InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. World Urdu Conference.
2. Great Andamanese tribe.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has approved 78 new routes under the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN.
- So far, 766 routes have been sanctioned under the UDAN scheme.
About Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN:
UDAN, which stands for ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’, aims to make air travel affordable and widespread.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation had launched Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) in October 10 2016 to stimulate regional air connectivity and making air travel affordable to the masses.
- The scheme will be jointly funded by the central government and state governments.
- The scheme will run for 10 years and can be extended thereafter.
Viability Gap Funding (VGF):
The scheme entails making the routes financially viable, without insisting on the financial viability of the regional airports, by lowering the cost of flight operations and through financial support in the form of Viability Gap Funding (VGF). VGF will be available to flight operators on specific routes for the first 3 years of operation.
The 4th round of UDAN was launched in December 2019 with a special focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands.
- The airports that had already been developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) are given higher priority for the award of VGF (Viability Gap Funding) under the Scheme.
- Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated.
- When was UDAN scheme launched?
- Implementation and funding of the scheme.
- Overview of the National Civil Aviation Policy.
- Under the scheme, who provides Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to subsidise the airfare?
- Role of state governments under the scheme.
Discuss the performance of UDAN scheme.
Topics Covered: 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.
A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has held that States can sub-classify Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Central List to provide preferential treatment to the “weakest out of the weak”.
The judgment is based on a reference to the Constitution Bench the question of law involving Section 4(5) of the Punjab Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006.
- The legal provision allows 50% of the reserved Scheduled Castes seats in the State to be allotted to Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs.
Need for sub-classification- Observations made by the Supreme Court:
- Reservation has created inequalities within the reserved castes itself.
- There is a “caste struggle” within the reserved class as benefit of reservation are being usurped by a few.
- It is clear that caste, occupation, and poverty are interwoven.
- The State cannot be deprived of the power to take care of the qualitative and quantitative difference between different classes to take ameliorative measures.
What does the Constitution of India state?
According to the Constitution of India, under article 341(1), the President of India, after consultation with the Governor, may specify, “the castes, races, tribes or parts of groups within castes or races, which shall be deemed to be Scheduled Castes”.
Accordingly, the President has notified the Scheduled Castes in the order called ‘Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order-1950’ and the ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes List (Modification) Order-1956.
- However, under article 341(2), the Parliament of India by law can include or exclude the above-mentioned groups from the list of the Scheduled Castes.
Does the latest judgment amount to tinkering of the Central list?
No, said the Supreme Court bench. Sub-classifications within the Presidential/Central List does not amount to “tinkering” with it. No caste is excluded from the list. The States only give preference to weakest of the lot in a pragmatic manner based on statistical data.
- Besides, Preferential treatment to ensure even distribution of reservation benefits to the more backward is a facet of the right to equality.
Why this judgment is significant?
It fully endorses the push to extend the creamy layer concept to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The judgment records that “Citizens cannot be treated to be socially and educationally backward till perpetuity; those who have come up must be excluded like the creamy layer”.
- The entire basket of fruits cannot be given to the mighty at the cost of others under the guise of forming a homogenous class.
Implications of the judgment:
With this, the Bench took a contrary view to a 2004 judgment delivered by another Coordinate Bench of five judges in the E.V. Chinnaiah case.
- In this case, the court had held that allowing States to unilaterally “make a class within a class of members of the Scheduled Castes” would amount to tinkering with the Presidential list.
- Now with two numerically equal Benches of judges holding contrary viewpoints, the issue has been referred to a seven-judge Bench of the court.
- V. Chinnaiah case is related to?
- Powers of President under article 341(1).
- Who can include or exclude groups from the central list?
- Various benches of the Supreme Court.
- Power of Supreme Court to review its own judgment.
There is a “caste struggle” within the reserved class as benefit of reservation are being usurped by a few. Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
A recent study suggests that the “Wolbachia method” could be used to significantly reduce the incidence of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, in populations where the illness is endemic.
Where was this method tested?
Scientists from the World Mosquito Program (WMP) of Monash University in Australia and Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia tested this method in a 27-month trial in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
- They found that using the Wolbachia method reduced the occurrence of dengue in the treated population by 77%.
How it works?
This method involves introducing Wolbachia, a type of bacteria, into populations of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species responsible for spreading dengue.
- When the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes breed with their wild counterparts, the percentage of mosquitoes carrying the bacterium grows.
- It is not fully understood why the Wolbachia bacterium interferes with the transmission of dengue. One theory is that the bacterium prevents dengue viruses from replicating in mosquito cells.
Dengue is a viral disease that is endemic in many countries, including India.
Although it usually results in mild illness, severe dengue infections can sometimes prove fatal.
- World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest an annual incidence of 100-400 million dengue infections every year, with its global incidence growing dramatically “in recent decades”.
- Dengue- causes, symptoms and spread.
- The “Wolbachia method” is related to?
- Where was this method tested recently?
- About the World Mosquito Program (WMP).
Write a note on the “Wolbachia method”, which was in news recently.
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The Centre has presented two options before the states to bridge their goods and services tax (GST) revenue shortfall. They are:
- States borrow Rs 97,000 crore, which is the estimated shortfall, only “on account of GST” under a special window to be facilitated in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at a ‘reasonable G Sec-linked interest rate’.
