Saturday, April 28, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP).

It was launched in 2009-10 by the integration of various area development programmes of the Department of Land Resources, including the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), the Desert Development Programme (DDP) and the Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP).

  • Cost sharing ratio of Central Government: State Government  90 : 10
  • 9% of the project cost is earmarked for development of livelihoods for asset-less people
  • 10% of the project cost is for productivity enhancement and development of micro-enterprises for small & marginal farmers.
  • An average size of project under the IWMP is about 5,000 ha which is cluster of micro-watersheds.
  • A portion of institution &capacity building (5% of the total project cost) has been provided to set up institutional mechanism at State, District, Project and Village levels and to build capacities of stakeholders.
  • In the IWMP, Gram Panchayat has been effectively involved to perform important function at Village/Watershed level to keep transparency and people’s participations.  

Har Khet ko Pani Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

PMKSY has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop' in a focused manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.

Objective: The major objective of PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices by exploring the feasibility of reusing treated municipal waste water for peri-urban agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation system.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in its meeting held in 2015.
PMKSY has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes:
  1. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR),
  2. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR); and
  3. The On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

National Water Policy, 2012

National Water Policy is formulated by the Ministry of Water Resources to govern the planning and development of water resources and their optimum utilization. The first National Water Policy was adopted in September, 1987. It was reviewed and updated in 2002 and later in 2012. The 2012 Policy treats water as economic good which the ministry claims to promote its conservation and efficient use.

Other salient features are:
  1. To ensure access to a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene to all citizens, available within easy reach of the household.
  2. To curtail subsidy to agricultural electricity users.
  3. Setting up of Water Regulatory Authority in each State. The Authority, inter-alia, will fix and regulate the water tariff system and charges, in general, according to the principles stated in this Policy in an autonomous manner.
  4. To keep aside a portion of the river flow to meet the ecological needs and to ensure that the low and high flow releases correspond in time closely to the natural flow regime.
  5. To give statutory powers to Water Users Associations to maintain the distribution system.
  6. Project benefited families to bear part of the cost of resettlement & rehabilitation of project affected families.
  7. To remove the large disparity between stipulations for water supply in urban areas and in rural areas.
  8. To support a National Water Framework Law.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy, 2015.

It was launched in 2015 to promote greening of National Highways corridors in India. Its key features are:

  1. Promoting greening and development eco-friendly National Highway corridors across the country with participation of farmers, private sector and government institutions including Forest Department.
  2. Objective is to reduce the impact of air pollution and dust by planting trees and shrubs along the National Highways.
  3. Stake holders: Contracts for greening highways will be given to NGOs, agencies, private companies and government organisations. These stakeholders will be responsible for the survival and health of trees.
  4. There will be strong monitoring mechanism in place by using ISRO’s Bhuvan and GAGAN satellite systems. Every planted tree will be counted and auditing will be done.
  5. Every year 1 per cent of the total cost of highway projects will go the Green Highways Fund.

National Road Safety Policy, 2017

The Government has approved a National Road Safety Policy. This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws trauma care etc.
  1. Raise Awareness about Road Safety Issues.
  2. Establish a Road Safety Information Database. The Government will provide assistance to local bodies, Union Territories and States to improve the quality of crash investigation and of data collection, transmission and analysis, through a National Road Safety Information System.
  3. Ensure Safer Road Infrastructure. Continuing application of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) under a national framework to establish a safe and efficient transport system will be encouraged.
  4. Safer Vehicles. The Government will take steps to ensure that safety features are built in at the stage of design, manufacture, usage, operation and maintenance of both motorized and non-motorized vehicles in line with international standards and practices in order to minimize adverse safety and environmental effects of vehicle operation on road users (including pedestrians and bicyclists) and infrastructure.
  5. Safer Drivers. The Government will strengthen the system of driver licensing and training to improve the competence and capability of drivers.
  6. Safety of Vulnerable Road Users. The design and construction of all road facilities (rural and urban) will take into account the needs of non-motorized transport and the vulnerable and physically challenged in an appropriate manner.
  7. Road Traffic Safety Education and Training. Road safety knowledge and awareness will be created amongst the population through education, training and publicity campaigns.
  8. Enforcement of Safety Laws. The Government will actively encourage the establishment and strengthening of highway Patrolling on National and State Highways in cooperation with State Governments and Union Territories as appropriate.
  9. Emergency Medical Services for Road Accidents. The Government will strive to ensure that all persons involved in road accidents benefit from speedy and effective trauma care and management.
  10. HRD & Research for Road Safety. The Government will encourage increased activity in programmes of road safety research by identifying priority areas, funding research in those areas adequately and establishing centers of excellence in research and academic institutions.
  11. Strengthening Enabling Legal, Institutional and Financial Environment for Road Safety.
  12. Implementation Strategy. The Government has decided to establish a dedicated agency called National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board (NRSTMB) to oversee the issues related to road safety and evolve effective strategies for implementation of the Road Safety Policy.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The International Civil Aviation Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth.
Its headquarters are located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN) was forerunner of ICAO, which continued to operate until 1945. In 1944, 52 countries signed the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, in Chicago, under whose terms, a Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) was to be established. Thus in 1945, PICAO was established replacing ICAN.
In 1947, PICAO was disestablished and replaced by ICAO. In October 1947, ICAO became a specialized agency of the United Nations linked to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
As of November 2017, there are 192 ICAO members, consisting of 191 of the 193 UN members (all but Dominica and Liechtenstein), plus the Cook Islands.

