September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Explained: Global Climate Strike movement

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Climate Strike movement

Mains level : Consequences of inaction on climate change



News

  • Students in more than 2,000 cities across the world are holding demonstrations under the #FridaysforFuture movement, protesting inaction towards climate change.

The Global Climate Strike movement

  • The #FridaysforFuture movement, also known as the Youth Strike for Climate Movement was started in August 2018 by Greta Thunberg.
  • She sat outside the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks to protest against inaction towards climate change and called for concrete government action.
  • Then in September 2018, Thunberg called for a strike every Friday until the Swedish parliament revised its policies towards climate change.
  • Gradually, students and adults from across the world started mobilizing and demonstrating in front of parliaments and local city halls in their respective countries, making global, a local movement.

Who is Greta Thunberg?

  • Thunberg describes herself as a “16-year-old climate activist with Asperger’s”.
  • She says that she first heard about “something called climate change or global warming” when she was eight years old.
  • Since 2018, when she started skipping school, Thunberg has come a long way to become one of the world’s youngest climate change crusaders.
  • She has delivered speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the EU Parliament, COP24, and to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
  • Earlier this year, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, the winners of which will be announced in October.

Why such strike?

  • In the present phase of the strikes, students are demanding “urgent” and “decisive” action in order to keep global average temperatures from rising above 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • The global strikes will commence just as the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 is set to take place in New York on September 23, where Thunberg has been invited.

What started the global school student movements?

  • The global school movements began in 2015.
  • A Climate Strike was organised in November 2015, the idea for which came to the organisers at the Global Youth Summit of 2015.
  • Under this strike, students were urged to skip school and join other protestors. The strike was meant to be a “wake-up call” for the young generation.
  • Their demands at that time were to stop the extraction of fossil fuels and to make the transition to 100 per cent clean energy.

Why are students protesting this time?

  • Even though climate change affects everyone, the present generation of youngsters is the ones who are going to be bearing the brunt of it in the coming decades.
  • The sentiments behind these are the “broken promises” of older generations, members of which continue to extract and use fossil fuels, leading to increased CO2 emissions and subsequently, increasing average global temperatures.
  • Distrust of political leaders among the younger generation is also a reason why they feel the need to take things into their own hands.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Explained: PoK and Gilgit Baltistan, parts of J&K under Pak occupation

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PoK

Mains level : India's territorial integrity



News

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said this week that “we expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction” over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Supporting regulation

  • A resolution unanimously adopted by Parliament on February 22, 1994 affirmed that “the State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India.
  • It demanded that Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression.
  • PoK and GB are both part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to India in 1947.

The PoK

  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949.
  • That was after a 14-month period of hostilities between India and Pakistan, which began with an invasion of Kashmir by Pashtun tribesmen, and later its Army, to seize Kashmir.
  • In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan ceded to China over 5,000 sq km of J&K land under its control, in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.

Demography

  • PoK has a population of over 40 lakh, according to a census carried out in 2017.
  • It is divided into 10 districts: Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Hattian Bala, Bagh, and Haveli bordering areas in Kashmir, and Rawlakot, Kotli, Mirpur, and Bhimber bordering areas in Jammu.
  • The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum river and its tributary Neelum (which Indians call Kishanganga) to the west and slightly north of Srinagar.

And what is Gilgit Baltistan?

  • This is a picturesque, hilly region to the north of PoK and east of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  • The British sold it, along with the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, to the Dogra ruler of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after defeating the Sikh army in 1846.
  • However they retained controlled over the area through a lease extracted from the Maharaja.This lease was last renewed in 1935.
  • In 1947, a British army officer of the rank of Colonel imprisoned Maharaja Hari Singh’s governor in the region, and handed over the area for accession to Pakistan.
  • Gilgit Baltistan (GB) is spread over 72,871 sq km, and is five-and-a-half times the size of PoK. But it is sparsely populated, with just under 20 lakh people.
  • GB is divided into three administrative divisions and 10 districts.

What is the administrative status in GB?

  • Though both PoK and GB are ruled directly from Islamabad, neither is officially listed as the territory of Pakistan.
  • Pak has just four provinces: Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (which now includes the Federally Administered Tribal areas or FATA), Balochistan, and Sindh.
  • PoK and GB are both “autonomous territories”.
  • Pakistan has kept this fiction going, as incorporating these areas into its map would damage its international position in the UN and elsewhere that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is “disputed”.
J&K – The issues around the state

Explained: Uniform Civil code — the debate, the status

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Debate over UCC



News

  • Recently while hearing a matter relating to properties of a Goan, the Supreme Court described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code.
  • The court observed that the founders of the Constitution had “hoped and expected” a UCC for India but there has been no attempt at framing one.

What is a Uniform Civil Code?

  • A Uniform Civil Code is one that would provide for one law for the entire country, applicable to all religious communities in their personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption etc.
  • Article 44, one of the directive principles of the Constitution lays down that the state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for the citizens throughout the territory of India.
  • These, as defined in Article 37, are not justiciable (not enforceable by any court) but the principles laid down therein are fundamental in governance.

Greater role for State

  • Fundamental rights are enforceable in a court of law.
  • While Article 44 uses the words “state shall endeavour”, other Articles in the ‘Directive Principles’ chapter use words such as “in particular strive”; “shall in particular direct its policy”; “shall be obligation of the state” etc.
  • Article 43 mentions “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation” while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44.
  • All this implies that the duty of the state is greater in other directive principles than in Article 44.

What are more important — fundamental rights or directive principles?

  • There is no doubt that fundamental rights are more important.
  • The Supreme Court held in Minerva Mills (1980): Indian Constitution is founded on the bed-rock of the balance between Parts III (Fundamental Rights) and IV (Directive Principles).
  • To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution.
  • Article 31C inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, however, lays down that if a law is made to implement any directive principle, it cannot be challenged on the ground of being violative of the FRs under Articles 14 and 19.

Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?

  • Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc.
  • States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws.
  • Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.

What about personal laws?

  • If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a Uniform Civil Code, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List.
  • But “personal laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.
  • Last year, the Law Commission concluded that a Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor desirable.

Is there one common personal law for any religious community governing all its members?

  • All Hindus of the country are not governed by one law, nor are all Muslims or all Christians.
  • Not only British legal traditions, even those of the Portuguese and the French remain operative in some parts.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir until August 5, 2019, local Hindu law statutes differed from central enactments.
  • The Shariat Act of 1937 was extended to J&K a few years ago but has now been repealed.

Various customary laws

  • Muslims of Kashmir were governed by a customary law, which in many ways was at variance with Muslim Personal Law in the rest of the country and was, in fact, closer to Hindu law.
  • Even on registration of marriage among Muslims, laws differ from place to place. It was compulsory in J&K (1981 Act), and is optional in Bengal, Bihar (both under 1876 Act), Assam (1935 Act) and Odisha (1949 Act).
  • In the Northeast, there are more than 200 tribes with their own varied customary laws.
  • The Constitution itself protects local customs in Nagaland. Similar protections are enjoyed by Meghalaya and Mizoram.
  • Even reformed Hindu law, in spite of codification, protects customary practices.

How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?

  • Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion;
  • Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”;
  • Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture.
  • An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to FRs, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights
  • In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting UCC in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote.
  • By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of FRs and therefore the UCC was made less important than freedom of religion.

Minority opinion in the Constituent Assembly

  • Some members sought to immunize Muslim Personal Law from state regulation.
  • Mohammed Ismail, who thrice tried unsuccessfully to get Muslim Personal Law exempted from Article 44, said a secular state should not interfere with the personal law of people.
  • B Pocker Saheb said he had received representations against a common civil code from various organisations, including Hindu organisations.
  • Hussain Imam questioned whether there could ever be uniformity of personal laws in a diverse country like India.
  • B R Ambedkar said “no government can use its provisions in a way that would force the Muslims to revolt”.
  • Alladi Krishnaswami, who was in favour of a UCC, conceded that it would be unwise to enact UCC ignoring strong opposition from any community.
  • Gender justice was never discussed in these debates.

How did the debate on a common code for Hindus play out?

  • In June 1948, Rajendra Prasad, President of the Constituent Assembly, warned Nehru that to introduce “basic changes” in personal law was to impose “progressive ideas” of a “microscopic minority” on the Hindu community as a whole.
  • Others opposed to reforms in Hindu law included Sardar Patel, Pattabhi Sitaramayya, M A Ayyangar, M M Malaviya and Kailash Nath Katju.
  • When the debate on the Hindu Code Bill took place in December 1949, 23 of 28 speakers opposed it.
  • On September 15, 1951, President Prasad threatened to use his powers of returning the Bill to Parliament or vetoing it. Ambedkar eventually had to resign.
  • Nehru agreed to trifurcation of the Code into separate Acts and diluted several provisions.
Uniform Civil Code: Triple Talaq debate, Polygamy issue, etc.

Explained: Collegium of Judges

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Collegium system

Mains level : Issues over Judicial appointments and transfers


Context

  • The recent controversy over the transfer of the Chief Justice of the Madras HC to the Meghalaya HC has once again brought to the fore a long-standing debate on the functioning of the ‘Collegium’ of judges.
  • On being questioned for the transfer as well as the lack of transparency, the Supreme Court has stated that the Collegium indeed had cogent reasons and that these could be revealed, if necessary.

