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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.

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

Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report: Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019

Mains level : Malnutrition in India


News

State of deficit

  • The Food and Nutrition Security Analysis, India, 2019, a report by the MoSPI and The World Food Programme lists Maharashtra as one of the six States with high levels of stunting and underweight.
  • The State also has a prevalence of stunting and wasting.
  • Here’s a look at the highlights of the report and overall malnutrition in Maharashtra.

What is malnutrition?

  • Malnutrition, in all its forms, includes undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight) inadequate vitamins or minerals, overweight, obesity, and resulting diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Types of malnutrition

  • Moderate Acute malnutrition (MAM): Children aged between six months and 59 months who are between the -2 and -3 standard deviation for weight for height (wasting) score.
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM): Children aged between six months and 59 months and have a weight for height (wasting) score 3 standard deviations below the median, have a mid-upper-arm circumference less than 115 mm, or the presence of bilateral edema.
  • Severe Chronic Malnutrition (SCM): Calculated with the Z-score defined as a height-for-age index less than –3 standard deviations from the mean weight of a reference population of children of the same height and/or having edema.
  • Stunting: Calculation is based on height-for-age. It is is associated with an underdeveloped brain, poor learning capacity, and increased nutrition-related diseases.
  • Wasting: Calculated by weight-for-height. It is associated with decreased fat mass. Also known as wasting syndrome, it causes muscle and fat tissue to waste away.
  • Underweight: Calculated by the weight-for-age formula. It is a body weight considered to be too low to be healthy. It can reflect both stunting and wasting.

Food and malnutrition in the country

  • Over the last 20 years, total food grain production in India increased from 198 million tonnes to 269 million tonnes.
  • Despite increase in food production, the rate of malnutrition in India remains very high.
  • In the food basket, it turns out that in both urban and rural areas, the share of expenditure on cereal and cereal substitutes has declined between 1972-73 and 2011-12, from 57% to 25% in rural areas and from 36% to 19% in urban areas.
  • The energy and protein intake from cereals has decreased in both rural and urban India, largely because of increased consumption of other food items such as milk and dairy products, oils and fat and relatively unhealthy food such as fast food, processed food, and sugary beverages.
  • The consumption of unhealthy energy and protein sources is much higher in urban areas.

Double burden of malnutrition

  • For several decades India was dealing with only one form of malnutrition– undernutrition.
  • In the last decade, the double burden which includes both over- and undernutrition, is becoming more prominent and poses a new challenge for India.
  • From 2005 to 2016, prevalence of low (< 18.5 kg/m2) body mass index (BMI) in Indian women decreased from 36% to 23% and from 34% to 20% among Indian men.
  • During the same period, the prevalence of overweight/obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2) increased from 13% to 21% among women and from 9% to 19% in men.
  • Children born to women with low BMI are more likely to be stunted, wasted, and underweight compared to children born to women with normal or high BMI.

States Performance

  • The highest levels of stunting and underweight are found in Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and
  • At the national level, among social groups, the prevalence of stunting is highest amongst children from the STs (43.6 percent), followed by SCs (42.5 percent) and OBCs (38.6 percent).
  • The prevalence of stunting in children from ST in Rajasthan, Odisha and Meghalaya is high while stunting in children from both ST and SC is high in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka.
  • Prevalence of wasting is highest in Jharkhand (29.0%) and above the national average in eight more States (Haryana, Goa, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, MP, Karnataka and Gujarat) and three UTs (Puducherry, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli).
  • Prevalence of underweight is also highest in Jharkhand (47.8%) and is above the National average in seven more States (Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, UP, MP and Bihar) and one UT (Dadra and Nagar Haveli).
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

NITI Aayog “Healthy States, Progressive India” Report and Health Index 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NITI Aayog’s Health Index

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

Kerala tops yet again

  • Kerala was ranked the best in the country in terms of health performance, according to health index scores in a report by NITI Aayog.
  • Kerala had an overall score of 74.01, with Andhra Pradesh coming second at 65.13.

