GS PAPER II NEWS

Centre-States Relations

Why in News

West Bengal Chief Secretary Bandyopadhyay, an IAS officer of the 1987 batch, was due to begin an extension of three months after retiring on 31st May.

The Tussle

  • On 25th May, the West Bengal government issued an order, citing the Centre’s approval dated May 24, “in the interest of public service, to extend” Bandyopadhyay’s services for three months.
  • But, on 28th May, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to the Chief Secretary that “the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet has approved the placement of the services” of Bandyopadhyay with the Government of India with “immediate effect” and requested the state to relieve the officer with immediate effect and direct him to report by 10 am on May 31.
  • This came after Chief Minister and Bandyopadhyay skipped a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the state.

Centre-State Relation

  • The Constitution of India provides a dual polity with a clear division of powers between the Union and the States, each being supreme within the sphere allotted to it.
  • The Indian federation is not the result of an agreement between independent units, and the units of Indian federation cannot leave the federation.
  • The relations divided into three categories:
  1. Legislative relations
  2. Administrative relations
  3. Financial relations

Centre State Legislative Relations

  • Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the Constitution deal with the legislative relations between the Centre and the State.
  • Article 245 (1): Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India, and the Legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or any part of the State.
  • Article 245 (2): No law made by Parliament shall be deemed to be invalid on the ground that it would have extra-territorial operation.
  • Article 246: Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in List I (i.e., Union List) and List III (i.e., Concurrent List) of the Seventh Schedule.
  • Article 248: Parliament has exclusive power to make any law with respect to any matter not enumerated in the Concurrent List or State List.
  • Article 250: Parliament shall, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State List.

Centre-State Administrative Relations

  • Articles 256 to 263 describe administrative relations.
  • Article 256: The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as to ensure compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws which apply in that State, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
  • Article 257 (1): The executive power of every State shall be so exercised as not to impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive power of the Union, and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of such directions to a State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for that purpose.
  • Article 258 (2): A law made by Parliament which applies in any State may, notwithstanding that it relates to a matter with respect to which the Legislature of the State has no power to make laws, confer powers and impose duties, or authorize the conferring of powers and the imposition of duties, upon the State or officers and authorities thereof.
  • Article 261 (3): The final judgments or orders delivered or passed by civil courts in any part of the territory of India shall be capable of execution anywhere within that territory according to law.
  • Article 262 (1): Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State River or river valley.
  • Article 262 (2): Parliament may be law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).

Centre-State Financial Relations

  • Articles 268 to 293 describe financial relations.
  • Article 268: It describes the Duties levied by the Union but collected and appropriated by the States.
  • Article 269: It describes the Taxes levied and collected by the Union but assigned to the States.
  • Article 270: It describes the Taxes levied and distributed between the Union and the States.

GS PAPER III

Andaman and Nicobar Island

Why in News

According to information released by the central government, slew of infrastructure projects has been proposed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to give a major boost to tourism and business there.

Proposals for Andaman & Nicobar Island

  • On May 28, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) committee considered an application by Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation (ANIIDCO) to waive off a condition under the CRZ clearance granted to them for developing luxury tents in Aves Island on a public-private partnership mode.
  • Proposals released by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) committee includes:
  • Luxury tents and resorts on some islands;
  • Two water aerodrome projects in Shaheed and Swaraj islands;
  • Two major township and area development projects on the Great Nicobar Island and Little Andaman, one of which is involve denotification of a tribal reserve.
  • Development of a water aerodrome at Shaheed Island by the Airports Authority of India.

Impact of Infrastructure Development Projects

  • Loss of Biodiversity:
  • These projects will transform the islands substantially, would cause loss of biodiversity and have a negative impact on the indigenous people in the ecologically sensitive islands.
  • Ecological Impact:
  • The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) had raised several concerns about the ecological impact of constructing a water aerodrome at Swaraj Island that would have resulted in the loss of 3,500 square metres of forest land transferred to ANIIDCO.
  • Environmental Impact:
  • The environment impact assessment report says that the site for the construction of the terminal building (1,568.9 sqm) and associated infrastructure (453.3 sqm) falls partly in mangroves.
  • Loss of certain Tribes:
  • A certain portion of the 442.5 square kilometre area reserved for the Onge tribe will be de-notified for the Little Andaman township, and another area earmarked for the tribe. This may cause loss of Onge Tribe due to migration from one place to another.
  • Impact on Endangered Species:
  • The EAC recommended the Great Nicobar township proposal which was likely to impact turtle and megapode nesting sites and coral reefs.
  • According to the EAC the environmental aspects of the site can impact many endangered species.

