21 February , 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Essay Mains Test Series and QIP announcement
- Conclusive land titling and its challenges (Polity & Governance)
- An estimate of WASH across healthcare facilities in India (Polity & Governance)
- Perseverance to search for signs of life (Science & Technology)
- Question for the day (Science & Technology)
UPSC Current Affairs: Conclusive land titling and its challenges | Page – 11
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance | Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Land Reforms | Presumptive Land Tilting | Conclusive Land Tilting | UPSC
The story so far: The Centre wants to reform the country’s land markets through a fundamental legal and procedural shift in how land titles are awarded. In 2020, even as laws for farm reform and labour code reform were being enacted, the government’s think tank, NITI Aayog, took steps to initiate land reforms. A Model Bill on Conclusive Land Titling was sent to States and Union Territories last June seeking their comments. In September, after many States failed to send in their feedback, the Centre warned that their agreement would be presumed.
Existing land administration in India
The system of land records was inherited from the zamindari system, the legal framework in India does not provide for guaranteed ownership, and the manner in which information pertaining to land records is collected and maintained further exacerbates the gaps in these records.This has resulted in a system, where ownership is established based on who is in current possession of the land. Such possession is determined through a sequence of past transactions of the land or property in question.
In India, land ownership is primarily established through a registered sale deed (a record of the property transaction between the buyer and seller). Other documents used to establish ownership include the record of rights (document with details of the property), property tax receipts, and survey documents. However, these documents are not a government guaranteed title to the property, but only a record of the transfer of property. During such transactions, the onus of checking past ownership records of a property is on the buyer. Therefore, land ownership in India, as determined by such sale deeds, is presumptive in nature, and subject to challenge.
Land records are a combination of three types of data records:
- textual (RoR)
- spatial (maps), and
- transaction details (sale deeds)
Three different state departments are responsible for each of this data on land records. In the presence of multiple agencies responsible for registration and maintenance of records, it is difficult to ensure that survey maps, textual data, and registration records match with each other and are updated. In addition,
A Sale Deed is a legal document that records the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. This transferring can be through sale, gift, inheritance, mortgage or tenancy.
The sale deed only captures information on the transfer of ownership, and few property details such as the area and cost of land.
The Record of Rights (RoR) is the primary record that shows how rights on land are derived for the land owner, and records the property’s transactions from time to time. Typically, it provides (i) names of all persons who have acquired some rights with regard to the land, (ii) the nature and limits of their rights, and (iii) the rent or revenue to be paid by them. These rights could be ownership, long-term lease-holds, or tenancy related. The RoR may also capture information regarding loans taken by the occupant, details on the rights of the owner or occupant of the land, and any community or government rights on the land.
Typically, the information mentioned above is documented and maintained primarily across three departments.
citizens have to approach several agencies to get complete information on land records. Most of these departments work in silos, and updating of records by any one of them makes the records of the others outdated.
India currently follows a system of presumptive land titling:
- land records are maintained, with information on possession, which is determined through details of past transactions.
- Ownership, then, is established on the basis of current possession.
- Registration of land is actually a registration of transactions, such as sale deeds, records of inheritance, mortgage and lease.
- Holding registration papers does not actually involve the government or the legal framework guaranteeing the ownership title of the land.
- Apart from sale deeds Record of rights and property tax receipt are also indicators of land ownerships.
- Rightful land ownership must also be reflected in the surveys that determines the land boundaries of a state.
Land records consist of various types of information (property maps, sale deeds) and are maintained across different departments at the district or village level. These departments work in silos, and the data across departments is not updated properly. Hence, discrepancies are often noted in land records.
The Committee on Financial Sector Reforms (FSRC) in 2009 had recommended moving from a presumptive to a conclusive titling system. Conclusive titles are state guaranteed titles, where the state guarantees the title for its correctness and provides for compensation in case of any disputes.
Under a conclusive land titling system (NITI Aayog recommended a shift to conclusive titling in a 2017 report), land records designate actual ownership:
- The title is granted by the government, which takes the responsibility for accuracy.
- Once a title is granted, any other claimant will have to settle disputes with the government, not the title holder.
- Further, under conclusive land titling, the government may provide compensation to claimants in case of disputes, but the title holder is not in any danger of losing ownership.
Advantage of conclusive land titling
- It will drastically lower litigation related to land.
- According to a 2007 World Bank study on ‘Land Policies for growth and poverty reduction’, land-related disputes accounted for two-thirds of all pending court cases in India.
- A NITI Aayog study on strengthening arbitration estimated that disputes on land or real estate take an average time of 20 years in the courts to be resolved.
