23rd FEB 2020 CNA- Download PDF Here
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS 1 Related B. GS 2 Related GOVERNMENT SCHEMES 1. One in three payments for maternity benefit scheme credited to wrong account C. GS 3 Related ECONOMY 1. Tardy pace of farm schemes irks FinMin 2. Need to enhance global risk monitoring, says FM 3. 12% GST: one rate that fits all is best stimulus ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY 1. Adequate water in Kawal Tiger Reserve 2. Monsoon in Sunderbans likely to get longer, warn climate experts SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. Govt. eyes public-private fund to give R&D a shot in the arm D. GS 4 Related E. Editorials INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. The Trump visit as India-U.S. trade booster? INTERNAL SECURITY 1. Bodo accord and rifts F. Tidbits G. Prelims Facts H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS 1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS 2 Related
Progress report on Poshan Abhiyaan (Nutrition Mission) released by the NITI Aayog.
- Under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), pregnant women and lactating mothers receive ₹5,000 for their first child in three instalments.
- This is a conditional grant and each tranche is released upon the beneficiaries meeting some specific conditions.
- The money is meant to compensate women for the loss of wages and is aimed at ensuring a healthy nutritional development of the newborn.
- There have been reports of inordinate delays with some beneficiaries having to wait for two years to receive the benefit under the scheme. There have been also problems faced by beneficiaries in filling up the 32-page application form and providing nine identity documents.
- This is the second report released by the government on the implementation of Poshan Abhiyaan. It scores the States and Union Territories to measure their readiness to execute the programme across four themes: governance and institutional mechanism; strategy and planning; service delivery and capacities; and programme activities and intervention coverage.
- On the basis of the data collected until March 31, 2019, the report notes that 66% of the direct benefit transfers for the Centre’s maternity benefit scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) were based on Aadhaar.
- Worryingly one in three of these Aadhaar-based payments was credited to a wrong bank account. 28% of all Aadhaar-based payments are going to different bank accounts than what had been provided by the beneficiaries.
- In some cases, the payments were even untraceable by beneficiaries and field functionaries. This is a prime cause of dissatisfaction among beneficiaries, which needs to be addressed on an urgent basis.
- The NITI Aayog has called for simplification in the documentation and operational rules to avoid delays in money transfer.
- NITI Aayog has proposed to rationalize the mandatory waiting period of 180 days before the second installment is released as well as the compulsory birth certificate for the release of the third installment.
- There is a need for better training of auxiliary midwives who fill up the mother-child protection card and data entry operators.
C. GS 3 Related
Review of Farm schemes.
- The Union Budget had announced that all eligible beneficiaries of PM-KISAN will be covered under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.
- While there were 9 crore PM-Kisan scheme beneficiaries, there are only 6.67 crores active KCC accounts, which leaves a gap of 2.33 crore PM Kisan beneficiaries who are outside the coverage of KCC schemes.
- The KCC scheme was launched in 1998 with the objective of providing short-term credit to farmers for the cultivation of crops, post-harvest expenses, and working capital for maintenance of farm assets, among others.
- The Finance Ministry is dissatisfied with the progress made by the Public Sector banks in implementing various schemes related to the farm sector.
- The Ministry also pulled up banks on the slow implementation of Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) scheme, which provides insurance cover against the failure of crops.
- Given the tardy progress of government schemes, banks need to redouble efforts to ensure the success of the campaign.
Indian Finance Minister’s statement at the G-20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors meeting in Riyadh.
- The Finance Minister has emphasized on the need to enhance global risk monitoring and explore the scope for policy co-ordination to deal with such global risks.
- The Finance Minister speaking in the session on Enhancing Access to Opportunities for All emphasized that growing inequality had slowed down the pace of intergenerational mobility globally. She pointed out that identifying the causes and developing solutions require co-ordinated policy solutions between the nations. The G20 can serve as a foundation to explore policy coordination.
