Polity & Governance
- Don’t ignore bonded labour: SC
- Vamsadhara river dispute
Government Schemes and Policies
- Allotment of Rs. 4000 crores under PMKSY- PDMC
- Centre releases amount to 14 States
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Asiatic Lion Survey
Bilateral & International Relations
- China disregarding historical commitment on Naku La
- International Religious Freedom Report
Defence & Security Issues
- The strategic road to DBO
Science and Technology
- Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020
Also in News
- World Accreditation Day 2020
Key Facts for Prelims
- Ramon Magsaysay Award
- CBIC launches Turant Customs
- Coral Triangle Day
- KASHISH 2020 virtual
- Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule crop loan waiver scheme
- Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation
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Polity & Governance
Don’t ignore bonded labour: SC
The Supreme Court has asked the Bihar government not to “turn a blind eye” to the problem of bonded labour in Bihar merely because the administration was focused on handling the migrant workers’ influx amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
What is Bonded Labour?
- The bonded labour is a specific form of forced labour in which compulsion into servitude is derived from debt.
- A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan.
- Characterized by a creditor-debtor relationship that a labourer often passes on to his family members, bonded labour is typically of an indefinite duration and involves illegal contractual stipulations.
- Bonded labourers are forced to work to repay debts their employer says they owe, and not allowed to work for anyone else.
- Not all bonded labour is forced, but most forced labour practices involving children or adults are of a bonded nature.
- A large number of children are employed as bonded labourers by the non-farming sectors like small-scale textile, firecracker, leather goods manufacturing, brick kilns and granite extraction units.
Is there any law against Bonded Labour?
- The Constitution of India under Article 23(1) prohibits ‘beggar’ and other similar forms of forced labour.
- The bonded labour system was abolished by law throughout the country by Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
- Millions of adults and children across India are enslaved despite the enactment of the Act.
Welfare and Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers:
- To assist the State Governments in rehabilitation of identified and released bonded labourers, a Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour has been in operation since May, 1978.
- The Central Government has revamped the Scheme as Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers with effect from 17th May, 2016.
Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016:
- The financial assistance for rehabilitation is 100% funded by the Central Government.
- Financial assistance is provided for
- A rescued bonded labourer at the rate of rupees one lakh for adult male beneficiary.
- Rs. 2 lakhs for special category beneficiaries such as children including orphans or those rescued from organized & forced begging rings or forms of forced child labour and women.
- Rs. 3 lakhs in cases of bonded or forced labour involving extreme cases of deprivation or marginalization such as trans-genders, or women or children rescued from ostensible sexual exploitation such as brothels, placement agencies etc., or trafficking, or in cases of differently abled persons, or in situations where the District Magistrate deems fit.
- The Scheme also provides for financial assistance of Rs. 4.50 lakh per district to the States for conducting survey of bonded labourers, Rs. 1.00 Lakh for evaluatory studies and Rs. 10 Lakhs per State per annum for awareness generation.
- Immediate assistance up to Rs. 20,000/- may be provided to the rescued bonded labour by the District Administration irrespective of the status of conviction proceedings.
- It provides for creation of a Bonded Labour Rehabilitation Fund at District level by each State with a permanent corpus of at least Rs. 10 lakhs at the disposal of the District Magistrate for extending immediate help to the released bonded labourers.
Vamsadhara river dispute
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has directed the Water Resources Department to make arrangement to resolve the disputes between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with regard to irrigation projects over Vamsadhara river.
- River Vamsadhara is an east-flowing river between Rushikulya and Godavari, in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
- It runs for a distance of about 254 kilometres and joins the Bay of Bengal at Kalingapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
What is the dispute?
- Andhra Pradesh wants to build the Neradi barrage across the Vamsadhara river which can be only realised after Odisha’s consent.
- The main grievance of the State of Orissa is basically adverse effect of the executive action of Govt. of Andhra Pradesh in undertaking the construction of a canal taking off from the river Vamsadhara called as flood flow canal at Katragada.
- It has also cited the and failure of Govt. of Andhra Pradesh to implement the terms of inter-State agreement understanding etc. relating to use, distribution and control of waters of inter-State river Vansadhara and its valley.
