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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 19 November 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 19 November 2019


Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Equal representation to all States in Rajya Sabha sought.
  2. Gram Sabha.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).
  4. Kimberley Process.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. IMD World Talent Ranking- 2019.
  2. What is space internet?

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Za’ir-Al-Bahr (the Roar of the Sea).
  2. Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

 


 

GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Equal representation to all States in Rajya Sabha sought

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Rajya Sabaha- elections, composition and functions.

For Mains: Need for- issues, challenges and solutions.

 

Context: On the occasion of its 250th session, Rajya Sabha MPs have made the following suggestions:

  1. Giving all States, irrespective of their population and size, an equal number of seats in the Rajya Sabha.
  2. All members, irrespective of their parties’ strength in the House, the same amount of time to speak in debates.

 

Need for Rajya Sabha:

  1. The Upper House of the Indian Parliament traces its direct history to the first bicameral legislature introduced in British India in 1919 as a consequence of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.
  2. Unlike the US Senate which ensures equal representation for all federal units (each state having two representatives), India’s Rajya Sabha does have more members from populous states.
  3. Even though Indian states are ‘mere administrative units’ which don’t enjoy a constitutionally-assured permanence, their continued existence over all these years and the constitutional separation of power has given them the nature of autonomous units in their own spheres. Therefore, the ‘state-wise’ identity cannot be ruled out completely. 
  4. India’s Rajya Sabha has equal powers to the Lok Sabha except for money bills, where it has no jurisdiction.

 

Is the Rajya Sabha essential?

  1. The contemporary argument against it comes from two primary angles:
  2. The first one suggests that a Lok Sabha that has representation from several regional parties more than adequately represents a federal country.
  3. The second argument charges that the Rajya Sabha has become a haven for losers in elections, crony capitalists, compromised journalists and party fundraisers.

 

What can be done?

It is virtually impossible to abolish the Rajya Sabha without adopting a new Indian Constitution. The bicameral nature of the Indian Parliament is likely to be interpreted as a “basic structure” of the Indian Constitution, rendering it incapable of being amended. Even if this were to be tested, it would be ensnared in a judicial process for a very long time. It is much more practical to try and reform the Rajya Sabha than seeking to abolish it.

 

Reforms needed:

  1. Have members of the Rajya Sabha be directly elected by the citizens of a state. This will reduce cronyism and patronage appointments.
  2. This step should be combined with equal representation for each state (say, five members) so that large states do not dominate the proceedings in the House.
  3. This streamlined Rajya Sabha should remain deliberative, but there should be deadlines set for responding to bills initiated in the Lok Sabha.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the constitutional status of Rajya Sabha with respect to Lok Sabha.


Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

Gram Sabha

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Constitution, composition and functions of Gram Sabha.

For Mains: Issues associated with their functioning, need for more powers.

 

Context: The Haryana Cabinet has taken an in-principle decision to bring an amendment in Section 31 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, allowing devolution of powers to the Gram Sabha to ban liquor within the local area of a Gram Panchayat.

  • The quorum of the Gram Sabha meeting for passing such a resolution shall be one-tenth of its members.

 

What is Gram Sabha?

The term Gram Sabha is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b). 

Gram Sabha is the primary body of the Panchayati Raj system and by far the largest.

It is a permanent body. 

The power to annul a decision of the Gram Sabha rests with the Gram Sabha only.

 

Composition:

  1. Persons, those who are above 18 years of age. 
  2. Living in the village. 
  3. Whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.

 

Powers and functions:

Constitution mentions that Gram Sabha exercises such powers and performs such functions at the village level as the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide.

 

Important and specific functions of Gram Sabha:

  1. To help implementation of the development programmes and schemes of the Panchayat.
  2. To identify beneficiaries for different programmes and schemes. However, if the Gram Sabha fails to identify such beneficiaries within a reasonable time, the Gram Panchayat shall identify the beneficiaries.
  3. To solicit support — in cash or kind or both and voluntary labour — from the public for community welfare programmes.
  4. To support the programmes of mass education and family welfare.
  5. To promote unity and harmony among all sections of the society in the village.
  6. To seek clarification from the Mukhiya, Up-Mukhiya and other members of the Gram Panchayat about any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure.
  7. To discuss and recommend appropriate action with regard to reports of the Vigilance Committee.
  8. Other related matters brought to the notice of the Gram Sabha.
  9. To consider levy of taxes, rates, rents & fees & enhancement of rates thereof.
  10. To consider all such matters as may be referred by the Gram Panchayat for its decision.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

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.

