May 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Masala Bonds

Mains Paper 3 : issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Masala Bond

Mains level : Masala Bond


News

Kerala state first to issue Masala bonds

  • The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board issued Masala Bonds to raise funds from the overseas market.
  • It has become the first Indian state to tap into the market for masala bonds.
  • The proceeds from the bond issue are slated to be used to part-finance the rebuilding of infrastructure in Kerala that was devastated by last year’s floods.

Masala Bonds

  • They are rupee-denominated bonds i.e the funds would be raised from overseas market in Indian rupees.
  • According to RBI, any corporate, body corporate and Indian bank is eligible to issue Rupee denominated bonds overseas.
  • While companies can raise funds through these bonds, there are limitations for the use of such proceeds.
  • RBI mandates that the money raised through such bonds cannot be used for real estate activities other than for development of integrated township or affordable housing projects.
  • It also can’t be used for investing in capital markets, purchase of land and on-lending to other entities for such activities as stated above.

Minimum maturity of masala bonds

  • According to RBI, the minimum maturity period for Masala Bonds raised up to Rupee equivalent of USD 50 million in a financial year should be 3 years.
  • And for bonds raised above USD 50 million equivalents in INR per financial year should be 5 years.
  • The conversion for such bonds will happen at the market rate on the date of settlement of transactions undertaken for issue and servicing of the bonds, including its redemption.

Where can these bonds be issued and who can subscribe?

  • The bonds can only be issued in a country and subscribed by a resident of such country that is a member of FATF and whose securities market regulator is a member of International Organisation of Securities Commission.
  • While residents of such countries can subscribe to the bonds, it can also be subscribed by multilateral and regional financial institutions where India is a member country.
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

National Institute of Nutrition

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIN

Mains level : NIN and its mandate



News

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

Issue over NIN decision

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

About NIN

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

Mandate of NIN

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

Person in news: Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains Paper 1 : Modern Indian History |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Mains level : Social reforms in Colonial India



News

Context

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

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

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

Reforms by Ishwar Chandra

I. Widow Remarriage

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

II. Campaign against polygamy

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

Impact of his reformist zeal

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

Fruitful outcomes

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

Graphite mining in Arunachal Pradesh

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Graphite and its properties

Mains level : India-China Border Issues


News

  • Arunachal Pradesh has asked the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to explore the possibility of surveying and drilling for minerals along the India-China border.

What is Graphite?

  • Graphite is a naturally-occurring form of crystalline carbon.
  • It is a native element mineral found in metamorphic and igneous rocks.
  • It is extremely soft, cleaves with very light pressure, and has a very low specific gravity.
  • It is the only non-metal element that is a good conductor of electricity.
  • It is also known as a dry lubricant for its greasy feel.

Why mine in Arunachal?

  • Beijing is carrying out “massive” mining activities very close to the border in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • Arunachal could be the leading producer of graphite, going a long way in cutting down India’s import of the mineral.

Arunachal holds highest deposits of graphite

  • The GSI presented the status of mineral deposits in Arunachal Pradesh at the meeting.
  • Data showed that the State has 35% of the total graphite reserves in India – the highest in the country.
  • The GSI’s 2013 report showed Arunachal Pradesh sits on 43% of the country’s graphite resources followed by Jammu & Kashmir (37%), Jharkhand (6%), Tamil Nadu (5%), and Odisha (3%).
  • But in terms of resources, Tamil Nadu led with 37% followed by Jharkhand with 30% and Odisha with 29%.
Coal and Mining Sector

Lakshadweep recruits Barn Owls to fight rodent menace

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Barn Owls

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • With a thriving rat population playing havoc with its coconut yield, the UT of Lakshadweep hires barn owls for help.

What is barn?

  • A barn is an agricultural building usually on farms and used for various purposes.
  • It refers to structures that house livestock, including cattle and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain.

