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Current Affairs 22 April 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Gramdan Act
  2. Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border dispute
  3. First-ever census of water bodies
  4. Small Savings Schemes
  5. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)
  6. Olive Ridley Sea turtles

Gramdan Act


Context:

Recently, a village in Maharashtra moved to the Bombay High Court, demanding the implementation of the Gramdan Act.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Bhoodan Movement
  2. Gramdan Movement
  3. Significance of the Bhoodan and Gramdan Movement
  4. Drawbacks of the Bhoodan and Gramdan Movement
  5. Current Scenario of the Gramdan Act

Bhoodan Movement:

  • Background: A socio-political movement started by Vinoba Bhave in 1951 in India.
  • Vinoba Bhave: A disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and a participant in India’s Freedom Struggle.
  • Objective: To persuade wealthy landowners to donate a portion of their land to landless peasants.
  • Approach: Bhave walked from village to village, requesting landowners to donate their land using non-violence and the idea that the landowners should donate out of compassion.

Gramdan Movement:

  • Background: The next phase of the Bhoodan movement, also started by Vinoba Bhave.
  • Objective: To create self-sufficient villages by bringing about collective ownership of land.
  • Approach: Villagers were urged to donate their land to a village council, which would then manage and distribute the land to the villagers.
  • Support: Gained support from political leaders and was seen as a solution to the unequal distribution of land in rural India.

Significance of the Bhoodan and Gramdan Movement:

  • Success: The movement was successful in many parts of India, with thousands of acres of land being donated by landowners.
  • Impact: The Bhoodan-Gramdan Movement had a significant impact on Indian society and politics.
  • Reduction of landlessness: It helped in reducing landlessness and bringing about a more equitable distribution of land, empowering rural communities and promoting self-sufficiency.
  • Protection of natural resources: The movement paved the way for the protection of natural resources by giving everyone in the community equal rights and responsibilities towards them.
  • Empowerment of communities: It empowered communities to move towards self-governance, leading to more participatory democracy.

Drawbacks of the Bhoodan and Gramdan Movement:

  • Donated land issues: Sometimes, the land donated was either unfertile or under litigation, resulting in large areas of land being collected but little being distributed among the landless.
  • Disparity in landholdings: It was not successful in areas where there was a significant disparity in landholdings.
  • Limited revolutionary potential: The movement also failed to realize its revolutionary potential due to its emphasis on voluntary donation and lack of a strong political or legal framework to enforce land redistribution.

Current Scenario of the Gramdan Act:

  • Gramdan Act in different states:
  • Today, seven states in India have 3,660 Gramdan villages, with the highest number in Odisha (1309), followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Repeal in Assam:
  • In September 2022, the Assam government repealed the Assam Gramdan Act, 1961, and Assam Bhoodan Act, 1965, by passing The Assam Land and Revenue Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to counter encroachment on donated lands in the state. Till then, Assam had 312 Gramdan villages.
  • Common features:
    • The Gramdan Act requires at least 75% of the landowners in the village to surrender land ownership to the village community, with such land constituting at least 60% of the village land.
    • 5% of the surrendered land is distributed to the landless in the village for cultivation, and recipients cannot transfer the land without the permission of the community.
    • The rest remains with the donors, who can work on it and reap the benefits, but cannot sell it outside the village or to someone in the village who has not joined Gramdan.
    • All cultivators who have joined Gramdan should contribute 2.5% of their income to the community.
  • Concerns:
  • The act has lost its relevance in many villages mainly due to poor implementation of the law.
  • In some villages, the descendants of those who had given their land under Gramdan are frustrated that they cannot sell their land outside the village and consider the act ‘anti-development’.

-Source: Down to Earth


Assam-Arunachal Pradesh Border Dispute


Context:

Recently, Assam Chief Minister and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over the long-standing border dispute between the two states, a development Home Minister described as a “historic occasion”.

  • The two states share a roughly 800-kilometre long border and the disputed areas the MoU deals with are 123 border villages, which span 12 districts of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 districts of Assam.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Other Methods of Resolution of Border Disputes in India

Border dispute between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

Background:
  • North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) was carved out of Assam in 1954
  • In 1951, a sub-committee led by Assam Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi submitted recommendations on NEFA’s administration
  • As per the report, around 3,648 km of “plain” area in Balipara and Sadiya foothills were transferred from NEFA to Assam’s Darrang and Lakhimpur districts
Border dispute:
  • When Arunachal Pradesh became a Union Territory in 1972, it claimed that several forested tracts in the plains, belonging to hill tribal chiefs and communities, were unilaterally transferred to Assam
  • Efforts to resolve the issue included a high-powered tripartite committee in 1979 that demarcated around 489 km of the 800 km boundary by 1983-84
  • However, Arunachal Pradesh did not accept the recommendations and claimed several km of the 3,648 sq km that was transferred to Assam
  • In 1989, Assam filed a case in the Supreme Court, which appointed a local boundary commission in 2006
  • In 2014, the local commission submitted its report, making recommendations and suggesting both states arrive at a consensus through discussions, but no agreement was reached

