North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Article 371A and Nagaland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 370 and 371

Mains level : Naga Peace Accord and its outcomes

In a scathing letter to CM, Nagaland Governor has said the “scenario in the State is grim” and that “law and order has collapsed”.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the success of Naga Peace Accord in light of the ongoing law and order crisis in the state.

Nagaland (Article 371A, 13th Amendment Act, 1962)

  • Parliament cannot legislate in matters of Naga religion or social practices, the Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law.
  • Parliament also cannot intervene in ownership and transfer of land and its resources, without the concurrence of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
  • This provision was inserted in the Constitution after a 16-point agreement between the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
  • Also, there is a provision for a 35-member Regional Council for Tuensang district, which elects the Tuensang members in the Assembly.
  • A member from the Tuensang district is Minister for Tuensang Affairs. The Governor has the final say on all Tuensang-related matters.

What is the issue?

  • Challenging the legitimacy of the government without any resistance from the State law and order machinery has created a crisis of confidence in the system.
  • The constitutional establishment is being challenged on a day-to-day basis by armed gangs who question the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.
  • The instruments of law and order have remained totally unresponsive.

Armed militancy is back again

  • Their armed miscreants appoint their own dealers for every commodity from salt to construction material coming into the State and levy illegal taxes on every item.
  • There is over 200% cost escalation in transportation the moment a goods laden truck enters Nagaland due to gunpoint extortions by the armed miscreants.

History- Important places, persons in news

Sukapha: The founder of Ahom kingdom

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ahom Kingdom

Mains level : Not Much

Recently, Assam CM ordered the arrest of a political commentator who had described Chaolung Sukapha as a “Chinese invader”.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Who are the Ahoms? Describe the role of Ahom Kingdom in cultural assimilation of modern-day Assam.

Who was Chaolung Sukapha?

  • Sukapha was a 13th-century ruler who founded the Ahom kingdom that ruled Assam for six centuries. Contemporary scholars trace his roots to Burma.
  • He reached Brahmaputra valley in Assam from upper Burma in the 13th century with around 9,000 followers.
  • Sukapha is said to have left a place called Maulung ( in Yunnan, China ) in AD 1215 with eight nobles and 9,000 men, women and children — mostly men.
  • In 1235, Sukapha and his people settled in Charaideo in upper Assam after wandering about for years, defeating those who protested his advance and temporarily staying at different locations.
  • It was in Charaideo (in Assam) that Sukapha established his first small principality, sowing the seeds of further expansion of the Ahom kingdom.

Who are the Ahoms today?

  • The founders of the Ahom kingdom had their own language and followed their own religion.
  • Over the centuries, the Ahoms accepted the Hindu religion and the Assamese language, scholars say.
  • The Ahoms embraced the language, religion and rituals of the communities living here — they did not impose theirs on those living here.
  • Today, the Ahom community is estimated to number between 4 million and 5 million.

Why is Sukapha important in Assamese culture?

  • Sukapha’s significance — especially in today’s Assam — lies in his successful efforts towards the assimilation of different communities and tribes.
  • He developed very amicable relationships with the tribal communities living here — especially the Sutias, the Morans and the Kacharis.
  • Intermarriage also increased assimilation processes. He is widely referred to as the architect of “Bor Asom” or “greater Assam”.

Interstate River Water Dispute

Vamsadhara River Water Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vamsadhara River, Inter-state water dispute

Mains level : Inter-state water dispute

Andhra Pradesh  and Odisha CM recently held talks to iron out all differences with regard to the sharing of Vamsadhara River waters.

Note all major rivers over which inter-state disputes exist say Narmada, Mahadayi, Cauvery, Krishna, etc. Observe their flow and the area swept.

Also, refer your atlas to check the complicated border sharings between Chhatisgarh, AP/Telangana and Odisha.

Vamsadhara River

  • River Vamsadhara is an important east-flowing river between Rushikulya and Godavari, in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The river originates in the border of Thuamul Rampur in the Kalahandi district and Kalyansinghpur in Rayagada district of Odisha.
  • It runs for a distance of about 254 kilometres, where it joins the Bay of Bengal at Kalingapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The total catchment area of the river basin is about 10,830 square kilometres.

The dispute

  • Andhra Pradesh wants to build the Neradi bridge across the river which will be possible only after Odisha’s consent.
  • Odisha argues that the flood flow canal would result in drying up the existing river bed and consequent shifting of the river affecting the groundwater table.
  • Odisha also raised the issue of scientific assessment of available water in Vamsadhara at Katragada and Gotta Barrage, Andhra Pradesh and the basis for sharing the available water.

