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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 9 September 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Jharkhand bill: 75% quota for locals in private jobs
  2. Amid protests, Centre hikes MSP for rabi crops
  3. Centre ceasefire agreement with NSCN(K) Niki group
  4. Report on land-use for renewable energy in India

Jharkhand bill: 75% quota for locals in private jobs

Context:

  • The Jharkhand Assembly recently passed a Bill, which provides 75% reservation for local people in the private sector up to ₹40,000 salary a month.
  • Once notified, Jharkhand will become the third State in the country, after Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, to pass such law for the reservation in private sector jobs.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Social Empowerment, Government Policies & Interventions), GS-III: Indian Economy (Employment)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why is the demand for reservation in private sector gaining momentum?
  2. What is ‘Locals First’ Policy?
  3. Arguments in favour of quota in private
  4. Concerns with implementation ‘Locals First’ Policy
  5. Way Forward
  6. Back to the Basics: Constitutional Provisions regarding reservation

Why is the demand for reservation in private sector gaining momentum?

  • There is an implicit assumption in this demand that employment opportunities are increasing in the private sector merely because it is expanding.
  • The policy of LPG (1991) reduced the number of employment opportunities in the public sector, which, in turn, reduced the job opportunities for backward communities. A revelation of the reduction of employment opportunities in the public sector made some political parties and their leaden advance the demand for extending reservations to the expanding private sector.
  • The demand- jobs for locals only are bound to go down well with the electorate. The leadership has been supporting the general cause of SC/STs and OBCs have only been repeating their support for the demand for extending reservations to the private sector.
  • The agrarian sector is under tremendous stress across the country, and young people are desperate to move out of the sector. But there is a serious dearth of jobs (private and government).
  • Every campaign for a sons-of-soil policy, for job reservation, whips up this anti “outsider” sentiment. In the case of Haryana, one of the reasons given for justifying reservations was the proliferation of slums, presumably attributed to “outsiders” shifting to the State for work.
  • The Centre and many state governments probably doubt the robustness in the industry’s efforts when it comes to affirmative action. Several reports — for instance, the State of Working India 2018 released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University. It has shown that discrimination is one of the reasons for under-representation of Dalits and Muslims in the corporate sector.
  • Another major reason for the appeal of jobs for locals is inherent xenophobia. This is not unique to India or Indian States, but is universal. It was spectacularly manifest in the Brexit vote, when Britons thought that foreigners were taking away local jobs, and hence voted to secede from the European Union.

What is ‘Locals First’ Policy?

  • It implies that jobs that will be created in a state will be first offered to only people who belong to that state.
  • This policy is populist in nature. Unemployment or employment creation has been a major issue in recent times.
  • This policy is also the result of the fear of some locals who believe that their jobs are being taken away from them and provided to the people not belonging to the state.
  • Besides Andhra Pradesh, there is a law in Maharashtra that if any industry that gets an incentive from the State Government, then 70% of people at a particular level (basically unskilled workers of that industry) have to be locals.
  • The states in support of such a policy provides an argument that it is the state’s responsibility to fulfill aspirations of its people, also since the state is providing incentives, the industries should not have any problem in following its directions.
  • It has been seen that such laws remain in the statute books and are not enforced.

Arguments in favour of quota in private

  • Often the privileged castes (or groups) use nefarious arguments to protect their interests.
  • Reservations once accepted in the constitutional framework are not a charity that is to be kept away from the ‘meritocracy’ of ‘private’ operations.
  • Like all other constitutional guarantees, one may feel the necessity to get ensured of equal opportunity in all spaces.
  • Giving preference and quotas for socially and educationally deprived sections in the private space is, therefore, in keeping with this fundamental tenet.
  • As the NCBC argues, with the number of jobs generated in the state sector shrinking steadily, for the promise of quotas in the Constitution to have any real meaning, it may be inevitable to extend it to the private sector.

Concerns with implementation ‘Locals First’ Policy

  • Equality is very deeply enshrined in the Constitution all across but Article 16 specifically states that no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State.
  • This policy can lead to a situation of locals vs non-locals in area, thus posing a threat to the integration of the country. Such a law goes against the spirit of One Nation One Tax, One Nation One Ration Card etc. The law somehow requires one to start preparing the State Register of Citizens (SRCs) as against the National Register of Citizens (NRCs). Also, on the issue of domicile reservation in educational institutions, the Supreme Court had observed that since it is the state that is investing money into educational institutions and it is in the state’s interest to promote education in its own state, some amount of domicile reservation can be permitted.
  • It might discourage capital investment in the region. It can result in a flight of capital from India to Africa where Indian entrepreneurs are being encouraged to invest by countries like Gabon.
  • After the short-term benefits of the policy are exhausted, the State Government might need to find other ways to generate more jobs for the locals.
  • Curbs of any kind ultimately affect business freedom and for a business to flourish, it must function within well-defined parameters with very clear set of policies including lesser sensitivities.
  • India as an economy has a comparative advantage over other countries because of its large pool of labour. Labour from densely populated northern and eastern regions of the country, migrate to other places for work and keep the wages down, however, providing the jobs only to the locals might lead to economic loss due to high wages.
  • The policy might get reflected at an international level, where every country starts giving preference to its citizens for a job. India has protested such moves by countries like the US.
  • Such a policy is against the spirit of competition as a local person who is not fully skilled may get the job over the non-local who is fully skilled.
  • On a political level, it would lead to the rise of a strong Sons-of-soil movement and thus end up affecting the spirit of Cooperative Federalism.

