Insights Daily Current Events, 06 February 2015
8% GDP growth helped reduce poverty: UN report
UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in a report, has said the 8% GDP growth in India from 2004 to 2011 has led to a sharp decline in poverty from 41.6% to 32.7%. And this has made India achieve the first Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) set for 2015 of reducing poverty by half.
- Other MDGs achieved by India include gender parity in primary school enrolment, maternal mortality reduction by 3/4th and control of spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
- India also achieved MDGs related to increased forest cover, halved the proportion of population without access to drinking water.
- There are also MDGs which India failed to achieve and they include universal primary school enrolment and completion and universal youth literacy by 2015, empowering women through wage employment and political participation, reducing child and infant mortality and improving access to adequate sanitation to open defecation.
- According to 2012 estimates, there are 270 million people trapped in extreme poverty in the country making the post-2015 goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 challenging.
MDGs: What are they?
These are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. They were set to be achieved by 2015.
- They are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.
- They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.
- Since the adoption, there has been significant progress in many of the goals. But the progress has not been uniform. The progress differs from country to country and even within the country.
The eight millennium development goals are:
- Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
- Achieve Universal Primary Education
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Reduce Child Mortality
- Improve Maternal Health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
- Ensure Environmental Sustainability
- Develop a Global Partnership for Development
Each goal has specific targets, and dates for achieving those targets.
2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals:
- The 2010 MDG Summit concluded with the adoption of a global action plan – Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals — and the announcement of a number of initiatives against poverty, hunger and disease.
- A $40 billion pledge in resources over the next five years was also made to accelerate progress on women’s and children’s health.
- The MDG-Fund was established in 2007 through a landmark agreement signed between the Government of Spain and the UN system with the aim of accelerating progress on the MDGs.
- With a total contribution of approximately $US 900 Million, the MDG-Fund financed 130 joint programmes in eight programmatic areas in 50 countries around the world, in addition to global partnerships, thematic knowledge management initiatives and the JPO and SARC young development professionals training programmes.
- The MDG-Fund also led a social justice initiative to put the issue of social exclusion and inequality firmly at the centre of the fight against poverty and all efforts to achieve the MDGs.
- The MDG-F has three main objectives: to spur achievement of the MDGs by working across multiple sectors within target countries; to boost the effectiveness of international aid by increasing national leadership and ownership of development programmes; and to promote the “One UN” concept,
the consolidation and streamlining of the UN’s work at country level to speed up development operations and avoid duplication.
The MDG Acceleration Framework:
- The MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) provides a systematic way for countries to develop their own action plan based on existing plans and processes to pursue their MDG priorities.
- It also helps governments to focus on disparities and inequalities, two of the major causes of uneven progress, by particularly responding to the needs of the vulnerable.
India and MDGs:
In India, considerable progress has been made in the field of basic universal education, gender equality in education, and global economic growth. However there is slow progress in the improvement of health indicators related to mortality, morbidity, and various environmental factors contributing to poor health conditions. Even though the government has implemented a wide array of programs, policies, and various schemes to combat these health challenges, further intensification of efforts and redesigning of outreach strategies is needed to give momentum to the progress toward achievement of the MDGs.
India is unlikely to achieve all the set targets by September 2015.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, MDG Fund, UNDP.
Candidate’s win will be void: SC
The Supreme Court in a land mark judgement has ruled that the election of a candidate will be held as null and void if he fails to disclose complete and full details of his criminal antecedents at the time of his nomination.
Why such move?
The Supreme Court observed that the misconduct of a single candidate affects the entire process of election because the non-disclosure amounted to the violation of the voter’s right to take an informed choice and created an impediment in the free exercise of electoral right.
Observations made by the Supreme Court:
- The SC observed that if a candidate has misinformed the voter, he has not only unduly influenced the voter to exercise his franchise with a misinformed mind, but also violated his “fundamental right to know.” ”
- If a voter is denied the information and deprived of the condition to be apprised of the entire gamut of criminal antecedents relating to heinous or serious offences or offence of corruption or moral turpitude, the exercise of electoral right would not be an advised one.
- The court has held that disclosure of criminal antecedents by a candidate is a “categorical imperative.” Concealment, partially or fully, of his criminal record is both a direct and indirect attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote by the electorate.
- SC held that the election will be declared null and void by the Election Tribunal under Section 100(1)(b) of the Representation of the People Act,1951.
- The judgement was delivered in a case relating to non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate who was elected as the President of Thekampatti Panchayat, Mettupalayam Taluk, Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu in 2006.
- The election was challenged on the sole ground that he had filed a false declaration suppressing details of the criminal cases pending trial against him and therefore his nomination ought to have been rejected by the Returning Officer.
- The poll tribunal declared his election null and void, holding that he could not have contested as his nomination papers deserved to be rejected. The Madras high court agreed with the tribunal’s verdict.
Sources: The Hindu.
DBT in LPG scheme covers over 66% consumers
The petroleum ministry has said that it has managed to cover two-thirds of the country’s 150 million consumers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) under the modified version of the Direct Benefits Transfer in LPG scheme launched nationwide on January 1.
- The petroleum ministry the government had transferred Rs 4,299 crore since November 15 to consumers in 113.3 million transactions.
About the Scheme:
Pratyaksh Hastantarit Labh(PAHAL)/DBT
The scheme is the largest cash transfer programme in the world. It covers more than 9.75 crore LPG consumers
Aim: the scheme aims at directly transferring cash subsidy on cooking gas into the bank accounts of consumers thereby weeding out duplication and plug leakages.
