4th November 2020

Index

A) Economy

1. Recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) (IE)

2. Auctioning of coal mines for commercial mining (PIB)

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

3. Rural Development Fund (RDF) (IE)

4. Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (PIB)

5. COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge (PIB)

6. Tele-Law: Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centers (PIB)

7. Food Fortification in India (TH)

8. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) (PIB)

C) Art, Culture and History

9. All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) (TH)

D) International Relations

10. Gilgit-Baltistan to be a full province: Pak. PM (TH)

E) Miscellaneous

11. Central Vista Redevelopment Plan (TH)

12. ‘Go Electric’ campaign gets a big push (TH)

13. Sulphur as Fertilizer (PIB)14. Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) (PIB)

A) Economy

1. Recapitalization of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) (IE)

Context: In a bid to strengthen capital base, the union government has provided Rs 670 crore to Regional Rural Banks considering their importance in agriculture finance during these difficult times.

Analysis

  • As per the current scheme for recapitalisation of RRBs, the capital support is provided to these banks by the Centre, concerned state governments and the sponsor banks in the ratio of 50:15:35, respectively to enable them to meet the regulatory requirement of capital to risk-weighted assets ratio of 9%.
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) identifies those RRBs, which require recapitalisation assistance to maintain the mandatory CRAR of 9%.
  • RRBs as a group reported net loss of Rs 2,206 crore in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, as against Rs 652-crore net loss in FY19.

Present Condition of RRBs

  • Gross non-performing assets as a percentage of gross loans outstanding of RRBs marginally declined to 10% per cent as on March 31, 2019.
  • Priority sector loans constituted 90.6% of the gross loans outstanding of RRBs as on March 31, 2020.
  • Share of agriculture and MSME sectors in total loan outstanding stood at 70% and 12%, respectively.

Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)

  • These banks were formed under the RRB Act, 1976 with an objective to provide credit and other facilities to small farmers, agricultural labourers, and artisans in rural areas.
  • As per RBI guidelines, the RRBs have to provide 75% of their total credit under priority sector lending.
  • RRBs are primarily catering to the credit and banking requirements of agriculture sector and rural areas with a focus on small and marginal farmers, micro and small enterprises, rural artisans and weaker sections of the society.
  • In addition, RRBs also provide lending to micro/small enterprises and small entrepreneurs in rural areas.
  • For making the RRBs economically viable and sustainable institutions, the Government has initiated structural consolidation of RRBs in three phases, thereby reducing the number of RRBs from 196 in 2005 to the present 45.

Capital Adequacy Ratio

  • Also known as capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR), it is used to protect depositors and promote the stability and efficiency of financial systems around the world.
  • Two types of capital are measured: tier one capital, which can absorb losses without a bank being required to cease trading, and tier two capital, which can absorb losses in the event of a winding-up and so provides a lesser degree of protection to depositors.
  • The minimum regulatory requirement of Capital Adequacy Ratio for Indian banks is 9%.
  • Effective April 1, 2019, the limit for exposure to any business group has been reduced from 40% of total capital to 25% of tier I capital (which consists of equity and quasi-equity instruments).
  • The limit for a single borrower will be 20% of tier 1 capital (instead of 20% of total capital).
  • Government adopted the comprehensive 4R’s strategy consisting of recognition of NPAs transparently, resolution and recovering value from stressed accounts, recapitalising Public Sector Banks (PSBs), and reforms in PSBs and financial ecosystem to ensure a responsible and clean system.

Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)

  • The Regional Rural Banks were established on the recommendations of Narsimha Committee on Rural Credit.
  • The Regional Rural Banks Act 1976 provide for incorporation, regulation and winding up Regional Rural Banks.

The Objectives of Regional Rural Banks:

1) Bridging the credit gaps in rural areas.

2) To develop such measures which could restrict the outflow of rural deposits to urban areas.

3) To reduce regional imbalances and increase rural employment generation activities.

