Microfinance Story of India

Telangana’s Dalit Bandhu Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dalitha Bandhu Scheme

Mains level : Not Much

Telangana CM has recently been informed to spend Rs 80,000 crore to Rs 1 lakh crore for Dalit Bandhu Scheme, touted as the country’s biggest direct benefit transfer scheme, to empower Dalits across the state.

Dalit Bandhu Scheme

  • Dalit Bandhu is the latest flagship program of the Telangana government.
  • It is envisioned as a welfare scheme for empowering Dalit families and enable entrepreneurship among them through a direct benefit transfer of Rs 10 lakh per family.
  • This is, once implemented on the ground, going to be the biggest cash transfer scheme in the country.
  • Apart from monetary assistance, the government plans to create a corpus called the Dalit Security Fund permanently to support the beneficiary in the event of any adversities.
  • This fund will be managed by the district collector concerned, along with a committee of beneficiaries.
  • The beneficiary would be issued an identity card with an electronic chip, which will help the government monitor the progress of the scheme.

Where is the scheme being implemented?

  • The CM decided to implement it on a pilot basis in the Huzurabad Assembly constituency.
  • Based on the experiences of implementation in Huzurabad, the scheme will be rolled out across the state in a phased manner.
  • Officials were asked to visit Dalit colonies and interact with Dalit families to find out their views and opinions before preparing guidelines for the scheme.
  • The pilot project will focus on monitoring the implementation of the scheme, evaluating the results, and also creating a safety fund for the beneficiaries with the government’s participation.

How is Dalitha Bandhu being implemented?

  • The CM has ensured that the Dalit Bandhu is free.
  • The governments in the past came out with some schemes and asked for bank guarantees.
  • This is not a loan. There is no need to repay it. There is no chance of any involvement of middlemen.
  • To promote Dalit entrepreneurship, the government has decided to start a system of reservations for Dalits in sectors where the government issues licenses.
  • The government will provide reservations for Dalits in issuing licenses for wine shops, medical shops, fertilizer shops, rice mills, etc.

Languages and Eighth Schedule

History of Tulu and the demand for Official Language Status

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eight Schedule Languages

Mains level : Not Much

Various organizations have initiated a Twitter campaign demanding official language status to Tulu in Karnataka and Kerala and received an overwhelming response.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following languages:

  1. Gujarati
  2. Kannada
  3. Telugu

Which of the above has/have been declared as ‘Classical Language / Languages’ by the Government?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Who all speak Tulu in India now and what is its history?

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in two coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • As per the 2011 Census report, there are 18,46,427 Tulu-speaking people in India. Some scholars suggest Tulu is among the earliest Dravidian languages with a history of 2000 years.
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, called Tulu “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.

So what exactly is the demand by Tulu speakers?

  • The Tulu speakers, mainly in Karnataka and Kerala, have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule to the Constitution.
  • Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri are the 22 languages presently in the eighth schedule.

Tulu art, culture and cinema

  • Tulu has a rich oral literature tradition with folk-song forms like paddana, and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.
  • Tulu also has an active tradition of cinema with around 5 to 7 Tulu language movies produced a year.
  • Tulu films are being screened every day in Mangaluru and Udupi in at least one theatre.

What is the present status of Tulu?

  • According to Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy president Dayananda G Kathalsar,
  • People who speak Tulu are confined to the above-mentioned regions of Karnataka and Kerala, informally known as Tulu Nadu.
  • At present, Tulu is not an official language in the country.
  • Efforts are being made to include Tulu in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
  • If included in the eighth schedule, Tulu would get recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.

Back2Basics: Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution

  • The Eighth Schedule lists the official languages of the Republic of India.
  • At the time when the Constitution was enacted, inclusion in this list meant that the language was entitled to representation on the Official Languages Commission.
  • This language would be one of the bases that would be drawn upon to enrich Hindi and English, the official languages of the Union.
  • The list has since, however, acquired further significance.
  • In addition, a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper.
  • As per Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Indian Constitution, the eighth schedule includes the recognition of the 22 languages.

‘Classical’ languages in India

Currently, six languages enjoy the ‘Classical’ status: Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).

How are they classified?

