Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Serena Williams Defeated Li Na to Win The WTA Championships

Serena Williams, the world number one tennis player on 27 October 2013 won the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships at Istanbul after defeating Li Na 2-6, 6-3, 6-0. With this win, she managed to retain the WTA Championships title with her. This was her overall seventy eighth title and eleventh title of this year.
                                                                             
Serena Williams with 78 wins out of 82 matches in 2013 will finish as the top ranked player after 2002 and 2009 for the third time. This is the fourth success of Serena Williams in the WTA Championships. With this win, she became the first player to retain the title after Justice Henin in 2007.

This win also made her the eighth female player, who has won 11 or more titles in a year. Martina Hingis won 12 titles in the year 1997.

About Serena Williams

• Serna Williams is the professional tennis player from America. She is ranked as number 1 player at present in the Women’s singles tennis

• For the first time she became the world’s number one player in singles in the year 2002 and in the year 2013, she regained the spot of player number 1 for sixth time

• At present she is the oldest number 1 player in WTA’s

• She was also Gold-Medalist at the 2000, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. During 2012 Olympics she won a Singles and Doubles Gold medal

• She has won a title in all four Grand Slam tournaments

• Serena was born September 26, 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan

The WTA Championships

• The WTA Championships is a tennis tournament that is played at the end of the season annually. This championship is an event for the top-ranked players on the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tour

• The WTA Tour Championships is considered to be the fifth most prestigious event of Women’s tour as it is placed just after the four grand slams

• The Championships was first played in 1972 and since then has been held at different venues

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mother Teresa Memorial International Award For Social Justice 2013 Presented to Sushmita Sen

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen on 27 October 2013 conferred with the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award by NGO The Harmony Foundation for her efforts towards achieving social justice in Mumbai.

Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen, who is associated with charitabale projects and NGOs, received the award for her efforts towards achieving social justice and her contribution to society.
                                                                   
Along with Sushmitha sen, seven individuals and an association, India Rescue Mission, were also awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice 2013 for Sushmita Sen their contributions in the field of human rights and community development.

2013 Awardees list:

1.Sushmita Sen: Social Activist and Bollywood actress
2.Sindhutai Sapkal: Mother of Orphans
3.Diep Saeeda: Lahore-based human rights activist
4.Sam Childers: rescuer of young boys and girls from Sudan
5.Cedric Prakash: Social Activist
6.Dr Sudarshan Hanumappa: Tribal rights' activist
7.Arunachalam Muruganantham: Social Activist
8.Maulana Mehmood Madani: Social activist
9.India Rescue Mission: An association for human rights

About Mother Teresa International Award for Social Justice

The Mother Teresa International Award is an annual award, constituted by 'Harmony Foundation' that highlights the various endeavors taken up by individuals or NGO's to promote peace and strengthen humanity. The award were presenting from 2005 onwards to different people across the world.

The Harmony Foundation was founded in October 2005 by Dr. Abraham Mathai to establish communal harmony between various communities, castes and work towards the benefit of all the communities without any discrimination as to religion, caste, creed, gender or region.

About Sushmita Sen

Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe in 1994. She was the first woman of Indian origin to win the crown. After completing her reign, Sushmita went on to pursue an acting career in Bollywood. She started her career with ‘Dastak’ movie.

Monday, 28 October 2013

World Bank Approved 250 Million Assistance US Dollars For Uttarakhand

The World Bank on 25 October 2013 approved 250 million US dollars assistance for Uttarakhand, in the wake of rains and landslides that killed several hundred people in the state in June 2013. The World Bank approved the assistance to help the state undertake rehabilitation work and improve its capacity for disaster management.
                             
                         

India had asked for help from multi-lateral agencies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for undertaking rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand.

Prior to this, a joint World Bank and ADB team conducted a Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (JRDNA) to rebuild Uttarakahnd's infrastructure damaged in the June disaster.

According to the JRDNA estimate, the total reconstruction work to repair physical damages and infrastructure loss was calculated at about 661 million US dollars. The infrastructure covered sectors such as housing and public infrastructure, water supply, roads and bridges and sanitation, tourism, energy and environment.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Britain to Construct New Nuclear Plant After 20 Years

Going against the current European norm, Britain has decided to go for the construction of a new Nuclear plant, its first in 20 years. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan countries like Germany opted against expansion of Nuclear energy and vowed to phase out its existing plants by 2022. Even countries like France, which source nearly 80% of their energy requirement from Nuclear plants ,have decided not to go for further expansion. The general perception in European society has also been negative towards Nuclear energy.
                                                             
The British Government has signed $26 b deal with EDF (a French energy company ) to build two Nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C (Somerset) in Southwestern England (expected by 2023).Britain to Construct New Nuclear Plant  Nuclear giant Areva (French company – one of the World’s leaders in the sector) and Chinese firms – China General Nuclear Corporation (CGNPC) & China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), are also part of the consortium.


  • Proposed Stakes : EDF – 45-50% ; CGNPC and CNNC – 30-40 % together ; Areva- 10%
  • At present Britain has 16 nuclear reactors providing about 20% its energy needs.


BENEFITS :

  • Clean Energy : The deal is in furtherance of the Britain Government’s Energy Policy for a secure, reliable and low- carbon electricity future.
  • Job creation : Thousands of job will be created in France and Britain
  • When complete, the project at their full capacity, will generate 7% of Britain’s electricity ; enough to power 5 million homes.


CRITICISM :


  • Anti- Nuclear campaigners have criticized the deal and urged the David Cameroon led Government to instead go for safer and secure renewable options like wind and solar powe 


  • Electricity prices may jump as per the terms of the deal which will hit the British commoners. The deal incorporates a guaranteed electricity price per megawatt for the company which is much higher than current market rate. 


  • The consortium will charge a bit lower rate only if its another project – 2 new nuclear reactor in Sizewell (east coast of England’s Suffolk)- is approved. 


  • In case, if the market price for electricity falls below the guaranteed level ,government will have to pay the difference by means of levying surcharges on domestic energy bills. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

MoU Signed Between CPWD And IIM Tiruchirappalli For Construction of A Permanent Campus

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and IIM Tiruchirappalli (IIM Trichy) on 24 October 2013 at New Delhi. The MoU was signed for undertaking the Project Management Consultancy for the construction of its permanent campus. This includes planning, designing and construction of the campus.
                                                     
                                                               
The MoU was signed in the presence of V.K. Gupta, DG, CPWD and Dr. Prafulla Agnihotri, Director, IIM, Trichy. The permanent campus will come up in 68 hectares site which has been allotted by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

About the Permanent Campus

  • The permanent campus will come up in 68 hectares site which has been allotted by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
  • The campus which will accommodate 1500 students and 300 faculty and staff members would be fully self-sufficient for its residents and shall comprise of academic facilities, world class hostels for the students, residences for the faculty and staff, recreational facilities and a well-equipped Management Development Centre for the students and faculty.
  • The master planning and designing of the campus has been entrusted to a firm of leading architects.
  • The construction of this 450 crore Rupees (approximately) project will begin during March-April 2014 and is expected to be completed by March 2016.
  • IIM Trichy aims to have a green campus and would be self-sufficient in terms of its water requirements in 5-7 years of its operations.
  • IIM Tiruchirappalli (IIM Trichy) is the eleventh IIM which began its activities in 2011.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

The US Comedian Carol Burnett Honoured With The Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

The US comedian Carol Burnett was on 20 October 2013 honoured with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Three artists- Dame Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett and Tina Fey performed specifically in the honour of Carol Burnett at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
                                                   
The variety shows of Carol Burnett started in 1960s. These shows ran continuously for 11 years and fetched around 30 million viewers in a week. Carol Burnett received her first break for the Ed Sullivan Show. Thereafter, she also acted on Broadway and appeared on The Garry Moore Show.

She also sung for 10 years with CBS. In the year 1967, she launched the Carol Burnett Show along with the guest stars such as Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart and Lucille Ball. The show won 22 Emmy Awards. Carol Burnett was most prominently known for the Tarzan yell.

