Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 16th September-2020

 

1)The contraction of Indian Economy – an underestimate:

Context: The reported contraction of the economy is likely an underestimate for reasons of omission and commission

According to data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the Government of India on August 31, 2020, real quarterly GDP contracted by a whopping 23.9% between April-June 2019 and April-June 2020.

This magnitude of real GDP decline is unprecedented since the country started publishing quarterly GDP estimates in 1996. This is an economic disaster.

  • According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, India’s real GDP contraction between April-June 2019 and April-June 2020 has been the largest among 13 large economies of the world.
  • China is the only country which saw a positive growth of 3.2% in that period.

The contraction of the Indian economy is an underestimate for reasons of omission of statistical information and commission of policies of insidious intent.

Why is it underestimated?

  • The unorganised sector forms a significant part of the Indian economy. According to some estimates, it accounts for 45% of output and 93% of employment of the working population.
  • While data collection methods have undoubtedly improved over time, coming up with reliable estimates of value added in the unorganised sector is challenging.
  • Generates doubtful estimates for non-benchmark years even in the best of times. They have become misleadingly unreliable due to the sudden shock of the lockdown imposed by the Central government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The lockdown has hit the unorganised sector disproportionately hard, as did the previous shock of demonetisation, the actual situation is much worse.
  • We are told that employment in the last quarter has increased somewhat, but these are mostly self-employed persons who have now returned to the market place but earn far less because customers’ purchasing power has significantly declined.
  • While they can technically be counted as being employed in terms of working time, they can only be considered grossly underemployed in terms of income earned.
  • And this gap between employment and earnings is likely to grow without injection of massive purchasing power by the government directly into the unorganised sector.

Can agriculture help?

  • The sectoral pattern of real GDP decline provides important information. The three sectors which contracted the most were construction (at -50.3%), trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting (at -47%) and manufacturing (at -39.3%).
  • The only sector which did not contract was agriculture, and that was because of a good monsoon year. It grew at 3.4%.
  • but agricultural income will not rise correspondingly due to the same lack of purchasing power in the unorganised sector for buying agricultural products
  • India’s economic woes did not start with the pandemic. Its economy has been slowing down for the last couple of years.

Ill -conceived measures of the Central government have harmed the economy.

  • In November 2016, demonetisation provided the first negative shock.
  • The second one, in the form of the Goods and Services Tax in July 2017, came even before the economy had time to recover from the first shock.
  • Increasing financial fragility coupled with negative policy shocks halted the trajectory of rising growth, and the lockdown has sent the patient who was already ailing into a coma.

Can the economy recover in the foreseeable future?

  • In theory, yes, but in practical terms, no. The reason?
  • The government is not interested in averting an economic crisis for the poor. It is interested in ensuring that the handful of its industrialist friends do well .
  • This rosy picture should not be spoiled by irrelevant facts like a 23.9%% contraction of the real economy.

Not to transform but to strengthen this reality. The government has just declared in Parliament that it cannot pay compensation to the families of those migrant workers who died because it does not have the relevant data.

 

2) Grievance against Misleading Advertisements – GAMA:

Context: The Department of Consumer Affairs has launched a portal-Grievance against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA), to enable consumers to register their grievances against misleading advertisements.

  • The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a voluntary self-regulatory organization, looks into complaints across all media.
  • The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 provides for establishment of a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • One of the functions of the CCPA is to issue necessary guidelines to prevent unfair trade practices and protect consumers’ interest.

 

3) Consumer Welfare Fund:

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which came into effect from 20th July 2020, and replaces the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 would give greater fillip to the ongoing consumer movement in the country.

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019:

  • Establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • Simplifying the consumer dispute adjudication process in the Consumer Commissions
  • Empowerment of the State and District Commissions to review their own Orders,
  • Enabling a consumer to file complaints electronically and file complaints in Consumer Commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence,
  • Video conferencing for hearing and deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days.
  • To simplify the adjudication process, mediation, as an Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism, has been provided in the new Act.
  • The Act introduces the concept of product liability and brings within its scope the product manufacturer, the product service provider and the product seller, for any claim for compensation.