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, abbreviated to just the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or the Bonn Convention and CMS COP is known as Global Wildlife conference—aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.
It is an international treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention's entry into force, its membership has grown steadily to include over 120 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
The Convention was signed in 1979 in Bonn and entered into force in 1983. The depositary is the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The CMS is the only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
Several Agreements have been concluded to date under the auspices of CMS. They aim to conserve:
  • Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS)
  • Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS)
  • Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS)
  • Seals in the Wadden Sea (Wadden Sea Agreement)
  • African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)
  • Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)
  • Gorillas and Their Habitats (Gorilla Agreement)
Appendix I Threatened Migratory Species. Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention.

Appendix II – Migratory Species requiring international cooperationMigratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Environment Special: Secure Himalaya Project

This is a 6 year project launched by the Union Environment Ministry in collaboration with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which will cover 4 states, viz., Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
  • Objective is to protect Snow leopards by saving their habitats and to improve the ecology of life of the Himalayan ranges and hill communities (which are victims of climate change). Also this project aims to prevent snow leopard smuggling and hunting.
The SECURE – securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems –includes
  1. Changthang (Jammu and Kasmir),
  2. Lahaul – Pangi and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh),
  3. Gangotri – Govind and Darma – Byans Valley in Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and
  4. Kanchenjunga – Upper Teesta Valley (Sikkim).

Economics Special: Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code Amendment Bill, 2017.

The Bill amends the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016. The bankruptcy code lays down provision for resolving insolvencies.

  • Resolution applicant has been defined in code as a person who submits a resolution plan after receiving an invite by the insolvency professional to do so.
  • It states that insolvency professional is allowed to invite only those resolution applicants to submit a plan, who fulfil certain criteria laid down by him with approval of committee of creditors and other conditions which may be specified by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.
  • The bill prohibits certain people from submitting a resolution plan (specifying details of restructuring a defaulter’s debt).  These persons include: (i) wilful defaulters, (ii) disqualified directors, (iii) promoters or management of the defaulting company, and; (iv) any person who has committed these activities abroad.
  • The bill prohibits sale of property of a defaulter to such persons who is ineligible to be a resolution applicant during liquidation.
  • The bill penalizes contravention of any provisions of IBC, for which no penalty has been specified, with fine ranging between Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2 crore.

Culture Special: Tapta Mudradharna

It is a special ritual followed by the Madhwa sect and Vaishnavas. It is usually performed on the First Ekadashi of Ashada Month of the Hindu Calendar, which is called Shayani Ekadashi due to its significance of starting Chatur Masya Vrat (Chaturmasa).
  • Process: Mudras are usually made of gold or copper, which heated on coal fire and stamped 5 times (ladies and children are stamped only two times)at various parts of the body. It is to be noted that scriptures mention that the stamping is meant to be performed by Sanyasis only and one must not perform this ritual on themselves.
  • Reason: The belief behind the such stamping is that stamping of these mudras (Shanka, Chakra, Gada, Padma) at specified spots on the human body activate the chakras that lie beneath them. This has a special mention in scriptures (Vayu Purana, Ramamruta Maharnava etc.) and is prescribed to be done annually.
  • Scientific Reason: Scientifically,  It is believed that such act improves the immune system during rainy season and also has positive impact on the nervous system.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Economics and Environment Special: Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY).