According to information provided by the Ministry of Culture in the Rajya Sabha in February 2014, the guidelines for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ are:

  • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years;
  • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
  • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community;
  • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Civil Services Reforms

WB Bureaucrat Transfer Issue

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Civil services reforms

West Bengal CM has announced that the outgoing Chief Secretary would be appointed Chief Advisor to the Chief Minister.

Story so far

  • A senior IAS officer has been the subject of a tussle between the Centre and the state government over the last few days.
  • He was due to begin an extension of three months after retiring as Chief Secretary, but the Centre instead asked him to report and join the Government of India.
  • He did not do so.

How officers get an extension?

  • Rule 16(1) of DCRB (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules says that “a member of the Service may be given an extension of service for a period not exceeding three months in the public interest, with the prior approval of the Central Government”.
  • For an officer posted as Chief Secretary of a state, this extension can be for six months.

Central Deputation

  • In normal practice, the Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services willing to go on central deputation.
  • Rule 6(1) of the IAS Cadre Rules says an officer may with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government…”
  • It says “in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”

Issues with such deputation

  • Because of the Rule, states have to bear the brunt of arbitrary actions taken by the Centre, while the Rule makes it difficult for the Centre to enforce its will on a state that refuses to back down.

What next

  • The Centre cannot take action against civil service officials who are posted under the state government unless the latter agrees.
  • Rule 7 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, states that the authority to institute proceedings and to impose penalty will be the state government.
  • For any action to be taken against an officer of the All India Services, the state and the Centre both need to agree.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Eastern India most vulnerable to climate change, says study

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vulnerability Index

Mains level : Paper 3- Vulnerability to climate change

About the report

  • Published this week, the report on ‘Climate vulnerability assessment for adaptation planning in India using a common framework’ was conducted in 2019-2020 across 29 States.
  • It was part of a capacity building programme under the National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.
  • The report was prepared by IISc, IIT-Mandi and IIT-Guwahati.

Major findings

  • Along with Chhattisgarh in central India, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal are the eight most vulnerable States.
  • These eight most vulnerable States require prioritisation of adaptation interventions.
  • Jharkhand, with the highest vulnerability indices VI of 0.674, topped the list of States most vulnerable to climate change.
  • The major drivers for the vulnerability of all the States included lack of forest area per 1,000 rural population, lack of crop insurance, marginal and small operational land holding, low density of health workers, low participation of women in the workforce, yield variability of food grains, and a high proportion of the population below the poverty line.
  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala are among seven States that are the least vulnerable but there’s more to it meets the eye.
  • However, the vulnerability indices (VIs) for these seven States range from the lowest of 0.419 for Maharashtra to 0.468 for Uttarakhand, which is on the higher side.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Orunudoi Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Orunudoi Scheme

Mains level : Women empowerment moves

Ahead of the Assam Assembly elections, the Orunudoi scheme, with women as its primary target group, is the most popular.

There can be confusion from the name of the scheme.

Orunudoi Scheme

  • Through Orunodoi — announced in the 2020-21 Budget — monthly assistance of Rs 830 is transferred to women members of marginalised families of Assam.
  • On account of being a DBT, or a Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, the money is credited directly to the bank account of the woman head of a family because they are primary caretakers of the household.
  • The scheme gives a choice to the poor and needy households on how they want to spend their money.

Eligibility criteria

  • The applicant, a woman, has to be a permanent resident of Assam, whose composite household income should be less than Rs 2 lakh per annum.
  • Families with specially-abled members and divorced/widowed/separated /unmarried women are prioritized.
  • Poorer families, those without the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or ration cards, are also given priority.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

What is Khujli Ghar?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 371A

Mains level : Naga customs and their constitutional protection

Some villages in Nagaland are trying to revive a traditional form of punishment that seeks to check crime with an itch in time.

What is Khujli Ghar?

  • Social offenders or violators of Naga customary laws have over the ages dreaded a cramped, triangular cage made from the logs of an indigenous tree that irritates the skin.
  • The dread is more of humiliation or loss of face within the community or clan than of spending at least a day scratching furiously without any space to move.
  • Such itchy cages are referred to as khujli ghar in Nagamese but each Naga community has its own name.
  • The Aos, one of the major tribes of Nagaland, call it Shi-ki that means flesh-house.

Terminologies associated

  • The cage is usually placed at a central spot in the village, usually in front of the morung or bachelor’s dormitory, for the inmate to be in full public view.
  • The cage is made of the logs of Masang-fung, a local tree that people avoid because of the irritation it causes.
  • It does not affect the palm but people who make the cages have to be careful.

