• Current Affairs, 9 May 2020

    OCEANS MAY RISE OVER A METRE BY 2100, WARNS SCIENTISTS

    RELEVANT FOR: ENVIRONMENT | TOPIC: ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION – GHGS, OZONE DEPLETION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

    • Oceans are likely to rise as much as 1.3 metres by 2100 if Earth’s surface warms another 3.5 degrees Celsius, scientists warned Friday.
    • By 2300, when ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland will have shed trillions of tonnes in mass, sea levels could go up by more than five metres under that temperature scenario, redrawing the planet’s coastlines, they reported in a peer-reviewed survey of more than 100 leading experts.
    • About ten percent of the world’s population, or 770 million people, today live on land less than five metres above the high tide line.
    • Even if the Paris climate treaty goal of capping global warming below 2C is met — a very big “if” — the ocean watermark could go up two metres by 2300, according to a study in the journal Climate Atmospheric Science.
    • Earth’s average surface temperature has risen just over one degree Celsius since the pre-industrial era, a widely used benchmark for measuring global warming.
    • “It is clear now that previous sea-level rise estimates have been too low,” co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), told AFP.
    • The new projections for both the 2100 and 2300 horizons are significantly higher than those from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including a special report on oceans it released in September.
    • “The IPCC tends to be very cautious and conservative, which is why it had to correct itself upwards already several times,” Rahmstorf said.
    • Sea-level projections in the IPCC’s landmark 2014 Assessment Report were 60% above those in the previous edition, he noted. A new Assessment will be finalised by the end of next year.
    • While less visible than climate-enhanced hurricanes or persistent drought, sea level rise may ultimately prove the most devastating of global warming impacts.
    • Indeed, it is the extra centimetres of ocean water that make storm surges from ever-stronger tropical cyclones so much more deadly and destructive, experts say.
    • Benjamin Horton, acting chair of the Nanyang Technical University’s Asian School of the Environment in Singapore, led the survey to give “policymakers an overview of the state of the science”, a statement said.
    • Across the 20th century, sea level rise was caused mainly by melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms.
    • But over the last two decades the main driver has become the melting and disintegrating of Earth’s two ice sheets.
    • Greenland and West Antarctica are shedding at least six times more ice today than during the 1990s. From 1992 through 2017 they lost some 6.4 trillion tonnes in mass.
    • Over the last decade, the sea level has gone up about four millimetres per year. Moving into the 22nd century, however, the waterline could rise ten times faster, even under an optimistic greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the IPCC has said.
    • The Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets hold enough frozen water to lift oceans about 13 metres. East Antarctica, which is more stable, holds another 50 metres’ worth.

     

    K P KRISHNAN WRITES, ‘MIGRANT WORKMEN ACT, 1979, MUST BE RATIONALISED TO REMOVE REQUIREMENTS THAT DISINCENTIVISE FORMALISATION’