 

 

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key Highlights of the PMMVY, funding and beneficiaries, challenges present and ways to address them.

 

Context: As per a survey, the PMMVY has been able to reach less than a third of the eligible beneficiaries.

 

Key concerns:

  1. The scheme has failed to reach at least 49% of all mothers who would have delivered their first child (an estimated total of 123 lakh for 2017 according to the researchers).
  2. Given the stipulated conditions, the scheme brings under its ambit 23% of all births and pays full benefits to a mere 14% of all births, which was at 270.5 lakh for 2017.
  3. Only 66% of pregnant women and 69% of nursing women knew about the scheme. Only 8% of pregnant women and 23% of nursing mothers received some benefits.

 

Hurdles in implementation:

  1. An application form of about 23 pages, a slew of documents such as mother-child protection card, Aadhaar card, husband’s Aadhaar card and bank passbook aside from linking their bank accounts with Aadhaar. 
  2. The requirement to produce the husband’s Aadhaar card results in excluding women who may be living with men they are not married to, single mothers and those who may be staying at their natal home.
  3. Women must also have the address of their marital home on their Aadhaar card, which often results in newly weds being either left out or forced to go from door-to-door when pregnant and needing rest and care.

 

About PMMVY:

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit rechristened from erstwhile Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The IGMSY was launched in 2010.

The scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women.

It provides a partial wage compensation to women for wage-loss during childbirth and childcare and to provide conditions for safe delivery and good nutrition and feeding practices.

They receive a cash benefit of Rs. 5,000 in three instalments on fulfilling the respective conditionality, viz. early registration of pregnancy, ante-natal check-up and registration of the birth of the child and completion of first cycle of vaccination for the first living child of the family.

The eligible beneficiaries also receive cash incentive under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). Thus, on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6,000.

 

Exceptions: The maternity benefits are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force.

Funding: The scheme is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme under which cost sharing ratio between the Centre and the States & UTs with Legislature is 60:40 while for North-Eastern States & three Himalayan States; it is 90:10. It is 100% Central assistance for Union Territories without Legislature.

 

Need for special attention:

Under-nutrition continues to adversely affect majority of women in India. In India, every third woman is undernourished and every second woman is anaemic.

An undernourished mother almost inevitably gives birth to a low birth weight baby. When poor nutrition starts in-utero, it extends throughout the life cycle since the changes are largely irreversible.

Owing to economic and social distress many women continue to work to earn a living for their family right up to the last days of their pregnancy.

They resume working soon after childbirth, even though their bodies might not permit it, thus preventing their bodies from fully recovering on one hand, and also impeding their ability to exclusively breastfeed their young infant in the first six months.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Kimberley Process

 

What to study?

For prelims: About the Kimberly process, previous chair, conflict diamonds.

For mains: How does the Kimberley Process work?

 

Context: The Plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is being hosted by India.

India is the present Kimberley Process (KP) Chair. The plenary is being hosted in New Delhi in November 2019.

 

What is the Kimberley Process?

The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds.

The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff. It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers. Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.

 

What are Conflict diamonds?

“Conflict Diamonds” means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.  It is also described in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

 

Who is involved?

The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements. The KP has 55 participants, representing 82 countries, including the European Union and its Member States counting as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.

In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations, such as Partnership-Africa Canada, participate in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.

 

How does the Kimberley Process work?

  1. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
  2. Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data.
  3. Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.

 

Rough diamond trading under the KPCS:

As per the Scheme, each shipment of rough diamonds being exported and imported by crossing an international border be transported in a tamper proof container and accompanied by a validated Kimberley Process Certificate. The shipment can only be exported to a co-participant country in the KPCS. No uncertified shipments of rough diamonds are permitted to enter a participant country.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

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

 

IMD World Talent Ranking- 2019

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Significance and concerns highlighted by the report.

 

Context: The 2019 World Talent Ranking has been released.

  • It is released by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD). IMD is a business education school based in Switzerland.
  • The ranking is based on the performance in three main categories — investment and development, appeal and readiness.