 What is Collegium System?

  • The Collegium of judges is the Indian Supreme Court’s invention.
  • It does not figure in the Constitution, which says judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President and speaks of a process of consultation.
  • In effect, it is a system under which judges are appointed by an institution comprising judges.
  • After some judges were superseded in the appointment of the CJI in the 1970s, and attempts made subsequently to effect a mass transfer of High Court judges across the country.
  • Hence there was a perception that the independence of the judiciary was under threat. This resulted in a series of cases over the years.

The Judges Cases

  • The First Judges Case (1981) ruled that the “consultation” with the CJI in the matter of appointments must be full and effective.
  • However, it rejected the idea that the CJI’s opinion, albeit carrying great weight, should have primacy.
  • The Second Judges Case (1993) introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation” really meant “concurrence”.
  • It added that it was not the CJI’s individual opinion, but an institutional opinion formed in consultation with the two senior-most judges in the Supreme Court.
  • On a Presidential Reference for its opinion, the Supreme Court, in the Third Judges Case (1998) expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, comprising the CJI and four of his senior-most colleagues.

The procedure followed by the Collegium

Appointment of CJI

  • The President of India appoints the CJI and the other SC judges.
  • As far as the CJI is concerned, the outgoing CJI recommends his successor.
  • In practice, it has been strictly by seniority ever since the supersession controversy of the 1970s.
  • The Union Law Minister forwards the recommendation to the PM who, in turn, advises the President.

Other SC Judges

  • For other judges of the top court, the proposal is initiated by the CJI.
  • The CJI consults the rest of the Collegium members, as well as the senior-most judge of the court hailing from the High Court to which the recommended person belongs.
  • The consultees must record their opinions in writing and it should form part of the file.
  • The Collegium sends the recommendation to the Law Minister, who forwards it to the Prime Minister to advise the President.

For High Courts

  • The CJs of High Courts is appointed as per the policy of having Chief Justices from outside the respective States. The Collegium takes the call on the elevation.
  • High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges.
  • The proposal, however, is initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior-most colleagues.
  • The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Union Law Minister.

Does the Collegium recommend transfers too?

  • Yes, the Collegium also recommends the transfer of Chief Justices and other judges.
  • Article 222 of the Constitution provides for the transfer of a judge from one High Court to another.
  • When a CJ is transferred, a replacement must also be simultaneously found for the High Court concerned.There can be an acting CJ in a High Court for not more than a month.
  • In matters of transfers, the opinion of the CJI “is determinative”, and the consent of the judge concerned is not required.
  • However, the CJI should take into account the views of the CJ of the High Court concerned and the views of one or more SC judges who are in a position to do so.
  • All transfers must be made in the public interest, that is, “for the betterment of the administration of justice”.

Loopholes in the Collegium system

  • Many have faulted the system, not only for its being seen as something unforeseen by the Constitution makers, but also for the way it functions.
  • Opaqueness and a lack of transparency, and the scope for nepotism are cited often.
  • The attempt made to replace it by a ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission’ was struck down by the court in 2015 on the ground that it posed a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
  • Some do not believe in full disclosure of reasons for transfers, as it may make lawyers in the destination court chary of the transferred judge.
  • Embroilment in public controversies and having relatives practising in the same High Court could be common reasons for transfers.

Scope for transparency

  • In respect of appointments, there has been an acknowledgement that the “zone of consideration” must be expanded to avoid criticism that many appointees hail from families of retired judges.
  • The status of a proposed new memorandum of procedure, to infuse greater accountability, is also unclear.
  • Even the majority opinions admitted the need for transparency, now the Collegium’s resolutions are now posted online, but reasons are not given.
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

Explained: Central Adverse List

Mains Paper 3 : External State & Non-State Actors: Challenges To Internal Security. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the List

Mains level : Mechanisms to curb anti-state activities


News

  • The Centre has removed from its blacklist — or the Central Adverse List as it is officially known — names of few foreign nationals involved in anti-India activities.

The Central Adverse List

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs maintains a list of individuals who supported the Khalistan movement in 1980s and 90s but left India to take asylum in foreign countries.
  • Many of the listed fled India to escape the authorities, acquired foreign nationality and took asylum outside India.
  • This list included the name of “hardliners” who were in favour of a separate state and had opposed the Operation Blue Star. However the list is not restricted to Punjab or the Khalistan movement.
  • The list has names of those individuals who are suspected to have links with terrorist outfits or have violated visa norms in their previous visit to India.
  • The list also includes the names of those persons who have indulged in criminal activities or have been accused of sexual crimes against children in their respective countries.

Purpose of the list

  • This list is constantly used by all Indian Missions and Consulates to stop the individuals named in it from entering India.
  • This is done by not granting visa to such persons. It is a step taken by the Indian government to maintain internal security.
  • The list is also used to keep serious offenders outside India as somebody may commit a crime in his native nation and then apply for an Indian visa to escape prosecution.

Who maintains this list?

  • The list is maintained by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs with inputs from all the state governments. Various intelligence agencies constantly review this list and add new names to it.
  • Central intelligence agencies as well as the state-level intelligence contribute to the information determining the inclusion of a person in this list.
  • Since law and order is a state subject, the state police is also utilized for intelligence gathering in order to update the list.

What does the recent action mean?

  • The 312 names of particular religious community members whose have been removed can now visit India and meet their families here.
  • Most of these nationals have remained outside country since the 1980s and have not visited their families since then. Majority of these people are aged.
  • With this decision of the government, they will now get access to consular services as well as an Indian visa.
  • This list had a multiplier effect in denying visas as the family members of the persons on this list were also denied visas to other countries. Such a practice will no longer be carried forward.

Was there any judicial judgement on this list?

  • There was no direct judicial pronouncement on this list but the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 29, 2001 had directed the GOI to issue a passport to a Khalistan supporter.
  • According to the HC it was a violation of fundamental rights to deny him entry into India.
  • This gains significance as the government will finally allow entry of persons excluded from that list.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Explained: Ration card portability

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the scheme

Mains level : Need for ONORC



Context

  • The government is showcasing the rollout of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme as one of the biggest achievements of its first 100 days in power.
  • The launch of the nationwide food security net is scheduled for June 2020, but several challenges remain before migrants can take advantage of full portability.

Food Security in India

  • India runs the world’s largest food security programme, distributing more than 600 lakh tonnes of subsidised food grain to more than 81 crore beneficiaries every year.
  • This is done through a vast network of more than five lakh ration or fair price shops.
  • Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), each beneficiary is eligible for five kg of subsidised grains per month at the rate of ₹3/kg for rice, ₹2/kg for wheat and ₹1/kg of coarse cereals.

Ration Card

  • A ration card is issued to the head of the family, depending on the number of members in a family and the financial status of the applicant.
  • It is used by households to get essential food grains at subsidised prices from designated ration shops (also called fair price shops) under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • Over the years, different types of ration cards were issued depending on the level of deprivation.
  • Later, in 2013, when the National Food Security Bill was passed, different ration cards were compressed to just two — priority and Antyodaya (for the most poor).
  • The responsibility of identifying eligible families and issuing ration cards to them rests with the state/UT government.

One Nation One Ration Card scheme

  • Until recently, this has been a location-linked benefit, leaving crores of migrant workers and families out of the food safety net.
  • Each household’s ration card is linked to a specific fair price shop and can only be used to buy rations in that particular shop.
  • Over the last few years, 10 States (partially in one) have implemented the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System, which allows beneficiaries to buy rations from any fair price shop within that State.
  • The Centre is now in the process of expanding these efforts into a nationwide portability network which is called the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme.
  • It is scheduled to come into full effect by June 2020, after which a ration card holder can buy subsidised grain at any fair price shop in the country.

Beneficiaries of the scheme

  • The main beneficiaries of the scheme are the country’s migrant workers.
  • According to data from the Census 2011, there are more than 45 crore internal migrants in India, of whom more than half have not completed primary education, while 80% have not completed secondary education.
  • Registering for ration cards at their new location is an arduous process, especially if some members of the household still remain in their original home.
  • Apart from this, field studies estimate that four crore to ten crore people are short-term migrants, often working in cities, but not moving there permanently.
  • Women who change locations after marriage also find it difficult to start accessing ration benefits using a new household’s card.

Benefits

  • Lower levels of education are linked to lower income, which would make a large percentage of these migrants eligible for NFSA benefits.
  • The Centre hopes that allowing ration card portability will also curb corruption and improve access and service quality by removing monopolies.
  • Under the old system, beneficiaries were dependent on a single fair price shop and subject to the whims of its dealer.
  • Under the new system, if they are denied service or face corruption or poor quality in one shop, they are free to head to a different shop.
  • The scheme is also driving the faster implementation of initiatives to digitise and integrate the food storage and public distribution system.

What is needed to make it work?

  • The scheme involves the creation of a central repository of NFSA beneficiaries and ration cards, which will integrate the existing databases maintained by States, UTs and the Centre.
  • Aadhaar seeding is also important as the unique biometric ID will be used to authenticate and track the usage of ration by beneficiaries anywhere in the country.
  • Currently, it is estimated that around 85% of ration cards are linked to Aadhaar numbers.
  • For the scheme to work, it is critical that all fair price shops are equipped with electronic point-of-sale machines (ePoS), replacing the old method of manual record-keeping of transactions with a digital real-time record.
  • On the back-end, the Food Corporation of India’s Depot Online System is integrating all warehouses and godowns storing subsidised grain in an attempt to create a seamless flow of online information from procurement until distribution.

