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19 February, 2020

19 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Nadu-Nedu Scheme of Andhra Pradesh
Study on Online abuse
Tax haven International Relations
EC holds meeting on electoral reforms
Trump’s visit may seal helicopter deal International Relations
GS-III Karbis against ST status for hill Bodos in Assam Miscellaneous
Foodgrain production set to touch a record high Economic Issues
GS-II :
Nadu-Nedu Scheme of Andhra Pradesh

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the key features of the scheme

 

News: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has launched the first phase of the Nadu Nedu programme.

 

About the programme

  1. Under the Nadu-Nedu Scheme (roughly meaning Then and Now in Telugu), the government of A.P plans to take up construction, repairs and renovation of hospitals at a cost of Rs.11,737 crore in a span of three years.

 

  1. The Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) would be followed for the sub-centres, Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), Area Hospitals (AHs), District Hospitals (DHs) and Medical Council of India (MCI) norms for teaching hospitals.

 

  1. As part of the first phase, Rs.1,129 crore has been allocated for the health and wellness centres (sub-centres).

 

  1. A pictorial contrast of the hospitals before and after the implementation of Nadu-Nedu would be displayed on their premises to highlight the difference.

 

  1. The auxiliary Nurse Midwifery (ANM) staff quarters will be provided with single bedroom, kitchen and toilet, a clinic with lab and examination room with toilet and fully furnished medical equipment and furniture.

 

  1. In the second phase, of the total 1,145 Primary Health Centres (PHCs), 149 new ones would be constructed and the rest 989 would be repaired and given modern amenities. Apart from that 169 Community Health Centres (CHC) and Area Hospitals would also be strengthened. For CHCs the government has allocated Rs.1,212 crores and Rs.700 crore to Area Hospitals.

 

  1. In the third phase, District Hospitals, along with teaching hospitals would be strengthened. Moreover, construction of new hospitals will also take place. Since independence, there are only 11 teaching hospitals in the State. The government is adding 16 more teaching hospitals, bringing the total to 27.

 

According to the A.P govt., it is the highest amount spent by any State on healthcare in the country. Under the scheme, every Parliamentary constituency would have a teaching hospital.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Study on Online abuse

Syllabus subtopic: Role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the survey and its findings: limitations and recommendations

 

News: In an attempt to assess the pattern of Internet use and online safety, an NGO — Child Rights and You (CRY) — conducted a survey in collaboration with Forum for Learning and Action with Innovation and Rigour (FLAIR).

 

About the survey

It was conducted among 630 adolescents aged between 13-18 years from eight schools in Delhi-NCR. The study involved students filling up a test form and answering a questionnaire.

 

Key findings of the study

  • One in every three adolescents exposed to the Internet are victims of cyberbullying and other forms of online abuse and nearly half of the users display some level of addiction.

 

  • Adolescents had easy access to the Internet with 93% of them using it in their homes. There was a clear gender disparity in access to personal devices with 60% boys and 40% girls owning a device.

 

  • Thirty percent of adolescents had a negative experience online. When broken down across different categories of abuse, it is found that 10% of adolescents experienced cyberbullying, 10% had either their profile misused or account hacked and 23% had seen a morphed image or video online. Only half of these instances were reported by the teenagers.

 

  • There was also a lack of awareness among the students on the Internet safety guidelines developed by the NCERT with only 30% respondents being familiar with them. Nearly 48% of students were found to be either mildly or moderately addicted to the Internet, while 1% were found to be severely addicted. For this exercise, the students were made to take an Internet Addiction Test.

 

Is internet accessibility really harmful?

  • Access to the Internet is not all harmful as 40% of the respondents said they used it to take help in their studies such as through online search for words or information, tutorials and access to their school’s online education programme.

 

  • The same ratio of children also used the Internet for extra-curricular activities such as for music, painting or sports. As many as 50% of students used the Internet for both studies as well as extra-curricular activities.

 

Limitation of the study

One of the limitations of the study is that it was not able to record instances of sexual abuse in cyberspace as it was conducted in a controlled environment.

 

Recommendations made in the study

  • The study recommends familiarity with Internet safety rules and the skill to use them for reporting to be built into the school curriculum as well as the need to modify the Central government’s child protection scheme to build infrastructure to deal with cybercrimes against children.

 

  • It also presses for schools to recognise an increase in online crimes against children and develop strategies on prevention, reporting and redressal.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II : International Relations Europe
Tax haven

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its implications; about tax haven and its characteristics

 

News: European Union finance ministers added Panama, the Seychelles, the Cayman Islands and Palau to the EU’s blacklist of tax havens, while giving Turkey more time to avoid being listed.