About the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

• The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is the foremost award for humour in America.

• It was first awarded in the year 1988 by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

• The award is named after the essayist and humorist Mark Twain, who belonged to the 19th century and was a renowned novelist as well. Mark Twain made significant contribution to American humour.

• Every year, the prize is presented in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC.

• The recipients of the Twain Prize receive an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Nobel Prize 2013

Nobel Prize, considered the most prestigious and coveted awards on the planet, have been declared in all categories for the year 2013.                                  

The Winners

Economics 

  • US trio Lars Peter Hansen, Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller "for their empirical analysis of asset prices".
  • Such is the extent of US domination in this category of Nobel that 17 out of the last 20 laureates in the past 10 years have come from the US Nobel Prize 2013.

Peace

  • Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.
  • It is the only Nobel award given in Norway (Oslo) and not in Sweden (Stockholm).

Literature

  • Canadian writer Alice Munro, regarded as a modern Chekhov, wins 2013 Literature Nobel Prize.     
  • She is the first Canadian (second Canada-born) and 13th female literature laureate and 44th female winner overall in the 112-year history of the Nobel Prizes.

Chemistry

  • Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel for development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.
  • Their model allowed chemists to use computers instead of test tubes to understand chemical processes, and helped in the creation of new drugs as well as more efficient industrial products.

Physics

  • Belgium's Francois Englert and Britain's Peter Higgs for theorizing the 'god particle' Higgs Boson. 

Medicine

  • James Rothman, Randy Schekman (both Americans) and Thomas Sudhof (Germany-born) for mapping how cells transfer vital materials such as hormones and brain chemicals to other cells. 

Interesting facts about Nobel Prizes

  • Prizes can only be awarded to individuals, except the Peace Prize.
  • Each award can be given to a maximum of three people per year.
  • Each prize constitutes a gold medal, a diploma, and a sum of money.
  • If there are multiple winners of one subject, the award money is split equally among the winners.
  • The Literature and Peace Prizes are considered to be controversial as the award criteria is subjective.
  • Someone cannot be nominated posthumously. Yet, if someone was alive when nominated but died before the award was given, they may be awarded posthumously.

Multiple Laureates

  • Four people have received two Nobel Prizes
  • Marie Curie: 1903 (Physics), 1911 (Chemistry); only laureate in two different sciences
  • Linus Pauling: 1954 (Chemistry), 1962 (Peace) ;only laureate of two unshared prizes
  • John Bardeen: 1956 and 1972 Prizes for Physics
  • Frederick Sanger: 1958 and 1980 for Chemistry

Most awarded

  • Red Cross- Thrice, in 1917, 1944 and 1963

Female Laureates

  • 44 women in total (45 times) have been awarded the Nobel Prize so far; with Marie Curie twice 

Laureates who declined the award

  • Jean-Paul Sartre and Le Duc Tho are the only two in history to have rejected their Nobel prizes in Literature and Peace respectively. 

The oldest recipient

  • 90 year old Leonid Hurwicz, who won it in 2007 for his contributions to economics.

The youngest recipient

  • 25 years old Lawrence Bragg who won the prize in 1915 for his contributions to the field of physics. 


Urbanization And New Cities In India

Population of India has reached 121 crore but there has not been the same increase in the number of cities i.e Urbanisation. This article discusses the issues and government efforts to help growth of new cities.

CENSUS 2011                                                    
                                   

Census 2011 came up with idea of census cities/ towns. Urbanization And New Cities In India Areas with following Criteria are called as census cities (according to Census 2011) :

  • More than 5000 inhabitants
  • 400 people per square meter
  • 75% of male population not engaged in agriculture

From 2001 to 2011 census towns have increased from 1362 (2001) to 3894 (2011). It has been due to following reasons:

  • Many areas are coming in conformity with India’s development program.
  • Migration has increased from rural to urban areas.
  • Rural areas have found many vocations in non-agricultural operations.
  • Increase in communication & educational activities.

Some helpful part has also been played by Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) providing cash benefits by giving them assured employment.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS

  • 12th plan has come up with proposal of investing Rs. 1500 crore for these census cities and it will be done via Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Investment is being made because of uncontrolled growth of these cities & not being covered under various schemes of government.
  • PURA: It stands for “Providing Urban amenities to Rural Areas”. This strategy has been given by former president Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam. It gives four types of connectives

1. Physical connectivity in the form of roads, bridges, etc.
2. Electronic Connectivity in the form of communication network
3. Knowledge Connectivity in the form of educational and technical institutions.
4. Economic connectivity which will automatically happen because of the previous three connectivity’s.

  • Need to involve communities in this development process – Expressed by Government
  • Problem of local officials: They consider local community initiative detrimental to their selfish interest & violation of their rights thus rejecting them on unreasonable grounds.


ISSUES INVOLVED

  • Transition: They are currently being managed by Panchayat Raj System. But after this census, there are chances of municipalities to be set up in these areas. But it is up to them whether to opt for it or not considering the fact that these people would need to pay new taxes under municipalities which didn’t exist for now under Panchayats.
  • Increase in the cluster towns: More number of towns are coming up around present prosperous cities forming clusters primarily due to shrinkage in land & the avenues the main city has to offer to these cluster units.
  • Need of transitional system for these areas so that they can transform to towns.
  • Political vs. Bureaucratic indifference about the programs remain on the paper & nothing happens in reality & community looses faith.
  • Probability of one town collapsing into another. (particularly in the areas in Delhi-Mumbai Corridor)
  • Haryana model should be followed for development of new cities in India. As post-independence India has not seen increase in the number of new cities but has just seen the increase in the extent of the original cities.

MEGA CITIES

  • India has planned to make 5 new mega cities by 2015.
  • All are along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
  • These include :

1. Dholera City in Gujrat
2. Manesar-Bawal in Haryana
3. Indore-Mhow in Madhya Pradesh
4. & 5. Dighi and Nasik-Igatpuri in Maharashtra

Related Subjective Questions :

1. Enlist and explain the problems coming in the way of development of new cities in India.
2. Analyze the solutions available for the problems encountered in the creation of new cities.

Modernization And Security Challenges Before Indian Railways

Indian Railways is a wonder in itself. It is one of the world’s largest rail networks in terms of trains and the passenger it carries. To carry more number of passengers & that too with safety is the biggest concern. E.g. in Mumbai suburban area, railways alone carry 6 million passengers daily.

SAM PITRODA COMMITTEE                          


Sam Pitroda committee was appointed last year for giving recommendations for modernization of Indian Railways. Some key recommendations:

1. Modernization of 19000 tracks
2. Circling of 11250 bridges
3. Eliminating all level crossings
4. introduction of high hall freight bogies
5. Focused on 15 areas such as tracking bridges, signaling, rolling stock station, freight corridors, high speed trains, revive proposed and existing projects and various other things

Cost required: For modernization, it recommends a funding in the order of 5 lakh crore to 8 lakh crore expanding over next ten years. 71% of it is to be spent during the 12th plan.

Sources that can be used for this huge funding :

1. Budgetary support
2. Internal revenue generation by Railways
3. Monetization of blocked assets such as surplus land available with the Railways, and Public Private Partnerships
4. Fund raising from financial institutions and markets

EXPERTS VIEW ON SAM PITRODA COMMITTEE

Some of them may not be as essential as stated in the reports. So may not require the huge funding urgently. Therefore needs careful observation & prioritization of our needs. Some priority areas are :

1. Strengthening of tracks. Use of high capacity rails & long welded panels.
2. Rehabilitation of all the bridges particularly which are distressed.
3. Improvement of signaling technology. It will improve speed and safety of trains.
4. Use of higher capacity trains to carry more traffic.