To protect the interests of the consumers, the Govt. has launched the “Jago Grahak Jago” campaign through electronic and print media for consumer awareness and joint awareness campaigns on consumer rights and responsibilities in key sectors – Health, Food, Financial Services and other Departments for greater consumer awareness.

  • The Government has set up a National Consumer Helpline and to cater to the needs of consumers, regional languages,
  • Six Zonal Consumer Helplines have also been set up at Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Jaipur, and Guwahati & Patna.
  • The Consumers have been able to redress their grievances/ complaints against any defect in goods purchased or deficiencies in any services availed including any unfair/restrictive trade practices adopted, through specialized quasi-judicial agencies, now commonly known as ‘consumer commissions’, that have been established at the District level (District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission), State level (State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission) and National level (National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission).
  • These consumer commissions have been mandated by the law to render simple, inexpensive and speedy adjudication of consumer complaints.

 

4) Food inflation:

Context: written reply by the Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in Lok Sabha.

  • As per Consumer Price Index compiled by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), the food inflation was 5.1% in September, 2019 which had gone up 14.12% in December, 2019.
  • In January, 2020, the food inflation was 13.63%. As per the latest available figure, food inflation in July, 2020 was 9.62% (Provisional).
  • Food inflation captures the year-on-year increase in the indices of food items in the consumption basket.
    Steps taken by the government to stabilize prices of essential food items
  • Appropriately utilizing trade and fiscal policy instruments like
  • Import duty, Minimum Export Price, export restrictions, etc. to regulate domestic availability and moderate prices;
  • Imposition of stock limits and advising States for effective action against hoarders and black marketers;
  • And, provision of higher Minimum Support Prices to incentivize farmers for increasing production.

Government is also implementing Schemes which include:

  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH),
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM),
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), etc

For increasing agricultural production and productivity through appropriate interventions.

  • Government also implements Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) to help moderate the volatility in prices of agri-horticultural commodities like pulses, onion, and potato.
  • As part of Economic response to Covid-19, food grains are distributed at the rate of 5 kg per person per month, and pulses are distributed at the rate of 1 kg per household per month, free of cost, to all beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for the period of eight months from April to November 2020.Workers who are not covered under NFSA for the period of two months, from April and May 2020.
  • Distribution of food grains and pulses under PMGKAY and ANB has contributed to ensuring the availability of food items during lock-down and in controlling food inflation.

 

5) A-SAT: India’s First Anti Satellite Missile:

Context: A Customized My Stamp on India’s First Anti Satellite Missile (A-SAT) launch was released by Department of Posts on the occasion of Engineers Day today

On 27th March, 2019, India successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test from the Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island launch complex. Called as Mission Shakti, this technological mission was carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with an aim to strengthen India’s overall security.

A-SAT Missile

  • It is an interceptor missile that destroys or jams satellites in space.
  • Two types of A-SATs: Kinetic and Non-Kinetic A-SATs.
  • Kinetic A-SATs, like ballistic missiles physically strike an object in order to destroy it.
  • A-SAT Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode.
  • The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. Tracking data from range sensors had confirmed that the mission met all its objectives.
  • The entire effort was indigenous which demonstrated the Nation’s capability to develop such complex and critical missions.
  • With this success, India became fourth nation in the world to possess such capability.

Working:

  • To destroy any satellite, firstly exact speed and location of the same needs to be known in real time.
  • Depending upon the speed of the satellite and also the orbit in which it is moving, an A-SAT missile is launched.
  • The information about the position of satellite in the orbit is communicated to the missile in real time every second.
  • Based on that information, the missile takes a path towards the satellite.
  • The missile has a Kinetic Kill Vehicle (KKV) within it, which after sensing the satellite, hits it.