    RELEVANT FOR: INDIAN ECONOMY | TOPIC: ISSUES RELATED TO POVERTY, INCLUSION, EMPLOYMENT & SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    • The fallout of the lockdown in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19highlights the urgent need to rationalise the legislative framework for labour in India. Migrant labour has been among the worst affected due to the lockdown. Their efforts to leave the cities before the lockdown, and the extraordinary efforts some put in to get back home, suggest that they have very low resilience to stay in cities without employment. They fall through the cracks of India’s social security net, and the government response has shown a significant gap between high-minded intentions reflected in existing laws and their implementation.
    • A key piece of legislation governing inter-state migrants in India is the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. The Act was enacted to prevent the exploitation of inter-state migrant workmen by contractors, and to ensure fair and decent conditions of employment. The law requires all establishments hiring inter-state migrants to be registered, and contractors who recruit such workmen be licensed. Contractors are obligated to provide details of all workmen to the relevant authority. Migrant workmen are entitled to wages similar to other workmen, displacement allowance, journey allowance, and payment of wages during the period of journey. Contractors are also required to ensure regular payment, non-discrimination, provisioning of suitable accommodation, free medical facilities and protective clothing for the workmen.
    • Pandemic could act as catalyst for reworking world order, giving India leading role
    • In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown, state governments were taken unawares by inter-state migrants who were desperate to return home. Many had lost jobs, would not be able to afford rent and were afraid of falling seriously ill away from their families. The full and proper implementation of this law would have meant that state governments had complete details of inter-state migrant workmen coming through contractors within their states. While this would still leave out migrants who move across states on their own, a large segment would be automatically registered due to the requirements of the Act. States would consequently have been better prepared to take steps to protect such workmen during this lockdown. However, almost no state seems to have implemented this law in letter and spirit.
    • The primary reason for this seems to be the onerous compliance requirements set out in the law. It not only requires equal pay for inter-state workmen, but also requires other social protection that would make their employment significantly more expensive than intra-state workmen. This includes the payments of different allowances, and requirements that contractors provide accommodation and healthcare for such workmen. Compliance with these requirements is not only onerous, it makes the cost of hiring inter-state workmen higher than hiring similar labour from within the state.
    • Since the Act is barely implemented, it exists as another law that potentially provides rent-seeking opportunities to enterprising government inspectors while failing in its main objective. Another consequence of weak implementation is the absence of government preparedness and the consequent failure in preventing genuine hardships for vulnerable groups.
    • With Covid crisis dealing sharp blow to financial sector, revival calls for new approach
    • Not only does this raise questions about the utility of such well-meaning but impractical laws, it also highlights the lack of state capacity to enforce such provisions. To implement this law alone, government inspectors would not only have to maintain records of inter-state workmen, but also verify whether all the other requirements regarding wages, allowances, accommodation and health care are complied with.
    • The issues with the law and its non-enforcement are symptomatic of the socialist era, when the mere enactment of a law with aspirational requirements backed by legal coercion was considered adequate for creating good outcomes. This law, and many other labour-welfare legislations never considered issues like compliance costs, government capacity for enforcement, and importantly, counter-productive consequences. For example, the onerous requirements set out in this law incentivise contractors and employers to under-report inter-state workmen rather than to register them.
    • The consequences of the lockdown are already proving to be disastrous for migrant labour. One of the lessons from this episode is to not let aspirational requirements become a hindrance to the effective protection of the very groups these requirements are designed for. This will require a principled distinction between formalisation and ostensible social-welfare. While the former seeks to make people or activities visible or “legible”, the latter goes a step further. Social-welfare protections are predicated upon formalisation, but non-compliance with onerous social welfare requirements can instead inhibit formalisation. This is not merely because of high compliance costs, but also because the state can barely keep up with the task of ensuring compliance with such requirements, made worse given the disincentives to comply.
    • Educational reform under Imran Khan is a way of embracing isolationism
    • This has created a two-tier system – formal and informal. Those in the formal tier — fewer than 10 percent of the workforce — enjoy considerable protections, while those in the informal tier get almost no protections. Since welfare schemes are also predicated on the visibility of those getting the benefits, informal workers, especially in urban areas, fall through cracks in the system. The lack of any welfare net for informal workers in urban areas reflects the consequences of formalisation on paper — while farmers get cash transfers, and labourers in rural areas have MGNREGA, there are hardly any schemes for informal workers in urban areas.
    • Laws such as the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 must therefore be rationalised to remove requirements that disincentivise formalisation. We must be pragmatic and ensure that employers and contractors have incentives to come forward and register labourers without being worried about punitive action or impractical social safety requirements.
    • This article appeared in the print edition of May 9, 2020, under the title ‘Let down by law’. Krishnan is a retired civil servant. Rai and Burman are with the political economy program in Carnegie India. Views are personal

     

     

