TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. BRICS news portal soon 2. Israel adopts Jewish nation law GOVERNANCE 1. Fugitive offenders Bill passed C. GS3 Related ENVIRONMENT 1. India to expand polar research to Arctic as well D. GS4 Related E. Editorials ECONOMY 1. A vote of no confidence from the farmers F. Tidbits 1. Fighting global warming, one cow belch at a time 2. IBBI working on cross-border insolvency norms: Sahoo 3. In Delhi, Swachh focus on public toilets 4. NGT says no effective steps taken to clean river Ganga 5. Details of 2015 Naga agreement emerge G. Prelims Fact H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. BRICS news portal soon
- A decision to establish a BRICS Media Academy and a BRICS news portal were among those taken at the 2018 BRICS Media Forum in South Africa.
- The Forum, a high-level dialogue among media organizations from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was held over two days under the theme — ‘Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order’.
- Initiated by Xinhua News Agency, the BRICS Media Forum is supported by Brazil’s CMA Group, The Hindu Group, Sputnik News Agency and Radio and South Africa’s Independent Media.
- The Forum, which opened on former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary on July 18, unanimously agreed to adopt the Cape Town Declaration 2018.
- It pledged to strive to create a media landscape that upholds the integrity of news that is created and shared through the BRICS nations.
- It also committed itself to limit the spread and effect of fake news and increase people-to-people exchanges between journalists and others employed in the media.
2. Israel adopts Jewish nation law
- Israel’s Parliament has adopted a law defining the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people, provoking fears that it could lead to discrimination against Arabs.
- The legislation, which will become one of Israel’s powerful Basic Laws that have constitutional status, lays down that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it.
- The law strips Arabic, the first language of 1.8 million citizens, of its national language status; states that Jerusalem, whole and united, is its capital; and vows to promote and encourage the establishment and consolidation of Jewish settlements, which it sees as a national value.
- As it is, the Arab community, which makes up a fifth of Israel’s population, faces discrimination when it comes to opportunities and rights.
- Arab lawmakers and Palestinians said it legalised apartheid.
- Others said it neglected to specify equality and Israel’s democratic character, implying the country’s Jewish nature comes first.
- It has raised concerns about its commitment to peace in the region.
- The emphasis on Jerusalem and the promise to promote settlements pose a direct threat to any peace process with the Palestinians.
- Jerusalem remains a disputed territory, with Palestinians seeing its eastern part as the capital of their future state.
- Israel’s claim over the city remains a key point of dispute between the two sides.
- Besides, if Israel sees Jewish settlements as a national value and continues to promote them in the Palestinian territories, it cannot command confidence when it says it is still committed to the two-state solution.
- The law further erodes the credibility of Israel’s professed support of an independent Palestinian state.
- Israel has just passed two other pieces of legislation — one places limits on Palestinians under occupation in accessing Israel’s High Court, and the other bans individuals and groups seeking political action against the country or the prosecution of Israeli soldiers abroad, from entering Israeli school premises.
- Together, these laws allow the Israeli state to institutionalise discrimination against the minorities at home, deepen occupation in the Palestinian territories and stifle even the limited rights of the Palestinians living under occupation.
1. Fugitive offenders Bill passed
- The Lok Sabha has passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which will now replace the ordinance by the same name promulgated by the President in April.
- The Bill empowers special courts to direct the Central government to confiscate all the assets belonging to a fugitive economic offender, including those assets that are proceeds of the crime and that do not belong to the offender.
- It has provisions for a court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a ‘Fugitive Economic Offender.’
- A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
- If at any point of time in the course of the proceeding prior to the declaration, however, the alleged Fugitive Economic Offender returns to India and submits to the appropriate jurisdictional court, proceedings under the proposed Act would cease by law.
- The legislation gains importance against the backdrop of high-profile cases where individuals such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi escaped the country.
- It is expected to re-establish the rule of law as the accused will be forced to return to India and face trial for his offences.
- This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
- It did not do any more than what’s already provided for by the existing laws, that the Rs. 100-crore limit above which the law becomes applicable was untenable, and that the provision in the Bill disqualifying a fugitive economic offender from availing the Indian judicial system for civil cases was unconstitutional.
- 100-crore limit was placed so that big offenders could be tackled quickly. Offenders below that limit will continue to be tackled by the existing various laws and courts.
C. GS3 Related
1. India to expand polar research to Arctic as well
- Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the government is refocusing priorities to the other pole — the Arctic—because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.
- This month, it has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) — since 1998, charged with conducting expeditions to India’s base stations to the continent — as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
- It’s also in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic circle, to establish new observation systems.
- Now, India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.
- While annual missions to maintain India’s three bases in Antarctica will continue, the new priorities mean that there will be more expeditions and research focus on the other poles.
- Climate change was a decisive factor in India re-thinking priorities.
- Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly — the fastest in this century.
- That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.
- The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
- India is already an observer at the Arctic Council and, in 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden fjord, halfway between Norway and the North Pole.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. A vote of no confidence from the farmers
Why in news?
- There is enough evidence to show that the government has failed farmers and agricultural labourers.