- The FM called upon all member countries to enhance their efforts aimed at empowering women, youth and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The minister also highlighted the initiatives undertaken by the Indian government for empowering women such as ‘Stand Up India’ and the STEP scheme. The MUDRA scheme (PMMY) for the SME segment is directed towards empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Economist’s views expressed at a session of The Huddle titled “Rebooting the economy: what needs to be done and how we go about it”.
Goods and Services Tax:
- There is the need to converge on a single lower single tax rate of 12% for GST.
- This would help simplify the GST system and ensure easier implementation.
- The lower tax rates will help increase the disposable income in the hands of the people and hence serve as a big fiscal stimulus to the economy.
- Given the fact that a progressive Tax regime recommends higher direct taxes and lower indirect taxes, a higher GST rate also points to the failure to adopt a progressive tax regime.
Expanding the net of GST:
- Given the fact that a large part of the GDP is still not in the GST tax net, with areas like electricity, petroleum, etc. still not coming under the GST, there is the need to expand the GST tax net.
- The Central Board of Direct Taxes had recently stated that only 5.78 crore individuals filed returns disclosing income for the financial year 2018-19.
- India’s direct tax-to-GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world.
- Given the fact that the main concern that India is largely a tax non-compliant society, there is the need to take appropriate steps to address this lacuna.
- Widening the direct tax base should be a key priority for the government. The government needs to consider tracking the consumption pattern of people to help clamp down on those who are not paying taxes.
- There is a link between the poorest in the country and those working in the agriculture sector, pointing to the criticality of the agricultural sector in ensuring equitable growth.
- India has roughly 50% of the population in agriculture while in developed countries it is in the range of 2-4%.
- There is a rise in rural unemployment because of the stress in agriculture.
- The government could consider setting up training agencies and provide opportunities in other non-agricultural areas. There is a need to get farmers off the land and get them jobs.
- Higher funds should be allocated to village panchayats and local administrations in a transparent manner.
- The economic slowdown could be attributable to both structural and cyclical factors.
Women’s role in the economy:
- India has one of the lowest levels of women’s participation in the economy.
- If women are empowered to transition from informal to formal work, it will help boost GDP growth in India.
Kawal Tiger Reserve:
- Kawal Tiger Reserve is located in the northern part of Telangana.
- The Kawal Wildlife sanctuary was established in 1965 and later declared as a Protected Area (PA) in 1999 under the Wildlife protection act (WPA), 1972.
- The Government of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012.
- The Tiger reserve is a catchment area for the rivers Godavari and Kadam.
- The reserve is spread over 893 sq km of the core area and also constitutes 1,122 sq km of buffer area adjoining the core area.
- The Kawal Tiger Reserve is well known for its abundant flora and fauna.
- The sanctuary is one of the richest teak forests in the state. Dry deciduous teak forests mixed with bamboo, terminalia, Pterocarpus, anogeisus, and cassias constitute the predominant flora of the region.
- Mammal species that have been sighted include tiger, leopard, gaur, cheetal, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, chowsingha, and sloth bear. Several species of birds and reptiles are also found in the sanctuary.
- The Kawal Tiger reserve is increasingly getting threatened by growing human encroachment, rampant poaching, illegal wood felling, and habitat loss.
- Kawal Tiger Reserve had been witness to numerous instances of man-animal conflict in the recent past.
- The major factor was due to the shortage of water for the animals inside the reserve, particularly in the summer season. This would lead to wild animals straying into the surrounding human habitations in search of water.
- The man-animal conflict had adverse impacts on both the wildlife as well as the humans settled in the buffer area of the reserve.
- There was crop loss, cattle loss and human lives lost in the man-animal conflicts.
- The humans started viewing the wildlife as a threat to their existence and hence had an adverse impact on the planned conservation activities in the region.
- The worrisome man-animal conflict in the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) on account of water seems to be on the decline.
- There was no incident of wild animals straying into human habitations for water in 2019 and it would hold good for the current season of 2020 too as there is enough water for the wild animals to tide over the harsh summer in the Reserve.
