Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 February 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 February 2019


Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Disaster and disaster management.

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP)

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of DRIP and states covered.
  • For Mains: Need for and significance of DRIP, why safety of dams is important?

Context: The 5th International Dam Safety Conference–2019 is being held in Bhubaneswar as a joint initiative of the Government of India, Government of Odisha and the World Bank under aegis of the ongoing World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) as a part of institutional strengthening.

Background:

Objectives: Dam Safety Conferences are being organized as an annual event in different DRIP States in collaboration with the Implementing Agencies and leading academic institutes to provide a common platform for all stakeholders including non-DRIP States.

Dam professionals, academicians, scientists, as well as industries both from within the country and from around the world gather to deliberate on all aspects related to dam safety and the solutions that worked best in addressing dam safety concerns.

Why ensure safety of dams in the country?

About 80% of our large dams are over twenty-five years old. About 209 dams are over 100 years old and were built in an era when design practices and safety considerations were much below the current design and safety norms. Several of these dams may be experiencing distress and are in need of attention for ensuring their structural safety and operational efficiency.

About DRIP:

The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the DAM REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (DRIP), which would be a six-year project.

The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.

Goals: The project originally envisaged the rehabilitation and improvement of about 223 dams within four states namely, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu and later Karnataka, Uttarakhand (UNVNL) and Jharkhand (DVC) joined DRIP and total number of dams covered under DRIP increased to 250. The project will also promote new technologies and improve Institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels and in some identified premier academic and research institutes of the country.

The project development objectives of DRIP are: (i) to improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and (ii) to strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.

Background:

Globally India ranks third after China and the USA in terms of the number of large dams with 5264 large dams in operation and 437 large dams under construction. The total storage capacity of the impounded water by these dams is about 283 billion cubic meters (BCM).


Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. e-technology in the aid of farmers.
  2. Infrastructure- energy.

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahaabhiyan or KUSUM scheme

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features and objectives of the scheme.
  • For Mains: Significance of the scheme, solar power potential of India, challenges therein and legislative measures needed.

Context: The Government is formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ which inter-alia aims to promote use of solar energy among the farmers.

About KUSUM scheme:

What is it? It is a ₹1.4 lakh-crore scheme for promoting decentralised solar power production of up to 28,250 MW to help farmers.

Benefits: It would provide extra income to farmers, by giving them an option to sell additional power to the grid through solar power projects set up on their barren lands. It would help in de-dieselising the sector as also the DISCOMS.

Components of the scheme: The components of the scheme include building 10,000 MW solar plants on barren lands and providing sops to DISCOMS to purchase the electricity produced, ‘solarising’ existing pumps of 7250 MW as well as government tube wells with a capacity of 8250 MW and distributing 17.5 lakh solar pumps. The 60% subsidy on the solar pumps provided to farmers will be shared between the Centre and the States while 30% would be provided through bank loans. The balance cost has to be borne by the farmers.

Significance of the scheme: Expected positive outcomes of the scheme include promotion of decentralised solar power production, reduction of transmission losses as well as providing support to the financial health of DISCOMs by reducing the subsidy burden to the agriculture sector. The scheme would also promote energy efficiency and water conservation and provide water security to farmers.

The proposed scheme provides for:

  1. Setting up of grid-connected renewable power plants each of 500KW to 2 MW in the rural area.
  2. Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid.
  3. Solarization of existing grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also sell surplus solar power generated to Discom and get extra income.

Mains Question: Discuss the objectives and features of the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) scheme.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. IP related issues.

Bill to amend Cinematograph Act

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, significance and the need for the Act.

Context: The union government has introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Cinematograph Act and impose strict penalty to combat the menace of film piracy.

Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  1. The Bill seeks to amend provisions of Cinematograph Act, 1952, in order to tackle film piracy by including penal provisions for unauthorized camcording and duplication of films.
  2. It aims to check piracy, particularly the release of pirated versions of films on the internet that causes huge losses to the film industry and the exchequer.
  3. The bill proposes to make film piracy offences punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and fines that may extend to ₹10 lakh or both.
  4. The proposed amendment states that any person, who without the written authorisation of the copyright owner, uses any recording device to make or transmit a copy of a film, or attempts to do so, or abet the making or transmission of such a copy, will be liable for such a punishment.