    BAND-LIKE CLOUDS SEEN OVER SUN’S NEIGHBOUR

    RELEVANT FOR: GEOGRAPHY | TOPIC: THE EARTH AND THE SOLAR SYSTEM

    • A depiction of Luhman 16A.
    • A group of international astrophysicists have identified cloud bands on the surface of Luhman 16A, one of a pair of binary brown dwarfs in the Vela constellation. They have used an idea put forth nearly two decades ago by Indian astrophysicist Sujan Sengupta, who is at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, that the light emitted by a cloudy brown dwarf, or reflected off an extrasolar planet, will be polarised. He suggested that a polarimetric technique could serve as a potential tool to probe the environment of these objects.
    • Subsequently, many astronomers detected polarisation of brown dwarfs. But what is special in the newest study of Luhman 16 is that the researchers have found the actual structure of the clouds — that they form bands over one of the pair (Luhman 16A) of brown dwarfs.
    • Understanding the cloud system over a brown dwarf can shed light on the pressure, temperature and climate on the surface of the celestial body.
    • Luhman 16 is a binary star system, the third closest system to the Sun after Alpha Centauri and Barnard’s star. At a distance of about 6.5 light years from the Sun, this pair of brown dwarfs referred to as Luhman 16A and Luhman 16B orbit each other, casting a dim light. Brown dwarfs are also called failed stars, because their masses are intermediate to the largest planets and the smallest main sequence stars. Their masses being too small, they are unable to sustain fusion of their hydrogen to produce energy. It is believed that some of the more massive brown dwarfs fuse deuterium or lithium and glow faintly.
    • The faintness of the glow proved to be providential in finding the cloud bands. Unlike a star whose brightness would be too high, or an extrasolar planet orbiting a star, where the extra light from its star would have to be cut off to make the measurement, the light of the brown dwarfs was just right.
    • The group, by using the Very Large Telescope at European Southern Observatory, Chile, found that Luhman 16A had band-like clouds in its atmosphere, whereas the same was not true of Luhman 16B. “While, the polarisation of Luhman 16B can be interpreted to have its origin in the asymmetry caused by rotation-induced oblateness of the object, the polarisation of Luhman 16A needs inhomogeneous band-like cloud distribution,” said Professor Sengupta.

     

    FINANCIAL HELP BY AIIB TO INDIA

    RELEVANT FOR: – INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/ TOPICS: – HEALTH, GROUPINGS & AGREEMENTS INVOLVING INDIA AND/OR AFFECTING INDIA’S INTERESTS, GLOBAL GROUPINGS, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)has approved US$ 500 million for ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project’ initiated by India.
    • The project is expected to help India to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness.

    Important Points

    • Aim:
      • The project intends toslow down and limit the spread of Covid-19 in India.
      • It includes an immediate support for enhancement of disease detection capacities, oxygen delivery systems and medicines among others.
      • The project also strives to strengthen India’sIntegrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) and the capacity to effectively manage future disease outbreaks.
        • IDSP aims to strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based and IT enabled disease surveillance systems for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends.
      • It also aims to develop capacity and systems to detect existing and emerging zoonosesand upgrade viral research and diagnostic laboratories for testing and research.
        • As around 75% of new infectious diseasesbegin with human-to-animal contacts.
      • Beneficiaries:
        • The project will cover all States and Union Territories across India and address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies.
      • Finances:
        • The project is being financed by the World Bank and AIIB in the amount of $1.5 billion, of which $1.0 billion will be provided by the World Bank and $500 million will be provided by AIIB.
      • Implementation:
        • It will be implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
          • NHM was launched by the government of India in 2013 subsuming the National Rural Health Mission and the National Urban Health Mission.
          • NCDC functions as the nodal agency in the country for disease surveillance facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
          • ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.

    Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

    • The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia.
    • It is established by the AIIB Articles of Agreement (entered into force Dec. 25, 2015) which is a multilateral treaty. The Parties (57 founding members) to agreement comprise the Membership of the Bank.
    • It is headquartered in Beijing and began its operations in January 2016.
    • India joined AIIB in 2016 as a regional member of the Bank.
    • The members of the Bank have now grown to 102 approved members worldwide.
    • Further, fourteen of the G-20 nations are AIIB members including France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
    • By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia and beyond, it connects people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.

    ABOLITION OF POSTS IN MES

    RELEVANT FOR: – GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :- VARIOUS SECURITY FORCES & AGENCIES & THEIR MANDATE, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the Defence Minister of Indiahas approved a proposal for the abolition of a number of posts in the Military Engineering Service (MES).
    • This move is in lines with the recommendations of the Lt. Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd.) Committee.
    • MES is the infrastructure development agency for the armed forces and defence establishments.

    Important Points

    • Optimum Utilisation of Resources:This step of abolition of around 9000 posts of basic and industrial staff will lead to significant savings.
      • Almost 70% of the budgetis used for payment of salaries and allowances and leaves very little money for actual infrastructural development.
    • Restructuring of Workforce:The committee also recommended to restructure the civilian workforce in a manner that the work of the MES could be partly done by departmentally employed staff and other works could be outsourced.
    • Efficient & Lean Workforce:Its goal is to make the MES an effective organisation with a leaner workforce, well equipped to handle complex issues in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
    • Projected Savings:The recommendations can save up to ₹25,000 crore in defence expenditure, if implemented over the next five years.
      • According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute(SIPRI), India was the among the top three top military spenders in the world in 2019 after the US and China.

