The HINDU Notes – 12th JUNE 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis For UPSC IAS)
IN news: (Knowing the rate of interest for each item is not at all important for exam)
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council decided to reduce tax rates on 66 items including cashew nuts, packaged foods such as sauces and pickles, agarbatti, insulin, school bags, children’s colouring books, cutlery, and some tractor components.
- The Council has also reduced the tax rate on cinema tickets costing Rs. 100 or less.
- The Council will meet again on June 18 to discuss any pending issues, including the e-waybill rules and the rates on lotteries.
- The Council also decided to increase the limit under the compensation scheme from Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 75 lakh. The scheme was introduced for small businesses that would struggle to comply with the various requirements of GST. Those opting for the scheme will have to pay tax at the rate of 1% for the trading community, 2% for those engaged in manufacturing, and 5% for restaurants.
- To maintain revenue neutrality.
- Eases the burden on SMEs and small businesses in trading, manufacturing, and the restaurant business because they are mass job creators.
- Maharashtra government was forced to accept the demand for a complete farm loan waiver.
- The total outstanding crop loans amount to around Rs. 1.34 lakh crore.
Steering panel meeting:
- The decision came after a meeting between the steering committee of the agitating farmers and a high-powered ministerial group formed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis under the leadership of Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil.
- For smallholding farmers — those with land up to five acres, which is almost 78% of the 1.37 crore holdings in the State, as per the Maharashtra Economic Survey 2016-17 — their farm loans were waived.
S. Swaminathan Reports:
Prof. Swaminathan is a geneticist, known as “Indian Father of Green Revolution” for his key contributions in Green Revolution (1960s) where he introduced high yielding varieties of wheat. Under his leadership, the committee submitted its report in five instalments over the period from December, 2004 to October, 2006. These reports made several recommendations for improvement in the situation of farmers in India. While several criticized the Government for not implementing the recommendations of this committee properly, other few questioned the recommendations itself.
Key Findings & Recommendations of the Report
- The major causes of the agrarian crisis are: unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing. Adverse meteorological factors add to these problems.
- Land Reforms were considered necessary and key suggestions in this regards were to distribute ceiling-surplus and waste lands; prevent diversion of agricultural land & forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes; ensure grazing rights & seasonal access to forests to tribals and pastoralists; establish a National Land Use Advisory Service, etc.
- Timely and adequate supply of credit is a basic requirement of small farm families and to enhance the same key suggestions of the committee were: expand the outreach of Credit facilities System; issue Kisan Credit Cards to women farmers; establish an Agriculture Risk Fund to provide relief to farmers in the aftermath of successive natural calamities, etc.
- 28% of the families in India were found to be Below Poverty Line and therefore, food security needed attention. The committee recommended: ensure availability of quality seed and other inputs at affordable costs; Set up Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs) or Gyan Chaupals in the farmers’ distress hotspots; need for focused Market Intervention Schemes (MIS) in the case of life-saving crops; have a Price Stabilisation Fund in place to protect the farmers from price fluctuations, etc.
- Improving the competitiveness of the small farmers was considered necessary. Suggestions in this area included: improvement in implementation of Minimum Support Price (MSP); MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production; availability of data about spot and future prices of commodities through the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCD) and the NCDEX, etc.
- The committee highlighted the need to create productive employment opportunities and to improve the quality of employment in several sectors such that real wages rise through improved productivity. For this purpose committee recommended emphasizing on relatively more labour intensive sectors and inducing a faster growth of these sectors and ensuring that the net take home income of farmers should be comparable to those of civil servants.
- The committee also recommended development of measures to reserve traditional rights of access to biodiversity and conservation, enhancement and improvement of crops, farm animals & fish stocks through breeding, etc.
- The government has proposed to the Supreme Court a NEET-like examination to recruit judges to the lower judiciary.
- The proposal comes close on the heels of several States, opposing the formation of an all-India judicial service, a 60-year-old idea.
- There were vacancies of 4,452 judges in subordinate courts as per the figures released on December 31, 2015.
- While the sanctioned strength is 20,502, the actual number of judges/judicial officers in subordinate courts is 16,050.
- The Ministry has suggested various models to the apex court so that vacancies in the subordinate courts are filled up fast. It also proposed that UPSC can hold an exam to recruit judicial officers.
All-India Judicial Service
Satyarthi backs new child labour law
- 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who had earlier criticised the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation Amendment) Act, 2016, has supported the new framework, saying the fresh rules to support the law have addressed all the concerns.
- Various child rights activists, including Mr. Satyarthi, had earlier criticised the law, enacted in July last year, for reducing the number of hazardous occupations from 83 to three and allowing children to assist in family enterprises.
- Even international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had criticised the government over the two concerns flagged by the Nobel laureate.
- The 2016 law prohibits employment of children aged below 14. However, it allows adolescents (aged 14-18) to work in non-hazardous occupations and children to assist their families in businesses after school hours. The previous law allowed children to be employed in family enterprises without restriction.
- The Labour and Employment Ministry on June 2 notified the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Rules, 2017, which state that children can help in family enterprises only for three hours after school hours. Children could not extend any help between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. It also laid out conditions on which children could offer help to their families.
- Mr. Satyarthi lauded the government’s move to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on child labour.
