Daily Current Affairs
18 February 2021

1) No role in Tamil Nadu govt.’s quota decisions, Centre tells SC

GS 2

Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

 

ABOUT:

  1. The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has no role in the choices made by the Tamil Nadu government with regard to the provision of reservation for specific castes or communities in State government jobs and admissions.
  2. The Centre was responding to a petition challenging the constitutionality of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, SC & ST(Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act of 1993, which provides 69% reservation in the State.
  3. The petitioner contended that the Tamil Nadu Legislature acted “outside its competence”.
  4. TN has identified and classified socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs), that too far in excess of the 50% limit on quota laid down by a nine-judge Bench of the SC in its judgment in the Indira Sawhney case.
  5. The Centre, however, decided to adopt a hands-off approach on the issue.

 

CENTRAL GOVERNMENT STAND:

  1. The Central govt said that the inclusion or exclusion of any caste/community in the State List of SEBCs is the subject matter of the State government, and the Government of India has no role in the matter.
  2. It referred to the Constitution (One hundred and second Amendment) Act of 2018, which details the difference in the procedure for inclusion or exclusion of castes and communities in the State List for SEBCs and the Central List.
  3. The power to identify and specify SEBCs lies with Parliament only with reference to the Central List.
  4. The State governments may have separate State Lists of SEBCs for providing reservation for recruitment to State services or admissions in State government educational institutions.
  5. The castes or communities included in such State Lists may differ from those included in the Central List.
  6. Under the newly-inserted Article 342A of the Constitution (One hundred and second Amendment) Act of 2018, the President notifies the SEBCs in a State after consultation with the Governor.
  7. On the other hand, the Parliament includes or excludes SEBCs from the Central List.

 

TAMIL NADU'S POINT OF VIEW:

  1. T.N. has objected to the tagging of this case with that of the Maharashtra reservation law or similar laws of any other State.
  2. Senior advocate appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the State’s case should be heard separately.
  3. India is an amalgam of States with varied population, size, history, culture and social fabric.
  4. The circumstances and facts prevailing in Tamil Nadu are not the same or similar to any other State.
  5. Factual variations contributing to the grant of reservation need to be reckoned with differently for different States while deciding the question on its validity.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS GOVERNING RESERVATION IN INDIA:

  1. Part XVI deals with reservation of SC and ST in Central and State legislatures.
  2. Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution enabled the State and Central Governments to reserve seats in government services for the members of the SC and ST.
  3. The Constitution was amended by the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995 and a new clause (4A) was inserted in Article 16 to enable the government to provide reservation in promotion.
  4. Later, clause (4A) was modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.
  5. Constitutional 81st Amendment Act, 2000 inserted Article 16 (4 B) which enables the state to fill the unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for SCs/STs in the succeeding year, thereby nullifying the ceiling of fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of that year.
  6. Article 330 and 332 provides for specific representation through reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies respectively.
  7. Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.
  8. Article 233T provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.
  9. Article 335 of the constitution says that the claims of STs and STs shall be taken into consideration constituently with the maintenance of efficacy of the administration.
  10. In the Indra Sawhney Case of 1992, the Supreme Court while upholding the 27 percent quota for backward classes,struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes. Supreme Court in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population.

 

Source- The Hindu

 

2) Cabinet approves PLI plan for telecom

GS 2

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

 

ABOUT:

The Union Cabinet recently approved the production-linked incentive scheme for the telecom sector with an outlay of ?12,195 crore over five years.

 

PRODUCTION-LINKED INCENTIVE SCHEME:

  1. The scheme, which aims to make India a global hub for manufacturing telecom equipment, is expected to lead to an incremental production of about ?2.4 lakh crore, with exports of about ?2 lakh crore over five years and bring in investments of more than ?3,000 crore.
  2. The implementation of PLI scheme in telecom manufacturing will start from April 1, 2021.
  3. Many international players are keen to come to India. India will encourage them and also domestic manufacturers.
  4. Production Linked Incentive Scheme intends to promote manufacture of Telecom and Networking Products in India and proposes a financial incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract investments in the target segments of telecom and networking products in order to encourage Make in India.
  5. The scheme will also encourage exports of telecom and networking products 'Made in India'.
  6. Support under the Scheme will be provided to companies and entities engaged in manufacturing of specified telecom and networking products in India.

 

‘IMPORT DEPENDENCE CUT’:

  1. The scheme was also likely to generate 40,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities and generate tax revenue of ?17,000 crore from telecom equipment manufacturing, including core transmission equipment, 4G/5G Next Generation Radio Access Network and wireless equipment, access and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), Internet of Things (IoT) access devices, other wireless equipment and enterprise equipment such as switches and routers.
  2. The core ‘component’ of this scheme is to offset the import of telecom equipment worth more than ?50,000 crore.
  3. The approval for the scheme followed the success of PLI-scheme related to mobile and component manufacturing.
  4. Under this, ?34,000 crore investment has been made by some of the top mobile companies. The government has planned to bring similar incentives for laptops and tablet manufacturing.
  5. For inclusion of MSMEs in the scheme, the minimum investment threshold has been kept at ?10 crore, while for others it is ?100 crore. For MSMEs, a 1% higher incentive is also proposed in the first three years.
  6. Once qualified, the investor will be incentivised up to 20 times of minimum investment threshold enabling them to utilise their unused capacity.
  7. With the telecom industry going through a very difficult phase, this move of the government would surely incentivise telecom service providers,” who opt for equipment manufactured locally, thus saving on substantial costs relating to imports.

