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21 February, 2020

18 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Article 371 of the Indian Constitution
State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)
UK’s new points-based visa system International Relations
Govt. to revive old drug manufacturing units
GS-III Operation Control Centre for goods trains Economic Issues
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
Consumer Price Index (CPI) Economic Issues
GS-II :
Article 371 of the Indian Constitution

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution—Historical Underpinnings, Evolution, Features, Amendments, Significant Provisions and Basic Structure.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about Article 371 and its various provisions related to northeast states; related issues

 

News: Union Home Minister assured the northeastern States that the Centre would never touch Article 371 of the Constitution that grants special provisions to the region.

 

About the event

Union Home Minister, also the chairman of the North Eastern Council (NEC), gave the assurance in his inaugural address at the 68th plenary session of the NEC in Guwahati.

The meeting was attended by the Governors, the Chief Ministers and officials of eight northeastern States.

 

Background

As the government abrogated Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 371, which has special provisions for other States, mostly from the Northeast, has invited some attention.

 

 

About Article 371 of the Indian Constitution

  • Article 371 gives the power to the President of India to establish separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada regions of Maharashtra and the rest of the State and Saurashtra, Kutch and rest of Gujarat.

 

  • Special provisions with respect to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa are dealt in Articles 371D and 371E, 371J, 371I respectively.

 

  • Most of the States that have been accorded special provisions under Article 371 are in the northeast and the special status aims to preserve their tribal culture.

 

  1. Article 371(A) states that no act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland in respect of the religious or social practices of the Nagas, its customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

 

  • It shall apply to Nagaland only after the State Assembly passes a resolution to do so, it says.

 

  • In June 2019, the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) observed that Article 371(A) impedes the State’s development. Article 371(A) states that land and its resources in the State belong to the people and not the government.

 

  • The MLA said due to the provisions in Article 371(A), the landowners usually do not allow the government to carry out any development activities on their plot.

 

  1. Article 371-G that deals with special provisions with respect to Mizoram has similar nature.
  • It states that an act of Parliament relating to religious and social practices of Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil or criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land and its resources will not apply to Mizoram unless State assembly decides to do so.

 

  1. Article 371B deals with special provision with respect to the State of Assam.
  • The main objective of inserting Article 371B was to facilitate the creation of the sub-State ‘Meghalaya’.

 

  1. Article 371C deals with special provisions with respect to Manipur which became a State in 1972.

 

  1. Articles 371F, 371H talk about special provisions with respect to States of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, respectively.
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GS-II :
State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about SHRCs: composition and functions

 

News: The State Human Rights Commissions (SHRCs) were asked by National Human Rights Commission Chairperson to join the common portal — HRC Net — to avoid duplication of complaints.

 

About State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

A State Government may constitute a body known as the Human Rights Commission of that State to exercise the powers conferred upon, and to perform the functions assigned to, a State Commission.

 

Composition

A State Commission is to be composed of a chairman and some members appointed by the Governor in consultation with the

  1. Chief Minister,
  2. Home Minister,
  3. Speaker and
  4.  Leader of the Opposition in State Assembly.

 

  • The chairman is to be a retired judge (or Chief Justice) of the High Court;

 

  • one of the members should be a serving or a retired District Judge in that state;

 

  • one member is to be a serving judge or a retired judge of the High Court,

 

  • two members are to be activists in the field of Human Rights.

 

  • Besides the above members, the Commission has its own secretary as well.

 

Term of office: Three years or till the age of seventy years (eligible for reappointment).

 

Removal

The chairman or any other member is removable by the President on the charge of proved misbehavior or incapacity after a regular inquiry by a judge of the Supreme Court. They are removable on the grounds as provided for such removals of the members of NHRC as well.

 

 

Functions

These functions of the SHRCs are to:

  1. Inquire suo motu or on a petition presented to it, by a victim, or any person on his be into complaint of:
  • Violation of human rights or abetment thereof;
  • Negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.

 

  1. Intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights, per before a Court with the approval of such Court.

 

  1. Visit under intimation to the State Government, any jail or any other institution under the control of the State Government where persons are detained or lodged for purposes of treatment, reformation or protection to study the living conditions of the inmates and make recommendations thereon.

 

  1. Review the safeguards provided by or under the constitution of any law for the time being in force for the protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.

 

  1. Review the factors, including acts of terrorism that inhibit the enjoyment of human rights and recommend appropriate remedial measures.

 

  1. Undertake and promote research in the field of human rights.

 

  1. Spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for the protection of these rights through publications, the n seminars and other available means.

 

  1. Encourage the efforts of Non-Governmental organisations and institutions working in the field of human rights.

 

  1. Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of human rights.
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GS-II : International Relations
UK’s new points-based visa system

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

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new immigrations system and its features; about its significance for India

 

News: United Kingdom’s Home Secretary announced the launch of the UK's new points-based visa system which is inspired by Australia’s points-based immigration system.

