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Question and Answer
Q. 286. Operation Clean Money
Ans. Operation Clean Money is to detect the generation of black money after demonetisation. Operation Clean Money, CBDT said, is being conducted by the tax department through the use of advanced data analytics allowing "optimisation of government resources and causing minimum inconvenience to the taxpayers.
The income-tax department has identified more than 60,000 persons, some of them described as "high-risk”, under the second phase of Operation Clean Money.
Entities that will undergo "detailed investigations” as part of the next phase of the operation include businesses claiming cash sales as the source of cash deposits, such as petrol pumps and other essential services like hospitals, which are found to be excessive compared with their past profile or industry norms after the note-swap was announced on November 8.
It will also probe government or public sector employees who made "large cash deposits” as well as people who made high-value purchases, "layered” or laundered funds by using shell companies and who did not respond to queries under the first phase of the operation.
All the cases where no response is received shall also be subjected to detailed enquiries. It may take more than a year to complete but technology and continuous enforcement action will be deployed to ensure no one slips through the net.
The threshold under the first phase of the operation, which began on January 31 and ended on February 15, was kept at deposits of Rs 5 lakh and above.
More than 400 cases have been referred by the tax department to the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). Surveys have been conducted in more than 3,400 cases by assessment units.
Online queries were raised in 35,000 cases and online verification was completed in more than 7,800 cases. The department closed verification when a satisfactory explanation was given.
In cases where the cash deposit has been declared under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), the verifications would also be closed.
Demonetisation was aimed at the elimination of black money that casts a long shadow of parallel economy on our real economy and the latest operation is one of the major steps aimed at achieving this goal and also widen the tax base.
Q. 285. What are the flaws in the current budgeting for the police? Which areas in Policing needs modernization for effective policing?
As the law enforcement agency of the government and the first point of contact in the criminal justice system, the police is critical for sound law and order, and a good quality of life. There is perceptible dissatisfaction with policing in India today. It is often argued that poor resourcing is part of the problem, and that the police require a higher quantum of budgetary allocations.
While the police need to be well-resourced, higher allocations by themselves are not enough.
The structure of budgetary allocations can have a disproportionate impact on the operations of the department, and consequently on police performance.
It is, therefore, useful to analyse how police departments structure their budgets, and the manner in which the budgetary allocations are actually spent.
Maharashtra Police: An example
Analysis suggests that budget outlays for the police only meet the establishment cost.
Salary is the main component of budget, consuming almost 90% of the total allocation.
The residual amount covers costs of domestic travel, maintenance of motor vehicles and petrol cost.
Budgets, as they stand, barely allocate funds for operational expenses of running police stations, or maintenance costs for computer systems, arms and ammunition.
The analysis suggests that police budgets have focused solely on manpower.
On an annual basis, budgets do not have allocations towards capacity building, and are not structured to achieve desired outcomes.
The police also suffer from inadequate expenditure management.
Expenses on items other than salary are not monitored frequently enough.
Spending on the modernization of police
In the year 2000, an assessment of police infrastructure deficiency by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), a federal agency under the ministry of home affairs, estimated that Rs30,000 crores were needed over 10 years to fill the identified gaps in infrastructure.
Notably, the Modernisation of Police Forces Scheme to fund deficiency in state police infrastructure has been in existence since 1969-70, the cost of which is shared by the Centre and states.
Annual allocations to this fund were raised substantially, following the BPR&D study.
Since 2000, the focus has been to build secure police stations, increase the supply of police housing, improve forensic laboratory, equipment, training infrastructure, communication systems and mobility of the police force.
The scheme has had limited success.
An impact evaluation of the scheme, acknowledged the positive impact of the scheme, but stated that it “has been able to fill very limited gaps compared to the actual requirements of the police forces”.
The assessment also pointed to inadequate training and lack of funds for repair and maintenance of assets created under the scheme.
Despite the short supply of resources, the study found under-utilization of funds as a result of delays in release of funds and cumbersome asset-procurement processes.
The two examples demonstrate different problems with police budgets. Either funds are spent entirely on salaries, with little left for capacity building, or are underutilized even though they are not enough to begin with.
Desired outcomes of Policing
As with any budget, police budgets too need to be tied to outcomes. Broadly, the desired outcomes of policing are
1) safety and security of citizens;
2) collection of intelligence;
3) investigation of crime;
4) sound public order.
In the current form, budgets only fund salaries, and thus are not fully aligned to create conditions conducive for outcomes. First and foremost, aligning budgets to these outcomes will require outlays to fully cover the office or operating expenses of the police station. It is estimated that office or operation costs for running a police station in an urban area are around Rs5–6 lakhs per year, while the figure for rural areas is between Rs4-5 lakh per year. This cost estimate covers expenses on any item of miscellaneous nature, such as stationery, translations, etc., while performing police duty.
