IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


26th February, 2020


BS-VI fuel cess may be on cards

Indian OMCs (Oil Marketing Companies) proposal:

-       They have invested Rs. 35,000 crore in upgrading their refineries to produce BS VI fuel.

-       The OMCs plan to recover this money by imposing a cess Rs. 0.70 to Rs. 1 on every litre of petrol and diesel.

-       They are engaging with the government for an assurance that we will be allowed to recover the investments made in upgrading our refineries to BS VI over a period of time.

Sulphur content:

-       India adopted Euro-III equivalent (or Bharat Stage-III) fuel with a sulphur content of 350 ppm (part per million) in 2010.

-       India took seven years to move to BS IV that had a sulphur content of 50 ppm.

-       BS-VI fuel will bring down sulphur by 5 times from the current BS-IV levels – this is an 80 percent reduction which makes it extremely clean.

-       It will improve emissions from the existing fleet, even from the older vehicles on road.

-       BS-VI is as clean as CNG or even cleaner than CNG in some respects.

Bharat stage emission standards:

-       Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from compression ignition engines and Spark-ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles.

-       The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

-       The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/bs-vi-fuel-cess-may-be-on-cards/article30917991.ece

Mauritius FPIs can continue to invest in India, says SEBI

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has clarified that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Mauritius will continue to be eligible for registration as foreign investors in India but subject to increased monitoring.

Needs of the regulatory classification:

-       The island nation was placed in the list of ‘jurisdictions under increased monitoring’ — commonly referred to as the grey list.

-       It led to apprehensions that the Mauritius-based FPIs will not be able to trade in the Indian capital market.


-       Mauritius accounts for the second-largest chunk of foreign investments, as per data from the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).

About National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL):

-       National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) is an Indian central securities depository based in Mumbai.

-       It was established in August 1996 as the first electronic securities depository in India with national coverage.

-       The enactment of Depositories Act in August 1996 paved the way for establishment of National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL), the first depository in India.

-       It went on to establish infrastructure based on international standards that handles most of the securities held and settled in de-materialised form in the Indian capital markets.

What is FPI?

-       Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) is a common way to invest in overseas economies. It includes securities and financial assets held by investors in another country.

-       Securities (in FPI) include stocks or American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) of companies in nations other than the investor's nation. It also includes bonds or other debt issued by these companies or foreign governments, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in assets abroad or overseas.

-       On a macro-level, foreign portfolio investment is part of a country’s capital account and shown on its balance of payments (BOP). BOP calculates the amount of money flowing from one country to other countries over a financial year.

-       FPI is relatively liquid depending on market volatility.

 Who invests through FPI?

-       Individual investors interested in opportunities outside their own country invest via FPI.  It does not give investors direct ownership of a company's assets.


Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/mauritius-fpis-can-continue-to-invest-in-india-says-sebi/article30917981.ece


WHO warns of pandemic risk

The COVID-19 cases have peaked in China but could still grow into a pandemic, the World Health Organization warned.

The situation is worsening in other countries, with more than 2,000 cases and around 30 deaths reported abroad, prompting a raft of restrictions on travellers from infected nations.


-       A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new infectious disease.

-       It stretches over a larger area, infects more people and causes more deaths than an epidemic.

-       In history, there have been a number of devastating pandemics including smallpox, tuberculosis and the Black Death, which killed more than 75 million people in 1350.


-       An endemic is an outbreak that occurs at a predictable rate in a certain area or among a set population.

-       Chickenpox is classed as an endemic as it occurs at a high but predictable rate among youngsters.


-       When more cases of a disease than expected are recorded in one area an outbreak is declared.

-       The area could be a small community or extend to several countries.


-       An epidemic will see a disease rapidly spread among a large number of people in a given population.

-       During an epidemic the disease will normally spread in two weeks or less.

-       Epidemics may be the consequence of disasters of another kind, such as tropical storms, floods, earthquakes and droughts.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/who-warns-of-pandemic-risk/article30918034.ece


Trump renews offer to mediate on Kashmir, but skirts CAA

India-US framework:

-       Strengthened their partnership with agreements on healthcare and energy.

-       Issued a joint statement that designated the two countries as “Comprehensive Global Strategic partners”.

-       Did not discuss the specifics of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that sparked the violence as he raised issues of “religious liberty” of “Muslims and Christians in India.


Assam Accord Clause 6: Panel submits report to Chief Minister

Report of high-powered committee that the Centre constituted in July 2019:

-       The State government has not been given a copy of the sealed report that will be submitted to the Centre.

-       The Centre was keen on implementing the recommendations provided they were within the ambit of the Constitution and the definition of Assamese was ratified by the Assembly.

About Clause 6:

-       Clause 6 envisages constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to safeguard, protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

-       It also seeks to ascertain who fits into the definition of an Assamese.

About Committee:

-       The committee has members with rich experience in administration.

-        Their recommendations were perhaps within the Constitution and law.

About Assam Accord:

The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement signed by the Governments of India and Assam, and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) in New Delhi on August 15, 1985.

Provisions of it:

-       At the heart of the Accord was:

-       The “Foreigners Issue” (Clause 5),

-       “Safeguards and Economic Development” (Clauses 6 and 7).

-       Some “Other Issues” (Clauses 8-12),

-       A section on “Restoration of Normalcy” (Clauses 13 and 14).

-       The Home Ministry was the nodal Ministry for the implementation of the Accord.

-       In 1986, a new Department was set up in the Government of Assam, called “Implementation of Assam Accord Department”, to implement the various clauses of the Memorandum of Settlement.

-       Foreigner Issue:

-       It was agreed that, “for purposes of detection and deletion of foreigners, 1.1.1966 shall be the base data and year”.

