Polity & Governance
- Elected on more than one seat — what the law and Constitution say
Issues related to Health & Education
- TN gets $287-m World Bank loan for healthcare reform
- Fee waived off for SC/ST candidates joining vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans
- Nilekani panel suggests 24×7 RTGS, NEFT, elimination of all charges
- Unemployment rate in rural, urban India highest in 47 years
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Army commissions air quality monitor at Fort William
- Ministry of Environment launches SelfieWithSapling’ campaign
- India’s fertiliser industry needs to prioritise pollution control: CSE Study
- State of India’s Environment Report 2019
Defence & Security Issues
- Ajit Doval reappointed as NSA for five years, given cabinet rank
Science & Technology
- Parthenogenesis: How an anaconda gave birth without a male
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Polity & Governance
Elected on more than one seat — what the law and Constitution say
Under the Constitution, an individual cannot simultaneously be a member of both Houses of Parliament (or a state legislature), or both Parliament and a state legislature, or represent more than one seat in a House.
What if a person is elected simultaneously to both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha?
- If a person is elected simultaneously to both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, and if he has not yet taken his seat in either House, he can choose, within 10 days the House of he would like to be a member. [Article 101(1) of the Constitution read with Section 68(1) of The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951]
- The member must intimate his choice in writing to the Secretary to the Election Commission of India within the 10-day window, failing which his seat in Rajya Sabha will fall vacant at the end of this period.
- If a sitting Rajya Sabha member contests and wins a Lok Sabha election, his seat in the Upper House becomes automatically vacant on the date he is declared elected to Lok Sabha. The same applies to a Lok Sabha member who contests an election to Rajya Sabha.
Rules for a person if he is elected from two constituencies?
- There is no one in this category in the new Lok Sabha. Under RPA, 1951, an individual can contest from two parliamentary constituencies but, if elected from both, he has to resign one seat within 14 days of the declaration of the result, failing which both his seats shall fall vacant.
- Under Article 101(2) of the Constitution (read with Rule 2 of the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, made by the President under this Article) members of state legislatures who have been elected to Lok Sabha must resign their seats within 14 days failing which their seats in Lok Sabha shall automatically fall vacant.
- According to RPA, 1951, the returning officer shall report the election result to the appropriate authority and the Election Commission and the appropriate authority shall cause to be published in the Official Gazette the declarations containing the names of the elected candidates.
- However, Sec 73 of the Act provides that the ECI shall publish in the gazette the names of all elected members in a notification, called ‘Due Constitution’ notification, whereafter Lok Sabha shall be deemed to be duly constituted.
Issues related to Health & Education
TN gets $287-m World Bank loan for healthcare reform
The Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank signed a Loan Agreement for the Tamil Nadu Health System Reform Program.
- Under the agreement, the World Bank will provide USD 287 million to improve health care in Tamil Nadu.
About the Health system programme:
- The programme aims to improve the quality of health care, reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and fill equity gaps in reproductive and child health services in Tamil Nadu.
- This Program focuses on results instead of inputs through a Program-for-Results (PforR) lending instrument.
- To reduce the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
- To reduce the equity gaps in reproductive and child health.
- Strengthening physicians, nurses and paramedics through continuous medical education.
- To promote population-based screening, treatment and follow-up for NCDs, and improve monitoring and evaluation. Patients will be equipped with knowledge and skills to self-manage their conditions.
This Program will support the Tamilnadu Government to:
- Develop clinical protocols and guidelines;
- Achieve national accreditation for primary, secondary, and tertiary-level health facilities in the public sector;
- Strengthen physicians, nurses and paramedics through continuous medical education;
- Strengthen the feedback loop between citizens and the state by making quality and other data accessible to the public.
- Despite these impressive health gains in Tamilnadu, certain challenges in health care remain, including quality of care and variations in reproductive and child health among districts.
- Tamil Nadu is also dealing with a growing burden of NCDs as they account for nearly 69 percent of deaths in the State.
Tamilnadu government’s’ Health achievements:
- Tamil Nadu ranks third among all Indian States in the NITI Aayog Health Index.