The second input to achieve these outcomes is to build capacity within the police.
This may be through focused training to keep pace with the changing nature of crime and prevention techniques, or the creation of IT infrastructure for tracking cases to tackle delays due to mounting pendency.
It will also require investment in management techniques, soft skills, new technology, and building of databases to allow for seamless access to information, among other heads.
A dynamic process of evaluating the needs of effective policing, and aligning the budgets accordingly is an important step towards achieving a well-functioning police
Q. 284. Waste to Energy
The high volatility in fuel prices in the recent past and the resulting turbulence in energy markets has compelled many countries to look for alternate sources of energy, for both economic and environmental reasons.
With growing public awareness about sanitation, and with increasing pressure on the government and urban local bodies to manage waste more efficiently, the Indian waste to energy sector is poised to grow at a rapid pace in the years to come. The dual pressing needs of waste management and reliable renewable energy source are creating attractive opportunities for investors and project developers in the waste to energy sector.
Why Waste to Energy?
Most wastes that are generated find their way into land and water bodies without proper treatment, causing severe water and air pollution. The problems caused by solid and liquid wastes can be significantly mitigated through the adoption of environment-friendly waste to energy technologies that will allow treatment and processing of wastes before their disposal.
The environmental benefits of waste to energy, as an alternative to disposing of waste in landfills, are clear and compelling. Waste to energy generates clean, reliable energy from a renewable fuel source, thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels, the combustion of which is a major contributor to GHG emissions.
These measures would reduce the quantity of wastes, generate a substantial quantity of energy from them, and greatly reduce pollution of water and air, thereby offering a number of social and economic benefits that cannot easily be quantified.
In addition to energy generation, waste-to-energy can fetch significant monetary benefits. Some of the strategic and financial benefits from waste-to-energy business are: 1. Profitability - If the right technology is employed with optimal processes and all components of waste are used to derive value, waste to energy could be a profitable business. When government incentives are factored in, the attractiveness of the business increases further. 2. Government Incentives - The government of India already provides significant incentives for waste to energy projects, in the form of capital subsidies and feed in tariffs. With concerns on climate change, waste management and sanitation on the increase (a result of this increasing concern is the newly formed ministry exclusively for Drinking Water and Sanitation), the government incentives for this sector is only set to increase in future. 3. Related Opportunities - Success in municipal solid waste management could lead to opportunities in other waste such as sewage waste, industrial waste and hazardous waste. Depending on the technology/route used for energy recovery, eco-friendly and “green” co-products such as charcoal, compost, nutrient rich digestate (a fertilizer) or bio-oil can be obtained. These co-product opportunities will enable the enterprise to expand into these related products, demand for which are increasing all the time. 4. Emerging Opportunities - With distributed waste management and waste to energy becoming important priorities, opportunities exist for companies to provide support services like turnkey solutions. In addition, waste to energy opportunities exist not just in India but all over the world. Thus, there could be significant international expansion possibilities for Indian companies, especially expansion into other Asian countries.
MNRE(Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) has promoted the national programme for the recovery of energy from industrial and urban wastes. Since this programme seeks to promote setting up of waste-to-energy plants, various financial incentives and other eligibility criteria have been proposed by the MNRE to encourage the participation in waste-to-energy projects.
These are listed below:
Financial assistance is provided by way of interest subsidy for commercial projects
Financial assistance is provided on the capital cost for demonstration projects that are innovative in terms of generation of power from municipal/ industrial wastes
Financial assistance is provided for power generation in STPs
Financial incentives are given to municipal corporations for supplying garbage free of cost at the project site and for providing land
Incentives are given to the state nodal agencies for promotion, co-ordination and monitoring of such projects
Financial assistance is given for carrying out studies on waste to energy projects, covering full costs of such studies
Assistance is given in terms of training courses, workshops and seminars and awareness generation
Basic Techniques of Energy Recovery from Waste
Energy can be recovered from the organic fraction of waste (biodegradable as well as non-biodegradable) through thermal, thermo-chemical and biochemical methods.
A brief description of the commonly applied technologies for energy generation from waste is as follows
Anaerobic Digestion/ Biomethanation: In this process, the organic fraction of the waste is segregated and fed into a closed container (biogas digester). In the digester, the segregated waste undergoes biodegradation in presence of methanogenic bacteria and under anaerobic conditions, producing methane-rich biogas and effluent. The biogas can be used either for cooking/heating applications, or for generating motive power or electricity through dual-fuel or gas engines, low-pressure gas turbines, or steam turbines. The sludge from anaerobic digestion, after stabilization, can be used as a soil conditioner. It can even be sold as manure depending upon its composition, which is determined mainly by the composition of the input waste.
