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HE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 November 2019 Strangle in telecom sector (The Hindu)



Strangle in telecom sector (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 3 : Economy 
  • Prelims level : Telecom sector 
  • Mains level : Liberalisation in telecom sector 

Context

  • The recent Supreme Court judgment on upholding the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to include all revenues earned by the licensed Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), and just those of core services, appears to be the death knell for TSPs. 

Liberalisation in telecom sector 

  • Telecom has been one of the brightest spots in India’s liberalisation journey, with the country being the second-largest in mobile subscribers and even mobile broadband subscriber base, next only to China and beating the US. 
  • Telecom and broadband Internet have string multiplier effects on the economy, leading to large-scale digitisation of consumer-facing services — including digital finance and commerce platforms — thus augmenting transparency, reducing information asymmetry, and most importantly, allowing for nurturing of the digital start-ups and innovation ecosystems in the country. 

Regulatory fee

  • The annual LF of 8 per cent which includes a 5 per cent Universal Service Levy (USL) is high compared to the international average. 
  • The USL since its implementation in 1999 has contributed more than ₹1,00,000 crore to the exchequer, of which there remains an unspent balance of about ₹50,000 crore in the book of accounts. 
  • Our rural penetration has improved, thanks partially due to the state-owned BSNL as well as efforts of the private operators. 
  • It is time the government looks at reducing the USL, thereby providing some relief to the TSPs.

Operator services

  • The on-going price war between new entrants and the incumbents, which is also a cause of worry for the industry. 
  • TRAI has not intervened in tariff until now, the DoT seems to be mulling over fixing a floor price for telecom services. 
  • This shifts the burden to the weary consumers. In a sector with about four operators, the TSPs should be wise enough to adjust their pricing and revenue-earning strategies, so that they don’t incur loss. 
  • The list of burning issues is the Interconnect Usage Charge, especially the Mobile Termination Charge (
  • MTC) which is to be paid by the originating carrier to the terminating carrier for voice calls. 
  • While TRAI has re-initiated the consultation process on its plan to reduce the MTC from the current level of 6 paise per minute, the ecosystem in the country will not permit MTC reduction to zero any time soon. 
  • Unless the penetration of mobile broadband nears 100 per cent (from the current level of about 30 per cent), reduction of costs for mobile termination cannot be brought down. 
  • Even if it is a pure packet-switched call, the marginal cost of terminating it cannot be ignored due to the associated spectrum and infrastructure cost. 

Planned merger

  • The decision taken to merge BSNL and MTNL has been a right one, considering the loss incurred due to MTNL’s diseconomies of scale. 
  • With the merger and the financial support given by the government, the new BSNL-MTNL entity should be mandated to compete effectively against the private operators, fulfilling their national goal of connecting rural and semi-urban areas of the country. 
  • Procurement policies of the entity should be made less stringent, so that it can deploy infrastructure especially 4G mobile broadband network quickly to overcome the lost time. 
  • Effective utilisation of the large assets of the combined entity across the country should commence so that it can become EBITDA-positive soon.

Conclusion 

  • With the merged BSNL-MTNL entity providing effective competition to private operators, the telecom market will soon become vibrant. 
  • But unless the underlying telecom and broadband services improve both in price and quality, a Digital India is a pipe dream.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) According to the data tabled in the Lok Sabha by the Ministry of Environment, which of the following species are considered extinct in India?

1. Pygmy hog
2. Sumatran rhinoceros
3. Pink-headed duck
4. Cheetah

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A.   2 and 4 only
B.   1, 2 and 3 only
C.   2, 3 and 4 only
D.   1 and 2 only

Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Do you think the stiff licence fees and spectrum usage charges will impair the capacity of telecom majors to invest in infrastructure? 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 November 2019 (Expedient exit (The Hindu))



Expedient exit (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 3 : Economy 
  • Prelims level : Disinvestment 
  • Mains level : Reason behind disinvestment 

Context

  • Recently the Cabinet has decided to approve strategic disinvestment of the government’s shareholding in five public sector enterprises including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Shipping Corporation of India and the Container Corporation of India.
  • In this context, it is necessary to understand the meaning of disinvestment, its need, issues and way forward.

What is disinvestment?

  • Public Sector Enterprises have Government shareholding not less than 51% and disinvestment is the process of reducing the government shareholding in such companies.

What are the reasons for this decision?

  • The government has a ₹1.05 lakh crore disinvestment target of which, only ₹17,364 crores has been realised till now.
  • A massive shortfall in revenue and capital receipts — as of September 30, net tax revenue had only reached 36.8% of the budget estimate of ₹16.5 lakh crore for the full year, while non-debt capital receipts(disinvestment etc.) were at 17.2% of the fiscal’s target of about ₹1.2 lakh crore according to the Controller General of Accounts.It is aimed at helping the government narrow the yawning fiscal gap.

What are the underlying issues?

  • It is alleged that the lack of an explanation for the logic behind the move also hints at politics taking precedence over any economic interest.

Way forward

  • Thus it is opined that only 4 more months left in the present fiscal year, the government needs to move ahead with its decision of disinvestment fast.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the Pliosaur, consider the following statements:

1. They were the largest aquatic carnivorous reptiles that have ever lived and are often dubbed “sea monsters”.
2. Recently its remains were discovered in the Polish village of Krzyzanowice.
Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above

Ans: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What is disinvestment? What are the reasons for this decision? What are the underlying issues?

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 November 2019 (Gloom deepens (The Hindu))



Gloom deepens (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 3 : Economy 
  • Prelims level : Index of industrial production
  • Mains level : Present issues in Industrial Production

Context

  • The latest index of industrial production (IIP) estimates from the NSO show that output shrank by 4.3% in September, with all three component sectors in the index — manufacturing, mining and electricity — posting contractions

What is the Index of Industrial Production?

  • It is an index for India which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity and manufacturing.
  • The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period which presently in India is 2011-12.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

What are the present issues?

  • Consumer durables also posted a fourth straight contraction, with the 9.9% decline appearing in stark contrast to September 2018’s 5.4% growth.
  • 17 of the 23 industry groups that comprise the manufacturing sector contracted.
  • Motor vehicles industry posted a 25% contraction.
  • Manufacturing having a weight of almost 78% in the IIP, the latest report from IHS Markit gives little room for optimism. The survey based Purchasing Managers’ Index revealed continuing manufacturing sector weakness in October as weakening demand hurt new orders and business sentiment

What are the reasons for the dip?

  • Low rural demand
  • Low investors’ confidence

What are the measures taken in this regard?

  • The Centre’s announcement of a funding initiative to help stalled housing projects ought to provide some fillip in the coming months.

Way forward

  • Thus it is opined that the demand needs to be increased by the help of structural reforms while the Central Bank needs to lower interest rates for the revival in the time being.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), consider the following statements:

1. It will be funded and managed by NITI Aayog. 

2. It primarily aims at creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia. 

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above

Ans: B

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What is the Index of Industrial Production? What are the present issues?