NITI Aayog’s Health Index

  • The report is an annual systematic performance tool to measure the performance of the States and UTs.
  • It ranks states and union territories on their year on year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other.
  • The index analyses overall performance and incremental improvement in the States and the UTs for the period with 2015-16 as the base year and 2017-18 as the reference year.
  • HIV and tuberculosis detection and treatment, institutional deliveries, maternal and neonatal mortality rates, and immunisation coverage are among the indices measured and compared.
  • The states are broadly grouped into three: larger and smaller states and union territories so as to maintain a constant when comparing their health indices.
  • States had to fill in the responses in a specially created dashboard while a number of responses were pre-filled while sourced from National Family Health Survey-4 and Health Management Information System.

Performance by states:

Image source: Business Standard

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

Fiscal Performance Index by CII

Mains Paper 3 : Government Budgeting |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CII, FPI

Mains level : FRBM


News

  • Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has come out with a ‘Fiscal Performance Index’ to assess quality of budgets presented by the Centre and state governments.

Fiscal Performance Index (FPI)

  • The composite FPI developed by CII is an innovative tool using multiple indicators to examine quality of Budgets at the Central and State levels.
  • The index has been constructed using UNDP’s Human Development Index methodology which comprises six components for holistic assessment of the quality of government budgets.

Why need such an index?

  • A single criterion such as the ‘fiscal deficit to GDP ratio’ does not tell us anything about the quality of the Budget.
  • Hence, the Government should use multiple indicators to measure the quality of Budgets at the Central and the State levels rather than a single indicator.

Components of FPI

  1. Quality of revenue expenditure: measured by the share of revenue expenditure other than interest payments, subsidies, pensions and defence in GDP
  2. Quality of capital expenditure: measured by share of capital expenditure (other than defence) in GDP
  3. Quality of revenue: ratio of net tax revenue to GDP (own tax revenue in case of States)
  4. Degree of fiscal prudence I: fiscal deficit to GDP
  5. Degree of fiscal prudence II: revenue deficit to GDP and
  6. Debt index: Change in debt and guarantees to GDP

Other measures of FPI

  • As per the new index, expenditure on infrastructure, education, healthcare and other social sectors can be considered beneficial for economic growth.
  • At the same time, tax revenues are sustainable sources of revenue for the government as compared to one-time income sources.
Government Budgets

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data for 2017-18

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CWS and Usual Method

Mains level : Unemployment in India



News

  • The govt has finally released Annual Report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 and the Quarterly Bulletin PLFS.

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)

  • The PLFS was launched from 1st April 2017.
  • Primary aim of the PLFS is to generate reasonably accurate indicators of labour market at a short span for every quarter for which speed of quality data collection and processing are important.
  • PLFS was launched with the objective of measuring employment every three months in urban areas and once a year in both rural and urban areas.
  • The quarterly survey only captures data classed as current weekly status (CWS), while the annual survey measures both the usual status and CWS.
  • The NSSO was historically conducting Employment and Unemployment Surveys as part of its National Sample Surveys.

Who are the Unemployed?

  • Labour force means people working or looking for jobs in the age group of 15-29 years.
  • CWS Method: A person who is unable to get work for even an hour in the last seven days despite seeking employment is considered unemployed.
  • Usual Status Method: Under this, the employment activity of a person is determined on the basis of a reference period of 365 days preceding the date of the survey.

Trends

  • Labour force participation has been declining and touched 36.9% in 2017-18 as more among them, especially females, enrolled for higher studies.
  • The youth accounted for 28.2% of urban males and 27.8% of urban females.
  • During 2017-18, among people aged 15-29 years, the share of the educated was 65.8% among urban males. It was 65.4% among urban females.
  • A higher percentage of males compared to females had received either formal or non-formal vocational training.

Reality of jobless growth

  • The rising unemployment rate despite falling labour force participation for the youth is more worrying.
  • This is likely to raise questions about whether India is suffering from jobless growth.
  • According to Census 2011, India has 333 million youth—a number that is likely to touch 367 million in 2021 and 370 million by 2031.
  • With this huge rise in youth unemployment, it is hard to reconcile this information with the EPFO data that people keep talking about, because a majority of the new entrants to EPFO would be the younger people.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Govt plans to merge CSO, NSSO

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSO, NSSO

Mains level : Merger of the two and its impact


News

  • To streamline and strengthen the statistical system, the government has decided to merge the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) to form a National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • While the NSSO comes out with various sample surveys such as on consumption expenditure, employment and unemployment, the CSO releases various data such as GDP and IIP.

