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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th January 2020
Published on Jan. 14, 2020, 6:07 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 14th January 2020

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Sabarimala case: Supreme Court not to review Sabarimala case, to examine ‘larger issues’

Part of: GS Prelims –Fundamental Rights and GS-II- secularism

In news:

  • SC said its objective was not to review the Sabarimala women entry case but examine “larger issues” of law arising from practices such as the prohibition of women from entering mosques and temples, female genital mutilation among Dawoodi Bohras and the ban on Parsi women who married inter-faith from entering the fire temple.

From Mains  point of view:

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From Prelims point of view:

ARTICLE 26 : FREEDOM TO MANAGE RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS  

Subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right—

  • to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
  • to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
  • to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
  • to administer such property in accordance with

ARTICLE 14 : EQUALITY BEFORE LAW

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

ARTICLE 25 : FREEDOM OF RELIGION

  • The Article 25 states that every individual is “equally entitled to freedom of conscience” and has the right “to profess, practice and propagate religion” of one’s choice.
  • Practicing religion or the act of propagating it should not, however, affect the “public order, morality and health.”
  • The Article doesn’t put any restriction on the government when it comes to making any law to regulate “economic, financial, political or other secular” activities, which may be associated with religious practice.
  • According to Article 25, the gates of Hindu religious institutions should be opened to every section of Hindus.
  • Here the term ‘Hindus’ also includes individuals who profess Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion. The same holds true for the term ‘Hindu religious institutions.

Retail inflation : Retail inflation at 5-year high of 7.3% in December

Part of: GS Prelims –Inflation and GS-III- Economy

In news:

  • Retail inflation ascended to a five and a half year high of 7.35% 
  • Released by the National Statistical Office 
  • Retail inflation was only 2.11% in last year 

From Prelims point of view:

National Statistical Commission

  • The new NSO as an agency was envisaged firstly by Rangarajan Commission to implement and maintain statistical standards and coordinate statistical activities of Central and State agencies as laid down by the National Statistical Commission (NSC).
  • This commission had also recommended setting up of the NSC, headed by a person with a Minister of State-level designation, to serve as a nodal and empowered body for all core statistical activities of the country.
  • According to recent order, NSO will be formed with the merger of NSSO and CSO under MoSPI.
  • This recent restructuring seems to be a reaction to the resignations tendered by the member and acting Chairman of the NSC earlier this year

What Is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined basket of goods and averaging them.
  • Changes in the CPI are used to assess price changes associated with the cost of living; 
  • the CPI is one of the most frequently used statistics for identifying periods of inflation or deflation.

Central accident database management

Part of: GS Prelims –Policy and GS-II- Policy & Schemes 

In news:

  • The government launched a central accident database management system that will help in analysing causes of road crashes and in devising safety interventions to reduce such accidents in the country.
  • The IT tool, known as the Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD)  developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) 
  • Implemented by the National Informatics Centre.
  • Project  supported by the World Bank

National Informatics Centre (NIC): 

  • National Informatics Centre (NIC) is an attached office under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.
  • NIC provides infrastructure to help support delivery of Government IT services and delivery of some of the initiatives of Digital India

Manual scavengers : Maharashtra, Gujarat lag behind in compensation for sewer deaths

Part of: GS Prelims –Schemes and GS-II- vulnerable sections

In news:

Central Monitoring Committee reviews implementation of manual scavenging prohibition law

From  Prelims point of view:

Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: 

  • The act seeks to reinforce this ban by prohibiting manual scavenging in all forms and ensures the rehabilitation of manual scavengers to be identified through a mandatory survey.
  • Prohibits the construction or maintenance of insanitary toilets.
  • Prohibits the engagement or employment of anyone as a manual scavenger violations could result in a years’ imprisonment or a fine of INR 50,000 or both.
  • Prohibits a person from being engaged or employed for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.
  • Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable.
  • Calls for a survey of manual scavengers in urban and rural areas within a time-bound framework.

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK):

The National Commision for Safai Karamchari was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993, for a period of three years i.e. up to 31st March, 1997.

