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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 16 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Schemes for tribals’ welfare on Birsa Munda anniversary
  2. SC on validity of special courts for MPs, MLAs
  3. Proposal for National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)
  4. Stakeholders urge regulation of crypto market

Schemes for tribals’ welfare on Birsa Munda anniversary

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a raft of schemes for tribals’ welfare, including laying the foundation of 50 Eklavya Model residential schools across India.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions), GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Minorities, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent schemes launched by the PM
  2. Madhya Pradesh Sickle Cell Mission
  3. What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?
  4. Ration Aapke gram scheme in M.P.
  5. About Eklavya Model Residential Schools
  6. Back to the Basics: Defining STs
  7. Constitutional Provisions regarding STs
  8. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

About the recent schemes launched by the PM

  • The Prime Minister launched multiple key initiatives for the welfare of Janjatiya community at Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas Mahasammelan.
  • He also launched the ‘Ration Aapke Gram’ scheme in Madhya Pradesh.
  • He also launched the Madhya Pradesh Sickle Cell Mission.
  • He laid the foundation of 50 Eklavya Model Residential Schools across the country.
  • This comes in the backdrop of India celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda every year on 15th November as Tribal Gaurav Diwas, starting with the Amrit Mahotsav in 2021.

Madhya Pradesh Sickle Cell Mission

  • The Madhya Pradesh Sickle Cell Mission initiative aims at screening and managing patients suffering from sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and other hemoglobinopathies.
  • Under the mission, PM Modi handed over genetic counselling cards to beneficiaries.
  • Hemoglobinopathy is a group of genetically inherited disorders in which the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood- haemoglobin is shaped differently (mostly elongated like a sickle) instead of normal, round or disc shape.
  • The mission further aims to increase public awareness about these ailments.
  • The health mission holds special importance as the people of the ‘Janjatiya Community’ have deeply suffered from the disorder in the past because of unawareness. The impact of the genetically transferred ‘Sickle Cell Anaemia’ is more profound in the tribal community.

What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?

  • Sickle cell anaemia is a common genetic blood illness that affects a person’s normal development as well as can become fatal if not diagnosed early.
  • Aside from stunting a person’s natural growth, it causes extreme pain crises, acute chest syndrome, high-grade fever, and periodic swelling in various body parts.
  • It is a genetic disorder and can be passed on from infected parents to children.

Ration Aapke gram scheme in M.P.

  • Ration Aapke Gram Yojana is being started by the Madhya Pradesh Government in the State – under which Ration will be distributed in the village itself through ration distribution vehicles under the scheme.
  • Tribal beneficiaries will no longer have to go to the Panchayat Headquarters to get fair price ration.
  • This will also help them in getting the ration and also save time.

About Eklavya Model Residential Schools

  • Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional education courses and get employment in various sectors.
  • Across the country, as per census 2011 figures, there are 564 such sub-districts out of which there is an EMRS in 102 sub-districts.
  • As per revised 2018 scheme, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS by the year 2022.
  • These schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

Features of EMRS

  • Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first-generation students, etc.
  • Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, playgrounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.
  • The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.
  • In these schools, education will be entirely free.

Back to the Basics: Defining STs

The Constitution does not define the criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes.

  • However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
  • Article 342(1): The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor, by a public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.

Constitutional Provisions regarding STs

  • Art. 15(4): Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (which includes STs);
  • Art. 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
  • Art. 24: Forbidding Child Labour.
  • Art. 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities (which includes STs);
  • Art. 46: The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  • Art.164(1): Provides for Tribal Affairs Ministers in Bihar, MP and Orissa;
  • Art. 243: Reservation of seats in Panchayats.
  • Art.244: Clause (1) Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under Clause (2) of this Article.
  • Art. 275: Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
  • Art. 330: Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
  • Art. 337- Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
  • Art. 334: 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period);
  • Art. 350: Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture;
  • Art. 350: Instruction in Mother Tongue.
  • Art. 371: Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim.