 

Source- The Hindu

 

3) Ministry of Earth Sciences invites stakeholders’ suggestions on the Draft Blue Economy Policy for India

GS 2

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

 

ABOUT:

The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has rolled out the Draft Blue Economy policy for India in the public domain inviting suggestions and inputs from various stakeholders including industry, NGOs, academia, and citizens.

 

DRAFT POLICY:

  1. The draft blue economy policy document outlines the vision and strategy that can be adopted by the Government of India to utilize the plethora of oceanic resources available in the country.
  2. The policy document has been disseminated for pubic consultation on several outreach platforms including websites and social media handles of MoES and its institutes.
  3. The policy document aims to enhance contribution of the blue economy to India’s GDP, improve lives of coastal communities, preserve marine biodiversity, and maintain the national security of marine areas and resources.
  4. The MoES prepared the draft blue economy policy framework in line with the Government of India’s Vision of New India by 2030.
  5. It highlighted blue economy as one of the ten core dimensions for national growth. The draft policy framework emphasizes policies across several key sectors to achieve holistic growth of India’s economy.
  6. The document recognizes the following seven thematic areas.
  1. National accounting framework for the blue economy and ocean governance.
  2. Coastal marine spatial planning and tourism.
  3. Marine fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing.
  4. Manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, services, and skill development.
  5. Logistics, infrastructure and shipping, including trans-shipments.
  6. Coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy.
  7. Security, strategic dimensions, and international engagement.

 

BLUE ECONOMY:

  1. India’s blue economy is understood as a subset of the national economy comprising an entire ocean resources system and human-made economic infrastructure in marine, maritime, and onshore coastal zones within the country’s legal jurisdiction.
  2. It aids the production of goods and services that have clear linkages with economic growth, environmental sustainability, and national security.
  3. The blue economy is a vast socio-economic opportunity for coastal nations like India to utilize ocean resources for societal benefit responsibly.

 

INDIA'S RICH COASTLINE:

  1. With a coastline of nearly 7.5 thousand kilometers, India has a unique maritime position.
  2. Nine of its 29 states are coastal, and the nation’s geography includes 1,382 islands. There are nearly 199 ports, including 12 major ports that handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo each year.
  3. Moreover, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2 million square kilometers has a bounty of living and non-living resources with significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas.
  4. Also, the coastal economy sustains over 4 million fisherfolk and coastal communities. With these vast maritime interests, the blue economy occupies a vital potential position in India’s economic growth.
  5. It could well be the next multiplier of GDP and well-being, provided sustainability and socio-economic welfare are kept center-stage.
  6. Therefore, India's draft blue economy policy is envisaged as a crucial framework towards unlocking country’s potential for economic growth and welfare.

 

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS:

  1. The United Nations Member States, including India, adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, in 2015 as a universal call to take action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
  2. SDG 14 seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  3. Several countries have undertaken initiatives to harness their blue economy.
  4. For instance, Australia, Brazil, United Kingdom, United States, Russia, and Norway have developed dedicated national ocean policies with measurable outcomes and budgetary provisions.
  5. Canada and Australia have enacted legislation and established hierarchal institutions at federal and state levels to ensure progress and monitoring of their blue economy targets.
  6. With a draft blue economy policy framework of its own, India is now all set to harness the vast potential of its ocean resources.

 

Source- PIB

 

4) Cabinet approves Amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

GS 2

mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections

 

ABOUT:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to introduce measures for strengthening Child Protection set-up to ensure best interest of children.

 

PROVISIONS:

  1. The amendments include authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance  accountability.
  2. The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.
  3. Defining eligibility parameters for appointment of CWC members, and categorizing previously undefined offences as ‘serious offence’ are some of the other aspects of the proposal.
  4. Several difficulties faced in implementation of various provisions of the Act have also been addressed.

 

JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2015:

  1. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is an act passed by Parliament of India amidst intense controversy, debate and protest on many of its provisions by Child Rights fraternity.
  2. It replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.
  3. The Act also sought to create a universally accessible adoption law for India, overtaking the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956) (applicable to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs) and the Guardians and Wards Act (1890) (applicable to Muslims), though not replacing them. The Act came into force from 15 January 2016.
  4. To streamline adoption procedures for orphan, abandoned and surrendered children, the existing Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been given the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  5. A separate chapter on Adoption provides detailed provisions relating to adoption and punishments for non compliance.
  6. Processes have been streamlined with timelines for both in-country and inter-country adoption including declaring a child legally free for adoption.

