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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th August 2021
Published on Aug. 27, 2021, 6:08 p.m.

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Hybrid SC hearings likely from Sept

Part of: Prelims and GS - II - Judiciary 

In news The Supreme Court may try a mixed mode of physical and virtual court hearings from the first week of September 2021.

  • However, no final decision has yet been taken. The court is keeping in mind reports about the third wave of the pandemic. It does not want to launch the “mixed mode” and then abort it midway in case of a prospective rise in COVID-19 cases.

Background

  • The Supreme Court had passed directions for all courts across the country to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings saying congregations of lawyers and litigants must be suspended to maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic
  • SC restricted its functioning and has been conducting hearings through video conferencing since March 25, 2020. 
  • It also exercised its plenary power to direct all high courts to frame a mechanism for use of technology during the pandemic. 

The Pros of virtual hearings 

  • Saves significant court costs in terms of building, staff, infrastructure, security, transportation costs for all parties to the court proceedings, especially transfer of prisoners from jails.

What are the Challenges of virtual hearings?

  • The use of video and audio enabled hearings have also faced significant legal and practical problems including admissibility and authenticity of the evidence received through the video and/or audio transmissions, the identity of the witness and/or individuals subject of the hearings, the confidentiality of the hearings.
  • Poor quality of internet connection or inability to establish connection at the agreed time, 
  • Poor and outdated the audio and video equipment
  • Power cuts
  • Face-to-face contact is essential to build trust and develop relationships. 
  • Defences such as duress or reasonable excuse may require the defendant to reveal delicate or personal information – they may not feel comfortable doing so to a stranger over a video link, while sitting in a cramped room in a police station.

News source: TH


Chakma and Hajong 

Part of: Prelims and GS - II - Issues related to Tribes

In news The Arunachal Pradesh government has recently decided to relocate the Chakmas and the Hajongs, who trace their roots to Bangladesh.

  • It is still not clear as to which state or states the Arunachal government is going to relocate the Chakmas and the Hajongs and the position of the states in question on the issue.
  • Chakma leaders, however, claimed 96% of the Chakmas and the Hajongs of Arunachal are citizens of India as per Section 3 of the Citizenship Act.

Who are Chakma and Hajong?

  • Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while Hajongs are Hindus.
  • They were inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who migrated to India due to:
    • Submergence of their land by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s.
    • religious persecution they faced in East Pakistan as they were non-Muslims.
  • The Indian government set up relief camps in Arunachal Pradesh and a majority of them continue to live there even after 50 years.

Why is Arunachal Pradesh local tribes opposing Chakmas?

  • According to an apex students organisation, the “illegal Chakma and Hajong immigrants” were brought to Arunachal without taking the state’s indigenous populace into confidence.
  • The indigenous communities are opposed to the settlement of the people for reasons including the “dangerous demographic” changes which allegedly occurred in the districts where they are settled and their alleged aggressive attitude towards the ethnic tribes.

What are Chakma's claims?

  • The Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) had petitioned Prime Minister and Union Home Minister to reject Arunachal’s move to relocate “60,000” Chakmas and Hajongs to other states.
  • The CDFI said Chakmas, Hajongs, and ex-Assam Rifles personnel were settled in the then centrally-administered North East Frontier Agency in defence of the country following the 1962 Indo-China war.
  • It also argued that Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju stated the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 was enacted to undo the Supreme Court judgment of 1996, thus, granting the Chakmas and the Hajongs citizenship

News source: TH 


Procedure for arresting a Union minister

Part of: GS Prelims and GS- II -  Polity 

In news Union minister Narayan Rane was arrested recently over his statement on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

What is the Procedure to arrest a Union minister in India? 

  • If Parliament is not in session, a cabinet minister can be arrested by a law enforcement agency in case of a criminal case registered against him. 
  • As per Section 22 A of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business of the Rajya Sabha, the Police, Judge or Magistrate would have to intimate the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha about the reason for the arrest, the place of detention or imprisonment in an appropriate form. (In case of Lok Sabha, the Speaker have to be intimidated)
  • The Chairman/Speaker is expected to inform the Council if it is sitting about the arrest. 
  • If the council is not sitting, he/she is expected to publish it in the bulletin for the information of the members.
  • In civil cases a Union minister or an MP enjoys protection from arrest 40 days before the start of a Parliament session, during its sittings and 40 days after its conclusion.
  • The privilege of freedom from arrest does not extend to criminal offences or cases of detention under preventive detention.
  • No arrest, whether of a member or of a stranger, can be made within the precincts of the House without the prior permission of the Chairman/Speaker and that too in accordance with the procedure laid down by the Home Ministry in this regard. 

