03 October, 2020
- Regulate Extraction of Minor Minerals: MMDR Act, 1957 and National Mineral Policy 2019 (Environment)
- 16% of the PDS Stocks in MP Unfit: Public Distribution System- Working, Flaws and Solutions needed - (Economy)
- Pathways to Diversity- Editorial- (Environment)
- Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Social Issues
- Flagging Cess Non-Transfer, its economic Impact - Reference
- Question for the day
UPSC Current Affairs: Regulate Extraction of Minor Minerals: MMDR Act, 1957 and National Mineral Policy 2019 |Page No. 10
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS-Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: National Mineral Policy | Extraction of Minor Minerals | UPSC
The aim of National Mineral Policy 2019 is to have a more effective, meaningful and implementable policy that brings in further transparency, better regulation and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices.
- The National Mineral Policy 2019 includes provisions which will give boost to mining sector such as
- Encouraging the private sector to take up exploration.
- Auctioning in virgin areas for composite RP cum PL cum ML on revenue share basis.
(RP means Reconnaissance Permit, PL means Prospecting License, ML means Mining Lease.
RP is granted for preliminary prospecting of a mineral through regional, aerial, geophysical or geochemical surveys and geological mapping.
PL is granted for undertaking operations for purpose of exploring, locating or proving mineral deposit.
ML is granted for undertaking operations for mining minerals.)
- Encouragement of merger and acquisition of mining entities
- Transfer of mining leases and creation of dedicated mineral corridors to boost private sector mining areas.
- Introduction of Right of First Refusal for RP/PL holders. (Usually, the mines are leased for a specified period of time and upon the expiry of the lease period, the mine is auctioned once again. Under the Right to First Refusal Option, when the mine is auctioned through bidding, the company presently involved in the exploration of the mine would be given the option of keeping the mining lease by paying the bidding amount. However, if it refuses to pay the bidding amount, only then the mining lease gets transferred to a third party.
- The 2019 Policy proposes to grant status of industry to mining activity to boost financing of mining for private sector (Getting ‘industry’ status will help in easy sanction of loans for projects.)
- The Policy also mentions rationalize reserved areas given to PSUs which have not been used and to put these areas to auction, which will give more opportunity to private sector for participation
- The new policy focuses on use coastal waterways and inland shipping for evacuation and transportation of minerals and encourages dedicated mineral corridors to facilitate the transportation of minerals.
- The 2019 Policy also introduces the concept of Inter-Generational Equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the generations to come and also proposes to constitute an inter-ministerial body to institutionalize the mechanism for ensuring sustainable development in mining.
New National Mineral Policy will ensure more effective regulation. It will lead to sustainable mining sector development in future while addressing the issues of project affected persons especially those residing in tribal areas
UPSC Current Affairs: 16% of the PDS Stocks in MP Unfit: Public Distribution System - Working, Flaws and Solutions needed | Page No. 01 + 04
UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper 2 - Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Public Distribution System | UPSC
The nodal agency which undertakes procurement and storage of food grain is the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The distribution of food grains is primarily under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) and other welfare schemes of the Government and is governed by the scale of allocation and its offtake by the beneficiaries.
Various Components of Food Management
Procurement: The cost incurred by FCI for the procurement of food grains is referred to as Economic Cost of Food grains. It comprises of 3 components - Pooled cost of grains (weighted MSP of stock of food grains), Procurement incidentals (Labour charges, Transport charges, storage cost etc.) and cost of distribution.
The States have also been encouraged to undertake the procurement of food grains on their own through the Decentralised procurement scheme. It has been introduced to reduce the transportation and storage costs of FCI.
Food grain stocking norms: The Government of India has revised the Buffer Norms w.e.f. January, 2015 and the nomenclature of Buffer Norms has been changed to Food grain Stocking Norms. The buffer of Food grains is maintained to meet the prescribed minimum stocking norms for food security, to ensure monthly releases of food grains for supply through the TPDS/ Other Welfare Schemes, to meet emergency situations arising out of unexpected crop failure, natural disasters etc. and to use the food grain stock in the Central Pool for market intervention to augment supply so as to help moderate the open market prices.
It has 2 components:
Operational Stocks: For meeting monthly distributional requirement under TPDS and other welfare schemes.
Strategic Reserves: To meet emergency situations. ( Presently it is 5 MT)
Note: The norms are defined for a quarter of financial year i.e. how much buffer has to be maintained for each quarter of financial year.
Distribution of Food grains: The National Food Security Act 2013 provides for coverage of up to 75 per cent of the rural population and up to 50 per cent of the urban population for receiving food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two thirds of the population of the country for receiving food grains at the rate of Rs 1/2/3 per kg for nutri-cereals/wheat/rice respectively. Identification of beneficiaries under the Act is under two categories- households covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households. Priority Households are entitled to receive 5 kg per person per month, AAY households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, continue to receive 35 Kg of food grains per household per month.
Note: The Central Issue Price is the price at which centre allocates food grains to the states. It can be considered as the price at which food grains are sold through the network of fair price shops. For instance, it is Rs 1/2/3 per kg for nutri-cereals/wheat/rice respectively. However, the central Issue Price (CIP) is defined in terms of Quintals (not in terms of Kg). Under the NFSA, the CIP is Rs 200/quintal in case of wheat and Rs 300/quintal in case of rice.
Government Initiatives to improve Food Management
- State Governments, particularly those undertaking Decentralized Procurement (DCP), are encouraged to maximize procurement of wheat and rice.