- Basic contention of State of Orissa in the complaint is that the flood flow canal would result in drying up the existing river bed and consequent shifting of the river affecting ground water table.
- Odisha also raised the issue of scientific assessment of available water in Vamsadhara at Katragada and Gotta Barrage, Andhra Pradesh and the basis for sharing the available water.
Inter-State Water Disputes:
- The regulation and development of the waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys continues to be a source of friction between states.
- Article 262(1) of the Constitution: Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of any inter-State river, or river valley.
- Parliament has enacted the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
- It provides for reference of such a dispute to Tribunals on receipt of an application from a State, when the Union Government is satisfied that the dispute cannot be settled by negotiations.
- The award of the tribunal is final and binding on the parties to the dispute.
- The main points of criticism against the existing arrangements are:
(a) They involve inordinate delay in securing settlement of such disputes.
(b) There is no provision for an adequate machinery to enforce the award of the Tribunal.[Ref: The New Indian Express]
Government Schemes and Policies
Allotment of Rs. 4000 crores under PMKSY- PDMC
The Central Government has allocated a sum of Rs. 4000 crores to State Governments under ‘Per Drop More Crop’ component of PMKSY for the year 2020-21.
Per Drop More Crop:
- The Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare is implementing ‘Per Drop More Crop’ component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY- PDMC).
- The PMKSY- PDMC focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation technologies viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems.
- Drip micro irrigation technique not only helps in water saving but also in reducing fertilizer usage, labour expenses and other input costs.
- For the current year, annual allotment of Rs. 4000 crores havebeen conveyed to the State Governments.
Micro Irrigation Fund:
- Micro Irrigation Fund corpus of Rs. 5000 crores have been created with NABARD.
- NABARD will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest.
- Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years.
- The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD.
- During the last five years (2015-16 to 2019-20), an area of 46.96 lakh hectares has been covered under Micro Irrigation through PMKSY-PDMC.
- To facilitate the states in mobilizing the resources for expanding coverage of Micro Irrigation by taking up special and innovative projects.
- Toincentivise micro irrigation beyond the provisions available under PMKSY-PDMC to encourage farmers to install micro irrigation systems.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana:
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country, launched in July 2015.
- It has been formulated by combining: Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) and On Farm Water Management (OFWM) component of National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture.
- The scheme is implemented by the Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development.
- Achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level.
- Expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (har khet ko pani).
- Enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop).
- Improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.
- Enhance recharge of aquifers.
- Introduce sustainable water conservation practices.
Centre releases amount to 14 States
The Centre released ₹6,195 crore to 14 States, as the third equated monthly instalment of the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission.
- The Finance Commission is a constitutional body set up by the President of India, every five years or earlier to decide the share of the Union government and state governments in the divisible pool of tax revenue.
- The Finance Commission also decides the share of each state from the share of states in the divisible pool.
- The Commission further recommends the share of funds and grants to be transferred to local bodies.
Finance Commission Grants:
- The 73rd Constitutional Amendment requires both the Centre and states to help Panchayati Raj institutions to evolve as a unit of self-governance by assigning them funds, functions and functionaries.
- The Finance Commission Grants, in the Union Budget, provides funds to local bodies, state disaster relief funds and compensates any revenue loss to states after devolution of taxes.
The Finance Commission Grants are primarily divided into four sub-heads.
1. Grants for rural local bodies:
- The three-tier model of governance envisioned in the Constitution assigns clear roles and responsibilities to Gram Panchayats.
- The Finance Commission recommendations ensure that these local bodies are adequately funded.
- Nearly half of the Finance Commission Grants in Union Budget goes to village local bodies.
2. Grants for urban local bodies:
- In addition to units of self-governance at the village level, the Constitution also envisages cities as units of self-governance.
- Urban local bodies like municipal councils receive the largest chunk of Finance Commission Grants after Rural Local Bodies and Post Devolution Deficit Grants to states.
