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Explained: Why an industrial policy is crucial

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 : Need for an comprehensive industrial policy in India



News

Background

  • The contribution of manufacturing to GDP in 2017 was only about 16%, a stagnation since the economic reforms began in 1991.
  • In India manufacturing has never been the leading sector in the economy other than during the Second and Third Plan periods.

Manufacturing sector: A prime moving force

  • Manufacturing is an engine of economic growth because it offers economies of scale, embodies technological progress and generates forward and backward linkages that create positive spillover effects in the economy.
  • No major country managed to reduce poverty or sustain growth without manufacturing driving economic growth.
  • This is because productivity levels in industry (and manufacturing) are much higher than in either agriculture or services.

Market Failures urges govt to intervene

  • The specific instances of market failure that require a government-driven industrial policy are:
  1. lack of adequate investments
  2. imperfect information with respect to firm-level investments in learning and training and
  3. lack of information and coordination between technologically interdependent investments
  • These are good reasons why an economy-wide planning mechanism is needed in India.
  • However, the India should steer clear of the “command and control” approach that harks back to pre-1991 days.

Lack of Policy measures in India

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development or UNCTAD finds that over 100 countries have, within the last decade, articulated industrial policies.
  • However, India still has no manufacturing policy.
  • Focussing (as “Make in India” does) on increasing FDI and ease of doing business, important though they may be, does not constitute an industrial policy.

Urgent need for a comprehensive Policy

I. Promoting investments

  • There is the need to coordinate complementary investments when there are significant economies of scale and capital market imperfections.

II. Subsidization and providing stimulus

  • Industrial policies are needed to address learning externalities such as subsidies for industrial training, on which we have done poorly.
  • However, a lack of human capital has been a major constraint upon India historically being able to attract foreign investment (which Southeast Asian economies succeeded in attracting).

III. Govt. role as facilitator

  • The state can play the role of organizer of domestic firms into cartels in their negotiations with foreign firms or governments — a role particularly relevant in the 21st century.
  • It rose after the big business revolution of the 1990s with mega-mergers and acquisitions among transnational corporations.
  • In fact, one objective of China’s industrial policies since the 1990s has been to support the growth of such firms.

IV. Efficient Capacity Management

  • The role of industrial policy is not only to prevent coordination failures (i.e. ensure complementary investments) but also avoid competing investments in a capital-scarce environment.
  • Excess capacity leads to price wars, adversely affecting profits of firms — either leading to bankruptcy of firms or slowing down investment, both happening often in India (witness the aviation sector).
  • Price wars in the telecom sector in India which hampers investment in mobile/internet coverage of rural India where access to mobile phones and broadband Internet, needs rapid expansion.

V. Reservation of products

  • An industrial policy can ensure that the industrial capacity installed is as close to the minimum efficient scale as possible.
  • The missing middle among Indian enterprises is nothing short of a failure of industrial strategy.
  • It includes products exclusively for production in the small-scale and cottage industries (SSI) sector from India’s 1956 Industrial Policy Resolution onwards.
  • By the end of the 1980s, 836 product groups were in the “reserved” category produced only by SSIs (which encouraged informal enterprises).

VI. Preventing structural failures

  • When structural change is needed, industrial policy can facilitate that process.
  • In a fast-changing market, losing firms will block structural changes that are socially beneficial but make their own assets worthless.
  • East Asian governments prevented such firms from undermining structural change, with moves such as orderly capacity-scrapping between competing firms and retraining programmes to limit such resistance.

IT Sector: A self taught lesson for Policy Makers

  • If evidence is still needed that the state’s role will be critical to manufacturing growth in India, the state’s role in the success story of India’s IT industry must be put on record.
  • The government invested in creating high-speed Internet connectivity for IT software parks enabling integration of the Indian IT industry into the U.S. market.
  • The government allowed the IT industry to import duty-free both hardware and software. (In retrospect, this should never have continued after a few years since it undermined the growth of the electronics hardware manufacturing in India.)
  • The IT industry was able to function under the Shops and Establishment Act; hence not subject to the 45 laws relating to labour and the onerous regulatory burden these impose.
  • Finally, the IT sector has the benefit of low-cost, high-value human capital created by public investments earlier in technical education.
  • These offer insights to the potential for industrial policy when a new government takes over soon.

Way Forward

  • The East Asian miracle was very much founded upon export-oriented manufacturing, employ surplus labour released by agriculture, thus raising wages and reducing poverty rapidly.
  • The growing participation of East Asian countries in global value chains (GVCs); manufactured consumer goods to more technology- and skill-intensive manufactures for export, was a natural corollary to the industrial policy.
  • India has been practically left out of GVCs.
  • Increasing export of manufactures will need to be another rationale for an industrial policy, even though India has to focus more on “make for India”.
  • In this quest for increased exports, economies of scale (a proportionate saving in costs gained by an increased level of production) are critical.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

RBI asks NBFCs to appoint Chief Risk Officer

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRO and its terms of reference

Mains level : Curbing NPAs



News

  • The RBI has asked the non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) with assets of more than ₹5,000 crore to appoint a chief risk officer (CRO).

