Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 June 2018
Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
India is still a poor country
Context: India is no longer the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty as per the latest World Poverty Clock study compiled by Brookings Institute. The dislodging of India from the ignominious number one position is a feat that took over fifty years to achieve.
Definition: The study defines poverty as living on less than $1.9 a day.
Highlights of the study:
- India has finally shed the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of poor, with Nigeria taking that unwanted position in May 2018.
- Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute.
- About 44 Indians come out of extreme poverty every minute, one of the fastest rates of poverty reduction in the world. If present trends continue, India could drop to No. 3 later this year, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking the number 2 spot.
- The study showed global income increases in the last decades have led to systematic decreases in poverty rates worldwide, with the experience in India and China having played the most important role when it comes to the overall number of persons escaping absolute poverty.
- The study said that Africa accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor. If current trends persist, they will account for nine-tenths by 2030. Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world where the number of extreme poor is rising are in Africa.
What the world bank says?
The estimates of extreme poverty reduction may not match with Indian numbers because of differences in how poverty is measured. According to the World Bank, between 2004 and 2011 poverty declined in India from 38.9% of the population to 21.2% (2011 purchasing power parity at $1.9 per person per day).
In the last four years, Indian government initiated some structural reforms but it must do more to achieve a double-digit growth rate, create more jobs, revamp land and labour markets, implement the recommendations of Niti Aayog on the ease of doing business in India and accelerate privatization.
- For Prelims: An overview of the study and India’s position.
- For Mains: Poverty related measures in India.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
Context: The Enforcement Directorate has zeroed in on some non-government organisations (NGOs) that are suspected to have funded Naxal operatives in Chhattisgarh. The action is being taken following several rounds of multi-agency meetings on devising a coordinated strategy to choke funding to Naxal operatives in various States.
About Enforcement Directorate:
What is it? It is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India. It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
Objectives: The prime objective of the Enforcement Directorate is the enforcement of two key Acts- the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA). Other objectives are primarily linked to checking money laundering in India.
Composition: It comprises officers of the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.
Background: The origin of this Directorate goes back to 1 May 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed, in Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.
- For Prelims: ED- composition and objectives.
- For Mains: Extremism- spread, challenges, funding and efforts by security forces.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Dam Safety Bill
Context: The Tamil Nadu Assembly has unanimously adopted a special resolution urging the Centre to keep the Dam Safety Bill, 2018, in abeyance until the concerns raised over the legislation by Tamil Nadu and other States are addressed.
What’s the issue?
- Tamil Nadu contended that certain clauses of the Bill affected the interests of Tamil Nadu and could potentially affect the State’s rights on control and maintenance of dams located in neighbouring States.
- Tamil Nadu is worried because the draft Bill, in the guise of facilitating dam safety, would affect the State’s prospects in controlling the Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam, Thoonakkadavu and Peruvaripallam dams.
Highlights of Dam Safety Bill, 2018:
- The Bill provides for proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country to ensure their safe functioning.
- The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
- The Bill provides for establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
- The Bill provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.
Functions of the National Dam Safety Authority:
- It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations and the owners of dams for standardisation of dam safety related data and practices.
- It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and State Dam Safety Organisations.
- It shall maintain a national level data-base of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures.
- It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure.
- It shall publish and update the standard guidelines and check-lists for the routine inspection and detailed investigations of dams and appurtenances.
- It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organisations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams.
- It will also look into unresolved points of issue between the State Dam Safety Organisation of two states, or between the State Dam Safety Organisation of a State and the owner of a dam in that State, for proper solution.
- Further, in certain cases, such as dams of one State falling under the territory of another State, the National Authority shall also perform the role of State Dam Safety Organization thereby eliminating potential causes for inter-state conflicts.
Need for a legislation:
There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights of the Bill and key functions of the National Dam Safety Authority, concerns expressed by states over the Bill.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
Context: India has again opposed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, as it “encroaches” on sovereignty and territorial integrity.
What is CPEC?
- CPEC is clutch of projects valued at $51 billion project which aims at rapidly expanding and upgrading Pakistan’s infrastructure and strengthening the economic ties between the People’s Republic of China (China) and Pakistan.
- The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consisting of highways, railways, and pipelines is the latest irritant in the India–China relationship.
- CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.
- The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans, that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banking giants such as Exim Bank of China, China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
But, why is India concerned?
- Many experts are not in favour of India supporting CPEC. This is so because any Indian participation would inextricably be linked to the country’s legitimate claims on PoK.
- CPEC rests on a Chinese plan to secure and shorten its supply lines through Gwadar with an enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean. Hence, it is widely believed that upon CPEC’s fruition, an extensive Chinese presence will undermine India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.
- It is also being contended that if CPEC were to successfully transform the Pakistan economy that could be a “red rag” for India which will remain at the receiving end of a wealthier and stronger Pakistan.
- Besides, India shares a great deal of trust deficit with China and Pakistan and has a history of conflict with both. As a result, even though suggestions to re-approach the project pragmatically have been made, no advocate has overruled the principle strands of contention that continue to mar India’s equations with China and Pakistan.
Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfil their promise and avoid differences and discord. China is a country which is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty. So it is expected that they would have some understanding of other people’s sensitivity about their sovereignty. Meanwhile, India must uphold its specific reservations on the project and draft a strategy to revert suitably in case CPEC is offered formally through official channels.
- For Prelims: CPEC- key features.
- For Mains: CPEC- concerns expressed by India, significance and what should India do?
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Board of management for cooperative banks
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with draft guidelines on constituting a board of management (BoM) in addition to the board of directors, for urban cooperative banks (UCBs), with the aim of strengthening the governance in these banks.
What you need to know?
Need: As UCBs are accepting public deposits, it is imperative that a separate mechanism be put in place to protect the interests of depositors.
Applicability: Existing UCBs with deposit sizes exceeding Rs100 crore shall put in place the BoM within one year, while others banks may take two years. UCBs with deposit sizes up to Rs100 crore will have BoMs of a minimum of three members, while those with deposit sizes of more than Rs100 crore will have at least five members in the BoMs. The maximum number of members in the management shall not exceed 12.
- It will consist of members with special knowledge and practical experience in banking to facilitate professional management and focused attention to banking related activities of UCBs.
- The circular also said that at least 50% of the members of the BoM should have specialisation or practical experience in fields such as accountancy, agriculture, law.
- The chief executive officer of the bank will be an ex-officio member of the BoD and BoM and he will be under the general superintendence, direction and control of the board.
Functions: The BoM will be responsible for credit, risk and liquidity management of the bank. It will be responsible for the day-to-day functions, including considering loan proposals, recovery of bad loans, borrowings and overseeing audit and inspection functions.
Management: The BoM will report to the BoD, which will continue to oversee the general direction and control of a UCB. RBI shall have powers to supersede the BoM if the functioning of BoM is found unsatisfactory.
Facts for Prelims:
The move follows the recommendation of a 2010 expert committee, headed by Y.H. Malegam, on the licensing of UCBs.
- For Prelims: Board of management (BoM)- features, composition and functions.
- For Mains: Need for Management of UCBs.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Europe’s first solar panel recycling plant
WHERE? Europe’s first solar panel recycling plant was recently inaugurated in France. The new plant is located in Rousset, southern France.
- Waste management firm Veolia signed a contract with solar recycling group PV Cycle France to recycle 1,300 tonnes of solar panels this year.
- The plant in Rousset uses robots to take panels apart and recover glass, silicon, plastics, copper and silver, all of which can be reused to create new panels.
Need for Solar panel recycling plant?
Solar panels have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 30 years, meaning that many of the first generation built in the 1990s are now being decommissioned. The huge growth in solar power in recent years also means that finding a sustainable and circular solution to ageing panels is of prime importance.
The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that by 2050 there will be between 60 to 78 million tonnes of PV panel waste around the world. China and the US, as leaders in solar installation, will also need to establish recycling plants to deal with this waste, but that this could unlock significant economic benefits. At the moment, however, only the European Union has adopted waste regulations specifically aimed at tackling future solar PV waste.
- For Prelims: Europe’s first solar panel recycling plant.
- For Mains: Need for solar panel recycling.
Topic: Prevention of air pollution.
Toxic air is causing malnutrition in trees
Context: Besides affecting human health, air pollution is also causing malnutrition in trees by harming Mycorrhizal fungi.
Importance of Mycorrhizal fungi:
- Mycorrhizal fungi is hosted by the trees in their roots to receive nutrients from the soil.
- These fungi provide essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from soil in exchange for carbon from the tree.
- This plant-fungal symbiotic relationship is crucial for the health of the tree.
How air pollution affects this symbiotic relationship?
High levels of the nutrition elements like nitrogen and phosphorus in the mycorrhizae changes them to act as pollutants rather than nutrients.
- The characteristics of the tree — species and nutrient status — and the local environmental conditions like the atmospheric pollution and soil variables were the most important predictors of which species of mycorrhizae fungi would be present and their numbers. These also proved to have a large impact on the fungi.
- The signs of malnutrition can be seen in the form of discoloured leaves and excessive falling of leaves. Ecosystem changes can also negatively affect tree health.
The results should be used to design new studies into the link between pollution, soil, mycorrhizae, and tree growth.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Why in News? In a goodwill gesture, Seychelles has gifted a pair of giant Aldabra tortoise to India. The pair will be kept at Hyderabad Zoo.
- The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) from the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles is said to be one of the largest species of tortoises on the planet.
- It is also one of the world’s longest living animals, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise reaching the age of 255 years.
- The Aldabra giant tortoise’s current IUCN conservation status is ‘vulnerable’.
- The atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to around 100,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of the animal.
World Food Prize 2018:
Context: Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro will recieve the 2018 World Food Prize for their individual and complementary global leadersgip in elevating maternal and child undernutrition.
World Food Prize:
- The World Food Prize is considered one of the most prominent global awards for individuals whose breakthrough achievements alleviate hunger and promote global food security.
- It carries $250,000 cash prize. The Prize is presented each October on or around UN World Food Day (October 16).
- Norman E. Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in global agriculture, envisioned a prize that would honor those who have made significant and measurable contributions to improving the world’s food supply.