IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th September, 2019


Amit Shah floats single multipurpose ID card idea, 2021 Census will be digital


Emphasising the potential of a successful “digital census”, Union Home Minister floated the idea of one identity card to replace duplicate and  documentations of Aadhaar card, voter ID card, banking card, passport, and more.


Digital Census 2021:

-       Office of Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner. will conduct it.

-       It  will cost around Rs 12,000 crore.

-       Registering the death and birth registration with the electoral rolls. If a child's birth is registered and not death registered, he will automatically be included in the electoral roll and registered death must automatically remove him from the list.

-       Smartphone app is being used to collect information.

-       There will be no biometric authentication in the census.

-       RGI has received permission with UIDAI to allow a voluntary question for Aadhaar number in the NPR form.

-       Three optional mobile applications — houselisting, population enumeration, National Population Register — as well as the web portal were developed in-house by a seven-person team in the Data Processing Unit (DPU) of the Registrar General, which has a 1 PB storage centre.

-       The census will be conducted in 16 languages, while the enumerators’ instruction manual has 18 languages.

Usage of Digital Census:

-       Census data could be used for future planning, development initiatives and welfare schemes.

-       The utilisation of census data is multi-dimensional and will be a significant contribution in nation’s progress.

-       On the basis of the 2011 Census, Shah said the Modi government had planned 22 welfare schemes related to electricity connection to every homes, gas connection, construction of roads, houses for the poor, toilets, bank accounts, opening of bank branch etc.

About Multipurpose Card:

A single card that has your bank card, voter id card, Aadhaar card, and passport. the Home Minister’s suggestion resembles the so-called Multipurpose National Identity Card (MPNIC) that was first suggested by a 2001 report on “Reforming the National Security System” by an empowered Group of Ministers during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.


Issues with Digital Census:

-       Not all states are on an online portal for birth and death registrations as of now.


Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/amit-shah-floats-single-multipurpose-id-card-idea-2021-census-will-be-digital-6022735/


Interference does not augur well: Supreme Court on posting of judges


Justice Akil Kureshi’s case is the third recent instance of the Collegium changing its decision.  In August, the Collegium changed its recommendation to appoint Justice Vikram Nath as CJ of Andhra Pradesh HC and named him as CJ of Gujarat HC. In 2018, it withdrew its recommendation to appoint Justice Aniruddha Bose as CJ of Delhi HC and appointed him to Jharkhand HC.


Court Observation: 

-       Matters of appointment, posting and transfer of judges go to root of administration of justice and therefore power of judicial review is severely limited.

-       Interference in system of administration of justice does not augur well for the institution.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/appointments-transfers-pivotal-to-justice-system-interference-doesnt-augur-well-sc-6020607/


The Fifteenth Finance Commission meets representatives of Local body institutions in Sikkim

The 15th Finance Commission headed by Chairman, Shri N.K. Singh alongwith its Members and senior officials met today with the representatives of the Local bodies (PRIs) of Sikkim.

Issues Highlighted:

-       Transfer of functions to PRIs were not completed in full. (However, State Government has informed that they have devolved all functions to PRIs)

-       New Accounting Format issued by Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India in consultation with CAG was adopted since April 2010.  However, accounts were not maintained in New Accounting Format.

-       RLBs (Rural Local Bodies) in Sikkim earn no revenues on their own. State government may help the local bodies to use innovative methods like market fees, parking space etc. for improving the own revenues.

-       Property Tax Board has not been set up by State Government yet. This should be immediately set up to explore and enhance own revenues.

Source: The Pib



Explained: What is PGS, the heart of the organic food production industry?

The head of India’s food safety regulator has said that she expects the Union Agriculture Ministry’s Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS) to incentivise more farmers to grow organic food.

About PGS:

-       PGS is a process of certifying organic products, which ensures that their production takes place in accordance with laid-down quality standards.

-       The certification is in the form of a documented logo or a statement.

-       PGS is a “quality assurance initiative that is locally relevant, emphasize the participation of stakeholders, including producers and consumers, and (which) operateoutside the framework of third-party certification”.

