TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Goa moves tribunal against Karnataka 2. SC to hear petition by 355 Army officers GOVERNANCE 1. Use MPLADS funds to contribute, MPs told INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Kashmir backs India-Pak. Dialogue C. GS3 Related DISASTER MANAGEMENT 1. NDRF aid only for severe calamities ECONOMY 1. Credit registry: RBI Act may need tweak D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. Stay with RCEP GOVERNANCE 1. What Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ignores F. Tidbits 1. Free meal facility a boon for tribal petitioners 2. Maldives grants $50,000 as flood relief assistance 3. Rajiv Gandhi assasination: SC to review Perarivalan pardon plea 4. Highest U.S. civilian honour for Mahatma? G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
An application was filed by the Goa government in the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal in New Delhi seeking action against Karnataka for breach and disobedience of the order of injunction dated April 17, 2014 passed by the tribunal. The State government’s application has been filed under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
- Karnataka and Goa, the riparian states of the Mahadayi (known as Mandovi in Goa), have been locked in a bitter battle over the sharing of water of the river, which originates at Belagavi in Karnataka.
- In January 2018, Karnataka had built bunds to block the flow of the Mahadayi water into Goa following which Goa had filed a contempt application before the tribunal. However, Karnataka filed an affidavit, stating that it would not divert the waters and hence Goa withdrew the contempt application with liberty to file such application as and when such necessity arose.
- In July 2018, it was noticed that on account of the gradient slope that Karnataka built, Mahadayi waters was flowing into the Malaprabha basin.
- The tribunal had observed that its earlier injunction order would continue to operate until Karnataka prepared its Detailed Project Report and obtained all permission for its diversion project.
A Special Bench monitoring the CBI investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur will hear a petition filed by 355 Army officers in the Supreme Court, alleging “persecution” by agencies such as the CBI for doing their duty in the insurgency-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern States.
- The Bench, which is hearing a PIL petition seeking an investigation into 1,528 cases of extrajudicial killings in Manipur, constituted an SIT on July 14 last year and ordered the filing of chargesheets.
What is the dilemma?
- In a July 2016 judgement, the Bench of Justices Lokur and Lalit ended the immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA). The judgment declared that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court”.
- Post the judgement, an “extraordinary circumstance” is prevailing over armed forces personnel fighting in the insurgency-hit areas and the nation’s borders. They are plagued by doubts whether performing their duty to fight enemies would expose them to prosecution and land them in jail.
- The petition said the Supreme Court’s orders and the resultant CBI action against Army personnel have made soldiers jittery.
Arguments against impunity:
- The on-going situation is demoralising the officers and troops deployed in field areas and fighting in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern States.
- Lack of immunity from prosecution would have a demoralising impact on the security forces
- The Indian Army has to, in given circumstances, take quick decisions which cannot be dissected later on like an ordinary murder appeal. The scope of judicial review against active military operations cannot be on the same parameters as in other situations.
Arguments against immunity:
- Reports of blatant misuse, or rather abuse, of the law by the armed forces have flowed through the years, especially in the Northeast and Kashmir.
- Impunity is to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force beyond the call of duty.
- It is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties that it does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both.
- Given this history of violence and bloodshed trailing AFSPA, the judiciary’s attempt to make it less draconian and more accountable is a step in the right direction.
- Judicial review tears down the cloak of secrecy about unaccounted deaths involving security forces in disturbed areas and serves as a judicial precedent to uphold civilian and human rights in sensitive areas under military control.
Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods in Kerala, the Government of India has declared this a calamity of a ‘severe nature’. The Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker urged Members of Parliament to generously contribute from their MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation works in flood-affected Kerala besides considering donating a month’s salary.
Guidelines for aid:
- The Guidelines of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme has provision that in the event of ‘Calamity of severe nature’ in any part of the country, an MP can recommend works up to a maximum of Rs. 1 cr. for the affected district.
- The guidelines say that from the day an MP makes such contribution, concerned authorities have to identify relief works in one month time and the same should be implemented within eight months.
- Every Member of Parliament (MP) gets Rs. 5 crore annually to undertake development works of his choice in his constituency, known as the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
- The MPLAD Scheme is Central Sector Scheme launched in 1993-94. It enables Members of Parliament (both elected and nominated) to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priority like drinking water, education, sanitation etc.
