Polity & Governance
- Qualifying for Leader of the Opposition
Government Schemes & Policies
- Credit Cards for Fishermen
Issues related to Health & Education
- Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS) In India
- Economic Survey Stresses On Organic Farming, Better Irrigation
Bilateral & International Relations
- Ratification by India on Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures
- US Senate clears proposal to bring India on a par with its NATO allies
Defence & Security Issues
- Indo-French Joint Air Exercise Garuda-VI Begins
Art & Culture
- About Jagannath Rath Yatra
Key Facts for Prelims
- SDG Dashboard launched
- India-assisted IT-biotech park inaugurated in Cote d’Ivoire
Polity & Governance
Qualifying for Leader of the Opposition
In the 16th Lok Sabha, the largest party in the Opposition had 44 seats. After careful consideration, it was decided not to recognise the party’s leader as LoP.
- Now, the matter needs to be revisited in the context of the 17th Lok Sabha.
Evolution of Leaders of Opposition:
- Until 1977, there were no salary and perks attached to the position of LoP. From the first Lok Sabha, the practice has been to recognise the leader of the largest party in Opposition as the LoP provided that party has a strength that is enough to constitute the quorum for a sitting of the House, or one-tenth of the total membership of the House (55 members).
- The Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 defines LoP as that member of the House who is the Leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman /Speaker, as the case may be.
- However, The Speaker’s decisions in this regard is determined by Direction 121(c) of the 1977 act which again laid down the criteria of having ‘at least a strength equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House’.
- The Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998 also refers to a recognised party in the Lok Sabha as a party that has not less than 55 members.
- There is no provision in the Constitution or even in the Lok Sabha Rules of Procedure in regard to the recognition of the LoP. Since, there is no constitutional provision, the 1977 law does not provide for the requirement of 55 members as an essential pre-requisite.
- From the 9th to the 15th Lok Sabhas, since the requirement of having a minimum strength of 55 members was fulfilled, the Lok Sabha had duly recognised Opposition parties and LoPs.
- The LOP is leader of the largest party that has not less than one-tenth of the total strength of the house.
- It is a statutory post defined in the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.
- LoP is referred to as the ‘shadow Prime Minister’.
- She/he is expected to be ready to take over if the government falls.
- The LoP also plays an important role in bringing cohesiveness and effectiveness to the opposition’s functioning in policy and legislative work.
- LoP plays a crucial role in bringing bipartisanship and neutrality to the appointments in institutions of accountability and transparency – CVC, CBI, CIC, Lokpal etc.
Government Schemes & Policies
Credit Cards for Fishermen
The Government of India has extended the facility of Kisan Credit Card (KCC) to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs.
About the KCC scheme for animal husbandry and fisheries:
- KCC holders for animal husbandry and fisheries have the credit limit of Rs. 2 lakh animal husbandry and fisheries activities. (whereas for the existing KCC holders, the credit limit is Rs. 3 lakh including animal husbandry and fisheries activities).
- Interest subvention is available at the rate of two per cent per annum at the time of disbursal of loan and additional interest subvention of three per cent per annum in case of prompt repayment.
- KCC facility will help fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to meet their short term credit requirements of rearing of animals, poultry birds and other aquatic organisms and capture of fish.
Criteria for eligible beneficiaries under KCC for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries:
Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture
- Fishers, Fish Farmers (individual & groups/partners/share croppers/tenant farmers), Self Help Groups, Joint Liability Groups and Woman groups.
- The beneficiaries must own or lease any of the fisheries related activities such as pond, tank, possess necessary license for fish farming and fishing related activities, and any other State specific fisheries and allied activities.
- Beneficiaries as listed above who own or lease registered fishing vessel, boat, possess necessary fishing license for fishing in estuary and sea, fish farming activities in estuaries and open sea and any other State specific fisheries and allied activities
Poultry and small ruminant
- Farmers, poultry farmers either individuals or joint borrower, Joint Liability Groups or Self Help Groups including tenant farmers of sheep/goats/pigs/poultry/birds/rabbit and having owned/rented/leased sheds.
- Farmers and Dairy farmers either individuals or joint borrower, Joint Liability Groups or Self Help Groups including tenant farmers having owned/rented/leased sheds.
