Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Incentive money to promote digital payments
- The Reciprocal Access Agreement
- National-level multi-State cooperative societies
- Criteria for Scheduling of Tribes
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Incentive money to promote digital payments
Context: The Union Cabinet approved an outlay of ₹2,600 crores to promote payments using RuPay cards and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Banks will be provided this incentive money to promote such digital payments.
About the news
- The incentive scheme is aimed at boosting digital payments in India
- Incentives worth Rs 2,600 crore have been approved for FY23
- The focus of the incentive scheme will be on RuPay debit cards and low-value UPI transactions
- Under the scheme, acquiring banks will be provided financial incentive for promoting Point-of-Sale (PoS) and e-commerce transactions in the current financial year FY 2022-23.
- The fund will be paid to banks in view of the lack of a Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) — a commission on digital transactions — for UPI and RuPay transactions.
- The scheme will also promote UPI Lite and UPI 123PAY as economical and user-friendly digital payments solutions and enable further deepening of digital payments in the country.
- UPI Lite and UPI 123PAY refers to the payment systems recently introduced by the National Payments Corporation of India to reduce the load on banking networks for small transactions, and to allow payments over older feature phones, respectively.
- The union cabinet had, earlier in 2021, approved an incentive scheme to promote RuPayDebit cards and low-value BHIM transactions for upto Rs 2000.
- In the last 8 years, India has formed a huge ecosystem of digital payment.
- The value of digital payments was approximately Rs 12 lakh crore, which has grown to comprise about 54 per cent of the country’s GDP.
- The allocation of Rs 2600 crore is aimed at growing the digital payment ecosystem further..
About Digital India Mission
- Digital India programme was launched with the vision of transforming India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge-based economy, by ensuring digital access, digital inclusion, digital empowerment and bridging the digital divide.
- The programme is centred on three key vision areas, namely digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen, governance and services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens.
- The overall goal is to ensure that digital technologies improve the life of every citizen, expand India’s digital economy, and creating investment and employment opportunities and create digital technological capabilities in India.
- Digital India has considerably reduced the distance between Government and citizens.
- It has also helped in delivery of substantial services directly to the beneficiary in a transparent and corruption free manner.
- It was launched in the year 2015.
2 . The Reciprocal Access Agreement
Context : The U.K and Japan signed a defence pact, which will permit the deployment of troops in each other’s countries and increase security cooperation. The move comes as Britain is undertaking a ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific in its foreign and security policy.
What is Reciprocal Access Agreement ?
- It is a mutual agreement between the two countries that would allow “both forces to plan and deliver larger scale, more complex military exercises and deployments”.
- This will rapidly accelerate defence and security cooperation and allow the UK and Japan to deploy forces in one another’s countries.
- The Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both the nations that it cements the commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines the joint efforts to bolster economic security, accelerate defence cooperation and drive innovation that creates highly skilled jobs.
- The UK will be the first European country to have a Reciprocal Access Agreement with Japan, the most important defence treaty between the UK and Japan since 1902.
- This agreement will need to be approved by Westminster and Japan’s Diet, before it can come into force.
- Earlier Japan’s F-X fighter jet program was merged with the UK and Italy’s ‘Tempest’ program to create the Global Combat Air Programme.
- The U.K. and Japan also launched a digital partnership to increase cooperation in semiconductors, cyber resilience, and online safety.
3 . National-level multi-State cooperative societies
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of three national-level multi-State cooperative societies to act as an apex body for procurement, processing, marketing and distribution of seeds.
What is Multi State cooperative societies?
- The Multi State cooperative societies is an apex organization for the production, procurement, processing, branding, labelling, packaging, storage, marketing and distribution of quality seeds; strategic research and development; and to develop of a system for the preservation and promotion of indigenous natural seeds; through various cooperative societies across the country.
- The national-level multi-state seed cooperative society will be set up under Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002, and it will work with support from relevant ministries especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the National Seed Corporation (NSC) through their schemes and agencies following the ‘Whole of the Government Approach’.
