Pulwama Tragedy – Tribute to Bravehearts !

“Ready To Sacrifice Other Son For India” – Father of Killed Pulwama Jawan

What on earth can justify the pain and the inner stregth of the father who spoke the above words after losing his son in the Pulwama attack (J & K). Like every Indian Citizen we are pained by the deaths of CRPF Jawans. Chrome IAS team express deep and sincere condolences and pray to Almighty to give strength to their families to bear this irraparable loss.

Our Nation will be indebted to them and their families. We as a citizen can never forget the sacrifices made by numerous soldiers/officers at the infantry and the debt to their service can’t be repaid.

At best what we (citizens & government) can do is to do our bit to support their families on one hand and on the other to improvise our institutional set ups with respect to intelligence gathering and neutralizing any bid for such attacks so that the lives can be saved in future. And at the same time there is a need that when India is at corssroads, we need to nurture the roots of unity in the society by rising above the prejudices so as to make our Nation great.

To The Nation and To The Soldiers – Jai Hind.

Editorial Simplified: Legitimacy of the Basic Structure| GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II ( Polity & Governance)


Why has this issue cropped up?

Challenges have been made to the recently introduced 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which provides for reservations based on economic criteria in government jobs and education.


Introduction

It has now been more than 45 years since the Supreme Court ruled in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala that Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution was not unlimited, that the Constitution’s basic structure was infrangible.


Criticism of basic structure doctrine

  • The common criticism is that the doctrine has no basis in the Constitution’s language. The phrase “basic structure”, it’s argued, finds no mention anywhere in the Constitution.
  • It’s detractors also believe the doctrine accords the judiciary a power to impose its philosophy over a democratically formed government, resulting in something akin to a “tyranny of the unelected”.

Significance  of the  Basic Structure

  • To reject the doctrine altogether because the judiciary sometimes botches its use is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • The basic structure is legitimate in that it is deeply rooted in the Constitution’s text and history.
  • It also possesses substantial moral value in that it strengthens democracy by limiting the power of a majoritarian government to undermine the Constitution’s central ideals.
  • There are dangers inherent in granting untrammelled power to the legislature.
  • Parliament is a creature of the Constitution. It could not, therefore, make changes that had the effect of overthrowing or obliterating the Constitution itself.

Conclusion

The basic structure doctrine is not only grounded in the Constitution’s text and history, but that it also performs an important democratic role in ensuring that majoritarian governments do not destroy the Constitution’s essential character.


 

Editorial Simplified: No Shortcuts To Income Guarantee| GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II


Theme of the article

Rahul Gandhi’s proposed scheme will do more harm than good if it comes at the cost of existing subsidies for the poor.


Why has this issue cropped up?

Congress president Rahul Gandhi d to end poverty and hunger by announcing  a Minimum Income Guarantee for the poor. This income transfer will target the poor with a minimum income of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,800 a month.


Inferences  from  Minimum Income proposal

  • It suggests an acknowledgment that massive market-led economic growth, by itself, cannot raise millions out of grinding poverty.
  • This requires, with rapid growth, sensitively-designed direct state support to families who live with want.
  • It affirms a strive to build a redistributive welfare state.

Questions that arise

  • How the households will be identified ?
  • What the scale of assistance would be?
  • How the required resources will be raised?
  • What other elements of social protection, if any, would together with income-transfers constitute a defence against poverty.

Problems in executing Minimum Income programme

  • Most poor and socially powerless have a greater chance of being excluded by governments than included by them.
  • There is no objective way of evaluating incomes of households in the informal sector.
  • Poverty-selections give far too much discretion to the field bureaucracy, leading to enormous rent-seeking, excluding those most socially vulnerable by age, gender, caste, religious identity, migration, disability and geography.
  • Funds required for such transfers will be re-appropriated from those spent on food subsidies and other programmes.
  • If minimum income transfers are envisaged as substitutes to food and other existing food and social protection transfers, these are likely not to reduce hunger but will only aggravate it.
  • Culturally, decisions about food tend to be taken by women. So food transfers are far more likely to end up as food in the stomach of a child, than cash transfers, decisions about which tend to be taken by men.
  • Cash transfers also are inflationary in ways that food transfers are not.

