Front Page / NATIONAL [The Hindu]
- Maintain law, order on SYL canal issue: SC
- There’s poison in the air
Editorial/OPINION [The Hindu]
- Ageing with dignity
- A foreign policy of cruel populism
- Tackling the Islamic State
- A pit stop to change attitudes
Economy [The Hindu]
- TRAI told to review tariff plans
- Centre doubles solar park capacity to 40,000 MW
- Reaching for the stars
- Holes in the security net
- Court self-corrects
Front Page / NATIONAL
. Maintain law, order on SYL canal issue: SC
SC’s affirmation on SYL issue
What has happened?
The Supreme Court has stood firm by its decision to construct the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal and urged the neighboring States to maintain law and order at any cost
SC bench raised concern about violence after reports that the Indian National Lok Dal, Haryana’s main opposition party, had asked its workers to gather on 23rd Feb 17 at Ambala and march inside Punjab to start digging the SYL canal
Punjab maintains that Punjab Termination of Water Agreement Act of 2004 was still in force.
- SC verdict only an opinion: It argued that a recent Supreme Court verdict that declared the 2004 Act as unconstitutional was only an opinion given by the court on a presidential reference and not a verdict as such to be complied as law
. There’s poison in the air
Article talks about CPCB data
What is the data all about?
The numbers, the latest available and updated in blocks of 4 years have been sourced from 680 pollution-monitoring stations spread over 300 cities across the country, measure levels of particulate matter (PM 10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
Observations based on CPCB data
- Breach of annual particulate matter limit: 94 cities spanning States from Andhra Pradesh to Jammu and Kashmir and Assam to Gujarat breached the annual, particulate matter limit of 60 micro-gram per cubic meter
- Transgression of NO2 levels: Delhi, Badlapur, Pune and Ulhasnagar in Maharashtra; and Kolkata additionally transgressed the NO2 levels
- Lack of monitoring capability: While cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Pune measure PM2.5 levels, most lack the sensors required to gauge the presence of these minute particles that are considered more toxic than the more-commonly measured PM 10
The numbers come on the back of international research reports attributing about a million deaths in India to air pollution
Key directives to tackle PM pollution
Key directives by the Centre to the States to control particulate matter pollution include
- Promoting public transport
- Improving fuel quality
- Fuel efficiency standards
- Banning burning of leaves, biomass and municipal solid waste
. Ageing with dignity
We may be a young nation, but we need to gear up to meet the needs of the elderly
Issue: Rapidly ageing population
Why a rapidly ageing population is a cause of concern?
Bcz India already has world’s second largest population of the elderly i.e. those above 60 years of age. Issues that we might see as a result of this huge population,
- Demand for healthcare services will increase
- Demand for customised Accommodations (i.e. Senior Housing Units) will also spike
Cursory impact of the ageing population
Beside above concerns, an ageing population will cause,
- Shift from communicable to non-communicable: A shift in the disease patterns from communicable to non-communicable. It implies that we must shift our attention towards preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative aspects of health
Scale of ageing
It is projected that approximately 20% of Indians will be elderly by 2050
Health models for elderly
Author states that mature economies have created following models of healthcare to suit the needs of the elderly,
- Accessible health insurance
- Networks of nursing home
- Palliative care specializations
Problems faced by the elderly
As highlighted in ‘Uncertain Twilight’, a four-part series in The Hindu on the welfare of senior citizens, the ground realities faced by the elderly include,
- Abandonment by their families: According to the National Sample Survey Organization’s 2004 survey, nearly 3% of persons aged above 60 lived alone.
- Destitution and homelessness
- Inability to access quality health care
- Low levels of institutional support
- The loneliness and depression associated with separation from their families
Author suggests that,
- Awareness campaigns: Advocacy and information campaigns may be necessary to redirect social attitudes toward ageing, which often do not help the elderly enjoy a life of stability and dignity
- Helping the elderly poor: While those who have sufficient income might be able to help themselves to a retirement community or a senior housing unit but those who have a very poor background cannot but rely on the government for help
. A foreign policy of cruel populism
Leaders like Donald Trump are offering a harsh cultural agenda to address the West’s economic problems
Article mentions the rise of anti-immigrant and populist regimes in the West pointing towards Donald Trump.
Give it a light read. Article offers a perspective as to what the coming years under the new US presidency might look like.
. Tackling the Islamic State
Despite some disillusioned youth leaving the group, its endurance remains evident
Article mentions the decline of IS against a relentless operation by US and coalition forces.
Why IS is losing ground?
