Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 17th September -2021

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 17th September -2021

 

 Daily Current Affairs 17th September -2021

 

Topics

  • Structural reforms in Telecom Sector
  • Recent developments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  • Forest Rights Act in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Shoonya Campaign by Niti Aayog
  • World Ozone Day

 

 

 

  1. Structural reforms in Telecom Sector

 #GS2 #Government Policies & Interventions for Development #Good Governance

#GS3 #Indigenization of Technology & Developing New Technology

 

Context: The Union Cabinet recently approved a number of structural and process reforms in the Telecom sector.

  • These are in lines with Prime Minister Modi’s vision of a robust Telecom Sector.

The structural reforms include:

  1. Rationalization of Adjusted Gross Revenue: Non-telecom revenue will be excluded on prospective basis from the definition of AGR.
  2. Bank Guarantees (BGs) rationalized: Huge reduction in BG requirements (80%) against License Fee (LF) and other similar Levies.
    1. One Bank guarantee instead of multiple BGs in different Licenced Service Areas (LSAs) regions in the country.
  3. Reforms include rationalisation of Interest rateson delayed paymentsand several penalties are removed.
    1. Interest compounded annually instead of monthly.
    2. Penalty and interest on penalty removed.
  4. Spectrum Tenure: In future Auctions, tenure of spectrum increased from 20 to 30 years.
  5. No Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) for spectrum acquired in future spectrum auctions.
    1. Additional SUC of 0.5% for spectrum sharing removed to encourageSpectrum sharing
  6. 100%Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) under automatic route permitted in Telecom Sector to encourage more investments.

 The procedural reforms include:

  • Fixing of Auction calendar– Spectrum auctions to be normally held in the last quarter of every financial year.
  • Promotion of ease of doing business-Numerous procedures and licence requirements are replaced with Self-Declaration.
  • SACFA (Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocation) clearance for telecom towers.
    • SACFA makes recommendations on major frequency allocation issues.
  • Paper Customer Acquisition Forms (CAF) will be replaced by digital storage of data.
  • Know Your Customers (KYC) reforms: Self-KYC (App based) permitted.
    • E-KYC rate revised to only One Rupee.
    • Shifting from Prepaid to Post-paid and vice-versa will not require fresh KYC.

Importance of these reforms:

  • The reforms are likely to improve the health of debt-laden sector.
  • They help in generating employment opportunities.
  • They work towards promoting healthy competition and protect interests of consumers.
  • Encourage investment and reduce regulatory burden on Telecom Service Providers.
  • Infuse liquidity and create an enabling environment for investment in 5G networks.
  • This will bring the marginalized areas into the mainstream and universal broadband access to connect the unconnected.

Telecom Sector in India:

  • India is the world’s second largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.2 billion including 782.86 million internet subscribers.
  • Gross revenue of the telecom sector stood at Rs. 68,228 crore (US$ 9.35 billion) in the third quarter of FY21.
  • Over the next five years, rise in mobile-phone penetration and decline in data costs will add 500 million new internet users in India, creating opportunities for new businesses.

Road Ahead for Telecom sector in India:

  • Revenue from the telecom equipment sector is expected to grow to US$ 26.38 billion by 2020.
  • The number of internet subscribers in the country is expected to double by 2021 to 829 million and overall IP traffic is expected to grow four-fold at a CAGR of 30% by 2021.
  • As per a survey, India is expected to become the fastest-growing telecom advertisement market, with an annual growth rate of 11% between 2020 and 2023.
  • The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 envisioned attracting investment worth US$ 100 billion in the telecommunications sector by 2022.
  • The Union Government is planning to develop 100 smart city projects, and Internet of Things will play a crucial role in developing these cities.

 

2) Recent developments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)

 #GS2 #India and its Neighbourhood – Relations #Indian Diaspora

#GS3 #Role of External State & Non-State Actors in Creating Challenges to Internal Security

 

Context:Hundreds of protesters recently took to streets of the Pallandari region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) demanding independence from Pakistani clutches.