Progress so far

  • Two pairs of States — Andhra Pradesh-Telangana and Maharashtra-Gujarat — became the first to begin implementing portability between their States last month.
  • From October 1, two more pairs — Kerala-Karnataka and Rajasthan-Haryana — will join the experiment.
  • By January, all eight States and at least three others which already implement intra-State portability will form the first national grid for the ‘ONORC’ scheme.

Difficulties ahead

Lack of infrastructure

  • There are only 4.32 lakh ePoS machines which have been installed in more than 5.3 lakh fair price shops.
  • Apart from much of Northeast India, much of that gap comes from three States: Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand.
  • Given that they are major source States for migrants, Bihar (only 15% coverage) and West Bengal (70% coverage) must speed up ePoS installation for the system to work smoothly.
  • In some rural and remote areas, ePoS connectivity also remains erratic, jeopardising smooth functioning.
  • In Jharkhand, a State which was an early adopter of digitisation and Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in 2016, there have been widespread complaints of denial of food due to system failures.

Different ration benefits

  • In other States, the challenge comes from the difference between ration benefits offered by the State in comparison to the Central entitlement.
  • Tamil Nadu, for example, offers 20 kg of free rice per month to almost 2 crore ration card holders, as well as subsidised sugar, pulses and oil, over and above the NFSA benefits.
  • The State government has made it clear that it will not be offering these benefits to migrant workers, as the Centre will cover the costs of NFSA benefits only.

Household issue

  • Another issue could arise if the members of a single household are split between two different locations.
  • The scheme’s guidelines only permit purchase of half the subsidised grain at one time in an effort to prevent one member of the household taking the entire ration for the month, leaving family members in a different location stranded without food.

Lack of data and inventory management

  • The biggest challenge may lie in the lack of any concrete data on inter-State migration trends, especially short-term migration.
  • The allocation of food grains to States will have to be dynamic to allow for quick additional delivery to cover any shortfalls in States with large migrant populations.
  • Currently, Food Corporation of India godowns stock grains up to three months in advance.
  • Food Ministry officials acknowledged that there is a “steep learning curve” ahead to ensure that movement of grain matches migration flows.
Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Explained: Mapping lightning across India

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Lightening mapping and its benefit



News

  • For the first time, a report has mapped lightning strikes across the country, and the lives they have claimed.

About the report

  • It has been prepared by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works closely with India Meteorological Department (IMD).

What has the report found?

  • Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July this year, according to a first-of-its-kind report on lightning incidents in India.
  • UP accounted for 224 of these deaths, followed by Bihar (170), Odisha (129) and Jharkhand (118).
  • It counted 65.55 lakh lightning strikes in India during this four-month period, of which 23.53 lakh (36 per cent) happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning, the kind that reaches the Earth.
  • The other 41.04 lakh (64 per cent) were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.
  • Odisha recorded over 9 lakh incidents of lightning (both kinds), the maximum for any state but fewer deaths than Uttar Pradesh, which had 3.2 lakh incidents.

Why are these findings important?

  • The report is part of an effort to create a database that can help develop an early warning system for lightning, spread awareness, and prevent deaths.
  • Between 2,000 and 2,500 people are estimated as killed every year in lightning strikes in the country.
  • It is possible to predict, 30-40 minutes in advance, when a lightning strike heads towards Earth.
  • The prediction is made possible through study and monitoring of the in-cloud lightning strikes.
  • Timely dissemination of this information can save several lives.
  • After carrying out a pilot project in 16 states, the IMD has begun providing lightning forecasts and warnings through mobile text messages from this year.
  • However, this is not yet available in all regions, and there isn’t enough awareness as yet on the kinds of action that need to be taken after an alert.

Back2Basics

Lightening

  • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere. Some of it is directed towards the Earth.
  • It is a result of the difference in electrical charge between the top and bottom of a cloud.
  • The lightning-generating clouds are typically about 10-12 km in height, with their base about 1-2 km from the Earth’s surface. The temperatures at the top range from -35°C to -45°C.

Mechanism of formation

  • As water vapour moves upwards in the cloud, it condenses into water due to decreasing temperatures.
  • A huge amount of heat is generated in the process, pushing the water molecules further up. As they move to temperatures below zero, droplets change into small ice crystals.
  • As they continue upwards, they gather mass, until they become so heavy that they start descending. It leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move upwards while larger ones come down.
  • The resulting collisions trigger release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks. The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons; a chain reaction is formed.
  • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge, of the order of billions of volts. In little time, a huge current, of the order of lakhs to millions of amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud. It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning.
  • The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder sounds.

How does it strike Earth?

  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity. While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud.
  • As a result, an estimated 20-25 per cent of the current flow gets directed towards the Earth. It is this current flow that results in damage to life and property.
  • Lightning has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings.
  • Once they are sufficiently near the ground, about 80-100 m from the surface, they even tend to redirect their course to hit the taller objects.
  • This is because travelling through air, which is a bad conductor of electricity, the electrons try to find a better conductor and also the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  • Thousands of thunderstorms occur over India every year. One thunderstorm can involve more than 100 lightning strikes.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Explained: Where does India stand on plastic waste?

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Single Use Plastics

Mains level : Plastic waste issue


News

Background

  • On this Independence Day address, PM called for a movement to eliminate single-use plastic in India, beginning on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2).
  • The move is part of an ambitious drive against Single-Use Plastic (SUP), under the theme “Shramdaan”, for which a detailed plan has been worked out for ministries and departments.
  • The government is reported to be working on a ban on certain plastic items of common use such as carry bags, cutlery and plates under the Environment (Protection) Act, and this may be announced on October 2, well ahead of the earlier deadline of 2022.

Single-use plastic

  • As the name suggests, single-use plastics (SUPs) are those that are discarded after one-time use.
  • Besides the ubiquitous plastic bags, SUPs include water and flavoured/aerated drinks bottles, takeaway food containers, disposable cutlery, straws, and stirrers, processed food packets and wrappers, cotton bud sticks, etc.
  • Of these, foamed products such as cutlery, plates, and cups are considered the most lethal to the environment.

Plastic waste in India

  • Per capita consumption of plastic is projected to go up from 11 kg in 2014-15 to 20 kg by 2022 (FICCI data); about 43% is single-use packaging with poor rates of recovery.
  • In spite of the notification of the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, and amendments made two years later, most cities and towns are not prepared to implement its provisions.
  • Even the biggest Municipal Corporations shouldering a staggering waste burden have failed to implement segregation of waste: collecting recyclable plastic, non-recyclable plastic etc.
  • This is a growing crisis amid criticism of under-reporting of the true extent of plastic waste.

Plastic waste management

  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 notified by the Centre called for a ban on “non-recyclable and multi-layered” packaging by March 2018, and a ban on carry bags of thickness less than 50 microns.
  • The Rules were amended in 2018, with changes that activists say favoured the plastic industry and allowed manufacturers an escape route. The 2016 Rules did not mention SUPs.
  • On World Environment Day in 2018, India pledged to phase out SUPs by 2022.
  • The PM has called for “a new revolution against plastic”, and some government-controlled bodies such as Air India and the Indian Railways have announced they would stop SUPs.

A failed attempt earlier

  • Recycling reduces the volume of non-recyclables that must be disposed of using methods such as co-processing in cement kilns, plasma pyrolysis or land-filling.
  • Neither is plastic marked with numerical symbols (such as 1 for PET, 4 for Low Density Polyethylene, 5 for Polypropylene and so on) to facilitate recycling using the correct industrial process.

Alternatives to Plastic

  • Although compostable, biodegradable or even edible plastics made from various materials such as sugarcane bagasse, corn starch, and grain flour are promoted as alternatives, these currently have limitations of scale and cost.
  • Some biodegradable packaging materials require specific microorganisms to be broken down, while compostable cups and plates made of polylactic acid, a popular resource derived from biomass such as corn starch, require industrial composters.
  • On the other hand, articles made through a different process involving potato and corn starch have done better in normal conditions, going by the experience in Britain.
  • Seaweed is also emerging as a choice to make edible containers.
  • In India, though, in the absence of robust testing and certification to verify claims made by producers, spurious biodegradable and compostable plastics are entering the marketplace.
  • In January this year, the CPCB said that 12 companies were marketing carry bags and products marked ‘compostable’ without any certification, and asked the respective SPCB to take action on these units.

A Janandolan ahead

  • A ban on single-use plastic items would have to therefore lay down a comprehensive mechanism to certify the materials marketed as alternatives, and the specific process required to biodegrade or compost them.
  • A movement against plastic waste would have to prioritise the reduction of single-use plastic such as multi-layer packaging, bread bags, food wrap, and protective packaging.
  • Consumers often have no choice in the matter.
  • Other parts of the campaign must focus on tested biodegradable and compostable alternatives for plates, cutlery and cups, rigorous segregation of waste and scaled up recycling.

