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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 27 July 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 27 July 2019


Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  2. 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; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

 

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

 

What to study?

For Prelims: PMFBY- key features.

For Mains: PMFBY performance analysis, shortcomings and ways to address them.

 

Context: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) envisages use of improved technology to reduce time gap for settlement of claims of farmers.

Accordingly, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, through Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC), has involved 8 agencies/ organizations to carry out pilot studies for Optimization of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) in various States under PMFBY

 

About PMFBY:

Launched in April, 2016, after rolling back the earlier insurance schemes viz. National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS), Weather-based Crop Insurance scheme and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

Premium: It envisages a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5% for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.

The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.

 

Objectives:

  1. Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  2. Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  3. Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  4. Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

 

Challenges at present:

Insufficient reach and the issue of penetration.

Data constraints: With just around 45% of the claims made by farmers over the last three crop seasons data for the last rabi season is not available paid by the insurance companies.

Low payout of claims: The reason for the very low payout of claims is that only few state governments are paying their share of the premiums on time and till they do, the central government doesn’t pay its share either. Till they get the premium, insurance companies simply sit on the claims.

Gaps in assessment of crop loss: There is hardly any use of modern technology in assessing crop damages. There is lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling

Less number of notified crops than can avail insurance, Inadequate and delayed claim payment.

High actuarial premium rates: Insurance companies charged high actuarial premium rates. If states delay notifications, or payment of premiums, or crop cutting data, companies cannot pay compensation to the farmers in time.

Poor capacity to deliver: There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper Implementation of PMFBY. PMBY is not beneficial for farmers in vulnerable regions as factors like low indemnity levels, low threshold yields, low sum insured and default on loans make it a poor scheme to safeguard against extreme weather events.

 

Mains Question: Discuss technology’s benefits for crop insurance in India.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. economics of animal-rearing.

 

Rashtriya Gokul Mission

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Rashtriya Gokul Mission – features and significance, significance of the dairy sector.

 

Context: In order to complement and supplement the efforts made by the States and Union Territories for enhancing milk production and productivity of bovines, Government has been implementing Rashtriya Gokul Mission throughout the country for development and conservation of bovine population thereby enhancing their production and productivity.

 

About Rashtriya Gokul Mission:

To conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds, government has launched ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ under the National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy Development (NPBBD).

 

The Mission is being implemented with the objectives to: 

  1. a) development and conservation of indigenous breeds.
  2. b) undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock.
  3. c) enhance milk production and productivity.
  4. d) upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi.
  5. e) distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls for natural service.

 

Implementation:

Rashtriya Gokul Mission will be implemented through the “State Implementing Agency (SIA viz Livestock Development Boards). State Gauseva Ayogs will be given the mandate to sponsor proposals to the SIA’s (LDB’s) and monitor implementation of the sponsored proposal. All Agencies having a role in indigenous cattle development will be the “Participating Agencies” like CFSPTI, CCBFs, ICAR, Universities, Colleges, NGO’s, Cooperative Societies and Gaushalas with best germplasm.

 

Gokul Gram:

  1. Funds under the scheme will be allocated for the establishment of Integrated Indigenous Cattle Centres viz “Gokul Gram”.
  2. Gokul Grams will be established in: i) the native breeding tracts and ii) near metropolitan cities for housing the urban cattle.
  3. Gokul Gram will act as Centres for development of Indigenous Breeds and a dependable source for supply of high genetic breeding stock to the farmers in the breeding tract.
  4. The Gokul Gram will be self sustaining and will generate economic resources from sale of A2 milk (A2 milkis cow’s milk that mostly lacks a form of β-casein proteins called A1 and instead has mostly the A2 form), organic manure, vermi-composting, urine distillates, and production of electricity from bio gas for in house consumption and sale of animal products.
  5. The Gokul Gram will also function as state of the art in situ training centrefor Farmers, Breeders and MAITRI’s.
  6. The Gokul Gram will maintain milch and unproductive animals in the ratio of 60:40and will have the capacity to maintain about 1000 animals. Nutritional requirements of the animals will be provided in the Gokul Gram through in house fodder production.
  7. Gokul Gram will also be set up near to metropolitan cities for managing urban cattle. Metropolitan Gokul Gram will focus on genetic upgradation of urban cattle.

 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Amendments to The Companies Act

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the companies act, need for amendments and significance.

