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Note:  The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS, BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com, Hindustan Times, Telegraph, The Times , WTO, New Indian express , The Guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC Prelims and Mains Examination


News Analysis: 05-02-2019

National News

General Studies-II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


PM-KISAN: Aadhaar must for second instalment

  • Unique identification is not compulsory for first transfer

  • Farmers who wish to avail themselves of benefits under PM-KISAN, the new income support scheme announced in the Union Budget, must have Aadhaar identification to get the money from the second instalment, which would be paid by July 2019. However, this would not be compulsory for the first instalment expected to be disbursed by March 31, before the Lok Sabha polls.

  • In a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal spelt out guidelines for the States, which would have to do the lion’s share of work in actual implementation of the scheme, especially since the first transfer is due in less than two months.

  • States have been told to prepare a database of beneficiaries — small and marginal landholder farmer families in all villages — including whether they belong to SC/ST, bank account, mobile and Aadhaar details.

  • For transfer of the first instalment, Aadhaar number “shall be collected wherever available”, wrote Mr. Agarwal. An alternate list of identification documents has also been provided, as options.

  • “However, for transfer of subsequent instalments, Aadhaar number shall have to be compulsorily captured,” the secretary wrote.

  • States have also been told to update their land records, as that would serve as the basis for determination of landholding for beneficiaries.

  • However, the secretary also said that the cut-off date for determination of ownership of land (as per land records) under the scheme was already over; the cut-off date was February 1, 2019.

  • The situation is slightly more complicated in the northeastern States, as land ownership rights in the region are community-based, making it difficult to identify beneficiaries.

  • An alternate implementation mechanism would be developed by a committee including the State governments, as well as the Union Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Land Resources ministry and Agriculture ministry, the official wrote.

  • States would be given a maximum of 0.25% of funds transferred to beneficiaries in the first instalment to pay for their administrative expenses in the implementation of the scheme. That amount would drop to 0.125% for all further instalments.

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


The peace holds

  • A harsher penalty in the 2008 Assam serial blasts case could have led to wider trouble

  • Rocked by protests against the Centre’s proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Assam’s Bodo-populated areas were on edge for another reason last week.

  • Over a decade after nine serial bombs ripped through four towns, the clamour for the death penalty to be awarded to the perpetrators had put the State on alert, after a district and sessions court set up for the CBI case had convicted 14 of them.

  • The October 30, 2008 bombings exacted a severe toll. Eighty-eight deaths, 53 of them in Guwahati, with 540 injured, it was argued, passed the Supreme Court’s ‘rarest of the rare’ test.

  • And yet, mindful of the “entire facts and circumstances of the case”, the judge on January 30 sentenced 10 of the convicted, including Ranjan Daimary, to life and handed out limited terms to the others.

  • Most of the convicts belong to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, of which Daimary is the chairman. The NDFB(R) has had a ceasefire agreement with the Assam and Union governments since May 2005.

  • The NDFB (Progressive), led by Gobinda Basumatary, is also in peace talks.

  • Recent incidents in Bodo areas — including the May and December 2014 attacks against Muslim migrants and Adivasis, in which over 100 civilians were killed — have been attributed to the rebel NDFB faction, led earlier by I.K. Songbijit and now by B. Saoraigwra.

  • These groups and their predecessors, many of which have given up arms and joined the formal political process, espouse causes ranging from secession to a Bodoland State carved out of Assam.

  • The violent phase peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but ebbed with the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council in 2003.

  • It absorbed the likes of Hagrama Mohilary, formerly a Bodo Liberation Tigers militant, whose Bodoland People’s Front has been an alliance partner of both the erstwhile Congress-led State government and the current BJP regime of Sarbananda Sonowal.

  • While NDFB(R) supporters chanted slogans demanding Bodoland to protest against the judicial order, a death sentence for Daimary could have sparked wider convulsions, and pushed some of the fringe groups back into militancy, creating a 1990s redux.

  • The BJP has backed the creation of smaller States, but Bodoland is unlikely to be realised any time soon.

  • The Bodo case for statehood is also hamstrung by the fact that non-Bodos account for nearly 70% of the population in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts that will comprise the core of such a State.

  • New Delhi is focussing instead on devolving more powers with its constitution amendment Bill — likely to be introduced in Parliament this week — to bring 10 autonomous district councils under the purview of the Central Finance Commission.

  • Along with ideologically agnostic partnerships with the State government in Dispur, this is the way forward for now.

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment Disaster and disaster management.


Emission levels rising faster in Indian cities than in China

  • Urbanisation is accelerating greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in India at a faster than in China.

