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Monthly DNA

11 Mar, 2021

35 Min Read

Environment Regulation redux

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment National Envt Bodies

Environment Regulation redux


  • The Supreme Court’s notice to the Centre on a public interest plea to set up a National environmental regulator under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 revives an issue that successive governments have preferred to ignore, in spite of specific orders passed by the same court more than nine years ago.

Lack of consensus

  • There is no consensus on what a new regulator can achieve, since official policy privileges ease of doing business.
  • The draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020, which seeks to advance that goal, makes no effort to disguise the desire to virtually eliminate civil society’s role.
  • It does not encourage the public to voice its views and report violations, while independent scrutiny of proposals is weakened.
  • In fact, the EIA process, especially after the notification in 2006, has been heavily critiqued for conflicts of interest - the proponent of a project is responsible for producing the EIA report — while clearances under forest, wildlife, air and water quality laws are heavily weighted in favour of promoters.
  • Rather than reform the system, in 2011 and 2014, the Centre rebuffed the apex court on the question of forming an independent regulator, contending that its orders in the Lafarge mining case were only in the nature of a suggestion, and later sought time but decided not to act.

Steps to be taken

  • Autonomous Environmental regulator: For a national regulator to work, the government must recognise the limits to extractive growth, respect a neutral body and preserve the integrity of the environment.
  • Credibility of EIA: A key issue raised by the PIL is the lack of credibility of the EIA process, leading to reports that are often produced with the help of dubious expertise and manipulated data.
    • In most cases, the proponents also ignore the views of communities that would be displaced and are ill-equipped to assess the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services such as clean air, water and farm productivity.
  • Strict control over pollution activity: The Centre and States must acknowledge the conflict arising from pressure on scarce land and ecosystems from polluting projects, which has already created clusters of industrial locations that are doing badly on the CPCB’s Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index.
    • It is striking that this did not stop approvals for further polluting activity in some of these places, such as large coal-based power plants cleared in recent years in Kanpur, Cuddalore, and Angul in Odisha.

Way ahead

  • The remedies lie in administrative reform.
  • To produce a whitelist of lands for industry, reclaiming polluted areas.

Source: TH

Exercise Dustlik-II between India and Uzbekistan

GS-II : International Relations Bilateral groupings and agreements

Exercise Dustlik-II between India and Uzbekistan

Exercise Dustlik-II between India and Uzbekistan will be held in Uttarakhand from March 10 to 19.

About Exercise Dustlik-II:

  • Exercise Dustlik is a military exercise between the Indian Army and Uzbekistan Army.
  • First Edition: The first edition of the Exercise Dustlik was held in 2019 at Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
  • Aim: The aim of the exercise is strengthening Counter Insurgency (CI) and Counter-Terrorism (CT) operations. Especially in mountainous, rural and urban scenarios under United Nations(UN) mandate.

Other key Focus Areas of Exercise Dustlik:

  • During the exercise, the Indian Army will share the experiences and lessons it has gained in Kashmir.
  • Exercise Dustlik will also focus on people-centric intelligence-based surgical operations.
  • India’s Participation: India has nominated Army’s 13 Kumaon regiment. It is also called the Rezang La battalion for its heroic action in the 1962 war with China.

Other Exercises between India and Central Asian Countries:

  • Exercise KAZIND: It is an annual military exercise between India and Kazakhstan army.
  • Exercise KHANJAR: It is a joint military training exercise between India and Kyrgyzstan.

Source: TH

US-Afghanistan Doha Peace Talks

GS-II : International Relations International issues

US-Afghanistan Doha Peace Talks

The U.S Secretary of State has confirmed the US intention to fully withdraw all forces from Afghanistan as per the Doha Agreement.

About Doha Agreement:

In 2020, the United States signed a historic deal with the Taliban. aiming to end the 18-year-war in Afghanistan

The deal was signed in Doha (Qatar) and thus termed as Doha Agreement.

The key features of the Doha agreement are:

  • Troops Withdrawal: The US will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
  • Further, the NATO or coalition troop numbers will also be brought down simultaneously. At last, all the troops will be out of Afghanistan within 14 months.
  • Taliban: Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups including al-Qaeda to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
  • Prisoners: Exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban will be done according to the Doha agreement.
  • Sanctions Removal: As per the Doha agreement, US and UN sanctions on the Taliban leaders will be removed.
  • Intra Afghan Dialogue: As per the Doha agreement, Afghan government officials, opposition figures, civil society representatives and the Taliban will discuss a political road map for bringing an end to Afghan the war.

