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Disclaimer
The current affairs articles are segregated from prelims and mains perspective, such
separation is maintained in terms of structure of articles. Mains articles have more
focus on analysis and prelims articles have more focus on facts.
However, this doesn’t mean that Mains articles don’t cover facts and PT articles can’t
have analysis. You are suggested to read all of them for all stages of examination.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS ANALYST


WEEK-3 (FEBRUARY, 2019)

CONTENTS
Section - A: Mains Current Affairs

Area of GS Topics in News Page No.


Economics  Need for an Independent Fiscal Council 06
 Cambridge Analytica Scandal & Ethics of Micro-
Ethics 09
targeting and Big-Data
 Electric Vehicle Policy for Combating Pollution in
Governance 11
India
Indian  Increase in Subsidy Expenditure of Central
13
Economy Government
Polity  The Migrants Indian Democracy Forgot 16
 Tuberculosis: Status in India and Bedaquiline Patent
Social Issues 19
Challenge

Section - B: Prelims Current Affairs


Area of GS Topics in News Page No.
 Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund 24
Economy  Generalised System of Preferences 25
 Kisan Credit Card 26
 13 CoP of Bonn Convention
th
27
Environment  Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants
28
Programme
Geography  Shifting of North Magnetic Pole 30
 MoU between Competition Commission of India and
31
GeM
Governance
 PMUY crossed the 6 crore mark of LPG connections 31
 Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis 32
International
 China halts India’s entry into NSG 33
Relations
Polity  VVPATs to be used in Lok Sabha Elections 34
Social Issues  Darwaza Band Part-2 35
ECONOMICS IN NEWS 37

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SECTION: A
(MAINS)
CURRENT AFFAIRS

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NEED FOR AN INDEPENDENT FISCAL COUNCIL


CONTEXT
 The most standout feature of this year’s Union Budget discussion has been the concern with the credibility of
the budget numbers.
 It has been observed that revenues are systematically overestimated while spending is systematically
underestimated in the budget.
 The NK Singh committee on fiscal responsibility and budget management had recommended setting up an
independent fiscal council to keep tabs on and better manage public debt.

€ ABOUT: the state of public finances and to come up with


its own assessments, if not its own projections, of
 Countries with independent fiscal councils tend to government revenues and expenditures.
produce relatively more accurate budget forecasts
 In 2018, the D.K. Srivastava committee on
and stick better to fiscal rules, research suggests.
fiscal statistics established by the National
 The over-ambitious revenue targets combined Statistical Commission (NSC) also suggested the
with the lack of transparency in tax administration establishment of a fiscal council that could co-
lead overzealous taxmen to exceed their brief in a ordinate with all levels of government to provide
quest to fulfil unrealistic targets. harmonized fiscal statistics across governmental
 Also, a 2017 CAG report found that the tax levels and provide an annual assessment of overall
department had resorted to ‘irregular’ and public sector borrowing requirements.
‘unwarranted’ methods to meet targets.
 Thus, the FRBM report has recommended € ANALYSIS:
establishing a fiscal council to advise and assess
government’s spending and fiscal policy, The conduct of Fiscal Policy: A major area
 In 2017, the N.K. Singh committee on the review of government failure
of fiscal rules set up by the finance ministry
suggested the creation of an independent fiscal  Worldwide experience has shown pro-cyclicality in
council that would provide forecasts and advise the conduct of fiscal policy.
the government on whether conditions exist for  Myopic view of the policy makers and in particular,
deviation from the mandated fiscal rules. electoral budget cycles imparts a deficit bias in
calibrating fiscal policy.

€ BACKGROUND:  This is aided further by the lack of transparency


and fiscal illusion.
 The FRBM Review Committee headed by NK Singh
was appointed by the government to review the Why there is a need for Fiscal Council?
implementation of FRBM.
 With a complex polity and manifold development
 In its report submitted in January 2017, titled, challenges, India need institutional mechanisms
‘The Committee in its Responsible Growth: A Debt for prudent fiscal practices.
and Fiscal Framework for 21st Century India’, the
 An independent fiscal council can bring about
Committee suggested that a rule based fiscal much needed transparency and accountability in
policy by limiting government debt, fiscal deficit fiscal processes across the federal polity.
and revenue deficits to certain targets is good for
fiscal consolidation in India.  International experience suggests that a fiscal
council improves the quality of debate on public
 Fiscal councils are now part of the institutional finance, and that, in turn, helps build public opinion
fiscal apparatus of over 80 countries, including favourable to fiscal discipline.
several emerging and developing economies.
 In a globalised world of enormous capital flows,
 Also, in past, it has been observed, that the finance market volatility across the world and especially in
ministry tends to overstate revenue projections emerging markets, in response to monetary policy
and understate expenditures. changes in major economies, and geopolitical
 One way to such problems is to institute an tensions that ebb and flow, causing currencies and
independent and statutory watchdog to oversee commodity prices to swing, countries like India

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need macroeconomic management as an active  The council is supposed to be appointed by, and
function round the year. report to, Parliament and should have its own
budget.
 Also, it is supposed to report to the parliament
regarding the practicability of government  The functions of the council include ex ante
forecasts in the budget. This will make executive evaluation of the fiscal implications of the budget
more responsible in budget preparation. proposals which includes evaluation of how real the
forecasts are and their consistency with the fiscal
 For the last eight years the projections of the rules and estimating the cost of various proposals
government has fallen short by a consistent 10 made in the budget.
percent, leading to fund cuts in the middle of the
 The ex post evaluation and monitoring of the
year. Thus, an independent Fiscal council would
budget was left to the CAG.
evaluate budget proposals and forecasts using
objective criteria.
Way Ahead
 This would also boost confidence in global
 Apart from advisory functions, it will forecast key
credit rating agencies about government’s fiscal
macro variables like real and nominal GDP growth,
commitment.
tax buoyancy, and commodity prices.
Main functions of Fiscal Council:-  Similarly, it will do a monitoring role about the use
of escape clause and also specify a path of return.
 The 14th Finance Commission recommended
 Monetary policy has received wider public
that an independent Fiscal Council should be
attention, after the setting up of the Monetary
established through an amendment to the FRBM
Policy Committee.
Act, by inserting a new Section mandating the
establishment of an independent Fiscal Council to  A fiscal council could do the same for fiscal policy,
undertake ex ante assessment of budget proposals with regular meetings that produce assessments.
and to ensure their consistency with fiscal policy Further, the working of a fiscal council would help
and Rules. harmonizing fiscal policy with monetary policy.

Practice Question
 The 14th ϐinance Commission has recommended establishment of an independent Fiscal Council, so
that budget numbers meet with less skepticism than they do today. Discuss. Also, critically examine
how important it is to maintain the independence of this body with least political interference.

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Need for an independent


Fiscal Council
Context
It has been observed that revenues are systematically overestimated while spending
is systematically underestimated in the budget.The NK Singh committee on fiscal
responsibility and budget management had recommended setting up an independent
fiscal council to keep tabs on and better manage public debt.

For the last eight years the projections of the


government has fallen short by a consistent 10
percent, leading to fund cuts in the middle of the year.

With a complex polity and An independent fiscal council can International experience suggests
manifold development bring about much needed that a fiscal council improves the
challenges, India needs transparency and quality of debate on public finance,
institutional mechanisms for accountability in fiscal processes and that, in turn, helps build public
prudent fiscal practices across the federal polity. opinion favourable to fiscal discipline.

would also boost


confidence in
global credit rating
agencies about
government’s
fiscal commitment
The 14th Finance Commission recommended that an independent Fiscal
Council should be established through an amendment to the FRBM Act

It would undertake ex ante assessment of budget proposals


and to ensure their consistency with fiscal policy and Rules

It will forecast key macro variables It will perform a monitoring role, besides
like real and nominal GDP growth, tax advising about the use of escape clause and
buoyancy, and commodity prices also specify a path of return

Bottomline
Monetary policy has received wider public attention, after the setting up of the Monetary Policy Committee.
A fiscal council could do the same for fiscal policy, with regular meetings that produce assessments.
Further, the working of a fiscal council would help harmonising fiscal policy with monetary policy.

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CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL & ETHICS OF


MICRO-TARGETING AND BIG-DATA
CONTEXT
 A watershed moment in case of personal data and data breach came about in early 2018, when it was revealed
that Cambridge Analytica had harvested and used personal data of over 87 million people’s Facebook profiles,
without their consent, for political purposes.
 With the general elections in India on the anvil and increasing use of social media by the people and the political
parties alike, the issue of big-data and data-mining becomes important.

