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GS PAPER II NEWS

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Why in News

The third edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index 2020-21 was released by NITI Aayog.

Highlights

  • The report titled ‘SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020–21: Partnerships in the Decade of Action’ designed and developed by NITI Aayog.
  • India saw significant improvement in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to clean energy, urban development and health in 2020.
  • Whereas, India records a major decline in the areas of industry, innovation and infrastructure as well as decent work and economic growth.
  • Although the index shows improvement on the inequality SDGs, the NITI Aayog has omitted key economic indicators used to measure inequality in income and expenditure last year and given greater weightage to social indicators instead.
  • Kerala retained its position at the top of the rankings in the third edition of the index, with a score of 75, followed by Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, both scoring 72.
  • Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst performing States. However, all the States showed some improvement from 2020 scores, with Mizoram and Haryana seeing the biggest gains.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index

  • The NITI Aayog launched its index in 2018 to monitor the country’s progress on the goals through data driven assessment and to foster a competitive spirit among the States and Union Territories in achieving them.
  • Overall State and UT scores are generated from goal-wise scores to measure aggregate performance of the sub-national unit based on its performance across the 16 SDGs.
  • These scores range between 0–100, and if a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies it has achieved the 2030 targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.
  • In March, an assessment by the UN of the impact of COVID­19 on the SDGs said the region India is part of may see rising inequality due to the pandemic.
  • The NITI Aayog Index shows some improvement in the SDG on inequality, but a look at the indicators used to assess this goal shows that the think tank has changed the goalposts.

Thrust on social equality

  • In 2019, the indicators for inequality included the growth rates for household expenditure per capita among the bottom 40% of rural and urban populations, as well as the Gini coefficient as a measure of the distribution of income in rural and urban India.
  • The 2018 indicators included the Palma ratio, another metric for income inequality.
  • Such economic measures have been omitted from the indicators used for this SDG in the 2020 edition of the Index.
  • Instead, it gives greater weightage to social equality indicators, such as the percentage of women and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe representatives in State Legislatures and the Panchayati raj institutions and the levels of crime against the SC/ST communities.
  • The only economic indicator this year is the percentage of population in the lowest two wealth quintiles.
  • The country’s score on the SDG related to industry and infrastructure dropped 10 points to 55, while the scores on decent work dropped three points to 61.
  • The Clean Water and Sanitation SDG also saw a five-point drop, despite flagship government schemes in this sector.

GS PAPER II NEWS

SAGE (Senior care Ageing Growth Engine)

Why in News

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched Senior care Ageing Growth Engine (SAGE) project to select, support and create a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups.

Senior care Ageing Growth Engine (SAGE)

  • The initiative will be launched in New Delhi. Start-ups can apply for being a part of SAGE through a dedicated portal, which will also be launched.
  • The Objective behind the launch of SAGE is to select, support and create “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services provided by credible start-ups.
  • The start-ups will be selected on the basis of innovative products and services, which they should be able to provide across sectors such as health, housing, cares Centres, apart from technological access linked to finances, food and wealth management, and legal guidance.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment will act as a facilitator, enabling the elderly to access the products through these identified start-ups.
  • India’s elderly population is on the rise, and as per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.
  • Accordingly, there is an urgent need to create a more robust elder care ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.
  • The SAGE project is shaped on the recommendations of the empowered expert committee (EEC) report on start-ups for elderly.

GS PAPER II NEWS

Kedar Nath Singh judgment of 1962

Why in News

Recently, the Supreme Court quashed a sedition case registered against senior journalist and Padma Shri awardee Vinod Dua for his critical remarks against the Prime Minister and the Union government in a YouTube telecast.

Key Points

  • The Supreme Court also reiterated the principles in the landmark case on sedition, the Kedar Nath Singh v Union of India (1962).
  • In an against of video, the case was filed the sedition against Dua. Section 124A of the IPC penalises sedition as punishable with either imprisonment ranging from three years to a lifetime, a fine, or both.
  • Both the state and the Centre argued against quashing the FIR because the state wanted to investigate whether such statements were “deliberate” or “unintended and innocent assertions”.