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) launched the Atal Jyoti Yojana (AJAY) to illuminate dark regions across five states (Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha) through solar power.
  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has been entrusted to implement this path-breaking initiative in a mission mode by March 31, 2018.
  • Objective: to illuminate rural, semi-urban, and urban areas that face less than 50% grid connectivity in above 5 states with solar LED street lights.
  • MNRE will bear 75% of the cost of street lights and remaining 25% will come from Member of Parliament Local Area Development funds (MPLADS), Panchayat funds or Municipalities and other Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) Funds.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Censorship Issue: S. Rangarajan Etc vs P. Jagjivan Ram, 1989 SCR (2) 204, 1989 SCC (2) 574

If we talk about censorship in Indian cinema's context, the first and most recent name appears, Bhansali-directed Padmavat, which was the focus of conflict in 2017 and at the outset of 2018. But very few of us are aware of another movie that drew the ire of politics in 1989. 
Ore Oru Gramathile, a Tamil movie, produced by Mr. S. Rangarajan, criticized the caste-based reservation policy in Tamil Nadu’s educational institutions. The producer had to fight against members of the Dr. Ambedkar People’s Movement and the Republican Party of India for securing release of the movie. The Tamil Nadu government seemed helpless and stopped the film’s release, on the apprehension of a “very serious” law and order problems across the state. 

Judgment of the Court.

The matter reached the court and the impasse was removed the apex court in the landmark judgment of S. Rangarajan Etc vs P. Jagjivan Ram, 1989 SCR (2) 204, 1989 SCC (2) 574, wherein the court held that inability of the state  to handle the hostile audience problem was not a sound defence and it is its obligatory duty on the state to prevent it and protect the freedom of expression.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Economics Special: Directorate General of foreign Trade (DGFT)

DGFT is the agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, responsible for execution of the import and export Policies of India. It was earlier known as Chief Controller of Imports & Exports (CCI&E) till 1991. DGFT plays a very important role in the development of trading relations with various other nations and thus help in improving not only the economic growth but also provides a certain impetus needed in the trade industry. For promoting exports and imports DGFT has established its regional offices across the country.

  • It’s headquartered in Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi. 
  • Under its jurisdiction, there are four Zonal Offices at Delhi, MumbaiKolkata and Chennai headed by Zonal Joint Director General of Foreign Trade.
  • There are 35 Regional Authorities all over the country.

Functions and responsibilities.

  1. Implementing various policies regarding trade for example, Foreign Trade Policy.
  2. Licensing authority for exporters, importers, and export and import business.
  3. Prohibits, restricts and regulates exports and imports.
  4. Grants 10 digit IEC (Importer Exporter Code), which is a primary requirement to Import Export.
  5. It introduced ITC (HS CODE) schedule-1 for import items in India and Schedule-2 for Export items from India.

Economics Special: UDAN-II

The government has awarded 325 more routes to airlines as well as helicopter operators under its regional connectivity scheme (RCS) with an emphasis on enhancing flight services to hilly and remote areas, including Kargil. 
  • A total of 56 new airports and helipads are being connected to 36 existing aerodromes.
  • The routes have been awarded to 15 airlines and helicopter operators after the bidding process for second round of RCS, also known as UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), which aims to connect tier-2 and tier-3 cities and take flying to the masses. 
  • While helicopter operators did not show any interest in the first round of the RCS, four of them have been granted rights to fly on selected routes this time. 

Economics Special: Technology Missions on Cotton and Jute

Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC)
Jute Technology Mission (JTM)
The Govt. of India launched in 2000
The Govt. of India launched in 2012

The objective of TMC was as under:
  1. To improve the yield and quality of cotton
  2. To increase the income of the cotton growers
  3. To improve the quality of processing of cotton, particularly in respect of trash, contamination, etc.

It is major initiative for overall development of the jute industry and growth of the jute sector during the 11th Plan
It has four Mini Missions as under:

  1. Mini Mission I: Cotton Research & Technology Generation
  2. Mini Mission II: Transfer of Technology & Development
  3. Mini Mission III: Development of Market Infrastructure
  4. Mini Mission IV: Modernization / Setting up of new G&P factories.

It has four Mini Missions as under:

  1. Mini Mission-I: strengthening agriculture research and development in jute sector for improving the yield and quality.  
  2. Mini Mission-II: transfer of improved technology and agronomic practices in production and post harvesting phase.
  3. Mini-Mission-III: market linkage of raw jute is provided in all jute growing states.  
  4. Mini Mission-IV: modernization of jute industry, upgradation of skills and market promotion.
For MM-III & IV Ministry of Textiles was the nodal agency and The Cotton Corporation of India Ltd. (CCI) was the implementing agency.

Economics Special: Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT)

Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) is a tax introduced by the Finance Act of 1987vide Section 115J of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act), to facilitate the taxation of ‘zero tax companies’ i.e., those companies which show zero or negligible income to avoid tax. Under MAT, such companies are made liable to pay to the government, by deeming a certain percentage of their book profit as taxable income.