€ BACKGROUND: which resonated with their personality types more


effectively (Echo-chamber effect). Cambridge
 The social media giant, Facebook, was founded Analytica collected personal data of people
by Mark Zuckerberg with a vision to connect without their consent because of this update and
people in 2004 and became the most popular used it for political purposes.
social media company with over 2.19 billion active
monthly users by early 2018. However, several
security concerns marred its growth with time, one € ANALYSIS
such being the Cambridge Analytica data breach
issue. Cambridge Analytica (CA), a London-based Ethical Issues associated with the Data
elections consultancy firm, was one of the many Breach Scandal:
data analytics companies which used data from
social networking sites for academic research  Breach of trust of millions of Facebook users
purposes. The data was allegedly used to micro- by compromising of their personal data and
target the voters in favour of Donald Trump during other issues like Data breach, Data privacy &
the United States of America (USA) presidential Data protection, Crisis Management, Cyber Risk
elections of 2016. Further, the data was also used Assessments, Cyber Security, etc. at social media
to turn the Brexit referendum in favour of ‘leave’ sites like Facebook.
campaign and Mexican general elections in 2018.  Profiling, micro-targeting of populace and
 The possible electoral manipulations through electoral manipulations by the data analytic firms,
various surveys by the daughter companies of and their effect on democratic choices that people
Cambridge Analytica is presently under scanner make. Although, profiling is essential for organised
in India, too, as various political parties like Indian data-set formulation and effective policy-making,
National Congress (INC), Janata Dal (United) (JDU), ethical issue begins when one profiles for sensitive
etc. have been clients of these companies. themes, regarding individual and group data
 Facebook, initially was defensive in approach and protection, such as political affiliation, sexual
denied such breach. There was a lack of follow- orientation, or health. Such information has the
up action by Facebook upon knowledge of use of potential for getting misused for political or
data by third party such as Cambridge Analytica criminal ends. In case of Cambridge Analytica,
and lack of deletion of such data later on. such sensitive information was collected without
the consent of the people.
 Later, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer
(CEO), Mark Zuckerberg publicly apologized for  Politics is the game of perception and phenomenon
the breach of trust of the million users on account like fake news, filter bubble, echo-chambers, etc.
of the scandal and promised to take corrective are increasingly being used for electoral gains by
measures towards data-protection. the various political factions in all the countries
alike, in today’s times.
How the scandal unfolded?  Nudging’ is another issue. Nudges could be
conscious or subconscious triggers and are used to
 In 2010, Facebook came up with an update through elicit a certain response in people. The phenomenon
which, external developers (third-party apps) of nudging is used in marketing for manipulating
could reach out to Facebook users and request consumer behaviour. The case in point went
permission to access their personal data and that beyond nudging as sensitive data was used to
of their friends. Then the third-party apps would manipulate people by using unconscious desires
use various quantitative instruments to probe and psychological mechanisms undermining their
the underlying traits that form the personality to personal freedom of choice. As per a Google’s
micro-target people by providing them messages ethicist, “if you control the menu, you control the

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choice, and if you control the choice, you control  The service provider, like Facebook, must have
the behaviour”. Hence, the independent decision- some obligations on them as well. The companies
making ability of the people was compromised need to protect privacy by default and data
without their consent or knowledge which could protection should be the norm. The management
be termed as cerebral hacking of people. of the companies need to have an ethical code
to follow while using the public data for their
 Loss of credibility of information, news and
organisational gains. The data-mining must not
of scientific facts due to data manipulation and
result in exploitation of people.
breaches like Cambridge Analytica’s. One of the
biggest challenges of Facebook would be to regain  Data protection laws like General Data Protection
the trust of its users and its reputation post the Regulation (GDPR) of Europe, to protect the
data breach. personal data. India, also, has formed Justice
BN Krishna Committee to formulate model data
Way Forward: protection law. Privacy has been termed as a
fundamental right under the Indian Constitution
 Political campaigning has become much more by the Supreme Court of India.
data-driven due to increasing role of cyber-space
in our lives. However, the tech-companies should Concluding point:
use data in a way that complies with the law.
Politicians, also, must set an example by promoting  Data is the new oil and data science is one of the
data protection and not use data to manipulate most important field to influence the world that
we live in and its role is going to increase further
the elections in their favour.
in future. It can help to empower the economy &
 People’s perception of their privacy, security and democracy, but most importantly, it can lead to
protection of their data is very essential as demand empowerment of people, improve transparency
for a strong data protection regime can only come in politics and business. Its role in policy-making
from people’s end. Also, the socialisation process and making a better connected world cannot be
and education system has a role to play to infuse a undermined, however, protection of data is the
strong sense of ethics in people. clarion call of the time.

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ELECTRIC VEHICLE POLICY FOR COMBATING


POLLUTION IN INDIA
CONTEXT
 The During winters, the condition only worsens. According to an IIT-Kanpur study, done for 2013-14, vehicles
are the second largest and the “most consistent” contributing source of pollutants PM10 and PM2.5 during
winters.
 In terms of percentage, vehicular pollution contributes about 20-25 per cent of overall air pollution during
winters in Delhi. Action needs to be taken to minimize the use of private vehicles, which contribute nearly 40
per cent to air pollution in Delhi

€ ABOUT € BACKGROUND

Pollution situation in India What has happened over the past 2 years?
 In India, transport sector is one of the fastest  The government had initially decided to promote
growing sectors. Within this sector, two-wheelers only electric vehicles to reduce pollution levels. It
are the dominating sector, which accounts for had also proposed to shift all public transport and
30% of private vehicles to electric by 2030. Later,
almost 75% of total vehicle in country. These
it shelved its plan to form an India EV policy and
increasing numbers of vehicle raise the local
decided to promote zero-emission technologies.
challenges such as congestion on road and Through Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), the
deterioration of air quality. government put out a tender to procure 10,000
 Transportation accounts for about 11 per cent of electric cars, which was won by Tata Motors Ltd
India’s carbon emissions and is a major source of and Mahindra and Mahindra. Procurement has
air pollution in several cities nationwide. As many been delayed due to lack of car charging points.
as 14 of the world’s top 20 most-polluted cities  Only electric 3 wheelers have been partly successful,
are in India, according to a 2018 World Health however, not much diffusion of electric vehicles
Organization (WHO) report. has happened within 2 wheelers, 4 wheelers and
city bus fleets.
India’s policy concerning electric vehicles
How are Indian firms placed in the game?
and its analysis
 Mahindra has a first-mover advantage in electric
 India’s EV policy aims to cut emissions, even mobility. The company plans to make 60,000
though more than 70% of electricity is generated electric vehicles annually from 2020. The Indian
from dirty sources such as coal. With thermal unit of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd is
power as the mainstay, more will be needed to expected to launch its electric vehicle in 2019, while
seamlessly charge the batteries for electric vehicles, Maruti Suzuki will enter the market by 2020. Tata
thereby denting the credibility of India’s emission- Motors has developed the requisite technology.
reduction goals. Many two-wheeler firms have also invested in
developing products in the electric space.
 That notwithstanding, the plan envisages 30% EVs
on India’s roads by 2030. With an existing vehicular
population of more than 210 million and swelling, € ANALYSIS
it’s hard to see how this transformation will happen
in about a decade. Future of electric vehicles is public transport
and electric two-wheelers
 Compare this with countries like Britain, chasing
similar outcomes. Britain seeks to halve fossil fuel According to research reports India will have better
vehicles by 2030, but has just about 38 million progress on electric two-wheelers, rickshaws and
vehicles on its roads, is power surplus, and by electric buses over the next 10 years.
2025, will eliminate coal-fired power. All of which  By 2040, EVs will constitute only 40 per cent of the
lends some credence to its green goals. total passenger vehicle fleet in India

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 At the end of 2017, there were just 6,000 highway-  Last Mile Connectivity
capable electric cars plying on Indian roads, which  Ensuring first and last mile connectivity is
is a minuscule number when compared to the critical for adoption of public transportation,
overall numbers of total cars on Indian roads and the intermediate para-transit sector is
 The BNEF study says that the annual sales of EVs critical in this. In India, this sector is riddled
will reach 30,000 units in 2022 as opposed to 2,000 with problems, with a large number of un-
units in 2017 regulated transportation formats. This may
be a viable opportunity for governments and
 And if the sale of EVs grows as the study has
policy-makers to rethink their approach to
predicted, they will constitute about 6.6 per cent regulation of this critical sector.
of annual vehicle sales by 2030 and go up to 27
per cent by 2040  Policy Clarity and stability
 Also, by 2040, about 13 per cent of the passenger  The auto industry in India has been taken
vehicles plying on Indian roads will be electric by by surprise by the governments sudden
2040 thrust towards EVs. Barring Mahindra Electric
Mobility Limited, which already has two BEVs
Major challenges to look into: in its stable, most of the other domestic and
international auto majors were planning on
 Charging Infrastructure launching micro hybrids, medium and heavy
hybrids and PHEVs in phases starting from
 Solving this problem is central to driving
2018 – 2020. With the withdrawal of FAME
adoption of electric vehicles. It will also
incentives and increase in tax rate post GST,
determine the kind of vehicles and the
most of the auto makers have called off fresh
applications for which they will be suitable.
hybrid vehicle launches.
While wide availability of charging facilities
would take care of range-related anxiety and  What the industry expects from the government is
encourage increasing adoption of electric to stay consistent with policies that have already
vehicles, this is expected to take time. This been announced (subsidies, taxation etc.) as huge
means that early adopters will have to make investments go into new technology development
do with applications with a limited range, and companies need long term stability to
which can be serviced by batteries for on- recover these investments. They also would like
government to participate in putting charging
board charging.
stations and other infrastructure building required
 Urban Planning to prepare the nation for EV wave.

