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18 May 2024 : Daily Current Affairs

1. Kudumbashree example of Kerala’s social progress: CM

Topic: GS2 –  Governance

GS2 – Social Justice

Context
● On the 26th anniversary of the Kudumbashree Mission, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan praised it as a model of women empowerment.

● He highlighted mission’s evolution from local women’s enterprises to providing legal help, loans, and participating in disaster relief, significantly impacting Kerala’s social landscape.

 Analysis of the news:

  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan highlighted the Kudumbashree Mission’s role in social progress on its 26th anniversary.
  • Kudumbashree is celebrated as a model of organized women empowerment, benefiting society and promoting dignified living for women.
  • Established in 1998, the mission now includes 46.16 lakh members across three lakh neighborhood groups.
  • Initially focused on forming women’s enterprises, Kudumbashree has evolved into a catalyst for social change in Kerala.
  • Its interventions now extend to providing legal assistance, counseling, loans, and engaging in cultural activities.
  • Kudumbashree is also active in disaster relief and rescue operations.
  • The mission’s Janakeeya hotels have gained widespread acceptance.
  • Haritha Karma Sena, part of Kudumbashree, is involved in waste collection efforts.
  • Through these diverse activities, Kudumbashree has significantly impacted Kerala’s social life, demonstrating the power of collective women empowerment.
Kudumbashree Mission:
Establishment: Kudumbashree Mission was launched in 1998 by the Government of Kerala with the aim of eradicating poverty through women empowerment and community development.

Structure: It operates through a three-tier system: Neighborhood Groups (NHGs), Area Development Societies (ADS), and Community Development Societies (CDS), ensuring grassroots participation.

Women Empowerment: Kudumbashree focuses on empowering women by providing them with opportunities for entrepreneurship, skill development, and financial inclusion.

Microfinance: The mission facilitates microfinance activities, enabling women to access credit and savings services, thereby promoting economic independence.

Livelihood Initiatives: Kudumbashree supports various livelihood initiatives, including agriculture, animal husbandry, small-scale industries, and services, enhancing income generation.

Social Development: It addresses social issues such as health, education, sanitation, and housing, contributing to overall community well-being.

Government Collaboration: Kudumbashree works in collaboration with local self-governments and other governmental and non-governmental agencies to implement development programs effectively.

Recognition: The mission has received national and international acclaim for its successful model of women-led development and poverty eradication.

PYQ: The Self-Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Programme (SBLP), which is India’s own innovaSon, has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programmes. Elucidate. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2015)
Practice Question:  Examine the impact of the Kudumbashree Mission on women empowerment and social development in Kerala.  (150 Words /10 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 3)

2. Manufacturing in India needs more sophistication: FM

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy
Context
●  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, at the CII business summit, emphasised boosting Indian manufacturing sophistication with policy support, highlighting investment interests from U.S. and European firms.

●  She projected significant market growth by 2031 and stressed the role of skilling and stable policies in driving economic development.

 Analysis of the news:

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized the need for greater sophistication in Indian manufacturing and pledged policy support to boost the sector.
  • She dismissed advice from some economists suggesting India should not focus on increasing manufacturing.
  • Sitharaman highlighted that increasing manufacturing and participation in global value chains will enhance India’s self-reliance.
  • Citing a Capgemini Research Institute report, she noted that 65% of senior executives in the U.S. and Europe plan to increase manufacturing investments in India to reduce reliance on China.
  • At the annual CII business summit, Sitharaman referenced an S&P Global Market Intelligence report, predicting trillions of dollars in opportunities in the Indian market by 2031.
  • The consumer market is expected to double, presenting a $2.9 trillion opportunity, with significant growth in spending on food ($1.4 trillion) and financial services ($670 billion).
  • The Minister emphasized the importance of ramping up skilling in India to leverage the demographic dividend and low dependency ratio for increased consumption.
  • She attributed India’s consistent high growth to policy stability, absence of flip-flops, and corruption-free decision-making.
  • Sitharaman assured that the government views the private sector as a development partner and facilitator.
Why does manufacturing in India needs more sophistication?
Need for Manufacturing Sophistication in India:

Global Competitiveness: To compete effectively in the global market, Indian manufacturing needs to move up the value chain and produce higher value-added products.

