Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 13, 2017

Internal Security

Refugees go to SC against Article 35A – West Pakistan Refugees(WPR)

  • Some refugees from West Pakistan, who had migrated to India during Partition, have moved the Supreme Court challenging Article 35A of the Constitution relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Enlighten about the issue –

  • Nearly 1.25 lakh WPRs, who migrated from the then West Pakistan after partition of the country in 1947 to settle in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts of the state, are seeking citizenship rights, employment rights and right to vote and contest the state assembly polls for the past 70 years.
  • According to official data 5,764 families comprising 47,915 persons had migrated from West Pakistan in 1947 and settled in the three districts of the state. Today their population increased to nearly 1.25 lakh.
  • These refugees are not considered permanent residents of the state, cannot vote in assembly polls and cannot do state government jobs even though they are living in the state for generations. However, they can vote in parliamentary elections.

ARTICLE 35A

  • It was added through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued under Article 370.
  • Article 35A protects certain provisions of the J&K Constitution which denies property rights to native women who marry from outside the State.
  • The denial of these rights extend to her children also.
  • Article 35A also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution.

Cotemporary issue -

  • Attempts to undo Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would strike a fatal blow to the nationalists in the state.
  • There is an ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Article, which prevents non-J&K state subjects from settling and buying property in the state.
  • However, Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley.

International Affairs

Sanctions against North Korea by – UNSC

The United Nations Security Council unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea on Monday over the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3
Imposed a ban on the country’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
It was the ninth sanctions resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member council since 2006 over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Sanctions includes -

  • Limits on imports of crude oil and oil products. China, Pyongyang’s main economic ally, supplies most of North Korea’s crude oil.
  • A ban on exports of textiles, which is Pyongyang’s second-biggest export
  • Measures to limit North Koreans from working overseas, which the US estimates would cut off $500m of tax revenue per year.

Reason behind Sanctions –

  • Pyongyang has staged a series of missile tests in recent months that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range.
  • It followed up with a sixth nuclear test on September 3, its largest to date, which it said was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.
  • The United States and its allies argue that tougher sanctions will pile pressure on Kim’s regime to come to the negotiation table to discuss an end to its nuclear and missile tests.
  • Russia and China are pushing for talks with North Korea, but their proposal for a freeze on Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests in exchange for suspending US-South Korean military drills has been rejected by the United States.

Enlighten about UNSC –

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
  • one of the six principal organs of the United Nations

Objective –

  • Maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Economy

Farm loan waiver may push inflation by 0.2%: RBI paper

  • In India, farm loan waivers have been announced intermittently by both the central and state governments to provide relief to farmers facing distress due to natural calamities/crop failure.

RBI report –

  • Farm loan waiver amounting to Rs 88,000 crore likely to be released in 2017-18 by seven states, including Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, may push inflation on permanent basis by 0.2%.

Loan waiving – concerns

  • The total loan waiver amount that is likely to be released in 2017-18 by seven states is around Rs 881 billion (0.5% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP)
  • It is said that Loan waivers could add to the fiscal burden over the medium term as they are essentially a transfer from taxpayers to borrowers.
  • Besides, random fiscal policy shocks, such as loan waivers, have an enduring impact on market borrowings, as evident from past episodes of such waivers.

Loan Waiving – chronology

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had announced farm loan waiver in 2014;
  • Tamil Nadu in 2016; and
  • Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka in 2017.

Loan waivers - CONS

It covers only a tiny fraction of farmers.

  • The loan waiver as a concept excludes most of the farm households in dire need of relief and includes some who do not deserve such relief on economic grounds.

It provides only a partial relief to the indebted farmers

  • As about half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.

In many cases, one household has multiple loans

  • either from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.

Loan waiving excludes agricultural labourers

  • who are even weaker than cultivators in bearing the consequences of economic distress.

It severely erodes the credit culture,

  • with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.

The scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors,

  • as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.

Schemes have serious implications for other developmental expenditure,

  • having a much larger multiplier effect on the economy.

How to make it effective –

Proper identification:

  • For providing immediate relief to the needy farmers, a more inclusive alternative approach is to identify the vulnerable farmers based on certain criteria and give an equal amount as financial relief to the vulnerable and distressed families.

Enhance non- farm income:

  • The sustainable solution to indebtedness and agrarian distress is to raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income.
  • The low scale of farms necessitates that some cultivators move from agriculture to non-farm jobs.
  • Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers’ income. All these require more public funding and support.

Environment

Namami Ganga Project

MoU between –

  • Hemawati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University(Uttarakhand) has signed a MoU with Namami Gange Project for Ganga Conservation.
  • Under Namami Gange project, the University will initiate activities like holding events, seminars and conferences to make strong pitch for public outreach and community participation.

Enlighten about Namami Gange Programme

  • The Union government approved “Namami Gange” Program in May 2015.
  • It integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga River in a comprehensive manner.
  • The programme will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation / appropriate in-situ treatment / use of innovative technologies.

SOME MORE FACTS

  • The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
  • In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of
  • A) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level,
  • B) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and
  • C) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • The program emphasizes on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of Central and State governments.

Science & Tech.

Ultra thin spacecraft for cleaning space debris

  • Scientists are developing an ultra-thin spacecraft that can remove space debris – which potentially threaten satellites or astronauts – by enveloping junk in the Earth’s orbit and dragging it through the atmosphere, causing it to burn up.
  • The Brane Craft, being developed by US-based Aerospace Corporation, is a flexible and less than half the thickness of a human hair.

Enlighten about the development

  • The spacecraft is designed to be resilient. Its microprocessor and digital electronics are fabricated in a way to ensure that if one component gets damaged, the others will continue to work.
  • The project received funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which focuses on space research that are in early stages.
  • Brane Crafts will be powered by ultra-thin solar cells as well as a little bit of propellant.
  • After each Brane envelops a piece of space junk, it will navigate back to towards Earth, causing the junk to burn up in the atmosphere.

The menace of space debris –

  • According to NASA, there are over 50,000 pieces of debris (space junk) traveling at speeds up to 17,500 mph around the Earth, the movements of which are being constantly monitored and tracked.
  • The rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttles, satellites and other spacecraft. In December 2016, Japan sent H-II Transfer Vehicle Kounotori 6 (HTV6) into space to deliver supplies to the ISS.
  • The same cargo ship was also supposed to complete another mission during its return journey – clean up space debris. However, the experimental Japanese probe failed in its mission to clear space junk from the Earth’s orbit.
  • In 2013, Russian satellite, Blits, was damaged after colliding with debris created when China shot down an old weather satellite in 2007.