 Electric mobility can also be expected to  How electric vehicles can tackle the
have an impact on how future Indian cities pollution and carbon emission?
will need to be designed. Space will have to
 Electric vehicles’ engines don’t churn out
be allocated for the creation of large-scale
polluting fumes, making them the obvious
charging infrastructure, where large fleets of
choice for improving local air quality in
vehicles can be accommodated while they are towns and cities. But although they have the
being charged. This is especially true in the potential to drastically cut pollution, they
case of India where open urban spaces and are only as green as the electricity they run
proper parking facilities are a rarity. Moreover, on. Given that most electricity globally is still
increasing adoption of public or shared produced by burning fossil fuels, charging
mobility options will also affect commute an electric car can indirectly generate similar
distances, travel modes and various other amounts of greenhouse gases to a petrol-
factors necessitating recalibration of how and powered vehicle, particularly in countries
where urban services are provided. This will that rely heavily on coal power. As the world
have an impact on the design of residential embraces renewable energy, electric cars will
neighbourhoods, workplaces, shopping increasingly gain the upper hand in years to
districts and entertainment facilities. come.

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INCREASE IN SUBSIDY EXPENDITURE OF CENTRAL


GOVERNMENT
CONTEXT
 Government’s total expenditure on subsidies is expected to make up 9.83% of its total expenditure overall in
2019-20. Whereas, revised estimates for last year have also increased from 9.65%.
 With the rise in crude oil prices and the depreciation of the rupee, gross under-recoveries of the oil marketing
companies for the ongoing fiscal are estimated to exceed the budgetary allocation for fuel subsidies, exerting
pressure on the overall fiscal deficit target.

€ ABOUT- Sugar Sector:


 This increase in subsidies is significant when viewed  Due to surplus sugar production and depressed
against the backdrop of a consistent annual fall ex-mill prices of sugar the liquidity position of
from 18.2% in 2012-13 to present 8.15% in 2017- sugar mills was adversely affected.
18.  With a view to improve the liquidity position
 If the trend of rising subsidy prices continues into of sugar mills enabling them to clear cane price
the future, then it could certainly be a matter of arrears of farmers, the Government has taken the
concern when it comes to the government’s fiscal following measures during last few months-
consolidation plans.  In order to prevent cash loss and to facilitate
sugar mills to clear cane dues of farmers in
time, the Government has fixed a minimum
€ ANALYSIS:
selling price of sugar at Rs.29/kg for sale at
factory gate in domestic market, below which
Reason for this reversal: no sugar mill can sell sugar.
 Sharp rise seen in the food and petroleum subsidies  Extending Assistance to sugar mills @
over the last two budgets (2018-19 and 2019-20). Rs.13.88/quintal of cane crushed for sugar
 Food subsidies increased by 70.8%. season 2018-19 to offset the cost of cane
amounting to about Rs.4163 crore.
 The increase in the food subsidy allocation is a
reflection of the increase in the Minimum Support The importance of Fossil fuels:
Prices hiked across the board.
 India imports 84% of the petroleum products
 Petroleum subsidies have increased by 50.9%.
consumed in the country.
 The reason for the increase in the petroleum
 This implies that any change in the global prices of
subsidy is because of an increased allocation
crude oil has a significant impact on the domestic
for the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for LPG
price of petroleum.
(government’s focus on LPG as a source of cleaner
cooking fuel).  In 2000-01, net import of petroleum products
constituted 75% of the total consumption in the
 The government has two major schemes in the
LPG sector: country. This increased to 95% in 2016-17.

 PAHAL scheme: Direct cash transfers to  The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas provides
LPG consumers for 12 numbers of 14.2 kg subsidy on LPG cylinders and kerosene.
cylinders per year.  This subsidy seeks to fill the gap between production
 Ujjwala Yojana: Seeks to give free LPG cost of these petroleum products, and the price at
connections to poor households. which they are provided to consumers.
 The production cost of these items is dependent
Elaboration of Schemes/Programmes in the on the global crude oil price, which the primary
“Food and agriculture” sector: input.
 Implementation of the National Food Security Under-recoveries:
Act, 2013 (NFSA): NFSA is benefiting 80.72 crore
persons in the country by providing them access  Under-recovery refers to the difference in the cost
to highly subsidized food grains at Rs.1/2/3 per kg of producing petroleum products, and the price at
for coarse grains/wheat/rice respectively. which they are delivered to consumers.

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 They indicate the loss incurred by oil marketing  So far, only few sectors have seen successful
companies while supplying these products. This transition from wholly subsidy based support to
difference is shared by the central government market led utilization e.g. road transport and life
and the oil companies. insurance sectors
 Medical, Education, Farming, Higher skill building
The “Monday Blue” factors: training, electricity, railways and fossil fuel sectors
 Available information indicated the prospect are still heavily dependent on the government
of a slippage in the fiscal deficit target for FY19 coffers.
because of an anticipated shortfall in the budgeted  What is missed is an analysis, mostly by the masses,
proceeds for disinvestment and indirect taxes. that government “does not earn”. It merely collects
 The likelihood of the government meeting the fiscal from Peter to pay it to Tom (Redistribution).
deficit target of 3.3% of GDP will also depend on  If this redistribution mechanism is not efficient and
whether it achieves the budgeted revenue targets effective, then the Peter feels being cheated and
related to the goods and services tax, dividend finds ways to hide his hard earned money. That
income and disinvestment proceeds, as well as leads to tax evasion.
fund requirements for revised minimum support
prices, the Ayushman Bharat scheme and bank  To correct it, government of the day enacts multiple
recapitalization. laws, which leads to more innovative tax frauds.
And, this vicious cycle goes on.
 Union government explored additional support
from the RBI for the budget, so that any downward  On the Other hand, since Tom is receiving
adjustment in the budgeted government “stuffs” freely, he develops a tendency to remain
expenditure may be avoided if the fiscal deficit dependent.
targets are to be adhered to.  These curbs any “capacity building” exercises.
 Any reduction in budgeted expenditure, particularly The outcome leads to a window of “demographic
budgeted capital expenditure, might adversely period of dependency”.
impact growth as private sector demand has not  Hence, Redistribution and Subsidy, both are like
tangibly strengthened. pain killers. They intend to just be effective in the
short run.
Way Forward:  What the government and the society have to
 Subsidy is given with the intention to make it an realize that only a cumulative and collaborative
“enabler” movement. “action led” strategy and outcome can work in the
longer run.
 The motto is to make private capital and market
economics compete to replace the governmen  This ideology calls for a rational thinking on the
agencies in providing social goods to the masses. “ideology” behind perennial subsidy function.

Practice Question
 Redistribution and Subsidy, both are like pain killers. They intend to be effective only for the short
run. In your view, how far the government can go in enhancing subsidy bill? What impact does it create
on the national economic governance?

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Govt Subsidies on the rise again


Context
Data from interim budget shows that
the Government's expenditure on
subsidies has registered an
increase in the last 2 years. This
has heightened concerns regarding
a rise in the fiscal deficit.

The increase in the Government's


expenditure is mainly attributed to
increase in subsidies on the …

Food LPG Growth Rates of food and petroleum subsidies (in %)

on account of on account of
increase in the increase in the
Minimum coverage of LPG
Support prices subscribers and
(MSP) rising LPG
announced by prices.
the Government.

‘Food and agriculture’ LPG related


related major schemes major schemes

Implementation of the Rise in quantity and Pradhan Mantri PAHAL Scheme


↓ remuneration of Ujjwala Yojana ↓
National Food Security ↓ ↓ Direct Benefit transfer of
Act, 2013 (NFSA) MSP procurements aims to provide LPG provides for subsidy
LPG connections to on the LPG cylinders.
poor households.

So far, only few sectors have seen successful transition from


wholly subsidy based support to market led utilization.
e.g.

Road transport and Life insurance

Besides Food and petroleum products, there are many other sectors still heavily
dependent on govt coffers like Medical, Education, Farming, Higher skill building
training, electricity, and railways

Bottomline
RedistributionandSubsidy,both are like pain killers. They intend to just be effective in the short
run. What the government and the society have to realise is that only a cumulative and
collaborative “action led” strategy and outcome can work in the long run. This ideology calls for a
rational thinking on the “ideology” behind perennial subsidy function.

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THE MIGRANTS INDIAN DEMOCRACY FORGOT


CONTEXT
 The government’s push for the passage of a key bill allowing proxy voting rights for India’s 25 million-strong
diaspora — also known as non-resident Indians or NRIs — has shone the spotlight on the 200 million migrant
workers within India who remain far removed from the voting process.
 Civil rights groups feel that domestic migrants, who are direct stakeholders in the country’s future, deserve
attention over the privileged NRIs, who have a lesser stake in India’s good governance and are only at best only
fringe beneficiaries of its policies.

