- CURRENT AFFAIRS – 05/12/2023
- One-third of all 2022 suicides were of daily wage earners, farmers: NCRB report
- Venezuela’s Referendum on Essequibo
- The need to transform agri-food systems
- Mapping the socio-economic changes in the lower Cauvery delta
- Coal phase-out in COP28 pledge
- What is All India Judicial Service, why it hasn’t been implemented?
CURRENT AFFAIRS – 05/12/2023
One-third of all 2022 suicides were of daily wage earners, farmers: NCRB report
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
India reported a total of over 1.7 lakh suicides in 2022, according to the National Crime Record Bureau’s (NCRB) Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) 2022 report.
- Notably, nearly one-third of these suicides were among daily wage earners, agricultural laborers, and farmers.
- The ADSI 2022 report, alongside the NCRB’s annual Crime in India (2022) report, was released on December 3.
- Suicide Statistics Across States
- The ADSI 2022 report provided a breakdown of suicides by state, indicating that Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Telangana reported the highest numbers.
- Maharashtra topped the list with 22,746 suicides.
- Apart from daily wage earners, agricultural workers, and farmers, the ADSI data highlighted that 9.6% of suicides in 2022 involved self-employed or salaried professionals.
- Unemployed individuals accounted for 9.2%, and over 12,000 suicides were of students.
- Certain states/UTs namely West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Lakshadweep and Puducherry among others reported zero suicides among farmers/cultivators and agricultural labourers.
- Suicides Among Women
- Among the approximately 48,000 women who died by suicide in 2022, the report found that over 52% were homemakers, constituting about 14% of the total suicides.
- Students and daily wage earners followed in the statistics.
- Additionally, the report identified 28 suicides among trans-persons.
- Common Causes for Suicides in 2022
- The report highlighted that “family problems” and “illness” were the most common causes for suicides in 2022, collectively accounting for nearly half of all reported cases.
- Other significant factors included “drug abuse,” “alcohol addiction,” and “marriage-related issues.”
- Notably, the cause of “marriage-related issues” predominantly affected women, with “dowry-related” issues cited as a significant contributor.
- The Crime in India (2022) report also highlighted an overall increase in crimes against SC and ST persons.
- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana witnessed a rise in such cases compared to the previous year.
- Mizoram, which reported no cases of atrocities against SC or ST individuals in 2021, documented five cases against SCs and 29 against STs in 2022.
- Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan remained among the top five states with the highest incidents of crimes against SC and ST people.
- Other states in this category included Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and Punjab.
- Increase in Offences Against the State
- The Crime in India report revealed a marginal increase in cases of offenses against the State in 2022, showing approximately a 25% rise in cases registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
- While cases under the sedition section of the Indian Penal Code saw a significant decline, this may be attributed to the Supreme Court’s May 2022 decision to keep sedition cases in abeyance.
- The decision likely influenced the decrease in reported sedition cases.
- Fake Indian Currency Seizures in 2022
- The report revealed that government authorities confiscated fake Indian currency notes (FICN) totaling over ₹342 crore in 2022.
- Notably, FICN worth ₹244 crore were copies of the ₹2,000 currency note, with seizures of ₹500 currency notes, including discontinued currency.
- This trend continued from 2021.
- The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is a government agency in India that functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Established in 1986, its primary objective is to collect and analyze crime data at the national level.
- The NCRB plays a crucial role in maintaining a comprehensive and systematic database of crime statistics, which is utilized for policy formulation, research, and law enforcement purposes.
- It publishes annual reports such as “Crime in India” and “Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India,” providing detailed statistics and analyses of crime patterns, trends, and demographics.
- NCRB oversees the implementation of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), an ambitious project aimed at creating a nationwide integrated database for crime-related information.
Venezuela’s Referendum on Essequibo
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
Venezuela has conducted a controversial referendum on whether to assert sovereignty over Essequibo, an oil-rich disputed region currently belonging to Guyana.
