TABLE OF CONTENTS
A.GS1 Related B.GS2 Related POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Plea in Supreme Court seeks online RTI portals in States 2. Chhattisgarh to launch a pilot project on NYAY scheme C.GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. RBI showers Rs.1.76 lakh crore bonanza on government 2. Cyclical, structural issues will take time to fade away: analysts 3. Imports from U.S. to grow, trade Ministers to meet soon ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. G7 Summit: PM Modi highlights India’s efforts towards eliminating single use plastic SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. Chandrayaan-2 scans Mitra crater D. GS4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. G7 ECONOMY 1. Giving wings to better air connectivity POLITY 1. Time to strike the gavel F. Tidbits G. Prelims Facts H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
The Supreme Court has asked the Centre and 25 States to respond to a writ petition for a direction to establish Right to Information (RTI) web portals across all States to enable citizens, especially those living abroad, to file RTI applications online.
The plea said that, despite directions from the centre to the state governments to implement RTI online portals, a person seeking information under the RTI Act of 2005 from any State department, is compelled to make a physical application; which has become difficult for NRIs.
- A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana issued notice on the petition filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell, saying that none of the States except Delhi and Maharashtra, had set up RTI portals.
- The Central government established an online RTI portal whereby any Indian citizen, including Non-Residential Indians (NRIs), can apply for information under the RTI Act with the desired Ministry or Department under the Central government.
- An applicant can also pay the requisite fee through online payment in this portal and submit the RTI application, the petition said.
- The Centre had also requested the various State governments to explore the feasibility of implementing online RTI portals. It had even offered to provide technical support for this purpose through the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to the States.
- The petition said, that the provision of an online web portal will help the Indian citizens, including the Non-Resident Indians by speedy dissemination of information requested, which in turn would only help in achieving the aim of the RTI laws of bringing transparency in administration
- The plea reminded the court of Section 7(1) of the RTI ACT which provides for disclosure of information if it concerns the life or liberty of a person. Such dissemination of the information would be easier sought through an online application, the petition said.
The Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) or minimum income guarantee scheme, is set to make its first appearance in Chhattisgarh.
- The Chhattisgarh government is likely to launch a pilot project for the scheme.
- Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel met Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi.
- NYAY was the corner stone of the Congress campaign with the slogan — Ab Hoga Nyay (now there will be justice). The Congress manifesto guaranteed a sum of Rs.72,000 per annum to the poor.
- In the run up to the election NYAY, was variously referred to as a “surgical strike” on poverty, a “diesel for the engine of Indian economy” and “remonetising the economy” through the scheme.
- The Chhattisgarh pilot promises to Rs.72000 per annum to 20% of the poorest families of the State.
- The project will begin as a pilot project in a small area at first.
- It is believed that, in the current economic scenario NYAY becomes even more relevant to inject financial fluidity.
Objective of NYAY Scheme:
- Rural income has been stagnant if not negative over last few years.
- NYAY aims at providing the rural population, basic level of support that will free them up from worrying about mere survival.
- The objective is to provide monetary support to the rural population to be able to think about other things like health, education and whole bunch of other things.
C. GS3 Related
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its board meeting has decided to transfer Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the Centre — including interim dividend of Rs.28,000 crore paid in February, 2019. This follows the RBI board accepting the recommendation of a high-level panel headed by its former Governor Bimal Jalan.
Transfer of Surplus profits:
- The government nationalised RBI in January 1949, making the sovereign its “owner”. RBI, therefore, transfers the surplus to the government, in accordance with Section 47 (Allocation of Surplus Profits) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
- The additional amount of Rs. 86,000 crore that the government will receive this year above its budgeted 90,000 crore as transfers from RBI could be either used
- to provide fiscal stimulus to a sagging economy (or)
- reduce off-balance sheet borrowings (or)
- meet the expected shortfall in revenue collections.
Bimal Jalan Committee:
- The six-member panel headed by Ex-RBI Governor Bimal Jalan was appointed in December, 2018 to review the Economic Capital Framework for RBI.
- Economic capital framework refers to the risk capital required by the central bank while taking into account different risks.
- The expert panel on RBI’s economic capital framework was formed to address the issue of RBI reserves.
- The committee was to propose a suitable profits distribution policy taking into account all the likely situations of the RBI, including the situations of holding more/less provisions than required.
- The panel recommended a clear distinction between the two components of economic capital – realized equity and revaluation balances.