Area of Functioning of Regional Rural Banks:

  • The Regional Rural Banks are required to function within a limited area for which they are established.
  • They are also authorized to open their branches or appoint agency within their specified areas.
  • Usually the functional area of Each RRB is confined to a few districts of the state in which they are set up.
  • The area of functioning of RRBs is decided by central government in consultation with NABARD and the Sponsor Banks by way of a notification issued in this regard.

Sponsorship of Regional Rural Banks:

  • Each Regional Rural Bank is sponsored by a Public Sector Bank.
  • It is duty of a sponsor bank to aid and assist the RRB sponsored by it.

A sponsor bank helps RRB by:

a) Subscribing to the share capital.

b) Training personnel of Regional Rural Bank.

c) Providing managerial and financial assistance to RRB.

  • A sponsor bank provides such managerial (staff) and financial assistance during the first 5 years of its functioning.
  • The central government may, either on its own motion or on the recommendations of NABARD extend such period of 5 years for such further period (not exceeding 5 years at a time) as may be deemed fit.
  • The authorized capital of Regional Rural Banks is Rs. 5 crores which is contributed by Central Government, State Government and the Sponsor Bank in ration of 50:15:35.

Functions of Regional Rural Banks:

  • In brief RRBs do all such functions as are done by domestic banks like accepting deposits from public, providing credit, remittance services etc (as defined in the Banking Regulation Act 1949).
  • They can also invest in Government securities and deposit schemes of Banks and Financial Institutions.
  • Regional Rural Banks may also seek refinance facilities provided by NABARD for the loans sanctioned and disbursed by them.
  • All the RRBs are covered under (Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) scheme and they are also required to observe the RBI stipulations for Cash Reserve Ratio and Statutory Liquidity Ratio.
  • The Reserve bank of India has brought all the RRBs under the ambit of Priority Sector lending also.
  • RRBs have a target of 75 per cent of their outstanding advances for priority sector lending.

2. Auctioning of coal mines for commercial mining (PIB)

Context: The final round of auctioning of coal mines for commercial mining and sale of coal commenced in November, wherein interested bidders will submit their financial bids in real-time on an online platform for 19 coal blocks.

Analysis

  • This is the first time India is offering coal mines to private companies for commercial sale.
  • The Centre had started the process of coal mine auction — for commercial mining and sale by private companies — in June.
  • Bidding terms were liberalised to attract foreign players, non-mining entities, and large miners.
  • Under the commercial coal mining bid rounds, companies are competing on the share of revenue they would part with the State government to bag a coal mine.
  • There is no end-use restriction on the coal that is excavated from these mines i.e. private companies can use it in their own end-use plants or sell them in markets.
  • It is an irony that India having the world’s fourth largest coal reserve and being the second largest producer was the second largest coal importer.
  • The government has set a target to gasify around 100 million tonnes of coal by 2030.

The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Act, 2020

  • In March 2020, Parliament passed The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 for amendments in Mines & Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.
  • While MMDR Act regulates the overall mining sector in India, CMPS Act provides for auction and allocation of mines whose allocation was cancelled by the Supreme Court.
  • The amended provisions provide that companies which do not possess any prior coal mining experience in India and/or have mining experience in other minerals or in other countries can participate in auction of coal/lignite blocks.
  • Now, the companies which are not ‘engaged in specified end-use’ can also participate in auctions of Schedule II and III coal mines.
  • The removal of the end use restriction would allow wider participation in auction of coal mines for a variety of purposes such as own consumption, sale or for any other purpose, as may be specified by the Central Government.
  • The Bill also allows prospecting licence-cum-mining lease (PL-cum-ML) for coal/lignite which increases the availability of coal & lignite blocks, and coal blocks of varying grades in a wide geographical distribution.
  • The successful bidders/allottees have now been entitled to utilize mined coal in any of its plants or plants of its subsidiary or holding company.
  • Amendments also provide for allocation of the coal mine to the next successful bidder or allottee, subsequent to termination of its allocation along with the matters incidental to it.
  • With the amendments, environment and forest clearances along with other approvals and clearances shall automatically get transferred to the new owners of mineral blocks for a period of two years from the date of grant of new lease.
  • This will allow new owners to continue with hassle free mining operations. During the period, they may apply for the fresh licence beyond the period of two years.
  • The auction of lease of mines can now be started before expiry of lease period.
  • It will enable the state government to take advance action for auction of mineral blocks so that the new lease holder could be decided before the existing lease gets expired.
  • This will help in seamless production of minerals in the country.
  • The new provisions will also augment the exploration of the deep-seated minerals and minerals of national interest by allowing Non-Exclusive Reconnaissance Permit (NERP) holders to apply for composite licence or Mining Lease (PL-cum-ML).