- Water will be available for a comparatively longer period in natural bodies, attributable mainly to a prolonged monsoon and also the focused efforts of the Reserve management in making water available through artificially created water holes.
- The construction of artificial water holes focused on huge saucer pits, 5 m in diameter, meant for the large herds of Bisons. 22 such pits have been constructed at strategic locations inside the reserve.
The report titled The Sunderbans and Climate Change released during the ongoing Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
- The fact sheet notes that as climate change progresses, the monsoon in Sunderbans is likely to last longer and get more intense over the coming years.
- Conversely, drought conditions will also become more pronounced, presenting further challenges for agricultural producers in particular and ecosystems in general.
Risk of flooding:
- The fact sheet points out that large parts of Sunderbans, which are designated as ‘Ramsar Sites’, are highly susceptible to flooding.
- The inundation of seawater is going to dramatically affect the area.
- Although mangroves demonstrate some degree of resistance to submersion in water, they are susceptible to tidal inundation which occurs too frequently or lasts too long.
- Apart from the frequent storms and the rise of sea level, another concern is the rise of salinity both in water and soil.
- Excess levels of soil salinity can be damaging to ecosystems as salts can accumulate in the soil and hinder plant growth and also threaten the health of freshwater aquatic life such as fish and giant prawns.
- The report estimates the rise in the sea level at 3.2 mm per year currently. The report states that an estimated rise of 28 cm above the sea levels registered in the year 2000 would result in a 96 % decline of the habitat of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in Bangladesh.
- The intense monsoon storm is also expected to reduce the availability of prey for the Bengal Tiger in the region, adversely affecting its sustainability in the region.
- The convention discussions involved the Transboundary Conservation of Threatened Freshwater Fauna, including species like Indian River Terrapin (Batagur Baska), Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) and Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica).
- There is clear evidence of the habitat of all the three species extending to the Sunderbans in both India and Bangladesh.
- The risk of flooding in Sunderbans will adversely affect these freshwater species.
- There is an urgent need for long term coastal planning to ensure that the critically important intertidal habitats with their unique flora and fauna and local inhabitants have a space to retreat inland in case of flooding and subsequent loss of natural habitat for these species.
- There is the need to protect the existing natural habitat and also enhance natural vegetation in the region to compensate for the impending loss of natural habitat.
Research and Development investments in India.
Low expenditure on R&D:
- The total expenditure on R&D in India has tripled in the last decade in nominal terms. However, as a fraction of GDP, public expenditures on R&D has been stagnant over the years. It is between 0.6-0.7percent of GDP over the past two decades.
- A 2019 report by the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister itself notes the fact that India’s expenditure is well below that of major nations such as the U.S. (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).
- In 2017, the global R&D spend was estimated to be $1.7 trillion in PPP terms, with the United States, China, and Japan being the top spenders. India’s share was around 2.8%.
- As a lower-middle-income country, it is not surprising that India’s spending on R&D lags upper-middle-income and high-income countries such as China, Israel, and the U.S. However, it currently underspends even relative to its income level. In 2015, there was a sizeable decline in R&D spending even as GDP per capita continued to rise, which might be attributable to the lack of attention to this critical sector.
Public sector dominance:
- Unlike the trend in most advanced economies, where private R&D accounts for the bulk of investment in R&D, Public sector institution’s contributions still constitute a large share of India’s investment in R&D.
- In 2004-2005, the private sector accounted for 28% of India’s research spend and in 2016-17 this increased to 40%.
- Apart from the fact that the government is the major source of funds for R&D, the Government is also the major utilizer of funds, in terms of money consumed by public sector enterprises or Central institutions.
- Although India ranks fifth in global research publication output, there are some concerns regarding the quality of research coming out of India.
- Countries such as the US, China, Germany, and the UK continue to dominate the world rankings both in terms of quantitative and qualitative research.