- It was recommended that realized equity could be used for meeting all risks/ losses as they were primarily built up from retained earnings, while revaluation balances could be reckoned only as risk buffers against market risks as they represented unrealized valuation gains and hence were not distributable.
- The committee also recognised that RBI’s provisioning for monetary, financial and external stability risks is the country’s savings for a (monetary or financial stability) crisis, which has been consciously maintained with the RBI in view of its role as the Monetary Authority and the Lender of Last Resort.
- This risk provisioning made primarily from retained earnings is cumulatively referred to as the Contingent Risk Buffer (CRB) and has been recommended to be maintained within a range of 6.5% to 5.5% of the RBI’s balance sheet
- The ‘Surplus Distribution Policy’, as recommended by the committee, says only if realized equity is above its requirement, the entire net income will be transferable to the Government.
- RBI’s central board accepted all the recommendations of the committee.
- The transfer includes Rs. 1.23 trillion of surplus for 2018-19 and Rs.52,637 crore of excess provisions identified as per the revised Economic Capital Framework (ECF) adopted at the meeting.
- The higher surplus is due to the long-term forex swaps and the open market operations (OMO) conducted by the RBI over the last fiscal.
- The surplus transfer was finalized in line with the recommendations of the Bimal Jalan committee.
- Experts believe that this would not have inflationary pressures on the economy, since firstly, the current inflation levels are quite low and secondly, the government might not use this for spending and could instead use it to meet the possible revenue shortfall.
- The RBI committee has recommended a surplus distribution policy, which targets the level of realized equity to be maintained by RBI within the overall level of its economic capital.
- The board has not touched the revaluation reserves, which comprises periodic marked-to-market unrealized/notional gains/losses in values of foreign currencies and gold, foreign securities and rupee securities, and a contingency fund.
- The committee defines economic capital as a combination of realized equity and revaluation reserves.
- RBI’s realized equity, which is a form of contingency fund for meeting all risks/losses primarily built up from retained earnings, currently stands at 6.8%
- The Jalan committee recommends it to be in the range of 6.5-5.5% of the balance sheet.
- Keeping these recommendations in view, the central board has decided to set the realized equity level at 5.5% of the balance sheet, while transferring the remaining excess reserves worth Rs. 52,637 crore to the government.
Analysts opine that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcements pertaining to revival of the economy may have improved sentiments and might augment liquidity in the system, but it will take time for the current slowdown to fade away.
- While analysts are unanimous about the positive impact of the announcements on the economy, they feel that revival would be a gradual process.
- It is believed that the current slowdown is a combination of cyclical and structural issues and will take time to fade away.
- The Indian stock market, however, rallied strong riding on optimism that followed a slew of government steps announced to help revive the economy.
- Also, the sharp escalation in China-US trade issues will weigh on global investment sentiment and macro-economic conditions.
- Analysts opine that the latest announcements show the intent of the government to remove some of these irritants and structural issues, which will go a long way in preventing incremental damage.
- Any further job loss is expected be curbed.
- Consumer spend in the upcoming festive season will decide the quantum of bounce-back in the economy and the fortunes of companies affected by the slowdown.
- Analysts expect markets to react positively to these moves and recommend investors to use these ‘turbulent times’ to build the portfolio of companies with ‘moats in their business and ability to withstand technology disruptions’.
- Though the measures announced by the FM will result in more sales of all class of vehicles, it would take some time for the revival of the auto sector.
- Rolling back some of the controversial measures introduced in the budget, is expected to reverse the foreign institutional investors (FII) fund outflow from Indian equities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed President Donald Trump that India plans to further step up imports, from the US as the two countries sought to overcome their differences on tariffs and market access.
- The Modi-Trump meeting assumes significance in the wake of the strain in the bilateral relationship on trade and economic issues.
- Though trade is an important part of the booming bilateral strategic partnership, a row over market access and tariffs has escalated in recent months, leading to fears of a protracted dispute.
- President Trump has previously described India as the “tariff king.”
- Before his meeting with Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, demanded the withdrawal of India’s “very high” tariffs on US goods.
- In June 2019, President Trump terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade programme after determining that New Delhi has not assured the US that it will provide “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.
- India has also dragged the US to the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium.
- Modi and Mr. Trump met on the side-lines of G7 summit.
- The Prime Minister said that the increase in imports would include oil besides USD 4 billion worth of imports that are already in the pipeline.
- It was also agreed upon that the Commerce Ministers of the two countries would discuss a whole range of trade issues, before the Prime Minister’s visit to the U.S. in September 2019.
