Polity & Governance
- Water Dispute Bill against the interests of Punjab, will oppose
Government Schemes & Policies
- New Education Policy, the way to Nalanda, Takshasila glory, says VP Shri Naidu
- ‘One nation, one ration card’ scheme in AP, three other states
Issues related to Health & Education
- National Digital Health Blueprint released
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Himalayan States demand separate Ministry, green bonus
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to conduct 1st National Time Release Study for faster movement of cargo
- Nigeria becomes fourth African nation to join global coalition to protect pollinators
Key Facts for Prelims
- KABIL Set up to Ensure Supply of Critical Minerals
- 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award
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Polity & Governance
Water Dispute Bill against the interests of Punjab, will oppose
An ally of the ruling party announced that it would oppose the Inter-State Water Dispute Bill in the Rajya Sabha as it, in its current form, is against the interests of Punjab.
About Inter-State River Water disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019
- The bill seeks to amend the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956. The Act provides for the adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers and river valleys.
Disputes Resolution Committee:
- Under the Bill, when a state puts in a request regarding any water dispute, the central government will set up a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), to resolve the dispute amicably.
- The DRC will seek to resolve the dispute through negotiations, within one year (extendable by six months).
- If a dispute cannot be settled by the DRC, the central government will refer it to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal. Such referral must be made within three months from the receipt of the report from the DRC.
- The central government will set up an Inter-State River Water Disputes Tribunal, for the adjudication of water disputes.
- All existing Tribunals will be dissolved, and the water disputes pending adjudication before such existing Tribunals will be transferred to the new Tribunal.
Composition of the Tribunal:
- The Tribunal will consist of a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, three judicial members, and three expert members.
- They will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
- Under the Act, the Tribunal must give its decision within three years, which may be extended by two years.
- Under the Bill, the proposed Tribunal must give its decision on the dispute within two years, which may be extended by another year.
- Under the Act, if the matter is again referred to the Tribunal by a state for further consideration, the Tribunal must submit its report to the central government within a period of one year. This period can be extended by the central government.
- The Bill amends this to specify that such extension may be up to a maximum of six months.
Decision of the Tribunal:
- Under the Act, the decision of the Tribunal must be published by the central government in the official gazette. This decision has the same force as that of an order of the Supreme Court.
- The Bill removes the requirement of such publication. It adds that the decision of the Bench of the Tribunal will be final and binding on the parties involved in the dispute.
- The Act provided that the central government may make a scheme to give effect to the decision of the Tribunal.
- The Bill is making it mandatory for the central government to make such scheme.
- Under the Act, the central government maintains a data bank and information system at the national level for each river basin.
- The Bill provides that the central government will appoint or authorise an agency to maintain such data bank.
Need for the amendments:
- The number of inter-state water disputes is on the rise due to an increase in demand for more water by states.
- Though the existing Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956 provides for a legal framework to address such disputes, it suffers from many drawbacks, which this Bill seeks to address.
- For Instance, the tribunals dealing with inter-state river water disputes take too long to resolve disputes.
The reasons are:
- No strict time limit for adjudication as the central government kept extending tenure of the tribunals indefinitely, even though they were to resolve disputes within 5 years.
- No limit for publishing the report of a tribunal.
- No upper limit for retirement of the chairperson or other members.
- In case of any vacancy, the Chief Justice of India to nominate a person which took time and caused considerable delays.
- Absence of data on river basins.
- Instead of the Chief Justice of India nominating persons for appointments, the bill allows central government making such appointments through a selection committee.
- Hence, some political parties have raised concerns about the appropriation of more powers by the central government to decide water disputes between states.
- The tribunals, as given in the bill looks at a river as a channel of water and its distribution, ignoring that it is a complete ecosystem and that water in a river depends on the state of its basin and catchment area.
- The bill alone cannot address the different kinds of problems—legal, administrative, constitutional and political—that hamper the overall framework of dispute resolution
- There are three main problems with water-dispute resolution mechanism: i) extreme delays in dispute resolution ii) opacity in the institutional framework and guidelines that define these proceedings iii) ensuring compliance.
- The permanent tribunal is being pushed as a solution to the first problem but unless it is designed to tackle the inter-linked second and third problems, progress will be limited.
- The Government of India Act, 1935 mandated separate tribunals for water dispute and limited the jurisdiction of the federal court.
- The constituent assembly had rejected this system and called for a permanent framework and empowered Parliament to bring out the necessary legislation.
- However, Parliament ignored the constituent assembly’s suggestion and went ahead with the ad hoc tribunal arrangement, arguing that this would allow for quick decision making.
- Although, Water is a state subject, the ‘regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valley in the public interest’ is in the Union list. The Centre has allowed states to dominate in the river dispute mechanism.
- However, as Centre-state relations evolved, with the emergence of strong regional parties in the states and coalition governments at the Centre that depended on regional parties, the central-state collaboration fall apart.
