Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- Jal Jeevan Mission to help revive urban water bodies
The issue in news
According to the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, the urban water supply mission announced in the Budget 2021-
22 will include rejuvenation of waterbodies and 20% of supply from reused water.
- Jal Jeevan Mission Urban [JJM(U)] seeks to bridge an estimated gap of 2.68 crore urban household tap connections.
- It would also aim to bridge the gap of 2.64 crore sewer connections in the 500 cities under the existing Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
- The mission would include rejuvenation of water bodies to boost the sustainable freshwater supply and creation of green spaces.
- JJM(U) would promote circular economy of water through the development of city water balance plan for each city focusing on recycle/reuse of treated sewage, rejuvenation of water bodies and water conservation.
- 20% of the water demand would be met with reused water.
- The total expenditure on the mission would be ₹2.87 lakh crore over five years.
Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- ECT fiasco
The issue in news
Sri Lanka backed out of an agreement with India and Japan to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port.
- The development has sparked alarm in India and Japan.
- In 2019, Sri Lanka, Japan and India had signed an agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port.
- This is the second instance of Sri Lanka reversing an agreement on a large infrastructure project involving Japan, after the government scrapped the $1.5 billion, Japan-funded Light Rail Transit system in 2020.
- While the ECT, which is in its first stage and awaits upgrade, has a 450-metre-long quay wall and water depth of 18 metres, equipping it to accommodate large vessels, the West Container Terminal (WCT) exists merely as a proposal, with no infrastructure yet.
Strategic importance and concerns:
- The ECT is adjacent to the Colombo International Container Terminal, which is a joint venture between China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited and the Ports Authority, with the Chinese company holding an 85% stake.
- Over 70% of the trans-shipment business at the strategically located ECT comes from India.
- India and China‟s competing geopolitical interests in the island are well known, but India-backed projects have often seen more vocal protests.
- Military coup in Mayanmar
The issue in news
Recently, Myanmar‟s Election Commission rejected allegations by the military that fraud played a significant role in determining the outcome of elections, in which Aung San Suu Kyi‟s party won the majority of seats.
- Tensions were rising between the Army and the National League for Democracy (NLD) since the latter swept the polls.
- Myanmar‟s powerful military chief had raised doubts about the election results even before the polls were held.
- NLD swept the polls by winning almost 80% of the vote.
- The USDP did not accept the result. The military backed the USDP‟s allegations of fraud, without offering any evidence.
- However, Myanmar‟s Election Commission rejected allegations by the military.
- Hours before the new Parliament was to convene, the Generals moved into action. They detained State Counsellor Suu Kyi, President and other top leaders; declared a state of emergency for a year; and took power in their hands.
- Now, Myanmar, which started a fragile transition to democracy 10 years ago after decades of military dictatorship, is back in the hands of the Generals.
- The political climate in the junta-led Myanmar started changing around 2010.
- In 2008, the military had written a new Constitution that made sure the Generals‟ interests would be protected even if there is a transition.
- Than Shwe, who had been ruling the country since 1992, shook up the power structure, promoted young soldiers who were loyal to him and conducted elections under the new Constitution.
- The NLD, which had not recognised the Constitution, boycotted the 2010 election, which the USDP won.
- In the next five years, the Army loosened its grip on the government and society. Political prisoners, including Ms. Suu Kyi, were released. Media censorship was eased.
- Suu Kyi‟s party also changed its earlier position and accepted the Constitution.
- The NLD won the 2015 election, and formed the government, raising hopes that the country is on its way to full transition to democracy.
- The 2008 Constitution has enough clauses to prevent transition into a democracy. According to the Constitution, the President must have military experience and he himself, his spouse or children “shall not be subject of a foreign power or citizen of a foreign country”.
- Suu Kyi, whose two sons are British citizens, cannot become President.
- The Constitution also mandates that the Defence and Interior Ministries be controlled by the military.
- 25% of the total seats in Parliament (166 out of the 664-member house) are reserved for the military, giving it a veto over any move to change the Constitution.
- Even when the Army allowed power to be transferred to an elected government, it made sure that it would continue to drive defence and internal security policies, and that the USDP, its political vehicle, has an edge over other parties in elections with the reserved seats in Parliament.
What Army wants?
- The timing of the coup is self-explanatory. It unfolded hours before the new Parliament was scheduled to convene.
- The 2020 elections were held after the Army launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya in Rakhine State, which forced over 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee Myanmar.
- The 2015 and 2020 election results showed the growing popularity of Ms. Suu Kyi and the unpopularity of the military.
- Tensions have been rising between the NLD and the military ever since the November 2020 election.
- The Army says it has declared the emergency as the NLD government failed to act on its complaints on voter fraud.