3. Assistance to SDRF:
- The central government also provides funds to State Disaster Relief Funds in addition to funding the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
- The assistance to state government’s disaster relief authorities is provided as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
4. Post devolution revenue deficit grants:
- About a third of the total revenue collected by the Centre is directly transferred to states as their share in the divisible pool.
- However, the Finance Commission also provides a mechanism for compensation of any loss incurred by states, which is called post-devolution revenue deficit grants.
- This Finance Commission Grant forms the second largest chunk of Finance Commission transfers after the assistance to local rural bodies.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Asiatic Lion Survey
The 15th edition of Asiatic Lion Census has found that the lion population has grown by almost 29% from the last count in 2015.
- As per the State Forest Department the lion population is 674 including males, females and cubs.
- During 2015, the baseline was 523 lions.
- The distribution of the lions expanded from 22,000 sq. km in 2015 to 30,000 sq. km in 2020.
- Population of the majestic Asiatic Lion living in Gujarat’s Gir Forest is up by almost 29% and the geographical distribution area is up by 36%.
- The Asiatic lion’s range is restricted to the Gir National Park, Gujarat and surrounding areas.
- Until the 19th century the lions were present in Saudi Arabia, eastern Turkey, Iran, Mesopotamia, and from east of the Indus River to Bengal and in Central India.
- IUCN status: Endangered
- The lions are listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and Appendix I of CITES.
Asiatic Lion Census:
- The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) conducted the Asiatic Lion Census in May 2020.
- The census was carried out using scientific methods laid out by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- The census is conducted after every 5 years and the 14th Asiatic Lion Census in 2015 counted 523 lions in Gujarat.
Bilateral & International Relations
China disregarding historical commitment on Naku La
The historical Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890 is a proof of India’s ownership of the territory Naku La.
Sikkim-Tibet Convention of 1890:
- The Convention was signed between Great Britain and China on March 17, 1890 at Calcutta.
- As per Article (1) of Convention of 1890, it was agreed that the boundary of Sikkim and Tibet shall be the crest of the mountain range separating the waters flowing into the Sikkim Teesta and its affluents, from the waters flowing into the Tibetan Mochu and northwards into other rivers of Tibet.
- The line commences at Mount Gipmochi, on the Bhutan frontier, and follows the above-mentioned water-parting to the point where it meets Nepal territory.
- However, Tibet refused to recognise the validity of Convention of 1890 and further refused to carry into effect the provisions of the said Convention.
- In 1904, a treaty known as a Convention between Great Britain and Tibet was signed at Lhasa.
- As per the Convention, Tibet agreed to respect the Convention of 1890 and to recognise the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, as defined in Article (1) of the said Convention.
- On April 27, 1906, a treaty was signed between Great Britain and China at Peking, which confirmed the Convention of 1904 between Great Britain and Tibet.
- Naku La is a mountain pass in Sikkim located at the height of more than 5000 metres above the Mean Sea Level.
- The Gazetteer of Sikkim in 1894, while describing the physical features of Sikkim, also mentions the boundary that runs along Naku la – Chorten Nyima La.
- Prior to Sikkim’s merger with India in 1975, the Chinese side accepted the Watershed based alignment of the International Border (IB),
- Therefore, as per the convention of 1890 which is excepted by China too, Naku La belongs to India.
International Religious Freedom Report
The U.S. State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom Report recently.
- The report for India looks at the developments in 2019 and takes note of the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- It discusses in detail mob lynchings and anti-conversion laws and related issues.
- The report also takes note of the Babri Masjid decision by the Supreme Court and the challenges to the 2018 reversal of a ban on some women entering the Sabarimala temple.
- The report listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples.
- Nicaragua, Nigeria and China were cited as negative examples.
- India was not cited in either list.
- Earlier in April 2020, The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had, in April, recommended US Secretary of State to downgrade India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade — ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’.
- However, the Secretary of State is not obliged to accept the recommendation.
- As per law, the CPC and the Special Watch List (one level less severe than CPC) designations have to be made by the administration no later than 90 days after the publication of the IRF Report.
- The IRF is an annual survey of the state of religious freedom across the world, submitted to the U.S. Congress.
