Value Added Article: Parched Present, Parched Future? | EPW

Relevance: GS Paper I

Source

Geography


Theme of the Article

Faced with a worsening water crisis, the state needs to exercise prudence in water management.


Introduction

The rains have arrived, albeit late, in many parts of India to provide a much-needed respite from the heatwaves that killed hundreds and the accompanying water scarcity that had accentuated the vulnerability and crisis situation.


Water stress: explanation

  • In cities like Chennai and Ranchi, water stress led to violent clashes, distress, and desperation, as the lakes and reservoirs dried up and people had to fight and fend for water for their everyday needs.
  • However, water scarcity is the truth not only for these cities, but also for large parts of the country which have been reeling under a drought-like situation.
  • The delay in monsoon or poor rainfall is not the only reason.
  • The effect of drought has been felt more intensely also because it is becoming difficult to scrape for the smallest amounts of water after digging even deeper.
  • India is a country that is guzzling its groundwater at a rate unmatched by any other. Groundwater here fails to be treated as a public good.
  • Even eastern India, which is otherwise considered as “water-affluent,” is staring at a future with “groundwater drought.”
  • Many of the parched villages have ­become deserted in Marathwada in Maharashtra, Bundelkhand in ­Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and even the mountain regions of Uttarakhand.
  • Cities in India thrive on the water brought from far away locations at a high cost and with loss involved in transmission.
  • Chennai alone has lost over 350 lakes. The expansion of ­cities fails to take into account access to water, and to mandate provisions to harvest rainwater, and reuse, recycle and treat waste water.
  • The quality of water that is discharged by the cities and the industries remains of no concern to them. Due to such an approach, close to 70% of the country’s water supply is contaminated, leading to an estimated two lakh deaths in a year.
  • Most of the farming close to cities is being done using the untreated wastewater, which contains heavy metals and toxic chemicals, further compromising public health.

Water stress: inequalities

  • Water stress also re-emphasises inequalities of gender, caste, and region.
  • While women have been burdened with the responsibility of arranging for water, in situations of crisis, it also leads to practices such as men marrying for the second or third time for the sole purpose of getting “water wives” to fetch water through the day.
  • Such villages are incidentally close to rivers and dams, but the supply being directed towards Mumbai, women plough on to get water covering long distances, even as they are the last in their households to get to use it.
  • With its availability shrinking further and the market playing an important role in defining the costs and beneficiaries, the more privileged find ways to control the access to water.
  • There is an inherent inequality in distribution and a failure to share ­water judiciously. It is evident in megacities like Delhi and Mumbai where access depends on income and social status.
  • In crisis situations, like in Chennai, while apartment buildings could afford to pay for three or four tankers per day, low income households could not.
  • Among rural households, only 18% are said to have access to piped water.
  • Small farmers are worse off and are forced to take their lives or migrate in drought conditions.
  • The real estate boom has promoted the tanker lobby and increased water extraction, along with usurping of the floodplains and the green cover.

Way forward

  • The interlinking of rivers, pushed for despite evidence of poor functioning of existing hydro projects, will only spell disaster and more conflicts.
  • In view of the looming water crisis, and associated food and health insecurity, it is vital to exercise prudence to manage water efficiently.
  • It will, however, mean a move towards water-prudent crops and lifestyles, augmented storage and regulation of the usage of water and policies that take into account the inequalities in access, and real time data of its consumption.
  • Instead of mere engineering and technocratic fixes, somewhere an acceptance is also needed that waterbodies in their healthy and natural state have the ability to replenish themselves along with a capacity to contain the intensity of climate crises.

Value Added Article: NUDGE TO FUDGE | EPW


Relevance: GS Paper III 

Source

ECONOMY


Theme of the Article

Without concrete measures for augmenting opportunities, “behavioural change” is a demagogy.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The Economic Survey 2018–19 is trying to apply a “humane” face to the public policies of a government. The government claims of nudging such positive changes through its flagship campaigns like the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and/or the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP).


‘Nudge’ for behavioural change

  • The very idea that the commoners are not some “rational” entities called “economic men,” but “human beings” of flesh, blood and folly, and that they need encouragement/interventions or “nudges” (not enforcements/mandates) for making choices for positive ­socio-economic changes in the country, is nothing new.
  • In fact, for over a decade now various governments around the world are trying to integrate such insights from behavioural studies into policymaking.
  • The underlying objective is to increase citizens’ participation in various state-led programmes/schemes and policies by nudging positive behavioural changes among them.