 

Source- PIB

 

5) Trifed’s Village and Digital Connect - Establishing a Connect with Tribal People

GS 2

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

 

ABOUT:

  1. Over the past year , under the aegis of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, TRIFED has implemented several initiatives to help improve the livelihoods of the beleaguered tribals who had been severely impacted due to the pandemic. 
  2. To ensure that these initiatives reach the tribals and they benefit from the existing schemes and initiatives, TRIFED’s regional officials across the country will be going to identified villages with a significant tribal population across the country and will set up base there till 31st March, 2021.
  3. Being present on the ground level will help TRIFED’s officials oversee the implementation of these programmes and ensure the empowerment of the tribal brethren.
  4. Adapting Go Vocal for Local, into Go Vocal for Local Go Tribal – Mera Van Mera Dhan Mera Udyam, several of these pathbreaking initiatives, other than the existing programmes, have emerged as a panacea for the tribals.

 

INITIATIVES TAKEN:

  1. These initiatives include programmes like Van Dhan tribal start-ups and Schemes like Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain for MFP’, that provides MSP to gatherers of forest produces and introducing value addition and marketing through tribal groups and clusters which has found widespread acceptance across the country.
  2. An all-encompassing digitisation drive had also been launched to not only promote tribal commerce but also map and link its village-based tribal producers and artisans to national and international markets by setting up state of art e- platforms benchmarked to international standards.
  3. TRIFED has digitized all the information related to the forest dwellers associated with the VanDhan Yojana, village haats and their warehouses into a VanDhan MIS portal.
  4. This digitization effort wherein all tribal clusters are identified and mapped using GIS technology will be capitalized upon during this phase of Village connect.
  5. TRIFED officials will ensure that all the tribal producersand clusters have been mapped to these digital systems and will receive all the benefits available in convergence with other Ministries and agencies in villages will be connected to this portal.
  6. Moreover, TRIFED has also launched a marketplace for tribal producers – forest dwellers and artisans, to facilitate the purchase of MFPs, handicrafts and handlooms online.
  7. Gradually 5 lakh tribal producers across the country and sourcing their natural produce, handcrafted goods are being onboarded on the marketplace.
  8. With the presence of the TRIFED officials on ground, it is expected that tribal artisans will be adequately informed and helped so that they can find greater access to larger markets and thereby improve their incomes.
  9. It is expected that this phase of TRIFED’s village and digital connect will aid immensely in the successful implementation of all planned initiatives in the next year and effecta complete transformation of the tribal ecosystem across the country.

 

Source- PIB

 

6) PM reaffirms plan to include natural gas under GST regime

GS 3

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

 

ABOUT:

Prime Minister said recently the government is committed to bringing natural gas under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to reduce the cost of natural gas and boost its usage across the country.

 

ADVANTAGES:

  1. The inclusion of petroleum and natural in the GST regime has been a consistent demand of industry, which has noted that the cascading impact of central taxes and different tax regimes across different states was leading to higher prices for end consumers.
  2. Industries that use natural gas as an input, such as power and steel, are currently not able to claim input tax credit (ITC) on central and state taxes paid on natural gas.
  3. India will try to eliminate the cascading effect of different taxes on natural gas across different states.
  4. The inclusion of natural gas under the GST regime would lower its cost and boost usage.
  5. The Centre aims to raise the share of natural gas in India’s primary energy mix to 15 per cent in 2030 from 6.2 per cent currently.
  6. The PM also said that the government planned to spend Rs 7.5 lakh crores over five years on creating oil and gas infrastructure.

 

NATURAL GAS:

  1. The first oil deposits in India were discovered in 1889 near the town of Digboi in the state of Assam.
  2. The natural gas industry in India began in the 1960s with the discovery of gas fields in Assam and Gujarat. Natural gas gained further significance after the discovery of large reserves in the South Basin fields by ONGC in the 1970s.
  3. As of 31 March 2019, India had estimated crude oil reserves of 618.95 million tonnes (MT), increasing by 4.1% from the previous year.
  4. The largest reserves are found in the Western Offshore (Mumbai High, Krishna-Godavari Basin) (40%), and Assam (27%).
  5. The estimated reserves of natural gas in India as of 31 March 2018 was 1,339.57 billion cubic meters (BCM), increasing by 3.87% from the previous year.
  6. The largest reserves of natural gas are located in the Eastern Offshore (38.13%) and the Western Offshore (23.33%).

 

ADVANTAGES OF NATURAL GAS:

  1. Natural gas is the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, producing around half the carbon dioxide (CO2) and just one tenth of the air pollutants of coal when burnt to generate electricity.
  2. It is abundant. If consumption remained at today’s levels, there would be enough recoverable gas resources to last around 230 years.
  3. It is versatile. A gas-fired power station takes much less time to start and stop than a coal-fired plant.
  4. This flexibility makes natural gas a good partner to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, which are only available when the sun shines and the wind blows.

 

Source- Indian Express