Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Current Affairs 02nd June-2021

Topics

  • National Income estimates and GDP
  • Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP)
  • China and Two Child Policy
  • Mission Karma yogi
  • Chief Secretary
  • Foreigners tribunal

 

 

  1. National Income Estimates and GDP

Context: The Indian government released its latest estimates of economic growth for the last financial year that ended in March 2021.

Key Details:

  • As per provisional National Income Estimates by National Statistical Office, India’s GDP contracted by 7.3% marginally better than the 8% contraction in the economy projected earlier. GDP growth in 2019­20,
  • Prior to the COVID­19 pandemic, it was 4%.
  • The Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy shrank 6.2% in 2020­21, compared to a 4.1% rise in the previous year.
  • Though this is the bleakest performance on record for the economy, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020-21 helped moderate the damage, with a higher-than-expected growth of 1.6% in GDP.
  • This marked the second quarter of positive growth after the country entered a technical recession in the first half of the year.
  • GDP had contracted 24.4% in April-June 2020, followed by a 7.4% shrinkage in the second quarter. It had returned to positive territory in the September to December quarter with a marginal 0.5% growth.

Sector wise Data:

  • Only two sectors showed positive GVA growth —
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing -3.6% positive growth
  • Electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services -1.9% positive growth.
  • Decline:
  • Trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting-related services (-18.2%)
  • Construction (-8.6%)
  • Mining and quarrying (-8.5%)
  • Manufacturing (-7.2%).

Factors of GDP Contraction:

  • In any economy, the GDP growth is generated from one of the four engines of growth. i.e. private consumption, demand generated by private sector businesses, demand generated by government and exports.
  • Private consumption expenditure grew by mere 2.7%. It is the biggest engine that drives the Indian economy.
  • The net export demand has turned positive in this first quarter because India’s imports have crashed more than its exports.
  • While on paper, this provides a boost to overall GDP, it also points to an economy where economic activity has plummeted.
  • The government’s expenditure went up by 28.3% but this was nowhere near enough to compensate for the loss of demand in other sectors (engines) of the economy.
  • On the expenditure side, gross fixed capital formation was up 10.9 per cent in January-March.

Implications of contraction:

  • On Jobs: The sectors which have contracted (construction, manufacturing etc.) are the sectors that create the maximum new jobs in the country.
  • On Informal Sector: The real extent of the economic crisis is expected to be deeper given that the small-scale sector and informal sector is more affected than the organised sector, but is not reflected in the quarterly GDP numbers.
  • In the informal sector, factory output figures are used to extrapolate the trends in the growth.
  • On Banks: The looming defaults in the banking sector after the moratorium ends will add to the banking sector woes, impacting bank’s lending.
  • Also, there are worries regarding household debt, with incomes stagnating, salary cuts and job losses.

Gross Value added (GVA):

  • GVA is defined as the value of output minus the value of intermediate consumption and is a measure of the contribution to growth made by an individual producer, industry or sector.
  • At the macro level, from a national accounting perspective, GVA is the sum of a country’s GDP and net of subsidies and taxes in the economy.
  • Gross Value Added = GDP + subsidies on products – taxes on products
  • GVA at basic prices will include production taxes and exclude production subsidies.
  • GVA at factor cost include no taxes and excluded no subsidies.
  • 2011-12 is the base year.

 

 

  1. Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP)

Context: To ensure holistic growth of horticulture, Union Minister of Agriculture launched the Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP).

  • Horticulture is the branch of plant agriculture dealing with garden crops, generally fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

Key Details:

  • In a pilot phase, the programme will be implemented in 12 horticulture clusters covering 11 States/UTs out of the total 53 clusters selected for the programme.
  • It is a central sector programme aimed at growing and developing identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
  • Horticulture cluster is a regional/geographical concentration of targeted horticulture crops.
  • It will be implemented by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  • The programme will benefit about 10 lakh farmers and is expected to attract an investment of Rs. 10,000 crore when implemented in all the 53 clusters
  • These clusters will be implemented through Cluster Development Agencies (CDAs) which are appointed on the recommendations of the respective State/UT Government.

The clusters of the pilot phase include :

Aim:

  • The programme will address all major issues related to the Indian horticulture sector including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing and branding.
  • Doubling farmers income by bringing higher renumeration to them.
  • To leverage geographical specialisation and promote integrated and market-led development of horticulture clusters.
  • To converge with other initiatives of the Government such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.