Combustion/Incineration: In this process, wastes are directly burned in presence of excess air (oxygen) at high temperatures (about 800°C), liberating heat energy, inert gases, and ash. Combustion results in transfer of 65%–80% of heat content of the organic matter to hot air, steam, and hot water. The steam generated, in turn, can be used in steam turbines to generate power.
Pyrolysis/Gasification: is a process of chemical decomposition of organic matter brought about by heat. In this process, the organic material is heated in absence of air until the molecules thermally break down to become a gas comprising smaller molecules (known collectively as syngas). Gasification can also take place as a result of partial combustion of organic matter in presence of a restricted quantity of oxygen or air. The gas so produced is known as producer gas. The gases produced by pyrolysis mainly comprise carbon monoxide (25%), hydrogen and hydrocarbons (15%), and carbon dioxide and nitrogen (60%). The next step is to ‘clean’ the syngas or producer gas. Thereafter, the gas is burned in internal combustion (IC) engine generator sets or turbines to produce electricity.
Landfill Gas recovery: The waste dumped in a landfill becomes subjected, over a period of time, to anaerobic conditions. As a result, its organic fraction slowly volatilizes and decomposes, leading to production of ‘landfill gas’, which contains a high percentage of methane (about 50%). It can be used as a source of energy either for direct heating/cooking applications or to generate power through IC engines or turbines.
Q. 283. Governors in Indian states: A colonial imprint
It is surprising to note that our Constitution is eerily silent on the manner of appointment of chief ministers by the governor when there is no clear majority by any of the contesting political parties.
Equally overwhelming is its silence on the conduct of floor tests in assembly/Parliament.
These deafening silences give the governors unyielding powers, the reasons for which can be found in the troubled history of colonial India, a flawed Constituent Assembly and the quasi-federal nature of the Indian Constitution.
Governors in British India and the Government of India Act, 1935
Ivor Jennings, observed that all Constitutions are the heirs of the past as well as the testators of the future. According to him, this can be best summed up by using the language of Roman-Dutch law i.e., every generation is bound by fideicommissa (an arrangement similar to a trust by which a testator gave property to a person for the benefit of another who could not, by law, inherit property).
Similarly, our Constitution is primarily based on the Government of India Act, 1935 (“GoI Act, 1935”). However, the GoI Act, 1935 was a bad precedent for the Constitution of an independent country. Jennings rightly opines that the recurring motif under the GoI Act, 1935 was whether a power was to be in British or Indian hands and, if the hands were to be Indian, whether they were to be tied closely or left comparatively free.
Section 49 of the GoI Act, 1935, stated that the executive authority of a province shall be exercised on behalf of His Majesty (George V) by the governor. This is a clear example of federal principle in the constitution wherein the provinces derive their power directly from the sovereign and not from the central government as its agent or delegate.
Relationship between a governor and his ministers: in the ordinary exercise of his constitutional discretion, a governor is unquestionably competent to reject the advice of his ministers, whenever that advice seem to him to be adverse to the public welfare or of an injurious tendency. In such a contingency, if no compromise was possible, either the resignation or the dismissal of ministers must ensue. Thus, before the Constituent Assembly started its work on the Indian Constitution, the existing system had a well-established institution of governors in the provinces who were directly answerable to the King of UK.
In other words, the British administration had provided a strong working machine in each of the provinces and it was, understandably, impossible for the Indian leaders to start afresh when the provinces became states under the Union of India.
Constituent Assembly Debates
Article 164 of the Constitution provides that the chief minister shall be appointed by the governor. It reads as follows: “The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. …”
Article 164 was based on section 51 of the GoI Act 1935. Section 51(1) of the GoI Act 1935 reads as follows: “(1) The Governor’s ministers shall be chosen and summoned by him, shall be sworn as members of the Council, and shall hold office during his pleasure. …”
The debates on this provision happened on June 1, 1949. It is indeed surprising to note that the members of the Constituent Assembly chose to focus on two points and completely missed the elephant in the room.
The debates centred around the following two topics:
the need to include a provision mandating all ministers to disclose all or any of their interests, shares etc., in any enterprise, business, trade or industry; and
reservation of tribal members in the cabinet.
It is also pertinent to note that the whole set of articles relating to state governments were passed in a hurry in one day.