- The NLD has called for protests against the coup.
- But Ms. Suu Kyi‟s popularity and an energised NLD that was in power for five years would be an impediment for them. And their own unpopularity, a burden.
- The U.S. has reacted harshly.
- India has expressed deep concerns.
- It is apparent that the Generals won‟t face any heat from Beijing. This means, they could circumvent pressure from the U.S., even economic sanctions, by moving closer to China, which is already making huge investments in Myanmar.
1.Why Prompt Corrective Action
The issue in news
Recently, the Finance Ministry expects Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India and UCO Bank to be out of the RBI’s prompt corrective action (PCA) framework in two months, as their financial health has improved.
- The three Public Sector Banks (PSBs) are currently under prompt corrective action (PCA) framework which puts several restrictions on them.
What is Prompt Corrective Action?
- The Reserve Bank has specified certain regulatory trigger points, as a part of prompt corrective action (PCA) Framework for initiation of certain structured and discretionary actions in respect of banks hitting such trigger points:
- Capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR);
- Net non-performing assets (NPA) and
- Return on Assets (RoA)
- Applicability of PCA: The PCA framework is applicable only to commercial banks and not extended to co-operative banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and FMIs.
- The trigger points along with structured and discretionary actions that could be taken by the Reserve Bank are described below:
Capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR)
- If CRAR less than 9%, but equal or more than 6%: The restrictions on RWA expansion, entering into new lines of business, accessing/renewing costly deposits and CDs, and making dividend payments is imposed.
- The PCA imposes restrictions on borrowing from inter-bank market, reduction of stake in subsidiaries, reducing its exposure to sensitive sectors like capital market, real estate or investment in non-SLR securities, etc.
- If CRAR less than 6%, but equal or more than 3%: The RBI could take steps to bring in new Management/ Board, appoint consultants for business/ organizational restructuring, take steps to change ownership, and also take steps to merge the bank if it fails to submit recapitalization plan.
- If CRAR less than 3%: The steps to merge/amalgamate/liquidate the bank or impose moratorium on the bank if its CRAR does not improve beyond 3% within one year or within such extended period as agreed to.
Net non-performing assets (NPA)
- Net NPAs over 10% but less than 15%: The RBI might review loan policy and take steps to strengthen credit appraisal skills, follow-up of advances and suit-filed/decreed debts, put in place proper credit-risk management policies; reduce loan concentration.
- There are restrictions in entering new lines of business, making dividend payments and increasing its stake in subsidiaries.
Return on Assets (RoA)
- ROA less than 0.25%: There are restrictions on accessing/renewing costly deposits and CDs, entering into new lines of business, bank’s borrowings from inter-bank market, making dividend payments and expanding its staff; steps to increase fee-based income.
Mandatory Actions under PCA Framework
- Threshold 1: When a bank breaches Threshold 1 the RBI will insist on the bank imposing restriction in quantum of dividend distribution and repatriation of profits in case of foreign banks.
- Threshold 2: The breaching of Threshold 2 is of a more serious degree from the RBI’s perspective.
- The additional measures will include restrictions on the domestic and overseas branch expansion of the bank.
- The RBI may also instruct the banks to provide more for asset impairment.
- Threshold 3: The RBI will impose restrictions on pay hikes, director’s fees promotions, annual hikes and recruitments.
Discretionary Measures under PCA Framework
- The RBI has the discretion to initiate other measures which may include special inspections and audit of the bank, detailed review of the bank in terms of manpower, investments and process re-engineering etc.
- The RBI has full powers to implement most of these measures without the approval of the bank.
- Indian Ocean Region [IOR] Defence Ministers’ conclave
The issue in news
India will host the defence ministers of the countries of the Indian Ocean Region at a conclave during the “Aero India” in Bengaluru.
- The conclave is being organised in the backdrop of growing Chinese military assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
- It is being organised as part of an initiative to promote dialogue in an institutional and cooperative environment that can foster peace, stability and prosperity in the Indian Ocean region.
- The broad theme of the conclave will be „Enhanced Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Indian Ocean‟.
- The conclave would address aspects related to synergising the resources and efforts in the Indian Ocean.
Strategic importance of the Indian Ocean Region:
- The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical for India‟s strategic interests.
- China has been making concerted efforts to increase its presence in the region.
- In sync with the national security doctrine, the Indian Navy has significantly increased its deployment of warships, submarines and other assets in the Indian Ocean Region. It is in an attempt to send across a message to China.
- The IOR Defence Ministers‟ conclave is also taking place at a time when Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh.