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

3. Rural Development Fund (RDF) (IE)

Context: The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has withheld the rural development fee from Punjab, and asked the Punjab Government to explain its utilisation of the Rural Development Fund (RDF) that it gets largely from the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Analysis

Why has the central government suspended this fund?

  • The central government has observed that the fund is being diverted, and has asked the state government to explain how it is utilising this money.

What is Rural Development Fund or RDF?

  • RDF is the 3 per cent cess levied on the purchase or sale of agricultural produce under the Rural Development Fund Act, 1987.

What is Rural Development Board (RDB)?

  • The RDB was incorporated in April 1987 under Rural Development Act, 1987 and is mandated with the promotion of better agriculture, and granting relief for the loss and damage to agricultural produce.
  • It also provides the facility of streets lights, dharamshalas, panchayat ghars, canals and drains, government health infrastructure, drinking water, sanitation, and government educational institutions in rural areas.

From where does Punjab get this fund and what is it used for?

  • It comes mainly from central government’s purchase agency, Food Corporation of India, which buys around 13 million tonnes of wheat and 16 million tonnes of paddy every year.
  • This fund is supposed to be used for the creation and maintenance of rural infrastructure in and outside mandis.
  • But there have been charges in the past that it was diverted by the state for other purposes.

4. Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (PIB)

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) implements an operational Agromet Advisory Service (AAS) scheme, viz., Gramin Krishi Mausam Sewa (GKMS) for the benefit of farming community in the country.
  • The main objective is to improvise the existing District level Agromet Advisory Services (AAS), to deliver crop and location specific AAS to farmers at block level with village level out reach.
  • In order to operate at block level, there is a strong need to set an operational unit at District level. Hence, it is proposed to set up District Agromet Units (DAMUs) in the country.
  • Under GKMS scheme, district level weather forecast including rainfall for the next five days for all the districts is generated.
  • AAS rendered by IMD is a step towards weather-based crop and livestock management strategies.
  1. Agro-climatic zone refers to a geographical area with similar soil type, rainfall, temperature, and water availability.
  2. India is divided into 15 major agro-climatic zones, of which 10 zones that experience all monsoon events ranging from drought to floods

5. COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge (PIB)

  • Six women led startups have won COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge organized by MyGov in collaboration with UN Women.
  • With an objective to encourage and involve women led startups to come up with innovative solutions that can help in the fight against COVID19 or solve problems that impact a large number of women, MyGov in collaboration with UN Women, launched the COVID-19 Shri Shakti Challenge in April 2020.

6. Tele-Law: Mainstreaming Legal Aid through Common Service Centers (PIB)

Context: Tele-Law has touched a new milestone on 30th October 2020 with 4 Lakh beneficiaries having received legal advice under this through CSCs (Common Service Centres).