- A government report has revealed the fact that only 15.8 percent of the total publications produced by Indian researchers feature in the top 10 journals globally. It has emphasized the dire need to focus on the quality of research in the country.
- The quality of academic research produced by Indian scholars has become a subject of grave concern for the University Grants Commission (UGC), which had flagged the issue of increasing the number of students getting their research published in ‘sub-standard journals’.
- In an effort to stimulate investment in research and development (R&D), the Department of Science and Technology is mooting a fund wherein the government will match the contributions made by private companies in R&D.
- The idea is to pool funds from a group of companies willing to invest in fundamental research, such as quantum computers or artificial intelligence. The government will match the contributions made by private companies.
- The government is currently holding discussions with the private sector companies and targeting a fund of ₹40 crores.
- A major beneficiary of these private sector funds could be the Indian Institutes of Technology. The Private sector might choose to collaborate with the IITs for R&D.
- The scheme will be coordinated through the department’s Science and Engineering Research Board, which funds a variety of basic science projects in several universities.
D. GS 4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
The United States President will be embarking on his first-ever official visit to India.
- At stake during the president’s visit is the prospect of more cooperation on trade and tariffs, the possibility of major defence deals between India and the U.S.
Trade Cooperation between India and the U.S.:
- The U.S. and India have been, stable trading partners over the years.
- The U.S.-India trade in goods and services has grown at a steady rate from $16-billion to $142-billion during 1999-2018. The trade composition is tilted in India’s favour with India enjoying a trade surplus with the U.S. of around $23.3-billion.
- However, there have been disagreements too between the two countries over several aspects of India-U.S. trade.
- The U.S. and Indian authorities have disagreed for years on issues like high tariffs, regulations on agricultural trade especially in the dairy sector and foreign investment limitations in India. There have been concerns over intellectual property rights, the cap on the price of medical devices.
- India has expressed its concerns on multiple occasions regarding restrictions (higher visa fees) on visas for highly skilled professionals seeking to take up employment in the U.S.
- There have been a series of skirmishes between India and the U.S. over the above issues and that has destabilized the bilateral balance to a certain extent.
Chronology of U.S.-India trade disputes:
- In March 2018, the U.S. administration imposed national security tariffs of 25% on $761-million worth of steel and tariffs of 10% on $382-million of aluminium imported from India.
- India has contested the tariff hike at the World Trade Organization.
Generalized System of Preferences:
- The U.S. removed India from the S. tariff concession system of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in June 2019. This move of the U.S. is believed to have impacted nearly $5.8 billion of India’s exports, or more than 12% of exports to the U.S. in 2017.
- India has been demanding the restoration of India’s status for any possible India-U.S. trade deal.
- India also retaliated by imposing higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products including almonds, walnuts, cashews, apples, chickpeas, wheat, and peas.
Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM):
- The U.S. also recently changed the status of India, among other countries, to a “developed” country, to further reduce trade concessions that it could receive from the U.S. under the ASCM framework of the WTO.
- While there were initial signs that a “limited trade deal” might be finalized on during the visit that aspiration fell through when the U.S. Trade Representative’s visit to India just prior to the presidents was put off to a future date.
- There is the possibility of a mini trade deal or a smaller trade package announcement.
- This might include agreements in the energy sector. India might consider increasing its LNG imports from the U.S.
Defence and strategic Cooperation:
- Unlike the trade co-operation where there are a number of disputes and differences, the defence cooperation is more realistic given the mutual interests and needs.
- There is the likely announcement of the deal for 24 Lockheed Martin-built MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Role Helicopters for the Indian Navy. These 24 helicopters, worth $2.4-billion, are likely to be procured through the Foreign Military Sales route of the U.S. government.
- India and the U.S. are also said to be in negotiations regarding India’s potential purchase of drones, additional P-8I long-range, multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft and also the Raytheon intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft.
- On the strategic front, the S. proposal to pull out of Afghanistan will possibly pose some challenges for Indian strategies in its neighbourhood.