Andaman and Nicobar Island

  • Andaman and Nicobar Island is one of the eight Union Territories of India, located at the junction of Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
  • It consisted of 572 islands, of which 38 are inhabited.
  • India, would one find thriving tropical rainforests, mangroves, coral reefs, and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems within a hundred metres of each other. The main livelihood generators of these islands are tourism and fisheries and sustaining them requires maintaining healthy ecosystems.
  • It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 150 km wide Ten Degree Channel (on the 10°N parallel), with the Andaman Islands to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobar Islands to the south.
  • The capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Island is city of Port Blair. It divided into three districts: the Nicobar District with Car Nicobar as its capital, the South Andaman district with Port Blair as its capital and the North and Middle Andaman district with Mayabunder as its capital.
  • It also hosts the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-service geographical command of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • It is the home to the Sentinelese people, an uncontacted tribe and might have the only people currently known to not have reached further than a Palaeolithic level of technology.

Way Forward

  • These are some of the most important repositories of our biodiversity and ecological heritage and any development must minimise ecological impacts and benefit local communities.
  • According to the Indian Institute of Science’s Centre for Ecological Sciences, the islands host tremendous marine biodiversity. Development is definitely needed in the islands, but it needs to be ecologically sensitive and culturally conscious.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) 4.0

Why in News

The government has expanded Rs 3-trillion Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to help businesses hit by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) 4.0

  • The scheme has added the civil aviation sector and loan to health institutions for on-site oxygen generation plants.
  • The Centre has also removed the loan outstanding ceiling of Rs 500 crore of loan outstanding.
  • However, the maximum additional loans they can take under the scheme is limited to 40 per cent of the outstanding loan, or Rs 200 crore, whichever is lower.
  • Loans given under ECLGS 1.0 will be eligible for additional assistance up to 10 per cent, raising the total guaranteed loan up to 30 per cent of outstanding as on February 29, 2020.
  • The 100 per cent guarantee cover offered to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and medical colleges for setting up oxygen plants will be available for loans up to Rs 2 crore, with the interest rate capped at 7.5 per cent.
  • The validity of the scheme has been extended to September 30 or till guarantees of Rs 3 trillion are issued. Disbursements can be made until December 31.
  • The repayment period for restructured loans has been enhanced by one year to five years for loans under ECLGS 1.0.

Significance of ECLGS 4.0

  • Relief measures under the ECLGS will help borrowers’ liquidity position in light of the incremental stress on debt servicing brought on by the second wave.
  • The government will also not be burdened with additional cost. This will also improve the utilisation of ECLGS funding pool.
  • The impact of the current wave has been wider and deeper and is likely to be more on small businesses. So, ECLGS 4.0 is a positive step.
  • The inclusion of the civil aviation sector is a welcome and timely move by the government that should help the sector that has been the most severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • However, many businesses might still become unviable despite the support. Hence, the stress on lenders’ portfolio will reflect with a lag.

Repayment period

  • The scheme would help borrowers eligible for restructuring under the Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines and had availed of loans under ECLGS 1.0.
  • The overall tenure consisted of repayment of interest during the first 12 months, with the remaining repayment of principal and interest being spread over the subsequent 36 months.
  • These borrowers will get a five-year repayment period, involving interest repayment for the first 24 months, and principal and interest in the subsequent 36 months.
  • ECLGS 2.0 had a loan tenure of five years with a 12-month moratorium on repayment of principal, and ECLGS 3.0 six years, including a moratorium period of 2 years.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS)

  • The ECLGS aims to provide 100 percent guaranteed coverage to the banks, non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) and other lending institutions.
  • It enables them to extend emergency credit to business entities that have suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to meet their working capital requirements.
  • It was launched as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore Covid-19 relief package called the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
  • It aimed to provide Rs 3 lakh crore worth of collateral-free, government-guaranteed loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across India to mitigate the distress caused by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
  • ECLGS 1.0 had a 1-year moratorium period and a 4-year repayment period.
  • In November 2020, Finance Ministry launched of ECLGS 2.0 by extending the Rs 3 lakh crore scheme to support 26 stressed sectors identified by the Kamath Committee and the healthcare sector. The scheme was valid till March 31, 2021.
  • In order to support the Hospitality, Travel and Tourism, Leisure, and Sporting sectors, which are among those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government on March 31 widened the scope of the Rs 3 lakh crore scheme by announcing ECLGS 3.0.