- India’s exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at USD 47.9 billion, while imports were at USD 26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending the G7 Summit in the French town of Biarritz on special invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.
- At the summit, the Prime Minister highlighted India’s large scale efforts towards eliminating single use plastic, conserving water, harnessing solar energy and protecting flora and fauna for a sustainable future in his address to a G7 session on environment.
- In his address to the Indian community at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Mr. Modi said India will achieve most of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) climate change goals set for 2030 in the next one and a half year.
- The 21st session of the COP21 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Paris from November 30 to December 12 2015.
- COP21 saw the participation of 195 nations.
- The nations negotiated and adopted the Paris Agreement in which India made commitments, including reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, under its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
- Other commitments are that it will ensure that at least 40 per cent of its electricity in 2030 will come from non-fossil fuel sources and that it will create 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of additional carbon sink through forests.
- India had ratified the Paris agreement on climate change in 2016 to become the 62nd nation to join the deal.
Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter or mother spacecraft has zeroed in on the Mitra Crater.
- India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan 2, was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 23, 2019 and is currently revolving around the moon at an altitude of about 4,375 km.
- It carries an orbiter, lander Vikram and rover Pragyan loaded with as many as 13 payloads.
- The images released by the space agency were captured by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2) aboard the spacecraft on August 23, when it was passing over the north polar region of the moon.
- At 25 degrees Kelvin (minus 248 degrees Celsius), the northern polar region is believed to be one of the coldest spots in the solar system.
- This crater on the moon is named after 20th century’s acclaimed radio physicist Sisir Kumar Mitra.
- Mitra also lends his name to the S. K. Mitra Centre for Research in Space Environment of the University of Calcutta and known for his pioneering work in the field of ionosphere and radiophysics. The Mitra crater is on the edge of another crater called Mach.
- The lunar surface is covered with a large number of craters, most of which were formed when asteroids or meteorites moving at extremely high speed crashed onto the surface of earth’s satellite. The impact not only sends massive shockwaves through the ground, but end up creating craters.
- The spacecraft also captured Hermite, which was discovered by NASA in 2009 and is believed to be the coldest place in the solar system, with temperatures touching -247 °C.
- Images of the crater are among the second set of pictures of the northern craters sent by the orbiter.
- The lander is set to separate from the orbiter on September 2 in preparation for its landing on the moon on September 7.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
- The G7 or ‘Group of Seven’ are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
- The G7 was known as the ‘G8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997.
- The Group returned to being called G7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
- The G7 nations meet at annual Summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
- The G7 does not have a formal constitution or a fixed headquarters.
- The decisions taken by leaders during annual Summits are non-binding.
- The current G7 Summit being held in France is the 45th, and the next one will be held in the United States in 2020.
- The host country typically gets to invite dignitaries from outside the G7 to attend the Summit.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Biarritz in southwestern France.
- Modi was invited to attend the Summit as a special guest of French President Emmanuel Macron.
What the G7 does?
The G7 Summit is an informal gathering that lasts two days, in which leaders of member countries discuss a wide range of global issues.
- The Group was initially formed as an effort by the US and its allies to discuss economic issues, which in the late 1970s included battling a global oil crisis
- Since then, the G7 has discussed issues affecting every decade, such as financial crises, and has aimed to tackle specific challenges, such as the economic changeover of ex-Soviet bloc nations, terrorism, arms control, and drug trafficking, among others.
- The groundwork for the Summit, including matters to be discussed and follow-up meetings, is done by the “sherpas”, who are generally personal representatives or members of diplomatic staff such as ambassadors.
- The sherpa for Prime Minister Modi at the current Summit is former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu.
India at the G7 Summit
- The invite to India to be a Biarritz Partner and to Prime Minister Modi to be a special guest at the Summit was extended by President Macron keeping in mind the common interests of India and France, such as tackling climate change and the development of renewable energy.
- Prime Minister Modi collaborated closely with President Macron’s predecessor, President François Hollande, in the creation of the International Solar Alliance in 2015.
G7 and G20
- The G20 is a larger group of countries, which also includes G7 members. The G20 was formed in 1999, in response to a felt need to bring more countries on board to address global economic concerns.
- Apart from the G7 countries, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.
- Together, the G20 countries make up around 80% of the world’s economy.
- As opposed to the G7, which discusses a broad range of issues, deliberations at the G20 are confined to those concerning the global economy and financial markets.