Impact on packaging industry

  • Packaging is projected to grow into a $72.6 billion industry in India by 2020 from about $31 billion in 2015, with a proportionate rise in waste volumes.
  • The pressure on producers to streamline the collection, recycling and processing of all forms of plastic is bound to grow.
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Explained: Economics behind e-vehicle batteries

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Early adoption of EVs in India



News

Background

  • Shifting gears in the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), the NITI Aayog, in May this year, proposed to ban the sale of all internal combustion engine (ICE) powered three-wheelers post March 2023.
  • It also suggested that all new two-wheelers below 150cc sold after March 2025 should be electric.
  • In consonance with these proposals, the Union Budget announced tax incentives for early adopters.
  • The automobile industry had objected to the proposal and called for a practical approach in framing EV-related policies.
  • There has been the worry that EVs are still not financially viable because of various costs associated with their manufacture and use.

How are cost structures of conventional vehicles and electric vehicles different?

  • The portion of the costs of the drive train of EVs the system in a motor vehicle which connects the transmission to the drive axles in comparison to the cost of the entire vehicle is 4% lower compared to ICE vehicles.
  • This is primarily due to less part in the electric drive train.
  • However, the battery pack takes up nearly half the cost of an electric vehicle.
  • For any meaningful reduction in the physical value of EVs, the cost of battery packs needs to reduce significantly.

Components of a battery pack and their cost

  • The predominant battery chemistry used in EVs is lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion).
  • No new technologies are on the horizon for immediate commercial usage.
  • The cost of the materials or key-components of the battery, namely the cathode, anode, electrolyte, separator, among others, contribute the most (60%) to the total cost.
  • Any reduction in the cost of the battery pack will have to come from a reduction in materials cost or the manufacturing overhead.

How has the cost of the Li-ion battery pack cost evolved in the last decade?

  • The price of these battery packs has consistently fallen over the past few years.
  • This decrease is in part due to technological improvements, economies of scale and increased demand for lithium-ion batteries.
  • Fierce competition between major manufacturers has also been instrumental in bringing down prices.
  • The chart shows the change in the price of Li-ion batteries from 2010 to 2016. It is not clear if the battery cost can be reduced even further.
  • Given that raw materials account for 60% of the cost of the battery pack, the room for further cost reduction is rather limited.

Where does India stand on EV adoption?

  • In India, EV adoption will be driven by two-wheelers rather than cars in high numbers on because India’s mobility market is driven more by two wheelers.
  • According to the NITI Aayog, 79% of vehicles on Indian roads are two-wheelers.
  • Three-wheelers and cars that cost less than ₹10 lakh account for 4% and 12% of the vehicle population, respectively.
  • Two-wheelers will also need smaller batteries when compared to cars and hence the overall affordable cost.
  • India needs to manufacture Li-ion cells in-house. Now, cells are imported and “assembled” into batteries.
  • Setting up a Li-ion manufacturing unit requires high capital expenditure. But battery manufacturing in India is expected to grow as electric vehicles grow.

Are EV vehicles completely environment friendly?

  • In conventional ICEs, petrol or diesel fuels the engine.
  • However, in EVs, batteries are not the fuel; electrons supplied by the battery fuel the vehicle.
  • Presently, most of India’s electricity is generated using conventional sources.
  • In 2018-19, over 90% of India’s electricity was generated from conventional sources, including coal, and around 10% was produced from renewable sources such as solar, wind and biomass.
  • While the rate of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased over the years, more needs to be done for their adoption.
  • This is because the EV-charging infrastructure needs to be powered through renewable sources to make it truly sustainable.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

Explained: When India’s interim government was formed in 1946

Mains Paper 2 : Indian Constitution - historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India's first interim cabinet

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

Background

  • On this day in 1946, the interim government of India led by Jawaharlal Nehru was formed.
  • It was the only such cabinet in India’s history in which arch-rivals Congress and the Muslim League shared power at the Centre.
  • The interim government functioned with a great degree of autonomy, and remained in power until the end of British rule, after which it was succeeded by the Dominions of India and Pakistan.

Formation of India’s interim government 

  • Starting with the Cripps mission in 1942, a number of attempts were made by colonial authorities to form an interim government in India.
  • In 1946, elections to the Constituent Assembly were held following the proposals of the British Cabinet Mission dispatched by the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
  • In this election, the Congress obtained a majority in the Assembly, and the Muslim League consolidated its support among the Muslim electorate.
  • Viceroy Wavell subsequently called upon Indian representatives to join the interim government.
  • A federal scheme had been visualized under the Government of India Act of 1935, but this component was never implemented due to the opposition from India’s princely states.
  • As a result, the interim government functioned according to the older Government of India Act of 1919.

The interim cabinet

  • On September 2, 1946, the Congress party formed the government. On September 23, the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) ratified the Congress Working Committee’s decision.
  • The Muslim League initially decided to sit out of the government, and three of the five ministries reserved for Muslims were occupied by Asaf Ali, Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan, and Syed Ali Zaheer, all non-League Muslim representatives.
  • Two posts remained vacant.
  • However, after Lord Wavell agreed to allot all five reserved portfolios to the Muslim League if it agreed to cooperate, the latter finally joined.
  • In October, the cabinet was reshuffled to accommodate the new Muslim League members, and Sarat Chandra Bose, Sir Shafaat Ahmad Khan and Syed Ali Zaheer from the earlier team were dropped. Baldev Singh, C.H. Bhabha, and John Matthai continued to represent minority communities.

The cabinet after October 1946 was as follows:

INC

  • Vice President of the Executive Council, External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations: Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Home Affairs, Information and Broadcasting: Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Agriculture and Food: Rajendra Prasad
  • Education and Arts: C. Rajagopalachari
  • Defence: Baldev Singh
  • Industries and Supplies: C. Rajagopalachari
  • Labour: Jagjivan Ram
  • Railways and Communications: Asaf Ali
  • Work, Mines and Power: C.H. Bhabha

ALL-INDIA MUSLIM LEAGUE

  • Commerce: Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar
  • Finance: Liaquat Ali Khan
  • Health: Ghazanfar Ali Khan
  • Law: Jogendra Nath Mandal
  • Posts and Air: Abdur Rab Nishtar

Some of the decisions by the cabinet

  • In November 1946, India ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
  • In the same month, a committee was appointed to advise the government on nationalizing the armed forces.
  • In December, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was inducted into the cabinet.

Major Work

Dawn of Indian Diplomacy

  • On September 26, 1946, Nehru declared the government’s plan to engage in direct diplomatic relations with all countries and goodwill missions.
  • The year 1947 saw the opening of diplomatic channels between India and many countries.
  • In April 1947, the US announced the appointment of Dr. Henry F. Grady as its ambassador to India.
  • Embassy level diplomatic relations with the USSR and the Netherlands also started in April.
  • In May, the first Chinese ambassador Dr. Lo Chia Luen arrived, and the Belgian Consul-General in Kolkata was appointed Belgium’s ambassador to India.
  • On June 1, the Indian Commonwealth Relations Department and the External Affairs Department were merged to form the single Department of External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.

Managing Partition

  • After Partition was announced on June 3, a dedicated cabinet sub-committee was formed to deal with the situation on June 5, and consisted of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Liaquat Ali Khan, Abdur Rab Nishtar and Baldev Singh.
  • Later, on June 16, a special cabinet committee aimed at tackling the administrative consequences of Partition was created.
  • It included the Viceroy, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Liaquat Ali Khan, and Abdur Rab Nishtar.
  • This committee was later replaced by a Partition Council.
History- Important places, persons in news

Explained: Mergers of public sector banks

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Merger of PSBs and various prospects associated



News

  • The Centre announced a mega amalgamation plan, the third in a row, that merged ten public sector banks into four larger entities.
  • With these series of mergers, the number of state-owned banks is down to 12 from 27.

About the merger

  • There are four new sets of mergers — Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India to merge to form the country’s second-largest lender.
  • Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank to amalgamate; Union Bank of India to acquire Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank to merge with Allahabad Bank.
  • The biggest merger out of the four was Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank merging into Punjab National Bank to create a second largest state-owned bank with Rs 17.95 lakh crore business and 11,437 branches.
  • These three banks are technologically compatible as they use Finacle Core Banking Solution (CBS) platform.
  • The merger of Syndicate Bank with Canara Bank will create the fourth largest public sector bank with Rs 15.20 lakh crore business and a branch network of 10,324 branches.
  • Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank’s merger with Union Bank of India will create India’s fifth largest public sector bank with Rs 14.59 lakh crore business and 9,609 branches.
  • The merger of Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank will create the seventh largest public sector bank with Rs 8.08 lakh crore business with strong branch networks in the south, north and east of the country.

Why merge PSBs?

  • According to the government, banks have been merged on the basis of likely operating efficiencies, better usage of equity and their technological platform.
  • But the move marks a departure from the plan to privatize some of the banks or bringing in a strategic investors to usher in reform in the sector.
  • The government, after consultations, decided that amalgamation is the “best route” to achieve banking sector scale and to support the target of achieving a $5 trillion economic size for India in five years.
  • The amalgamations will help banks to meaningfully scale up operations but will not lead to any immediate improvement in their credit metrics.

