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05 August, 2019

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I India enters 37-year period of demographic dividend
From Plate to Plough: In the shade of solar trees. Economic Issues
GS-II The judicial presumption of non-citizenship
Bigger and Better On number of Supreme Court Judges.
GS-III Forest right act case
Biometric Token System
Genome India Initiative
GS-I :
India enters 37-year period of demographic dividend

GS-I: India enters 37-year period of demographic dividend.

 

Context

  • Since 2018, India’s working-age population (people between 15 and 64 years of age) has grown larger than the dependant population (defined as children aged 14 or below as well as people above 65 years of age).
  • This bulge in the working-age population is going to last till 2055, or 37 years from its beginning.

Why it matters

  • India’s demographics are the envy of the world.
  • As populations in countries such as China, US, and Japan is getting older, India’s population is getting younger.

What is demographic dividend?

  • Demographic dividend, as defined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) means the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure.
  • This happens when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older).
  • It is a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents.

Global Examples

Japan

  • Japan was among the first major economies to experience rapid growth because of changing population structure.
  • In five of these years, Japan grew in double digits the growth rate was above 8% in two years, and a little less than 6% in one.

China

  • China entered this stage in 1994  16 years after Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms started in December 1978.
  • Although its growth accelerated immediately after the reforms, the years of demographic dividend helped sustain this rate for a very long period.
  • In the 16 years between 1978 and 1994 (post-reform, pre-dividend) China saw eight years of double-digit growth.

India

  • In near future India will be the largest individual contributor to the global demographic transition.
  • A 2011 IMF Working Paper found that substantial portion of the growth experienced by India since the 1980s is attributable to the country’s age structure and changing demographics.
  • By 2026 India’s average age would be 29 which is least among the global average.
  • Over the next two decades the continuing demographic dividend in India could add about two percentage points per annum to India’s per capita GDP growth.

Harnessing a golden opportunity

  • India’s working-age population is now increasing because of rapidly declining birth and death rates.
  • India’s age dependency ratio, the ratio of dependents (children and the elderly) to the working-age population (14- to 65-year-olds), is expected to only start rising in 2040, as per UN estimates.
  • This presents a golden opportunity for economic growth that could be reaped through higher growth.

Way Forward

  • India needs to pay  special  attention  to  skilling  and  reskilling  its  workforce,  keeping  in  view  the  changing  nature  of  today’s  job
  • There are  serious  gaps  between  what  the  skill  development  institutions  currently  do  and what the industry requires.
  • Improving education and health infrastructure, in terms of both quality and access and  timely  action  in  a  co-ordinated  manner  by  the  Government,  private  sector  and  researchers  is  necessary  to  harness  the  window  of  opportunity  provided by a favourable demography.
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GS-I : Economic Issues
From Plate to Plough: In the shade of solar trees.

Gs- III: From Plate to Plough: In the shade of solar trees.

Context

The recent statement of our Finance Minister about transforming Annadata (farmer)into an Urjadata (producer of solar power) in her maiden Budget speech.

How

  • Help farmers produce solar power on their lands
  • Farmers occupy the largest chunks of land in this country.

Annadata Becoming an Urjadata:

The recent statement of Finance Minister on doubling farmer’s income is the idea of making the annadata an urjadata. This model will be much more inclusive and can help augment their incomes significantly. The two variants of this are:

Replacing all pump sets with solar pumps

One, replace all pump-sets, especially diesel ones, with solar pumps and the excess power generated through solar panels can be purchased by state governments at a price that gives the farmer a good margin over his cost of producing solar power.

Growing solar trees

Second, encourage farmers to grow “solar trees” on their lands at a height of about 10-12 feet in a manner that enough sunlight keeps coming to plants below.Under this variant, the farmer can keep growing two irrigated crops as he has been doing, but the solar tree generates a lot of excess power that can be purchased by the state government.

What surveys show

A global survey on this shows that it is being practiced in many countries from Japan to China to Germany, and India is ripe for this.

Conclusion:

  • Since the power consumption per hectare (as shown in the graph) in Indian agriculture is very low and the above model holds great promise for several poorer states.
  • But the ongoing tariff war and the imposition of safeguards duty on solar panels is becoming a growing challenge.
  • Innovative Financing measures such as clean energy fund, generation-based incentive linked loan repayment and green bonds could give a financial boost to the successful implementation of this model.
  • Reform in the Agriculture sector is most instrumental to effectively improve the lives of the farmers, to improve their lives and to bring economic stability by giving them a sense of security and hope.
  • However, they have to effectively planned and implemented at various levels with multifaceted approach to achieve the desirable and feasible target.
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GS-II :
The judicial presumption of non-citizenship

GS-II: The judicial presumption of non-citizenship.