Recruiting barn owls

  • Coconut is an important money-spinner for the islands, but the pesky rodents account for 30-40% of the yield loss.
  • However, employing owls to hunt down rats is not exactly a new idea for the islanders.
  • Similar attempts were reportedly made in the 1960s as well.
  • The birds were reintroduced in the 19th century for rodent management.

Why barn owls?

  • The reason is that the rats in the Lakshadweep Islands practically live on treetops.
  • The coconut palms here grow so close together that they resemble a jungle. The fronds overlap, allowing the rodents to move easily from one tree to another.
  • Besides, the nocturnal barn owls are natural rat hunters, armed with a powerful auditory mechanism.
  • There is also an important environmental angle to Lakshadweep’s decision to choose biocontrol.
  • The islands being a designated organic zone, use of chemicals for pest control is a strict no-no.
  • If successful, the barn owl campaign will be extended to other islands in Lakshadweep as well.

Rare life-size stucco figurine unearthed in Telangana

Mains Paper 1 : Arts & Culture |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ikshavaku dynasty, Stucco

Mains level : Ancient Buddhist art


News

  • Archaeologists in Telangana have unearthed a rare treasure in the form of a life-sized stucco sculpture from a Buddhist site at Phanigiri.

What is stucco?

  • Stucco is a material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid.
  • It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture.
  • Stucco may be used to cover less visually appealing construction materials, such as metal, concrete, cinder block, or clay brick and adobe.

About the Bodhisattva statue

  • It is the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far.
  • The life-size figurine found in the excavations is thought to represent one of Bhodhisattva in Jathaka Chakra.
  • The stucco is about 1.73 metres in height and 35 cm in width, thus the biggest stucco sculpture found in the country so far
  • Apart from the life-sized stucco, these excavations brought to light a Mahastupa, apsidal chaitya grihas, votive stupas, pillared congregation halls, viharas, platforms with staircases at various levels.
  • It also had sculptural panels with Brahmi inscriptions, belonging to Satavahana period from first century BC, continued with Mahayana till the end of Ikshvaku period and others in third-fourth century AD.

About Ikshvaku Dynasty

  • The Ikshvaku dynasty, in Puranic literature, was a dynasty founded by the legendary king Ikshvaku. The dynasty is also known as Sūryavaṁśa (the Solar dynasty).
  • Lord Rama belonged to the Ikshavaku dynasty.
  • Twenty-two out of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankara belonged to this dynasty.
  • Rishabha is present in both Hindu as well as Jain mythology. Both refers to the same person.
  • According to the Buddhist texts, Prince Siddhartha belonged to this dynasty.
  • The Buddhist text, Mahavamsa traces the origin of the Shakyas to king Okkaka (Pali equivalent to Sanskrit Ikshvaku) and gives their genealogy from Mahasammata, an ancestor of Okkaka.
Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • A massive decline in the population of Kashmir’s iconic wildlife species, the Hangul (Cervus hanglu hanglu), also known as the Kashmir stag, continues to be a big concern.

Kashmir Stag (Hangul)

  • Hangul, the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir, is restricted to the Dachigam National Park some 15 km north-west of Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar.
  • The Hangul is placed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the J&K Wildlife Protection Act, 1978.
  • The Hangul was once widely distributed in the mountains of Kashmir and parts of Chamba district in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
  • The IUCN’s Red List has classified it as Critically Endangered and is similarly listed under the Species Recovery Programme of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the MoEFCC.

Why is Hangul crucial?

  • From a population of 5,000 in the early 1900s, the Hangul’s numbers have constantly declined over the decades.
  • The Hangul is considered equally significant to the state of Jammu & Kashmir as the tiger is to the whole of India.
  • It is the only Asiatic survivor or sub-species of the European red deer. But the state animal’s decreasing population remains a big concern.
  • According to the latest survey in 2017, the population of Hangul is 182 in Dachigam and adjoining areas. Earlier population estimates suggest that there were 197 deer in 2004 and 186 in 2015.
  • The IUCN Red Data Book — which contains lists of species at risk of extinction — has declared the Hangul as one of three species that were critically endangered in J&K.
  • The other two are the Markhor — the world’s largest species of wild goat found in Kashmir and several regions of central Asia — and the Tibetan antelope or ‘Chiru’.