Naga belief in this

  • It is not proper to view the itchy cages from the prism of modern laws.
  • They have served a purpose for ages and have often proved to reform offenders, as identity and family or clan reputation is very important to a Naga.

Do you know?

Article 371(A) of the Constitution guarantees the preservation of the Naga customary laws.

The State also funds the customary courts in villages and towns where cases — mostly dealing with land litigation, money-lending and marital disputes — have a high rate of prompt disposal.


Back2Basics: Article 371A

  • 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.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Caracal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Caracal and its IUCN status

Mains level : Species Recovery Programme of NBWL

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) and MoEFCC last month included the caracal, a medium-sized wildcat found in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in the list of critically endangered species under the Species Recovery Programme.

Caracal in India

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • The wildcat has long legs, a short face, long canine teeth, and distinctive ears — long and pointy, with tufts of black hair at their tips.
  • The iconic ears are what give the animal its name — caracal comes from the Turkish karakulak, meaning ‘black ears’.
  • In India, it is called siya gosh, a Persian name that translates as ‘black Ear’.
  • A Sanskrit fable exists about a small wild cat named deergha-karn or ‘long-eared’.
  • While it flourishes in parts of Africa, its numbers in Asia are declining.

Try this PYQ:

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 above are correctly matched? (CSP 2018)

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

In history and myth

  • The earliest evidence of the caracal in the subcontinent comes from a fossil dating back to the civilization of the Indus Valley c. 3000-2000 BC.
  • The caracal has traditionally been valued for its litheness and extraordinary ability to catch birds in flight; it was a favourite coursing or hunting animal in medieval India.
  • Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) had siyah-goshdar khana, stables that housed large numbers of coursing caracal.
  • It finds mention in Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama, like a hunting animal in the time of Akbar (1556-1605).
  • Descriptions and illustrations of the caracal can be found in medieval texts such as the Anvar-i-Suhayli, Tutinama, Khamsa-e-Nizami, and Shahnameh.
  • The East India Company’s Robert Clive is said to have been presented with a caracal after he defeated Siraj-ud-daullah in the Battle of Plassey (1757).

Back2Basics: Species Recovery Programme of NBWL

  • The programme is one of the three components of the centrally funded scheme, Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (IDWH).
  • Started in 2008-09, IDWH is meant for providing support to protected areas, protection of wildlife outside protected areas and recovery programmes for saving critically endangered species and habitats.
  • So far, the recovery programme for critically endangered species in India now includes 22 wildlife species.
  • The NBWL in 2018 has added four species- the Northern River Terrapin, Clouded Leopard, Arabian Sea Humpback Whale, Red Panda- to the list.
  • Other species include the Snow Leopard, Bustard (including Floricans), Dolphin, Hangul, Nilgiri Tahr, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, Edible Nest Swiftlet, Asian Wild Buffalo, Nicobar Megapode, Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, Vultures, Malabar Civet, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Lion, Swamp Deer and Jerdon’s Courser.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Demand for Greater Tipraland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tipraland

Mains level : Demand for separate states

Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya has recently announced his political demand for a new state called ‘Greater Tipraland’.

Try this:

Q.New-age ethnic politics in North East is driving demands for separate statehood movements in India. Discuss.

What is Greater Tipraland?

  • ‘Greater Tipraland’ is essentially an extension of the ruling tribal partner Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura – IPFT’s demand of Tipraland, which sought a separate state for tribals of Tripura.
  • The new demand seeks to include every tribal person living in an indigenous area or village outside the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) under the proposed model.
  • However, the idea doesn’t restrict to simply the Tripura tribal council areas but seeks to include ‘Tiprasa’ of Tripuris spread across different states of India like Assam, Mizoram etc. as well.
  • It seeks to include even those living in Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari and other bordering areas of neighbouring Bangladesh.