In Role of State Governor in India, K.V. Rao, an eminent political scientist, says that the whole structure of the Constitution in this regard was designed in such a way as if the Congress and its then high command would be in power for a long time.
Having experienced the British administration’s federal set-up in India, the Congress party clearly knew the worth of having a strong centre with distributed legislative powers to its units. The quasi-federal nature of the Constitution allows the centre to control the constituting units: the fact that the Union can change boundaries of any state without obtaining their permission is one such example of quasi-federal nature of the Indian Constitution.
As rightly pointed out by eminent scholar H.M. Seervai in Constitutional Law of India, it was only after the defeat of the Congress party in some states in the 1967 elections that problems arose as to the exercise of power of the governor in forming ministry. The problem was complicated by a large number of “independent” candidates and none of the other parties securing a clear majority.
The fact that the governor holds his office during the pleasure of the President who is bound by the advice of the council of ministers at the centre, makes the “discretion” of the governor to appoint the chief minister a mere farce.
It is not a mere coincidence that we have very vague provisions with respect to the exercise of powers by the governor.
The lackadaisical approach by the Constituent Assembly while discussing provisions relating to the state executive clearly shows the intent of the system—a powerful centre with weak units.
Q. 282. Indo-Russian venture for 200 copters
The long-pending joint venture between India and Russia to manufacture 200 Kamov-226T light-utility helicopters for around $1 billion (over Rs 6,500 crore) is now finally set to kick off.
The JV is between defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics and Russian companies.
Overall, the armed forces urgently need 484 light choppers to replace their obsolete single-engine Cheetah Chetak fleets.
Under the agreement, the first 60 choppers will come from Russia, while the rest will be manufactured in India over nine years.
The twin-engine Kamov-226Ts are multi-role helicopters.
It can undertake reconnaissance, patrol and disaster relief operations as well as transport eight combat-ready soldiers with a maximum range of 600-km.
Q. 281. Wildlife Crime Control Bureau
The Wild Life Crime Control Bureau has been created under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The mandate includes collection, collation of intelligence and its dissemination, establishment of a centralized Wild Life crime databank , coordination of the actions of various enforcement authorities towards the implementation of the provisions of the Act, implementation of the international Conventions, capacity building for scientific and professional investigation, assistance to authorities in other countries for a coordinated universal action towards control of Wild Life crime and to advise the government on various policy and legal requirements. Central Zoo Authority
The Central Zoo Authority was created by the Central Government through an amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act in the year 1992. The main objective was to enforce certain minimum standards and norms for upkeep and health care of animals in Zoos and to restrain mushrooming of unplanned and ill-conceived Zoos that were cropping up as adjuncts to public parks, industrial complex and highways.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoological Park was set up on 1st November 1959 as per the decision taken in the 1st Meeting of the Indian Board for Wild Life in 1952. It is being directly managed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Wildlife Institute of India
Wildlife Institute of India was established in 1982 as an attached office of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Subsequently, it was granted autonomous status in 1986. The institute is mandated by Government of India to carry out research on various aspects on Wild Life conservation, conduct training programmes for capacity building of Wild Life managers, build up repository of knowledge of Wild Life and provide technical and advisory services to the State and Central Governments in the country.
Q. 280. New Zealand river recognised as living entity
A river in New Zealand has become the first in the world to be recognised as a living entity with the legal status of a person after a 170-year battle by the local Maori people.
The nation’s parliament passed a bill to allow Whanganui River –known by the Maoris as Te Awa Tupua - to represent its own interests and advocate on its own behalf.
The third-largest river in New Zealand, the Whanganui runs approximately 321 km from the interior mountains in the Hawkes Bay region of northern New Zealand, south until it merges with the Tasman Sea.
It will be represented by two nominees - one appointed by the Maori community, or Iwi, and one appointed by the government.
The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.
The approach of granting legal personality to a river is unique. Te Awa Tupua will have its own legal identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.
While the Whanganui is the first river in the world to be granted personhood, it follows the former Te Urewera national park in New Zealand, which was granted the same status in 2014 through the Te Urewera Act.
The local community has fought for recognition of its relationship with the river since the 1850s, including a legal battle that has lasted about 80 years and has been the longest-running litigation in New Zealand’s history.
The parliament’s bill will end the battle and includes £45 million as financial redress and £17 million for a fund to protect the river.
In the precolonial era, the Whanganui River was a vital communication route for Maori people and it navigability attracted large-scale settlement in the Whanganui River valley. When colonists arrived, it was the most densely populated part of what is today called the North Island. For these reasons, the area is rich in Maori history and culture.
