Insights Daily Current Events, 05 December 2015
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Centre launches ‘Accessible India Campaign’ for differently-abled
The union government has launched the “Accessible India Campaign” (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan).
Aim: The campaign aims to enable persons with disabilities to gain universal access, equal opportunity for development, independent living and participation in all aspects of life in an inclusive society,
- The Accessible India Campaign envisages making all the international airports in the country and railway stations of A1, A & B categories fully accessible to the disabled by July 2016.
- As per campaign drafted by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, at least 10% of government owned public transport carriers in the country will be converted into fully accessible carriers for disabled persons by March 2018.
- By July 2018, at least 50% of all the government buildings of National Capital and all the State capitals will be made fully accessible for persons with disabilities.
- It will also be targeted that at least 50% of all public documents issued by the Central Government and the State Governments meet accessibility standards for persons with disabilities by March 2018.
- A web portal and mobile application for creating a crowd sourcing platform to get information about inaccessibility has also been launched by the government.
sources: the hindu, pib.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
A third of India’s soil degraded: experts
A team of agriculture and soil experts have revealed that a third of India’s soil is degraded, and this could cast a shadow on the sustainability of agriculture in near future. According to estimates of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (2010), of the total geographical area of 328.73 mha in the country, about 120.40 mha is affected by various levels of land degradation.
- Land degradation is posing a major threat to India’s food and environmental security, resulting from the loss in the biological or productive capacity of soil.
According to experts, as water and wind erosions are widespread across India, some 5.3 billion tonnes of soil got eroded every year. Of this, 29% is permanently lost to the sea, 10% is deposited in reservoirs, reducing their storage capacity, and the rest 61% gets shifted from one place to another.
Other factors responsible for the degradation of soil:
- Excessive use of chemical fertilisers, especially in the north-western parts of the country.
- Imbalanced nutrient application, injudicious use of pesticides, intensive cropping system, decline in soil biodiversity and depletion of organic matter in soil.
Land degradation, mainly caused by natural processes like wind or rain, is also often exacerbated by human activity like deforestation and urbanisation. It is closely intertwined with climate change and biodiversity loss too.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
CEA panel for removing tax on inter-state trade
A panel headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has recommended the 1% tax proposed to be levied on the goods and services tax (GST) on inter-state trade of goods to help manufacturing states be done away with. This was one of the major demands of the Congress and the recommendation could help the government break the GST gridlock in Parliament.
- The committee recently submitted its report to the union finance minister.
Other important recommendations made:
- Standard GST rate be in the range of 17 to 18%. The standard rate will apply to most goods and services. These rates were calculated by excluding real estate, electricity, alcohol and petroleum products.
- Lower rate for goods be at 12% and the highest rate at 40%. This is the combined state and central GST rate. The highest rate is for demerit goods such as alcohol, luxury cars, tobacco, etc. The rate on precious metals be in the range of 2% to 6%.
- The revenue-neutral rate of the GST is estimated to be at 15%. This is the rate at which the states and the Centre will not lose or gain revenue after the GST is applied.
- Petroleum, alcohol, real estate and electricity should be brought under GST early on.
The committee was set up in June 2015 by the Union Government to arrive at GST rates by factoring in the economic growth rate, taxpayer base and tax compliance levels.
sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: pollution.
An odd formula
To tackle an alarmingly high pollution level in the capital, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has decided that vehicles with odd and even number plates would be allowed on alternate days only from January 1, 2016.
- To ensure that commuters are not put to hardship, Delhi Metro services will be extended and school buses will be requisitioned. Emergency vehicles, CNG-driven buses, taxis and autorickshaws will also be exempt from the decision.
- Commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the Capital only around after 10 p.m instead of the current deadline of 9 p.m.
- The decision was taken after a Delhi High Court observation that living in Delhi was akin to living in a gas chamber.
- 6 million: Number of private passenger cars registered in Delhi as of March 2015
- 182,115: Number of passenger vehicles sold in 2014-15
- 245 per km: Vehicle density in Delhi-NCR
- 10 times: Delhi’s pollution, at *PM2.5, is 10 times higher than the WHO- prescribed limit
sources: the hindu, BS.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Paris pact on water and climate change adaptation announced with India on board
A broad coalition of nations including India, river basin organizations, business and civil societies from across the globe have announced the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation.
- The announcement is part of the “Water Resilience Focus” event under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) on climate change.
About the pact:
- The pact aims to make water systems – the very foundation of sustainable human development – more resilient to climate impact.
- It involves a wide geographic coalition of national and cross-border river basin organisations, governments, funding agencies, local governments, companies and civil society.
- It encompasses individual commitments to implement adaptation plans, strengthening water monitoring and measurement systems in river basins and promoting financial sustainability and new investment in water systems management.
- The pact also highlights key partnerships and coalitions to make river basins, lakes, aquifers and deltas more resilient to climate change and reduce human interference with oceans.
- Almost 290 water basin organisations are engaged under the Pact.
About the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA):
- The LPAA is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP (conference of parties) presidencies, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the UNFCCC Secretariat.
- It aims to strengthen climate action through 2015 and well beyond by mobilizing robust global action towards low carbon, more climate resilient societies.
- It provides enhanced support to existing initiative and mobilizes new partners providing them a platform for the visibility of their actions, commitments and results in the run up to COP21.