News Source: TH


Global Manufacturing Risk Index, 2021

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III - Manufacturing sector

In news India has overtaken the United States (US) to become the second-most sought-after manufacturing destination globally in 2021 Global Manufacturing Risk Index.

About the index-

  • Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Manufacturing Risk Index assesses the most advantageous locations for global manufacturing among 47 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. 
  • The countries are assessed based on four key areas:
    • Bounce Back: Projected ability to restart manufacturing operations as vaccines are rolled out and business begins to return to normal
    • Conditions: Business environment, including the availability of talent/labor and access to markets
    • Costs: Operating costs including labor, electricity and real estate
    • Risks: Political, economic and environmental
  • The baseline ranking for top manufacturing destinations is determined on the basis of a country’s operating conditions and cost effectiveness.

Key findings of the Index:

  • China has remained at number one position and India is at 2nd position.
  • The US is at third position, followed by Canada, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Lithuania, Thailand, Malaysia and Poland.
  • In the 2020’s report, the US was at second position while India ranked third.
  • The switch in ranking is attributed to the plant relocations from China to other parts of Asia due to an already established base in pharma, chemicals and engineering sectors, that continue to be at the centre of the US-China trade tensions.
  • The growing focus on India can be attributed to India’s operating conditions and cost competitiveness.

News Source: IE 


Public Sector Bank Reforms Agenda - EASE 4.0

Part of: Prelims and GS - III - Banking sector 

In news: Union Finance Minister has unveiled a set of reforms for public sector banks (PSBs) called EASE 4.0 (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence). 

  • These reforms have been rolled out by the government to further the agenda of customer-centric digital transformation and embed digital and data into PSBs’ way of working’.
  • EASE 4.0 commits PSBs to tech-enabled, simplified and collaborative banking.

What reforms fall under EASE 4.0?

The EASE 4.0 reforms looks at four key initiatives for public sector banks to adopt: 

  • Smart lending backed by analytics; 
    • Dial-a-loan for doorstep lending
    • Credit@Click: End to End digital retail and MSME lending for 
    • Analytics based credit offers
  • 24x7 banking with resilient technology and cloud based IT systems
    • Deeper penetration of Mobile & internet banking 
    • Cloud-based IT Systems and improved cyber resilience
    • Process automation
  • Data enabled agriculture financing; 
    • Dial-a-loan for agri loans
    • Partnership with AgriTechs for data exchange
    • Automated Processing & sanctioning
  • Collaborating with the financial ecosystem.
    • Digital Payments in semi-urban and rural areas
    • At scale delivery of doorstep banking services
    • Co-lending with NBFCs

The annual report for the PSB Reforms Agenda EASE 3.0 for 2020-21 was also released.

  • The overall score of PSBs increased by 35% between March-2020 and March-2021,
    • The average EASE index score improved from 44.2 to 59.7 out of 100. 
  • The highest improvement is seen in the themes of ‘Smart Lending’ and ‘Institutionalising Prudent Banking’.
  • Credit@click was a flagship initiative under EASE 3.0: Nearly 4.4 lakh customers have been benefited through such instantaneous and simplified credit access
  • Nearly 72% of financial transactions are now happening through digital channels. 
  • PSBs are now offering services across call centres, Internet banking, and Mobile banking in 14 regional languages such as Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, etc.
  • For continual improvement in coverage under financial inclusion initiatives, there was a 13% growth in transactions provided by Bank Mitras in rural areas and 50% growth in enrolments in Micro personal accident insurance in Q4FY21 compared to Q4FY20.

Forum for Decarbonizing Transport

Part of: Prelims and GS - III - Infrastructure; Transport 

In news Recently, the NITI Aayog and World Resources Institute India(WRI) jointly launched ‘Forum for Decarbonizing Transport’ in India as part of the NDC-Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA) project.

About the Forum-

  • It aims at bringing down the peak level of GHG emissions (transport sector) in Asia (below 2-degree pathway), resulting in problems like congestion and air pollution.
  • The NDC-TIA India component focuses on developing a coherent strategy of effective policies and the formation of a multi-stakeholder platform for decarbonizing transport in the country. 
  • Through this forum, the WRI India team, along with NITI Aayog and other project partners, will work in close coordination with all these stakeholders to formulate strategies and develop appropriate business models to accelerate electric mobility in India. 
  • The forum will bring together CEOs, researchers, academics, multilateral agencies, financial institutions as well as the Central and state governments on a common platform. 