€ ABOUT: enrolled every time they move to a new place for


work.
 According to current electoral laws, internal
 The process of enrolling takes time. It requires
migrants cannot vote unless they travel back to
the migrant worker to submit proof of the new
their home constituencies.
residence, which is not always available.
 Internal migration is an exponentially growing
phenomenon. It shapes the economic, social,  On voting day, not many migrant workers can go
and political contours of India’s 29 states. Studies to their native place to vote, as their employers
suggest that roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of may not give them leave or they may not be able
Indians are internal migrants who have moved to afford the journey.
across district or state lines.
What next:

€ BACKGROUND:  Option available to ease out “mandatory presence”


requirement
 According to the Representation of People Act,  Absentee ballot: A vote which is cast by someone
1950, every person who is a citizen of India and who cannot vote in person at the polling station.
not less than legal age of voting on the qualifying
date and is ordinarily resident in a constituency  This kind of a ballot can be cast by electronic
shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral means, postal mail or proxy voting.
rolls for that constituency.
The Election Commission’s stand:
 The term ‘ordinarily resident’ excluded people with
Indian citizenship who have migrated.  No such Absentee ballot facility can be introduced
 This category included a person of Indian origin in the absence of a legal definition of “migrant
who is born outside India or a person of Indian worker” and the lack of authentic data on such
origin who resides outside India— the NRIs. voters.

 The NRIs are citizens of India. There is a prevailing  A committee set up by the EC in 2015 to study
view that by allowing the NRIs to vote they will the feasibility of having migrant workers vote
become more involved in the nation-building from wherever they are residing hit a stumbling
process and the opportunities that India holds for block due to lack of clarity on the definition of a
them. migrant.
 A similar picture can be painted with respect to the  A study commissioned by EC on inclusive elections
“migrant workers within India”. cited domestic migration rates computed by
NSSO in 2007-08 and Census 2001 figures. NSSO
in 2007-08 put their number at around 326 million
€ ANALYSIS: (including those less than 18 years of age) while
Census 2001 counted them at around 307 million.
Let vote move with voter: Why it’s not a  The study made a case for EC conducting a proper
reality yet? survey of domestic migrants before drawing up a
 Many Indians can’t vote because they are not policy on facilitating their vote.
registered in the place where they are “ordinarily
resident”. The “internal” logistical challenge:
 Not many migrants, most of whom are poor and  Setting up special EVMs for various constituencies
not very educated, bother to have themselves at designated polling booths and then bringing

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such EVMs to the counting center for a particular  The Contract Labour and the Inter-state Migrant
constituency is a challenge. Workmen (Regulation of Employment and
Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, needs effective
 The displaced voter must have a unique identity,
implementation. The Act aims to regulate the
which may be achieved by linking voter ID cards
employment and safeguard interests of inter-state
with Aadhaar numbers and cleaning the electoral migrant workers, and as such requires registration
rolls of duplicate entries. of establishments employing them. That would
 Section 20 of the Representation of the People (RP) provide a database of migrants for improving
Act says a person can be registered as a voter in voter participation.
any constituency where he is “ordinarily resident”.  Voter ID and Aadhaar number should be merged
In case he migrates to another constituency, all s/ to aid portability of voting rights.
he needs to do is fill up a voter enrolment form at  A common, single point, one-time voluntary
the new place while requesting that her/his name registration system should be introduced at the
be deleted from the old list. destination place for migrant workers.
 The application to be filed upon shifting to another  EC should organize campaigns to raise awareness
constituency can be completed and submitted about voting rights among domestic migrants.
offline or online on the very day of moving to a
new address. But, this is hardly done due to lack Some Important Pointers:
of awareness.
 Internationally, right to vote and the right to public
participation in government are recognized as
The Solution: basic human right. The Universal Declaration of
 Given the logistical, secrecy and security concerns, Human Rights (“UDHR”) provides that everyone
many feel it may be easier and more practical has the right to take part in the government of
to have internal migrants enroll where they are their country, directly or through freely chosen
“ordinarily resident”. representatives and the will of the people shall be
the basis of the authority of government.
Tata Institute of Social Sciences had the  Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and
following suggestions for EC to increase Political Rights (“ICCPR”) provides that every citizen
voter participation at polls: shall have the right and the opportunity, without
any of the distinctions and without unreasonable
 The “ordinarily resident” clause for enrolling as restrictions to take part in the conduct of
a voter should be treated as multi-local identity public affairs, directly or through freely chosen
for internal migrants. EC says one has to be representatives and to vote and to be elected
“ordinarily resident of the part or polling area of at genuine periodic elections which shall be by
the constituency” where they want to be enrolled, universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by
which means one’s residential address is tied to secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of
the place of voting. the will of the elector.

 Political parties should debate the suitability of  This right emphasizes that “no distinctions are
permitted between citizens in the enjoyment of
multiple voting mechanisms like postal, proxy,
these rights on the grounds of race, Colour, sex,
absentee, early and e- voting.
language, religion, political or other opinion,
 The short-term/seasonal migrants should be national or social origin, property, birth or other
identified. status.

Practice Question
 When every 3rd Indian is a migrant worker, make a case for deliberative democracy while ensuring
that every vote counts.

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Context
The
government’s
push for the
passage of a key
bill allowing
proxy voting
rights for India’s
25 million-strong
diaspora (NRIs),
has shone the
spotlight on the
200 million
migrant workers
within India who
remain far
removed from
the voting
process.

The problem in a nutshell

According to current Due to this, many The process of enrolling On voting day, not many
electoral laws, internal Indians can’t vote takes time. It requires migrant workers can go to
migrants cannot vote because they are not the migrant worker to their native place to vote, as
unless they travel registered in the submit proof of the new their employers may not give
back to their home place where they are residence, which is not them leave or they may not
constituencies “ordinarily resident”. always available. be able to afford the journey

Option available Given the logistical, secrecy and The “ordinarily resident”
to ease out security concerns, the best clause for enrolling as a
“mandatory practical way out seems to be to voter should be treated as
presence” have internal migrants enrol where multi-local identity for
requirement they are “ordinarily resident” internal migrants.

Absentee ballot A committee set up by the EC in 2015 to


Election Commission’s stand is that no
A vote which is such Absentee ballot facility can be study the feasibility of having migrant
cast by someone introduced in the absence of a legal workers vote from wherever they are
who cannot vote definition of “migrant worker” and the residing hit a stumbling block due to lack
in person at the lack of authentic data on such voters of clarity on the definition of a migrant
polling station.

This kind of a ballot The displaced voter must have a Political parties should
can be cast by unique identity, which may be debate the suitability of
electronic means, achieved by linking voter ID cards multiple voting mechanisms
postal mail or with Aadhaar numbers and cleaning like postal, proxy, absentee,
proxy voting the electoral rolls of duplicate entries early and e- voting

Bottomline
Like today’s India, countless Indians are on the move. For work or education. And so are our bank accounts, mobile
phones and tax liabilities. Perhaps the only thing that does not move is our right to vote. That’s tied to the place where
it’s registered in. Tied down by a rule that subtracts crores of Indians from our country’s democratic equation. It’s time
to change this. Time to turn these lost votes into votes that count. Because they can shape the destiny of our nation.

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TUBERCULOSIS: STATUS IN INDIA AND


BEDAQUILINE PATENT CHALLENGE
CONTEXT
 Two tuberculosis survivors from India and South Africa have challenged a patent to prevent pharmaceutical
giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from extending its monopoly on Bedaquiline, one of the two newest anti-TB
drugs in 50 years.
 Both survivors of drug resistant TB are now advocating for a wider rollout of newer drugs like Bedaquiline over
other painful injections and drugs with severe side effects.

€ ABOUT: to be injected daily and are associated with


several serious side-effects. The cure rate is
 The patent challenge has been filed with support only 55 per cent.
from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). J&J patent
application is being challenged for the salt form of  Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Bedaquiline, which does not merit patenting under  Company is committed to ensure that
India’s patent law. If granted, J&J’s monopoly on bedaquiline reaches as many patients as
bedaquiline would be extended from 2023 to possible, and it is a committed partner in
2027, delaying entry of generics by four additional India’s efforts to combat TB.
years.
 A formulation patent would not prevent
 The patent application in question – for the generic manufacturers from developing the
formulation of Bedaquiline – was filed in 2007, active pharmaceutical ingredient in their own
and became publicly available in 2008, as part formulations after July 2023.
of standard procedures when developing new
medicines. The application was first considered by  Introduction of Bedaquiline in India, J&J has
the Indian Patent Office in 2012 and remains under donated more than 10,000 courses to support
review. the government’s efforts to scale up access.
 Beyond providing access to bedaquiline, it has
also supported efforts to improve diagnostic
€ ANALYSIS: capacity, train health workers on the clinical
management of TB, and raise awareness of
Differing views on Patent Challenge TB at the community level.

