Insights Daily Current Events, January 25, 2014

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January 25, 2014

NATIONAL & SOCIAL ISSUES

SC’s direction to UGC on faulted deemed university

  • The Supreme Court has directed the University Grants Commission to consider afresh the status of 44 deemed universities which were sought to be de-recognised on the basis of the Tandon Committee report.
  • Passing the order on Tuesday on a writ petition filed by advocate Viplav Sharma seeking regulation of the deemed universities, a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen asked the UGC to examine the reports of the Tandon Committee and the Committee of Officers with notice to all 44 institutions.
  • “The institutions are free to raise their objections to the reports and the UGC has to consider the same and take an independent decision in accordance with law, if necessary, after affording them a hearing, within two months.”
  • The UGC would then tender its advice, which though not binding on the Centre, would have to be given due weight as it is an expert statutory authority.
  • “We make it clear that we have not given our stamp of approval to any of the reports and it is for the UGC to consider all the reports…,” the Bench said.
  • The Tandon Committee had recommended de-notifying the deemed university status to 44 institutions but they demanded that the panel report be discarded.

POVERTY ESTIMATION & INDICATOR   (Continued)

Tendulkar Committee (2009)

  • In 2005, another expert group to review methodology for poverty estimation, chaired by Suresh Tendulkar, was constituted by the Planning Commission to address the following three shortcomings of the previous methods:
  1. Consumption patterns were linked to the 1973-74 poverty line baskets (PLBs) of goods and services, whereas there were significant changes in the consumption patterns of the poor since that time, which were not reflected in the poverty estimates;
  2. There were issues with the adjustment of prices for inflation, both spatially (across regions) and temporally (across time); and
  3. Earlier poverty lines assumed that health and education would be provided by the State and formulated poverty lines accordingly.

It recommended four major changes:

  1. A shift away from calorie consumption based poverty estimation;
  2. A uniform poverty line basket (PLB) across rural and urban India;
  3. A change in the price adjustment procedure to correct spatial and temporal issues with price   adjustment; and
  4. Incorporation of private expenditure on health and education while estimating poverty.
  • Planning commission accepted the recommendation of Tendulkar committee in 2011.
  • The Tendulkar panel had redrawn the poverty line at a daily consumption expenditure of Rs 22.42 per person in rural areas and Rs 28.65 in urban areas.
    • According to the new estimates, there has been a sharp reduction in both absolute numbers of poor, as well as the poverty ratio. The poverty ratio has declined to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12 from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05. (Table)
    • That methodology, as well as the poverty estimates arrived at using it, were widely criticised for under reporting poverty by fixing the consumption levels too low. (The Committee has lowered the calorie intake requirement from 2100 kcal per day for urban areas and 2400 kcal per day for rural areas to a single norm of 1800 kcal per day and has kept the daily consumption expenditure very low)
    • The new estimates, revised based on the consumption expenditure survey, have revised the Tendulkar numbers upwards, but only slightly. The new poverty line pegs daily per capita consumption expenditure at less than Rs 33.33 in cities and Rs 27.20 in villages.
    • Faced with hue and cry over the issue, the panel now supports the idea that entitlements for the poor should go beyond the poverty line benchmark and de-linked from the poverty line.

 

 Percentage and Number of poor estimated by Tendulkar method

Poverty Ratio (%)

Number of poor (million)

Rural

Urban

Total

1. 1993-94 50.1

31.8

45.3

328.6

74.5

403.7

2. 2004-05 41.8

25.7

37.2

326.3

80.8

407.1
3.2011-12 25.7

13.7

21.9

216.5

52.8

269.3

Annual average decline: 1993-94 to 2004-05 0.75

0.55

0.74

Annual average decline: 2004-05 to 2011-12 2.32

1.69

2.18

 

Rangarajan Committee

  • The Planning Commission subsequently appointed another committee, headed by Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, C. Rangarajan, which is expected to submit its report in 2014.

Objectives:

  1. To provide an alternate method to estimate poverty levels and examine whether poverty lines should be fixed solely in terms of a consumption basket or if other criteria are also relevant;
  2. To examine divergence between the consumption estimates based on the NSSO methodology and those emerging from the National Accounts aggregates;
  3. To review international poverty estimation methods and indicate whether based on these, a particular method for empirical poverty estimation can be developed in India, and
  4. To recommend how these estimates of poverty can be linked to eligibility and entitlements under the various schemes of the Government of India.  The Committee is expected to submit its report by 2014.

National poverty line:

  • While the Opponents criticizes  the Planning Commission for using a formal definition of poverty that ensures the percentage of people below the poverty line is lower than what it ought to be, the government has begun moving to a broader and more realistic de facto definition that will include roughly 65 per cent of the population. (in the wake of passing of ordinance on food security bill  (in July 2013 ) which entitles subsidized food grains to 67% population of country)
  • This notional poverty line will stand at a per capita expenditure of around Rs. 50 per day in rural areas and Rs 62 in urban areas.
  • By covering 67 per cent of the population, the government is in effect drawing the poverty line 85 per cent higher than what it is currently drawn at
  • By 2011-12 consumption expenditures, this works out to roughly Rs.1,506 monthly per capita expenditure — or Rs. 50 per day — for rural areas, and Rs. 1,850 per month — or Rs. 62 per day — for urban areas. While India’s poverty line has usually corresponded with the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty, which is $1.25 (in Purchasing Power Parity terms) per person per day, the new notional poverty line would correspond more closely with the Bank’s definition of moderate poverty.

ENVIRONMENT/ECOLOGY

 Synopsis of Environmental Current Affairs (Jan 19th to 24th)

 Jan 19

 More regional centers to monitor environmental projects

According to information revealed in an affidavit filed by MoEF in Supreme Court, the government is planning to open 4 more regional centers to strengthen monitoring of environmental projects in different sectors, including mining. The new centers will be located at Chennai, Dehradun, Nagpur and Ranchi. Already 6 regional centers are working at Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Shillong, Lucknow and Chandigarh.

Jan 20

Chilika for UNWTO project.

Chilika, Orissa, has been chosen as one of the 8 global sites for development of sustainable tourism and livelihood of local communities to maintain its status as a destination for migratory birds by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). At Chilika, the only site in Asia to be selected, UNWTO would help develop strategies for protection of migratory birds through creation of innovative tourism and livelihood products.

 Jan 21

No El Nino, still warm 2013

According to NASA and US governments’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2013 one among the warmest years, since the temperature records began in 1880. Important fact is that in 2013, there was no El Nino. Usually due to El Nino, a weather event leading to warming of Central Pacific, the average temperatures are boosted every year.

 Jan 22

At Davos, Switzerland, top leaders at the World Economic Forum have emphatically made it a top priority to push to reshape the Global economy and cut Global warming by shifting to cleaner energy sources.

Jan 23

Green Rain In Mumbai

At Dombivili, Mumbai, environmentalists and conservationists were forced to take note of the Green Rain and the larger pollution problem in Mumbai. Air pollutants reacting with rain water may have resulted in Green Rain, thus causing water and soil pollution. There are a total of 450 industrial plants in and around the area, majority of which deal in chemical and hazardous wastes. Local people regularly complain of foul smell and choking gases emission from these plants.

Jan 24

The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), has identified 40  Germplasm of chickpea, resistant to extreme weather conditions like drought, high temperatures and salinity. The latest finding is the result of 14 year effort by a team led by Dr. Hari D. Upadhyay, head of Genebank at ICRISAT. Chickpeas are rich in Protein, Starch, Fibers, Minerals, Vitamins and is an important legume in the world