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10 January, 2020

29 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II NCRB Report 2018
India, Sri Lanka foreign ministers’ meet International Relations
LOKPAL
Electoral Bonds
GS-III Road to Budget 2020 Economic Issues
Green Credit Scheme
Digital Sky Platform
Man-Tiger Conflict
GS-II :
NCRB Report 2018

Syllabus subtopic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the key findings of the NCRB 2018 report and its significance; About NCRB; mission and objectives

 

News: The National Crime Records Bureau published the annual Crime in India Report 2018 on Wednesday. It was published with provisional data, as five States — West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim —did not send clarifications sought by the NCRB.

 

Background

The 2017 annual crime report was published on October 21 last year, after a delay of two years.

 

 

Findings of the report

  • According to the report, 3,78,277 cases of crime against women were reported, up from 3,59,849 in 2017.
  • Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,445 cases, followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
  • The conviction rate in rape­ related cases stood at 27.2% even though the rate of filing chargesheets was 85.3% in such cases.
  • Cruelty by husband or his relatives (31.9%) followed by assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (27.6%) constituted the major share of crimes against women.

 

NCRB’s Accidental Death and Suicides in India 2018

  • The NCRB also released the Accidental Death and Suicides in India 2018 report, which said that 10,349 people working in the farm sector ended their lives in 2018, accounting for 7.7 % of the total number of suicides in the country.

 

  • The total number of people who committed suicide in 2018 was 1,34,516, an increase of 3.6% from 2017 when 1,29,887 cases were reported. The highest number of suicide victims were daily wagers — 26,589, comprising 22.4% of such deaths.

 

  • The majority of the suicides were reported in Maharashtra (17,972) followed by Tamil Nadu (13,896), West Bengal (13,255), Madhya Pradesh (11,775) and Karnataka (11,561).

 

  • West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported zero suicides by farmers/cultivators as well as agricultural labourers.

 

Other findings

  • The incidents registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes related Acts saw a decline from 6729 incidents reported in 2017 to 4816 in 2018.

 

  • A total of 29,017 cases of murder were registered in 2018, showing an increase of 1.3% over 2017 (28,653 cases).

 

  • West Bengal reported the maximum number of political murders in 2018. The number of murders due to “political reason” in the State stood at 12, followed by nine in Bihar and seven in Maharashtra. In all, 54 political murders were reported in the country in 2018. In 2017, the number of such cases stood at 98.

 

About National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators. It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task force, 1985 and National Police Commission, 1977 by merging the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI and Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI. Earlier Statistical Branch of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) was also merged with NCRB, but was later de-merged.

 



Mission

  • To empower Indian Police with Information Technology and criminal Intelligence to enable them to uphold law and protect people.
  • To provide leadership and excellence in crime analysis particularly for serious and organized crime.

 

Objectives

  • Create and maintain secure sharable National Databases on crimes and criminals for law enforcement agencies and promote their use for public service delivery.
  • Collect and process crime statistics at the national level and clearing house of information on crime and criminals both at National and International levels.
  • Lead and coordinate development of IT applications and create an enabling IT environment for Police organizations.
  • National repository of fingerprints of all criminals.
  • To evaluate, modernize and promote automation in State Crime Records Bureaux and State Finger Print Bureaux.
  • Training and capacity building in Police Forces in Information Technology and Finger Print Science.
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GS-II : International Relations
India, Sri Lanka foreign ministers’ meet

Syllabus subtopic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the recent meet between the foreign ministers and the discussions held; about ETCA and its significance; About Mahabodhi Temple

 

News: India and Sri Lanka on Thursday discussed the “entire gamut of bilateral ties”, during talks between the visiting Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Relations, Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations, Dinesh Gunawardena, and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday.

 

Background

The visit by the Sri Lankan Minister, his first visit abroad after taking charge, comes after the visit by Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in November as “a follow- up” to his discussions with PM Modi.

 

Discussions held in the meeting

  • Emphasis on Skilling and opportunities for people ­to ­people ties: The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister reiterated the importance laid by President Rajapaksa on exploring newer areas of cooperation with India with emphasis on skill development, vocational training and capacity building and requested India’s support.

 

  • The ministers also discussed issues of climate change and terrorism.

 

  • However, officials declined to comment on whether the meeting with the new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister had discussed taking forward some of the commitments made by the previous Sri Lankan government on infrastructure projects in Trincomalee and Colombo as well as the Northern region, or about taking forward the Economic and Technical Cooperation (ETCA) preferential trade agreement talks that have been stalled for several years.