(Agriculture Infrastructure Fund which is a – long term financing facility for investment in projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets )

  • The Programme will leverage the central sector scheme of the Ministry for Formation and Promotion of 10,000 Farmers Producer Organisations (FPOs).

Horticulture Sector in India:

  • India is the second-largest producer of horticulture crops globally, accounting for approximately 12% of the world’s production of fruits and vegetables.
  • In 2019-20, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were the top States in vegetable production.
  • Andhra Pradesh followed by Maharashtra and UP were the top states in fruit production.

Horticultural crops include:

  • Tree, bush and perennial vine fruits;
  • Perennial bush and tree nuts;
  • Vegetables (roots, tubers, shoots, stems, leaves, fruits and flowers of edible and mainly annual plants);
  • Aromatic and medicinal foliage, seeds and roots (from annual or perennial plants);
  • Cut flowers, potted ornamental plants, and bedding plants (involving both annual or perennial plants); and
  • Trees, shrubs, turf and ornamental grasses propagated and produced in nurseries for use in landscaping or for establishing fruit orchards or other crop production units.

 

  1. China and Two Child Policy

Context: China to allow all married couples to have three children, ending a two-child policy that has failed to raise the country’s declining birth rates.

Background:

China’s one-child policy:

  • China started its one-child policy in 1980, when the Communist Party was concerned that the country’s growing population, which at the time was approaching one billion, would impede economic progress.
  • The policy was implemented more effectively in urban areas and was enforced through several means, including incentivising families financially to have one child, making contraceptives widely available, and imposing sanctions against those who violated the policy.
  • Chinese authorities have long hailed the policy as a success, claiming that it helped the country avert severe food and water shortages by preventing up to 40 crore people from being born.

Criticism against the policy:

  • State used brutal tactics such as forced abortions and sterilisations which violated human rights.
  • It was opposed for being unfair to poorer Chinese since the richer ones could afford to pay economic sanctions if they violated the policy.
  • Additionally, China’s rulers have been accused of enforcing reproductive limits as a tool for social control. The Uighur Muslim ethnic minority, for example, has been forced to have fewer children to restrict the growth of their population.
  • Due to the policy, while the birth rate fell, the sex ratio became skewed towards males. This happened because of a traditional preference for male children in the country, due to which abortion of female fetuses rose and so did the number of girls who were placed in orphanages or abandoned.
  • Experts have also blamed the policy for making China’s population age faster than other countries, impacting the country’s growth potential.

Relaxation of the one-child policy:

  • China relaxed its policy in 2016 when fears of a rapidly ageing population undermining economic growth forced the ruling Communist Party to allow two children per married couple.

Did relaxing the one-child policy help?

  • As per China’s 2020 census data, released earlier this month, shows the country’s rate of population growth falling rapidly despite the 2016 relaxation.
  • Last year, 1.2 crore babies were born in China, down from 1.465 crore in 2019 — a fall of 18 per cent in one year, as per its National Bureau of Statistics.
  • The country’s fertility rate has now dropped to 1.3, far below the replacement level of 2.1 necessary for each generation to be fully replenished.

(Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next)

  • The United Nations expects China’s population to begin declining after 2030, but some experts say this could happen as early as in the next one or two years. By 2025, the country is set to lose its ‘most populous’ tag to India, which in 2020 had an estimated 138 crore people, 1.5 per cent behind China.

Why do many remain skeptical about the three-child policy?

  • Experts say relaxing limits on reproductive rights alone cannot go a long way in averting an unwanted demographic shift.
  • The main factors behind fewer children being born, they say, are high costs of living, education and supporting ageing parents. The problem is made worse by the country’s pervasive culture of long working hours.
  • There has also been a cultural shift during the decades in which the one-child policy remained in force, with many couples believing that one child is enough, and some expressing no interest in having children.

Present Chinese Society is going through the fifth stage of decreasing population of demographic transition with a very low birth rate and low death rate.

Lesson to India:

India can learn from China’s failed experience of enforcing coercive population policies.

