Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 10th August-2021

Topics

  • PM MODI at UNSC debate on Maritime Security
  • Delays in insolvency resolution
  • Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
  • Second Phase of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project
  • Promotion of Hydrogen as automotive Fuel

 

1.PM MODI at UNSC debate on Maritime Security

#GS2 #Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

#Important International Institutions

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently chaired a UN Security Council open debate on “Enhancing Maritime Security — A Case for International Cooperation” via video conferencing.

Highlights of the debate:

  • The aim of this debate is to highlight effective international maritime cooperation to respond holistically to natural and manmade threats to maritime security.
  • It also reflects India’s international evolution as a maritime nation.
  • Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to chair a UN Security Council Open Debate.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin along with many other heads of state and governments of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member states and high-level briefers from the UN system and key regional organisations also attended the meet.
  • For maritime security, PM Modi put forth 5 basic principles:
    • Free maritime trade sans barriers so as to establish legitimate trade.
    • Settlement of maritime disputes should be peaceful and on the basis of international law only.
    • Responsible maritime connectivity should be encouraged.
    • Fourth is the need to collectively combat maritime threats posed by non-state actors and natural calamities.
    • Preserve maritime environment and maritime resources.

Significance of Indian Ocean for India:

  • With a coastline of over 7,500 km, India has an obvious interest in improving maritime security.
  • In the Indian Ocean, 03 crucial Sea Lanes Of Communication (SLOCS) play an important part in the energy security and economic prosperity
    • SLOC linking the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean through the Bab al-Mandab.
    • SLOC linking the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz
    • SLOC linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans through the Straits of Malacca.
  • 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of daily global oil consumption takes place in Indian ocean region.

India’s Maritime Initiatives:

  • Given that no country alone can address the diverse facets of maritime security, it is significant to consider this topic in a holistic way in the UNSC.
  • An all-inclusive approach to maritime security should defend and support genuine maritime activities, while countering traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain.
  • 2004 tsunami, which destroyed big number of human and natural resources, led to the formation of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System by the UN in 2005.
    • which seeks to prevent a recurrence of such devastation.
  • Confronted with the bigger risk from piracy originating off the coast of Somalia since 2007 to shipping in the western Indian Ocean, the Indian Navy participated vigorously as part of a UNSC mandated 60-country Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • In 2015, PM Modi had set forth the vision of SAGAR (“Security and Growth for all in the Region”) which concentrates on cooperative measures for sustainable use of the oceans, and provides an agenda for a safe, secure, and stable maritime domain in the region.
  • SAGAR initiative was further elaborated in 2019 at the East Asia Summit through the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI), with a emphasis on 07 pillars of maritime security, including Maritime Ecology; Maritime Resources; Capacity Building and Resource Sharing; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport.
  • Sharing data on threats to commercial shipping is a vital factor in enhancing maritime security.
    • For this, India started an International Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean region in Gurugram in 2018.
    • It is jointly administered by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
    • IFC works on generating Maritime Domain Awareness on safety and security issues.

Road Ahead:

  • Sustenance of international cooperation to improve maritime security needs 02 supportive frameworks in the policy and operational fields.
    • Rule-of-law Based Approach: There is a need to review the operational effectiveness of the UNCLOS.
      • Particularly with respect to the implementation of its provisions on freedom of navigation, the sustainable exploitation of maritime resources, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
    • Safeguarding SLOCs that navigate the oceans is of vital importance to strengthen maritime security.
    • Thus, states should work on ensuring equal and unrestricted access to SLOCs by resolving differences through peaceful means.
    • There is a need for an increasing role of the private sector in the maritime realm, whether it is in shipping, sustainable development through the Blue Economy.

 

2.Delays in insolvency resolution

#GS3 #Challenges in Mobilising Resources for Development #Capital Market

Context: Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has called out the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on prolonged vacancies in National Company Law Tribunals (NCLTs) resulting in delays in corporate insolvency under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

  • Earlier, the union government presented the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment Bill), 2021 in the Lok Sabha which introduces an alternative insolvency resolution process for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) called the Pre-packaged Insolvency Resolution Process (PIRP).