Q. 279. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) is a simple graphical indicator that can be used to assess whether the target being observed contains live green vegetation or not.
In an effort to monitor major fluctuations in vegetation and understand how they affect the environment, 35 years ago Earth scientists began using satellite remote sensors to measure and map the density of green vegetation over the Earth.
By carefully measuring the wavelengths and intensity of visible and near-infrared light reflected by the land surface back up into space, scientists use an algorithm called a "Vegetation Index" to quantify the concentrations of green leaf vegetation around the globe.
When sunlight strikes objects, certain wavelengths of visible and near-infraredare absorbed and other wavelengths are reflected. The pigment in plant leaves, chlorophyll, strongly absorbs visible light (from 0.4 to 0.7 µm) for use in photosynthesis. The cell structure of the leaves, on the other hand, strongly reflects near-infrared light (from 0.7 to 1.1 µm). The more leaves a plant has, the more these wavelengths of light are affected, respectively.
Scientists create detailed maps of the Earth’s green vegetation density that identify where plants are thriving and where they are under stress (i.e., due to lack of water).
Q. 278. Startup definition enlarged
Ans. Government has enlarged the definition of what constitutes a startup to a venture that's as much as seven years old from five now, relaxed the norms for tax benefits and included employment generation potential to give a big push to job creation and entrepreneurship. That's to account for the longer gestation period for companies in the sector.
These changes are an effort to ensure ease of starting up new businesses to promote the startup ecosystem and build a nation of job creators instead of job seekers.
The Startup India initiative launched in January 2016 offered incentives to such ventures to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
The government has also eased norms for getting income tax benefits available under the Startup India programme.
The new definition will allow more startups to avail tax benefits announced in the action plan last year. Startups won't have to furnish a letter of recommendation from an incubator or industry association to be eligible for the tax benefits and recognition under Startup India.
Companies incorporated after March 31, 2016, could avail of a three-year tax holiday in the first seven years of their existence as part of the incentives announced for the upcoming firms.
The definition's scope has been broadened to include scalability of business models with the potential of employment generation or wealth creation.
One of the main thrusts of the Startup India programme was to create employment opportunities for the country's youth, but that hadn't been included in the definition at the time.
Q. 277. Plastic raises breast cancer risk
A chemical commonly found in hard plastics, currency bills and paper receipts, may increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer.
Bisphenol S (BPS) may increase the aggressiveness of breast cancer as it is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, researchers say.
Most breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive and, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, 55 to 65 % of women who inherit a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene will develop breast cancer.
Q. 276. What should the government do to get the most out of GST?
The GST will greatly improve a fractured tax system and help create an integrated Indian market. But to make the most of this bold innovation, the government has a lot more work to do.
Current tax system
Under the current tax system, different states impose separate levies as goods move across the country.
Truckers spend hours idling at internal borders, filling out forms and awaiting inspection.
Small and medium-sized companies prefer not to grow rather than have to deal with the administrative burden of becoming national enterprises.
Compared to this, even a less-than-perfect GST would be an improvement.
More work ahead
Unfortunately, the GST in prospect is further from perfect than the government had hoped. Delhi needs the support of individual states to implement the new tax.
To gain it, officials have settled on a complex structure with at least four different brackets (five if we include zero-rated staples), as well as an additional levy on sin and luxury goods.
Resorting to multiple rates sacrifices some of the GST’s economic benefit. It would have been better to follow the example of many other countries around the world, which collect a tax of the same kind—a so-called value-added tax—using a single rate applied to a virtually all goods.
The added complications will weigh especially heavily on India. They’ll be gamed by firms and consumers used to navigating bureaucratic mazes. That will make it harder, in turn, to thin the bureaucrats’ teeming ranks, which ought to have been a high priority. The burden of compliance will be lightened, but less than it could have been.
So once the GST is in place, the government should keep working toward its original goal of having only one or two rates, with as few exemptions and as little paperwork as possible. To make the reform stick, and to build support for other initiatives, India needs to see the benefits of the GST as clearly and as quickly as possible. A simpler system would yield better results in short order, and serve over time as a more powerful spur to economic growth. The new GST, imperfect as it may be, will be a great step forward for India.
Q. 275. India is not moving to counterforce doctrine
India's "minimum credible nuclear deterrence" doctrine and "no first use" policy are based on the concept of deterrence by denial, rather than deterrence by punishment. Should deterrence ever break down, India will have to pay an enormous price for a nuclear first strike by an adversary before launching massive punitive retaliation. Nuclear doctrine has to be ultimately tested in the crucible of operational reality. Across the entire spectrum of conventional conflict, the first use of nuclear weapons by India does not make sound strategic sense. The real distinguishing feature of India's nuclear doctrine is that it is anchored in India's continued commitment to global, verifiable and non-discriminating nuclear disarmament.