- The proposed society will provide thrust to exports from the cooperative sector by acting as an umbrella organisation for carrying out and promoting exports.
- This will help unlock the export potential of Indian cooperatives in global markets.
- The societies that are formed under the multi-State cooperative societies (MSCS) Act, 2002 would develop a system for preservation and promotion of indigenous natural seeds.
- Production of quality seeds would reduce the dependence on imported seeds and provide a boost to the rural economy
- The primary societies, district-, State- and national-level federations and multi-State cooperative societies could become members and the elected representatives would be included on the Board of the societies under their bylaws.
Benefits to Farmers
- The proposed society will help to increase the seed and varietal replacement rates, ensuring the role of farmers in quality seed cultivation and seed variety trials and production and distribution of certified seeds with a single brand name, by utilising the network of all levels of cooperatives
- The availability of quality seeds will help in increasing agricultural productivity in strengthening food security and also increasing the income of the farmers.
- The members will benefit both by realisation of better prices by production of quality seeds, higher production of crops by use of high-yielding variety seeds and also by dividend distributed out of the surplus generated by the society.
4 . Criteria For Scheduling Of Tribes
Context: The Office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) is following the set of criteria set out by the Lokur Committee nearly 60 years ago to define any new community as a Scheduled Tribe. The Office of the RGI’s nod is mandatory for the inclusion of any community in ST lists, as per the procedure for scheduling tribes.
Lokur Committee Criteria
- The criteria of the Lokur Committee for recognition of any community under the ST list are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. Over the years, the criteria have come under severe criticism.
Government Task Force
- The government task force on Scheduling of Tribes constituted under the leadership of then Tribal Affairs Secretary, Hrusikesh Panda in February 2014, had concluded that these criteria
- May have become obsolete considering the process of transition and acculturation.
- Terms like “primitive and the requirement of primitivity to be a characteristic of Scheduled Tribe indicates a condescending attitude by outsiders”, adding, “What we consider primitive is not considered by the tribals themselves.”
- Accordingly, the Task Force had recommended changes to the criteria and based on this, the Tribal Affairs Ministry had in June 2014 prepared a draft Cabinet note to overhaul the criteria and procedure for scheduling of new communities as STs.
- The new criteria under the government’s consideration included,
- “Socio-economic, including educational, backwardness, vis-a-vis, the rest of the population of the State;
- Historical geographical isolation which may or may not exist today;
- Distinct language/dialect;
- Presence of a core culture relating to life-cycle, marriage, songs, dance, paintings, folklore;
- Endogamy, or in case of exogamy, marital relationship primarily with other STs
- This comes even as the government, until December, 2017, insisted in Parliament that it was considering a proposal to change the criteria for scheduling of new communities as STs based on the report of an internal task force, which had called these criteria “obsolete”, “condescending”, “dogmatic”, and “rigid”.
- In response to a query under the Right to Information Act, 2005, The Office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) replied that “A Report of the Advisory Committee on the revision of the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Lokur Committee 1965) is consulted for the scheduling of Tribes”.
- According to the Office of the RGI, it relies on census publications, which go back to 1891, along with materials provided by the nodal Union ministry and State governments, and then decides whether a community can be categorised as ST based on the Lokur Committee criteria.
- Office of RGI not having adequate anthropologists and sociologists to take such decisions, it also lacked the data for it, noting that inconsistencies in census records dating that far back presented more problems for categorisation based on the Lokur Committee’s criteria.
How does the Constitution define Scheduled Tribes?
- The Constitution of India identifies Scheduled Tribes as simply ones that are “deemed under Article 342 (1) to be Scheduled Tribes” as per the provisions of Article 366(25).
- In this regard, Article 342 combined with Article 366 only lays out the process to define Scheduled Tribes, wherein the “President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor, by a public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.”
- So essentially, the President is the sole authority to notify tribal communities as Scheduled Tribes as per the Constitution of India, with the Governor playing a recommendatory role.
