IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


13th December, 2019


CAG hints at massive diversion of LPG



CAG reports:

-       Risk of diversion of domestic LPG cylinders for commercial use, as 1.98 lakh beneficiaries had an average annual consumption of more than 12 cylinders.

-       The oil marketing companies had issued 7.19 crore connections, which is about 90% of the target to be achieved until March 2020.

-       Out of 3.78 crore LPG connections, 1.60 crore (42%) connections were issued only on the basis of beneficiary Aadhaar which remained a deterrent in de-duplication.

-       Laxity in identification of beneficiaries.

-       Lack of input validation check in the IOCL software allowed issue of 0.80 lakh connections to beneficiaries aged below 18.

-       8.59 lakh connections were released to beneficiaries who were minor as per the SECC-2011 data, which was in violation of PMUY guidelines and LPG Control Order, 2000.

-       Mismatch in the name of 12.46 lakh beneficiaries between the PMUY database and SECC-2011 data.

-       Connections were given to “unintended” persons.

-       Delay of more than 365 days in the installation of 4.35 lakh connections against the stipulated time period of seven days.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Scheme:

-       Under this scheme, 5 crore connections are to be provided to the people needing them.

-       BPL families will be offered a support of Rs.1600 per connection. This is for the cylinder, booklet, pressure regulator, safety hose, etc. and will be borne by the government itself.

-       Apart from these, the scheme also provides interest-free loans to buy stove and refill by oil marketing companies.

-       The connections would be given in the name of women of the households.

-       An initial outlay of Rs.8000 crore was sanctioned for the implementation of the scheme.

-       The authorities would identify BPL families based on the Socio Economic Caste Census data.

-       Target of Pradhan Mantri UjjwalaYojana (PMUY) has been enhanced from five crore to eight crore.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/cag-hints-at-massive-diversion-of-lpg/article30291896.ece

Committee to study porn content on Internet

Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu converted an informal group of MPs constituted to study issues related to pornographic content on the Internet and social media platforms into an adhoc committee.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/committee-to-study-porn-content-on-internet/article30291893.ece



IIP shrinks again, inflation accelerates



IIP data:

-       Industrial activity contracted for the third consecutive month in October by 3.8%.

-       IIP had contracted by 4.3% in September and 1.1% in August.

-       Mining sector shrunk by 8% in October.

-       Manufacturing sector contracted for the third consecutive month in October, by 2.1%.

About IIP:

-       The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) maps the changes in the volume of production in Indian industries.

-       It chooses a basket of industrial products — ranging from the manufacturing sector to mining to energy, creates an index by giving different weight to each sector and then tracks the production every month. 

-       Finally, the index value is compared to the value it had in the same month last year to figure out the economy’s industrial health.

-       It is released by Ministry of Statistics.

Consumer Price Index (CPI):

-       Retail inflation had surged to a 40-month high of 5.54% in November, driven by rising food inflation.

Inflation: Inflation is sustained increase in the general price level. It leads to fall in the purchasing power of money. 

Different Indices like WPI (Wholesale Price Index), CPI (Consumer Price Index) measures inflation in India.

WPI (Wholesale Price Index): WPI is measurement of inflation based on Wholesale prices.

-       Ministry of Commerce and Industry releases it.

-       Headline Inflation is other name for it.

-       It does not include services.

CPI (Consumer Price Inflation): CPI is measurement of Inflation at retail prices.

-       Central Statistics Office (CSO) releases it.

-       It has basket of Services and Manufacturing goods.

Headline Inflation: It is total inflation in economy. It includes price rise in food, fuel and all other commodities.

Core Inflation: Core inflation does not consider the inflation in food and fuel.

Will pay GST compensation to States: FM

With States not being paid compensation for loss of revenue due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation since August 2019, Finance Minister has assured that the Centre would honour its commitment.

Demand of states:

-       Some states are demanding that the cut-off date for ending compensation to the States be moved from 2021-22 to 2026-27.

-       States have asked to raise the cess for compensation to states in order to fulfil the shortfall.

-       The government of Punjab has even said that it may take the matter to the Supreme Court if the Centre does not release the dues.

Legal Provisions:

-       The GST Act promises states enough compensation from the Centre to keep their annual revenue growth 14% for five years despite any likely loss due to the implementation of the indirect tax regime.

-       Most prevalent indirect taxes were subsumed by the new GST structure, which came into effect on July 1, 2017, and states are eligible for the compensation until 2021-22.


Not many lessons learnt from water planning failures

Government efforts:

-       The Central government had launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), which is a time-bound, mission-mode water conservation campaign.

