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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

22 Mar, 2021

32 Min Read

Rising poverty post COVID-19

GS-III : Economic Issues Poverty

Rising poverty post COVID-19

Poverty levels in India and China

  • A new study by the Pew Research Center estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionately deleterious impact on living standards in India and China in 2020, with the sharp economic contraction in the former pushing as many as 7.5 crore people into the ranks of the poor (those who earn $2 or less a day).
  • In contrast, the figure is about 10 lakh in China, whose economy slowed but continued to post growth.
  • In absolute terms, the number of poor in India is posited to have swelled to 13.4 crore, reversing the gains made in the preceding nine years when the country cut the number of poor by more than three-fourths to an estimated 7.8 crore in 2019.
  • In China, the population of the poor likely inched up to 40 lakh, matching the 2019 level.

Contraction of middle class

  • Similarly, the numbers of India’s middle class — those with a daily income of $10.01–$20 — are projected to have shrunk by 3.2 crore to about 6.6 crore, compared with the number this income cohort would have reached absent the pandemic.
  • Here again, China likely experienced just one-third the level of contraction, with the population of those deemed as middle income set to have narrowed to 49.3 crore compared with the pre-pandemic projection of 50.4 crore.

Pew assessment

  • The Pew assessment, which is based on an analysis of the World Bank’s PovcalNet database, does, however, acknowledge the multiple assumptions that inform the study.
  • These include varying base years for income/consumption figures — with India’s from 2011 and 2016 for China.
  • Still, the study serves as a stark reminder of the economic disparities, both within India and at a comparative level with its northern neighbour.
  • The latest report once again spotlights the widening inequality in India, exacerbated by the pandemic, as the lower income populations have disproportionately borne the brunt of job and income losses in the wake of the multiple lockdowns.

Conclusion

  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme has been seeing record levels of demand is testimony to the struggles those in the rural hinterland have been facing in finding gainful employment since the onset of the pandemic.

Source: TH

Vehicle scrappage policy

GS-III : Economic Issues Automobile policy

Vehicle scrappage policy

Scrappage policy can work if incentives are confined to fuel-efficient vehicle replacements

Road map for scrappage policy

  • The much-awaited vehicle scrappage policy announced by the Transport Ministry, coming after the move for a green tax on ageing and polluting automobiles, promises economic benefits, a cleaner environment and thousands of jobs.
  • Although it will take until April 1, 2022, for vehicles belonging to the government and the public sector to be scrapped, another year thereafter to identify junk heavy commercial vehicles through mandatory fitness checks, and finally other vehicles by 2024, it is a constructive road map.

Challenge for vehicle fitness checking centre

  • It will be no easy task, however, to put in place a credible system of automated fitness checking centres with help from States to assess whether commercial and private vehicles are roadworthy after 15 and 20 years, respectively, as the policy envisages.
    • Equally important, enforcement will be key to get them scrapped once they are found unfit for use and to stop them from moving to smaller towns.
  • Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who has had limited success with enforcement of the amended Motor Vehicles Act of 2019 because States are not entirely on board, has the difficult task of ensuring that the scrappage plan gets their support, and the backing of manufacturers who stand to benefit from a spurt in demand.
  • Heavy commercial vehicles, which contribute disproportionately to pollution — 1.7 million lack fitness certificates — pose the biggest challenge.

Conclusion

  • Vehicle scrappage and replacement is seen internationally as a route to rejuvenate COVID-19-affected economies by privileging green technologies, notably electric vehicles (EVs), and also as an initiative to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century under Paris Agreement commitments.
  • India’s automobile ecosystem is complex, with dominant, legacy motors spanning fossil-fuel driven vehicles and a nascent EV segment.
  • The industry’s share pre-COVID-19 was about 7.5% of GDP with significant downstream employment, but it also imposes a fuel import burden.
  • The Centre has to arrive at a balance and have incentives that reward manufacturers of vehicles that are the most fuel-efficient.
  • Failure to prioritise fuel efficiency and mandate even higher standards and enhance taxes on fuel guzzlers will only repeat the mistakes of vehicle exchange programmes abroad, where full environmental benefits could not be realised, and taxpayers ended up subsidising inefficiency.

Way forward

  • States must also come on board to provide road tax and registration concessions, while the automobile industry is expected to sweeten the deal with genuine discounts on new vehicles.
  • Ecological scrapping, as a concept, must lead to high rates of materials recovery, reduce air pollution, mining and pressure on the environment.