Logic behind the move

  • For years, expert committees starting from the M Narasimham Committee have recommended that India should have fewer but bigger and better-managed banks to ensure optimal use of capital, efficiency, wider reach and greater profitability.
  • The logic is that rather than having several of its own banks competing for the same pie (in terms of deposits or loans) in the same narrow geographies, leading to each one incurring costs, it would make sense to have large-sized banks.
  • This may be true especially in India’s bigger cities and towns.
  • It has also been argued that such an entity will then be able to respond better to emerging market trends or shifts and compete more with private banks.
  • The proposed big banks would be able to compete globally and improve their operational efficiency once they lower their cost of lending and improve lending.
  • But none of India’s banks including the largest, SBI, figures in the list of the top 50 global banks. So that may be a long way away.

How does it help the government?

  • For over decades starting from 1992, the government as the biggest shareholder of over 25 banks had to provide capital for them.
  • To grow and lend more, the banks often need a higher amount of capital to set aside also for loans that could go bad.
  • With the government not willing to lower its equity holdings and with a large slice of the capital being set aside to cover for bad loans, the burden of infusing capital rests on the majority shareholder.
  • This means marking a large amount of money almost every year during the last few years in the Budget for capital infusion at many banks at a time when there is a huge demand for social sector.
  • By reducing the number of banks to a manageable count, the government hopes that the demands for such capital infusion will be lower progressively with increased efficiencies and with more well capitalised banks.
  • It will also help that the government can focus now on fewer banks than in the past.

How have previous bank mergers fared?

  • Last year, the government had merged Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda, creating the third-largest bank by loans in the country.
  • The government said this merger has been “a good learning experience” as profitability and business of the merged entity has improved.
  • Earlier, the State Bank of India had acquired its associate banks.
  • Indian Overseas Bank, Uco Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab and Sind Bank, which have strong regional focus, will continue as separate entities.
  • The government said profitability of public sector banks has improved and total gross non-performing assets have come down to Rs 7.9 lakh crore at end-March 2019 from Rs 8.65 lakh crore at end-December 2018.

More thrust on RBI

  • The RBI keeps monitoring large institutions whose potential failure can impact other institutions or banks and the financial sector, and which could have a contagion effect and erode confidence in other banks.
  • A case in point is the recent instance of IL&FS Group, which defaulted on repayments hitting many lenders and investors.
  • The creation of more large-sized banks will mean the RBI will have to improve its supervisory and monitoring processes to address increased risks.

Will this help improve the performance metrics now?

  • While the announced consolidation of PSU banks is a credit positive as it enables the consolidated entities to meaningfully improve scale of operations and help their competitive position.
  • At the same time, there will not be any immediate improvement in their credit metrics as all of them have relatively weak solvency profiles.
  • While asserting that bank consolidation is a good move towards improving efficiency of the PSBs, he said “it is possible that the current mergers may face more friction than the last one with BoB, Dena and Vijaya.
  • In that case, a large, well-capitalised strong bank absorbed two much smaller entities.
  • In the present case, the mergers are mostly among larger banks, with absorbing bank not necessarily in strong health.
  • However, given the merged banks are on similar technology platform, the integration should be smoother.
  • Also it is likely that management attention and bandwidth of the entities being merged could get split impacting the loan growth and reduce focus on strengthening asset quality in the short term.
Banking Sector Reforms

Explained: Land Degradation Neutrality

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LDN

Mains level : State of afforestation in India



News

  • Union Environment Ministry has committed to rejuvenate 50 lakh hectares (5 million) of degraded land between 2021 and 2030.
  • A Centre for Excellence would be set up in Dehradun for land degradation neutrality.

Why such move?

  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29% or about 96.4 million hectares are considered degraded.

  • The State of India’s Environment report, 2017 calculates that nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification. This figure touches 40 to 70 percent in eight states—Rajasthan, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.
  • Various estimates put the economic costs of degradation in the country at 2.54% of its GDP.

Land Degradation Neutrality

  • Land degradation neutrality (LDN) is a condition where further land degradation (loss of productivity caused by environmental or human factors) is prevented and already degraded land can be restored.
  • LDN has been defined by the Parties to the Convention as:

    – A state whereby the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.

Benefits of LDN

  • As land is fixed in quantity, there is ever-increasing competition to control land resources and capitalize on the flows of goods and services from the land.
  • LDN represents a paradigm shift in land management policies and practices.
  • It is a unique approach that counterbalances the expected loss of productive land with the recovery of degraded areas.
  • This has the potential to cause social and political instability, fueling poverty, conflict and migration.

Implementation

  • The implementation of LDN requires multi-stakeholder engagement and planning across scales and sectors, supported by national-scale coordination that utilizes existing local and regional governance structures.
  • UNCCD and the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) came together to mark the United Nations General Assembly adoption of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
  • To date, over 120 countries have engaged with the LDN Target Setting Programme and considerable progress has been made since the 2030 Agenda was adopted in 2015.

India’s initiatives

  • This January, India became part of the “Bonn Challenge”, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.
  • Schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana are seen as prongs to tackle this land degradation.
  • India for the first time will be hosting the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from September 2 to 13.

Back2Basics

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

  • Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda.
  • It addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
  • 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.
Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Explained: What ails the existing microcredit model

Mains Paper 3 : Mobilization Of Resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microcredit

Mains level : Microfinance in India


News

  • Microcredit has gained much traction as a tool for ensuring the welfare of the most impoverished in society, and boosting development alongside.

What is Microcredit?

  • Microcredit refers to the granting of very small loans to impoverished borrowers, with the aim of enabling the borrowers to use that capital to become self-employed and strengthen their businesses.
  • Loans given as microcredit are often given to people who may lack collateral, credit history, or a steady source of income.
  • Microcredit agreements frequently do not require any sort of collateral, and sometimes may not even involve a written agreement, as many recipients of microcredit are often illiterate.
  • When borrowers demonstrate success in paying their loans on time, they become eligible for loans of even larger amounts, allowing them to finance expansion.

The idea behind

  • The core idea of microcredit is that a small loan will provide access to the larger economy to people who typically live outside the scope of the institutions on which the mainstream economy rests.
  • Such a loan is meant to enable them to commence with productive activities, and will give them the initial boost required to gain entry into an industry, after which production will be able to sustain itself, and the loan will gradually be repaid.

Part of Microfinance

  • Microcredit falls under the larger umbrella of microfinance, financial services for individuals who don’t have access to traditional services of this kind.
  • Microfinance activities usually target low-income individuals, with the goal of helping them to become self-sufficient. In this way, microfinance activities have an aim of poverty alleviation as well.
  • An example of a microcredit institution is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, founded in 1976 by Mohammed Yunus.
  • The Grameen Bank offers small loans to the impoverished without asking for collateral, and was the pioneering institution in the realm of microfinance.
  • The bank has 8.4 million followers, 97% of whom are women, and the bank has repayment success rates between 95 to 98 percent.

Microcredit institutions are failing in India

  • The article in Ideas for India cites a 2015 study that found “a lack of evidence of transformative effects of microfinance on the average borrower”.
  • Another study found that having access to microcredit made very little difference to changing the lifestyles of borrowers, based on six indicators: household business profits, business expenditures, business revenues, consumption, consumer durables spending, and spending on temptation goods.
  • These indicators only saw a 5% impact when microcredit was available.

Why?

  • The primary reason for the lackadaisical effects of microcredit is the stringent repayment schedule offered by most microcredit institutions.
  • Since most borrowers to whom microcredit is given have little to no credit history as a result of their exclusion from traditional systems of credit.
  • Hence institutions offering microcredit are unable to judge the risk associated with lending to certain borrowers, and cannot be sure what the risk of them defaulting will be.
  • To lower the risk of defaulting, microcredit lenders therefore resort to repayment schedules that demand an initial repayment that is almost immediate, to which borrowers must adhere.
  • The effect of this is that borrowers are unable to use the loans on investments that will take some time to be fully realized.
  • The borrowers instead are forced to use the loans they receive on short term investments that only boost production to an extent, and the overall growth of their incomes remains meager.

What are the other applications of microcredit?

  • Conventionally, microcredit has been used mainly for entrepreneurs to begin production and attain self-sufficiency.
  • Small microcredit loans can allow rural labourers –those who are employees, as opposed to entrepreneurs, who are employers– to migrate to urban areas to find work during the lean season, when there is no work to be found on farms.
  • Those who migrated temporarily during this season experienced increased spending in both food and non-food areas, and increased their calories consumed.
  • Microcredit can be used in situations where seasonal factors cause drops in income to overcome these “seasonal credit crunches” and avoid taking decisions which cause people long-term negative impacts.
  • They can also be used to dampen the effects of shocks like floods by providing people with a form of insurance that both increases production before the shock and provides a safety net after.

Conclusion

  • Microcredit has a vast range of applications for poverty alleviation and general development, but existing systems require reform in multiple areas to allow for unfettered benefits that last.
  • Furthermore, in areas were the application of microcredit is relatively new, microcredit systems must be carefully evaluated before they are put into place, so as to enable the greatest benefit from such institutions.
Microfinance Story of India

Explained: How an Indian citizen is defined

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Citizenship issue in Assam


News

  • In the run-up to the publication of the final NRC in Assam, citizenship has become the most talked about topic in the country.

How is citizenship determined?

