Topic 1: Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment ) Bill, 2023
Context: Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment ) Bill, 2023 clear by both Houses of Parliament of India
- The Amendment Bill provides that the registration granted under Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act shall prevail and be treated as valid permission under CRZ Notification.
- It will enable lakhs of small marginal aquaculture farmers to avoid the possible need for obtaining CRZ clearances from multiple agencies.
- Specific exemption has been granted under the CAA Act for the establishment of aquaculture units within the No Development Zone (NDZ) of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).
- Rationalisation of punishments:
- The principal Act has a provision of imprisonment for a period up to 3 years for carrying out coastal aquaculture without registration.
- The amendment bill replaces the same with suitable civil instruments such as penalty in line with the principle of decriminalizing civil transgressions.
- Broad basing aquaculture:
- The Amendment Bill provides for broad basing coastal aquaculture to comprehensively cover all activities of coastal aquaculture under the purview of this Act.
- In 2005, coastal aquaculture activity was essentially shrimp farming.
- Now newer forms of environment friendly coastal aquaculture have come up which can be done in coastal areas and mostly within CRZ such as:
- cage culture,
- seaweed culture,
- bi-value culture,
- marine ornamental fish culture,
- pearl oyster culture etc..
- Resolving administrative issues:
- Many of the administrative matters such as the powers of Member Secretary of the CAA and normal functioning of the Authority in the absence of Chairperson which were ambiguous have been suitably resolved under the Amended Act for administrative efficiency and accountability.
- The Amendments expressly empower the Authority to appoint Committees which can contain experts, stake holders and public representatives for the efficient discharge of its duties.
- Scientific technologies:
- The Government intends to create facilities that produce genetically improved and disease-free stocks for use in coastal aquaculture.
- Government also intends to prevent use of antibiotics and pharmacologically active substances in coastal aquaculture.
- Emissions standards:
- The amendment bill provides for fixing or adopting the standards for emission or discharge of effluents from coastal aquaculture units, making the owner liable to pay the cost of demolition and cost of damage to the environment as assessed by the Authority in the true spirit of Polluter Pays Principle.
- It also prohibits coastal aquaculture in the ecologically sensitive areas or the geo-morphological features.
- Significance of the amendments:
- These activities also have the potential for generating huge revenue and creating large scale employment opportunities for coastal fisher communities.
- The Government intends to promote ease of doing business in coastal aquaculture.
Topic 2: Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
Context: There are 1782 Gram Panchayats adopted under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) during the last five years.
About the scheme:
- Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a rural development programme broadly focusing upon the development in the villages.
- The programme was launched in 2014.
- It is:
- demand driven
- inspired by society
- based on people’s participation.
- The main objectives of SAGY are:
- To trigger processes which lead to holistic development of the identifed Gram Panchayats
- To substantally improve the standard of living and quality of life of all sections of the populaton through
- Improved basic amenites
- Higher productvity
- Enhanced human development
- Better livelihood opportunites
- Reduced disparites
- Access to rights and entitlements
- Wider social mobilizaton
- Enriched social capital
- Key features:
- A Gram panchayat would be the basic unit.
- It will have a population of 3000-5000 in plain areas and 1000-3000 in the hilly, tribal and difficult area.
- The Member of Parliament would be free to identify a suitable Gram Panchayat to be developed as Adarsh Gram, other than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse.
- The MP will identify one Gram Panchayat to be taken up immediately, and two other to be taken up little later.
- Lok Sabha MP has to choose a Gram Panchayat from within his/her constituency and Rajya Sabha MP a Gram Panchayat from the rural area of a district of his/her choice in the State from which he/she is elected.
Topic 3: China’s deflation
Context: Consumer prices in China declined for the first time in over two years in July. This is in contrast to the rest of the world where inflation has been the most pressing problem of late.
What is deflation?
- Deflation refers to a general fall in the prices of goods and services in an economy.
- In the past, the terms inflation and deflation were used to refer to a rise or a fall, respectively, in the money supply rather than a rise or fall in prices.
- A rise in the money supply was expected to contribute to higher prices in the wider economy while a fall in the money supply was believed to lead to lower prices.
- Slowdown of economy:
- Deflation is a sign of falling demand for goods and services which could lead to a slowdown in economic growth.
- The demand for goods and services is the driver of economic growth.
- Postponing purchases:
- Falling prices, can also push buyers to postpone their purchases expecting lower prices in the future.
- This in turn can further dampen demand in the economy.
- Harm to business:
- A certain degree of inflation is believed to be necessary for the full utilisation of the resources in an economy.
- Deflation can lead to business losses and lower growth as costs remain sticky.
- Misbalance in credit contracts:
- It can also mess up credit contracts as borrowers will have to pay back lenders more in real terms.
When deflation is not a cause of worry:
- Rapid Economic Growth:
- Many economies including the U.S. and China in the past have experienced deflation during times of rapid economic growth.
- Even a country like Japan, which has been plagued by persistent deflation for years, actually witnessed a rise in per capita real income levels during the era of deflation.