Various threats

  • The biggest challenges which have been identified by experts in the way of conservation and population growth of Hangul are habitat fragmentation, predation and very low fawn-female ratio.
  • Lack of desirable breeding and fawn survival is a grave concern for the population growth.
  • Another challenge is the male-female and fawn-adult disparity in the Hangul population.
  • Influx of livestock herds of nomadic communities in the Dachigam National Park has been a challenge for years.
  • After the closing down of their traditional routes leading to over a dozen alpine pastures (in Gurez) by the army after the inception of armed conflict in Kashmir, nomads have not been able to graze their herds in those pastures.
  • So, they are taking their large herds of livestock to the upper reaches of Dachigam during summers.
  • Other dangers for the Hangul population include excessive predation of fawns by the Common Leopard, the Himalayan Black Bear and nomads’ dogs.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

LG’s role in Puducherry

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : LG: Powers and Functions

Mains level : LG of Puducherry vs. LG of Delhi


News

  • The Madras High Court has that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place.
  • The court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government.”

What did the court say?

  • The Central government as well as the Administrator [the term used in the Constitution to refer to the Lieutenant-Governor] should be true to the concept of democratic principles.
  • Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.
  • The judge made it clear that government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the ministers concerned and the Council of Ministers, headed by the CM, besides reporting to them on official matters.
  • The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator.

There lies a difference: Delhi and Puducherry

  • The court also went on to point out the differences between the powers conferred on the legislatures of Puducherry and Delhi under Articles 239A and 239AA of the Constitution.
  • The court said though Article 239AA imposes several restrictions on the legislature of Delhi, no such restrictions had been imposed explicitly in the case of Puducherry under Article 239A.
  • While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.

Back2Basics

LG of Puducherry Vs. LG of Delhi

  • The LG of Delhi enjoys greater powers than the LG of Puducherry.
  • The LG of Delhi has “Executive Functions” that allow him to exercise his powers in matters connected to public order, police and land “in consultation with the Chief Minister.
  • Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land.
  • However, the Puducherry Assembly can legislate on any issue under the Concurrent and State Lists.
  • However, if the law is in conflict with a law passed by Parliament, the law passed by Parliament prevails.
Delhi Full Statehood Issue

Ishad Mango is under the threat of becoming rare

Mains Paper 3 : Food Processing & Related Industries In India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ishad Mango

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • A local mango variety called Ishad is facing the threat of becoming rare in its homeland, Ankola of Uttara Kannada district.

Ishad Mango

  • The mango has two variants — Kari Ishad, which has thin skin, more pulp and is sweeter, and Bili Ishad, which has thick skin and has less pulp and sweetness.
  • Some farmers did try to grow it outside Ankola taluk, but failed.
  • It is delicate to handle given its short shelf life. Hence, the fruit cannot be transported to faraway places.
  • The pulp of this mango has been extracted for over a century for making value-added products.
  • Oriental Canneries and Industries set up a unit in Ankola in 1908 to extract pulp from Ishad for making value-added products.
  • The then Bombay government supported it by supplying wood.
  • The pulp is used for making 48 recipes. It was being used in the United States, Australia and Sri Lanka.

Khasi ‘kingdoms’ to revisit 1947 agreements

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Khasi Kingdom, Himas

Mains level : Reorganisation of States in India


News

  • A federation of 25 Himas or Khasi kingdoms that have a cosmetic existence today has planned to revisit the 1948 agreements that made present-day Meghalaya a part of India.

