user6's blog

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 June 2020 (Not at the cost of food security (Mint)) Primary tabs



Not at the cost of food security (Mint)



Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: National Policy on Biofuels
Mains level: Imperative to food security and food price stability for the welfare of the vulnerable sections of the society

Context:

  • In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and a country-wide lockdown came an announcement that was difficult to believe.
  • The press release said the National Biofuel Coordination Committee (NBCC) chaired by the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas has decided to use “surplus” rice available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for conversion to ethanol.
  • This is ostensibly for making alcohol-based hand-sanitisers and for the blending of ethanol with petrol.
  • This decision is not only audacious but also an affront to the millions of people who are deeply affected by food insecurity.

Transfer grain from godowns:

  • The images of exhausted migrants with their families trudging back from cities to villages are still vivid. Some have died on the way for the want of food and water.
  • Distribution of food rations and cooked food is still far from adequate.
  • The urgent priority is to transfer grain from godowns to ration shops and NGOs helping in food packet distribution — certainly not diverting rice to ethanol producers.

National Policy on Biofuels 2009:

  • Policymakers in India have been acutely aware of the dangers of diverting grain for biofuel production.
  • In 2009, the National Policy on Biofuels stressed on the use of non-food resources to avoid a possible conflict between food and fuel.
  • Contrast this with the thoughtless path taken by the US. In 2007-8, about 25 per cent of the corn produced in the US was used for biofuel production.
  • In addition to cereals, oilseed crops like rapeseed, soyabean and sunflower were used for biofuel production.
  • In 2018-19, an astounding 37.6 per cent of the corn produced in the US was used for making ethanol.

Rise in food prices:

  • Such diversion of food crops to produce biofuel was considered one of the reasons for the rise in food prices globally.
  • Corn and other grain is also used in feedstock for poultry and cattle and is hence part of the food economy.
  • This at a time when India’s ...................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

National Policy on Biofuels 2018:

  • In 2018, the government modified its 2009 policy. The new National Policy on Biofuels had a target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol in petrol and 5 per cent blending of biodiesel in diesel by 2030.
  • This was to be achieved by increasing production using second generation bio-refineries and developing new feedstock for biofuels.
  • It allowed the production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat and broken rice, which are unfit for human consumption.
  • The new policy allowed the use of excess food grain for ethanol in a bounty crop year, so long as the surplus is endorsed by the Union Ministry of Agriculture. The approval for this is to be given by the National Biofuel Coordination Committee, chaired by the Union Minister Petroleum and Natural Gas. It includes representatives from 14 other central departments.

Possible projections:

  • It is not known if the departments of agriculture and food and public distribution have projected that there will be an excess supply of rice in 2020-21.
  • The quantity of rice from which ethanol will be produced has not been announced, nor do we know the price at which such rice will be sold by the FCI.
  • About 85 per cent of rice is kharif crop, heavily dependent on monsoon.
  • Despite the prediction of a normal monsoon, public interest demands that the basis for the projection of surplus of rice is disclosed. What happens if the monsoon projections go wrong? Will we have to import grain?
  • In the past, damaged grain, unfit for human consumption, has been sold by the FCI for cattle feed.
  • Despite the commonly held belief of a lakh of tonnes of rotting grains, the FCI’s storage practices are actually quite good — damaged grains as a percentage of total quantity issued by the FCI has been just about 0.01 per cent to 0.04 per cent in the last five years.
  • On March 1, the FCI had just 984 tonnes of non-issuable rice and 20 tonnes of non-issuable wheat — hardly any ethanol can be made from such a small amount of damaged grains.

Imperative to food security and food price stability:

  • Therefore, it seems that the NBCC has decided to use sound quality rice, within FSSAI specifications, for ethanol.
  • It is a bad policy in normal times and particularly unethical during a pandemic. It potentially deprives food to humans as well as livestock.
  • At a time when there are fears of ....................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

  • Since the economy faces a bleak prospect due to the impact of COVID-19, the government should first use the food grains to meet the requirement of about 10 to 20 crore people without ration cards.
  • It must provide rice to NGOs at PDS prices, for providing cooked food to migrant labour stuck in cities and it should provide an additional five kg food grains to the poor for six months instead of three months.
  • If the Centre still thinks that the country will still have surplus rice, it must facilitate export to friendly countries which are suffering an adverse impact of COVID-19 on their economies.

    Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

    E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams

    General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 June 2020 (How the South China Sea situation plays out will be critical for India’s security (Indian Express))



How the South China Sea situation plays out will be critical for India’s security (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: South China Sea
Mains level: South China Sea situation plays out will be critical for our security and well-being

Context:

  • The Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s perceptive essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs cogently spells out the dilemma that confronts Singapore.
  • Indeed the rest of us in the Indo-Pacific, as the two most consequential powers of the world, the United States, which PM Lee calls the “resident power”, and China, which he says is “the reality on the doorstep”, are engaged in a fundamental transformation of their relationship.
  • Almost nobody any longer thinks that China will conform to the US worldview, or that China’s rise from hereon will be unchallenged.

Rise of prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region:

  • The Indo-Pacific has prospered under American hegemony for the previous 40 years not just because of their huge investments — $328.8 billion in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) alone and a further $107 billion in China — but also because of the security blanket that it provides.
  • China might have replaced the US as the primary engine of growth in the last decade, but it has come with a cost — the assertion of Chinese power.

Concern for Chinese military postures:

  • Chinese military postures, on the other hand, give cause for concern ever since they unilaterally put forward the Nine-Dash Line in 2009 to declare the South China Sea as territorial waters.
  • Their territorial claim itself is tenuous, neither treaty-based nor legally sound. They act in ways that are neither benign nor helpful for long-term peace and stability.
  • In the first half of 2020 alone,..............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Facing fundamental choices:

  • PM Lee is absolutely correct in that going forward, the US and China face fundamental choices. But then, so do the rest of us living in the Indo-Pacific.
  • America’s role in the preservation of the region’s peace and security should not be taken for granted.
  • As COVID imposes crushing costs on all economies, the US may also be weighing its options. Finding justification for Chinese actions in the South China Sea, even as countries in the region help themselves to Chinese economic opportunities while sheltering under the US security blanket, is also fraught with risk.
  • Accommodation may have worked thus far but regional prosperity has come at a mounting cost in geo-strategic terms.
  • The South China Sea is effectively militarised. In the post-COVID age, enjoying the best of both worlds may no longer be an option.

ASEAN overtook the European Union:

  • ASEAN will suddenly reverse course when faced with possibly heightened Sino-US competition.
  • China is a major power that will continue to receive the respect of ASEAN and, for that matter, many others in the Indo-Pacific, especially in a post-COVID world where they are struggling to revive their economies.
  • ASEAN overtook the European Union to become China’s largest trading partner in the first quarter of 2020, and China is the third-largest investor ($150 billion) in ASEAN.
  • The South East Asians are skilled at finding the wiggle room to accommodate competing hegemons while advancing their interests.