- There is a high probability of the American withdrawal leading to the possible revival of the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan. This will help Pakistan-based terror elements or the Inter-Services Intelligence gain a deeper strategic depth. This could compromise Indian interests considerably.
For more information on this issue refer:
- The Ministry of Home Affairs, Assam government and Bodo groups including the All Bodo Students’ Union and militant outfits signed an agreement on January 27, 2020.
- The new deal offers more hope than the earlier accords.
- Some of the most powerful factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland that had stayed away from the earlier agreements of 1993 and 2003 accords are now on board.
- Significantly, the stakeholders have agreed that the updated political arrangements would remain confined to the realm of wider autonomy within the State of Assam. The stakeholders have given up the demand for separate statehood and Union Territory.
- The third peace accord with the Bodos threatens to intensify the socio-political contestation among the various inhabitant groups in the State and not just in the Bodoland Territorial Region. It is likely to create problems even in the Scheduled Hill Tribes regions.
- While the expanded and updated Bodoland Territorial Region will help ensure greater contiguity of Bodo-populated areas and aid more efficient governance in the Sixth Schedule administrative unit, it has also deepened insecurity among other groups such as Koch Rajbongshis, Adivasis and Muslims in the existing Bodoland Territorial Area Districts.
- The Bodoland Peoples Front, the political organization which has dominated the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) since its inception in 2003, is also worried about newer claimants to power in the upcoming council elections.
Concerns among the hill tribes:
- The peace agreement stipulates that Bodos living in the hill areas outside the BTAD will be conferred Scheduled Tribe (Hills) status. This has not gone done well with tribes such as the Karbis.
- In Assam, there are around 14 recognized plains tribe communities, 15 hill tribe communities, and 16 Scheduled Caste communities.
- The ST (Hills) status is primarily reserved for tribes residing in the two autonomous hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, where the Karbis and Dimasas are the most dominant in their respective areas. The proposal in the agreement will lessen the oppurtunities for the ST (hill) tribes.
- Students’ bodies of the hill districts, chiefly the Karbi Students’ Association and the Dimasa Students’ Union, have raised concerns about the proposal.
- Militant groups like the Karbi Longri and North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), which had signed a ceasefire with the Centre in 2009, have also opposed the move.
Ripple effect of the Bodo pact:
- Other insurgent groups currently in talks with the Centre, including the KLNLF, would take note of the Bodo pact and are likely to push for similarly generous terms.
- The impending Naga peace accord could also spur demand for territorial and administrative rights in the Naga territories of Manipur and further complicate the negotiations.
- There is a need to ensure that a Bodo solution does not create a non-Bodo problem.
For more information on this topic refer:
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Prelims Facts
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H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
Q1. Which of the following statements are correct?
- Yakshagana is practiced predominantly in the coastal regions of Karnataka.
- Yakshagana stories are based only on the Hindu epic of Mahabharata.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q2. Which of the following statements are correct?
- The Kawal Tiger Reserve is situated in Northern Telangana.
- The predominant vegetation of the Kawal Tiger Reserve includes the deciduous forests of Teak.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q3. Which of the following statements are correct?
- The 2020 edition of the G-20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors meeting was held in Osaka.
- The G-20 constitutes only one member nation each from the continents of Africa and South America.
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q4. Which of the following statements are correct?
- The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is also known as the Bonn Convention.
- India played host to the 13th conference of parties of the Convention on Migratory Species.
- India hosted the conference of parties of the Convention on Migratory Species for the second time after playing host to the 4th COP in 1994.
- 1 only
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1,2 and 3
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Unlike the trade co-operation where there are a number of disputes and differences, the defence cooperation between India and the U.S. is more realistic given the mutual interests and needs. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words)
- There is an important need to ensure that a Bodo solution does not engender a non-Bodo problem in Assam. Discuss in the backdrop of the recently finalized Bodo deal. (10 marks, 150 words)
23rd FEB 2020 CNA- Download PDF Here
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