- Its maternal mortality rate has declined from 90 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 62 deaths in 2015-16 while infant mortality has declined from 30 deaths per 1000 live births to 20 in the same period.
- Establishment of emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care Centers and the 108 ambulance service with previous support from the World Bank.
- These have ensured that no mother has to travel more than 30 minutes to access emergency obstetric and neonatal care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fee waived off for SC/ST candidates joining vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has decided to waive off fee for SC/ST candidates who join vocational training under Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS).
About Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSS):
- Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs) are established to provide vocational training to non-literate, neo-literate, as well as school drop outs by identifying skills as would have a market in the region of their establishment.
- It was formerly known as Shramik Vidyapeeth.
- The Scheme of Jan Shikshan Sansthan was transferred from Ministry of Human Resource Development to Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2018.
- The JSSs are unique, they link literacy with vocational skills and provide large doses of Life Enrichment Education (LEE) to the people.
- They aim for convergence with other stakeholders in society. It is their endeavour to shape their beneficiaries into self-reliant and self-assured employees and entrepreneurs.
- Jan Shikshan Sansthans (JSSs), have been categorized into three categories, namely, Category ‘A’, Category ‘B’ and Category ‘C’. Different quantum of assistance has been provided for each category.
- Job opportunities including wage, self and co-employment.
- Life Enrichment Education (Polyvalent aspects is integrated in the curriculum).
- Fair distribution of teaching ours to theory, practical and LEE. Weightage given more for practical aspects
- Methodology of teaching includes lecture and demonstration sections, use of print/AV material and computer aided techniques, field visit, placement/on the job training and follow-up.
Nilekani panel suggests 24×7 RTGS, NEFT, elimination of all charges
To encourage digital payments, the Nandan Nilekani committee has suggested a host of measures, including elimination of charges, round the clock RTGS and NEFT facility and duty-free import of point-of-sales machines.
About the committee:
- The five-member high-level panel headed by Aadhar architect and former Infosys chairman Nilekani was constituted earlier this year by the central bank tasked to submit a comprehensive report holding consultations with all the major stakeholders to strengthen the digital payments industry which has seen a ten-fold growth in the last five years.
Recommendations of Nandan Nilekani committee report:
- As per the committee, there should be no convenience fee on payments made to government agencies by customers.
- Payment systems should use machine driven, online dispute resolution systems to handle complaints.
- The panel has set a target for the government and regulators to achieve a ten-fold volume growth in digital payments over the next three years through customer-friendly pricing mechanisms and broadening access infrastructure.
- RBI and the Government should make an appropriate mechanism to monitor the digital payment systems and make aggregated information based on blocks and PIN code, available to all players on a monthly basis, so that they can make the necessary adjustments.
- Increase the timings for RTGS window and to make NEFT facility available 24×7 for customers.
- Current import duty of 18 per cent on Point of Sale (PoS) machines be reduced to Nil for a period of three years to facilitate adequate expansion of acquiring infrastructure in the country.
- The committee recommends that the Government, being the single largest participant in payments, take the lead on all aspects of digitization of payments.
- The committee has also asked RBI to set an interchange rate for transaction between customers and leave the MDR on competitive market pricing which would reduce the transaction cost for customers.
- Interchange on card payments be reduced by 15 basis points (0.15 per cent) as this will increase the incentive for acquirers to sign up merchants.
- Enhancing features of ATMs including cash Deposit, bills payment, funds transfer, tax deposits, mobile recharge in addition to customer support and grievance reporting.
- Special impetus on digitising mass volume channels such as recurring bill payments, toll and ticket payments at public facilities and digital onboarding of khirana store merchants has also been recommended by the panel in order to achieve the targeted growth.
- The panel has also suggested the government should continue the current scheme to refund the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) for small value transactions (under Rs 2,000) beyond December 2019 for another two years.
- The panel has suggested to reduce transaction charges on digital payments made to government, inducing a competitive Merchant Discount Rates (MDR) pricing structure and easing KYC costs to banks.
- The panel has also asked the government to set up special risk mitigation and complaint registering digital portals. A special data monitoring mechanism to garner granular district level data on consumer trends and payment behaviour has also been suggested by the committee for targeted intervention to improve the existing infrastructure.