About Kisan Credit Card Scheme:
- The Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme was announced in the year 1998-99 by Indian Banks to tackle the comprehensive financial needs of the agricultural sector by offering term loans.
- This model scheme was prepared by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on the recommendation of R.V. Gupta committee.
- The KCC scheme is being implemented by all the Commercial Banks, Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks across the country in collaboration with the State Governments.
- Scheme covers risk of KCC holders against death or permanent disability resulting from accidents.
Objectives of KCC Scheme:
- To provide adequate and timely credit support from the banking system to the farmers at the cheap rate of interest.
- To provide credit at the time of requirement.
- To support post-harvest expenses.
- To provide Working capital for maintenance of farm assets and activities allied to agriculture.
- To fulfil Investment credit requirement for agriculture and allied activities like land development, pump sets, plantation, drip irrigation etc.
- To meet Consumption requirements of farmers.
- All farmers – individuals/Joint cultivator owners
- Tenant farmers, oral lessees and share croppers etc.
- Self-help groups (SHGs) or Joint liability groups including tenant farmers.
Salient Features of the Scheme:
- All farmers who are eligible for the Kisan Credit Card are issued a smart card cum debit card in addition to the Kisan Credit Card. Card valid for 5 years (subjected to annual review).
- As incentive for good performance, credit limits could be enhanced to take care of increase in costs, change in cropping pattern, etc.
- Revolving cash credit facility involving any number of drawls and repayments within the limit.
- Limit to be fixed on the basis of operational land holding, cropping pattern and scale of finance.
- Entire production credit needs for full year plus ancillary activities related to crop production to be considered while fixing limit.
- Operations may be through issuing branch (and also PACS in the case of Cooperative Banks) through other designated branches at the discretion of bank.
- Crop loans disbursed under KCC Scheme for notified crops are covered under Crop Insurance Scheme to protect the interest of the farmer against loss of crop yield caused by natural calamities, pest attacks including asset insurance and personal accident insurance scheme (PAIS).
- Conversion/re-scheduling of loans is also permissible in case of damage to crops due to natural calamities.
Benefits of Kisan Credit Cards
- Flexible repayment options and hassle-free disbursement procedure.
- Single credit facility/ term loan for all agricultural and ancillary requirements.
- Assistance in the purchase of fertilizers, seeds, etc. as well as in availing cash discounts from merchants/ dealers.
- Credit is available for a period of up to 3 years and repayment can be made once the harvest season in over.
- Funds can be withdrawn from any of the bank’s branches across the country.
What is a Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loan?
- Kisan Credit Card or KCC is a scheme specifically designed by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to provide farmers with financial support.
- The short-term loan is intended to help farmers receive timely financial aid and support from the banking system.
- mKisan Portal enables farmers and all other stakeholders to obtain advisories and information being sent by experts and government officials at different levels through without registering on the portal.
- These messages are specific to farmers’ specific needs & relevance at a particular point of time and generate heavy inflow of calls in the Kisan Call Centres where people call up to get supplementary information.
- Under this portal, USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System) and Pull SMS are value added services which have enabled farmers not only to receive broadcast messages but also to get web based services on their mobile without having internet.
Issues related to Health & Education
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS) In India
According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) report entitled “India: Health of the Nation’s States”, Contribution of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to total death in the India was 61.8% in 2016, as compared to 37.9% in 1990.
Government’s effort for prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases:
- National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM) to promote health related activities and opportunistic screening for common Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
- Population based screening of common NCDs, i.e. diabetes, hypertension and cancers (Oral, Breast and Cervical cancer) is initiated under National Health Mission (NHM).
- Key components of population based screening include community based risk assessment, screening, referral, and follow up of all individuals of 30 years and above for common NCDs.
- To enhance the facilities for tertiary care of cancer, the Central Government is implementing Strengthening of Tertiary Care Cancer facilities scheme to support setting up of State Cancer Institutes (SCI) and Tertiary Care Centres (TCCC) in different parts of the country.
- Oncology (branch of medicine that deals with the prevention and treatment of cancer) in its various aspects has focus in case of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and many upgraded institutions under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksh Yojna (PMSSY).
- Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) Deendayal outlets are opened at several Hospitals to make available Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases drugs and implants at discounted prices.
- Jan Aushadhi stores are set up by Department of Pharmaceuticals to provide generic medicines at affordable prices.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs):
- A non-communicable disease (NCD) is a disease that is not transmissible directly from one person to another.
- Also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.
- Four types of NCDs: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases account for almost two-thirds of all deaths globally, with 80 per cent of these occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
- NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.
What causes NCDs?
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor and unbalanced diets leading to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol etc.
- Abuse of tobacco and alcohol
- Environmental factors resulting from unsustainable practices and emissions that influence bodily function and aid in the development of NCDs.
UN Initiatives to fight Non-communicable diseases:
Tobacco Free Initiative:
- WHO in 1998 established the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) which focuses international attention resources and action on the global tobacco epidemic.
- mHealth uses mobile-based technologies to promote healthy behavioural changes in populations.
- It is joint initiative between the World Health Organisation and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which provides toolkits and technical advice to countries to roll-out mHealth based NCD prevention programmes.
- It supports in taking practical steps to beat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through addressing the harmful use of alcohol.
Global Joint programmes:
- FCTC2030: Strengthening WHO- FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) implementation
- ITU– WHO Mobile Health for NCDs Initiative: WHO and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) focuses on the use of mobile technologies to improve the prevention and treatment of NCDs
- UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) – WHO Joint Programme for Drug Dependence Treatment and Care
- In line with WHO’s Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020, India is the first country to develop specific national targets and indicators aimed at reducing the number of global premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.
- In India, NCDs are estimated to account for 63% of all deaths. In this, Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions have the highest mortality rate (26%) followed by Cardiovascular diseases (27%).
- In the Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu, due to epidemiological transition, fewer deaths are recorded for Communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases, thereby raising share of NCDs in total deaths.
Economic Survey Stresses On Organic Farming, Better Irrigation
The first economic survey report of newly elected government recommends the Organic farming, better irrigation facilities and market linkages for farmers.
Key Highlights of Economic Survey 2018-19:
- Organic farming schemes such as the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (promotes location specific farming systems), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (promotes various organic farming models) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana are some schemes that were mentioned in the survey.
- The Survey suggest adoption of environment-friendly automated farm machinery tools suited to small scale operations for the smallholder farms which account for 80 per cent of the farms in India.
- The survey raises the issue of improving farmers’ access to market, pointing out that it is only through improved connectivity to nearby mandis that farmers will be able to get better prices for their agricultural produce.
- On the issue of water for agriculture, the Survey suggests a combination of measures suggesting that focus on agriculture should shift from land productivity to irrigation water productivity.
About Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana:
- The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is an extended component of Soil Health Management (SHM) under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- Launched in 2015, it aims at supporting and promoting organic farming, in turn resulting in improvement of soil health.
- Promote organic farming among rural youth/ farmers/ consumers/ traders.
- Disseminate latest technologies in organic farming.
- Utilize the services of experts from public agricultural research system in India.
- Organize a minimum of one cluster demonstration in a village.
Major Features of the Scheme:
- The cluster chosen for Organic Farming shall be 20 ha or 50 acres in extent and in as contiguous a form as possible.
- Of the total number of farmers in a cluster, a minimum of 65 percent farmers should be allocated to small and marginal category, to be fulfilled at cluster level as far as practicable.
- Adoption of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification through cluster approach
- Adoption of organic village for manure management and biological nitrogen harvesting through cluster approach
- A total assistance of Rs. 14.95 lakhs are available per cluster for mobilization, adoption of PGS certification and manure management.
- Total financial assistance available for a 20 ha or 50-acre cluster is maximum of Rs. 10 lakhs for farmer members and Rs. 4.95 lakh for mobilization and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) Certification with a subsidy ceiling of one hectare per farmer.
- Maximum assistance of Rs. 10 lakhs per cluster subject to a maximum of Rs. 50,000 per farmer per ha under Manure Management and Biological Nitrogen Harvesting.
- At least 30% of the budget allocations need to be earmarked for women beneficiaries/ farmers.
About Organic agriculture
- Organic farming is a type of agriculture or farming which avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives.