 Survivors and Médecins Sans Frontières Tuberculosis


 To prevent an extension of the patent  It is an infectious disease caused by bacteria
monopoly that will continue to block people (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often
from accessing more affordable generic affect the lungs. TB is spread from person to
versions of Bedaquiline. person through the air. About one-third of the
 This strategy of ‘patent ever-greening’ by world’s population has latent TB, which means
filing additional, often unmerited patents, is people have been infected by TB bacteria but are
commonly used by corporations to extend not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the
monopolies on their drugs beyond the disease.
standard 20 years.
Drug-resistant forms of TB
 The development of Bedaquiline benefitted
from considerable public investment, and  Misuse or inappropriate use, as well as poor
the evidence for its potential to improve quality of antibiotics have resulted into drug-
cure rates with fewer side-effects was the resistant forms of TB. These drug-resistant forms
result of a collective effort of the global TB range from multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) up
community. to extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB):
 About 558,000 people developed DR-TB  Multi-drug resistant TB: It is resistant to at least
in 2017, but only 25 per cent of them were Isoniazid and Rifampicin, two of the most effective
treated. The standard DR-TB treatment in TB drugs. It can only be treated with expensive,
most countries has included drugs that need newer antibiotics over a longer period.

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 Extensively drug-resistant TB: It is resistant to  In 1997, the RNTCP was launched as a national
almost all forms of medical treatment with little programme with a plan to scale up in a phased
hope of survival for the victims. manner; through the general health service
infrastructure.
Is Tuberculosis Curable?  DOTS was officially launched as the RNTCP strategy
 Tuberculosis is curable and preventable but it is a in 1997.
complex disease. On the one hand, it can affect  In 2006, WHO introduced a six-point Stop TB
different areas of the human body, such as the Strategy to counter new challenges HIV-related TB
lungs, the lymph nodes, the skeletal system or and MDR-TB.
the brain. On the other hand, different types of
TB exist, which can either be completely curable,  In 2009, a revised “National Framework for Joint
but in the case of drug-resistant forms could also TB/HIV Collaborative Activities” was launched
mean certain death. by the RNCTP and the National AIDS Control
Programme.
 Since 2000, 53 million (WHO estimates) lives
have been saved through effective diagnosis  The National Strategic Plan (2017-2025): It is
and treatment. Active, drug-sensitive TB disease crafted in line with other health sector strategies
is treated with a standard 6-month course of and global efforts, such as the draft National
4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with Health Policy 2015, WHO’s End TB Strategy and
information, supervision and support to the patient the Sustainable Development Goals. It is aiming
by a health worker or trained volunteer. The vast to achieve elimination of TB, by 2025. During plan
majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines period, targets for TB are:
are provided and taken properly.  80% reduction in TB incidence (i.e. reduction
 Globally in 2016, WHO estimated that 4.1% of from 211 per lakh to 43 per lakh)
new cases and 19% of previously treated cases of  90% reduction in TB mortality (i.e. reduction
TB were of MDR/RR-TB. There were an estimated from 32 per lakh to 3 per lakh)
600,000 incident cases of MDR/RR-TB. Cases of  0% patient having catastrophic expenditure
MDR-TB (490,000) accounted for 82% of the total. due to TB
The countries with the largest number of MDR/RR-
TB cases (47% of the total) are China, India and the  TB elimination have been integrated into the four
Russian Federation. strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build”
(DTPB).
TB Burden in India  It has also linked Bank Account, AADHAR and
 As per the Global TB Report 2017, India accounts NIKSHAY for direct cash benefits to patients.
for about a quarter of the world’s TB cases
(approx.28, 00,000 occurred and 4.5 lakh people
Prevalence of disease
died due to TB) and also shares the highest burden  The implementation of DOTS under the RNTCP has
of both TB and MDR TB. There are an estimated improved treatment success rates and probably
79,000 multi-drug resistant TB patients among the led to a decline in the duration of disease. WHO
notified cases of pulmonary TB each year. India is estimates suggest that the prevalence of all forms
also the country with the second highest number of TB decreased from 506 per 100 000 population
(after South Africa) of estimated HIV associated TB in 1995 to 280 in 2007, at a rate of about 6% per
cases. year.
 India also has more than a million “missing”  WHO estimates that the TB mortality rate decreased
cases every year that are not notified and most from 44 per 100 000 population in 1995 to 29 in
remain either undiagnosed or unaccountably and 2007, a rate of about 4% decline per year, and
inadequately diagnosed and treated in the private giving about 335 000 deaths due to TB in 2007.
sector. Under the RNTCP, case fatality in new cases has
remained below 5% nationally but is significantly
Government Policy for TB control in India higher in districts where the prevalence of HIV in
for last 25 Years women attending antenatal clinics is greater than
3%.
 In 1993, to overcome the Weakness of previous
NTP, the Revised National TB Control Programme
Economic impact
(RNTCP) was launched. The programme was based
on DOTS (the internationally-recommended  TB is more prevalent in people living in poor
strategy for TB control) which promotes diagnosis circumstances and the cost of TB to patients and
by sputum smear microscopy, direct observation their families is considerable. Direct costs include
of treatment, standardized regimens. transportation, and in the private sector, diagnosis

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and medical treatment; indirect costs include


 Globally, the best estimate is that 10.0 million
work lost or school missed for children. Some TB
people (range, 9.0–11.1 million) developed TB
patients spend 20% to 40% of their annual family disease in 2017: 5.8 million men, 3.2 million
income being treated for TB in the private sector women and 1.0 million children. Two thirds
before reaching the RNTCP services. were in eight countries: India (27%), China (9%),
Indonesia (8%), the Philippines (6%), Pakistan
 TB morbidity and mortality mainly affect people
(5%), Nigeria (4%), Bangladesh (4%) and South
in their most productive years, and impose a Africa (3%).
cost on the economy. In 1999, it was estimated
 Only 6% of global cases were in the WHO
that implementing DOTS in India would generate European Region (3%) and WHO Region of the
economic benefits equivalent to between 0.9% and Americas (3%).
3.3% of GDP. An in depth economic analysis has  Drug-resistant TB continues to be a public
been recently completed by WHO in collaboration health crisis. The best estimate is that,
with the RNTCP shows that the number of worldwide in 2017, 558 000 people (range, 483
disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to TB 000–639 000) developed TB that was resistant
per 100 000 people in India has improved by 33% to rifampicin (RR-TB), the most effective firstline
drug, and of these, 82% had multidrug-resistant
from 1990–2006. However, TB is still the cause of
TB (MDR-TB).5 Three countries accounted for
substantial economic loss. In 2006, TB caused a almost half of the world’s cases of MDR/RR-
loss of 7.9 million DALYs and a reduction of US$ TB: India (24%), China (13%) and the Russian
23.7 billion in economic well-being (equivalent to Federation (10%).
US$ 21 per capita). The cost of TB control averaged  TB incidence rate is falling at about 2% per
just US$ 26 per DALY gained over 1997–2006 and year. The fastest regional declines from 2013 to
generated a return of US$ 115 per dollar spent. 2017 were in the WHO European Region (5%
per year) and the WHO African Region (4% per
Budgetary provisions: year).
 Specific targets for 2030 set in the End TB
 Between 2002 and 2009, the annual budget for TB Strategy are a 90% reduction in the absolute
control in India grew from US$ 36 million to US$ number of TB deaths and an 80% reduction in
100 million. TB incidence (new cases per 100 000 population
per year), compared with levels in 2015.
 In 2019 Budget, Government has allocated Rs
1200cr for social and nutritional support to TB  WHO recently recommended Bedaquiline as
a core part of an all-oral treatment regimen
patients under national strategic plan. The cost of
for DR-TB, and relegated drugs that must be
implementing the new NSP is estimated at USD injected and cause serious side-effects to last-
2.5 billion over the first three years (2017-2020), a resort options.
steep increase over the current budget.
Conclusion:
Miscellaneous:
 India has scaled up basic TB services in the public
 Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of health system, treating more than 19 million TB
death and the leading cause from a single
patients under RNTCP. But the rate of TB decline
infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS). Millions of
is too slow to meet the goals of NSP (2017-2025)
people continue to fall sick with TB each year.
and 2030 SDG and 2035 End TB targets.

**********

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SECTION: B
(PRELIMS)
CURRENT AFFAIRS

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AGRI-MARKET INFRASTRUCTURE FUND

€ CONTEXT The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs recently approved creation of a corpus of
Rs. 2000 crore for Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund (AMIF).

€ ABOUT • The fund would be created with NABARD for development and up-gradation of
agricultural marketing infrastructure in Gramin Agricultural Markets and Regulated
Wholesale Markets.
 It will provide the State/UT Governments subsidized loan for developing marketing
infrastructure in 585 Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and 10,000
Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).
 States may also access AMIF for innovative integrated market infrastructure projects
including Hub and Spoke mode and in Public Private Partnership mode.
 In these GrAMs, physical and basic infrastructure will be strengthened using MGNREGA
and other Government Schemes.
 After approval of AMIF Scheme, the interest subsidy will be provided by DAC&FW to
NABARD in alignment with annual budget releases during 2018-19 and 2019-20 as well
as upto 2024-25.
 The Scheme being demand driven, its progress is subject to the demands from the
States and proposals received from them.

What is APMC?
 Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) is a statutory market committee
constituted by State Governments for trade in certain notified agricultural or horticultural
or livestock products, under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act of the
respective state.

What do APMCS do?