  • Citizenship signifies the relationship between individual and state.
  • It begins and ends with state and law, and is thus about the state, not people.
  • Citizenship is an idea of exclusion as it excludes non-citizens.

Principles for grant of citizenship

  • There are two well-known principles for grant of citizenship.
  • While jus soli confers citizenship on the basis of place of birth, jus sanguinis gives recognition to blood ties.
  • From the time of the Motilal Nehru Committee (1928), the Indian leadership was in favour of the enlightened concept of jus soli.
  • The racial idea of jus sanguis was rejected by the Constituent Assembly as it was against the Indian ethos.

Citizenship in India

  • Citizenship is in the Union List under the Constitution and thus under the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
  • The Constitution does not define the term ‘citizen’ but gives, in Articles 5 to 11, details of various categories of persons who are entitled to citizenship.
  • Unlike other provisions of the Constitution, which came into being on January 26, 1950, these articles were enforced on November 26, 1949 itself, when the Constitution was adopted.
  • However, Article 11 itself confers wide powers on Parliament by laying down that “nothing in the foregoing provisions shall derogate from the power of Parliament to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all matters relating to citizenship”.
  • Thus Parliament can go against the citizenship provisions of the Constitution.
  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 was passed and has been amended four times — in 1986, 2003, 2005, and 2015. The Act empowers the government to determine the citizenship of persons in whose case it is in doubt.
  • However, over the decades, Parliament has narrowed down the wider and universal principles of citizenship based on the fact of birth.
  • Moreover, the Foreigners Act places a heavy burden on the individual to prove that he is not a foreigner.

So who is, or is not, a citizen of India?

Article 5

  • It provided for citizenship on commencement of the Constitution.
  • All those domiciled and born in India were given citizenship.
  • Even those who were domiciled but not born in India, but either of whose parents was born in India, were considered citizens.
  • Anyone who had been an ordinary resident for more than five years, too, was entitled to apply for citizenship.

Article 6

  • Since Independence was preceded by Partition and migration, Article 6 laid down that anyone who migrated to India before July 19, 1949, would automatically become an Indian citizen if either of his parents or grandparents was born in India.
  • But those who entered India after this date needed to register themselves.

Article 7

  • Even those who had migrated to Pakistan after March 1, 1947 but subsequently returned on resettlement permits were included within the citizenship net.
  • The law was more sympathetic to those who migrated from Pakistan and called them refugees than to those who, in a state of confusion, were stranded in Pakistan or went there but decided to return soon.

Article 8

  • Any Person of Indian Origin residing outside India who, or either of whose parents or grandparents, was born in India could register himself or herself as an Indian citizen with Indian Diplomatic Mission.

Amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955

1986 amendment

  • The constitutional provision and the original Citizenship Act gave citizenship on the principle of jus soli to everyone born in India.
  • However, the 1986 amendment to Section 3 was less inclusive as it added the condition that those who were born in India on or after January 26, 1950 but before July 1, 1987, shall be Indian citizen.
  • Those born after July 1, 1987 and before December 4, 2003, in addition to one’s own birth in India, can get citizenship only if either of his parents was an Indian citizen at the time of birth.

2003 amendment

  • The then NDA government made the above condition more stringent, keeping in view infiltration from Bangladesh.
  • Now the law requires that for those born on or after December 4, 2004, in addition to the fact of their own birth, both parents should be Indian citizens or one parent must be Indian citizen and other should not be an illegal migrant.
  • With these restrictive amendments, India has almost moved towards the narrow principle of jus sanguinis or blood relationship.
  • This lay down that an illegal migrant cannot claim citizenship by naturalization or registration even if he has been a resident of India for seven years.

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The amendment proposes to permit members of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan — to continue to live in India if they entered India before December 14, 2014.
  • It also reduces the requirement for citizenship from 11 years out of the preceding 14 years, to just 6 years.
  • Two notifications also exempted these migrants from the Passport Act and Foreigner Act.
  • A large number of organisations in Assam protested against this Bill as it may grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu illegal migrants.

Assam’s Case

What is different in Assam?

  • The Assam Movement against illegal immigration eventually led to the historic Assam Accord of 1985, signed by Movement leaders and the Rajiv Gandhi government.
  • Accordingly, the 1986 amendment to the Citizenship Act created a special category of citizens in relation to Assam.
  • The newly inserted Section 6A laid down that all persons of Indian origin who entered Assam before January 1, 1966 and have been ordinary residents will be deemed Indian citizens.
  • Those who came after 1 January, 1966 but before March 25, 1971,and have been ordinary residents, will get citizenship at the expiry of 10 years from their detection as foreigner.
  • During this interim period, they will not have the right to vote but can get an Indian passport.

Foreigners in Assam

  • Identification of foreigners was to be done under the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, (IMDT Act), 1983, which was applicable only in Assam while the Foreigners Act, 1946 was applicable in the rest of the country.
  • The provisions of the IMDT Act made it difficult to deport illegal immigrants. On the petition of Sarbananda Sonowal (now Chief Minister), the Act was held unconstitutional and struck down by the Supreme Court in 2005.
  • This was eventually replaced with the Foreigners (Tribunals of Assam) Order, 2006, which again was struck down in 2007 in Sonowal II.
  • In the IMDT case, the court considered classification based on geographical considerations to be a violation of the right to equality under Article 14. In fact, another such variation was already in place.
  • While the cutoff date for Western Pakistan is July 19, 1949, for Eastern Pakistan the Nehru-Liaquat Pact had pushed it to 1950.

Constitutionality of Section 6A

  • A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court is yet to examine the constitutionality of Section 6A under which the current NRC has been prepared.
  • The Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur did hold its hearing on April 19, 2017, but it was dissolved on the retirement of Justice P C Pant in August 2017.
  • The Supreme Court, in its order last week, refused to extend restrictive provisions of amendments to Assam in view of a different dispensation for them in Section 6A.
  • In Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha (2014) where the constitutionality of the 1986 amendment was challenged (the Mahasangha argues that the cutoff year for Assam should be 1951 instead if 1971), the court referred the matter to the Constitution Bench.
  • While Section 6A was inserted in 1986 as a result of the Assam Accord, which has been discussed at length by the court, the court accepted the challenge to its constitutionality in 2014 and referred to the Constitution Bench.
  • It prescribes a different cutoff date for Assam (1971) from the one prescribed in the Constitution for the rest of the country (1949).
  • But then, this provision was about citizenship on commencement of the Constitution.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Why is age of marriage different for men and women?

Mains Paper 1 : Social Empowerment |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over different ages of marriage


News

  • This week, the Delhi High Court took up a plea that sought a uniform age of marriage for men and women.
  • The bench issued a notice to the Centre and the Law Commission of India, seeking their response to the public interest litigation.

Indian Majority Act, 1875

  • Currently, the law prescribes that the minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority, which is gender-neutral.
  • An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

Minimum age

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent abuse of minors.
  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
  • Child marriages are not illegal but can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid under personal law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

It’s Evolution

  • The Indian Penal Code enacted in 1860 criminalised any physical intercourse with a girl below the age of 10.
  • The provision of rape was amended in 1927 through the Age of Consent Bill, 1927, which made marriages with a girl under 12 invalid.
  • The law had faced opposition from conservative leaders of the nationalist movement such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Madan Mohan Malaviya who saw the British intervention as an attack on Hindu customs.
  • In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act set 16 and 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for women and men respectively.
  • The law, popularly known as Sarda Act after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda, a judge and a member of Arya Samaj, was eventually amended in 1978 to prescribe 18 and 21 years as the age of marriage for a woman and a man, respectively.

Why challenged in court?

  • The petitioner in the Delhi HC case, has challenged the law on the grounds of discrimination.
  • He alleges that Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity, are violated by having different legal age for men and women to marry.
  • Two Supreme Court rulings could be significant to the context of this argument.
  • In 2014, in NALSA v Union of India, the Supreme Court while recognising transgenders as the third gender said that justice is delivered with the “assumption that humans have equal value and should, therefore, be treated as equal, as well as by equal laws.”
  • In 2019, in Joseph Shine v Union of India, the Supreme Court decriminalized adultery and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity.”

The debate

  • The different legal standard for the age of men and women to marry has been a subject of debate.
  • The laws are a codification of custom and religious practices that are rooted in patriarchy.
  • In a consultation paper of reform in family law in 2018, the Law Commission argued that having different legal standards “contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands”.
  • Women’s rights activists too have argued that the law perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men of the same age and therefore can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • The international treaty Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also calls for the abolition of laws that assume women have a different physical or intellectual rate of growth than men.
  • The Law Commission paper recommended that the minimum age of marriage for both genders be set at 18.
  • The difference in age for husband and wife has no basis in law as spouses entering into a marriage are by all means equals and their partnership must also be of that between equals, the Commission noted.
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Explained: Sikkim, from Chogyal rule to Indian state

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Sikkims's accession to India



News

Context

  • Last week in Sikkim, 10 MLAs from the Opposition SDF defected to the BJP, adding to the political uncertainty that has loomed over since Assembly elections this year delivered a fractured mandate.
  • The current instability follows a unique event: the voting out of a government in power for the first time in Sikkim’s history.
  • Since joining India in 1975, Sikkim has seen its government changed only twice — in both cases, the government had fallen before the new one was voted in.