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 November 2019 (Not so fast (Indian Express))



Not so fast (Indian Express)



  • Mains Paper 2: Polity
  • Prelims level : RTI Act
  • Mains level : Relationship between RTI and Judiciary

Context:

  • On November 13, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court passed its order in the Subhash Agarwal matter, bringing a closure to cases pending resolution for nearly 10 years. 
  • The five-judge Supreme Court bench recently disposed of the civil appeals its own registry had filed before it. 
  • In the process, the bench, in a dissertation length order, has delved deep into the concepts of fiduciary relationship, public interest, privacy, confidentiality and independence of judiciary 
  • It cast an onerous duty on its Central Public Information Officer to decide on disclosure of the information taking into account the observations of the court.

Background:

  • Everyone knows that a lot of information held by public authorities about the appointment, performance, conduct, complaints and inquiries against public servants, is personal in nature and the CPIO has to refer to the principles laid down in this order to decide if the information should be disclosed or not. 
  • In case the information relates to courts or judges, his problem is further compounded for he has also to consider the impact of disclosure on the independence of the judiciary. 
  • This calls for great judicial acumen, rarely to be expected from the level of officers who become CPIOs. 
  • Most CPIOs would choose to steer clear and refuse disclosure by invoking Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act and leave the information seekers to appeal against their orders. 
  • In fact, even before this order, information officers have been routinely denying such information on this precise ground.

Timeline of RTI:

  • The RTI has entered the 15th year of its existence. 
  • It met its first major challenge when the central government refused to disclose the file noting. 
  • The CIC held that file noting was also information and must be disclosed and the government at the highest level relented. 
  • The second challenge came when Subhash Agarwal sought information from the Supreme Court regarding collegium proceedings, personal assets of judges and alleged executive pressure on a high court judge. 
  • This information was denied on the ground that it was held by the CJI who was not a public authority and hence outside the RTI. 
  • The Supreme Court Registry challenged the CIC’s order in Delhi High Court which, too, ordered in Agarwal’s favour. The registry appealed in the Supreme Court which after 10 long years has finally decided that the CJI is a public authority and comes under the RTI Act.
  • The third major challenge came when the CIC order bringing political parties under the RTI was summarily disobeyed and it could do nothing. 
  • They have also realised that one sure way of blocking the orders of the information commissions is to go to the high courts or the Supreme Court and get a stay; the natural delay in those courts would kill the information.

Relationship between RTI and Judiciary:

  • The relationship of the RTI with the judiciary has been fraught from the beginning. 
  • Since the RTI Act conferred powers on the chief justice of the Supreme Court of India and the chief justices of high courts of states for carrying out its provisions, all these courts framed their own rules. 
  • The Supreme Court adopted the RTI-friendly rules of the central government for itself, several high courts framed extremely unfriendly rules, making it almost impossible to get any information. 
  • even contemplated in the RTI Act. 
  • Over the years, the courts have softened those rules but even now they continue to be restrictive, preventing easy disclosure of information.

Significance of RTI Act: 

  • The RTI Act makes the information commissions the final appellate authorities in their respective jurisdictions. 
  • But that does not stop public authorities, government entities, from going to the high courts and the Supreme Court in writs. Some orders passed by the central information commission did reach the Supreme Court eventually. 
  • In most such cases, the interpretation of the exemption provisions by the court reinforced not the right of the citizens to get information from the government but the resolve of the public authorities not to disclose uncomfortable information. 
  • In the Girish Deshpande case, the Supreme Court ruled that the relationship between the government and its employees was a personal one and hence no information about a government employee could be disclosed unless the information seeker could prove that it was in public interest. 
  • Under this interpretation of Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, even information about disciplinary proceedings against a government employee, irrespective of how serious the allegations against him might be, could not be disclosed by the information officer without putting it to the public interest test. 
  • This order has become very popular among information officers and many RTI applications are being rejected by citing it.

Conclusion:

  • For citizens seeking information, there are many such orders passed by the high courts and the Supreme Court which have directly or indirectly shrunk their right and strengthened the hands of the government. 
  • The present order is likely to be used by information officers to block disclosure of all such information of a personal nature. 
  • One wished that the court had spelt out more clearly those items of personal information, of the executive or the judiciary, which the CPIOs could disclose without adjudication of its benefits for the general public.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the ‘ozone hole’, consider the following statements:

1. It is a region in the stratosphere, directly above Antarctica. 
2. NASA recently reported that, an “ozone hole”, which builds up over the Antarctic region this time of the year, has been found to be the smallest since it was first discovered in the 1980s. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Describe the evolution of the relationship between RTI with the judiciary has been fraught from the beginning. 

 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 November 2019 (CLC de criminalising 46 penal provisions (Indian Express))



CLC de criminalising 46 penal provisions (Indian Express)



  • Mains Paper 2: Polity
  • Prelims level : Company Law Committee
  • Mains level : Key recommendations of the Committee

Context:

  • The report of the Company Law Committee-2019 was presented to the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs by Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, who chaired the Committee. 

About:

  • The Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in September, 2019 to further decriminalise the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 based on their gravity and to take other concomitant measures to provide further Ease of Living for corporates in the country.
  • The Committee has proposed amendments in 46 penal provisions, so as to either remove criminality, or to restrict the punishment to only fine, or to allow rectification of defaults through alternative methods, which would lead to de-clogging of the criminal justice system.

Key recommendations of the Committee:

  • Re-categorising 23 offences out of the 66 remaining compoundable offences under the Act, to be dealt with in the in-house adjudication framework wherein these defaults would be subject to a penalty levied by an adjudicating officer.
  • In addition, the quantum of penalties recommended are lower than the quantum of fines presently provided in the Act.
  • Retention of status-quo in case of the non-compoundable offences.
  • Proposing benches of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal;
  • Extending applicability of Section 446B (lower penalties for small companies and one person companies) to all provisions which attract monetary penalties and extending the benefit to producer companies and start-ups also;
  • Providing power to enhance the thresholds which trigger applicability of Corporate Social Responsibility provisions;
  • Providing for appeal against the orders of the Regional Directors before the NCLT after due examination;
  • Exempting certain private placement requirements for Qualified Institutional Placements (QIPs) after due consultation with SEBI;

Way forward:

  • The CLC has also highlighted certain areas that require wider consultation and need to be taken up in due course at a later stage.
  • These include providing for appeal against the orders of the Regional Directors before the NCLT after due examination; 
  • Exempting certain private placement requirements for Qualified Institutional Placements (QIPs) after due consultation with SEBI; 
  • Reviewing provisions on disqualification of directors after due consultation and examination; and reviewing provisions in respect of debarment of audit firms after due consultation and examination.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the Article 142 of Indian Constitution, consider the following statements: 

1. The objective of Article 142(1) is that the Supreme Court must not be dependent on the executive for the enforcement of its decrees and orders. 
2. In Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India (1998), it was decided that this article can be used to over-ride the existing law.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the key recommendations made by Company Law Committee?