Land Reforms

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

Mains level : Not Much

The Punjab state cabinet has approved the implementation of mission ‘Lal Lakir’.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The SVAMITVA Scheme sometimes seen in the news is related to:

Urban Employment/ Land records management/ Child Adoption/ None of these

Mission ‘Lal Lakir’

  • ‘Lal Lakir’ refers to land that is part of the village ‘abaadi’ (habitation) and is used for non-agriculture purposes only.
  • The mission is aimed at facilitating villagers to monetize property rights and availing benefits provided by government departments, institutions and banks in all villages across the state.
  • As no record of rights is available for such properties within the ‘Lal Lakir’, the same cannot currently be monetized as per the real value of the property and no mortgages can be created on such properties.
  • There are households within the ‘Lal Lakir’, which do not own property other than the areas within the ‘Lal Lakir’, and are thus at a disadvantage.

An extension to SVAMITVA

  • Under the mission, the right of record of properties within ‘Lal Lakir’ in the villages of the state will be prepared with the cooperation of the government of India under the SVAMITVA scheme.
  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • This will enable mapping the land, households, habitation and all other areas falling within ‘Lal Lakir’.
  • It will go a long way in improving the living standard of villagers and boosting their self-esteem.

Back2Basics: SVAMITVA

  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village.
  • Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Why hydel projects in the Himalayas are worrying?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dams in Uttarakhand

Mains level : Risks posed by Hydel projects

The flash flood that claimed several lives in Chamoli has caused Uttarakhand’s hydroelectric projects (HEPs) to be scrutinized closely.

Q.How do hydropower projects pose geological and topographical threats to the ecosystem? (150W)

Why Hydropower in Uttarakhand?

  • Uttarakhand has a tricky relationship with electricity.
  • With a landscape that’s inhospitable to thermal power grid lines and with people too poor to pay for electricity, micro and mini hydro-electric power projects were seen as the answer.
  • Between the government’s long-standing ‘power for all’ objective, and environmentalists pushing for a cleaner, renewable energy, setting up dozens of hydel power plants seemed ideal.

Impacts of HEPs

Limitless quarrying, deforestation, stopping the flow of rivers, and mushrooming of hydropower projects have made the Himalayas unstable.

  • Existing and under-construction hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand have led to several deleterious environmental impacts (Char Dham Committee).
  • Among the significant impacts are on the river ecosystem, forest and terrestrial biodiversity, geological environment and social infrastructure.
  • More than seven years later, some experts believe that over-exploitation of rivers and rampant damming for hydroelectric projects (HEPs) could be one of the big factors responsible for the Chamoli disaster.
  • The ‘river-bed profile’ across the major HEPs of Uttarakhand has changed significantly, suggesting the possibility of disasters in future.

The Kedarnath floods

  • Between June 13 and 17, 2013, Uttarakhand had received an unusual amount of rainfall.
  • This led to the melting of the Chorabari glacier and the eruption of the Mandakini river.
  • The floods affected large parts of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal.
  • The heavy rainfall caused massive flash floods and landslides resulting in the death of residents and tourists as well as extensive damage to property.
  • Over 5,000 people were killed in the floods

Construction still persists

  • Neglecting all warnings of the experts, rampant construction was carried out in the sensitive zones even after the 2013 Kedarnath deluge.
  • Notably, two dozen hydropower plants of Uttarakhand were rejected by the Supreme Court after the expert panel report.

HEPs in Uttarakhand

The rivers and basins in the state are dotted with 43 micro hydel projects. Some of them are:

Alarms have been raised earlier

  • The Kedarnath expert committee had warned about the excessive exploitation of vulnerable regions and the need to re-study and re-evaluate the HEPs of Uttarakhand.
  • The report also objected to HEPs at an altitude of over 2000 metres.
  • The report pointed out that the potential threat of landslide, cloudburst, subsidence, flash floods has increased tremendously in the past few years and many critical zones need immediate attention.
  • The study also mentioned that a lot of anthropogenic pressure due to different activities related to HEPs was alarming and needed checks.

Electoral Reforms In India

Maharashtra to introduce ballot papers along with EVMs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 328

Mains level : EVM issues

Maharashtra Assembly Speaker has directed the State Law and Justice Department to prepare the draft of a Bill which provides an option to voters to exercise their franchise on ballot papers along with electronic voting machines (EVMs).

Manner of holding elections

  • Article 328 of the Indian Constitution and number 37 of the State List of the seventh schedule of the Constitution provide rights to the State legislature to formulate a law on the manner of holding elections within the State.
  • The state cannot abolish the EVMs completely.
  • They are just demanding an additional provision of ballot paper as well for whoever wants to use that.
  • Directions have been given to check the constitutional validity of the argument and prepare the draft of a Bill.