- Rise in supply of goods and services:
- Deflation in some cases is the result of a rise in the supply of goods and services that outpaces the rate of money supply growth.
- Temporary phenomenon:
- During times of economic crises, spending by individuals can drop temporarily as they become more cautious.
- Reallocation of resources:
- Sometimes deflation in the official price indicators can also be a sign of a process of reallocation of resources.
- Spending on goods whose prices are captured by official indicators may drop while spending on other goods may even rise.
- Need not lead to postponement of purchases:
- Deflation need not cause consumers to postpone purchases as widely believed.
- It is not the prices that determine consumer demand for goods and services, but it is rather consumer demand that determines prices.
- The direction of causation runs from consumer demand to prices rather than the reverse.
- Need not lead to business losses:
- Deflation need not cause sustained business losses since businesses can adjust what they pay for their inputs according to what their customers are willing to pay for their goods and services.
Why is China experiencing deflation?
- China is experiencing deflation at a time when the Chinese central bank, continues to keep interest rates low to boost demand in the economy.
- This is in contrast to other central banks which have been tightening policy to fight high inflation after the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The likely reason behind Chinese deflation may not be the lack of liquidity but rather something more fundamental.
- The Chinese economy has been experiencing turmoil even before the pandemic, in the property sector which contributes to a share of Chinese GDP.
- The Chinese policymakers have been trying to bring about a soft landing of their economy.
- Credit booms like the one witnessed in China can cause the misallocation of resources and the bust can involve a fall in broader prices.
Topic 4: Federal fund hike
Context: In the recently concluded Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the targeted federal funds rate was raised to 5.25-5.5%.
- This puts the rate at a 21-year high, surpassing the levels seen in 2001.
- The decision was aimed at reducing inflation to 2%.
- Despite the interest rate hike, employment numbers have been on the rise.
About the federal funds rate
- The federal funds rate plays a crucial role in the economy as it determines lending rates among banks.
- Following the global financial crisis, rates were near zero until 2015.
- However, with the pandemic, rates dropped to 0.05%.
- Since March 2022, there has been a steady increase in the rate, leading to concerns about the world economy’s ability to withstand such a sharp rise of more than 450 basis points within a year.
- The Federal Reserve intervenes in the market through bond purchases or sales to maintain the targeted rate range.
Consequences on the world:
- The rest of the world faces a different situation compared to the U.S. economy as they are yet to come out of the pandemic and are battling with growing debt servicing concerns.
- The large-scale expansion of the balance sheets of the advanced country central banks since the global financial crisis had reduced interest rates to abysmally low levels.
- This has facilitated carry trade, with agents borrowing in dollars and investing in emerging markets to benefit from interest margins due to the higher interest in developing countries.
- Between 2011 and 2016, external debt stocks in low and middle-income countries doubled, reaching 181.1% of their GDP.
- By 2020, it exceeded 200% of their GDP.
- In the developing world, non-financial corporations took advantage of low global interest rates to borrow cheaply.
- Approximately $5.14 trillion of the total outstanding dollar debt of $13 trillion held by non-financial corporations outside the U.S. is from emerging markets and developing economies.
- With rising interest rates and currency depreciation, unhedged dollar debts could pose serious problems for these corporations.
Impact on corporates:
- In the international economy, there has been a substantial increase in private non-guaranteed (PNG) debt taken by corporations, while governments continue to be important borrowers.
- As interest rates in advanced countries rise, foreign investors may abandon government securities in developing economies, leading to currency depreciation and increased borrowing costs.
- This situation exacerbates debt servicing concerns for developing countries, where foreigners play a major role in the government securities market, unlike India.
- The World Bank’s recent debt report reveals that the poorest countries borrowing through the International Development Association (IDA) spend 10% of export earnings on servicing debt, the highest since 2000.
- Climate goals are affected due to financial constraints.
- A collective effort is needed to reform the international financial system, addressing its asymmetries.
- The U.S. monetary policy seems to be bothered only about domestic concerns.
- It ignores the larger considerations of a volatile global economy caught between the falling health and education infrastructure on the one hand and climate vulnerabilities and unusual weather events on the other hand.
- Massive scaling up of contingency financing for needy countries and expansion of affordable long term financing for development is required to address the growing concerns of developing country debt.
Topic 5: Robot Bandicoot
Context: Robot ‘Bandicoot’ Technology To Eliminate Manual Scavenging
Need of Bandicoot:
- The primary idea behind Bandicoot was to relieve the manual scavengers who, often without any protective gear, risk their lives every day trying to unclog drains.
- Over the last three years, there have been over 300 manhole deaths in India.
Origin of Bandicoot:
- It was in 2015 some Engineering students in Kerala set up a robotics group called Team Genrobotics.
- Genrobotics began work on Bandicoot in collaboration with Kerala Startup Mission and the state’s water supply and waste-water disposal department.
- The semi-automatic robot has an attachment that can open the manhole lids using a magnet instead of having workers lift the heavy lids.
