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:
1. Consequences of growing digital divide.
2. Rohingya Crisis.
3. OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework tax deal.
GS Paper 3:
1. G-SAP: Securities acquisition plan for market boost.
2. Palk Bay scheme.
3. Stubble Burning.
Facts for Prelims:
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Protection of vulnerable sections of the society.
The Supreme Court has flaggedthe consequences of growing digital divide.
- It observed, the digital divide caused by online classes will defeat the fundamental right of every child to education.
How have online classes impacted children?
- Little children whose parents are too poor to afford laptops, tablets or an “optimum” Internet package at home for online classes during the pandemic have dropped out of school and even run the danger of being drawn into child labour or worse, child trafficking.
- Even, the right to education has now hinged on who could afford “gadgets” for online classes and who could not.
What’s the issue?
The court was hearing a petition filed by private school managements challenging a Delhi High Court order of September 2020, directing them to provide their 25% quota EWS/DG students online facilities free of cost.
- The High Court had said the schools could get reimbursement from the government.
- The Delhi government had said it had no resources to reimburse the schools for the online gadgets.
Though the Supreme Court had stayed the High Court order in February 2021, the court said both the Centre and States such as Delhi could not bow out of their responsibilities towards children.
The Court asked the Delhi government to come out with a plan to effectuate the ‘salutary object’ upheld in the High Court decision. The court said the Centre should join in the consultation.
It means discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and people who do not have the resources and access to the technology.
- It also means discrepancy between those who have the skills, knowledge and abilities to use the technologies and those who do not.
Where does it exist?
The digital divide can exist between those living in rural areas and those living in urban areas, between genders, between the educated and uneducated, between economic classes, and on a global scale between more and less industrially developed nations.
Status in India:
- Although India has 220 million smartphone users and is the second largest smartphone market in the world, the overall penetration is still just about 30 per cent of the population.
- There is a huge rural- urban and inter-state digital divide in India.
- according to statistics, more than 75 per cent of the broadband connections in the country are in the top 30 cities.
- Similarly, many states like north-eastern states, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Assam lag behind other states in the use and development of ICTs.
- Globally 12 percent more men used the internet than women in 2017, while in India only 29% of total internet users are females.
- Another important reason of digital divide in India is knowledge divide. Knowledge divide is directly related with digital divide.
- Low female representation: Due to huge digital divide in gender, thousands of Indian girls in these far-flung areas are refused access to Information and Communications Technology (ICTs), which is a primary cause of low female representation in jobs.
- Denial to information/knowledge: This lack of equal opportunities to access online services and information deprive people of higher/quality education and skill training that could help them contribute to the economy and become leaders on a global level.
- Non delivery of welfare schemes: As many schemes have started using ICT in their delivery, at the same time due to digital divide it will create more problem.
Have you heard about e-RUPI, which has the potential to achieve financial inclusion and bridge digital divide in India? Reference: read this.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Bangladesh is planning to send more than 80,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island- Bhasan Char- in the Bay of Bengal after sealing an agreement for the United Nations to provide help.
- Some 19,000 of the Muslim refugees from Myanmar have already relocated from crowded camps on the mainland to Bhashan Char island, despite doubts raised by aid groups.
- Bhasan Char is an island specifically developed to accommodate 1,00,000 of the 1 million Rohingya who have fled from neighbouring Myanmar.
- While human rights groups have criticised the move and some are being forced to go against their will, the government has insisted that refugees moving to the island have done so voluntarily.
Who are Rohingyas?
- They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar.
- They were classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”.
- Ethnically they are much closer to Indo-Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino-Tibetans of the Country.
Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”.
Do you know the difference between Refugee & Migrant? & Are Migrants entitled to Protection? Read here.
- Who are Rohingyas?
- Location of Rakhine State.
- About the International Court of Justice.
- ICJ vs International Criminal Court.
Write a note on Rohingya Crisis.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
The two-pillar solution under the above mentioned framework will be delivered to the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington DC on 13 October, then to the G20 Leaders Summit in Rome at the end of the month.
- Countries are aiming to sign a multilateral convention during 2022, with effective implementation in 2023.
- 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing more than 90% of global GDP, have signed the deal.
Two pillars of framework:
- Dealing with transnational and digital companies. This pillar ensures that large multinational enterprises, including digital companies, pay tax where they operate and earn profits.
- Dealing with low-tax jurisdictions to address cross-border profit shifting and treaty shopping. This pillar seeks to put a floor under competition among countries through a global minimum corporate tax rate, currently proposed at 15%.