Analysis

  • In April 2017, Ministry of Law and Justice launched the Tele-Law programme that primarily aims to address issues at the pre-litigative stage.
  • It digitally connects marginalized and poor people with panel lawyers, to seek legal advice and consultation through use of video conferencing and telephone service available at the Common Services Centers situated at the gram panchayat level.
  • The programme benefits people entitled to free legal aid under Section 12 of Legal Services Authorities, Act, 1987 that include women, children, Members of scheduled caste, scheduled tribes etc. to seek legal advice free of cost.
  • Others can avail services at Rs 30/- per consultation.
  • In February 2019, the Ministry for Law & Justice announced expansion of Tele-Law programme across all States and UTs in the country.
  • Especially designed to facilitate early detection, intervention and prevention of the legal problems, the Tele-Law service is proactively outreached to groups and communities through a cadre of frontline volunteers provided by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and CSC- e Gov.
  • In addition to this, under this scheme, every Common Service Centre (CSC) will engage a Para Legal Volunteer (PLV), who will be the first point of contact for the rural citizens and will help them in understanding the legal issues, 
  • This scheme comes as a continuation to the Access to Justice Project for Marginalized Persons which is being implemented by Department of Justice and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).

7. Food Fortification in India (TH)

Context: Children in anganwadis and government schools could soon be eating rice infused with iron, folic acid and vitamin B-12.

Analysis

  • In a bid to combat chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the government is planning to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid-Day Meal schemes across the country from next year, with a special focus on 112 aspirational districts.
  • To initiate the process of taking the country towards nutritional security, Department of Food & Public Distribution (DFPD) has been running a “Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on Fortification of Rice & its distribution through Public Distribution System”.
  • The Pilot Scheme has been approved for a period of three years beginning 2019-2020.
  • Fifteen State Governments have identified their respective districts (1 district per state) for implementing the Pilot Scheme. 
  • For realising the above goal, there is a need to scale up supply of Fortified Rice Kernels?(FRK), whose availability is currently is at a meagre quantity of 15,000 MT per annum.
  • The Food Corporation of India has now been asked to come up with a comprehensive plan to scale up the annual supply of fortified rice from the current 15,000 tonnes to at least 1.3 lakh tonnes.
  • Fortifying rice involves grinding broken rice into powder, mixing it with nutrients, and then shaping it into rice-like kernels using an extrusion process.
  • These fortified kernels are then mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio, and distributed for consumption.

Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)

  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme of Ministry of Human Resource Development, aims to enhance the enrollment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improve nutritional levels among school going children studying in Classes I to VIII of Government, Government – aided schools, Special Training Centres (STC) and Madarasas and Maktabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • The scheme covers more than 12 crore children studying in 11.4 lakh schools across the country.
  • The average per meal cost borne by Central Government is Rs 6.64 and Rs. 9.59 for students of primary and upper primary classes, respectively.
  • The cost of foodgrains is fully borne by the Central Government. 
  • There is also a provision of Mid-Day meal during summer vacation in drought affected areas.
  • The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA, 2013) contains provisions related to welfare schemes including Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

Meal provision

  • Every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enroll and attend the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary free of charge every day except on school holidays.
  • The place of serving meals to the children shall be school only.
  • If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains, cooking cost, fuel or absence of cook-cum-helper or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
  • Government norms entitle every child to receive 150 ml of milk as part of the mid-day meal.

The following revised norms and inclusion of new components would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the scheme:

  • Annual increase in Cooking cost linked to Inflation Index to offset the impact of inflation on the food items under Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  • Revision of the transportation rate from Rs 75 per quintal, for other than NE & Himalayan States to PDS rate (subject to maximum of Rs.150 per quintal).
  • Monitoring and Evaluation (MME) rate from 2% to 3% of the total admissible recurring Central Assistance.
  • The assistance for kitchen devices has been enhanced.
  • A new component of Rs 10,000 per kitchen for repair of more than 10 year old kitchen has been introduced.
  • Rs 50 crore have been allocated for fortification of food items in a systematic manner. Kitchen gardens in schools will also be encouraged.
  • Delegation of power of implementing the scheme with minor modifications from the existing guidelines (i.e. Central / State Govt.) to District Level Committee Chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • This will facilitate better delivery of the scheme suitable to local needs.
  • The States and UTs have been given flexibility to utilize, with the prior approval of MHRD, 5% of their Annual Work Plan & Budget for new interventions.
  • This will help the States and UTs in undertaking innovative activities.
  • Concept of community participation in the form of Tithi Bhojan will be encouraged under which people from the community celebrate important days such as child birth, marriage, birthdays etc. by contributing to the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. 
  • Tithi Bhojan is not a substitute to Mid-Day Meal but it supplements or compliments Mid-Day Meal.
  • Cooking competitions at Block, District and State levels will be organised to promote innovative menus.
  • Use of Pulses from buffer stock -The States and UTs may procure pulses as per their local taste for the Mid-Day Meal from the Central buffer stock created by the Government of India.
  • Usage of Jails, Temples, Gurudwaras etc., for Mid-Day Meal – All States and UTs are being advised to involve community and other agencies such as Jails, Temples, Gurudwaras etc. in the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme

  • This Scheme has been covered in detail in 18th Sep file.
  • For further details refer to the article “Food Fortification in India and Biofortification Vs Conventional Fortification” in the 30th September file.

8. Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) (PIB)

Context: Review meeting of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushdhi Pariyojana held.

Analysis

  • It was launched as ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’ by the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers in November, 2008 across the country.
  • Its objective was to make available quality generic medicines at affordable prices to all.
  • PMBJP seeks to keep product price within 50% of branded product price to make it affordable for all, especially the poor.
  • Unlike under the ‘Jan Aushadhi Scheme’, Jan Aushadhi Kendras under PMBJP may be opened outside the premises of Government hospitals also.
  • All therapeutic medicines are made available from Jan Aushadhi Stores. In addition to medicines and surgical items supplied by BPPI, Jan Aushadhi Stores also sell allied medical products commonly sold in chemist shops so as to improve the viability of running the Jan Aushadhi Store.
  • OTC (Over-the-counter) products can be purchased by any individual without a prescription.
  • A prescription from a registered medical practitioner is necessary for the purchase of scheduled drugs.
  • BPPI (Bureau of Pharma Public Sector Undertakings of India) has been established under the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which is the implementation agency for PMBJP.
  1. BPPI coordinates procurement, supply and marketing of generic drugs through the Jan Aushadhi Stores.
  2. Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) provides one-time assistance of Rs.2.50 lakhs as start-up cost for setting up a Jan Aushadhi Outlet. 
  • The normal working hours of Jan Aushadhi Kendras are 8 Am to 8 PM.
  • Under the Jan Aushadhi Scheme, the State Governments are required to provide space in Government Hospital premises or any other suitable locations for the running of the Jan Aushadhi Stores (JAS). 
  • Any NGO/Charitable Society/Institution/Self Help Group with experience of minimum 3 years of successful operation in welfare activities, can also open the Jan Aushadhi store outside the hospital premises. The applicants shall have to employ one B Pharma / D Pharma degree holder as Pharmacist in their proposed store.
  • The product basket of PMBJP includes surgicals and consumables in all therapeutic categories viz. Anti-infectives, Anti-diabetics, Cardiovasculars, Anti-cancers, Gastro-intestinal medicines, etc.

Jan Aushadhi Suvidha Sanitary Napkin

  • Sanitary Napkins are environmentally friendly, as these pads are made with Oxo-biodegradable material.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, these pads are being sold at Rs 1/- per pad.
  • The National Health Mission (NHM) has been distributing these pads free of cost to young girls and women as a part of “Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram.

Steps taken by the Government to promote generic medicines in India:

  1. Each batch of drug supplied to PMBJKs is tested for impeccable quality assurance at NABL (National Accreditation Board Laboratories) accredited laboratories and is compliant with WHO GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) benchmarks. 
  2. It has been made mandatory for medical colleges, hospitals, and doctors across the country to prominently mention Generic names of drugs along with Brand Names in their prescriptions.
  3. All branded drugs, imported or domestically manufactured, should mandatorily contain generic names mentioned in bold letters while packaging.
  4. The MCI had amended the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 advising the use of generic name of drugs in doctor’s prescription.
  5. The Ministry of Railways has come on board to open Janaushadhi kendras in over 1000 railway stations across the country in collaboration with Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in its report pointed out the following factors which were mainly responsible for the scheme not being successful: 

  • Over dependence on support from State Government.
  • Poor Supply Chain management.
  • Non-prescription of Generic Medicines by the doctors.
  • State Governments launching free supply of drugs.
  • Lack of awareness among the public.

