Current Affairs Analysis

20th March 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Glastonbury Festival; Revival of Khadi and Village Industries; Khadi Reform and Development Programme; Setting Up of National Technical Textile Mission; Technical Textiles; Debate over Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha; 14th Law Commission Report; SC dismisses pleas against post-based reservation in Karnataka; Reservation in promotion; Working on New definition of MSMEs; Present definition of MSME; Committee to review fiscal consolidation roadmap; What is the Finance Commission; Fifteenth Finance Commission; Mica flakes could become forest produce in Jharkhand; Mica; World Consumer Rights Day; Gross Enrolment Ratio; Ground Water; Electricity in India;
By IASToppers
March 23, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Debate over Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha
  • SC dismisses pleas against post-based reservation in Karnataka

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Revival of Khadi and Village Industries
  • Setting Up of National Technical Textile Mission

Economy

  • Working on New definition of MSMEs
  • Committee to review fiscal consolidation roadmap
  • Mica flakes could become forest produce in Jharkhand

Key Facts for Prelims

  • World Consumer Rights Day
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio
  • Ground Water
  • Electricity in India
  • Glastonbury Festival

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Polity & Governance

Debate over Gogoi’s nomination in Rajya Sabha

A heated debate has started in the country following the nomination of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi as Rajya Sabha MP only four months after his retirement as the Chief Justice of India.

Is there any law prohibiting his appointment?

  • There is no law or constitutional provision that prohibits such a nomination.
  • Nor is this an unprecedented decision by the government.
  • However, it is not a common practice that a government nominates or appoints a former Supreme Court judge or even a high court judge to some office within months of her or his retirement.

The 14th Law Commission Report:

  • In its 14th report in 1958, the Law Commission noted that retired Supreme Court judges used to engage in two kinds of work after retirement: Firstly, “chamber practice” i.e. giving opinions to clients and serving as arbitrators in private disputes.
  • Secondly, “employment in important positions under the government”.
  • The Law Commission frowned upon chamber practice, but did not recommend its abolition.
  • It strongly recommended banning post-retirement government employment for Supreme Court judges because the government was a large litigant in the courts.
  • However, the Commission’s recommendations were never implemented.

Rationale:

  • Explaining the reason for why Supreme Court judges should resist such offers from the government, the Law Commission report says, “The Government is a party in a large number of causes [cases] in the highest Court and the average citizen may well get the impression, that a judge who might look forward to being employed by the Government after his retirement, does not bring to bear on his work that detachment of outlook which is expected of a judge in cases in which Government is a party.
  • We are clearly of the view that the practice has a tendency to affect the independence of the judges and should be discontinued.
[Ref: India Today]

SC dismisses pleas against post-based reservation in Karnataka

The Supreme Court has recently rejected a series of pleas to apply post-based reservation and creamy layer principle at entry level with regard to promotions to SC and ST employees in Karnataka.

What is the issue?

  • The application sought a direction from the apex court to “re-work” all promotions on the basis of ‘post based reservations’.
  • Secondly, they asked the court to direct Karnataka to apply ‘creamy layer’ principle.
  • Thirdly, the applications had urged the court to ensure that the State implements its Reservation Act 2018 in compliance with the apex court decision in Nagaraj case, that is to extend reservation for SC/ST to promotions with certain conditions.

SC’s ruling:

  • The Bench of Justices held that the pleas challenged the State’s move to implement its Reservation Act of 2018 after the constitutional validity of the law was upheld by the apex court in May 2019.
  • The 15-page judgment suggested that the applicants could challenge the provisions in “independent proceedings.”

Stand of SC regarding reservation in promotion:

  • SC has ruled earlier this year (2020) that states are not bound to make reservations, nor is reservation in promotions a fundamental right.
  • No mandamus can be issued by the court directing the state government to provide reservations, as there is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions.
  • Hence, the top court cannot order state governments to provide reservations.
  • However, if they (state) wish to exercise their discretion, Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) empowers the state to make such provision, but the state has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of their representation in the services of the state.
  • If the decision of the state to provide reservations in promotion is challenged, the state concerned shall have to place before the court the requisite quantifiable data and satisfy the court that such reservations became necessary on account of inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a particular class or classes of posts without affecting general efficiency of administration.

Creamy Layer:

  • Creamy layer is a term used in Indian politics to refer to some members of a backward class who are highly advanced socially as well as economically and educationally.
  • They constitute the forward section of that particular backward class — as forward as any other forward class member.
  • A person with annual income of Rs 8 lakh or more is classified as belonging to the ‘creamy layer’ among OBCs and cannot avail of reservations.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

evival of Khadi and Village Industries

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), through Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), has been implementing Khadi Reform and Development Programme (KRDP) scheme for revival and increase the production of Khadi throughout the country.

