News & Editorial Analysis 4 January 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Border Road Organisation:
GS III Topic Internal Security
Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, said on January 3 in Arunachal Pradesh that although though India has historically opposed war, “If it is imposed upon us, we would fight.” He was there to dedicate 28 infrastructure projects constructed by the Border Roads Organization (BRO). A total of 724 crore was spent on the construction of 22 bridges, three motorways, and three more projects in various States.
The BRO, which has been working under the Ministry of Defence’s command since 2015, constructs roads to connect difficult and inconvenient sites in the nation’s border regions.
The staff of this facility is made up of officers and soldiers from the Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police, and army personnel on additional regimental employment.
The parent cadre of the Border Roads Organization consists of the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) and personnel of the Engineering Service.
Currently, the organisation runs operations in 21 states, 1 UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 metres of permanent bridges countrywide.
Significance of BRO:
The development of border regions and the preservation of security have both benefited greatly from the work of the Border Roads Organization. The relentless work of the BRO has played a significant role in the development of India’s North Eastern states. Even the most remote areas of the country have experienced socioeconomic development as a result of the BRO’s work on the infrastructure.
The BRO has worked in several other countries in addition to India, considerably contributing in the upkeep of cordial and diplomatic relations in other countries. The Delaram-Zaranj Highway in Afghanistan was started and successfully completed in 2008 by the highly qualified BRO guys. The Farkhor and Ayni air bases in Tajikistan were also updated and rebuilt by the BRO.
The BRO closely coordinates its operations with those of the Indian Army when a natural disaster occurs. The brave soldiers of the BRO were responsible for overseeing a large portion of the cleanup efforts after the tsunami that devastated Tamil Nadu in 2004, the flash floods in Ladakh in 2010, and even the floods that ravaged Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.
Reforms are necessary:
Despite reform efforts, the BRO is still a divided organisation with friction between BRO cadre officers and army commanders on deputation. The BRO cadre is opposed to the army being given many of the top leadership and managerial positions.
2 – Fertiliser Subsidy:
GS III Topic Indian Agriculture
India wants to slash spending on food and fertiliser subsidies to 3.7 trillion ($44.6 billion) in the fiscal year beginning in April, a 26% decrease from this year, in order to alleviate a budget deficit that ballooned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Subsidies for food and fertiliser make up around one-eighth of India’s fiscal year 2019 budget, or 39.45 trillion rupees. However, reducing these subsidies could spark political upheaval in light of upcoming elections.
A fertiliser is a man-made or natural substance that comprises chemical elements like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) and encourages the growth and productivity of plants.
Urine, DAP, and muriate of potash are the three types of basic fertilisers used in India (MOP).
Details on fertiliser subsidies
The government gives fertiliser producers a subsidy so that farmers can buy fertilisers at a reduced cost from market prices.
The difference between the cost of manufacturing or import of a fertiliser and the actual amount paid by farmers is the subsidy element, which is borne by the government.
In India, urea is the fertiliser that is most frequently produced, imported, used, and physically regulated. Only agricultural-related subsidies are given to it.
The Center for Urea provides subsidies to fertiliser producers depending on the cost of production at each plant, and they are required to sell the fertiliser at the Maximum Retail Price determined by the government (MRP).
The MRP for urea is currently set at Rs 5,628 per tonne.
Subsidy for non-urea fertilisers: The companies decontrol or fix the MRPs of fertilisers without urea.
However, the government has lately implemented a control system for these fertilisers, especially in light of the increase in global costs that followed the Russia-Ukraine war.
All non-urea-based fertilisers are governed by the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme.
Examples of fertilisers without urea are DAP and MOP.
Businesses never sell DAP for more than Rs 27,000 per tonne.
3 – Agnipath Scheme:
GS II Topic Government Schemes and Interventions
With its young, high-tech, and ultra-modern mindset, Agnipath, according to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, is a game-changing initiative for the Armed Forces that will act as a force multiplier in making the Indian military one of the best in the world.
The Defence Ministry, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and the three Services (Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force) signed and exchanged Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)/Agreements with various stakeholders at an event to facilitate the continued education of aggies while they are serving in the armed forces and the awarding of suitable skill certificates in accordance with their knowledge and experience.
Young individuals who are motivated and patriotic can join the military and serve for four years.
According to this idea, the young soldier joining will be referred to as Agniveer. Young people will be allowed to enlist in the military for a brief period of time.
Most of the 45,000 to 50,000 new recruits who will be made under the new plan will leave the military in just four years.
After four years, only 25% of the cohort will be rehired into their respective services, for a total of 15 years.
The only eligible personnel are those with lower officer positions (those who do not join the forces as commissioned officers).
In the army, commission officers hold the highest positions.
Only commissioned officers hold such rank in the Indian armed forces. They frequently participate in commissions run by the president and are required by law to protect the country.