Significance and Expected Outcomes:

The film industry has been demanding for a long time that the government consider amendments to the law preventing camcording and piracy. The proposed amendments would increase industry revenues, boost job creation, fulfil important objectives of India’s National Intellectual Property policy. It will give relief against piracy and infringing content online.


Paper 1 and 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Women related issues.
  2. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Swachh Shakti 2019

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About Swachh Shakti awards and their significance.

Context: Swachh Shakti 2019 Awards were recently distributed by the PM on the occasion of Swach Shakti 2019 programme.

Swachh Shakti Programme:

  1. The Swachh Shakti Programme is a national event which aims to bring in to focus the leadership role played by rural women in Swachh Bharat Mission.
  2. Launched in 2017, the Programme is a part of ongoing activities under the aegis of the Swachh Bharat Mission, launched on October 2, 2014 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to achieve a clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019.
  3. The programme is attended by women panchs and sarpanchs from across the country.
  4. The first edition of Swachh Shakti programme was launched from Gandhinagar, Gujarat by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on International Women’s Day 2017. The second edition was launched from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

Relevant articles from Various News Papers:

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

World Government Summit

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About World Government Summit- objectives, composition and significance.

Context: The seventh annual World Government Summit is being held in Dubai (UAE).

About World Government Summit:

  1. The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of government worldwide. Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments with a focus on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
  2. It is basically a knowledge exchange center at the intersection between government, futurism, technology, and innovation. It functions as a thought leadership platform and networking hub for policymakers, experts, and pioneers in human development.
  3. The Summit is a gateway to the future as it functions as a stage for analysis of the future trends, issues, and opportunities facing humanity. It is also an arena to showcase innovations, best practice, and smart solutions to inspire creativity to tackle these future challenges.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Minority Status of Aligarh Muslim University

What to study?

  • For Prelims: All about minority status and constitutional provisions related.
  • For Mains: Controversy over issuance of minority status to AMU- should it be given?

Context: The Supreme Court has referred the petition seeking withdrawal of minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University to a seven-judge bench.

  • The matter has been referred to the larger bench to determine the correctness of minority status of AMU and to define the parameters for granting minority status to the institution.

What’s the issue?

In 1981, an amendment was brought in to accord the university minority status, which was held as unconstitutional by the Allahabad High Court. The Attorney General had told the Supreme Court that the Aligarh Muslim University could not be categorised as a minority institution.

  1. After the Allahabad High Court recognised the university as a non-minority institution in 2006, the Congress-led UPA government had filed a plea challenging the verdict.
  2. The NDA government in 2016 told the Supreme Court that it was withdrawing the appeal filed by the previous government saying that the university was set up by a Central Act, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had held it as a “central university” and not a minority institution.

What is the ‘minority character’ of an educational institution?

Article 30(1) of the Constitution gives all religious and linguistic minorities the right to set up and run educational institutions, including schools, colleges and universities. The law guarantees that governments will not discriminate in giving aid on the basis of their being ‘minority’ institutions, thus sealing in a commitment by the Government of India to allow minorities to flourish.

Why this provision was included in the constitution?

This was done to assure minorities of being able to maintain and propagate their unique and special educational aspects.

Background:

  • AMU was founded as the Madrasatul Uloom in 1875 in Aligarh, and evolved into the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College. The seeds of Jamia Millia Islamia were sown in Aligarh by a group of nationalist students and members who formed a camp there as Jamia Millia Islamia, which later moved to Delhi. Leaders like M A Ansari, Zakir Husain and Mahatma Gandhi encouraged the university to push nationalist values and ideas.
  • However, there was friction between JMI and AMU along political lines, as a significant section at AMU was said to be tilting towards the Muslim League, while the ‘nationalist’ JMI was wholeheartedly supported by the Congress.

Way ahead:

Protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilization. These guarantees are essential in a democratic and pluralistic country like India. The framers of the constitution showed utmost sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of the minorities. Accordingly, special safeguards were guaranteed to the minorities and were incorporated in the chapter on fundamental rights with a view to inculcate in them a sense of confidence and security.