Merging NSSO and CSO into NSO

  • The move is a follow-up of a decision taken in 2005 by the UPA government’s based on recommendations of the report of the National Statistical Commission, headed by former RBI governor C Rangarajan.
  • Both the wings are currently part of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Rangarajan committee recommendations

  • The Rangarajan committee had recommended setting up of the NSC, headed by a person with a Minister of State-level designation, to serve as a nodal and empowered body for all core statistical activities of the country.
  • The NSC was constituted on July 12, 2006 with a mandate to evolve policies, priorities and standards in statistical matters.
  • According to the Commission, the new NSO was envisaged as an agency to implement and maintain statistical standards and coordinate statistical activities of Central and State agencies as laid down by the NCS.
  • The NSO’s other roles included collection of core statistics, carrying out methodological research and studies, maintaining a warehouse of core statistics, as per the Commission report.

Benefits of the merger

  • This is a measure to avoid duplication of work and leverage the strength of the statistical system.
  • There is no dilution of independence and in fact strengthens the system.
  • This will help in meeting the requirement of the statistical system as a lack of control on these two bodies was one challenge presently.

National Statistical Office (NSO)

  • The Statistical Wing, comprising the NSO with constituents as the CSO and the NSSO, to be an integral part of the main ministry.
  • The NSO would be headed by Secretary Statistics and Programme Implementation, with various divisions reporting to the Secretary through Director Generals (DGs).
  • Presently the CSO is headed by a DG brings out macro economic data like economic (GDP) growth data, industrial production and inflation.
  • While the NSSO conducts large-scale surveys and brings out reports on health, education, household expenditure and other social and economic indicators.

Data Quality Assurance Division

  • A Data Quality Assurance Division has also been set up, replacing the Data Processing Division, which will have the responsibility to bring about improvements in survey and administrative databases.
  • This division will be strengthened through “re-skilling and deployment of existing personnel”.

In recent controversy!

  • India’s official statistics came under a cloud after several experts raised questions on credibility of the new GDP series.
  • The government’s move to withhold the first periodic labour force survey, which showed unemployment rate at a 45-year high, put a further dent.

Assist this newscard with:

https://thewire.in/government/nsso-cso-merger-what-will-the-centralisation-of-indian-statistics-bring-with-it

National Institute of Nutrition

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIN

Mains level : NIN and its mandate



News

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has said that it stands by its findings certifying mid-day meals without onion and garlic provided by the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) in Karnataka schools as compliant with nutritional norms laid down by the State government.

Issue over NIN decision

  • APF provides food under the government’s mid-day meals programme at 2,814 schools in the State.
  • Absence of onion and garlic from meals made the food unpalatable and resulted in children consuming less quantity of food.
  • The issue is not just about absorption of nutrients, but is also about the food not being as per local tastes.
  • The most important question that authorities are glossing over is why not provide onion and garlic, which are available all round the year and are cheaper than other ingredients.

About NIN

  • The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) is an Indian Public health, Nutrition and Translational research center located in Hyderabad.
  • The institute is one of the oldest research centers in India, and the largest center, under the Indian Council of Medical Research, located in the vicinity of Osmania University.
  • It was founded by Sir Robert McCarrison in the year 1918 as ‘Beri-Beri’ Enquiry Unit in a single room laboratory at the Pasteur Institute, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
  • Within a short span of seven years, this unit blossomed into a “Deficiency Disease Enquiry” and later in 1928, emerged as full-fledged “Nutrition Research Laboratories” (NRL) with Dr. McCarrison as its first Director.
  • It was later shifted to Hyderabad in 1958.
  • At the time of its golden jubilee in 1969, it was renamed as National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

Mandate of NIN

  • Periodic Assessment of Nutrient intakes, Health and Nutrition status of the population for optimal health, and assist the Government and regulatory bodies in policy making
  • Establishment of Dietary Reference Intake values, Recommended Dietary allowances, Dietary guidelines for Indian population; and assessment of Nutrient Composition of Foods
  • Identify various nutrition deficiency disorders prevalent among different segments of the population
  • Conduct operational research for planning and implementation of National Nutrition Programmes in the country
  • Conduct surveys and study the risk factors of NCDs through multidisciplinary research
  • Conduct innovative basic science Research on nutrient interactions, requirements, responses etc
  • Identify and study food and environmental safety challenges for providing scientific input for policy and regulation
  • Development of human resource in nutrition and also provide evidence-based nutrition knowledge to the community
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

Mains level : Multiple facets of Disasters in India and thier effective management


News

  • The Face of Disasters 2019 report was recently published by Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS).

