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09 August, 2019

0 Min Read

GS-II :
Dam Safety Bill,2019

GS-II: Dam Safety Bill 2019

Context

Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha have expressed deep reservations about the Centre’s decision to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019, asserting that the legislation, which is ostensibly aimed at providing uniform safety measures across the country, would undermine the powers of State governments since water is a State subject.

Concerns

  • The bill is too focused on structural safety and not on operational safety.
  • There is inadequate compensation to the people affected by dams.
  • There is need for an independent regulator as well as for a precise definition of stakeholders.
  • Many states say it encroaches upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams, and violates the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution.

Significance

  • The Bill will help all the States and Union Territories of India to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  • It addresses all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.

Need

  1. Over the last fifty years, India has invested substantially in dams and related infrastructures, and ranks third after USA and China in the number of large dams. 5254 large dams are in operation in the country currently and another 447 are under construction. The Central Water Commission, through the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), Central Dam Safety Organization (CDSO) and State Dam Safety Organizations (SDSO) has been making constant endeavours in this direction, but these organizations do not have any statutory powers and are only advisory in nature.
  2. This can be a matter of concern, especially since about 75 percent of the large dams in India are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old. A badly maintained, unsafe dam can be a hazard to human life, flora and fauna, public and private assets and the environment.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
The Yuan’s devaluation has made investors nervous

GS-II: The Yuan’s devaluation has made investors nervous

CONTEXT

Chinese yuan broke the seven-to-one parity against the dollar for the first time since 2008. China deliberately devalued the Chinese currency after the latest tariff threats issued by US.

Why China did this?

  1. Economic reasons
  1. China’s weakening manufacturing competitiveness is likely to strengthen with yuan-priced goods and services getting cheaper across supply chains in East Asia, parts of Africa, etc.
  2. It is likely to widen China’s trade surplus with the US in the immediate short run.
  3. It will also help China expand trade margins within its own region, especially with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.
  1. Political Reasons
  1. The US’ own strategic engagement in Asia has weakened under Trump, who questioned the “value of US alliances with Japan and South Korea
  2. Japanese imposed trade restrictions on South Korea. China and Russia staged their first joint aerial patrols in the region, causing South Koreans to react militarily.
  3. China-US friction has offered significant economic and political leverage to smaller emerging nations like Vietnam and Indonesia within their respective regional spaces.

Problems

  1. Risk not only for those trading in the US and Chinese currencies or their stocks, but also for capital flows between emerging markets
  2. China, around 2015-16, tried something similar by letting the yuan depreciate; it led to a stock market crash in China, and billions of its dollar reserves disappeared in just a few days.
  3. That devaluation saw led to a massive capital flight from China, further weakening its external position.
  4. The debt denominated in foreign currencies has increased for global companies and developing nations across the world, and maybe vulnerable to a currency shock if the “currency war” continues.
  5. Most foreign investors switched to the safety of gold or other currencies like yen.
  6. China’s weakening of its currency to hurt US economic interests for political gains will only make other Asian countries more vulnerable to a political crisis that could quickly escalate to a financial crisis

Source: Live Mint

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GS-II :
What India has to offer in the Gulf

GS-II : What India has to offer in the Gulf

Context

Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain underlines India’s continuing commitment to relations with the Gulf region.

Gulf region – a new approach to India

  • Gulf Kingdoms are eager to develop an independent relationship with India, independent of their relationship with Pakistan. Modi is being honored with the Zayed Medal, the highest civilian honor in the Emirates.
  • Some Gulf countries have expanded counter-terror cooperation with India, extending support to India in the conflict over Jammu and Kashmir. They have sought to open the OIC platform for India despite Pakistan’s objections.
  • Gulf kingdoms have begun to address many of the long-standing Indian concerns with respect to the Indian diaspora and expatriate labor.
  • Gulf has begun to see India as a major economic partner. Saudi decision to pick up a 2% stake in the oil business of Reliance Industries Limited and UAE’s support for the construction of India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve are two examples of deepening energy interdependence.

Challenges

  1. Regional political turbulence – Paying greater attention to the domestic dynamics in the different kingdoms. A new trend has been the effort to promote moderate Islam in the region.
  • UAE has been at the forefront of this effort.
  • In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince has taken some small but significant steps to liberalize the economy and society.
  • India should offer strong public support for the reform agenda in the region.
  1. India must reciprocate the strategic economic cooperation ranging from energy and digital innovation to arms production and space technology. China has moved quickly to elevate its economic and commercial profile in the region.
  2. Expanding security cooperation: The highly vulnerable Gulf has long depended upon Britain and the US to protect themselves from threats. Trump’s talk on downsizing America’s role in the Gulf is encouraging the region to diversify its security partnerships. India must have a proactive strategy for defense cooperation in the region.
  3. India’s instinct was to avoid getting drawn into the conflicts. But it can’t be a permanent Indian security strategy in the Gulf. India must vision itself contributing to the regional security in whatever manner it can.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III :
Deep Ocean Mission

GS-III: Deep Ocean Mission

News

The Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean has finally got the green signal from the government.

Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)

  • Nodal Agency: Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES)
  • The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO.
  • Underwater robotics and ‘manned’ submersibles are key components of the Mission which will help India harness various living and non-living (water, mineral and energy) resources from the seabed and deep water.
  • The tasks that will be undertaken over this period include deep-sea mining, survey, energy exploration and the offshore-based desalination.
  • These technological developments are funded under an umbrella scheme of the government – called Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMART).

Objective of the mission

  • A major thrust of the mission will be looking for metals and minerals.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of Polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt.
  • The ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ plan will enable India to develop capabilities to exploit resources in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).

What are Polymetallic Nodules?

Polymetallic nodules (also known as manganese nodules) are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

About International Seabed Authority(ISA)

International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority. Last year, India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA. India’s nominees on Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee of the ISA were also elected last year.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
Taken for a ride: on India’s gender-blind transport system

GS-III: Taken for a ride: on India’s gender-blind transport system

CONTEXT

A 2010 report by New-Delhi based NGO Jagori revealed that 51% of women in the capital faced harassment inside public transport, and another 42% while waiting for public transport

Ola’s survey ahead of International Women’s Day 2019, highlighted how only 9% of the surveyed women commuters in the country felt safe in public transport, but still used it due to the lack of other options.

HOW TO MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SAFE FOR ALL

  • Rope in traffic police at large bus depots, MRTC railway stations.
  • Provide functional and responsive helplines.
  • Ensure elevators and escalators are functional.
  • Better footpaths and clean subways.
  • Create safe and usable cycling tracks.
  • Set up the gender advisory committee.
  • Most importantly, educate and sensitize men.

Problems

  1. As per a 2017 report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, women may turn down better employment opportunities further away from home in favor of lower-paid local jobs when the public transport system is unreliable or unaffordable
  2. This holds true especially for those belonging to lower-income groups, thus impacting their access to better jobs, education and basic necessities
  3. The report also states that over 84% of trips by women are by the public, intermediate public and non-motorised modes of transport
  4. Efforts to improve our crumbling public transport systems used by a majority of the population — haven’t been addressed.

Motor Vehicles Bill 2019

  1. The bill provides some relief to passengers as far as app-based taxi-hailing services go
  2. It gives power to the Centre to regulate these services and set ground rules on safety and surge pricing, and get them to invest in customer care teams
  3. It points out issues of road safety, heftier fines for errant drivers, vehicle recall norms
  4. There’s no mention of better roads or infrastructure development

Unless we have gender-responsive plans for urban transport in place, our cities will be far from inclusive.

Source: The Hindu

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