The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the costs to him of seeking a military solution to his political problems will far outweigh the benefits. The object of reassurance is to persuade one's own people, and those of one's allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.
However, lately there has been a lot of speculation on India’s nuclear doctrine. There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first. India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full comprehensive counterforce strike that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons.
BMD and MIRV
The pieces of evidence cited for this claim are: India’s focus on developing highly accurate missiles, acceleration of ballistic missile defence (BMD) and the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (Mirv) capabilities for its missiles. None of these moves sufficiently explains a possible change in India’s nuclear doctrine.
First, the development of accurate missiles is being undertaken as India’s yield of nuclear weapons is 15-20KT (kilotons) for its fission warheads and 250KT for thermonuclear warheads. The destruction caused by nuclear warheads goes down exponentially as the distance increases from the centre of the blast, hence the move towards improving the accuracy of weapon delivery systems.
Second, BMD is a defensive mechanism aimed at neutralizing a nuclear attack rather than conducting a counterforce first strike. A BMD forces the enemy to reassess the number of warheads it requires for destroying a target. This imposes costs in terms of producing more warheads, delivery platforms, and the cost of maintaining and securing them.
Finally, India is developing Mirvs not for first strike but to retain a credible second strike option if India loses some of its missiles to an enemy first strike. For example, if India has 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with 6 Mirvs, and 30% of them are taken out by an enemy in a first strike, India will still be left with sufficient missiles and warheads to strike back and impose unacceptable damage on the enemy.
Moreover, a counterforce strike is a lot more complex and taxing than both first use and second strike. First use may be on counter value and/or counterforce targets or ones that overlap and it may not be a surprise or a pre-emptive strike. On the other hand, a counterforce strike is a surprise nuclear blitz on the enemy’s missiles, C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence), military infrastructure and war- fighting capabilities. It requires a large number of warheads, missiles, accurate and round-the-clock intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (Istar).
The enormity of the task to track hundreds of road mobile missiles and other military targets can be gauged from the fact that after the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, the Indian Air Force was ready to strike Pakistan, but did not have the precise targeting coordinates of terrorist camps and other relevant targets.
India Vs Pak Nukes
The current estimate of India’s nuclear arsenal, based on Western think tanks, is about 100-120 warheads, which, according to some experts, is not good enough for a minimum credible deterrence, let alone a counterforce first strike to disarm Pakistan. Most importantly, the financial cost of a first strike doctrine will be prohibitive for India.
What needs to be remembered is that Pakistani missiles are road mobile on transporter erector launchers (TEL). Conventional missiles can take them out if the need arises; there is no need for nuclear missiles to accomplish this task. The US and USSR made megaton warheads for counterforce strike because they had missiles in hardened silos.
If India has precise intelligence on Pakistani TELs, it can quickly take them out using Brahmos missiles which travel at three times the speed of sound or any other conventional munition.
If Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) even on its soil on Indian troops, India, according to its stated doctrine, will undertake massive retaliation, which was thought to be countervalue strikes on Pakistani cities. Recently, this has been misinterpreted by some analysts as a counterforce first strike. India using nuclear weapons after Pakistan’s use of TNW will not be a first strike but a retaliatory strike. India would be free to take out Pakistani targets like the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi, which is an example of an overlapping counterforce and countervalue target.
The talk of counterforce first strike is destabilizing and dangerous. Instead of deterrence, it moves to the realm of fighting a nuclear war and trying to win it. It means hundreds if not thousands of warheads on hair-trigger alert and the risks that come with it.
Any signalling to India’s adversaries that India is moving to a counterforce first strike doctrine will make them take countermeasures and increase their own arsenal and look to strike India first, leading to a destabilizing chain reaction. The assumption that India is moving towards a counterforce first strike doctrine and the evidence cited for it are on weak ground. While India’s doctrine needs a revision to be in tune with current strategic realities, the claims that it is moving to a counterforce first strike are erroneous.
Q. 274. Graphene sieve could make seawater drinkable
Researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a graphene-based sieve that can filter salt out of seawater, a development that could provide drinking water to millions of people around the globe.
The applications could be a game-changer in countries where access to safe, clean, drinkable water is severely limited.
Graphene -- an ultra-thin sheet of carbon atoms organized in a hexagonal lattice -- was first identified at the University of Manchester in 2002 and has since been hailed as a "wonder material," with scientists racing to develop inexpensive graphene-based barriers for desalination on an industrial scale. Overcoming hurdles
In recent years, there had been some success in water filtration using graphene oxide to sift out other smaller nanoparticles and organic molecules.