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 November 2019 (Senseless: On nationwide NRC (The Hindu))



Senseless: On nationwide NRC (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 2: Polity 
  • Prelims level : National Register of Citizens
  • Mains level : Drawbacks of Citizenship Amendment Bill

Context:

  • The proposal for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) is worrisome on several counts. The government, he said, would also re-introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Parliament that envisages the grant of Indian citizenship to all refugees from minority communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Provisions of the CAB:

  • The Bill effectively denies benefit to Muslim minorities from other neighbouring countries, including Myanmar where Rohingya Muslims face persecution. 
  • Home Minister announced that the NRC process would “naturally” be conducted in Assam again with the rest of the country.
  • The Assam proposal will be in defiance of the Supreme Court, which directed the entire NRC registration specific to Assam through all its tortuous details. 

Drawbacks of the CAB:

  • There is still no clarity on what the end results mean for the 19 lakh plus people who find themselves outside the NRC, potentially stateless and at risk of “deportation” to Bangladesh, which refuses to acknowledge, let alone accept, them. 
  • The NRC process in Assam was rooted in the specificities of the 1985 Assam Accord, and as the government never tires of saying, a court-mandated process, extending it to the entire country is both illogical and bizarre. 
  • It might have been flawed, but the NRC exercise, overseen by the Supreme Court, involved the active participation of the Central and State governments. 

Way ahead:

  • The government to repeat the exercise merely because the numbers thrown up are politically inconvenient for the ruling BJP, makes no sense at all.
  • If there is a lesson from Assam, it is that there is no right way of going through a process such as the NRC. 
  • It pointedly discriminates against Muslims, and is loaded against the right to equality and equal protection before the law as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution, there are genuine fears that a nationwide NRC will target Muslims. 
  • Details of how such an exercise will be carried out are, of course, not yet known. In the case of Assam, there was a cut-off date — March 25, 1971 — after which all foreigners as per the Assam Accord were to be “detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law”. 
  • The Centre will come out with a cut-off for the nationwide NRC, but it will be an arbitrary one.

Conclusion:

  • Given the dangers that lurk within such exercises, the government would do well to abandon the nationwide NRC-CAB combination. Indians can certainly be spared this pain.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the Cyclone Bulbul, consider the following statements:

1. It is an active tropical cyclone which struck the Indian state of West Bengal at Category 2 hurricane-equivalent intensity. 
2. It is first tropical cyclone ever recorded to regenerate over the Andaman Sea, having crossed Southeast Asia overland.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What is the Citizenship amendment bill? What are the limitations of the bill?

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 November 2019 (A blow against punitive constitutionalism (The Hindu))



A blow against punitive constitutionalism (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 2: Polity 
  • Prelims level : Beggary Act
  • Mains level : Judgement on the Beggary Act

Context:

  • Independence and the Constitution were supposed to herald a new dawn, the reality turned out to be different. 
  • The post-colonial Indian state replicated many of the worst excesses of the British regime. 
  • One glaring example of this is the “beggary law”, which was enacted in Bombay in 1958, and later extended to many States and Union Territories. 
  • These draconian laws criminalise itinerant and nomadic communities, i.e., effectively anyone who does not fit the state’s definition of a “normal” citizen. And in establishing a system of “certified institutions” that are little better than detention centres, they facilitate the continued stigmatisation and incarceration of some of the most vulnerable and marginalised segments of society.

Judgement on the Beggary Act:

  • In a landmark verdict, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court struck down that state’s iteration of the Beggary Act.
  • In a detailed judgment, its Chief Justice Gita Mittal identified the colonial origins of the law and found it to be a gross violation of human dignity, equality, and freedom. 
  • The Chief Justice’s reasoning serves as a powerful reminder of the colonial vestiges that remain with us, seven decades after the birth of the constitutional republic. 
  • And, more importantly, it shows us a path to reach that ‘something of freedom that is yet to come’.

What do India’s beggary laws say? 

  • Among other things, “begging” is defined as “having no visible means of subsistence and wandering about or remaining in any public place... in such condition or manner, as makes it likely that the person doing so exists by soliciting or receiving alms”. 
  • Thus, beggary laws go substantially beyond criminalising the act of begging; rather, they criminalise people who are “wandering about” and who look like they might need to beg at some point. 
  • It is evident that the purpose of such provisions is not to protect public peace or prevent crimes, but to effectively “cleanse” these spaces of individuals who appear poor or destitute. It is the legislative equivalent of shops putting up “spikes” outside their doors and windows to prevent rough sleeping.

Substance of these laws:

  • People found “begging” can be arrested without a warrant, and after a summary procedure, thrown into “Beggars’ Homes” for anything between a year and three years. 
  • Upon a “second offence”, the punishment could extend up to seven years. More specifically, the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Rules, framed under J&K’s version of the Act.
  • It authorised forced medical examinations of “beggars” taken in police custody, “shaving” of hair and “removal of clothing” in order to undertake the euphemistically-phrased “cleansing” of the body.

The court’s analysis

  • The Chief Justice began by discussing the origins of beggary statutes in England. 
  • Under the belief that people without settled — and visible — means of sustenance were a threat to society, a number of “vagrancy statutes” were enacted and served as precursors to the beggary laws. 
  • In India, begging was first criminalised in the 1920s, as part of a colonial logic that sought to “subjugate certain communities by imputing criminality to them.”
  • The High Court then made the crucial observation that “begging and homelessness are indicators of abject, chronic poverty.” 
  • And poverty, the court noted further, had social causes: “Beggary is a manifestation of the fact that the person has fallen through the socially created net. 
  • It is evidence of the fact that the State has failed to ensure that all citizens have even the basic essential facilities.
  • The court, therefore, rejected the pernicious world view according to which poverty is a consequence of individual failings, and recognised that the primary failing was that of the state.

Addressed on fundamental rights:

  • As “begging” was a peaceful method by which a person sought to communicate their situation to another, and solicit their assistance, it was protected under Article 19(1)(a)’s freedom of speech guarantee. 
  • The government’s stated justification for criminalising “begging” — that of turning people into “good citizens” — was vague and undefined; nor was it demonstrated how incarcerating “beggars” into homes would transform them into “good citizens”. The constitutional violation, thus, could not be justified. 
  • The court also noted that by criminalising “wandering about” in public spaces, the law effectively attempted to exclude the poor and the marginalised from places that, by definition, were meant “for the enjoyment of every member of the public without exception.” Thus, the law also violated the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of movement.
  • Additionally, the court noted that there existed a large number of itinerant communities such as the Gujjars and the Bakarwals, whose very nature of existence — moving from place to place, and displaying none of the “conventional means of subsistence” — would bring them within the ambit of the beggary law. 
  • As the court pointedly asked: “Does ‘visible means of subsistence’ envisage waving your economic prosperity in public spaces? Or is it sufficient to have a hefty bank balance?”

Submerging individual rights

  • Recent years have seen the rise of a phenomenon that can best be described as “punitive constitutionalism”. 
  • Punitive constitutionalism seeks to submerge individual rights to a grand yet often undefined national project by holding that an individual may be stripped of their rights if they do not do their bit to contribute to this project. 
  • The laws barring political participation to those who have more than two children  or who lack formal education, effectively make freedom and equality conditional upon the state’s vision of what a “good citizen” should be like. Rights, then, are no longer about being human, but about earning the right to be treated as a human.