Not concerned over Chinese behaviour:

  • They are not concerned over Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea. They need others to help them in managing the situation.
  • A robust US military presence is one guarantee. A stronger validation by the littoral states of the South China Sea helps the US Administration in justifying their presence to the American tax-payer.
  • Others who have stakes in the region also need to collectively encourage an increasingly powerful China to pursue strategic interests in a legitimate way, and on the basis of respect for international law, in the South China Sea.
  • The real choice is not between China and America — it is between keeping the global commons open for all or surrendering the right to choose one’s partners for the foreseeable future.

How the South China Sea situation plays out will be critical for our security and well-being?

  • In the first place, the South China Sea is not China’s sea but a global common.
  • Second, it has been an important sea-lane of communication since the very beginning, and passage has been unimpeded over the centuries.
  • Third, Indians have sailed these waters for well over 1,500 years — there is ample historical and archaeological proof of a continuous Indian trading presence from Kedah in Malaysia to Quanzhou .................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Way forward:

  • Regional arrangements will become even more important for our economic recovery and rejuvenation. If we intend to heed the clarion call of “Think Global Act Local”, India has to be part of the global supply chains in the world’s leading growth region for the next half-century.
  • It is worth paying heed to the words from Singapore’s prime minister, who writes that something significant is lost in an RCEP without India, and urges us to recognise that the value of such agreements goes beyond the economic gains they generate.
  • Singapore is playing the long game. Are we willing to do so, even if it imposes some costs in the short-term?

    Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

    E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams

    General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 June 2020 (The sky is not the limit for Indian satcom (Financial Express))



The sky is not the limit for Indian satcom (Financial Express)



Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: ISRO
Mains level: FDI in space sector

Context:

  • On May 16, finance minister announced that, as part of the stimulus package, the government would welcome involvement of private sector players in space activities.
  • This brilliant and historic announcement will help fast-track national space activities, including the all-important commercial satellite communications programme.
  • This is a most impressive step forward, and the minister and the government need to be lauded for kick-starting this great odyssey.

Background:

  • A few years ago, the erstwhile chairman of ISRO had pointed out that the then capacity of 34 working commercial communications satellites was barely half of what the country needed.
  • This laid severe constraints to meeting the ever-increasing broadband demands from all sections, including the government, the private sector and millions of consumers.
  • He urged the domestic industry to come forward and help augment the manufacture and launch of satellites.
  • Now, this partnership between ISRO and the private sector will propel India’s future to greater heights. In the interregnum since then, the satcom gap between India and the rest of the world has not reduced but rather widened.

Aimed behind the decision:

  • The finance minister’s announcement is clearly aimed at addressing the above gap and also powerfully attracting foreign investments into the country—an estimated FDI worth $3-5 billion or more.
  • Manufacturing of ancillaries and t............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Application of this model to other countries:

  • While the US does depend on the national space agency (NASA for defence and strategic needs), all commercial communication satellites are built by private players such as Hughes Echostar, Viasat and Intelsat.
  • This is in spite having only one-fourth the population India does and one of the highest fibre connectivity throughout the country, and the world.
  • The US relies heavily on satellite broadband to connect rural areas, with over 4.7 million subscribers connected on satellite broadband. It continues to connect additional approximately 1 million customers via satellite every year.
  • The EU and even most countries in Asia are way ahead of India in terms of connectivity. In stark contrast, India has barely 0.3 million subscribers connected to narrowband connections. It’s time for change.

Satellite broadband connectivity comparison:

  • The accompanying table compares satellite broadband connectivity for the US, the EU and Asian countries versus India.
  • It can be seen that even disregarding the aspect of broadband versus narrowband and the aspect of supporting terrestrial connectivity, while the average satellite connectivity for the other three regions considered is 0.001856 million connections per million population.
  • In India it is about nine times lower, at 0.000231 million connections per million population.
  • The importance of commercial satellite communications applications is also shown by the accompanying graphic, which indicates the total number of satellites available globally and the percentage of satellites dedicated towards commercial communications.
  • The total number of communication satellites in orbit has grown since then, but India continues to have only a handful of these, a mere 41, all of which are government-owned and controlled.
  • To reach the Broadband for All and Digital India goals, we should be having at least 80-90 communication satellites today. Empowering the private sector would help India bridge the gap quicker, and be in the public interest of inclusivity and provide a much-desired boost to GDP.

Way forward:

  • India has a tremendous opportunity that can be realised through the announcement of May 16.
  • These reforms will attract huge FDI, lead to employment generation, and offer local players a competitive boost in Indian and global markets by promoting Make in India.
  • This sector will always be open to .......................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

  • The government alone cannot cope without the active involvement and cooperation of the private sector.
  • It is clear the government now expects private sector players to jump in and do their duty to help realise Digital India through the important role of satcom.
  • We hope ISRO and the government capitalise on the momentum gained by the May 16 announcement.
  • The sky is not the limit for Indian satcom. This can be an example of atmanirbharta par excellence.

    Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

    E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams

    General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Current Public Administration Magazine (JUNE 2020)


Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine


1. Accountability and Responsibility

The Solicitor General’s outburst

When the Supreme Court took up suo motu the plight of migrant labourers, the country’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that the Centre is doing a lot to address the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a rare display of combativeness, he described those who contested his claim as prophets of doom. He alleged that these critics were spreading “negativity, negativity, and negativity”. Mehta urged the court to call upon such persons to prove their credentials by filing affidavits disclosing their contribution towards easing the crisis. He also took potshots at journalists reminding the Court of a photographer who went to Sudan where he photographed a vulture and a panic-stricken child; the photograph earned him the Pulitzer prize, but within days of receiving the honour, the photographer committed suicide because he suffered from the guilt of having preferred photography to rescuing the beleaguered child.

Simply put, Mehta’s outburst tantamounts to asking the media, or for that matter any public-spirited person or a group of persons, to refrain from highlighting the plight of the migrants who have been forced to walk on foot for hundreds — even thousands — of kilometres without food and water and without a penny in their pockets in a desperate attempt to be with their loved ones. Such reporting, in the Solicitor General’s view, spreads negativity. Mehta is reported to have clarified that his remarks were not directed against the media but the context in which he spoke did imply that he was referring to the media.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE (Only for Course Members)

2. Indian Government and Politics

Judiciary should not unwittingly lend its shoulders for somebody else’s gun to rest and fire

In a democracy, sovereign power of the state rests on three pillars — legislature, executive and judiciary. Well-defined boundaries prevent encroachment by one into the area of the other. The judiciary is the trustee of democracy and fundamental rights of the people. It has the power of judicial review over the legislature and the executive.

