Gist of Editorials: Missing the Count | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


The tiger census report has showcased a significant achievement for India’s conservation efforts.

Change in population of tigers

  • Population has gone up by more than 700 since 2014.
  • India is home to nearly 3,000 tigers..

Questions over enumeration

  • An investigation shows that the survey over-reported the country’s tiger population by 16 per cent.
  • The tiger census did not follow well-established norms of estimation.
  • Earlier, the pug mark method was highly subjective and prone to duplication.
  • After 2006, a more rigorous three-phase method was adopted to count tigers including satellite surveys.
  • And, finally, camera-traps were set up in selected pockets to identify individual tigers.
  • The quality of the camera traps was a major issue in many tiger habitats.

Conclusion

Institutions responsible for enumeration must be guided by ecological imperative.


Gist of Editorials: Leaning on the states | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Context

Suggestions have been made to have a relook at design of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS).

State should contribute to CSS

  • If the Union government is required to contribute to CSS in the State List, why should states not contribute to items in the Union List like defence.
  • A relook is needed at the Seventh Schedule.

The seventh schedule: not caste in stone

  • Few amendments have already taken place in the Seventh Schedule.
  • The 42nd amendment  transferred five subjects from the State List to the Concurrent List.

The rationale behind Central Sector Schemes (CSS)

  • States have comparative advantage in providing certain services according to the varied preferences of the people.
  • Efficient provision of certain public services requires subsidisation.
  • Schemes by Centre on subjects in the State List provides electoral benefits to former.

Some issues with CSS

  • These schemes have expiry dates, but they are never folded up and always get repackaged.
  • Each of the schemes has multiple objectives and service delivery standards are not clearly defined.
  • Consultations with states in designing the schemes is hardly done.

Can states pay for expenditure on items in the Union List?

  • Article 282 has this provision.
  • However, defence is a national public good and hence it becomes the primary responsibility of the Centre.
  • The states simply do not have the resources to spend beyond the subjects in their domain.

Way forward

  • There should be consultations in formulating, designing and closing CSS down.
  • States should have substantial flexibility to ensure that the schemes benefit the targeted groups.

Gist of Editorials: An Independent Fiscal Watchdog for Parliament | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Introduction

It is important for our electorate and the representatives to have an independent body which acts as source for facts and evidence.

Appointment of this body

  • This body needs to be appointed on its expertise in budgetary, fiscal and economic matters.
  • This body should serve parliamentarians equally and without prejudice.

Need of this body

Most parliamentarians do not benefit from timely access to good quality analysis on economic, fiscal or financial matters.

Name of this body

This body exists in many countries around the world, going by many names but most commonly as Parliamentary Budget Offices (PBOs).

Function performed by PBOs

  • help shape the debate and discourse on finances
  • help drive smarter debate in the media and with our electorate.
  • provide information on fiscal and economic projections.
  • provide reliable data to parliamentarians to make decisions on.
  • would assist parliamentarians in scrutiny of information.

Co-existing with the AG

  • A question that often arises is the necessity of such an office when we already have an auditor general.
  • A PBO provides prospective, forward-looking economic and fiscal projections. This distinguishes it from an auditor general, which provides useful information, but retrospective.

International scenario

  • Internationally, similar offices have been established across the world.
  • Congressional Budget Office in the United States.
  • Offices in the Netherlands, Korea, Australia and the United Kingdom.
  • PBOs in emerging economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Conclusion

Legislatures across the world have witnessed an increasingly stronger executive try to wrest away its rightful power of the purse. A PBO would help resuscitate these powers.


Gist of Editorials: The Nationalist Hindrance to Climate Actions | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


The climate facts

  • Sea level rise is accelerating.
  • Oceans have become acidic
  • Raging fires in the Amazon
  • Heat waves in France and Germany
  • Concentrations of carbon dioxide continue to rise

The issue of nationalism

  • Nationalism in multiple countries has created a short-term.
  • United States refuses to enhance actions to mitigate climate change
  • Brazil sees environmental protections as limiting Brazilian business.

A path for India

  • First, India must argue for enhanced global collective action.
  • Second, India can accelerate action on climate change even while pursuing its development interests.
  • Third, India, firmly committed to a low-carbon future, should strike common cause with other powers.
  • Fourth, India should make accelerated climate action congruent with national interest.

Conclusion

India can build a diplomatic approach on a firm domestic foundation that takes seriously climate change as a factor in its future development pathway.


Gist of Editorials: It Begins in School | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Introduction

By next year, the average age of an Indian is expected to be 29 year.

Issues with School education

  • School enrolment has increased but just ensuring schooling does not result in learning.
  • Only few third grade students can read second grade text or subtract one two-digit number from another.
  • A large proportion of children are not picking up critical skills in the early grades.

Significance of school education

  • School education will generate the demographic dividend needed to power India’s growth story.
  • Without a strong learning foundation at the primary level, there can be little or no improvement in higher education or skill development.

Foundational literacy 

  • The draft NEP states that attainment of foundational skills has to be given the highest priority..
  • Children are expected to “learn to read” by class 3 so that they can “read to learn” after that.
  • The absence of foundational skills hits children from poor households or first generation learners the most.

Way forward

  • The government needs to urgently focus on foundational learning.
  • Appropriate teaching-learning material, training and teacher support need to be made available.
  • Improved accountability through independent monitoring and measurement can play a critical role.

Conclusion

Foundational learning opens up opportunities for better income, health, sanitation, safety, and so on.