The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The new bill provides for modifying Part-XVIII of the Schedule to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, relating to state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Bill removes the Abor tribe from the list of identified STs in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It replaces certain STs with other tribes. This includes Tai Khamti, Mishmi-Kaman (Miju Mishmi), Idu (Mishmi) and Taraon (Digaru Mishmi).

-Source: The Hindu


SC on validity of special courts for MPs, MLAs

Context:

The Supreme Court decided to examine questions regarding the legal jurisdiction of Special Courts set up to exclusively prosecute Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies for various offences.

Relevance:

Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details regarding criminal cases against legislators from SC report
  2. Madras High Court on special courts for MPs, MLAs
  3. Views of the High Court
  4. Way Forward

Details regarding criminal cases against legislators from SC report

  • Over 4,400 criminal trials are pending against legislators. Of this over 2500 trials involve sitting legislators.
  • The cases were pending in various special courts exclusively set up to try criminal cases registered against politicians.
  • The cases against the legislators include that of corruption, money laundering, damage to public property, defamation and cheating.
  • A large number of cases were for violation of Section 188 IPC for wilful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.
  • There are more than 400 cases in respect of offences, which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/ MLAs are accused.
  • The trial of more than 350 cases had been stayed by High Courts and the apex court.
  • A large number of cases were pending at the appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued by courts have not been executed.
  • As per the report submitted in the Supreme Court, Uttar Pradesh tops the chart.

Madras High Court on special courts for MPs, MLAs

  • A three-judge committee of the Madras High Court has questioned the constitutional validity of setting up Special Courts to exclusively try MPs and MLAs for various crimes.
  • The High Court Committee report comes in the face of a 2017 Supreme Court order authorising the Centre to set up 12 Special Courts to exclusively try criminal politicians across the country.
  • It also comes at a time when a three-judge Bench of the apex court led by Justice N.V. Ramana is looking at ways to expedite these trials pending for years, in some cases, for decades.
  • The committee raised strong reservations against setting up Special Courts in Tamil Nadu.

Views of the High Court

  • The Madras High Court Bench said the Special Courts should be “offence-centric” and not “offender-centric.”
  • An MP/MLA, who commits an offence under the POCSO Act [or other Special Acts like Prevention of Corruption Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act] can only be tried by a Special Court created under the POCSO Act [PC Act, NDPS Act] and there cannot be another Special Court exclusively for trial of an MP/MLA, who commits POCSO offence.
  • The committee pointed to how witnesses, probably in Kanyakumari, have to travel 700 km to Chennai to testify at the Special Court there, and nothing is specified about their safety.

Way Forward

  1. Judicial pronouncements on making it difficult for criminal candidates to contest are necessary, only enhanced awareness and increased democratic participation could create the right conditions for the decriminalization of politics.
  2. There needs to be an increased and sincere monitoring the affidavits of candidates.
  3. Working with the Election Commission in monitoring compliance with the Supreme Court judgment to see if details of tainted candidates are promptly put up on their websites, and on their social media handles, along with proper reasons for giving them ticket.
  4. Voters also need to be vigilant about misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections.
  5. Voters also need to be wary of fake news, trolling, and fanciful claims.
  6. Discouraging political parties from fielding criminals as candidates
  7. Adequate security measures during elections
  8. Role of money in election should be lowered

-Source: The Hindu


Proposal for National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

Context:

The Centre Government is contemplating creation of the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) for planning, investigation, financing and the implementation of the river interlinking projects in the country.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Drainage System in India, Projects to improve Irrigation), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Inter-State Relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Interlinking of Rivers
  2. Benefits of the Interlinking of River Projects
  3. Challenges regarding Interlinking of rivers
  4. Arguments Against ILP Projects
  5. About National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