 

Objective

It is aimed at attracting the "brightest and the best" from the world, including from India, and cutting down numbers of cheap, low-skilled workers coming to United Kingdom.

 

About the new immigration system

  • It will award points for specific skills, professions, salaries or qualifications/attributes, and visas will be awarded to those who gain sufficient points. The system will provide simple, effective, and flexible arrangements for skilled workers to come to the UK.

 

  • The new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens (including India) equally, giving top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, innovators and academics.

 

  • The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600 (approximately Rs.23.8 lakh), down from the previously proposed £30,000.

 

  • The new system will come into force from January 1 2021 at the end of the transition period after the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) in January 2020, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member.

 

Other details

  • The Home Secretary also announced a reformed Global Talent route. This will include a new fast-track scheme for world-leading scientists, top researchers and mathematicians to come to the UK. This will run alongside the Points-Based Immigration System and will allow a small number of highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

 

  • Student visa routes will also be points-based and be opened up to EU citizens from next year. Those wishing to study in the UK will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak English.

 

  • To address the specific labour concerns of the agricultural sector reliant on seasonal workers from the EU, the Seasonal Workers Pilot will be expanded in time for the 2020 harvest from 2,500 to 10,000 places.

 

  • EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to six months.

 

  • However, the use of national identity cards will be phased out for travel to the UK and the Home Office highlighted that as part of its post-Brexit offer, those EU citizens resident in the UK by December 31 2020 can still apply to settle in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until June 2021.

 

 

Benefit for Indian nationals

  • The new Points-Based Immigration System is great news for Indian nationals looking to work in the UK. It puts Indian applicants on a level playing field, and prioritises those with the greatest skills and talent – something which India has in abundance.

 

  • A lot of Indian students want to put experience to their qualifications, so they would welcome the lower salary threshold for when they have to convert their visa.

 

  • The lower salary threshold means skilled Indians are easily the biggest winner.
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GS-II :
Govt. to revive old drug manufacturing units

Syllabus subtopic

  • Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its significance; about Coronavirus outbreak and its impact on India-China trade; about CDSCO

 

News: The government is planning to revive old drug manufacturing units that produced key ingredients for crucial medicines in the past, but are now being imported from China.

 

Background

  • The move is significant in the backdrop of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China, and disruption of global supply chains.

 

  • China contributes to almost 70 per cent of India’s imports of key ingredients for medicines.

 

About the move

  • In response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Department of Pharmaceuticals constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) Joint Drug Controller to assess and “closely monitor” the situation.

 

  • The committee has identified 58 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), intermediates and key starting materials (KSMs) where India needs to build self-reliance. Considering the long gestation period to start a new plant, the government is considering whether upgrading older facilities with newer technology would help expedite the process.

 

  • Over the last three decades, most of the 7-8 manufacturing plants producing as many as 20 ingredients such as penicillin G, erythromycin, rifamycin, tetracycline, citric acid and vitamin B12, were shut down due to “cheaper alternatives from China”. The possibility of upgrading and restarting these plants is under consideration of the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

 

  • The idea is looking to wean away the Indian pharmaceutical industry from its heavy dependence on Chinese imports and strengthen its self-reliance. While India had the capability to manufacture most key ingredients, there was no domestic manufacturer currently for fermentation-based ingredients. Fermentation-based ingredients are used in most antibiotics and vitamins.

 

Why is government’s support necessary?

  • Unless the pharmaceutical industry is incentivised at least for a few years the way China incentivised its own pharmaceutical industry, there is little chance of private investment in this sector.

 

  • Three decades back, China wasn’t even in the picture in API production. But then, with full government support, they scaled up and sold to India at 20-25 percent less than domestic companies producing bulk drugs. Even with import duties, their products were cheaper, so Indian formulators began picking them over Indian manufacturers.

 

  • China was able to build its cost-effective active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) capabilities due to various incentives like cheap land and electricity. India may have to consider similar incentives to ensure domestic manufacturers build scale and compete with lower Chinese prices.

 

  • Niti Aayog, in a meeting on India’s dependence on imports of “critical” APIs, with the government had given some suggestions on environmental concerns and financial incentives like subsidies, which will be examined by the government.

 

About CDSCO:

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.

 

Functions: Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view to bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

 

CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Operation Control Centre for goods trains

Syllabus subtopic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about DFCs and their significance; about DFCCIL

 

News: The world’s second-biggest Operation Control Centre for goods trains, built in India by the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) is ready to begin operations.

 

About the centre

  • The centre, built at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, will be the ‘nerve-centre’ of the over 1,800 km-long eastern dedicated freight corridor.

 

  • The control centre has a theater which measures 1560 sq m, with a video wall of more than 90 m and will be used as a one-stop shop for controlling and monitoring rail systems, including train operations and the power supply system.

 

 

About Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC)

  • The Dedicated Freight Corridor, touted as one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country, is a 3,360 km stretch consisting of the Eastern and Western corridors.