The Supreme Court, in the Eighties, devised Public Interest Litigation methodology, relaxing the rule of locus standi, if a case for the Court’s intervention is made out, in particular, where the fundamental rights of poverty-stricken, disabled, downtrodden or hapless are involved. The constitutional courts have also commenced taking suo motu cognisance of such facts, as impelling them to act if the fundamental rights of such people run the risk of being lost or irreparably damaged.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE (Only for Course Members)

3. Significant Issues in Indian Administration

MGNREGA in need

A record 4.89 crore persons belonging to 3.44 crore households sought work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in May. This is against 3.18 crore persons from 2.26 crore households for the same month last year, when large parts of India were experiencing drought-like conditions. The current surge in MGNREGA work demand reflects a drought, not of water, but of jobs and incomes. And it seems to be coming mainly from migrant workers returning to their villages from cities and industrial centres post the COVID lockdown. Proof of it is the states where the number of households registering demand has shown the highest increase: Uttar Pradesh (299.3 per cent in May 2020 over May 2019), West Bengal (214.5 per cent), Odisha (113.5 per cent), Chhattisgarh (68.9 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (65.1 per cent) and Bihar (62.1 per cent). These are all labour exporting states. What’s now being seen is an extraordinary phenomenon of distress reverse migration from city to village. The lockdown hasn’t hit the rural economy, more so agriculture, that badly.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE (Only for Course Members)

4. Current Topic

When poverty became visible

The greatest comfort for the privileged citizens of India is that the poor and their misery are invisible. Ensconced as they are in a world of the visible, to them what is not visible does not exist. It is enough that their part of India is shining. But a time comes when this changes in an alarming way. That time has now come, and it is called COVID-19.

This crisis has torn apart a façade. The stark reality is now to be seen everywhere. Migrant labourers moving — like hordes of refugees in their own land — across states, walking hundreds of kilometres in near-death desperation. A few perished out of exhaustion. Dozens got crushed in street accidents. And when the situation apparently improved, dead bodies were found inside Shramik Special trains that were ferrying them like cattle to their home states. A little child was found trying to wake up his mother, who lay dead on the platform. But who will wake up the calloused conscience of a nation that has become blind to human suffering in its obsession with the politics of profit and the profit of politics?

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE (Only for Course Members)

5. Financial Administration

Self-reliance is about resilience and decentralisation, not isolationism

In recent weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered two important speeches outlining his long-term vision for the economy. The first speech was part of the context-setting for the stimulus package subsequently announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The second speech was an address to the annual session of Confederation of Indian Industry. In both cases, the Prime Minister emphasised the idea of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India). But, what does Atmanirbhar Bharat really mean? How does it fit with the reforms being currently announced? What does it imply for future policy?

It is important, at the very onset, to clarify that this idea of self-reliance is not about a return to Nehruvian import substitution or autarkic isolationism. The prime minister emphasised that his vision includes active participation in post-COVID global supply chains as well as the need to attract foreign direct investment.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE (Only for Course Members)

For Full Magazine Click here  (Paid Members Zone)

Study Materials For Public Administration

Online Coaching For Public Administration

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 June 2020 (No longer special: On India-Nepal ties (The Hindu))



No longer special: On India-Nepal ties (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: International Realtions
Prelims level: India-Nepal
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations

Context:

  • After months of brinkmanship, India and Nepal have brought their relations to the edge of a precipice.
  • The Oli government’s decision to pass the constitutional amendment ratifying a change in its maps that include Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, territories that India controls, marks a decidedly new phase in ties.

Lack of diplomatic manoeuvring:

  • While the issue is an old one, it resurfaced in 2019 when New Delhi published new political maps.
  • These maps reflect the changes following the decision on August 5 to reorganise the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and Nepal objected to the depiction of disputed territory.
  • In 2000 and 2014, India and Nepal agreed to hold talks about Kalapani and Susta, without much success.
  • Matters snowballed when India’s ...................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

No space for diplomacy:

  • Regardless of the truth of those accusations, or who is more responsible for the downslide in ties, the speed with which the constitutional amendment was passed has left little space for diplomacy now.
  • That the vote was unanimous should also inform New Delhi of the futility of casting Mr. Oli alone as the ‘villain’ of the piece.
  • It is necessary the two nations resolve their issues through dialogue lest they face more serious consequences.
  • The Modi government has in the past not flinched from taking tough measures, including the 2015 blockade that severely affected India’s land-locked neighbour.

Conclusion:

  • The Oli government, which seeks to build its legacy by overturning what it calls “unequal” agreements made by the monarchy, could also cause a security nightmare for India if it opens up other parts of their long boundary, and reverses old commitments on open and unsecured border posts.
  • Both sides moved quickly this week to manage the fallout of border firing by Nepali police on a group of Indians that left one dead.
  • The same alacrity is needed to manage the fallout of Saturday’s amendment vote, on the once celebrated “special” relationship between the two countries.

    Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

    E-Books Download for UPSC IAS Exams

    General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 June 2020 (The need for an anti-discrimination law (The Hindu))



The need for an anti-discrimination law (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: anti-discrimination law
Mains level: Role of anti-discrimination law

Context:

  • Sport is often a microcosm of society.
  • Much as we might sometimes see it as a leveller, it invariably tends to underscore more endemic inequities.
  • Recent revelations made by the former West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy, therefore, must awaken us to a problem that goes far beyond the cricket field and its narrow confines, of a society replete with racism.

Voices in Sport:

  • In our country, this problem is only exacerbated by other historically ingrained forms of discrimination, along the lines of caste, class, gender, and religion among other things.
  • Indeed, in reacting to Mr. Sammy’s statements, the former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan pointed not how players from the south of India routinely faced abuse from crowds in the north.
  • On June 9, Mr. Pathan said, in a tweet, that racism in our country goes beyond the colour of our skins, that enforcing embargoes on people seeking to buy houses based on their faith ought to equally be seen as a feature of prejudice.
  • Predictably, Mr. Pathan faced a volley of abuses for his tweet.
  • A number of people told him that India had given him everything — love, fame and money — and that he should check with Pakistan on how they were doing.
  • Here was a cricketer, who had ...........................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Zoroastrian cooperative housing society case:

  • The Supreme Court, in 2005, in Zoroastrian Cooperative Housing Society vs District Registrar Co-operative Societies (Urban) and Others, endorsed one such restrictive bond, when it ruled in favour of a bye-law of a Parsi housing society that prohibited the sale of property to non-Parsis.
  • This right to forbid such a sale, the Court ruled, was intrinsic in the Parsis’ fundamental right to associate with each other.
  • But in holding thus, the judgment, as ..............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Attempts at change:

  • In India, there have been a few efforts to this end in recent times.
  • Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill (drafted by Tarunabh Khaitan) in 2017, while the Centre for Law & Policy Research drafted and released an Equality Bill last year.
  • These attempts recognise that our civil liberties are just as capable of being threatened by acts of private individuals as they are by the state.
  • Ultimately, our rule of law must subsume an understanding that discrimination partakes different forms.
  • Any reasonable conception of justice would demand that we look beyond the intentions of our actions, and at the engrained structures of society.
  • This does not mean that we need to live under an illusion that a statute will resolve our systemic biases, that we will somehow magically transform ourselves into the kind of nation that B.R. Ambedkar envisioned.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 June 2020 (New agri-markets: A game-changer? (Indian Express))



New agri-markets: A game-changer? (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Agriculture Produce Market Committees
Mains level: Role of Agriculture Produce Market Committees and its challenges

Context:

  • The ordinance titled The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (promotion and facilitation) Ordinance 2020 has been hailed as a game-changer, creating new opportunities for farmers to sell their produce wherever and to whomsoever they like.
  • The virtual monopoly of Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) is expected to end sooner rather than later. Will this mean a death knell for APMCs, an institution created to do exactly the same, i.e., price discovery through a competitive auction process, proper weighing, payment on time, quality grading, etc? Will farmers benefit?

Pre-APMCs era:

  • The pre-APMCs days were dominated by misinformation and price arbitrage.
  • Traders with better communications between themselves—those were the days when telephones were a luxury, and long distance calls rarely materialised—got a sense of prevailing prices and used this information to their advantage.
  • APMCs were thought to be the answer to these problems. Institutional and physical infrastructure were set up to ensure that all farm produce was brought to the designated markets, traders with licences were allowed to participate in auctions of graded produce and timely payments were made. Market yards and market committees were set up at the district and sub-district levels.
  • These changed the market dynamics (at least, partially) in favour of the farmers in the early days.

APMCs regulation:

  • APMCs were democratic institutions managed by a board/committee of mostly elected members from among the farmers and traders.
  • The state governments, obsessed with revenue collection, found it convenient to supersede these boards and appoint administrators for long periods of time.
  • Over time, they ceased to represent farmers’ interests. Set up with good intentions, like democratically managed committees, good infrastructure for auctions and storage, price discovery and communication, the system somehow deteriorated into a cartelised operation (licensing becoming the tool); cess collection became an obsession, and price discovery and transparency were put in the cold store.

Role of APMCs:

  • APMCs created market infrastructure, and used the cess collections to improve agrarian infrastructure.
  • Now, they will have no interest in investing beyond their market yards.
  • Multiple efforts to reform APMCs failed,.........................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Decentralisation of power under APMC:

  • The central government has retained with itself the power to give licences to traders who can operate in this new area, ostensibly to protect the farmers.
  • It has the powers to prescribe the modalities of the transaction to ensure payment to farmers on time.
  • Enforcement of this could see the birth of a new set of inspectors! There is a dispute settlement mechanism for disputes with farmers under the SDO, and an appeal mechanism under the district collector.
  • While these provisions are useful, farmers will be loth to use them since most of them would rather settle than litigate.
  • New electronic trading platforms are also allowed to be set up in these areas by private individuals, FPOs and co-ops.

Way forward:

  • A centralised system of information dissemination, helping farmers take day-to-day decisions to sell looks very ‘imaginative’!
  • In a digitally connected world, farmers will rely on other channels for market information, and will decide which market to choose.
  • This is typical of the ordinance, which tries to replace a local, democratic in design—though badly managed—structure with a highly centralised, Delhi-driven one, giving extra powers to the..........................................................................................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 June 2020 (Need for more inclusive employment, employability and education (Indian Express))



Need for more inclusive employment, employability and education (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Apprenticeship Act of 1961
Mains level: Issues relating to growth, employment

Context:

  • The differential lockdown outcomes for skilled and unskilled workers highlight our university system’s pre-existing conditions
  1. broken employability promises,
  2. poor employer connectivity, and
  3. poor return on private investment that frustrate parents and students.

Ways in which a skill university differs from a traditional university:

  • A skill university differs from a traditional university in four ways.
  • It prays to the one god of employers; for governance, faculty, curriculum, and pedagogy.
  • It has four classrooms; on-campus, on-line, on-site, and on-the-job.
  • It offers modularity between four qualifications; certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, and degrees.
  • And it has four sources of financing — employers, students, CSR, and loans (though employers contribute more than 95 per cent of the costs).

Ways in which global universities are broken:

1. First is broken promises:

  • The world produced more graduates in the last 35 years than the 700 years before and graduates now include 60 per cent of Korea’s taxi drivers, 31 per cent of US retail check-out clerks, and 15 per cent of India’s high-end security guards.

2. Second is broken financing:

  • More than 50 per cent of $1.5 trillion in student debt was expected to default even before the COVID pandemic. Indian bank education loans have high NPAs.

3. The third is broken inclusiveness:

  • The system works for privileged urban males studying full-time, but today’s students are likely to be female, poor, older, rural, or studying part-time.

4. Fourth is broken flexibility:

  • Employed learners will cross traditional learners in three years, but they need on-demand, on-the-go, always-on, rolling admissions, continuous assessment, and qualification modularity.

5. Finally is broken openness:

  • Google knowing everything makes learning how to learn a key 21st-century skill. Yet too many universities are stuck in knowing.
    Need regulatory changes needed for skill universities:
  • Skill universities are a scalable, sustainable, and affordable vehicle to massify higher education by innovations in finance. But they need regulatory change.
  • The UGC Act of 1956 needs ......................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

NAAC IQAC Regulations need rewriting:

  • Criteria 1 and 1.2.2 to include work-based learning and work integrated learning, criteria 1.1.3 to include life skills and proctored/evaluated internships, and
  • criteria 2 and 2.3.1 to integrate online learning with university programmes.
  • Criteria 2 and 2.4.1, 3 and 6 need to be modified to recognise teachers with industry experience, and include industry-based research,
  • criteria 4 and 4.1.2 to include industry workplaces and online classrooms as campus extensions, and
  • criteria 5 and 5.2.1 needs to be rewritten to incorporate apprenticeships.

Need changes in the Apprenticeship Act of 1961:

  • Clause 2, 8, 9, 21 and 23 of The Apprenticeship Act of 1961 also needs to be modified to allow and lift the licence raj for degree-linked apprentices and recognise skills universities.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 15 June 2020 (Limits of centralized approach, Finance Commission must reset the balance (Indian Express))



Limits of centralized approach, Finance Commission must reset the balance (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: 15th Finance Commission
Mains level: Issues relating to devolution of resources

Context:

  • The fiscal stress that has been building up at various levels of the government has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The collapse in general government revenues, and the consequent rise in the deficit levels has not only disrupted the glide path of fiscal consolidation, but has also deepened the faultlines in Centre-state fiscal relations.