 APMCs are responsible for:
 ensuring transparency in pricing system and transactions taking place in market
area;
 providing market-led extension services to farmers;
 ensuring payment for agricultural produce sold by farmers on the same day;
 promoting agricultural processing including activities for value addition in agricultural
produce;
 publicizing data on arrivals and rates of agricultural produce brought into the market
area for sale; and
 setup and promote public private partnership in the management of agricultural
markets.
 What are Grameen Agriculture Markets?
 These are called by varied names like “Gramin Haats, Haats, shandies, painths and
fairs etc.
 They are owned by Local Bodies (Panchayats/councils), Agricultural/ Horticultural
Departments of State Governments, Cooperatives, Marketing Boards/APMCs and
Private Sector.
 As per information provided by State Agricultural Marketing Boards/State
Governments, there are 22941 Rural Haats.
 State Marketing Boards provided only numbers without other information like
location, etc on village haats under local bodies and under private sector.

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Important announcements for agriculture made in the interim budget 2019-


 Micro irrigation fund Rs. 5,000 crore
 Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) Rs. 10,881 crore
 Agri Market Infrastructure Fund – Rs. 2,000 crore
 Rs. 10,000 crore for both Fishery & Aquaculture and Animal Husbandry Infrastructure
Development Fund

GENERALISED SYSTEM OF PREFERENCES

€ CONTEXT • United States federal government is planning to withdraw Generalised System of


Preferences (GSP) for Indian goods, a move that could hurt the Indian businesses.
 GSP allows India to export certain kinds of goods to US markets duty free, therefore
make them more attractive to retailers and buyers in the US market.

€ ABOUT More on news


 The trigger for the latest downturn in trade ties is India’s new rules on e-commerce that
restrict the way Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart do business in a rapidly growing
online market set to touch $200 billion by 2027.
 India could lose a vital U.S. trade concession, under which it enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6
billion of exports to the United States, amid a widening dispute over its trade and
investment policies.
 India is the world’s largest beneficiary of a scheme that has been in force since the
1970s.

What is Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)?


 It is a preferential arrangement in the sense that it allows concessional low/zero tariff
imports from developing countries to developed countries (also known as preference
receiving countries or beneficiary countries).
 It involves reduced/zero tariffs of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries to
the markets of GSP providing countries.
 The US has a strong GSP regime for developing countries since its launch in 1976, by
the Trade Act of 1974.
 The GSP program has effective dates which are specified in relevant legislation, thereby
requiring periodical reauthorization in order to remain in effect.

GSP at Global Level


 GSP instituted in 1971 under the aegis of UNCTAD, has contributed over the years to
creating an enabling trading environment for developing countries.
 The following 13 countries grant GSP preferences: Australia, Belarus, Canada, the
European Union, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian
Federation, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States of America.
 Following the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Decision of UNCTAD in 2005 the members
agreed that developed countries and developing countries in a position to do so
would grant duty-free and quota-free market access for exports of Least Developed
Countries(LDC).
 Subsequent ministerial decisions also reaffirmed the continued importance of this issue
for LDCs’ trade and development prospects.
 The provision and utilization of trade preferences is a key goal the Istanbul Program of
Actions adopted at the UN LDC IV in 2013, as further reaffirmed in SDGs Goal 17.

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Who are the beneficiaries under GSP?


 The beneficiaries of GSP are around 120 developing countries. As of 2017, India and
Brazil were the major beneficiaries in terms of export volume realized under GSP.
 Imports from China and some developing countries are ineligible for GSP benefits. The
beneficiaries and products covered under the scheme are revised annually.
 According to the US Trade Representative Office website, GSP promotes sustainable
development in beneficiary countries by helping these countries to increase and
diversify their trade with the United States.

Which are the product groups covered under GSP?


 The products covered under GSP are mainly agricultural products including animal
husbandry, meat and fisheries and handicraft products. These products are generally
the specialized products of the developing countries.

Impact of GSP withdrawal on India


 India exports nearly 50 products of the 94 products on which GSP benefits are stopped.
The GSP removal will leave a reasonable impact on India as the country enjoyed
preferential tariff on exports worth of nearly $ 5. 6 billion under the GSP route out of
the total exports of $48 bn in 2017-18.
 India exports nearly 1,937 products to the USA under GSP.
 According to the Washington Post, 90 percent of Indian/Brazilian exports to America face
normal US tariffs and hence will remain unaffected from the exit of the GSP program.
 Removal of GSP indicates a tough trade position by the US; especially for countries like
India who benefited much from the scheme.

KISAN CREDIT CARD

€ CONTEXT • The Indian Banking Association (IBA) has issued advisory guidelines requesting
banks to waive off the processing, documentation, inspection, ledger folio charges
and all other service charges for Kisan Credit Card (KCC) /crop loans upto 3 Rs
lakh.
 Ministry of Agriculture has launched a campaign for enhanced registration of Kisan
Credit Cards to those who have remained untouched by it so far.

€ ABOUT • The IBA advisory comes amidst reports that some of scheduled commercial banks are
collecting service charges which are at a bit higher, irrespective of whether the loan is
sanctioned or not.
 This often acts as a deterrent for the farmers to approach the banks for loans.

What is KCC?
 Scheme was introduced in 1998 to facilitate and make accessible credit availability to
the farmers.
 It is issued on the basis of the land holdings so that the farmer can avail credit for
purchase of agriculture input such as Seeds, Fertilizers, Pesticides and other production
needs.
 GOI provides interest subvention of 2% and Prompt Repayment Incentive of 3% to the
farmers, thus making the credit available at a very subsidized rate of 4% per annum.
 There are around 6.95 crore active KCCs as per latest estimates,

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Why Campaign is needed?


 There are still a large number of farmers who do not have access to institutional credit
either because they have not been issued a KCC or the KCC issued earlier inactive due
to various reasons other than NPA.
 The reasons for this gap in coverage include levy of various recurring and non-recurring
charges related to processing/ documentation/ledger folio/inspection by the banks,
cumbersome procedure adopted by certain banks for sanctioning the credit limits and
perceived difficulty in completing the required documentation.
 Farmers involved in activities related to animal husbandry & fisheries but not possessing
any KCC, will be eligible for issue of a fresh KCC with credit limit upto Rs. two lakhs with
applicability of interest subvention/prompt repayment incentive.

The Campaign
 This campaign will be launched through the Financial Institutions including Commercial
Banks, Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks in collaboration with the State
Governments. Following steps would be the part of the campaign
 The KCC will be issued in a time bound manner from the branch where the farmer is
already having an account. In case the eligible farmer is not having any bank account,
the same shall be immediately opened in any of the nearby branch of his/her choice
within the block.
 The camps for collection of applications will be organized bank wise or village wise
 For village wise camps, the field level development and revenue functionaries would
be present on the pre designated dates in the concerned village to facilitate filling up
forms and providing the necessary documents related to land records.
 If the camps are organized branch wise, the field level functionaries would bring eligible
farmers to the concerned bank branches on the designated dates and will ensure issue
of required land related documentation to the farmers.
 Farmers can avail the option of directly submitting the completed application form with
necessary supporting documents to the bank branch for issue of KCC.
 Since the credit availed to KCC will be eligible for interest subvention support of Govt. of
India, the details of Aadhar Card Number of the applicants shall also be captured.

€ SIGNIFICANCE • Issuing of KCCs in large numbers have helped in increasing the agriculture credit which
has contributed significantly in not only fulfilling the objective of food security for our
country but also increasing the farmers income.

13th COP OF BONN CONVENTION

€ CONTEXT • India will host 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation
of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
 Representatives from 129 Parties and eminent conservationists and international
NGOs working in the field of wildlife conservation are expected to attend the COP.

€ ABOUT CMS and its role


 The Convention was signed in 1979 in Bonn (hence the name), and entered into force
in 1983.
 It is an environmental treaty exclusively for migratory species under the aegis of United
Nations Environment Programme.
 It provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory
animals and their habitats.

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 It brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States,
and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures
throughout a migratory range.
 CMS complements and co-operates with a number of other international organizations,
NGOs and partners in the media as well as in the corporate sector.

Appendixes
 Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the
Convention.
 CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the
places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors
that might endanger them.
 Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes
concerted action among the Range States (through which respective species migrate)
of many of these species.
 Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-
operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention
encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements.
 Is the convention legally binding?
 CMS acts as a framework Convention. The agreements may range from legally binding
treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of
Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions.

Organisational structure of the convention


 The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the decision-making body of the Convention. It
meets at three-yearly intervals.
 The Scientific Council meets between COP sessions to offer scientific advice and identify
research and conservation priorities.
 The Secretariat is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and
is based in Bonn, Germany and has an out-posted office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab
Emirates.
 The Secretariat develops and promotes Agreements, services meetings, supports and
supervises research and conservation projects and co-operates with governments and
partner organizations.

India and CMS


 India is a signatory to the convention since 1983.
 During COP 10, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, WWF-India, Wetlands
International and BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) jointly organized a side
event on Black-necked Crane urging the Range States for regional cooperation for
conservation of this unique species found in the Himalayan high altitude wetlands.

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY’S SMALL GRANTS


PROGRAMME

€ CONTEXT A two day Workshop on Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP)
was held recently in New Delhi.

€ ABOUT More on news


 UNDP has been supporting the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(MoEFCC) in implementing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and financed Small
Grants Programme (SGP) in India since 1997.