- Civil aviation is a central subject and one that barely got significant attention from the States until recently.
- It is evident from the fact that very few States in India have active civil aviation departments. This is also due to the reason that States have had a passive role, invariably, having had to look up to the Central government for the development of airports and enhancing air connectivity. However, in the last four years, the situation has changed considerably.
- The cooperation of States is seen as a major factor in the growth of the civil aviation sector. The Regional Connectivity Scheme, UdeDeshkaAamNaagrik (UDAN), has become a game changer as this flagship programme has a built-in mechanism to develop stakes of State governments in the growth of the sector.
Read more about the scheme:
Key policy interventions
Thirty States and Union Territories have already signed memoranda of understanding with the Central government. The policies of States and Centre are now being interlinked to make flying accessible and affordable. Here are some policy intervention suggestions to jump-start the aviation market.
- For any airline in India, the cost of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) forms about 40% of the total operational cost.
- Keeping petroleum products out of the purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST) may be a policy imperative for the State governments but this is a step that adversely impacts the expansion of air services to the States.
- States have very high rates of value-added tax (VAT) on ATF — sometimes as high as 25% — which has dampened the growth trajectory of civil aviation. ATF is a small component of overall petroleum products and deserves to be treated separately.
- The airline industry is capital-intensive and works on very thin profit margins. Therefore, relief on ATF is a major incentive for airlines to augment their operations.
- For States, it would be a notional revenue loss which can be offset by enhanced economic activities as a result of increased air connectivity to the region.
- Therefore Reducing VAT on ATF is the biggest lever States can operate, which will enable them in being an equal partner in steering sector policy.
- Airport development
The second area is in the development and management of airports. There are many regional airports which can be developed by States on their own or in collaboration with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
In this, there have been different models of public-private-partnership which can be leveraged to develop infrastructures.
- Land involves huge capital and is a scarce resource. Innovative models can be explored to create viable ‘no-frill airports’. These functional airports can open up regions and change the way people travel.
- Linking the hinterland
Third, States and the Central government can play a crucial role in supporting airlines to develop air services in the remote regions.
- To reduce operational cost of airlines and airport operators, incentives from State governments have been sought: some in the form of financial support such as VAT reduction; sharing of viability gap funding with airlines, and non-financial incentives such as providing security and fire services free of cost to airport operators.
- Similarly, under the scheme, the Union government has declared concessions on excise duty on ATF and made budgetary allocations for airport development.
- This unique scheme has been successful in encouraging airlines to operate on regional unconnected routes instead of trunk routes. Market appetite and aspirations of remote areas can match the plans of airlines where States play a catalytic role.
Steps to be taken
- Convergence is an element in governance which is often overlooked due to a compartmentalisation in implementation.
- States may converge their relevant schemes relating to tourism, health, and insurance for supporting air connectivity to supplement the objectives of regional connectivity.
- Currently the penetration of the aviation market in India stands at 7%. There is potential to be among the global top three nations in terms of domestic and international passenger traffic.
- For this States need to create a conducive business environment to facilitate the strong aspirations of a burgeoning Indian middle class to fly at least once a year. It would boost ticket sales from the present level of eight crore domestic tickets.
- Developing airports, incentivising airlines and pooling resources of both the Union and State governments can accelerate the harmonised growth of the Indian civil aviation sector which would be equitable and inclusive.
- This article draws a comparison of emergency situation during the 1970’s and that of the present scenario in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The biggest blow to the people of India was delivered by the Supreme Court of India on April 28, 1976.
- The five-member Constitution Bench (the Chief Justice of India, A.N. Ray, and Justices H.R. Khanna, M. Hameedullah Beg, Y.V. Chandrachud and P.N. Bhagwati) delivered its judgment in the Additional District Magistrate vs. S.S. Shukla Etc. Etc.
- The scars it inflicted on the Constitution, constitutional morality and constitutionalism are deep.
This was the judgment that allowed the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during Emergency. Some of the comments made were:
- “In period of public danger of apprehension, the protective law which gives every man security and confidence in times of tranquility has to give way to interest of the State.” (CJI A.N. Ray);
- Enforceability, as an attribute of a legal right, and the power of the judicial organs of the State to enforce the right, are exclusively for the State, as the legal instrument of Society, to confer or take away in the legally authorised manner.” (Justice Beg);
- “Personal liberty is but one of the Fundamental Rights… therefore the suspension of the right to enforce the right conferred by Article 21 means and implies the suspension of the right to file a habeas corpus petition or to take any other proceeding to enforce the right to personal liberty conferred by Article 21.” (Justice Y.V. Chandrachud);
- “The Constitution… if it says that even if a person is detained otherwise than in accordance with the law, he shall not be entitled to enforce his right of personal liberty, whilst a Presidential order under Article 359, clause (1) specifying Article 21 is in force I have to give effect to it.” (Justice Bhagwati).
