- SC bats for Great Indian Bustard
- Centre to expand air bubble pact with more countries
- Centre Has No Objection In Bringing The Petrol And Diesel Under The Ambit Of GST.
- WPI inflation quickens to 27-month high
- Right to reject.
- INDIA'S FOREIGN-EXCHANGE RESERVES IS THE WORLD'S 4TH LARGEST
#GS-3 #BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
Frame of reference.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India will examine on a priority basis whether overhead power cables can be replaced with underground ones to save one of the heaviest flying birds on the planet
The Supreme Court intervened on behalf of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards over the birds falling dead after colliding with power lines running through their dwindling natural habitats in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Alternative ideas for the protection of great Indian bustard.
Install flight bird diverters
- The court discovered that the diverters, with their recurring costs, would end costing more than installing and maintaining underground lines. But the court suggested treading the middle path.
- Wherever there is high voltage power lines, they can use flight bird diverters even if the recurring costs are high.
- The court found further that an alternative mechanism - to install flight bird diverters - to guide the birds away from the power lines would be expensive.
- Only low voltage lines can go underground but not the high voltage ones.
- Wherever there are overhead low voltage lines, these lines can be placed underground.
- Some power companies objected to the court passing any sort of blanket ban which would affect over 50 lakh jobs.
- The greater threat to the birds was from their diminishing habitat, flattened for agriculture.
- The court agreed to further hear the case next week.
Great Indian Bustard
- The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
- Scientific Name: Ardeotis nigriceps
- Habitat: Dry grasslands and scrublands on the Indian subcontinent; its largest populations are found in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
- Protection Status
- Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List
- In Appendix I of CITES,
- In Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Centre to expand air bubble pact with more countries
#GS-2 #IR # BILATERAL TIES
Recently in news
External Affairs Minister told the Rajya Sabha that the government wanted to expand the “air bubble” arrangement with more countries, and the priority would be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait in the west and Japan, China and Singapore in the east. These are the countries where bubbles have not worked so well.
Air bubble scheme
- The Minister made these remarks while informing both Houses of Parliament about the government‟s efforts in repatriating Indians, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) during the pandemic.
- Under the air bubble scheme, commercial airlines from specific countries are allowed to travel to and from India on a limited basis - an arrangement that was solely reserved for the Air India under the Vande Bharat mission - as full-scale international commercial air operations are yet to resume after the COVID-19 restrictions were implemented last year.
“Air bubble” arrangement
- Indians holding any kind of visa valid under the „Air Bubbles‟ agreement can travel to the UK, USA, Canada and the UAE, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
- This comes after the earlier rule of the European Union that only those holding essential visa were allowed for travel abroad.
Details of “Air bubble” arrangement
- The agreement refers to a bilateral agreement that India has signed or in the process of finalizing with specific countries to allow their national carriers to ferry passengers back and forth from India. This is besides the Indian operators.
- India has negotiated this agreement with the US, France, and Germany apart from now Canada and the UAE.
- Under this agreement, all these countries are operating flights to and fro from our country.
- The Home Ministry of the country has not given permission to the air travelers to travel to India holding any visa.
- Rather, they can only come to India if they are holding an essential visa, unlike the arrangement for the other countries for Indian travelers.
Excerpts of Vande Bharat Mission
- This is also the biggest evacuation exercise to bring back Indian citizens from any other countries since the evacuation of 1.77 lakh people from the Gulf region in the early 1990s at the start of hostilities between Iraq and Kuwait.
- This mission focuses on Indian citizens with a compelling reason to return.
- This was launched by the government in order to ensure the safe return of the Indians stuck abroad amid the COVID 19 outbreak all over the world.
Centre Has No Objection In Bringing The Petrol And Diesel Under The Ambit Of GST.
#GS-3 #ECONOMY #TAXATION #GST REFORMS
Inclusion of Petrol and Diesel under GST
- As of now LPG, kerosene, naphtha, furnace oil, and light diesel oil are under GST.