 

Context: Govt introduces bill to amend companies law in Lok Sabha. It amends the Companies Act, 2013. 

 

Need:

The amendments aim to ensure more accountability and better enforcement to strengthen the corporate governance norms and compliance management in corporate sector.

 

Key features of the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019:

  1. Allows companies to transfer their unspent CSR funds to a separate account and the same has to be spent within three financial years. In case, the money remains unspent, then it should be transferred to any fund specified in Schedule VII of the Act.
  2. Provides more teeth to the central government to deal with violators and reducing burden on special courts.
  3. Seeks to enable the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to perform its functions through divisions and executive body.
  4. Seeks to empower Registrar of Companies (RoC) to initiate action for removal of a company’s name if the latter is not carrying out business activities as per the Act.
  5. Proposes to transfer some functions from NCLT to the Central government such as dealing with applications for change of financial year and conversion from public to private companies.
  6. In order to curb the menace of shell companies, the Bill proposes making non-maintenance of registered office and non-reporting of commencement of business grounds for striking off the name of the company from the register of companies.

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

POCSO court

 

What to study?

For Prelims: POCSO Act provisions.

For Mains: Sexual abuse of children- prevention and need for stringent provisions, causes for delay in pending cases.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to set up special courts in each district across the country that have over a 100 cases of child abuse and sexual assault pending trial under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

 

Need for special courts:

Present Slow pace of action on protection of children from sexual predators. As per available data, number of victims compensated under Pocso were 3% in 2015, 4% in 2016 and 5% in 2017. Around 1.5 lakh cases are pending trial before 670 designated courts.

Though the Act mandates trial to be completed in one year, the deadline is impossible to achieve as each designated trial judge is saddled with a few hundred cases in addition to the trial of other cases.

 

Guidelines by the SC for Setting up of special courts:

  1. Such courts will be funded by the central government. The fund will not only take care of the appointment of the presiding officer but also appointments of support persons, special public prosecutors, court staff and infrastructure, including creation of childfriendly environment and vulnerable witness court rooms.
  2. Awareness: WCD ministry shall facilitate screening of “short clips intended to spread awareness of the subject in general, namely, prevention of child abuse and prosecution of crimes against children, in every movie hall and could also be transmitted by various television channels at regular intervals.
  3. A child helpline number should also be displayed in such clips and at schools and other public places.

 

Background:

Kerala has the worst judge-case ratio, as it has set up just three designated courts for 14 districts with each required to deal with 2,211 cases.

Chhattisgarh and Punjab have the lowest average of 51 cases per designated court.

 

Recent amendments proposed:

Union Cabinet has approved the Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

 

Key changes proposed:

  1. It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
  2. It includes provision of death penalty in cases of sexual offences against children.
  3. The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonmentto curb child pornography.
  4. Amendments are also proposed to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and in other situations where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. RPA related issues.

State poll funding

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: State funding of elections- need, issues and feasibility, electoral reforms in general.

 

Context: Equating the expenditure limit on election expenses with prohibition, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda has moved a private member’s bill- Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill– in the Rajya Sabha that seeks removal of the limit and state funding of elections as part of reforms to the way polls are financed in India.

 

Why remove the expenditure Limit?

The limit on expenditure is seen as counter productive and only helped those with black money to bribe individual voters and crippled honest candidates.

 

What needs to be done- proposals made in the bill?

  1. Instead of imposing a limit, transparency should be brought in. The candidates should be allowed to legitimately raise funds.
  2. Ensure state funding– The bill proposed a National Election Fund, under which each political party could be allotted funds according to their recent electoral performance.

 

What is state or public funding of elections?

This means that government gives funds to political parties or candidates for contesting elections.

Its main purpose is to make it unnecessary for contestants to take money from powerful moneyed interests so that they can remain clean.

 

Why public funding is good?

  1. Political parties and candidates need money for their electoral campaigns, to keep contacts with their constituencies, to prepare policy decisions and to pay professional staff. Therefore, public funding is a natural and necessary cost of democracy.
  2. Public funding can limit the influence of interested money and thereby help curb corruption.
  3. Public funding can increase transparency in party and candidate finance and thereby help curb corruption.
  4. In societies where many citizens are under or just above the poverty line, they cannot be expected to donate large amounts of money to political parties or candidates. If parties and candidates receive at least a basic amount of money from the State the country could have a functioning multi-party system without people having to give up their scarce resources.