- The Office of International Religious Freedom in the State Department and the USCIRF are different and were created by the American International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom:
- USCIRF is an independent bipartisan commission and separate from the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
- Its principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.
- The USCIRF has classified India as a country of particular concern along with other countries like Pakistan, North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia in April 2020.
Defence & Security Issues
The strategic road to DBO
The construction of the 255-km long Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie all-weather road is an important trigger for the People’s Liberation Army’s targeting Indian territory along LAC in eastern Ladakh.
About the road:
- The Darbuk-Shyokh-Daulat Beg Oldie (DSDBO) road running almost parallel to the LAC is at an altitude ranging between 13,000 ft and 16,000 ft.
- It took India’s Border Roads Organisation almost two decades to construct the road.
- Its strategic importance is that it connects Leh to Daulat Beg Oldie, virtually at the base of the Karakoram Pass that separates China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region from Ladakh.
- The DSDBO highway provides the Indian military access to the section of the Tibet-Xinjaing highway that passes through Aksai Chin.
- The DSDBO’s emergence has seemingly panicked China, evidenced by the 2013 intrusion by the PLA into the nearby Depsang Plains, lasting nearly three weeks.
Daulat Beg Oldie:
- DBO is the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh, in the area known as Sub-Sector North in Army parlance.
- DBO is less than 10 km west of the LAC at Aksai Chin.
- A military outpost was created in DBO in reaction to China’s occupation of Aksai Chin and manned by armed forces.
- DBO has the world’s highest airstrip, originally built during the 1962 war but abandoned until 2008.
- In 2008, the Indian Air Force revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds along the LAC, with the landing of an Antonov An-32.
- In August 2013, the IAF created history by landing one of its newly acquired Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 transport aircraft at the DBO ALG, doing away with the need to send helicopters to paradrop supplies to Army formations deployed along the disputed frontier.
- Defence Minister has acknowledged that large numbers of Chinese troops had massed along the LAC, and had come a little further than they used to earlier.
- The Chinese build-up along the Galwan River valley region poses a direct threat to the DSDBO road.
- The token mutual de-escalation of the two armies is expected to be completed over an extended period and withdrawals are subject to reciprocal endorsement.
- To the west of DBO is the region where China borders Pakistan in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, once a part of the erstwhile Kashmir principality.
- This is also the critical region where China is currently constructing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), to which India has objected.
- This is the region where Pakistan ceded over 5,180 sq. km of PoK to China in 1963 under a Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement, contested by India.
Science and Technology
Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020
The Track-I public & expert consultation process for the formulation of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 will be launched on June 12, 2020.
- The Track I consultation process involves an extensive public and expert consultations through Science Policy Forum to make the formulation of STIP 2020 decentralized, bottom-up, and inclusive.
- The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and the Department of Science and Technology have started a consultative process for the formulation of a new national STIP 2020 reaching out to a wide range of stakeholders.
- The STIP 2020 formulation process is organised into 4 highly interlinked tracks, which will reach out to around 15000 stakeholders for consultation in the policy formulation.
- Track I involves an extensive public and expert consultation process through Science Policy Forum – a dedicated platform for soliciting inputs from larger public and expert pool during and after the policy drafting process.
- Track II comprises experts-driven thematic consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process.
- Track III involves consultations with Ministries and States.
- Track IV constitutes apex level multi-stakeholder consultation.
- India drafted its first science policy in 1958 called the Scientific Policy Resolution, its focus was on scientific temper and capacity building.
- In 1983, India came up with the Technology Policy Statement, stressing on technological competence and self-reliance.
- The 2003 Science and Technology Policy called for an increased investment in research and development.
- STIP 2013 called for science and technology-led innovation for socioeconomic development.
Also in News
World Accreditation Day 2020
The World Accreditation Day is celebrated on 9th June every year to highlight as well as promote the role of accreditation in trade & economy.
- The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies and National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, the two accreditation boards of the Quality Council of India, organised a Webinar to commemorate the event.
- Theme 2020– Accreditation: Improving Food Safety.
What is Accreditation?