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MSPI) is nodal ministry to coordinate work under scheme.
- Funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.
Major political parties and the Hurriyat in Jammu and Kashmir expressed support for a Kashmir-centric dialogue between India and Pakistan, welcoming the intent for “constructive engagement” expressed by the former and “uninterrupted dialogue” by the latter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter to his newly sworn-in Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan has called for constructive engagement with Pakistan expressing India’s commitment to build good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan and pursue meaningful and constructive engagement for the benefit of the people of the region. India’s call for engagement comes in the backdrop of recent Indian insistence that Delhi will hold talks only if Pakistan acts against terror suspects and outfits.
Mr. Qureshi, in his first remarks after taking charge, said he would remove the trust deficit with neighbours and try to build new bridges.
Kashmir backs the dialogue:
- Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks of “uninterrupted dialogue on Kashmir” as “a positive development”.
- “It reflects new positivity. We hope that the channels of communication will remain open to build trust. It is in the interest of Kashmir and also in the interest of the entire region if the two countries come closer and resolve the long-pending Kashmir dispute,” he told
- Peoples Democratic Party leader said the two countries had made an encouraging beginning by speaking of talks.
C. GS3 Related
The Union government has declared the Kerala floods a “calamity of severe nature”.
What are the classifications of disasters, and how does this affect funding?
- According to the National Disaster Management Policy, the State governments have to provide disaster relief from their respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRFs), and only for a “calamity of severe nature”, will additional assistance be provided from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
- There is, however, no provision in the law or rules for the government to designate a disaster as a “national calamity”.
How are the NDRF and the SDRFs funded?
- The NDRF is funded through a National Calamity Contingent Duty levied on pan masala, chewing tobacco and cigarettes, and with budgetary provisions as and when needed.
- A provision exists to encourage any person or institution to make a contribution to the NDRF. However, this source of funding has not been tapped so far, according to the government.
- The 14th Finance Commission recommended changes to this structure once the cess was discontinued or subsumed within the Goods and Services Tax. However, the government, instead, decided to continue with the National Calamity Contingent Duty even in the GST regime.
- The SDRF corpus is contributed by the Union government and the respective State governments in a 75:25 ratio for general category States and 90:10 for Special Category States.
- The allocation of the SDRF for each State is done by the Finance Commission, and the Centre contributes its specified share each financial year.
- The Central share of SDRF is released in two equal installments, in June and then in December.
How have NDRF funds been allocated to States in the recent past?
In 2017-18, up to December 27, 2017, the Union government released NDRF funds to nine States — Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana — over and above its contributions to their respective SDRFs. The recipient of the highest amount was Karnataka, which got Rs. 913 crore that year.
- Over the four years till December 27, 2017, the Centre has released the most cumulative funds to Maharashtra (Rs. 5,244.69 crore), Karnataka (Rs. 5,122.45 crore), Uttar Pradesh (Rs. 4,949.04 crore), Tamil Nadu (Rs. 3,115.31 crore), and Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 1,958.93 crore).
- For specific calamities, the Centre released Rs. 1,365.67 crore for the Chennai floods of 2015 and Rs. 218.76 crore after Cyclone Vardah in 2016. Andhra Pradesh received Rs. 400 crore and Rs. 230 crore after Hudud ravaged Visakhapatnam.
Would declaring Kerala floods a “National Disaster” help the state receive additional assistance?
- The government had termed the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and the super cyclone in Odisha in 1999 as “a calamity of unprecedented severity.
- In the recent past, there have been demands for declaration of a natural disaster during the Uttarakhand floods in 2013, Cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and the Assam floods of 2015.
- As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005, “disaster” means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area. A natural disaster includes earthquake, flood, landslide, cyclone, tsunami, urban flood, heatwave; a man-made disaster can be nuclear, biological and chemical. But, there is no provision, legal or otherwise, to declare a natural calamity as a national disaster.
- But as the DM Act 2005 guidelines state, there is no such provision for a disaster to be given more importance or urgency in relief only if it is declared as a national disaster. That is, it states that any calamity which is termed to be of “severe nature” or a “rare severity” will get adequate financial support and assistance from rescue forces such as the NDRF.
- The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, may need to be amended to facilitate the setting of a public credit registry (PCR), said RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya.