Non-Kinetic A-SATs:

  • The ones that use non-physical means to disable or destroy space objects, which include frequency jamming, blinding lasers or cyber attacks.
  • The theoretical maximum range of A-SATs is limited which means satellites above 20,000 km are out of range.
  • India became fourth nation in the world to possess such capability.
  • He further stated that A-SAT mission enabled development of many technologies and capabilities for precision kill at higher altitudes. He called upon DRDO fraternity to take up more such complex and critical projects.

 

6) National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP):

Government of India has initiated the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) with a view to address cyclone risks in the country.

The overall objective of the Project is to undertake suitable structural and non-structural measures to mitigate the effects of cyclones in the coastal states and Union Territories of India.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be implementing this Project in coordination with participating State Governments and the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

The Project has identified 13 cyclone prone States and union territories

The main objective of the NCRMP is to

  • Reduce vulnerability of coastal communities to cyclone and other hydro meteorological hazards through improved early warning dissemination systems.
  • Enhanced capacity of local communities to respond to disasters.
  • Improved access to emergency shelter, evacuation, and protection against wind storms, flooding and storm surge in high areas.
  • Strengthening DRM capacity at central, state and local levels in order
  • Enable mainstreaming of risk mitigation measures into the overall development agenda.

 

7) National Fisheries Policy (2020):

Government has decided for introducing a comprehensive and integrated ‘National Fisheries Policy, 2020’ by integrating the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 (NPMF), the Draft National Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy (NIFAP) and the Draft National Mariculture Policy (NMP) along with the elements of Post Harvest.

Government of India has announced a new dedicated scheme for fisheries sector namely Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) under Atmanirbhar Bharat COVID-19 Relief Package.

The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) under its various components provide financial assistance for traditional fishers including fish workers for various enlisted activities in the scheme including livelihood and nutritional support for socio-economically backward active traditional fishers’ families during fishing ban/lean period for conservation of fisheries resources.

 

8) The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010:

Context: It may be noted that FCRA registered Associations are required to file their Annual Returns by 31st December on completion of each financial year. For Financial Year 2019-20 the last date for filing Annual Return is 31st December 2020.

  • The Registration and Prior permission under The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 is granted to associations/NGOs for 5 types of programmes i.e religious, social, economic, educational or cultural, as mandated under section 11 of the Act.
  • The associations granted registration or prior permission have to mandatorily submit online the receipt and utilization of FC received by them.
  • The details of utilization of FC received and the purpose for which the FC is utilized are available online in the Annual Returns of the respective Association on the FCRA Portal www.fcraonline.nic.in.
  • A monitoring unit of FCRA Wing monitors the receipt and utilization of foreign contribution.
  • Methods of monitoring include, inter-alia, scrutiny of Annual Returns, inputs from field agencies, on the spot audit and inspection of the accounts of FCRA Associations etc.
  • Further in the new system of FCRA monitoring all annual returns are to be filed electronically.
  • The Bank accounts of the FCRA registered associations have also been linked to the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for better monitoring of flow of funds.

 

9) Development Action Plan for Scheduled Castes:

  • As a part of the socio-economic and financial inclusion strategy of the Government
  • To ensure that all segments of the society, particularly the Scheduled Castes, are benefited and adequate funds are allocated for their development
  • The concept of Development Action Plan for SCs (DAPSC – earlier known as Allocation for Welfare of SCs or SCSP) is being implemented by the Government so that targeted financial and physical benefits can accrue to the Scheduled Castes.
  • Under DAPSC, certain percentage of funds is earmarked by Ministry/Department wise exclusively for the welfare of SCs, for implementing identified schemes/programmes.
  • Besides, most State Governments and the Union Territory Administrations are also allocating part of their budget for the development of SCs.
  • As per Census 2011, the total SC population in the country, including Uttar Pradesh, is 20.14 cr. which is 16.6% of the total population of the country.
  • The DAPSC allocation has been increasing on a year-to-year basis and its percentage to the total allocation under the identified schemes has been higher than the percentage of SC population in the country as per the Census 2011.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has developed an online-web portal (e-utthaan.gov.in) for monitoring the progress against financial, physical and outcome targets under the DAPSC.
  • Nodal Officers have been appointed by the concerned Departments/Ministries to ensure better monitoring of the programme.