- Large scale usage of common and interoperable mobility cards by public across different transit options.
- As per the committee, banks need to ensure that no user is more than 5 kms away from a banking access point and if such areas are found, these must be considered ‘shadow areas’ and a local vendor be made a banking correspondent (BC) as he deals in money and stays there.
Unemployment rate in rural, urban India highest in 47 years
The latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) states that the unemployment rate (UR) in both rural and urban India is at its highest since 1972.
About the PLFS survey:
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation constituted the PLFS under the chairmanship of Amitabh Kundu.
- The data was collected by National Sample Survey Office from July 2017 to June 2018.
Highlights of PLFS report:
- The increase in the UR is more than three times among rural men and more than double among rural women according to the usual status since 2011-12.
- In urban areas, the UR among men is more than twice and has increased twice among women since 2011-12. It is to be noted that the UR between 1972 and 2012 was almost static or did not have many differences.
- In rural areas, the UR is 5.3 per cent, whereas in urban areas, the UR is 7.8 per cent according to the usual status. The overall unemployment rate is 6.1 per cent in India according to the usual status.
- According to Current Weekly Status (CWS), the rural employment rate is 8.5 per cent whereas the urban rate is 9.6 per cent. The overall unemployment rate is 8.9 per cent.
- The UR has also sharply increased among those who are more educated. Since 2011-12, the UR among rural males has increased by almost three times, from 1.7 per cent to 5.7 per cent.
- Those who have higher degree of education and those who are completely not-literate have witnessed almost the same level of unemployment.
- Interestingly, unemployment among rural not-literate females has reduced and among urban females, the number of those who are literate up to primary-level jobs, is the same as 2011-12.
- Among religious groups, Christians have the highest UR in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, Christians have a UR of 7.4 per cent, Muslims have a UR of 6.5 per cent, Sikhs 6.3 per cent and Hindus 5.2 per cent.
- Salaried employees in India are denied benefits such as paid leaves, social security and written job contracts.
- While 53 per cent males were not eligible for paid leave in the urban areas, the 58 per cent was not in rural areas. Similarly, 51 per cent females were not eligible for paid leave in urban areas, in rural areas the number was 48 per cent.
- Within both, the urban and rural areas, there has been an increase of four to six per cent in the ineligibility of paid leaves since 2011-2012.
- Further, 49.6 per cent were found ineligible for any social security benefit, with women being more marginalised (51.8 per cent) than men (49 per cent).
- However, female employees in the rural had slightly better social security benefits than their counterparts in urban areas.
- Moreover, the survey revealed that during 2017-18, 71.1 per cent employees received no written job contract. The numbers were higher in both rural and urban areas.
Measurement of unemployment
- The measurement of unemployment is based on the Usual status and Current Weekly status. The Usual Status (ps+ss) approach to measuring unemployment uses a reference period of 365 days i.e. one year preceding the date of the survey of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) for measuring unemployment.
- The Current Weekly Status (CWS) approach to measuring unemployment uses seven days preceding the date of survey as the reference period. A person is considered to be employed if he or she pursues any one or more gainful activities for at least one hour on any day of the reference week.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Army commissions air quality monitor at Fort William
Indian Army commissioned a “Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (CAAQMS)” at Fort William Military Station, Kolkata.
Key features of the CAAQMS:
- CAAQMS will measure air pollution on real time basis, including particulate matter throughout the year.
- It also displays wind speed, direction, ambient temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, barometric pressure and rain gauge.
- It can also be used by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board or any other local or international weather monitoring bodies.
Ministry of Environment launches SelfieWithSapling’ campaign
Calling for active public participation in 45th World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June, Environment Minister launched #SelfieWithSapling campaign, urging people to plant a sapling and click a selfie with it.
World Environment Day
- June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day worldwide.
- World Environment Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 on the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.
- The first World Environment Day was observed in 1973 and since then it is being held every year with different themes.
- The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) annually organizes events for World Environment Day.
- In 2019, China hosted the global World Environment Day celebrations on the theme, ‘Air Pollution’.
India’s fertiliser industry needs to prioritise pollution control: CSE Study
The Indian fertiliser industry has overlooked the aspects related to environmental pollution, while making improvements in energy efficiency, according to a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based non-profit, under its Green Rating Project (GRP).