Back2Basics: Interstate River Water Disputes

  • River waters use/harnessing is included in states jurisdiction. However, article 262 of the Constitution provides for the adjudication of inter-state water disputes.
  • Under this, Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • The President of India may also establish an interstate council as per Article 263 to inquire and recommend on the dispute that has arisen between the states
  • The Parliament has enacted the two laws, the River Boards Act (1956) and the Inter-State Water Disputes Act (1956).
  • Under this, Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution and control of waters of any inter-state river and river valley.
  • The Inter-State Water Disputes Act empowers the Central government to set up an ad hoc tribunal for the adjudication of a dispute between two or more states in relation to the waters of an inter-state river or river valley.
  • The award of the tribunal is final and binding on the parties to the dispute.
  • Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court is to have jurisdiction in respect of any water dispute which may be referred to such a tribunal under this Act.

New Species of Plants and Animals Discovered

Species in news: Puntius Sanctus fish

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Puntius Sanctus

Mains level : NA

Velankanni in Tamil Nadu has thrown up a new species of small freshwater fish.

Last year one species from our newscard: Species in news: Hump-backed Mahseer made it into the CSP 2019.  The ‘Puntius Sanctus’ fish in the newscard creates such a vibe yet again.

A stand-alone species being mentioned in the news for the first time (and that too from Southern India) find their way into the prelims. Make special note here.

Q. Consider the following pairs

Wildlife Naturally found in
1. Blue-finned Mahseer Cauvery River
2. Irrawaddy Dolphin Chambal River
3. Rusty-spotted Cat Eastern Ghats

Which of the pairs given correctly matched? (CSP 2019)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Puntius Sanctus

  • The silver-hued fish has been named Puntius Sanctus — ‘Sanctus’ is Latin for holy — after the popular pilgrim town.
  • Encountered in a small waterbody in Venlankanni, Puntius Sanctus is small, it grows to a length of 7 cm.
  • It found to use both as food and as an aquarium draw.
  • “The Puntius species are known locally as ‘Paral’ in Kerala and ‘Kende’ in Tamil Nadu.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyaya Yojana in Chhattisgarh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyaya Yojana

Mains level : Various income support mechanisms for farmer

The Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyaya Yojana has been approved by the Chhattisgarh state govt. on 19th death anniversary of the former Prime Minister, yesterday.

Practice question for Mains:

Q. Various income support mechanisms for farmers are more of a populist measure with no impact on ground zero. Critically examine.

Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyaya Yojana

  • It is a new income support programme under which Farmers in Chhattisgarh would get up to ₹13,000 an acre a year.
  • Rice and maize farmers would get ₹10,000 an acre while sugarcane farmers would get ₹13,000. The money would be distributed in four instalments.
  • In the first instalment, ₹1,500 crores would be distributed among 18 lakh farmers, more than 80% of the small and marginal.
  • The scheme would cover rice, maize and sugarcane farmers to begin with, and would expand to other crops later.

Benefits of the scheme

  • This will help farmers through the agricultural cycle and hopefully help with extension activities.
  • The injection of cash among the rural population would generate a demand that shielded Chhattisgarh from the economic slowdown last year.
  • This will reduce distress migration, and enhance food security for the State.

J&K – The issues around the state

Jammu and Kashmir notifies amended domicile certificate rules

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : New domicile rules for Jammu and Kashmir.

The J&K administration has notified the J&K grant of domicile certificate procedure rules 2020 and set a fast track process in motion to issue the certificates within a stipulated time of 15 days.

Practice mains question:

Discuss how the new domicile rules for the UT of Jammu and Kashmir would enable its full integration with the mainstream India.

New domicile rules

  • Domicile certificates have now been made a basic eligibility condition for appointment to any post under the Union Territory of J&K following the amendments in the previous Act.
  • These rules provide a simple time-bound and transparent procedure for issuance of domicile certificates in such a manner that no category of person is put to any inconvenience.
  • There is a timeline of 15 days for issuance of certificates. Under the amended rules, eligible non-locals can also apply for the certificate.
  • To make the process transparent and time-bound, any officer not able to issue the certificate would be penalized ₹50,000. The amount would be recovered from his salary.
  • The new process will allow West Pakistan refugees, safai karamcharis and children of women who married non-locals to apply for jobs here.