Analysing ‘behavioural change’

  • Changes, if any, are largely restricted to a superficial change of perception brought through inauguration events/cake-cutting ceremonies/certificate distribution events/competitions/bike rallies, rather than any measures for initiating real changes at the ground level.
  • If that is the case, then what is the difference between a nudge that stimulates public behaviour towards socio-economic change and that which manipulates public behaviour for political expediency?
  • For example, a girl student receiving a bicycle under the BBBP scheme will be disenfranchised from its benefits due to various sociocultural embargos that are conventionally imposed on the movement of females.Whereas the bicycle might benefit the male members in her family and in turn influence their political (party) choices.
  • In a country like India where an individual’s behavioural pattern is deeply entrenched in sociocultural norms, financial assistances/handouts/money transfers (as in the case of the Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme in West Bengal) are least likely to bring about any fundamental changes in behaviour.
  • On the contrary, such incentives might further corrupt public conduct with beneficiaries demonstrating a prima facie change in perception for receiving the aids, while their intrinsic behaviour remains intact.

Human being vs economic man

In settings that are characterised by limited resources, scope and capability, it is difficult to discriminate a “human being” from a so-called “economic man.” This is because in such circumstances the folly of optimising self-interest at the cost of collective welfare is potentially astute for self-sustenance.


Conclusion

Without any systematic assessment of such ground realities and/or any blueprint of initiatives for expanding the economic opportunities, entitlements and capabilities, coming from the ruling government, the claims of paradigmatic change in the policy framework with shift of focus from the “homo economicus” (or economic man) to “homo sapiens” (or human beings) emerges as mere demagoguery.


Value Added Article: Fixed Fate, Free Will | EPW


Relevance: GS Paper III 

Source

ECONOMY


Theme of the Article

Abeyance of the Essential Commodities Act is easier said than done.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The fifth governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog, held on 15 June 2019, had called upon the state governments to undertake structural transformations of the Indian agricultural sector through the reforms of the marketing regulations, such as the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955 and the Model Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act (APMC Act). In the context of the agrarian distress across the country, reforming these acts is expected to provide a breather, especially to the deteriorating farm incomes.


Reforming ECA

  • The idea for reforming the ECA, particularly at a time when surplus management has emerged as a pressing problem for the farm sector, deserves mention.
  • With the ECA being a deterrent for market integration—a necessary condition for Pareto optimality of spatial competitive equilibrium—its relaxation would imply that excess demand (supply) and hence price signals from one market will be transmitted to other markets.
  • In other words, farmers will get the right price for their produce, while increase in availability will give (price) relief to consumers.

A contagious issue

  • Amending the ECA is a contagious issue, especially for such crops that have a well-entrenched political practice of fixing an administered price.
  • Once the government commits an assured price to the growers, an essential corollary is that it must ensure the offtake of whatever is produced.
  • In the case of crops such as sugar cane, there is a political clout within the sugar milling industry that would resist any relaxation of control over the movement and marketing of the cane.
  • While a government would underwrite buffer stock at public cost (by levying a cess on the mills, which is effectively paid by consumers), it may not prevent such mala fides when its political fortunes are riding on the sugar industry.
  • With such examples at hand, “cooperative federalism” for agricultural reforms seems more notional than practical.
  • How can one forget the experience of implementing the Model APMC Act, which has been impeded by the tardy and varied state-level adoption of both the magnitude and content of the amendments?
  • Likewise, whether and/or to what extent a state government would concur to the central government’s recommendations for amending the ECA is a matter of its political expediency.

The private sector angle

  • The official explanation of the purpose of modifying the act, especially the restriction on stocking limits is that it is expected to encourage the much-needed investments (more specifically corporate investments) in agricultural marketing.
  • Such an explanation is based on some classic tenets of “market romanticism.”
    • First, that the private sector will act as an innovator/game changer for agricultural transformation and therefore needs to be integrated in the rural development strategy, and
    • Second,, that the efficiency outcomes of the market, and particularly the role of the private sector in improving marketing efficiency are axiomatic.
  • While these partially fit into promise of “minimum government, maximum governance,” but without a road map for governance it is not clear how such integration would pan out for the farmers in general and the smallholders in particular.
  • In fact, one cannot dismiss the fact that stockholding, bargaining advantage, risk-taking ability, and information control are among the key determinants of power behaviour in the market.