About the Issue:

  • Citizens from PoK have alleged the country of using and exploiting them and their resources while treating them as second-class citizens.
  • Pakistan administration is also accused of exploiting the citizens politically and economically.
  • Local leaders have alleged Pakistan of creating a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the region and criticise media censorship to keep outside world in dark.
  • Previously in July, people of PoK had raised slogans demanding ‘Azadi’ from the Pakistan government after the results of the elections in the region were announced.
    • People accused the administration of election manipulation.

What is Pakistan occupied Kashmir?

  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an area of 13,297 sq km, which was under the control of the Pakistani forces when the ceasefire line came into effect on January 1, 1949.
    • In 1963, through an agreement, Pakistan ceded to China over 5,000 square km of J&K land under its control, in the Shaksgam area, in northern Kashmir, beyond the Karakoram.
  • PoK has a population of over 40 million people, as per 2017 census.
  • It is divided into 10 districts: Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Hattian Bala, Bagh, and Haveli bordering areas in Kashmir, and Rawlakot, Kotli, Mirpur, and Bhimber bordering areas in Jammu.
  • The capital of PoK is Muzaffarabad, a town located in the valley of the Jhelum River.
  • The POK is administratively divided into two parts, which are called Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in official languages. ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ in Pakistan is also called Azad Kashmir.
  • Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) claims its self-governing assembly, but the fact is that it works under the control of Pakistan.
  • For all practical purposes, PoK is run by the Pakistan government through the all-powerful Kashmir Council, a nominated 14-member body headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
  • The Assembly has a 05-year term.
    • The legislators elect a “prime minister” and a “president” for the territory.
  • While PoK is ostensibly an autonomous, self-governing territory, the Pakistan Army is the final arbiter on all matters Kashmir — and the security establishment exercises tight control over what goes on in PoK.
    • At the height of the militancy in the Kashmir Valley, many of the training camps for militants were located in PoK.

India on PoK:

  • The fact that PoK is an integral part of India has been its consistent policy ever since 1947.
  • India has also made clear to the world that any issue related to PoK is the internal matter of India.
  • The Indian government has maintained that any talks with Pakistan would be only about PoK and not on Kashmir and it expects to have “physical jurisdiction” over the area “one day”.
  • Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is part of the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, while Gilgit-Baltistan is in the UT of Ladakh in the fresh maps released by Indian government.

 

Political significance of PoK:

  • In present times, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has largely affected the dynamics in the region.
  • Because of its location, PoK is of immense strategic importance.
  • It shares borders with several countries — the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province provinces (now called Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) in Pakistan to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in the north-west, Xinjiang province of the People’s Republic of China to the north and India’s Jammu and Kashmir to the east.

3) Forest Rights Act in Jammu and Kashmir

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

#Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections #Schedule Tribes

 

Context:After a long delay, the Jammu and Kashmir government has implemented the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

  • Individual and community right certificates were recently handed over to the beneficiaries of Gujjar-Bakerwal and Gaddi-Sippi communities in Jammu and Kashmir under the Act.
  • The Act could not be implemented as Jammu and Kashmir had Article 370 owing to which union laws were not being directly implemented in the erstwhile state.

Key Details:

  • Forest department to immediately constitute the 4-tier committees including-State Level Monitoring Committee, District Level Committee, Sub-Divisional Level Committee, and Forest Rights Committee, to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006 in J&K.
  • Administration plans to complete, the “survey of claimants” by the forest rights panelsby January 15, 2021, for assessing the nature and extent of rights claimed at the village-level.
  • The sub-divisional committees are tasked with the scrutiny procedure of claims and preparation of “record of forest rights”.