Concerns of Khasis

  • The revisiting is aimed at safeguarding tribal customs and traditions from Central laws in force or could be enacted, such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
  • The bill is one of the factors in move to strengthen the Federation of Khasi States that were ruled by a Syiem (king-like head of a Hima).
  • Himas are expecting to come to a conclusion on how best it can insulate their customs and traditions from overriding central rules and policies.
  • The Constitution has provided self-rule to a considerable extent through tribal councils, there has been an increasing demand for giving more teeth to the Khasi states.

History of Khasi Merger in India

  • During the British rule, the Khasi domain was divided into the Khasi states and British territories.
  • At that time, the British government had no territorial right on the Khasi states and they had to approach the chiefs of these states if they needed land for any purpose.
  • After independence, the British territories became part of the Indian dominion but the Khasi states had to sign documents beginning with the Standstill Agreement that provided a few rights to the states.
  • The 25 Khasi states had signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement with the Dominion of India between December 15, 1947, and March 19, 1948.
  • The conditional treaty with these states was signed by Governor General C. Rajagopalachari on August 17, 1948.

Back2Basics

Statehood to Meghalaya

  • Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972.
  • Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970.
  • The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century.
  • Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835.
  • The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown.
  • At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present-day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam.
  • A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960.
  • The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 accorded an autonomous status to the state of Meghalaya.
  • The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, and an autonomous state of Meghalaya was born out of Assam.
  • In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Explained: When J&K had its own PM and Sadr-e-Riyasat

Mains Paper 2 : Federalism |

News

  • Recent statements some politicians have brought the spotlight on two erstwhile positions in Jammu and Kashmir — J&K Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat (President of the state).

J&K Prime Minister

  • J&K had its own Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat until 1965, when the J&K Constitution was amended (Sixth Constitution of J&K Amendment Act, 1965) by the then Congress government.
  • It replaced the two positions with Chief Minister and Governor respectively.
  • The first PM of J&K, appointed by Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, was Sir Albion Banerjee (1927-29).

GoT in J&K

  • The state had nine more PMs before Independence. The first after Independence was Mehr Chand Mahajan (October 1947-March 1948).
  • He was replaced with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who until then had been Head of the Administration.
  • The next two J&K Prime Ministers were Khwaja Shamsuddin (1963-64) and Congress leader Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq (until March 30, 1965).
  • It was during Sadiq’s tenure that the Centre replaced the two posts. In fact, Sadiq became the first Chief Minister of J&K, serving until December 1971.

Sadr-e-Riyasat

  • The J&K Constitution was adopted on November 17, 1956 but came into effect only on January 26, 1957.
  • On June 10, 1952, the “Basic Principles Committee” appointed by the J&K Constituent Assembly recommended that “the institution of hereditary rulership shall be terminated” and “the office of the head of the State shall be elective”.
  • The Constituent Assembly resolved that the head of state, named Sadr-e-Riyasat, would be elected by the Legislative Assembly for a term of five years and recognised by the President of India.
  • The Centre did not agree initially because it “impinged upon the provisions of Article 370” where the Maharaja, acting on the advice of the council of ministers, was recognised as the head of state.
  • After negotiations, the matter was resolved on July 24, 1952, when New Delhi agreed to allow J&K to recognise an elected Sadr-e-Riyasat instead of an appointed Governor.
  • Only a permanent resident of J&K could become Sadr-e-Riyasat. Once elected by the Legislative Assembly, the Sadr-e-Riyasat had to be recognised and then appointed by the President of India.