As per experts, IS is facing reverses because,
- Diminishing revenues: Earlier it used to pay attractive wages and offered other perks to the recruits but in the face of attacks by US & Coalition forces, its resources in the form of captured government treasuries and revenue from oil wells, have depleted considerably. Hence, IS is witnessing a thin influx and a higher exodus
Author states that those who have left the IS can be categorized under two heads,
- Those who have now become disillusioned about the cause for which they were fighting. They will never return
- Those who have left the IS are still said to be determined to establish a Caliphate even though they have returned home. This category boasts of a higher number than the previous one
This situation introduces a new dimension in the internal security of the countries from which these volunteers went to join IS.
- Relevance for India: Some of such volunteers belonged to India as well. So, we should invest intelligence to keep an eye on any new situation that might develop as a result
Where is IS headed?
IS, unlike Al-Qaeda, is not personality oriented. It is based on an ideology so it is more enduring than its rivals
. A pit stop to change attitudes
Article discusses the stigma associated with manual pit emptying in the backdrop of the public display of pit emptying in Warangal
What has happened?
Nearly a dozen top bureaucrats from 23 states including Union sanitation secretary took up a unique exercise of emptying some of the twin pit toilets in a village in Warangal district to demonstrate how it’s the best technology for rural folk and also to end the stigma of cleaning these pits
Read More: You can read more about the above news here
Pit emptying must become central to India’s efforts to eliminate open defecation
- Studies find that many rural Indians associate emptying a latrine pit by hand with manual scavenging, work that Dalits have traditionally been compelled to do
- Caste Hindus refuse to empty latrine pits themselves
Impact of the stigma
As the latrines provided by the government under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan require manual pit emptying, rural Indians do not want to use those. For this reason,
- Latrines with big pits: People want to use latrines with very large pits or tanks that take decades to fill. Yet, latrines with very large pits are expensive, so most rural families cannot afford them
How the government is dealing with the problem?
Government is now promoting latrines with two pits instead of one to tackle the problem.
- Having a second pit allows the contents of a full pit to decompose before being emptied
- Emptying a decomposed latrine pit is not illegal: According to the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act (PEMSRA), which made the employment of manual scavengers illegal, emptying human waste that has decomposed in a latrine pit is not considered manual scavenging, and is therefore not illegal
Social consequences not addressed
Author states that the two pit solution only addresses the problem of open defecation and manual scavenging but it does not addresses the social consequences and stigma attached to problem of pit emptying
Public display of pit emptying
Most Indians believe that pit emptying will make them ritually impure and cause them to become outcaste. So, the public display of pit emptying in Warangal was an important step forward.
. TRAI told to review tariff plans
Mobile phone operators have been facing severe headwinds since Reliance Jio started services
What has happened?
Following a decline in revenue of the telecom sector for two quarters in a row, the Telecom Commission has asked the sectoral regulator TRAI to “review” mobile tariff plans offered by telecom operators, including promotional offers
- The Telecom Commission, which is the highest decision making body in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), has also asked the regulator to ensure proper implementation of its 2002 and 2008 amendments to the Telecom Tariff Orders, 1999
The move can be seen in the light of the falling revenues of the other telecom operators ever since introduction of Reliance Jio, which has been offering free voice and data services to consumers since September last year under two different plans
- It should be noted that Centre earns revenue from the telecom operators through spectrum usage and license fees among others and recent events have impacted their capacity to meet their commitment towards spectrum charges and instalments
. Centre doubles solar park capacity to 40,000 MW
The Cabinet has approved the doubling of solar park capacity to 40,000 MW, which will entail an additional 50 solar parks to be set up at a cost to the government of ₹8,100 crore
Article details the plans of the government to set up solar parks
Give it a light read
. Reaching for the stars
ISRO launched a record 104 satellites on a single launch vehicle. The bar will be raised further when India fires its most powerful rocket ever, the GSLV Mark-III
Issue: The future launches by ISRO esp. the impending launch of GSLV Mk III
- It will be launched in March by a GSLV
- The satellite is also known as Satellite for South Asia
- Purpose: It is intended to provide a range of communication and broadcasting services to neighboring countries. (Pakistan, however, decided to opt out)
- GAGAN: The satellite will carry GAGAN navigation payload that will provide GPS services to the security forces and air traffic control organizations. GAGAN is a regional GPS navigational system developed by India. The satellite will have a mission life of 12 years
GSLV Mk III
- 1st developmental flight of GSLV Mk III is currently expected to take place in the second half of April