Why such move?

  • With the increasing role of NBFCs in direct credit intermediation, there is a need for NBFCs to augment risk management practices.
  • RBI’s move comes in the wake of ongoing rating downgrades of non-banks which has raised fears of another liquidity crisis.
  • Following a series of defaults by Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) last year, mutual funds with exposure to debt papers of the company had to write off a chunk of their holdings.
  • This, and the ensuing defaults by some non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), had led to the liquidity crisis.

Terms of Reference for Chief Risk Officer (CRO)

  • The primary role of the risk officer will be identification, measurement and mitigation of risks.
  • All credit products (retail or wholesale) shall be vetted by the CRO from the angle of inherent and control risks.
  • The CRO’s role in deciding credit proposals shall be limited to being an adviser.

Reporting by CRO

  • RBI has mandated that the CRO shall report directly to the MD and CEO or the risk management committee (RMC) of the board.
  • Moreover, in case the CRO reports to the MD and CEO, the risk management committee or the board shall meet the CRO in the absence of the MD and CEO, at least on a quarterly basis.
  • The CRO shall not have any reporting relationship with the business verticals of the NBFC and shall not be given any business targets.

Appointment and Transfer

  • The CRO shall be a senior official in the hierarchy of an NBFC and shall possess adequate professional qualification or experience in the area of risk management.
  • The CRO shall be appointed for a fixed tenure with the approval of the board.
  • There shall not be any ‘dual hatting’ i.e. the CRO shall not be given any other responsibility.
  • The CRO can be transferred or removed from his post before completion of the tenure only with the approval of the board.
  • And such premature transfer or removal shall be reported to the department of non-banking supervision of the regional office of RBI under whose jurisdiction the NBFC is registered.
NPA Crisis

Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK): New plastic that could be fully recycled

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PDK, Polymerization

Mains level : Utility of PDK as advanced material


News

  • The scientists have created a next-generation plastic that can be fully recycled into new materials of any colour, shape, or form, without loss of performance or quality.

Poly-Di-Ketoenamine (PDK)

  • A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a recyclable plastic called PDK.
  • The monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives by placing the material in a highly acidic solution.
  • It helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from chemical additives.
  • The recovered PDK monomers can be remade into polymers, and those recycled polymers can form new plastic materials without inheriting the colour or other features of the original material.
  • They could also upcycle the plastic by adding additional features, such as flexibility.

Why most plastics cannot be recycled?

  • Most plastics are made of polymers, chains of hydrogen and carbon which are chiefly derived from petroleum products like crude oil.
  • Polymers are composed of shorter strands called monomers and the process is called polymerization.
  • To give plastics certain characteristics like toughness, flexibility or color, certain chemicals are added which from strong bonds with the monomers.
  • While many polymers are thermoplastic, meaning they can be melted down and reused, the additives bonded to them can interfere with the process.
  • So when plastics are ground up and mixed together for recycling, all those additives make the final product unpredictable and lower quality.
  • That’s why most recycled plastic is “downcycled” or turned into items like handbags or benches instead of completing the recycling loop.
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

India signs ‘Christchurch Call to Action’

Mains Paper 3 : Social Media Networks & Internal Security |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Christchurch Call to Action

Mains level : Regulating role of social media against organized terrorism



News

  • To combat online extremism, India has decided to sign an international call initiated by the governments of France and New Zealand along with top social media companies after the Christchurch attacks.

Christchurch Call to Action

  • The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world was declared by the 17 signatory countries.
  • The Call outlines “collective”, “voluntary” commitments from Governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online.
  • The document highlights, “All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.
  • While the document stresses on the need to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of free speech of citizens of any country, the US has decided not to sign the document amid free speech concerns.
  • The meeting held in Paris was attended by representatives of online giants like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

The document states that the governments/signatories should commit to:

  • Counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of societies to enable them to resist terrorist and violent extremist ideologies, including through education, building media literacy to help counter distorted terrorist and violent extremist narratives, and the fight against inequality.
  • Ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws that prohibit the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression.
  • Encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online, to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content.
  • Support frameworks, such as industry standards, to ensure that reporting on terrorist attacks does not amplify terrorist and violent extremist content, without prejudice to responsible coverage of terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Consider appropriate action to prevent the use of online services to disseminate terrorist and violent extremist content, including through collaborative actions, such as:

The documents draw in the online service providers to commit to:

  • Take transparent, specific measures seeking to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and to prevent its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services.
  • Provide greater transparency in the setting of community standards or terms of service, including by:
  • Outlining and publishing the consequences of sharing terrorist and violent extremist content;
  • Describing policies and putting in place procedures for detecting and removing terrorist and violent extremist content.