 

  • Upgrading of transportation technology, increase in productivity and reduction in unit transportation cost are the focus areas for the project.

 

  • Carbon emission reduction from DFCs will help DFCCIL claim carbon credits.

 

  • The Eastern corridor, which is being funded by the World Bank, will run from Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni near Kolkata, traversing Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

 

  • For the Eastern corridor, targeted to be completed by December 2021, The World Bank loan stands at about $1.86 billion.

 

  • The Western corridor will have a similar operation control system at Ahmedabad.

 

  • Once operational, the freight corridor will help decongest the existing Indian Railway network, while also helping increase the average speed of goods trains to 70 kmph, from the existing 25 kmph.

 

  • It will connect the existing ports and industrial areas for faster movement of good and will help increase the rail share in freight transportation from the existing 30% to 45%.”

 

About Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL)

  • DFCCIL is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) corporation run by government of India's Ministry of Railways to undertake planning, development, and mobilisation of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors.

 

  • The DFCCIL was registered as a company under the Companies Act 1956 in 2006.

 

  • It is both enabler and beneficiary of other key Government of India schemes, such as and Industrial corridor, Make in India, Startup India, Standup India, Sagarmala, Bharatmala, UDAN-RCS, Digital India, BharatNet.

 

  • Carbon emission reduction from DFCs will help DFCCIL claim carbon credits.
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GS-III :
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the species and conservation status; about WCCB and its mandate

 

News: Four rare Indian Tent Turtles were rescued by the Delhi police in north Delhi and were handed over to officials of the Delhi zoo after inspection by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).

 

Indian Tent Turtle (kachuga tecta tecta)

  • The Indian tent turtle is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae. The species is endemic to India and Bangladesh.

 

  • It is listed in schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1962. Possession of this species is prohibited.

 

  • IUCN status: Least Concern (LC)

 

 

About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)

  • IT is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.

 

  • The Bureau has its headquarter in New Delhi and five regional offices at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Jabalpur; three sub-regional offices at Guwahati, Amritsar and Cochin; and five border units at Ramanathapuram, Gorakhpur, Motihari, Nathula and Moreh.

 

Mandate

Under Section 38 (Z) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, it is mandated

  1. to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime activities and to disseminate the same to State and other enforcement agencies for immediate action so as to apprehend the criminals;

 

  1. to establish a centralized wildlife crime data bank;

 

  1. co-ordinate actions by various agencies in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the Act;

 

  1. assist foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control;

 

  1.  capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist State Governments to ensure success in prosecutions related to wildlife crimes; and

 

  1. advise the Government of India on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws.

 

  1. It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about CPI and its significance; about inflation targeting

 

News: The RBI governor has stressed the need to review the monetary policy framework. An inflation targeting framework is effective when the measure of inflation is accurate. But there are concerns about CPI’s composition.

 

 

What is CPI and how is it computed?

  • The consumer price index (CPI) measures the changes in the prices of goods and services that are consumed by households. The rural CPI index is based on the consumption basket of rural India, while urban CPI focuses on the urban basket of consumption.

 

  • The index is a monthly series, which measures inflation in the form of a change compared to the same month in the previous year.

 

  • A simplistic understanding of the computation of CPI would be to consider it as a weighted average of the goods and services that the consumers in a country purchase. The weights are adjusted with changes in consumption patterns.

 

How are these weights for CPI derived?

  • In India, the National Statistical Office conducts the Consumption Expenditure Survey (CES) that helps us understand the consumption basket of various consumers.

 

  • Suppose a consumer spends Rs.10 out of Rs.100 on food, then the share of food in his consumption is 10%. CES gives us these shares for the overall economy. The government has not released the 2017 CES because of inconsistencies. Therefore, the weights of the CPI series would not be adjusted using this survey.

 

  • Our current CPI weights are based on the 2011-12 survey and will be updated once we have a new and reliable consumption survey.

 

Why is it important to update CPI weights?

As our consumption pattern shifts, a CPI based on old weights is likely to underestimate or overestimate inflation. For example, the share of expenditure on transistors, which have become obsolete, has gone down. If prices of transistors increase, old shares would give a higher inflation rate than what consumers experience.

 

How will this impact inflation targeting?

An inflation targeting regime is as good as the quality of inflation statistics. This is important as several other inflation indicators seem to be below 4%, even as food inflation rose, driven by onion prices. As such, we may be overestimating inflation, but there have been times when we have underestimated it. Recently, some authors argued the need to move to a broader measure of inflation target that could combine the GDP deflator, wholesale price index and CPI to avoid overdependence on a single indicator.

 

How do we get a right estimate of inflation?

The share of consumption expenditure has changed between the 2011 and 2017 National Accounts Statistics (NAS), with a decline in the share of expenditure on food. The official CPI series could be more sensitive to food inflation. Given that the quality and reliability of the survey data have been questioned over the years, moving towards a CPI derived from the private final consumption data from NAS must be considered.

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