Key Highlights of study of Fertilizer industry on environment:
- The Fertilizer industry has been classified under the ‘red category’ of polluting sectors by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- According to the study that the reason is relaxed norms for the discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial wastewater and emission of air pollutants.
- The discharge of untreated or partially treated industrial wastewater has increased pollution of surface water and groundwater sources. Most of the groundwater samples were found to be non-compliant with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) limits on amount of ammonia.
- According to the BIS, the maximum permissible limit of ammonia in drinking water is 0.5 ppm. However, about 83 per cent groundwater samples collected from hand-pumps in surrounding villages and near ash ponds had an ammoniacal nitrogen content of 0.51–93.5 ppm, the upper limit of which is 187 times the permissible limit set by BIS.
- Such high levels of contamination can be linked to the seepage or overflow of a plant’s ash pond water into the ground, the study showed.
- About 57 per cent samples collected near 14 plants were found non-compliant with fertiliser effluent discharge norms set by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, particularly with respect to cyanide concentrations in many of the samples and total Kjeldahl nitrogen levels in a few samples.
- Some plants were also found to be diluting their wastewater with freshwater to meet pollution control norms.
- While most plants are meeting the particulate matter (PM) standards, inefficient air pollution control devices or improper fuel combustion within the systems have led to high emission levels at some plants.
- There is also no regulation in India for parameters like emissions of gaseous ammonia from urea manufacturing, the study pointed out.
- Emissions from prilling towers are the main source of pollution at a urea plants. The emissions, which contains urea dust, ammonia and oxides of nitrogen and carbon, also affects the growth and productivity of vegetation and crops around a plant. Crops become dry due to exposure to excess ammonia gas.
- Solid and hazardous waste management of most urea manufacturing plants is satisfactory. But, a few plants are not managing their hazardous waste properly, for which they have received notices or directions from the respective PCB or CPCB.
- Ash pond maintenance has emerged as an issue at most plants. At some plants, handling and storage of fly ash is inefficient and causes pollution due to fly ash dispersal into the atmosphere and leaching into the groundwater table.
- A few plants transport coal by road in uncovered trucks, taking advantage of lack of strict regulations regarding transportation of coal.
State of India’s Environment Report 2019
Centre for Science and Environment launched State of India’s Environment Report 2019 on World Environment Day (June 5).
Highlights of India’s Environment Report 2019:
State of air:
- Air pollution is responsible for 12.5 per cent of all deaths in India.
- Over 100,000 children below the age of five die due to bad air in the country.
- While India was one of the first countries to pledge the phasing out of non-electric vehicles, its national scheme to promote the sale of e-vehicles is yet to pick up.
State of Development
- Climate change poses the biggest economic threat in the world today and features prominently in the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030. With just 10 years to go, India is yet to identify indicators to track its climate change preparedness. Of the 13 SDGs the country is tracking, indicators exist for only a handful of the targets.
State of water
- Both surface and groundwater in the country are under stress.
- The bulk of the polluted water bodies are in Karnataka, Telangana and Kerala. One of the reasons is the substantial increase (136 per cent) in the number of grossly polluting industries between 2011 and 2018.
- Groundwater is also reeling under overexploitation, which is running 94.5 per cent of all minor irrigation schemes in the country.
- There has been an unsustainable increase in the number of deep tubewells that has gone up by 80 per cent between 2006-07 and 2013-14.
State of land and agriculture
- While the input costs for major crops are rising, the average farmland size is shrinking. Even the share of the insured cropped area stands at a dismal 26 per cent.
State of Health
- There is a 35 per cent shortfall in the number of 24×7 public health centres, where 26 per cent of the positions for medical officers are lying vacant.
- In fact, Kerala does not have a single 24×7 public health centre.
- The number of new doctors qualifying every year in the country has decreased by 60 per cent between 2013 and 2017.
- The country also shares the world’s largest absolute burden of at least 11 major neglected tropical diseases, which includes diseases like dengue.
State of cities
- By 2050, India will be home to about 58 per cent of the total global population.