●  Employment Generation: Sophisticated manufacturing sectors offer opportunities for skilled employment, contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction.

Technology Adoption: Embracing advanced manufacturing technologies improves productivity, efficiency, and product quality, fostering innovation and competitiveness.

Trade Balance: Sophisticated manufacturing can help reduce India’s reliance on imports by producing domestically what is currently imported, thus improving the trade balance.

Attracting Investment: A sophisticated manufacturing ecosystem attracts foreign direct investment (FDI) by offering a skilled workforce, advanced infrastructure, and favourable business environment.

Challenges Facing Manufacturing Sophistication in India:

Infrastructure Deficiencies: Inadequate infrastructure, including power, transportation, and logistics, hampers the growth of sophisticated manufacturing.

Skill Gap: Shortage of skilled labour and a lack of access to quality technical education hinder the adoption of advanced manufacturing practices.

Regulatory Burden: Complex regulatory procedures, bureaucratic red tape, and rigid labour laws impede the ease of doing business and discourage investment.

Access to Finance: Limited access to affordable finance, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), constraints investment in modern technology and equipment.

Innovation Ecosystem: Weak innovation ecosystem, including research and development (R&D) infrastructure and intellectual property protection, stifles innovation and technology development.

Way Forward for Manufacturing Sophistication in India:

Investment in Infrastructure: Prioritise investment in infrastructure development to improve connectivity, logistics, and power supply.

Skill Development: Implement skill development programs and vocational training initiatives to bridge the skill gap and enhance workforce productivity.

●  Policy Reforms: Streamline regulatory processes, simplify compliance requirements, and enact labour reforms to improve the ease of doing business.

●  Technology Adoption: Encourage technology adoption and innovation through incentives, subsidies, and collaborations with research institutions and industry.

Access to Finance: Facilitate access to finance for manufacturing enterprises through initiatives such as credit guarantee schemes and venture capital funds.

Cluster Development: Promote the development of manufacturing clusters and industrial parks with specialised infrastructure and support services.

International Collaboration: Foster partnerships with global manufacturing leaders to facilitate technology transfer, knowledge exchange, and market access.

PYQ:

Q.1 Can the strategy of regional-resource based manufacturing help in promoting employment in India? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2019)

Q.2 Account for the failure of manufacturing sector in achieving the goal of labour-intensive exports rather than capital-intensive exports. Suggest measures for more labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive exports. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2017)

Practice Question:  Discuss the importance of policy support in enhancing the sophistication of Indian manufacturing and its potential impact on economic self-reliance and global value chains.  (250 Words /15 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 11)

3. ‘Creditors realised only 4% of claims under IBC process’

Topic: GS2 – Governance

GS3 – Indian Economy

Context
ICRA’s study reveals that while the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved a record number of resolution plans under the IBC in FY24, only 17% yielded results, with liquidation completing for 960 corporate debtors.

● The rise in the average duration of the resolution process is a concern.

Analysis of the news:

  • According to a study by ICRA, only 17% of cases yielded resolution plans post-National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admission as of March 31 under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC):
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC):

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016: India’s bankruptcy law consolidating and amending existing laws regarding insolvency and bankruptcy for corporate persons, partnership firms, and individuals.

Objectives: The primary objectives of IBC include expediting the resolution process, maximising the value of distressed assets, and promoting entrepreneurship and investment.

Key Features: IBC establishes a time-bound insolvency resolution process, introduces the concept of creditors’ committees, and provides for the establishment of insolvency professionals and adjudicating authorities.

Adjudicating Authorities: Adjudicating Authority: National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for companies and other entities, Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for individuals and partnership firms.