- Prelims Facts
- Alarm over damage to heritage site
The issue in news
The controversy over the destruction of ancient monuments around the 11th century Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar amid a State-sponsored redevelopment drive, spiralled with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) complaining that irreparable damage had been done to the temple and ancient shrines around it.
- The Odisha government‟s Ekamra Kshetra beautification project is aimed at creating space adjoining the Lingaraj Temple to accommodate around two lakh devotees expected to visit the temple for the festival of Shivaratri.
- Ekamra Kshetracomprises the area of the old city of Bhubaneswar that forms the centre of this temple architecture and is considered a Hindu holy city.
- As per Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise, it is believed that this sacred kshetra was a Panchakrosa (10 miles) in circumference bordered by Khandagiri hills in the west, Kundalesvara temple in the east, Balhadevi Temple on the north and Bahirangesvara temple near Dhauli on the south, with Lingaraj Temple as its centre.
About Lingaraj Temple
- It is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated in the city of Bhubaneswar.
- The temple was built in the7th century by the King Jajati Keshari.
- Lingaraj is referred to as “Swayambhu” e. self-originated Shivling.
- The temple marks the culmination of the temple architecturein Bhubaneswar which was the cradle of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture.
- The temple can broadly be divided into four main halls i.e.
- Garba Griha(Sanctum Sanctorum),
- Yajana Mandapa(the hall for prayers)’
- Natya Mandapa(dance and music hall) and
- Bhoga Mandapa(where devotees can have the Prasad (offering) of the Lord).
- It signifies the syncretisation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism sectsin Odisha.
- Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingarajawas originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise.
- Bindusagaris the sacred pond near the temple which is the second most attractive place after the temple.
- Bindusagar is considered as the union of drops of waterfrom various sacred rivers of India
3. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
The issue in news
Recently, a group of women weavers in the northern buffer of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve have recorded significant increase in revenue from sale of their wares in 2020.
About Dudhwa Tiger Reserve
- It is located on the Indo-Nepal borderin the district Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.
- Dudhwa National Park, together with Kishanpur and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuaries, represent the best natural forests and grasslands left in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh.
- The three Protected Areas, being the last viable home of the Royal Bengal Tigerin the state, have been jointly constituted into Dudhwa Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.
- Kishanpur, the oldest of the three PAs, was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1972, followed by Katerniaghatin 1975 and finally Dudhwa National Park (680 sq km) in 1977.
- The vegetation is of the North Indian Moist Deciduous type, containing Sal forests (Shorea robusta), as well the most extensive tracts of moist grasslands that remain in this region.
- The Sharda River flows by the Kishanpur WL Sanctuary, the Geruwa River flows through the Katerniaghat WL Sanctuary and the Suheli and Mohana streamsflow in the Dudhwa National Park.
- The above mentioned rivers aretributaries of Ghagra River.
- Tiger, Rhinoceros ,Elephant, Swamp deer, Sambar, Cheetal, Hog deer, Kakar, Wild pig, Blue bull, Rhesus monkey, Langur, Sloth bear, Porcupine, Otter, Monitor lizard, Turtles, Python, Mugger, Gharial etc. are found in DTR.
4. India’s first Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management
The issue in news
Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced the establishment of a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM) on the occasion of World Wetland Day.
- India has nearly 6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares.
- India is also having 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares.
- The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of theRamsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.
About Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management
- It isIndia’s first Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management.
- It will be established as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM).
Significance of Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management
- The Centre will help inbuilding partnership and networks with relevant national and international agencies.
- The Centre would serve as a knowledge hub and enable exchange between State/ UT Wetland Authorities, wetland users, managers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.
- The Centre would also assist the national and State/ UT Governments in the design and implementation of policy and regulatory frameworks, management planning, monitoring and targeted research for its conservation.
World Wetland Day
- 2 Februaryeach year is World Wetlands Day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.
- It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlandson 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
- The theme for 2021 World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetlands and Water’ which highlights the importance of wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages action to restore them and stop their loss.
- The 2021 theme shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwaterand encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss.
- The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet.
5. Why 100 years of the ‘Chauri Chaura’ incident
The issue in news
Recently, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has announced that all districts of the state will record a video singing Vande Mataram in a salute posture on February 3-4 to pay homage to the martyrs of the Chauri Chaura incident and the freedom struggle.
About Chauri Chaura incident
- The incident occurred at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, (modern Uttar Pradesh) in British India on 4 February 1922.
- During this incident, a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police, who opened fire.
- The demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police stationin retaliation, killing all of its occupants.
- Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the Non-cooperation Movementon the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.
- In 1971, the people of Chauri Chaura decided to honor the ones who were executed by the British governmentand an association named ‘Chauri Chaura Shaheed Smarak Samiti’ was established