The amendment

  • The Sixth Amendment to the J&K Constitution, carried out in 1965, made a fundamental change to its basic structure.
  • Under Section 147, an amendment is to be assented by the Sadr-e-Riyasat after a Bill is passed by a two-thirds majority of the House, while Section 147 itself cannot be amended by the state legislature, and neither can an amendment that changes the provisions of Constitution of India as applicable in relation to J&K.
  • Sadr-e-Riyasat, however, was replaced with Governor across the J&K Constitution, except in Section 147 which could not be amended.
  • This has led to the existence of two kinds of heads of state in the Constitution — Sadr-e-Riyasat as well as Governor.
  • In 1975, a Presidential Order issued under Article 370 barred the J&K Legislature from making any change to the J&K Constitution regarding appointment and powers of the Governor.
J&K – The issues around the state

2 West Bengal govt schemes win UN awards

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Utkarsh Bangla, Sabooj Sathi Schemes

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Two schemes of the West Bengal government for skill development and distribution of bi-cycles to students have won the prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) awards of the United Nations.
  • The schemes are “Utkarsh Bangla” and “Sabooj Sathi”.
  • The WB government had received another UN award in 2017 for its ‘Kanyashree’ project, a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at promoting education among girls.

Utkarsh Bangla

  • The “Utkarsh Bangla” project aims at creating a pool of skilled candidates who are industry ready.
  • It is meant especially for school dropouts.
  • Out of 1062 nominations in 18 categories, Utkarsh Bangla got the topmost award and emerged a winner in Capacity Building category.

Sabooj Sathi

  • Sabooj Sathi is a scheme for distribution of bi-cycles to estimated 40 lakh students of class IX to XII studying in Govt. run and Govt. aided Schools and Madrashas.
  • The scheme was launched in September 2015.

ABout WSIS

  • WSIS Prizes is an international contest to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognise individuals, governments and private bodies for outstanding success in implementing development oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs as an enabler of the development.
  • The contest, organised by the WSIS in Geneva, was first held in 2012.
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.

Discolouration of Periyar

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Periyar River, Eutrophication

Mains level : Riverine water pollution in India


News

  • There has been continued discolouration of water in the Periyar River turning into pitch black.

What caused discolouration?

  • The discolouration was due to the poor quality of water as a result of eutrophication.
  • When excessive nutrients reach the waterbody, it leads to algal bloom.
  • A few days later, algae die and decay, resulting in a foul smell and discolouration of water.
  • Water in some reaches of the river system has been stagnant. Reduced water flow in the system has added to the deteriorating water quality.
  • Huge quantities of organic load in the form of sewage from nearby townships are regularly reaching the river system.

What is Eutrophication?

  • Eutrophication is the response to the addition of nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates naturally or artificially, fertilizing the aquatic ecosystem.
  • Algal blooms are the consequence of Eutrophication.
  • Eutrophication occurs naturally due to deposition of nutrients [such as in depositional environments] carried by flood waters. It takes over centuries for eutrophication to occur naturally.
  • Phytoplankton (algae and blue-green bacteria) thrive on the excess nutrients and their population explosion covers almost entire surface layer. This condition is known as algal bloom.
  • Oxygen in aquatic ecosystem is replenished by photosynthetic aquatic plants. Algal Blooms restrict the penetration of sunlight resulting in death of aquatic plants, and hence restricts the replenishment of oxygen.
  • The oxygen level is already depleted due to the population explosion of phytoplankton.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Explained: J&K govt blocking of a highway

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

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Security challenges in J&K


News

A move for safer transition

  • The J&K govt. issued an order banning the movement of civilian traffic on a 270-km stretch (Udhampur-Baramulla) of the Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway for two days every week.
  • On Sundays and Wednesdays, the highway would be exclusively used for movement of military convoys.
  • The decision has been taken considering the security concerns that led to temporarily blocking part of the highway.
  • However this has an implication on civilian population.

Why is the highway important?

  • The Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway (NH-1A) runs 370 km.
  • The national highway is not just the only road link that connects Kashmir to the outside world but also the key highway that connects Srinagar with the southern and northern districts of the Valley.
  • The highway passes through five of the 10 districts of the Valley, and highways to at least two more districts branch out from it.
  • The highway, directly and indirectly, impacts a population of over 69 lakh.