Candidates must fall within the age range of 17.5 and 23.
Goals: By providing the “Josh” and “Jazba,” it seeks to give devoted and patriotic young people the opportunity to join the military.
As a result, it is anticipated that the average age of the Indian Armed Forces will drop by 4 to 5 years.
The plan projects that within six to seven years, the average age of the armed forces, which is currently 32 years old, will fall to 26 years old.
Benefits for Agnives
After completing their four years of service, the Agniveers would be given a one-time “Seva Nidhi” payment totaling Rs 11.71 lakhs, which will also include any interest that has accrued.
They would also receive a four-year, Rs 48 lakh life insurance policy.
The amount of the refund, which includes salary for any unused time, will surpass Rs 1 crore in the event of death.
After serving for four years, soldiers who leave the military will be given government support for rehabilitation. They will be given skill certificates and bridge courses.
What are the Related Problems?
The “Agnipath” system permits the recruitment of about 45,000 individuals into the Army, Navy, and Air Force in the first year with a four-year short-term contract. After the contract expires, 25% of them will remain in the military, while the other 75% will be discharged.
We won’t be able to pursue additional careers after our four years of duty, and we’ll lag behind our peers.
Having no pension benefit At the end of their four-year tenure, employees hired under the “Agnipath” scheme will receive a one-time lump sum payout of slightly more than Rs 11 lakh.
However, they do not get any pension benefits. Most people discover that in order to sustain themselves and their families, they must take on a second job.
The loss of veterans by the army may prevent training from being put to use.
The jawans joining the Army, Navy, and Air Force will receive technical training so they can support ongoing operations. But these people will go after four years, which can leave a void.
4 – Sixth Schedule of Constitution:
GS II Topic Indian Constitution
At least two members of the committee told The Hindu that the notification is ambiguous and does not address their demand for inclusion under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which they say would “ensure protection of land and employment” for the people of Ladakh, a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) established a powerful committee to “ensure protection of land and employment.”
The statement, according to one of the members who did not want to be named, did not live up to expectations and makes no mention of the Union Territory’s inclusion under the Sixth Schedule, which includes constitutional protections for tribal communities.
The Indian Constitution’s Sixth Schedule established Autonomous District Councils (ADC) in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, four northeastern states. These ADCs aim to safeguard and maintain tribal culture.
The idea that a tribe’s or an indigenous group’s identity is based on its link to the land served as the foundation for the development of ADCs. By maintaining their sovereignty over land and natural resources, which heavily influence the indigenous people’s way of life and culture, indigenous people’s culture and identity can be preserved.
However, as a result of this system, there is now more friction between various groups, such as tribal and non-tribal. Additionally, it impairs the state’s and the region’s ability to maintain social peace, stability, and economic growth.
Special Status of Areas on the Sixth Schedule:
The initial intent of the Sixth Schedule was for the largely tribal (tribal population exceeding 90%) portions of undivided Assam, which were designated as “excluded territories” under the 1935 Government of India Act and were directly governed by the Governor.
To protect the rights of the tribal community in these states, the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution calls for the management of tribal lands in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
In accordance with Article 244(2) and Article 275(1) of the Constitution, this unique provision is offered.
The Sixth Schedule establishes autonomous district councils to oversee the administration of these territories (ADCs).
These councils have the authority to enact laws governing the subjects that fall under their purview, including land, forests, agriculture, inheritance, native customs and traditions of tribal peoples, etc. They also have the authority to levy land taxes and a few other types of taxation.
ADCs are akin to mini-states with distinct legislative, executive, and judicial roles as well as legislative, executive, and judicial powers and responsibilities.
Concerns with the sixth schedule:
Undermining of constitutional principles: The Sixth Schedule violates non-tribal residents’ fundamental rights, including the right to equality before the law (Article 14), the right against discrimination (Article 15), and the right to settle anywhere in India, by discriminating against them in a variety of ways (Article 19).
As a result, there have been numerous rioting incidents involving tribal and non-tribal people. As a result, many non-tribal people have left the northeastern states.
The fundamental rights to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution are still being mocked by many non-tribal people who continue to live in the shadow of violence.
Multiple Power Centers: Rather than implementing a true process of autonomy in the region, it has developed multiple power centres.
The District Councils and the State Legislatures frequently engage in conflict of interest litigation.
For instance, Meghalaya is still entirely subject to the sixth schedule despite the state’s establishment, which frequently leads to disputes with the local government.
Contravention of Act-East Policy The sixth schedule’s limitations obstruct the achievement of the Act East Policy, which depends on continuous communication and interchange among the Northeastern states.
Similar to this, Inner Line Permit (ILP) discourages tourists and investors, which impedes regional economic growth.