What is NDC-Transport Initiative for Asia (NDC-TIA)-2020-2023? 

  • It is a joint programme of seven organisations that will engage China, India, and Vietnam in promoting a comprehensive approach to decarbonizing transport in their respective countries. 
  • The project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).
  • Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports the initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag (lower House of Parliament).
  • NITI Aayog is the implementing partner for the India component of the project.
  • Aim: To promote a coherent strategy of effective policies for decarbonising transport co-ordinated among various sector ministries, civil society, and the private sector. 
  • Goal: To enable the countries’ transport sectors to contribute to achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and increase ambition in transport sections of long-term strategies and 2025 NDCs. 
  • As a regional initiative, the project will disseminate knowledge in Asia and at the global level. 
  • It will disseminate and share experiences at international dialogue platforms such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.

What is World Resources Institute, India (WRI)? 

  • WRI India, an independent charity legally registered as the India Resources Trust.
  • It provides objective information and practical proposals to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable development.
  • Its work focuses on building sustainable and liveable cities and working towards a low carbon economy. 
  • Through research, analysis, and recommendations, WRI India puts ideas into action to build transformative solutions to protect the earth, promote livelihoods, and enhance human well-being.
  • It is inspired by and associated with World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organisation with more than 400 experts and other staff around the world. 

News Source: PIB 


(News from PIB)


Ministry of Civil Aviation notifies liberalised Drone Rules, 2021

Part of: GS Prelims 

In News:   Ministry of Civil Aviation notifies liberalised Drone Rules, 2021

Background:

  • In March 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) published the UAS Rules, 2021 that were perceived by academia, Startups, end-users and other stakeholders as being restrictive in nature as they involved considerable paperwork, required permissions for every drone flight and very few “free to fly” green zones were available. 
  • Based on the feedback, the Government has decided to repeal the UAS Rules, 2021 and replace the same with the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, offer tremendous benefits to almost all sectors of the economy like – agriculture, mining, infrastructure, surveillance, emergency response, transportation, geo-spatial mapping, defence, and law enforcement etc.  

Few of the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021

  • It has abolished several approvals like: unique authorization number, unique prototype identification number, certificate of manufacturing and airworthiness, certificate of conformance, certificate of maintenance, import clearance, acceptance of existing drones, operator permit, authorisation of R&D organisation, student remote pilot licence, remote pilot instructor authorisation, drone port authorisation etc.
  • The relaxation in New Drone Rules stipulates, no security clearance will now be required before any registration or license issuance for the operation of drones.
  • Interactive airspace map with green, yellow and red zones shall be displayed on the digital sky platform within 30 days of publication of these rules. 
  • No permission required for operating drones in green zones.  Green zone means the airspace up to a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metre that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace up to a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metre above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometre from the perimeter of an operational airport.
  • Yellow zone reduced from 45 km to 12 km from the airport perimeter.
  • No remote pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use) and nano drones.
  • No requirement for security clearance before issuance of any registration or licence.

Significance of the liberalized Drone Rules, 2021

  • The new rules will facilitate investments in drone technology in India and will aid in simplifying the process of registration.
  • By abolishing the restrictive practices and stringent license regime under the new Drone Rules by the government, it will offer flexibility to players in the sectors.
  • An airspace map on the digital sky platform will provide access to real-time updates for drone operation in India in various zones.

News Source: PIB


NITI Aayog Releases North Eastern Region District SDGIndex and Dashboard 2021–22

Part of: GS Prelims 

In news: NITI Aayog and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (M/DoNER) released the first edition of the North Eastern Region (NER) District SDG Index Report and Dashboard 2021–22 thus achieving the milestone towards localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About the NER District SDG Index& Dashboard

  • The index is the first of its kind in the country as it focuses on the North Eastern Region, which is of critical significance to the country’s development trajectory.
  • It meaasures the performance of the districts of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura on the Sustainable Development Goals and their corresponding targets and ranks the districts based on the same. 
  • The index is based on NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index –the principal and official tool for monitoring progress on the SDGs at the national and State/ Union Territory levels and shares the common ethos of benchmarking performance and ranking on the SDGs to foster competition among the districts.
  • It offers insights into the social, economic, and environmental status of the region and its districts in their march towards achieving the SDGs. 
  • It is a unique policy tool which has immense potential to measure district level progress, highlight critical gaps, facilitate resource allocation, and will be a handy tool for policy makers in the eight North Eastern States, Ministry of DoNER and other Union Ministries.