- Right now, because land titles are based on transactions, people have to keep the entire chain of transaction records, and a dispute on any link in that chain causes ambiguity in ownership.
- Once conclusive titling is in place, investors who want to purchase land for business activities will be able to do so without facing the constant risk that their ownership may be questioned and their entire investment may go to waste.
- It will promote an active land market.
- Land disputes and unclear titling also create hurdles for infrastructure development and housing construction, leading to costly delays and inefficiency.
- In cities, urban local bodies depend on property taxes that can be levied properly only if there is clear ownership data available. Ambiguity in ownership also results in a black market for land transactions, which deprives the government of taxes.
- In rural areas, the need is even more acute. Access to agricultural credit is dependent on the ability to use land as collateral. Without being able to prove their ownership of land and access formal credit from banks, small and marginal farmers are often left at the mercy of unscrupulous moneylenders, entrenching themselves in a mountain of debt.
- The Standing Committee on Finance (2015) examining the Benami Transactions Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 noted that generation of black money through benami transactions could be pre-empted and eliminated by digitisation of land records and their regular updation.
What does the model Bill propose?
- The Bill circulated by the NITI Aayog in 2020 calls for Land Authorities to be set up by each State government, which will appoint a Title Registration Officer (TRO) to prepare and publish a draft list of land titles based on existing records and documents. This will be considered a valid notice to all potential claimants interested in the property, who will have to file their claims or objections within a set period of time.
- If disputing claims are received, the TRO will verify all the relevant documents and refer the case to a Land Dispute Resolution Officer (LDRO) for resolution.
- However, disputes which are already pending in courts cannot be resolved in this way.
- Having considered and resolved all the disputed claims, the Land Authority will publish a Record of Titles. Over a three-year period, these titles and the decisions of the TRO and the LDRO can be challenged before Land Titling Appellate Tribunals, which will be set up under the law.
- After a three-year period, entries in the Record of Titles will be considered conclusive proof of ownership.
- Further appeals can only be taken up in High Courts.
What are the difficulties?
The Ministry of Rural Development started a land records digitisation and modernisation scheme, the National Land Records Modernisation Programme (NLRMP), in 2008, which seeks to move to a conclusive system of titles. The scheme has been renamed as Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme. While moving to a conclusive land titling system is desirable, it poses several challenges.
- “The biggest challenge is that land records have not been updated for decades, especially in rural and semi-urban areas. Land records are often in the name of the grandparents of the current owner, with no proof of inheritance. Unless they are based on updated records, conclusive land titles could create even more problems.
- The Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task of Land Reforms (2009) observed that the average age of village/cadastral maps in most states is more than 50 years, and most of them were prepared during the British regime.
- Comprehensive village-level surveys with community involvement are a necessary precursor to the land titling process.
- Relying on current records or even satellite imagery will not provide the same accuracy as actual, on-the-ground, local surveys.
- However, local governments have not been provided with the resources or manpower to conduct such surveys.
- If surveys are not conducted, the onus falls on village claimants, many of whom have no access to documentation, to proactively challenge the titling during the three-year period.
- Use of technology - Authorities have initiated the progress of applying Blockchain in multiple sectors, as The Government of Andhra Pradesh has started an initiative to maintain the land registry records. The Govt. has partnered with a Sweden start-up firm to work on maintaining the records of the land registry by Blockchain.
- Blockchain in the land registry has been an essential aspect of today's world. Once the land transfer task completes, the information automatically updates and saved on that blockchain platform, and this process is the safest and tamper-free mode of the operating system. No one can change the legal right of the ownership, and no one can damage the data asset; others cannot make a change in that transaction and ownership. The history of past transfers of ownership uses to help in verifying the current legal owner of the land.
- Integration of land records data - The Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce on Ease of Doing Business (2015) had recommended integration of land records in a database.
- Property identification code- FSRC (2009) had recommended the creation of a unique property identification code by linking city survey numbers to municipal bodies so that all data in the context of a particular property is available online.
UPSC Current Affairs: An estimate of WASH across healthcare facilities in India| Page – 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance| Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance + Social Justice
Sub Theme: | WASH | Water-Sanitation-Hygiene | SDG 6 | UPSC
Context: WASH refers to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation to all is one of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this context, the Article highlights about a study published recently in BMJ Global Health, researchers from Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), Maryland, United States. The study has estimated
The cost of ensuring WASH and
Taking related steps for infection prevention and control for one year in healthcare facilities in all of India.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through the WHO/ UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP), have produced regular updates on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) since 1990.
- Together, they are responsible for monitoring the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets 6.1 and 6.2 and supporting global monitoring of other WASH-related SDG targets and indicators.