Components of Organic farming:
- Maintaining genetic diversity
- Managing soil health
- Selection of variety
- Nutrient management
- Water management
- Weed management
- Pest and Disease management
- Livestock management
Advantages of organic farming
- Farmers can reducetheir production costs because they do not need to buy expensive chemicals and
- Healthier farm workers.
- It can support substantially higher levels of wildlife especially in low lands and where animals can roam in pastures or graze on grassland.
- In the long term, organic farms save energy and protect the
- Fewer residuesin food.
- Organic farming practices not only benefit dairies as well as when dairies feed their cows organic feed, the cows experience better health.
- More animals and plants can live in the same place in a natural way.
- Pollutionof ground water is stopped.
Disadvantages of organic farming
- Organic food is more expensive because farmers do not get as much out of their land as conventionalfarmers do. Organic products may cost up to 40% more.
- Marketingand distribution is not efficient because organic food is produced in smaller
- Food illnessesmay happen more often.
- Organic farming cannot produce enough food that the world’s population needs to survive. This could lead to starvation in countries that produce enough food today.
National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF):
- National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) is a continuing central sector scheme since 10th Five Year Plan. The scheme is continuing in the 12th Plan.
- NPOF is being implemented by National Centre of Organic Farming at Ghaziabad and its six Regional Centers.
- Promotion of organic farming in the country
- Statutory quality control of biofertilizers and organic fertilizers under the Fertilizer (Control) Order (FCO), 1985
- Capacity building for soil health assessment, organic input resource management etc.
- India has 30 per cent of the total organic producers in the world, but accounts for just 2.59 per cent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares.
- The Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) is an internationally applicable organic quality assurance system [like ISO 9000] implemented and controlled by the committed organic farmer-producers through active participation.
Bilateral & International Relations
Ratification by India on Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures
India has ratified the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (“Multilateral Instrument” or “MLI”).
- It will modify India’s treaties in order to curb revenue loss through treaty abuse and BEPS strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out.
What is Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS)?
- It refers to tax planning strategies used by multinational companies, that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
- Although some of the tax planning strategies used are illegal, most are not. This undermines the fairness of tax systems because businesses that operate across borders can use BEPS to gain a competitive advantage over enterprises that operate at a domestic level. Moreover, when taxpayers see multinational corporations legally avoiding income tax, it also motivates them to avoid tax.
- BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from multinational enterprises.
About the Multilateral Convention (MLI) to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to BEPS:
OR ‘BEPS Project’:
- It is an outcome of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) / G20 to tackle Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (the BEPS Project).
- The BEPS Project identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner.
- India was the founding member of this project. India signed this convention in 2016.
- There are over 125 members and 14 observer organisations of this project.
- The Convention enables all signatories to meet treaty-related minimum standards that were agreed as part of the Final BEPS package.
- The Convention operates to modify tax treaties between two or more Parties to the Convention. It does not function in the same way as an amending protocol to a single existing treaty, which would directly amend the text of the Tax Agreement. Instead, it is applied alongside existing tax treaties.
- The Convention ensures consistency and certainty in the implementation of the BEPS Project in a multilateral context. The Convention also provides flexibility to exclude a specific tax treaty and to opt out of provisions or parts of provisions through making of reservations.
- A list of Covered Tax Agreements as well as a list of reservations and options chosen by a country are required to be made at the time of signature or when depositing the instrument of ratification.
Benefits for India:
- The Multilateral Convention will enable the application of BEPS outcomes through modification of existing tax treaties of India in a swift manner.
- It is also in India’s interest to ensure that all its treaty partners adopt the BEPS anti-abuse outcomes.
- The Convention will enable curbing of revenue loss through treaty abuse and base erosion and profit shifting strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out and where value is created.
US Senate clears proposal to bring India on a par with its NATO allies
The US Senate has passed a legislative provision in NDAA 2020 that brings India on par with US’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies for increasing defence cooperation.
National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA):
- NDAA is an annual US legislation that authorizes the funding and provides authorities for the U.S. military and other critical national defence priorities.
- The first NDAA was passed in 1961.