 

Mr. Gunawardena will also visit the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya.

 

 

India-Srilanka ETCA

  • The Economic and Technical Co-operation Agreement (ETCA) is a proposed diplomatic arrangement that seeks to add to the existing free trade agreement between the Republic of India and the Republic of Sri Lanka, primarily in relation to trade-in services and the service sector; it seeks to emulate a proto freedom-of-movement system and a single market.

 

  • The proposal is championed by supporters as a method to introduce low-cost goods for low-income people in Sri Lanka and increase sales of high-end goods to India, while also making Sri Lanka more attractive for FDI. But many lobby groups have become concerned that India would flood Sri Lanka with cheaper labour, with the IT industry in particular worried about the influx of cheaper Indian tech workers. The high unemployment rate of India has been pointed out by many nationalist groups.

 

  • The proposed agreement's impact has been estimated to be an increase of $500 billion to the common economy. It has been likened to the economic union undertaken between the North-East Asian countries of Taiwan and People's Republic of China called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, and both agreements share issues with the island nation's people worrying about being undercut by cheaper labourers from the mainland.

 

 

About Mahabodhi Temple

  • The Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya is located in the central part of the state of Bihar, in the northeastern part of India. It is the part of the great Ganges plains.
  • The Mahabodhi Temple is located at the place of Lord Buddha's enlightenment.
  • Bihar is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment.
  • The first temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries.
  • It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely with brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period.
  • The site of the Mahabodhi Temple provides exceptional records of the events associated with the life of Buddha and subsequent worship, particularly since Emperor Ashoka built the first temple, the balustrades, and the memorial column. The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural relics in stone.

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GS-II :
LOKPAL

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the Lokpal Act of 2013; the office of Lokpal and Lokayukta: composition, ambit and powers

 

News: Lokpal member Justice Dilip B. Bhosale (retd.) has resigned from his post citing personal reasons.

 

Background: The govt. had appointed the Lokpal last year

 

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013:

  • The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.

 

  • Composition: The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.

 

  • Applicability: The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.

 

  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.

 

  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.

 

  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.

 

Who can become the Chairperson?

The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either of the following:

  • Either the former Chief Justice of India Or the former Judge of Supreme Court Or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

 

Who can become a member?

  • Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members.
  • Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC / ST / OBC / Minorities and women.
  • The judicial member of the Lokpal should be either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court. The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

 

Who cannot become the chairperson?

The following persons cannot become chairperson of Lokpal:

MPs and MLAs Persons convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude Less than 45 years of age, Members of Panchayats or Municipality, A person who was removed or dismissed from the public service, A person who holds any office of trust / profit; if so, he would need to resign from Lokpal. A person who is affiliated to a political party carries on some business / profession; if so, he would need to quit some business.

 

Term of Office:

  • The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till attaining age of 70 years.
  • The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of chairperson are equivalent to Chief Justice of India and members is equivalent to Judge of Supreme Court. If the person is already getting the pension (for being a former judge), the equivalent pension amount will be deducted from the salary.
  • The source of salary for Lokpal and Members is Consolidated Fund of India.
  • If the chairperson dies in office or has resigned from the post, President can authorise the senior-most Member to act as the Chairperson until new chairperson is appointed. If chairperson is not available for certain functions due to leave, his job will be done by senior most member.

 

Powers:

  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months. However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.

 

Ambit of the Lokpal:

  • For a wide range of public servants from the PM, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government various rules are in place.
  • If a complaint is filed against the PM, the Act says, “Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint”.
  • However, certain conditions will apply. The Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
  • Also, complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.
  • Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

 

Is Lokpal subjected to the law itself?

  • The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”.
  • The Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act to be public servants.
  • It shall apply to public servants in and outside India.
  • It clarifies that a complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.
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GS-II :
Electoral Bonds

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: Key features of Electoral Bonds Scheme and its significance; merits and demerits of electoral bonds

 

News: The State Bank of India (SBI) has been authorised to sell and encash electoral bonds, the 13th such sale since the scheme started in 2018, from January 13 to 22, a Finance Ministry statement said on Thursday.

  • The bonds will be sold through 29 authorised SBI branches and the parties can encash them through an account with the SBI.

 

About Electoral bonds:

Electoral bonds allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary.