- However, the Constitution has remained silent on the criterion for the identification of ST communities. Thus as a general convention, the recommendations of the 1965 Lokur Committee are followed to identify ST communities based on indicative criterion such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness.
- As per the 2011 Census, there are over 700 recognised Scheduled Tribes in India in 30 states and Union Territories. Five states/UTs comprising Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, NCT of Delhi, and Puducherry have no listed STs at present.
What are the Constitutional provisions for modifying ST lists?
- Article 342 clause (2) further provides that the “Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled tribes specified in a notification issued under clause(1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community.”
- So essentially, the Parliament is the sole authority to pass amendments to the Constitution to modify the lists. Additionally, the state governments play an advisory role, wherein the process to include tribes in the ST list starts with the recommendation of the respective State governments, which are then sent to the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which reviews and sends them to the Registrar General of India for approval. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes also monitors and approves the lists before it is sent to the Cabinet for a final go ahead.
What benefits accrue from being recognised as STs?
- The fifth and sixth schedules of the Constitution provide for greater autonomy to tribal communities in the administration of Scheduled areas and Tribal areas.
- The fifth schedule provides for the Tribes Advisory Council, which comprises 3/4th of its members from the STs, while the sixth schedule enlists provisions for autonomous district and regional councils. This is done to ensure that the tribal communities can preserve their unique culture.
- Additionally, the government has formulated multiple welfare schemes for the benefit and upliftment of ST communities, ranging from post-matric scholarship, overseas scholarship and the national fellowship, besides education, to concessional loans from the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation, and hostels for students.
- Furthermore, inclusion in ST lists also entitles tribal communities for the benefits of reservations in jobs and educational institutions as per government policies.
5 . Facts for Prelims
Golden Globe awards
- The Golden Globe Awards are accolades bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association starting in January 1944, recognizing excellence in both American and international film and television.
- The 80th Golden Globe Awards was conducted on 10th January, 2023 at Beverly Hilton in California
- SS Rajamouli’s RRR has created history becoming the first Indian film to win a Golden Globe. RRR won for Best Original song at the ongoing ceremony for Naatu Naatu.
- In 2009 A R Rahman wins the golden globe award for the Best Score for movie Slum dog Millionarie
Godavary estary and Indian Skimmer
- The Godavari estuary in Andhra Pradesh has become a prime and safe habitat for the Indian Skimmer.
- As many as 250 Indian Skimmers were sighted in the southern part of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary.
- In the Godavari estuary, one Indian Skimmer was sighted in 2013.
- Six tagged Indian Skimmers have been sighted during this census so far and five of them were tagged in the Mahanadi area and one in the Chambal area.
- Indian Skimmer migrates to the Godavari estuary for feeding
- The Indian skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) belongs to the family of skimmers, Rynchopidae.
- These skimmer species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Much of the Indian skimmer population is now confined to Pakistan and India.
- The bird has been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list of endangered species.
- These skimmers winter in southern Indian peninsula, Padma-Meghna delta in Bangladesh and Myanmar
- These skimmer species do not normally occur in forests.
- They inhabit various natural open, wetland ecosystems.
- The skimmers inhabit permanent freshwater lakes, permanent freshwater marshes, sandy, lowland rivers, permanent rivers, streams and creeks.
- The non-breeding population may move to estuaries and coasts.
- Major Threats:
- Excessive and widespread increases in disturbance
- Habitat degradation
- Predation by corvids like House crows (Corvus splendens), presence of stray and domestic dogs
White Tufted Royal Butterfly
- A team of butterfly observers and researchers have found White Tufted Royal Butterfly, a rare butterfly species at Kalliyad in Kannur.
- It is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
- The species had been spotted in Agasthyakoodam in 2017 and the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018.
- This finding of the butterfly indicated the rich fauna and flora of Kalliyad the place.
- The wingspan of the butterfly is just 32-40 mm. Its larvae feed on Scurrula parasitica, a plant belonging to the Loranthaceae family.
- White Tufted Royal Butterfly was a rare species and they were one among the eight species of the butterfly of which two are common and others are rare.