Source: TH

Mobilising Electric Vehicle Financing in India Report by NITI Aayog

GS-II : Governance NITI Aayog

Mobilising Electric Vehicle Financing in India Report by NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute(RMI) India jointly releases a new report titled ‘Mobilising Electric Vehicle Financing in India’.


  • The report highlights the role of finance in India’s transition to electric vehicles(EVs).
  • Further, the report also identifies solutions for capital and financing to aid in India’s EV transition.

What does the report say about Electric Vehicle Financing?

  • India’s Electric Vehicle ecosystem has so far focused on overcoming adoption hurdles.
  • These hurdles are associated with technology cost, infrastructure availability, and consumer behaviour.
  • However, financing is the next critical barrier that needs to be addressed to accelerate India’s electric mobility transition.

According to the report, the transition to Electric Vehicles(EVs) will require a capital investment of over Rs 19 lakh crore .

This has to be spent on electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and batteries over the next decade.

  • Moreover, India’s Electric Vehicle financing industry is projected to be Rs 3.7 lakh Crore in 2030. It is about 80% of the current size of India’s retail vehicle finance industry.

Suggestions: The report has provided several solutions that financial institutions can adopt in catalysing Electric Vehicle financing.

  • Inclusion of EVs in Priority sector lending
  • Interest rate subvention
  • Product guarantees and warranties: The manufacturers of EVs can provide guarantees and warranties on the performance of their products.
  • Risk-sharing mechanism (government and multilateral-led): Partly or entirely covering the possible losses associated with Electric Vehicle financing can build trust in the sector.
  • Secondary market development: Government can help develop a secondary market for electric vehicles.
    • This will improve the resale value of EVs and improve their bankability.
  • Digital lending: The loans for EVs can be provided digitally. This will help in overcoming the operational and logistical challenges of Electric Vehicle financing.
  • Open data repository for EVs: Financial Institutions(FIs) need access to data on EV specifications, actual charging costs, and operating expenditures.
    • This will help institutions accurately assess risk, determine appropriate interest rates, and design effective leasing programmes.

Source: TH

Parliamentary Standing Report Committee on National Social Assistance Program

GS-II : Economic Issues Poverty

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development has submitted its report to the Lok Sabha.

  • It suggests that the Central Government must increase the small number of pensions provided for poor senior citizens, widows and disabled people under the National Social Assistance Programme(NSAP).

About National Social Assistance Programme(NSAP):

  • Nodal Ministry: It was launched in 1995. It is a welfare programme administered by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • The programme is being implemented in rural areas as well as urban areas.

Aim: To provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions.

Current Schemes under NSAP: There are 5 different schemes being implemented as part of NSAP:

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme(IGNOAPS): Under this, senior citizens of the Below Poverty Line(BPL) households will get Rs 200 to Rs 500 a month.
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS): Under this, widows aged over 40 years in BPL households will get Rs 300 to Rs 500 a month.
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme(IGNDPS): Under this, Rs 300 a month will be provided for persons aged 18-79 years with severe or multiple disabilities in BPL households.
  • National Family Benefit Scheme(NFBS): Under this, Rs 20,000 are provided upon the death of a breadwinner aged 18-59 in BPL households.
  • Annapurna Scheme: Under the scheme, senior citizens not receiving any pension benefit will get 10 kg of food grains (wheat or rice) per month at free of cost.

Parliamentary report on MGNREGA:

  • Delay in Payment of MNREGA Wages
  • Weak Implementation by States. Not implemented in letter and spirit at the grass-root level
  • The disparity in MGNREGA Wages between States.

What is MGNREGA?

  • The MGNREGA is an employment guarantee act introduced in 2005 through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.


  • To enhance the livelihood security of households in rural areas of India


  • To provide guaranteed 100 days of wage employment per year to each rural household
  • Creation of durable rural assets
  • Social inclusion of women, SCs and STs
  • Strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions


  • The Act currently covers all districts with the exception of those that have a 100% urban population.

