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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 14 July 2021

Contents

  1. Assam’s cow protection Bill
  2. India’s trade with China soared 62% in H1
  3. Funding gap may stump ‘Housing for All’ goal

Assam’s cow protection Bill

Context:

Assam’s Assembly said its primary objective was to check the smuggling of cows to Bangladesh and tabled the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Government Interventions and Policies, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Cattle slaughter in India
  2. What is in the Constitution Regarding Cow-Slaughter
  3. Legislations against Cow-Slaughter in India
  4. What about India’s Export and Import of Beef?
  5. About the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021

Cattle slaughter in India

  • Cattle slaughter, especially cow slaughter is a controversial topic in India because of the cattle’s traditional status as an endeared and respected living being to some sects of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism while being considered an acceptable source of meat by Muslims as well as adherents of other non-Dharmic Religions in India, such as Zoroastrianism (although some Zoroastrians do not eat beef), and the Animistic and Abrahamic religions etc.
  • More specifically, the cow’s slaughter has been shunned because of a number of reasons such as being associated with god Krishna in Hinduism, cattle being respected as an integral part of rural livelihoods and an economic necessity.
  • Legislation against cattle slaughter is in place throughout most states of India except Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, and states of Northeast India.

What is in the Constitution Regarding Cow-Slaughter

  • States can make laws on the matters regarding “Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice” which is in the State List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution – meaning that State legislatures have exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of cattle.
  • The prohibition of cow slaughter is also one of the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads, “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”

Legislations against Cow-Slaughter in India

  • In 2005, the Supreme Court of India, in a landmark judgement upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by different state governments in India.
  • 20 out of 28 states in India currently have various laws regulating act of slaughtered cow, prohibiting the slaughter or sale of cows.
  • The laws governing cattle slaughter in India vary greatly from state to state.
  • Some States allow the slaughter of cattle with restrictions like a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate which may be issued depending on factors like age and sex of cattle, continued economic viability etc.
  • Others completely ban cattle slaughter, while there is no restriction in a few states.

The 2017 Ban by Central Government and Suspension of that ban by SC

  • In 2017, the Ministry of Environment of the Government of India led by Bharatiya Janata Party imposed a ban on the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across India, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals statutes.
  • The Supreme Court of India suspended the ban on sale of cattle in its judgement in July 2017, giving relief to beef and leather industries.
  • In several cases, such as Mohd. Hanif Qureshi v. State of Bihar (AIR 1959 SCR 629), Hashumatullah v. State of Madhya Pradesh, Abdul Hakim and others v. State of Bihar (AIR 1961 SC 448) and Mohd. Faruk v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court has held that, “A total ban [on cattle slaughter] was not permissible if, under economic conditions, keeping useless bull or bullock be a burden on the society and therefore not in the public interest.”

What about India’s Export and Import of Beef?

  • India has rapidly grown to become the world’s largest beef exporter, accounting for 20% of world’s beef trade based on its large water buffalo meat processing industry.
  • As per existing meat export policy in India, the export and import of beef (meat of cow, oxen and calf) is prohibited.
  • Bone in meat, carcass, half carcass of buffalo is also prohibited and is not permitted to be exported.
  • Only the boneless meat of buffalo, meat of goat and sheep and birds are permitted for export.

About the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021

  • The Bill seeks to replace the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, that allows the slaughter of cattle above 14 years of age or those that have become permanently incapacitated due to work, breeding, accident or deformity after local veterinary officers certify that they are fit for slaughter. The Bill retains this provision while intending to regulate the slaughter, consumption and illegal transportation of cattle across Assam. It says the certified cattle can be slaughtered only in licensed and recognised slaughterhouses.
  • It also seeks to restrict the sale of beef in areas dominated by non-beef consuming communities and within a 5-km radius of temples and ‘satras’ (Vaishnav monasteries) formed by the 15-16th century saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva.
  • The State government may exempt certain places of worship, or certain occasions from the slaughter of cattle other than cow, heifer or calf, for religious purposes according to the bill.
  • The Bill says no one will be allowed to sell beef or beef products in any form except at places permitted by the government.
  • The Bill seeks to regulate the sale of cattle in the recognised animal markets.
  • The Bill seeks to ban the transportation of cattle to and from Assam as well as within the State unless competent authorities issue permits for movement of the animal.