-       It is not a funding programme and did not create any new intervention on its own.

-       The JSA is partly modelled and driven by some sporadic success stories such as NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh’s experiment in Alwar, Rajasthan and Anna Hazare-led efforts in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra.

Concern around it:

-       Water planning should be based on hydrological units, namely river basins. However, JSA was planned based on the boundary of the districts and to be carried out under the overall supervision of a bureaucrat.

-       It is difficult to say whether measures like JSA can provide long-term solutions. Most of the farm bunds are built with soil, which can collapse within one monsoon season.

-       There are issues like lack of proper engineering supervision of these structures, involvement of multiple departments with less or no coordination, and limited funding under MGNERGA and other schemes.

-       There have hardly been any efforts undertaken to dissuade farmers from growing water-intensive crops such as paddy, sugarcane, and banana.


The steps taken by Central Government under this program indicate a good start but it will require addressing of the above-mentioned issues to find a solution to the water crisis prevalent in India.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/not-many-lessons-learnt-from-water-planning-failures/article30291855.ece

Should the creamy layer norm be extended to SC/STs?

The Centre has called upon the Supreme Court to constitute a seven-judge Bench to examine whether the ‘creamy layer’ concept should be applied to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) for promotions in service.

Reasons for reservations:

-       Reservation in politics, services and institutions is given to SCs particularly because they were denied the right to property, education and industries for nearly 2,000 years.

-       The argument was that to provide them the safeguard [against discrimination] and compensate them to some extent for past exclusions, they should be given representation as per their population share.

-       It is based on constitutional principle of Social Justice.

About Creamy Layer:

-       According to the 1993 order, sons and daughters of Group A/Class I Officers of the All India Central and State Services (direct recruits), Group B/Class II Officers of Central and State Services (direct recruits), employees of Public Sector Undertakings, etc. and armed forces fall within the creamy layer, and, therefore, they would not be entitled to reservation benefits.

Reasons for applying creamy layer to SC/St:

-       Majority of seats reserved in the central and state institutions and the employment opportunities are taken away by the established and the economically better.

-       By taking away these seats, the poor in the community miss the opportunity of moving up the economic ladder.

Non Application of Creamy layer to SC/ST:

-       For the OBCs, it is only economic backwardness but for the Dalits, it is social discrimination.

-       The reservation policy is against discrimination; it is not based on economic consideration because discrimination is independent of economic standing.

-       The economically better off also face discrimination, in service and many other spheres. They also need a safeguard and that safeguard is the affirmative action policy.

Reservation in Promotion:

-       According to statistics, there is huge discrimination once a person gets into service.

-       There are about 12,000 cases lying with the SC/ST Commission, complaining about discrimination in service. Therefore, they need protection in promotion.

Way Forward:

-       Under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, it is the government’s responsibility to undertake a study every five years, to bring out the nature of discrimination and untouchability faced by Dalits.

-       We need a databased, evidence-based approach to judging reservations.

-       We need to have greater transparency and databased evidence to support any claims.

-       The government’s SC/ST Commission report is supposed to have a separate chapter on untouchability. That report has not been brought out in the last 20 years or so.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/should-the-creamy-layer-norm-be-extended-to-scsts/article30291865.ece


India Design Council launches two Initiatives to promote Design Education and Standards

The India Design Council (IDC) launched the Chartered Designs of India (CDI) and the Design Education Quality Mark (DEQM).


-       These two initiatives of the IDC and the National Institute of design, Ahmedabad will help to address the 5 challenges of scale, quality of design, quality of education for design, raising the priority for design in industry and design for public purpose.

-       Creative manufacturing and design innovation will be the key drivers in the Make in India initiative of 2020 and beyond and further strengthening the brand “designed in India”.

-       In 2007, India became one of the few countries to adopt a National Design Policy (NDP).

About Design Education Quality Mark (DEQM):

-       The DEQM will benchmark design education programmes on predetermined standards and will accord Design Education Quality Mark to institutions that meet the provisions of the published standard.

About the Chartered Designs of India (CDI):

-       The CDI is envisaged as an institution that will establish and uphold the professional standards of design practice in India.

About the India Design Council (IDC):

-       The IDC’s establishment was announced by the government in 2009 in order to enable the policy implementation of the National Design Policy.

-       It is an autonomous body of Government of India established under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

-       It is a national strategic body for multi-disciplinary design and is involved in promotion of design to ultimately make India a design enabled country.