Conclusion

The re-elected government’s political will for “inclusive” agricultural reforms will stand the test of time only if it can create an “enabling environment” for making these reforms work in the coming days.


Editorial Simplified: Looming Challenges to India’s Standing | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Theme of the Article

In the coming five years, a host of geopolitical and economic issues need to be reconciled.


Recent international events of significance to India

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the cynosure of all eyes at the G-20 meeting in June, in Osaka.
  • At the BRICs informal meeting, also in Osaka, he called for the strengthening of the World Trade Organisation and for a global conference on terrorism.
  • He discussed counter-terrorism and climate change issues at separate meetings with China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
  • He participated in the Japan-India-U.S. trilateral grouping, arguing for a “rules based order” in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • He met with U.S. President Donald Trump, to discuss the future of India-U.S. relations.

A vastly altered situation

  • This may convey an impression that everything bodes well for India in the external realm.
  • What is often overlooked is that while we were fortunate in the past to be able to take advantage of a rare combination of favourable conditions, this situation no longer exists.
  • In the past, we did manage a shift from non-alignment to multi-alignment, could improve our relations with the United States without jeopardising our long-term relationship with Russia, and paper over our prickly relations with China without conceding too much ground; all the while maintaining our strategic independence. This is too much to hope for at the present time.
  • The global situation that made all this possible has altered. Rivalries among nations have intensified. There is virtual elimination of the middle ground in global politics, and it has become far more adversarial than at any time previously.
  • Even the definition of a liberal order seems to be undergoing changes. Several more countries today profess support for their kind of liberalism, including Russia and China. At the other end, western democracy appears far less liberal today.

Challenges for India

  • In this backdrop, India needs to rework many of its policies in the coming five years.
  • South Asia, in particular, and the region of our highest priority, needs close attention. The region is one of the most disturbed in the world and India has little or no say in any of the outcomes taking place.
  • India-Pakistan relations are perhaps at their lowest point. Tarring Pakistan with the terror brush is hardly policy, and stable relations continue to be elusive.
  • India has no role in Afghan affairs and is also excluded from current talks involving the Taliban, the Afghan government, Pakistan, the U.S. and even Russia and China.
  • India might have recouped its position more recently in the Maldives, but its position in Nepal and Sri Lanka remains tenuous.
  • In West Asia again, India is no longer a player to reckon with.
  • Across much of Asia, China is the major challenge that India has to contend with. Smaller countries in the region are being inveigled to participate in China’s programmes such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The challenge in the coming years for India is to check the slide, especially in Asia, and try and restore India to the position it held previously. India cannot afford to wait too long to rectify the situation.
  • Deepening India-U.S. relations today again carry the danger of India becoming involved in a new kind of Cold War. This is another area that needs our special focus.
  • India must ensure that it does not become a party to the conflicts and rivalries between the U.S. and a rising China, the heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and also avoid becoming a pawn in the U.S.-Iran conflict.
  • There is little doubt that current India-U.S. relations provide India better access to state-of-the-art defence items; the recent passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act in the U.S. makes India virtually a non-NATO ally. However, such close identification comes with a price. It could entail estrangement of relations with Russia, which has been a steadfast ally and a defence partner of India’s for the better part of half-a-century.
  • Closer relations with the U.S. also carries the risk of aggravating tensions between India and China, even as China and the U.S. engage in contesting every domain and are involved in intense rivalry in military matters as well as competition on technology issues. The U.S.-China-Russia conflict has another dimension which could affect India adversely.
  • The strategic axis forged between Russia and China will impact not only the U.S. but also India’s position in both Asia and Eurasia, with India being seen as increasingly aligned to the U.S. Hence, India needs to devise a policy that does not leave it isolated in the region.
  • Again, notwithstanding the ‘Wuhan spirit’, India cannot but be concerned about China’s true intentions, given the regional and global situation and its desire to dominate the Asian region. Within the next decade, China will become a truly formidable military power, second only to the U.S.
  • The ongoing India-U.S. entente could well provoke a belligerent China to act with greater impunity than previously. As it is, China would be concerned at the rise of a ‘nationalist’ India, which is perhaps not unwilling in the prevailing circumstances of today to become embroiled in a conflict over ‘freedom of navigation’ in the South and East China seas.
  • As India intensifies its search for state-of-the-art military equipment from different sources, it may be worthwhile for India to step back and reconsider some of its options. Military power is but one aspect of the conflicts that rage today. Today, disruptive technologies have tremendous danger potential and nations that possess these technologies have the ability to become the dominant powers in the 21st and 22nd Centuries.
  • A major challenge for India will hence be how to overcome our current inadequacies in the realm of disruptive technologies rather than remaining confined to the purely military domain. The U.S., China, Russia, Israel and few other countries dominate these spheres as also cyberspace and cyber methodologies.
  • New policy parameters will need to be drawn up by India, and our capabilities enhanced in areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber methodology, all of which constitute critical elements of the disruptive technology matrix.
  • None of this would, however, be possible unless India pays greater heed to its economy. Notwithstanding India’s ambition to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, the reality today is that the economy appears to be in a state of decline. Jobs, specially skilled jobs, are not available in sufficient numbers and this should be a matter for concern. The ability to sustain a rate of growth between 8.5% and 9.5% is again highly doubtful.