 

Key features: Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.

 

Eligibility: As per provisions of the Scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a citizen of India, or entities incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals. Only the registered Political Parties which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha elections or the State Legislative Assembly are eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.

 

Need: The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.

 

 

Merits of electoral bonds

  • The previous system of cash donations from anonymous sources is wholly non-transparent. The donor, the donee, the quantum of donations and the nature of expenditure are all undisclosed
  • According to government the system of Bonds will encourage political donations of clean money from individuals, companies, HUF, religious groups, charities, etc. After purchasing the bonds, these entities can hand them to political parties of their choice, which must redeem them within the prescribed time.
  • Some element of transparency would be introduced in as much as all donors declare in their accounts the amount of bonds that they have purchased and all parties declare the quantum of bonds that they have received.

 

Related Concerns

  • The bonds could be misused, given the lack of disclosure requirements for individuals purchasing electoral bonds.
  • Electoral bonds make electoral funding even more opaque. It will bring more and more black money into the political system.
  • With electoral bonds there can be a legal channel for companies to round-trip their tax haven cash to a political party. If this could be arranged, then a businessman could lobby for a change in policy, and legally funnel a part of the profits accruing from this policy change to the politician or party that brought it about.
  • Electoral bonds eliminate the 7.5% cap on company donations which means even loss-making companies can make unlimited donations.
  • Companies no longer need to declare the names of the parties to which they have donated so shareholders won’t know where their money has gone.
  • They have potential to load the dice heavily in favour of the ruling party as the donor bank and the receiver bank know the identity of the person. But both the banks report to the RBI which, in turn, is subject to the Central government’s will to know.

 

 

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Road to Budget 2020

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the economic slowdown and its impact on this year’s budget; measures to be taken to address it; About PMI

 

Context: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present her second budget at a time when the economy has hit rock bottom, with growth plummeting to a six-and-a-half-year low and dismal revenue growth, besides ongoing tensions in West Asia threatening to set oil price soaring to unsustainable limits.

  • Therefore, the FM will have to walk a tight rope in boosting demand without allowing fiscal deficit to go off-track.

 

Background

  • The Indian economy had decelerated for the sixth consecutive quarter to 4.5% in the three months ended September, on the back of sagging domestic and overseas demand, while investment recovery remained tepid.

 

  • The latest data by the statistics ministry shows that economic growth may have revived marginally in the second half to help achieve 5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2019-20.

 

Performance of various indicators

  • Recently, there have been some signs of bottoming out of the economy. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for India shot up in December—the highest since February— after recording a two-year low in October.
  • With improvements in a number of leading indicators, including goods and services tax (GST) collections, infrastructure sector growth, automobile sales and non-oil merchandise exports, experts expect factory output to turn positive in November after contracting in September.

 

What has been the approach of the govt. so far?

  • The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s approach so far has been to take incremental sector-specific, supply-side measures.
  • The big supply push though came in the form of a cut in corporate tax rates to attract investments by technology companies looking for avenues outside China, amid Beijing’s ongoing trade war with Washington. While it expected to see a big shift in investment activity, the numbers are yet to show up.

 

Performance on the fiscal front?

  • While the fiscal deficit for 2019-20 has been set at 3.3% of GDP, the Centre had already exceeded the full-year target by around 15% in just eight months. Low direct and indirect tax collections, and the tardy pace of the government’s strategic disinvestments, are likely to miss its over-optimistic revenue collection targets in budget 2020 by a fair margin.
  • In fact, the corporate tax rate cuts will further dent direct tax collections. The underperformance of the Centre’s tax revenues will also affect the capacity of the state governments to spend.
  • However, non-tax revenue receipts, excluding the transfers from the central bank, may look a lot better next fiscal year if the government manages to successfully privatize Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), Container Corp. of India Ltd (Concor) and Air India.

 

Leveraging the FFC

  • The government may heave a sigh of relief that the tenure of the 15th Finance Commission, which will submit a fresh fiscal consolidation road map for both the Centre and states, has been extended by a year.
  • This may allow the finance minister to digress from the fiscal consolidation path one last time, while committing to the fresh road map. However, what could complicate matters is rising crude prices.

 

Concerns for India’s GDP

  • The rising oil prices is a cause for concern. It will adversely impact inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit, as well as GDP growth. In such a scenario, the government’s capacity to intervene will remain constrained.

