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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 11 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Union Cabinet brings back MPLAD Scheme
  2. Capitol Hill backs CAATSA waiver for India
  3. CoP26 summit: Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII)
  4. Centre’s Incentives for sugar, cotton, jute farmers

Union Cabinet brings back MPLAD Scheme

Context:

Citing economic recovery, the Union Cabinet restored the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) that was suspended in April 2020 subsuming the funds for the scheme in the consolidated fund of India.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Central Sector Schemes, Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Suspension of the MPLADS scheme
  2. Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)
  3. Features of MPLADS scheme

About the Suspension of the MPLADS scheme

  • This scheme was suspended in April 2020 and its funds were subsumed in the consolidated fund of India.
  • It was suspended for two financial years that is, 2020-21 and 2021-22.
  • However, as the Covid-19 pandemic situation has improved and economy is recovering, Government announced a partial rollback.
  • Till further announcement, MPs will get Rs 2 crore annually, instead of approved Rs 5 crore.

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

  • Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94.
  • The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.
  • Nodal Ministry: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.

Features of MPLADS scheme

The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.

  • MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
  • In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakhs is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions).
  • Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
  • All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
  • Expenditure on specified items of non-durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.

-Source: The Hindu

 


Capitol Hill backs CAATSA waiver for India

Context:

The Chairman of the powerful U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), Gregory Meeks (Democrat), has encouraged the Biden administration to consider a waiver of sanctions for India for the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumf missile defence system, which New Delhi is expected to take delivery of by the end of 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA
  2. India and CAATSA
  3. About S-400 Triumf
  4. About India’s acquisition of S-400

Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA

  • The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
  • The CAATSA was passed when the U.S. sought to discourage trade in the defence and intelligence sectors of Russia, a country perceived to have interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • The Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of the 12 listed sanctions on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
  • The State Department has notified 39 Russian entities including almost all major Russian defence manufacturing and export companies/entities.
  • The Act also built in a safety valve in the form of a presidential waiver. This was written into the law after much persuasion and is interpreted as one crafted to accommodate countries like India. The “modified waiver authority” allows the President to waive sanctions in certain circumstances.
  • There are a few more provisions including one that allows for sanctions waivers for 180 days, provided the administration certifies that the country in question is scaling back its ties with Russia.

India and CAATSA

  • In 2018, India inked an agreement worth more than 5 billion $ with Russia to procure four S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile defence system, the most powerful missile defence system in the world ignoring the CAATSA act. The U.S. threatened India with sanctions over India’s decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.
  • Two oil companies ordered crude oil from Iran for November ignoring CAATSA. The United States threatened India with sanctions over India’s decision to buy oil from Iran.

Impact of pushing through with CAATSA against India on U.S.

  • Sanctions have the tremendous potential of pulling down the upward trajectory of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and India, which now spans 50 sectors, especially in the field of defence.
  • The U.S.’s apprehension is that bringing India under a sanctions regime could push New Delhi towards its traditional military hardware supplier, Russia.
  • Till about a decade ago, an influential segment of the Indian political leadership and top bureaucracy remained wary of deeper engagement with the U.S. Sanctions can stir up the latent belief that Washington cannot be relied upon as a partner.

About S-400 Triumf

  • S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems designed by Russia.
  • The system is a large complex of radars, control systems and different types of missiles, with the capability to simultaneously track numerous incoming objects in a radius of a few hundred kilometres.
  • It can employ appropriate missile systems to launch the counter attack and to neutralise the objects with the potential of ensuring a high success rate.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

Issues with Acquisition of S-400

  • The acquisition of S-400 by countries has taken centre stage in the American diplomacy regarding Russia.
  • U.S. believes that S-400 could access sensitive U.S. military technologies in service with the potential buyers.
  • Russia has also deployed at least two S-400 systems in Syria, which is of much concern to observers who fear the system could contribute to a global conflict breaking out in Syria.
  • Among the countries under pressure from the U.S. to not buy this weapon are India and Turkey.
  • NATO countries objected strongly to reports of Russia giving its systems to Iran and Syria.

About India’s acquisition of S-400

  • Russia had offered its highly advanced Air Defence System to India, which agreed to purchase five of the S-400 Air Defence Systems.
  • Before India, Russia had only sold this system to China even though Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Belarus were eyeing it as well.
  • This is the first time that Russia is providing a different system to India, a departure from its tradition of supplying only attacking weapons.
  • India needs high end weapons for very valid reasons. It is the only country in the world that is flanked by two nuclear armed neighbours– Pakistan and China and has fought wars with both of these countries.
  • India maintains close military relations with both United States and Russia.
  • But over the years, Russia has been the largest supplier of military weapons to India.
  • In 2012-2016, Russia (68%), US (14%) and Israel (7.2%) were the major arms suppliers to India.
  • India is the second largest market for Russia’s defence industry and Russia is the chief supplier of defence equipment to India.

About U.S. Objections

  • United States has raised concerns of India purchasing S-400 system on two counts:
  • The official count is that US has a legal position where any country that is taking systems or military equipment from their adversaries, the US expects to put sanctions on that country.
  • The other count is that US is planning to put F 16 factories in India and sell drones to it.