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 Projects under the SGP are implemented through a National Host Institution – Centre
for Environment Education (CEE), and other NGO partners and stakeholders that has
presence in different parts of the country.

What is GEF-Small Grants Programme?


 It was launched in 1992 with 33 participating countries and has expanded to provide
assistance to 125 countries currently.
 It provides financial and technical support to communities and Civil Society
Organizations to meet the overall objective of global environmental benefits secured
through community-based initiatives and actions.
 The SGP believes that community-driven and civil society-led initiatives can generate
environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and
civil society empowerment.
 The Program is specifically designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering
local civil society organizations, and poor and vulnerable communities, including
women and Indigenous Peoples.
 It is currently implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.

Key achievements of SGP in India


 SGP has been operational for over 25 years and is being implemented throughout the
India.
 In India SGP has been working extensively in the areas of biodiversity conservation,
climate change and land degradation.
 110,000 hectares of land brought under sustainable land and resource management
in the Western Ghats, Himalayan Front and Arid and Semi-Arid Regions through
sustainable measures such as organic farming and community managed enterprises
 85,000 MTs of CO2 emissions reduced through a range of alternative energy and energy
efficient technologies such as efficient cook stoves, solar driers, and briquetting units,
plastic wasters recycling units, micro-hydro, and biomass.
 Promotion of sustainable income generation activities among the small farm holders.

Global Environment Facility


 The Global Environment Facility was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth
Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.
 GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil
society organizations and the private sector that addresses global environmental
issues.
 The GEF serves as “financial mechanism” to five conventions: Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC), Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),
UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and Minamata Convention on
Mercury.
 The GEF, although not linked formally to the Montreal Protocol, supports
implementation of the Protocol in Countries with Economies in Transition.
 India is a member of a GEF constituency comprised of the following countries:
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

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SHIFTING OF NORTH MAGNETIC POLE

€ CONTEXT • Scientists have released a new World Magnetic Model (WMM) to represent the fast
drifting of the magnetic North Pole, from the Canadian Arctic to Russia. Since 2000
the rate of moving has jumped from about nine miles (14.5km) to 34 miles (55km) a
year.
 A new and updated version of the WMM is released every five years.

€ ABOUT What are magnetic poles and how are they different from geographical
poles?
 The magnetic North Pole, or South Pole, does not coincide with the geographical North
or South Pole.
 Currently, the magnetic North Pole is located somewhere over northern Canada, a fact
discovered in 1831 by Sir James Clark Ross.
 Earth behaves like a giant bar magnet characterized by its magnetic north and south
poles, which are not static. A compass points towards magnetic north.
 The Earth’s magnetic behaviour is far more complex than that of a simple bar magnet.
Its north poles and south poles move around sometimes erratically.
 Over large periods of time, they change their locations significantly, sometimes even
interchanging their positions.
 The last time it so happened, with the magnetic North Pole getting somewhere near
where the magnetic South Pole currently is, was about 780,000 years ago.

What is the source of magnetic field of earth?


 The origin of Earth’s magnetism lies in its outer core, a more than 2,000-km layer of
liquid iron and some other metals like nickel that surrounds the central core, or the
innermost part.
 This liquid iron is in constant motion due to Earth’s rotation and various other reasons,
and this motion produces a magnetic field.
 What causes the current shift?
 The movement of liquid iron and other metals in the outer core of the Earth is known
to influence the magnetic field, but this movement is chaotic and turbulent. Though it
has not been fully understood but scientists hope that this acceleration in the shifting
of magnetic north pole would throw some new insights into the phenomena happening
deep inside the Earth’s surface.
 The pole’s recent travels are believed to be caused by the formation of a narrow stream,
much like the jet stream in the atmosphere, in the Earth’s liquid outer core.
 The iron-nickel core is so hot that it flows like water, 1,869 miles (3,000km) beneath the
surface, creating the magnetic field and dragging it around the planet.
 The north magnetic pole has been caught up in this jet and it’s pushing it rapidly across
to Siberia.
 The south magnetic pole is moving far more slowly than the north, because the liquid
outer core is moving differently in the southern hemisphere.

Does it mean stronger magnetic field for earth at present?


 Earth’s magnetic field is growing steadily weaker, leading scientists to think it will
eventually flip, with the north and south poles changing places like a bar magnet
flipping over.
 Researchers know from traces left in rocks that this has happened before, but not in the
past 780,000 years.

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 Magnetic field’s movement, and the rise and fall in its strength, are all part of its natural
behaviour.
 In the long term, the movement of the north magnetic field could become noticeable
because it affects where aurora, such as the northern lights, can be seen.
 The aurora is centred on the north magnetic pole in a ring, so as the pole moves, the
aurora will follow it.

What are the uses of World Magnetic Model?


 Accurate readings of the magnetic north pole by the WMM are vital for military,
surveying and mapping, satellite/antenna tracking, undersea and aircraft navigation,
airlines, search-and-rescue operations and other projects circling the North Pole.
 Smartphone and consumer electronics companies also rely on the WMM to provide
consumers with accurate compass apps, maps, and GPS services.

MOU BETWEEN COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA


AND GEM

€ CONTEXT Government e Marketplace (GeM) and Competition Commission of India (CCI) entered
into a Memorandum of Understanding to enable a fair and competitive environment in
the e-Marketplace and rectify the malpractices such as cartelization.

€ ABOUT Government e Marketplace?


 GeM is a state-of-the-art national public procurement platform of Ministry of Commerce
and Industries that has used technology to remove entry barriers for bonafide sellers
and has created a vibrant e-marketplace with a wide range of goods and services.
 It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to
facilitate the government users, achieve the best value for their money.
 The purchases through GeM by Government users have been authorised and made
mandatory by Ministry of Finance.

Competition Commission of India


 Competition Commission of India is a statutory body, responsible for enforcing the
Competition Act, 2002 throughout India.
 It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on
competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and
ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
 The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference
received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake
competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition
issues.

PMUY CROSSED THE 6 CRORE MARK OF LPG


CONNECTIONS

€ CONTEXT Recently, The government gave out the 6-crores free cooking gas (LPG) connection
under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana( PMUY) which aims to make available cleaner
fuel to the people in need.

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€ ABOUT • It was launched on May 1, 2016, with a target to give 5 crore connections by March 2019
which was achieved well before the target period.
 This is the first welfare scheme that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is
implementing benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households.
 Revised target has been raised to 8 crore connections by 2021 and now envisages
giving all households a connection.
 Universal PMUY now covers release of LPG connections to all poor on account of their
names not been covered in earlier identified categories like identified through Socio
Economic Caste Census (SECC) list
 In case the names are not appearing in the SECC list, beneficiaries are identified from
categories i.e. SC/STs households, beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY
(Gramin), Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) etc.
 LPG Panchayats are being observed to promote learning through peer group interaction
- Kuch Seekhein, Kuch Sikhayein, where apart from experience sharing, it also aims at
safe and sustained usage of LPG.

Outcomes of Implementing PMUY


 It has resulted in significant increase in national LPG coverage, in general and Eastern
States, in particular.
 The scheme has resulted in mass coverage of rural poor households and 48% of the
beneficiaries are SC/STs.
 While 74% beneficiaries under the scheme, who could not afford to make upfront
payment for purchase of gas stove and first refill, were provided loan facility by the
OMCs.
 Under the PMUY the average per capita consumption is 3.28.
 PMUY implementation has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO)
and termed it as a decisive intervention to check the indoor health pollution being
faced by the women of the country.

Need for LPG Connections


 There are serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels.
According to WHO estimates, about 5 lakh deaths in India alone due to unclean
cooking fuels. Most of these premature deaths were due to non-communicable
diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and
lung cancer.
 Indoor air pollution is also responsible for a significant number of acute respiratory
illnesses in young children. According to experts, having an open fire in the kitchen
is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour.
 The spread of LPG cylinders has been predominantly in the urban and semi-urban
areas with the coverage mostly in middle class and affluent households.

GLOBAL FUND FOR AIDS, MALARIA AND TUBERCULOSIS

€ CONTEXT Recently, Government of India hosted a high level preparatory meeting for the Sixth
Replenishment Conference of the “Global Fund. During the meet various stakeholders
vowed for collective action to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

€ ABOUT More on news


 The conference is aimed at raising funds to fight the diseases and build stronger systems
for health for the next three years.

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 To achieve SDG 3 and end HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics, the world needs to step up
total funding from all sources, particularly from national governments.
 The Government of India and the Global Fund partnership has been a unique one, with
India receiving and making financial and concurrent technical support from donors and
partners since 2002.
 India has pledged to increase India’s health spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025
to pay for ambitious health reforms, including expanding primary care and delivering
universal health coverage.
 It was reiterated that India, which has the world’s largest TB epidemic, has set the
ambitious goal of ending TB by 2025, five years ahead of the targets set in the Sustainable
Development Goals.
 France will host the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment Conference in Lyon in October
2019.

What is Global Fund?