Overall Results and Findings

  • Out of the 103 districts considered for ranking, 64 districts belonged to the Front Runner category while 39 districts were in the Performer category in the composite score and ranking of districts. 
  • All districts in Sikkim and Tripura fall in the Front Runner category and there are no districts in the Aspirant or Achiever categories.
  • East Sikkim [Score 75.87] ranks first in the region followed by districts Gomati and North Tripura [Score 75.73] in the second position.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Polity, Fundamental Rights & Welfare State.
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

The 'creamy layer' and exclusion from reservation

Story so far:  For nearly 30 years, the Supreme Court has stood firmly by its principle that economic criterion alone cannot be the sole basis for identifying a Backward Class member as “creamy layer”. Other factors like social advancement, education, employment, too, matter. 

Recent SC Judgement

  • In 2016, Haryana State government had issued notifications under the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act of 2016.
  • The notification identified as “creamy layer” Backward Class members whose gross annual income exceeded ₹6 lakhs.
  • It said Backward Class sections whose families earn less than ₹3 lakh would get priority over their counterparts who earn more than ₹3 lakh but less than ₹6 lakh.
  • These notifications were challenged in Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court said that the basis of exclusion of creamy layer cannot be merely economic.
  • SC struck down the notifications as a “flagrant violation” of the 2016 Act and said Section 5 (2) of the Act required the State to consider social, economic and other factors together to identify and exclude Backward Class members as “creamy layer”.

What is the creamy layer concept? 

  • The creamy layer concept was introduced in the Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney judgment, delivered by a nine-judge Bench on November 16, 1992
  • Though it upheld the government’s decision based on the Mandal Commission report to give 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes, the court found it necessary to identify sections of Backward Classes who were already “highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally”. 
  • The court believed that these wealthy, advanced members form the “creamy layer” among them. 
  • The judgment directed State governments to identify the “creamy layer” and exclude them from the purview of reservation.

Need for identifying creamy layer

  • In Jarnail Singh versus Lachhmi Narain Gupta, 2018 case, Justice Nariman said unless creamy layer principle was applied those genuinely deserving reservation would not access it. 
  • He further observed that the creamy layer principle was based on the fundamental right to equality.
  • Benefits, by and large, are snatched away by the top creamy layer of the ― backward caste or class, thus keeping the weakest among the weak always weak and leaving the fortunate layers to consume the whole cake.

How is the creamy layer determined?

  • Certain States like Kerala did not promptly implement the above SC directive (identifying Creamy layer & excluding them). This led to a sequel of the Indra Sawhney-II case, reported in 2000.
  • Here, the court went to the extent of determining “creamy layer” among Backward Classes. 
  • The judgment held that persons from the classes who occupied posts in higher services like IAS, IPS and All India Services had reached a higher level of social advancement and economic status, and therefore, were not entitled to be treated as backward. Such persons were to be treated as “creamy layer” without any further inquiry. 
  • Likewise, people with sufficient income who were in a position to provide employment to others should also be taken to have reached a higher social status and treated as “outside the Backward Class”.
  • Other categories included persons with higher agricultural holdings or income from property, etc.
  • Thus, a reading of the Indra Sawhney judgments show that social advancement, including education and employment, and not just wealth, was key to identify “creamy layer”.

Why is identifying creamy layer solely on economic criterion not feasible?

  • The identification has been a thorny issue. The basic question here is how rich or advanced should a Backward Class section be to invite exclusion from reservation.
  • In other words, it is question of “how and where to draw the line” between the deserving and the creamy layer becomes challenging when economic criteria is the sole basis of identification.
  • Justice Reddy in the Indra Sawhney judgment, highlighted the pitfalls of identifying creamy layer merely on economic basis. 
    • For example, a person who earns ₹36,000 a month may be economically well-off in rural India. However, the same salary in a metropolitan city may not count for much.
    • A member of Backward Class, say a member of carpenter caste, goes to Middle East and works there as a carpenter. If we take his annual income in Rupees, it would be fairly high from the Indian standard. There is dilemma whether he is to be excluded from the Backward Class when only economic criteria is considered.
  • Justice Jeevan Reddy pointed out “The basis of exclusion should not merely be economic, unless, of course, the economic advancement is so high that it necessarily means social advancement.”

