1. Assembly polls.
2. Plea in SC on the caste-wise census of BCs
3. India Bolsters Srilanka’s Human Rights
4.Core sector output rises 0.1% in January
5.Coffee output may drop as rain lashes plantations
1. Inauguration of Toy fair 2021
2. Black-browed Babbler Reappears after 170 years.
#GS-2 #POLITY #ELECTIONS.
- The Assembly elections in the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry will be held between March 27 and April 29.
Two Lok Sabha by-polls
- The ECI also announced byelections to two Lok Sabha constituencies - Malappuram in Kerala and Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu - on April 6.
- Bypolls to a Lok Sabha seat each in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and 18 Assembly seats across the country would also be held.
- Two special police observers had been appointed for West Bengal and two special expenditure observers for Tamil Nadu, given the concerns in the two States.
- Tamil Nadu is an “expenditure-sensitive State. Two elections had to be rescinded in the past, the Vellore and R.K. Nagar polls.
- The COVID-19 guidelines issued by the ECI in August 2020, ahead of the Bihar election, would apply.
EC’s power to hold elections
- The EC is mandated under law to hold elections at any time within six months before the five-year term of the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly expires.
- The polls are timed in a way that the new Assembly or Lok Sabha is in place on the day of the dissolution of the outgoing House.
- In the case of early dissolution, EC has to ensure, as far as possible, a new Lok Sabha or Assembly is in place within six months of the dissolution.
Powers to delay the elections
- An election once called usually proceeds as per schedule. However, in some exceptional cases, the process can be postponed or even scrapped after its announcement under extraordinary circumstances.
- Under Section 153 of the Representation of the People Act, the poll panel can “extend the time” for completing an election.
- But such extension should not go beyond the date of the normal dissolution of the Lok Sabha or the Assembly.
- In 1991, the Commission, under this provision read with Article 324 of the Constitution, postponed the ongoing parliamentary elections after then PM’s assassination during his campaign in Tamil Nadu.
- In March 2020, elections to 18 Rajya Sabha seats were postponed by the EC due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Section 153 of the RP Act
- Powers under Section 153 can be exercised only after an election schedule has been notified.
- If the EC wants to postpone assembly elections, it will have to be done through its extraordinary powers under Article 324.
- The Commission will have to inform the government of its inability to hold polls on time.
- The government and the President will then decide the future course - to impose President’s Rule or allow the incumbent Chief Minister to continue for six months.
Grounds for Election Postponement
- Article 172(1) states that, in case of a state of Emergency, an election can be postponed for one year at a time in addition to a period of six months after the Emergency is lifted.
- There is no specific legal provision that specifies the circumstances under which elections can be deferred in non-Emergency situations.
- However, law and order, natural calamities like earthquakes and floods, or any other compelling circumstances which are beyond EC’s control can be the grounds for extension.
Model Code of Conduct
- The MCC is a set of guidelines issued by the EC to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
- It helps EC in keeping with the mandate it has been given under Article 324 of the Constitution, which gives it the power to supervise and conduct free and fair elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
- The MCC is operational from the date on which the election schedule is announced until the date of result announcement.
- Though MCC does not have any statutory backing, it has come to acquire strength in the past decade because of its strict enforcement by the EC.
- Certain provisions of the MCC may be enforced through invoking corresponding provisions in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, and Representation of the People Act 1951.
- In 2013, the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, recommended making the MCC legally binding and recommended that the MCC be made a part of the RPA 1951.
- However, the EC argues against making it legally binding.
- According to it, elections must be completed within a relatively short time or close to 45 days and judicial proceedings typically take longer, therefore it is not feasible to make it enforceable by law.
Plea in SC on the caste-wise census of BCs
#GS #POLITY #SUPREME COURT
- The Supreme Court sought a response from the government on a petition to hold a caste-wise census of backward classes in 2021.
To identify and uplift the backward
- A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India issued notice to the Centre and Chairman of the National Commission for Backward Classes on a petition filed for a national census on the basis of caste to identify and uplift the really backward among them.
- The creamy layer should be excluded.
Caste Census and related issues
- Recently, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to appoint a commission to formulate a methodology to collect caste-wise particulars of its population and use that to come up with a report.
- The Centre conducted a ‘Socio-Economic Caste Census’ (SECC) in 2011 throughout the country, but it did not make public the caste component of the findings.
- In Karnataka, the outcome of a similar exercise has not been disclosed to the public.
Caste details as a part of the census
- Caste was among the details collected by enumerators during the decennial Census of India until 1931.
- It was given up in 1941, a year in which the census operation was partially affected by World War II.