ANIL KAKODKAR COMMITTEE

Anil Kakodkar committee was appointed by government to review the safety of Indian Railways and recommend improvements. Total expenditure that will be incurred during 12th plan will be Rs. 1,00,000 crore.
  • Organizational changes are needed.
  • Government should stop announcement of laundry list of new train services.
  • Indian railways suffer from poor infrastructure and resources.
  • Safety margins squeezed due to inadequate funds especially due to the practice of not raising tariffs.
  • Need for independent Railway Safety Authority. All the three vital functions (rule making, operations and the regulation) are all vested in the Railway Board.
  • The Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), the apex technical wing of the Railways, is highly constrained.
  • Recommends that a Railway Research and Development Council (RRDC) be set up directly under the government.
  • Recommends adopting use of Advanced Signaling System.
  • All level crossings (manned and unmanned) should be eliminated over 5 years.
  • Recommends switching over from ICF design coaches to the much safer LHB design coaches.

EXPERTS VIEW ON ANIL KAKODKAR COMMITTEE

  • Irrespective of the cost involved, safety measures should be implemented in a phased and prioritized manner. That will provide “acknowledgement benefit” to the system.
  • Level crossings have to be focused and many level crossings have been eliminated already by over bridge or underpasses but total elimination is not possible as replacement of every level crossing is not cost-effective. (In case of manned level crossings responsibility lies with the man in charge at such crossings and in case of unmanned level crossings it is the responsibility of road users).
  • People need to be educated about level crossings & lessons have already been incorporated in school lessons.
SOME RELATED QUESTIONS:

1. Discuss modernization of Indian Railways in the light of Pitroda Committee.
2. Analyze the safety recommendations given by Anil Kakodkar Committee for the Indian Railways. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Haryana Government To Conduct Survey of Manual Scavengers

The Haryana Government on 27 August 2013 decided to conduct a survey of Manual Scavengers in 76 towns of the State by 30 September 2013, and the data collected would be compiled by 31 October 2013.
                                                         
                                                                                         
Haryana Government would conduct a survey to know the number of Manual Scavengers in 76 towns of the State. The survey would be carried out by Local Bodies in the area falling under municipal limits and in case of area outside municipal limits the survey would be carried by Panchayat and Development Department.

National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) would provide funds for this activity. Notably, Haryana is among eleven States where the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India has nominated NSFDC as nodal agency to co-ordinate in the activity of survey.

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Bill 2012

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Bill, 2012 is still pending in the Parliament. (The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 3 September, 2012 by the then Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mukul Wasnik).

The Bill prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines.  It seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.

According to the Bill, a manual scavenger is a person who manually cleans or disposes of human excreta in an insanitary latrine, an open drain, or a railway track. An insanitary latrine requires human excreta to be cleaned manually.

Fourth India-US Economic And Financial Partnership Meeting Held

The fourth annual meeting of the India-US Economic and Financial Partnership was held at the IMF headquarters in Washington DC on 13 October 2013. During the meeting, India and the US agreed to further strengthen bilateral economic ties and work towards a greater understanding of investment related issues. India and USA Financial Partnership in a joint statement released after their meeting in Washington stated that India has become one of the fastest growing sources of investment into the US.
                                       
                                                     
The joint statement stated that despite a challenging global economy, US-India bilateral trade in goods and services grew from 59.9 billion dollars to 92.5 billion between 2009 and 2012. The two nations also agreed to continue to cooperate on deepening capital markets and strengthening financial regulation.

Syria Joined UN Chemical Weapons Convention

Syria on 14 October 2013 officially joined the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws production and use of chemical weapons.              
         

Syria is the 190th country to join the convention. Only six states have yet to sign the international treaty. Syria Joined UN Chemical The move comes as international inspectors are working to destroy the chemical weapon stockpile of the Assad regime in Syria.

The six UN States are not signed the CWC are

  • Israel    
  • Myanmar
  • Angola
  • Egypt
  • North Korea
  • South Sudan


About Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time.

The title of the treaty is Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

The convention opened for signature on 13 January 1993, and entered into force on 29 April 1997.

The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction.

The CWC is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is headquartered in The Hague.

The OPCW receives states-parties’ declarations detailing chemical weapons-related activities or materials and relevant industrial activities. After receiving declarations, the OPCW inspects and monitors states-parties’ facilities and activities that are relevant to the convention, to ensure compliance.

About the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

• The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an independent, international body set up in 1997 to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention.

• The organisation is presently involved in destroying Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons - the first time the OPCW has worked in a war zone.

• It carries out inspections of destruction procedures, as well as evaluating members' own declarations, in order to verify that the convention is being adhered to.

• It is based in The Hague, Netherland and has 189 member states, covering around 98 percent of the world's population. These member nations have agreed to work together to create a world free from chemical weapons.

• The OPCW employs around 500 people and has a budget of 75m Euros (102m Dollars, 63m Pounds) in 2010.

• It is an autonomous organisation with a working relationship with the United Nations.

• Ahmet Uzumcu is the Present Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Monday, 14 October 2013

India Post Launched International Money Transfer Service- 'Instant Cash'

The India Post on 11 October 2013 launched instant electronic money transfer service in partnership with Wall Street Exchange, (a company of UAE's Emirates Post Group) in New Delhi.
                                                               
                                                                               
In this regard India Post signed an agreement with Wall Street Exchange for launch of an International Electronic Money Transfer service through Instant Cash product of the Emirates Post Group.India Post Launched International Money  The service was launched by P. Gopinath, Secretary, Department of Posts, by receiving the first payment from United Arab Emirates.

Instant Cash: is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Emirates Post Group, and its services are available in 59 countries through more than 60000 locations.

The salient features of the service are 

1.Recipients will be able to receive their payment at any of the identified 17500 post offices by producing the unique transaction number along with their identity and KYC documents.

2.Money will be available for payment immediately.

3.Safe and secure transactions through established International Financial System of Universal Postal Union.

4.The service will be rolled out nationally in a phased manner.

5.The service will be provided through the International Financial System (IFS) of Universal Postal Union.

About India Post

India Post is the largest postal network in the world and has completed 158 years of existence. It has a network of 1.55 lakh Post Offices in the country, of which more than 1.39 lakh are in the rural area. Besides mail, it also provides various financial services like small savings instruments under Post Office Savings Bank and Money Remittance, both domestic and international.

India- Nepal- Bangladesh Cooperation Over Hydropower

With the increase in population and development, need for energy has increased exponentially. For meeting the demands we need to work out all the options we can to generate electricity. The resource rich Seven Sisters States (North Eastern states of India) are connected to the Indian main land through a narrow land strip between Bangladesh and Nepal borders called Chicken's Neck (or Siliguri Corridor). It is very difficult and costly for India to get benefit from the resources of Seven Sisters through this narrow land strip. River system in the north eastern part of India is major source through which we can generate electricity. Considering the international nature of the rivers involved, India-Nepal- Bangladesh (INB) has decided to cooperate & exploit over hydropower generation & use.          

Proposed IDEA :                                                


  • First initiative will be through Ganga (a river which flows through all of the INB). Ganga basin has tremendous potential for development of water resources and hydropower.
  • It indicates a growth in sub regional strategic alliance for infrastructure development. Has potential to change economic landscape of entire north-eastern India, entire Nepal and Bangladesh.
  • Instead of tapping dam rivers, options are also being put for Runof- the-river project. So no dislocation of people, no killing of local culture & not creating socio-cultural problems in tribal areas.
  • Project has a potential of 70,000 MW to 100,000 MW.