Special rights enjoyed by religious minority institutions are:

  1. Under Art 30(1)(a), such institutions enjoy right to education as a Fundamental Right. In case the property is taken over by state, due compensation to be provided to establish institutions elsewhere.
  2. Under Article 15(5), they are not considered for reservation.
  3. Under Right to Education Act, they are not required to provide admission to children in the age group of 6-14 years upto 25% of enrolment reserved for economically backward section of society.
  4. In St Stephens vs Delhi University case, 1992, SC ruled that these institutions can have 50% seats reserved for minorities.
  5. In TMA Pai & others vs State of Karnataka & others 2002 case, SC ruled that they can have separate admission process which is fair, transparent and merit based. They can also separate fee structure but should not charge capitation fee.

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: In the light of recent controversy over the status of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) as a minority institution, do you agree with the argument that setting up minority institution in a secular state is wrong? Critically comment.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

Formalin in Fish

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Formalin in fish- why is used? Its effects, measures needed and the need for complete ban.

Context: With many in Odisha’s dried-fish industry continuing to use formalin despite being warned, the state government is planning to take measures including punishments, awareness and introduction of new hygenic methods.

About Formalin:

  • Formalin is a toxic, colourless solution that is derived by dissolving formaldehyde gas in water.
  • It is a cancer-inducing chemical used to preserve fish and is used as a disinfectant. It is used in the manufacture of pesticides, fertilisers, glue, paper and paint, among other products.
  • Formalin causes irritation in the eyes, throat, skin and stomach. In the long run continued exposure causes harm to the kidneys, liver and can even cause cancers.
  • Formaldehyde is a highly reactive, flammable gas, which means it can become a fire hazard when exposed to flame or heat.

Why is fish laced with formalin?

Fish is a highly perishable commodity. If it isn’t maintained at the proper temperature of 5 degree Celsius, it gets spoilt. To avoid that and increase its shelf life, the sellers now use chemicals such as formalin and ammonia.

If the point of sale is far from the place of catch, formalin is used as a preservative. Meanwhile, ammonia is mixed with the water that is frozen to keep fish fresh.

Related facts- Operation Sagar Rani:

In June 2018, Kerala food safety department officials seized nearly 9,600 kg of fish preserved in formalin at a border check post in Kollam district. The seized fish included 7,000 kg of prawns and 2,600 kg of other species. The seizure was part of ‘Operation Sagar Rani’ launched by the state.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Minimum support for minor forest produce

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About MFP and how are they protected, need for revision of MSP.
  • For Mains: Significance of MSP and the need for ensuring rights of tribals on MFP.

Context: The Centre will frame new guidelines and extend the coverage of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for minor forest produce (MFP) scheme, which is aimed at benefiting a majority of 10 crore tribals. The government is also considering increasing the MSP for various MFPs by around 40%.

Background:

The MSP for MFP scheme was started by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013 to ensure fair and remunerative prices to MFP gatherers.

Significance of MFP:

Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.

  • It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.
  • This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.

Need of the hour:

While it has been more than five years since the scheme was launched, it has not been implemented properly. Improving the implementation of the scheme is the need of the hour to benefit the forest-dwelling and forest-dependent communities. Moreover, despite the MFP rights being given to tribal communities under the Forest Rights Act, many states have nationalised MFPs like tendu, monopolising their trade, which is against the law.

Related facts for Prelims- About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans. It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level. Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.

Sources: down to earth.

Mains Question: Recognition of tribal rights over non-timber forest products (NTFPs) would accelerate empowerment of the poor and marginalised. Comment.  


Facts for Prelims:

1st Aqua Mega Food Park in Andhra Pradesh:

Context: The government has commissioned Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park at Tundurru Village in Bhimavaram Mandal, West Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh.

  • This is the 1st Mega Aqua Food Park operationalised exclusively established for fish and marine products processing in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
  • It will provide a platform and establish backward and forward linkages covering the entire aqua food processing value chain, quality assurance, food safety and implementation of best practices in post-harvest management.

Mohar reservoir project:

Context: The Chhattisgarh Water Resources Department (CWRD) commenced the work on Mohar Reservoir Project in Balod district without ensuring the land required was acquired and obtaining environment and forest clearances, says the latest Comptroller and Auditor General report on Chhattisgarh.

Key facts: The Mohar reservoir project is proposed across the confluence of river Dangarh and Dalekasa with a catchment of 143 square km. The gross command area of the project is 1100 hectares. The proposed project is expected to irrigate 800 hectares of Kharif paddy and supply 1000 million cubic (1 TMC) water by feeder canal to Kharkhara reservoir for 500MW power plant of NSPCL in Bhilai.