Against this backdrop:

  • The 15th Finance Commission is expected to submit its report in about four months from now.
  • The terms of reference of the Commission were contentious to begin with is beyond debate.
  • Attempts by the Centre to claw back the fiscal space ceded to the states and assert its dominance over the country’s fiscal architecture, now coupled with the fiscal constraints exposed by the pandemic have made it harder to maintain the delicate balance needed to manage the contesting claims of the Centre and the states.
  • It will be ironic if the ongoing health crisis that has ended up exposing the limitations of a centralised approach, ends up reversing the trend towards fiscal decentralisation.

The Commission’s report will be critical on two counts:

  • First, it will determine how India’s fiscal architecture is reshaped, and
  • second, how Centre-state relations are reset as the country attempts to recover from the COVID-19 shock.

Glide path of fiscal consolidation:

  • To begin with, the glide path of fiscal consolidation laid out by the FRBM review committee had envisaged bringing down general government debt to 60 per cent of GDP by 2022 — this is unlikely to materialise now.
  • Factoring in the additional borrowings, ....................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Issue of state borrowings:

  • Recently, the Centre eased the states’ budget constraint, allowing them to borrow more this year, conditional upon them implementing reforms in line with the Centre’s priorities.
  • Despite protests, most states are likely to comply with the conditions, to varying degrees. But the issue is: As the hit from the ongoing crisis spreads over multiple years, state governments may want to maintain their expansionary fiscal stance next year as well.
  • The Finance Commission, in line with its terms of reference, go along with the Centre’s stance and recommend imposing conditions on additional borrowing and formalise this arrangement?
  • It is difficult to see such an arrangement being rolled back once formalised.
    Issue of the GST compensation cess:
  • The GST council is yet to clearly spell out its views on the extension of the compensation cess to offset states losses beyond the five-year period. The Commission will have to weigh in on this too.
  • At a time when the Centre is struggling to fulfil its promise of assuring states their GST revenues, will the Commission argue in favour of extending the compensation period, as states desire, but, perhaps, lowering the assured 14 per cent growth in compensation and linking it to nominal GDP growth?
  • As GST revenue accounts for a significant share of states’ income, how this plays out will also have a bearing on their ability to bring down their debt levels.

The issue of tax devolution to states:

  • Accepting the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission was a fait accompli.
  • However, the present dispensation’s unease with extending greater fiscal autonomy to states is apparent in the framing of the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission. But is clawing back fiscal space now a prudent approach?
  • A cash-strapped Centre will surely welcome greater say over the diminished resources. And not only is there a strong argument for the Centre to have far greater fiscal space than it currently enjoys — the fiscal multiplier of central government capital spending is greater than that by the states — but the nature of politics may well push in that direction. .....................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Way ahead:

  • The fiscal stress at various levels of the government necessitates a realistic assessment of the country’s macro-economic situation, the preparation of a medium-term roadmap, as well as careful calibration of the framework that governs Centre-state relations.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 June 2020 (Streamed education is diluted education (The Hindu))



Streamed education is diluted education (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: SWAYAM platform
Mains level: e-learning platform and its sustainability in India

Context:

  • All that is of value is diluting into the functional, and there seems to be no vocabulary to capture this dilution of value.
  • Our conception of value itself has been diluted to mean just exchange ‘value’.
  • Here, I will relate this to the meaning of education.

The UGC scheme:

  • Recently, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Grants Commission had issued a circular to universities encouraging them to adopt massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  • Courses were offered on its SWAYAM platform for credit transfers in the coming semesters.
  • This sounds like a benevolent act during th...............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

MOOC-based e-learning platforms:

  • MOOC-based e-learning platforms tend to reinforce a top-down teacher-to-student directionality of learning whereby the teacher ‘creates’ and the student ‘consumes’.
  • This misses the point that teaching and learning are skills that are always in the making.
  • The teacher is after all “an intellectual midwife” who facilitates in the birth of students’ ideas and insights through engaging in critical dialogue.
  • In a conducive classroom environment, this role is often switched and the student plays intellectual midwife to the teacher’s ideas.
  • Moving to a MOOC-based degree system would rob young teachers and students of these essential lessons in teaching and learning from each other.

Sacred spaces:

  • Taking higher education online is much like taking up a sport such as cricket, football or boxing online.
  • One has not actually learnt the sport unless one has engaged with it in one’s gully, stadium, field, or ring.
  • In education, the classroom acts ........................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Litmus test:

  • Implicit in every curriculum is the tacit assumption that the classroom is a laboratory for hands-on testing of ideas, opinions, interpretations, and counterarguments.
  • A diverse and inclusive classroom is the best litmus test for any theory or insight.
  • Multidisciplinarity happens more through serendipity — when learners across disciplines bump into each other and engage in conversations.
  • Classroom and campus spaces offer the potential for solidarity in the face of discrimination, social anxiety, and stage fear, paving the way for a proliferation of voluntary associations.
  • In the absence of this physical space, teaching and learning would give way to mere content and its consumption.

Dilution:

  • Without a shared space to discuss and contest ideas, learning dilutes to just gathering more information.
  • This could also dilute norms of evaluation, whereby a “good lecture” might mean merely a lecture which “streams seamlessly, without buffering”.
  • This is not an argument from tradition.
  • One could think of greater value-sensitive and socially just architectures and technologies that further foster classroom engagement.
  • And also make it accessible for students of various disabilities and challenges, thereby adding more value to the existing meaning of education.
  • But public education modelled on social distancing is a functional reduction and dilution of the meaning of education.
  • It could add value only as an addendum to the classroom.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 June 2020 (The path not taken (Indian Express))



The path not taken (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Assessment of lockdown period in India

Context:

  • Even after a harsh and unforgiving lockdown of more than 60 days, the curve of COVID infections refuses to flatten.
  • The health infrastructure retains massive gaps, as two out of three districts lack testing facilities, and patients even in the national capital are dying because they cannot get beds.
  • This, after the working poor suffered to the extent one cannot even imagine as they trudged hundreds of kilometres to return home.
  • The contraction of the economy and the destruction of millions of jobs and supply chains signal a worrying surge of mass hunger and unemployment.