BENEFITS

1. Power in the form of electricity generation.
2. Economic Change: 100,000 MW can be generated which has the potential to change the economic landscape of the region.
3. Transformation of region: Development of poor areas of India (like UP, Bihar) & progress of Nepal and Bangladesh.
4. Bring these countries more closely on economic grounds which will remain intact even under political pressure.
5. Will help in attracting FDI, investment, business growth, etc. – a multiplier effect.
6. Will help tourism to grow.
7. Also chances to make international industrial townships.
8. Poverty eradication and better socio-economic integration.
9. Similar initiatives in the form of Bhutan, Bangladesh and India (BIB) is being proposed (for Brahmaputra Basin)

ISSUES INVOLVED

1. Minimize transmission leakages before everything is implemented between these three countries which plague our generation and transmission capacities.
2. Gestation period is longer. So private players less interested as time required for profits to come will be more.
3. Investment is huge. So private players alone won’t be able to do it. So there is a need for consortium (which includes various state governments and Government of India participating, government of India’s energy companies, Multinational companies participating. & states i.e. countries participating)
4. No environmental issue as substitutes can be used for “Dam Rivers.”
5. Need of strong “will” between India-Nepal-Bangladesh: More than anything this is needed which will automatically solve other problems.

TOURISM
  • It is evident from many examples that with hydropower plants tourism potential of the particular area automatically increases.
  • Nepal wanted to be “Switzerland of Asia.” It has huge tourism potential & can easily become one of the richest countries in the world.
  •  Bihar was one of the richest parts in historic times. Also Buddhism was born there. So is very important from historical context.
  • Bangladesh: traditions, culture and literature in Bangladesh is also famous as a tourist spot.


FROM INTERNATIONAL POINT OF VIEW


  • This cooperation will help to ease the power balance in South Asia.
  • will contribute to strengthening the cooperation mechanism and to long-term sustainable development, economic growth
  • Sub-regional cooperation will increase.
  • Close relation based on economic interest will be established.
  • Permanent “Power trade agreement” being discussed between these countries.
  • Chinese defense says ( a Chinese website) - if China can stop India getting electricity corridor through Bangladesh [which will enable India tapping 80 GW cheap hydro electricity to Indian grid], The Super Power Dream of India will be slowed downed further.
  • One more Chinese concern - The biggest "economic gold mine" of Seven Sister is the rich hydro electric potential of the disputed Arunachal Province which is about 80,000 mega watts (80 GW).

DAM RIVERS VS. RUN-OF-THE-RIVER PROJECTS : In Dam Rivers projects water is stored for electricity generation while in run-of-the-river project it is not needed.

Advantages of Run-of-the-river projects:

1. No dislocation of people & killing of local culture
2. Cleaner power, fewer greenhouse gases

Disadvantages of Run-of-the-river projects :

1. “Unfirm” power: Electricity generated from this doesn’t remain constant.
2. Availability of sites: Water has to be channelized (by pipes and tunnels) which is called “head” in such projects to make electricity. This may create some flow problems.
3. Environmental impacts: Where as very low impacts are witnessed in small projects, big projects are surely going to impact environment. 

India And South America Relations

South America is a Continent & ranks fourth in terms of area. It comprises of thirteen sovereign states : Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname , Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and two non-sovereign areas : French Guiana (an overseas region of France) and Falkland Islands Territory( a British Overseas Territory).

India and South America                                                           


Political relations:

Relations among India and countries of South America have been friendly and cordial (bilaterally). Common reasons behind this lie in the historical fact that both are ex-colonies & both are in the development phase & require  each other’s contribution for their own development.India And South America Relations Also on many international issues both sides have common view.

Implication of Regional Integration for India’s Trade 

Due to presence of South American Common Market (MERCOSUR) and free trade agreements between South American countries, Indian exporters are at a disadvantage. Our exporters don’t get competitive edge as compared to same products which the South American countries exchange among themselves which go duty free.

  • Government of India is negotiating with Colombia and Venezuela for Preferential Trading Arrangements (PTA).
  • Apart from this, the institutional cooperation agreements with Mercosur and Andean Community are on the anvil.


Bilateral Trade:

Over the years following three tendencies have been seen in bilateral trade between India and South America:
a. Indian imports are greater than exports from South America.
b. Main imports from South America consists of vegetable oil (mainly), iron and copper minerals, wood equipments & leather products.
c. Main exports to South America consists of motorcycles and threewheelers, iron and steel products, chemicals, machinery and instruments, etc.

ITEC programme:

The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme was started by Indian Government as a bilateral programme of assistance. Various scholarships are given to students from South America under ITEC to incorporate their youth with latest technical knowledge & help in nation building.

Regional Action Plan:

Argentina has started a special programme named “Regional Action Plan” to promote India’s commercial and economic interests in Argentina especially with special focus on its Provinces to :
a) identify areas of imports and exports
b) bring investment in mining, energy and infrastructure in provinces with assured returns
c) identify sectors for manufacturing or joint ventures for export to Argentina and Latin American countries
d) export technical collaboration and
e) organize visits of the Governors of States with commercial delegations to India.

Potential Areas for development:

The countries in South America are in developing stage. Relatively they are backward to India in areas like health, IT, remote sensing, biotechnology, etc. These said areas can serve best to Indian economy if they are harnessed well. Helping them in these areas will make Indian position firm on international platform where they will support Indian decisions.

Bilateral Investment:

Indian companies have found various areas in South America to invest in. Prominent among them is the mining industry. Other areas include IT, pharmaceutical, automobiles, steel industry, etc. Key players among them are ONGC Videsh, TCS, Mahindra Satyam, Reliance, etc.


  • Various bilateral agreements have been signed between both parties related to defense, science and technology, education, space, biotechnology, technical cooperation, etc. 


Our relations with South American countries are very friendly & non-disputed. Though both sides have increased bilateral relations but there still exist a lot of areas where both sides can cooperate. South America represents a developing world & by helping them India can became a major player in international arena.

Friday, 11 October 2013

First Mega Food Park in Uttar Pradesh Established at Jagdishpur

Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing, Government of India Dr. Charan Das Mahant laid the foundation stone on 8 October 2013 for establishment of Shaktiman mega Food Park (the first in the north India) in Jagdishpur of Amethi district in Uttar Pradesh.          
       

Features of Shaktiman Mega Food Park

• The Shaktiman Mega Food Park was set up with assistance under the programme Scheme of Mega Food Parks.
• It will be developed with the assistance of Aditya Birla Group.
• The Park will have most-modern infrastructure and facilities for food processing.
• It will help small and medium sized entrepreneurs, self-help groups and farmer-groups to set up food processing industries.
• It will create a market for raw material and in turn provide better prices to farmers for their produce.
• It will generate direct and indirect employment of 30000 persons.
• It will provide essential services like dry warehousing, cold storage.
• It will also act as a farmer friendly bank and fully equipped education and business centres.
• It will helpful for farmers, food processors and the local economy.

• The Vision 2015 of Ministry of Food Processing Industries aims to raise the processing of perishables in the country from existing 6 percent to 20 percent, value addition from 20 percent to 35  percent and the share in global food trade from 1.5 percent to 3 percent by year 2015.
• To realize the Vision 2015 Ministry of Food Processing Industries pledged support under the Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS).
• Each Mega Food Park (MFP) will be subsidized with an amount of 50 crore Rupees on a milestone and progress achievement basis.
• The scheme aims at facilitating the establishment of a strong food processing infrastructure backed by an efficient supply chain.
• The processing centres have infrastructure required for processing, packaging, environmental protection systems, quality control labs, trade facilitation etc.

Karnataka To implement The Second Phase of Forest Project

The Karnataka government on 8 October 2013 approved the implementation for the second phase of the Karnataka Sustainable Forest Management and Biodiversity Conservation Project (KSFMBC). It is aimed at expanding forests, over the next eight years. The project will cost around 1899.72 crore rupees. It will be implemented with the help of 1701.98 crore rupees from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), with the remaining share contributed by state government. It will run from 2013-14-2020-21.
                                       
                                                       
The project is helpful in expanding forests so that ecological restoration could take place.Karnataka To implement Forest Project  It will also facilitate livelihood improvement of inhabitants of the villages by afforestation.

The first phase of the KSFMBC was executed between 2005 and 2012. Its cost was 745 crore rupees. The project would cover all 30 districts such as Bhramagiri, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuaries, Daroji Bear Sanctuary, Shettyhalli-Sharavathi Sanctuary, Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary, Talacauvery, Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary and Kudremukh National Park.