The Face of Disasters 2019 Report

  • The ‘Face of Disasters 2019’ report released by SEEDS as part of its 25th anniversary, analyses past trends, looking at disasters from a broader perspective to capture their varied facets.
  • The report talks about the need to look at disaster vulnerabilities that lie under the radar, waiting to strike.
  • Eight key areas have emerged that will be critical to consider as we look ahead:
  1. Water and the changing nature of disaster risk: A ‘new normal’ of rainfall variability is bringing challenges of too much and too little water, often in parallel.
  2. No disaster is ‘natural’: Risks lurking under the radar slip through the cracks because they don’t meet the idea of a ‘natural disaster’.
  3. The silent events: The disasters that go unseen leave those affected at even greater risk.
  4. Land becomes water (and water becomes land): Changes to the coastline are already affecting livelihood sources and will be hotspots for vulnerability in the future.
  5. The complexity of disaster impact: Beyond official ‘damages’, the long-term and uncaptured disaster impacts have life-changing consequences for affected communities.
  6. The urban imperative: Risk is rapidly urbanising and will affect everyone.
  7. Transformations in the third pole: Himalayan glaciers are melting, with serious implications for the whole region.
  8. Planning for what you can’t see: Earthquake risk is looming large under the radar, but are we prepared?

Significance of the report

  • Analysis of past trends shows us that 2019 will see unusual flooding, as well as heatwaves and drought that are already ongoing.
  • The complexity of disasters today requires a proactive and multi-pronged approach.
  • A single mega-disaster can wipe out hard-won development gains and recurrent small-scale stresses keep vulnerable families in a cycle of poverty.
  • While this multiple event pattern is repeated every year, only a few really capture the public attention. Other risks continue to intensify under the radar.

Way Forward

  • Current trends are reinforcing that disasters have multiple facets and complexities.
  • In 2018, India witnessed nearly every type of natural hazard, except a major earthquake and related events.
  • Floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, lightning strikes, cyclones and even hailstorms, a wide range of disasters impacted most of the country.
  • This poses some critical questions and issues and also points to risks that lie ahead. At the core is the idea that disasters cannot be seen in isolation anymore.
  • There is a clear need for comprehensive understanding of risks, and hyper-localised plans and allocation of resources to reduce them.

Back2Basics

Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS)

  • SEEDS, a non profit voluntary organization, is a collective endeavor of young professionals drawn from development related fields.
  • It originated as an informal group of likeminded persons, getting together for the purpose of creative research projects of academic interest.
  • The group was later formalized in early 1994 and has been active in the field ever since.
  • It is involved in research activities in Community Development, Disaster Management, Environmental Planning, Transport Planning, and Urban and Regional Planning.
  • Activities are carried out on behalf of government, semi – government and international development agencies. Independent programs on vital issues are also taken up.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) Survey

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ADR

Mains level: Decriminalization of politics in India


News

  • A nationwide survey involving more than 2.7 lakh people revealed that for 41.34% respondents, distribution of liquor, cash and freebies was an important factor behind voting for a particular candidate in an election, according to the ADR.

ADR survey of India

  • This is the third all-India survey commissioned by the ADR.
  • 86% interviewees felt that candidates with criminal background should not be in Parliament or State Assembly.
  • 89% were willing to vote for a candidate with criminal records if the candidate had done good work in the past.

Evaluating Govt. Performance

  • The respondents rated the government’s performance on 31 listed issues as below average.
  • On a scale of one to five, the respondents gave an average of 2.58 for better public transport, followed by 2.53 on the issue of electricity for domestic use and 2.52 for drinking water.
  • The government’s performance on initiatives against river and lake water pollution was rated as 2.51; 2.48 for empowerment of women and security; just 1.37 on eradication of corruption; and 1.15 on the issue of terrorism.