 Founded in 2002, it is a partnership organization including governments, civil society,
the private sector and people affected by the diseases.
 The Global Fund partnership model is designed to promote innovative solutions to
global health challenges (epidemics such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria).
 The Global Fund raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programs run
by local experts in countries and communities most in need.
 Countries take the lead in determining where and how to best fight AIDS, TB and
malaria. Collectively, the Global Fund harnesses the best possible experience, insights
and innovation in the public and private sectors to respond to diseases and build
resilient and sustainable systems for health.
 The Global Fund is a signatory to the World Health Organization-led Global Action Plan
for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All, designed to deliver more effective collaboration
and coordination on global health.

The Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All – It is currently
being drafted by 12 organizations working on global health – aims to deliver maximum
results and the best possible value for money.

CHINA HALTS INDIA’S ENTRY INTO NSG

€ CONTEXT China refused to dilute its stand on India’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group
(NSG), asserting that New Delhi must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty to gain entry as
there is no precedent for the inclusion of non-NPT countries.

€ ABOUT More on the news


 China has sought to club India and Pakistan together, on the basis of both being non-
signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
 Chinese representatives want NSG countries to adopt a “criteria-based approach” which
essentially means that either both India and Pakistan can get into the group or none.
 But most of the NSG countries, including the US, France and UK, make a clear distinction
between India and Pakistan’s nuclear non-proliferation track record.

What is NSG and why it was created?


 Fallowing India’s 1974 nuclear test the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) emerged as a
group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation

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of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear
exports and nuclear-related exports.
 It is a 48 member grouping with the aim of ensuring non-proliferation of nuclear
weapons and nuclear technology.
 The members of the NSG include the five nuclear weapon states, US, UK, France, China
and Russia. The other 43 are signatories to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
 Zangger Committee, (1971) recommended for its establishment.

Why India wants to be a member of NSG?


 Access to technology for a range of uses from medicine to building nuclear power
plants for India from the NSG which is essentially a traders’ cartel.
 India has its own indigenously developed technology but to get its hands on state of
the art technology that countries within the NSG possess, it has to become part of the
group.
 With India committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring that 40% of
its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources, there is a pressing need to scale
up nuclear power production. This can only happen if India gains access to the NSG.
 India could sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and gain access to all this
knowhow but that would mean giving up its entire nuclear arsenal. With access to latest
technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment. This,
in turn will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India and can be leveraged
for economic and strategic benefits.

VVPATS TO BE USED IN LOK SABHA ELECTIONS

€ CONTEXT In a move to make the use of EVMs even more fool-proof, the EC has announced that
there will be 100 per cent use of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) during the
upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

€ ABOUT More on news


 Instructions have been issued already to use VVPAT systems with all the EVMs through
which voters can verify their votes during the forthcoming Lok Sabha Elections.
 Leaders of several opposition parties approached the Election Commission on to ensure
that 50 per cent EVM results are matched and crosschecked with VVPATs before the
declaration of results.

What are VVPAT machines?


 It is an independent verification printer machine attached to electronic voting machines.
It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.
 VVPATs are a second line of verification and are most useful in the time when allegations
around Electronic Voting Machines’ tampering crop up.
 It was first used in 2013 in Nagaland’s Noksen Assembly constituency.

What is Electronic Voting Machine?


 EVMs or electronic voting machines provide the voter with a button for each choice
which is connected by a cable to an electronic ballot box.
 • An EVM consists of two units--control unit and balloting unit--and these two are
connected by a five-meter cable. When a voter presses a button against the candidate
he/she wishes to vote for, the machine locks itself.

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 This EVM can be opened only with a new ballot number. This way, EVMs ensure that one
person gets to vote only once.

What is M3 EVM?
 It’s an advanced version of EVM having a Public Key Interface (PKI)-based mutual
authentication between various EVM units for identifying a genuine unit, of authorised
manufacturer, in the field to ensure that only genuine EVMs can be used for
communication within the network.
 Technologically, these are more advanced than the current EVMs, but will be same in
terms of operation.

WHY is India using EVMs?


 Electronic voting machines have been in use in India since 1999. Using EVMs means
doing away with paper ballots, and in turn, saving millions of trees from being cut.
 It makes the entire process of voting simpler--a click on the button and your vote is
registered.
 EVMs, in the long-run, have turned out to be cost-effective as well. Although the initial
cost of an EVM is between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000, the machine, on an average, lasts for
15 years.
 These machines don’t require electricity and run on batteries. At the same time, the
EVMs are lighter and portable compared to the huge ballot boxes.
 And most importantly, EVMs have made the vote-counting process much faster,
delivering results in hours as against manual counting of votes which could take days.

DARWAZA BAND PART-2

€ CONTEXT Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen launched the ‘Darwaza Band -Part 2’ campaign
focusing on sustaining the open defecation free status of villages across the country.

€ ABOUT What is Darwaza Band Campaign?


 Darwaza Band’ was launched in May 2017, to promote toilet use and freedom from
open defecation across the country’s villages.
 The campaign is under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and has been
supported by the World Bank.
 Amitabh Bachchan is the brand Ambassador of this campaign.
 It aimed at behavioural change that has been the focus of Swachh Bharat Mission
 It focuses on the need to shift people’s paradigm from ‘open’ to ‘closed’ especially for
men.

Important initiatives under Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation


 Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen
! It was launched on 2nd October, 2014 to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal
sanitation coverage in India and promote access to safe sanitation in India.
! The SBM aims at achieving an Open Defecation Free (ODF) nation by 2nd October,
2019, a befitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.
! The SBM identifies behaviour change as the primary and fundamental tool for the
achievement of ODF outcomes.
! As a result, rural sanitation coverage has increased significantly from 38.7% at the
launch of SBM (G) in 2014 to 96.88%, as on December 2018.

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 Swachhata Pakhwada
! Launched in April 2016, Swachhata Pakhwada is inspired by vision to engage all
Union Ministries and Departments in Swachhata-related activities.
 Swachh Iconic Places (SIP):
! MDWS has undertaken a multi-stakeholder initiative focusing on cleanliness in
100 locations across the country, which is “iconic” due to their heritage, religious
and/or cultural significance.
 Satyagraha Se Swachhagraha
! MDWS in coordination with the Government of Bihar, organized a week long
campaign“Satyagraha Se Swachhagraha” in April, 2018,
 Gobardhan
! MDWS launched the Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resource dhan or “GOBARdhan”
scheme in April 2018, at Karnal, Haryana.
! The scheme is aimed at keeping villages clean while increasing the income of
farmers and cattle owners by promoting local entrepreneurs to convert cattle
dung, and other organic resources, to biogas and organic manure.
 Swachh Bharat Summer Internship (SBSI)
! Launched in association with the Ministry of Human Resource Development and
the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, aimed at engaging college students and
NYKS youth with Swachhata work in villages during the summer vacation.
 Swajal
! It is a community demand driven, decentralized, single village, preferably solar
powered, mini PWS programme for the 117 aspirational districts identified by
NITI Aayog.
! Gram Panchayats in partnership with rural communities and State sectoral agencies
would be involved in the execution of the scheme and also operate and maintain
the scheme. The programme would also sustain ODF status.

***********

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ECONOMICS in NEWS

1 Safe City Project


Safe City projects meant to reduce crimes against women, are in the process of being initiated in eight Indian cities,
including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Chennai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad ,with a total of almost
2,920 crore earmarked for them.
A big percentage of the Nirbhaya funds is to be utilized on technology solutions for women’s safety. Reports indicate that
funds will be used for initiating SOS hotspots such as developing a ‘Track Me’ mobile application, which will be used to
send alert messages to known persons in case of emergency. Panic buttons on mobile phones and key chains are also on
the horizon for women and girls.

2 Global Corruption Index: India’s Rank Improves By 3 Points


India has improved its ranking on Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2018, while its neighbour China lagged far
behind. CPI is an annual index released by Transparency International an anti-graft watchdog. India rose by three points to
78 in the list of 180 countries in the world, while China ranked 87 and Pakistan 117 in 2018. The top countries on the list
are Denmark and New Zealand, with scores of 88 and 87 respectively. Somalia, Syria and South Sudan are at the bottom
of the list, with scores of 10, 13 and 13 respectively.

3 Arundhati Scheme

Assam government has launched Arundhati scheme which envisages to provide 1 tola of gold to newly married bride.
Gold will be provided to all such communities of Assam where it is customary to provide gold at the time of the wedding.
The scheme is named after Arundhati, wife of great sage Basistha. The government has set aside Rs 300 cr for the
implementation of the Arundhati Scheme.

4 India’s richest 1% get richer by 39 per cent in 2018; just three per
cent rise for bottom-half
As per Oxfam annual study report published at World Economic Forum, the rich-poor divide has widened by many folds
in India, with the country’s top 10 % of the population holding 77.4 per cent of the nation’s wealth, while 13.6 crore
Indians continue to remain in debt since 2004. India’s top 10 per cent of the population holds 77.4 per cent of the total
national wealth. The contrast is even sharper for the top 1 per cent that holds 51.53 per cent of the national wealth. The
report added that the bottom 60 per cent which is the majority of the population owns merely 4.8 per cent of the national
wealth.

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