Way forward:

  • The beggary laws belong within this same family of punitive constitutionalism. 
  • The Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s judgment, therefore — which is explicitly premised upon the unconstitutionality of “invisiblising” a social problem by criminalising it.
  • It shows us the exact way in which our Constitution rejects this harsh world view. For that, it must be applauded.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the National Entrepreneurship Awards 2019, consider the following statements:

1. The awards aim to recognize and honour the outstanding young First-Generation Entrepreneurs, and Ecosystem builders. 
2. There were 4 special categories for the awards including Women Entrepreneur, Entrepreneur from SC/ST Category, Entrepreneur from People with Disability category, Entrepreneur from difficult areas.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Describe the highlights of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s verdict on the Beggary Act.

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 November 2019 (Let us prioritize employment over labour protection (Mint))



Let us prioritize employment over labour protection (Mint)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy  
  • Prelims level : Not much 
  • Mains level : Coordinated efforts to liberalize the engagement of labour

Context

  • The Narendra Modi government, at the start of its first term, did attempt land reforms; it promulgated nine ordinances, one after the other, which eventually lapsed after failing to get Rajya Sabha approval. 
  • Recently, Parliament legislated a new labour code, amalgamating the provisions of several acts. 
  • Provident Fund benefits have been extended to temporary/contract employees. 

Coordinated efforts to liberalize the engagement of labour:

  • Labour reforms tend to have political consequences. The vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, while talking about labour reforms, has been clear that there would be no “hire and fire" policy. 
  • While wages in India are low, the cost of labour is higher than in other Asian countries. 
  • Improving labour productivity, which is a serious impediment to the expansion of manufacturing, warrants investment in technology and scaling up the size of Indian enterprises.

Indian economy scenario:

  • India’s quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth has fallen to 5% in the first three months of the current fiscal year, with obvious consequences. 
  • The country now faces the challenge of low aggregate demand—caused, inter alia, by rising unemployment. 
  • While the Code on Wages, 2017, which stipulates a national floor minimum wage, has the potential to mitigate the effects of declining demand, without large-scale employment generation, its benefits cannot be realized.

Steps taken to boost up employment: 

  • Trade wars between the US and China, and Japan and Korea, have combined with demographic issues in those geographies to inspire significant shifts in manufacturing locations, particularly away from China. 
  • This offers an opportunity to welcome factories to India and join global supply chains. 
  • The Modi government has taken the bold step of bringing down corporate tax rates to a level comparable with other jurisdictions, especially in Asia. 
  • This decision is expected to aid the economy in the medium to long term, its full benefits can be reaped only if manufacturing units move to India.

If there is no employment, whom do we protect? 

  • Currently, 95% of employment in India is generated by agriculture, businesses in the informal economy, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 
  • No aspect of India’s labour protection law, except perhaps the minimum wage, applies to them.
  • This is not to suggest giving a complete go-by to labour protection laws. 
  • However, employment may rise if companies could hire well beyond 300 people without worrying about restrictions on layoffs during downturns. 
  • Ask an unemployed person whether he wants a job or job protection, and most likely he would want a job first. 
  • Once adequate employment opportunities are created, the government can deal with welfare issues. 
  • It could create a fund from the extra tax revenues, for example, for the purpose. Simply put, the order should be reversed from “first protect and then employ" to “first employ and then create welfare measures". 
  • This is exactly what China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and other Asian Tigers have done to attract global manufacturing.

Case study – China:

  • China created special economic zones and allowed businesses complete freedom to perform, with no conditions imposed. 
  • This attracted hordes of investors. 
  • The model has since been replicated countrywide. India’s Special Economic Zones, in contrast, have largely been tax-saving and land-grabbing exercises.
  • More than 80% of the export of manufacturing goods from China was done by enterprises that were 100% foreign owned. 
  • China has benefited from the employment of Chinese labour and the value addition involved. It would be worthwhile to explore a similar approach.

Way forward:

  • The earnestness of the Modi government to enhance the economic prosperity of India is undoubted.
  • It has taken bold steps to improve the fundamentals of India’s economy. 
  • However, without land and labour reforms, the speed of economic growth cannot be accelerated, nor can the country’s demographic dividend be maximized. 
  • Every opportunity has a timeline. And the daring harness it optimally.

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), consider the following statements:

1. OCI is a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
2. An applicant is eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Bangladesh.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.1 only
B.2 only
C.Both
D.None 

Answer: A

Mains Questions: 
Q.1) For boosting up economic growth, land and labour both are require. Critically examine the statement.

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 November 2019 (What future generations learn can’t be left to private schools (Mint))



What future generations learn can’t be left to private schools (Mint)



  • Mains Paper 2: Education 
  • Prelims level : Public education 
  • Mains level : Reforms in public education

Context

  • Schools that are funded largely by tax revenues generated by the State, and run by the State through any of its bodies are called public schools, except in some countries such as the UK and India where the term could refer to private residential schools as well. 
  • Such a system of schools is what constitutes public education. This commonly shared understanding is usually quite adequate. 
  • However, this notion deserves closer scrutiny, with people’s expectations from education soaring and delivery falling way short.

What is “public" in public education? 

  • At its core, it is about being equally available to all. It is also about people coming together to further the public good through education. 
  • So, the word “public" has at least two aspects: for whom—equally for all; and, for what and why—for the public good.
  • With these meanings of “public", it becomes apparent that the State may be well suited to conduct such education. 
  • Nevertheless, state education is a mechanism and not always the same thing as public education. For example, in a totalitarian state, the state school system indoctrinates students to support the regime and its grip on power. 
  • This is state education, not public education, because it is not for the good of people at large.

The importance of public education for a democracy: 

  • To build and keep a democracy, a society needs the capacities and commitments that arise from public education, which serve a dual and entwined purpose—of socialization for all citizens to be equal and empowered.
  • If the curriculum were to change to suit the idiosyncratic needs of certain groups, or bend to ideology, ignoring truth, public education would no longer be public, since that would not further the public good.
  • It could also get undermined insidiously, energized by notions like “education for the economy", “education for employability", and so on. In themselves, these sentiments are unexceptionable. Corrosion happens when these reflect an implicit or explicit intent to give primacy to the economic aims of education over all else.

Economic objective in public education:

  • Economic aims are important to public education. 
  • For citizens to be equal and empowered, their economic well-being and capacity for achieving the same are crucial. 
  • But narrowing expectations, curricula and practices to serve economic aims as the top priority gnaws away at public education. 
  • It makes education serve the market and its dominant groups, not the public good.
  • In theory, a public-spirited private school can mirror public education if it follows a curriculum that is designed for the public good and is equally available to all, irrespective of socio-economic status. 
  • The second condition cannot be met by private schools if they recover their costs from students, since this would exclude the economically disadvantaged. 
  • This has led to the notion of publicly-funded private schools, which can then purportedly offer public education.