Other Methods of Resolution of Border Disputes in India

Supreme Court Jurisdiction
  • Exclusive original jurisdiction as per Article 131 of the Constitution of India
  • Disputes that can be heard by the Supreme Court include:
    • Government of India vs. one or more States
    • Government of India and any State(s) vs. one or more other State(s)
    • Two or more States if the dispute involves a question of law or fact on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends

Limitations on Jurisdiction:

  • Does not extend to disputes arising out of treaties, agreements, covenants, engagements, or similar instruments entered into before the commencement of the Constitution and continuing in operation
  • If the instrument provides that the jurisdiction shall not extend to such disputes
Inter-state Council
  • Empowered by Article 263 of the Constitution to be established by the President
  • Forum for discussion and resolution of disputes between states
  • Investigates and discusses subjects of common interest among states or between the Union and one or more states
  • Established in 1990 through a Presidential Order
  • Reconstituted in 2021

-Source: Indian Express


First-Ever Census of Water Bodies


Context:

The Ministry of Jal Shakti recently released the report of its first-ever census of water bodies, revealing crucial insights into the country’s water resources.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Census of Waterbodies in India
  2. Key Highlights from the Census of Waterbodies in India:
  3. Key points regarding the encroachment of waterbodies:
  4. Importance and Significance of the Census of Waterbodies:

Census of Waterbodies in India

  • Conducted in conjunction with the 6th Minor Irrigation Census for 2017-18.
  • Defines waterbody as “all-natural or man-made units bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes.”
  • Aims to provide an inventory of India’s water resources, including natural and man-made water bodies like ponds, tanks, lakes, and more.
  • Collects data on the encroachment of water bodies.
  • Provides an extensive inventory of water sources in India.
  • Highlights disparities between rural and urban areas in terms of water resources.
  • Reveals varying levels of encroachment on water bodies.

Key Highlights from the Census of Waterbodies in India:

  • A total of 24,24,540 water bodies were enumerated across the country, with West Bengal having the highest number (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim the lowest (134).
  • West Bengal has the highest number of ponds and reservoirs, while Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of tanks and Tamil Nadu has the highest number of lakes.
  • South 24 Parganas in West Bengal is the top district in terms of the number of water bodies.
  • Maharashtra leads in water conservation schemes.
  • The census report shows that 97.1% of water bodies are in rural areas, with only 2.9% in urban areas.
  • The majority of the water bodies are ponds, followed by tanks, reservoirs, water conservation schemes, percolation tanks, check dams, lakes, and others.

Key points regarding the encroachment of waterbodies:

  • The census collected data on the encroachment of waterbodies for the first time.
  • The report shows that 1.6% of all enumerated waterbodies are encroached.
  • 95.4% of encroachments are in rural areas, while the remaining 4.6% are in urban areas.
  • A significant percentage of encroachments cover more than 75% of the waterbody’s area.

Importance and Significance of the Census of Waterbodies:

  • The census of waterbodies is significant in many ways, including:
  • Providing policymakers with essential data to make informed decisions about water resource management and conservation.
  • Highlighting the need for effective measures to prevent encroachment and protect waterbodies.
  • Revealing disparities between rural and urban areas regarding the availability and management of water resources.
  • Serving as a baseline for future assessments of India’s water resources, enabling the monitoring of changes and progress toward sustainable water management.

-Source: Indian Express


Small Savings Schemes


Context:

Despite successive hikes in the interest rates on several small savings instruments (SSIs) in the last three quarters, the returns on five such schemes are still significantly lower than what they should have fetched as per the formula adopted for them.

Relevance:

GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Small Saving Schemes/Instruments
  2. What are the different saving schemes?

About Small Saving Schemes/Instruments

  • They consist of 12 instruments and are the main source of household savings in India.
  • Depositors receive a guaranteed interest rate on their funds.
  • They are popular as they provide returns higher than bank fixed deposits, sovereign guarantee and tax benefits.
  • The National Small Savings Fund receives payments from all small savings instruments (NSSF).
  • Small savings have become a crucial source of funding the government deficit, particularly when the Covid-19 outbreak caused the deficit to inflate and further borrowing became necessary.
Determination of Rates:
  • Interest rates on small savings schemes are reset on a quarterly basis, in line with the movement in benchmark government bonds of similar maturity. The rates are reviewed periodically by the Ministry of Finance.
  • The Shyamala Gopinath panel (2010) constituted on the Small Saving Scheme had suggested a market-linked interest rate system for small savings schemes.

What are the different saving schemes?

Small savings instruments can be classified under three heads:

  • Postal Deposits (comprising savings account, recurring deposits, time deposits of varying maturities and monthly income scheme).
  • Savings Certificates: National Small Savings Certificate (NSC) and Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP).
  • Social Security Schemes: Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme, Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Senior Citizens‘ Savings Scheme (SCSS).

