- ASEAN-India Consultations
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
The 17 ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations was held virtually, co-chaired by India and Vietnam.
- It was attended by the Trade Ministers of all the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries viz. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Talks related toCovid-19: The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take collective actions in mitigating the economic impact of the Covid-19
- They also resolved to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability and resilient supply chain connectivity, particularly the unimpeded flow of essential goods and medicines in the region, in compliance with the WTO
Report of AIBC’s:
- The report of the ASEAN India Business Council (AIBC) has recommended that the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) be reviewed for mutual benefit.
- The review will make the Agreement modern with contemporary trade facilitative practices, and streamline customs and regulatory procedures.
- ASEAN India-Business Council (AIBC) was set up in March 2003 as a forum to bring key private sector players from India and the ASEAN countries on a single platform for business networking and sharing of ideas.
- Discussions on review of the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) took place.
- The AITIGA is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India which came into force in January, 2010.
- India emphasized on review on AITIGA at the earliest and the need to strengthen the Rules of Origin provisions, work towards removal of non-tariff barriers and provide better market access.
- The Rules of Origins provisions of AITIGA specify that the preferential treatment under the agreement will be applicable only to goods which have wholly or partially originated in the exporting country.
- India wants strict rules of origin to prevent Chinese goods from flooding the country through ASEAN member countries that may have lower or no duty levels.
- A nontariff barrier is a way to restrict trade using trade barriers in a form other than a Nontariff barriers include quotas, embargoes, sanctions, and levies.
- India has concerns regarding the FTA, given that its FTA with ASEAN is leading to increased trade deficits with several ASEAN partners. India’s trade deficit with the ASEAN rose from around 5 billion USD in 2011 to 21.8 USD billion in 2019.
Background of the issue :
- In 2003, India and ASEAN signed a Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation to establish an ASEAN-India Regional Trade and Investment Area, which would provide a basis for subsequent FTAs covering goods, services and investment.
- India dropped out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2019 at ASEAN+3 summit, because of increasing trade deficits with partner nations and increasing China-India tensions.
- Recently, India participated in the 6 roundtable meeting of the ASEAN India
Network of Think Tanks (AINTT).
- India highlighted the difficulties that were hindering strong response to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Kavkaz 2020: India Pulls Out
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
citing Covid-19 as the official reason, India recently withdrew its participation from Kavkaz 2020, a multinational tri-services exercise in Russia,.
Various other Reasons for Withdrawal:
- Participation of Chinese, Turkish and Pakistani troops. The standoff at Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China has been ongoing since May 2020 and several rounds of talks for disengagement have failed to end the impasse.
- However, in June 2020, Indian and Chinese military contingents marched at the Victory Day Parade at Red Square in Moscow to mark the 75 anniversary of World War II.
- Turkey has been critical of India’s policies on Kashmir.
- Participation of Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the exercise which have been recognised only by Russia and few other
- India does not recognize these breakaway regions.
- It is a strategic command-post exercise, and also known as Caucasus- 2020.
- The tri-service exercise is part of a four-year exercise cycle of the Russian army. Previous editions of the exercise were held in 2012 and 2016.
- In 2020 it will be conducted in the Astrakhan province of Southern Russia.
- Member countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Central Asian countries would be participating.
Diplomacy of India-Russia Military:
- India’s military diplomacy with Russia started in 2003 with the first edition of Ex Indra, a bilateral Naval exercise. India also participated in Exercise TSENTR 2019.
- Exercise TSENTR 2019 is a part of the Russian Armed Forces’ annual training cycle.
- It aims at evolving drills of the participating armies and practising them in the fight against the scourge of international terrorism thereby ensuring military security in the strategic Central Asian region.
- India’s withdrawal from Kavkaz assumes significance because the Kavkaz was essentially a Russian military exercise and not a Chinese one.
- India has always viewed its relations with Russia independent of China- Russia ties.
- Russia has also responded in a similar fashion. It maintained its commitment of supplying arms to India even during the standoff.
- Scholarship Schemes
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
Recently, a multi-crore scam has been reported in the post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Castes (SC) in Punjab.