Departure from Monarchy

  • Before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyal rulers, and democratic rights were limited.
  • Analysts have described the current events as a departure from what has been called a “monarchic psychology”.
  • The overall trajectory has been seen as being geared towards strengthening democracy.

Sikkim under the Chogyal rulers

  • For 333 years before 1975, Sikkim was ruled by the Chogyals (or kings) of the Namgyal dynasty of Tibetan descent.
  • According to one account, the first ruler, Penchu Namgyal, was installed as king by Tibetan lamas in 1642.
  • At its zenith, the Sikkim kingdom included the Chumbi valley and Darjeeling. The former is part of China now.
  • After 1706, there were a series of conflicts between the powers of the region, which included Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, resulting in a shrinking of Sikkim’s territorial boundaries.

Contact with British India

  • In 1814, Sikkim allied with the East India Company in the latter’s campaign against Nepal.
  • After the Company won, it restored to Sikkim some of the territories that Nepal had wrested from it in 1780.
  • In 1841, the Company purchased Darjeeling from the Namgyal rulers.
  • A treaty in 1861 made Sikkim a de facto protectorate of British India.
  • Subsequently, the Calcutta Convention of 1890 demarcated the border between Sikkim and Tibet, and was signed by Viceroy Lord Lansdowne and Qing China’s Imperial Associate Resident in Tibet.
  • The Lhasa Convention of 1904 affirmed the Calcutta Convention.

Sikkim becomes a Protectorate

  • After India became independent in 1947, the relationship between New Delhi and Gangtok had to be redefined.
  • In 1950, a treaty was signed between Maharaja Tashi Namgyal and India’s then Political Officer in Sikkim Harishwar Dayal.
  • The relationship between India and Sikkim was encapsulated in the clause: “Sikkim shall continue to be a Protectorate of India and, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, shall enjoy autonomy in regard to its internal affairs.”

Continued struggle in Sikkim

  • In the following decades, gaping income inequality and feudal control over key resources led to popular discontent against the Chogyal rulers.
  • In December 1947, diverse political groupings came together to form the Sikkim State Congress.
  • In 1949, the Chogyal agreed to appoint a five-member Council of Ministers, with three Congress nominees, and two of his own.
  • In 1953, the Chogyal introduced a new Constitution, and four general elections were held based on separate electorates in 1957, 1960, 1967, and 1970.
  • Plagued by distrust between the Chogyal and the Congress, none of these elections helped further democracy.

India comes in

  • Matters came to a head in 1973, when the royal palace was besieged by thousands of protesters.
  • The Chogyal was left with no choice but to ask India to send troops for his assistance.
  • Finally, a tripartite agreement was signed in the same year between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three major political parties, so that major political reforms could be introduced.

From protectorate to full state

  • In 1974, elections were held, in which the Congress led by Kazi Lhendup Dorji emerged victorious over pro-independence parties.
  • In the same year, a new constitution was adopted, which restricted the role of the Chogyal to a titular post.
  • The Chogyal resented this, and refused to deliver the customary address to the elected Assembly.
  • In the same year, India upgraded Sikkim’s status from protectorate to “associated state”, allotting to it one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chogyal was unhappy with this move, and sought to internationalize the issue. This did not go down well with Sikkim’s elected leaders, and a referendum was held in 1975.
  • A total 59,637 voted in favour of abolishing the monarchy and joining India, with only 1,496 voting against.
  • Subsequently, India’s Parliament approved an amendment to make Sikkim a full state.
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Explained: Delimitation of Constituencies

Mains Paper 2 : Representation Of People's Act |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

Background

  • Since the bifurcation of J&K State into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, delimitation of their electoral constituencies has been inevitable.
  • While the government has not formally notified the Election Commission yet, the EC has held “internal discussions” on the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, particularly its provisions on delimitation.

What is Delimitation? Why is it needed?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
  • In this process, the number of seats allocated to different states in Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change.
  • The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • It also aims at a fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.

Legal status

  • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission (DC).
  • The Constitution mandates that its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.

How is delimitation carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a DC made up of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective State Election Commissioners.
  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; these are where their population is relatively large.
  • All this is done on the basis of the latest Census and, in case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.

Implementation

  • The draft proposals of the DC are published in the Gazette of India, official gazettes of the states concerned and at least two vernacular papers for public feedback.
  • The Commission also holds public sittings.
  • After hearing the public, it considers objections and suggestions, received in writing or orally during public sittings, and carries out changes, if any, in the draft proposal.
  • The final order is published in the Gazette of India and the State Gazette and comes into force on a date specified by the President.

How often has delimitation been done in the past?

  • The first delimitation exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission).
  • The Constitution at that time was silent on who should undertake the division of states into Lok Sabha seats.
  • This delimitation was temporary as the Constitution mandated redrawing of boundaries after every Census. Hence, another delimitation was due after the 1951 Census.

Why more independence to DC?

  • Pointing out that the first delimitation had left many political parties and individuals unhappy, the EC advised the government that all future exercises should be carried out by an independent commission.
  • This suggestion was accepted and the DC Act was enacted in 1952.
  • DCs have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Why was there no delimitation then?

  • The Constitution mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states.
  • Although unintended, this provision implied that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament.
  • The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
  • Despite the embargo, there were a few occasions that called for readjustment in the number of Parliament and Assembly seats allocated to a state.
  • These include statehood attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and creation of new states such as Uttarakhand.

Why postponed till 2026?

  • Although the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment postponed this until 2026.
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.
  • So, the last delimitation exercise — started in July 2002 and completed on May 31, 2008 — was based on the 2001 Census and only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.

Back2Basics

History of Delimitation in J&K

  • Delimitation of J&K’s Lok Sabha seats is governed by the Indian Constitution, but delimitation of its Assembly seats (until special status was abrogated recently) was governed separately by its Constitution and J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • As far as delimitation of Lok Sabha seats is concerned, the last DC of 2002 was not entrusted with this task. Hence, J&K parliamentary seats remain as delimited on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • As for Assembly seats, although the delimitation provisions of the J&K Constitution and the J&K RP Act, 1957, are similar to those of the Indian Constitution and Delimitation Acts.
  • They mandate a separate DC for J&K. In actual practice, the same central DC set up for other states was adopted by J&K in 1963 and 1973.
  • While the amendment of 1976 to the Indian Constitution suspended delimitation in the rest of the country till 2001, no corresponding amendment was made to the J&K Constitution.
  • Hence, unlike the rest of the country, the Assembly seats of J&K were delimited based on the 1981 Census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and no DC was set up by the state government after the 2001 Census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on fresh delimitation until 2026.
Electoral Reforms In India

Explained: India’s doctrine of Nuclear No First Use

Mains Paper 3 : External State & Non-State Actors: Challenges To Internal Security. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the doctrine

Mains level : Time-test of India's NFU doctrine


News

  • Raksha Mantri has said that while India has strictly adhered to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) of nuclear weapons, it can be reconsidered on future circumstances.
  • It was not immediately clear if policymakers are willing to revisit it.

Doctrine in making

  • A commitment to not be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict has long been India’s stated policy.
  • India first adopted a “No first use” policy after its second nuclear tests Pokhran-II, in 1998.
  • In August 1999, the govt. released a draft of the doctrine which asserts that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”.
  • Pakistan, by contrast, has openly threatened India with the use of nuclear weapons on multiple occasions beginning from the time the two nations were not even acknowledged nuclear powers.

No First Use doctrine

  • Among the major points in the doctrine was “a posture of No First Use”, which was described as follows:
  1. Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”.
  2. India’s nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.
  3. Also in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.
  4. Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority. (The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the PM.)
  5. India would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.
  6. India would continue to put strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participate in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continue to observe the moratorium on nuclear tests.
  7. India remains committed to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.

Why in news?

  • The successive governments are following Vajpayee’s doctrine and have directly or indirectly reaffirmed their commitment to NFU.
  • However, the doctrine has been questioned at various times by strategic experts in domestic policy debates, and the idea that India should revisit this position has been put forward at various high-level fora.
Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

Explained: The post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Office of CDS

Mains level : Need for CDS


News

  • In his Independence Day address PM has announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff to provide “effective leadership at the top level” to the three wings of the armed forces, and to help improve coordination among them.

What is the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)?

  • The CDS is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services, and offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive (in India’s case, to the PM).
  • On long-term it provides for defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.
  • In most democracies, the CDS is seen as being above inter-Service rivalries and the immediate operational preoccupations of the individual military chiefs.
  • The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.

Why need CDS?

  • The creation of the CDS will eventually lead to the formation of tri-service theatre commands intended to create vertical integration of the three forces.
  • The CDS will be a single-point military adviser to the government and synergise long term planning, procurements, training and logistics of the three Services.
  • This is expected to save money by avoiding duplication between the Services, at a time of shrinking capital expenditure within the defence budget.
  • Military diplomacy is today supporting the conventional diplomacy. That can’t be done by different Services.

Background

  • India has had a feeble equivalent known as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC); but this is a toothless office, given the manner in which it is structured.
  • The seniormost among the three Service Chiefs is appointed to head the CoSC, an office that lapses with the incumbent’s retirement.
  • The post did not further tri-service integration, resulting in inefficiency and an expensive duplication of assets.
  • This system is a leftover from the colonial era, with only minor changes being carried out over the years.
  • Apprehensions in the political class about a powerful military leader, along with inter-Services bickering, have long worked to disincentives the upgrade of the post.