Policy failure:

  • It is apparent the policies of the Union government to battle the pandemic have failed.
  • People ask: What could the government have done differently?
  • Wealthy industrialised countries like the United States have been felled by this deadly contagion, they say.
  • What could a much poorer country have done differently to save the lives of thousands of its people?
  • The stark answer is — virtually everything.
  • Begin with the decision whether to impose a nationwide lockdown, that too without notice or preparation.
  • Had the government consulted widely with public-health experts, epidemiologists, economists, social scientists, and studied the global experience carefully, it would have ruled out the lockdown as bad public health.
  • In a country in which the large majority live in crowded tenements without water or sanitation, a policy of enforcing radical physical distancing manifests lack of empathy.
  • We could have, instead, followed the example of South Korea, with a focus on extensive testing, public education and limited containment.

What could have been done?

  • For the period of a limited lockdown, it should have ensured that every household receives unconditional cash transfers of Rs 7,000, and a universal, expanded public distribution system (including also pulses and oil).
  • Economists Prabhat Patnaik and Jayati Ghosh have calculated that for three and six months, respectively, this would cost not more than 3 per cent of GDP, and a manageable depletion of India’s ...................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Way forward:

  • The government should ensure free water tankers to supply water in slum shanties throughout the day until the pandemic ebbs, to enable people to wash their hands regularly and secure personal hygiene.
  • It should massively ramp up helplines for both mental health and domestic violence, as well as mental health OPDs and places of safety for battered women.
  • It should empty custodial beggar homes, women’s homes and children’s homes for those in conflict with the law, and offer, instead, voluntary and dignified places of safety for all at-risk persons.
  • To make prisons safer, we would use this moment to do what the Supreme Court has directed for decades: To grant bail or discharge all under-trial prisoners except perhaps those with the gravest ......................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Source of finance:

  • Most countries which went down the road of lockdown have invested 10 to 20 per cent of GDP on public spending to cushion against hunger and unemployment.
  • India’s additional public spending turns out to be less than 1 per cent.
  • The government could impose a cess of 2 per cent on the wealth of just the top 1%, and an inheritance tax of 33%.
  • This would be more than sufficient to raise all the resources we need for everything I have suggested here.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 June 2020 (A welcome waiver (Indian Express))



A welcome waiver (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Adjusted gross revenue
Mains level: Highlights of the Supreme Court’s ruling on adjusted gross revenue for non telcos companies

Context:

  • In a major relief for non-telecom public sector enterprises, the Supreme Court, on Thursday, came down heavily on the Department of Telecommunications for issuing them demand notices for payment of dues related to the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue.
  • Terming the move as a misuse of its.....................................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

What do you mean by Adjusted Gross Revenue?

  • Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The contention is on the particulars considered to calculate the amount payable.

Uncertainty among telephone operators:

  • However, there continues to be uncertainty on the issue of payment of AGR dues by telecom operators such as Bharti and Vodafone.
  • While the Court has taken cognisance of the telcos’ plea of allowing them to repay their dues over a period, it remains sceptical of the 20-year time horizon.
  • Court has directed them to file a ....................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Ambiguity over AGR:

  • Previously, the court had sided with the government on the issue of what constitutes AGR.
  • Telcos were of the opinion that only revenue from telecom services should be included in the assessment of AGR and not revenues from non-telecom activities like interest income and rent.
  • The government’s continued reluctance to reconsider its approach has been short-sighted, to say the least.
  • Given the ambiguity over the definition, at the very least it could have withdrawn its demand on collecting penalties, and interest on penalties.
  • How the government resolves this issue remains to be seen. But, so far, its handling of the situation leaves much to be desired.
  • Timely intervention could have helped alleviate the pain.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 13 June 2020 (Student plus politics (Indian Express))



Student plus politics (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: NIRF data
Mains level: Highlights the NIRF data on educational institutions and explains how it differs form politics

Context:

  • Delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the annual lists of the National Institutional Ranking Framework have finally been released by the Union HRD ministry.
  • It makes sobering reading for those who had convinced themselves, and others, that academics and politics do not go very well together.
  • The very campuses which have been demonised as dens of anti-national activity and bunkers of the “tukde-tukde gang”, the mythical bugaboo conjured up to warn university students off politics, have emerged among the most important nurseries for the leading citizens of tomorrow.

Upper echelons:

  • The most politically active campuses in the country are in the upper echelons of the list — Jawaharlal Nehru University, Calcutta University, Jadavpur University, the University of Hyderabad, Jamia Millia Islamia, the University of Delhi.
  • That deflates the notion, popular in ...............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 June 2020 (Needed, a transfusion for public health care (The Hindu))



Needed, a transfusion for public health care (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Role of private hospitals in healthcare system

Context:

  • A news channel in India alleged recently that several private hospitals in the country were “exposed” by a “sting operation” to be levying fees in excess when COVID-19 patients went to them for care.
  • It is not clear why a “sting operation” was necessary; the high cost of medical care in the top hospitals of the country is well known.
  • The debate now is whether such exorbitant rates are justified during a pandemic such as the one we are in the midst of, or indeed, ever.

Private hospitals:

  • Before we address this question, however, an equally important question arises: why do we have so many private hospitals in a poor country such as India.
  • We have more hospital beds in the private sector than in the public sector.
  • It is estimated that there are.....................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

A mirror to public care:

  • The reason for this abundance of private health care is obviously the lack of adequate public health care.
  • This situation has developed due to two main reasons.
  • Since Independence, India has, quite rightly, focused attention on the larger picture.
  • The priority in a developing country would be the provision of primary care at the peripheral level, preventive measures, immunisation, maternity and paediatric care as well as dealing with common infections such as tuberculosis.
  • We have done this well, resulting in impressive improvements in many health-care indices in the last few decades.
  • However, not enough hospital beds and specialised facilities were provided by the public sector during this time.
  • At the same time, the burgeoning middle class and increasing wealth produced an explosion in the demand for good quality health care.
  • Private medicine was quick to capitalise on this demand.

Dominance of private:

  • The second reason for the dominance of private medicine in India is the lack of adequate investment in public health.
  • The Indian government spends an abysmally low 1.3% of GDP on public health care, which is woefully inadequate.
  • Allocation has to be at least double this to address some of our pressing needs.
  • Greater transparency and tighter administration are necessary to ensure that our resources are utilised appropriately.
  • Specialists should be adequately compensated to obviate their need for private practice.

No uniformity:

  • Private medicine in India is by no means uniform.
  • It is estimated that there are more than one million unqualified medical practitioners, mostly in the rural areas.
  • Most of them provide basic health care, charging a modest fee.
  • Some may have claims of ...................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Quality in medical services:

  • The wide range of quality in medical services in India reflects the wide range of income and wealth in India.
  • It is estimated that the wealth of the top 1% in India is four times the combined wealth of the bottom 70%.
  • The wealthy demand, pay for, and often get, world-class health care.
  • The middle class, seeing what is possible, is beginning to demand similar care at affordable cost.
  • The poorer 70% are left to the vagaries and mercy of an unpredictable public health-care system and low cost charlatans.