Sachin Tendulkar Announced Retirement From Test Cricket

Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar on 10 October 2013 announced his decision to retire from Test cricket after playing his landmark 200th Test match against the West Indies in November 2013.

Previously, Sachin Tendulkar announced retirement form one day cricket on 23 December 2012 and from Twenty20 cricket format on 26 May 2013.                                    

About Sachin Tendulkar                              

• Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar is an Indian Batsman who is considered one of the greatest batsman of the world after Don Bradman in Test Cricket and the second most successful one day batsman after Viv Richards as per the ranking done by Wisden-the Bible of Cricket.

• Sachin Tendulkar who belongs to Mumbai Maharashtra made his appearance in six world cups for India and was the member of the 2011 World Cup winning squad of the nation.


• The Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut against arch-rival Pakistan at Karachi in 1989.

• He currently holds the record for most hundreds in both Tests and One Day Internationals.

• In 198 Test matches, Sachin Tendulkar scored over Fifteen Thousand Eight hundred runs at an average of 53.86. He slammed 51 Test centuries and an unbeaten 248 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2004 was his best ever.

• He made 49 hundreds in the one-day format, including a double hundred which is the first in this form of cricket and 96 half centuries.

• In 2012, Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to score 100 international centuries.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Post Sachar Reservation Politics

REASON FOR BEING IN NEWS

Growing demand to create 4.5% sub-quota for Muslims under backward classes. On 5th March, 2013, Jaimat Ulama-i-Hind held march to press for reservations for the Muslim community.

INTRODUCTION                                                     


Reservation is always seen as a tool to reduce social inequality amongst various religious Indian communities. A 27% quota for OBC encompasses such a large amount of population that there is an increasing demand for a special sub-quota for different communities.Though a welcome measure, it is still plagued with politicization

SACHAR COMMITTEE REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS

Sachar Reservation Politics committee report is prominently identified for diagnosing the problem of Muslims. It had submitted its final report on November 16,2006.

Main Recommendations:


  • Recognize degrees from madarasas for eligibility in defence, civil and banking examinations.
  • Increase employment share of Muslims, particularly where there is great deal of public dealing. Work out mechanisms to link madarsas with higher secondary school board.
  • Establish a delimitation procedure that does not reserve constituencies with high minority population for SCs.
  • Create a nomination procedure to increase participation of minorities in public bodies.
  • Set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to look into grievances of deprived groups like minorities.


It gave its recommendations at two levels: 1. General Level 2. Specific policy measures.

General Level Policy Measures:

1. Need for transparency, Accountability
2. Ensure equal Opportunities, End Discrimination
3. Enhance Muslim Participation in Governance
4. Give Incentives for Diversity
5. Facilitate Creation of Common Public Spaces
6. Sensitize government servants

Specific Policy Measures:

1. Give education top priority
2. Initiatives for Higher Education
3. Provide hostels/boarding houses, especially for girls
4. Teacher training programme
5. Support Urdu language 6. Link Madarsas to Mainstream Education
7. Ensure More Access to Credit and Government Schemes

RANGANATH MISHRA COMMISSION

It is mainly known for recommending measures for improving socioeconomic conditions of minorities. Had constituted on October 29,2004 by the Government of India.

Main Recommendations:

1. Educational:

  • Selected institutions in the country like the Aligarh Muslim University and the Jamia Millia Islamia should be legally given a special responsibility to promote education at all levels to Muslim students by taking all possible steps for this purpose.
  • The Madrassa Modernisation Scheme of the government should be suitably revised, strengthened and provided with more funds so that it can provide finances and necessary paraphernalia.


2. For Linguistic Minorities:

  • The law relating to the linguistic minorities commissioner should be amended so as to make this office responsible for ensuring full implementation of all the relevant constitutional provisions for the benefit of each such minority in all the states and union territories.
  • The three-language formula should be implemented everywhere in the country , making it compulsory for the authorities to include in it the mother tongue of every child – including, especially , Urdu and Punjabi – and all necessary facilities, financial and logistic, should be provided by the state for education in accordance with this dispensation.


3. Economic Measures

  • As many minority groups specialise in certain household and small-scale industries, an effective mechanism should be adopted to work for the development and modernisation of all such industries
  • Special schemes should be formulated for the promotion and development of agriculture, agronomy and agricultural trade among them.


BURNING POINTS OF THIS ISSUE

  • Muslim is the largest community amongst minorities.
  • But comparatively it is socially and economically backward with respect to forward minority communities like Christians and Sikhs.
  • In 2011, government cabinet approved in a hurry the 4.5% subquota for minorities within existing reservation of 27% for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • Many Muslim communities feel the sub-quota to be inadequate considering the poor condition of Muslims.
  • With 4.5% reservations Muslims will now have to compete with forward minority communities like Christians and Sikhs.
  • Courts in its decision has discarded cabinet decision of introducing 4.5% sub-quota stating that it is not based on empirical data.


KEY ISSUE

  • No guidelines have been given out by government that to who will constitute this 4.5 % sub-quota amongst Muslims ?
  • Muslims have a lot stratification in terms of class income.
  • So there is a possibility of taking benefits of this sub-quota by the upper echelon of Muslim community particularly the Asharaf castes.
  • Government engaging in piecemeal process of democratization (i.e. giving a peace to a particular community when it protests).
  • According to Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA), the central allocation of 0.79% of total budget is insignificant.
  • Muslim OBCs are neither getting a sub-quota within the 27% OBCs reservation, nor are the schemes meant for poor Muslims (including Ashrafs) being implemented properly.


WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ?

  • Government must stop being ambiguous and implement Sachar Committee report in totality.
  • Separate sub-quota for Muslim OBC’s should be made.
  • Declare Presidential Order (1950) null and void and bring dalit Muslims into the scheduled castes category.

Cable TV Digitalization

Cable TV digitalization is the process where cable TV users have to install a Set-top box in their house for watching cable TV from now onwards. In December last year, Parliament enacted a Bill to make digitization of cable television compulsory in India.                                

PHASES OF DIGITALIZATION IMPLEMENTATION

  •  Encompasses 4 metro cities of India. Digitized by December, 2012.
  •  encompasses 38 cities of India having population more than 1 million. Completed by April 1, 2013.
  •  Digitize cities except covered in phase I and phase II by September, 2013.
  •  Encompasses whole India. Will be covered by December 2013.


WHAT IS A SET-TOP BOX ?

It’s a device which enables TV to deliver digital signals.

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SYSTEM OPERATOR ?

A multiple-system operator or multi-system operator (MSO) is an operator of multiple cable or direct-broadcast satellite television systems.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO USERS ?


  • Picture quality: Users will get better picture quality than the previous analog based cable TV whose quality used to be very poor after certain number of channels.
  • Sound Quality: Users will now not get distorted audio voice or signal. On the contrary they can enjoy HD quality voice.
  • Amount Payable: Users now need to pay only for those channels which they view or want to view.
  • Options available: Previously analog signals at the most could deliver 60 channels properly. But after digitalization, it will be able to provide channels in the range of 500 to 1050 and more with same nice quality.
  • Broadband facility: Users can now avail broadband facility with the same cable TV.


OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR CABLE TV DIGITALIZTION :

1. Direct to Home service (DTH)
2. Same cable TV operator but which provides set top box to view its cable services.


  • DTH service is little costlier than Cable TV+Set top box option. But the quality and the facilitates provided by DTH are far more greater than the later.
  • The only problem with DTH is that it will not be able to provide its services in the case of rain or bad weather.


ISSUES INVOLVED IN CABLE TV DIGITALIZATION


  • Extra Cost: Users will need to pay more money for set-top box services.
  • Protest of Cable TV Operators: Cable TV operators are reluctant towards investing more money in the infrastructure needed to support set-top box services.
  • No reporting from Cable TV operators: Cable TV operators are not reporting the exact number of users or consumer information to multi-system operator (MSO) which in turn is providing huge chances for tax evasion.