- As the Lok Sabha debates the vote of no confidence today, representatives of farmers from across the country will be marching outside Parliament under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of 201 farmer organisations.
Farmers distress against the Govt
- Farmers have already passed a vote of no confidence against this government. Far from helping the farmers, this government has actually harmed them in their hour of crisis. This is a strong indictment, backed by solid evidence.
- Agricultural production suffered due to consecutive droughts for which it is unfair to blame the government. Further, in any case, the data on farmer suicides has not been released for 15 months now.
Arguments given in support of it by the farmers organisations
- Ten concrete, evidence-based, arguments on why the farmers of India express their vote of no confidence against the government.
- The government’s own Economic Survey 2018 has already conceded that farmers’ real income has “remained stagnant”, recording a 1.9% growth over four years. The concrete promise of higher public investment in agriculture did not materialise; in fact, it has declined in terms of its share of GDP. Government manifesto promised nothing short of “highest priority to agricultural growth, increase in farmers income and rural development”.
- The new farm insurance scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, has consumed thrice as much money as earlier schemes without either increasing the proportion of farmers who benefited from it, or giving a fair claim to the farmers.
- The promise of “welfare measures” — for farmers above 60, small farmers and farm labourers — was forgotten.
- The National Land Use Policy was never enacted. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act was not reformed. We don’t even have a ‘promises vs. delivery’ report card yet.
- The MSP promise: The government actually reneged on its promise of ensuring “50% profit over the cost of production” to the farmers.
- As pressure from farmer organisations mounted, the government shifted the goalpost in the 2018 Budget by changing the definition of cost of production for the purpose of calculating the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
- Not only did the government not fulfil its promise of “cost+50%” as MSP, it did not even maintain the routine annual increase in MSP. The government’s failure to implement the MSP that it announced forced the farmers into distress sale of Kharif and Rabi crops, amounting to at least ₹50,000 crore, in 2017-18.
- The central government’s response was limited to a revision in the eligibility cap for compensation and a routine raise in the compensation amount but also included cuts in contribution to States from the National Disaster Relief Fund.
- Choking the MGNREGS: The government’s lack of political will in implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has hit the rural poor in general and farm labourers in particular.
- From imposing Minimum Export Price on potatoes in 2014 to importing sugar from Pakistan, the government has followed anti-farmer trade policies.
- Farm exports were systematically discouraged, leading to a decline in agricultural exports from $43 billion on 2013-14 to $33 billion in 2016-17.
- Import of lentil, chana, wheat, sugar and milk powder was allowed that led to a crash in crop
- The government’s ill-advised and shoddily implemented policy of demonetisation dealt a severe blow to agricultural markets, especially to fruit and vegetable markets, just when the farmers were recovering from the consecutive droughts. A sudden shrinking of cash led to demand contraction and fall in prices.
- the government’s attempt to regulate livestock market by imposing ban on livestock movement and its protection to those guilty of lynching the suspected “cow smugglers” has disrupted livestock economic cycle, leading to loss of income and aggravation of the widespread problem of animals destroying crops.
- For the adivasi farmer, this is surely the most insensitive government. This government has diluted the Forest Rights Act and various other environmental and forest conservation laws substantially in order to help the transfer of common land and water resources from the adivasis to industry.
- The government made not one but four attempts to bring an ordinance so as to nullify the historic Land Acquisition Act of 2013 and take away the few concessions that farmers had won after 120 years.
- The government has effectively bypassed this law in the land acquisitions done by central agencies like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and has also allowed State governments to nullify the provisions benefitting the land-owning farmers.
- From New Zealand to the United States and Kenya to Colombia, scientists are on a mission to fight global warming by making livestock less gassy.
- Livestock is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
- According to calculations by some experts, this puts the livestock sector on par with transport.
- The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says transport is responsible for 14% of emissions.
- Although less prevalent than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, methane is more potent because it traps 28 times more heat, according to a 2016 study by the Global Carbon Project, which groups climate researchers.
- Ruminants such as cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats produce nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane, which is the most emitted gas and is released through belching.
- Scientists are working on ways to reduce those emissions, including by breeding animals that burp less, adjusting their diets so they produce less methane and planting trees in pastures.
- A company is working on a type of probiotic — helpful bacteria or yeasts in the digestive system —which has shown a 50% reduction of methane emissions in cattle during research.
- New Zealand’s AgResearch has bred sheep to produce 10% less methane. In a single sheep, a 10% drop maybe not so significant. But when there’s 19 million sheep in the country, it starts to make a huge impact. The low-methane sheep are the result of a decade of research, and they are also leaner and grow more wool.
- In Kenya, scientists are testing various local grasses to see if they improve the productivity of livestock, which would reduce the amount of emissions per kg of milk, meat or eggs. Cows are placed in respiration chambers where scientists measure the methane emissions from different feeds available in East Africa.
- In Argentina, scientists took a novel approach to studying global warming, strapping plastic tanks to the backs of cows to collect their burps. Improvements in productivity alone could reduce up to 30% of methane emissions from livestock globally.