Missing public-spirited private schools: 

  • Most private schools are profit-minded, not public-spirited. 
  • For entrepreneurs, a school is just another enterprise. 
  • This is natural, particularly when education by its very nature grants asymmetric power to schools over parents and students. 
  • Too many abuse this power to cut every cost and enhance every revenue stream with mere lip service to education. 
  • Such schools do not provide equal access to all. They also create significant social barriers of exclusivity.

Way ahead:

  • It can be anticipated if we keep sight of the fundamentals and do not get swayed by market-fundamentalism. 
  • One of those fundamentals is that private entities establish and run schools, with a few notable exceptions, for private purposes—profit, prestige, and political influence—while wearing a thin veil of commitment to the public good.
  • Entities that are neither established nor run for the public good cannot miraculously produce the public good against their basic intent. 
  • Private schools cannot deliver true public education.

Conclusion:

  • So, a public education system can only be on the basis of a system of state schools. 
  • A state schooling system may not always offer public education, but public education cannot happen without a sound state schooling system. 
  • Since public education is foundational to all efforts at developing a good society and vibrant democracy.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the National Capital Region (NCR), consider the following statements:

1. National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) was constituted by the Act of Parliament in 1985, as a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
2. As per a report by United Nation, Delhi is slated to become the world’s largest metropolis overtaking Tokyo by 2028. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.1 only
B.2 only
C.Both
D.None 

Answer: C

Mains Questions: 
Q.1) What is “public" in public education? Describe the importance of public education for a democracy.

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 November 2019 (Politics should not meddle with our official statistics (Mint))



Politics should not meddle with our official statistics (Mint)



  • Mains Paper 2: Governance 
  • Prelims level : National Sample Survey
  • Mains level : Equilibrium between politics and statistics 

Context

  • The National Statistical Office is making headlines again; this time, over the non-release of the results of the 75th round (2017-2018) of the National Sample Survey (NSS).

Reasons:

  • Its report allegedly revealed a decline in average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in real terms compared to 2011-12. 
  • The government decided not to release the results, and indicated that it is examining the feasibility of conducting the next survey in 2020-2021 and 2021-22.

Issue with official data:

  • T.N. Srinivasan and others refer to as India’s downfall “from being the world leader in surveys" to a country “with a serious data problem".
  • Indeed, as S.L. Shetty pointed out, India’s “official statistical collection machinery has been in decline for more than two decades".
  • Our governments have repeatedly interfered with various official statistics. 
  • The NSSs have been in the limelight because of this for almost a decade.

Introduction of NSS:

  • The NSSs are the primary means to track household consumer expenditure and poverty. 
  • Led by P.C. Mahalanobis initially, several economists and statisticians contributed to the design and development of the NSSs. 
  • American statistician Harold Hotelling is said to have remarked, “No technique of random sample has, so far as I can find, been developed in the United States or elsewhere, which can compare in accuracy with that described by professor Mahalanobis." 
  • However, beginning with the 1970s, political interference began to corrode trust in government statistics.

Performance in the past:

  • In 1973, in the run-up to the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974–79), B.S. Minhas resigned from the Planning Commission over differences on the misuse of data to present a rosy picture of the economy. 
  • This was when the National Sample Survey Organization carried out two large-scale surveys in quick succession. 
  • The 27th round of 1972-73 was followed by the 28th in 1973-74, possibly because 1972-73 was a drought year. 
  • The Task Force on Minimum Needs and Effective Consumption Demand relied on the 28th round, even though it might not have been able to account for seasonality.
  • Two decades later, when governments were struggling with lacklustre outcomes of economic reforms, the 55th round (1999-2000) of the NSS stirred a controversy over the lack of inter-temporal comparability of its MPCE estimates. 

NSS performance in the last decade:

  • The 66th round of the NSS (2009-10) proved controversial because it showed that employment generation fell significantly short of the target of the 11th Five Year Plan. 
  • Official statisticians argued that since the GDP series could not be rebased using data from an “abnormal year", another large scale survey was conducted in 2011-12. 
  • The government also delayed the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey, which was eventually held after the 2014 polls. 
  • A 2011 Economic and Political Weekly editorial pointed out that “A pattern seems to have emerged of the government wanting to dismiss its own data... Doubts were cast earlier on the poverty numbers, then on the inflation indices and now it is the turn of the employment...."
  • Unlike the 27th and 66th round when the results were released but superseded by fresh surveys, the Centre has gone a step further by deciding not to release the results of the 75th round of NSS.

Way ahead:

  • The NSS is not the only casualty of this government’s cavalier approach to official statistics. 
  • Several other surveys and committees have seen their reports either delayed or trashed, while revisions have eroded trust in national accounts. 
  • The government also delayed the release of several tables of the 2011 Census, which should have been made public by Manmohan Singh’s government.

Conclusion:

  • Statistical institutions are insulated from political interference.
  • The government’s contention that the NSSs are unable to capture changing patterns of consumption is not entirely untrue.
  • That does not obviate the need to shield statistical bodies from politics.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for skill’, consider the following statements:

1. Certified candidates are trained and assessed on their skill set under the Recognition of prior Learning program of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) of MSDE. 
2. RPL recognizes and certifies skills acquired through informal means, bringing about a major shift from un-organized sector to organized economy.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A.    1 only
B.    2 only
C.    Both
D.    None 

Answer: C

Mains Questions: 
Q.1) What is the NSS data? How it is significant for country economy? 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 November 2019 (An opening: On Telangana transport workers strike (The Hindu))



An opening: On Telangana transport workers strike (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy 
  • Prelims level : Not much 
  • Mains level : Transport sector reforms 

Context

  • The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation-Joint Action Committee (TSRTC-JAC) that coordinated the strike by transport unions has finally said that it is ready to call off the strike. 

Steps taken by the Court: 

  • The welcome move follows a High Court decision to direct the State Labour Commissioner to refer the dispute to a labour court which would also adjudicate on the legality of the strike. 
  • The court refrained from declaring the strike as illegal while also refusing to direct the State government and the corporation to negotiate with the striking workers. 
  • But it took a sympathetic stand about the perilous state of the workers and their families after the government had “dismissed” nearly the entire workforce and emphasised the point that the State is legally bound to look after the workers. 

Highlights of the court’s observations:

  • Two dozen transport workers have died following the start of the agitations, some committing suicide due to the stress of losing their jobs. Clearly this tragic situation is untenable. 
  • The High Court order provided an opening to the workers to seek to end the strike, leading to their demand that the State government should retain their services unconditionally. 
  • The government is yet to respond, but it must be said that its decision to “dismiss” the workers after conciliation talks had failed, was high-handed and legally suspect. 
  • The efforts to find replacement staff, in order to minimise the disruption, have not worked too well, as the erratic services and sporadic accidents in the last month-and-a-half have indicated. 