 

Background

  • The list, which was set up in 2017 after revelations of widespread tax evasion and avoidance schemes, now includes 12 jurisdictions.

 

  • The other listed jurisdictions are Fiji, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and the three U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

 

What are the implications?

Those on the blacklist face reputational damages, higher scrutiny in their financial transactions and risk losing EU funds.

 

What Is a Tax Haven?

  • A tax haven is generally an offshore country that offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a politically and economically static environment.

 

  • Tax havens also share limited or no financial information with foreign tax authorities.

 

  • Tax havens do not typically require residency or business presence for individuals and businesses to benefit from their tax policies.

 

  • Offshore tax havens benefit from the capital their countries draw into the economy. Funds can flow in from individuals and businesses with accounts setup at banks, financial institutions, and other investment vehicles. Individuals and corporations can potentially benefit from low or no taxes charged on income in foreign countries where loopholes, credits, or other special tax considerations may be allowed.

 

  • A list of some of the most popular tax haven countries includes: Andorra, the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, the Cook Islands, The Island of Jersey, Hong Kong, The Isle of Man, Mauritius, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Panama, St. Kitts, and Nevis.

 

  • Worldwide there is not a comprehensively defined standard for the classification of a tax haven country. However, there are several regulatory bodies that monitor tax haven countries, including the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

 

  • Characteristics of tax haven countries generally include:
  1. no or low income taxes,
  2. minimal reporting of information,
  3. lack of transparency obligations,
  4. lack of local presence requirements, and
  5. marketing of tax haven vehicles.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II :
EC holds meeting on electoral reforms

Syllabus subtopic: Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the meeting and the issues discussed; electoral reforms

 

News: In a fresh bid to push the electoral reforms pending with the Centre, the Election Commission (EC) met the Legislative Department of Ministry of Law and Justice officials.

 

Background

As many as over 40 recommendations for electoral reforms are pending with the Centre.

 

About the meeting

The pending issues discussed, including were

  1. linking voter ID with Aadhaar,
  2. allowing multiple registration windows to a new voter and
  3. ensuring gender neutral rights for ‘service voter’,
  4. paid news and false affidavit as electoral offence/corrupt practice;
  5. print media and social media intermediaries to be covered under Section 126 of the RP Act 1951.

 

Issue of linking Aadhaar with Voter ID

  • Linking voter ID with Aadhaar will help weed out duplications and misrepresentations from the electoral rolls.

 

  • Aadhaar linkage and voter authentication are also considered critical to the commission’s plans to work towards electronic, internet-based voting and for giving ‘remote’ voting rights to domestic migrant workers.

 

  • Earlier, in a letter to the Law Ministry, the Commission had recently proposed that provisions of the Representation of the People Act be amended to allow EC seek Aadhaar numbers of those applying to be voters and those who are already part of the electoral rolls.  Accepting the proposal to give it legal backing to collect Aadhaar data, the Law Ministry is learnt to have asked the poll panel to ensure that the data is protected at multiple levels. The EC recently listed out steps to protect the data from possible leaks.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II : International Relations U.S.A
Trump’s visit may seal helicopter deal

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the helicopter deal and its significance; about other deals on the anvil; India-US trade dispute

 

News: The deal for 24 MH-60R Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) for the Navy, which is likely to be announced during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump, is lined up for the final approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

 

About the deal

All procedural requirements for the deal have been completed. The 24 Lockheed Martin-built helicopters, worth $2.4 billion, are being procured through the Foreign Military Sales route of the U.S. government.

 

Significance of the deal

  • The Navy is facing an acute shortage of MRH, with several warships operating with empty helicopter decks. These helicopters are being procured as replacement for 15 Sea King Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopters de-inducted in 1991 and one Sea King 42B MRH lost in accident. The MRHs in service, Sea King 42Bs, were inducted in the 1980s and are in need of replacement.

 

  • Given the urgency, the U.S. is likely to take some MH-60R helicopters from its newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald Ford, which is undergoing upgrades.

 

Trade deal unlikely

Mr. Trump will visit India on February 24 and 25. With no headway in the talks for a trade deal, there are expectations that a few big-ticket defence deals will be announced.

 

Other deals in the pipeline

  • There are several big-ticket deals in the pipeline. These include six Boeing P-8I long-range surveillance aircraft and 13 BAE Systems-built 127-mm MK-45 naval gun systems worth around $1 billion for the Navy, six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Army, 30 armed drones for the three services and a tactical air defence system for Delhi.  However, these are at various stages of procurement.