Recent upheaval

  • The first proposal for a CDS came from the 2000 Kargil Review Committee (KRC), which called for a reorganization of the “entire gamut of national security management and apex decision-making and structure and interface between the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Headquarters.
  • The Group of Ministers Task Force that studied the KRC Report and recommendations proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security that a CDS, who would be five-star officer, be created.
  • In preparation for the post, the government created the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in late 2002, which was to eventually serve as the CDS’s Secretariat.
  • However, over the past 17 years, this has remained yet another nebulous department within the military establishment.

What happened to the proposal?

  • No consensus emerged among the Services, with the IAF especially opposed to such a move.
  • Then opposition was against the idea of concentrating too much military power in the CDS’s post.
  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) too, opposed it subtly for the same reasons, and because it could disrupt civil-military ties in the latter’s favour.
  • The smaller Air Force and Navy fear that the CDS would be from the Army, by far the largest Service.
  • The IAF has long argued that unlike the United States and other western militaries, the Indian Services are not an expeditionary force, for which a CDS is a necessity.
  • The appointment of a CDS would also lead to theatre commands, another aspect that the IAF opposes, fearing a diminution of its operational role.

Naresh Chandra Committee recommendations

  • In 2011, more than a decade after the KRC Report, the UPA government which had opposed the CDS proposal when in opposition, set up the Naresh Chandra Committee on defence and security.
  • The 14-member Committee, comprising retired Service Chiefs and other defence experts, suggested a watered-down version of the CDS proposal, in which the Chairman CoSC in the rank of a four-star officer would have a fixed tenure of two years.
  • He would have significantly more authority and powers than the Chairman CoSC, and would be a CDS in all but name.

The case for having a CDS

  • Although the KRC did not directly recommend a CDS — that came from the GoM — it underlined the need for more coordination among the three Services, which was poor in the initial weeks of the Kargil conflict.
  • The KRC Report pointed out that India is the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters is outside the apex governmental structure.
  • It observed that Service Chiefs devote most of their time to their operational roles, “often resulting in negative results”.
  • Long-term defence planning suffers as day-to-day priorities dominate.

Who serves the purpose as for now?

  • In effect it is the National Security Adviser.
  • This has been especially so after the Defence Planning Committee was created in 2018, with NSA Ajit Doval as its chairman, and the foreign, defence, and expenditure secretaries, and the three Service Chiefs as members.

Need for an integrated service

  • Also, the PM and Defence Minister do not have the benefit of the views and expertise of military commanders, in order to ensure that higher level defence management decisions are more consensual and broadbased.
  • The CDS is also seen as being vital to the creation of “theatre commands”, integrating tri-service assets and personnel like in the US military.
  • India has 17 Service commands at different locations and duplicating assets.
  • In 2016, China integrated its military and other police and paramilitaries into five theatres from the earlier seven area commands, each with its own inclusive headquarters, one of which has responsibility for the Indian border.
  • In contrast, India’s border with China is split between the Eastern, Western, and Northern Commands.

The arguments against

  • Theoretically, the appointment of a CDS is long overdue, but there appears to be no clear blueprint for the office to ensure its effectiveness.
  • India’s political establishment is seen as being largely ignorant of, or at best indifferent towards, security matters, and hence incapable of ensuring that a CDS works.
  • Militaries by nature tend to resist transformation.
  • In the US, the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act elevated the Chairman from first among equals to the “principal military advisor” to the President and the Secretary of Defence.
  • In the Indian context, critics fear, the absence of foresight and understanding might end up making the CDS just another case of “jobs for the boys”.

Way Forward

  • The last time India fought a major battle was the Kargil conflict in 1999 in which the Navy played a silent role while the Army and Air Force collaborated to evict intruders from Indian soil.
  • The lessons learnt then prompted the K. Subrahmanyam Committee to propose having a CDS for the first time.
  • Instrumentalism doesn’t always work; sometimes a giant leap is the need of the hour.
  • India has traditionally been a land power and, yes, the primary threats are still on land, from the northern and western borders.
  • But the threat matrix has changed since 1947 and the Indian Ocean region is fast metamorphosing into a major arena of friction, with increasing forays by the Chinese Navy and building up of regional navies with help from China.
  • Also, while the threat of war stills exists in the subcontinent under the nuclear overhang, the room for large conventional manoeuvres is over.
  • In a conflict situation, what would unfold are short and swift skirmishes which call for agility and swift action by the three services in unison.
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

Explained: Crisis in Automotive Sector

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 : Not Much

Mains level : Decline in vehicle sales in India and thier impact on economy


News

Context

  • Leading automobile manufacturers announced a sharp decline of up to 50 per cent in their domestic sales in recent months
  • This sector is hard hit by the liquidity crunch for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and a dip in consumer sentiment
  • Manufacturers are now going for cuts in production, and the industry that is one of the biggest job creators in the country is staring at a deep-rooted slowdown and job losses across its value chain.

Decline in Sales

  • Vehicle sales numbers in July, the worst in 19 years, have reaffirmed the downturn in the automobile sector. The drop is happening across all segments.
  • If passenger vehicles sales witnessed a fall of 18.4 per cent in the quarter ended June 2019, the commercial vehicle segment witnessed a 16.6 per cent decline.
  • The two-wheeler segment the more affordable form of motorized mobility and an indicator of consumption demand in the hinterland has also seen a slowdown.
  • It saw a drop in sales by 11.7 per cent during the quarter.

Decline in the sales of commercial vehicles and tractors

  • Tractor sales have been further hurt by weak farm sentiment, the slowdown in the rural economy, and fears of a worse than average monsoon this year.
  • This comes amid the third advance estimates of crop production indicating a slide in rabi production. Kharif sowing has remained weak so far.
  • Truck sales have been hurt by changes made by the government in the axle load norms.
  • A significant decline in the sales of commercial vehicles has been visible ever since the increased axle load has become effective.
  • The industry has been calling for a scrappage policy and other policy support measures to revive demand.

A sign of distress

  • Like tractors, the drop in two-wheeler volumes is a key indicator of rural distress.
  • In the two-wheeler segment, motorcycle sales are predominantly dependent on rural India; people in rural areas prefer motorcycles to scooters given their sturdier structure, better performance, and lower operational costs, especially in the economy segments.
  • The continued sluggishness in two-wheeler volumes is worrying, given that India, despite now being the world’s biggest two-wheeler market, still has a very low penetration level of two wheelers.

A cause of concern

  • Such a sales slump is naturally forcing automobile factories to cut production, with July alone witnessing a production decline of around 3 lakh vehicles compared to the same month last year.
  • This, in turn, means a loss of jobs for contract workers initially but if this slowdown deepens, then permanent workers too may be let go.
  • The automobile industry employs close to forty million people.
  • While such a widespread and progressive decline is a cause for concern on its own, the unravelling of India’s famed automobile industry should also send shockwaves across policy makers too.
  • The sector accounts for almost half the manufacturing GDP of India.

Causes for decline in sales

There are several reasons for the famed Indian automobile sector, fourth largest in the world, to experience this unprecedented slowdown.

  • First, the sector was impacted due to impending general elections, where uncertainty over outcome drove people to postpone vehicle purchases.
  • Industry insiders feel that the pressure on NBFCs and the liquidity squeeze in the market is a big factor causing the decline.
  • Say for example a third of the retail sales of a company were funded by NBFCs, and a liquidity crisis for the NBFC sector has led to a drop in sales for lack of funding for customers.
  • The decline in customer confidence is the other factor that is leading to a continuous slide in sales of passenger cars.
  • Customers are also expecting discounts in the coming festive season.
  • Customers are also postponing their purchase decisions due to various considerations, including an expected fall in GST rates, and the hope that the transition from BS-IV to BS-VI may lead to big discounts between January and March 2020.
  • To top it all, the face-off between the industry and the policymakers over a proposed deadline to convert some vehicle categories to electric from the present internal combustion engine (ICE) technology obviously did not help either.
  • The government has been considering a proposal to ban all ICE-driven two-wheelers under 150cc in the next six years and all three-wheelers within four years.

What does this situation indicate?

  • The sharp decline in sales numbers of the leading manufacturer shows the decline in consumer sentiment and indicates an overall slowdown in the economy.
  • The drop in sales over the last one year has led major manufacturers to cut production, and has put pressure on the overall automotive sector, including the automobile ancillaries.
  • Various manufacturing units of renowned brands have been shut in various parts of the country.
  • There have already been job losses across the value chain of the automobile sector, including in the dealerships and ancillaries.
  • The continuing decline in sales is now expected to put pressure on manufacturers to cut down on their costs, and reduce headcounts.

What next?

  • Industry players say the worst is still to come and that of consumer demand and the liquidity crisis — could get prolonged as automakers compulsorily transition to new technologies, rendering their products more expensive.
  • The outlook for the rest of the year will depend on multiple factors, including the progress of the monsoon and the festive season offtake, as well as improvement in the liquidity situation.
  • Meanwhile one may expect some sort of fiscal or monetary stimulus to boost up the sector.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.