Context

Innocuously framed as resolving a “perceived conflict” between two paragraphs of the Schedule to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the judgment  little reported in the media  nonetheless had significant consequences for the ongoing events in Assam surrounding the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (“the NRC”).

Process concerning citizenship.

The issue arose because, in the State of Assam, there are two ongoing processes concerning the question of citizenship.

 Foreigners Tribunals The first includes proceedings before the Foreigners Tribunals, which have been established under an executive order of the Central government.

NRC The second is the NRC, a process overseen and driven by the Supreme Court. While nominally independent both processes nonetheless bleed into each other, and have thus caused significant chaos and confusion for individuals who have found themselves on the wrong side of one or both.

Problems with judgement and tribunals

1. Establishment –Foreigners Tribunals were established by a simple executive order.

2.Qualifications-  Qualifications to serve on the Tribunals have been progressively loosened and the vague requirement of “judicial experience” has now been expanded to include bureaucrats.

3. No specific process –Most importantly, under the Order in question (as it was amended in 2012), Tribunals are given sweeping powers to refuse examination of witnesses if in their opinion it is for “vexatious” purposes, bound to accept evidence produced by the police, and, most glaringly, not required to provide reasons for their findings.

Background Cases

Sarbananda Sonowal 

  • The Court’s observations in the Kuddus case, and indeed, the manner in which it has conducted the NRC process over the last few months, can be traced back to two judgments delivered in the mid-2000s, known as Sarbananda Sonowal Iand II.
  • In those judgments, relying upon unvetted and unreviewed literature, without any detailed consideration of factual evidence, and in rhetoric more reminiscent of populist demagogues than constitutional courts, the Court declared immigration to be tantamount to “external aggression” upon the country more specifically, it made the astonishing finding that constitutionally, the burden of proving citizenship would always lie upon the person who was accused of being a non-citizen.
  • A parliamentary legislation that sought to place the burden upon the state was struck down as being unconstitutional.

Conclusion

.Presumption of non-citizenship- What the rhetoric and the holdings of the Sonowal judgments have created is a climate in which the dominant principle is the presumption of non-citizenship.

Dehumanisation Apart from the absurdity of imposing such a rule in a country that already has a vast number of marginalised and disenfranchised people, it is this fundamental dehumanisation and devaluation of individuals that has enabled the manner in which the Foreigners Tribunals operate, the many tragedies that come to light every week in the context of the NRC, and judgments such as Abdul Kuddus.

The right to life It is clear that if Article 21 of the Constitution, the right to life, is to mean anything at all, this entire jurisprudence must be reconsidered, root and branch.

 

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GS-II :
Bigger and Better On number of Supreme Court Judges.

GS-II: Bigger and Better On number of Supreme Court Judges.

Context

The article provides a critical analysis of Union Cabinet’s decision about increasing the strength of the judiciary and suggests for the focus of the Supreme Court on its role as interpreter of the Constitution.

About Supreme Court of India:

  • Inaugurated on January 28, 1950, the Supreme Court of India succeeded the Federal Court of India, which was established under the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • The Constitution of India, under Articles 124 to 147 in Part V deals with the organisation, independence, jurisdiction, powers, procedures and so on of the Supreme Court.
  • The Parliament, through legislation, is authorised for regulating the Supreme Court.

Recent Decision of increasing the number of Judges:

  • A recent written request by the CJI Ranjan  Gogoi to the Prime Minister, highlighting the problem of paucity of judges.
  • CJI also reasoned the same for his inability of constituting enough Constitution Benches to decide important questions of law.

Benefits of the move:

  • Supreme Court of India is facing a large pendency of near about 59,331 cases as reported in July 2019.
  • The decision will help in solving this perennial pendency issue.
  • It will help in constituting more Constitutional Benches to decide important questions of law.
  • It will also help in reducing time for the judicial procedures.

Measures to solve the Issue:

  • Preserve the primary role of the Supreme Court for an ultimate arbitration of constitutional questions and statutory interpretation.
  • There should be a proper mechanism and compartmentalisation of questions involving a final decision on routine matters, civil cases involving nothing more than the interest of the parties, so that there will not be any detraction from the Court’s primary role.
  • There should be a reasonable restraint on the duration of oral argu­ments in the Court.
  • Disciplined adherence to a schedule of hearings is needed.
  • Constitution of separate Courts which limits themselves in deciding questions of Constitutional importance as suggested in the 229th Report of the Law Commission.