Four Pillars of PGS:

PARTICIPATION : Stakeholders such as producers, consumers, retailers, traders, NGOs, Gram Panchayats, and government organisations and agencies are collectively responsible for designing, operating, and decision-making.

Direct communication among the stakeholders helps create an integrity- and trust-based approach with transparency in decision-making, easy access to databases

SHARED VISION: Collective responsibility for implementation and decisionmaking is driven by a common shared vision.

TRANSPARENCY: transparency is maintained through the active participation of producers in the organic guarantee process, which can include information-sharing at meetings and workshops, peer reviews, and involvement in decision-making.

TRUST:  A fundamental premise of PGS is the idea that producers can be trusted, and that the organic guarantee system can be an expression and verification of this trust.

Advantage of PGS:

-       Procedures are simple, documents are basic, and farmers understand the local language used.

-       All members live close to each other and are known to each other. As practising organic farmers themselves, they understand the processes well.

-       Because peer appraisers live in the same village, they have better access to surveillance.

-       Peer appraisal instead of third-party inspections also reduces costs

-       Mutual recognition and support between regional PGS groups ensures better networking for processing and marketing.

-       Unlike the grower group certification system, PGS offers every farmer individual certificates, and the farmer is free to market his own produce independent of the group.


-       PGS certification is only for farmers or communities that can organise and perform as a group within a village or a cluster of continguous villages, and is applicable only to farm activities such as crop production, processing, and livestock rearing, and off-farm processing “by PGS farmers of their direct products”.

-       Individual farmers or group of farmers smaller than five members are not covered under PGS.

About Organic Certification in India:

There are two prevalent certification systems which are voluntarily followed by those who want to sell food under this category.

-       The first system, which is governed by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, is mandatory for exports. It is called the National Programme for Organic Production and is also referred to as “Third Party Certification”.

-       Third party certification of organic farming is promoted by Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce.

-       The second system, governed by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, is called the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) and is meant only for the domestic market.

-       The Third Party Certification system is applicable to individual farmers or farmer groups, while the PGS is applicable only to farmer groups and works around the collective responsibility of the group.

About Organic Farming in India:

Organic farming is an agricultural system that works in harmony with nature. It largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) and rely upon crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.

Government of India under the schemes- PKVY & MOVCDNER is supporting the production and marketing of organic produce in the country to reduce their costs and prices.

Under PKVY and MOVCDNER schemes enough assistance is provided to Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs)/ entrepreneurs for development of value chains/ marketing of organic produce.

Use of organic inputs like PROM, vermicompost, organic/bio-fertilizers, city compost, waste decomposer have been promoted under these schemes which will further reduce the costs of production in organic farming.

Economics of Organic Farming:

-       Cost of organic agriculture largely depends on on-farm generation of inputs. When on-farm organic inputs are used, cost of production per unit area is less by 13 % under organic agriculture than inorganic management.

-       if organic inputs from outside the farm are purchased and utilized, the cost of production increases by about 15-20 % depending on the nature of inputs used.

-       Integrated Organic Farming System (IOFS) models being developed under NPOF promises to meet 70-80 % of organic inputs within the farm thus reducing the market input cost considerably.

-       During the conversion period of initial two to three years, yield levels are expected to be low till soil system regains to respond to organic production system especially in the intensive agriculture areas.

-       As per the ASSOCHAM and E&Y report published in 2018, the domestic organic   market   was   valued at Rs. 2500   crores including Rs. 1500 crores in organised retail and Rs. 1000 crores by farmers’ direct market.

About Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) :

-       It is the first comprehensive scheme launched as a Centrally Sponsored Programme (CSP) since 2015-16, which now has been revised for next 3 years.

-       The scheme PKVY is implemented by the State Government on per hectare basis for 500-1000 hectare area in each cluster.

-       The farmer within a group can avail benefit to a maximum of 2 ha., and the limit of assistance is Rs.50, 000 per ha., out of which 62% i.e., Rs. 31,000 is given as incentives to a farmer for organic conversion, organic inputs, on farm inputs, production infrastructure, etc., shall be provided directly through DBT during the conversion period of 3 years.