Background

  • The Election Commission has been conducting all elections through EVMs since 2001.
  • The Indian EVM is a direct recording device, which is a stand-alone machine.
  • The Election Commission has clarified several times that Indian EVMs don’t talk to any machine outside its own system – be it through a wired network, internet, satellite, and WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • The EVM is not connected to the server, so cyber hacking of Indian EVMs is not possible unless an authorised person acts with malafide intention.
  • In 2014, a whopping 55.38 crore people cast their votes in EVMs in the parliamentary elections.

Considerations behind such a move

  • On EVMs, a voter can never be 100% sure about whom he or she has voted and whether that particular candidate has received the vote.
  • It is a right of every voter to be 100% sure about it and also essential for the democratic process.”
  • Over the past few years, serious concerns and doubts had been raised over the EVMs and whether those could be manipulated.
  • The option of ballot voting would boost people’s confidence in the electoral process which would ultimately lead to an increase in voting percentage.

Q.The EC’s role in ensuring the people’s faith in democracy is paramount. The loss of public faith in democracy and its protector institutions spells nothing but disaster. Discuss.

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

[pib] Rajasthan becomes the 5th State to complete ULB reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ULBs in India

Mains level : ULB reforms

Rajasthan has become the 5thState in the country to successfully undertake Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and has thus become eligible for additional reform linked to borrowing.

Which are the four other States?

: They are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and Telangana, who have completed ULB reforms.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992, which aims at promoting the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the country, provides for which of the following?

  1. Constitution of District Planning Committees.
  2. State Election Commissions to conduct all panchayat elections.
  3. Establishment of State Finance Commissions.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) Only 1

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are the ULB reforms?

The four citizen-centric areas identified for reforms are:

  1. Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System
  2. Ease of doing business reform
  3. Urban Local body/ utility reforms
  4. Power Sector reforms.

The set of reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure are:

(a) The State will notify:

  • Floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and;
  • Floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water supply, drainage, and sewerage which reflect current costs/past inflation.

(b)   The State will put in place a system of periodic increases in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.

Why need such reforms?

  • Reforms in ULBs and the urban utility reforms are aimed at the financial strengthening of ULBs to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services to citizens.
  • Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.

Back2Basics: Municipal Governance in India

  • Municipal or local governance refers to the third tier of governance in India, at the level of the municipality or urban local body.
  • Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are small local bodies that administer or govern a city or a town of a specified population.
  • They are vested with a long list of functions delegated to them by the state governments.
  • These functions broadly relate to public health, welfare, regulatory functions, public safety, public infrastructure works, and development activities.
  • There are several types of Urban Local Bodies in India such as Municipal Corporation, Municipality, Notified Area Committee, Town Area Committee, Special Purpose Agency, Township, Port Trust, Cantonment Board, etc.

Development through history

  • It has existed since the year 1687, with the formation of Madras Municipal Corporation, and then Calcutta and Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1726.
  • In the early part of the nineteenth century, almost all towns in India had experienced some form of municipal governance.
  • In 1882 the then Viceroy of India, Lord Ripon, known as the Father of Local Self Government, passed a resolution of local self-government which lead to the democratic forms of municipal governance in India.
  • In 1919, a Government of India Act incorporated the need of the resolution and the powers of democratically elected government were formulated.
  • In 1935 another Government of India act brought local government under the preview of the state or provincial government and specific powers were given.

Changes after the 74th Amendment (1992)

  • It was the 74th amendment to the Constitution that brought constitutional validity to municipal or local governments.
  • Until amendments were made in respective state legislation on an ultra vires (beyond the authority) basis and the state governments were free to extend or control the functional sphere.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is the ‘Top 25’ drive initiated by Mumbai police?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Top 25 drive

Mains level : Preventive detention, Chapter proceedings

The Mumbai police have started a drive titled ‘Top 25’ aimed at keeping under check history-sheeters and those they believe could create trouble.

Preventive detention laws in India have come to be associated with gross and frequent misuse.

What is the ‘Top 25’ drive of the Mumbai police?

  • The Mumbai police commissioner has asked all police stations in the city to make a list of the “top 25” criminals and ask them to sign a bond of good behavior failing which they would have to pay a fine.
  • The aim is to rein in criminal elements and those the police believe could create a law and order problem in the city.
  • While this practices that is termed “chapter proceedings” has been followed in the past, the amount a person would usually forfeit was around Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000.
  • Now, the amount has been raised up to Rs 50 lakh.