Who can avail the domicile certificates?

  • All Permanent Resident Certificate holders and their children living outside J&K can apply for the certificates.
  • Kashmiri migrants living in or outside J&K can get domicile certificates by simply producing their Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC), ration card copy, voter card or any other valid document.
  • A special window is also provided to migrants who have not registered with the Relief and Rehabilitation department.
  • Bonafide migrants can apply with the Relief and Rehabilitation department by providing documents like electoral rolls of 1988, proof of registration as a migrant in any State in the country or any other valid document.

Earlier Criteria for Domiciles

Satisfying any of the criteria mentioned below, a person would be deemed as a domicile of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir:

  • A person who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or
  • A person who has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th/12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K
  • Someone who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants)
  • Children of Central government officials, All India Services, PSUs, autonomous body of Centre, Public Sector Banks, officials of statutory bodies, Central Universities, recognised research institutes of Centre who have served in J&K for a total period of 10 years
  • Children of such residents of J&K who reside outside J&K in connection with their employment or business or other professional or vocational reasons but their parents fulfil any of the conditions provided

Job criteria for new domiciles

  • The domiciles will be eligible for the purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level 4.
  • The Level 4 post comprises positions such as gardeners, barbers, office peons and waterman and the highest rank in the category is that of a junior assistant.
  • The reservation for domiciles would not apply to Group A and Group B posts, and like other UTs, recruitment would be done by the UPSC.

Must read:

[Burning Issues] J&K New Domicile Rules

Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

AMMA Canteen and its success

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amma Canteen

Mains level : Food subsidization and its impact

The Amma Canteen, a delivery system to provide urban food security in Tamil Nadu, has become an effective mechanism in reaching the needy during the lockdown.

AMMA Canteen

  • Amma Unavagam better known as Amma Canteen is a food subsidization programme run by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
  • Under the scheme, municipal corporations of the state-run canteens serving subsidised food at low prices.
  • The dishes are offered at low prices: ₹1 for an idli, ₹5 for a plate of sambar rice, ₹5 for a plate of “Karuvapellai Satham” (Curry leaves rice) and ₹3 for a plate of curd rice.

Feeding the stranded

  • Migrants usually benefit from this canteen scheme.  It is not uncommon to see policemen, municipal workers and people from the media having their breakfast in these canteens.
  • The system, in short, has ensured urban food security and is a boon to migrants during lockdown. There are, thus, unexpected but pleasant benefits from this scheme.

Reasons for success

  • It is a delivery system with minimum leakages and has reached to its target group very effectively compared to the PDS system.
  • People realized the benefits of the scheme in due course of time and thus it emerged popularly.

A lesson for all

  • Welfare schemes are started with the intention to provide benefits to vulnerable sections of society.
  • The success of any welfare scheme depends on the seriousness of the people at the helm of affairs, the efficiency of the scheme’s functionaries and the involvement of the people.
  • During the process of implementation, some deserving people get excluded from the scheme, while some of those who were undeserving manage to enjoy its benefits.
  • Welfare schemes deliver unexpected but pleasant benefits sometimes.

Way forward

  • For such a welfare scheme to be successful, it must be launched in letter and spirit.
  • The benefits of the schemes cannot be realized at pan India level in the absence of a good delivery system.
  • These states should explore the possibility of utilising available infrastructure in existing private canteens and hotels (closed during lockdown).
  • This measure would not only help migrant workers but also provide employment to workers who remained unemployed since the lockdown came into effect.

J&K – The issues around the state

J&K Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Administrative changes in the state

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has promulgated the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020, which comes into force with immediate effect.
  • Earlier this month order for an adaptation of Central Laws was also promulgated. It ordered application of 37 central laws envisaged in the Concurrent List to the newly formed UT.

About the Order

  • Issued by the Department of J&K and Ladakh Affairs, the Order stems from Section 96 of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019.
  • The Act was a consequence of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and it reorganized the State into two UTs.
  • The Order notifies changes in the J&K Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment) Act (hereafter, “Civil Services Act”), which defines “domicile” for employment in the region
  • Domicile Criteria
    Under the newly inserted Section 3A of the Civil Services Act which is regarding domicile for purposes of appointment to any service in UT of J&K.A person will have to fulfill the following conditions to be deemed to be a domicile of the UT of J&K:
  • She/he has to have resided for period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of 7 years and appeared in Class 10th/12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K; or
    She/he is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) in the UT of J&K.
  • Scope of Section 3A
  • Children of those fulfilling the aforementioned conditions are also deemed to be included.
  • Section 3A also goes on to include children of those Central Government Officials, All India Services Officers, Officials of PSUs and Autonomous body of Central Government, PSBs, etc. who have served in J&K for a total period of ten years.
  • Additionally, it includes those children of such residents of UT of J&K who reside outside the UT of J&K in connection with their employment or business or other professional and vocational reasons, but the parents fulfill the conditions provided under Section 3A(1).