Conclusion

The looming challenge for India in the coming five years, therefore, would be how to build a strong economic foundation, one that is capable of providing the kind of power structure needed for an emerging power, and also one possessing the best liberal credentials.


Editorial Simplified: Jobless Growth Becomes more Systemic | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Theme of the Article

Earlier confined largely to the organised sector, it has now spread to other areas, as revealed by the latest survey results.


Why has this issue cropped up?

The findings of the latest employment survey, called the Periodic Labour Force Survey (2017-18), are a cause for concern as the scenario is still far from anything that would denote decent employment. The two biggest issues here are: the shrinking share of the labour force; and the rising unemployment.


The data of concern

  • The labour force participation rate (% of people working or seeking work in the above-15 years age category) in the earlier survey of 2012 was 55.5%. This has shrunk to 49.7% in 2018.
  • There is an absolute decline in the number of workers from 467.7 million in 2012 to 461.5 million in 2018.
  • The figure for the overall unemployment rate at 6.1% is 2.77 times the same figure for 2012.
  • The highest unemployment rate of a severe nature was among the urban women at 10.8%; followed by urban men at 7.1%; rural men at 5.8%; and rural women at 3.8%.
  • Youth unemployment rate (unemployment among those in the 15-29 years age category) has reached a high 17.8%. Even here, the women stand more disadvantaged than the men, especially urban women, whose unemployment rate of 27.2% is more than double the 2012 figure of 13.1%.

Women labour

  • Given the sharp decline in women’s labour force participation rate, they have been losing out heavily due to the double whammy of exclusion from the labour force and an inability to access employment when included in the labour force.
  • The decline in women’s labour force participation from 31% to 24% means that India is among the countries with the lowest participation of women in the labour force.

Educated employment

  • The issue of educated unemployment, given its link with not just growth but also with transformative development, has never been as acute as at present.
  • What is significant is that the unemployment rates go up as levels of education go up. Among those with secondary school education, it is 5.7% but jumps to 10.3% when those with higher secondary-level education are considered. The highest rate is among the diploma and certificate holders (19.8%); followed by graduates (17.2); and postgraduates (14.6%).
  • Of course, educated persons are likely to have aspirations for specific jobs and hence likely to go through a longer waiting period than their less-educated counterparts. They are also likely to be less economically deprived. But the country’s inability to absorb the educated into gainful employment is indeed an economic loss and a demoralising experience both for the unemployed and those enthusiastically enrolling themselves for higher education.
  • Here again, the burden is the highest among urban women (19.8%) followed by rural women (17.3%), rural men (10.5%) and urban men (9.2%). Among the educated, women face a more unfavourable situation than men despite a low labour force participation rate.

Conclusion

The overall conclusion here is that the trend of ‘jobless growth’ that was till recently confined largely, if not only, to the organised sector has now spread to other sectors of the economy, making it more generalised. This calls for a thorough re-examination of the missing linkages between growth and employment.