Khadi Reform and Development Programme (KRDP):

  • It is a comprehensive reform programme approved by Government of India, being implemented with the assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Objectives:

KRDP aims to revitalize the Khadi and Village Industries through Policy and Institutional Reforms.

Specific objectives are:

  • Repositioning Khadi and aligning it to market demand and trends.
  • Enhancing artisan welfare and empowerment.
  • Undertaking extensive capacity building of Khadi Institutions (KIs).
  • Strengthening institutional mechanisms.
  • Implementation of MIS at Khadi Institution level and e-Governance at KVIC.
  • Strategic development of traditional village industries.

Financial assistance:

  • A total of 22 Khadi Institutions were given assistance under KRDP with a financial outlay of Rs.1484.93 lakhs for refurbishment of Khadi programme in the State of Bihar.
  • Ministry of MSME provides financial assistance in the form of grant and subsidy to KVIC for promotion and development of Khadi Programme.
  • Ministry has approved Khadi Vikas Yojana for the development of Khadi programme during the year 2019-20, under which assistance is provided under following components:
  • Modified Market Development Assistance (MMDA): KVIC provides Market Development Assistance to the registered Khadi Institutions and 40% of total MMDA to the Khadi artisans engaged in production activity.
  • Interest Subsidy Eligibility Certificate (ISEC) Scheme: KVIC provides interest subsidy on the working capital loan availed by Khadi Institutions for undertaking production and sales activities under Khadi programme. Under the scheme interest @ 4% per annum is to be paid by the Khadi Institution and balance i.e. actual lending rate minus 4% is to be paid by the Government as interest subsidy.
  • Workshed Scheme for Khadi Artisans: Khadi artisans are provided Worksheds for better work atmosphere and storing the materials, under which financial assistance up to Rs. 60000/- is provided per workshed.
  • For revival of sick Khadi Institutions, assistance upto Rs. 9.90 lakh is provided to weak and problematic Khadi Institutions to bring them back to normalcy. For the renovation and modernization of sales outlets run by KVIC, Khadi Institutions and KVIBs financial assistance are being provided under ‘Assistance for Marketing Infrastructure’ scheme.
  • Rozgar Yukt Gaon (RYG):

A new component under Khadi Vikas Yojana has been introduced with objective of introducing enterprise led model replacing subsidy-led model and create an additional 12,500 direct employment opportunities in 50 villages, which are deprived of opportunities and sustainable livelihood support systems, in addition to spinning out secondary and ancillary opportunities of employment in a wider sense.

This will generate nearly 18,265 employment opportunities in which 12,500 will be direct and 5,765 will be indirect.

Khadi Mark:

  • To ensure genuineness of Khadi, “Khadi Mark” regulation has been notified by Government of India.
  • As of now, 2326 number of Khadi Institutions are working under Khadi Programme, out of which 85 KIs are working in Bihar State.
[Ref: PIB]

Setting Up of National Technical Textile Mission

The government has approved the proposal for creation of National Technical Textiles Mission for a period of 4 years with an outlay of Rs.1480 crores.

Objective:  To position India as a global leader in technical textiles and increase the use of technical textiles in the domestic market.

Implementation: For 4 years from 2020-21 to 2023-24

Components of the National Technical Textiles Mission:

1. Component -l (Research, Innovation and Development):

  • Will focus on research and development at both, fiber level and application-based in geo, agro, medical, sports and mobile textiles and development of bio-degradable technical textiles.
  • Research activities will also focus on development of indigenous machinery and process equipment.
  • Will have an outlay of ₹1,000 crores.

2. Component -II (Promotion and Market Development):

  • Will be for promotion and development of market for technical textiles.
  • Will aim at average growth rate of 15-20% per annum taking the level of domestic market size to 40-50 Billion USD by the year 2024.

3. Component – III (Export Promotion):

  • Will focus on export promotion so that technical textile exports from the country reach from the ₹14,000 crore now to ₹20,000 crores by 2021-2022.
  • Ensure 10% average growth every year till the Mission ends.
  • An export promotion council for technical textiles will be set up.

4. Component- IV (Education, Training, Skill Development):

  • Will promote technical education at higher engineering and technology levels related to technical textiles and its application areas.