- In his report on the 1941 exercise, then Census Commissioner of India, M.W.M. Yeatts, indicated that tabulation of caste details separately involved additional costs.
- However, at the time of sorting the details, some provinces or States that wanted a caste record for administrative reasons were given some data on payment.
Issues with caste in the census
- H. Hutton, the Census Commissioner in 1931, notes that on the occasion of each successive census since 1901, some criticism had been raised about taking any note of the fact of caste.
- It has been alleged that the mere act of labelling persons as belonging to a caste tends to perpetuate the system.
- Some argue that there is nothing wrong in recording a fact and ignoring its existence.
View after Independence
- The 1951 census did not concern itself with questions regarding castes, races and tribes, except insofar as the necessary statistical material related to ‘special groups’.
- It created certain other material relating to backward classes collected and made over to the Backward Classes Commission.
- ‘Special Groups’ has been explained as referring to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Anglo-Indians and certain castes treated provisionally as ‘backward’ for the purposes of the census.
This implies that BC data were collected, but not compiled or published.
How have caste details been collected so far?
- While SC/ST details are collected as part of the census, details of other castes are not collected by the enumerators.
- The main method is by self-declaration to the enumerator.
- So far, backward classes commissions in various States have been conducting their own counts to ascertain the population of backward castes.
- The methodology may vary from State to State.
- The Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 was a major exercise to obtain data about the socio-economic status of various communities.
- It had two components: a survey of the rural and urban households and ranking of these households based on pre-set parameters, and a caste census.
- However, only the details of the economic conditions of the people in rural and urban households were released. The caste data have not been released till now.
- While a precise reason is yet to be disclosed, it is surmised that the data were considered too politically sensitive.
- Fear of antagonizing dominant and powerful castes that may find that their projected strength in the population is not as high as claimed may be an important reason.
Legal imperative for a caste count
- The Supreme Court has been raising questions about the basis for reservation levels being high in various States.
- In particular, it has laid down that there should be quantifiable data to justify the presence of a caste in the backward class list, as well as evidence of its under-representation in services.
- It has also called for periodical review of community-wise lists so that the benefits do not perpetually go in favour of a few castes.
Caste data for reservations
- Legislators argue that knowing the precise number of the population of each caste would help tailor the reservation policy to ensure equitable representation of all of them.
- While obtaining relevant and accurate data may be the major gain from a caste census, the possibility that it will lead to heartburn among some sections and spawn demands for larger or separate quotas.
India Bolsters Srilanka’s Human Rights
#GS-2 #IR #SRI LANKA
- Seeking India’s “proactive” support at the UN Human Rights Council, where a resolution on Sri Lanka will be soon put to vote, the Secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “India cannot abandon us”.
- Sri Lanka would be “very uncomfortable” if countries in the region did not extend support in Geneva.
Need of support from friendly neighbours
- India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh - who are among members of the current Council - will back Sri Lanka, since the countries had similarities, “are battling COVID-19 and facing allegations of human rights violations”.
- Sri Lanka is in dire need of support from friendly neighbours.
- And they are not asking anything extraordinary, they are asking something based on India’s neighbourhood first policy, based on Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
- Their appeal comes at a time when Indo-Lanka bilateral ties have come under strain, following a series of decisions taken by Colombo on development projects involving India and China.
- On whether Sri Lanka would consider India’s possible abstention at the Council as support, the Sri Lanka hoped for “proactive” and “constructive” commitment, rather than abstention, which is “neither here, nor there.”
- It’s difficult for a country from the Global South to win the vote because of the Council’s double standards and hypocrisy.
- Punitive measures like an economic sanction would hurt the people more than the government.
- Reconciliation mechanisms must be evolved within the country.
- It remains to be seen how India might vote on the Sri Lanka resolution that draws from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s damning report on Sri Lanka's “alarming path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations”, which Colombo has categorically rejected.
- With the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government co-sponsoring the 2015 resolution, a vote was not required.
- At the Interactive Dialogue on Sri Lanka at the Council last week, India reiterated Jaishankar’s message in Colombo in January, and called upon Sri Lanka to take necessary steps for addressing Tamils’ “legitimate aspirations”, including through the process of reconciliation and full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution.
- But the Sri Lankan indicated a preference for a clean break from existing laws.
- It is “high time” Sri Lanka had a new, “people-centric” Constitution, he said, underscoring the need to “move on”.
- It is going to be challenging to abolish provincial councils, rather they should empower them to deliver.
- All the same, the Sri Lanka does not see the existing 13th Amendment as a solution.