The road-block to terror

  • The government has cited the recent suicide bombing of a security forces convoy in Pulwama — which killed 40 CRPF personnel — as the reason for restricting traffic.
  • This stretch would be closed for all forms of civilian traffic from dawn to dusk (4 am to 5 pm) on these two days, leaving it open exclusively for convoys of security forces.
  • While the highway would be closed on these two days, civilian traffic already faces restrictions through the week.

Implications of the road-block

  • It means a virtual lockdown of the Valley for two days every week.
  • According to official figures, over 10,000 vehicles move on the highway from both sides every hour, including around 5,000 light motor vehicles.
  • These include vehicles carrying students, patients, government officials and businessmen.
  • Closing the highway during daytime would mean that most government and private offices, banks, schools and colleges would remain shut on Wednesdays and the movement of people to hospitals would be severely restricted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Another viable option

  • Almost all colleges, higher secondary institutions and schools in five districts of the Valley are accessible only through this highway.
  • Besides, there are hundreds of villages and towns spread on both sides of the highway from Udhampur to Baramulla. The ban would effectively cut them off from other places on two days every week.
  • Whenever security forces’ vehicles are using the highway, civilian traffic is often halted for various lengths of time.
  • Had the government decided to move security convoys at night, the impact on civilian traffic movement could have been much less.
J&K – The issues around the state

Sudden release of water from dams worsened Kerala floods

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EAP

Mains level : Disaster management in India


News

  • The amicus curiae appointed by the Kerala High Court to assist it in flood-related cases informed the court that the sudden release of water simultaneously from different reservoirs had aggravated the damage during the floods.

Poor dam management

  • The dams in Kerala did not have an effective flood control zone and flood cushions.
  • The flood cushion or flood control zone was a temporary storage space for absorbing high flow for alleviating downstream flood damage.
  • None of the dams in the State were operated or used for the purpose of flood control and moderation, despite the obligation to utilise them for flood control as per the stipulations under the National Water Policy, National Disaster Management Authority guidelines on flood and RTIO (real-time integrated operation).
  • It seemed that high reservoir storage and sudden release of water had resulted in worsening the floods.
  • Various alerts (blue/orange/red) were issued not in accordance with the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) guidelines.
  • No proper follow-up action and effective precautionary steps, especially for evacuating people and accommodating them in safe locations, were taken after the issue of red alert.

No EAP in dams

  • None of the dams had EAP (Emergency Action Plan) despite the mandate of the National Disaster Management Authority to have it by 2009.
  • The EAP was a written document prepared by the dam operator and it contained plans to prevent or lessen the impact of a failure of the dam or appurtenant structure.
  • It could be inferred that most of the major reservoirs were almost full before the extreme rainfall and they did not have the capacity to accommodate the additional flow.
  • This compelled the authorities to release substantial amount of water from reservoirs in a short span of time at the peak of the rainfall.
  • Almost all dams released water only after the water level crossed the FRL (Full Reservoir Level) or reached the MWL (maximum water level).

Back2Baiscs

Amicus Curiae to the Court

  • An amicus curiae (literally, “friend of the court”; plural, amici curiae) is someone, who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party.
  • It is he/she who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

AFSPA partially withdrawn from Arunachal Pradesh

Mains Paper 3 : Linkages Between Development & Spread Of Extremism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AFSPA

Mains level : Controversy over use of AFSPA


News

  • The controversial AFSPA was partially removed from Arunachal Pradesh, 32 years after it was imposed, said MHA.

Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

  • AFSPA enacted by Parliament in 1958, is declared in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities.
  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts(AFSPA) are Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces and the state and paramilitary forces in areas classified as “disturbed areas”.
  • It gives powers to the army, state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • AFSPA is invoked when a case of militancy or insurgency takes place and the territorial integrity of India is at risk.
  • Security forces can “arrest a person without warrant”, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even based on “reasonable suspicion”.
  • It also provides security forces with legal immunity for their actions in disturbed areas.
  • While the armed forces and the government justify its need in order to combat militancy and insurgency, the Act has been associated with several human rights violations including fake encounters, rape, torture, abduction etc.