If implemented, countries such as the Netherlands and Luxembourg that offer lower tax rates, and so-called tax havens such as Bahamas or British Virgin Islands, could lose their sheen.
Impact/implications on India:
India will have to roll back the equalisation levy that it imposes on companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook when the global tax regime is implemented.
What is Equalisation levy?
- In 2016, India imposed an equalisation levy of 6% on online advertisement services provided by non-residents. This was applicable to Google and other foreign online advertising service providers.
- The government expanded its scope from April 1, 2020, by imposing a 2% equalisation levy on digital transactions by foreign entities operating in India or having access to the local market.
What is BEPS?
Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational enterprises that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to avoid paying tax.
- Developing countries’ higher reliance on corporate income tax means they suffer from BEPS disproportionately.
- BEPS practices cost countries USD 100-240 billion in lost revenue annually.
Have you heard of Country-by-Country (CbC) Report? Read this to understand, Click here
- OECD- objectives, composition and overview of geographical location of members.
- OECD vs WEF.
- Difference between signing and ratification.
- What is BEPS?
What are Country-by-Country (CbC) Report? Discuss their significance.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is halting its bond buying under the G-Sec Acquisition Programme (GSAP) for now.
- It said that the measure had succeeded in ensuring adequate liquidity and stabilising financial markets.
Impacts and outcomes:
Coupled with other liquidity measures, it facilitated congenial and orderly financing conditions and a conducive environment for the recovery.
The G-Sec Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) is basically an unconditional and a structured Open Market Operation (OMO), of a much larger scale and size.
- RBI has called the G-SAP as an OMO with a ‘distinct character’.
- The word ‘unconditional’ here connotes that RBI has committed upfront that it will buy G-Secs irrespective of the market sentiment.
To achieve a stable and orderly evolution of the yield curve along with management of liquidity in the economy.
- The GSAP would provide more comfort to the bond market. As the borrowing of the Government increased this year, RBI has to ensure there is no disruption in the Indian market.
- The programme will help to reduce the spread between repo rate and the ten-year government bond yield.
- The G-SAP will almost serve the purpose of an OMO calendar, which had been on the bond market’s wish list for a long time.
What is OMO?
Open market operations is the sale and purchase of government securities and treasury bills by RBI or the central bank of the country.
The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply in the economy.
- It is one of the quantitative monetary policy tools.
How is it done?
RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public.
OMOs vs liquidity:
- When the central bank wants to infuse liquidity into the monetary system, it will buy government securities in the open market. This way it provides commercial banks with liquidity.
- In contrast, when it sells securities, it curbs liquidity. Thus, the central bank indirectly controls the money supply and influences short-term interest rates.
RBI employs two kinds of OMOs:
Outright Purchase (PEMO) – this is permanent and involves the outright selling or buying of government securities.
Repurchase Agreement (REPO) – this is short-term and are subject to repurchase.
What are negative yield bonds? Reference: read this.
- Monetary vs Fiscal policy tools.
- Quantitative vs Qualitative tools.
- What are OMOs?
- PEMO vs REPO.
What are OMOs? Discuss their significance.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
About the Palk Bay scheme:
- Launched in July 2017 under the Blue Revolution programme.
- The scheme is financed by the Union and the State Governments with beneficiary participation.
- It had envisaged the provision of 2,000 vessels in three years to the fishermen of the State and motivate them to abandon bottom trawling.
Implementation of the scheme:
It was planned to have 500 boats built in the first year (2017-18). Of the unit cost of each vessel (₹80 lakh), 50% would be borne by the Centre, 20% by the State government and 10% by the beneficiary, and the remaining 20% would be met through institutional financing.
What are the obligations to beneficiaries under the Deep Sea fishing plan?
The Deep Sea fishing plan is to remove as many trawl vessels from the Palk Bay as possible.
- Potential beneficiaries of the deep see fishing project should possess a registered, seaworthy trawl vessel of over 12m in length that must be scrapped or disposed of outside the Palk Bay.
- The disposed vessel should also have been physically verified.
- Equally important, new replacement tuna long liner boats cannot trawl or operate in the Palk Bay.
- Beneficiaries are not allowed to sell their boats within five years of obtaining them.
Significance of the scheme:
- The scheme was envisioned as the remedy to the Palk Bay fishing conflict.
- The Centre feels that deep sea fishing is the “only solution” to promote ecologically sustainable fishing and reduce “fishing pressure” around the close proximity of the the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and the incidents of cross-border fishing.
What is the issue with Bottom trawling?
Bottom trawling, an ecologically destructive practice, involves trawlers dragging weighted nets along the sea-floor, causing great depletion of aquatic resources.