- This would ensure compliance with the new law, he said. “There has been a paradigm shift in the government’s stance from the past when it said those raising the cause of child labour had a western agenda. Now, the government has agreed to global scrutiny of child labour,” he said.
India, Israel set to expand defence ties
- Israel has emerged as one of the largest and trusted suppliers of defence equipment to the Indian armed forces.
- Israel is well entrenched in the areas of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, air defence systems, special forces equipment and electronic warfare equipment.
Deal for Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles:
- Two countries are close to concluding a deal.
- The purchase of Spike missiles was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in October 2014, but negotiations on the contract ran into trouble over cost and technology transfer. The ₹3,200-crore deal includes 8,000-plus missiles, 300-plus launchers and technology transfer.
- The deal is likely to expand as the Army intends to equip its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised regiments with new missiles.
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that he had been discussing the two concepts introduced in this year’s Economic Survey — Universal Basic Income (UBI), and the creation of a bad bank — with Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, but added that political and economic considerations make UBI a tough task.
- The CEA had, in the Economic Survey, also introduced the idea of the creation of a bad bank to take over the debt of the NPA-laded banks so as to ease their stress and enable them to begin lending again.
- Universal Basic Income (UBI): A basic income (also called basic income guarantee, Citizen’s Income, unconditional basic income, universal basic income (UBI), or universal demogrant) is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive a regular, unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.
How does the monsoon affect the economy?
- Earlier this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted the country would get normal monsoon rains in 2017.
- The state-run weather body last week said India’s annual monsoon rainfall is expected to be 98% of the long-period average (LPA), up from 96% projected earlier, raising prospects of higher farm output and economic growth.
- The forecast has a margin error of 4%. The monsoon is considered normal if rains in the June-September season are between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 89 cm.
- India witnessed a normal monsoon in 2016 but only after two back-to-back poor monsoons in 2014 and 2015 that affected the overall growth in the country.
- However, with a good chance of a normal monsoon in 2017, analysts expect the growth momentum to continue.
What happens in case of a poor monsoon?
- The monsoon has a direct impact on the country’s agricultural GDP. The planting of key kharif, or summer, crops like rice, sugar cane, pulses and oilseeds begins with the arrival of monsoon rains in June.
- Summer crops account for almost half of India’s food output and a delayed or poor monsoon means supply issues and acceleration in food inflation, a key metric which influences Reserve Bank of India’s decision on interest rates.
- A deficit monsoon could also lead to a drought-like situation, thereby affecting the rural household incomes, consumption and economic growth.
- A poor monsoon not only leads to weak demand for fast-moving consumer goods, two-wheelers, tractors and rural housing sectors but alsoincreases the imports of essential food staples and forces the government to take measures like farm loan waivers, thereby putting pressure on finances.
- Whereas a normal monsoon results in a good harvest, which in turn lifts rural incomes and boosts spending on consumer goods. It also has a positive impact on hydro power projects.
What is the current forecast for rain distribution?
- The monsoon rains arrive on the southern tip of Kerala by around June 1 and gradually covers a major part of the country by mid-July before retreating by the end of September.
- The spread of monsoon over space and time is also forecast to be normal and that bodes well for agricultural output.
- Despite last year being a normal monsoon, the demand was affected by due to the government’s demonetisation move in November 2016. “
- A normal monsoon is also crucial this time as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout is likely to cause headaches for enterprises in the initial phase and disrupt the working capital cycle of businesses.
Climate change may cause more rainfall in the tropics
- The amount of rainfall in the Earth’s tropical regions will significantly increase as our planet continues to warm, a new NASA study warns.
- Most global climate models underestimate decreases in high clouds over the tropics seen in recent NASA observations, according to research led by scientist Hui Su of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the U.S.
- Globally, rainfall is not related just to the clouds that are available to make rain but also to the Earth’s “energy budget” – incoming energy from the Sun compared to outgoing heat energy.
- High-altitude tropical clouds trap heat in the atmosphere. If there are fewer of these clouds in the future, the tropical atmosphere will cool.
- Judging from observed changes in clouds over recent decades, it appears that the atmosphere would create fewer high clouds in response to surface warming.
- It would increase tropical rainfall, which would warm the air to balance the cooling from high cloud shrinkage.
- Rainfall warming the air also sounds counterintuitive – people are used to rain cooling the air around them, not warming it. Several kilometres up in the atmosphere, however, a different process prevails. When water evaporates into water vapour on the Earth’s surface and rises into the atmosphere, it carries with it the heat energy that made it evaporate. In the cold upper atmosphere, when the water vapour condenses into liquid droplets or ice particles, it releases its heat and warms the atmosphere.
- It puts the decrease in high tropical cloud cover in context as one result of a planet-wide shift in large-scale air flows that is occurring as the Earth’s surface temperature warms.
- Observations over the last 30 to 40 years have shown that this zone is narrowing as the climate warms, causing the decrease in high clouds.
- Researchers at JPL and four universities compared climate data from the past few decades with 23 climate model simulations of the same period. Climate modellers use retrospective simulations like these to check how well their numerical models are able to reproduce observations.
- The team used observations of thermal radiation from NASA’s spaceborne Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System(CERES) and other satellite devices as well as ground-level observations.
- They found that most of the climate models underestimated the rate of increase in precipitation for each degree of surface warming that has occurred in recent decades.