Job reservations

  • Section 5A provides for the domicile reservation for the purpose of appointment of any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level-04 under the UT of J&K or under local or any other (other than cantonment board) within the UT of J&K.
  • Therefore, lowest level of non-gazetted rank jobs would be reserved exclusively for the Jammu and Kashmir domiciles.

Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Haryana’s ‘quota within SC quota

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quota within Quota

Mains level : Making reservation system more efficient

The Haryana Assembly last week passed a Bill to split the 20% quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the state’s higher educational institutions into two, creating a quota within the quota for a new group of “Deprived Scheduled Castes”.

Deprived Scheduled Castes

  • This category has 36 communities including Valmiki, Bazigar, Sansi, Deha, Dhanak, and Sapera.

What does the new law say?

  • Fifty per cent of the 20 per cent seats reserved for SCs for admission in any Government educational institution shall be set aside for candidates belonging to DSCs.
  • Where a seat set aside for candidate from deprived Scheduled Castes is not filled up in any academic year due to non-availability of such candidate; it shall be made available to candidate of Scheduled Castes.

Constitutional Provisions incited

  • Article 15(5) of the Constitution authorizes the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SCs/STs for admission to educational institutions.
  • However Article 15(5) did not mention powers to bifurcate the quota.

Is this sub-quota a new idea?

  • The present Haryana government has replicated the initiative of the state government in 1994.
  • Then government bifurcated the Scheduled Caste quota into two categories: Block A and Block B.

Why such move?

  • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act says that the representation of the SCs now categorised as DSCs” is “only 4.7%, 4.14% and 6.27% in Group A, Group B and Group C services respectively, even though their population is about 11% of the total State population.
  • The population of other SCs in Haryana is also about 11% of the total State population but in respect of representation in Government Services their share is 11%, 11.31% and 11.8% in Group A, B and C, respectively.”
  • The reason for the poor representation of the DSCs in government jobs can be found in their educational qualifications.
  • Thus, even though the “minimum prescribed educational qualification for majority of the posts of Group A, B & C services… is Graduation, the Socio-Economic Caste Census data reveals that in terms of education.
  • Only 3.53% population of the DSCs is Graduate, 3.75% of them are Senior Secondary level and 6.63% are Matric/Secondary level. Also 46.75% of them are illiterate.

Gairsain as new summer capital of Uttarakhand

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gairsain

Mains level : Two/Three capitals concept

 

 

Uttarakhand govt names Gairsain as the new summer capital of the state.

Gairsain

  • Gairsain is situated at the eastern edge of the vast Dudhatoli mountain range, located almost at the centre of the state, at a distance of approximately 250 kilometres from Dehradun.
  • It is easily accessible from both the Garhwal and the Kumaon divisions, and in a way, acts as the bridge between the two regions.
  • Uttarakhand was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh in 1998.
  • Gairsain was best suited to be the capital of the mountainous state as it was a hilly region falling on the border of Kumaon and Garhwal regions.
  • But it was Dehradun, located in the plains that served as the temporary capital.
  • With the fresh announcement, there is no clarity on either the city’s current status or a new winter capital.
  • The state Assembly is located in Dehradun, but sessions are held in Gairsain as well.

Seeds, Pesticides and Mechanization – HYV, Indian Seed Congress, etc.

Hazards of using fertilizers in Punjab

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Phosphatic fertilizers

Mains level : Health hazards of indirect fertilizers poisoning

 

Studies have pegged consumption of phosphatic fertilizers in Punjab at ten times higher than the national average. Thence media has consistently reported on cancer deaths in the Malwa region of Punjab.

What are phosphatic fertilizers?