ESIC and EPFO schemes

Why in News

In order to provide relief to workers amid Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has announced additional benefits for families of insured persons covered under the ESIC and EPFO’s EDLI schemes.

Key Points

  • The Government has decided to provide pension to dependents of insured persons, covered under the ESIC scheme, who died due to COVID-19.
  • A hike in maximum sum assured under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) under EPFO to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 6 lakh has also been announced.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment has announced additional benefits for workers through ESIC and EPFO schemes to address the fear and anxiety of workers about well-being of their family members due to increase in incidences of death due to COVID -19 pandemic.
  • Enhanced social security is sought to be provided to the workers without any additional cost to the employer.

Eligibility

  • The additional social security benefits announced by Government are available for those who are covered under the Employee’ State Insurance Act 1948 (ESI Act) and Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (EPF Act).
  • Employees whose monthly wages do not exceed Rs 21,000 are eligible to be covered under the ESI Act; monthly wage not exceeding Rs 15000 makes an employee eligible for coverage under EPFO.

New for insured persons under ESIC

  • After death or disablement of the insured persons (IPs) under ESIC due to employment injury, a pension equivalent to 90 per cent of average daily wage drawn by the worker is available to the spouse and widowed mother for life long and for children till they attain the age of 25 years. For the female child, this benefit is available till her marriage.
  • The contribution to the ESIC fund is made by both employer and employee to avail the sickness and death benefits prescribed under the ESI Act. The Government has expanded the scope of availing dependent benefits to include covid deaths.
  • Now, the dependent benefit has been extended for death due to covid subject to the conditions that the insured person has been registered on the ESIC portal three months prior to diagnosis of covid and contributions for at least 78 days has been paid or payable during one year preceding the diagnosis.
  • This will be effective for two years from 24th March 2020.

Significance of new scheme under ESIC

  • According to the rules of EPFO’s Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) Scheme, all surviving dependent family members of the members are eligible to avail benefits of EDLI in case of death in harness of the member.
  • Currently, the benefits extended in case of death of a worker are no requirement of minimum service for payment of Gratuity, family pension is paid as per provisions under EPF & MP Act.
  • Sickness benefit of 70 per cent of wages for 91 days in a year is paid if the worker falls sick and fail to attend office.
  • Through a notification, the amount of maximum benefit has been increased from Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 7 lakhs to the family members of the deceased employee covered under EDLI.
  • A minimum assurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh has been provided to eligible family members of deceased employee, who was a member for a continuous period of 12 months in one or more establishments preceding his death in place of existing provision of continuous employment in the same establishment for 12 months.
  • The insurance benefit under the Employees’ Deposit-Linked Insurance Scheme framed under the EPF Act was increased to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 6 lakh, to be availed by families of members who succumbed to covid. This is a beneficial change not only because of increase in the quantum of benefit but also because it can be availed irrespective of change in employment, thereby will render financial support to the families of the deceased member.
  • However, for those who are not covered under ESI Act and EPF Act and have no other means of financial support.

Magnetometer

Why in News

Researchers have demonstrated a low-cost digital system to efficiently measure unknown magnetic fields.

Magnetometer

  • Digital signals are the backbone of communication systems processed by hardware systems that transmit and receive the signals with the help of intermediate systems called ‘digital receiver systems or DRS.
  • When magnetic matter creates signals, analyzing them with DRS lets scientists study the magnetic fields. Analysing the properties of the signals, for example, how they vary with time, scientists can measure the fields and study their small fluctuations.
  • In a new study, scientists from Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have devised a more efficient, faster, and low-cost digital receiver system that can make precise measurements of magnetic fields.
  • The study was supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Government of India.
  • The hardware of digital receiver systems is built with standard silicon-based memory devices.
  • Computer codes are implemented that make these devices perform mathematical operations on the signal they receive, enabling DRS systems to measure fundamental properties of matter like ‘Spin’.
  • The spin of electrons determines the magnetism of most of the objects around us.
  • The electrons’ spin is not constant at room temperatures. They fluctuate,” explains Saptarishi Chaudhuri, associate professor of RRI and a co-author of the study. These spin fluctuations cause what scientists call ‘spin-noise’. By measuring the tiny fluctuations in the magnetic field, the researchers can infer the spin-noise accurately.