • In Telangana, the byzantine network of tanks and lakes built by the Kakatiya dynasty has disappeared over the years.
  • However, the question is not about what follies were committed in the past, but about what we can do in the present and, more importantly, for the future.
  • In Telangana, “tanks have been the lifeline of the State because of its geographical positioning”.
  • The State’s “topography and rainfall pattern have made tank irrigation an ideal type of irrigation by storing and regulating water flow for agricultural use”.
  • The Telangana example of water rejuvenation
  • The Chief Minister of Telangana launched a massive rejuvenation movement in form of “Mission Kakatiya” which involves the restoration of irrigation tanks and lakes/minor irrigation sources built by the Kakatiya dynasty.
  • From the perspective of inter-generational justice, this is a move towards giving future generations in the State their rightful share of water and, therefore, a life of dignity.
  • The city of Hyderabad is now moving towards a sustainable hydraulic model with some of the best minds in the country working on it.
  • This model integrates six sources of water in a way that even the most underdeveloped areas of the city can have equitable access to water resources and the groundwater levels restored in order to avoid a calamity of the kind that has gripped Chennai now.

 

International Examples

  • When Mexico city can create a new executive position of a “resilience officer” to save its sinking urban sprawls, Bengaluru can reclaim Kundalahalli lake (once a landfill) through corporate social responsibility funds in a Public Private Partnership model, and Hyderabad and the larger state of Telangana rebuild its resilience through a combination of political will and well-designed policies such as the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme and Mission, what stops us from learning from each other?
  • Why should other urban centres shy away from adopting, remodelling and implementing some of the best water management practices to avoid disaster?
  • The answer perhaps lies in the tendency of policymakers to discount the future and of their obsession of focussing on the here and now.

 

Conclusion

  • It is estimated that in just 30 years from now, half of India will be living in cities.
  • If we truly envision a great future for this country, how can we possibly risk the lives of half of our people and the next generations who could be facing a life in cities parched by drought, stranded by floods, mortified by earthquakes or torn by wars over fresh water?
  • What has happened in Chennai now or what happened in Kerala last year in the form of floods are not a case of setting alarm bells ringing, but one of explosions.
  • If we do not wake up now, we have to be prepared to face the consequences of nature wreaking great havoc on humanity.
  • We would not need nuclear bombs for our obliteration.
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Explained: Overseas Bond

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 : Overseas bond

Mains level : Financial implications of Overseas bonds


News

Context

  • Finance Minister announced in her Budget speech plans to raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets.
  • The government and the RBI will reportedly finalise the plans for the overseas issue of sovereign bonds by September.
  • While several commentators have argued that this is a risky move, the government itself is convinced that it will help boost private investment in the country.

Bonds

  • A bond, also known as a fixed-income security, is a debt instrument created for the purpose of raising capital.
  • They are essentially loan agreements between the bond issuer and an investor, in which the bond issuer is obligated to pay a specified amount of money at specified future dates.

Overseas Bond

  • A government bond or sovereign bond is a form of debt that the government undertakes wherein it issues bonds with the promise to pay periodic interest payments and also repay the entire face value of the bond on the maturity date.
  • So far, the government has only issued bonds in the domestic market.
  • According to FM, India’s sovereign external debt to GDP ratio is among the lowest around the world, at less than 5%.
  • Against this background, the government will start raising a part of its gross borrowing programme in external markets in external currencies.

Why issue such bonds?

  • Government borrowing is at such a level that there are not enough funds available for the private sector to adequately meet its credit and investment needs.
  • If the private sector cannot borrow adequately, then it cannot invest as it wants to, and that cripples one major engine of economic growth.
  • Government borrowing accounts for about 80-85% of domestic savings.
  • The overseas borrowing programme allows the government to maintain its gradual reduction of the fiscal deficit.
  • Borrowing overseas allows the government to raise funds in such a way that there is enough domestic credit available for the private sector.

Pricing of the bonds

  • The appetite of the international market for Indian bonds and their price will say a lot about how India is viewed globally on the risk factor.
  • For example, if the rate at which India can borrow overseas is low, then this would mean the global market assigns a low risk to India defaulting.

Risks associated

  • Several economists have expressed their concerns over the fact that India might follow the path of some Central and South American countries such as Mexico and Brazil.
  • In the 1970s, several of these countries borrowed heavily overseas when the global market was flush with liquidity.
  • But then, when their currencies depreciated sharply a decade later, these countries were in big trouble as they could not repay their debt.
  • India is not likely to be viewed as a risky proposition by the international market and so is likely to fetch an attractive rate for the bonds.