GOOD NEWS FOR BROADCASTERS


  • Carriage Fees: Broadcasters are those who deliver the serials, news, music and other shows on TV. But they first need to broadcast it to cable operators which take advantage of this & ask for more money (as carriage fees). Broadcasters now only need to work on creativity of their TV content & don’t need to worry about carriage fees.
  • Revenue generated by them will increase.
  • Specialized channels will be able to grow from now onwards as they will get freedom from artificial bandwidth scarcity created by cable operators.


ADVANTAGES TO GOVERNMENT


  • Transparency of the whole TV system will increase.
  • Revenue generated by the government will increase as exact number of users will be reported to the government using set top box.
  • Menace of cable TV operators of earning more revenues (black money of course) from underreporting of the number of users will be stopped).
  • Higher profits to broadcasters will ensure job creation in the market & its advancement.

Need For Regulatory Body For Electronic Media

There has been a spurt in complaints about the content being shown on electronic media by a large section of consumers. The rapid growth of revenue-hungry Indian media and recent scandals involving news outlets has prompted growing calls for external regulation, raising concerns about independence of the press. In this context Delhi high court (HC) in the month of April, 2013 recommended the centre to form a regulatory body for electronic media.                                              


High Court's Observations

HC rejected the idea of “self-regulation” mechanism of the broadcasters, adding that absence of state intervention do not guarantee rich media environment. For pluralism and diversity to exist state intervention is necessary at a point.

REASONS OF MEDIA TO OPPOSE


  • Many of them are haunted by the fear of “Emergency” in which media was heavily suppressed in the name of national security which they haven’t forgot.
  • They consider media as the fourth pillar of democracy & should be independent of other three (i.e. Executive, Legislative and Judiciary).
  • They think that such measures are being used to suppress right to expression.


HC ON THESE REACTIONS


  • Freedom of expression was not an absolute right so can’t be used against any legislation if enacted against Parliament.
  • In world, it is there. The only problem being it is new to India.


VIEW OF SOME EXPERTS


  • Not a complete regulatory body is needed but “co-regulation” is definitely needed.
  • It will help to set a standard for media content and put some punishments in case of violence.
  • Absence of experimentation in the media content which was evident in serial like “Hum Log”. So media has reached a “routinezed” content making and neglecting values.
  • Idea of media for Freedom of speech and expression is totally vague considering the question that actually whose freedom they are talking – whether of media, or its owner, or the common man who has empowered them to exercise this freedom.
  • Public Service Broadcasting (i.e. doing something for the society through media content) be started and used by electronic media content.
  • Media privileges are being used in the same way as “emergency” was used as a tool for some selfish gains.
  • Anyone cannot control view or opinions today. Media should come out of its ghost of emergency times. It is a history today. So a special regulatory body should be made.


PREVIOUS ATTEMPT

MP Meenakshi Natrajan tried to introduce the Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012, which would have given the government sweeping powers over the media, including ability to ban or suspend coverage of an event in the interest of national security. The bill would have also created a regulatory body largely appointed by the government. Natarajan's bill has been shelved in response to a media outcry.

USE OF MEDIA FOR SELFISH GAINS

Following are too common in Indian Media:

1. Paid News
2. Pressurizing industrial houses for some “confidential video”
3. Threatening political entity for some investment and political interest
4. Bribery and corruption linking lobbyists to journalist and politicians for “inclusive corruption”.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid Concluded Two Day Visit to Sri Lanka

Minister of External Affairs of India Salman Khurshid visited Sri Lanka on 7-8 October 2013.The main issues discussed in the meeting were process for solving the problems of the minority Tamil community, the issue of detention of Indian fishermen etc.                                  
                                     

Highlights of the visit

• Salman Khurshid first day met the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa and he emphasized the need to restart the dialogue process for solving the problems of the minority Tamil community in the Sri Lanka and for ensuring a meaningful devolution of power within a united Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid Concluded Sri Lanka.

• Salman Khurshid also met the first Tamil Chief Ministe, CV Wigneswaran of Northern Province (is one of the nine provinces of Sri Lanka) in Jaffna. Both were discussed regarding the 13 amendment.

• CV Wigneswaran thanked India for playing a key role in ensuring that elections were held in the province.

• External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid also met Governor of Northern Province GA Chandrasiri at the Governor’s Secretariat on 08th October 2013. They discussed a number of issues of mutual interest with the underlying objective of developing strategies for the two countries to coordinate more closely towards further strengthening relations. Their discussion also focused on development activities carried out all over the province and the newly elected Provincial Council of Northern Province.

About India and Sri Lanka bilateral Relations

• India is Sri Lanka's closest neighbour. The relationship between the two countries is more than 2500 years old and both sides have built upon a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic intercourse.

• Relations between the two countries have also matured and diversified with the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance.

• In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence, as well as a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.

• India-Sri Lanka relationship is strong and poised for a quantum jump by building on the rich legacy of historical linkages and strong economic and development partnerships that have been forged.

Turkey Lifted A Ban on Women Wearing The Islamic Head Scarf

Turkey on 8 October 2013 lifted a ban on women wearing the Islamic head scarf in state institutions. It is considered as a part of a package of reforms introduced by the government. The new rules, however will not apply to the judiciary or the military.  
               
                                 

The current government package is aimed at bolstering the rights of Turkey's Kurdish community. It included changes to the electoral system, the broadening of language rights and permission for villages to use their original Kurdish names. It also put an end to state primary school children reciting the oath of national allegiance at the start of each week, a deeply nationalistic vow.

The Turkey government in 1925 had introduced a series of clothing reforms meant to discard off overt symbols of religious affiliation for civil servants.

Street Vendors bill : A Bill For 'Teen Ka Ek Ya Paanch Ke Do

The first thing which strikes one’s mind when we think of street vendors is that they are mobile & don’t have fixed position where we can find them again. Comprising mainly poor people, street vendors are subjected to constant harassment by local government bodies. What makes the situation worse is that they are politically unorganized & hence can’t fight back. Therefore, government on 6 September 2013, passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012 in order to protect the rights of the street vendors in urban areas Street Vendors bill .

Facts about bill

1. Town Vending Committee (TVC) ,comprising officials and non-officials (40% of it from vendors) by election (having 1/3rd reservation for women) will be formed which will implement the provisions of the bill.
2. The TVC comprises of the municipal commissioner, representatives of street vendors, local authority, planning authority, local police, resident welfare association and other traders associations.
3. A vendor has to register with TVC, after which he will be issued with a certificate for a particular area for particular period.
4. Decisions relating to street vending activities like deciding natural market, finding vending zones etc. will be looked into by TVC.
5. Any vending area will comprise maximum of 2.5% vendors to total population.
6. TVC will revise its plan every 5 years.
7. This Bill shall not apply to Railways land, premises and trains.

PRESENT SITUATION

  • Street vendors are from that class which doesn’t get jobs in formal sector due to low level of education & skill. According to V. V. Giri National Labour Institute, NOIDA, age-wise distribution of household of vendors reveals that the age group below 14 constituted 28.2% and that of 15-60 years constituted 69.7% of population.
  • One-third of the vendor household’s fall in the income range of Rs. 3001-5000., 2/3rd in range of 3001- 7000. Total family members are doing vending job as family business.

Analysis : Whether this legislation will help the 

According to National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), the bill has serious shortfalls which need immediate attention. Following are the flaws they mentioned:-

1. “Concentrated too much power” with local municipal bodies.
2. Local bodies will create schemes for street vendors which won’t have right to go against them if they found it useless.
3. Final authority on issues like identification, registration and licensing of street vendors, identification of natural markets and allocation of space based on the idea of natural markets will be of local authority and not of TVC.
4. Bill shows fewer quanta of resettlement and rehabilitation solutions in case of land acquisition.
5. No clear cut principles laid down on how to issue vending certificates, allocation of vending zones, etc.
6. Bill is not all negative; indeed it has lots of motive provisions which will prevent the day-to-day harassment of street vendors.
7. This bill will provide for the first time vendors a say in their problems & the solutions related to it.