Gist of Editorials: Making the Grand Indian PSB Mergers Work | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


The Narsimha Committee

The merger move of  Public Sector Banks (PSBs) was first mooted by the Narasimha Committee more than a quarter century ago.

Issues with the recent bank mergers

  • merging weak banks, some of which were still under Prompt Corrective Action (PCA).
  • merger triggers anxiety and insecurity in staff, leading to a slowdown in business.
  • gains from the mergers for large PSBs would be illusory in the absence of a sound management
  • The post-merger scale economies are not feasible in India.

Way forward

  • It needs to be ensured that there is no leadership vacuum in the anchor banks.
  • There is a need to recruit professionals in key areas in which PSBs are under-equipped.
  • should actively plan steps to offset a possible slow expansion in bank credit.
  • Govt,. should consider converting a few ‘weak’ PSBs outside the merger into regional banks.

Conclusion

While mergers can result in handsome productivity gains, what matters is the quality of execution.


Gist of Editorials: Spending Issues | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Introduction

The present CSS (centrally sponsored schemes) basket has an expiry date of March 31, 2020. From April 1, 2020, we will have a new CSS basket.

Difference between CS and CSS

For  CS ( central sector), all expenditure is borne by the Union government while for CSS (centrally sponsored schemes), part of the expenditure is borne by the Union government while States bear the rest.

Revamping of CSS

  • 15th Finance Commission mentions a re-examination of CSSs.
  • B K Chaturvedi report has recommended restructuring of CSSs.
  • NITI Aayog has recommended rationalisation of CSSs.

Issues with CSSs

  • The number of CSSs is around 200.
  • States find difficulties to meet CSS expenditure.

Way forward  

  • There should only a total of 15-20 of CSs and CSSs combined.
  • There should not be CSSs for items in the State List (such as health).
  • CSS restructuring requires a relook at the Seventh Schedule.
  • Proper consultation with states for CSS restructuring is necessary.

Gist of Editorials: Doctors as Victims | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


Introduction

Violence against doctors and other healthcare providers have been reported in recent months.

 Govt. step in this direction

  • has drafted a legislation to address this issue.
  • The legislation covers a broad range of healthcare providers.
  • Stiff punishments have been proposed, ranging from six months to 10 years.
  • Heavy monetary fines, too, have been proposed, ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10,00,000.

How are health care personnel are different from other victims of violence?

When a healthcare provider is assaulted, the victims of crime also include other patients who are being cared for by that person

Not just an Indian issue

  • Several other countries have reported violence against health personnel.
  • For example, in China — 27 assaults per hospital were reported in 2012.

Factors responsible for violence against healthcare personnel

  • The multi-factorial causes of this problem must be recognised.
  • The crowded public system is under-resource and under-staffed.
  • Poor access and variable quality of care arouse dissatisfaction.
  • The private sector attracts ire for poor quality care or exorbitant costs and exploitative practices.

Way forward

  • Developing an adequately resourced healthcare system.
  • A clear explanation of a patient’s condition on admission.
  • Developing effective and empathetic communication skills.
  • Law should not seem to be soft or ineffective.
  • Healthcare providers must speak up against violence of any kind and not just when they are the victims.

Conclusion

The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is a good time for us all to work together to create a non-violent society.


Gist of Editorials: Giving age-old ties a New Shine | GS – II


Relevance :  GS Paper II


U.S.-China conflict could challenge the existing balance of power.

Avoiding  hostage to China

  • Neither Russia nor India is interested in becoming hostage to China’s regional ambitions.
  • India is concerned about Russia growing more dependent on Beijing,.
  • Russia wants to avoid possible rifts in China-Indian relations.

More fruitful cooperation between India and Russia

  • Bilateral trade is projected to touch $30 billion by 2025.
  • Russia’s oil giant, Rosneft, has invested $12.9 billion in India..
  • Russia is to invest in major energy and transportation projects in India
  • Russia continues to serve as the largest arms supplier.
  • Both countries have signed a $5-billion S-400 air-defence system.
  • More deals are under way, including Su-30 MKI and MiG-29 fighters.
  • Moscow played a key role in facilitating India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
  • S.-India relations do not seem to be having a serious impact on Russia.

The China factor

  • India- China relation is perceived as fragile and Moscow’s balancing role seen to be in high demand.
  • Although Russia acknowledges its augmenting dependence on China, it also envisions potential threats to the current balance of power.
  • India also acknowledges Moscow’s growing dependence on Beijing that has accelerated amid the Kremlin’s never-ending melee with the West.

Gist of Editorials: A Case for a Differential Global Carbon Tax | GS – III


Relevance :  GS Paper III


Context

The most recent IPCC mreport suggests that we might have just over a decade left to limit global warming.

What the report says

  • Total global emissions will need to fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
  • If these targets are not met, tropical regions of the world, are likely to be most negatively affected.

Sharing the burden

  • The global South happens to be at the receiving end of the lifestyle choices made by the global North.
  • Both the worlds need to contribute to avert this danger in their self-interest.
  • A just approach would involve sharing of the responsibility among countries according to their respective shares in global emissions.

Carbon trading

  • Carbon trading process has its own limitations.
  • The proposal of a Just Energy Transition (JET), premised on a sense of global justice is a better alternative.

What to do ?

  • massive investments for the green energy programme
  • support the transition for the countries at the bottom.
  • global energy transition should be financed through a system of the global carbon tax.
  • Countries which emit more than the global per capita average should fund energy transition of those who are below this average.