 

Why are some people opposed to this idea?

  • Those against this idea wonder how a Government that is grappling with deficit budgets, can provide money to political parties to contest elections.
  • They also warn that state funding would encourage every second outfit to get into the political arena merely to avail of state funds.
  • Also, given that state expenditure on key social sectors such as primary healthcare is “pitifully small”, the very idea of the Government giving away money to political parties to contest polls, is revolting.

 

Why it is difficult to go for public funding?

  1. The funds that a political party advances to its party candidates in an election vary from one candidate to another, and there is much variation across political parties in this regard.
  2. Assuming that there are five contending candidates in a constituency, and even if each one of them does not spend as much, but just half of their elected counterpart, an amount of about ₹15 crore will be spent in each constituency, which with about 4,215 MLAs in India works out to an about ₹13,000 crore per annum.
  3. While the legal limit that a Lok Sabha candidate can spend is ₹70 lakh, a victorious candidate on an average does not spend less than ₹10 crore for the purpose. Suppose we assume again an average of five candidates per constituency, and halving the amount to losers, about ₹30 crore will be spent in each Lok Sabha constituency, and given 543 members of the Lok Sabha, about ₹3,300 crore per annum.
  4. Then there are elections to the Upper Houses, both at the Centre and in some States, and the local governing bodies. Hence, it is argued that public funding places unnecessary burden on the exchequer.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Red Mud:

Context: Ministry of mines organises a workshop on Effective utilization of Red Mud.

Red Mud is a solid waste generated during the aluminium production process.

Concerns: This is an environmental concern due to presence of impurities such as caustic soda and others minerals.

Background: Global generation of red mud is more than 150 million tons and there exists a global inventory of more than 3 billion tons. Red mud generation in India is around 9 million tons per year.

 

Hyperbola-1:

Context: iSpace, a Chinese startup, has launched first commercial rocket of China- Hyperbola-1– into the Earth’s orbit.

Hyperbola-1 is carrying the CAS-7B CubeSat (microsatellite). It is an amateur radio mission which is developed by the Beijing Institute of Technology.
Hyperbola-1 is also carrying a satellite for Aerospace Science and Technology Space Engineering Development Co. Ltd.

About Hyperbola-1: It is around 68,000 pounds (31 metric tons) with three lower stages burning pre-packed solid propellants, and a liquid-fueled upper stage for a final orbital injection maneuver.
This rocket is able to deliver up to 573 pounds (260 kilograms) of payload mass to a 310-mile-high (500-kilometer) sun-synchronous polar orbit.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

Compulsory voting:

Context: The Compulsory Voting Bill, 2019, has been introduced by a ruling party MP in Lok Sabha.

 

Attempts in the past to make voting compulsory:

The idea of making voting compulsory was rejected by Dr. B R Ambedkar on account of practical difficulties during the discussion on the People’s Representation Bill in Parliament in the year 1951.

Since then, many committees have discussed the issue and one such committee was Dinesh Goswami Committee (1990).

Many Private member’s bills were introduced for making voting compulsory.

 

Arguments in favour of compulsory voting:

  1. Strengthen democracy- If compulsory voting was introduced, Parliament will be able to reflect more accurately, the will of the electorate. Compulsory voting will ensure that people take politics more seriously and will begin to take more proactive role. Further, citizens who live in a democratic state have a duty to vote, which is an essential part of that democracy.
  2. Benefits the prevention of extremist and special interest groups from grabbing power. Otherwise if less number of people vote then it becomes easier for the special interest groups to motivate a small section of people and influence the outcome of the election process.
  3. Financial resources can be saved as Election Commission no longer needs to spend money in convincing people about the need to vote.

 

Arguments against making voting compulsory:

  1. Practical difficulties such as remoteness of polling booths, difficulties faced by certain classes of people like daily wage labourers, nomadic groups, disabled, pregnant women etc. in casting their vote. 
  2. Compulsory voting may be in violation of the fundamental rights of liberty and expression that are guaranteed to citizens in a democratic state. So every individual should be able to choose whether or not he or she wants to vote. Active participation in a democratic set up must be voluntary, and not coerced.
  3. The expenditure increases with enforcing compulsory voting. For instance, the cost per voter in 2009 LokSabha elections is Rs.12. If in case a large number of voters who do not want to vote presses NOTA button, then it becomes an unnecessary expenditure without any decisive outcome on the election.