  • Phosphatic fertilizers are chemical substances that contain the nutrient phosphorus in an absorbable form (Phosphate anions) or that yield after conversion in the soil.
  • Phosphates help plants store energy, root well, flower and produce fruit.
  • The DAP or Diammonium Phosphate is the widely used phosphatic fertilizer in our country.
  • The total fertilizer consumption in India is 27 million tones, out of which about 20-25 per cent of phosphorous and nitrogen-based nutrients are dependent on imports from the United States, Jordan, Iran, Oman, China, Russia, Morocco, Israel, Lithuania and Egypt.

Hazards of phosphatic fertilizers

  • Pursuant to the disquieting reports from the area, BARC in 2013 analysed fertilizer and soil samples from the Malwa region and discovered heavy concentration of Uranium.
  • According to the report, Uranium concentration in DAP was around 91.77 parts per million (ppm), which was way beyond the permissible limit.
  • It is also a fact that the fertiliser industry in India does not follow all procedures and protocols essential for decontamination of imported phosphatic rock associated with traces of Uranium.
  • There is yet another theory which does not support the fertiliser route for Uranium ingestion through food chain, but emphasises on the geogenic factors for the possible presence of Uranium in the groundwater samples.
  • Higher concentrations of Uranium are present in certain types of soils and rocks, especially granite.
  • All the three isotopes of Uranium (U-234, U-235, U-238) have a half-life period ranging from 0.25 million years to 4.47 billion years, indicating their relative stability.

Increasing Uranium contamination

  • Presence of Uranium is widespread, and according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, its normal concentration in soil is between 300 microgram per kg (ug/kg) and 11.7 milligram per kg (mg/kg).
  • In the Indian context, contamination of Uranium in Punjab’s groundwater has been a problem since the early 2000s.
  • High levels of uranium found in the fertile Malwa region along with industrial effluents leads to a bigger problem as it contaminates the groundwater.
  • The presence of bicarbonates, nitrate, chloride anions and soil is calcareous since the carbonic acid created in the process enhances leaching efficiency of uranium from soils and sediments.

Matter of urgent importance

  • With no guidelines or acceptable standards by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) regarding the amount of uranium in fertilizers produced in India, we are on a dead track.
  • Authorities’ concerned need to take cognizance and invest in less expensive R&D of the decontamination process.
  • At the same time, it is also necessary to specify the acceptable limit of Uranium in groundwater.

Back2Basics

Complete details of fertilizers

http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/agriculture/agri_nutrientmgt_fertilizers.html

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Delhi’s ‘Happiness Class’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Happiness Curriculum

Mains level : Happiness Curriculum and its significance

 

On the upcoming visit to India, US President Trump will visit a Delhi government school, where they will attend a happiness curriculum class.

What is Delhi’s ‘happiness curriculum’?

  • The curriculum calls for schools in India to promote development in cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and the arts along with addressing the well-being and happiness of students.
  • It further says that future citizens need to be “mindful, aware, awakened, empathetic, firmly rooted in their identity…” based on the premise that education has a larger purpose, which cannot be in isolation from the “dire needs” of today’s society.
  • For the evaluation, no examinations are conducted, neither will marks be awarded.
  • The assessment under this curriculum is qualitative, focusing on the “process rather than the outcome” and noting that each student’s journey is unique and different.

Objectives of the curriculum

The objectives of this curriculum include:

  • developing self-awareness and mindfulness,
  • inculcating skills of critical thinking and inquiry,
  • enabling learners to communicate effectively and
  • helping learners to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them

Learning outcomes of this curriculum

The learning outcomes of this curriculum are spread across four categories:

  • becoming mindful and attentive (developing increased levels of self-awareness, developing active listening, remaining in the present);
  • developing critical thinking and reflection (developing strong abilities to reflect on one’s own thoughts and behaviours, thinking beyond stereotypes and assumptions);
  • developing social-emotional skills (demonstrating empathy, coping with anxiety and stress, developing better communication skills) and
  • developing a confident and pleasant personality (developing a balanced outlook on daily life reflecting self-confidence, becoming responsible and reflecting awareness towards cleanliness, health and hygiene).

How is the curriculum implemented?

  • The curriculum is designed for students of classes nursery through the eighth standard.
  • Group 1 consists of students in nursery and KG, who have bi-weekly classes (45 minutes each for one session, which is supervised by a teacher) involving mindfulness activities and exercise.
  • Children between classes 1-2 attend classes on weekdays, which involves mindfulness activities and exercises along with taking up reflective questions.
  • The second group comprises students from classes 3-5 and the third group is comprised of students from classes 6-8 who apart from the aforementioned activities, take part in self-expression and reflect on their behavioural changes.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan

Mains level : Various schemes for drought management

 

Jalyukta Shivar, the flagship water conservation project launched by the earlier government has been officially scrapped by the present Maha government.

