Online Courses (English)
This just in:

State PCS

News Analysis

  • 21 Jan 2022
  • 34 min read
International Relations

Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius

For Prelims: Location of Mauritius, SAGAR Mission, India-assisted Development Projects in Mauritius.

For Mains: Importance of Mauritius for India and related challenges, India-Mauritius Relations.

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister of India and Mauritius jointly inaugurated India-assisted social housing units project in Mauritius virtually as part of India's development support.

Key Points

  • About:
    • In May 2016, India had extended a grant of USD 353 mn to Mauritius as Special Economic Package (SEP) to execute five priority projects identified by Mauritius, among others.
    • These were: the Metro Express Project, Supreme Court Building, New ENT Hospital, Supply of Digital Tablets to Primary School Children, and the Social Housing Project.
    • With the inauguration of the Social Housing Project, all the high profile projects under the SEP have been implemented.
  • Foundation Stone for Two Other Projects:
    • Construction of a State-of-the-Art Civil Service College:
      • It is being financed through a grant support of USD 4.74 million, under an MoU signed in 2017 during the visit of Prime Minister of Mauritius to India.
      • Once constructed, this will provide a fully equipped and functional facility for the civil servants of Mauritius to undertake various training and skill development programmes.
      • It will further strengthen institutional linkages with India.
        • The Prime Minister of India also acknowledged the importance of the Civil Service College project in nation building and offered to share learnings of Mission Karmayogi.
    • 8 MW Solar PV Farm.
      • It involves the installation of 25,000 PV cells to generate approximately 14 GWh of green energy annually, to electrify approximately 10,000 Mauritian households.
      • It will help mitigate the climate challenges that Mauritius faces through avoidance of 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
    • Exchange of Two Key Bilateral Pacts:
      • Agreement for the extension of USD 190 million Line of Credit from India to Mauritius for the Metro Express and other infrastructure projects.
      • MoU on the Implementation of Small Development Projects.

India-Mauritius Relations

  • About:
    • Connections between India and Mauritius date back to 1730 and diplomatic relations were established in 1948 before Mauritius became an independent state (1968).
    • India has viewed Mauritius through the prism of the diaspora. This was, perhaps, natural since communities of Indian origin constitute a significant majority in the island.
      • Indian-origin people constitute nearly 70% of the population of Mauritius.
    • It is a significant partner of India in celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas which is a forum for issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.
  • Significance for India:
    • Geo-strategic: India has begun to see the strategic significance of Mauritius to the renewed great power contestation in the Indian Ocean.
      • In 2015, India unveiled its strategic vision for the Indian Ocean called the SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region).
      • In 2015, India and Mauritius signed an agreement that allows India to develop infrastructure in terms of establishing military bases on the Mauritian islands.
    • Geo-Economic:
      • As a “central geographic point” Mauritius holds importance for commerce and connectivity in the Indian Ocean.
      • As a member of the African Union, Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Commission, Mauritius is a stepping stone to multiple geographies.
      • As a founding-member of the ‘Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) it has been seen as a significant neighbour.
      • India is Mauritius’s largest trading partner and has been the largest exporter of goods and services to the Indian Ocean island nation since 2007.
    • Regional Hub: As new investments pour into Mauritius from Africa, Mauritius can be the fulcrum for India’s own African economic outreach.
      • India could also contribute to the evolution of Mauritius as a regional centre for technological innovation.
      • Mauritius could also become a valuable place for regional and international maritime scientific research.
    • Pivot of Island Policy: Until now India has tended to deal with the so-called Vanilla islands of the south western Indian Ocean — Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion and Seychelles — on a bilateral basis.
      • If the Indian establishment thinks of them as a collective, it could make Mauritius the pivot of Delhi’s island policy.
      • It can facilitate a number of Indian commercial activities in the south western Indian ocean — as a banking gateway and hub for tourism.
    • Keeping Pace with China: In its “string of pearls” policy, China has built significant relations across the Indian Ocean, from Gwadar (Pakistan) to Hambantota (Sri Lanka) to Kyaukpyu (Myanmar).
      • Therefore, India should help Indian Ocean littoral states like Mauritius, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Seychelles as part of capacity and capability enhancement in strengthening their maritime domain awareness capabilities.
  • Important Developments:

Way Forward

  • While India and Mauritius share cultural contiguity dating back to colonial times and a special partnership in recent years, India cannot take its influence in Mauritius for granted and should continue to enhance its engagement with this important island country.
  • As India takes an integrated view of its security cooperation in the south western Indian Ocean, Mauritius is the natural node for it. Therefore, it is important to take course-corrections in India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

Source: PIB


Governance

Deputation of All India Services Officer

For Prelims: All India Services (AIS), Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

For Mains: Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954, All India Services (AIS), Deputation of AIS Officer, Federal Nature of AIS Officers.

Why in News

Recently, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to the States that the Union government proposes to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954.

  • Under this, the Union government will acquire for itself overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation, doing away with the requirement of taking the approval of the State governments.

Key Points

  • All India Services (AIS):
    • About: The All India Services (AIS) comprises the three civil services of India:
      • Indian Administrative Service (IAS);
      • Indian Police Service (IPS); and
      • Indian Forest Service (IFoS).
    • Federal Nature of AIS Officers: AIS officers are recruited by the Union Government (by UPSC) and their services are allotted under various State Cadres.
      • Hence, they have the accountability to serve both under the State and the Centre.
      • However, the Cadre Controlling Authority of AIS is the Union Government.
        • The DoPT is the cadre controlling authority of IAS officers.
        • Cadre controlling authority for deputation of Indian Police Service and Indian Forest Service Officers (IFoS) is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Environment Ministry respectively.
    • Central Deputation Reserve: The State government has to prescribe a number of officers available for deputation as prescribed under Central Deputation Reserve.
      • Every State cadre of the service provides for a Central deputation quota which in turn requires additional recruitment to be made to the service to provide for trained and experienced members to serve on posts in the Central Government.
  • Deputation of AIS Officer and Present Rules:
    • In normal practice, the Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services willing to go on central deputation, after which it selects officers from that list.
    • Officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the State government for Central deputation.
    • States have to depute the All India Services (AIS) officers, to the Central government offices and at any point, it cannot be more than 40% of the total cadre strength.
  • Proposed Amendments:
    • If the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and does not give effect to the Central government’s decision within the specified time, the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.
    • The Centre will decide the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government in consultation with the State and the latter should make eligible the names of such officers.
    • In case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government and the State shall give effect to the decision of the Centre.
    • In specific situations where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest,” the State shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time.
  • DoPT Stand:
    • The DoPT said that it is taking this decision in the wake of a shortage of All India Services (AIS) officers in Union Ministries.
    • According to the DoPT, states are not sponsoring an adequate number of officers for Central deputation, and the number of officers is not sufficient to meet the requirement at the Centre.
  • Opposition by Some States:
    • It is against the spirit of cooperative federalism.
    • The proposed amendment would weaken the State’s political control over the bureaucracy.
    • It would hobble effective governance and create avoidable legal and administrative disputes.
    • The Centre could weaponise the bureaucracy against an elected State government.

Source: TH


Governance

Electoral Bonds

For Prelims: Electoral bonds

For Mains: Electoral bonds, Associated Issues Against the Electoral Bonds, Elections Funding, criminalization of politics.

Why in News

The 19ṭh tranche of electoral bonds, which have been pitched as an alternative to cash donations, were on sale, ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.

  • In the past, the Supreme Court has raised the possibility of misuse of money received by political parties through electoral bonds.
  • This may defeat the original idea of the introduction of these bonds to bring transparency in electoral funding and keep a check on the criminalization of politics.