- Over 95% of voters, according to Venezuela’s electoral authorities, supported the country’s claim.
- The move has reignited historical tensions between the two South American nations.
- Historical Claims and Agreements:
- Venezuela has maintained claims over Essequibo, alleging its unlawful seizure during the colonial-era border delineation over a century ago.
- In 1966, a temporary Geneva Agreement was established between Venezuela, the U.K. (Guyana’s colonial power), and Guyana to maintain the status quo while seeking a peaceful resolution.
- Tensions subsided during the presidency of Hugo Chávez but resurfaced with Guyana’s economic transformation during an oil boom.
- Legal Dispute:
- Guyana, the only English-speaking country in Latin America, upholds the 1899 border agreement decided by international arbitrators (from Britain, Russia, and the U.S.) as final.
- In 2018, Guyana approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a ruling.
- Venezuela argues that it was not a party to the 1899 agreement and deems it null and void.
- When Guyana sought a ban on the referendum from the ICJ, it was denied, but Caracas was cautioned not to alter the status quo based on the vote.
- International Dynamics and Maduro’s Response:
- The international community, including the U.S., has increased pressure on President Nicolás Maduro to hold free elections.
- While recent U.S. sanctions were eased following a deal between the Maduro government and the opposition for upcoming elections, Maduro has dismissed the ICJ’s jurisdiction over the dispute.
- Facing domestic challenges, including economic hardships and hyperinflation, Maduro’s pursuit of a border crisis could serve as a distraction but offers no resolution to Venezuela’s multiple crises.
Background of the Essequibo Territorial Dispute
The Essequibo territorial dispute involves a long-standing disagreement between Venezuela and Guyana over a significant and resource-rich region known as Essequibo.
- The origins of the dispute date back to the late 19th century when the region of Essequibo, located on the northeastern coast of South America, was a contested area between British Guiana (now Guyana) and Venezuela.
- The conflict emerged during the demarcation of borders between colonial powers, specifically the United Kingdom and Venezuela.
- 1899 Arbitration Agreement:
- In 1899, to resolve the territorial claims, an arbitration tribunal composed of representatives from Britain, Russia, and the United States was established.
- This tribunal, known as the Paris Arbitral Tribunal, issued an award that delineated the boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela.
- Venezuelan Rejection and Geneva Agreement (1966):
- Venezuela did not accept the 1899 decision, claiming that the arbitral award was invalid. Tensions simmered over the decades.
- In 1966, amid escalating tensions, Venezuela and the United Kingdom (Guyana’s colonial ruler at the time) entered into the Geneva Agreement.
- This agreement aimed to maintain the status quo in the disputed territory while seeking a peaceful resolution.
- Hugo Chávez Era and Relative Calm:
- During the presidency of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), the dispute experienced a period of relative calm.
- Chávez’s administration focused on domestic and regional issues, contributing to a temporary reduction in tensions.
- Renewed Tensions and Oil Discoveries:
- Tensions flared up again as significant oil discoveries were made off the coast of Guyana, transforming the country’s economic prospects.
- Venezuela, under President Nicolás Maduro, reasserted its historical claims over Essequibo.
The need to transform agri-food systems
(General Studies- Paper I)
Source : TH
A recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) highlights the substantial hidden costs of global agrifood systems, surpassing $10 trillion.
- The report emphasizes that these costs, amounting to nearly 11% of the GDP in middle-income countries like India, lead to increased poverty, environmental degradation, and health-related issues, including undernourishment and unhealthy dietary patterns.
- Root Causes: Unsustainable Business
- The report attributes the escalating costs to “unsustainable business-as-usual activities and practices” within agrifood systems.
- It underscores the urgent need for a transformation in these systems to address the negative consequences on various fronts.
- Impact of Intensive Agriculture in India:
- The report delves into the impacts of intensive agriculture in India, particularly focusing on the Green Revolution’s influence over the past five decades.