- Five other petroleum products viz. crude oil, high speed diesel, motor spirit (petrol), natural gas, and aviation turbine fuel lie outside the GST.
- Petroleum products account for over 63 per cent of the central excise collections and about 29 per cent of the sales tax and VAT collections by the states.
- A large portion of these tax collections comes from petrol and diesel.
- Even if petrol and diesel are included under GST, prices are unlikely to fall. This is because of the GST principle of keeping rates close to the earlier tax rates.
- The international trend also suggests that if petrol and diesel are included in GST, states levy additional taxes to prop up their revenue.
- Since, the state governments levy value-added tax (VAT) on the fuel price inclusive of central excise duties, not the base price, leading to double taxation and further price amplification.
- GST may not stop prices from moving up, but will at least ensure no cascading effects of taxes like double taxation.
#GS-3 #ECONOMY #INFLATION
Why in news
The wholesale price-based inflation rose for the second consecutive month to a 27-month high of 4.17% in February, as food, fuel and power prices spiked.
- The WPI inflation was 2.03% in January and 2.26% in February last year.
- After witnessing months of softening of prices, food articles in February saw 1.36% inflation.
- The doubling in WPI inflation reflected the rise in commodity prices brought on by the global risk-on sentiment, hardening of crude oil and fuel prices, and a fading of the favourable base effect for food items.
What is Wholesale Price Index WPI?
- It is the most widely used inflation indicator in India.
- Published by the Office of Economic Adviser, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- All transactions at the first point of bulk sale in the domestic market are included.
- Major criticism for this index is that the general public does not buy products at wholesale price.
- The base year of All-India WPI has been revised from 2004-05 to 2011-12 in 2017.
What is Consumer Price Index CPI
- It measures price changes from the perspective of a retail buyer.
- It measures changes over time in the level of retail prices of selected goods and services on which consumers of a defined group spend their incomes.
Four types of CPI are as follows:
- CPI for Industrial Workers (IW).
- CPI for Agricultural Labourer (AL).
- CPI for Rural Labourer (RL).
- CPI (Rural/Urban/Combined).
- Of these, the first three are compiled by the Labour Bureau in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
- Fourth is compiled by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
- Base Year for CPI is 2012.
- In 2020, the Labour and Employment Ministry has revised the base year of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) from 2001 to 2016.
CPI vs. WPI
- WPI, tracks inflation at the producer level and CPI captures changes in prices levels at the consumer level.
- Both baskets measure inflationary trends (the movement of price signals) within the broader economy, the two indices differ in which weightages are assigned to food, fuel and manufactured items.
- WPI does not capture changes in the prices of services, which CPI does.
- In April 2014, the RBI had adopted the CPI as its key measure of inflation.
#Gs-2 #Constitutional Underpinning
What is Right to reject?
- The right to reject was first proposed by the Law Commission in 1999.
- Similarly, the Election Commission endorsed „Right to Reject‟, first in 2001, under James Lyngdoh [the then CEC], and then in 2004 under S. Krishnamurthy [the then CEC], in its Proposed Electoral Reforms.
- Besides, the Background Paper on Electoral Reforms, prepared by the Ministry of Law in 2010, had proposed that if certain percentage of the vote was negative, then election result should be nullified and new election held.
- It is observed that a lot of voters don‟t find any suitable candidate in their constituency so they want to boycott the elections.
- But there was no provision to boycott the elections legally. Hence to empower such voter the Election commission of India introduced the concept of NOTA in the EVMs in December 2013 elections.
The concept of NOTA
- The full form of NOTA is „None of the Above‟. Many times it has been observed that if people do not want to vote for any candidate due to any local issue problems such as electricity, water, roads or criminal records of the candidate, then how will they register their protest so to empower the voice of the voters the Election Commission of developed a mechanism in the voting system so that people can get the right to reject all the candidates.
- So basically NOTA gives the right to voters in any constituency that if they do not want to vote for any of the candidates contesting the election; they can push the button of NOTA mentioned in the EVMs.