Source: TH

Allotting Election Symbol by SC

GS-II : Indian Polity Election commission

Allotting Election Symbol by SC

The Supreme Court dismissed the special petition challenging the Kerala HC judgments that upheld the Election Commission of India's order allotting the 'Two Leaves' symbol to the Kerala Congress (M).

  • The Election Commission (EC) has plenary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to decide on the allotment of symbols.
  • Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, empowers the EC to allot symbols to the political parties at elections in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies.
  • For the purpose of this Order symbols are either reserved or free.
  • Reserved symbol is a symbol which is reserved for a recognised political party for exclusive allotment to contesting candidates set up by that party.
  • Free symbol is a symbol other than a reserved symbol.

Election Commission

  • The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
  • The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.

Background

  • Part XV of the Indian constitution deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.

Articles related to Elections

  • 324 - Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
  • 325 - No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
  • 326 - Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
  • 327 - Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
  • 328 - Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
  • 329 - Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

Structure of the Commission

  • Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
  • The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • At the state level election commission is helped by Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.
  • The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.

Procedure of Removal

  • Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court, CEC, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) may be Removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘Proven misbehaviour or incapacity’.
  • Removal requires special majority of 2/3rd members present and voting supported by more than 50% of the total strength of the house.
  • The term ‘Impeachment’ is only used for removing the President which requires the special majority of 2/3rd members of the total strength of both the houses which is not used elsewhere.

Recognizing a National Party

The Election Commission lists political parties as “national party”, “state party” or “registered (unrecognised) party”.

  • The conditions for being listed as a national or a state party are specified under the Election Symbols Order, 1968.

For recognition as a NATIONAL PARTY, the conditions specified are:

  • a 6% vote share in the last Assembly polls in each of any 4 states, as well as 4 seats in the last Lok Sabha polls; or
  • 2% of all Lok Sabha seats in the last such election, with MPs elected from at least three states; or
  • recognition as a state party in at least four states.

For recognition as a STATE PARTY, any one of 5 conditions needs to be satisfied:

  • 2 seats plus a 6% vote share in the last Assembly election in that state; or
  • 1 seat plus a 6% vote share in the last Lok Sabha election from that state; or
  • 3% of the total Assembly seats or 3 seats, whichever is more; or
  • 1 of every 25 Lok Sabha seats (or an equivalent fraction) from a state; or
  • an 8% state-wide vote share in either the last Lok Sabha or the last Assembly polls.

Source: TH

Index Monitoring Cell Report

GS-II : Governance Governance reforms

Report by Index Monitoring Cell

The Index Monitoring Cell (IMC) in its report recommended,

  • Decriminalising of defamation
  • Consent of the Press Council of India is a prerequisite before filing an FIR against the media or a publication.
  • In the World Press Freedom Index, 2020, India had been ranked 142nd among 180 countries.
  • In the Freedom in the World Report, 2021, India’s status had been downgraded from a free country to a “partly free” country.

Index Monitoring Cell

  • It was set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in 2020.
  • Chaired by Principal Director General of Press Information Bureau
  • The 15-member committee has 4 journalists and 10 government employees.
  • It aims to improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

Source: TH

Drug-resistant superbug “Candida Auris” found in Andamans

GS-III : S&T Antimicrobial resistance

Drug-resistant superbug “Candida Auris” found in Andamans

Candida Auris has been identified for the first time in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

About Candida Auris:

  • Candida Auris or C.auris is a multidrug-resistant fungus.

Origin of Candida Auris:

  • Candida Auris was first identified in 2009 in a patient in Japan.
  • The fungus is mostly found in tropical marshes and marine environments, outside hospital environments.

Symptoms of C.Auris:

  • C.auris survives on the skin before entering the body through wounds.

Why is C.Auris considered harmful?

C.Auris is considered dangerous because of three reasons:

  • C.Auris is often multidrug-resistant.
  • C.Auris can survive and persist within dry environmental surfaces for prolonged periods.
  • C.Auris is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology.

National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance

  • India released the AMR action plan in 2017, 2 years after the Global Action Plan was released by WHO.
  • Only 2 states Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have State Action Plan.

Goal

  • To effectively combat antimicrobial resistance in India.

Objectives of NAP-AMR

  • Define the timeline and allocate the budget to slow the emergence of AMR in India and to strengthen the coordination between various organizations.
  • Strengthen the surveillance, and optimize the use of antibiotics in all sectors enhanced investments in AMR activities, research, and innovations.
  • Monitor and evaluate the NAP-AMR implementations.

Source: TH

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