  • In economies and societies transitioning from poverty to higher levels of economic development, a point is reached where the productive labour force declines and the burden of an ageing population increases.
  • Unlike in the West and other parts of the world, the decline in fertility rates was not organic, emanating from greater economic development. It was, at least in part, a consequence of state policy.
  • Therefore India should realise how coercive population control measures can be counter-productive.
  • Population control measures, however stringent, have landed China in a population crisis and in India it will be worse.
  • India will end up with the same issues of an ageing population and very few people to take care of them in another three decades.
  • In Sikkim and Lakshadweep, we are already facing the same challenge of an ageing population, shrinking workforce and an increase in sex selective practices given that they have low fertility rates.

China may not remain the global repository for labour.

  • India, with a young, productive population is set to be an economic asset in the coming decades. So, it must do all it can to ensure that India’s labour force becomes more competitive in every tier of the labour market.

 

  1. Mission karma yogi

Context: Centre to Hire Leading HR Firm to Revamp Competency of Bureaucracy.

Key details:

  • The exercise will be part of the ambitious ‘Mission Karmayogi’ project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that was announced last September.
  • This is to revamp the competency of the India’s bureaucracy, and will allow it to study the organisational structures and the work allocation documents of seven key ministries and departments, including the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health.
  • Hired consultant will design and develop an FRAC (Framework of Roles, Activities & Competencies) for the central government with a focus on molding a “fit-for-future civil service” that can deliver to larger social and economic mandates.
  • FRAC will map the roles and activities corresponding to every government position with their desired competencies across behavioural attributes, functional skills and domain knowledge.
  • The unique challenges and opportunities in India, along with an unprecedented digital penetration and IT literate workforce, have necessitated creation of a unique framework.
  • The hired consultant will help the government set up and operationalise a FRAC Center of Excellence at the Institute of Secretariat Training & Management, and develop strategy and operating processes for FRAC.

The FRAC will define three types of competencies:

  • First will be behavioural competencies that describe the values and strengths that help officials perform effectively, including attitudes like problem solving, decision making and networking.
  • Second will be functional competencies like application of skills and knowledge to perform effectively across domains and positions through project management, time management and communication.
  • Third will be domain competencies, like officials working at the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) requiring competencies in indirect taxation, customs and vigilance planning
  • Largely, this will be done through iGOT Karmayogi, an online comprehensive learning platform cum marketplace to deliver online training, linked to FRAC,” the document says.

Intended benefits:

Accountability and transparency in governance.

  • Citizen Centric approach
  • Preparing Indian Bureaucracy for future roles and challenges.
  • Bridging gap between generalization and specialisation
  • Ensuring efficient service delivery.

iGOT- Karmayogi platform:

  • iGOT stands for Integrated Govt. Online training’ (iGOT).
  • It is a portal on the Ministry of HRD’s DIKSHA platform for the purpose of capacity building.
  • iGOT-Karmayogi is a continuous online training platform, which would allow all government servants from assistant secretary to secretary level to undergo continuous training, depending on their domain areas.
  • All kinds of Courses from international universities will be made available on the platform for officers to take.
  • The platform is expected to evolve into a vibrant and world-class market place for content, where carefully curated and vetted digital e-learning material will be made available.
  • Besides capacity building, service matters like confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignment and notification of vacancies etc. would eventually be integrated with the proposed competency framework.

 

  1. Chief Secretary

Context: The Centre recalled West Bengal Chief Secretary as he failed to attend a review meeting on Cyclone Yaas with PM Modi .

Key Details:

  • West Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, an IAS officer of the 1987 batch, was due to begin an extension of three months after retiring. Instead, the Centre has asked him to join the Government of India.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the “placement of services” of Chief Secretary, as per provisions Rule 6(1) of the Indian Administrative Service (cadre) Rules, 1954.

How officers get an extension:

  • Rule 16(1) of DCRB (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules says that “a member of the Service dealing with budget work or working as a full-time member of a Committee may be given extension of service for three months, with the prior approval of the Central Government”.
  • For an officer posted as Chief Secretary of a state, this extension can be for six months.

Central deputation:

  • In normal practice, the Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services (IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service) willing to go on central deputation, after which it selects officers from that list.
  • Rule 6(1) of the IAS Cadre Rules says an officer may, “with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government…”
  • It says “in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”
  • This is the second time that the Union government has invoked the All India Services Rule in the last five months. Earlier in December, the Centre had directed the West Bengal government to immediately relieve three IPS officers so that they could join their new assignments at the Centre.

What happens if officer does not comply with deputation orders?