Way Forward

  • The government can come up with certain incentives to companies which are investing a certain amount of money for training the local youths. Such incentives could be in the form of capital for better skill development, lower electricity charges, better infrastructure facilities etc.
  • Our dependence on the government for everything and lack of individual self-reliance has promoted incompetent people and strengthened the bureaucracy, which has hurt India immensely in the long-run.
  • Recently, with rapid technological innovations taking over, the government has finally understood that they are not made for business and had to embrace private sector with open arms.
  • States like Kerala have instituted enlightened policies of training migrant workers in the local language and also offering good education for their children.
  • In the medium to long term there is no option but for a big national focus on education, skilling, training and enhancement of human capital, which can get us out of this scarcity mindset of rationing jobs for locals.

Back to the Basics: Constitutional Provisions regarding reservation

  1. Article 15 (4) allows the State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. This provision was extended to admission in educational institutions by 93rd Amendment Act, 2006 (except minority educational institutions).
  2. Article 16 (4) allows State to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  3. Article 16(4A), empowers state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees.
  4. Article 46 states that 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.
  5. Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.
  6. Article 243T provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.
  7. Article 330 states that seats shall be reserved in the Lok Sabha for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
  8. Article 332 of the Constitution of India provides for reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

-Source: The Hindu


Amid protests, Centre hikes MSP for rabi crops

Context:

The Centre has increased the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat for the upcoming rabi season.

Oilseeds and pulses such as mustard, safflower and masoor dal saw higher MSP increases of up to 8% in a bid to encourage crop diversification.

Relevance:

GS-III: Agriculture (Agriculture Pricing), GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?
  2. Why is there a need for MSP?
  3. What are the issues related to MSP?
  4. Back to the Basics: Types of Crops

What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?

  • Minimum Support Price is the price at which government purchases crops from the farmers, whatever may be the price for the crops.
  • Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture recommends MSPs for 23 crops. These include 14 grown during the kharif/post-monsoon season (see table) and six in rabi/winter (wheat, barley, chana, masur, mustard and safflower), apart from sugarcane, jute and copra
  • CACP consider various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity like cost of cultivation, supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops etc.
  • MSP seeks to:
    • Assured Value: To give guaranteed prices and assured market to the farmers and save them from the price fluctuations (National or International).
    • Improving Productivity: By encouraging higher investment and adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
    • Consumer Interest: To safeguard the interests of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices.

Why is there a need for MSP?

  • The MSP is a minimum price guarantee that acts as a safety net or insurance for farmers when they sell particular crops.
  • The guaranteed price and assured market are expected to encourage higher investment and in adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
  • With globalization resulting in freer trade in agricultural commodities, it is very important to protect farmers from the unwarranted fluctuation in prices.

What are the issues related to MSP?

  • Low accessibility and awareness of the MSP regime: A survey highlighted that, 81% of the cultivators were aware of MSP fixed by the Government for different crops and out of them only 10% knew about MSP before the sowing season.
  • Arrears in payments: More than 50% of the farmers receive their payments of MSP after one week.
  • Poor marketing arrangements: Almost 67% of the farmers sell their produce at MSP rate through their own arrangement and 21% through brokers.
  • According to NITI Aayog report on MSP, 21% of the farmers of the sample States expressed their satisfaction about MSP declared by the Government whereas 79% expressed their dissatisfaction due to various reasons. Although, majority of the farmers of the sample States were dissatisfied on MSP rates, still 94% of them desired that the MSP rates should be continued.

Back to the Basics: Types of Crops

India has three cropping seasons — Rabi, Kharif and Zaid.

Rabi Crops

  • Rabi crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June.
  • Some of the important rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard.
  • Though, these crops are grown in large parts of India, states from the north and north-western parts such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are important for the production of wheat and other rabi crops.
  • Availability of precipitation during winter months due to the western Temperate Cyclones help in the success of these crops.
  • However, the success of the green revolution in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan has also been an important factor in the growth of the abovementioned rabi crops.

Kharif Crops

  • Kharif crops are grown with the onset of monsoon in different parts of the country and these are harvested in September-October.
  • Important crops grown during this season are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur (arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean.
  • Some of the most important rice-growing regions are Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, particularly the (Konkan coast) along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 
  • Recently, paddy has also become an important crop of Punjab and Haryana. In states like Assam, West Bengal and Odisha, three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are Aus, Aman and Boro.

Zaid Crops

  • In between the rabi and the kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season. 
  • Some of the crops produced during ‘zaid’ are watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber vegetables and fodder crops. Sugarcane takes almost a year to grow.

-Source: The Hindu


Centre ceasefire agreement with NSCN(K) Niki group

Context:

The Central government entered into a one-year ceasefire agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (K) Niki Group.