Editorial Simplified: Opaque Aadhaar| GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Why has this issue cropped up?

The Aadhaar amendment bill, which provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar for KYC,under the Telegraph and Prevention of Money Laundering Acts, has now been passed by both Houses of Parliament.


Amendment feature

It has reinstated many of the provisions of Section 57 of the original Aadhaar Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court in September 2018 as unconstitutional. The amendment comes with no major alteration in either design or use cases.


Concerns with amendment

  • The steamrolling of the legislative processes, without heed to the Supreme Court judgment or civil society concerns, is a definite cause for disquiet.
  • Section 57 was struck down not only because of the procedural issue of passing Aadhaar as a money bill, but also due to serious concerns relating to privacy and proportionality.
  • The dissenting judgment of Justice DY Chandrachud found many other aspects of Aadhaar objectionable, including biometric authentication, and declared it to be unconstitutional in its entirety.

Problems with technical design of Aadhaar

  • Mandatory deployment of biometric authentication for everyday transactions in sectors like welfare causes denial of service for some.
  • The requirement of reliable online connectivity compounds the problem.
  • A nation-wide digital identity limited only for de-duplication, authentication, KYC and limited fintech services is rather narrow. The Aadhaar design did not envisage using it for building online social, financial and asset registries, electronic health records etc.
  • The design also did not examine safe protocols for facilitating analytics for targeting of welfare, education and healthcare, econometric analysis, epidemiological studies, tax compliance etc.
  • Commercial use of Aadhaar linked data raises yet another set of very serious legal and technical questions.
  • There is no clear analysis of the minimum information that needs to be exchanged during authentication and KYC for various applications.
  • Also, using the same identity across multiple applications may allow a correlation of identities across domains and illegal profiling.
  • Because biometrics are not secret information, Aadhaar is vulnerable to illegal harvesting of biometrics, identity thefts and other frauds.
  • Lack of protection against insider threats, lack of clear policies on the use of virtual identities lack of any regulatory oversight and a data protection law raise some serious privacy concerns.
  • The inadequate privacy safeguards can potentially give the government of the day unprecedented access to information and power over its citizens, threatening civil liberty and democracy.
  • Also, Aadhaar does not record the purpose of authentication. Authentication without authorisation and accounting puts users at serious risk of fraud because authentication or KYC meant for one purpose may be used for another.
  • Neither the Aadhaar holders nor the agencies responsible for service delivery have any control over either identity or authentication, causing understanding gaps and making grievance redressal difficult.

Way forward

  • Transparency, regular design reviews, use case audits, and a reliable process of public consultation seem to be the way forward.
  • A thoughtful design with provable privacy guarantees would be able to support large scale registries and analytics by the government.

Conclusion

Thus, AADHAR’s  technical design requires serious reconsideration, following amendments to the law.


Civil Services – Prelims Focus Group – 2020 , Starts 29 July, 2019


Entrance Test – 24 July

Only (100 Seats) and Registration Mandatory (FREE)

CLICK HERE TO FILL THE FORM 


Starts from 29 July ,2019

[ 200 + SELECTIONS in PRELIMS 2019 from our PFG BATCH 2019

Alternate Day Test (Monday, wednesday, friday) Assignments for Exhaustive & In-depth Syllabus Revision for

CSE – Prelims, 2020

online /offline

Expected No. of Questions Practised – 5150

FEES – Monthly – 2100 /- (Exclusive of Taxes)

             Complete Course – 13000 /- (Exclusive of Taxes)

Click Here to Download The Program Details


MWF 2020_Syllabus Aligned with Tests


Objective of CS-PFG Program

Chrome IAS Academy is launching a Comprehensive Prelims Preparation Program, Civil Services – Prelims Focus GroupThrough this program we intend to cover the important and essential part of General Studies with respect to Civil Services Preliminary Exam in a comprehensive manner.

Of late a new trend has emerged in Preliminary Exam and UPSC is trying to check the in-depth knowledge and understanding of the candidate. This requires exhaustive preparation, a regular practice with proper revision plan to ensure consolidation. Chrome IAS Test Series focuses on these aspects of preparation and tries to prepare students for facing UPSC Prelims Exams.


How is it different from Test Series?