- The Central government is planning to bring a single national scholarship scheme by merging all the current scholarship schemes.
Post Matric Scholarship for SCs:
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched in 2006. It is implemented through State government and Union Territory administration.
- The Scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste (SC) students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education.
- The scholarship is available for studies in India only and is paid to the students whose guardians’ income is below Rs. 2,50,000 per annum .
Single National Scholarship Scheme:
- The Central government is contemplating setting up a single national scholarship scheme called PM Young Achievers Scholarship Award Scheme for Vibrant India (PM-YASASVI) for meritorious students which will absorb all the existing scholarship schemes.
- Students in the Other Backward Class (OBC), SC, Denotified, Nomadic and semi-Nomadic Tribe (DNT) and Economically Backward Caste (EBC) categories will be able to avail the national scholarship.
- Implementing Agency: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been tasked to implement the Scheme by conducting a merit test.
Benefits of Single National Scholarship Scheme:
- It will increase the reach of information about the govt scholarships. Boost the importance of maintaining a basic curriculum and teaching standards across the country.
- Help improve the quality and implementation of scholarships.
- In case a student misses the deadline of scholarship, he will not get a second chance to apply for other scholarships.
- The national-level scholarship exam would become an added burden on students.
- Having a separate exam for identifying merit is redundant as already students are appearing for board examinations and entrance examinations.
- If the existing pre-matric and post-matric scholarship schemes are done away with, it could end up hampering the education of students.
- Poshan Maah
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
Under Poshan Abhiyaan, the month of September is observed as Poshan Maah i.e.
Nutrition month every year, since 2018.
- ‘Agricultural Fund of India’ is being created to have complete information about
- the crops that are grown in each district and their related nutritional value.
- It includes a month-long activities focussed on antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, anaemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation and eating healthy (food fortification).
- The activities focus on Social and Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) and are based on Jan Andolan Guidelines.
- SBCC is the strategic use of communication approaches to promote changes in knowledge, attitudes, norms, beliefs and behaviours.
- Jan Andolan is one of the strategies under the Poshan Abhiyaan. A food and nutrition quiz as well as meme competition will be organized on the My Gov portal.
- A unique kind of nutrition park has been created at Statue of Unity (Gujarat), where one can witness nutrition related education along with fun and frolic.
- Also called as the National Nutrition Mission, it is Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Poshan implies ‘Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition’.
- Launch: It was launched by the Prime Minister on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, 2018 from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.
- It is Implemented By: Ministry of Women and Child Development
- To reduce stunting, underweight, and low birth weight, each by 2% per year; and anaemia among young children, adolescents and women each by 3% per year until 2022.
- The minimum target to reduce stunting is 2% every year, but the mission will strive to bring it down from 38.4% in 2016 to 25% by 2022.
- A Single Voters’ List
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
Recently The Prime Minister’s Office held a meeting with representatives of the Election
Commission and the Law Ministry to discuss the possibility of having a common electoral roll for elections to the panchayat, municipality, state assembly and the Lok Sabha.
Electoral Rolls in India-types:
- Each State Election Commissions (SEC) is governed by a separate state Act. Some state laws allow the SEC to borrow and use the Election Commission of India’s voter’s rolls for the local body elections.
- In others, the state commission uses the EC’s voters list as the basis for the preparation and revision of rolls for municipality and panchayat elections.
- Few states have their own electoral rolls and do not adopt EC’s roll for local body polls like those of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The distinction stems from the fact that the supervision and conduct of elections in our country are entrusted with two constitutional authorities — the Election Commission (EC) of India and the State Election Commissions (SECs).
Election Commission (EC) of India:
- It was set up in 1950, the EC is charged with the responsibility of conducting polls to:
- the offices of the President and Vice-President of India, to Parliament, the state assemblies and the legislative councils.
State Election Commissions (SECs):
- The SECs, on the other hand, supervise municipal and panchayat elections. They are free to prepare their own electoral rolls for local body elections, and this exercise does not have to be coordinated with the EC.