Significance of this move:

  • This will help in improving the socio-economic status of about 14-lakh tribals and nomadic communities, including Gujjar-Bakerwals and Gaddi-Sippis, in the Union territory.
  • In the recent past it was seen that Gujjars and Bakarwals were being evicted from forest land in absence of implementation of Forests Rights Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Gujjars, Bakarwal constitute around 15 percent population of Jammu and Kashmir and are largely nomadic Muslim groups.
    • Gujjars, Bakerwals, among the tribal population, mostly depend on forest land for their livelihoods and shelter and is third largest community in Jammu and Kashmir after Kashmiris and Dogras. They primarily rear cattle, goats, and sheep.
  • The Act empowers the forest dwellers to access and use the forest resources in the manner that they were traditionally accustomed, to protect, conserve and manage forests, protect forest dwellers from unlawful evictions and also provides for basic development facilities for the community of forest dwellers to access facilities of education, health, nutrition, infrastructure etc.

Forest Rights Act, 2006:

  • The act passed in 2006, recognizes and grants the forest rights and occupation in Forest land in forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFD)who have been residing in such forests for generations.

Objective:

  • To undo the historical injustice occurred to the forest dwelling communities.
  • To ensure land tenure, livelihood and food security of the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.
  • To strengthen the conservation regime of the forests by including the responsibilities and authority on Forest Rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance.

Rights identified under the Act:

  • Title rights(Ownership) – to land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers as on 13 December 2005, subject to a maximum of 4 hectares.
    • Ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family as on that date, meaning that no new lands are granted.
  • Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  • Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
  • Forest management rights – It includes the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use.
  • Other Community rights of uses include entitlements such as fish and other products of water bodies, grazing and traditional seasonal resource access of nomadic or pastoralist communities.

Who can claim these rights?

  • Members of schedule Tribes living in forests.
  • Communities living in forest for at least 3 generations (75 years) before December 13, 2005.
  • Gram Sabha determinises the nature and extent of the rights (both individual and community rights)
    • The Gram Sabha is a highly empowered body under this Act, enabling the tribal population to have a decisive say in the determination of local policies and schemes impacting them.

 

4) Shoonya Campaign by Niti Aayog

#GS3 #Environment pollution and degradation #Infrastructure #GS2 #Government policies and Interventions

 

Context: Recently, NITI Aayog in association with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and RMI India have launched the Shoonya Campaign.

  • RMI is an independent non-profit organization founded in 1982.

 

Key Details:

  • This campaign is a step towards promoting zero-pollution delivery vehicles by working with consumers and industry.
  • Main objective of the campaign is to accelerate adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in the urban deliveries segment and create consumer awareness about the benefits of zero-pollution delivery.
  • Industry participants like e-commerce companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), fleet aggregators and logistics companies are intensifying their efforts on electrifying last mile deliveries.
    • CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant recently chaired a kick-off meet which saw the participation of , around 30 companies like Tata Motors, Mahindra Electric, Ashok Leyland, Zomato, Sun Mobility, Lightning Logistics, Big Basket, Blue Dart, Swiggy and Hero Electric.

Branding and certification programme:

  • Under Shoonya campaign, a corporate branding and certification program has been startedto recognize and facilitate industry’s efforts of shifting towards EVs for final mileage delivery.
  • Online tracking platform shares the bearing of this campaign by submitting stats such as,kilometres of electrified vehicles, standard pollutant savings, carbon savings and other benefits from clean delivery vehicles.

Status of Urban freight vehicles in India:

  • Urban freight vehicles account for 10% of India’s freight-related Carbon di-Oxide (CO2) emissions.
  • These emissions are expected to increase by 114% by 2030.
  • They also emit 15-40% less CO2 as far as its manufacturing is concerned.
    • 14% reduction in CO2 emissions is attainable in the small commercial vehicle segment with higher EV penetration.
  • Their operating costs is also low as compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts.

Need of EVs for Final-Mile Deliveries

  • Environmental Impact: Includes,
    • Emission of Green House Gases like Co2,
    • Too much reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels,
    • Dispersion of automobile waste products such as oils and tyres and
    • Conversion of urban land into transport infrastructure
  • Increase in Energy costs:
    • Shifting towards EVs will help India to reduce oil dependency and moving towards renewable and clean sources of energy.
  • Growing E-Commerce Market: Between 2013 and 2017, India’s online retail market grew at an average rate of 53% each year and is expected to become a $150 billion market by 2022.
    • Last-mile delivery consists of almost two-fifths of the total logistics costs
    • By shifting the end-transportation of goods from the consumer, this has dramatically expanded the fleets of delivery vehicles.