With inputs from:

India Today

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains level : Social reforms in Colonial India



News

Context

  • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was the 19th century intellectual giant whose bust was vandalized by some political goons in Kolkata.
  • However he was perhaps the first Indian reformer to put forward the issues of women.
  • Vidyasagar’s Bengali primer, Borno Porichoy, remains, more than 125 years after his death in 1891, the introduction to the alphabet for nearly all Bengali children.
  • Michael Madhusudan Dutt, the 19th century pioneer of Bengali drama, described Vidyasagar as having “the genius and wisdom of an ancient sage, the energy of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother”.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

  • One of Bengal’s towering cultural icons, and among the greatest personalities of the Bengal Renaissance, Vidyasagar was a polymath who reconstructed the modern Bengali alphabet and initiated pathbreaking reform in traditional upper caste Hindu society.
  • He studied Sanskrit grammar, literature, Vedanta philosophy, logic, astronomy, and Hindu law for more than 12 years at Sanskrit College in Calcutta, and received the title of Vidyasagar — Ocean of Learning — at the age of just 21.
  • Privately, he studied English literature and philosophy and was appointed principal of Sanskrit College on January 22, 1851. He was all of 31 years old then.

Reforms by Ishwar Chandra

I. Widow Remarriage

  • The focus of his social reform was women — and he spent his life’s energies trying to ensure an end to the practice of child marriage and initiate widow remarriage.
  • He followed in the great reformist tradition of Raja Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833), and argued, on the basis of scriptures and old commentaries, in favour of the remarriage of widows in the same way as Roy did for the abolition of Sati.
  • His earliest effort at social reform, however, came in the second half of 1850 when, in a paper on the evils of child marriage.
  • He launched a powerful attack on the practice of marrying off girls aged 10 or even younger, pointing to social, ethical, and hygiene issues, and rejecting the validity of the Dharma Shastras that advocated it.
  • He showed that there was no prohibition on widows remarrying in the entire body of ‘Smriti’ literature (the Sutras and the Shastras).

II. Campaign against polygamy

  • Alongside the campaign for widow remarriage, he campaigned against polygamy.
  • In 1857, a petition for the prohibition of polygamy among Kulin Brahmins was presented to the government with 25,000 signatures, led by the Maharaja of Burdwan.
  • The mutiny of the sepoys resulted in the postponement of action on this petition, but in 1866, Vidyasagar inspired another petition, this time with 21,000 signatures.
  • In the 1870s, the great rationalist, wrote two brilliant critiques of polygamy, arguing to the government that since polygamy was not sanctioned by the sacred texts, there could be no objection to suppressing it by legislation.

Impact of his reformist zeal

  • Vidyasagar’s first pamphlets in Bengali on widow remarriage created a tremendous stir in Hindu society.
  • Two thousand copies were sold out in a week, and a reprint of another 3,000 copies also did not last.
  • These were unprecedented sales figures for a book at that time.
  • On October 14, 1855, Vidyasagar presented a petition to the Government of India praying for early passing a law to remove all obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows and to declare the issue of all such marriages to be legitimate.

Fruitful outcomes

  • On July 16, 1856, The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, known as Act XV, was passed.
  • Inspired by Vidyasagar, a number of literary men produced dramas advocating the remarriage of widows, both in Bengal and elsewhere.
  • In 1864, Jyotiba Phule succeeded in persuading a Saraswat Brahmin widow to remarry.
  • In 1866 Vishnu Shastri Pandit translated Vidyasagar’s book on widow remarriage into Marathi.
History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] 7th Economic Census 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Indian Economy |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Economic Census

Mains level : Importance of the Economic Census



News

  • In the run up to upcoming 7th Edition of Economic Census, a national training workshop of the Master Trainers was organized by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI).
  • The census is to begin in June this year.

7th Economic Census -2019

  • The 7th Economic Census -2019 is being conducted by MoSPI to provide disaggregated information on various operational and structural aspects of all establishments in the country.
  • MoSPI has partnered with Common Service Centres, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle under the MEITY as the implementing agency for 7th
  • An IT based digital platform for data capture, validation, report generation and dissemination will be used in this Economic Census.

About Economic Censuses

  • In 1976, Government of India launched a plan scheme called Economic Census and Surveys.
  • It is the census of the Indian economy through counting all entrepreneurial units in the country which involved in any economic activities of either agricultural or non-agricultural sector which are engaged in production and/or distribution of goods and/or services not for the sole purpose of own consumption.
  • It provides detailed information on operational and other characteristics such as number of establishments, number of persons employed, source of finance, type of ownership etc.
  • This information used for micro level/ decentralized planning and to assess contribution of various sectors of the economy in the gross domestic product (GDP).

Censuses till date

  • Total Six Economic Censuses (EC) have been conducted till date.
  • In 1977 CSO conducted First economic census in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics & Statistics (DES) in the States/UTs.
  • The Second EC was carried out in 1980 followed by the Third EC in 1990. The fourth edition took place in 1998 while the fifth EC was held in 2005.
  • The Sixth edition of Economic Census was conducted in 2013.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

[pib] Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GFDRR

Mains level : Disaster management in India



News

  • India is unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  • The decision was taken during the CG meeting of GFDRR held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

  • GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
  • GFDRR is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  • It is presently working on the ground with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners and provides knowledge, funding, and technical assistance.