-       Clusters can develop their own post-harvest, value addition and processing facilities, preferably under their institutions such as Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs)/ Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) for creation, collection and aggregation of post harvest process centre.

Success of Schemes:

-       Export has been initiated from Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram to Africa, UK & US, Australia and Italy respectively.

-       Market linkage of producer clusters with some major agri-business, phytochemical and online grocery stores have also been established.

Challenges in Scheme:

-       The 2015 PKVY guidelines say RCs will help organise trainings for cluster members and assist in the overall PGS certification, but it has no provision of training the RCs.

-       Individual farmers and non-profits working at the grassroots level have for decades led the Indian organic movement.

-       Even though PKVY guidelines say RCs can either be a government body or a non-profit, over 90 per cent RCs are government departments with little experience in organic farming.

-       Members of the RCs also complain that funding is grossly insufficient.

-       The scheme provides no financial support for maintaining livestock, which plays an important role in organic farming.

-       Farmers also say the scheme does not fund the construction of storage structures.

-       There is overall dip in the funding of scheme.

-       Farmers are too poor to make the initial investment and the money is transferred to the bank accounts only after the structure is made. It creates disincentives among farmers.

-       Under the scheme, a certification of PGS-India Organic can be granted after two to three years of organic practice. It has been issued without adequate sampling.

-       Government has failed to create a market for organic produce.

Way Forward:

-       The Indian organic movement can only flourish if it involves small farmers and domestic consumers.

-       PKVY must aim to make organic food a “norm” and not remain an “exception” in India.

-       PKVY, which is currently a component of the Soil Health Management under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, should be an independent mission with necessary administrative and accountability mechanisms.

-       It should also have a long-term vision and plan with aggressive targets and adequate funding.

-       The current target of about 200,000 ha is too small for a country like India which has over 140 million ha of net sowing land.

-       PKVY should adequately focus on training with respect to budgets, specific skills and demonstrations and involve expert farmers for large-scale structured interventions.

-       The Union agriculture ministry must also work towards providing assured markets for PGS produce. This will involve more physical stores, electronic platforms, but, most importantly, it should enable procurement for mid-day meals, public distribution schemes, railways, airlines and other government institutes.

-       FSSAI should set the standards for pesticide residues in organic foods and ensure surveillance.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-what-is-pgs-the-heart-of-the-organic-food-production-industry-6021466/


Explained: Can the govt meet its fiscal deficit target without reducing its spending?

Finance Minister last week announced a sharp cut in the corporate tax structure. Accordingly, the corporate tax rate (inclusive of cesses and surcharges) applicable to businesses is set to come down from roughly around 35 per cent to 25 per cent.

What even bolder is the new rate of just 15 per cent for new businesses in the manufacturing sector (provided they start production before 2023).

-       It lowers the  tax revenues for the government.

-       That, in turn, would likely lead to the government missing its fiscal deficit target.

-       If on the other hand, the govt. prioritises meeting its fiscal deficit, then it can happen only by reducing expenditure.

-       According to a report from Reuters, the FM also ruled out revising fiscal deficit target.

How will it be possible:

-       Is it possible that India could manage to take a hit on corporate tax revenue collection – by an estimated Rs 1.45 lakh crore – and yet neither overshoot its fiscal deficit (which measures the total borrowings by the government) nor cut expenditure?

-       Already, thanks to a slowing economy, the revenues have been falling behind the budgeted figures.

-       Considering that the economy is likely to stay in this lull for another couple of more quarters, revenue collection is unlikely to perk up suddenly.

Impact on Fiscal Deficit:

-       According to Kotak Economic Research, the combined impact of a cut in corporate tax rates, weak GST and income collections will be a next tax shortfall of around Rs 1.7 lakh crore.

-       That is 0.8 per cent of the GDP.

-       The RBI’s additional dividend of Rs 58,000 crore will be handy in offsetting this blow.

-       The increased profitability of public sector undertaking – this can then flow back to the government in the form of higher dividends.

-       They expect the fiscal deficit for the current year to rise from the budgeted figure of 3.3 per cent (of GDP) to 3.7 per cent.