 

  • Low nominal GDP growth will weaken the government’s capacity to introduce strong fiscal stimulus measures, because it constraints growth in tax revenues.

 

  • Thus, in spite of the low growth, countercyclical policy, both in the form of monetary or fiscal stimulus, remains constrained. There is thus a likelihood of the current economic slowdown stretching itself for a few more quarters, reflecting in a U-shapes, rather than a V-shaped recovery

 

  • Lower real GDP growth and subdued inflation in most part of the current fiscal year has led to the nominal GDP growing at 6.1% in the third quarter. For FY20, the statistics ministry has estimated it at 7.5%.

 

What should the govt. do?

  • Under the current circumstance of weak growth impulses, the government needs to boost consumption demand. Consumption demand has been a casualty during the economic downturn and government needs to support that.
  • The govt. should direct resources towards spending, which increases consumer demand through PM-KISAN, NREGA or construction activity.
  • It should take some more measures in the residential real estate sector, which has been doing badly. It has announced a subvention scheme, but it needs to provide support for purchase of houses.

 

 

About Purchasing Managers’ Index

PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measure that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before. It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.

 

How is the PMI derived?

The PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions. Executives from a reasonably big sample, running into hundreds of firms, are asked whether key indicators such as output, new orders, business expectations and employment were stronger than the month before and are asked to rate them.

 

 How does one read the PMI?

A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction. Higher the difference from this mid-point greater the expansion or contraction. The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data. If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate.

 

 What are its implications for the economy?

The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity. Economists consider the manufacturing growth measured by the PMI as a good indicator of industrial output, for which official statistics are released later. Central banks of many countries also use the index to help make decisions on interest rates.

 

 What does it mean for financial markets?

The PMI also gives an indication of corporate earnings and is closely watched by investors as well as the bond markets. A good reading enhances the attractiveness of an economy vis-a- vis another competing economy.

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GS-III :
Green Credit Scheme

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About Green Credit Scheme and its significance, About FAC

 

News: The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial ends, has approved a scheme that could allow “forests” to be traded as a commodity.

  • If implemented, it allows the Forest Department to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non­government agencies.

 

About the scheme

  • The proposed ‘Green Credit Scheme’ allows agencies — they could be private companies, village forest communities — to identify land and begin growing plantations. After three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the Department’s criteria.

 

  • The FAC discussed the ‘Green Credit Scheme’ in a December 19, 2019 meeting. It was first developed by the Gujarat state government and was pending for approval from the MoEF&CC since 2013.

 

What is the current scenario?

  • In the current system, industry needs to make good the loss of forest by finding appropriate non­ forest land — equal to that which would be razed under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

 

  • It also must pay the State Forest Department the current economic equivalent — called Net Present Value — of the forest land.

 

 

  • It’s then the department’s responsibility to grow appropriate vegetation that, over time, would grow into forests.

 

Why this action has been taken?

  • Industries have often complained that they find it hard to acquire appropriate non­forest land, which has to be contiguous to existing forest.

 

  • Nearly Rs.50,000 crore had been collected by the Centre over decades, but the funds were lying unspent because States were not spending the money on re-growing forests.

 

  • The Supreme Court intervened, a new law came about with rules for how this fund was to be administered.

 

  • About Rs. 47,000 crore had been disbursed to States until August, but it has barely led to any rejuvenation of forests.

 

About Forest Advisory Committee

The FAC is a body under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and is responsible for regulating forest diversion.

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GS-III :
Digital Sky Platform

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the likely regulations to be imposed on the registration of drones; Digital Sky Platform and its significance

 

News: The Centre is likely to tighten its drone regulations. The move to “step back” on the drone policy has been prompted by fresh red flags raised by security agencies.

 

Background

The move comes in the wake of two major global attacks involving unmanned aircraft systems over the last few months — the first in September, on Saudi Arabian refineries that impacted nearly half of the country’s global crude supply, and the other last week, when Iran’s top military commander General Qassem Soleimani was killed in Baghdad.

 

Likely safeguards to be implemented

  • A newly launched, first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management mechanism called the “Digital Sky Platform” — a live platform for registration of manufacturers and operators of drones — could see fresh safeguards being built into the certification process.
  • A ‘National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines’, that seeks to lay down measures to be deployed in response to threats to vital installations from unmanned aircraft systems, which was in the works, could now be expedited.