Steps to Take:
While it is true that marginalised groups need special constitutional protections to ensure that historical injustices done to them are rectified and never perpetuated, this has denied justice to non-tribals who have lived in ADCs for generations but still found themselves on the margins.
In order to deal with this delicate subject, the government and other agencies must gain the trust of both tribal and non-tribal residents of the area and foster a sense of security and belonging among them.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
When Degrees Lose Their Worth
The Diploma Disease by British economist Ronald Dore offers a structural justification for the behaviour of getting more and more degrees, which is quite widespread. Dore connects the occurrence to the deterioration of credentials rather than emphasising the behavioural aspect as other experts do. Dore observed that the desire to earn more degrees and credentials was rapidly gaining popularity in a number of different countries.
He selected Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Japan as his three study locations. Dore’s sample did not include India, but his observations still hold true there as well, and their applicability there is growing swiftly. In this real educational bazaar, certificates, diplomas, and degrees have a very large market.
An educational bazaar for India:
Dev Lahiri’s book, which describes his experiences as a prominent educator and principal, is titled The Great Indian School Bazaar. Because a variety of credentials have become available since the mid-1990s, the title is still relevant to higher education today. Its growth is self-sustaining since the more credentials are available, the faster the demand for them rises. A recent graduate doing one course would like to enrol in further courses. The ability to be admitted with a dual degree has increased the desire.
The driving force behind this urge can be found both within and without the educational system. The system internally encourages students to earn more certifications by restricting the course’s objectives and content. A response to the mystification of abilities as distinct from knowledge is the specialisation process. The phrase “job ready” describes the allure of programmes that are so intensely focused that earning one degree only serves to motivate students to pursue the next.
The greater external driving force is the economy. Economic development has not always resulted in more pleasant employment opportunities. In many parts of India, including towns and villages, there aren’t many opportunities for finding suitable employment. The fear of losing one’s job fuels the drive to get new eligibility. Candidates often choose the relevant domain of their numerous certifications in order to position themselves as qualified for a post. People are eager to become qualified for as many different sorts of occupations as they can because of how uncertain the job market is.
Delinking didn’t work:
In the 1980s, detaching degrees from employment was seen to be a smart idea to reduce pressure on higher education institutions. The argument goes that separating labour from formal education would discourage young people from pursuing certificates and degrees.
The idea was reluctantly investigated due to the concern that self-educated job applicants would not have trustworthy qualities. The pressure to enrol in a specific course persisted, though, in any case. Parents were eager to urge their children to stay enrolled rather than waste their time, and students were aware that they couldn’t pick and choose.
Numerous courses were offered by mail, sometimes known as “open” learning. Later, the Internet enabled the self-learning market as well. As a result, self-employment has grown a little bit, but regular employment hasn’t lost its appeal. In actuality, the coaching industry has continued to expand with exceptional strength. As a result of competitive tests, a large number of young people are now drawn to what Craig Jeffrey, based on his studies in India, has appropriately dubbed the “politics of waiting.”
The issue with standards:
It has proven to be true that Dore’s theory that a drop in the value of degrees is strongly connected with a drop in standards is accurate. When a course does not give you the knowledge you expected, you enrol in a higher level of the same course. When organisations are struggling financially, a downward spiral takes hold that leaves long-term job openings, scales back on support services, and lowers yearly library enrollment.
Public higher education institutions have consistently lost students over the previous three decades. They are unable to maintain standards while being forced to accept an increasing number of pupils, which is the cause of the widespread exodus to expensive private schools and foreign systems. These possibilities are unavailable to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The offers from higher education began to drop just as they began knocking on doors.
Naturally, there are a number of other reasons why expectations for students’ devotion have decreased and teaching standards have fallen. Additionally, some of the apparent behavioural changes in pupils can be attributed to digital technology. On a well-known open university’s weekly consultation programme, I once overheard the following instruction: “Please read the programme handbook carefully. Reading is a healthy pastime for you.
The fact that a university must stress the value of reading is a blatant indication of the continuous instability of the educational system. Numerous changes made notwithstanding the epidemic’s impact on routines’ deterioration may not be sufficient to address the fundamental issues and tendencies that Dore had outlined more than 50 years earlier.
The change discourse and the reality of our higher education system are very different. The failure to acknowledge the lasting character of older problems is now contributing to systemic enervation. There is little doubt that taking into account the COVID-19 effect as well as the lingering effects of earlier issues will improve the nature and selection of reforms
#Degrees #Lost #Worth #India #Ecucation #Bazar #Issues #Standard India #World #Daily #The_Hindu_Editorial_Analysis #IAS #UPSC #Stact_PSC #Prelims #Mains #Geo_IAS
The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Free Foodgrains In 2023
According to the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, the government recently proclaimed that it will provide free foodgrains to eligible people for the entire new year.