Key Points

  • About Electoral Bonds:
    • These bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.
    • State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.
    • These bonds are only redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.
    • The bonds are available for purchase by any citizen of India for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
    • A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
    • The donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.
  • Associated Issues:
    • A Blow to Democracy: Through an amendment to the Finance Act 2017, the Union government has exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds.
      • This means the voters will not know which individual, company, or organization has funded which party, and to what extent.
      • However, in a representative democracy, citizens cast their votes for the people who will represent them in Parliament.
    • Compromising Right To Know: The Indian Supreme Court has long held that the “right to know”, especially in the context of elections, is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression (Article 19) under the Indian Constitution.
    • Against Free & Fair Elections: While electoral bonds provide no details to the citizens.
      • The said anonymity does not apply to the government of the day, which can always access the donor details by demanding the data from the State Bank of India (SBI).
      • This implies that the government in power can leverage this information and disrupt free and fair elections.
    • Crony Capitalism: The electoral bonds scheme removes all pre-existing limits on political donations and effectively allows well-resourced corporations to fund elections subsequently paving the way for crony capitalism.

Way Forward

  • Transparency in Elections Funding: In many advanced countries, elections are funded publicly. This ensures principles of parity and there is not too great a resource gap between the ruling party and the opposition.
    • 2nd ARC, Dinesh Goswami committee, and several others have also recommended state funding of elections.
    • Further, until the elections do not get publicly funded, there can be caps or limits on financial contributions to political parties.
  • Judiciary Acting as an Umpire: One of the most critical functions of an independent judiciary in a functioning democracy is to referee the fundamentals of the democratic process.
    • Electoral bonds have raised questions on the electoral legitimacy of the government and thus the whole electoral process has become questionable.
    • In this context, the courts should act as an umpire and enforce the ground rules of democracy.
  • Transition Towards Civic Culture: India has been working well as a democracy for nearly 75 years.
    • Now in order to make the government more accountable, the voters should become self-aware and reject candidates and parties that violate the principle of free and fair elections.

Source: TH


Biodiversity & Environment

Ranking of States on Faster Green Nods

For Prelims: Environment Protection Act, 1986, Environment Impact Assessment.

For Mains: Environmental Clearances (EC) procedure and related obstacles in India, ease of doing business’’ in India and challenges.

Why in News

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has decided to rank states, specifically State Environment Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAAs), on the speed with which they accord Environmental Clearances (EC) to development projects.

  • The issue of action taken to enable “ease of doing business’’, especially in the context of “ranking of states based on the time taken in accordance with clearances’’ was raised in November 2021.
  • The average time to grant environmental clearances in all sectors has reduced significantly from over 150 days in 2019 to less than 90 days in 2021.

SEIAAs

  • The SEIAAs are responsible for providing environmental clearance for a bulk of the infrastructure, developmental and industrial projects.
  • Their main purpose is to assess the impact of the proposed project on the environment and people, and to try and minimise this impact.

Key Points

  • About:
    • It has been decided to incentivise the states through a star-rating system, based on efficiency and timeliness in grant of EC.
    • This is intended as a mode of recognition and encouragement as well as for prompting improvements where needed.
    • The SEIAA, which clears projects in the shortest period of time, has a high rate of clearance, and seeks fewer “essential details”, will be ranked the highest.
  • Parameters for the Rating System:
    • SEIAAs will be graded between 0 and 1 on five parameters, and 0 and 2 on one
    • (for granting EC).
    • The parameters are:
      • The average number of days taken by an SEIAA to accept proposals seeking either EC or Terms of Reference (ToR) for projects.
      • The number of complaints addressed by the Authority.
      • The percentage of cases for which site visits are carried out by either SEIAAs or State Expert Appraisal Committees (SEACs).
      • The percentage of cases in which the Authority seeks additional information from project proponents more than once.
      • The disposal percentage of proposals seeking fresh or amended ToRs that are older than 30 days.
      • The disposal percentage of proposals seeking fresh or amended EC that are older than 120 days.
  • Criticism of the Move:
    • Reduce the SEIAA to a ‘Rubber Stamps Authority’:
      • Such a rating system stands to reduce the SEIAA to a ‘rubber stamps authority’ where their performance will be judged by the speed with which they facilitate environmental degradation and jeopardising of community livelihoods.
    • Against Article 21:
      • The rating system is also against the environmental rule of law, violates article 21 of the Constitution (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) and is an arbitrary exercise of power to benefit only business at the cost of the environment and people.
    • Constrain the Mandate of the SEIAAs:
      • The move will severely constrain the mandate of the SEIAAs under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and the Environment Impact Assessment notification.
      • This ratings system could lead to a further dilution in the quality of environment impact assessments and it only demonises the regulatory process, whereas it is the state of the economy at large which has arrested the growth of business.
        • To assess the performance of SEIAAs, the criteria for the same should step from this environmental protection mandate, which is drawn from Section 3(3) of the Environment Protection Act.
        • The Act empowers the Central Government to establish authorities (under section 3(3)) charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.