VIEWS OF EXPERTS

  • Among a list of amendments NASVI will campaign for, include provisions for
  • those on railway premises who have been left out of the scope of the proposed law,
  • incorporation of principles of natural markets as central to the determination of vending zones,
  • prescription of minimum quantitative norms for a number of street vendors to be accommodated and
  • allocation of a minimum percentage of public land for street vending.


IMPACTS

Given the pace of urbanization and the opportunities presented, the growth of street vendors’ population is likely to have an upward trend. Dr. Girija Vyas, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said “ It is vital that these vendors are enabled to pursue their livelihoods in a congenial and harassment free atmosphere. Inclusive growth strategy adopted by the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans calls for a facilitating mechanism for street vending to aid economic growth and inclusion simultaneously".

RELATED SUBJECTIVE QUESTIONS

1.  Analyze and Comment - “Street Vendors Bill, 2012 will lead to more inclusive growth”.
2. Enlist and examine the highlights of Street Vendors Bill, 2012 keeping in view the present situation of vendors before the bill.
3. Critically analyze the Town Vending Committee mention in the new Street Vendors Bill, 2012. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Problems Of Unorganised Sector Workers

Unorganized workers (UW) in India have increased many folds post independence. Around 52% of UW’s are engaged in agriculture & allied sector and more than 90% of the labour work force constitutes these UW. UW contributes 50% to GDP (according to National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector i.e NCEUS). So it is of utmost importance to look into the plight of this poverty-stricken and downtrodden class of India.                                                              


  • As per "Ministry of Labour and Employment " definition : Unorganized sector means an enterprise owned by individuals or self-employed workers and engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing service of any kind whatsoever, and where the enterprise employs workers, the number of such workers is less than ten.
  • “Unorganized worker” (UW) means a home-based worker, self-employed worker or a wage worker in the unorganized sector and includes a worker in the organized sector who is not covered by any Acts mentioned in Schedule II of the Unorganized Workers Social Act 2008.
  • Labour is a subject under concurrent list.

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA):Problems Of Unorganised Sector Workers flagship program is not implemented through Labour and Employment Ministry (LEM) but is by Rural Development Ministry. LEM has no say in MNREGA.


CLASSIFICATION OF UNORGANIZED WORKERS (UW) According to statistics of Ministry of Labour (2008), UW is classified into four groups :


  •  By Occupation
  •  By nature of employment
  •  Service Category
  •  Special Category 


CHARACTERISTIC OF INFORMAL / UNORGANIZED SECTOR


  • Low productivity compared to formal sector
  • Lower wages to workers
  • Poor working conditions
  • Excessive seasonality of employment
  • Absence of social security measures
  • Negation of social standard
  • Poor human capital base (in terms of education, skill and training) as well as lower mobilization status of the work force
  • Any effective legal action against it is seen as a step of impairing


CHARACTERISTICS OF UNORGANIZED WORKERS (UW)


  • Have limited or no education or other skills.
  • Are hugely scattered and don’t have political pressure groups
  • Don’t have fixed jobs i.e. have seasonality as compared to formal sector workers.
  • Social stratification is more in them in rural areas on the basis of Caste and sub-castes.
  • Still today, they act as “bonded labour” in some cases due to low incomes & permanent indebtedness.
  • Have insufficient labour laws relating to them.
  • Work in very poor working environment.


ISSUES INVOLVED :


  • Insufficient labour laws
  • No social security
  • No guaranteed minimum wages
  • Bonded labour (they don’t complain about this because if they do their master may remove them) considering their ignorance)
  • Child Labour (they are the most exploited among them
  • Working Women – issue of harassment at work place
  • Low literacy among them
  • Low incomes which they don’t complain about
  • Vulnerable to diseases


ASSESSMENT OF UNORGANIZED SECTORS SOCIAL SECURITY ACT (2008) 

Pros

  • Envisages creating National Social Security Board which will be chaired by Union Minister for Labour and Employment & Director General (Labour Welfare) as Member-Secretary [both ex-officio].
  • Envisages creating State Social Security Board at state level which will be chaired by Minister for Labour and Employment of the concerned state & the Principal Secretary or Secretary (Labour) as Member-secretary [both ex-officio].
Cons

  • No separate provision for unorganized workers.
  • Only contains available social security schemes in the country.
  • No legal binding on the part of government or the one who employs.
  • No eligibility criteria, no benefit details, minimum wages etc. have been envisaged in the act.
  • Act has a serious lagging on the legislative and intent front. Basically, eyewash which has neither addressed problems nor given solution.


SOCIAL SECURITY

  • Social Security can be defined as “the provision of benefits to households and individuals through public or collective arrangements to protect against low or declining standard of living arising from a number of basic risks and needs.
  • Some examples of social security measures:

  •  Medical care of all sorts
  •  Provident Funds/Gratuity
  •  Medical Care of all sorts


  • Except some medical treatment and age-old pension schemers with meager amount of benefit (around Rs. 100 to 200 per month) there are no special social security measures available for the unorganized workers in the country.
  • The organized sector on the other hand enjoys a lot of social security measures which establishes a question that why it can’t be don’t for unorganized workers.
  • Social Security legislations for mainly urban and organized workers in the country are as follows:


1. Payment of gratuity Act 1971
2. Workmen compensation Act 1923
3. Maternity benefit Act 1971
4. Employees state insurance Act 1948
5. Employees provident fund and the miscellaneous provisions act 1952

Above mentioned legislations do not mention unorganized workers specifically nor do they prohibit coverage of them. In other words they can’t enjoy any social security measure which is freely open for organized workers.

UPSC (M) Paper iii (GS-II) - India And its Neighborhood : India And Afghanistan Relation

India’s highest priority has always been her neighbors as part of its foreign policy which seeks to have a peaceful periphery to achieve multi-glorious development goals. Moreover India also believes that a stable and prosperous south Asia will only contribute to India’s prosperity and it has got a big obligation to fulfill as it shares border with many south Asian nations. India has developed a policy of asymmetric engagement to strengthen bridges of friendship and create new opportunities for the growth, security and well being of her neighbors both bilaterally and through the SAARC mechanism. India is committed to fostering the sense of a south Asian identity through the SAARC process, enhancing mutual confidence in multiple confidences in multiple areas and in trying to leverage India’s rapid economic growth into win-win arrangements with her neighbors. India remains conscious of this vision of south Asian integration in bilateral engagements with her neighbors as well.                                                                                

India – Afghanistan

India and Afghanistan have established a strategic partnership. India’s historical and civilizational relationship with Afghanistan is being further strengthened by India’s active engagement in the development and reconstruction process of Afghanistan. India And its Neighborhood : India And Afghanistan Relation fghanistan joined the SAARC community in 2007 and India stands committed to help Afghanistan integrate into the regional economy of south Asia. Both these communities believe that democracy and development are the key instruments to become a source of regional stability.