- The votes given to the NOTA are counted but they are considered illegal votes, i.e. NOTA votes don‟t have any role in the result of the elections.
How effective NOTA is?
- Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi had said, "If 99 out of 100 votes are given to NOTA and just a single vote is given to a candidate then this candidate will be declared winner.
- Know another example; even if the security of all the candidates of an assembly or a Lok Sabha constituency is forfeited due to maximum vote to NOTA, in such condition also the candidate who gets the maximum votes will be declared winner.
- Many times it has been noticed that NOTA gets more votes than all the candidates in the fray. In the Gujarat assembly elections, the NOTA gets more votes than any other political party except Congress and BJP.
- In the Gujarat assembly elections, more than 5.5 lakh or 1.8% voters had pressed the NOTA button.
- In many Assembly constituencies the winning margin was lesser than the total NOTA votes.
- Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, TS Krishnamurthy has recommended to hold elections again in those constituencies where victory margin is less than the total numbers of NOTA or if the winning candidates have failed to get a third vote of total votes.
NOTA option as a "fictional candidate"
- In a landmark decision the Haryana Election Commission had treated 'None-of-the-above' or NOTA option as a "fictional candidate" in municipal polls from December 2018.
- Now "NOTA” will be treated as a fictional electoral candidate.
- If all the contesting candidates individually receive less votes than “NOTA” none of the candidates will be declared elected. The elections will be cancelled and held afresh.
- The candidates securing lesser votes than NOTA would not be eligible to file nominations for fresh polls to be held later.
- If a contesting candidate and the NOTA both receive equal valid votes, the candidate shall be declared elected.
A report on NOTA votes cast in 2019 Lok Sabha election
- Bihar registered the maximum None of The Above (NOTA) .votes of about 8 lakh, with the highest share of 5.04% reported from the Gopalganj constituency.
- The high NOTA percentage was an indicator that people were frustrated with the state of affairs in their constituency, did not find any of the candidates worthy enough and therefore, even after reaching the polling station, decided to press the NOTA button.
- In Andhra Pradesh, the fourth highest NOTA figure of 4.46%, involving 47,977 voters, was recorded in Araku and in only five constituencies of the State, was it below 1%.
- Gujarat, where the highest of 3% was seen in Dahod, had only eight constituencies where the NOTA share was below 1%; while in Haryana, nine of the 10 seats registered less than 1% voters rejecting all candidates.
- In as many as 23 constituencies of Karnakata, NOTA vote share was again less than 1% and the highest of 1.39% was in Uttara Kannada in the State. In Kerala and Delhi, all the constituencies had below 1% NOTA share.
The foreign-exchange reserves of India became the world’s fourth-largest. India has surpassed Russia to become the 4th largest in the world.
- The central bank of India continues to hoard dollars to cushion the economy against any sudden outflows.
- Reserves for both nations have mostly flattened out this year after months of rapid increase.
- India surpassed Russia as Russian holdings declined at a faster rate in the recent weeks.
- The Reserve Bank of India said that the country’s foreign currency holdings decreased by $4.3 billion to $580.3 billion as of March 5, edging out Russia’s $580.1 billion pile.
- China has the largest reserves and is followed by Japan and Switzerland on the International Monetary Fund table.
- India’s reserves, enough to cover around 18 months of imports, have been bolstered by a rare current-account surplus, rising inflows into the local stock market, and foreign direct investment.
- Analysts say a strong reserves position gives foreign investors and credit rating companies added comfort that the government can meet its debt obligations despite a deteriorating fiscal outlook and the economy heading for its first full-year contraction in more than four decades.
- RBI bought a net of $88 billion in the spot forex market last year. That helped make the rupee the worst performer among Asia’s major currencies last year. This also made India to be included in the U.S. Treasury watchlist for currency manipulation.
A recent RBI report recommended further strengthening of foreign-exchange reserves, citing swings in the rupee around the time of the global taper tantrum in 2013.