-Source: Indian Express


Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin)


Context:

The Rural Development Department has so far served notices to 2,21,490 beneficiaries under the PMAY-G scheme for not completing their houses even after disbursal of the entire amount in their respective accounts by the authorities. Every beneficiary under the scheme is given ₹1.20 lakh for construction.

Relevance:

GS II- Welfare Schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
  2. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Launched on 25th June 2015) is an initiative by Government of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022.
  • It has two components i.e. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G and also PMAY-R) for the rural poor.
  • This scheme is converged with other schemes to ensure houses have a toilet, Saubhagya Yojana electricity connection, Ujjwala Yojana LPG gas connection, access to drinking water and Jan Dhan banking facilities, etc.
  • The houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana would be constructed through a technology that is eco-friendly, while allotting ground floors in any housing scheme under PMAY, preference will be given to differently abled and older persons.
  • 3 Phases of PMAY envisage starting and completing the house construction work  i.e. Phase I (2015-2017), Phase II (2017-2019), and Phase III (2019-2022).

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

Nodal :  Ministry of Rural Development

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched to achieve the objective of “Housing for All” by 2022. The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) was restructured to Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • It will be implemented in rural areas across the country except Delhi and Chandigarh
  • PMAY-G aims to provide a pucca house with basic amenities to all rural families, who are homeless or living in kutcha or dilapidated houses by the end of March 2022 and also to help rural people Below the Poverty Line (BPL) in construction of dwelling units and upgradation of existing unserviceable kutcha houses by providing assistance in the form of a full grant.
  • People belonging to SCs/STs, freed bonded labourers and non-SC/ST categories, widows or next-of-kin of defence personnel killed in action, ex-servicemen and retired members of the paramilitary forces, disabled persons and minorities will be the target beneficiaries of the PMAY-G.
  • Selection of beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) is based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13 point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification
  • The cost of unit assistance is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for North Eastern and hilly states.

-Source: The Hindu


Olive Ridley Sea turtles


Context:

Seven Olive Ridley turtles were rescued by officers aboard Indian Coast Guard ship Vajra.4

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
  2. Breeding Grounds of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in India
  3. Threats to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
  4. Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

  • The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known commonly as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a species of turtle in the family Cheloniidae.
  • The species is the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • This turtle and the related Kemps ridley turtle are best known for their unique mass nesting called arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • Olive-ridleys face serious threats across their migratory route, habitat and nesting beaches, due to human activities such as unfriendly turtle fishing practices, development, and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports, and tourist centres.

Breeding Grounds of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle in India

  • The Gahirmatha Beach in Kendrapara district of Odisha (India), which is now a part of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, is the largest breeding ground for these turtles.
  • The Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, was created in September 1997, and encompasses Gahirmatha Beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Bhitarkanika mangroves were designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002. It is the world’s largest known rookery of olive ridley sea turtles.
  • Apart from Gahirmatha rookery, two other mass nesting beaches have been located, which are on the mouth of rivers Rushikulya and Devi.
  • The spectacular site of mass congregation of olive ridley sea turtles for mating and nesting enthralls both the scientists and the nature lovers throughout the world.

Threats to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

  • Known predators of olive ridley eggs include raccoons, coyotes, feral dogs and pigs, opossums, coatimundi, caimans, ghost crabs, and the sunbeam snake.
  • Hatchlings are preyed upon as they travel across the beach to the water by vultures, frigate birds, crabs, raccoons, coyotes, iguanas, and snakes. In the water, hatchling predators most likely include oceanic fishes, sharks, and crocodiles.
  • Adults have relatively few known predators, other than sharks, and killer whales are responsible for occasional attacks. On land, nesting females may be attacked by jaguars. Notably, the jaguar is the only cat with a strong enough bite to penetrate a sea turtle’s shell, thought to be an evolutionary adaption from the Holocene extinction event.
  • In recent years, increased predation on turtles by jaguars has been noted, perhaps due to habitat loss and fewer alternative food sources. Sea turtles are comparatively defenseless in this situation, as they cannot pull their heads into their shells like freshwater and terrestrial turtles.
  • Humans are still listed as the leading threat to L. olivacea, responsible for unsustainable egg collection, slaughtering nesting females on the beach, and direct harvesting adults at sea for commercial sale of both the meat and hides.

Turtles and Turtle conservation in India

  • There are five turtle species in Indian waters — Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.
  • In India sea turtles are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, under the Schedule I Part II.
  • Every year, thousands of sea turtles are accidentally captured, injured or killed by mechanised boats, trawl nets and gill nets operated and used by comercial fishermen.
  • The turtle breeding season is usually between November and December. In Tamil Nadu, for example, the Olive Ridley nests between December and April along the Chennai-Kancheepuram coastline.
  • Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
  • The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.

-Source: The Hindu


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