Priorities of Voters

  • As per the survey, better employment opportunities (46.80%), better healthcare (34.60%) and drinking water (30.50%) were the top three priorities, followed by better roads (28.34%) and better public transport (27.35%).
  • Statewise, better healthcare was the highest priority in Assam (45.78%), Kerala (45.24%) and Rajasthan (43.13%) and drinking water was the most important factor for the respondents in Karnataka (50.42%), Andhra Pradesh (45.25%) and Kerala (44.77%).

About Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)

  • The ADR is a non-partisan, non-governmental organization which works in the area of electoral and political reforms.
  • ADR aims at bringing transparency and accountability in Indian politics and reducing the influence of money and muscle power in elections.
  • National Election Watch (NEW) is a conglomeration of over 1200 organizations across the country.
  • ADR has become the single data point for information/analysis of background details (criminal, financial and others) of politicians and of financial information of political parties.
  • ADR has chosen to concentrate its efforts in the following areas pertaining to the political system of the country:
  1. Corruption and Criminalization in the Political Process
  2. Empowerment of the electorate through greater dissemination of information relating to the candidates and the parties, for a better and informed choice
  3. Need for greater accountability of Indian Political Parties
  4. Need for inner-party democracy and transparency in party-functioning
Electoral Reforms In India

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about FSDC

Mains level: Mandate of the FSDC


News

  • The Sub-Committee of the FSDC has discussed ways to address challenges pertaining to the quality of credit ratings in the wake of the IL&FS defaults crisis.

Against faulty Credit Rating

  • Credit rating firms, currently regulated by the SEBI had come under sharp criticism from the RBI recently for failing to identify financial troubles in various companies, especially in the case of IL&FS, which commanded AAA rating just before it started defaulting.
  • RBI officials had expressed concerns over the inability of rating agencies’ to assess credit risk and take timely rating actions.

About  FSDC

  1. FSDC is an apex-level body constituted by the Government of India to create a super regulatory body as mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee in 2008.
  2. Finally in 2010, the then Finance Minister of India, Pranab Mukherjee, decided to set up such an autonomous body dealing with macro prudential and financial regularities in the entire financial sector of India.
  3. An apex-level FSDC is not a statutory body. No funds are separately allocated to the council for undertaking its activities.

Composition

  1. Chairperson: The Union Finance Minister of India
  2. Members:
  • Governor Reserve Bank of India (RBl),
  • Finance Secretary and/ or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA),
  • Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS),
  • Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs,
  • Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance.
  1. Other members include chairman of SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA and IBBI

Responsibilities

  • Financial Stability
  • Financial Sector Development
  • Inter-Regulatory Coordination
  • Financial Literacy
  • Financial Inclusion
  • Macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates
  • Coordinating India’s international interface with financial sector bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Financial Stability Board (FSB) and any such body as may be decided by the Finance Minister from time to time.
Financial Inclusion in India and Its Challenges

Labour Bureau files MUDRA job report

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: PMMY

Mains level: Problem of Unemployment


News

  • The Labour Bureau has completed its survey on employment generated by the MUDRA loan scheme, giving the Centre a potential data tool to combat other reports showing a dismal scenario on jobs.

About MUDRA Scheme

  1. The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana was introduced in April 2015 as an effort to extend affordable credit to micro and small enterprises.
  2. Loans up to Rs. 10 lakh are extended to these non-corporate, non-farm enterprises by the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) through last-mile financial institutions.
  3. So far, 15.56 crore loans worth a total of Rs. 7.23 lakh crore have been disbursed.
  4. In December 2017, faced with mounting criticism on the failure to create job opportunities, the Labour Ministry had asked the Labour Bureau to initiate the survey on jobs created through the MUDRA scheme.

NSSO survey

  1. The NSSO’s findings showed that unemployment hit a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18.
  2. Central government ministers and officials have already attempted to use the MUDRA scheme’s performance to combat criticism based on the leaked NSSO job survey report.
  3. Some economists have advised caution in the interpretation of MUDRA data, especially as it relates to jobs.