Environmental Clearance In India

  • In India Environmental clearance of a project has to be obtained either from the State Government and /or from the Central Government.
  • The basic objective behind the environmental clearance is to ensure the least damage to the natural resources and incorporate suitable remedial measures right at the stage of project formulation.
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) includes the details of the procedure for obtaining Environmental Clearance and public hearing for decision making.
  • This EIA notification is valid for both Government as well as the Public sector/Private sector for mega projects undertaken by them.
  • The potential impacts of proposed projects, plan programs, or legislative actions relative to the physical-chemical, biological, cultural, and socio-economic components of the total environment.

Way Forward

  • Though the philosophy of the Environmental Impact Assessment is most essential to protect the environment and keep a balance between the ecology and the economy, development, and pollution, it is necessary to revamp the time taking stages as it has become a major obstacle in starting a business in India.
  • In the last couple of years administrative and bureaucratic issues that have come up have made it difficult for the local investors to invest.

Source: IE


Governance

AntiMicrobial Resistance

For Prelims: Antimicrobial Resistance

For Mains: Antimicrobial Resistance and related issues, Initiatives taken to tackle it

Why in News

According to the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) report, 1.27 million people died in 2019 as a direct result of AMR (AntiMicrobial Resistance).

  • The death due to AMR is now a leading cause of death worldwide, higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria.
  • Most of the deaths from AMR were caused by lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, and bloodstream infections, which can lead to sepsis.
    • MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) was particularly deadly, while E. coli, and several other bacteria, were also linked to high levels of drug resistance.

Key Points

  • About:
    • Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance acquired by any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc.) against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics) that are used to treat infections.
    • As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.
    • Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.
  • Reasons for Spread of AMR:
    • The misuse of antimicrobials in medicine and inappropriate use in agriculture.
    • Contamination around pharmaceutical manufacturing sites where untreated waste releases large amounts of active antimicrobials into the environment.
  • AMR in India:
    • India, with its combination of large population, rising incomes that facilitate purchase of antibiotics, high burden of infectious diseases and easy over-the-counter access to antibiotics, is an important locus for the generation of resistance genes (such genes help bacteria in surviving on being exposed to antibiotics).
    • The multi-drug resistance determinant, New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), emerged from this region to spread globally.
      • Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia have also been affected by multi-drug resistant typhoid originating from South Asia.
    • In India, over 56,000 newborn deaths each year due to sepsis are caused by organisms that are resistant to first line antibiotics.
    • A study reported by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) from 10 hospitals showed that when Covid patients acquire drug-resistant infections in hospitals, the mortality is almost 50-60%.
  • Measures Taken to Address AMR (India):
    • National Programme on AMR containment: Launched in 2012. Under this programme, AMR Surveillance Network has been strengthened by establishing labs in State Medical College.
    • National Action Plan on AMR: It focuses on One Health approach and was launched in April 2017 with the aim of involving various stakeholder ministries/departments.
    • AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN): It was launched in 2013, to generate evidence and capture trends and patterns of drug resistant infections in the country.
    • AMR Research & International Collaboration: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has taken initiatives to develop new drugs /medicines through international collaborations in order to strengthen medical research in AMR.
      • ICMR along with Research Council of Norway (RCN) initiated a joint call for research in antimicrobial resistance in 2017.
      • ICMR along with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany has a joint Indo-German collaboration for research on AMR.
    • Antibiotic Stewardship Program: ICMR has initiated antibiotic stewardship program (AMSP) on a pilot project across India to control misuse and overuse of antibiotics in hospital wards and ICUs.
      • DCGI has banned 40 Fixed Dose Combinations (FDCs) which were found inappropriate.
  • Global Measures:
    • World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW):
      • Held annually since 2015, WAAW is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to slow the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.
    • The Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS):
      • WHO launched the GLASS in 2015 to continue filling knowledge gaps and to inform strategies at all levels.
      • GLASS has been conceived to progressively incorporate data from surveillance of AMR in humans, surveillance of the use of antimicrobial medicines, AMR in the food chain and in the environment.