  • On an average, an Indian emitted about 20 kg per capita while commuting for work, with the highest (140 kg CO2) in Gurugram district (Haryana) and the lowest (1.8 kg CO2) in Shrawasti district (Uttar Pradesh), says a study that analysed the link between population density and emissions from transport, across India's districts.

  • The experience in most developed countries was that urbanisation led to a reduction in emissions — more urbanisation meant shorter distances between the workplace and home and thereby, a preference for public transport. However this didn’t effectively apply to developing countries, the authors argue.

  • In China a 1% increase in urbanisation was linked with a 0.12% increase in CO2 emissions whereas, in India, it translated into 0.24% increase in emissions, said the study, to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

  • India’s CO2 emission grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2017 and its per-capita emission was about 1.8 tonnes. In spite of being the 4th largest emitter, India's per capita emissions are much lower than the world average of 4.2 tonnes. But those emissions have been growing steadily, with an average growth rate over the past decade of 6%, according to data from the Global Carbon Project.

  • Fuel price hikes aren’t always a solution to curb emissions, the study says.

  • With a ₹1 increase in diesel price, commuting emissions decreased by 11% in some districts whereas it only fell by about 3% in low-income districts

  • Delhi had the highest commuting emissions per capita — a factor that also contributed to its high level of pollution — and the national capital region had 2.5 times higher commuting emissions than Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.

  • Because there were several instances of districts with similar population density but varying per capita emissions, a “simple-minded densification” was an inappropriate policy for reducing commuters’ GHG emissions and India would do well to focus on electric vehicles and and efficient public transit system.

  • This to however ought to be tailored to a region’s geographical context, the authors contended

Source: The Hindu


General Studies-II : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Visa crackdown

  • Students should be made aware of the risks of falling afoul of U.S. immigration laws

  • The arrest of 129 Indians on the charge of wilfully violating immigration laws to stay and work in the United States sends a stark message to youth looking for better prospects abroad: their efforts should begin with due diligence and strictly follow the letter of the law.

  • In the sting operation carried out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which threatens to encompass many more Indians in the ‘University of Farmington’ case, the contentious issue is whether they fell victim to unscrupulous recruiters who offered to secure an I-20 student document that allowed them to undertake paid work using the provision for Curricular Practical Training, or knowingly engaged in fraud.

  • Going by the indictment of eight recruiters of Indian origin, they knew they were violating U.S. immigration law when they enrolled students using fraudulent and unlawful means, and their profits included negotiated referral fees paid into their accounts by undercover agents.

  • The prosecution has alleged that each student who enrolled in the ‘university’ was aware that there would be no classes, credit scores or academic requirements, and the intention was merely to “pay to stay” and gain access to employment.

  • These statements are, of course, subject to scrutiny during the trial of the alleged recruiters. The Ministry of External Affairs has made the correct distinction between students who may have been duped and the recruiters.

  • Students who are eligible to pursue studies at an authorised university in the U.S. should, therefore, get a further opportunity and not be subjected to summary deportation or humiliation.

  • It must also not prejudice the prospects of such students who may apply in future for legal entry.

  • The University of Farmington case in Michigan is not the first instance of Indian students falling foul of U.S. immigration laws, although it stands apart as a racket exposed by a sting operation.

  • Others such as Tri-Valley University and Herguan University were degree mills run by individuals that used false claims and documents to enable youth to unlawfully stay in the U.S. and, in many cases, pursue employment.

  • These trends reinforce the need for good communication that would help students identify credentialed institutions that meet the requirements of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, and highlight the serious nature of visa fraud.

  • If the averments in the Michigan case are correct, the prospect of working in America attracted many of the 600 students who were recruited.

  • This should serve as a reminder to India’s policymakers that access to higher education, job-creation and raising of living standards to meet the aspirations of youth must receive priority.

  • Talk of an impending demographic dividend is meaningless without creating opportunities at home.

Source: The Hindu


Other Issues in News:

Entire Aravalli area is devastated, rues SC

  • In a stinging attack on the Rajasthan government, the Supreme Court on Monday said the State authorities are hand in glove with illegal miners who operate in the fast-depleting Aravalli region.

  • A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra was annoyed when the State’s counsel submitted that the ground-truthing exercise to ascertain the area where illegal mining had allegedly been conducted remained incomplete due to the recently held Assembly elections and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

  • The court said the once-lush Aravalli region is devastated after years of indiscriminate and illegal mining. “You are hand in glove and your officers are hand in glove with them (illegal miners). The entire Aravalli area is devastated and the entire flora and fauna there has gone,” the court said.

  • The court recounted how the State had promised to finish the exercise in three months on October 29 last year and ordered the personal appearance of the State Chief Secretary.


Source: The Hindu


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