Conclusion

  • A mere increase in the court’s strength may not be enough to liquidate the burgeoning docket
  • Reasonable restraint on the duration of oral arguments and disciplined adherence to a schedule of hearings may be needed
  • Preserve the apex court’s primary role as the ultimate arbiter of constitutional questions and statutory interpretation. All other questions involving a final decision on routine matters, especially civil cases ought to be considered by a mechanism that will not detract from the court’s primary role
  • 229th Report of the Law Commission suggested a new system under which there will be one Constitution Bench in Delhi, and four ‘Cassation Benches’ for different regions of the country. This may also increase access to justice to those living in far-flung areas of the country

 

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GS-III :
Forest right act case

GS-II: Forest right act case

News

Background

  • Districts with sizeable tribal populations saw several protests and demonstrations.
  • The protests were organised by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan. There were two issues that the demonstrators were decrying.
  • One, the proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927; the concerned amendments to the IFA have been sent to states for consultation.

What is the FRA case before the Supreme Court?

  • In Feb this year, the Supreme Court ordered the eviction of lakhs of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers whose claims under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (or FRA), 2006, had been rejected following a three-tier process.
  • Later, the SC temporarily put on hold the eviction by an order giving state governments time to file affidavits on whether due process was followed before claims were rejected.

What are the proposed amendments to the IFA?

  • The FRA, enacted in 2006, envisions the forest rights committee of a village as the central unit in managing forest resources.
  • The proposed IFA amendments will revert to giving overriding powers to Forest Department officials.
  • The greater policing powers to the Forest Department include the use of firearms, and veto power to override the FRA.
  • Further, if rights under FRA are seen as hampering forest conservation efforts, the state may commute such rights through compensation to the tribals.
  • The changes also propose to open up forest land specifically for commercial exploitation of timber or non-timber forest produce.

Who are the petitioners, and what is their contention?

  • The petitioners are Wildlife First, Nature Conservation Society, and Tiger Research and Conservation Trust.
  • They contend that the protection of forests has been severely affected due to bogus claims under the FRA.
  • The bogus claimants continue to occupy large areas of forest lands, including inside national parks and sanctuaries, despite their applications being rejected under the appeals process of the FRA.

 

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GS-III :
Biometric Token System

GS-II: Biometric Token System

 

Context

The Western and Central Railways have introduced a new Biometric Token System (BTS) that seeks to streamline the process of boarding unreserved coaches.

Biometric Token System (BTS)

  • Biometric Token System (BTS) is a system by which passengers travelling in the general coach, where seats are not reserved, are given a token roughly three hours before the train’s departure.
  • These tokens are given on a first-come, first-served basis, and carry a serial number on them, which governs the order in which passengers will board the train.
  • Tokens are issued after accepting biometric information of individual passengers.
  • Passengers with valid tickets are required to place their fingers on a scanner, and are issued a token with a serial number against their biometric data.
  • Passengers must queue up and enter the compartment in the order of their serial numbers.
  • The tokens are issued three hours before a train’s departure. The use of biometrics cuts out the touts, and helps genuine passengers.

Why such move?

  • Boarding ‘general’ compartments  in which seating is not reserved  especially in long-distance trains leaving major cities, has always been an ordeal for passengers.
  • The massive mismatch between the numbers of travellers and the available seats drives people to queue up on platforms up to 10 hours in advance.

Why use BTS?

  • The use of biometrics (fingerprint) rules out touts and ensures only bonafide travellers receive a token.
  • In case of a mishap, officials will have details of the passengers, and with the help of this (biometric information) they can prevent black marketing of unreserved tickets.
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GS-III :
Genome India Initiative

GS-III: Genome India Initiative

Context

India is planning to launch its first Human Genome Mapping project.

What is Genome?

  • A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all its genes.
  • It contains all the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
  • By sequencing the genome, researchers can discover the functions of genes and identify which of them are critical for life.

Genome Initiative

  • Project involves scanning of 20,000 Indian genomes (in the next five years) in order to develop diagnostic tests and effective therapies for treating diseases such as cancer.
  • It is to be implemented by The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology.

The project is to be carried out in two phases:

  • The first phase of the project involves sequencing the complete genomes of 10,000 healthy Indians.
  • Second phase, involves genome sequencing of 10,000 diseased individuals.
  • Data on human sequencing would be accessible to researchers through a proposed National Biological Data Centre envisaged in Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy.

Significance

  • Healthcare: For new advancements in medical science (like predictive diagnosis and precision medicine, genomic information) and in disease management, genome sequencing can play a crucial role.
  • Through genome sequencing methodology, researchers and clinicians can easily detect the disease related to genetic disorder.
  • Genetic Screening: The genome project will lead to improved techniques of genetic screening for diseases prior to the birth.

Way Forward

  • Discrimination: Discrimination based on genotype is a possible consequence of genome sequencing.
  • Ownership and Control: Apart from the issue of privacy and confidentiality, questions of ownership and control of genetic information becomes critical.
  • Fair Use of Genetic Data: For insurance, employment, criminal justice, education, adoption, and military is necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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