- Keeping this in mind, India in 2015-16 announced its ambitious plan of creating 100 smart cities. In 2019, only 21 per cent of the allocated funds for the smart cities have been spent.
- In the meanwhile, most urban cities have a sizeable population living in slums, which are unfit for habitation. India has 2,613 towns with slums. Of them, 57 per cent are in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
State of waste
- While India claims to process 96 per cent of its biomedical waste, eight states and UTs have defaulting hospitals.
- India recorded a 56 per cent increase in the number of hazardous-waste generating industries between 2009 and 2016-17.
- Major protests against unsanitary landfills and dump yards have been recorded in 22 states in the past three years. Maharashtra, which registered 16 major protests, leaves 43 per cent of its waste unprocessed.
State of energy
- Gas-based plants are running at 24 per cent of their capacity due to the acute shortage of domestic natural gas.
- Hydropower projects, on the other hand, are running at just 19 per cent of their capacity and their share in total installed capacity has consistently declined since 1962.
- The country’s progress in renewable energy in 2018-19 has also been dismal. In wind, the country met only 6.3 per cent of the target this year. In solar, it met 5.86 per cent.
State of climate
- There has been a 22 per cent increase in India’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2010 and 2014.
- This has been fuelled by the energy sector, which is responsible for 73 per cent of the total GHG emissions.
- Besides, India phased out ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbon by 2011, it shifted to substances such as hydrochlorofluorocarbon, which have high global warming potential.
State of forests
- India has recently shifted to a powerful forest fire monitoring and alert system, SNPP-VIIRS, which can capture forest fires with better accuracy and precision.
State of wildlife
- 37 species were poached or seized in 2018. Of these, 13, including lion, marked an increase over the last year; 161 wild animals were also killed due to road and train accidents
State of employment
- India has witnessed a 1.9 times increase in the unemployment rate in the past two years. This has especially affected the youth and the educated.
- Unemployment rate among people with at least a graduate degree was 13.17 per cent in September-December 2018, up from 10.39 per cent in May-August 2017.
Defence & Security Issues
Ajit Doval reappointed as NSA for five years, given cabinet rank
Ajit Doval is reappointed as National Security Advisor (NSA) of India for another five year tenure.
- He has also been given a cabinet rank in recognition of his contribution in the national security domain.
About National Security Advisor (NSA):
The National Security Advisor (NSA) is the chief executive of the National Security Council (NSC), and the primary advisor to the Prime Minister of India on national and international security.
- The post was created on 19 November 1998 by the Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Powers and functions of NSA:
- It is the National Security Advisor to whom intelligence agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau report, rather than directly to the Prime Minister. Due to such vested powers, NSA is a prominent and powerful office in the bureaucracy.
- The National Security Advisor (NSA) is tasked with regularly advising the Prime Minister on all matters relating to internal and external threats to the country, and oversees strategic issues.
- The NSA of India also serves as the Prime Minister’s Special Interlocutor on border issues with China, and frequently accompanies the Prime Minister on Foreign State visits.
NSAs so far:
- All the NSAs appointed since the inception of the post belong to the Indian Foreign Service except M K Narayanan and the incumbent, Ajit Doval, who belong to the Indian Police Service.
- Brajesh Mishra was appointed the first National Security Advisor of India.
Science & Technology
Parthenogenesis: How an anaconda gave birth without a male
Recently, an Aquarium in the US announced that a virgin anaconda had given birth without a male anaconda which is only the second known case of parthenogenesis in green anacondas.
What is parthenogenesis?
- It is defined as a reproductive strategy that involves development of a female (rarely a male) gamete (sex cell) without fertililisation. A gamete is the egg in females and the sperm in males.
- It occurs commonly among lower plants and invertebrate animals (particularly rotifers, aphids, ants, wasps and bees) and rarely among higher vertebrates.
- In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilised egg cell. Many species that reproduce through parthenogenesis do not reproduce sexually.
- About 2,000 species are known to reproduce through parthenogenesis, which is one of the known means of asexual reproduction.
- Babies born through parthenogenesis are clones (process of producing genetically identical individuals) of the mother there has been no exchange and rearrangement of genetic information with another individual as happens in case of a sexual reproductive process.