Why Vacancies in NCLT is a huge problem?

  • The collective strength of the current NCLT benches around the country at present is only 29 members against the total authorized strength of 63 members.
  • The panel observed that delays in the admission of insolvency cases by NCLTs and the approval of resolution plans were the vital reasons behind the non-compliance of timelines under the IBC.
    • These delays by NCLT in admitting cases gave defaulting owners the chance to divert funds and transfer assets.
  • A number of prominent cases under the IBC saw many decisions being challenged by parties involved. Many of these appeals are frivolous attempts to hold back insolvency proceedings.
  • Cases in which creditors have evaluated resolution plans submitted after the specified deadline would discourage bidders from bidding within set timelines and that such plans also contribute to delays and value destruction.

Key recommendations by the committee:

  • To avoid any delays, NCLT should be required to admit a defaulting company into insolvency proceedings and hand over control to a resolution professional within 30 days.
  • The MCA, as the nodal ministry, should take bigger responsibility to rationalize the operational processes in NCLT/National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) while continuously monitoring and analysing the workflow, disposal and outcomes with respect to resolutions, recoveries, time taken, etc.
  • The panel also suggested that the IBC be amended to provide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are operational creditors under the IBC, with better protection in the existing economic environment.
    • The IBC currently prioritises financial creditors over operational creditors.
  • Financial creditors are those whose relationship with the entity is a pure financial contract, such as a loan or a debt security.
  • Operational creditors are those whose liability from the entity comes from a transaction on operations.

National Company Law Tribunal: It is a quasi-judicial body in that adjudicates issues relating to Indian companies.

  • The Union Government constituted National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under the Companies Act, 2013 in 2013 and is based on the recommendation of the V. Balakrishna Eradi committee on law relating to the insolvency and the winding up of companies.
  • It combines all powers to oversee the companies registered in India.
  • All proceedings under the Companies Act, including proceedings relating to arbitration, compromise, arrangements, reconstructions and the winding up of companies shall be disposed off by the National Company Law Tribunal.
  • The NCLT is the adjudicating authority for the insolvency resolution procedure of companies and limited liability partnerships under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
  • The NCLT bench is presided by a Judicial member who is supposed to be a retired or a serving High Court Judge and a Technical member who must be from the Indian Corporate Law Service, ICLS Cadre.
  • With the establishment of the NCLT and NCLAT, the Company Law Board under the Companies Act, 1956 has now been dissolved.
  • It is bound by the rules laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure and is guided by the principles of natural justice, subject to the other provisions of this Act and of any rules that are made by the union Government.
  • Appeal from order of Tribunal can be raised to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
    • Appeals can be made by any person aggrieved by an order or decision of the NCLT, within a period of 45 days from the date on which a copy of the order or decision of the Tribunal is received by the Appellant.
    • Any person aggrieved by any order of the NCLAT may file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

 

3.Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana

#GS2 # Devolution of Powers & Finances to Local Levels & Challenges Therein

# Government Policies & Interventions in Various Sectors

Context: Recently, ministry of Rural Development has informed in Rajya Sabha about the various steps taken by the union government for implementation of the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY).

Steps have been taken by the Ministry for the successful implementation of SAGY:

  • The Ministry has brought out a compilation of 127 Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored and 1806 State Schemes for convergence under SAGY which serves as a ready reckoner especially for the Members of Parliament, District and Village level officials about the different schemes for possible convergence at the GP level.
  • SAGY is revised periodically by the National Level Committee (NLC) on Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) chaired by Secretary, Rural Development to find bottlenecks, monitor, review, facilitate cross-learning and initiating remedial action where necessary including changes to the guidelines of their respective schemes/programmes.
  • The states have been advised to conduct the State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) meetings headed by the Chief Secretary to assess the implementation process and to ensure seamless convergence of schemes among different State Government Departments.
  • An MP Dashboard is developed on SAGY website wherein MP centrality is more visible. Further, the concerns/views given in the comments section by the user from the GP will be visible to the Hon’ble MP, District Collector, Charge officer for necessary action.
  • The parameters for dynamic ranking of Gram Panchayats have been recently developed and placed on the portal so as to instil competition amongst the selected SAGY GPs.