Source: IE


Important Facts For Prelims

Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation

Why in News

Recently, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj has revised Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) guidelines, 2017 in a view to transforming rural India and ensuring rural prosperity.

Key Points

  • About:
    • RADPFI 2021 guidelines is a continuation to the Ministry's efforts towards promotion of Spatial rural planning and would create pathways for rural transformation by developing a perspective for long term planning in villages.
    • It will enable effective land use planning in rural areas and in improving the quality of life in rural areas.
  • Features:
    • It includes Village Planning Scheme (VPS) on the lines of Town Planning Schemes in urban areas.
    • Provisions linking Gram Panchayat Development Programme (GPDP) with Spatial Land Use Planning,
    • Spatial standards for Gram Panchayat development.
  • Objectives:
    • It is aimed at ensuring ease of living in villages and help minimizing migration to big cities by providing all necessary infrastructure and facilities and also resources and opportunities for livelihood in rural areas.
  • Significance:
    • It will augment development of vibrant economic clusters in rural areas, which would contribute to the socio-economic development of rural areas.
    • It will also supplement the efforts of the Central Government such as the SVAMITVA Scheme of Ministry of Panchayati Raj and RURBAN Mission of Ministry of Rural Development and facilitate better utilization of Geospatial information.

Source: PIB


Important Facts For Prelims

Cabinet Approves Funds for IREDA

Why in News

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the infusion of Rs 1,500 crore in the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA).

  • This will enable IREDA to lend Rs 12,000 crore to the renewable energy sector.
  • Earlier, the IREDA had launched a ‘whistle-blower Portal’, as a part of ‘Vigilance Awareness Week 2021’.

Key Points

  • Significance of the Funds:
    • This equity infusion will help in employment generation of approximately 10200 jobs-year and CO2 equivalent emission reduction of approximately 7.49 Million Tonnes CO2/year.
    • Additional equity infusion of Rs.1500 crore by Government of India will enable IREDA:
      • To lend Rs.12000 crore approximately to the Renewable Energy (RE) sector, thus facilitating the debt requirement of RE of additional capacity of approximately 3500-4000 MW.
      • To enhance its networth which will help it in additional RE financing, thus contributing better to the Government of India targets for RE.
      • To improve the Capital-to-Risk weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) to facilitate its lending and borrowing operations.
        • CRAR, also known as CAR (Capital Adequacy Ratio) is critical to ensure that financial organisations have enough cushion to absorb a reasonable amount of losses before they become insolvent.
  • IREDA:
    • IREDA is a mini ratna company under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
    • It was set up in 1987 as a specialized non-banking finance agency for the renewable energy sector.
    • IREDA plays a key role in the renewable energy project financing which gives confidence to the financial institutions/banks to lend in the sector.

Source: PIB


SMS Alerts
Share Page