Interlinking of Rivers

  • In 1858, Arthur Cotton (British general and irrigation Engineer) came up with even more ambitious proposals such as connecting all major rivers of India, and interlinking of canals and rivers. He suggested drought-relief measures for Odisha.
  • The National River Linking Project (NRLP) formally known as the National Perspective Plan, envisages the transfer of water from water ‘surplus’ basins where there is flooding, to water ‘deficit’ basins where there is drought/scarcity, through inter-basin water transfer projects.
  • The interlinking of river project is a Civil Engineering project, which aims to connect Indian rivers through reservoirs and canals.
  • The farmers will not have to depend on the monsoon for cultivation and also the excess or lack of water can be overcome during flood or drought.
  • Since the 1980s, the interlinking project has been managed by India’s National Water Development Agency (NWDA) under the Ministry of Water Resources.

It has been split into three parts as follows:

  1. A northern Himalayan river interlink component.
  2. A southern peninsular component.
  3. An Intra-State river linking component.

As of now, six ILR projects have been under examination of the authorities:

  1. Ken-Betwa,
  2. Damanganga- Pinjal,
  3. Par-Tapi-Narmada,
  4. Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga,
  5. Mahanadi-Godavari and
  6. Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut)
  7. With regard to the peninsular rivers, the Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link.

Benefits of the Interlinking of River Projects

India receives most of its rain during monsoon season from June to September

Most of it falls in northern and eastern part of India. The amount of rainfall in southern and western part are comparatively low, and hence, these places which will have shortage of water.

  • Therefore, Interlinking of rivers will help these areas to have water throughout the year.
  • It will reduce the dependence of farmers on monsoon rains.
  • Revenues for the States will increase with increasing production of Crops.
  • The economic impact of the failure of a single monsoon is very substantial, hence a reduction in the dependency on monsoons rains will reduce the debilitating economic impact.
  • It will ease the water shortages in Western and Southern India.
  • It will help mitigating the impacts of recurrent floods in Eastern India.
  • Water from the basins that are affected by floods almost every year (Ganga, Brahmaputra) can be diverted to other areas where there is scarcity of water; this can be achieved by linking the rivers.
  • Thus – There are Advantages in Both – Controlling Floods and Reducing Scarcity of Water.
  • The river interlinking project claims to generate total power of 34,000 MW (34 GW) and India needs clean energy to fuel its development processes. Hence the ILR Projects can help with India’s Energy needs.
  • Socio-economic life of people will improve as the water needs get fulfilled.
  • Inter-state water disputes can also be handled after implementation of ILR Projects.
  • Transportation through navigation will Increase Income Sources and increase connectivity.
  • Fishing in rural areas can also be improved as a result of ILR Projects.

Challenges regarding Interlinking of rivers

  1. Environmental Costs: The project threatens to obstruct the natural ecology of rivers. The proposed dams could threaten the forests of the Himalayas and impact the functioning of the monsoon system.
  2. Climate Change: In interlinking systems, it is assumed that the donor basin has surplus water that can be made available to the recipient basin. The whole concept goes for a toss if this basic assumption goes haywire for any system due to climate change.
  3. Economic Costs: It is estimated that river interlinking will be a huge fiscal burden on the Government.
  4. Socio-Economic Impact: It is estimated that the network of canals extending to about 15000 km would displace about 5.5 million people, mostly tribals and farmers.

Arguments Against ILP Projects

  • Concerned scholars questioned the merits of inter-link projects citing lack of holistic assessment of social-ecological impacts like water-logging, salinisation and the resulting desertification.
  • The concerns about sediment management, especially on the Himalayan system loom large. When the idea is to transfer water from the ‘surplus’ Himalayan river systems to ‘deficit’ basins of the southern part of India, the differential sediment regime defining the flow regimes need to be plugged into the equation. This will entail changes in ecosystem structures in both parts.
  • Damming India’s east-coast rivers to take their water westwards will curtail downstream flooding and thereby, the supply of sediment—a natural nutrient—destroying fragile coastal ecosystems and causing coastal and delta erosion
  • The spirit of federalism is ignored in the river interlinking project. There is dissent on the part of the state governments (Kerala).