- It also has a camera that helps monitor the manhole on the operating screen.
- As per the Manual Scavenging Act, 2013 every local authority and other agency are supposed to use appropriate technological appliance for cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
- Government has to promote the use of modern technology through financial assistance, incentives and otherwise.
- It is mandatory for the employer to provide the safety gear, devices and ensure safety precautions as prescribed in the Rules.
- NAMASTE scheme is being implemented in all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the country to ensure:-
- Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India
- All sanitation work to be performed by skilled workers
- No sanitation workers come in direct contact with human faecal matter
- Increased awareness amongst sanitation services seekers (individuals and institutions) to seek services from registered and skilled sanitation workers
- Strengthening and capacitating Emergency Response Sanitation Units (ERSUs) to ensure safe delivery of mechanized sanitation services.
- Empowering of Sanitation workers to run sanitation enterprises and promote mechanization of cleaning operation through availability of machines.
- The scheme also formalizes sewer septic tank workers by providing occupational training, safety gears and extension of health insurance.
Topic 6: Management Of Ground Water
Context: Minister of State for Jal Shakti informed the Lok Sabha about management of ground water.
- Central Ground Water Authority:
- Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the purpose of regulation and control of ground water by industries, mining projects, infrastructure projects etc in the country.
- Model Building Bye Laws:
- Model Building Bye Laws (MBBL) 2016 circulated by Ministry of Housing &Urban Affairs include provisions for Rainwater Harvesting
- Jal Shakti Abhiyan:
- JSA was launched in 2019 with the primary aim to effectively harvest the monsoon rainfall through creation of artificial recharge structures, watershed management, recharge and reuse structures, intensive afforestation and awareness generation etc.
- Amrit Sarovar Mission:
- The Mission is aimed at developing and rejuvenating 75 water bodies in each district of the country as a part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
- Atal Bhujal Yojana:
- Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal Jal), a Rs. 6000 crore Central Sector Scheme, is being implemented for sustainable management of ground water resources.
- Atal Bhujal Yojana is being implemented in collaboration with World Bank to strengthen demand side management of ground water.
- Ground Water Management and Regulation (GWM&R) scheme:
- Ground Water Management and Regulation (GWM&R) scheme is a continuing central sector scheme being implemented in the country by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
- Major activities being taken up under the scheme include:
- aquifer mapping (NAQUIM) for the entire country
- ground water level and quality monitoring on regular basis,
- assessment of dynamic ground water resources in collaboration with States/UTs,
- regulation and control of ground water withdrawal in certain States/UTs,
- taking up few demonstrative recharge projects in selected water stressed areas,
- strengthening of scientific infrastructure for technological upgradation etc.
- National Aquifer Mapping and Management Programme (NAQUIM) has been implemented with the objectives to delineate and characterize the aquifers and develop plans for ground water management.
- The entire mappable area of the country (around 25 lakh sq km) has been covered under the programme.
Topic 7: Parliamentary Privileges
Context: Recently Lok Sabha directed its committee of privileges to look into the actions of a Member of Parliament.
About parliamentary privileges
- Parliament and its Members (MPs) have certain rights and immunities that enable them to function effectively in their legislative roles which are called parliamentary privileges.
- When the Constitution framers made our founding document, it provided that parliamentary privileges would be those specified in a law made by Parliament.
- And until the national legislature made such a law, privileges would be those enjoyed by the House of Commons (UK).
- In 1978, Parliament deleted the reference to the House of Commons by a constitutional amendment and it is yet to make any law specifying these privileges.
- Parliamentary privileges are, therefore, a mix of provisions in the Constitution,statutes, House procedures and conventions.
- For example, the Constitution specifies that MPs have freedom of speech and immunity from judicial proceedings against anything they say or votes they cast in Parliament.
- The Code of Civil Procedure protects them from arrest and detention under civil cases during a parliamentary session, and for a specified period before it begins and after it ends.
- Parliamentary rules specify that authorities should immediately inform the Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha about MPs’ arrests, releases and convictions.
How does Parliament act on breach of privilege?
- Each House of Parliament is the guardian of its privileges.
- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have the authority to take suitable action against anyone who breaches the privileges of its members or commits contempt of the House.
- There are three mechanisms by which Parliament takes up these matters.
- The first is by a member raising the issue on the floor of the House, and then the House decides on it.
- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha usually send the matter for a detailed examination to their Privileges Committee.
- The committee recommends to the House a course of action which is then accepted by it.
- MPs can also bring matters of breach of privilege to the notice of the presiding officers of their respective Houses.
- The presiding officers can then decide whether or not to send the case to the committee of privileges.
Powers of the Committee:
- The Committee of Privileges has the power to recommend to the House for its consideration the issuance of admonitions, reprimands, suspension and, in rare cases, expulsion from the House.
- The convention followed by the committee of both Houses is that if the MP against whom a privilege matter is raised gives an unqualified apology, then the issue is allowed to rest, and it recommends no further action.