What is Jalyukta Shivar?

  • Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts, the project aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
  • Nearly 52 per cent of the state’s geographical area is prone to drought, either naturally or due to poor rainfall.
  • This includes Marathwada and adjoining areas of Madhya Maharashtra and large parts of Vidarbha.
  • The project targeted strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
  • Tasks to widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams were proposed.
  • In the first phase, planned during 2015 – 2019, Jalyukta Shivar envisaged making 5,000 villages drought-free, every year.
  • During its proposed tenure, the government eyed at making 25,000 drought-prone villages water-sufficient.

Was Jalyukta Shivar beneficial?

  • While the exact number of villages that were declared drought-free remains unknown, the programme attempted to bring water stress down in a majority of the most water-scarce villages in the state.
  • In January last year, then CM had announced that the scheme had transformed 16,000 drought-prone villages of Maharashtra.

What is the future of water conservation in the state?

  • Geologists and hydrologists, who worked on implementing the project, shared similar views and hailed Jalyukta Shivar.
  • This was mainly due to the interventions undertaken in the existing water reserves, planned de-silting activities, among many others.
  • However, experts agreed that the scheme was not appropriately implemented.
  • Now with Jalyukta Shivar no longer in existence, focused efforts of the past five years, in most likelihood, will go down the drain unless a similar scheme is introduced.
  • With rainfall variations getting more pronounced, in addition to depleting groundwater reserves, the state will need concrete interventions to tackle future water requirements.

Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Buddah Nullah

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Buddah Nullah

Mains level : Canal irrigation system and its limitations

The Punjab govt. has approved ₹650 crore in the first phase for rejuvenation of the highly polluting Buddah Nullah — a seasonal tributary of Sutlej in Ludhiana.

Buddah Nullah

  • Buddah Nullah or Budha Nala is a seasonal water stream that runs through the Malwa region of Punjab.
  • It passes through highly populated Ludhiana and drains into Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus river.
  • It has also become a major source of pollution in the region as well the main Sutlej river, as it gets polluted after entering the highly populated and industrialized Ludhiana city, turning it into an open drain.
  • Also, since a large area in south-western Punjab solely depend on the canal water for irrigation, and water from Buddha Nullah enters various canals after Harike waterworks.

Why such move?

  • The pollution in the Buddah Nullah is a major threat to public health and environment and the main sources of pollution in the nullah are direct flow of pollutants by industries and dairies.
  • Also, treated effluents from existing STPs, based on UASB technology, does not meet the required quality and overflow from sewer lines add to the problem.
  • The NGT has already directed the government to take proactive steps to immediately address the problem.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Arsenic Contamination

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arsenic poisoning and its effects on food chain

Mains level : Groundwater contamination

As the geography of arsenic contamination spreads, there is an urgent need for governments to reorient mitigation measures. That’s because the focus till now has only been on drinking water, but new research says arsenic has contaminated our food chain.

Arsenic contamination of water

  • Arsenic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India.
  • According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the BIS stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 milligram per litre (mg/l).
  • The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam — are the worst affected by this human-amplified geogenic occurrence.
  • In India, arsenic contamination was first officially confirmed in West Bengal in 1983.
  • Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened.
  • About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater.

Effects of arsenic poisoning

  • Long-term exposure to arsenic in drinking water can cause cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. It can also cause other skin changes such as thickening and pigmentation.
  • The likelihood of effects is related to the level of exposure to arsenic and in areas where drinking water is heavily contaminated, these effects can be seen in many individuals in the population.
  • Increased risks of lung and bladder cancer and skin changes have been reported in people ingesting arsenic in drinking water at concentrations of 50 µg/litre, or even lower.

Affecting food

  • Recent research says arsenic contamination in groundwater has penetrated the food chain.
  • It eventually causes photo-accumulation of arsenic in the food crops, especially in the leaves, can emanate from contaminated water sprayed on them.
  • Yet the focus remained on drinking water, and the affected regions became the primary stake-holder in the mitigation approach.