Loan disbursal doesn’t ensure Job

  1. Every new loan certainly doesn’t imply creation of a new job.
  2. It is improbable that these loans are being given to those who were formerly unemployed.
  3. They are more likely being given to people who are moving to self employment from other jobs resulting in no new net job creation.
  4. Given that the average size of the loan disbursed under MUDRA is quite small, it is unlikely that the loan seekers are providing a job to anyone other than themselves.
Microfinance Story of India

[pib] National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

Note4Students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

Mains level:  Menace of narcotic drugs in India


News

  • An addiction plague has steadily swallowed India a/c to a study conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
  • The study, named “National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India” is a first of its kind as it gives pan-India and state-level data.

National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India

  1. The survey report, which was submitted to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on noted that 5.7 crore people in the country suffered from alcohol related problems.
  2. The survey spanned all the 36 states and UTs of India and citizens between the ages of 10 to 75 responded to the questions set in the study regarding substance abuse.
  3. The intoxicant categories that were studied are as follows: alcohol, cannabis (bhang and ganja/charas), opioids (opium, heroin and pharmaceutical opioids), cocaine, amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), sedatives, inhalants and hallucinogens.

Magnitude of Substance use in India

I. Alcohol

  1. Of the 16 crore people who consumed alcohol across the country, prevalence of alcohol consumption was 17 times higher among men than among women.
  2. More than four lakh children and 1.8 million adults needed help for inhalant abuse and dependence.
  3. The male to female ratio of alcohol users in India is 17:1 and most men consume either ‘desi’ liquor (30 per cent) or Indian Made Foreign Liquor (30 per cent).
  4. A total of 5.2 per cent of the population indulge in harmful alcohol use, means that every third drinker in the country is in dire need of medical help in curing his/her addiction.

II. Cannabis (Bhang, Ganja & Charas)

  1. According to the survey, over 3.1 crore Indians (2.8%) reported to have used any cannabis product in last one year.
  2. Although, the usage of Bhang use is more common than Ganja or Charas but in case of addiction, the number of dependent users is higher for addicts of Ganja and Charas.
  3. Cannabis consumption is higher than the national average in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
  4. In Punjab and Sikkim, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders is considerably higher (more than thrice) than the national average.

III. Heroin, Opium & others

  1. At the national level, Heroin is most commonly used substance followed by pharmaceutical opioids, followed by opium (Afeem).
  2. However, in case of harmful dependence, more people are dependent on Heroin than other similar drugs like Afeem.
  3. Of the total 60 lakh users of Heroin and Afeem, majority of them are from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

IV. Sedatives and inhalants

  1. Less than 1% or nearly 1.18 crore people use sedatives, non medical or non prescription use. However, what is more worrying that its prevalence is high among children and adolescents.
  2. At national level, there are 4.6 lakh children that need help against the harmful or dependence over inhalants.
  3. This problem of addiction of children is more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana.
  4. Cocaine (0.10%) Amphetamine Type Stimulants (0.18%) and Hallucinogens (0.12%) are the categories with lowest prevalence of current use in the country.

V. Addicts who inject drugs

  1. According to the survey, there are 8.5 lakh people in the country who inject drugs (PWID).
  2. Users of opium based drugs report high incidence of injecting drugs (heroin 46% and pharmaceutical opioids 46%), a large number of these drug users report risky injecting practices.
  3. This risky practice more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Methanol-blending in petrol reduces carbon dioxide emission: ARAI study

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: Read the attached story

Mains level: Controlling vehicular pollution


News

Govt to support research on methanol blending

  1. Methanol (M-15) blended with petrol and used in the existing BS-IV standard cars reduces carbon dioxide emission, a study conducted by Pune-based group.
  2. M-15 is a mixture of 15% Methanol with Gasoline.
  3. According to the ARAI, the study evaluated emissions in real-world conditions and used 15 per cent M-15 blend in vehicles and tested them for 3,000 km.
  4. The finding has been submitted Transport Ministry to support further research on methanol blending as the government aims to increase fuel blending to 20 per cent by 2030.

Why such move?