- Payload capacity: Its payload capacity is twice than its predecessor. The payload capacity of the rocket could be enhanced in various ways to about 4.5 tonnes
- Benefits to India: GSLV Mk III will be able to carry communication satellites that are too heavy for the latter and which ISRO must at present launch abroad at a cost of hundreds of crores of rupees each
- Since 2002, ISRO has launched 11 INSAT and GSAT communication satellites that exceeded 2 tonnes. These satellites, weighing between 2.7 tonnes and 3.4 tonnes, went into space aboard Europe’s Ariane rockets
- The cost of launching just one of those satellites, the 3.4-tonne GSAT-18 that flew on the Ariane 5 last October, came to Rs 459 crore
Successful test of Mk III’s cryogenic stage
Author states that just two days after ISRO launched 104 satellites into orbit, another milestones was achieved,
- The final ground test of the Mark-III’s cryogenic stage was successfully completed at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu
- The Mark-III’s core stage is powered by twin Vikas liquid propellant engines that are used in the PSLV and GSLV as well
- ISRO flight tested the GSLV Mark-III on an experimental mission in December 2014, using a dummy cryogenic stage
Cryogenic technology: A difficult technology to master
A Cryogenic engine burns a highly-efficient propellant combination, liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
- The problem: But their ultra-low temperature, particularly of liquid hydrogen, creates enormous problems when using them in rockets
- Cryogenic stage:A cryogenic stage holds the engine as well as insulated tanks for the propellants and all the pipes, valves and other components need to control their flow to the engine
Cryogenic Upper Stage
The first successful flight of a GSLV-D5 equipped with an indigenous “Cryogenic Upper Stage” (CUS) took place in 2014, making India only the sixth nation to possess cryogenic technology.
Read More: CUS launch
CUS vs CE20
- The GSLV Mark-III’s CE-20 cryogenic engine and C25 cryogenic stage, are based on a wholly Indian design that is considerably simpler than CUS, though a bit less efficient in terms of propellant consumption
- CE-20 is two & a half times more powerful than CUS
Significance of CUS
- Experience with the CUS had greatly aided development of the Mark-III’s cryogenic engine and stage
- Some elements of the CUS engine and its manufacturing process has gone into the Mark-III’s CE-20 engine
- Current capacity: The GSLV is currently capable of accommodating a communication satellite weighing up to about 2 tonnes
On its forthcoming flight, the GSLV Mark-III will be carrying a 3.3-tonne communication satellite, GSAT-19
- The satellite is planned to carry Ka and Ku band payload along with a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload to monitor and study the nature of the charged particles and influence of space radiation on spacecraft and electronic components
Semi-cryogenic engine, running on liquid oxygen and kerosene. A core stage with one such engine would raise the Mark-III’s capacity to 6 tonnes
. Holes in the security net
Article highlights the findings of a survey conducted regarding the effect of demonetisation on India’s social welfare measures like MGNREGS
A survey of approximately 400 individuals, MGNREGS workers and old age pensioners was done in the second and third week of January in 15 districts across seven states, with 20 volunteers from these areas
Important findings of the survey
- Turned away by banks: Since demonetization, 57 per cent of people studied were turned away by banks, without their wages or pension. On average, people had been to the bank thrice since demonetization. 30 per cent had made more than three visits
- After demonetization, 73 per cent of MGNREGS households and about 52 per cent of pensioners said they had a greater need for these entitlements.
- On Demonetization as a whole, respondents were split halfway, between perceiving it as a good and bad move: People viewed demonetisation as a disruptive measure which impacted access to social security.
- 10 per cent of respondents had not gone to the bank even once, reflecting the non-monetized economy our poorest citizens operate in
Question posed: whether the need for these entitlements had increased post-demonetization?
Answer: 73 per cent of MGNREGS households and about 52 per cent of pensioners said they had a greater need
- Official corroboration: According to the Ministry of Rural Development’s data, people worked more on MGNREGS than what was planned for in the past three months, while in the comparable time period in the previous year, it was consistently less than planned
High transaction costs
Uncertainty and delays translated into high transaction costs: People made multiple trips to the bank to check whether their money had been deposited or not
- On average, MGNREGS workers made more visits to the bank than pensioners, reflecting greater uncertainty in wage payments
- 70 per cent of workers who went to the bank returned empty-handed, compared to only 30 per cent of pensioners who were denied their pensions
Question: Did MGNREGS and the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) provide social security in times of an economic shock like demonetisation?
Answer: The answer is yes & no
- Yes, because these programmes have the potential to provide social security
- No, because of patchy implementation
Article concludes in the end that survey reaffirms the need for enhanced social security entitlements and strengthening welfare systems, precisely to overcome such ill thought-out shocks like demonetisation
. Court self-corrects
SC decision on surveys critical of judiciary is a step towards bringing contempt provision in line with spirit of democracy.
The article will be covered in tomorrow’s brief.
Read it once.