Way forward

  • Mitigation measures — that are currently focused on drinking water — must have a more comprehensive approach to ensure arsenic-free water for drinking and agricultural products.
  • That means that the government must check for arsenic in water used for agricultural produce.
  • Both the Union and state governments must work toward facilitating research that can investigate the accumulation of arsenic in crops and addressing the agricultural concerns of the affected regions.
  • They must watch out for arsenic percolation in the food chain and the possibilities of biomagnification.
  • The government needs to also conduct a larger study on the arsenic contamination of our food chain and its health impacts to understand its spatial spread through the agricultural supply chain.

Human Rights Issues

Karnataka Anti-superstition Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Superstitions and associated socail injustice

A controversial anti-superstition law in Karnataka was formally notified by the current government.

Provisions of the earlier drafts

  • The law, which was initially drafted as the Karnataka Anti Superstition Bill, 2013, was a pet project of former CM Siddaramaiah.
  • The model Bill held human dignity as its central tenet and sought eradication of irrational practices found in different communities.
  • The first draft made practices like inflicting self-wounds and conversion through bribery illegal.
  • Some of the proposals opposed by religious leaders and political parties in the early draft were the ban on practices such as the carrying of priests in palanquins, worshipping the feet of religious leaders.
  • It sought to ban Made Snana practised in the Dakshina Kannada region where Dalits roll over the remains of food consumed by upper castes.

The current version

  • A Bill with sizable consensus across the political spectrum finally evolved in 2017. A total of 16 practices have been banned under the law.
  • The practice of Vaastu, astrology, pradakshina or circumabulation of holy places, yatras, parikramas performed at religious places were kept out of the purview of the law.
  • Made Snana was banned under the law with respect to having Dalits roll over leftover food.
  • The practice has now been modified to be voluntary and not involving leftover food.
  • Practices such as barring menstruating women from entering houses of worship and their homes, coercing people to take part in fire-walks, and beating up people by declaring them evil, are among the irrational practices that have been banned under the 2017 law.

Penalties

  • The law stipulates “imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to seven years and with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees”, as punishment for violations.
  • The law is to implemented by the state police with the appointment of vigilance officers under the law at police stations.

Legislative Council in States: Issues & Way Forward

Legislative Councils and its abolition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Legislative Councils

Mains level : Need for Legislative Councils

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly recently passed a resolution to abolish the state’s Legislative Council (LC).

Legislative Councils

  • The LC or Vidhan Parishad is the upper house in those states that have a bicameral legislature; the lower house being the State Legislative Assembly.
  • Its establishment is defined in Article 169 of the Constitution of India.
  • Each Member of the State LC serves for a six-year term, with terms staggered so that the terms of one third of a State Legislative Council’s membership expire every two years.
  • This arrangement parallels that for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.
  • Q member of LC must be a citizen of India, at least 30 years old, mentally sound, not an insolvent, and must be enrolled on the voters’ list of the state for which he or she is contesting an election.
  • Under Article 171, a Council cannot have more than a third of the number of MLAs in the state, and not less than 40 members.

Representation in an LC

MLCs are chosen in the following manner:

  • One third are elected by the members of local bodies such as municipalities, Gram panchayats, Panchayat samitis and district councils.
  • One third are elected by the members of Legislative Assembly of the State from among the persons who are not members of the State Legislative Assembly.
  • One sixth are nominated by the governor from persons having knowledge or practical experience in fields such as literature, science, arts, the co-operative movement and social service.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons who are graduates of three years’ standing residing in that state.
  • One twelfth are elected by persons engaged for at least three years in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower than secondary schools, including colleges and universities.

Abolition of LC

  • Article 169(1) of the Constitution allows Parliament to either create or abolish a Council in a state “if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect.
  • The resolution must by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting.

Councils in the Constitution

  • Under Article 168, states can have either one or two Houses of legislature. Article 169 leaves the choice of having a Vidhan Parishad to individual states.
  • The Constituent Assembly was divided on having a second chamber in the states.
  • It was argued that a second House can help check hasty actions by the directly elected House, and also enable non-elected persons to contribute to the legislative process.
  • However, it was also felt that some of the poorer states could ill afford the extravagance of two Houses.
  • It has been pointed out that the Councils can be used to delay important legislation, and to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.

Councils in other states

  • Besides Andhra Pradesh, five other states have Vidhan Parishads — Bihar (58 members), Karnataka (75), Maharashtra (78), Telangana (40), UP (100).
  • Jammu and Kashmir had a Council until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  • In 1986, the M G Ramachandran government in Tamil Nadu abolished the Council.
  • The DMK government passed a law revives it, but the subsequent J Jayalalithaa-led government withdrew it after coming to power in 2010.
  • The Odisha Assembly has passed a resolution for a Legislative Council. Proposals to create Councils in Rajasthan and Assam are pending in Rajya Sabha.