Biosimilar Vs Generic Drugs

Biosimilar drugs are often confused with generic drugs.

  1. Both are marketed as cheaper versions of costly name-brand drugs.
  2. Both are available when drug companies’ exclusive patents on expensive new drugs expire.
  3. And both are designed to have the same clinical effect as their pricier counterparts.
  • But biosimilar drugs and generic drugs are very different, mainly because while generic drugs are identical to the original in chemical composition, biosimilar drugs are “highly similar,” but close enough in duplication to accomplish the same therapeutic and clinical result.
  • Another key difference is that generics are copies of synthetic drugs, while biosimilars are modeled after drugs that use living organisms as important ingredients.
  • Branded drugs are either synthetic, meaning they’re made from a chemical process, or biological, meaning they’re made from living sources.
  • Synthetic branded drugs can be exactly replicated into more affordable generic versions, but because biologics involve large, complex molecules, they cannot. That’s where biosimilars come into play.
  • Generic drugs are chemically identical to the original branded drug and, as such, cost significantly less because they don’t require much testing.
  • Because biosimilars are made from living organisms, though, and don’t contain identical ingredients to their name-brand counterparts, they still require some testing. So, they cost more than generics, but less than the branded biologic.
  • The active ingredients of generic drugs are the same as those of brand name drugs.
  • In addition, the manufacturer of a generic drug must demonstrate that the generic is bioequivalent to the brand name drug.
  • By contrast, biosimilar manufacturers must demonstrate that the biosimilar is highly similar to the reference product, except for minor differences in clinically inactive components.
  • Biosimilar manufacturers must also demonstrate that there are no clinically meaningful differences between the biosimilar and the reference product in terms of safety and effectiveness.

C) Art, Culture and History

9. All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) (TH)

Context: 100 years since the formation of AITUC

Analysis

  • The first Central Trade Union Organisation, was formed in India on 31 October 1920 by the Indian National Congress (INC).
  • The INC, the central organ of the Independence movement, formed the AITUC to give India representation at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) of the League of Nations.
  • First session of The All-India Trade Union Congress was inaugurated at Bombay.
  • It marks a distinct stage of growth in the labour movement in India.
  • All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), the first Central Trade Union of India founded on October 31, 1920, in Mumbai with unions of various sectors from all over the country.

Circumstances which led to the formation of this historic organization of workers (AITUC)