-Source: The Hindu


India’s trade with China soared 62% in H1

Context:

India’s trade with China in the first half of 2021 rose by a record 62.7%.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (International trade), GS-II: International Relations (India and its Neighbors)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the latest data on India-China trade
  2. Understanding what we import and what we export to China
  3. India’s Dependence on Chinese Imports

Highlights of the latest data on India-China trade

  • India’s increase of trade with China by more than 60% in the first half of 2021 is the highest increase among China’s major trade partners — with total two-way trade surpassing the pre-pandemic levels.
  • India’s imports, driven by record purchases of medical supplies increased by more than 60% and higher than the first-half 2019 figure.
  • India’s exports to China climbed by almost 70% which is also the highest figure on record for the first half of any year.
  • The trade deficit for India with China after the first six months stood at $28.04 billion.

Understanding what we import and what we export to China

  • India’s exports to China have risen and imports have fallen over the last few years and a closer look at the items traded between the two countries shows the unequal bilateral trade.
  • Trade numbers between 2014-15 and 2019-20 show that export of low-value raw materials and import of high-value manufactured goods has characterised India’s trade relationship with China, akin to the ties the country had with its colonial ruler Britain in the years before Independence, said trade experts.
  • This “colonial pattern” of trade has meant that India’s exports to China over the last six years have been only fifth in value of India’s imports from China.
  • While average exports from China have been around $13 billion in the six years 2014-20, the average value of imports from China has been $66 billion in the period.
  • India’s exports have ranged from food items like fish and spices to essential inputs like iron ores, granite stones, and petroleum products.
  • India’s major exports to China in the last six years were iron ore, petroleum fuels, organic chemicals, refined copper and cotton yarn. Among food items, some of the other major items exported were fish and seafood, pepper and vegetable oils and fats. Blocks of granite and other building stones and raw cotton were also among exports.
  • Its imports from China have been dominated by electrical machinery and equipment, and other mechanical appliances. India’s major imports from China have been of items like automatic data processing machines and units, telephone equipment and video phones, electronic circuits, transistors and semiconductor devices, antibiotics, heterocyclic compounds including nitrogen, fertilisers, sound recording devices and TV cameras, automobile components and accessories and project goods.

India’s Dependence on Chinese Imports

  • India must remember that even though its widening trade deficit with China remains an eyesore for policymakers, dependence on Chinese products has only grown year after year.
  • In 2019, Chinese imports alone accounted for 34% of all the foreign value-added in India’s exports, data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows. In 2009, this figure was just 1.8%.
  • Over the last decade, India’s dependence on China for inputs for the manufacture of drugs and consumer goods has shown a marked increase. All this will matter even more in this time of crisis after the coronavirus.
  • A strengthening anti-China sentiment and louder calls for self-reliance could actually go against India’s interests and economic logic.

-Source: The Hindu


Funding gap may stump ‘Housing for All’ goal

Context:

The government‘s promise to provide ‘Housing for All’ by 2022 faces a severe funding crunch even as implementation is running behind schedule.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)
  3. About the current issue in funding for PMAY

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban)

  • The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.
  • The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
  • The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers. A slum is defined as a compact area of at least 300 people or about 60 – 70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.
  • Mission will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • “Housing for All” Mission for urban area is being implemented during 2015-2022 and this Mission will provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022.

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

  • 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).
  • Ministry of Rural development is involved in the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G).
  • 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.
  • 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.

About the current issue in funding for PMAY

  • The Centre had promised to build 50 million houses by 2022 under the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY) unveiled in 2015, but even a subsequently scaled down target of around 30 million may be difficult to meet by next year 2022, as there is a ‘large’ ₹1.24 lakh crore funding gap to be bridged in the next eighteen months.
  • With 1.5 years to go, against the revised targets, less than 20 million houses have been sanctioned and less than 15 million have been completed through PMAY-Rural till April 2021, implying completion of 67% of the revised target and 72% of the sanctioned houses.
  • While the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to impact the scheme’s performance further in FY2021-22, ICRA reckoned that funding posed a bigger challenge.

-Source: The Hindu

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