Reason for Demand for Common Electoral Roll:
- A common electoral roll and simultaneous elections as a way to save an enormous amount of effort and expenditure.
- It is argued that the preparation of a separate voters list causes duplication of the effort and the expenditure.
- The Law Commission recommended it in its 255 report in 2015 for a single electoral roll.
- The EC too adopted a similar stance in 1999 and 2004.
- The EC pointed out that it adds to the confusion among voters, since they may find their names present in one roll, but absent in another.
Process of Implementation:
- A Constitutional Amendment to Articles 243K and 243ZA is required. Articles 243K and 243ZA deal with elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states.
- These give the power of superintendence, direction and control of preparation of electoral rolls and the conduct of these elections to the State Election Commission (SEC).
- The SECs are free to prepare their own electoral rolls for local body elections, and this exercise does not have to be coordinated with the EC.
- The amendment would make it mandatory to have a single electoral roll for all elections in the country.
- Persuading the state governments to tweak their respective laws and adopt the Election Commission’s (EC) voters list for municipal and panchayat polls.
Challenges in process of implementation:
- The boundaries of the EC’s polling station may not necessarily match that of the wards.
- The change would require a massive consensus-building exercise.
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
BIPOC became popular on the internet during the Black Lives Matter movement. It stands for “Black, Indigenous and People of Color.”
- The BIPOC movement urges to acknowledge the diversity in skin color, race, and hair and advocates for inclusivity and representation across all areas of life, from politics to skin care.
- It speaks against the invisible discrimation that exists in various industries. For eg. In cosmetic industries, most of the products cater to only fair skin colours, excluding indigenous people of color and black people.
- Standardization of beauty standards have adverse effects on the mental well-being of people who don’t meet the conventional standards.
- It is been seen as a substitute to degrading and offensive terms like negro, african-american and minority.
- The term People of Colour (POC) came into use during the 1960s to replace the words blacks, browns or coloured people.
- The civil rights challenges, systemic oppression and racism faced by people under BIPOC are similar and thus, the term is used to reinforce the collective experience between Black and Indigenous people and to unite
- Some people criticize the use of the term as it puts the separate problems of different groups of people in one basket thus erasing the chances of specialized solutions for each.
- It is also being said that all groups in BIPOC do not face equal levels of injustice. Also, it is said to be a colonial tendency to homogenize different sets of people.
- Dams of Gujarat: Shetrunji and Bhadar
THE ISSUE IN NEWS
Shetrunji and Bhadar dams, the two largest reservoirs in the Saurashtra region (Gujarat), have overflowed simultaneously( Due to heavy rains)
- This monsoon, rain is centred over south Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch regions while north and central Gujarat regions are highly rain-deficient.
- Saurashtra region has received more than 100% of its average rainfall this year.
- However, in this peninsular region, almost every fourth monsoon remains a deficient monsoon.
- Even within 11 districts of Saurashtra, spatial distribution of rainfall remains skewed, as evidenced by 12 different years in which either only Bhadar or Shetrunji dam overflowed.
Shetrunji and Bhadar Dam:
- Shetrunji is located in Bhavnagar district and has a designed gross storage capacity of 308.68 million cubic metre (mcm), the largest in Saurashtra region.
- Bhadar is located in Rajkot district and has a gross storage capacity of 188.14 mcm, the second largest in the Saurashtra region.
- The two dams are across Shetrunji and Bhadar rivers. These rivers flow in opposite directions and the two dams have different catchment areas. Geographical location of these dams in Saurashtra makes them a good indicator of rainfall distribution in the region.
- Sardar Sarovar Dam, also called Narmada Dam, is the largest reservoir in Gujarat.
- It originates from the Amreli district. It is an east flowing river and outfalls into the Gulf of Khambhat.
- Tributaries: Safara, Shel, Khari, Talaji, Stali, Thebu, Gagadia, Rajwal and Kharo.
- It originates from Jasdan taluka of Rajkot.
- Tributaries: Gondali, Chapparwadi, Phopal, Utawali, Moj, Venu, Vasavadi, Surwa and Galolia.