On December 24, while debating the country’s voting incentives, the Union Cabinet finalised their choice.
On the other hand, the government ended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY), which was introduced in April 2020 as a pandemic relief measure and under which NFSA beneficiaries received 5 kg of free food in addition to their monthly entitlement of subsidised foodgrains (5 kg per person in Priority Households and 35 kg for Antyodaya households) under the Act.
Laws governing food safety:
The NFSA, passed by the UPA-2 administration and implemented on July 5, 2013, provides 50% of urban and 75% of rural families in India with access to discounted grains through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). The NFSA provides protection to about 81.35 crore people in the country.
The subsidised pricing is included in Schedule 1 of the Act, which the government may change by executive order.
In fact, the government declared on December 30, 2022, that free foodgrains under the NFSA would be made available starting on January 1. Furthermore, the number of grains to which a beneficiary is entitled is predetermined and cannot be changed without Parliament’s approval.
Currently, beneficiaries of the NFSA must pay Rs 3, Rs 2, and Rs 1 per kilogramme for rice, wheat, and nutri-cereals (millets).
These prices were initially fixed for a three-year period. Following that, the grains were to be distributed “at such price, as may be established from time to time by the Central Government, not exceeding, I, the minimum support price for wheat and coarse grains; and (ii) the derived minimum support price for rice, as the case may be” – The three years ended on July 5, 2016, yet even though food costs have been constantly rising and the government’s budget for food subsidies is growing, prices have remained the same.
The cost of living rising
The Economic Cost is divided into four components:
Cost of Pooled Grain.
Cost of purchase.
The Economic Cost of wheat has climbed from Rs 1,908.32 a quintal in 2013–14 to Rs 2,196.98 in 2016–17 to Rs 2,588.70 in 2022–23.
Government food subsidies have likewise steadily increased in price. It peaked at Rs 5,41,330.14 crore in 2020–21 before falling to Rs 2,86,469.11 crore in 2021–2022. A subsidy cost of Rs 2,06,831.09 crore has been set aside by the government for 2022–23, though it may go up. The government estimates that the cost to distribute free foodgrains under the NFSA will be around Rs 2 lakh crore.
PM-GKAY and NFSA:
On September 28 of last year, before of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the government announced the seventh phase of PM-GKAY, which extended the Covid-19 assistance package to the end of December.
The government spent approximately Rs 3.45 lakh crore on PM-GKAY up until the sixth phase, according to official data, and it projected that the overall cost would be Rs 3.91 lakh crore by the end of the seventh phase.
1,121 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrain were distributed altogether for the programme (LMT). The PM-GKAY must cease after December 31, 2022, due to the nation’s food grain stockpiles currently being depleted. As of November 30 of last year, there were 305.69 LMT in combined stock of rice and wheat, down from the 591.56 LMT (213.03 LMT rice and 378.53 LMT wheat) of stock on the same day in 2021. The position of the wheat stock is comfortable and is just above the required buffer stock level.
Every month, the PM-GKAY cost the government more than Rs 15,000 crore.
How much is enough?
The Cabinet’s decision was made public on December 24 by Food Minister Piyush Goyal, who stated, “Adhik quantity ki awashyakta nahin hai. (It is not essential to pay more.) The government’s perspective was different when the PM-GKAY was implemented.
The cost of free grains:
A further Rs 13,900 crore will be spent by the exchequer as a result of the decision made on December 24, raising the overall cost of food security for the year 2023 to about Rs 2 lakh crore.
However, those who benefit from the NFSA will save some money as a result. For Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families, who are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per month, the government has allocated 99.75 LMT (71.07 LMT rice and 28.68 LMT wheat).
As a result, during the course of the year, AAY families will save over Rs 2,705 crore altogether.
However, if AAY families are required to buy more foodgrains on the open market, they will pay a higher price (in comparison to what they were receiving under the PM-GKAY).
Additionally, the government has allotted PHHs 423.86 LMT of foodgrains (144.76 LMT of wheat, 272.8 LMT of rice, and 6.3 LMT of nutri-cereals), enabling them to save roughly Rs 11,142 crore annually. Like the AAY households, the PHHs will also be required to pay more in order to obtain additional food grains at the market price.
The most vulnerable segments of society must receive food grains at discounted prices in order to release individuals from the prospect of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
Free food grain programmes, however, must to contain a “sunset clause” and be predicated on essential events like pandemics. On the other hand, the government ought to concentrate more emphasis on developing people’s potential so they can support themselves.
#Free #Foodgrains #2023 #Present #Circumstances #Laws #Food #Safety #Cost_Of_Living #Economic #PM-GKAY #NFSA #India #World #Daily #The_Hindu_Analysis #IAS #UPSC #Stact_PSC #Prelims #Mains #Geo_IAS
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