Role of Corporation:

  • It is in everyone’s interest that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti-led government brings back normalcy by reinstating the workers in accordance with the court’s sage advice.
  • The Corporation had indicated to the court that it will augment its services by buying 1,035 new buses; this was one of the key demands of the striking workers who complained about the ageing fleet. 
  • Reinstating the workers should pave the way for fresh negotiations between the workers and the management of the Corporation and the government to find ways to bring back sustainability in the finances and functioning of public transport in the State. 
  • Modernisation of transport services with the deployment of new buses, identification of proper routes and services using information technology among other reforms are the need of the hour. 

Conclusion:

  • These should benefit not just the users of public transport but also the workers. For such reforms to be implemented, the support from the State government is imperative. 
  • It is high time that the government seeks to reassure all stakeholders that it is keen on working towards these. 
  • For starters, it must reverse the decisions it has taken since the agitations by the transport workers began a month-and-a-half ago.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), consider the following statements:

1. OCI is a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
2. An applicant is eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Bangladesh.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.    1 only
B.    2 only
C.    Both
D.    None 

Answer: A

Mains Questions: 
Q.1) What are the steps needed to improve transport sector in India? 

 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 November 2019 (Crop insurance woes (The Hindu))



Crop insurance woes (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy 
  • Prelims level : Crop insurance
  • Mains level : Role of PMFBY 

Context

  • First time since its inception in February 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) faces the prospect of claims far exceeding the premiums collected. 
  • Even as the extent of crop damage remains uncertain on the whole, reports of crop loss in Maharashtra range from 54 lakh hectares, acknowledged officially, to 90 lakh hectares, out of the 140 lakh hectares of cultivated area in the State. 
  • Heavy rain also impacted Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, ravaging maize, pulses, paddy, cotton, soyabean, jowar, bajra, groundnut, sugarcane and horticulture crops.

Cautions over PMFBY: 

  • In Maharashtra, farmers have protested paltry compensation for their losses, amidst a growing perception that the PMFBY is tilted towards insurance players.
  • It has been reported that four major private insurance players have not bid for the PMFBY this year, citing an unviable business model. 
  • Over the last three years of PMFBY, insurance companies have collected more by way of premiums than they have disbursed through claims. 
  • There is nothing wrong with this, if the claims themselves are low. 
  • However, if the compensation, yield estimates and premiums have been miscalculated, it is a serious issue. 
  • The industry has complained of issues in dealing with the local bureaucracy and political machinery. Overall, a host of implementation issues need to be fixed.

Role of PMFBY:

  • The PMFBY was meant to enhance risk cover for farmers. In 2018-19, 5.64 crore farmers enrolled under the scheme, covering a gross cropped area of 30 per cent. 
  • The challenge ahead is to ensure that premiums, assessments of loss and payment of compensation work satisfactorily and transparently for all stakeholders. 
  • Farmers must be aware of how their premiums are worked out, and their losses calculated. For instance, some farmers in Maharashtra are of the view that the average yield of a region, against which the actual yield is compared and the loss ascertained, is underestimated. 
  • Insurance officials, however, contend that farmers at times act in collusion with State government officials in manipulating the results of crop cutting experiments (CCEs), meant to estimate actual yields; these CCEs, they argue, exaggerate the losses. 
  • It has earlier reported consistently high claims of damage in the case of groundnut in Gujarat, which were not borne out by mandi arrivals. 
  • These regions also fork out premiums as high as 50 per cent of the sum assured, against the nationwide norm of 18-20 per cent (with the States and the Centre bearing 98 per cent of the cost).

Way forward:

  • The IRDAI should look into irregularities in premium and compensation. 
  • Insurance firms should use their resources to conduct CCEs to their satisfaction. 
  • Crop insurance is a tricky business. Yet, it is indispensable for the future of agriculture.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which of the following are the objectives of Steel Scrap Recycling Policy?
1. To promote 6Rs principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Redesign and Remanufacture through scientific handling, processing and disposal of all types of recyclable scraps including non-ferrous scraps, through authorized centers / facility.
2. To create a mechanism for treating waste streams and residues produced from dismantling and shredding facilities in compliance to Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 issued by MoEF and CC.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.    1 only
B.    2 only
C.    Both
D.    None 

Answer: C

Mains Questions: 
Q.1) Describe the role of PMFBY to crop insurance sector. What are the reasons behind not participating private insurance players into the scheme? 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 November 2019 (Can economics be of the people, for the people and by the people? (Mint))



Can economics be of the people, for the people and by the people? (Mint)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy 
  • Prelims level: RCTs
  • Mains level:  Economic growth, development and responsibility 

Context:

  • Abhijeet Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer’s Nobel Prize for ‘randomised control trials’ or RCTs brought back fond memories of our Masters in Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. 
  • After the announcement of the Nobel Prize 2019, there was a lot of replugging of articles written by people who disagreed with the RCT and the results it produced. 
  • As the saying goes, if you put two economists in a room, you will get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you would get three opinions. 

Example:

  • Privatisation of hospitals could require a broader analysis in the context of the implementation of Ayushman Bharat, but providing vegetarian or non-vegetarian food to students is more likely to be area-specific – small and manageable problems, as they are called.

Idea of Nyay programme:

  • In that context, Banerjee’s role in ideating the Nyay programme – giving 72,000 a year to the poorest (Rs 6,000 a month) – was a prominent election plank for the Congress. 
  • All and sundry criticised that it will mean higher taxes for corporates and high networth individuals. 
  • Well, the latter has already happened, and the corporate sector got relief only after the economic growth rate started faltering.

Case study:

  • Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s Rythu Bandhu scheme, which provides Rs 5,000 per acre per season has been a huge success. 
  • It has boosted consumption, and the state is one of the top ones in goods and services tax collections and needs minor or no compensation from the centre. 
  • So, money at the hands of the people is working. And KCR is a winner, politically.

Way forward:

  • If Congress really wants to show to people that it was serious about Banerjee’s proposal on Nyay, it should implement it in the five states – Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Puducherry - in which it is in power. 
  • The resource is a question. But state government can raise money through bonds, and if consumption is revived, tax collections follow. It can also be targeted and done in phases.
  • This would strengthen the view that like democracy, economics can be of the people, for the people and by the people.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Which of the following organisations has recently launched India’s first web repository documenting air quality studies done in the last 60 years?

A.     Centre for Science and Environment 
B.     Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune
C.     Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority
D.     None of the above.

Answer: D

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Can economics be of the people, for the people and by the people? 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 November 2019 (Figure it out (Indian Express))



Figure it out (Indian Express)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy 
  • Prelims level: Consumer expenditure
  • Mains level:  Reasons behind downfall of consumer expenditure 

Context:

  • The government’s decision to scrap the latest round of the consumption expenditure survey has dealt another blow to the independence of the Indian statistical system. 
  • The decision, which comes after it had initially suppressed the findings of the periodic labour force survey, lends further credence to the view that the current government is uncomfortable with data that is not in sync with its projected narrative. 

Reasons behind downfall in consumption expenditure:

  • The rationale for withdrawing the report, partly on grounds of divergence with national accounts data, is perplexing. 
  • This divergence is well known in academic circles and has been the subject of much debate. 
  • It is more probable that the results of the survey, carried out during a period when the economy was reeling from the effects of demonetisation and the shift to the goods and services tax, were unpalatable as they would have revealed the true extent of the shock to the system.