    Shekatkar Committee

    • It was a11-member committee, appointed by the erstwhile Defence Minister in mid-2016.
    • It was headed by Gen. D.B. Shekatkar (Retd).
    • It had the mandateto suggest measures to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure of the armed forces.
    • It submitted its reportin December 2016.
    • Recommendations:
      • It made about99 recommendations from optimising defence budget to the need for a Chief of the Defence Staff.
        • Of these, the first batch of 65 recommendationspertaining to the Army were approved in August 2017.
      • It recommended that India’s defence budget should be in the range of 2.5-3% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product),in view of current and future threats.
      • It had also suggested the establishment of a Joint Services War Collegefor training of middle-level officers, with three separate war colleges at Mhow (Madhya Pradesh), Secunderabad (Telangana) and Goa, focusing on training younger officers.
      • The committee had also mooted for the Military Intelligence School at Puneto be converted to a tri-service intelligence training establishment.
      • The recommendations on the creation of the Chief of Defence Staffpost and a Department of Military Affairs have been already implemented.
      • Restructuring of Army headquarters
        • The Army headquarters hadinstituted 4 studies with an overall aim to enhance the operational and functional efficiency of the force, optimize budget expenditure, facilitate modernization and address aspirations.
        • These studiesare Re-organisation and right-sizing of the Indian Army, Re-organisation of the Army Headquarters, Cadre review of officers and Review of terms of engagement of rank and file.
      • Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) Model
        • In the model, the assetsowned by the government are operated by the private industries.
        • The main advantageof the model is that it is efficient and will boost competitiveness among the private entities.
      • Closureof Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.
      • Other recommendations which have been implementedinclude, optimisation of signals establishments, restructuring of repair units, redeployment of ordnance echelons, better utilisation of supply and transportation units and animal transport entities, etc.

    LOCUSTS APPEARED EARLY IN RAJASTHAN

    RELEVANT FOR :- AGRICULTURE/ TOPICS:- FOOD SECURITY

    • Recently, scientists at the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO)observed groups of desert locusts at Sri Ganganagar and Jaisalmer districts of Rajasthan.
    • This has raised the alarm-bell for the authorities as they caused huge damage to the growing rabi crops along western Rajasthan and parts of northern Gujarat during December, 2019-January, 2020.
    • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria)is a short-horned grasshopper. These winged insects differ from normal hoppers.
    • The genesis of present desert locust upsurgelies in the Mekunu and Luban cyclonic storms that struck Oman and Yemen, respectively in 2018.
    • These storms turned large desert areas in remote parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula into lakes, which allowed the insects to breed undetected across multiple generations.

    Locust

    • A locust is a large,mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.
    • Gregarizationmeans transformation of solitary insects etc. into a swarm due to rapid growth in population.
    • Locusts are generally seen during the months of June and Julyas the insects are active from summer to the rainy season.
    • Locusts have a high capacity to multiply, form groups, migrate overrelatively large distances (they can fly up to 150 km per day) and, if good rains fall and ecological conditions become favourable, rapidly reproduce and increase some 20-fold in three months.
    • Threat to Vegetation:Locust adults can eat their own weight every day, i.e. about two grams of fresh vegetation per day. A very small swarm eats as much in one day as about 35,000 people, posing a devastating threat to crops and food security.
    • If infestations are not detected and controlled, devastating plagues can developthat often take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to bring under control with severe consequences on food security and livelihoods.
    • Locust Control measuresinclude destroying egg masses laid by invading swarms, digging trenches to trap nymphs, using hopperdozers (wheeled screens that cause locusts to fall into troughs containing water and kerosene), using insecticidal baits, and applying insecticides to both swarms and breeding grounds from aircraft.
    • Organophosphate insecticides such as Malathionare effective against locusts.
    • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)provides information on the general locust situation to the global community and gives timely warnings and forecasts to those countries in danger of invasion.
    • The FAO raised alarm over the locust outbreak in northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia in February, 2019.

