Current Affairs: 10-08-2017

PRELIMS

India ratifies 2nd commitment period of Kyoto Protocol

Topic: Environment – Treaties and Agreements 

Why in news?

India has ratified the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (or Doha Amendment) that commits countries to contain the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In this regard, India deposited its Instrument of Acceptance of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

With this, India became the 80th country to accept the amendment relating to the second commitment period (2013- 2020) of the Kyoto Protocol.

About Kyoto Protocol:

  • The Kyoto Protocol is an international GHGs emissions reduction treaty linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It commits its Parties by setting internationally binding GHGs emission reduction targets. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.
  • The protocol is based on principle of equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR). It places obligations on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets to reduce emissions and provide financial resources and technology to developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol or Doha Amendment for 2013- 2020 period was adopted in 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period and a revised list of GHGs to be reported on by Parties.

Comment:

The ratification of second protocol rearms India’s stand on climate action. It also further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice. It will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Under the secondcommitment period, implementation of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects will help Indian attract some investments.

 

Government launches Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017

Topic:Health – Sanitation

Why in news?

The Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has released Swachh Survekshan Gramin 2017, third party survey report to assess the progress Swachh Bharat Mission in rural India.

The survey was undertaken by the Quality Council of India (QCI) between May and June 2017 to take into account status of rural sanitation in all States and UTs. The survey covered 4626 villages across all States and Union territories.

Key Highlights of Swachh Survekshan Gramin:

QCI claims that 62.45% of the households have access to a toilet and 91.29% of the people who had access to a toilet also used it. Over 4.54 crore household toilets have been constructed since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin. 160 districts, 2,20,104 villages and 5 States declared have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Sanitation Coverage has increased from 39% in October 2016 to 66% in August 2017.

  • Top performing states: Northeastern States of Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur with 95% rural households covered by toilets were top performers. Himalayan States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were also top performers with over 90% toilet coverage of the rural houses.
  • Performance of Big States: Almost all rural households in Kerala and Haryana have access to a toilet. In, Gujarat 85% of rural households have access to toilets. Tamil Nadu has 79% rural household’s access to a toilet.
  • Worst performing States: Bihar (30% coverage) and Uttar Pradesh (37%),Jharkhand (37%) were among the worst performers in terms of rural sanitation.

About Quality Council of India (QCI):

QCI was set up in 1997 by Union Government jointly with Indian Industry as an autonomous body. Its mandate is to establish and operate the National Accreditation Structure (NAS) for conformity assessment bodies and providing accreditation in the eld of health, education and quality promotion. It also promotes the adoption of quality standards relating to Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000 Series), Quality Management Systems (ISO14001 Series) and Product Certication and Inspection. It has been assigned task of monitoring and administering the National Quality Campaign and also oversee function of National Information and Enquiry Services.

 

ISRO to develop full-edged Hyperspectral Imaging Earth observation satellite

Topic:Science and Technology – Space

Why in news?

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch a full-edged niche Earth observation (EO) satellite — called the Hyper spectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS).

The HySIS satellite has critical chip called an “optical imaging detector array’” indigenously developed by ISRO. Its launch will allow ISRO to enter the domain of operational hyperspectral imaging from earth orbit.

Hyperspectral Imaging:

Hyperspectral imaging or hyspex imaging (imaging spectroscopy) combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyspex’ imaging enables distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space. The hyspex technology is still an evolving science. In recent times, it has become trend that is being experimented globally. It has ability to add a new dimension to plain-vanilla optical imagers.

Key Facts:

HySIS satellite developed by ISRO can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above ground. It can be used for a range of applications from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals, military surveillance. The architecture of the optical imaging detector array chip on board of satellite has been designed by the payloads development center, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. It was manufactured at ISRO’s electronics arm, the Semi-Conductor Laboratory, Chandigarh. It can read up to 1000 x 66 pixels.

Background:

ISRO for first time had tried out hyspex imaging technology in an 83-kg IMS-1 experimental satellite in May 2008. The same year, it also had mounted hyperspectral camera on Chandrayaan-1 and used to map lunar mineral resources. Globally so far, very few space agencies have such a satellite.

 

MAINS

 

Connecting food and nutrition security

Topic: GS-3, Economy – Food security

Context:                                               

Recently, the Supreme Court has asked the Centre to ensure that States implement key aspects of the Food Security Act.

Introduction:

  • Several state governments have not met key requirements in the food security legislation which empower common man in securing subsidized food.
  • Food Ministry data presented to Parliament show that the present system does not reflect the true scale of public grievances, with a mere 1,106 complaints received from the beneficiaries nationwide in 2016.

Supreme Court directions:

  • The Supreme Court directed to states to set up State Food Commission and Vigilance Committees in every state by the end of year and set up social audit machinery.
  • The court also directed the government to frame rules and designate independent officials for a grievance redressal mechanism under the Act within a year.
  • The directives in the Swarah Abhiyan case underscore the depressing reality that several State governments have not met key requirements in the legislation which empower the common people in securing subsidized food.
  • The court pointed out, Article 256, which casts a responsibility on the States and the Union to ensure compliance with laws made by Parliament, also provides the remedy, as it can be invoked by the Centre to set things right.