Significance of the Mission:

  • The Mission will focus on usage of technical textiles in various flagship missions, including in strategic sectors.
  • The use of technical textiles in agriculture, aquaculture, dairy, poultry, etc. Jal Jivan Mission; Swachch Bharat Mission; Ayushman Bharat will bring an overall improvement in cost economy, water and soil conservation, better agricultural productivity and higher income to farmers per acre of land holding in addition to promotion of manufacturing and exports activities in India.
  • The use of geo-textiles in highways, railways and ports will result in robust infrastructure, reduced maintenance cost and higher life cycle of the infrastructure assets.
  • Promotion of innovation amongst young engineers will be taken up by the Mission; along with creation of incubation centres and promotion of ‘start-up’ and Ventures’.
  • The research output will be reposited with a ‘Trust’ with the Government for easy and assessable proliferation of the knowledge.
  • A sub-component of the research will focus on development of bio degradable technical textiles materials, particularly for agro-textiles, geo-textiles and medical textiles.
  • It will also develop suitable equipment for environmentally sustainable disposal of used technical textiles, with emphasis on safe disposal of medical and hygiene wastes.
  • There is another important sub-component in the research activity aiming at development of indigenous machineries and process equipment for technical textiles, in order to promote ‘Make in India’ and enable competitiveness of the industry by way of reduced capital costs.

Current scenario of Indian textiles segment:

  • Indian technical textiles segment is estimated at $16 billion which is approximately 6% of the $250 billion global technical textiles market.
  • The penetration level of technical textiles in India varies between 5% and 10% against the level of 30% to 70% in developed countries.
  • Indian textile industry is the 2nd largest manufacturer and exporter in the world, after China.
  • The share of textile and clothing in India’s total exports stands at a significant 13 % (2017-18).
  • The textile industry contributes to 7% of industry output in value terms, 2% of India’s GDP and to 15% of the country’s export earnings.

What are Technical textiles?

  • Technical textiles are textiles materials manufactured primarily for technical performance and functional properties rather than aesthetic characteristics.
  • Technical Textiles products are divided into 12 broad categories (Agrotech, Buildtech, Clothtech, Geotech, Hometech, Indutech, Mobiltech, Meditech, Protech, Sportstech, Oekotech, Packtech) depending upon their application areas.
[Ref: The Hindu, PIB]

Economy

Working on New definition of MSMEs

Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is working to come up with a new definition of MSMEs, which are currently defined on the basis of investment in plant and machinery, by the end of the ongoing session.

Key Facts:

  • The MSME sector currently contributed 24% of the GDP growth and 48% of exports, with an annual turnover of Rs. 1 lakh crore this year.
  • A target of Rs.5 lakh crore in coming five years had been set.

Present Definition of MSME:

The Government of India has enacted the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006 in terms of which the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises is as under:

  • A micro enterprise is an enterprise where investment in plant and machinery does not exceed Rs. 25 lakhs;
  • A small enterprise is an enterprise where the investment in plant and machinery is more than Rs. 25 lakhs but does not exceed Rs. 5 crores;
  • A medium enterprise is an enterprise where the investment in plant and machinery is more than Rs.5 crores but does not exceed Rs.10 crores.
  • A micro enterprise is an enterprise where the investment in equipment does not exceed Rs. 10 lakhs;
  • A small enterprise is an enterprise where the investment in equipment is more than Rs.10 lakhs but does not exceed Rs. 2 crores;
  • A medium enterprise is an enterprise where the investment in equipment is more than Rs. 2 crores but does not exceed Rs. 5 crores.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Committee to review fiscal consolidation roadmap

The 15th Finance Commission has constituted a committee to review the fiscal consolidation roadmap of the general government.

Major Highlights:

  • To prescribe a new debt and fiscal consolidation road map for both the centre and states for five years beginning 1 April, 2021, the 15th Finance Commission (FFC) has constituted a committee under chairman NK Singh.
  • The FFC has submitted its first report to the government for 2020-21 period.
  • It has got an extension till 30 October 2020 to submit its final report covering financial years 2021-22 to 2025-26 (April-March).
  • The Committee shall make recommendations on the definition of deficit and debt for the central government, overall states, the general government and public sector enterprises by considering all explicit and measurable liabilities of the sovereign and by bringing in consistency between the definition of debt (stock) and deficit (flow).
  • Under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, states are mandated to keep their fiscal deficit at 3% of gross domestic product.
  • The Committee will also lay down the principles for arriving at the debt of the general government debt and consolidated public sector to avoid double-counting.
  • The Committee shall define contingent liabilities, provide quantifiable measures of such liabilities, wherever possible, and specify conditions under which “contingent” liabilities become “explicit” liabilities of the public sector.
  • A team from National Institute of Public Finance & Policy will provide analytical and data support to the committee while the Economic Division of the Finance Commission Secretariat will facilitate and support the working of the Committee.