MAT is an attempt to reduce tax avoidance; it was introduced to contain the practices followed by certain companies to avoid the payment of income tax, even though they had the “ability to pay”.

Economics Special: Khanij Khoj/Uncover project of the Geographical Survey of India.

This is one of the flagship programmes of the NMEP. The project will be carried out in two selected parts of the country to look for buried/concealed mineral deposits. The main components of this initiative are as follows:

  1. Characterising the geological cover of India.
  2. Studying lithospheric architecture.
  3. Resolution of 4D geofynamic and metallogenic evolution.
  4. Isolating the distal footprints of ore despots.

Economics Special: Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme.

India had two variants of EPCG Scheme:
1.       Zero Duty EPCG for few sectors and
2.       3% Duty EPCG for all sectors.
In 2012, a new Post Export EPCG Scheme was also announced.
In 2013, the government has merged Zero Duty EPCG and 3% EPCG Scheme into one scheme which is now known as Zero Duty EPCG Scheme covering all sectors.
EPCG is a zero duty scheme which allows the import of capital goods such as machinery for preproduction, production and post production of export items.

But the duty free import by an exporter has to be paid back in the form of an export obligation equivalent to 6 times of duty saved on capital goods imported under EPCG scheme, to be fulfilled in 6 years reckoned from Authorization issue-date. This means that if an exporter imports a tool making machine and saves an import duty of Rs. 100, he will have make the tools and export tools worth minimum Rs. 600 within 6 years.

Economics Special: National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF).

Consequent to India’s ratification of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) in April 2016, the National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) has been constituted.

  • The establishment of the Committee is part of the mandatory, institutional arrangement of the TFA.
  • NCTF is an inter-ministerial body on trade facilitation, which will be chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.
  • Its Secretariat will be housed within the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), in the Directorate General of Export Promotion, New Delhi. 
  • Objective behind setting up the NCTF is to facilitate domestic co-ordination and implementation of TFA provisions. 

Economics Special: Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)

It seeks to promote export of notified goods manufactured/ produced in India.

  • MEIS is a major export promotion scheme of GOI implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • MEIS was introduced through the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20.
  • MEIS is result of major consolidation and simplification: Earlier there were 5 different schemes for rewarding merchandise exports with different kinds of duty scrips (a form of credit) with varying conditions attached to their use. Now all these schemes have been merged into a MEIS.
  • Duty credit scrips are freely transferable and usable for payment of custom duty, excise duty and service tax.
  • Incentives under MEIS are available to units located in SEZs also.

Economics Special: NIMZ (National Investment and Manufacturing Zones)

NIMZ (National Investment and Manufacturing Zones) is a concept envisaged under the National Manufacturing Policy, 2011.

  • NIMZs will be developed as integrated industrial townships with state-of-the art infrastructure and land use on the basis of zoning; clean and energy efficient technology; necessary social infrastructure; skill development facilities, etc., to provide a productive environment to persons transitioning from the primary sector to the secondary and tertiary sectors.
  • These NIMZs would be managed by SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) which would ensure master planning of the Zone; pre-clearances for setting up the industrial units to be located within the zone and undertake such other functions as specified in the various sections of this policy.
  • To enable the NIMZ to function as a self governing and autonomous body, it will be declared by the State Government as an Industrial Township under Article 243 Q(1)(c) of the Constitution.

In sum, the NIMZs would be large areas of developed land, with the requisite eco-system for promoting world class manufacturing activity.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Economics Special: Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS).

  1. TUFS was introduced by the Union Government in 1999 to facilitate new technology for making the Indian textile industry globally competitive and to reduce the capital cost for the textile industry.
  2. The scheme was amended during the 12th Five year Plan into Revised Restructured Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (RR-TUFS).

Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS).

In 2015, CCEA approved ATUFS, which replaces RR-TUFS for technology upgradation of the textiles industry.
The amended scheme would give a boost to “Make in India” in the textiles sector; it is expected to attract investment to the tune of one lakh crore rupees, and create over 30 lakh jobs.
Office of Textile Commissioner (TXC) is being reorganised; its offices shall be set up in each state.

Economics Special: The Office of the Textile Commissioner.

  • It was established in 1943 during the Second World War period for arranging the supply of cloth to the defence forces as well as civilian population.
  • After the end of World War II, the Textile Commissioner was given the regulatory function of administering the prices, distribution and control of certain varieties of cloth meant for civilian consumption in the post-war conditions of scarcity.
  • Now it formulates and implements various schemes of the Government of India in an industry friendly manner.
  • It has 8 regional offices and 14 power loom service centers located in major textile clusters.