- The Green Revolution, marked by monocropping and chemical-intensive farming practices, significantly increased agricultural productivity but came with hidden costs.
- Monocropping, promoted by the Green Revolution, led to the dominance of high-yielding varieties of paddy and wheat, comprising over 70% of India’s agricultural production.
- This transition undermined seed sovereignty, displaced Indigenous knowledge systems, and resulted in a decline in diverse crop varieties and staples like pulses and millets, impacting both nutrition and ecological health.
- Adverse Ecological Consequences and Soil Health:
- The adverse ecological consequences of intensive agriculture, including compromised soil fertility and excessive extraction of groundwater is also highlighted.
- The use of seeds from multinational corporations and chemical fertilizers has contributed to these environmental challenges.
- Privatization and Deregulation Impact on Farmers:
- The privatization and deregulation of agricultural inputs have increased indebtedness among agrarian households in India.
- The debt to asset ratio of a farmer household in 2013 was 630% higher than in 1992, signalling the growing financial challenges faced by farmers.
- The economic viability of agriculture in India is highlighted as a growing concern, with the average monthly household income of farming households reportedly at Rs 10,816.
- This emphasizes the economic challenges faced by those engaged in agriculture.
- The report suggests a shift towards multi-cropping systems as a potential solution to protect farmers’ well-being, enhance nutritional outcomes, and positively impact ecological health.
- It aligns with the FAO report’s call for transforming agrifood systems to address the hidden costs associated with current unsustainable practices.
- Food Security in India:
- The National Food Security Act 2013 assures 65% of households, around 800 million people, the right to subsidized food through programs like the Public Distribution System, Integrated Child Development Services, and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
- However, the procurement policy heavily favours rice and wheat, leading to challenges in diversification and threatening food security.
- The disparities in food grain procurement is evident, with the Food Corporation of India heavily favouring wheat and rice over coarse grains like jowar, bajra, ragi, maize, and barley.
- In 2019-2020, the FCI procured substantial quantities of wheat and rice, while coarse grains accounted for less than 1% of total food grain procurement.
- This has led to a decline in cultivation area for coarse grains, impacting food security and biodiversity.
- The focus on rice and wheat cultivation, along with policies favoring cash crops like sugarcane and arecanut, negatively affects small and marginal farmers, making them vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity.
- The expansion of sugarcane cultivation contributes to biodiversity loss, groundwater depletion, and pollution.
- Global Trade Influence on Local Agriculture:
- Global trade relations historically have influenced food production systems in the Global South, impacting local farmers.
- Fluctuations in global soy prices, for example, affected income for soy farmers in the Malwa region.
- Role of Crop Diversification in Addressing Issues:
- A systemic shift from local to global value chains is necessary to address complex systemic issues.
- It emphasizes the importance of crop diversification, rooted in agroecology principles, as a solution to revitalize degraded land and soil.
- Practices like ‘akkadisaalu’ in Karnataka involve intercropping with a variety of crops and livestock, promoting sustainability and ecosystem services.
- The crop diversification such as introduction of Milletsdoes not necessarily mean a decline in farmer income.
- Millets, with comparable yields to rice and wheat, are more nutritious, grow in semi-arid conditions without depleting groundwater, and contribute to a diversified food basket.
- Redirecting subsidies, currently benefiting corporations, towards supporting farmers for their contribution to sustaining natural capital should be a viable approach.
- This approach aims to encourage sustainable farming practices, preserve natural resources, and ensure nutritional security.
Mapping the socio-economic changes in the lower Cauvery delta
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
The Foundation for Agrarian Studies initiated a project in 2018 focusing on studying agrarian relations in the lower Cauvery delta, with specific attention given to two villages—Palakurichi and Venmani.
- The study aims to analyze economic and social changes in these villages, exploring questions related to agrarian dynamics, water supply, and changes in crop patterns.