About National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

  • The National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) will function as an umbrella body for all river linking projects and to be headed by a Government of India Secretary-rank officer.
  • It will replace the existing National Water Development Agency (NWDA).
  • It will coordinate with neighbouring countries and concerned states and departments and will also have powers on issues related to environment, wildlife and forest clearances under river linking projects and their legal aspects.
  • NIRA will have the power to raise funds and act as a repository of borrowed funds or money received on deposit or loan given on interest.
  • It will also have the power to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for individual link projects.

-Source: Indian Express


Stakeholders urge regulation of crypto market

Context:

The Standing Committee on Finance in its first meeting on cryptocurrency  met stakeholders who argued that the crypto market must be regulated.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Banking, Money, Monetary Policy), GS-III: Science and Technology (Developments in Science and Technology, Application of Technology in Daily life, Blockchain technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are cryptocurrencies?
  2. How are they different from actual currency?
  3. How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?
  4. Reasons For Adoption of Crypto in India
  5. RBI’s views on Cryptocurrency

What are cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies are e-currencies that are based on decentralized technology and operate on a distributed public ledger called the blockchain.
  • Blockchain records all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • The technology allows people to make payments and store money digitally without having to use their names or a financial intermediary such as banks.
  • Cryptocurrency units such as Bitcoin are created through a ‘mining’ process which involves using a computer to solve numerical problems that generate coins.
  • Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be launched and was created in 2009.

How are they different from actual currency?

  • The Main difference is that unlike actual currencies cryptocurrencies are not issued by Governments.
  • Actual money is created or printed by the government which has a monopoly in terms of issuing currency. Central banks across the world issue paper notes and therefore create money and assign paper notes their value.
  • Money created through this process derives its value via government fiat, which is why the paper currency is also called fiat currency.
  • In the case of cryptocurrencies, the process of creating the currency is not monopolized as anyone can create it through the mining process.

How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?

  • Any currency has its value if it can be exchanged for goods or services and if it is a store of value (it can maintain purchasing power over time).
  • Cryptocurrencies, in contrast to fiat currencies, derive their value from exchanges.
  • The extent of involvement of the community in terms of demand and supply of cryptocurrencies helps determine their value.

Reasons For Adoption of Crypto in India

  1. Establishing India as an Integral Part of the New Financial Ecosystem: Large global financial institutions and investors are adding crypto assets to their portfolios. Finance firms, banks, fintech and crypto startups can tap into the huge growth of the industry. Software technology parks (STPs) and special economic zones (SEZs) enabled the IT services boom. Creative ‘crypto export zone’ schemes can incubate clusters of excellence and create world-class financial services firms and unicorns.
  2. Capitalizing on New Technology and Services Opportunities: Blockchain application development, its scalability, security and analytics are their next growth opportunities. To cater to this demand, there is a need for a large talent pool with expertise in the crypto tech stacks.
  3. Scope of Financial Innovation: There is a burst of technology innovation and business models around blockchains. There are several interesting applications, but new killer apps will emerge. The impact of new technologies is overestimated in the short term, but underestimated in the long term.

RBI’s views on Cryptocurrency

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) informed the Supreme Court that dealing in cryptocurrency will encourage illegal transactions.
  • According to the RBI, Cryptocurrencies are “a stateless digital currency” in which encryption techniques are used for trading and these ‘currencies’ operate independently of a Central bank, rendering it immune from government interference.
  • An interdisciplinary committee headed by secretary of economic affairs Subhash Garg was set-up in 2017 to examine virtual currencies and recommend the regulatory framework for crypto currencies.
  • The RBI had already issued a circular prohibiting use of these virtual currencies.

-Source: The Hindu

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