- Today, inter-state water disputes have become hugely politicized—the recent eruption of the Cauvery dispute which led to widespread civil unrest is the most recent example.
- Entry 56 of List I of Seventh Schedule provides that regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys is declared by Parliament by law.
Entry 17 under list II of seventh schedule provides that:
- Water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water power subject to the provisions of Entry 56 of List I”.
- The Central Government is conferred with powers to regulate inter-State rivers under Entry 56 of List I of Seventh Schedule to the extent declared by the Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.
- It also has the power to make laws for the adjudication of any dispute relating to waters of Inter-State River or river valley under Article 262 of the Constitution.
Government Schemes & Policies
New Education Policy, the way to Nalanda, Takshasila glory, says VP Shri Naidu
Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha said that the New Education Policy will make India a global educational hub and urged the public to give their views on the Policy.
Highlights of the Speech of Vice President of India
- Several German Universities are promoting Sanskrit to decipher ancient palm leaves and scriptures for clues for scientific innovation.
- India was once known as Vishwaguru because of Takshashila, Nalanda etc. universities. Now, not a single Indian university is in the top-ranking global educational institutions.
- In May 2019, the draft National Education Policy (NEP) developed by a committee chaired by K. Kasturirangan was shared by the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) for public comment.
- A comprehensive education policy for India is on the anvil for the first time since 1986.
To know more about the draft New Education Policy, read IASToppers’ Mains Article on it. Click Here https://www.iastoppers.com/draft-national-education-policy-2019-mains-article/[Ref: PIB]
‘One nation, one ration card’ scheme in AP, three other states
In a major boost to national food security government, Central government’s initiative ‘one nation, one ration card’ was launched on a pilot basis in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
About the One Nation One Ration Card scheme:
- It is the scheme of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- Under this scheme, beneficiaries can buy subsidised food grains from any ration shop ration shops in any part of the country.
- Only ration card will suffice if beneficiaries want to get their Public Distribution System (PDS) entitlement only from a particular registered ration shop.
- Migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre. Even if a beneficiary moved to a State where grains were given for free, that person would not be able to access those benefits, as they were funded by the State exchequer.
- It will ensure that no poor person is deprived of PDS if the person shifts from one place to another.
- It will reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.
- It will also help to remove fake ration card holders.
- Since November 2016, the government is implementing the National Food Security Act, under which food grains are supplied every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1–3 per kg to over 80 crore people in India.
Issues related to Health & Education
National Digital Health Blueprint released
Union Health Minister released the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB), which aims to create a national digital health eco-system in public domain.
About National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB)
- The NDHB focuses on providing an affordable health coverage through data and infrastructure services by leveraging open digital systems that will ensure security of personal information.
- NDHB lay out the building blocks for the implementation of the National Health Stack (NHS), which aims to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) in leveraging health records.
- NDHB will have a unique health ID for citizens, with Aadhaar as a key identifier.
- It also proposes the linking of multiple databases to generate data that can be leveraged by the public as well as private sector including insurance companies, hospitals etc.
Objective of NDHB:
- To establish national and regional registries to create single source of truth in respect of Clinical Establishments, Healthcare Professionals, Health Workers and Pharmacies.
- Creating a system of Personal Health Records accessible to the citizens and to the service providers based on citizen-consent.
- Promoting the adoption of open standards by all the actors in the National Digital Health Ecosystem.
- Promoting Health Data Analytics and Medical Research
- All citizens should be able to access their Electronic Health Records.
- Citizens need to undergo any diagnostic test only once, during the course of an episode, despite taking treatment from different health service providers.
- Integrated health services at a single point, though multiple agencies/ departments/services providers will be involved.
- NDHM shall assure Continuum of Care to the citizens, across primary, secondary and tertiary care and across public and private service providers.
- Healthcare data suffers from three basic challenges – Integrity, Integration and Intelligence of data.
- Data researchers expressed concerns about the development of this policy, which proposes a health data set-up on a foundation of ‘India Stack’.
- This National Blueprint illustrates yet another example of the Centre moving forward with a major digitisation program involving the data of millions of citizens without a data protection law in place.
What is ‘India Stack’?
- IndiaStack is a set of software applications that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilize the Aadhaar infrastructure for businesses like eKYC and UPI digital payments.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Himalayan States demand separate Ministry, green bonus
It is for the first time that the Himalayan States have come on a single platform to take a unanimous stand on the issue of green bonus and demanded a separate Ministry to deal with problems unique to them.
Rational Behind the Demand:
- Most of the country’s rivers originate in the Himalayas and therefore, the Himalayan States had to play the most significant role in the India’s water conservation initiative.
- Moreover, Himalayan States’ contribution to environmental conservation is the biggest with all their green cover.