 

10) Infiltration of Muslims in the civil services

Context: The Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained Sudarshan News from broadcasting remaining episodes of a show that the channel claims “exposes” the infiltration of Muslims in the civil services.

  • The purpose of the show was to “vilify the Muslim community”, the court said, and observed that it had made arbitrary claims “in wanton disregard of the truth.
  • The court noted that the show, which the channel had been promoting with the hash tag “UPSC-Jihad”, contained factually incorrect statements regarding the upper age limit and number of attempts allowed to Muslims in exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.
  • The court was hearing a plea alleging that the show makes communal remarks about the entry of members of the Muslim community into the UPSC.
  • The court said the size of a stable democratic society and observance of constitutional rights and duties is based on the coexistence of communities, India is a mix of civilizations culture and values any attempt to vilify the community must be viewed with disfavour.
  • The court noted that it was duty bound to ensure adherence to the program code framed under the cable television network Regulation Act 1995.
  • Supreme Court of the nation we cannot allow you to say that Muslims are infiltrating civil services
  • The court also said no freedom is absolute, not even journalistic freedom

 

11) MPLAD:

Context: On a day when the Lok Sabha unanimously backed the government’s move to slash salaries of MPs by 30 per cent to meet the exigencies arising out of the pandemic, a united Opposition asked the government to restore the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), funding for which has been suspended for two years.

How the MPLAD scheme works

  • Under the MPLAD scheme, MPs can recommend development programmes involving spending of Rs 5 crore every year in their respective constituencies.
  • MPs from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, including nominated ones, can do so. MPs and MLAs do not receive any money under these schemes.
  • The government transfers it directly to the respective local authorities.
  • The legislators can only recommend works in their constituencies based on a set of guidelines that focus on the creation of durable community assets like roads, school buildings etc.

What is the MPLAD Scheme?

  • The MPLAD scheme was formulated in 1993 to enable Members of Parliament (MPs) to recommend development works in their constituencies with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt need.
    A durable asset of national priorities and community needs viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation and roads, etc.
  • Initially, the Scheme was under the control of the Ministry of Rural Development and Planning. In October, 1994, the scheme was transferred to the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation.
  • Under this scheme, every MP is entitled to spend Rs 5 crore annually.
  • According to the ‘Guidelines on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)’ published by the Ministry of

Statistics and Programme Implementation in June 2016, the MPLAD funds can also be used for implementation of the schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), conservation of water through rain water harvesting and Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana, etc.

Initially the scheme was implemented by Ministry of Rural Development now it is administered by Ministry of statistics and programme implementation

  • Elected members of the Rajya Sabha representing the their state as did you may select works for implementation in one or more district as they may choose
  • Nominated members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha me also select work for implementation anywhere in the country
  • Elected members of Lok Sabha have to choose the development work from their constituencies from where they got elected

 

12) Atal tunnel:

  • Developed by Border Road Organisation under the Rohtang Pass in the Himachal Pradesh
  • Tunnel will ensure connectivity to Leh and forward areas all round the year

 

13) China – US trade dispute:

Context: World Trade Organization on Tuesday upheld a complaint by China over additional duties slapped by the U.S. on some $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

  • A panel of experts set up by WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body ruled the tariffs were “inconsistent” with global trade rules, and recommended that the U.S. “bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.
  • The tariffs imposed in 2018 marked the beginning of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
  • China’s representative told the organisation at the time that the tariffs imposed were a blatant breach of the U.S. obligations under the WTO agreements

 

14) Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs):

  • The RBI on Tuesday proposed allowing foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives transactions subject to an overall ceiling of 5,000 crore.
  • Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs) are contracts whose value is derived from one or more interest rates, prices of interest rate instruments, or interest rate indices.
  • The proposed directions are aimed at encouraging higher non-resident participation, enhance the role of domestic market makers in the offshore market, improve transparency, and achieve better regulatory oversight

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