  • India has offered extensive development assistance program, making India the 5th largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan after the US, the UK, Japan and Germany.
  • There also exists a high level political engagement with Afghanistan which is reflected in the large number of bilateral high level visits.
  • India sought to provide a forum for potential investors from the region and beyond to meet and explore possible cross country company partnerships on investments, in and around Afghanistan, in various sectors where Afghanistan holds the promise of significant potential, opportunity and need as a means of bringing stability and development to Afghanistan through economic means.
  • India has played an active role in the development of Afghanistan based on the understanding that social and economic development in Afghanistan is crucial to regional stability. The principal objective of India’s development partnership is to assist in building indigenous afghan capacity and institutions and to ensure that development touches all the regions of Afghanistan and encompasses all the sectors of development.
  • All the projects are undertaken in partnership with the afghan government, in consonance with Afghanistan national development strategy. India’s program covers four broad areas – infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance, small and community based development projects and education and capacity development.
  • The 218 km road project from Zaranj to Delaram in south western Afghanistan to facilitate movement of goods and services to the Iranian border and onward to the Chahbahar port was inaugurated by the afghan president and Indian external affairs minister.
  • India constructed the 202 kms road along DC transmission line from pul-e-khumri to Kabul and a Kv substation at Chimtala, bringing Uzbek electricity and lighting up the city of Kabul throughout the year. This project was completed in collaboration with the afghan government, ADB and the World Bank, with the inputs from USAID and international energy firms and is an outstanding example of regional and international cooperation in Afghanistan.
  • The other two major infrastructure projects, the construction of the afghan parliament in Kabul and the construction of Salma dam power project in Herat province.
  • Under humanitarian assistance, India supplies 100gms of fortified biscuits everyday to each of the nearly two million school children in 33 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan under a school feeding program administers through the world food program.
  • India announced the gift of 2, 50,000 metric tons of wheat to assist Afghanistan tide over its food shortage.
  • The Indian missions in the five major cities are providing free medical consultations and medicine to over 30,000 Afghanis every month.
  • An innovative scheme focusing on small and community based development projects with a short gestation period and having a direct impact on community life was unveiled. So far 101 such projects have been initiated.
  • In education and institution development, India is providing university scholarships, sponsored by the ICCR for under graduate and post graduate studies for Afghan students in India.
  • More than 20 Indian civil servants served as coaches and mentors under capacity for afghan public administration program supported by UNDP and the governments of Afghanistan and India.
  • CII built India-Afghanistan vocational training center for training afghan youth.
  • India NGO, SEWA built a women’s vocational training center in Bagh-e-Zanana in Kabul to train Afghan women.
  • India has assisted in expansion of Afghan National TV network.
  • India has also encouraged Afghanistan efforts at capitalizing on its unique geographical location at the heart of the Asian continent by supporting regional initiatives like the Istanbul process and RECCA that seek to assist in Afghanistan’s development through cooperation in a various sectors of economy.
  • Subsequently, India has managed to effectively claw its way back into Afghanistan’s power equations, at least for the near future:
  • India-educated Hamid Karzai becoming its first president and re elected twice, Afghan foreign ministers frequently making visits to Indian, New Delhi being chosen as a destination over looking other 6 geographical neighbors and Manmohan singh visit to Afghanistan is first of its kind in past 3 decades.


Today, India is recognized as a key regional player in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and for the first time there is a broad congruity of Indian and US interests in Afghanistan: both wish to see a stable, democratic and multi-ethnic political solution take root in the country.

Indian efforts in Afghanistan are underpinned by the following three key objectives:

  •  Negating influence of ISI backed Taliban.
  •  Drug trafficking
  •  Securing Afghanistan as a trade and energy corridor to Central Asia. 


1. Negating influence of ISI backed Taliban: India has always had a threat from North West frontier i.e. Afghanistan which always serving as a launch pad for invasions into the plains of northern India and Kashmir. Mujahedeen at the throne, waging a holy war in the name of Jihad, ISI backed Taliban getting weapons from USA started waging a Jihad in Kashmir. This served a severe threat to India. The aftermath of 2001 and Karzai at the helm was a sigh of relief for India. Since then it has been extending political, diplomatic and extensive humanitarian support to the Karzai Government from 2002.

2. Drug trafficking: India has the largest opiate-using population in the sub-region (the five Central Asian republics, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India), accounting for an astounding 3.2m. users out of a total of 5m. users estimated for the entire sub-region. India has also reported the largest cannabis seizures made in Asia, at 108m. tonnes, the bulk of which originated in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s opium make its way to the Indian market through the Indo–Pakistani border in the Punjab. Opium addiction has grown at an alarming rate, particularly amongst the youth in the border villages, inflicting tremendous damage on the country’s social fabric. The other disconcerting trend for India has been the strengthening linkages between drugs trafficking and the Taliban insurgency, which has gained tremendous momentum over the last four years. The money generated from drugs-trafficking is being used to fund the supply of sophisticated arms and to win over foot soldiers for the insurgency by paying them a monthly salary. The growing menace of drugs-trafficking poses serious challenges to human security as well as the national security of India.

3. Securing Afghanistan as a trade and energy corridor to Central Asia: A stable Afghanistan has the potential to serve as a key land bridge to facilitate India’s energy and commercial interests in hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia, thus facilitating the diversification of oil and gas supplies and reducing India’s excessive dependence on supplies from the Middle East. With this objective of enhancing India’s energy security, vital to sustain the momentum of its economic growth, India joined the ambitious $7,500m TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) pipeline initiative, which was envisaged to carry 30,000m cu feet of gas from the Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and Pakistan, into India .Afghanistan also has considerable amounts of untapped reserves of oil and natural gas, a vast array of industrial metals such as copper, gold, iron, cobalt and lithium. if exploited in the right way, it would transform Afghanistan's economy. In light of Pakistan’s refusal to grant trade transit rights, India has worked towards developing an alternative trade corridor going down to Chabahar, christened as the International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC), India hopes to achieve two objectives. First, provide land-locked Afghanistan with shorter and alternative access to the sea, thereby reducing its dependency on Pakistan; and second, in light of Pakistan’s refusal to grant trade transit rights over land, it envisages by-passing Pakistan and instead shipping its goods from Mumbai port to Chabahar in Iran and then onwards by the Zaranj–Delaram road into Afghanistan and by rail into Central Asia. The decision to admit Afghanistan as a full member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at its 14th summit in New Delhi in April 2007 was as much strategic as it was commercial. On the commercial front, with the passage in 2006 of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which eases tariff barriers, sub continental trade is expected to benefit.

The key challenges facing Indian policy in Afghanistan can broadly be classified under two fronts: security and diplomacy.

1. Security: India has always been a target by ISI backed Taliban. Not only Indians in India, but Indians in Afghanistan were targeted numerous times and many Indians lost their lives in this. Pakistan’s main aim is to wipe off Indian leverage in Afghanistan. But if this is achieved then India shall suffer a lot.

2. Diplomacy: On the diplomatic plane, the challenges before India are threefold: encourage working towards evolving a multi-ethnic political solution to the Afghanistan, Understanding Taliban insurgency, India has to make creative moves in Afghanistan and India also needs to effectively leverage its soft power prowess in Afghanistan and reinforce it with a more active role in the country’s military sector.

Few important points to consider:

1. The first significance challenge of India – Afghanistan relations came in the wake of the soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in December, 1979. India’s response to the soviet intervention in Afghanistan was essentially conditioned by the following four factors:

a. Washington aid, supply of arms and fighter aircrafts to Pakistan.
b. Washington’s rapprochement with Beijing in which Pakistan had a key role to play.
c. A US naval build up in the Indian Ocean region
d. A fear of mujahideen victory giving Pakistan clears strategic leverage in Afghanistan.

In such complex realities, India did not want to jeopardize its partnership with USSR, because USSR helped India in issues of Kashmir and the Bangladesh war of 19771, when received a stiff opposition from USA and People’s Republic of China. USSR has given aid to India in defense equipment and space technology. So it chose to abstain UN resolutions calling for soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. India was the only nation outside the Warsaw pact that supported Kremlin regime in Kabul, there by undermining its own moral stature and NAM policy. However, within months of Soviet collapse, it was replaced by the fragile coalition of mujahedeen forces with Badrudin Rabbani at helm. Even though factionsim was rampant in Rabbani’s regime and understanding Rabbani’s own islamist Jamat-e-Islamic background, India cast its lot with Rabbani Regime. India suffered its strategic setback in Afghanistan, when Pakistan backed Taliban came into fore. It was now clear indicator that Afghanistan shall soon turn center for narcotic drugs and terrorism. So India started limiting assistance to Afghanistan. As the international community desperately attempts to find a way to extricate itself from the Afghan quagmire, India may increasingly find itself hemmed in by the powers that be.