  • In 1857, when India’s first war of Independence did not achieve the goal of the end of colonialism, the foreign rulers opened India’s market to British goods.
  • Subsequently, railway lines and telegraphs were set up in India, coal mines and plantations were developed, cotton textiles and jute mills were established.
  • This, in due course, brought in a new class of wage labourers during British Raj in India.
  • These wage labourers were routinely oppressed and exploited by the Indian capitalist and British employers.
  • The self-sufficient Village economy was shattered with no new structures in place, creating impoverished peasantry and landless labour force.
  • The dumping of cheap industrial goods resulting in millions of artisans, spinners, weavers, craftsmen, smelters, smiths, potters, etc, who could no more live on agriculture also turned into landless labourers.
  • This led to widespread famines in India through the period from 1850 to 1890 resulting in deaths of several lakhs and also reducing millions as beggars.
  • The anguish of impoverished masses, ruined peasantry was up in revolt which resulted in several movements even though crushed by the rulers.
  • Till this time trade unionism was not known to workers, they were reacting to extreme exploitative working conditions and very low wages.
  • They formed themselves as ‘jamaats’ which were based more on social caste basis in order to fight back oppression of employers. This was beginning of organization by the workers even though not the trade unions in essence.
  • From 1905 onwards there was notable advance in the working class actions and it was more and more closing its ranks with the advance of freedom struggle in the country.
  • A strike took place in Bombay against extension of working hours. The printing press workers in Calcutta also struck work.
  • Another great event of the period was strike by industrial workers of Bombay from July 24 to 28, 1908, in protest against the pronouncement of judgment sentencing six years imprisonment to freedom fighter Balgangadhar Tilak.
  • In 1918 great strike in cotton mills of Bombay started and soon it spread to other areas with 1,25,000 workers participating by January 1919.
  • The strike against Rowlatt Act had great impact on the national struggle itself.
  • In the first half of 1920, there were 200 strikes involving 15 lakh workers. The demands were for 10 hrs working and dearness allowance.
  • It was in this heroic background that the preparations began in July 16, 1920 when a convention was held in Bombay which decided “to hold All India Trade Union Congress in Bombay”.
  • A reception committee with 500 members with Joseph Baptista as chairperson was formed.
  • Hence the first session, the founding conference began on October 31, 1920 in Bombay with Lala Lajpat Rai as the founding President in which 101 delegates from 64 unions from all over India participated with presence of political leaders of various shades of opinions such as Moti Lal Nehru, Mohd. Ali Jinnah, Annie Basant, V J Patel, B.P. Wadia, J. Baptista, Lalubhai Samaldas, Jamnadas, Dwarka Das, B W Wadia R R Karandikar, Col. J.C. Wedgwood.
  • British Trade Union Congress attended as fraternal delegate. 43 other unions which could not join the conference expressed sympathy and full support.

A few unions of government servants kept themselves aloof.

  • Lala Lajpat Rai led a procession of 10,000 workers in the city of Bombay.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai had declared “for the present, our greatest need is to organise, agitate and educate. We must organise our workers, make them class conscious and educate them in the ways and interest of the commonwealth”.
  • He also observed that labour “today had become an international factor and everyone’s life all over the world had become interlinked. There would be no salvation until and unless the workers of Asia were organised and internationally affiliated”.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai was elected the first president of AITUC and V.M. Pawar its General Secretary. In the meeting of the first Executive Committee, Diwan Chaman Lal replaced V.M. Pawar as General Secretary.
  • Later on Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, VV Giri, Sarojini Naidu, C R Das and several of other political leaders of the freedom struggle were associated with subsequent conferences and work of AITUC giving impetus to the work.
  • AITUC in its second session in 1921 in Jharia had adopted a resolution of Swaraj (Complete independence from British rule), almost eight years before the platform of freedom struggle- the Indian National Congress adopted such resolution in 1929.
  • In the aftermath of second World War the AITUC played significant role in the foundation of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)
  • Until 1945 when unions became organised on party lines, it was the primary trade union organisation in India. 
  • According to the industrial census of 1921, around 2.6 million workers were employed in establishments that employed 10 or more workers.

D) International Relations

10. Gilgit-Baltistan to be a full province: Pak. PM (TH)

Context: Pakistan has decided to grant provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan. It will become the fifth State of Pakistan after Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

  • Pakistan has administered the area now known as Gilgit-Baltistan since shortly after the country’s birth in 1947, but New Delhi asserts the mountainous territory bordering China and Afghanistan is an integral part of Kashmir.
  • A long stretch of the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit Baltistan region is a key component to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Analysis

  • Two of the three wars that India and Pakistan have fought since independence have been over Kashmir — home to shrinking Himalayan glaciers seen as vital lifelines to the water stressed countries.
  • One of the most mountainous regions in the world that is rich with mines of gold, emerald and strategically important minerals, and is known for its extraordinary scenic beauty, diversity and ancient communities and languages.
  • Gilgit-Baltistan is largely an underdeveloped region.
  • It’s home to K-2, the second tallest mountain in the world.
  • Tourism remains restricted by many factors, including military hostility, though the region has some of the ancient Buddhist sculptures and rock edicts.
  • It is also home to an old Shia community, which often finds itself subjected to persecution in Pakistan’s urban centres.
  • At present Pakistan appointed Governor and an elected Chief Minister rule this region.