Read Related Articles


(AIR Spotlight)


Spotlight 21 (Aug) : DISCUSSION ON “RISE IN EXPORT OF AGRICULTURAL & PROCESSED FOOD PRODUCTS”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_jJaLFPnxk

ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-3: Indian Economy
  • GS-3: Food Processing

Rise in Export of Agricultural & Processed Food Products

  • Despite Covid-19 restrictions, especially due to the second wave of pandemic witnessed during the first quarter of the current fiscal, India achieved a significant increase of 44.3 per cent in the export of agricultural and processed food products in the 2021-22 (April-June) in comparison to the corresponding period of 2020-21.
  • According to WTO’s trade map, with the total Agri exports of USD 37 billion in the year 2019, India is ranked at 9th position in the world ranking.
  • In terms of Indian Agri-exports, the country has registered an increase of 25.02 percent in terms of dollar and 29.43 percent in terms of rupees in the FY 2020-21 (April-March) in comparison to the same period in the previous year. However, it has been estimated that the country’s Agri-export will register a positive growth of about 15 percent in the current year (2021-22) as well.

Significance of the increase in export of agricultural and processed food products:

  • India’s significant increase of 44.3 per cent in the export of agricultural and processed food products specially at a time when the exports in general are not well is not a small achievement.
  • Among the factors that has given impetus to the rise in export includes:
    • The export of rice, which recorded a positive growth of 25.3 per cent, increased from $ 1914.5 million in April-June 2020 to $ 2398.5 million in April-June 2021. 
    • India reported a huge 415.5 per cent jump in the export of other cereals while the export of meat, dairy and poultry products witnessed an increase 111.5 per cent in the first three months of the current fiscal (2021-22). 

Outlook of agricultural export:

The outlook of agricultural export seems good due to the following reasons:

  • There has been abundant rain along with poultry being free from disease in general.
  • Also, earlier fear that some crackdown on meat industry or adverse impact on buffalo export In particular will happen is not there.
  • Lastly the way government has managed to overcome strict Europe union norm for export of basmati rice is commendable
  • The initiatives taken by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce, has helped the country achieve this milestone at a time when the outbreak of pandemic was at its peak.

 As a result, India’s export along with will maintain its robust growth rate.

Challenges

  • Farmers have reservations about the way market works.
  • Farmer who grows rice are not necessarily the one exporting it and buffalo meat industry or poultry or dairy industry is unorganized so there is need to ensure greater coordination between agencies between the agencies that export and agencies that grow.
  • Infrastructural support is another major challenge where government need to pay attention. 
  • Lower yield of agricultural crops as compared to the world average. Also, the increase in landholdings leads to decrease in average farm size, which further intensifies the issue.
  • Pro-consumer bias of government hurts agricultural exports. For example- putting export restrictions on imported food items prevents food inflation but also discourages the farmers.

How to improve market access?

  • APEDA has to be the conduce creating seamless conductivity between producers and exporters
  • The government should consider giving infrastructure status to agricultural value chains, such as warehousing, pack-houses, ripening chambers, and cold storage, etc. It would increase the credit flow in the sector.
  • Creation of a Green channel clearance for perishable agro products in road, air, and freight cargo stations can reduce the regulatory delays.

Conclusion:

  • India performance in global agriculture basket can be improved further if certain issued are properly resolved. Focussing on agriculture export can contribute significantly to doubling farmer income by 2022.

Can you answer this question now?

Critically analyse the export of agricultural and processed food products in India amidst covid 19 crisis.


(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.

Q.1 Which are the target countries for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)–Transport Initiative for Asia (TIA)?

  1. India and China
  2. India, China and Singapore
  3. India, Vietnam, and China
  4. Vietnam and china

Q.2 Consider the following statements:

  1. If Parliament is not in session, a cabinet minister can be arrested by a law enforcement agency in case of a criminal case registered against him. 
  2. In civil cases a Union minister or an MP enjoys protection from arrest 40 days before the start of a Parliament session, during its sittings and 40 days after its conclusion.

Select the correct statements:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.3 Chakmas and Hajongs, recently seen in news, have been residing in which of the following state of India?

  1. Chhattisgarh 
  2. Odisha
  3. Arunachal Pradesh 
  4. Assam

ANSWERS FOR 26th August 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 C

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