Key Features:

  • Demand-driven scheme: Worker to be hired when he demands and not when the Government wants it.
  • Gram Panchayat is mandated to provide employees with 15 days of work application, failing which worker is entitled to unemployment allowance
  • Payment of wages within 15 days of competition of work, failing which worker is entitled to delay compensation of 0.05%/ day of wages earned
  • Minimum one-third of the workers should be women
  • Wages to be paid according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 for agricultural labourers in the State
  • Social Audit to be done by Gram Sabha

Source: TH

Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act

GS-III : Internal security Security Forces & Agencies

Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act

The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) informed Lok Sabha about the number of cases registered under the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act(UAPA) in 2019.

About Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act(UAPA):

  • UAPA was introduced in 1967 to target secessionist organizations.
    • It is primarily an anti-terror law aimed at preventing certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations.
  • Investigation: The cases under the UAPA are investigated by the State police and the National Investigation Agency(NIA).
  • Bail: Under the act, getting bail is rare. The investigating agency has up to 180 days to file a charge sheet..
  • It is considered to be the predecessor of laws (now repealed) Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act(POTA).

Key Provisions of the Act:

  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government. It can declare an activity as unlawful, by way of an Official Gazette.
  • The act has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
  • Under the act, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on foreign land, outside India.
  • The investigating agency can file a charge sheet in a maximum of 180 days after the arrests. This duration can be extended further after information to the court.

2004 amendment:

  • The act was amended in 2004.
  • It added “terrorist act” to the list of offences, to ban organisations for terrorist activities.

2019 amendment:

  • The amendment empowers the Central Government to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds.
  • It empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is under investigation by the agency.
  • It also empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state

Source: TH

Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission

GS-II : Government policies and interventions Government policies and interventions

Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission

  • SPMRM is a scheme launched by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in 2016 to deliver integrated project-based infrastructure in rural areas, which will also include the development of economic activities and skill development.
  • A predecessor to SPMRM was the Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA), announced in 2003.

Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas

  • Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA) was aimed at the provision of urban amenities and livelihood opportunities in rural areas to bridge the rural-urban divide thereby reducing the migration from rural to urban areas.
  • PURA has treated as a “Project” and not a government scheme – Private sector partners had to prepare a detailed business plan.

Key Points

  • Mission's Objectives: Bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
  • Rurban Clusters: There are 2 categories of clusters: Non-Tribal and Tribal.
  • Rurban clusters are identified across the country’s rural areas showing increasing signs of urbanization - i.e. increase in population density, high levels of non-farm employment, presence of growing economic activities and other socioeconomic parameters.
  • Rurban areas refer to a cluster of 15-20 villages having about 30 to 40 lakh population.
  • The clusters will be geographically contiguous Gram Panchayats with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas.
  • Role of states: The State Government identifies the clusters in accordance with the Framework for Implementation prepared by the MoRD.
  • For the selection of clusters, the MoRD is adopting a scientific process of cluster selection.
  • Funding: SPMRM is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • The Mission has 2 fund streams:
    • Convergence through various schemes (Central sector, centrally sponsored schemes, State sector/ sponsored schemes/ programmes, CSR funds etc) and
    • Critical Gap Funds (CGF).

Source: TH

Sattras in Assam

GS-I : Art and Culture Philosophy

Sattras in Assam

Political parties often go to different Sattras to seek the blessings of Sankardeva.

About Sattras:

  • Sattras are monastic institutions in Assam.
  • They were created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement. Movements started by the Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva(1449-1596).

Why were they established?

  • They were established to spread Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach.
  • They are doing it presently with music (borgeet), dance (sattriya), and theatre (bhauna).


  • Each Satra has a Naam Ghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Satradhikar”.
  • Monks known as bhaktas are inducted into Sattras at a young age.
  • They may or may not be celibate depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.

Sankardeva’s philosophy:

  • Srimanta Sankardev (1449–1568) was a 15th–16th century Assamese saint, scholar, poet, and social-religious reformer.
  • He propagated a form of Bhakti philosophy called Eka Sarana Naam Dharma.
  • The philosophy had an influence on two medieval kingdoms—Koch and the Ahom kingdoms.
  • Components: The four important components of the philosophy were deva (god), Naam (prayers), bhaktas (devotees), and guru (teacher).
  • Society: The philosophy espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals, and sacrifices.
  • Teachings: The teachings of the philosophy rejected idol worship and focused on devotion (bhakti) to Krishna.
  • Devotion would be in the form of congregational listening and singing his name and deeds (Kirtan) and (sravan).

Source: IE

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