- Underscoring the vital need for the registry — the PCR is planned as an extensive database of credit information for all credit products in the country from point of origination of credit to its termination. Its main benefit would be to provide lenders with a 360-degree view of the borrower’s outstanding credits and past performance.
- This would allow better screening at the time of providing credit and superior monitoring during the life of the borrowing.
- Highlighting some legal issues around setting up the PCR, it is said that while the PCR is initially being set up within the existing RBI infrastructure, the fact that the RBI as a statutory corporation can only engage in those activities that are permitted by the RBI Act, or other relevant legislation, creates complications.
- In addition to its core central banking functions, RBI also performs certain promotional functions which is only limited to ‘financial institutions’. Since no financing activity is contemplated for the proposed PCR, it might be difficult to label PCR as a ‘financial institution’. This takes it out of the purview of a promotion under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
In October 2017, RBI had set up a high-level task force (HTF) chaired by Y.M. Deosthalee to review the availability of information on credit and assess the gaps. The HTF submitted its report on April 4, 2018, recommending that a PCR should be set up by the RBI in a phased and modular manner.
- Another option, would be to promote an organisation for a matter incidental to the functions of RBI — as part of the RBI Act or Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
- Collection of information, including credit information, from regulated entities is an important aspect of the RBI’s regulatory and supervisory functions and hence such an activity could be done by setting up a subsidiary or a department.
- Otherwise, the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, needs to be suitably amended conferring the Reserve Bank powers to conduct the business of PCR.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
Negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), among 16 Asian and Pacific Ocean countries, have entered a decisive phase.
- Most potential member-countries of the grouping, that comprises the 10 ASEAN members and their Free Trade Agreement partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea, would like to see a “substantive agreement” on the trade deal by the end of this year.
- At a meeting in Singapore, which is driving the effort as the current ASEAN chair, countries which still have issues with the outline of the agreements reached so far may be told politely to step aside and allow a smaller group to go ahead with finalising the RCEP, with the option to join it at a later date.
India’s take on RCEP:
India is among the countries that will have to take a call at this point.
The government has decided to set up a group of four ministers to advise the Prime Minister on the path ahead. This indicates the seriousness of the situation.
- India’s concerns with RCEP negotiations thus far are manifold, but some have been addressed.
- The first is the greater access Chinese goods will have to the Indian market, a problem given India’s massive trade deficit. To circumvent this, given that India is the one country that doesn’t have an FTA with China, the government has proposed a “differential market access” strategy for China, which others are inclined to accept. After the Wuhan summit, India and China have made progress on addressing the trade deficit, with China increasing access for Indian goods such as pharma and agricultural products.
- The second concern is about demands by other RCEP countries for lower customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide. On the other hand, the more developed RCEP countries such as Australia and Singapore have been unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers.
- None of this is made easier by the fact that some of the RCEP countries, including India, are headed for elections next year, a point where governments traditionally turn protectionist.
- Trying to drive home the point that FTAs in general have not paid off, is a product of both domestic and global circumstances.
- Despite these concerns, the Indian government must take into account the deeper strategic pitfalls of either slowing down India’s RCEP engagement or walking out of the talks at this stage.
- India must not take the easiest way out on the trade deal and walk out of talks. Walking out would cut India out of the rules-making process for the RCEP and give China further space in the regional trade and security architecture.
- At a time when the U.S. has broken from the global concord on multilateral trade agreements, an Indian walkout would endanger the united message that RCEP countries, which represent 40% of the global GDP, would wish to send out.
- The push for trade blocs has acquired a new urgency, with the Trump administration unleashing a trade war of sorts against China and even the EU.
- It would also be a sharp departure from India’s “Act East” slogan and its extended outreach to ASEAN.
- If the RCEP countries are keen on a slice of India’s market, they must sweeten the deal.
India should carefully weigh the pros and cons of exiting the trade bloc. It should seriously consider the impact of any exit from RCEP on its links to global supply chains. The East Asian Tigers were, like India, remarkably protectionist economies, but they opened up at the right time, and at the right pace. India could still learn a few lessons, given its botched experience in industrial development. Multilateralism, fairness and WTO principles must be believed in but these must not hit the Indian Industries.
What is Swachh Bharat Abhiyan?