Test Series, no doubt is important, but that comes once in a fortnight or week. While under ?????, aspirant has the opportunity to test himself/herself on every alternate day and set goals and meet them regularly.

The most important feature of test series is multiple revision tests which helps in proper consolidation of whatever has been studied in last week. Four types of revision tests have been planned:

  • Sectional Revision Tests: These revision tests are placed on weekly bases (after every three tests) so that a student is able to revise whatever studies previously.
  • Subject wise Revision Tests: These tests are placed at end of every subject so that further refinement in subject preparation is done. This helps in strengthening long-term memorizing, recalling capacities.
  • Combined Revision Test: In these the subjects which have already been recently covered are also covered. Like After covering polity and economy, revision of both these subjects will be done. This is to avoid too much gap between 3rd revision of subject.
  • Comprehensive Test: Covering syllabus from all subjects, to check students overall final readiness for examination.

The advantages of this approach results into smooth coverage of syllabus with proper consolidation, which is shown in image below:

  • Tests Per Subject: Tests per subject have been decided based on importance, syllabus of the subject resulting into different combination of tests summarised below.

This approach not only brings organisation into the preparation but every productive day acts as a confidence building milestone. Moreover, the coverage of ????is far more exhaustive as compared to other conventional Test Series.

One might have got inherent talent, but the talent must be polished to lead to success. And CSE is more about hard work. Luck ,can only play its role after we have done our homework. So until you have done what is required there is no point in blaming luck for ones failure. With your persistent and disciplined hard work, you can complete the humongous syllabus and succeed in this exam.

Don’t forget what Einstein said – “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work.”


Essential Facts (Prelims) – July 16, 2019


Amended Motor Vehicles Bill reintroduced

Prelims: Polity

Mains: GS 2

  • Amendments to the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act has been re-introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • This bill had lapsed since it had not been passed by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act seeks to provide a compensation of ₹5 lakh for death and ₹2.5 lakh for grievous injury in a motor vehicle accident case.
  • The Bill seeks to increase penalties for violations, facilitate grant of online learning licence, simplified provisions for insurance to provide expeditious help to accident victims and their families, and protection of good samaritans.
  • The Bill also proposes to raise the time limit for renewal of driving licence from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
  • The provisions in the legislation are not binding on States and it is up to them to implement it.

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 reintroduced

Prelims: Polity

Mains: GS 2

  • Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 has been reintroduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • This bill had lapsed since it had not been passed by the Rajya Sabha
  • It seeks to prohibit commercial surrogacy in the country.
  • The Bill seeks to “allow ethical altruistic surrogacy to the intending infertile Indian married couple between the age of 23-50 years and 26-55 years for female and male, respectively.”
  • The Bill states that a woman should be allowed to act as a surrogate only once, should be a close relative of the intending couple and “should be an ever-married woman having a child of her own and between the age of 25-35 years.

NIA Bill, UAPA Bill, DNA Bill

Prelims: Polity

Mains: GS 3

  • The NIA (Amendment) Bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha while the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill has been introduced in the House.
  • The NIA Bill seeks to give greater powers to the National Investigation Agency by expanding its jurisdiction to offences committed outside the country.
  • The latest amendments will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyberterrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
  • The UAPA Bill is aimed at strengthening India’s security framework. It seeks “to introduce fourth schedule to add or remove the name of individual terrorists”.
  • The DNA Bill seeks to regulate the use of DNA technology for establishing the identity of persons in respect of matters listed in a Schedule. These include criminal matters and civil matters such as parentage disputes, emigration or immigration, and transplantation of human organs.
  • From 1993 till 2003, 70% of legislation went to standing committees. But in the last two years, the frequency has reduced. Only 26% were referred to standing committees.

Blue Flag challenge

Prelims: Environment

Mains: GS 3

  • The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.
  • These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
  • The Blue Flag programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and south-eastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.
  • There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meeting certain standards such as waste disposal facilities, disabled-friendly facilities, first aid equipment and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach.
  • Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.

Global Economic Prospects report

Prelims: Economy/ International

  • India’s trade deficit narrowed by nearly 8% to $15.28 billion during the last month, as against $16.6 billion in June 2018.
  • The World Bank, in its Global Economic Prospects (June 2019), has projected weakening of global trade in 2019.
  • Global trade is projected to grow at 2.6% this year.