- Accreditation is a certification of competency, authority, or credibility and isnecessary to prove that they meet a general standard of quality.
- Accreditation reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring that accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) are competent to carry out the work they undertake within their scope of accreditation.
- It is the recognized mechanism accepted by WTO / TBT agreements for establishing equivalence of certification/ inspection schemes operated in different countries as also the test results of various laboratories.
National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies:
- NABCB, a constituent Board of the Quality Council of India (QCI), is an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It is India’s national accreditation body.
- NABCB is internationally recognized and represents the interests of the Indian industry at international forums through membership.
National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories:
- NABL is a constituent Board of Quality Council of India.
- It is an autonomous body providing Accreditation of Technical competence of a testing, calibration, medical laboratory & Proficiency testing in accordance with the international standards.
Quality Council of India:
- QCI is an autonomous body that works to assure quality standards across all spheres of economic and social activities.
- It was set up in 1997 jointly by the Department
of Industrial Policy and Promotion Government of India and the Indian
Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e.
- Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM),
- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
- It aims to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
- The Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the industry to the government.
- The Council has an equal representation of Government, Industry and other Stakeholders.
- It is a non-profit organization with its own Memorandum of Association neither funded nor controlled by the government.
Key Facts for Prelims
Ramon Magsaysay Award
- Ramon Magsaysay Award is considered Asia’s highest honour, established in 1957.
- It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.
- It was established by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government.
- It is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late Filipino leader.
- Many Indians have received the prestigious award in the past, including Mother Teresa, Jayaprakash Narayan, Satyajit Ray, Kiran Bedi, P. Sainath, Arvind Kejriwal, Bharat Vatwani, Sonam Wangchuk and Ravish Kumar.
CBIC launches Turant Customs
- Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs launched its flagship programme Turant Customs at Bengaluru and Chennai.
- Itis a giant leap forward to leverage technology for faster Customs clearance of imported goods and a mega reform for the ease of doing business.
- Importers will now get their goods cleared from Customs after a faceless assessment is done remotely by the Customs officers located outside the port of import.
- Turant Customs will benefit the importers by eliminating routine interface with the Customs officers and providing uniformity in assessment across the country.
- The start of Turant Customs at Bengaluru and Chennai will be the first phase of the All India roll out which would get completed by 31st December 2020.
- The first phase will cover imports of Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics machineries at the ports, airports and ICDs of Bengaluru and Chennai.
Coral Triangle Day
- The Coral Triangle is a roughly triangular area of the tropical marine waters in western Pacific Ocean.
- It includes six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
- The region contains 76% of all known coral species, 37% of all known coral reef fish species and 53% of the world’s coral reefs.
- It is the world’s epicentre of marine diversity and is one of the three mega ecological complexes on Earth, together with Congo Basin and the Amazon Rainforest.
- The Coral Triangle Day is observed annually on June 9, to raise awareness of the ocean conservation and protection, especially focussed on the region.
KASHISH 2020 virtual
- After being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be held online this year.
- This will make it the first major Indian film festival to take place virtually.
- Titled ‘Kashish 2020 Virtual’, the film festival will be held from July 22 to 30.
- It aims to bring out LGBTQIA+ stories out there to the world, as a means of healing and empowerment.
Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule crop loan waiver scheme
- The Mahatma Jyoti Rao Phule crop loan waiver scheme, enforced from March 2020, aims to write off crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh pending as on September 30, 2019.
- The instances of farmers not having any land, but benefiting under the scheme have surfaced in Sangli district, Maharashtra.
- Such instances may cast a shadow on the implementation of the Maharashtra’s crop loan waiver scheme.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation
- Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is a disinfection method that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill or inactivate microorganisms.
- UV rays destroy the nucleic acids of microorganisms and disrupt their DNA, leaving them unable to perform vital cellular functions and stops their replication.
- UVGI is used in a variety of applications, such as food, air, and water disinfection.
- The full spectrum of UV radiation is sourced from the sun and can be subdivided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C rays.
- UV light kills cells and its increased exposure can cause cells to become carcinogenic, thereby increasing the risk of getting cancer