The agreed ceasefire ground rules were also signed. In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the agreement would boost the Naga peace process.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Centre-State Relations), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are the Nagas?
  2. What is Naga Issue?
  3. Peace Initiatives with the Naga
  4. Other recent peace agreements with military outfits in northeast India

Who are the Nagas?

  • The Nagas are not a single tribe, but an ethnic community, belonging to Indo-Mongoloid Family, that comprises several tribes who live in the state of Nagaland and its neighbourhood.
  • There are nineteen major Naga tribes, namely, Aos, Angamis, Changs, Chakesang, Kabuis, Kacharis, Khain-Mangas, Konyaks, Kukis, Lothas (Lothas), Maos, Mikirs, Phoms, Rengmas, Sangtams, Semas, Tankhuls, Yamchumgar and Zeeliang.

What is Naga Issue?

  • After India became independent in 1947, the Naga territory initially remained a part of Assam.
  • In 1957, after an agreement was reached between Naga leaders and the Indian government, the Naga Hills region of Assam and the Tuensang frontier division to the northeast were brought together under a single unit directly administered by the Indian government.
  • Nagaland achieved statehood in 1963, however, rebel activity continued.
  • The key demand of Naga groups has been a Greater Nagalim (sovereign statehood) i.e., redrawing of boundaries to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the Northeast under one administrative umbrella.
  • The Naga inhabited areas include various parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Myanmar.
  • The demand also includes the separate Naga Yezabo (Constitution) and Naga national flag.

Peace Initiatives with the Naga

  • Shillong Accord (1975): A peace accord was signed in Shillong in which the NNC leadership agreed to give up arms. However, several leaders refused to accept the agreement, which led to the split of NNC.
  • Ceasefire Agreement (1997): The NSCN-IM signed a ceasefire agreement with the government to stop attacks on Indian armed forces. In return, the government would stop all counter-insurgency offensive operations.
  • Framework Agreement (2015): In this agreement, the Government of India recognised the unique history, culture and position of the Nagas and their sentiments and aspirations. The NSCN also appreciated the Indian political system and governance. However, the details of the agreement are yet to be released by the government.
  • Recently, the State government decided to prepare the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland but later due to pressure from various fractions, the decision was put on hold.

Issues:

  • The 2015 agreement apparently made the peace process inclusive but it created suspicion about the central government exploiting divisions within the Nagas on tribal and geopolitical lines.
  • The issue of integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in view of the demand for territorial unification of ‘Greater Nagalim’ will trigger violent clashes in the different affected states.
  • Another major hindrance to the peace process in Nagaland is the existence of more than one organisation, each claiming to be representative of the Nagas.

Other recent peace agreements with military outfits in northeast India

  • Karbi Anglong Agreement, 2021: It involved a tripartite agreement signed among five insurgent groups of Assam, the Centre and the state government of Assam.
  • Bru Accord, 2020: Under the Bru accord, the permanent settlement of 6959 Bru families in Tripura with a financial package has been agreed between the Government of India, Tripura and Mizoram with representatives of Bru migrants.
  • Bodo Peace Accord, 2020: In 2020, the Government of India, Government of Assam and representatives of Bodo groups signed an agreement, wherein more autonomy is provided to Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), in Assam.

-Source: The Hindu


Report on land-use for renewable energy in India

Context:

Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) released a report named Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Growth & Development, Energy Security)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” report
  2. Way Forwards suggested by the report

About the “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” report

  • The report “Renewable Energy and Land Use in India by Mid-Century” suggested that careful planning today can maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of India’s history-making energy transition.
  • It said that India will use significant stretches of land by 2050 to install renewable energy generation capacities. Around 50,000-75,000 square kilometres of land will be used in 2050 for solar energy generation and for an additional 15,000-20,000 sq km for wind energy projects.
  • The resulting land cover changes, including indirect effects, will likely cause a net release of carbon up to 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (gCO2 / kwh).
  • Land use for renewable energy may put a pressure on a variety of ecosystems. Generally the terms zero impact areas, barren land, unused land or the official designation of wasteland imply that such areas have no value.
  • The amount of carbon release will depend on the region, scale of expansion, solar technology efficiency and land management practices at solar parks.
  • According to the report- in India, electricity generation has to compete with alternative uses for land such as agriculture, urbanisation, human habitation and nature conservation, unlike Europe or the US.

Way Forwards suggested by the report

  • Optimising the size of land used, its location and impact on human habitation, agriculture and conservation of natural resources to reduce environmental damage.
  • Minimising total land-use requirements for renewable energy by promoting offshore wind, rooftop solar and solar on water bodies.
  • Identification and assessment of land for renewable generation by limiting undue regional concentration and developing environmental and social standards for rating potential sites.
  • Policy makers and planners should exclude ONE (Open Natural Ecosystems (ONE), classified as wastelands, covered around 10% of India’s land surface) with high density habitats when considering location of renewable energy projects.
  • Attention on Indian agri-voltaics sector — securing benefits to farmers and incentivising agri voltaics uptake where crops, soils and conditions are suitable and yields can be maintained or improved.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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