Background

  • The AFSPA – like many other controversial laws – is of a colonial origin. The AFSPA was first enacted as an ordinance in the backdrop of Quit India Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942.
  • A day after its launch on August 8, 1942, the movement became leaderless and turned violent at many places across the country. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, VB Patel and a host of others had been put behind the bars.
  • Shaken by the massive scale of violence across the country, the then Viceroy Linlithgow promulgated the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance, 1942.

With inputs from:

India Today

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

GI tag for Kandhamal and Erode Turmeric

Mains Paper 3 : Intellectual Property Rights |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kandhamal and Erode Turmeric

Mains level : GI Indications and their importance


  • ‘Kandhamal Haldi’, a variety of turmeric indigenous to southern Odisha, has earned the GI tag.
  • Earlier this month, Erode turmeric also got a GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry.

Kandhamal Haldi

  • Kandhamal in Odisha’s southern hinterland is famed for its turmeric, a spice that enjoys its pride of place in an array of cuisines.
  • The agricultural product also stands out for its healing properties and arresting aroma.
  • The GI tag was primarily developed with the purpose of recognising the unique identity connecting different products and places.
  • For a product to get GI tag it has to have a unique quality, reputation or characteristic which is attributable to its geographic origin. ‘Kandhamal Haldi’ has been placed under Class-30 type

Other associated facts

  • The Kandhamal turmeric was accorded the tag on the state’s Foundation Day.
  • Odisha, on April 1 1936, was carved out as a separate state in the then British India on a linguistic identity.

Erode turmeric

  • Erode turmeric is a rhizome, both finger and bulb obtained from the Erode local cultivar.
  • In its claim for uniqueness, the application said the mean length of the fingers of Erode turmeric was about 4.15cm and the mean circumference was about 3.03cm.
  • The mean bulb length of the mother rhizome is about 4.54cm and the mean circumference is 6.54cm.
  • Quality parameters of the turmeric included 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content, a golden yellow colour and resistence to pests after boiling.

Back2Basics

Geographical Indications in India

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are a total of 325productsfrom India that carry this indication.
  • Darjeeling Tea, Mahabaleshwar Strawberry, Blue Pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi Sarees and Tirupati Laddus are some of the GIs.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement. See also the Paris Convention, the Madrid Agreement, the Lisbon Agreement, the Geneva Act.
GI(Geographical Indicator) Tags

Rising sea levels to affect water table along Chennai’s shoreline

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Impacts of rising sea level on coastal India


News

  • The fragile water table in the coastal areas of Chennai is under threat of severe seawater intrusion due to anticipated rise in sea levels in the next few decades.
  • There is a rise in sea level by 2mm every year based on a report by the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) under the MoEFCC.

About INCCA

  • The INCCA is a proposed network of scientists in India to be set up to publish peer-reviewed findings on climate change in India.
  • It was announced on 7 October 2009.
  • It would operate as a sort of Indian ‘IPCC’.

Aquifers to become saline by 2100

  • The study has forecast the impact of sea level rise on the coastal aquifer in the coming years, till 2100.
  • The increasing sea level would also force the water table along the coastline to move upwards.
  • But it would slowly replace the freshwater at the bottom of the aquifer.
  • Given the rate of increase in sea level, the water table would witness an incursion of sea water to the extent of 2-3mm every year.
  • The volume of fresh water would gradually reduce in the coastal areas due to climate change-induced sea level rise.

Why this sudden threat?

  • Rapid urbanisation and indiscriminate drawal have already led to salt water intrusion in areas from the Adyar river to Palavakkam.
  • Residents are heavily dependent on other resources, including private water tankers.
  • The water table along ECR is fragile as it is surrounded by the sea, the Adyar river, the Buckingham canal and the backwaters of Muttukadu.