I. Limitations on borrowing

  • Cheap and plentiful funds should not encourage the government to borrow too heavily from abroad.
  • Another risk to India from overseas borrowings is that this would lead to a quicker increase to its foreign exchange reserves, which would lead to a stronger rupee at a time when it is already appreciating against the dollar.
  • This would be an adverse outcome.

II. Uncontrolled Imports

  • A stronger rupee would encourage imports at a time when the government is trying to curb them, and discourage exports at a time when they are being encouraged.
  • On the other hand, rupee depreciation for whatever external reason would prove even more disastrous as it would make it far more expensive for India to repay its external debt.

III. Less Control over Inflation

  • Another problem with an overseas bond issue is that the government would not be able to inflate itself out of trouble.
  • That is, in the domestic market, if the government does ever reach the stage where it is finding it difficult to repay its debt, it can simply print more money, let inflation rise quickly and repay its debt.
  • This is not an option in an overseas bond issue. The Indian government cannot print foreign currency to repay its debt.

IV. Impact on Domestic market

  • According to the government’s own reasoning, there are not enough funds in the domestic market to cater to its needs as well as those of the private sector.
  • This shallowness of the bond market is not a good thing, especially at a time when the government needs the bond market to finance several of its commitments.
  • The Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, for example, involves State governments taking over the debt of State power distribution companies and issuing bonds to repay that debt.
  • A shallow bond market would make it difficult for the government to expand any of these schemes.

Conclusion

  • Ideally, the government should have enough revenue that it does not need to borrow as much.
  • However, at a time when both direct and indirect tax collections have disappointed, the government is forced to borrow to finance its expenditure.
  • In such a scenario, it is a welcome move for the private sector that the government is leaving it room to borrow in the domestic market.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

Law Commission

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Law Commission if India

Mains level : Mandate of the Law Commission


News

  • With the country left without a Law Commission since September 2018, the Law Ministry has initiated the process of setting up the body which gives advice to the government on complex legal issues.
  • The three-year term of the 21st Law Commission ended on August 31 last year. On at least one occasion, the Ministry had moved the proposal to reconstitute the panel.

Law Commission of India

  • It is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India. First law commission of independent India was established post the Independence in 1955.
  • The Cabinet approves reconstitution of the law panel for a period of three years. It is usually headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Composition: Chairman, 1 Permanent Member, 1 Member Secretary, 2 Part-time Members, 2 ex-officio
    members. (21 st Law Commission Chairman: Justice BN Chauhan)
  • Tenure: 3 Years
  • Function: Advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice for “Legal Reforms in India”
  • Recommendations: NOT binding
  • First Law Commission was established during the British Raj in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833 under Macaulay.
  • It recommended for the Codifications of the IPC, CrPC etc.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

Mains level : Various initiatives for water conservation


News

  • PM in his latest Mann ki Baat emphasized on the need for dedicated efforts towards water conservation and ‘Jal Shakti, Jan Shakti’ initiative which is inspired from Jalyukta Shivar scheme of Maharashtra.
  • Such regional schemes can be a benchmark for their replication at pan India level.

Jalyukta Shivar Scheme

  • Jalyukta Shivar is the flagship programme of the Maharashtra government launched in December 2014 which aims to make 5,000 villages free of water scarcity.
  • The scheme targeted drought-prone areas by improving water conservation measures in order to make them more water sustainable.
  • It envisaged to arrest maximum run-off water, especially during the monsoon months, in village areas known to receive less rainfall, annually.

Initiatives under the scheme

  • Under the scheme, decentralized water bodies were installed at various locations within villages to enhance the groundwater recharge.
  • Besides, it also proposed to strengthen and rejuvenate water storage capacity and percolation of tanks and other sources of storage.
  • Dedicated committees were formed to assist in construction of watersheds like farm ponds, cement nullah bunds alongside rejuvenating the existing water bodies in the villages.

Why such scheme?

  • About 82 per cent area of Maharashtra falls is rainfed sector while 52 per cent of area is drought prone.
  • This, when coupled with natural rainfall variability and long dry spells during the monsoons, severely hampers agriculture activities.
  • Since 2014, hundreds of villages in Marathwada, central Maharashtra and Vidarbha have experienced droughts for consecutive years.
  • For instance, when the scheme was launched in 2014, a total of 23,811 villages in 26 out of the total 36 districts were declared drought-hit.
  • The scheme, thus, aimed at addressing these water issues mainly by building decentralized water bodies at local levels that could aid in better groundwater recharge especially in areas where water scarcity was very high.