- The Himalayan States are also at a disadvantage because large swathes of land fell into eco-sensitive zones where all sorts of development activities could not be carried out.
- Hence, green bonus or payment for ecosystem services (PES) is needed to compensate the Himalayan States for their disadvantages.
What is Indian Himalayan Region?
IHR is the section of Himalayas within India,
- spanning 11 Indian states which are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand) & 2 districts of Bengal and
- Area along 2500 km of Himalayan ranges between Indus river basin in North-West and Brahmaputra in the East.
Features of IHR:
- This region is endowed with rich vegetation & is home to almost 36% of India’s total biodiversity.
- More than 5% area of IHR states is under forests, representing 1/3rd of total forest cover of India.
- The total geographical area of IHR states is approximately 18% of India and it is inhabited by about 3.8% of the country’s population.
- The strategic importance of the IHR is evident from the fact that IHR states share borders with 6 neighbouring countries.
What are Payments for Ecosystem Services?
- Payments for ecosystem services (PES) occur when a beneficiary or user of an ecosystem service makes a direct or indirect payment to the provider of that service.
- The idea is that whoever preserves or maintains an ecosystem service should be paid for doing so.
- When agriculture with low ecological footprint is encouraged for payment for ecological services, it would serve two purposes bring down poverty and make agriculture climate-resistant.
Efforts made for incorporation of PES:
- The 12th Finance Commission (2005-10), for the first time, recognised the need to invest in resources and earmarked Rs 1,000 crores for five years to be given to states for preserving forests.
- The 13th Finance Commission allocated Rs 5,000 crore, based on the area under forest cover with an added parameter of Canopy density.
- The 14th commission reformed the revenue-sharing formula between the Union and the states. It brought the landmark change of including forest cover as a determining factor in a state’s share.
- During these commissions, states with substantial proportion of forest land improved, however, states with marginal forest cover got less than previous allocations.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to conduct 1st National Time Release Study for faster movement of cargo
The Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, as part of its strategic commitment to improve global trade, is conducting India’s first national Time Release Study (TRS) between 1st – 7th August.
About India’s first national Time Release Study (TRS)
- The TRS is an internationally recognized tool advocated by World Customs Organization (WCO) to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of international trade flows.
- It is aimed at addressing bottlenecks in the trade flow process and take the corresponding policy and operational measures for improving the effectiveness of border procedures, from the time of arrival until the physical release of cargo.
- This initiative is led by the Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs.
- The exercise will be conducted at the same time across 15 ports including sea, air, land and dry ports which cumulatively account for 81% of total Bills of Entries for import and 67% of Shipping Bills for export filed within India.
- The exercise will be held on an annual basis every year.
- It will help India maintain the upward trajectory on Ease of Doing Business, particularly on the Trading Across Borders indicator which measures the efficiency of the cross border trade ecosystem.
- Export oriented industries and MSMEs
- Government agencies associated with cross border
- Previously, individual customs formations had been independently conducting TRS studies at the port level. The national TRS has taken this a step further and made a uniform methodology of TRS studies.
What is Time Release Study (TRS)?
- It is developed by World Customs Organization (WCO).
- It is a method for measuring the performance of Customs activities as they directly relate to trade facilitation at the border.
- The WCO TRS is specifically referenced in Article 7.6 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as a tool for Members to measure and publish the average release time of goods.
- The TRS is being increasingly used by Members with respect to strategic planning and the proper sequencing of TFA measures in accordance with their National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTF).
- One of the methods used for the review of clearance procedures is to measure the average time taken between the arrival of the goods and their release.
- This facilitates Customs to identify both the problem areas and potential corrective actions to increase their efficiency.
- Measuring the time taken for the release of goods also meets the concerns of trade circles regarding long delays in Customs clearance.
- It helps Customs to respond to trade requirements where the operators need to plan ahead for the movement of goods across borders in order to meet tight production schedules.
- In 2018, India’s ranking on the Trading Across Borders indicator improved from 146 to 80.
- In 2018, the WCO launched Time Release Study – Version 3 known as “Guide to Measure the Time required for the Release of Goods (Version 3)”.
World Customs Organization (WCO):
- The World Customs Organization (WCO) is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
- The WCO represents 182 customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 per cent of world trade.
- Each of the six regions is represented by a regionally elected vice-chairperson to the WCO Council.
- As the global centre of customs expertise, the WCO is the only international organisation with competence in customs matters.
Objectives of WCO:
- The WCO’s primary objective is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations, thereby assisting them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
- The WCO is noted for its work in areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments, and tools on topics such as commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin, collection of customs revenue, supply chain security, international trade facilitation, customs enforcement activities, combating counterfeiting in support of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), drugs enforcement, illegal weapons trading, integrity promotion, and delivering sustainable capacity building to assist with customs reforms and modernization.
- The WCO maintains the international Harmonized System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.