Amendments: Recent amendments include approval for sale of assets or resolution plans on segregated basis, increase in NCLT benches to 16, and extended timelines for filing claims.

Impact: IBC has led to significant improvements in India’s insolvency resolution framework, enhancing creditor rights protection, and fostering a more efficient and predictable business environment.

  • Liquidation for 960 corporate debtors was completed, with creditors realizing only 4% of their total admitted claims.
  • The NCLT approved a record 269 resolution plans in FY24, surpassing the previous year’s record of 189 cases.
  • However, the average duration of the resolution process has increased, raising concerns.
  • Creditor claims of ₹1.7 lakh crore were resolved through resolution plan approvals in FY24, with a haircut by lenders rising to 73% from 64%.
  • The average duration to close Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) rose to 843 days in FY24.
  • Liquidation orders continued to outpace resolution plans in closing CIRPs.
  • Abhishek Dafria of ICRA noted creditors’ continued approach to the NCLT with substantial delays in admitting defaulting debtors.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC):
Challenges Involved in IBC Implementation:

●  Operational Delays: Lengthy legal proceedings, administrative bottlenecks, and procedural delays hamper the timely resolution of insolvency cases.

Capacity Constraints: Limited capacity and infrastructure of insolvency professionals, tribunals, and other stakeholders pose challenges to the effective implementation of IBC.

Legal Interpretation: Ambiguities and inconsistencies in legal provisions and judicial interpretations complicate the resolution process and lead to uncertainty for stakeholders.

Haircuts and Recovery Rates: Haircuts incurred by creditors and low recovery rates in insolvency proceedings indicate inefficiencies in asset valuation and resolution mechanisms.

Fraudulent Practices: Instances of fraudulent transactions, preferential payments, and misconduct by debtors and stakeholders undermine the integrity of the insolvency resolution process.

Way Forward for IBC:

Capacity Building: Strengthening the capacity and infrastructure of insolvency professionals, tribunals, and regulatory bodies to expedite resolution proceedings.

Legal Clarity: Clarifying legal provisions and streamlining judicial interpretations to reduce ambiguity and promote consistency in insolvency resolution.

Transparency and Accountability: Enhancing transparency, accountability, and governance standards to prevent fraudulent practices and misconduct in insolvency proceedings.

Continuous Improvement: Periodic review and revision of IBC provisions to address emerging challenges, incorporate best practices, and adapt to evolving business environments.

Stakeholder Engagement: Engaging stakeholders, including creditors, debtors, insolvency professionals, and regulators, in the ongoing reform process to ensure inclusivity and effectiveness.

Expansion of Pre-Pack Resolutions: Extend pre-packaged insolvency resolution process (PPIRP) to large corporations to prevent value erosion due to time.

PYQ:

Q. Which of the following statements best describes the term ‘Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets (S4A)’, recently seen in the news? (UPSC civil services prelims 2017)

 

(a) It is a procedure for considering ecological costs of developmental schemes formulated by the Government.
(b) It is a scheme of RBI for reworking the financial structure of big corporate entities facing genuine difficulties.
(c) It is a disinvestment plan of the Government regarding Central Public Sector Undertakings.
(d) It is an important provision in ‘The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code’ recently implemented by the Government.

Ans: Option B

 

Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges faced in the implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) in India, citing recent trends and outcomes. (150 Words /10 marks)

(Source – The Hindu, International Edition – Page No. – 11)

4. Rising Orca Attacks on Boats in the Strait of Gibraltar: Causes and Concerns

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Conservation
Context:
  • On May 12, two individuals were rescued after a group of orcas, commonly known as killer whales, sank their 15-meter-long sailing yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, near the coast of Morocco.
  • The orcas approached the yacht, repeatedly slamming into the hull, which damaged the rudder and caused a leak, ultimately leading to the yacht’s sinking.
  • This incident is part of a worrying trend that has been observed in the region over the past few years.
Analysis of News:

Increasing Interactions: A Multinational Concern:

Rise in Incidents Since 2020

  • Data from the research group GT Atlantic Orca (GTOA) reveals that since 2020, there have been over 700 interactions between orcas and boats near the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • In many cases, these interactions have resulted in critical damage to the vessels.
  • The frequency of these incidents has turned the issue into a multinational concern, involving scientists and officials from Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, as highlighted by a report from The New York Times.