  1. India imports ₹7 lakh crore worth of crude oil every year.
  2. Using alternative fuels, we can divert ₹2 lakh crore for farmers to boost agriculture.

Fuel replacement plan and its benefits

  1. Adopting methanol in this scale would bring down pollution in the country by more than 40 per cent.
  2. By adopting methanol, India can have its own indigenous fuel at the cost of approximately ₹19 per litre, at least 30 per cent cheaper than any available fuel.
  3. According to NITI Aayog, at least 20 per cent diesel consumption can be reduced in the next 5-7 years and will result in a savings of ₹26,000 crore annually.
  4. Also, ₹6,000 crore can be saved annually from reduced bill in LPG in the next three years itself.
  5. Methanol blending with petrol will further reduce the fuel bill by at least ₹5,000 crore annually in the next three years.
Air Pollution

Economic Capital Framework Committee of RBI

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Economic Capital of RBI

Mains level: Debate regarding the independence of RBI and Fiscal Strain on Govt.


News

A new Committee to decide on EC

  1. The Central Board of RBI in consultation with the Govt. of India has constituted an Expert Committee to review the extant Economic Capital Framework of the RBI.
  2. The RBI has named former RBI governor, Bimal Jalan to head the Framework committee.
  3. Expert committee on economic capital framework will have to give its report within 90 days from its first meeting.

Mandate of the Committee

  1. Review status, need and justification of various provisions, reserves and buffers presently provided for by the RBI.
  2. Review global best practices followed by the central banks in making assessment and provisions for risks which central bank balance sheets are subject to.
  3. To suggest an adequate level of risk provisioning that the RBI needs to maintain.
  4. To determine whether the RBI is holding provisions, reserves and buffers in surplus / deficit of the required level of such provisions, reserves and buffers.
  5. To propose a suitable profits distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI, including the situations of holding more provisions than required and the RBI holding less provisions than required.
  6. Any other related matter including treatment of surplus reserves, created out of realised gains, if determined to be held.

Past Committees Recommendations

  1. In the past, the issue of the ideal size of RBI’s reserves was examined by three committees — V Subrahmanyam (1997), Usha Thorat (2004) and Y H Malegam (2013).
  2. While the Subrahmanyam committee recommended that contingency reserve should be built up to 12 per cent, the Thorat committee had said the reserve adequacy should be maintained at 18 per cent of the total assets.
  3. The RBI board did not accept the recommendation of the Thorat committee and decided to continue with the recommendation of the Subrahmanyam panel.
  4. The Malegam committee recommended that adequate amount of profits should continue to be transferred each year to contingency reserves.
RBI Notifications

[pib] NITI Aayog Releases SDG India Index, 2018

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: SDG India Index

Mains level: India’s strategy and outcomes towards attaining SDGs


News

  • The NITI Aayog has released the Baseline Report of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and UTs towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.

SDG India Index

  1. The Index was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and United Nations in India and was launched by NITI Aayog.
  2. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country, and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs.
  3. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the PM’s clarion call of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
  4. It embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

Utility of the Index

  1. The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog, which in turn is guided by MoSPI’s National Indicator Framework comprising 306 indicators.
  2. The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs.
  3. Progress on SDGs 12, 13 & 14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available and SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.
  4. A composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance towards achieving 13 SDGs
  5. If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.

Classification Criteria based on Score:

  • Aspirant: 0-49
  • Performer: 50-64
  • Front Runner: 65-99
  • Achiever: 100

Performance of states

OVERALL Aspirant Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
Performer Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep
Front Runner Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh and Puducherry
Achiever NA

 

Overall Findings

Particular State UT
SDG India Index Score Range 42-69 57-68
Top Performer/s Himachal Pradesh & Kerala Chandigarh
Aspirant Uttar Pradesh Dadra & Nagar Haveli
  • Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water & sanitation, in reducing inequalities & preserving mountain ecosystem
  • Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality & providing quality education
  • Chandigarh leads because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, generating decent work & economic growth, & providing quality education
Transition From MDG to SDG: Issues & Concern

India Post’s e-commerce portal aims to boost parcel business network

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-commerce Regulation in India

Mains level: Providing e-market place for various groups of entrepreneurs.


News

  • Leveraging its parcel business network, India Post has announced the soft launch of its e-commerce portal.