Way forward

  • It is not that India cannot afford an income-support programme. Just that the pathway to this cannot be by cutting back on meagre existing subsidies to the poor.
  • Subsidies to the middle-classes are thrice in quantum to those for the poor, and can be curtailed by a redistributive state.
  • But most of all, there is considerable scope in taxing the wealth of India’s super-rich dollar billionaires.
  • If the Union budgets simply start by ending just the tax holidays to private businesses, they could fund far greater social spending, whether for income transfers, or health, education and social protection.
  • Income transfers to the poor can work only if these augment, not substitute, the existing support to the poor.
  • Welfare campaigners have for long demanded several kinds of cash transfers. These include universal pensions for the aged, single women-headed households, and persons with disability, equivalent to at least half the prevailing minimum wage.
  • There is also a strong case for maternity benefits for all women in informal work, equivalent to six months’ minimum wages, to bring some parity with women in the formal sector, enabling them rest, nutrition, breast-feeding and childcare.
  • Another form of income transfer for which the time has come is transfers to farmers for every acre of land they cultivate, as has been attempted by the Telangana and Odisha governments.
  • Expanding the National Employment Guarantee Scheme to a massive housing, water and sanitation programme for the urban poor would be the best mode of support for them.
  • Work under these programmes should also incorporate the care economy, including community-based child-care, disability and old-age care services.
  • Minimum Income would make sense only if the resources are mustered not by cutting back on existing programmes for the poor, which are already very poorly funded.
  • We must ensure universal public healthcare and public-funded education at all levels.

Conclusion

When Rahul Gandhi reminds us of our “brothers and sisters”, who are still forced to sleep hungry, he is invoking the idea of fraternity in our Constitution. This would require an entirely new social contract, one that ensures that no child sleeps hungry, or is deprived of a decent education, or dies without health care.


 

Essential Facts (Prelims): 14th Feb, 2019

 


Citizenship Bill

Category:Polity & Governance

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that had set off a series of violent protests across the northeastern States, lapsed as the government failed to push it through Rajya Sabha.
  • Along with the Citizenship Bill, the triple talaq Bill that criminalises instant divorce in a Muslim marriage has also lapsed.
  • There have been widespread protests against the Citizenship Bill that proposed to grant citizenship to six religious minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists — from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014.
  • The Bill was seen as violating the terms of the 1985 Assam Accord that had set March 24, 1971 as the cut-off for granting citizenship.

Article 35 A

Category:Polity & Governance

  • Normal life was paralysed in the Kashmir Valley due to a shutdown called by separatists in anticipation of the petitions challenging Article 35A coming up before the Supreme Court for hearing.
  • The Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside from acquiring any immovable property in the State

NBWL

Category:Environment

  • India’s apex National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) — charged with allowing forest land in Protected Areas to be diverted for industry — cleared 682 of the 687 projects (99.82%) that came up for scrutiny.
  • The NBWL is formally headed by the Prime Minister.
  • It adjudicates on industrial projects, road diversions or the like that could encroach into Protected Areas or eco-sensitive zones of forests.
  • A smaller Standing Committee of the NBWL is charged with deliberating on the merits of projects that come to it for scrutiny; the committee comprises scientists and government officials and is chaired by Union Environment Minister.

TTZ

Category:Environment

  • The Supreme court had said the protection of the Taj Mahal should not be restricted to the world heritage monument alone but everything around it.
  • The court had said that the Taj Mahal was only the “centre-piece”. The forest cover, the river Yamuna and the grounds of the Taj Mahal should also be saved from pollution. This is known as Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

Jute

Category:Agriculture

  • The government has increased the minimum support price (MSP) for raw jute by ₹250 per quintal, taking the price to ₹3,950 per quintal for the 2019-20 season.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of raw jute and West Bengal accounts for the majority of the country’s production.