Unusual Behavior: The Search for Explanations:

  • Despite extensive research, scientists have yet to determine the exact reasons behind the orcas’ behavior.
  • This unusual targeting of boats by orcas has led researchers to propose two main theories: the animals are either playing or reacting to negative experiences with boats.

Theory 1: Orcas Are Playing Around:

Natural Curiosity and Playfulness

  • Orcas, part of the dolphin family, are highly intelligent and curious mammals. They can grow up to 8 meters in length and weigh up to 6 tonnes as adults.
  • Generally, orcas are not known to be aggressive towards humans in the wild, leading some scientists to believe that the orcas might be engaging in playful behavior.
  • This hypothesis suggests that the targeting of boats could be a form of play or a temporary fad initiated by one or two orca individuals and picked up by others.

Juvenile Behavior and Repetition:

  • Research indicates that juvenile orcas, like young children, tend to repeat new behaviors they learn.
  • Some young orcas might have learned to push boats and are now repeating this behavior.
  • Orca specialist mentioned that orcas are pushing the rudders until they break, describing it as a game for the orcas. They emphasized that if the orcas intended to wreck the boats, they could easily do so in a short time.

Theory 2: Orcas Are Reacting to Trauma:

Possible Traumatic Experiences

  • An alternative theory posits that a traumatic event involving one or two orcas may have triggered this behavior, which is now being imitated by other orcas in the population near the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • There have been instances where orcas have become entangled in fishing lines used by local fishermen.
  • Some scientists believe that a female orca, known as White Gladis, might have undergone a traumatic experience that altered her behavior, which then influenced the rest of the group.

Spread of Learned Behavior:

  • As per experts from GTOA, a traumatized orca likely initiated this behavior of physical contact with boats.
  • This theory suggests that negative interactions with humans or boats could have led to a change in behavior, which was then adopted by other orcas.

Implications and Conservation Concerns:

  • Regardless of the underlying cause, the increasing interactions between orcas and boats pose significant risks.
  • Researchers are concerned that if such incidents continue, they could endanger the lives of mariners and also become a conservation issue for the orcas.
  • Continuous targeting of boats by orcas could lead to harmful encounters for both humans and these intelligent marine mammals, necessitating urgent attention and solutions to mitigate these interactions.
About Orcas:
  • Orcas are found across the world and are also known as “killer whales”.
  • It is the largest member of the Delphinidae family, or dolphins.
  • Members of this family include all dolphin species, as well as other larger species, such as long-finned pilot whales and short-finned pilot whales, whose common names also contain “whale” instead of “dolphin”.
  • Killer whales are highly social, and most live in social groups called pods (groups of maternally related individuals seen together more than half the time).
  • Killer whales rely on underwater sound to feed, communicate, and navigate.

Southern Resident Killer Whales:

  • Southern Resident killer whales are the only endangered population of killer whales in the United States.
  • Despite federal legal protections for nearly two decades, the population of the orcas continues to decline and is critically endangered.
  • Only 75 Southern Resident Orcas now exist in the wild.
Practice Question:  Discuss the recent rise in interactions between orcas and boats in the Strait of Gibraltar, examining possible reasons for this behavior and its implications for both mariners and orca conservation. (250 words/15 m)

(Source: Indian Express; Section: Explained; Page: 14)

5. Supreme Court Calls for Safeguards in First Production and Remand Proceedings to Uphold Constitutional Rights

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Indian Constitution – Significant Provisions