How is the police calculating the surety amount now?

  • The police are now going through the bank details and tax returns of the person and the surety amount is set in accordance with the annual income of the offender or his family.
  • The police believe that the threat of having to pay a high amount will act as a deterrent and that a few thousand as surety amount did not have the desired effect.

What are Chapter Proceedings?

  • Chapter proceedings are preventive actions taken by the police if they fear that a particular person is likely to cause law and order trouble.
  • These proceedings are unlike punitive action taken in case of an FIR with an intention to punish.
  • Here, the police can issue notices under sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the person is aware that creating a nuisance could result in action against him.
  • Recently, the Mumbai police initiated chapter proceedings against an extremely chauvinistic news reporter and media head.

Rights of the accuse

  • On receiving such notice, a person can appeal before the courts.
  • In fact, in the past, courts have come down strongly against chapter proceedings in some cases.
  • In 2017, while striking down a notice issued to the owner of a bar, the Bombay High Court said: “chapter proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature”.

Back2Basics: Arrest vs. Preventive Detention

An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime. An arrested person is produced before a magistrate within the next 24 hours. In case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law and order situation.

  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides safeguards against the misuse of police powers to make arrests and detentions.
  • Clause (2) of Article 22 reads that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey.
  • Clause (4) of the article states that no individual can be detained for more than 3 months unless a bench of High court judges or an Advisory board decides to extend the date.
  • Clause (5) states that the detained individual should be made aware of the grounds he/she has been detained (in pursuance of the order) and should provide him/her with an opportunity of making a representation against the case.
  • Parliament may by law prescribe the circumstances under a person may be detained for a period longer than three months under any law.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Brus’ resettlement in Tripura

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bru Tribals

Mains level : Bru-Reang Repatriation Agreement

People erupted in violent protests against the planned resettlement of thousands of Bru migrants permanently at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura.

Try this PYQ:

 

Q. With reference to ‘Changpa’ community of India, consider the following statement:

  1. They live mainly in the State of Uttarakhand.
  2. They rear the Pashmina goats that yield fine wool.
  3. They are kept in the category of Scheduled Tribes.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2014)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Who are the Brus?

  • Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram.
  • Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area when they demanded the creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.
  • Around 34,000 people were forced to live in sub-human conditions in tents in Tripura. No solution could be reached all these years.
  • These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Why have there been violent protests?

  • Twenty-three years after ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people of the Bru (or Reang) community to flee their homes to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The news was not welcomed by the Bengali and Mizo communities in Tripura.
  • They fear a demographic imbalance, which would exert pressure on local resources and potentially lead to law and order problems.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Bru– Reang Repatriation Agreement

Punjab’s claim over Chandigarh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandigarh

Mains level : Interstate boundary disputes in India

Earlier this month, Haryana Dy. CM said it would be better if both Haryana and Punjab agreed on Chandigarh as a Union Territory and make their independent capitals and Benches of High Courts.

Try answering this

Q.The linguistic re-organization of Indian states in the post-Independence period has prevented its balkanization, unlike our neighbourhood. Comment.

Why was Chandigarh created?

  • Chandigarh was planned to replace Lahore, the capital of erstwhile Punjab, which became part of Pakistan during the Partition.
  • In March 1948, the Government of (India’s) Punjab, in consultation with the Centre, approved the area of the foothills of the Shivaliks as the site for the new capital.
  • From 1952 to 1966 (till Haryana was carved out of Punjab), Chandigarh remained the capital of Punjab.

How did it become a shared capital?

  • At the time of reorganization of Punjab in 1966, the city assumed the unique distinction of being the capital of both Punjab and Haryana.
  • Even as it was declared a union territory and was placed under the direct control of the Centre.
  • The properties in Chandigarh were to be divided into 60:40 ratio in favour of Punjab.

Punjab’s claim

  • The-then PM Indira Gandhi had announced that Haryana, in due course, would have its own capital and Chandigarh would go to Punjab.
  • As per documents submitted in the Lok Sabha, the Centre had even issued a formal communication is this regard on January 29, 1970, almost three years after Haryana came into being.
  • Again, in 1985, under the Rajiv-Longowal accord, Chandigarh was to be handed over to Punjab on January 26, 1986, but the Rajiv Gandhi government withdrew at the last minute.