Highlights of the report:

  • The latest consumption expenditure survey shows that real household consumption fell by 3.7 per cent, to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18, from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12. 
  • As household expenditure accounts for a significant share of the economy, this data is at odds with official data which shows that the economy grew at 7.2 per cent in 2017-18. 
  • These surveys provide greater insight into the informal economy, these numbers, along with the unemployment data, suggest that the informal economy bore the brunt of both demonetisation and GST, which the high-frequency indicators, which largely capture the formal economy, were unable to reflect more accurately. 
  • The decision to reject this report has several implications. For one, it implies that there will not be an estimate of poverty for 2017-18. 
  • Now, after the last survey in 2011-12, it was widely expected that absolute poverty in India would have declined significantly. But the results of the survey, which show that rural consumption actually declined between 2011-12 and 2017-18, challenge this notion. 
  • As these surveys also form the basis of the estimation of inequality in India, and are used for adjusting the consumer price index as well as the GDP data, scrapping the survey means further delays in updating these key statistics.

Way forward:

  • In 2017-18 it could have announced plans to carry out another survey before parts of the report were published in the media, as was done in 2009-10. But, a more sober response would have been to release the data while acknowledging its limitations. 
  • Reliable and timely data form the bedrock of sound policy-making. 
  • Doubts over official data, as in the case of the controversy over the GDP figures, weaken the credibility of the entire statistical system. Suppressing data will only further erode it.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Feni River is a trans-boundary river that originates in which of the following states?
A.     Assam
B.     Mizoram
C.     Nagaland
D.     Tripura

Answer: D
Mains Questions:

Q.1) How downfalling consumption expenditure weakens credibility of statistical system?

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 November 2019 (Light spots in the dark (Indian Express))



Light spots in the dark (Indian Express)



  • Mains Paper 3: Economy 
  • Prelims level: NSSO 
  • Mains level:  Pros and cons for inclusion or exclusion of subsidiary employment

Context:

  • Employment has been the subject of much argument over the past few years and it appears that it will continue to be so. 
  • To understand how employment patterns are changing over time, we used the comparable PLFS and NSSO data of surveys conducted in 2004-5, 2011-12 and 2017-18. And within that, we analysed the employment reported as per usual primary status.

The methodology:

  • Within the ambit of the NSS surveys, there are two methods of calculating employment and unemployment. 
  • The usual primary method and the usual primary subsidiary method. We use the former, some others use the latter. 
  • There is nothing extraordinary about what we do and what others do, except that our aggregate results differ. 
  • Note that only the aggregate results differ, the patterns don’t, because we primarily look at the underlying patterns that make up the whole, while others concentrate on the aggregate figures be they related to employment or the other side of the coin, unemployment.

What is the difference? 

  • To put it simply, the NSS and, later, the PLFS questionnaire ask each person whether they were employed and what was their primary and subsidiary work.
  • Those who report their usual primary status to be homemakers, students, retired or unable to work tend to be classified as out of the labour force. 
  • Now the interesting thing is that some people who classify their primary activity to be not in the labour force may also take up some employment for a limited amount of time (less than six months). 
  • This is subsidiary employment that is for only a minor part of the preceding year.

Should it be included in the total employment figures? 

  • It is time policy focused only on primary employment and discard the Planning Commission method of adding subsidiary work to total employment figures.
  • Note, in the table, while usual principal status figures show a rise of about 45 million (row one) that of subsidiary status shows a fall of about 94 million (row two).
  • Of this 94 million, about 65 million (row four) already have a principal status, so it’s not that they are out of a job.
  • That mostly leaves those not in the labour force with a subsidiary status denoting work, their numbers have fallen by about 27.7 million (row six) and were about 12.8 million in 2017-18 — falling steadily throughout the period.

What are the pros and cons for inclusion or exclusion of subsidiary employment?

  • Moreover, adding subsidiary status jobs with principal status jobs will necessarily yield wrong insights into how employment is changing in an economy marked by rapid technology changes. 
  • That primary employment is rising gives us much hope to build upon. 
  • Analysing its patterns, as mentioned, will provide insights into how to accelerate those changes that are creating greater opportunities. 
  • The fall in subsidiary employment has a different colour, it needs to be addressed separately.

What work is done under subsidiary status? 

  • The bulk of the work is for household enterprises and most of that is unpaid. 

If that is falling, why is it of policy interest? 

  • There is a very large literature in the country on disguised unemployment and unproductive and extremely small household enterprises. 
  • Employment marked by subsidiary status largely reflects that element. We, instead, focus on the larger problem of primary employment.
  • We find many such dark spots — less educated, self-employed, the agri-cropping sector, many manufacturing segments, less-educated women, and rural areas. 
  • But we also find many bright spots — middle school educated, graduates, many personal services, livestock sector, and agriculture services. 
  • There is a deep structural shift occurring in the Indian economy and a fascinating and rich picture is emerging as more data is accessible.

Conclusion:

  • We would be more keen on a wider discussion on these patterns because that will better help devise economic policies that can impact employment more. 
  • Whoever estimates the numbers, it is time we moved away from the larger sob-stories of falling/stagnating employment towards where the light and dark spots are and what they reveal about a rapidly changing economic structure.

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Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) What is ‘CST-100 Starliner’, recently seen in news?

A. Unmanned safety test flight to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
B. New electric plane tested by SpaceX.
C. An anti-aircraft weapon system developed by U.S.A.
D. None of the above

Answer: A
Mains Questions:

Q.1) What are the pros and cons for inclusion or exclusion of subsidiary employment?
Q.2) What work is done under subsidiary status? If that is falling, why is it of policy interest? 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 November 2019 (A greater ease of living (The Hindu))



A greater ease of living (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 2: Social Justice 
  • Prelims level: National Food Security Act
  • Mains level:  Poverty alleviation scheme in rural regions 

Context:

  • Rural poverty in India has been the subject of discussion in recent times. 
  • Low increase in prices of agricultural commodities and the slower increase in rural agricultural wages have been seen by some as signs of a crisis for the rural poor.
  • Many acknowledge the role of pro-poor public welfare programmes over the last five years. 
  • It have recorded sharp declines in chronic poverty as also multi-dimensional poverty between 2005-06 to 2015-16. 
  • Indicators like nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, and assets determine multi-dimensional poverty. 
  • If that is the case, the performance between 2015-16 to now would be even more spectacular, considering the pro-poor public welfare thrust.