AADHAR

Category:Polity & Governance

  • The Union Cabinet recently approved amendments to the Aadhaar Act, including a provision that gives a child, on attaining maturity (18 years), the power to withdraw his or her Aadhaar details.
  • This entails that the Unique Authority of India remove all the details, including biometrics of such persons.
  • The proposal to allow those turning 18 to withdraw from Aadhaar will not benefit those who want to file income tax returns as it is now mandatory to provide Aadhaar details while filing taxes.

Ethanol

Category:Energy

  • A co-operative sugar mill in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra has taken the lead in producing fuel grade ethanol directly from sugarcane juice in the State.
  • The Centre had, in July last year, allowed sugar mills to manufacture ethanol directly from sugarcane juice or intermediate product called B-molasses.
  • The decision was taken to help mills divert cane juice for ethanol manufacturing during surplus years. Traditionally, in India ethanol is made from ‘C-Heavy’ molasses, but in July last year, the government gave permission to make ethanol from sugarcane juice and ‘B-Heavy’ molasses or B-grade molasses.
  • The fuel grade ethanol that is produced directly from cane juice is fetching more money per litre. This is going to be beneficial for the sugar industry that is facing crisis of excess stock of sugar.
  • The government allowed fuel grade ethanol production from sugarcane juice with an aim to increase the earnings of sugar mills and help them in making full and timely payments to farmers.
  • Cane-based ethanol can be produced in three different ways directly from cane juice, from B-grade and C-grade molasses. Molasses is a viscous product obtained from raw sugar during the refining process.

WTO

Category:International

  • Canada and the US have accused India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) of “dramatic under-reporting” of market price support for pulses — chickpeas, pigeon peas, black matpe, mung beans, and lentils.
  • India’s minimum support price (MSP, also referred to as market price support) for the five pulses is about 26 times higher at ₹69,923 crore instead of the notified ₹2,667 crore, as per a joint submission made by the countries to the WTO.
  • It is important for India to defend its own calculation of MSP as it is classified as a ‘trade distorting support’ at the WTO which is capped at 10 per cent of production value.
  • In case India’s ‘trade distorting support’ exceeds the cap, it will either be forced to discontinue the support programmes, failing which it may have to pay penalties.
  • The main reason behind the stark difference in the MSP figures for pulses notified by India and those calculated by Canada and the US is the fact that the latter have based their calculation on all eligible production, as opposed to just that portion of production actually procured by government entities in India.
  • India, however, has consistently maintained at the WTO that “eligible production” for MSP must be that part of the total production of a crop that is actually procured by the agencies and nothing more as the support to farmers is only restricted to that amount.
  • Another essential difference in the calculation methodology is that while India has made its MSP calculations in US dollar, Canada and the US have calculated it in Indian rupees.
  • India had earlier argued that the AoA gives members the freedom to use the US dollar (which insulates the figures against rupee depreciation) and it has been consistently reporting its calculations in the American currency.

Vande Bharat Express

Category:Social sector

  • The ‘Make in India’ effort of Indian Railways has culminated into India’s first Semi High Speed Train, “Vande Bharat Express”.
  • It will run o on New Delhi-Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi route.
  • Vande Bharat Express can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like Shatabdi Train but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers.
  • Adding up the green footprints, the train has regenerative braking system in the Vande Bharat Express coaches which can save up to 30% of electrical energy.
  • In keeping with the vision of “Make in India”, the major systems of the train have been designed and built in India.

PM-SYM

Category:Social sector

  • Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) will be rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Employment tomorrow.
  • As many as 42 crore workers are estimated to be engaged in the unorganized sector of the country.
  • The unorganised workers mostly engaged as home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers, construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio- visual workers and similar other occupations whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme.
  • They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
  • Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.
  • Each subscriber under the PM-SYM, shall receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years.