GS2 – Polity – Judiciary

Context:
  • The Supreme Court recently ordered the release of jailed journalist Prabir Purkayastha, citing due process violations in his arrest and detention.
  • Purkayastha was detained without being informed of the grounds for his arrest or given the opportunity to consult legal counsel of his choice, contravening Article 22(1) of the Indian Constitution.
  • These violations highlight significant procedural lapses in the handling of his case.
Analysis of News:

Role of the Magistrate:

  • The judgment underscores the crucial role of magistrates in ensuring constitutional rights are upheld during the initial production and remand stages of the criminal process.
  • Article 22(2) mandates that every arrested individual must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.
  • This phase, known as “first production,” is essential for judicial oversight to ensure statutory and constitutional safeguards are enforced, preventing arbitrary detention.

Courtroom Dynamics:

  • An ethnographic study by Project 39A at National Law University Delhi examined the daily operations of magistrate courts in Delhi, revealing systemic issues that compromise the rights of the accused.
  • The study found that magistrates often focus on procedural compliance on paper rather than substantive engagement with the accused, which leads to superficial adherence to legal safeguards.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • Paperwork vs. Reality: The study highlighted that documents like the Arrest Memo and Medico-Legal Certificate (MLC) are often treated as formalities. These documents, intended to protect the accused from illegal detention and torture, may not accurately reflect their actual experiences. For example, Arrest Memos were sometimes completed in the courtroom just before the accused’s appearance, undermining their purpose.
  • Lack of Interaction: Magistrates rarely interacted meaningfully with the accused to verify their experiences and ensure their rights. This lack of engagement can result in violations being ignored or superficially corrected in paperwork without addressing the underlying issues.
  • Standardized Forms: There is no standardized format for crucial documents like the Arrest Memo and MLC, leading to inconsistent and incomplete information that hampers the protection of the accused’s rights. The absence of specific fields, such as age, further complicates the process.
  • Legal Representation: Most production hearings occur without legal representation for the accused. Even when remand lawyers are present, they often lack the opportunity to consult with the accused and make substantive arguments. This absence of legal advocacy further erodes the rights of the accused during critical pretrial stages.

Structural Barriers:

  • Insufficient Attention: First production and remand proceedings are often given inadequate time in the magistrate’s daily schedule, reflecting a broader perception that pretrial proceedings are less important. This undervaluation leads to cursory hearings and insufficient scrutiny.
  • Workload and Prioritization: The heavy workload of magistrates, combined with the perception that pretrial matters are secondary, results in less thorough examinations of production matters. This oversight is compounded by the exclusion of these matters from the court’s publicly visible schedule, diminishing their perceived importance.
  • Communication Gaps: The lack of publicly available records or schedules for pretrial remand matters and the reliance on police communication create confusion for lawyers and families. This opacity compromises the accused’s right to timely and transparent judicial proceedings.

Conclusion:

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to release Prabir Purkayastha underscores the critical need for judicial diligence in upholding constitutional rights during arrest and detention.
  • The issues identified by the Project 39A study reveal systemic flaws that undermine the integrity of the criminal justice process.
  • Addressing these structural and procedural barriers is essential to ensure that due process is not just a formal requirement but a substantive protection for all individuals within the legal system.
About Project 39A
  • It is inspired by Article 39-A of the Indian Constitution, a provision that furthers the intertwined values of equal justice and equal opportunity by removing economic and social barriers.
  • These are constitutional values of immense importance given the manner in which multiple disparities intersect to exclude vast sections of our society from effectively accessing justice.
  • Using empirical research to re-examine practices and policies in the criminal justice system, Project 39A aims to trigger new conversations on legal aid, torture, forensics, mental health in prisons, and the death penalty.

Article 39 a

The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

  • The article was inserted by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976

 

PYQ: With reference to India, consider the following statements: (2021)

1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked up in a police station, not in jail.

2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: B

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of first production and remand proceedings in safeguarding the constitutional rights of the accused, highlighting procedural lapses and structural barriers identified by recent studies. (250 words/15 m)

(Source: Indian Express; Section: Explained; Page: 14)

 

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