 How does this intervention work?

  • Under the scheme, water streams in a locality are deepened and widened, which would later be connected to the newly constructed chains of cement nullah bunds in the village.
  • Besides, efforts would be made to arrest and store water in small earthen dams and farm ponds in such areas.
  • While new interventions are made, maintenance of existing sources like canals and all kinds of wells would be undertaken.
  • Activities like desilting of water conservation structures and repairs of canals are undertaken to help improve water storage and percolation at the site.
  • Additionally, recharge of dug and tubewells would be taken up in specific locations.
  • A mobile-app developed by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre (MRSAC) for quick monitoring of the scheme is functional in this respect.

Expected Outcomes

  • While there are both short and long-term outcomes envisioned by the government, the purpose remains to strengthen the rural economy, which continues to be largely agriculture-driven.
  • The government plans to achieve this goal of improving farmer income by addressing the basic problem pertaining to availability of water for farming or irrigation purposes.
  • Included in the immediate outcomes of the scheme are reduction in the run-off water and diverting it to some kind of storage, increasing water storage capacity, increasing the rate of groundwater recharge, enhancing soil fertility and ultimately, improving farm productivity.
  • The long-term outcomes after the scheme matures, include reducing water scarcity in villages that have limited natural supply, improving in risk management or becoming drought resilient and improving water availability through effective management.
  • Through such timely interventions, the government aims to address the food and water security of its villages.

Progress card of the scheme

  • More than 11,000 villages where Jalyukta Shivar was introduced are declared drought-free.
  • The water storage capacity has been improved to 1.6 lakh Trillion Cubic Metre (TMC).
  • The overall scheme has so far benefitted 20 lakh hectares of protected irrigated land, which increased the cropping intensity to 1.25 to 1.5 times than before.
  • The overall agriculture productivity jumped up 30 to 50 per cent from areas where the intervention measures reached.
  • Importantly, the water tanker dependency in these areas has also dropped.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Explained: Draft Model Tenancy Act

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Model Tenancy Act

Mains level : Tenancy Laws in India


News

  • Recently the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach

Provisions of the Model Tenancy Act

  • The Model Act lays down the obligations of tenants and landlords, and provides for an adjudication mechanism for disputes.
  • It is intended to be an Act to balance the interests of owner and tenant by establishing adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and to establish Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to hear appeals and for matters connected to rental housing.
  • Its stated aim is to promote the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and working professionals, mainly through private participation.
  • The Act mandates that no person will let or take any rental premises without an agreement in writing, in both urban and rural areas.
  • Within two months of executing such an agreement, the land owner and tenant are required to intimate the Rent Authority, who will issue a unique identification number to both parties.
  • Agreements can be submitted through a dedicated digital platform.

Tenant and landlord rights

  • The Model Act lays down various rules, including that the security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’ rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent for non-residential property.
  • It lists the kinds of repairs each party would be responsible for, with the proviso that money for repairs can be deducted from the security deposit or rent, as applicable, if a party refuses to carry out their share of the work.
  • The Rent Court can allow repossession of the property by the landlord if the tenant misuses the premises, after being served a notice by the landowner.
  • Misuse of the premises, as defined, includes public nuisance, damage, or its use for “immoral or illegal purposes”.
  • If the tenant refuses to vacate, the landlord can claim double the monthly rent for two months, and four times the monthly rent thereafter.

Why such Act?

  • A/c to the Census 2011 1.1 crore houses are lying vacant.
  • The existing rent control laws are restricting the growth of rental housing and discourage owners from renting out their vacant houses due to fear of repossession.
  • The Model Act would bring these into the rental market, and would promote the growth of the rental housing segment.
  • One of the potential measures to unlock the vacant house is to bringing transparency and accountability in the existing system of renting of premises and to balance the interests of both the property owner and tenant in a judicious manner.

Expected Outcomes

  • The Model Act, if adopted and enforced by the states, will lead to a better regulated private rental housing market for the middle and higher income segments.
  • In 2015, before the Housing for All by 2022 Mission (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban) was launched, it was decided that 20 per cent of the two crore houses that were to be created should be exclusively for rent.
  • The decision was based on a 2013 report by a Union government Task Force for Rental Housing, which held that affordable rental housing addresses the issues in an even more direct manner than affordable ownership housing.
  • However, when it was rolled out in late 2015, the mission promoted only ownership housing — with no mention of rental stock.
Land Reforms