- They borrow the entire Rs 2.35 lakh crore. There also, arrangement could be made with the RBI and certain facilities could be provided.
The loans will be serviced via the proceeds of the relevant compensation cess, which will apply on the specified demerit goods for a year or more beyond the current end date of FY22.
What’s the issue?
The GST Compensation Act, 2017 guaranteed States that they would be compensated for any loss of revenue in the first five years of GST implementation, until 2022, using a cess levied on sin and luxury goods.
- However, the economic slowdown has pushed both GST and cess collections down over the last year, resulting in a 40% gap last year between the compensation paid and cess collected.
- States are likely to face a GST revenue gap of ₹3 lakh crore this year, as the economy may contract due to COVID-19, which Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed an unforeseen “act of God”.
What is compensation cess?
The modalities of the compensation cess were specified by the GST (Compensation to States) Act, 2017.
- This Act assumed that the GST revenue of each State would grow at 14% every year, from the amount collected in 2015-16, through all taxes subsumed by the GST.
- A State that had collected tax less than this amount in any year would be compensated for the shortfall. The amount would be paid every two months based on provisional accounts, and adjusted every year after the State’s accounts were audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
This scheme is valid for five years, i.e., till June 2022.
Compensation cess fund:
A compensation cess fund was created from which States would be paid for any shortfall. An additional cess would be imposed on certain items and this cess would be used to pay compensation.
- The items are pan masala, cigarettes and tobacco products, aerated water, caffeinated beverages, coal and certain passenger motor vehicles.
- The GST Act states that the cess collected and “such other amounts as may be recommended by the [GST] Council” would be credited to the fund.
Most economists expect negative real GDP growth this year, and nominal GDP to be close to last year’s level.
- As indirect taxes are levied on the nominal value of transactions, this is likely to result in significant shortfall for States from the assured tax collection.
- A key source of the problem is that the 2017 Act guaranteed a tax growth rate of 14%, which is unachievable this year. Whereas no one could have foreseen the pandemic and its impact on the economy, the 14% target was too ambitious to start with.
What needs to be done?
The Central government is constitutionally bound to compensate States for loss of revenue for five years.
There are several possible solutions to this issue:
- The Constitution could be amended to reduce the period of guarantee to three years (thus ending June 2020). This would be difficult to do as most States would be reluctant to agree to this proposal. It could also be seen as going back on the promise made to States when they agreed to subsume their taxes into the GST.
- The Central government could fund this shortfall from its own revenue. States would be happy with this proposal. However, the Centre’s finances are stretched due to shortfall in its own tax collection combined with extra expenditure to manage the health and economic crisis. It may not be in a position to give further support to States.
- The Centre could borrow on behalf of the cess fund. The tenure of the cess could be extended beyond five years until the cess collected is sufficient to pay off this debt and interest on it.
- The Centre could convince States that the 14% growth target was always unrealistic. The target should have been linked to nominal GDP growth. If the Centre can negotiate with States through the GST Council to reset the assured tax level, it could then bring in a Bill in Parliament to amend the 2017 Act.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Experts have slammed a recent move of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) giving its greenlight for biosafety research-level-II (BRL-II) field trials for Event 142, a new variety of genetically modified brinjal (Bt brinjal).
Why this is a matter of concern?
This new variety of genetically modified brinjal was quietly given approval without any data in the public domain. This variety got approved even before the second season BRL-II and the biosafety report was out.
- This paved the way for crop developers and applicants to seek permission for commercial cultivation.
- There was no transparencyin the manner when it came to reports regarding the biosafety of this variety of brinjal.
What is a GM crop?
A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.
For example, a GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination.
- The resulting plant is said to be “genetically modified” although in reality all crops have been “genetically modified” from their original wild state by domestication, selection, and controlled breeding over long periods of time.
What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?
In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops.
Penalty: Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1986.
Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?
Reduced costs: Cost of weeding goes down considerably if farmers grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. In case of Bt brinjal, the cost reduces as the cost of production is reduced by cutting down on the use of pesticides.
Environmentalists argue that the long-lasting effect of GM crops is yet to be studied and thus they should not be released commercially. Genetic modification, they say, brings about changes that can be harmful to humans in the long run.
- GEAC- establishment, composition and functions.
- Is it a statutory body?
- Bt Crops allowed in India.
What can be the geopolitical and geo-economic consequences of COVID-19? Discuss.
Sources: down to earth.
Facts for Prelims
World Urdu Conference:
World Urdu Conference was recently organised by National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) in New Delhi.
- NCPUL is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) (The Ministry was renamed as Ministry of Education), Department of Secondary and Higher Education, Government of India.
- It was setup in 1996 as the National Nodal Agency for the promotion of the Urdu language.
Great Andamanese tribe:
- It is a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
- They are one of five PVTGs that reside in Andamans archipelago.
- They speak Jeru dialect among themselves and their number stands at 51.
- The five PVTGS residing in Andamans are Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onges, Shompens and North Sentinelese.
Why in News?
Five members of the Great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for COVID-19.
Togo has become the first country in Africa to eliminate human African Trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, a disease caused by parasites transmitted through infected tsetse flies.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) August 27, 2020 certified so, after the country applied for it in 2018.
Articles to be covered tomorrow:
- Africa eradicates wild poliovirus.
And few other articles.