- Latin American ranchers are experimenting with silvopastoralism — planting trees in pastures where they absorb greenhouse gases and offset emissions, while restoring degraded soil and improving biodiversity. They can be different types of trees — for timber, fruit trees, even trees that animals can eat.
- In India, a national programme to boost the milk production of cows and buffaloes by improving their diet is also helping the environment.
- The NDDB uses software to assess the ideal diet for an animal, based on its physical profile and environment. Changes usually include adjusting the feed quantity and adding locally-available mineral supplements.
- The tailored diet means each animal produces 12 to 15% less methane.
- Over the past five years, the programme has reached about 2.6 million of the nearly 300 million cows and buffaloes recorded in India’s 2014 livestock census.
- The government is keen to introduce a globally accepted and well-recognised cross-border insolvency framework, which would also make India an attractive investment destination for foreign creditors, given the increased predictability and certainty of the insolvency process.
- The cross-border insolvency norms are being worked upon.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is a nodal body that implements the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
- The Swachh Bharat Mission was supposed to build more than 1.25 lakh new toilets in Delhi homes.
- So far, the National Capital Territory has only built 458 individual household toilets under that scheme, according to data presented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
- The twist in the data comes in the category of community or public toilets, where Delhi has actually exceeded its target, building 19,171 such toilets against the target of only 11,138.
Arguments of the Government
- The State government said that it doesn’t have any demand from the people for individual household toilets.
- There is simply no space to construct toilets in their homes.
- Community toilets are more useful in Delhi.
- The purpose is that sanitation access is available, whether in homes or public toilets.
- Toilet construction is only the process, becoming ODF [open defecation-free] is the goal.
- While the entire amount of 5.15 crores Rupees allocated to Delhi for community toilets was released by the Centre, only half of the 50 crore Rupees allocated for individual household toilets was released.
- When the SBM-Urban was launched, surveys were done to determine the initial targets, but a shortage of time led to some estimates which now need to be revised according to actual needs on the ground but the money will remain the same.
- In April 2018, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2016-17 audit of the Delhi government showed that not a single toilet had been constructed under the scheme at that time, with more than Rs. 40 crore in funding remaining unused.
- The CAG report, tabled in the Delhi Assembly, had then said that the Delhi government did not give adequate importance to implementation of the mission.
- In February 2018, The Hindu had also reported that several Delhi municipal corporations had low utilisation rates for Swachh Bharat funds partly due to a cash crunch, meaning that they could not match the Central funds with their own.
- Expressing displeasure over the steps taken to clean the river Ganga, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Uttarakhand government to take effective measures and take into account the views of the general public.
- A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel said that the information provided on paper was different from the ground reality.
- Noting that rigorous monitoring is required, the NGT further directed district Ganga committees to furnish reports every fortnight.
- The government has informed a Parliamentary panel that it signed a framework agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) after it agreed on a settlement within the Indian federation with a special status.
- It was a departure from their earlier position of “with India, not within India,” and that the government called it a framework agreement and signed it.
- This is the first time that details of the agreement signed at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 3, 2015, have emerged.
- The details are part of the 213th report on the security situation in the Northeastern States tabled by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the Rajya Sabha.
- The committee was also informed that the contours had not been spelt out in the framework agreement that was just about the recognition of the uniqueness of the Naga history by the Government of India, and some special arrangements will have to be made for the Nagas.
- With respect to Nagaland, Article 371A of the Constitution makes it clear that they are special and a special status has been accorded to them.
- A similar kind of status, with some local variation, and some change to the Nagas in the neighbouring States can be explored.
- The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring States.
- Initially, the Nagas had stuck to the idea of unification of Naga inhabited areas, resolutely maintaining their stand of ‘no integration, no solution.’
- According to the report, the Nagas have now reached a common understanding with the government that boundaries of the States will not be touched and some special arrangements would be made for the Nagas, wherever they are.
G. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Which of the following statement/s is/are incorrect?
- Madhubani art is practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar in India and Nepal.
- It was originated in Nepal and the art form travelled to India later.
- Painting is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments.
- i only
- ii only
- Both i and ii
- None of the above
Question 2. Which of the following statement with respect to Dhole is incorrect?
- The dhole is a canid native to Central, South and Southeast Asia.
- It is listed as Extinct in the wild by the IUCN as populations are decreasing and are estimated at fewer than 2,500 adults.
- They are found in Alpine zones in India.
- None of the above
Question 3. Non-Cooperation movement, 1920-21 included:
- Surrender of titles
- Boycott of Government affiliated schools and colleges
- Boycott of foreign goods
- Defiance of forest laws
- Strikes and Hartals
- No-tax Movement
Choose the correct option:
- I, II, III and V only
- I, II, III, V and VI only
- I, II, III, IV and V only
- All of the above
Question 4. Public Accounts Committee was established as per the recommendations of:
- Hunter commission
- Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
- Morley-Minto Reforms
- Simon Commission
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Discuss the challenges to the agriculture sector in India. What are the initiatives by the present government to tackle those challenges?
- The insurgency in the North-east region of India is a long standing threat to the unity and integrity of the nation. Discuss.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis
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