-       That “all persons who came to Assam prior to 1.1.1966, including those amongst them whose names appeared on the electoral rolls used in 1967 elections shall be regularised”.

-       Foreigners who “came to Assam after 1.1.1966 (inclusive) and up to 24th March, 1971 shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of The Foreigners Act, 1946, and The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964”.

-       Foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and practical steps shall be taken to expel such foreigners.

-       Clause 6:

-       Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

-       Demanded safeguards by assamese:

-       Reservation of electoral seats.

-       land and political rights

-       Rights over natural resources

-       Protection of culture of the indigenous people.

-       Examples of Arunachal Pradesh, which entrusts rights over natural resources based on ethnic community, should be followed.

-       Other Clauses:

-       Focus on speedy all round economic development of Assam, so as to improve the standard of living of the people.

-       The international border shall be made secured against future infiltration by erection of physical barriers like walls, barbed wire fencing and other obstacles at appropriate places.

-       A road all along the international border shall be constructed so as to facilitate patrolling by security forces.

-       Relevant laws for prevention of encroachment of Government lands and lands in tribal belts and blocks are strictly enforced and unauthorized encroachers evicted.

Government steps to implement Assam accord:

-       Establishment to cultural centres and film studios;

-       Financial assistance to historical monuments and xatras (Vaishnavite monasteries).

-       Establishment of Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra.

-       Financial assistance to 11 Nos. historical monuments for their protection, preservation and development.

-       Archaeological Survey of India has taken up the protection, preservation and development of 5 monuments. These are (i) Singri Temple’s ruins (ii) Urvashi Archaeological Site (iii) Poa-Mecca, Hajo (iv) Kedar Temple, Hajo and (v) Hayagriva Madhava Temple, Hajo.

-       An Autonomous Institution namely Anandaram Borooah Institute of Language, Art & Culture Assam (ABILAC) has been established.

-       The Directorate of Higher Education provides annual grants to various Voluntary Organisations for upliftment of the Language, Art and Culture.

-       100 Foreigners Tribunals have been established for the detection and deportation of illegal migrants in Assam.

-       A Central University at Tezpur, an IIT at Guwahati and Numaligarh Refinery, Golaghat district have been established.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-accord-clause-6-panel-submits-report-to-chief-minister/article30912307.ece


Explained: Ways to measure poverty in India — and why the numbers matter

About Poverty:

-       Poverty can be defined as a condition in which an individual or household lacks the financial resources to afford a basic minimum standard of living.

-       “Absolute” poverty is the shortfall in consumption expenditure from a threshold called the “poverty line”.

-       The official poverty line is the expenditure incurred to obtain the goods in a “poverty line basket” (PLB).

It’s measurement:

-       Six official committees have so far estimated the number of people living in poverty in India

-       The working group of 1962;

-       V N Dandekar and N Rath in 1971;

-       Y K Alagh in 1979; D T Lakdawala in 1993;

-       Suresh Tendulkar in 2009;

-       C Rangarajan in 2014.

-       The government did not take a call on the report of the Rangarajan Committee.

-       Poverty is measured using the Tendulkar poverty line. As per this, 21.9% of people in India live below the poverty line.

About Basket of Goods:

-       The PLB comprises goods and services considered essential to a basic minimum standard of living — food, clothing, rent, conveyance, and entertainment.

-       The price of the food component can be estimated using calorie norms or nutrition targets.

-       Tendulkar Committee targeted nutritional outcomes while, earlier calorie intake was the norms for calculating the food component.

-       The Lakdawala Committee assumed that health and education is provided by the state — therefore, expenditure on these items was excluded from the consumption basket it proposed.

-       Tendulkar committee included education and health in its basket of minimum goods.

Importance of Poverty numbers:

-       The Rangarajan Commission was criticized for selecting the food component arbitrarily — the emphasis on food as a source of nutrition overlooks the contribution of sanitation, healthcare, access to clean water, and prevalence of pollutants.

-       Poverty numbers matter because central schemes like Antyodaya Anna Yojana (which provides subsidided foodgrains to households living below the poverty line) is calculated using no of poor.

Other methods of estimation of poverty:

-       Oxford University researchers Sabina Alkire and James Foster devised the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to capture poverty using 10 indicators:

-       Nutrition,

-       Child mortality,

-       Years of schooling,

-       School attendance,

-       Ownership of assets,

-       Access to proper house, electricity, drinking water, sanitation, and clean cooking fuel.

-       Poverty is measured in terms of deprivation in at least a third of these indicators.

-       In 2015-16, 369.546 million (nearly 37 crore) Indians were estimated to meet the deprivation cut-off for three or more of the 10 indicators.

-       The MPI is a more comprehensive measure of poverty because it includes components that capture the standard of living more effectively.

-       It focuses on outcomes than the expenditure.

Current level of poverty in India:

-       Social scientist S Subramanian used data from a leaked version of the consumer expenditure data to conclude that the incidence of poverty in India increased from 31.15% to 35.1% between 2011-12 and 2017-18.

-       The absolute number of poor people also increased from 270 million to 322.22 million over the same period.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/president-donald-trump-on-poverty-in-india-india-visit-narendra-modi-6286716/


Two-thirds of most polluted cities are in India: global report

Finding of IQAir and Greenpeace report:

-       India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities — 21 of the most polluted 30 cities;

-       14 of the highest 20;

-       6 of the highest 10.

-       The ranking is based on a comparison of Particulate Matters (PM) 2.5 levels.

-       Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.

-       Cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%.

-       National air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.

-       These improvements are believed to be largely a result of economic slowdown.

-       It said 90% of the global population breathing unsafe air.



Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/two-thirds-of-most-polluted-cities-are-in-india-global-report-6286708/