    Locusts in India

    • Four species viz. Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), Bombay Locust ( Nomadacris succincta) and Tree locust (Anacridium sp.) are found in India.
    • The existing series of locust swarms that have entered India via Pakistan had originated in Iran. Movement of locusts is facilitated by summer dusty winds, which flow from the Arabian Sea, taking along these creatures from Sindh in Pakistan to western Rajasthan.
    • The last major locust outbreak that was reported in Rajasthan was in 1993.
    • Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, is responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in the States of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

    STRICT VS ABSOLUTE LIABILITY PRINCIPLE

    RELEVANT FOR :- SOCIAL JUSTICE/ TOPICS :- JUDICIARY, HEALTH, GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS

    • Recently, the National Green Tribunal(NGT) found LG Polymers prima facie liable under the strict liability principle for the Vizag gas leak.
    • However, according to the lawyers, the term absolute liability principle should have been used instead.

    Important Points

    • The NGT directed the company to deposit an initial amount of ₹50 crore and formed a fact-finding committee.
    • The use of the termstrict liability has been questioned by the lawyers because it was made redundant in India by the Supreme Court in 1987.
    • Strict Liability Principle:
    • Under it, a party/company is not liableand need not pay compensation if a hazardous substance escapes its premises by accident or by an ‘act of God’ (Force Majeure) among other circumstances.
    • Absolute Liability Principle:
    • Under it, a party/company in a hazardous industry cannot claim any exemption.It has to mandatorily pay compensation, whether or not the disaster was caused by its negligence.
    • The National Green Tribunal Act of 2010incorporates the absolute liability
    • Section 17of the act mandates that the Tribunal should apply the absolute liability principle even if the disaster caused is an accident.
    • A hazardous enterprise is liable even if the disaster is an accidentand not caused by the negligence of the company.

    ·         Background

    • The Supreme Court, in the C. Mehta vs Union of India 1987,found strict liability principle inadequate to protect citizens’ rights and replaced it with the absolute liability principle.
    • This judgement came on the Oleum gas leak case of Delhi in 1986.
    • Oleum gas leaked from a fertiliser plant of Shriram Food and Fertilisers Ltd.complex at Delhi, causing damages to several people.
    • Oleumor fuming sulfuric acid refers to solutions of various compositions of sulfur trioxide in sulfuric acid or sometimes more specifically to disulfuric acid (also known as pyrosulfuric acid).
    • The court found that strict liability which was evolved in an English case called Rylands versus Fletcher, 1868, provided companies with several exemptionsfrom assuming liability.
    • Absolute liability, on the other hand, provides them with no defence or exemptions and is part of Article 21 (Right to Life).
    • Article 21declares that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens.
    • The court wanted corporationsto be made fully liable for future undeserved suffering of innocent citizens and held that a hazardous enterprise has an absolute non-delegable duty to the community.
    • That time, India was still under the shock of the Bhopal gas tragedy, 1984.
    • Methyl Isocyanate (MIC)leaked from the pesticide plant of Union Carbide in the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

    HELICOPTER MONEY

    RELEVANT FOR: – ECONOMY/ TOPICS: – MONETARY POLICY

    • Recently, the Telangana Chief Minister suggested that the helicopter moneycan help states to come out of the economic chaos created by Covid-19 pandemic.

    Important Points

    • Helicopter money:
    • It is an unconventional monetary policy tool,which involves printing large sums of money and distributing it to the public, to stimulate the economy during a recession (decline in general economic activity) or when interest rates fall to zero.
    • Under such a policy, a central bank “directly increases the money supply and, via the government, distribute the new cash to the population with the aim of boosting demand and inflation.”.
    • The term was coined by American economist Milton Friedman.It basically denotes a helicopter dropping money from the sky.
    • Difference between helicopter money and quantitative easing:
    • Helicopter money should not be confused with quantitative easing,because both aim to boost consumer spending and increase inflation.
    • In case of helicopter money,currency is distributed to the public and there is no repayment liability.
    • Whereas in case of quantitative easing,it involves the use of printed money by central banks to buy government bonds. Here the government has to pay back for the assets that the central bank buys.
    • Benefits of helicopter money:
    • It does not rely on increased borrowing to fuel the economy, which means that it doesn’t create more debt.
    • It boosts spending and economic growth more effectively than quantitative easing because it increases aggregate demand – the demand for goods and services – immediately.
    • Issues with helicopter money:
    • It does not involve repayment liability, therefore many people argue that it’s not a feasible solution to revive the economy.
    • It may lead to over-inflation.
    • It may devalue the currency in the foreign exchange market.