National Financial Reporting Authority issues Audit Quality Review report of the statutory audit for 2017-18 of IL&FS Financial Services Limited

About National Financial Reporting Authority:

-       The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) was constituted on 01st October 2018 by the Government of India under Sub Section (1) of section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013.

Duties of NFRA:

-       Recommend accounting and auditing policies and standards to be adopted by companies for approval by the Central Government;

-       Monitor and enforce compliance with accounting standards and auditing standards;

-       Oversee the quality of service of the professions associated with ensuring compliance with such standards and suggest measures for improvement in the quality of service;

-       Perform such other functions and duties as may be necessary or incidental to the aforesaid functions and duties.

NFRA’s jurisdiction:

-       The NFRA will oversee the quality of service and undertake investigation of the auditors of listed entities; unlisted entities with paid-up capital of not less than ₹500 crore or annual turnover of over ₹1,000 crore or those having aggregate loans, debentures or deposits of not less than ₹500 crore as of March 31 of the preceding financial year.

-       The ICAI retains the jurisdiction of small listed companies.

Ministry of HRD is implementing the Scheme of Vocationalisation of School Education to promote vocational education among children

-       It is being implemented under the umbrella of ‘Samagra Shiksha – an integrated scheme for school education’.

-       A vocational subject is offered for Classes IX to XII along with the general education to provide necessary employability and vocational skills for variety of occupations.

-       The scheme has been implemented in 8654 schools, with reported enrolment of more than 10 lakhs students.

-       The scheme provides for diversification of educational opportunities so as to enhance individual employability, reduce the mismatch between demand and supply of skilled manpower and provides an alternative for those pursuing higher education.

-       The Scheme provides for financial assistance to the States to set up administrative structure, area vocational surveys, preparation of curriculum, textbook, workbook curriculum guides, training manual, teacher training programme, strengthening technical support system for research and development, training and evaluation, etc.

-       It also provides financial assistance to NGOs and voluntary organizations towards the implementation of specific innovative projects for conducting short-term courses.

Government has taken various initiatives to develop world class research facilities in India

Scheme to improve research facilities:

Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship:

-       It is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D.) programmes of Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Central Universities (which are among the top 100 National Institutional Ranking Framework, NIRF ranked universities) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities.

-       Meritorious students of IITs, IIITs, NITs and IISERs, after completing their B.Tech programme can straightaway get admission in PhD programme at IITs and IISc.

Junior Research Fellow (JRF)/Senior Research Fellow (SRF):

-       Research personnel engaged in Research and Development programmes are given emoluments of Rs.31, 000/- per month. For Senior Research Fellow (SRF) these emoluments are Rs. 35,000/- per month.

National Initiative for Technology Transfer (Establishment of Research Parks)

-       The government has accorded approval for the establishment of research parks in the various IITs.

Institutions of Eminence (IoE)

-       In order to empower the Higher Educational Institutions and to help them in becoming world-class teaching and research institutions, the government has recently declared 20 institutions (10 public and 10 Private institutions) as Institutions of Eminence.

-       These institutes will emphasise on multi-disciplinary initiatives, high quality research, global best practices and international collaboration. Financial assistance up to an amount of Rs 1000 crores is to be provided to government institutions in the next 5 years.

Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT):

-       Providing solutions to the most relevant engineering challenges and translating knowledge into viable technology in 10 selected technology domains, viz. health care, energy, sustainable habitat, nano technology hardware, water resources and river systems, advanced materials, Information and communication technology, manufacturing, security and defence, and environmental science and climate change.

-       It is a pan IITs and IISc Joint Initiative seeking to develop a roadmap for research.

-       IMPRINT is not meant only for IITs and IISc; it is a national movement providing an opportunity for the higher echelon institutes in India to integrate with all grass-root level institutes, industry and organizations, mutually complement and deliver what the country demands and aspires.

Atal Bhujal Yojana:

-       The World Bank has approved Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), an Rs.6, and 000 Crore Central Sector Scheme, for sustainable management of ground water resources with community participation.

-       The funding pattern is 50:50 between Government of India and World Bank.

-       The scheme envisages active participation of the communities in various activities such as formation of Water User Associations, monitoring and disseminating ground water data, water budgeting, preparation and implementation of Gram-Panchayat wise water security plans and Information, Education & Communication (IEC) activities related to sustainable ground water management.

-       The identified over-exploited and water stressed areas for the implementation of the scheme fall in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

-       The States have been selected according to a number of criteria, including degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation, established legal and regulatory instruments, institutional readiness, and experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management.