- Bottom trawling captures juvenile fish, thus exhausting the ocean’s resources and affecting marine conservation efforts. This practice was started by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Palk Bay and actively pursued at the peak of the civil war in Sri Lanka.
What is deep-sea fishing plan?
The solution to the bottom trawling issue lies in transition from trawling to deep-sea fishing.
- The activity of catching fish that live in the deep parts of the sea/ocean is called deep-sea fishing.
- The boats are designed in such a way that fishermen get access to the deeper parts of the ocean and fish species.
- It is practiced worldwide, especially in the coastal areas with no ecological damage.
- The depth of water should be at least 30 meters to be considered a deep sea fishing zone.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.
The Commission for Air Quality Management has said that a reduction in the area under paddy cultivation in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, as well as a shift away from paddy varieties that take long to mature, could see a reduction in stubble burning this year.
Reasons for this:
- The total paddy area in Haryana, Punjab and the eight NCR (National Capital Region) districts of Uttar Pradesh has reduced by 7.72% during the current year as compared to last year.
- Total paddy straw generation from the non-basmati variety of rice is likely to be reduced by 12.42% during the current year as compared to the previous year.
- Both Central and State Governments of Haryana, Punjab and U.P. have been taking measures to diversify crops as well as to reduce the use of PUSA-44 variety of paddy.
- Crop diversification and moving away from PUSA-44 variety with short duration High Yielding Varieties are part of the framework and action plan for control of stubble burning.
What is stubble burning?
It is a common practice followed by farmers to prepare fields for sowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
Impact: Stubble burning results in emission of harmful gases such carbon diaoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide along with particulate matter.
Why farmers opt for stubble burning?
- They do not have alternatives for utilising them effectively.
- The farmers are ill-equipped to deal with waste because they cannot afford the new technology that is available to handle the waste material.
- With less income due to crop damage, farmers are likely to be inclined to light up their fields to cut costs and not spend on scientific ways of stubble management.
Advantages of stubble burning:
- It quickly clears the field and is the cheapest alternative.
- Kills weeds, including those resistant to herbicide.
- Kills slugs and other pests.
- Can reduce nitrogen tie-up.
Effects of Stubble Burning:
- Pollution: Open stubble burning emits large amounts of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. They may eventually cause smog.
- Soil Fertility: Burning husk on ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.
- Heat Penetration: Heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.
Alternative solutions that can avoid Stubble Burning:
- Promote paddy straw-based power plants. It will also create employment opportunities.
- Incorporation of crop residues in the soil can improve soil moisture and help activate the growth of soil microorganisms for better plant growth.
- Convert the removed residues into enriched organic manure through composting.
- New opportunities for industrial use such as extraction of yeast protein can be explored through scientific research.
What needs to be done- Supreme Court’s observations?
- Incentives could be provided to those who are not burning the stubble and disincentives for those who continue the practice.
- The existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) Scheme must be so interpreted as to enable the States concerned to wholly or partly deny the benefit of MSP to those who continue to burn the crop residue.
An innovative experiment has been undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government by setting up gauthans.
- A gauthan is a dedicated five-acre plot, held in common by each village, where all the unused stubble is collected through parali daan (people’s donations) and is converted into organic fertiliser by mixing with cow dung and few natural enzymes.
- The scheme also generates employment among rural youth.
- The government supports the transportation of parali from the farm to the nearest gauthan.
- The state has successfully developed 2,000 gauthans.
Do you know about Pusa, a stubble burning solution? Reference: read this.
- About EPCA.
- About NGT.
- About CPCB.
- Overview of the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021.
- Byproducts of stubble Burning.
Why was EPCA dissolved? What has replaced EPCA? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Tawang was historically part of Tibet.
- The 1914 Simla Accord defined the McMahon Line as the new boundary between British India and Tibet. By this treaty Tibet relinquished some of its territories, including Tawang, to the British. But it was not recognised by China.
- In 1950, Tibet lost its de facto independence and was incorporated into the newly established People’s Republic of China.
- Later, in 1959, when the current Dalai Lama fled Tibet, he came into India through Tawang.
- During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang fell briefly under Chinese control, but China voluntarily withdrew its troops at the end of the war.
- Tawang again came under Indian administration, but China has not relinquished its claims on most of Arunachal Pradesh including Tawang.
Why in the News?
India and China patrols face off in Tawang.
- Chinese soldiers were detained, let off later.
- Face-offs occurred because of the differing areas of perception due to the demarcated boundary, and as both sides undertook patrolling activities up to their line of perception.
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