About SAGY:

  • Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) is a village development scheme launched by union government in October 2014, under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
  • The goal is to develop three Adarsh Grams by March 2019, of which one would be attained by 2016. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by 2024.
  • The MPs would be allowed to identify a suitable Gram Panchayat for developing Adarsh Gram, other than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse.

Identification of Adarsh Gram:

  • Gram Panchayat acts as the basic unit for development.
  • Lok Sabha Member selects a GP from within his/her constituency.
  • Rajya Sabha member selects a GP from the rural area of a district of his/her choice in the State from which he/she is elected.
  • Nominated member selects a GP from the rural area of any district in the country.
  • The Members involve with the community, create the Village Development Plan and arrange the required capitals particularly from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and philanthropies.
  • MPs also fill up critical gaps in the plan using the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Improved livelihoods/employment opportunities.
  • Liberty from bonded labour, child labour and manual scavenging.
  • Development of alternate dispute resolution system satisfactory to all sections of the community.
  • Peace and Harmony.
  • E-Governance resulting in improved service delivery
  • Solidification of local democracy through strong and accountable Gram Panchayats and active Gram Sabha’s

Challenges associated with thew scheme so far:

  • So far, only 2,111-gram panchayats have been recognized under this programme and of that, 1,618 have prepared their development plans.
  • In many SAGY villages, the MPs failed to give any substantial funds from MPLADS.
  • The notion of SAGY has not infiltrated down to field officials due to lack of accountability and political will.
  • In some cases, where MPs have been active, some infrastructure growth has taken place, but the scheme has not made any noticeable impression.
  • Lesser convergence of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) with MPLAD was seen in certain gram pachayats.
  • Apprehensions have also been raised over the quality of roads created under schemes of state governments and maintenance of rural roads under central Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

Road Ahead:

  • The idea behind the evolution of SAGY villages was to form model villages by guaranteeing convergence and merging of schemes and its proper implementation on priority basis.There is a need for MPs to be more responsible towards the scheme.
  • SAGY gives focus to community participation and social mobilization of the village community can activate a chain of other development activities in the village.

 

4.Second Phase of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project

#GS2 # Water Resources # Integrated Water Resources Management

#GS3 #Infrastructure #Disaster management

Context: Recently, union government signed a $250 million loan contract with the World Bank (WB) for the 2nd Phase of Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP Phase II).

Background:

  • India has over 5000 large dams with a storage volume of more than 300 billion cubic meters.
  • Rainfall, which occurs mostly in intense and unpredictable downpours within short monsoon seasons, is of high temporal and spatial inconsistency and does not meet year-round irrigation and other water demands.
  • Bearing this in mind, storage of water in dams is crucial for the country’s economic growth and for the crores of people who bank on on their waters to sustain livelihoods.
  • With average annual cost of floods in India estimated at US$7.4 billion, many dams are crucial in mitigating floods. Failure of these dams could pose serious risks to downstream communities.

Key Provisions of the Project:

Phase-I:

  • The Union government, with monetary assistance from the World Bank started the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) in April 2012.
  • The main aim was to better the safety and operational performance of certain existing dams along with dam safety institutional strengthening with a system wide management approach.
  • It was a State Sector Scheme with a Central component.
  • It had rehabilitation provision for 223 dams located in seven States (Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand) with 10 Implementing Agencies on board.
  • The Central Water Commission (CWC) is the main coordinating agency.
  • A web-based apparatus called Dam Health and Rehabilitation Monitoring Application (DHARMA) has been developed to record vital data for all dams and use it for proper monitoring and development of rehabilitation protocols.
    • This is an important move in the direction of application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in dam safety to smartly manage existing water assets.
  • The Scheme successfully finished in March 2021.

DRIP Phase-II:

  • Based on the success of DRIP, union government started another externally funded Scheme DRIP Phase II and Phase III.
  • The scheme was approved in October 2020.
  • DRIP-2 will reinforce dam safety by building dam safety guidelines; bring in global experience; and introduce newer technologies.
  • A major innovation envisaged under the project, that is likely to transform dam safety management in the country, is the introduction of a risk-based approach to dam asset management that will help to effectively allocate financial resources towards dam safety needs.
  • The Phase II is co-financed by World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
  • The funding pattern of Scheme is 80:20 (Special Category States), 70:30 (General Category States) and 50:50 (Central Agencies).