The WCO has divided its membership into six regions, namely:
- South America, North America, Central America and the Caribbean
- Far East, South and South East Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands
- North of Africa, Near and Middle East
- West and Central Africa
- East and Southern Africa
Nigeria becomes fourth African nation to join global coalition to protect pollinators
Nigeria became the fourth African country to join the Global Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators recently.
- By joining the ‘Promote pollinators’ coalition, Nigeria demonstrated its commitment to protect pollinators and their habitats by developing national pollinator strategies.
- On an average, pollinator-dependent crops have higher prices than non-pollinator dependent crops. Most of Nigeria’s exports of food crops depend significantly on pollinators.
About ‘Promote pollinators’
- Promote pollinators, the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, was formed in 2016 to follow up on the findings of IPBES Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, which found that many of the world’s pollinator species are on the decline.
- The initiative to form a coalition was taken by the Netherlands at the Conference of the Parties–Convention of Biological Diversity held in Mexico.
- The coalition has 28 signatories including 17 European countries, five from Latin America and the Caribbean and four from Africa.
- Ethiopia was the first African nation to be part of this global coalition in 2017. Burundi was the second African country to join this global group.
- Morroco became a member of this group in May 2019.
- During the sixth planetary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dominican Republic, Ireland and Mexico signed the ‘Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators’ in Colombia in 2018.
Role of Honeybee in Pollination:
- Honey bees travel from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen The nectar thus collected is later converted into honey.
- As the bee flies from flower to flower, some of the pollen grains are transferred onto the stigma of other flowers.
- Nectar provides the energy for bee nutrition while pollen provides the protein. When bees are rearing large quantities of brood, bees deliberately gather pollen to meet the nutritional needs of the brood.
- Pollination is essential for the production of fruit and seed. There are many plants that cannot produce fruit and seed if pollinated by their own pollen and so require cross pollination. Such plants include those in which male and female parts are either borne on separate plants or on the same flower but they are physically excluded from each other.
- Over 90% of all flowering plants and over three-quarters of the crop plants rely on animals for pollination.
- Seed and fruit production of cross-pollinated crops can be increased considerably in areas where there is a dearth of natural pollinators by placing honey bee colonies in the crop when it is in bloom.
- Pollination by honeybees and wild bees significantly increased yield quantity and quality of crops on average up to 62 per cent, while exclusion of pollinators caused an average yield gap of 37 per cent in cotton and 59 per cent in sesame.
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES):
- The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012.
- The governing body of IPBES – made up of the representatives of IPBES member States – usually meets once per year.
- India is a member of IPBES since 2012.
- The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
Key Findings of IPBES:
- Agricultural production dependent on animal pollination has increased by 300% over the past 50 years, but pollinator dependent crops show lower growth and stability in yield than crops that do not depend on pollinators.
- 75 per cent of food crops in the world and nearly 90% of all wild flowering plants depend to some extent on animal pollination.
- 16% of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with global extinction – increasing to 30 per cent for island species – with a trend towards more extinctions.
- Pesticides, including neonicotinoid insecticides, threaten pollinators worldwide, although the long-term effects are still unknown.
- Use of pesticides and insecticides is the major reason behind reduction of pollinators.
Location of Nigeria:
- It is located at the extreme inner corner of the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa.
- Nigeria shares land borders with 4 countries: Chad, Niger, Benin, Cameroon.
- Nigeria’s capital city is Abuja.
Key Facts for Prelims
KABIL Set up to Ensure Supply of Critical Minerals
A joint venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) is to be set up with the participation of three Central Public Sector Enterprises.
- A Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) is a joint venture company of three Central Public Sector Enterprises namely, National Aluminium Company Ltd.(NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd.(HCL) and Mineral Exploration Company Ltd. (MECL).
- The equity participation between NALCO, HCL and MECL is in the ratio of 40:30:30.
- The objective of constituting KABIL is to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to Indian domestic market.
- While twelve strategic minerals have been identified, the initial focus will be on lithium and cobalt assets.
- It will be involved in acquisition, exploration & processing of strategic minerals abroad for commercial use and for supply to meet domestic requirement.
- It will help in building partnerships with other mineral rich countries like Australia and those in Africa and South America, where Indian expertise in mineral processing will be mutually beneficial.
- It would also help in realizing the overall objective of import substitution.
2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award
Indian journalist Ravish Kumar of NDTV news channel was chosen for 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award.
About Ramon Magsaysay Award:
Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is considered Asia’s highest honour.
- It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine President after whom the award is named.
- It was established by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government in the memory of Philippines’ third President Ramon Magsaysay.
- 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 and beloved Filipino leader.
- It carries Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize and a certificate.
- Many Indians have received the prestigious award in the past, including Mother Teresa, Jayaprakash Narayan, Satyajit Ray, Kiran Bedi, P. Sainath and current Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.