Particulars of the Portal

  1. The primary objective is to provide a medium to sell products for small artisans and anyone who wants to sell their product can sell on the site.
  2. Unlike other e-commerce players, the India Post service will be able to pick up and deliver products in over 1.5 lakh places through its well spread out network.
  3. The products will be shipped through the postal department’s Speed Post service.
  4. A separate parcel directorate has been formed which is empowered to decide on the rates of parcel and other related issues.
  5. The Portal will provide an e-market place to sellers especially to rural artisans, self-help groups, women entrepreneurs, state and central PSUs, autonomous bodies to sell their products to buyers across the country.

Other initiatives

  1. The Minister also launched the internet banking facility for Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) customers who are under Core Banking Solution.
  2. Around 17 crore POSB accounts will be intra-operable and customers can also transfer funds online to RD (Recurring Deposit) and PPF (Public Provident Fund) accounts of post offices/

Why such move?

  1. The Department of Posts has been focussing on the e-commerce sector to increase its revenue receipts.
  2. The Department facilitates has collected and remitted more than Rs 27 billion under cash on-delivery till January 2018 since its introduction in December 2013.
  3. The ongoing e-commerce business segment has resulted in an increase of 13 per cent revenue of India Post in the 2017-18.
e-Commerce: The New Boom

[pib] 1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

Mains level: India’s dual challenge of water conservation and interventions that can be made to prevent a water crisis


News

International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

  1. The first International Conference under the aegis of National Hydrology Project, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is being organised by Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) in Mohali.
  2. The aim of the Conference is:
  • to foster the participation of and dialogue between various stakeholders, including governments, the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable policies for water management,
  • to create awareness of water-related problems, motivate commitment at the highest level for their solution and thus promote better management of water resources at local, regional, national and international levels.
  1. The theme of the Conference “Sustainable Water Management” deals with promoting integrated and sustainable development and management of Water Resources.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

M.S. Swaminathan calls GM crops a failure

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Biotechnology

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level:  BT Cotton

Mains Level: Limitations of GM crops


News

  • A research paper co-authored by leading agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, which describes Bt cotton as a ‘failure,’ was criticised by India’s Principal Scientific Adviser as ‘deeply flawed’.

BT crops: A big Failure

  1. The article ‘Modern Technologies for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security’ was recently published.
  2. It is authored by P.C. Kesavan and Prof. Swaminathan, senior functionaries of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

  1. The article is a review of crop development in India and transgenic crops — particularly Bt cotton, the stalled Bt brinjal as well as DMH-11, a transgenic mustard hybrid.
  2. The latter two have been cleared by scientific regulators but not by the Centre.
  3. It states that the precautionary principle (PP) has been done away with and no science-based and rigorous biosafety protocols and evaluation of GM crops are in place.
  4. BT crops have failed as a sustainable agriculture technology and have, therefore, also failed to provide livelihood security for cotton farmers who are mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.

Why opt GM?

  1. Conventional GE technology uses genes from soil bacterium to either protect them from specific pests or— as in the case of GE mustard — facilitate hybridization.
  2. This means making the plant more amenable to developing higher-yielding varieties.
  3. Swaminathan, credited with leading India’s Green Revolution, has said the government should only use genetic engineering as a last resort.
  4. He has emphasized that genetic engineering is supplementary and must be need based.
  5. Only in very rare circumstance (less than 1%) may there arise a need for the use of this technology.

GM for Abiotic stresses

  1. Abiotic stresses refer to environmental factors that could meddle with plant yield, as opposed to ‘biotic’ stressors such as insects.
  2. GE may be deployed to manage against Abiotic stresses.

Back2Basics

BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis)

  1. BT is a soil dwelling bacterium generally used in biopesticide.
  2. Bt cotton was created through the addition of genes encoding toxin crystals in the Cry group of endotoxin.
  3. When insects attack and eat the cotton plant the Cry toxins are dissolved due to the high pH level of the insect’s stomach.
  4. In 2002, a joint venture between Monsanto and Mahyco introduced Bt cotton to India.
  5. Genetic Engineering appraisal committee (GEAC) is the central agency to allow field trials of BT/GM crops.
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.