Kedar Nath Singh case

  • In the landmark 1962 Kedar Nath Singh case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law; it attempted to restrict its scope for misuse.
  • The court held that unless accompanied by an incitement or call for violence, criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition.
  • Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code states: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in [India], shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
  • Seven principles in the Kedar Nath Singh ruling specify situations in which the charge of sedition cannot be applied.
  • The expression “the Government established by law’ has to be distinguished from the persons for the time being engaged in carrying on the administration. ‘Government established by law’ is the visible symbol of the State. The very existence of the State will be in jeopardy if the Government established by law is subverted.
  • Any acts within the meaning of Section 124-A which have the effect of subverting the Government by bringing that Government into contempt or hatred, or creating disaffection against it, would be within the penal statute because the feeling of disloyalty to the Government established by law or enmity to it imports the idea of tendency to public disorder by the use of actual violence or incitement to violence.
  • Comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal.
  • A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.
  • The provisions of the Sections read as a whole, along with the explanations, make it reasonably clear that the sections aim at rendering penal only such activities as would be intended, or have a tendency, to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.
  • It is only when the words, written or spoken, etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order that the law steps in to prevent such activities in the interest of public order.
  • We propose to limit its operation only to such activities as come within the ambit of the observations of the Federal Court, that is to say, activities involving incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace.

Impact of Verdict

  • The significance of the verdict lies in the Supreme Court’s subsequent reiteration of the Kedar Nath Singh principles. A fresh constitutional challenge by two journalists, against the sedition law pending before the Supreme Court, and the ruling in Dua’s case, make a strong case against keeping the colonial law in the books.
  • The significance of the verdict lies in the Supreme Court’s subsequent reiteration of the Kedar Nath Singh principles. A fresh constitutional challenge by two journalists, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, against the sedition law pending before the Supreme Court, and the ruling in Dua’s case, make a strong case against keeping the colonial law in the books.

GS PAPER III

Black Carbon Deposition

Why in News

According to the study by World Bank (WB), black carbon (BC) deposits produced by human activity which accelerate the pace of glacier and snow melt in the Himalayan region can be sharply reduced through new, currently feasible policies by an additional 50% from current levels.

Key Points

  • The research covers the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges, where, the report says, glaciers are melting faster than the global average ice mass.
  • The rate of retreat of HKHK glaciers is estimated to be 0.3 meters per year in the west to 1.0 meter per year in the east.
  • According to the World Bank report titled “Glaciers of the Himalayas, Climate Change, Black Carbon and Regional Resilience”, full implementation of current policies to mitigate BC can achieve a 23% reduction but enacting new policies and incorporating them through regional cooperation among countries can achieve enhanced benefits.

Black Carbon (BC)

  • Black Carbon is a short-lived pollutant that is the second largest contributor to warming the planet behind Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
  • Unlike other greenhouse gas emissions, BC is quickly washed out and can be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop.
  • Unlike historical carbon emissions, it is also a localised source with greater local impact.
  • Some of the ongoing policy measures to cut BC emissions are enhancing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, phasing out diesel vehicles and promoting electric vehicles, accelerating the use of liquefied petroleum gas for cooking and through clean cookstove programmes, as well as upgrading brick kiln technologies.
  • However, with all existing measures, water from glacier melt is still projected to increase in absolute volume by 2040, with impacts on downstream activities and communities.

Air temperature

  • Deposits of BC act in two ways hastening the pace of glacier melt:
  • By decreasing surface reflectance of sunlight and
  • By raising air temperature
  • At the Himalayas, reducing black carbon emissions from cookstoves, diesel engines, and open burning would have the greatest impact and could significantly reduce radiative forcing and help to maintain a greater portion of Himalayan glacier systems.
  • To review policies on water management, with an emphasis on basin-based regulation and use of price signals for efficiency, careful planning and use of hydropower to reflect changes in water flows and availability, and increasing the efficiency of brick kilns through proven technologies.
  • The WB publication says “Industry (primarily brick kilns) and residential burning of solid fuel together account for 45–66% of regional anthropogenic BC deposition, followed by on road diesel fuels (7–18%) and open burning (less than 3% in all seasons)” in the region.