But in the true spirit of Rabindranath Tagore’s words, Justice Khanna held: “If they answer not to your call, walk alone.
- Justice Khanna said, “The cases before us raise questions of utmost importance and gravity, questions which impinge not only upon the scope of the different constitutional provisions, but have impact also upon the basic, values affecting life, liberty and the rule of law… What is at stake is the rule of law. If it could be the boast of a great English judge that the air of England is too pure for a slave to breathe, cannot we also say that this sacred land shall not suffer an eclipse of the rule of law and that the Constitution and Indian laws do not permit life and liberty to be at the mercy of absolute power of the executive, a power against which there can be no redress in courts of law? Even if it chooses to act contrary to law or in an arbitrary and capricious manner… The question is whether the laws speaking through the authority of the courts shall be absolutely silenced and rendered mute because of such threat.”
Rights in Kashmir
That was during the Emergency. Today, there is no Emergency, yet the constitutional and basic rights of scores have been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Worse, the Supreme Court has virtually taken away their constitutional remedy to enforce those rights. While adjourning for two weeks, a writ petition challenging the imposition of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, following the abrogation of Article 370, a bench of the top court,
- merely accepted the pleas of the Attorney General on behalf of Centre to the effect that, “we have to ensure that law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir is maintained and that it will take a few days to return to normalcy.”
- It further observed, “The situation is such that nobody knows what exactly is happening there. Sometime should be given for bringing normalcy”.
- In other words, the top court — the custodian of the right to life and liberty — handed over its duty to the Central government.
- Another court bench hearing writ petitions on lifting the communication ban said, “let us give it a bit of time” and adjourned these matters to an unspecified date.
Comparing ADM Jabalpur case with Kashmir Crisis
- The court’s handling of these cases is a harsh reminder of the ADM Jabalpur case.
- More than a million people have been locked down in one of the biggest clampdowns by the Indian armed forces; and all under the cover of Section 144 of Cr.P.C.
- Article 21 is about life and liberty, and all that the Supreme Court has done is to defer these crucial matters without taking the government to task.
- In the first instance, the state failed “to ensure normalcy” from the day it abrogated Article 370; it has now tried to buy more time from the top court to do so. The “situation is such that nobody knows what exactly is happening there”, but that is precisely why it is the duty to court to ascertain true facts. It cannot shy away from doing justice in the name of “security” and “law and order”.
- According to Author Dushyant Dave a Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of India “It is not suggested here that the security of the nation can be compromised; nor can one argue that law and order ought not to controlled. But preservation of both is the duty of the state. If it intends to do so by taking away fundamental and basic human rights then one can infer that the state has failed in its duty”.
- The judiciary needs to dispel the perception that it is no longer the pillar created to protect constitutional and legal rights.
- In any failure, its stature and status as the “bulwark of the rule of law and the democracy” will be compromised.
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Facts
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Q1. Consider the following statements:
- Bioplastics are plastic materials produced from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch.
- All bioplastics are biodegradable.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q2. Consider the following statements:
- The Press Council of India is a statutory body that governs the conduct of the print media.
- It is a quasi-judicial body.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q3. Consider the following statements with respect to Article 352:
- It can be proclaimed only when the security of India or a part of it is threatened by war, external aggression or armed rebellion.
- It can have no effect on the Fundamental Rights of the citizen.
Which of the given statement/s is/are correct?
a. 1 only
b. 2 only
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2
Q4. Which of the following commissions was constituted to examine the Centre State Relationship?
a. Narendran Commission
b. Sarkaria Commission
c. Kothari Commission
d. Mandal Commission
I. UPSC Mains Practise Questions
- A repeat of the shocking train of intense floods, landslides, financial losses and manifold human tragedies in Kerala has brought focus on the bottom-up democratic process with the full involvement of local communities for deciding on safeguarding this global biodiversity hotspot, as recommended by the Gadgil Committee. Elucidate. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
- It is the responsibility of the government to closely scrutinise the interplay of technological advances and the right to privacy in the present digital age. Critically Examine. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
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