National Food Security Act, 2013:

  • National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) is the landmark law came in the wake of fighting the hunger and malnutrition in affordable price and to live with dignity.
  • The National Food Security Act, 2013 is an act of the Parliament which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two third of India’s 1.2 billion people.
  • The Act was signed into law on 12 September 2013, retroactive to 5 July 2013.

Need for food security act:

  • Around 40% of Indian children have malnutrition problem
  • 72% of infant and 52% of married women have anamei
  • To meet goal of Sustainable development goals and also core purpose of NFSA
  • Need for human resources formation
  • To fulfill spirit of social and economic justice

Key features of the National Food Security Act:

  • Under the provision of the bill, beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System are entitled to 5 kg per person per month of cereals at Rs 3, 2, and 1 for Rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively.
  • Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population will be covered under TPDS.
  • State wise coverage: Planning Commission has determined the State-wise coverage by using the NSS Household Consumption Survey data for 2011-12.
  • Identification of Households: Within the coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.
  • Nutritional Support to women and children: Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age.
  • Maternity Benefit: Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
  • Women Empowerment: Eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.
  • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
  • Food Security Allowance: Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals.
  • Penalty: Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer

Major Concerns:

Distortion of agricultural patterns:

  • Small farmers who go grow grains for personal consumption may shift to other crops to make more money and buy subsidized grain.
  • Assured of cheap food, small farmers that produced grain for self consumption may stop cultivating cereals and shift to other crops. This can affect food grain output.

India could become massively dependent on imports:

  • India’s commodity imports tend to move global prices. Should India be forced to buy grain from international market because of the food security law, it would have to pay heavy prices.

One-third population may have to pay steep prices:

  • The government will need to procure food grains in large quantities to meet the demands of the law. This would require sharp increase in minimum support prices to incentivise farmers. As a result there could be lower supply in open market.

Food subsidy bill will rise sharply:

  • The cost at which the Food Ministry will make additional grain available is an issue to be considered. A wide coverage and throwaway issue price for foodgrains under the scheme will increase food subsidy sharply.
  • It may squeeze out private traders from the grain market, giving state agencies such as the Food Corporation of India total dominance in the trade.
  • It may put a huge subsidy burden on the government, which can derail the fiscal situation.

Overall inflation will rise:

  • If a major rice-consuming State such as Tamil Nadu enters the open market, seeking to procure rice in huge quantities, the price of the commodity will naturally increase.
  • Higher MSP for cereals and demand for other food items because of lower household spending on cereals will push up food inflation and the overall inflation.

Overall corruption and malpractices may rise:

  • There may be many leakages and malpractices.
  • Irregular supply of ration is a bigger issue that getting ration at subsidised rates. The accessibility and quantity wheat or rice made available to the poor is always at the discretion of the ration shopkeeper. The government must ensure to curb hoarding of food grain.
  • Responsibility and accountability should be strictly enforced, without any leniency of any type.

Problems in implementation of Act:

  • The National food security Act, which is vital for social security through the Public Distribution System and child welfare schemes, has suffered due to a lack of political will.
  • Identification of eligible households by few states was not done in time.
  • Many states neither have adequate grain storage facilities nor a system of door-step delivery of grains to fair price shops (FPS) – both requirements that the Centre stresses are mandatory.
  • An effective grievance redress mechanism to implement the Act was also missing.
  • Besides, end-to-end computerisation of TPDS operations was also pending.
  • There is a shortage of fair price shops in India. While there are 6 lakh villages in India, there are only 5.35 lakh fair price ration shops for disbursement of food grains.
  • Duplication of beneficiaries, bogus ration cards, preparedness in allocation and erroneous registrations are some other problems that the states had to face.

Challenges:

  • Food grains under the act will be distributed through the already existing PDS. However, these PDSs have many loopholes such as leakages of food grains, corruption etc.
  • The exact number of poor is not calculated correctly. Different departments are giving different figures.
  • The huge subsidy and incurring cost will lead to fiscal deficit
  • As most of the food grains will be procured by Govt, exports will reduced, which is a big threat to the economy.
  • Small farmers may shift to other crops, as they may get the subsidized food grains. This may reduce the production of food grains.

Solution:

  • There should have full-fledged, independent machinery in the form of a Food Commission, and district-level grievance redress, besides social audits.
  • Modernisation of the PDS, with the use of information technology, could incorporate such dynamic features to the supply of subsidized food to those who need it, and eliminate deficiencies and fraud.
  • To make Food Security Act a successful mission, efforts taken should be taken towards its proper implementation, monitoring and evaluation by an independent body.

Conclusion:

Effective implementation of NFSA would make an important contribution to food security and improved nutrition in the country. But the PDS system must be strengthened to avoid corruption and leakages. Procurement price must be increased. Farmers must be protected. If this law is implemented effectively, it can help in eradicating hunger

 

 

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