Haryana’s counter-claim

  • As per the 1970 documents, the Centre had considered various alternatives for settling the matter, including dividing the city.
  • But that wasn’t feasible since Chandigarh was built as a planned city to serve as the capital of one state.
  • Haryana was told to use the office and residential accommodation in Chandigarh only for five years till it shifts to its own new capital.
  • The Centre had offered Rs 10 crore grant to Haryana and an equal amount of loan for setting up the new capital.
  • In 2018, Haryana CM suggested setting up a special body for the development of Chandigarh, but the Punjab CM rejected it, saying the city “indisputably belonged to Punjab”.

Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

What are Deemed Forests?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Deemed forest

Mains level : Forest conservation in India

Karnataka Forest Minister has announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

Try this PYQ:

Q. In India, in which one of the following types of forests is teak a dominant tree species?

(a) Tropical moist deciduous forest

(b) Tropical rain forest

(c) Tropical thorn scrub forest

(d) Temperate forest with grasslands

What are Deemed Forests?

  • The concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
  • However, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.
  • It covered all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2 (1) of the Forest Conservation Act.
  • The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 will not only include ‘forest’ as understood in the dictionary sense but also any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the owners said the court.

Why it is in news?

  • The issue of deemed forests is a contentious one in Karnataka, with legislators across party lines often alleging that large amounts of agriculture and non-forest land are “unscientifically” classified as such.

Demands to reclassify

  • A deemed forest fits “dictionary meaning” of a forest, “irrespective of ownership”.
  • Amidst claims that the move hit farmers, as well as barred large tracts from mining, the state has been arguing that the classification was done without taking into account the needs of people.

Why does the government want to release these forests?

  • In 2014, the then government decided to have a relook at the categorisation of forests.
  • The dictionary definition of forests was applied to identify thickly wooded areas as deemed forests, a well-defined scientific, verifiable criterion was not used, resulting in a subjective classification.
  • The subjective classification in turn resulted in conflicts.
  • Ministers have also argued that land was randomly classified as deemed forest by officials, causing hardship to farmers in some areas.
  • There is also a commercial demand for mining in some regions designated as deemed forests.

Back2Basics: Forest Classification in India

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) classifies forest cover in 4 classes.

  • Very Dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above.
  • Moderately dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40% and 70%.
  • Open forests: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
  • Scrubs: All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees having canopy density less than 10%.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Assam-Mizoram Boundary Dispute

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked Assam and Mizoram to maintain peace and display “no aggressive posturing” after violent clashes took place at the border between the two States on Saturday night.

Can you recall the chronology of reorganization of the entire North-East region?

What is the issue?

  • Assam has had a boundary dispute with Mizoram for decades and several rounds of talks have been held since 1994-95 to solve the issue.
  • Till 1972, Mizoram was a part of Assam and acquired full statehood in 1987.
  • The 164.6 km-long border between the States runs along with Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts in Assam and Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts in Mizoram.
  • There are several border areas where violence have been reported.

How complex is this dispute?

  • In the Northeast’s complex boundary equations, showdowns between Assam and Mizoram residents are less frequent than they are.
  • The boundary between present-day Assam and Mizoram, 165 km long today, dates back to the colonial era when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam.
  • The dispute stems from a notification of 1875 that differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar, and another of 1933 that demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
  • Mizoram believes the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.
  • Mizo leaders have argued in the past argued against the demarcation notified in 1933 because Mizo society was not consulted.

Other boundary disputes in North-East

During British rule, Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya besides Mizoram, which became separate state one by one. Today, Assam has boundary problems with each of them.

  • Nagaland shares a 500-km boundary with Assam.
  • In two major incidents of violence in 1979 and 1985, at least 100 persons were killed. The boundary dispute is now in the Supreme Court
  • On the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary (over 800 km), clashes were first reported in 1992, according to the same research paper.
  • Since then, there have been several accusations of illegal encroachment from both sides, and intermittent clashes. This boundary issue is being heard by the Supreme Court.
  • The 884-km Assam-Meghalaya boundary, too, witnesses flare-ups frequently. As per Meghalaya government statements, today there are 12 areas of dispute between the two states.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Green-Blue Infrastructure Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green-Blue Infrastructure

Mains level : Urban water resources management

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is holding public consultations for the preparation of the Master Plan for Delhi 2041 with special focus on water bodies and the land.