What is the Finance Commission?

  • The Finance Commission is appointed by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution, mainly to give its recommendations on distribution of tax revenues between the Union and the States and amongst the States themselves.
  • Article 280 (1) requires the President to constitute a Finance Commission within two years from the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of every fifth year or at such earlier time as the President considers necessary, which shall consist of a Chairman and four other members.
  • Two distinctive features of the Commission’s work involve:
    • redressing the vertical imbalances between the taxation powers and expenditure responsibilities of the centre and the States respectively,
    • equalization of all public services across the States.

Fifteenth Finance Commission:

  • The Fifteenth Finance Commission is an Indian Finance Commission constituted in November 2017 under the chairmanship of N K Singh.
  • The Commission had submitted its Report to the President in December 2019.
  • The recommendations of Fifteenth Finance Commission will cover the five-year period commencing from 1st April, 2020.
[Ref: Live Mint]

Mica flakes could become forest produce in Jharkhand

Mica flakes may be classified as ‘forest produce’ in Jharkhand after a state legislative assembly member demanded so in a session on March 16, 2020.

Indian Forest Act, 1927:

  • According to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, peat, surface soil, rock and minerals (including limestone, laterite, mineral oils, and all products of mines or quarries), when found in or brought from a forest are considered as forest produce.

Collection of Mica:

  • However, the collection of mica became illegal after the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, was promulgated.
  • The mineral is not categorized as forest produce since then.
  • This means that mica collection is a non-forest activity and cannot be undertaken without prior permission from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Yet, mica flakes are still collected, mostly from forest areas and provide livelihood to around three lakh people in Koderma and Giridih districts of Jharkhand.
  • The flakes are known as dhibra locally.
  • Since close to 80 % of dhibra is collected from forest areas, the local dhibra trade is considered illegal and theoretically non-existent, whereas the actual trade on ground is vibrant and clandestine.
  • According to him, the mica market is worth around Rs 3,000-4,000 crore, but due to legislations, the people collecting the mica are barely able to make anything.

Significance:

  • On February, 2015, mica was declared a minor mineral by the Union government.
  • There are enough court cases, like in Assam, where minor minerals like silt has been recognised as a forest produce.
  • The government should do the same for mica, which will not only ensure livelihood to people, but also generates revenue for the state.
  • Mica mining in India dates back to the mid- and late 19th century when railway tracks were being laid down in the Bengal-Nagpur zone.
  • By the 1950s, around 700 mica mines were operational, employing approximately 24,000 people.

Mica production:

  • Till the coming of the act, India was the largest producer and exporter of mica, but now it has dropped to eighth position.
  • Until 1980, India was the forerunner in the production and export of mica.
  • It is recorded that India had been one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of mica, accounting for almost 60 % of the net mica production in the world.

Mica:

  • Mica, a silver-colored crystalline mineral is a natural insulator.
  • India is one of the world’s largest producers of mica, which is used by major global brands in the car and building sectors, electronics and make-up.
  • Annual production of Mica in India is about 15,000 metric tonnes.
  • The largest mica reserve in the country is in Andhra Pradesh (41 %) followed by Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Key Facts for Prelims

World Consumer Rights Day

  • March 15 is celebrated as the World Consumer Rights Day throughout the world. The theme of this year was ‘The Sustainable Consumer’.

Gross Enrolment Ratio

  • As per Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) 2017-18, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at Primary level for Girls is 95.4.
  • Gross enrolment ratio (GER): Total enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the eligible official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education in a given school-year.

Ground Water

  • Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) is implementing National Aquifer Mapping and Management program NAQUIM which envisages mapping of aquifers (water bearing formations), their characterization and development of Aquifer Management Plans to facilitate sustainable management of Ground Water Resources.
  • Water being a State subject, initiatives on sustainable ground water management is primarily States’ responsibility.

Notable work:

A number of States have done notable work such as:

  • Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan in Rajasthan,
  • Jalyukt Shibar in Maharashtra,
  • Sujalam Sufalam Abhiyan in Gujarat,
  • Mission Kakatiya in Telangana,
  • Neeru Chettu in Andhra Pradesh,
  • Jal Jeevan Hariyali in Bihar etc.

Electricity in India

  • As per International Energy Agency 2019 report, India is the 3rd largest producer of electricity in the world and it ranks 106th in terms of per capita consumption in 2017.
  • Presently, India exports electricity to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, while India imports power from Bhutan.
  • However, sometimes India also exports power to Bhutan during lean hydro season.

Glastonbury Festival

  • Britain’s Glastonbury Festival, the largest greenfield music festival in the world, has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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