- Given the uncertainties around investments and exports, recovery prospects hinge critically on uptick in private consumption one would expect support from public policy.
BIASA ECONOMY SNIPPETS.
Gross Value Added
- In 2015, India opted to make major changes to its compilation of national accounts and decided to bring the whole process into conformity with the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA) of 2008.
- The SNA is the internationally agreed standard set of recommendations on how to compile measures of economic activity.
- It describes a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts in the context of a set of internationally agreed concepts, definitions, classifications and accounting rules.
- As per the SNA, GVA is defined as the value of output minus the value of intermediate consumption and is a measure of the contribution to growth made by an individual producer, industry or sector.
- It provides the rupee value for the number of goods and services produced in an economy after deducting the cost of inputs and raw materials that have gone into the production of those goods and services.
- It can be described as the main entry on the income side of the nation’s accounting balance sheet, and from an economics perspective represents the supply side.
- At the macro level, from a national accounting perspective, GVA is the sum of a country’s GDP and net of subsidies and taxes in the economy. ✓ Gross Value Added = GDP + subsidies on products - taxes on products
GVA at ‘factor cost’
- Earlier, India had been measuring GVA at ‘factor cost’ till the new methodology was adopted in which GVA at ‘basic prices’ became the primary measure of economic output.
- GVA at basic prices will include production taxes and exclude production subsidies.
- GVA at factor cost included no taxes and excluded no subsidies.
- The base year has also been shifted to 2011-12 from the earlier 2004-05.
- The NSO provides both quarterly and annual estimates of output of GVA.
- It provides sectoral classification data on eight broad categories that includes both goods produced and services provided in the economy. These are:
✓ Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.
✓ Mining and Quarrying.
✓ Electricity, Gas, Water Supply and other Utility Services.
✓ Trade, Hotels, Transport, Communication and Services related to Broadcasting.
✓ Financial, Real Estate and Professional Services.
✓ Public Administration, Defence and other Services.
Importance of GVA
- While GVA gives a picture of the state of economic activity from the producers’ side or supply side, the GDP gives the picture from the consumers’ side or demand perspective.
- Both measures need not match because of the difference in treatment of net taxes.
- GDP is the sum of private consumption, gross investment in the economy, government investment, government spending and net foreign trade (the difference between exports and imports).
- ✓ GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government investment + government spending + (exports-imports)
- GVA is considered a better gauge of the economy. GDP fails to gauge the real economic scenario because a sharp increase in the output can be due to higher tax collections which could be on account of better compliance or coverage, rather than the real output situation.
- A sector-wise breakdown provided by the GVA measure helps policymakers decide which sectors need incentives or stimulus and accordingly formulate sector-specific policies. But GDP is a key measure when it comes to making cross-country analysis and comparing the incomes of different economies.
- From a global data standards and uniformity perspective, GVA is an integral and necessary parameter in measuring a nation’s economic performance.
- Any country which seeks to attract capital and investment from overseas does need to conform to the global best practices in national income accounting.
Issues with GVA
- The accuracy of GVA is heavily dependent on the sourcing of data and the accuracy of the various data sources.
- GVA is as susceptible to vulnerabilities from the use of inappropriate or flawed methodologies as any other measure.
Core sector output rises 0.1% in January
#GS-3 #ECONOMY #IIP
India’s eight core sectors recorded a meagre 0.1% rise in output in January, propped up by a 5.1% rise in electricity, 2.7% growth in fertilisers and 2.6% growth in steel production, even as the other five sectors contracted.
A marginal growth of 0.2%
- The core sectors had recorded a marginal growth of 0.2% in December, as per updated data, compared to a 1.3% contraction estimated earlier.
- Core sectors have an almost 40% weightage in the index of industrial production, and economists expect overall industrial output to record less than 1% growth in January.
- This anaemic growth is a concern as this reflects physical production that has now declined by 8.8% for the year.
- Therefore, while the monetary value-added number has been positive, the same does not hold here.
- Cement has now de-grown for three months which is disappointing as this reflects developments in the construction sector which was expected to pick up.
- The mood in the real estate sector has not recovered as the focus is on disposing off inventory rather than going in for new projects.
Core Sector Industries
- The eight core sector industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertiliser, steel, cement and electricity
- The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage: ✓ Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
Index of Industrial Production
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity,manufacturing, etc.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation six weeks after the reference month ends, i.e a lag of six weeks.
- The Base Year of the Index of Eight Core Industries has been revised from the year 2004-05 to 2011-12 from April, 2017.