India and GFDRR

  • India became member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair in last meeting of CG held in October 2018.
  • India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • This is the first time that India has been afforded the opportunity of co-chairing the CG meeting of GFDRR.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

NASA’s Artemis to put first woman on Moon

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ARTEMIS Mission

Mains level : About the NASA Mission



News

  • NASA’s plans for the first woman on the lunar surface in 2024 in its ambitious plan named Artemis.

Artemis Mission

  • ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.
  • As the name suggests, the two spacecraft will measure what happens when the Sun’s radiation hits our rocky moon, where there is no magnetic field to protect it.
  • Artemis is also the Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister of the god Apollo.
  • The Apollo program famously put the first men on the lunar surface in the 1960 and 70s.

Work in progress for Artemis

  • The program is still very much in its infancy.
  • NASA has been developing a rocket and crew capsule to take people into deep space, those vehicles still have yet to actually carry any astronauts.
  • NASA is developing new hardware including new lunar landers, in order for this project to be a success.
  • Fifty years after the first person set his foot on the moon, NASA will also reveal three lunar rocks that Neil Armstrong picked using tongs to pile about 20 rocks into a specialized collection box.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Services Trade Restrictiveness Index by OECD

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 : STRI

Mains level : Ease of doing business in India



News

  • India has found problems with the current method under which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranks countries based on their services trade policies, indicating the outcomes are biased and counter-intuitive.

Services Trade Restrictiveness Index

  • Launched in 2014, the Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI), computed by the OECD, is now available for 2018 for a total of 45 economies (36 OECD and the rest non-OECD) and 22 sectors.
  • The STRI helps to identify which policy measures restrict trade.
  • It provides policy makers and negotiators with information and measurement tools to improve domestic policy environment, negotiate international agreements and open up international trade in services.
  • It can also help governments identify best practice and then focus their domestic reform efforts on priority sectors and measures.
  • The STRI database is based on regulations currently in force. STRI indices take the value from 0 to 1, where 0 is completely open and 1 is completely closed.
  • The STRI Simulator enables policy makers and experts to explore the impact of a change at a detailed level for each measure, and to compare a specific country with a range of other selected countries in a particular sector.

Issues with the Index

I. Bit of impracticality in the index

  • The index has a large number of problems associated with it, including some significant design issues that render it impractical for use, a study commissioned by the Commerce Ministry found.
  • For example, the index seems to show the Indian services sector as one of the most restrictive, particularly in policy areas like foreign entry..
  • This seems surprising as since 1991, the one area that has seen maximum liberalisation in India is FDI.”

II. Liberalisation of FDI not considered

  • There are both theoretical and empirical inconsistencies in the OECD methodology.
  • For example, change in regulatory measures in one policy area can lead to dramatic changes in the STRI in another policy area which is not very useful for policy purposes.
  • It seems obsolete that India’s foreign entry restrictions are being classified as being the most restrictive derecognizing the 1991 reforms.
  • In addition, the data seems to have been generated by rather arbitrary procedures and reflects a developed country bias.

Way Forward: Building consensus

  • India has approached several developing countries during the recently-concluded WTO talks in New Delhi to try to build consensus around the new method of measuring trade restrictiveness in the services sector.
  • The manufacturing trade has a well-documented system of classification of commodities through which we can tell exactly what the commodity is and also what the applied tariffs and effective tariffs are, and, hence, see how restrictive any country’s policies are.
  • The problem in services is that for a long time there wasn’t any way to know whether a country’s policies were restrictive.

Summary report for India:

Click here to download

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Coastal Regulation Zone: How rules for building along coast have evolved

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CRZ

Mains level : CRZ Regulations


News

Background

  • The Supreme Court has recently ordered the demolition of some constructions in Kerala’s Ernakulum, for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.
  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union Environment Ministry, implementation is supposed to be done by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.
  • The states are also supposed to frame their own coastal zone management plans in accordance with the central Rules.

The CRZ Rules

  • CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • The Rules, mandated under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, were first framed in 1991.
  • They sought to restrict certain kinds of activities, like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, or reclamation and bunding, within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • In all CRZ Rules, the regulation zone has been defined as the area up to 500 m from the high-tide line.
  • Several kinds of restrictions apply, depending on criteria such as the population of the area, the ecological sensitivity, the distance from the shore, and whether the area had been designated as a natural park or wildlife zone.

Why such rules?

The basic idea is: because areas immediately next to the sea are extremely delicate, home to many marine and aquatic life forms, both animals and plants, and are also threatened by climate change, they need to be protected against unregulated development.

Evolution of Rules

  • The Centre notified fresh CRZ Rules in 2011, which addressed some concerns. An exemption was made for the construction of the Navi Mumbai airport.
  • Projects of the Department of Atomic Energy, which plans to set up nuclear power plants near the coast, were exempted.
  • After even these Rules were found inadequate, however, the MoEFCC in 2014 set up a six-member committee under then Earth Sciences Secretary Shailesh Nayak to give suggestions for a new set of CRZ Rules.
  • Simultaneously, the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management defined a new high-tide line along India’s entire coastline to remove ambiguities.
  • Separately, the Survey of India defined a hazard line along the coasts — to be used mainly for disaster management planning.
  • Based on these and other inputs, the MoEFCC issued fresh CRZ Rules in December 2018, which removed certain restrictions on building, streamlined the clearance process, and aimed to encourage tourism in coastal areas.