-Source: The Hindu


CoP26 summit: Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII)

Context:

A global coalition of 10 organisations launched the Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) as a multi-partner task force at the at the COP26 talks in Glasgow.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, International Treaties and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII)
  2. What is the need for GRII?
  3. About the Significance of the GRII?

About the Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII)

  • The Global Resilience Index Initiative (GRII) was launched during the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (CoP) 26 adaptation day (8th November 2021), it will be the world’s first curated, open-source reference index.
  • It has been launched to build a universal model for assessing resilience to climate risks.
  • It will provide reference data on climate and natural hazard risks to inform and protect populations and economies, particularly in emerging and developing countries, form a basis for mobilising the trillions of investment needed to meet the Paris goals on climate-resilient development.
  • It can be used in aggregated risk management across sectors and geographies.
  • The coalition wants to achieve two immediate goals.
    1. First, they want to provide global open reference risk data developed using insurance risk modelling principles.
    2. Second, they want to provide shared standards and facilities applicable to a wide range of uses:
      • Corporate climate risk disclosure.
      • National adaptation planning and reporting.
      • Planning of pre-arranged humanitarian finance.
  • GRII has been initiated with partial funding and in-kind contributions from the insurance sector and partner institutions such as:
    1. Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)
    2. Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI)

What is the need for GRII?

  • Natural catastrophes cost nearly USD 200 billion globally in 2020. Since 1970, over 2 million people have died in climate-related disasters; 9 out of every 10 in developing countries.
  • Almost every country has felt the harsh impact of climate change in recent years in some form or another.
  • Systems and economies resilient to climate disruption can save millions of lives and livelihoods.

About the Significance of the GRII?

  • The outcomes of this risk analysis will help close the insurance protection gap and direct investment and aid to where they are needed the most.
  • It will help global economic sectors understand, in concrete terms, the value of building climate resilience and the costs of doing nothing, this will address the data emergency that is contributing to the climate crisis.
  • It will enable asset owners to compare portfolio risks across geographies and hazards, as well as helping countries to prioritise national adaptation investments.

-Source: Business Standard


Centre’s Incentives for sugar, cotton, jute farmers

Context:

In the run-up to the first anniversary of protests against three farm reform laws, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a slew of measures that will support farmers growing sugar, cotton and jute.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)
  2. About the recent decisions taken by the CCEA
  3. Cotton Corporation of India Limited (CCI)

About the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) which is chaired by the Prime Minister, has a mandate to review economic trends on a continuous basis, as also the problems and prospects, with a view to evolving a consistent and integrated economic policy framework for the country.
  • It also directs and coordinates all policies and activities in the economic field including foreign investment that require policy decisions at the highest level.
  • The CCEA also lays down priorities for public sector investment and considers specific proposals for investment of not less than specific levels (Rs. 3 Billion at present) as revised from time to time.
  • CCEA facilitates finalization of factual reports on the accomplishments of the Ministries, Agencies and Public Sector Undertakings involved in implementation of prioritized schemes or projects for evaluation by the Prime Minister.
  • The CCEA also considers cases of increase in the firmed up cost estimates/revised cost estimates for projects etc. in respect of the business allocated to the CCEA.

The following matters are within the purview of CCEA:

  1. Price controls of industrial raw materials and products,
  2. industrial licensing policies including industrial licensing cases for establishment of Joint Sector Undertakings,
  3. reviewing performance of Public Sector Undertakings including their structural and financial restructuring,
  4. all matters relating to disinvestment including cases of strategic sale, and pricing of Government shares in Public Sector Undertakings (except to the extent entrusted to an Empowered Group of Ministers).
  5. matters regarding fixation of prices of agricultural products as well as reviewing progress of activities related to rural development including those concerning small and marginal farmers are in CCEA’s competence.

About the recent decisions taken by the CCEA

  • CCEA increased the price of ethanol extracted from sugar cane juice to blend it with petrol.
  • Ethanol blending with petrol is expected to reach 10% by 2022 and 20% by 2025.
  • CCEA has also increased the rate for ethanol extracted from C-heavy molasses.
  • Oil marketing companies purchase ethanol from distilleries and sugar mills at the rate set by Government.
  • Ethanol blending programme reduced the dependence on crude oil imports.
  • Increase in price of ethanol is expected to reduce dues of the mills in payment to sugar cane farmers.
  • CCEA also approved a committed price support of Rs. 17,408.85 crore for the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI). Price support will be provided as reimbursement for its losses occurred in past seven years in procuring crops from farmers at minimum support prices (MSP).
  • CCEA approved reservation norms for mandatory use of jute in packaging. With this approval, 100% of food grains and 20% of sugar are required to be packed in jute bags. In the year 2020, such reservation consumed two-thirds of the total raw jute production.

Cotton Corporation of India Limited (CCI)

  • Cotton Corporation of India Limited is engaged in diverse activities related to trade, procurement, and export of cotton.
  • It is a public sector agency which is responsible for equitable distribution of cotton across different constituents of the industry.
  • CCI was incorporated in 1970 under Companies Act 1956.

-Source: The Hindu

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