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, also known as the Clean India Mission started by the Indian government under PM Narendra Modi is a national-level campaign dedicated to cleaning the country. The event was flagged on 2 October 2014. The formal launch was at Rajghat, New Delhi in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s memory. It involves the cleaning of roads, streets and infrastructure. The mission is the biggest cleanliness drive India has ever seen.
- In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to clean the “filthiness all around us”, which is an obstacle for promoting the tourism that offers jobs to the poorest of the poor.
- Modi announced his government’s resolve to accomplish the vision of a clean India by 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi.
- The campaign initially highlighted images of celebrities “voluntarily” sweeping the streets, in protective gear. Circulated by a pliable commercial media, these images trended on social media. Concurrently, municipalities began to employ more contractual labourers — mostly scavengers forced into the profession by their caste — to remove waste.
Adopting the Western approach
- This approach is an uncritical adoption of the 19th century Western model of removing waste from the public gaze.
- Although stopping the spread of disease was the primary intention in the West, sanitation is now largely an extension of visual aesthetics — sanitation means the absence of “filthiness all around us”.
- The West introduced technologies to systematically remove waste. For example, when Londoners experienced the ‘Great Stink’ in 1858, the government realised that it would need a holistic sewerage plan, which would become part of the London water infrastructure, to remove filth and treat waste from the river Thames in a sustainable way. Soon, the construction of toilets in households and shops became mandatory.
What does Swachh Bharat Mission lack?
- The Swachh Bharat campaign hardly addresses a reworking of the underground sewerage system. This is a cause for grave concern, since many labourers have died recently while cleaning jammed manholes that open into the sewerage system. Most disturbingly, these deaths have a caste pattern. According to a reply by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to the Lok Sabha in December 2017, over 300 cases of deaths due to manual scavenging, mostly from particular caste groups, were reported that year.
- Punitive measures should exhort the public to learn where and how one should urinate, defecate and dispose of garbage. The campaign, however, burdens the contractual labourer with an ‘exclusive’ right to cleaning public spaces, while making it a voluntary act for the ‘public’ to not defecate, urinate or litter in random spaces.
- In India, waste carries the stigma that is attached to pollution and caste, as does the process of removal (‘scavenging’), and the occupation (‘scavenger’). The waste remover in India is not a professional, like in the West.
- Also stigmatised are the spaces in which the removal takes place and where the waste is disposed. All of these are considered to be contaminated by caste pollution. In short, stigma resides in the profession, the labour, the body, and in the space.
- In the past, municipalities erected bins in common places for shops and households to dispose of waste. These bins were the first to be removed, as the mission offered door-to-door collection.
- Workers are now expected to whistle to announce their presence upon arrival in their designated areas. Thereafter, the unsegregated garbage, is taken to the composting yard.
- The workers, as per the campaign, have to go to the yard to segregate the waste. Manually segregating the waste at the landfill compromises their hygiene and health.
- The door-to-door service has darker undertones. Until they were banned in 1993, dry latrines were emptied through a similar door-to-door service.
- It is significant that ‘toilets’ are not viewed as essential parts of buildings and public architecture in India. For instance, the Delhi Metro did not include toilets in all the stations in its original plan. It was only after a PIL that the Delhi High Court directed the Metro authorities to construct toilets and provide other facilities in all stations.
- This ‘oversight’ is only compounded by the location of the toilets. For instance, temples usually did not construct toilets. And when they are constructed, they are built away from the boundary.
- On arrival, the municipal servant would blow a whistle and the respective houses would move away from their toilet bowl or pots, which she would come to empty through an exclusive entrance.
- The whistle does not merely announce the presence of the worker; it also announces the presence of a lower caste body from whom all contact has to be avoided.
- As much as the waste itself, it is the presence of the body of the ‘scavenger’ which is seen as polluting by the larger public. This notion has a spatial correlate — toilets are usually built away from living spaces; this is the case even today.
- In Agraharams (exclusive Brahmin quarters) and in traditional Indian houses toilets are often located at the boundary of the compound with an exclusive path for the ‘scavengers’. Clearly, Hindu notions of pollution on the one hand, and secular notions of stigma on the other, influenced the building of toilets.