New Rules under CRZ regulations

  • The government notified new CRZ Rules with the stated objectives of promoting sustainable development and conserving coastal environments.
  • For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated.
  • In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is now 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
  • In the CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
  • The new Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

Problems with some states

  • Despite several amendments, states found the 1991 Rules to be extremely restrictive.
  • They complained that if applied strictly, the Rules would not allow simple things like building decent homes for people living close to the coast, and carrying out basic developmental works.
  • The 1991 Rules also created hurdles for showpiece industrial and infrastructure projects such as the POSCO steel plant in Odisha and the proposed Navi Mumbai airport in the first decade of the new century.
Coastal Zones Management and Regulations

Explained: Strait of Hormuz — the world’s most important oil artery

Mains Paper 2 : India & Its Neighborhood - Relations |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Strait of Hormuz

Mains level : US-Iran turmoil and its impact on India


News

Why in news?

  • The Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond, has been at the heart of regional tensions for decades.
  • Recently two Saudi oil tankers were among vessels targeted in a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the UAE, condemning it as an attempt to undermine the security of global crude supplies.
  • Iran’s foreign ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation.

Strait of Hormuz

  • The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
  • It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points.
  • The waterway separates Iran and Oman, linking the Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
  • The Strait is 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point, but the shipping lane is just two miles (three km) wide in either direction.

Why does it matter?

  • The US Energy Information Administration estimated that 18.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of seaborne oil passed through the waterway in 2016.
  • That was about 30 per cent of crude and other oil liquids traded by sea in 2016.
  • With global oil consumption standing at about 100 million bpd, that means almost a fifth passes through the Strait.
  • Most crude exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq — all members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are shipped through the waterway.
  • It is also the route used for nearly all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced by the world’s biggest LNG exporter, Qatar.

Why always in turmoil?

  • During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the two sides sought to disrupt each other’s oil exports in what was known as the Tanker War.
  • The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting the commercial ships in the area.
  • The fleet ensures that the critical waterway remains open, provocative Iranian military maneuvers are likely in the immediate offing as is a nuclear restart.
  • Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions under a 2015 deal with the United States and five other global powers.
  • Washington pulled out of the pact in 2018. Western powers fear Iran wants to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this.
  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building more oil pipelines.

Have there been incidents in the strait before?

  • In January 2012, Iran threatened to block the Strait in retaliation for US and European sanctions that targeted its oil revenues in an attempt to stop Tehran’s nuclear programme.
  • In May 2015, Iranian ships fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform, causing the vessel to flee. It also seized a container ship in the Strait.
  • In July 2018, Iranian President hinted Iran could disrupt oil flows through the Strait in response to US calls to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
  • A Revolutionary Guards commander also said Iran would block all exports through the Strait if Iranian exports were stopped.
  • The US in turn declared the guards a terrorist organization.
Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

Herbivore census in Gujarat’s Gir forest

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Asiatic Lion Census

Mains level : Asiatic Lion Conservation Project


News

  • Every summer, the Forest Department of Gujarat conducts an Herbivore Census in Gir forest.

Herbivore Census

  • The Herbivore Census covers ungulates such as spotted deer, blue bulls (nilgais), sambars, Indian gazelles (chinkaras), four-horned antelopes (choshinga) and wild boars, as well as Indian langurs and peafowl.
  • This year’s exercise is of particular significance because it is the last Herbivore Census ahead of next year’s Lion Census, which is a once-in-five-years exercise.

Why it matters?

  • Wild ungulates and langurs are the main prey of Asiatic lions, the endangered species whose only wild population in the world is surviving in the 22,000 sq km Greater Gir area.
  • A count provides a sense of the available of the prey base for lions as well as other predators like leopards, hyenas and wolves.
  • A strong prey base can reduce depredation of livestock by lions and can reduce man-animal conflict.
  • In 2013-14, the last Herbivore Census before the previous Lion Census, the total count of all herbivores was 1.32 lakh, higher than the about 1.25 lakh counted in 2012-13.

Why it’s done in summer

  • During summer, foliage is reduced to a minimum in dry and deciduous tropical forests, which affords the best visibility for conducting a census.
  • Also, wild animals concentrate around water points, which in Gir include 450 artificial ones filled by the Forest Department.
  • The forest is divided into 19 routes and forest divisions for the census, with teams transacting routes thrice — morning, afternoon and evening — and depending on direct sighting.

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Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Project MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project MANAV

Mains level : MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative


News

  • For the first time, Indian scientists will be mapping every single tissue of the human body to have deeper understanding of the roles of tissues and cells linked to various diseases.
  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT) launched MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative towards improving knowledge on human physiology.