Role of Black Carbon in Climate Change

  • Black Carbon (BC) has recently emerged as a major contributor to global climate change, possibly second only to CO2 as the main driver of change.
  • It strongly absorbs sunlight and give soot its black colour.
  • BC is produced both naturally and by human activities such as incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass.
  • Primary sources of the Black Carbon are the emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions is essential to avert the worst impacts of future climate change, but CO2 has such a long atmospheric lifetime that it will take several decades for CO2 concentrations to begin to stabilize after emissions reductions begin.
  • BC remains in the atmosphere for only a few weeks, so cutting its emissions would immediately reduce the rate of warming, particularly in the rapidly changing Arctic.
  • Moreover, reduced exposure to BC provides public health co-benefits, especially in developing countries.

GS PAPER III

RBI Monetary Policy Committee

Why in News

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India has announced that the Policy Repo Rate will remain unchanged at 4% and that the Marginal Standing Facility and Bank Rate will remain at 4.25%.

Key Points

  • The Reverse Repo Rate too will remain unchanged at 3.35%.
  • The Monetary Policy Committee was of the view that policy support from all sides is required to gain growth momentum and to nurture recovery after it takes root.
  • The policy rate remains unchanged and accommodative stance has been decided to be continued as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth, while ensuring inflation remains within target the Governor said while delivering RBI’s bi-monthly monetary policy statement through an online address.

Additional Measures

  • The Governor also announced a set of additional measures with the objective of reviving the economy and to mitigate the adverse impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • On-Tap Liquidity Window for Contact-Intensive sectors: A separate liquidity window of Rs. 15,000 Crore is being opened till March 31, 2022 with tenures up to three years, at the repo rate.
  • Special Liquidity Facility of Rs. 16,000 Crore to SIDBI, for on-lending/refinancing through novel models and structures at Repo Rate, for a period of up to one year. This is to further support credit requirements of MSMEs, including those in credit-deficient and aspirational districts.
  • Expansion of coverage of borrowers under Stress Resolution Framework 2.0, by enhancing maximum aggregate exposure threshold from Rs. 25 Crore to Rs. 50 Crore for MSMEs, non-MSME small businesses and loans to individuals for business purposes.
  • Permission given to Authorized Dealer banks to place margins on behalf of FPI clients for transactions in Govt. securities within banks’ credit risk management framework. This will ease operational constraints faced by Foreign Portfolio Investments and promote ease of doing business.
  • Regional Rural Banks can now issue Certificates of Deposit (CDs): All issuers of CDs will be permitted to buy back their CDs before maturity, subject to certain conditions. This will facilitate greater flexibility in liquidity management.
  • National Automated Clearing House (NACH) to be available on all days of the week effective from August 1, 2021. NACH being a popular and prominent mode of direct benefit transfer to large number of beneficiaries, this measure will enhance customer convenience.

Monetary Policy Terms

  • Repo Rate: Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.
  • Reverse Repo Rate: It is the rate at which the RBI borrows money from banks when there is excess liquidity in the market. During high levels of inflation in the economy, the RBI increases the reverse repo.
  • Bank Rate: Bank rate is the rate charged by the central bank for lending funds to commercial banks.
  • Marginal standing facility (MSF): It is a window for banks to borrow from the Reserve Bank of India in an emergency situation when inter-bank liquidity dries up completely.
  • Inflation: Inflation refers to the rise in the prices of most goods and services of daily or common use, such as food, clothing, housing, recreation, transport, consumer staples, etc. Inflation measures the average price change in a basket of commodities and services over time.