Sub-Categorisation of OBCs
After more than five years of its formation, the commission for the sub-categorization under Justice Rohini of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) is now in the final stages of finishing its task.
GS II- Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is sub-categorisation of OBCs?
- What is the Commission’s brief?
- What progress has it made so far?
- What have its findings been so far?
- What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?
What is sub-categorisation of OBCs?
- The idea is to create sub-categories within the larger group of OBCs for the purpose of reservation.
- OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
- This has been a legal debate for other reservation categories too: in September 2021, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations.
- For OBCs, the debate arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of the 27% reservation.
- The argument for creating sub-categories within OBCs is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
- It was to examine this that the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.
What is the Commission’s brief?
It was originally set up with three terms of reference:
- To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List.
- To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs.
- To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories. A fourth term of reference was added on January 22, 2020.
- To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.
This was added following a letter to the government from the Commission on July 30, 2019, in which it flagged “several ambiguities in the list as it stands now”.
What progress has it made so far?
- In its letter on July 30, 2019, the Commission wrote that it is ready with the draft report on sub-categorisation. Following the new term of reference added in January 22, the Commission began studying the list of communities in the central list.
- Among the challenges it has faced, one has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
- The Commission wrote to Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment on December 12, 2018, requesting for an appropriate Budget provision for a proposed all-India survey for an estimate of the caste-wise population of OBCs.
- On August 31, 2018, then Home Minister had announced that in Census 2021, data of OBCs will also be collected, but since then the government has been silent on this, whereas groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.
What have its findings been so far?
- In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years and OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS, over the preceding three years.
- The findings were: 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs; 24.95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities; 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions; 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.
What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?
- According to data tabled in Parliament by MoS for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Rajya Sabha on March 17, the total number of Group A to Group C employees (including safai karmacharis) was 5.12 lakh (see table).
- Of these, 17.70% are SC, 6.72% ST, 20.26% OBC (Other Backward Classes), and 0.02% EWS (Economically Weaker Sections).
- In Group-A, the highest tier among these, the representation of SCs is just 12.86%, of STs 5.64% and of OBCs 16.88%. Reservation for these communities is 15%, 7.5% and 27% respectively.
- These data cover 43 departments and government offices including Cabinet Secretariat, UPSC and Election Commission, but excluding the largest central government employers such as Railways and Department of Posts.
- Among Secretaries and Special Secretaries, only six belong to SCs and STs, and, “no data regarding OBC is maintained”.
- Out of 91 Additional Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 10 and 4 respectively and out of 245 Joint Secretaries, the number of officers belonging to SC/ST and OBC communities are 26 and 29 respectively in various Ministries/Departments under Central Staffing Scheme.
-Source: The Hindu
World Soil Day (WSD) 2022
As soil is the basis of food systems, it is no surprise that soil health is critical for healthy food production. World Soil Day (WSD) 2022, annually observed on December 5, aligns with this.
GS I: Geography
Dimensions of the Article:
- About World Soil Day
- What is soil?
- Soil erosion
- Soil conservation Initiatives
About World Soil Day:
- It was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002.
- The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness-raising platform under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership.
- 5th December 2014 was designated as the first official WSD by the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
- 5th December was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
Theme of the World soil day
WSD 2022, with its guiding theme, ‘Soils: Where food begins’, is a means to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining healthy soils, ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, encouraging societies to improve soil health, and advocating the sustainable management of soil.
What is soil?
- Soil is the loose material of the earth’s surface in which the terrestrial plants grow. It is usually formed from weathered rock or regolith changed by chemical, physical and biological process.
- Soil is the most important layer of the earth’s crust. It is a valuable resource. The bulk of our food and much of our clothing is derived from land-based crops that grow in the soil.
- The various agents of weathering and gradation have acted upon the parent rock material to produce a thin layer of soil.
- Soil is the mixture of rock debris and organic materials which develop on the earth’s surface. The major factors affecting the formation of soil are relief, parent material, climate, vegetation, Human activity and other life-forms and time.
- The destruction of the soil cover is described as soil erosion.
- Deforestation is one of the major causes of soil erosion. Plants keep soils bound in locks of roots, and thus, prevent erosion.