    RELEVANCE OF THE CONSOL BONDS AMID COVID-19

    RELEVANT FOR: – INDIAN ECONOMY/ TOPICS: – GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS, GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT

    • The Covid-19 pandemicand consequential national lockdown in the country has laid a grave impact on the Indian economy.
    • Considering the above scenario, the large stimulus needs to be introducedby the government to pull back the economy where the required stimulus will exceed the current revenue receipts of the government.
    • Thestimulus refers to attempts to use monetary or fiscal policy (or stabilization policy in general) to stimulate the economy.
    • Thus, an introduction of aConsol Bond is one of the solutions for the government to fund the stimulus.

    Background

    • In the Budget (2020) before the pandemic, India projected a deficit of Rs.7.96-lakh crore.
    • Further, the financial deficit is expected to increase by a wide margin due to revenue shrinkage from the coming depression accompanied by a lack of disinvestment.
    • Though, the government and RBI have announced various economic measures to deal with the economic impact of nationwide lockdown but these measures are considered to be inadequate.
    • In addition to the planned expenditure, the government needs to spend nearly Rs.5-lakh crore and Rs.6-lakh crore as stimulus.

    Consol Bonds

    • Description:
    • Consol bond (also known as perpetual bond) is a fixed income security with no maturity date.
    • It is often considered atype of equity, rather than debt.
    • The major benefit of these bonds is that they pay a steady stream of interestpayments forever. However, these bonds can be redeemed at issuer’s discretion.
    • Notable Existence of Consol Bonds in the History:
    • The console bonds were majorly used by the British government during World War-I.
    • The bonds were issued in 1917as the British government sought to raise more money to finance the ongoing cost of World War-I.
    • In 2014, the British government, a century after the start of World War-I, paid out 10% of the total outstanding Consol bond debt.

    Consol Bonds and Current Indian Economic Scenario

    • Consol Bonds Instead of PM-CARES:
    • The introduction of the Consol bonds would have been a better solution for the government if people would have invested in consol bonds instead of making donations to PM-CARES.It could have made citizens as active participants in handling the economic scenario of the country.
    • Unlike PM-CARES, the proceeds of the bonds could have been used to fulfil the various essential medical as well as economic requirementsof the country.
    • One of the Available Solutions:
      • The fall of real estate and given the lack of safe havens outside of gold, the bond would offer a dual benefit as a risk free investment for retail investors.
      • An attractive coupon rate for the bond or tax rebatescan also be an incentive for investors.
      • The government can consider a phased redemption of these bonds after the economy is put back on a path of high growth.

    NEW ROAD TO KAILASH MANSAROVAR

    RELEVANT FOR :- GOVERNANCE/ TOPICS :- GOVERNMENT POLICIES & INTERVENTIONS, INDIA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD, INFRASTRUCTURE

    Recently, the Defence Minister of India has inaugurated a new 80-km road in Uttarakhand connecting the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and opening a new route for Kailash Mansarovar yatra via Lipulekh Pass (China border).

    • It is scheduled to be completed by December 2022 and will significantly reduce the travel time for pilgrims.

    Important Points

    • The Link Road is named as the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Routeunder which the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) achieved road connectivity from Dharchula (Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand) to Lipulekh.
    • Lipulekh Pass also known as Lipu-Lekh Pass/Qiangla or Tri-Corneris a high altitude mountain pass situated in the western Himalayas with a height of 5,334 metre or 17,500 feet.
    • It is an International mountain passbetween India, China and Nepal.
    • The road was made under directions of theChina Study Group (CSG) and is funded by Indo-China Border Road (ICBR).
    • It was approved by the Cabinet Committeeon Security (CCS) in
    • The last 5-km of the road could not be finished due to a temporary banplaced on the last-mile connectivity in 2016 by the Director General Military Operations, which is yet to be lifted.
    • Advantages:
    • It is theshortest and cheapest route with just one-fifth distance of road travel as compared to other old routes. The other route is via Sikkim.
    • There isno air travel involved and the majority of the travel (84%) is in India and only 16% in China compared to other routes where 80% road travel is in China.
    • Except for a 5-km trek, whole travel will be on vehiclesreducing the 5-day trek to 2- days road travel.

    Kailash Mansarovar

    • To Hindus it is the earthly embodiment of the dominant mountain of heaven, Meru, and the residence of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati.
    • The Kailash range’s supreme peak lies in the Chinese-occupied Tibet at the height of 6,675 meters.
    • The pilgrimage to Kailash and to the sacred Mansarover lake that lies 30 km to its south, is run exclusively by a government organization, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN).
    • The organization works in collaboration with the Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the Government of China.

     

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