But researchers had struggled to move forward after finding that the membrane's pores would swell up when immersed in water, allowing particles to continue to pass through.
Now, the team at Manchester has used a compound of graphene, known as graphene oxide, to create a rigid sieve that could filter out salt using less energy.
Boosting global access to water is critical.
By 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer from water scarcity, the United Nations predicts.
In addition, climate change is expected to wreak havoc on urban water supplies, with decreased rainfall and rising temperatures expected to fuel demand.
Cities have been investing heavily in diversifying their water supplies, including developing new desalination technologies to make seawater potable. But existing, industrial-scale desalination plants can be costly and normally involve one of two methods: distillation through thermal energy, or filtration of salt from water using polymer-based membranes.
These techniques have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who argue they involve large amounts of energy, produce greenhouse gases and can be harm marine organisms.
Q. 273. How GST is about pooling sovereignty and promoting federalism?
29 March 2017 must be recorded as one of the most significant days in the history of federalism in India. By passing the four bills relating to different aspects of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Lok Sabha has, perhaps for the first time put limitations on its own powers, in the interest of federalism, and signed off on a pooling of sovereignty in taxation matters with 32 state and Union territory legislatures.
In turn, over the next couple of months all the state legislatures will share their powers of taxation. In the process of sharing and jointly exercising the powers to tax, the GST Council will be born as India’s first truly federal institution.
Neither the Parliament on its own nor the state legislatures individually or jointly can override the collective recommendations of the GST Council. In other words, the GST regime has created an institutional and Constitutional framework for cooperative federalism in the arena of indirect taxation.
In the GST regime, the Union and the states will be vested with concurrent powers to levy GST on intra-state supply of goods and services and the union will be vested with the exclusive power to levy GST on the supply of goods and services in the course of inter-state trade or commerce which includes supply in the course of imports into the territory of India.
There will be a State GST (SGST) and a Central GST (CGST) for intra-state supplies and an Integrated GST (IGST) for inter-state supplies. There will be separate laws for imposing these levies.
SGST Act has to be enacted by each state and CGST Act and IGST Act has to be enacted by the Parliament. Since CGST and SGST will be levied on the same tax base it is essential that the provisions of these laws should be similar so as to have harmony in the working of the system.
Moreover, the IGST will have forward and backward linkage with CGST and SGST for Input Tax Credit (ITC), the laws dealing with these taxes will have provisions that will ensure a seamless and effective ITC mechanism.
Although GST is perceived as a levy formed by subsuming all taxes and duties on goods and services, in the proposed regime, taxes on petroleum products and alcohol have been kept out of the GST net.
As passed by the Parliament, the law doesn’t extend to Jammu & Kashmir. In the above backdrop it follows that the implementation of the GST regime for Jammu and Kashmir would be different. The state legislature will consider the enactment of legislation on the subject in which the state would make provisions in sync with the GST regime, applicable to all the other states. The components of GST would be levied by the state itself under the proposed legislation, which would be analogous to the statutory framework proposed by the Union of India.
To conclude, having created an institutional and constitutional framework for cooperative federalism, the task ahead is to create and extend a similar framework in other arenas of fiscal federalism. This could be started by rejuvenating the Inter State Council, which is a Constitutional body set up on the basis of provisions in Article 263 of the Constitution. The body was formed by a Presidential Order on recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission. It is the Council’s mandate to discuss all manner of policies, and subjects of common interest.
Q. 272. Why India needs a new logistics network
One of the central promises of the new goods and services tax (GST) that is set to be rolled out in July is that it will allow companies to restructure their supply chains once the domestic market is truly integrated. It is hard to see how the production structure can be improved radically unless India builds a new logistics network to allow inputs, components and finished goods to move across the country seamlessly. The success of the flagship Make in India programme is also critically dependent on a modern logistics network.
An effective multi-modal logistics and transport sector will make our economy more competitive. A specific programme for development of multi-modal logistics parks, together with multi-modal transport facilities, will be drawn up and implemented. This programme—aims to shift from India’s current point-to-point logistics model to a hub-and-spoke model. This will entail setting up 35 multi-modal logistics parks at a cost of Rs50,000 crore, developing 50 economic corridors and inviting investment from the states and private sector. Crucially, this will all be done with an integrated approach that will utilize railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to create a transportation grid that covers the country.
One, efficient transportation and logistics are important for boosting India’s competitiveness. They reduce transport time and costs, of course—but they also reduce cost of production by minimizing the need for large inventories. This means less capital required for warehouses, insurance and the like.