Balance between Soil erosion and soil formation
- The soil forming processes and the erosional processes of running water and wind go on simultaneously. Generally, there is a balance between these two processes. The rate of removal of soil particles due to erosion from the surface is the same as the rate of addition of particles to the soil layer.
Why is Soil erosion a problem?
- Sometimes, such a balance between erosion and formation is disturbed by natural or human factors.
- This leads to a greater rate of removal of soil.
- Human activities too are responsible for soil erosion to a great extent.
- Human settlement, for cultivation, for grazing animals and for various other needs degrade the soil faster than the rate of formation
Effects of soil erosion
- Soil erosion is one of the biggest problems for agriculture and its negative effects are seen in other spheres also.
- Eroded materials are carried down to rivers and they lower down their carrying capacity, and cause frequent floods and damage to agricultural lands
Soil conservation Initiatives:
Five- pronged strategy:
- The Government of India is implementing a five-pronged strategy for soil conservation.
- This includes making soil chemical-free, saving soil biodiversity, enhancing SOM, maintaining soil moisture, mitigating soil degradation and preventing soil erosion.
Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme:
- Earlier, farmers lacked information relating to soil type, soil deficiency and soil moisture content.
- To address these issues, the Government of India launched the Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme in 2015.
- The SHC is used to assess the current status of soil health, and when used over time, to determine changes in soil health.
- The SHC displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms, which guide farmers to make necessary soil amendments.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana:
- Other pertinent initiatives include the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, to prevent soil erosion, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table.
Promoting organic farming practices under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA):
- In addition, NMSA has schemes promoting traditional indigenous practices such as organic farming and natural farming, thereby reducing dependency on chemicals and other agri-inputs, and decreasing the monetary burden on smallholder farmers.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, launched in 2015 is an elaborated component of Soil Health Management (SHM) of the major project National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- Under PKVY, Organic farming is promoted through adoption of organic villages by cluster approach and Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification.
FAO’s various initiatives to support government efforts in soil conservation:
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) undertakes multiple activities to support the Government of India’s efforts in soil conservation towards fostering sustainable agrifood systems.
-Source: Indian Express
Indo-French Partnership on Kaziranga Project
India and France are collaborating on Kaziranga Project. Agence Française de Développement (AFD) of France has committed funding of €80.2 million for a 10-year period, between 2014-2024.
GS II: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is Kaziranga Project?
- Kaziranga National Park
What is Kaziranga Project?
- The Kaziranga project is a part of a larger Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation (APFBC).
- The Assam government, with the support of AFD, launched the APFBC in 2012, to restore forest ecosystems, protect wildlife and enhance the livelihood of the forest-dependent communities.
- The project conceptualised the reforestation of 33,500 hectares of land and the training of 10,000 community members in alternate livelihoods by 2024
Kaziranga National Park
- Kaziranga National Park is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam.
- It is a World Heritage Site and hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses.
- Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
- Along with the iconic Greater one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
- Over the time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006.
- Due to the difference in altitude between the eastern and western areas of the park, here one can see mainly four types of vegetation’ like alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests.
- Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.
- Kaziranga has flat expanses of fertile, alluvial soil, formed by erosion and silt deposition by the River Brahmaputra.
- The history of Kaziranga as a protected area can be traced back to 1904 when the wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon visited the area and persuaded to take measures to protect rhinoceros in the area.
-Source: The Hindu
First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) system
Two months after the RBI issued guidelines on digital lending, banks, NBFCs and fintech players are still awaiting clarity on many aspects, including the First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) system.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- What is FLDG System?
- Issues with FLDGs
What is FLDG System?
- FLDG is an arrangement between a fintech company and regulated entity (RE), including banks and non-banking finance companies, wherein the fintech compensates the RE to a certain extent if the borrower defaults.
- Under this, the fintech originates a loan and promises to compensate the partners up to a pre-decided percentage in case customers fail to repay.
- The bank/NBFC partners lend through the fintech but from their own books.
- FLDG helps expand the customer base of traditional lenders but relies on the fintechs underwriting capabilities.
- FLDG is also seen as a validation of the fintechs underwriting capabilities for loans disbursed.
Issues with FLDGs
- A report by an RBI-constituted working group on digital lending has laid down risks of FLDG agreements with unregulated entities.
- The other concern is that FLDG costs are often passed on to customers.
-Source: The Hindu