  • As per Section 1 (4) of the Act, it was to cease to exist after 31st March 1997, however, validity of the Act was extended up to March, 2002, and then up to February, 2004 vide Amendment Acts passed in 1997 and 2001 respectively.
  • The Act ceased to have effect from March 2004. After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time (total of eight times) The tenure of the present Commission is up to March 2022.
  • The Commission is a Non-Statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.

(MAINS FOCUS)


Indian Economy

TOPIC:General Studies 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 


Middle Income Trap

Context:

  • GDP growth for FY20 is likely to come in at 5%, an 11-year low. Nominal GDP growth will likely be at more than a four-decade low.
  • Apart from the debate on whether the slowdown is cyclical or structural, there is also concern among the economists about the dangers of Middle-Income trap in medium to long term

What is Middle Income trap?

  • In 2006, economists Indermit Gill and Homi Kharas at the World Bank coined the term “middle-income trap” while working on growth strategies for East Asian economies. 
  • Simply put, low-income countries with cheap labour and access to ready-made technology grow fast and start becoming wealthier. 
  • However, as they reach middle-income status, they tend to slow down as they lose some of their advantages. They fail to converge with wealthier nations and do not get beyond middle-income status. 
  • It is a status of low productivity and entrenched inequality.
  • Mexico and Brazil are classic examples of such countries. 
  • A few, such as South Korea, have escaped the trap. China is at the cusp.

On what basis are countries usually categorized?

World Bank has used the 2018 data of gross national income (GNI) per capita to categorize countries into following four categories

  1. Low income: Countries with GNI per capita is up to $1,025 
  2. Lower middle-income: Those with GNI per capita from $1,026 to $3,995. Ex: India – its per capita income in 2018 was $2,020, at the halfway point for the lower middle-income category.
  3. Upper middle-income: Countries with GNI Per capita between $3,995 and $12,375 are upper middle income Ex: Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, China 
  4. High income: Per capita income above $12,375 makes a country high income. Ex: US, Germany, Japan, Korea.

The way the World Bank’s income classification system works is that as economies grow, the thresholds for these four categories also change. The threshold for the low-income category in 1988 was only $545.

Overall, the lower and upper middle-income thresholds have increased at 2% per year over the last three decades. Over this period, India’s per capita income grew at an annual rate of about 5.6%. 

Cause of Concern for India

  • If we assume that World Bank thresholds and India’s income per capita grow at the same pace as they have in the past 30 years, it will take India until 2038 to reach the lower end of the upper middle-income threshold
  • Likewise statistics reveal that even in 2050, India would be well below Brazil and South Africa.
  • India’s growth since the 1990s was on the back of consumption by the top 100 million Indians. The inequality has widened since then and therefore, the future growth has to come from bottom sections of societal pyramid
  • For this to happen there has to be adequate demand from these sections of society & thus adequate jobs and rising incomes

Way Ahead

  • Thus there has to be a comprehensive agenda of policy and institutional change to create a dynamic capitalism, else there is a risk of a Latin Americanization of India’s path 
  • This involves changes in education, healthcare, skilling, agricultural, judicial and regulatory reforms.

Connecting the dots

  • Impact on slowdown on India’s diplomatic might.
  • Doubling of Farmers income and Make in India initiative
  • Political and Constitutional federal structures which enables comprehensive changes

Indian Economy

TOPIC:General Studies 3:
  • Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security.

Reform of grain management system

Context

In the second quarter of 2020 fiscal year, GDP growth rate has plummeted to 4.5 per cent and the agriculture GDP (GDPA) growth is at mere 2.1 per cent.

What are the reasons for Slowdown?

  • One of the main reason is the low demand in the economy
  • The demand is low because of the incomes have remain subdued particularly the rural incomes (Consecutive Bad Monsoons). As a result, demand for manufactured goods, housing and other goods have remained low. 
  • Apart from the above cited cyclical reason, there is also structural reason – primarily supply side constraints like inefficient infrastructure network which raises the cost of goods & services thus impacting the competitiveness of the product.

What measures government has taken recently?