Brief History of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B)

  • On November 1 1947, after J&K ruler Hari Singh had signed the Instrument of Accession with India, and the Indian Army had landed in the Valley to drive out tribal invaders from Pakistan, there was a rebellion against Hari Singh in Gilgit.
  • A small force raised by the British to guard Gilgit, ostensibly on behalf of the Kashmir ruler but in fact to serve its administration of the Gilgit Agency, on the frontiers of what was then the Soviet-British Great Game territory, mutinied under the leadership of its commander, Major William Alexander Brown.
  • Gilgit had been leased to the British by Hari Singh in 1935. The British returned it in August 1947.
  • Hari Singh sent his representative, Brigadier Ghansar Singh, as Governor, and Brown to take charge of the Gilgit Scouts.
  • But after taking protective custody of the Governor on November 1, Brown would raise the Pakistani flag at his headquarters.
  • Later the Gilgit Scouts managed to bring Baltistan under their control.

E) Miscellaneous

11. Central Vista Redevelopment Plan (TH)

Context: The Centre on Tuesday defended in the Supreme Court its multi-crore Central Vista redevelopment plan, saying the existing Parliament building, which is nearly 100 years old, is under tremendous pressure and that not a brick of the heritage structures will be touched while constructing a new Parliament, Central Secretariat and various ministries.

Analysis

  • The project, which includes the construction of a new Parliament and office buildings for Central Ministries along Rajpath, was announced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2019.
  • The Central Vista Redevelopment Plan includes
  1. Constructing a triangular Parliament building next to the existing one.
  2. Constructing Common Central Secretariat.
  3. Revamping of the 3-km-long Rajpath — from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate.
  • Currently, the Central Vista of New Delhi houses Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, North and South Block, India Gate, National Archives among others.
  • In December, 1911, King George V made an announcement in Delhi Durbar (Grand assembly to mark the coronation of King George V) to shift the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi.

Reasons for new project amidst economic slowdown

  • “The existing Parliament House building was started in 1921 and commissioned in 1927; this building is already 93 years old and has since been declared heritage grade-I building.
  • Its facilities and amenities are highly inadequate to meet the current demand of Parliament.
  • There is acute shortage of office space and there are no individual chambers for MPs. The present building was not meant to be for bicameral Parliament and has been over-stressed.

12. ‘Go Electric’ campaign gets a big push (TH)

  • In a major push to electric mobility sector, the government has decided to establish 400 charging stations across Andhra Pradesh in the first phase.
  • The charging infrastructure would be established every 25 km along the national highways.

13. Sulphur as Fertilizer (PIB)

  • After the Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potash (K), Sulphur (S) is the 4th major plant nutrient required and deficiency of sulphur is widespread in Indian Soils.
  • It is required for crops like Oilseeds, Pulses, Vegetables, Sugarcane, Paddy, Horticulture crops etc.
  • Sulphur is essential to maximizing plant growth and yield.
  • Sulphur is also required for nitrogen use efficiency.

14. Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) (PIB)

  • The Prime Minister will chair the Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) on 5th November, 2020.
  • The VGIR is being organized by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.
  • It is an exclusive dialogue between leading global institutional investors, world’s largest pension and sovereign wealth funds, Indian business leaders and the highest decision makers from the Government of India and Financial Market Regulators to engage and deliberate with senior policymakers on how to further accelerate the growth of international investments in India.
  • Foreign investments in India this fiscal is the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year.
  • VGIR 2020 will focus on discussions around India’s economic and investment outlook, structural reforms and the government’s vision for the path to a USD 5 trillion economy.
  • Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) was comprehensively covered in 17th September file.

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