Try this question:      

Q.Urban water resources management is an uphill task for Indian cities. Discuss.

What is Green-Blue infrastructure?

  • ‘Blue’ infrastructure refers to water bodies like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, and water treatment facilities; while ‘Green’ stands for trees, lawns, hedgerows, parks, fields, and forests.
  • The concept refers to urban planning where water bodies and land are interdependent, and grow with the help of each other while offering environmental and social benefits.

How does DDA plan to go ahead with it?

  • In the first stage, the DDA plans to deal with the multiplicity of agencies, which because of the special nature of the state, has plagued it for several years.
  • DDA wants the first map out the issues of jurisdiction, work being done by different agencies on drains and the areas around them.
  • Thereafter, a comprehensive policy will be drawn up, which would then act as the common direction for all agencies.

Why such a policy?

  • Delhi has around 50 big drains (blue areas) managed by different agencies, and due to their poor condition and encroachment, the land around (green areas) has also been affected.
  • DDA, along with other agencies, will integrate them and remove all sources of pollution by checking the outfall of untreated wastewater as well as the removal of existing pollutants.
  • A mix of mechanized and natural systems may be adopted, and dumping of solid wastes in any of these sites will be strictly prohibited by local bodies, through the imposition of penalties.

Major features

  • The land around these drains, carrying stormwater, will be declared as special buffer projects.
  • The network of connected green spaces would be developed in the form of green mobility circuits of pedestrian and cycling paths.
  • It will be developed along the drains to serve functional as well as leisure trips.

Challenges ahead

  • The biggest challenge is the multiplicity of agencies.
  • Secondly, cleaning of water bodies and drains has been a challenge for agencies in Delhi for years now.

J&K – The issues around the state

New Official Languages in J&K

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Official languages

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Cabinet has approved a Bill to introduce Hindi, Kashmiri and Dogri as official languages in Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to Urdu and English. As of now, the official language is Urdu and Kashmiri is recognised as a regional language.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following languages:

  1. Gujarati
  2. Kannada
  3. Telugu

Which of the above has/have been declared as ‘Classical Language/ Languages’ by the Government?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Languages in J&K

  • In the undivided Jammu and Kashmir state, various ethnicities spoke Kashmiri, Pahari, Gojri, Ladakhi, Dogri, Balti and Punjabi as their mother tongues.
  • Urdu and Hindi had become a means for inter-community communication.
  • In 1889, Maharaja Pratap Singh, the third ruler of the Hindu Dogra dynasty, replaced Persian with Urdu as the court language.
  • It was an anomaly that the three languages — Dogri, Hindi and Kashmiri — which are spoken by nearly 70 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir were not approved for use in official business.

Official languages in India

  • Article 343 of the Indian constitution stated that the official language of the Union is Hindi in Devanagari script instead of the extant English.
  • Later, a constitutional amendment, The Official Languages Act, 1963, allowed for the continuation of English alongside Hindi in the Indian government indefinitely until legislation decides to change it.
  • The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union is “the international form of Indian numerals”, which are referred to as Arabic numerals in most English-speaking countries.
  • Despite the misconceptions, Hindi is not the national language of India; the Constitution of India does not give any language the status of the national language.
  • The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement.

Other classical languages

  • In addition, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.
  • Classical language status is given to languages which have a rich heritage and independent nature.

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sixth Schedule

Mains level : Special provisions for North-east India

The revival of the demand for two autonomous councils has made political parties and community-based groups call for bringing the entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q.The provisions in Fifth Schedule and Sixth Schedule in the Constitution of India are made in order to-

(a) protect the interests of Scheduled Tribes

(b) determine the boundaries between States

(c) determine the powers, authority and responsibilities of Panchayats

(d) protect the interests of all the border States

What is the Sixth Schedule?

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of the tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganize boundaries of the tribal areas.
  • In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one.
  • They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without separate legislation.

Autonomous districts and regional councils

  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear the trial of cases involving the tribes.
  • Governors of states that fall under the Sixth Schedule specify the jurisdiction of high courts for each of these cases.
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
  • These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.

B2BASICS

Try this question from AWE Initiative:

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Elaborate. (150 W/ 10 M)