 

 

India’s Drone policy

  • While globally, the drone industry is seeing a boom, with an over 35 per cent annual market growth and an estimated 2,75,000 units reported to have been sold commercially, India has been measured in opening up its skies to drones (or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, as they are referred to in technical parlance).

 

  • India has a ‘No Permission-No Takeoff’ (NPNT) clause for aerial unmanned objects, which implies that a drone cannot be operated in Indian skies unless the regulatory permission is received through the Digital Sky Platform. The pilot also needs certification, requiring a remote pilot licence or an ‘Unmanned Aerial Operator Permit’ (UAOP) before operating a drone.

 

  • In August 2018, the Centre came up with the first set of regulatory norms on the use of drones, which classified them based on their total weight with cargo and fuel for motive power (generally a battery), but with the rider that operations have to be limited to the line-of-sight. Then in January 2019, a white paper on drone policy 2.0 was released, that paved the way for wider application of drones, such as the delivery of goods beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

 

  • Subsequently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) floated an expression-of-interest for conducting experimental BVLOS operations of drones, to which 32 proposals were received.

 

  • In August 2019, the work for the development and hosting of the Digital Sky Platform was awarded by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), and the hosting of a Beta version of this platform is learnt to have been cleared with requisite security certification.

 

  • This platform, currently live, allows operators to apply for a Unique Identification Number (UIN) — akin to the registration plate of a car — that needs to be issued for all drones (with the exception of the smallest category), and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit online for approval by the civil aviation regulator.

 

Classification of drones

  • The Centre’s regulatory policy on the use of drones classifies them based on their total weight — ‘nano’ (up to 250 grams), ‘micro’ (250 g to 2 kg), ‘small’ (2-25 kg), ‘medium’ (25-150 kg) and ‘large’ (over 150 kg).
  • The Digital Sky Platform regulates all drones in the micro and higher categories and divides the Indian airspace into three broad categories — Red, Yellow and Green.
  • Red denotes “no fly zone” (includes airspace near international borders, vital assets like Parliament House, nuclear installations, major airports);
  • Yellow signifies airspace requiring Air Defence Clearance or Air Traffic Control clearance; and
  • Green signifies unrestricted airspace zones. However, even for the Green zone, there is a need to get clearance from the Digital Sky Platform to commence operations.

 

Conclusion

The regulatory environment is a key factor impacting the pace of adoption of drone-powered solutions by government and business entities. The fresh security imperative could prompt a reset of the regulatory regime for commercial drones.

 

About Digital Sky Platform:

  • The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT).
  • Users will be required to do a one-time registration of their drones, pilots and owners.
  • For every flight (exempted for the nano category), users will be required to ask for permission to fly on a mobile app and an automated process permits or denies the request instantly.
  • To prevent unauthorized flights and to ensure public safety, any drone without a digital permit to fly will simply not be able to takeoff.
  • The UTM operates as a traffic regulator in the drone airspace and coordinates closely with the defense and civilian air traffic controllers (ATCs) to ensure that drones remain on the approved flight paths.

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GS-III :
Man-Tiger Conflict

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Prelims and Mains focus: about the man-tiger conflict in India; about NTCA and its functions

News: On Wednesday, two orders issued by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), to capture three different tigers, underscored the urgency of the situation like never before.

 

Why?

  • The impressive growth in the number of tigers in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra has been punctuated by growing incidence of man-tiger conflicts over the past decade and more.

 

  • Chandrapur has a forest area of 5,206 sq km, roughly 45 per cent of the district’s geographical area of 11,441 sq km. The main reason for increasing levels of man-tiger conflict in Chandrapur is its vast human-dominated and fragmented forest landscapes

 

What are the rules for captutind/killing of tigers?

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) allows the capture or shooting of tigers only when they cause death or injury to humans, and in rare cases, for those straying inside human settlements.

 

About NTCA

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation, as per powers and functions assigned to it under the said Act.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority has been fulfilling its mandate within the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation in the country by retaining an oversight through advisories/normative guidelines, based on appraisal of tiger status, ongoing conservation initiatives and recommendations of specially constituted Committees.

 

Functions:

  • Ensuring normative standards in tiger reserve management
  • Preparation of reserve specific tiger conservation plan
  • Laying down annual/ audit report before Parliament
  • Instituting State level Steering Committees under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister and establishment of Tiger Conservation Foundation.
  • According approval for declaring new Tiger Reserves.

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