Way Forward

  • It is imperative to change the land-use pattern along the shoreline to tackle the impact of climate change.
  • Only minimal groundwater extraction through open wells must be allowed and water pumped in localities along the shoreline must be replenished through rainwater harvesting.
  • Large residential complexes must adopt other measures like permeable pavements.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Enforcing a ban will not end the menace of stubble burning, say, researchers

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Winter air pollution caused by stubble burning


News

  • A recent study says that the enforcement of the ban on stubble burning isn’t an only feasible solution.

Ground zero reality

  • On average, about 20 million tonnes of straw are generated in Punjab, and they barely have two to three weeks to dispose them off and prepare the fields for the next crop.
  • Hence the popularity of deploying stubble-burning as a quick and cheap solution.
  • For about a decade now the Centre has held this practice responsible for the abysmal air quality in the capital in winter.

Ban not a solution

  • According to the team, the government’s efforts earmarking funds for specialized farming equipment (for straw management) or enforcing the state-led ban on the practice are unlikely to solve the problem.
  • Farmer cooperative groups a key link between government and farmers ought to be playing a more active role in educating farmers.
  • The main message is that farmers are not to blame (for the pollution crisis).
  • There are deeper causes beyond economic incentives or awareness about the health consequences of burning at play.

Govt. measures so far

  • The Centre has spent about ₹600 crore in subsidizing farm equipment via village cooperatives to enable farmers to access them and avoid stubble burning.
  • In 2018, Punjab had disbursed about 8,000 farm implements to individual farmers and set up 4,795 custom hiring centers, from where such machinery could be leased.
  • However, the success of these efforts has been mixed, even though stubble-fires in 2018 were fewer than in 2017 and 2016, according to satellite maps by independent researchers.

What do researchers say?

  • The researchers found that farmers who had bigger landholdings were more likely to burn straw.
  • Those who used harvesters (for cutting the straw) as opposed to manual labourers were more likely to engage in burning.
  • On average, the input costs of farmers who burned straw were about ₹40,000 per acre and those who didn’t about ₹25,000 per acre.
  • However the incomes of those who burned and those who didn’t were closer about ₹60,000 and ₹50,000 respectively.

Way Forward

  • There needs to be greater participation by village cooperatives in being able to impose social norms that would dissuade burners.
  • Only educating farmers about the monetary costs of burning stubble can address the environmental crisis triggered every year.
Air Pollution

Mizoram passes bill to detect “illegal migrants”

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Mains level: Turmoil over citizenship in North East


News

  • Mizoram Assembly has passed a bill that seeks to detect “illegal migrants” at the village and town level and bring in punitive measures for those making a false statement during the exercise.

The Mizoram Maintenance of Household Register Bill, 2019

  • The bill is aimed at Chakma residents, who are often suspected to be illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.
  • It shall be the responsibility of every householder as well as every member of household in the state to furnish all such information, particulars and passport-size photographs of the members of the household as may be required by the registering authorities reads the bill.
  • The Bill further states that once the information prescribed by the state government is received, the concerned registering authority will compile the details in two distinct registers- one for the citizen residents and another for non-citizen residents of a village/area/town.
  • Information furnished by individuals for the registers would be verified and counter-signed by the president of the local branch of the state-level NGOs as may be designated by the state government from time to time.
  • The Bill says that all government departments and police may use the household registers for administrative purposes, during implementation of development schemes and law enforcement.

Why such move?

  • Influx of foreigners into Mizoram through its porous borders has remained a serious concern for several decades.
  • Mizoram has 510-km unfenced borders with Myanmar and 318-km with Bangladesh.
  • In many cases the benefit of development and welfare programmes are found eaten away to a large extent by such foreigners who clandestinely stayed back and got assimilated in the people.
Citizenship and Related Issues