- Strategic reserves of 5 million tonnes of food grains over the operational stocks are maintained to be used in extreme situations.
- Sale of wheat and rice is undertaken through Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) (Domestic) so as to check inflationary trend in prices of food grains.
- PDS reforms such as One Nation - One Ration Card, Aadhaar authenticated distribution through e-POS machines
Increase in the Food Subsidy Bill
What constitutes Food subsidy?: Food subsidy comprises of (i) subsidy provided to FCI for procurement and distribution of wheat and rice under NFSA and other welfare schemes and for maintaining the strategic reserve of food grains and (ii) subsidy provided to States for undertaking decentralized procurement. The acquisition and distribution costs of food grains for the central pool together constitute the economic cost.
The Food subsidy bill is calculated as the difference between Economic cost of Food grains and Central Issue price (CIP).
Increase in Food Subsidy Bill: The food subsidy bill has increased from 1.2 lakh crores in 2014-15 to 1.7 lakh crores in 2018-19. In order to pay the food subsidy bill, the Government has been borrowing from National Small savings Fund (NSSF) through the issuance of special G-Secs.
Reasons for increase in Food Subsidy Bill:
Increase in Economic Cost of Food grains
- Higher coverage of beneficiaries under NFSA as compared to erstwhile TPDS
- Increase in MSP ( Increase of one unit in real MSP leads to 0.48 unit increase in real economic cost procurement)
- Higher procurement of food grains as against the stocking norms ( due to Open Ended procurement Policy)
- Increase in storage cost
Problems with Central Issue Price (CIP)
- The CIP for NFSA beneficiaries has not been revised from Rs 200/quintal in case of wheat and Rs 300/quintal in case of rice. These rates were fixed under the Act initially for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act and thereafter were to be fixed by the Central Government from time to time, while not exceeding the minimum support price. However, it has not been revised since 2013. This has resulted in widening of the gap between the economic cost and CIP
- Uniform CIP for BPL and APL households
UPSC Current Affairs: Pathways to Diversity - Editorial |Page-06
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment & Ecology| Mains: GS Paper 3 - Environment & Ecology
Sub Theme: Convention on Biological Diversity | Aichi Targets’ |UPSC
Context - The UN Summit on Biodiversity was convened on September 30 in the midst of a global crisis caused by the novel coronavirus that is thought to have spilled over to humans from an animal reservoir. Member-nations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took note of the link between biodiversity loss and the spread of animal pathogens, calling for an end to destructive industrial and commercial practices.
- Many countries have chosen to ignore the connection between biodiversity and well-being, and depleted ecological capital in pursuit of financial prosperity.
- There is consensus that conservation targets set a decade ago in Aichi, Japan, to be achieved by 2020, have spectacularly failed.
- As per UN Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report none of the 20 targets has been fully met.
- Among the Aichi targets that fell by the wayside are those on reform or phasing out of subsidies that erode biodiversity, steps for resource use within safe ecological limits, preventing industrial fisheries from destroying threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems, and an end to pollution, including growing plastic waste.
- A bright spot is the partial progress made on protecting surface and subsurface water, inland, coastal and marine areas.
WWF’s Living Planet Index gives even more grim picture. There has been declines in vertebrate populations, a key indicator, by 68% over 1970 levels.
Aichi Biodiversity Targets are five strategic goals and 20 ambitious targets toward the conservation of biodiversity.
The ‘Aichi Target’ was adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its Nagoya conference.
Their purpose is to inspire broad-based action in support of biodiversity over this decade (2011-2020) by all countries and stakeholders promoting the coherent and effective implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
i. conservation of biodiversity;
ii. sustainable use of biodiversity;
iii. fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Five strategic goals of Aichi Target are
1. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society
2. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use
3. To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
4. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services
5. Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building
India’s mixed record in environmental conservation
- India’s has an ancient conservation tradition.
- India is one of the few megadiverse countries
- India has recognised the value of nature as much as the destructive impact of unregulated resources exploitation.
- Wild Life Protection Act 1972, Forest Conservation Act, 1980 etc have indeed shielded islands of biodiversity. In India about 5% of the country’s land is designated as protected areas. However they are today seen as irritants to speedy extraction of natural resources.
- In the unseemly hurry of development, due process is sought to be dispensed with, as envisaged by the new EIA norms.
- There is little concern for indigenous communities that have fostered biodiversity, and no effort to make them strong partners in improving the health of forests and buffer zones.
Now that CBD members are set to draw up fresh conservation targets to be finalised next year, India too has the opportunity to plan a trajectory of green growth after COVID-19, around clean energy, ecological agriculture, a freeze on expansion of mining and dam-building, resource recovery from waste, and regeneration of arid lands.
UPSC Current Affairs: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action |Page - 09
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International conventions
Sub Theme: World Conference on Women |UPSC
- The United Nations has organized 4 world conferences on women.
- Mexico City,1975
- The 1995 4thWorld Conference on Women (WCW), held in Beijing, was one of the largest ever gatherings of the United Nations, and a critical turning point in the world’s focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
- It marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality. The Beijing Declarationwas adopted unanimously the UN at the end of the 4th
- Beijing Declarationis an agenda for women’s empowerment and considered the key global policy document on gender equality.
- It sets strategic objectives and actions for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern like women and health, women in power and decision-making, the girl-child, women and the environment