MANAV: Human Atlas Initiative

  • It is a project funded by DBT, which aims at creating a database network of all tissues in the human body from the available scientific literature.
  • It is a project that involves scientific skill development for annotation, science outreach along with handling big data.
  • It will involve gaining better biological insights through physiological and molecular mapping, develop disease models through predictive computing and have a holistic analysis and finally drug discovery.
  • The student community, who will be the backbone on assimilating the information, will be trained and imparted with skills to perform annotation and curation of information that will ultimately form the online network.
  • DBT has invested funds shared between two institutions in Pune – National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.
  • Besides, Persistent Systems Limited has co-funded the project and is developing the platform.

Who can participate in this project?

  • The project can be signed up by students who are in their final year graduation and above.
  • Students from the fields of biochemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, botany, zoology, bioinformatics, health sciences, systems biologists, pharmacologists and data sciences can associate with this project.
  • Even participants having a science background but not necessarily involved in active scientific research can be part of this network.
  • The MANAV team has encouraged colleges and universities to register as teams and work in this project.
  • Initially, DBT will accommodate colleges that operate the DBT Star College scheme to register for this Human Atlas programme. There is no restriction on the time period set for student participation.

How has the project been designed?

  • Once registered, the student groups will be assigned research papers or literature to be read in a time-bound manner.
  • They will be given training to perform annotation and curation activities using the specialised tools developed for this project.
  • Student groups, led by either by the HoDs or any senior researcher at the colleges, will be evaluated from time to time and their annotations will be reviewed by the trainer scientists, hailing from NCCS, IISER and other senior scientists from the team.
  • Presently, there are workshops organised to impart training to the teacher community who can then lead the student groups for this project.
  • Students will be issued certificates for their contributions based on the levels of expertise attained in annotation and for their acquired skills.
  • Initially, the project will focus on curating information revolving skin tissues.

Utility of the project

  • The aim of the project remains to understand and capture the human physiology in two stages – in a normal stage and while in a disease stage.
  • Such a database on individual tissues, once ready, can come handy in tracing the causes of a disease, understanding specific pathways and ultimately decode the body’s disease stage linked to tissues and cells.
  • The teams will also study any potent elements or molecules that have never been used in the form of drugs, to target the specific cells or tissues.

Importance

  • So far, researchers and students have had little or no expertise in reading scientific literature and develop or build further information on the same.
  • This platform will impart key skills to the student community to read classified scientific literature, in this case, on individual tissue-basis, and perform annotation and curation.
  • Since all the information generated will pass through multiple levels of reviews, it will be an Atlas or a reliable collection on human body tissues.
  • This collated data can be useful for both future researchers and parallelly, to the clinicians and drug developers, who finally handle human bodies in disease conditions.
Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Vacation Bench of Supreme Court

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vacation Bench

Mains level : Judiciary and its institutional mechanism


News

  • Recently Hon’ble Supreme Court has notified its annual summer holiday from May 13, and listed the judges who will occupy the Vacation Benches for hearing urgent matters during this period.

Vacation Bench

  • A Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court is a special bench constituted by the Chief Justice of India.
  • The court takes two long vacations each year, the summer and winter breaks, but is technically not fully closed during these periods.
  • Litigants can still approach the Supreme Court and, if the court decides that the plea is an “urgent matter”, the Vacation Bench hears the case on its merits.
  • While there is no specific definition as to what an “urgent matter” is.
  • During vacations the court generally admits writs related to habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto matters for enforcement of any fundamental right.

Legal Provisions for Vacation Bench

  • Under Rule 6 of Order II of The Supreme Court rules, 2013 the CJI has nominates the Division Benches for hearing of urgent miscellaneous matters and regular hearing matters during the summer vacation for the period.
  • The rule reads that CJI may appoint one or more Judges to hear during summer vacation or winter holidays all matters of an urgent nature which under these rules may be heard by a Judge sitting singly.
  • And, whenever necessary, he may likewise appoint a Division Court for the hearing of urgent cases during the vacation which require to be heard by a Bench of Judges.

Which else can appoint vacation bench?

  • The High Courts and trial courts too have Vacation Benches to hear urgent matters under their jurisdiction.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

Supreme Court pushes for ‘full’ strength of 31

Mains Paper 2 : Executive & Judiciary |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Collegium system

Mains level : Judiciary and associated issues


News

  • At one stroke, the Supreme Court Collegium, led by CJI has recommended two judges’ names for elevation to the apex court.
  • If the four judges are elevated without delay, the Supreme Court would reach the full sanctioned strength of 31.

Supreme Court Collegium

  • The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the CJI and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Article 124 to 147 in Part V of the Indian Constitution envisages the powers, independence and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
  • However there is no direct mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
  • This system of appointment of judges came into existence after the Third Judges Case which interpreted constitutional articles on October 28, 1998.
  • The recommendations of Collegium are binding on the government.

Size of the court

  • Initially the Constitution of India provided for a supreme court with a chief justice and 7 judges.
  • In the early years, a full bench of the Supreme Court sat together to hear the cases presented before them.
  • As the work of the court increased and cases began to accumulate, parliament increased the number of judges(including CJI) from the original 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986 and 31 in 2009 (current strength).