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

Punjab’s new Right to Business Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Right to Business

Mains level : Various mover for the MSME sector

The Punjab Cabinet this week gave its approval to a Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020, a law aimed at ensuring ease of doing business for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

Punjab Right to Business Bill, 2020

  • Under the law, an MSME unit can be set up after ‘In-Principle’ approval from the District Bureau of Enterprise, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, working under the guidance of the State Nodal Agency, headed by the Director, Industries.
  • Approval for units in approved Industrial Parks will be given in three working days.
  • For new enterprises outside approved Industrial Parks, the decision on the Certificate shall be taken by the District Level Nodal Agency within 15 working days, as per the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee.

What is the timeframe for unit owners to comply?

  • Unit owners will have three and a half years after setting up the unit to obtain seven approvals from three departments: the sanction of building plans; issuance of completion/occupation certificate for buildings; registration of new trade licences.
  • The industries involving hazardous processes will have to obtain a Fire NOC and get approval for the factory building plan before setting up the unit.
  • All units will have to get environmental clearance from the Pollution Control Board beforehand.

Why was a law needed, rather than an executive order?

  • According to the government, the Act will have overriding powers over various Acts of different departments that make approvals necessary before the setting up of small and medium units.
  • This purpose could not have been achieved by an executive order.
  • How the law actually works on the ground remains to be seen, however.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Meghalaya ordinance on non-state residents

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ILP, NRC, CAA

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Meghalaya Cabinet by an Ordinance approved the amendments to The Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016.

What is the Ordinance about?

  • The existing 2016 Act deals with registration and documentation of non-state residents living in Meghalaya.
  • The Ordinance seeks to extend similar rules to cover all non-state residents visiting or living in the state.
  • This Act is indicative only for those people who are interested in visiting Meghalaya as tourists, labourers or for education and business.
  • With the Act in place, they will need to comply with guidelines to be prepared in the form of rules.

The point of the amendment

  • It came in the backdrop of the NRC process in Assam, which led to concerns among civil society and political leaders that people excluded from the Assam NRC might try to enter Meghalaya.
  • Besides, political parties and activists in Meghalaya had long been demanding replication of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, which has now been extended to Manipur.
  • While the ILP-regime states are exempt from the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), practically the whole of Meghalaya is exempt by virtue of special protections under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The Ordinance itself was not a fallout of the citizenship legislation, but a precautionary measure in view of the Assam NRC.

Railway Reforms

Silver Line Railway Project in Kerala

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Silver Line Project

Mains level : High speed railway connectivity in India: Prospects and Challenges

The Ministry of Railways granted in-principle approval for the ‘Silver Line’ project, a proposal of the Kerala government that involves laying of semi high-speed trains between the two corners of the state of Kerala.

The Silver Line project

  • The Silver Line project aims to connect major districts and towns with semi high-speed trains that will run on their own tracks.
  • The 532-km corridor is projected to be built at a cost of Rs 56,443 crore. Trains would complete the journey at four hours instead of 12, with a maximum speed of 200 km/h.
  • The corridor will be built away from the existing line between Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur.
  • The semi high-speed trains will traverse through 11 of the state’s 14 districts, Alappuzha, Wayanad and Idukki being the exceptions.
  • There are also plans to connect the corridor with the international airports at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by 2024.

Implementation  

  • The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (K-Rail), a joint venture between the Ministry of Railways and the Kerala government to execute projects on a cost-sharing basis, will be the nodal agency.
  • The government is believed to be looking at external funding agencies.
  • An initial investment is likely to be made by K-Rail for acquiring land. A Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be commissioned soon.

Need for such project

  • Kerala’s road networks are clogged and experience dense traffic during peak hours.
  • According to a data, less than 10% of the state’s roads handle nearly 80% of the traffic.
  • This also gives rise to accidents and casualties; in 2018, Kerala recorded 4,259 deaths and 31,687 grievous injuries.
  • Experts have been demanding faster transportation options including railways and waterways
  • The current railway network is congested with a large number of trains, level crossings and sharp curves.
  • The project will result in direct and indirect employment opportunities for 50,000 people, and the project once completed would create direct employment for at least 11,000 people.