Second, while the conventional view of demand in the logistics sector states that it is derived demand, growth in transport and logistics enterprises can create markets for other goods.
Third, efficient logistics networks can reduce divergence in regional growth.
Fourth, inter-state trade flows in India stand at a healthy 54% of GDP. Reducing friction via improved logistics could boost this.
And lastly, while the demand for transport grew at around 10% annually in the 1990s, it has accelerated since. Failing to keep pace will hamstring everything from the manufacturing push and attempts to boost farmer earnings to the benefits of urban agglomeration economies.
The main hurdle so far has been that India’s logistics and transport sector has developed in silos. This has resulted in overly complex regulation and administrative procedures as well as missing modal links and an inefficient modal mix. As of 2008, the mix was 50% of total freight flow via roads, 36% by rail, 7.5% by pipelines, 6% by coastal shipping, 0.2% by inland waterways and 0.01% by airways. The ratios may have shifted somewhat since then but they are unlikely to have changed substantially. This is a pity: Transport by rail and inland waterways is far more cost- and time-efficient than transport by roads, for instance, and should account for high proportions of the freight flow.
Integrated policy is thus essential, pulling together the planned road and rail dedicated freight corridors and suggesting a solution to the long-running lack of last-mile connectivity for India’s ports. It also offers more scope for boosting the use of technology than development in silos would. Containerization, for instance—shipping freight across modes in standard containers—would enable live tracking via chipped containers. This in turn would enable greater security and predictability, as well as providing the granular data that is important for business projections and policymaking alike. This is an opportunity for states to compete for hosting the logistics hubs and reaping the economic benefits.
Q. 271. Why a Data protection law is necessary for India?
Recently, the government made it mandatory to link Aadhaar numbers to tax returns and set itself a target of one year within which it would link all mobile numbers to the Aadhaar database. While the Supreme Court agreed to refer these issues to a larger bench, it seemed happy to let the government continue to incorporate Aadhaar into all aspects of our lives.
Perhaps in anticipation of these events, a number of academic papers have been published recently, agitating the need for a privacy legislation. They have broadly suggested the enactment of a law along the lines of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) data protection principles articulated in the 1980s—that personal data is the property of the data subject and cannot be used without his consent.
Most privacy laws have been built on this model and if we go down this path, our law will be consistent with global practice. However, if we make consent the cornerstone of our privacy jurisprudence, we will have taken a conscious decision to place upon the data subject, the burden of determining whether or not the use of personal data for a particular purpose is in his interest. In our present data-intensive world, this is a question the data subject is ill-equipped to answer.
Today data is collected, processed and transferred in more ways than can be comprehensively enumerated.
Our online activity is logged; our financial transactions tracked and correlated against location, age and time of day; and our physical activity measured using wearable and other smart devices.
All this data is stored in the cloud and is easily accessible through application program interfaces (APIs) for further processing.
Databases are designed to interconnect with each other and use deep learning algorithms to find patterns in ways that even the best data scientists will struggle to understand. Providing meaningful informed consent under these circumstances is impossible.
Role of Data controller
The one person in the data processing workflow, who might have visibility into the possible outcomes of data processing is the organization collecting the data—the data controller.
It knows what the data will be used for, as well as the algorithms through which the data will be processed.
It is best equipped to assess the possible consequences—both intended and unintended—of its use.
More importantly, it has the ability to consciously determine the outcome of the data processing.
It makes more sense to hold the data controller accountable for ensuring that no harm befalls the data subject than use poorly informed consent provided by the data subject as a licence to process.
There could be situations where the commercial interests of the data controller run contrary to those of the data subject. Take, for example, the use of financial information to assess creditworthiness. If the data controller is required to focus solely on promoting the interest of the data subject, it will only consider information that establishes a favourable credit rating. Doing so would run contrary to the commercial interests of the data controller whose business depends on lending only to those borrowers who can repay. In such circumstances the fiduciary responsibility of the data controller should extend to ensuring that the data in its possession is processed in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. And that it does not use other extraneous facts in its possession to unfairly discriminate against the data subject.
In a way, it is a blessing that India took its time to enact a data protection law. Without the baggage of a consent-based privacy jurisprudence, we have the freedom to enact a law that is appropriate to our data-intensive world. While the rest of the world is struggling to redesign their laws that are based on a data protection model conceived of in the 1980s when data volumes were a mere trickle compared to today, India has the opportunity to build, from scratch, a forward thinking privacy framework that can address the current reality and can serve as a model for the rest of the world.
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