- Under the scheme, LPG cylinders are sold at market rate. Consumers receive Rs 558 in their bank accounts so that they can buy LPG at market rate of Rs 605 per 14.2-kg cylinder. Subsidised LPG currently cost Rs 417 per cylinder.
- The scheme will help the government save 10-15 per cent of the Rs 40,000 crore annual LPG subsidy. The scheme has witnessed massive enrolment in a short span of time.
- The scheme will cover over 15.3 crore consumers across 676 districts of the country. Currently over 6.5 crore consumers i.e. 43% have already joined the scheme and will receive subsidy in their bank account.
- It has also has put in place various mechanisms to simplify enrolment and enhance consumer convenience, and thus, only 1.09 lakh complaints have been received so far, which constitute a mere 0.1% of the transactions. Over 85% of the complaints have been resolved.
- Preliminary data from 54 districts indicate that the growth of subsidised LPG has reduced significantly accompanied by a corresponding increase in sale of commercial LPG. This indicates that the scheme will enable substantive savings in subsidy which can then be deployed for other productive purposes, without reducing any entitlements of existing consumers.
- The success of the scheme is a result of an intensive Information Education Campaign comprising advertising through various means, direct reaching out to consumers, and dealer level campaigns.
- DBTL is designed to ensure that the benefit meant for the genuine domestic customer reaches them directly and is not diverted. By this process public money will be saved.
Sources: BS, PIB.
New GDP numbers don’t change India’s lowest grade, says ARC Ratings
ARC ratings agency has said that the country’s higher economic growth — as revealed by the new gross domestic product (GDP) methodology — will not alter its ratings for the economy. It is one of the agencies that have given India the lowest investment grade.
- ARC had in December assigned its first ever rating to India, of BBB+, a notch above the junk grade. The ratings reflected weaknesses in government finance, including a large debt level and constrained revenue base.
- According to ARC, an entity rated ‘BBB+’ exhibits an adequate capacity to meet its financial commitments. However, adverse economic conditions or suddenly changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity to the obligor to meet its financial commitments.
- Government of India recently revised the base year and made changes in GDP methodology.
- The recent data revisions reveal much faster growth for the country’s economy in the financial year ended March 2014 – at 6.9 per cent, significantly higher than the original figure of 4.7 per cent. Similarly, GDP growth for 2012-13 has been revised from 4.7 per cent to 5.1 per cent.
Other observations made:
- The rating agency says that the data revisions do not alter the size of nominal GDP, and revenue yield.
- The agency says that the government debt ratio remains low. India’s ratio of government revenues to GDP is just about 20 per cent, a level seen as insufficient, given the expenditure demands on the government and massive social and physical infrastructure needs.
- The agency has also said that it has high hopes from the Indian economy’s performance in future.
31 major minerals to be notified as minor minerals
The union government has decided to notify 31 major minerals as minor ones.
- To devolve more power to the states and, consequently, expedite the process of mineral development in the country.
State governments are allowed to make rules to regulate the grant of quarry leases, mining leases or other mineral concessions in respect of minor minerals.
- According to the recently promulgated Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, the government can grant non-exclusive reconnaissance permits for any mineral.
- Earlier, there were 24 listed minor minerals such as building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand, and limestone used for lime burning and boulders, among others. The total number of minor minerals will now become 55.
CATEGORIES OF MINERALS:
As per the available legislations in the country, all minerals have been classified into two categories namely.
- MAJOR MINERALS: Major Minerals are minerals like Agate, Asbestos, Barytes, Bauxite, Cadmium, Calcite, China Clay, Coal. Copper Lead, Manganese, Mica, Nickel, Rock Phosphate, Soapstone, Tungsten, Wollastonite, Zinc, etc., as specified in Second Schedule appended with the MMDR Act 1957.
- MINOR MINERALS: The Minor Mineral are Building Stone, Gravel, Ordinary Clay, Ordinary Sand and any other mineral which the Central Government may by notification in the official Gazette declare as Minor Mineral.
Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015:
An ordinance was promulgated by the government of India to amend certain provisions of MMDR Act, 1957.
- The promulgation of Ordinance became necessary to address the emergent problems in the mining industry.
- In the last few years, the number of new Mining Leases granted in the country has fallen substantially. In addition, second and subsequent renewals have also been affected by Court judgements.
- As a result, the output in the mining sector has come down drastically, leading to import of minerals by users of those minerals.
The salient provisions of the Ordinance are as follows:
- All mineral concessions will be granted only through auction.
- Direct auction for mining leases for bulk minerals; auction of prospecting licences-cum-mining leases for deep-seated minerals.
- Uniform lease period of 50 years; no renewals; auction at the end of lease period; will solve issues arising out of all SC judgments on second and subsequent renewals.
- Transition period of minimum 15 years for captive mines and 5 years for other mines; no sudden stoppage as a result of amendment.
- Central Government empowered to prescribe deadlines for various processes and to issue binding directions to States.
- Central Government to frame separate rules for atomic minerals.
- The previous approval of the Central Government will not be required for grant of mineral concession except for Atomic Minerals, Coal and Lignite.
- Enabling powers for reservation for the public sector to continue.
- Higher penalties and jail terms for offences; special courts may be constituted, if necessary.
- District Mineral Foundation to take care of people and areas affected by mining.
- National Mineral Exploration Trust to be set up for impetus to exploration.
- Easy transferability of concessions obtained through auctions so as to attract private investment and FDI.
- Powers to Central Government to intervene even where State Governments do not pass orders within prescribed time lines; this will eliminate delay.
Sources: PIB, BS, ET.