Crying Keelback:

Context: Researchers find new snake in Arunachal- Crying Keelback (named for the mark below its eyes, that gives the illusion that it is crying) snake or the Hebius lacrima.

  • The Crying Keelback has a set of characteristics that together make it different from other species in the Habeas genus: the mark under its eyes, the interrupted pale head stripe, among others.

Summaries of important Editorials:

A case for Commons sense

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-case-for-commons-sense/article26252368.ece.

Summary: The editorial discusses about the rich inherited biodiversity, the need to protect and use sustainably, issues associated, the role of CBD and what needs to be done in near future.

Background- principle of ‘Commons’:

For thousands of years, humans have considered natural resources and the environment as a global public good, with communities having diligently managed these resources using the principle of ‘Commons’.

In simple terms, these are a set of resources such as air, land, water and biodiversity that do not belong to one community or individual, but to humanity. All developments we see in the establishment of civilisations across the world as well as agricultural development feeding the world today are a result of such ‘Commons’ being managed by communities for centuries.

Significance of Commons:

  1. According to estimates, a third of the global population depends on ‘Commons’ for their survival; 65% of global land area is under ‘Commons’, in different forms.
  2. At least 293,061 million metric tonnes of carbon (MtC) are stored in the collective forestlands of indigenous peoples and local communities. This is 33 times the global energy emissions in 2017.
  3. The significance of ‘Commons’ in supporting pollination (the cost estimated to be worth $224 billion annually at global levels) cannot be overlooked.
  4. In India, the extent of ‘Common’ land ranges between 48.69 million and 84.2 million hectares, constituting 15-25% of its total geographical area.
  5. ‘Common’-pool resources contribute $5 billion a year to the incomes of poor Indian households.
  6. Around 77% of India’s livestock is kept in grazing-based or extensive systems and dependent on ‘Commons’ pool resources. And 53% of India’s milk and 74% of its meat requirements are met from livestock kept in extensive ‘Common’ systems.
  7. ‘Commons’ are now a major provider of livelihood options for both urban and peri-urban populations. The relevance of ‘Commons’ impacting urban dwellers cannot be overlooked with more urbanisation happening.

What are the main concerns now?

With money and power to privatise these natural resources for individual prosperity in the form of property management principles, intellectual property rights and others, the benefits of these natural resources are not being shared equally.

In one form the CBD — a multi-lateral environmental agreement that has provided legal certainty to countries through the principle of sovereign rights over biodiversity — also contributed to states now owning the resources, including their rights on use and management.

The intent of the CBD and having sovereign rights was to manage resources better. But the results of such management have been questionable. A key reason cited is that ‘Commons’ and common property resource management principles and approaches are ignored and compromised.

India’s case:

Despite their significance, ‘Commons’ in India have suffered continued decline and degradation.

  • National Sample Survey Office data show a 1.9% quinquennial rate of decline in the area of ‘Common’ lands, though microstudies show a much more rapid decline of 31-55% over 50 years, jeopardising the health of systemic drivers such as soil, moisture, nutrient, biomass and biodiversity, in turn aggravating food, fodder and water crises.
  • As of 2013, India’s annual cost of environmental degradation has been estimated to be ₹3.75 trillion per year, i.e. 5.7% of GDP according to the World Bank.

Why worry about this?

‘Commons’ becoming uncommon is a major socio-political, economic and environmental problem. While the state can have oversight over resource management, keeping people away from using and managing ‘Commons’ is against effective governance of ‘Commons’.

The sovereign rights provided for, legally, under the CBD should not be misunderstood by the state as a handle to do away with ‘Commons’-based approaches to managing biodiversity, land, water and other resources.

Need of the hour:

Current discussions under the United Nations should focus on how and why ‘Commons’ have been negatively impacted by progressive pronouncements to save the earth and people. There needs to be a review of current governance of biodiversity and natural resources.

In addition to seeking more money, time and capacities to deal with biodiversity and natural resource management, we need to focus on three specific approaches:

  1. To re-introduce more strongly, the management and governance principles of ‘Commons’ approaches into decision-making and implementation of conservation, use and benefit sharing action.
  2. To use Joseph Schumpeter’s approach of creative destruction to put resource management in the hands of the people.
  3. To re-look at Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize winning principles of dealing with ‘Commons’.

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