- This particular trait reflected in colonial architecture as well. Significantly, in colonial Indian architecture, the scavengers’/sweepers’ staircase did not intersect with the servants’ staircase. The original planning document of the Viceregal Lodge has clear references to this secluded pathway.
Addressing the stigma:
- Similarities between the secular SBA and the casteist form of manual scavenging are evident, but they have gone unnoticed.
- The secular sounding Swachh Bharat has led to concealment of caste.
- The SBA enables a disjunction between the cleaning and disposing of waste, where the cleaning is a voluntary ‘service’ which caste Hindus are called upon to undertake, while collecting and disposing waste is a ‘duty’ relegated to municipal workers from particular castes.
Any tangible achievement of a clean India is possible only if the stigma attached to sanitary labour, place and waste are critically addressed by caste-neutralising these professions and through adoption of technologies. Until then we are unlikely to succeed in any mission to keep our cities clean. Even if we succeed in putting up a façade of cleanliness, we need to remember that a clean village exists because an ‘unclean’ caste has absorbed all the ‘filth’ of the village.
1. Free meal facility a boon for tribal petitioners
Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Parvatipuram, Andhra Pradesh for the first time has introduced free meal facility for the tribal people, who come to ITDA office, for the submission of petitions to senior officials on every Monday.
- The facility, which was started on July 30, 2018, turned into a boon for poor tribal people.
- Around 300 tribal people are getting benefited with this facility.
- Earlier, they used to face many difficulties to bear the financial burden with the lack of canteen facility and free meal service. It was observed that a majority of the tribal people were skipping meals due to lack of money and facility on the office premises. Hence, it was decided to distribute free meal coupons to the people who register and submit their petitions to the officials.
2. Maldives grants $50,000 as flood relief assistance
It was announced by the Ambassador of Maldives to India that The Government of Maldives will donate $50,000 (roughly Rs. 35 lakh) towards flood relief in Kerala. India being its closest neighbour, it said that any natural disaster or calamity that strikes our neighbour has an emotional impact on Maldives. It was also told that the donation is a small gesture to a neighbour and friend who has always stood by Maldives in need.
3. Rajiv Gandhi assasination: SC to review Perarivalan pardon plea
The Supreme Court, gave Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict A.G. Perarivalan a fortnight’s time to place on record a copy of his application made to the Tamil Nadu Governor two years ago seeking grant of pardon. The Supreme Court had confirmed his death sentence in 1998 on a death reference. His death penalty was commuted to life sentence by the court in 2014. Now, Perarivalan has spent over 26 years in prison.
In a court hearing that coincided with the 74th birth anniversary of the late leader Rajiv Gandhi, Perarivalan submitted that his mercy petition was pending since December 30, 2015. In his letter to the Governor, he had written how he had already undergone 24 years of solitary confinement, while life imprisonment is for a maximum of 20 years after which the convict could be considered for release.
4. Highest U.S. civilian honour for Mahatma?
American lawmaker Carolyn Maloney said that she would introduce a legislation to posthumously award Mahatma Gandhi a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the U.S., for inspiring peaceful movements for civil rights around the world.
In 2016, she had led the successful effort to create the Deepavali Stamp, which she says has since become one of the highest selling stamps.
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements:
- Mahadayi originates in Bhimgad in Belagavi district of Karnataka.
- It is described as the lifeline of Karnataka.
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to the MPLADS Scheme
- The MPLAD Scheme is Central Sector Scheme.
- Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MSPI) is the nodal ministry to coordinate work under the scheme.
- Funds released under the scheme are lapsable.
- Only 1
- 1 and 2 Only
- 1 and 3 only
- All of the above
Question 3. Consider the following about Ischemic stroke:
- The State Disaster Response Fund corpus is contributed by the Union government and the respective State governments in a 50:50 ratio for general category States and 75:25 ratio for the Special Category States.
- As per the Disaster Management Act, 2005 a disaster would be given more importance or urgency in relief only if it is declared as a national disaster.
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
- River waters use/harnessing is included in states jurisdiction.
- The Union Government cannot make laws on regulation and development of inter-State rivers and river valleys.
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
There are strategic pitfalls of either slowing down India’s RCEP engagement or walking out of the talks. Critically analyse.
Climate change has the potential to disrupt and reshape lives. Critically comment on the recent issues regarding the nature’s devastations impacting the lives and livelihood.
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