Eligibility of a judge of the Supreme Court

A citizen of India not exceeding 65 years age as per Article 124 of the constitution is eligible to be recommended for appointment, a judge of the Supreme Court, who has been:

  • a judge of one high court or more (continuously), for at least five years, or
  • an advocate there, for at least ten years, or
  • a distinguished jurist, in the opinion of the president, power conferred by clause(2) of article 124 of the Constitution of India
Judicial Appointments Conundrum Post-NJAC Verdict

NASA spacecraft to hit an asteroid in 2022

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : DART, Binary Asteroid System, Didymos

Mains level : Planetary Defence



News

  • NASA is planning to launch a spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will hit a small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.

DART

  • The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – Nasa’s first mission to demonstrate a planetary defence technique — is scheduled to be launched in mid-2021, the US space agency said on Monday.
  • By using solar electric propulsion, DART will intercept the target when the asteroid will be within 11 million km of Earth.
  • To navigate the DART spacecraft to its intended target — a binary asteroid that consists of a small moon (Didymos B) orbiting a larger body (Didymos A) — scientists need to understand how the system behaves.
  • Scientists have been making efforts to observe Didymos from Earth since 2015 as it is too small and too far to be seen as anything more than a point of light

Earth is a binary asteroid system. How?

  • A moonlet is a small moon whereas a binary asteroid system is a system of two asteroids orbiting their common barycentre.
  • The barycentre is the centre of mass of two or more bodies that are orbiting each other which is the point around which they both orbit.
  • The spacecraft will hit a small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos in September 2022.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Home Ministry terminates ‘Black List’ of Indian-origin people

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MHA Black list

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • The Home Ministry has decided to discard its ‘Black Lists’ of Indian-origin people.

What is Black List?

  • The list mostly is comprised of the names of people belonging to the Sikh Community, who have taken asylum abroad under the plea of alleged persecution in India.
  • The list is maintained by Indian missions abroad.
  • The Indian-origin people who took asylum abroad under the plea of alleged persecution in India are included in the list.
  • Those who are in the Black list are denied visa services by Indian missions and posts.

Implications of the move

  • As per Home Ministry officials, all such people presently in the blacklist will be given regular visa as well as Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.
  • Indian missions and posts abroad will no longer be required to maintain any such local lists, known as ‘Black lists’.
  • All such Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and their families who are not in the main adverse list of the government will now be granted a visa and consular services at par with foreigners of that country.
  • In another decision, the MHA also delegated the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) to grant permits to foreigners to visit protected and restricted area in the country.
  • The state governments along with FRROs will now to be able to grant permits for travel other than tourism in areas that were hitherto restricted areas.

Exceptions

  • Some areas in North-Eastern states, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and a few islands in Andaman and Nicobar islands are currently under restricted and protected areas.
  • Foreigners are required to take special permissions to visit such places.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Sub-categorization of OBCs

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various commissions mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Sub-categorization of OBCs


News

G. Rohini Commission Recommendations

  • The commission to examine sub-categorization of OBCs is all set to recommend a fixed quota.
  • It is possibly between 8 and 10 per cent of the 27 per cent OBC quota for about 1,900 of the 2,633 castes on the central list.
  • This is the first government-mandated exercise to quantify the skewed flow of benefits among different OBC communities and suggest steps to correct the imbalance.

Why sub-categorization?

  • Presently, half of these 1,900-odd castes have availed less than three per cent of reservation in jobs and education, and the rest availed zero benefits during the last five years.
  • The central government had appointed the Commission under Justice (Retd) G Rohini in October, 2017.
  • Five-year data on OBC quota implementation in central jobs and higher educational institutions showed that a very small section has cornered the lion’s share.
  • A/c to the Commission, the classification is based on relative benefits availed and not relative social backwardness, which involves parameters such as social status, traditional occupations, religion, etc.
  • Using the quantum of benefits enjoyed by different communities to sub-categorise OBCs is a major departure from recommendations of several Commissions in the past.

History of Sub-categorization

  • Till date, sub-categorization of OBCs as recommended by a few Commissions and implemented by some states has all used indicators of social backwardness as the criteria.
  • The First Backward Class Commission report of 1955, also known as the Kalekar report, had proposed sub-categorisation of OBCs into backward and extremely backward communities.
  • In the Mandal Commission report of 1979, a dissent note by member L R Naik proposed sub-categorisation in intermediate and depressed backward classes.
  • In 2015, former National Commission for OBCs under Justice (Retd) Eswaraiah asked for sub-categorisation within OBCs into Extremely Backward Classes (Group A), More Backward Classes (Group B) and Backward Classes (Group C).

Reservation based on representation and not backwardness

  • Presently, ten states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Jammu, have sub-categorised OBCs.
  • They used varying criteria, including the ascribed status such as denotified, nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes, the religion of a community, caste status before conversion to Christianity or Islam, and perceived status socially or traditional occupation.
  • The Justice Rohini Commission, however, had held that the many communities who are extremely backward in this status show significant representation in jobs and higher education.
  • Even within the DNT communities that are classified under OBC, those that are more isolated in terms of their small numbers or scattered populations have been unable to get the benefit of reservations.
  • The Commission had clarified its stand on fixing OBC quotas based on current representation in reserved seats, and not on social hierarchy.