- The National Defense Authorisation Act or NDAA for the current financial 2020 contained the proposal of bringing India on a par with NATO allies.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):
- NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is an intergovernmental military alliance established in 1949. It is also called the Washington Treaty.
- It is an alliance of 29 countries bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
- It was established primarily to keep Europe safe by deterring any attack. It constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
- The organisation is considered to be the largest and most powerful military alliance in history.
- A key provision of the treaty (Article 5) states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members.
- It has an active role in a broad range of crisis-management operations and missions, including civil emergency operations.
- NATO membership is open to any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty. NATO ha the Membership Action Plan (MAP) which provides advice for aspiring member countries. Current participants in MAP are Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of North Macedonia.
- NATO has two official languages: English and French. Hence, in Europe NATO is more frequently referred to as OTAN, which is French acronym for NATO.
- NATO has two sources of funding, direct and indirect. The largest type is indirect contributions, which come, for instance, when a member nation volunteer’s equipment or troops.
- Within the principle of common funding, all 29 members contribute to NATO from its defense budget according to Gross National Income.
Purpose of NATO:
- It has three main purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence, and encouraging European political integration.
- Its targets include weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cyber-attacks.
- It also promotes democratic values and enables members to cooperate on Defence and security-related issues to solve problems and prevent conflict.
- If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.
Defence & Security Issues
Indo-French Joint Air Exercise Garuda-VI Begins
- The Garuda-VI joint exercise between Indian Air Force and French Air will see the most potent fighter aircrafts of the two countries.
About Garuda VI military exercise:
- The Indian Air Force and French Air Force participated in a bilateral air exercise Garuda VI at Mont de Marsan in France.
- The exercise, which took place in July 2019, saw the most potent fighter aircraft of the two countries going head-to-head to validate the latest defence strategies and fine-tune their waging capabilities.
- This is the sixth edition of Exercise Garuda. The last exercise, ‘Garuda V’ was held at Air Force Station Jodhpur in 2014.
Art & Culture
About Jagannath Rath Yatra
It is an annual event, which is celebrated in the month of June or July.
More about Jagannath Rath Yatra:
- It is also called Gundicha Yatra, Chariot Festival, Dasavatara and Navadina Yatra.
- The festival is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Shukla Paksha, Ashadh month according to the traditional Oriya Calendar.
- It is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), his sister Goddess Subhadra and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra.
- During this festival, the wooden idols of the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple. These idols are placed in decorative chariots.
- All the three deities of the temple – Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra – travel in three different chariots during this festival. The chariots are called Nandighosha, Taladhwaja, and Devadalana respectively.
Why is Rath Yatra Celebrated?
- Rath Yatra is organized in Puri, It is believed that every year Lord Jagannath wishes to visit his birthplace Mathura for a few days. To fulfill this desire of his, this Yatra is conducted each year.
About Jagannath temple
- Jagannath temple is one of the orthodox Hindu temples in India where only hindus or followers of hinduism are allowed.
Key Facts for Prelims
SDG Dashboard launched
Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) launched India’s first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) dashboard.
- It was launched on occasion of National Statistics Day (on June 29) which marks birth anniversary of Prof. P C Mahalanobis.
- SDG dashboard was launched in a bid to effectively track country’s progress on Agenda 2030 adopted by UN
- It is a unique, searchable platform, which provides data and insights on how India is progressing on SDGs.
- SDG Dashboard is developed in partnership with United Nation in India, Department for International Development (DFID) India and data intelligence firm Social Cops.
- It will be India’s official data repository of National Indicator Framework (NIF) on SDGs, which is India’s largest monitoring framework with 306 statistical indicators.
India-assisted IT-biotech park inaugurated in Cote d’Ivoire
- Mahatma Gandhi Information Technology and Biotechnology Park (MGIT-BP) built with India’s assistance was recently inaugurated at Grand-Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire.
- MGIT-BP is a dedicated Free Trade Zone (FTZ) for IT and Biotechnology.
- It is being built with India’s assistance through EXIM Bank Line of Credit (LoC) of $20 million.
Location of Cote d’Ivoire:
- Cote d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country located on the south coast of West Africa.
- It borders Guinea and Liberia to the west, Burkina Faso and Mali to the north, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south.