Understanding the context of the rural sector:

  • It is true that inflation rates have been very low, and inflation on agricultural produce even lower during the last five years. 
  • To availability of Rs 2 per kg wheat and Rs 3 per kg rice has become a reality across the country under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which was under implementation only in 11 states five years ago. 
  • The public subsidy for the NFSA is as high as Rs 1.76 lakh crore every year. This means that 75 per cent rural households that get NFSA foodgrains are able to buy at much below the market price. 
  • In 2019-20, a subsidy of Rs 33.02 per kg for rice and Rs 23.06 per kg for wheat was being given through the NFSA. For a family of five, this would mean a total subsidy of Rs 825.50 per month. 
  • Even if it is 100 per cent wheat, a family of five gets a total monthly subsidy of Rs 576.50. This needs to be factored in when understanding the lower increases in agriculture wages.
  • Public welfare programmes: Programmes like rural housing, rural toilets, LPG connections under Ujjwala, electricity connections to households under Saubhagya, enrollment for bank account, accident and life insurance, have all happened on a larger scale. 
  • From 10-12 lakh houses a year, 40-50 lakh houses are now being constructed annually. About 1.54 crore rural homes were completed in 2014-19.
  • Pro-poor welfare programmes:  It involve households contributing from their side. This is quite large in the case of rural housing (NIPFP study, 2018) as even poor households make aspirational homes, pulling together all their savings/borrowings for it. 
  • Swachh Bharat Mission toilets, enrolment in Ujjwala, Saubhagya, or in accident and life insurance, also draws on incomes/savings. It is bound to affect demand for goods purchased by the poor, in the short run.
  • This has been the period when the allocation for rural development programmes has gone up considerably from Rs 50,162 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 1.18 lakh crore in 2019-20. Add to this the state shares, which have increased to 60:40 instead of 75:25 or 100 per cent (in the case of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) from the central government for non-Himalayan states.
  • This has been the period when the 14th Finance Commission’s grants to gram panchayats have been released on an unprecedented scale. The annual releases are over three to four times the previous grants. 
  • Over Rs 2 lakh crore is to be released in five years, of which over Rs 1.44 lakh crore has already been provided and works done under it. Extra budgetary resources (EBRs) have also been mobilised for the housing programme.

Conclusion on data: 

  • These figures need to be understood in their full context before coming to a conclusion on rural poverty. 
  • Works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have continued to be in demand even though the wage rates fixed every year on the basis of the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPI-AL) have grown modestly on account of the cheap price of foodgrains. 
  • In 2018-19, over 268 crore person days of work was carried out, the second-highest ever. 
  • In the three preceding years, the demand for work was about 235 crore person days every year.

Increase of financial resources:

  • The Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) programme under which over Rs 2,12,000 crore has been provided as loans in the last five years. 
  • NPA has come down from over 7 per cent in 2013-14 to barely 2.2 per cent in 2018-19, clearly establishing that DAY-NRLM SHG women borrow and return on time. 
  • Significant and diverse livelihoods have been generated through such loans leading to higher incomes, more productive assets, and larger number of village enterprises.
  • The improvement in rural road connectivity has also been a significant development of this period, leading to 97 per cent eligible and feasible habitations as per the 2001 Census getting all weather road connectivity.
  • Rural households do not migrate to urban areas for very low paid jobs as survival is possible with improved rural infrastructure, housing, etc in rural areas now more than before. 
  • This explains the continuously high demand for work under the MGNREGS. 
  • This period has also witnessed a significant increase in individual beneficiary schemes like farm ponds, dug wells, animal sheds, vermi-composting etc under the MGNREGS which have all gone into creating durable assets and providing opportunities for higher incomes. 
  • More than 18 lakh individual farm ponds, 10 lakh vermi-compost, 7 lakh animal sheds, etc have come up in this period. 
  • Over 15 million hectares of land has benefited from water conservation works.

Conclusion:

  • The larger labour force available for the MGNREGA also reflects the unwillingness of a rural household with better infrastructure to go in for a distress migration with very low incomes in urban areas. 
  • An unprecedented pace in improving the ease of living of very poor households through public welfare programmes reaching them through better identification through the Socio Economic Census (SECC 2011), IT/DBT, geo-tagging, improved financial management and governance reforms.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) The Minister for Shipping recently inaugurated the first ever ‘BIMSTEC Ports’ Conclave’ at which of the following places?
A.    Visakhapatnam
B.    Delhi
C.    Chennai
D.    Surat

Answer: A

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the key reasons behind the rural households do not migrate to urban areas?

 

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 November 2019 (Iran on the boil: on nationwide protests (The Hindu))



Iran on the boil: on nationwide protests (The Hindu)



  • Mains Paper 2: International 
  • Prelims level: Not much 
  • Mains level:  Iran oil crisis 

Context:

  • Nationwide protests that broke out over the weekend are the latest challenge to the Iranian regime that’s already struggling to fix a battered economy, hostile ties with the U.S. and waning influence in West Asia. 

Background:

  • The government’s decision to raise the price of rationed fuel. 
  • Thousands of people took to the streets, reminiscent of recent protests in Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon and neighbouring Iraq. 
  • The protesters chanted slogans against the Islamic regime, carried “Death to Khamenei” posters, in a direct challenge to the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and burned down banks and stores. Security personnel reportedly unleashed violence on the protesters, while the government shut down the Internet. 
  • At least 12 people were killed, including security personnel, and some 1,000 protesters were arrested. 
  • Both President Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei, the real ruler of Iran, have condemned the protests, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s top paramilitary force, has threatened to crack down on the demonstrations, raising the prospects of more violence.

Challenges ahead for Iran:

  • Iran still has one of the lowest fuel prices in the world. But the rise was enough for a people reeling under high inflation, joblessness and a collapsing economy to take to the streets. 
  • President Donald Trump’s decision last year to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions has dealt a blow to Iran’s economy. Inflation has risen to 40%. 
  • A quarter of Iran’s youth are unemployed. And according to the IMF, the country’s economy is expected to contract by 9.5% this year, while the currency, the rial, has plunged to record lows against the dollar. 
  • It is now evident that the collapse of the nuclear deal has cost the Iranian economy dearly. 
  • The protests broke out at a time when Iran’s influence in Lebanon and Iraq is being challenged by protesters. 
  • In Iraq, protesters burned an Iranian consulate and turned their anger against Iran-trained militias. 
  • In Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah is a key pillar of the government, protesters demand the resignation of the entire political class. And now in Iran, the protesters challenge the regime itself.

Way ahead:

  • In recent years, Iran has seen many protests and labour agitations. And the regime’s response has always been typical. 
  • It branded the protesters as counter-revolutionaries and blamed foreign hands. 
  • The economic woes have weakened the delicate balance between the regime and its angry youth. The latest round of protests might die down. 
  • But Iran needs a lasting solution to address its revolting underbelly. 

Conclusion:

  • It can’t violently suppress the protesters forever and needs to get the nuclear deal back on track.

 

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

 

Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) With reference to the ‘India Internet 2019’, consider the following statements:
1. It was recently by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
2. Kerala’s Internet penetration rate is the second highest in the country. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) To struggling for Iran under the weight of U.S. sanctions, it needs to revive the nuclear deal. Comment.

(Answer Key) UPSC Engineering Services Pre Examination - 2019

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(Answer Key) UPSC Engineering Services Pre Examination - 2019

Exam Name: UPSC Engineering Services Pre Examination

Year: 2019

Subject:

  • General Studies & Engineering Aptitude
  • Civil Engineering Paper
  • Mechanical Engineering Paper
  • Electrical Engineering Paper
  • Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering 

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