 

Performance of countries:

  • The top of the table is still led by European small and mid-size economies. These countries all share high levels of investments in education and a superior quality of life.
  • Switzerland in the first and Denmark in the second position firmly lead the ranking for the seventh year in a row, followed by Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg.

 

Performance of India:

  1. India has slipped 6 places to 59 rank.
  2. This is due to low quality of life and expenditure on education.
  3. India is also lagging behind fellow BRICs countries – China ranked 42nd on the list, Russia (47th) and South Africa (50th).
  4. India also witnessed one of the sharpest declines among Asian economies owing to low quality of life, negative impact of brain drain, and the low priority of its economy on attracting and retaining talents.
  5. The drop is a combination of several factors including expenditure on education (per student) and the quality of education which may be linked to the GDP growth.
  6. There are other issues such as the effectiveness of the health system and women’s participation in the labour force.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

What is space internet?

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Different orbits, about the Starlink network project.

For Mains: Significance of the project and challenges present.

 

Why in News?

SpaceX, the world’s leading private company in space technology, has launched 60 satellites into the low earth orbit, under the Starlink network project.

 

What is it?

The Starlink network is one of several ongoing efforts to start beaming data signals from space.

Under the project, the company intends to evolve into a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites.

The aim is to provide low-cost and reliable space-based Internet services to the world.

The project announced in 2015, has now 122 satellites in the orbit.

 

Significance of the project:

The project ensures that reliable and uninterrupted Internet services are universally available in every part of the globe.

  • Currently, about 4 billion people, more than half the world’s population, do not have access to reliable Internet networks.
  • And that is because the traditional ways to deliver the Internet — fibre-optic cables or wireless networks — cannot take it everywhere on Earth.
  • In many remote areas, or places with difficult terrain, it is not feasible or viable to set up cables or mobile towers.

Signals from satellites in space can overcome this obstacle easily.

 

Why use low earth orbit instead of geostationary?

Geostationary orbit is located at a height of 35,786 km over the Earth’s surface, directly above the Equator. Satellites in this orbit move at speeds of about 11,000 km per hour, and complete one revolution of the Earth in the same time that the earth rotates once on its axis. To the observer on the ground, therefore, a satellite in geostationary orbit appears stationary.

Advantages: Signals from geostationary orbit can cover a very large part of the Earth. Signals from one satellite can cover roughly a third of the planet — and three to four satellites would be enough to cover the entire Earth. Also, because they appear to be stationary, it is easier to link to them.

Then what’s the issue?

There is a time lag — called latency — between a user seeking data, and the server sending that data.

And because data transfers cannot happen faster than the speed of light (in reality, they take place at significantly lower speeds), the longer the distance that needs to be covered the greater is the time lag, or latency.

A transmission from a satellite in geostationary orbit has a latency of about 600 milliseconds.

 

How low earth orbit seeks to solve this issue?

A satellite in the lower orbit, 200-2,000 km from the Earth’s surface, can bring the lag down to 20-30 milliseconds, roughly the time it takes for terrestrial systems to transfer data.

 

Concerns over LEOs:

Owing to their lower height, their signals cover a relatively small area. As a result, many more satellites are needed in order to reach signals to every part of the planet.

Other issues include: Increased space debris, increased risk of collisions, and the concern of astronomers that these constellations of space Internet satellites will make it difficult to observe other space objects, and to detect their signals.

 

Sources: Indian Express.

 


Facts for prelims:

 

Za’ir-Al-Bahr (the Roar of the Sea):

  • It is the Joint Exercise between the Qatari Emiri Navy and the Indian Navy, Za’ir-Al-Bahr (the Roar of the Sea).
  • The latest edition is being held in Doha.
  • Aim: To strengthen cooperation and enhance interoperability between the two navies.

 

 

Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS):

  • Launched by Ministry of Sports within the ambit of National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).
  • It aims at identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for upcoming Olympic Games.
  • It will provide selected sportspersons customized training at institutes having world class facilities and also other necessary support is being provided to the elite athletes. It will also provide a benchmark for selection of athletes on par with international standards.
  • Under it, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and federations, which are members of Mission Olympic Cell (MOC), will be nodal agencies for disbursal for fund. They will make payments directly to beneficiary person and institution concerned on behalf of athletes.