Conclusion

  • Sub-categorization of the OBCs need not imply establishing a further social hierarchy within the communities included in the Central List on the basis of relative lowness or otherwise of their ascribed social status or traditional occupation.
  • All communities included in the Central list of OBCs are socially and educationally backward — which is a precedent condition for such inclusion — and thus deserving of reservations in education and recruitment.
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Indian scientists discover how serotonin helps brain cells cope with stress

Mains Paper 3 : Achievements Of Indians In S&T |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Serotonin

Mains level : Serotonin and its uses


News

  • Indian scientists have discovered that serotonin boosts energy production in brain cells and helps them survive under stress. This new knowledge can potentially be used to develop anti-stress drugs in future.

Role of Serotonin

  • Serotonin is a chemical that relays information from one part of the brain to another and is known to play a key role in a number of functions ranging from sleep to social behaviour.
  • The study by scientists at the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has found that the neurotransmitter boosts the number of mitochondria in brain cells.
  • Mitochondria in brain cells generate energy to carry out cellular functions and play a role in survival of brain cells under stress.
  • In addition, serotonin also increases production of energy by mitochondria.
  • This role of serotonin in regulating neuronal energetics was not known till now.

Benefits of Serotonin

  • Serotonin reduces toxic reactive oxygen species in neurons, boosts anti-oxidant enzymes and buffers neurons from the damaging effects of cellular stress.
  • The study has uncovered an unprecedented role of serotonin in energy production in neurons, directly impacting how neurons handle stress.
  • It has also identified novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

Energy boosting function

  • Researchers have also found out the mechanism through which serotonin carries out its energy boosting function.
  • It has emerged that generation of new mitochondria in neurons by serotonin is accompanied by increased cellular respiration and energy chemical ATP.
  • These effects of serotonin involve the serotonin2A receptor and master regulators of mitochondrial generation – SIRT1 and PGC-1a.
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Sand, a global sustainability challenge: UN report

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Illegal sand mining in India


News

  • The UNEP has released a report, Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources.
  • It highlights a problem that has largely stayed under the radar: sand consumption globally has been increasing and we are extracting it at rates exceeding natural replenishment rates.

Sand Mining

  • Sand and gravel are the second largest natural resources extracted and traded by volume after water, but among the least regulated.
  • Sand is created by slow geological processes, and its distribution is not even.
  • Desert sand, available in plenty, is not suited for construction use because it is wind-smoothed, and therefore non-adherent.
  • While 85% to 90% of global sand demand is met from quarries, and sand and gravel pits, the 10% to 15% extracted from rivers and sea shores is a severe concern due the environmental and social impacts.
  • Aggregates (a term for crushed rock, sand and gravels used in construction materials) are necessary for building the infrastructure the world needs, especially developing countries bringing their populations out of poverty.
  • Quoting studies, the report estimates that a 40-50 billion tonne of crushed rock, sand and gravel is extracted from quarries, pits, rivers, coastlines and the marine environment each year.
  • The construction industry consumes over half of this, and will consume even more in the future.

Hazards of excessive mining

  • Their extraction often results in river and coastal erosion and threats to freshwater and marine fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, instability of river banks leading to increased flooding, and lowering of ground water levels.
  • The report notes that China and India head the list of critical hotspots for sand extraction impacts in rivers, lakes and on coastlines.
  • Most large rivers of the world have lost between half and 95% of their natural sand and gravel delivery to ocean the report says.
  • The damming of rivers for hydro-electricity production or irrigation is reducing the amount of sediment flowing downstream.
  • This broken replenishment system exacerbates pressures on beaches already threatened by sea level rise and intensity of storm-waves induced by climate change, as well as coastal developments.
  • There are also indirect consequences, like loss of local livelihoods — an ironic example is that construction in tourist destinations can lead to depletion of natural sand in the area, thereby making those very places unattractive — and safety risks for workers where the industry is not regulated.

China and India: Leading in global infrastructure

  • China increased its concrete use by 540% in the last 20 years, exceeding the use of all the other countries combined.
  • Even as domestic consumption rates begin to stabilize, China overseas investment in infrastructure development through the Belt and Road Initiative will drive demand for aggregates in approximately 70 countries.
  • Furthermore, domestic demand in India is expected to drive strong future growth in Asia.

India leads in reusing

  • The alternative substitute materials the report points to, are several from India, including oil palm shell, waste foundry sand, crushed tiles, granite powder, mine waste, bottom ash, and discarded rubber.
  • It also cites the use in India of non-toxic municipal waste in road-building.

Way Forward

  • The report suggests better spatial planning and reducing unnecessary construction — including speculative projects or those being done mainly for prestige — thereby making more efficient use of aggregates.
  • It calls for investing in infrastructure maintenance and retrofitting rather than the demolish and rebuild cycle, embracing alternative design and construction methods, even avoiding use of cement and concrete where possible, and using green infrastructure.
  • The report concludes with a call for large-scale multipronged actions from global to local levels, involving public, private and civil society organisations.
  • This will mean building consensus, defining what success would look like, and reconciling policies and standards with sand availability, development imperatives and standards and enforcement realities.
Coal and Mining Sector