  • While the rules state that the Centre’s will must prevail in matters of deputation in case there is a dispute with state governments, rules do not specify what happens in case the officer does not comply or the state government refuses to relieve the officer.
  • According to the All India Service (AIS) Rules, the Centre cannot take any disciplinary action against IAS, IPS or IFS officers posted in their state cadres.
  • Government guidelines clearly state that in case of a disciplinary matter, the competent authority to suspend an IAS officer is the government in connection with whose affairs the officer is serving.
  • The rules say that the Centre has the final say, but it doesn’t specify what happens if the state still refuses to relieve a certain officer.

Chief Secretary of State:

  • The Chief Secretary is ‘chosen’ by the Chief Minister.
  • As the appointment of Chief Secretary is an executive action of the Chief Minister, it is taken in the name of the Governor of the State.
  • The post of Chief Secretary is the senior-most position in the civil services of the states and union territories of India.
  • The position is a cadre post for the Indian Administrative Services.
  • The Chief Secretary is the chief advisor to the Chief Minister in all matters of the cabinet.
  • The office of Chief Secretary has been excluded from the operation of the tenure system. There is no fixed tenure for this post.

 

  1. Foreigners tribunal

Context: Manindra Das- the last “foreigner” has walked out of one of the six detention centres in Assam, leaving about 170 more to be released from the other five.

Background:

  • Mahindra Das was tagged a ‘D-voter’ in 2015 and later declared a “foreigner” in a one-sided decision by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in 2019.

Who is a D-voter?

  • D- voter is the acronym used for ‘doubtful voter’. Those persons whose citizenship was doubtful or was under dispute were categorized as ‘D- Voters’ during the preparation of National Register of Citizens in Assam.
  • However, ‘doubtful voter’ or ‘doubtful citizenship’ have not been defined in the Citizenship Act, 1955 or the Citizenship Rules of 2003.

Who is a declared foreigner?

Foreigners Tribunals, quasi-judicial authorities in Assam, have been deciding on matters pertaining to citizenship in order to identify foreigners.

  • A declared foreigner, or DF, is a person marked by Foreigners’ Tribunal (FT) for allegedly failing to prove their citizenship after the State police’s Border wing marks him or her as an illegal immigrant.
  • Once a family or an individual is marked as doubtful citizen (D-Category), they are then informed in a specified pro forma as soon as the verification process comes to an end.
  • They are also given a chance to be heard by Sub- district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration before arriving at a final decision on whether their name will be included in the register. The Registrar has time of 90 days to finalize his findings and justify it.
  • The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) considers the verification report. If the Registration Officer feels that the person is not an Indian citizen, then the case is referred to Superintendent of Police who refers it to the Foreigners Tribunal for its opinion. Based on the tribunal’s decision, the Officer must add or delete the names of doubtful citizens.

Identity documentation:

  • Section 9 of Foreigners’ Act has put the burden of proof on the alleged foreigner.
  • Persons appearing before Foreigners Tribunals need to produce identity documentation proving that they were born in India and are descended from persons who entered India before March 24, 1971.
  • Such persons are allowed to produce secondary evidence such as university certificates or gram panchayat certificates for this purpose.
  • However, in order for such secondary evidence to be considered valid proof of their presence in India pre-1971, the person issuing the certificate must appear before the tribunal to testify and prove that the document is genuine

What is a Foreigners tribunal?

  • In 1964, the govt brought in the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order to set up Foreigners tribunal.
  • The tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies.
  • They were given the power to devise their own procedures
  • Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.
  • Initially, only retired senior judicial officers of district judge or additional district judge rank were allowed.
  • There is no security of tenure for them. Initially they used to be appointed for two years, this has now been reduced to one year.
  • Typically, the tribunals in Assam have seen two kinds of cases: those concerning persons against whom a reference has been made by the border police and those whose names in the electoral roll has a “D”, or “doubtful”, marked against them.

Who can set up these tribunals?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
  • Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

Who can approach these tribunals?

  • The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.
  • Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.

Why Need Such Tribunals?

  • The foreigner’s tribunals are unique to Assam.
  • In other parts, once a ‘foreigner’ has been apprehended by the police for staying illegally, he or she is produced before the local court under the Passport Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The punishment ranges from imprisonment of three months to eight years.
  • Once the accused have completed the sentence, the court orders their deportation, and they are moved to detention centres till the country of origin accepts them.

 

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