Examples:

  • The United States, despite spending more than 15% of its enormous GDP on health care in the form of largely insurance-based private medicine, has poorer health-care indices than Europe.
  • In Europe the government-funded universal health care (e.g. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom) is available.
  • But the per capita health-care expenditure in Europe is substantially less than in the U.S.

What needs to be done:

  • The public health-care system desperately needs higher government spending.
  • Health care cannot be left to private medicine in a developing country, or indeed, in any country.
  • Health-care spending by the government must be appropriate, based on evidence, and transparent and accountable.
  • Training of doctors and health-care workers also need to be the responsibility of the government mainly.
  • Recent reforms in the selection of medical students need to be scrutinised to see if they are having the desired result.
  • Private hospitals and institutions will need to be regulated.
  • Costing and auditing of care and procedures need to be done by independent bodies.
  • This will not only ensure appropriate care at the right cost but also prevent unreasonable demands of suspicious patients and family.

The crisis now:

  • No hospital, business, institution or individual should profiteer from a national calamity such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hospitals, like any other institution, have a social responsibility to provide care in times of need.
  • But one should be also aware of the actual costs involved which have to be met.
  • The cost of medical .................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 June 2020 (NCLAT judgment: CCI can’t be made hostage to locus standi (Indian Express))



NCLAT judgment: CCI can’t be made hostage to locus standi (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: National Company Law Appellate Tribunal
Mains level: Role of National Company Law Appellate Tribunal under competition Act

Context:

  • Recently, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has delivered a judgment whose effect could be to severely limit the ability of the enforcement regulator, the Competition Commission of India, to deliver upon its statutory mandate of maintaining healthy competition in Indian markets.
  • In its judgment in the matter of Samir Agarwal v. .................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Constricting effect:

  • The constricting effect of the NCLAT judgment ought to cause serious concern not only to the Commission but to all who have a stake in maintaining robust competitive markets in the country that, as is known, leads to enhanced efficiencies, higher levels of innovation and better products and services.

Section 18 of the Competition Act:

  • The Commission under the Competition Act in Section 18 of the Act and also in its Preamble.
  • Section 18 states that “it shall be the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of the consumers, and ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants, in markets in India.” The mandate could not have been more unambiguous and emphatic.
  • Accordingly, the Commission is obliged to seek all reasonable means of ensuring that the Indian markets remain robust and to come down heavily against anti-competitive practices such as cartels or abuse of dominance.
  • The duty of the Commission is toward the market and the economy at large, and not toward any particular informant or complainant who approaches the Commission. Its decisions are not ‘in personam’ but ‘in rem’.

Observations by the Commission in various other orders:

  • It follows that what matters to the Commission is the substance of an information filed before it, not the antecedents or the standing of the informant.
  • If the information is such from which the Commission can prima facie form an opinion that a violation likely exists, the Commission is required to launch an investigation; in such cases.
  • Section 26 mandates that the Commission “shall direct the Director General to cause an investigation to be made into the matter.”
  • On the other hand, if prima facie the information does not satisfy the Commission about the possible existence of a violation, the Commission can dismiss the complaint at the ‘prima facie stage’.
  • The Commission has ample ..........................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Way forward:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 June 2020 (Renewing faith in Public-Private Partnerships (Indian Express))



Renewing faith in Public-Private Partnerships (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: PPP model
Mains level: Infrastructure

Context:

  • The sectoral break-up of PPP projects, we would find that almost all of the projects have come up in economic infrastructure (power, transport, and telecom) compared to social infrastructure.

Measures announced by the finance minister:

  • The finance minister recently announced several measures aimed at boosting Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure sector:
  • Twelve more airports are to be bid out on .........................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Performance of the PPP airports:

  • The PPP airports at Delhi and Mumbai, from being the worst airports in the world prior to privatisation, now figure among the best (as per 2019 Airport Service Quality rankings).
  • In addition, the revenue share from Delhi and Mumbai airports to Airports Authority of India (AAI), at Rs 3,040 crore in FY19, is more than the profit after tax (PAT) of AAI for that year (Rs 2,271 crore)
  • PPPs in airports provide a better user experience and give high returns to the government.
  • Therefore, the PPP arrangement needs to be replicated across airports in India for the user and revenue implications that would enable AAI to increase air connectivity to remote areas through the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme.

Application of PPP model in the power sector:

  • Power distribution is the weakest link in the power sector. There is a loss of about 40 paise per unit of power sold in the country, which makes the power distribution segment bankrupt, while also leading to stranded investments in the power generation segment.
  • It has been estimated that the ................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

PPI database:

  • As per the private participation in infrastructure (PPI) database of the World Bank, India is second in the developing world, both in terms of the number of PPP projects as well as the associated investments (1,096 PPP projects, accounting for an investment of $273 billion, since 1990).
  • The Indian success in PPPs is built on a robust policy framework, the financial incentive (VGF) scheme, and the standardisation of procurement (Request for Qualification and Request for Proposal) and substantive (Model Concession Agreements across infrastructure sectors) documents.
  • The sectoral break-up of PPP projects, we would find that almost all of the projects have come up in economic infrastructure (power, transport, and telecom) compared to social infrastructure.
  • Social infrastructure (like water supply, solid waste management, health and education) have low cost-recovery and, consequently, face massive resource-crunch.

Way ahead:

  • PPPs in power distribution and social infrastructure would be extremely challenging. It would entail careful crafting of sector-wise Model Concession Agreements with a balanced risk-return framework for the public and private sectors.
  • Besides, there would be a clamour for autonomous regulation of social infrastructure sectors, once private investment comes in.

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 June 2020 (Govt has belatedly realised MGNREGA scheme’s significance (Indian Express)) Primary tabs



Govt has belatedly realised MGNREGA scheme’s significance (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: MGNREGA
Mains level: Importance of the MGNREGA

Context:

  • In the media discussions on the novel coronavirus numbers and testing, on public health mismanagement, on the suffering of migrant workers and on the unplanned lockdown, one issue has missed the headlines.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act Programme, better known by the acronym MGNREGA.

Importance of MNREGA:

  • MGNREGA is the world’s largest social welfare programme, with about 120 million beneficiaries.
  • With unemployment figures at a 45-year high, and with the added economic destruction caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, MGNREGA numbers are set to rise.
  • Migrant workers returning home to their villages are seeking work under MGNREGA.
  • Since April 2020, 3.5 million new workers have enrolled under this programme.
  • This is greater than the number of new workers in the previous year. It speaks volumes of the gravity of the situation.