  • Government announced corporate tax cuts which intends to boost investment cycle.
  • Government has also announced an investment package for infrastructure of about Rs 102 lakh crore over the next five years, which implies more than doubling the growth in infra-investments from its current levels.
  • Government also intends to cut income tax levels in the upcoming budget so as to boost demand in the economy (as it leaves more money in the hands of people to spend)

Possible consequences of the above measures:

  • Boosting demand can also cause inflation (beyond the threshold level of 6 per cent to be maintained by the RBI).
  • There is the challenge of not slipping on the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent, although the CAG has already indicated that the real fiscal deficit of the country is much more if one accounts for the loans taken by many PSUs
  • Difficulty in raising funds to fund the massive infrastructure project (102 lakh crore over five years)

Possible Way Out:

  • One of the way to raise (save) Rs 50,000 crore per annum to finance infrastructure projects without causing high inflation or without breaching the fiscal deficit target is by addressing inefficiency in the grain management system under the National Food Security Act (NFSA)
  • The NFSA gives certain quantities of wheat and rice to 67% of the population at Rs 2/kg and Rs 3/kg respectively -the economic cost of these to the Food Corporation of India is Rs 25/kg and Rs 35/kg respectively. 
  • This has led to a provision of Rs 1.84 lakh crore for food subsidy in the last Union budget
  • The grain stocks with the FCI are far more than double the buffer stock norms as on January 1, every year.

The reason for inefficiency in grain management system: 

  • The procurement for wheat and rice (paddy) remains open-ended, but the disbursal of those stocks remains largely restricted to the public distribution system (PDS).
  • The open market operations (OMO) are much less compared to what is needed to liquidate the excessive stocks.
  • The money locked in these excessive stocks (beyond the buffer norm) is more than Rs 1 lakh crore.
  • If the government decides to liquidate half of it, it can garner Rs 50,000 crore to finance at least half of its infrastructure projects

Way forward (As recommended by Ashok Gulati):

  1. While the poor under the Antyodaya category should keep getting the maximum food subsidy, for others, the issue price should be fixed at ~50% of the procurement price (as was done under Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the BPL category).
  2. Limit subsidised grain distribution under NFSA to 40 per cent of the population rather than the current 67 per cent
  3. Limit the procurement of rice particularly in the north-western states of Punjab and Haryana where the groundwater table is depleting fast, and invite private sector participation in grain management

Connecting the dots

  • Doubling of Farmers Income
  • Shanta Kumar Committee recommendations on PDS reform

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion etc. (Article 15 of the Constitution of India) is a Fundamental Rights classifiable under: 

(a) The Right to Freedom of Religion   

(b) The Right against Exploitation

(c) The Cultural and Educational Rights

(d) The Right to Equality


Q.2) One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of 

(a) Privileges                                                                                

(b) Restraint

(c) Competition                                                                            

(d) Ideology


Q 3) Which one of the following Muslim rulers was hailed as the 'Jagadguru' by his Muslim subject because of his belief in secularism? 

(a) Hussain Shah                                                                                            

(b) Zain-ul-Abidin

(c) Ibrahim Adil Shah                                                                                    

(d) Mahmud II


Q 4) In India, inflation is measured by the: 

(a) Wholesale Price Index number

(b) Consumers Price Index for urban non-manual workers

(c) Consumers Price Index for agricultural workers

(d) National Income Deflation


Q 5) A rapid increase in the rate of inflation is sometimes  attributed to the “base effect”. What is “base effect”?

 (a) It is the impact of drastic deficiency in supply due to failure of crops

(b) It is the impact of the surge in demand due to rapid economic growth

(c) It is the impact of the price levels of previous year on the calculation of inflation rate

(d) None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct in this context


Q 6)   With reference to India, consider the following statements: 

  1. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in India is available on a monthly basis only.
  2. As compared to Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPIIW), the WPI gives less weight to food articles.

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


Q 7)   Consider the following statements about the National Informatics Centre 

  1. Objective to a single point to access the information and services of the Government of India
  2. Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS)’is developed by Kerala unit of National Informatics Centre (NIC)

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


Q 8 )   Rashtriya Garima Abhiyaan’ is a national campaign to 

(a) rehabilitate the homeless and destitute persons and provide them with suitable sources of livelihood

(b) release the sex workers from their practice and provide them with alternative sources of

livelihood

(c) eradicate the practice of manual scavenging and rehabilitate the manual scavengers

(d) release the bonded laborers from their bondage and rehabilitate them


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