 

  • Apart from the deal for MH-60R helicopters, an announcement is possible on P-8I and Apache.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Miscellaneous
Karbis against ST status for hill Bodos in Assam

Syllabus subtopic: Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the issue and concerns raised by Karbis; about Bodo Accord; about CAA; Assam Accord

 

News: An Assam-based insurgent group of Karbis, which signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre, has demanded that the Bodos in the hill areas not be given the Scheduled Tribe status as it will affect the “identity of the Karbis”.

 

Background

  • The Home Ministry, the Assam government and Bodo groups signed the pact on January 27 to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), spread over Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts.

 

  • Under the agreement, the Bodos in the hills will be given the Scheduled Hill Tribe status and villages dominated by the Bodos outside the BTAD will be included and those with non-Bodos excluded.

 

  • The Bodos, an ethnic group in Assam, had been demanding a separate State since 1972, and are recognised as a Scheduled Tribe (Plain).

 

Tribal composition in Assam

In Assam, there are 14 recognised Plain Tribe communities, 15 Hills Tribe communities and 16 Scheduled Caste communities.

 

Why are Karbis against the move?

  • After the conclusion of the latest Bodo pact, the Karbi Longri and North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), a militant group that signed a ceasefire pact with the Centre in 2009, has said a “political settlement” should be reached soon.

 

  • The identity of Karbis will come under threat if Bodos who live in the hill areas along with Karbis are also given a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.

 

  • The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council has 26 seats, and the elections to the councils are due in 2022. It is one of the oldest councils in existence since 1951. Nagaland and Mizoram that were autonomous councils initially became States years ago; only Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao remain. Karbis want a ST status for the entire region so that non-tribals will not be able to contest in the elections. The non-tribals comprise 46% of the 9.6 lakh population of the council. According to Karbis, the Bodos could not have a separate reservation in hills and plains.

 

What next?

  • After the peace accord with all Bodo groups, the Centre is at a very advanced stage of sealing a peace deal with other key militant groups, including the pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Karbi insurgent group.

 

  • But, with the Assembly election in Assam due in April-May next year, the final announcements could be tailored to suit the ruling BJP electorally. The BJP is expected to do well in the 15 Assembly constituencies in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley because of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). The recent Bodo peace deal will give the ruling party an edge in 12 seats under the BTAD. Similarly, a Karbi peace deal will give the party an edge in the 5 seats in the hill districts.

 

Citizenship Amendment Act’s applicability in Assam

There are 33 districts in Assam, and seven have been exempted from the CAA as they fall in the areas protected by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The exempted districts comprise three autonomous district councils: BTAD, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture
Foodgrain production set to touch a record high

Syllabus subtopic: Major Crops - Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the foodgrain production in India and challenges associated

 

News: The Agriculture Ministry’s second advance estimates were released recently.

 

Key highlights

  • Total foodgrain production is projected to scale an all-time high of almost 292 million tonnes in 2019-20, propelled by record production of both rice and wheat.

 

  • Production of several crops, including rice and major pulses, was lower than targeted in the kharif or the monsoon season. However, the abundance of late monsoon rains resulted in cumulative rainfall that was 10% higher than the long-period average for the season.

 

  • This helped farmers rake in rabi or winter harvests that were larger-than-expected in almost all crops.

 

  • Thus, the estimate for total foodgrain output of 291.95 million tonnes is more than six million tonnes higher than the 285.21 million tonnes produced in 2018-19.

 

  • The Agriculture Ministry expects rice production to reach 117.47 million tonnes, slightly higher than the 116.48 million tonnes produced in 2019.

 

  • Wheat, which is only grown in the rabi season, will see a major surge in production at 106.2 million tonnes in the current year, from the 103.6 million tonnes in 2018-19.

 

 

Challenges

  • Despite the government’s drive to encourage millets and nutri-cereals, production failed to match targets this year, with the estimate pegged at 45.24 million tonnes.

 

  • Pulses production was also estimated to come in lower-than targeted 23 million tonnes, although it was still higher than the previous year’s harvest. Most pulses are dry land crops, grown on land without irrigation and the delay in monsoons in many areas hit kharif harvests although rabi production improved.

 

  • It was a similar story with oil seeds. Production was estimated at almost 342 million tonnes, higher than last year but still lower than the target for this year.

 

  • Sugarcane is the only major crop where this year’s estimated production of 3,538 million tonnes was significantly lower than last year’s output of 4,054 million tonnes. A glut in sugar production over the last few years had resulted in a crash in prices and an increase in payment arrears from sugar mills to cane farmers.

Source: The Hindu

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