Erode the program:

  • Before the COVID-19 crisis, the Centre was attempting to weaken and dismantle MGNREGA.
  • Further, both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 budgets reduced MGNREGA allocations in comparison to actual expenditure in the previous year.
  • From mechanising work that ........................................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Number hide more than they reveal:

  • Take three examples:
  • First, in March, the minimum daily wage was enhanced by Rs 20 to reach Rs 202. This is lower than the minimum wage in 31 states and union territories.
  • Second, the Centre makes claims of a Rs 2,000 increase in annual household income. This calculation presumes 100 days of work.
  • Actually, MGNREGA has generated employment for only 45-50 days in the last few years.
  • Third, the finance minister has announced Rs 40,000 crore extra for MGNREGA. However, Rs 11,500 crore of this is payment for previous dues.
  • With the remainder, the Centre talks of generating 300 crore, or three billion person-days of work.
  • But the April-May 2020 period shows that MGNREGA employment was less than half of what it was during the same period in 2019.
  • Such grandstanding is disappointing.
  • But the fact is, common citizens in our country are facing a life and death situation.
  • In the national interest, the Centre and the states should work together and we in the opposition must offer constructive suggestions.

Way forward:

  • On MGNREGA, there is a four-fold path that the Union Government needs to adopt.
  • First, it should ensure that each registered worker receives the full 100 days of work. This is critical after the pandemic.
  • Second, wages need to be further revised and linked to the rural consumer price index.
  • The current MGNREGA .............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Conclusion:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 June 2020 (A slow turn (Indian Express))



A slow turn (Indian Express)



Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: CMIE data
Mains level: Economic growth and development process

Context:

  • Going by leading indicators, economic activity in India appears to have picked up, although marginally as the restrictions have been eased.
  • Activity remains well below levels observed in the pre-COVID period.
  • The pace of contraction in some of the economic indicators has moderated from the lows observed in April.

Data from the consumption side:

  • On the consumption side, data from GSTN shows that while e-way bills (both intra-state and inter-state) generated continue to contract, the pace of contraction has eased.
  • The disaggregated data indicates a greater pickup in intra-state e-way bills as compared to inter-state bills.
  • It suggests that perhaps inter-state restrictions continue to hurt the flow of goods.
  • Over the course of the coming weeks, as restrictions are eased further, household consumption will rise as pent-up demand is satiated.

Data from the production side:

  • On the production side, labour market data also suggests a gradual resumption of economic activity.
  • As per CMIE data, t..............................

CLICK HERE FOR FULL EDITORIAL (Only for Course Members)

Other Sectors:

  • A similar trend is observed in electricity generation, and railway revenue (freight traffic).
  • While both continue to contract, the pace of contraction has eased, indicative of a resumption in some industrial and commercial activities.
  • The RBI data also shows a spurt in transactions — the average value of IMPS transactions rose by 28 per cent in June, after contracting in May and April, while UPI growth is back to pre-COVID levels.
  • Data volatility is likely to increase as the effects of the lockdown, and the response of households and firms to the health and economic uncertainty, play out over the coming weeks and months.

Concern:

  • However, it is possible that as in previous episodes such as demonetisation and GST, the formal sector gains at the expense of the informal sector.

Conclusion:

Niti Ayog Report PDF Download 2019-2020

Niti Ayog Report PDF Download 2019-2020

NITI AAYOG: AN OVERVIEW

1. Constitution and Composition of NITI Aayog
2. Objectives and Functions of NITI Aayog
3. Administration and Support Units
4. Offices Attached to NITI Aayog

  • Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO)
  • National Institute of Labour Economics Research and Development (NILERD)
  • Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

POLICY AND PROGRAMME FRAMEWORK

1. Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme
2. Nutrition Sector Reforms
3. Health Sector Reforms
4. Agriculture Sector Reforms
5. Higher Education Reforms
6. Energy Sector Reforms
7. Transforming India’s Gold Market

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

1. Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office
2. Performance Dashboards

  • Champions of Change: Aspirational Districts
  • Nutrition
  • Atal Tinkering Labs
  • SDG India Index 2019–20

3. Key Performance Indices

  • SDG India Index
  • India Innovation Index
  • School Education Quality Index
  • Composite Water Management Index
  • State Health Index
  • District Hospital Index
  • State Energy Index

COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM

1. Fifth Governing Council Meeting
2. Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) in Education
3. Development Support Services to States (DSSS)
4. NITI Forum for North East
5. Holistic Development of Islands
6. Sustainable Development in the Indian Himalayan Region

THINK-TANK ACTIVITIES

1. Increasing Knowledge

  • Adoption of Frontier Technologies: AI Strategy Paper
  • National Health Stack: Strategy and Approach Consultation Paper
  • Strategy for Methanol Economy
  • Strategic Dialogues
  • Sixth India–China Strategic Economic Dialogue
  • Fifth NITI–DRC Dialogue
  • UN ESCAP Asia–Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development
  • High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
  • NITI Lecture Series
  • Economists’ Meet
  • NILERD

2. Promoting Innovation

  • Atal Innovation Mission
  • Women Entrepreneurship Platform

3. Engaging Widely
4. Networking with Think Tanks

SECTORAL OBJECTIVES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

1. Agriculture
2. Career Management Activities
3. Charts, Maps and Equipment Division
4. Culture
5. Data Management and Analysis
6. Decentralized Planning
7. Energy
8. Financial Resources
9. Governance and Research
10. Governing Council Secretariat
11. Health and Nutrition
12. Human Resources Development
13. Industry
14. Information and Broadcasting
15. Infrastructure Connectivity
16. Land and Water Resources
17. Library and Documentation Centre
18. Managing Urbanization
19. Minerals
20. Natural Resources and Environment
21. Official Language Division (Hindi Section)
22. Organization Methods and Coordination
23. Project Appraisal and Management Division
24. Parliament Section
25. Public-Private Partnerships
26. RTI Cell
27. Rural Development
28. Science and Technology
29. Skill Development and Employment
30. Social Justice and Empowerment
31. State Coordination
32. Sustainable Development Goals
33. Tourism
34. Vigilance Section
35. Voluntary Action Cell
36. Women and Child Development

(E-book) Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exam VOL-326


Weekly Current Affairs Update for IAS Exams Free Sample

VOL. - 326 (08 MAY 2020 - 14 MAY 2020)


Price: Rs. 29FREE (Only for Few Days!)

Hosting Charges: NIL

Cover Month: 08 MAY 2020 - 14 MAY 2020

File Type: PDF FILE DOWNLOAD VIA EMAIL LINK

Covered Topics:

  • National

  • International

  • Business And Economy

  • Science and Technology

  • MCQ Questions

  • Important Article From Various Newspapers

Click Here to Download FREE PDF

Join Online Course for UPSC Pre. Exam

Printed Study Material for UPSC Exams

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - user6's blog