The coffee output may drop as rain lashes plantations
#GS-3 #ECONOMY #AGRICULTURE
- Untimely rains and hailstones that lashed plantations in the last six days causing large-scale berry dropping is expected to impact arabica and robusta coffee production by 30% for the 2020-21 crop year.
- According to Coffee Board’s post-monsoon estimates, during the crop year 2020-21, India was expecting an arabica production of 1.02 lakh metric tonnes (MT) and robusta production of 2.4 lakh MT.
- India’s total coffee output for the year was estimated at 3.42 lakh MT against last year’s 2.98 lakh MT.
- As of now, we lost over 30% of our arabica coffee due to rains in January.
- Also, heavy rains in February along with hailstones [compressed] robusta volumes by another 30%.
- The berry fall is causing irreparable damage for growers.
- In the last six days, most plantations got 3-10 inches of rain, lashing the plant-bearing, matured berries and pushing them to the ground.
Coffee Cultivation in India
- India ranks 6th among the world’s 80 coffee producing countries, with some of the finest robusta and some top-notch arabica cultivated.
- Nearly 70% of India’s coffee is exported, largely to European and Asian markets. ● Coffee in India is traditionally grown in the rainforests of the Western Ghats in South India, covering Chikmagalur, Kodagu (Coorg), Wayanad, the Shevaroy Hills and the Nilgiris.
- Coffee plant requires hot and humid climate with temperatures ranging between 15°C and 28 °C and rainfall from 150 to 250 cm.
- Frost, snowfall, high temperature above 30°C and strong sun shine is not good for coffee crop and is generally grown under shady trees.
- Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of the berries.
- Stagnant water is harmful and the crop is grown on hill slopes at elevations from 600 to 1,600 metres above sea level.
- Well drained, loams containing good deal of humus and minerals like iron and calcium are ideal for coffee cultivation.
Five Coffee Varieties Got GI Tag
In 2019, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has recently awarded GI tag to five varieties of Indian coffee.
The five varieties include:
- Coorg Arabica coffee
- Wayanad Robusta coffee
- Chikmagalur Arabica coffee
- Araku Valley Arabica coffee
- Bababudangiris Arabica coffee
In the year 2018, The Coffee Board had filed the application for the GI Tag for these five varieties.
Earlier, the Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee, a unique specialty coffee of India was given GI certification.
Inauguration of Toy fair 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the India Toy Fair 2021 on February 22 through video conferencing.
- It is the 1st India Toy Fair and will be held from February 27 to March 2, 2021.
- It is a step forward towards boosting toy manufacturing in India.
- The fair aims to bring together all stakeholders including sellers, buyers, designers, teachers, students, etc. on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.
- The Government and the toy Industry shall come together through this platform and can discuss how India can be made the next global hub for manufacturing and sourcing of toys by way of attracting investments in the sector and promoting exports.
- More than 1000 exhibitors from across 30 States and Union Territories will display their products in e-commerce enabled virtual exhibitions.
- It will showcase traditional Indian toys as well as modern toys including plush toys, electronic toys, games, and puzzles.
- The fair will also host various panel discussions webinars with noted Indian and international speakers with proven capabilities in toy design and manufacturing.
- It is also a great opportunity for children to participate in a wide range of activities like craft demonstrations on traditional toy-making and virtual visits to toy museums and factories.
- Website for India Toy Fair 2021
- The website of India Toy Fair 2021-
- - was jointly launched on February 11 by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, and Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani.
Black-browed Babbler Reappears after 170 years.
A bird that was assumed extinct was sighted recently. The bird which has been sighted is Black-browed Babbler. It was last seen more than 170 years ago in the rainforests of Borneo.
- Ornithologists were surprised to rediscover Black-browed Babbler which was believed to be extinct.
- The bird was only ever been documented once. It was first described by scientists around the year 1848, eluding all subsequent efforts to find it.
- According to Global Wildlife Conservation, in the late last year, two men in Indonesian Borneo saw a bird but they didn’t recognize it.
- However, they took pictures of the palm-sized creature before releasing it back into the forest.
- Ornithologists were astounded to find that the Black-browed Babbler was alive.
- The bird was not seen since before Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species”.
- Black-browed Babbler is often called ‘the biggest enigma in Indonesian ornithology.’ It’s mind-blowing to think that it’s not extinct and it’s still living in these lowland forests.
- Very little is known about the bird. It has brown and grey feathers.
- Over 150 species of birds around the world are considered “lost” with no confirmed sightings in the last decade.
- The rediscovery of Black-browed Babbler was published in the journal BirdingASIA. Panji Gusti Akbar is the lead author of a paper and Ding Li Yong is the co-author.