Other significant measures that DRIP-2 will support include:

  • Flood forecasting systems and integrated reservoir operations that will help in building climate resilience;
  • Implementation of Emergency Action Plans to enable vulnerable downstream communities to prepare for and enhance resilience against the possible risks of climate change; and
  • Piloting of supplemental revenue generation schemes such as floating solar panels.
  • The project will be implemented in roughly 120 dams across the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu, and at the national level through the Central Water Commission (CWC).

Dam Safety Legislation:

  • Dam safety Bill 2019 is envisaged to set up an institutional mechanism for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams across the country.
  • The National Committee on Dam Safety will be established and will be presided by the Chairperson, Central Water Commission.
  • The Bill also has provisions for setting up of a National Dam Safety Authority which is supervised by an officer not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, to be appointed by the union government.
  • The planned legislation also envisions creating a State Dam Safety Organisation whose functions will be to keep continuous surveillance, inspection, monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, keeping a database of all dams, and advising safety measures to owners of dams.
  • The Bill also has provisions for two types of offences:
    • obstructing a person in the discharge of his functions, and
    • refusing to conform with directions issued under the proposed law.

 

5.Promotion of Hydrogen as automotive Fuel

#GS3 #Infrastructure-Energy #Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology # Prevention & Control of Pollution & Degradation #Renewable energy

Context: Under ‘Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway’ by 2030, Indian Railways are ready to run trains on hydrogen fuel-based technology. For this, it is considering retrofitting of existing trains.

Background:

  • Indian Railways, the 4th largest railway network in the world by size, is one of India’s major consumers of electricity.
  • Its energy consumption in Financial Year 2020 was about 20,000 Million Units (MUs)
  • Railways spends nearly INR 11,045 Crore on electric energy bills annually, forming nearly 7% of its total working expenditure.
  • Therefore, to address this issue, under various programs of the government like ‘Advancement Chemistry cell batteries’ and ‘National Hydrogen mission’ are envisaged.
  • These programs also help in achieving ‘Mission Net Zero Carbon emission railway’ by 2030.

What is Hydrogen fuel?

  • Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water.
  • Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind.
  • These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for transportation and electricity generation applications.
  • It can be used in cars, in houses, for portable power, and in many more applications.
  • Today, hydrogen fuel can be produced through several methods. The most common methods today are natural gas reforming (a thermal process), and electrolysis.
  • Other means include solar-driven and biological processes.
  • Hydrogen can be stored physically as either a gas or a liquid in high pressure tanks at cryogenic temperatures.
  • Hydrogen can also be stored on the surfaces of solids (by adsorption) or within solids (by absorption).

Efforts with respect to creation of robust Clean Hydrogen industry in India:

  • Recently, the finance minister in the Union budget for 2020-21 formally announced the National Hydrogen Mission which aims for generation of hydrogen from green power resources.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has also disclosed that the draft regulations for NHM will be finalised by the end of this month and will thereafter proceed for approval of the Union Cabinet.

 Key Green Initiatives of Indian Railways:

  • Double the electrification of traction network from the previous decade and utilization of renewable energy, both solar power and wind energy. (As a part of the Mission 41k programme announced in January 2017)
  • Ensure 100% broad gauge electrification by FY 2024 and deploy solar on vacant land owned by Indian Railways.
  • Procure power from the various Renewable Energy-based technologies such as rooftop solar, ground-mounted solar, wind-based plants, solar pumps, solar water heaters and waste to energy plants.
  • Optimise energy demand through initiatives such as retrofitting of Head on Generation (HOG) systems in locomotives, installation of LED lights and high star-rated appliances, undertaking energy audits, implementing smart metering, conversion of diesel locos to electric locos, increase in production of electric locomotives, performance-based contracting for production of high-powered locomotives and deployment of energy efficient rakes.

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