Issues Surrounding WASH - Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene
- Poor sanitation, lack of clean drinking water, and lack of hygiene in the household and the community creates an adverse impact on health, as well as economic losses.
- The inadequacy of facilities is particularly visible for the inhabitants of slums and informal settlements having inadequate facilities – clean drinking water, proper sanitation facilities and maintaining cleanliness. This leads to number of water born diseases especially among children such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid etc.
- Lack of hygiene, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities lead to poor health of inhabitants – which further reduces productivity of such human resource leading to their economic losses and increasing debt due to extra expenditure incurred in healthcare facilities.
- A WHO document on WASH in healthcare facilities points out that 8,27,000 people in Low- and Middle-income Countries die as a result of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene each year. Also, death of 2,97,000 children under five years can be prevented each year if better WASH could be provided.
- 2012 WHO report had calculated that for every dollar invested in sanitation, there was $5.50 to be gained in lower health costs, more productivity and fewer premature deaths.
What does the Maryland Study Highlight?
- The study estimates that improving WASH across the pubic healthcare facilities in India and maintaining this for a year would cost $354 million in capital costs and $289 million in recurrent expenses.
- The study further finds that the most costly interventions were providing clean water, linen reprocessing and sanitation while the least expensive were hand hygiene, medical device reprocessing and environmental surface cleaning.
- The study also mentions about 2019 Joint Global Baseline Report by WHO and UNICEF.
- As per 2019 Report by WHO & UNICEF - Globally, one in four healthcare facilities lacked basic water servicing and one in five had no sanitation service and 42% had no hygiene facilities at point of care.
- Inadequacies in proving WASH and also lack of infection prevention and control can lead to healthcare associated infections.
- Some of the pathogens to look out for are Acinetobacter baumannii, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus pneumoniae and many more.
- ESKAPE - World Health Organization (WHO) has recently identified antimicrobial resistance as one of the three most important problems facing human health. The most common and serious MDR pathogens have been encompassed within the acronym “ESKAPE,” standing for Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosaand
- The study also highlights about the need to reduce healthcare-associated infections among mother and neonates across the Indian healthcare system.
- The study further highlights the need for a concerted effort from local bodies, State and Central governments to sustainably address quality and inequality issues in WASH provision.
- Emphasis must be given to address health priorities including antimicrobial resistance.
The intersection between WASH, infection prevention and control and antimicrobial resistance is unique in that it offers policy makers an opportunity to address multiple overlapping problems through interventions on WASH in healthcare facilities.
- Acinetobacter baumannii is a typically short, almost round, rod-shaped Gram-negative bacterium. It is named after the bacteriologist Paul Baumann. It can be an opportunistic pathogen in humans, affecting people with compromised immune systems, and is becoming increasingly important as a hospital-derived infection. baumanniihas a high incidence among immunocompromised individuals, particularly those who have experienced a prolonged hospital stay.
- Enterococcus faecalisis a gram-positive bacterium that can cause a variety of nosocomial infections of which urinary tract infections are the most common. These infections can be exceptionally difficult to treat because of drug resistance of many faecalis isolates.
- Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is a Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic, rod-shaped, coliform bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms.
- Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) are bacteria that infect the intestinal tract and the blood. The disease is referred to as typhoid fever. Paratyphi bacteria cause a similar, but milder illness, which comes under the same title.
- Paratyphoid has a shorter duration, generally, than typhoid. Typhi and S. Paratyphi are common in many developing countries where sewage and water treatment systems are poor.
- Streptococcus pneumoniaeare lancet-shaped, gram-positive, facultative anaerobic bacteria with 100 known serotypes. Pneumococci are common inhabitants of the respiratory tract.
UPSC Current Affairs: Perseverance to search for signs of life | Page - 10
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science| Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Perseverance Rover has landed on Mars | NASA's Mars 2020 Mission | UPSC
NASA's Mars 2020 Mission
The mission is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life and demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration. It is different from previous missions because it is capable of drilling and collecting core samples of the most promising rocks and soils. It will collect Mars samples and return them to Earth. These samples will be transferred to the Mars Ascent Vehicle which will meet with an Orbiter. The Orbiter will carry the samples back to Earth.
Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment (MOXIE):
- It is an exploration technology experiment that will produce a small amount of pure oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)
- [Martian atmosphere at the surface: 95% by volume of carbon dioxide(CO2), 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1.9% argon (Ar), 0.16% molecular oxygen (O2), and 0.06% carbon monoxide (CO).]
- The system will produce O2from atmospheric CO2 while on the surface of Mars with the overall chemical reaction 2CO2 → 2CO + O2.
- The stored oxygen could be used for life support and can also be used as rocket propellant oxidizer to power their return trip to Earth.