  • Market and governments both have succeeded in demonstrating that electric vehicles could deliver the practicality, sustainability, safety, and affordability characteristics expected from them.

Challenges

  • High initial cost of investment compared to traditional connectivity,
  • Range anxiety,
  • Scarcity of charging stations, grid stability and other worries,
  • Technological disadvantages with respect to production and innovation in batteries, semiconductors, controllers, etc.
  • India lacks potential reserves of lithium and cobalt which are required for battery production.
    • It is dependent on countries like Japan and China for the import of lithium-ion batteries.

Key recommendations:

  • National level programme for electrification of urban freight sector.
  • Electric freight procurement schemes for government sectors.
  • Integration with supporting government programmes.
  • Nationwide scrapping policy programme, with a focus on EV replacement (incentives for retrofitted vehicles as well).
  • State and City-level action plans for electrification of urban freight segments.
  • Financial credibility framework for the manufacturers and drivers.
  • Risk sharing mechanisms – Government, large banks and small financial institutions.
  • Boost private–public partnership by city/government agencies for plying electric urban freight vehicles.
  • Dedicated EV zones, and registration, time-of-day operation and parking preferences for EVs.
  • Increased awareness programmes focusing the commercial segment (include UF segment in the national/state awareness programmes)

 

5) World Ozone Day

#GS3 #Environmental Pollution & Degradation #National and International Environment Agencies, Legislations and Policies

 

Context: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone layer (World Ozone Day) is celebrated on September 16th every year.

  • Theme of Ozone Day 2021:

-Montreal Protocol – Keeping us, our food, and vaccines cool.

  • This seeks to highlight, the Montreal Protocol does so much more – such as slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.

World Ozone Day:

  • The day originates from the Montreal Protocol that regulates the output and use of around 100 ozone-depleting chemicals substances.
    • In 1985, the world’s governments adopted the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
    • Under Vienna Convention, Montreal protocol was adopted in 1987, becoming the only United Nations treaty to be ratified by its 198 member-states.
    • Strict adherence to the protocol has resulted in phasing-out of 99% of ozone-depleting chemicals in refrigerators, air-conditioners and many other products.
    • This effort has led to the healing of the ozone layer hole which, in turn, protects humans, economies, and ecosystems.
  • The United Nations General Assembly announced in 1994 the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer would be commemorated on September 16.
  • The latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion completed in 2018, shows that parts of the ozone layer have recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000.
  • Ozone layer protection efforts have also contributed to the fight against climate change by averting an estimated 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, from 1990 to 2010.
  • In 2016 as a continuation of the global effort the Parties to the Montreal Protocol reached agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties in Kigali, Rwanda to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
    • Under the Amendment, nations have committed to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
    • While HFCs don’t damage the ozone layer, these coolants are powerful greenhouse gases.
    • Reducing their use, as agreed, is expected to avoid up to 0.4°C of global temperature rise by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
  • Recently, the Indian Government approved the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

What is ozone?

  • Ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas composed of three oxygen atoms.
  • It is both a natural and a man-made product that occurs in the Earth’s upper atmosphere ozone molecule (the stratosphere) and lower atmosphere (the troposphere).
  • Most ozone resides high up in the atmosphere, between 10 and 40km above Earth’s surface in stratosphere and it contains about 90% of all the ozone in the atmosphere.

Good Ozone V/s Bad Ozone:

  • Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs some of the Sun’s biologically harmful ultraviolet radiation. Because of this beneficial role, stratospheric ozone is considered “good” ozone.
  • In contrast, excess ozone at Earth’s surface that is formed from pollutants is considered “bad” ozone because it can be harmful to humans, plants, and animals.
  • The ozone that occurs naturally near the surface and in the lower atmosphere is also beneficial because ozone helps remove pollutants from the atmosphere.

 

 

Daily Current Affairs 17th September -2021

 

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