- Historical Significance of Palakurichi and Venmani:
- Palakurichi, situated in Kilvelur taluk, has been a subject of study by economists since the early 20th century. Venmani includes the hamlet of Keelavenmani, where a tragic incident occurred on December 25, 1968.
- Forty-four Dalit individuals were forced into a hut and set on fire, highlighting historical social injustices.
- Both villages are located at the “tail-end” of the Cauvery irrigation system, making them significantly impacted by fluctuations in Cauvery water supply.
- The lower Cauvery delta was historically known for rice cultivation and agricultural surplus.
- However, it was also characterized by severe exploitation and oppression of working people by feudal landlords and the state.
- The agrarian regime witnessed changes, leading to alterations in crop cultivation, production relations, and the decline of oppressive practices.
- Decline in Rice Cultivation and Water Supply Challenges:
- Survey data from the reference year 2018-2019 reveals a decline in the delta’s status as a rice cultivation hub in Tamil Nadu.
- This decline corresponds to changes in water-sharing agreements between Karnataka (source of the Cauvery) and Tamil Nadu.
- The region shifted from being a double-cropped area during the ‘green revolution’ to a single rice-crop region at the time of the survey.
- Rice yields also decreased from earlier levels recorded in Palakurichi village.
- Factors Contributing to Change in Crop Patterns:
- Apart from uneven Cauvery water supply, the study identifies inadequate responses from agriculture and irrigation policies to address the challenges posed by declining water availability.
- No introduction of crops suitable for the new water regime or modernization of micro-level irrigation systems occurred.
- The region experienced droughts and cyclones, highlighting the need for crop regimes and agricultural policies adapted to intermittent drought and cyclonic activity.
- Despite the decline of gains from the green revolution, the study notes a lack of major new sources of economic activity or production beyond crop production, particularly rice.
- The absence of economic diversification poses challenges to the region’s resilience and sustainability.
- The findings underscore the need for tailored agricultural policies considering the region’s water challenges and climatic conditions.
- The study suggests that addressing crop patterns and introducing economic diversification could contribute to the overall well-being and sustainability of the lower Cauvery delta.
- Social Inequality in Lower Cauvery Delta:
- The social differences and persisting inequalities in the lower Cauvery delta, particularly in villages like Palakurichi and Venmani is also highlighted.
- While acknowledging a reduction in the oppression faced by agricultural workers and Dalits, it is noted that landlords continue to maintain a hierarchy marked by acute inequality.
- Landownership patterns, access to education, and sources of non-agricultural employment contribute to the perpetuation of social disparities.
- Despite some easing of oppression, landlords, constituting a small percentage of households, exert significant control over land, maintaining a disproportionate share.
- In Palakurichi, the top 2% of households own 38% of agricultural land, while in Venmani, the top 1% owns 18% of all land.
- Landlords often do not engage in major agricultural operations and have greater access to educational and employment opportunities outside agriculture.
- Landownership Changes Among Dalits:
- The study notes a historic change in the landownership structure, highlighting that Dalit households in both villages now own some land.
- This represents a significant shift in the traditionally skewed land distribution in the lower Cauvery delta.
- The largest class in the villages are a class of wage labour, engaged in various agricultural and non-agricultural jobs.
- Historic Changes and Limitations of Economic Development:
- Historic changes in the relations of production are attributed to decades of class and anti-caste struggles by Dalits and the Left.
- Despite progress, there are limitations to the success of “growth without structural change” in addressing economic development, employment, and social-economic inequality.
- The analysis underscores that while Tamil Nadu has made strides compared to poorer-performing states, the absence of significant changes in production relations, particularly land reform, perpetuates acute inequalities based on class, caste, and gender.
- The conclusion emphasizes the necessity for structural changes to address deeply embedded social disparities in the region.
Coal phase-out in COP28 pledge
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Indian Express
India refrains from endorsing a renewable energy pledge at the COP28 climate meeting, emphasizing its commitment to using coal for electricity generation alongside increasing renewable energy capacity.
- The pledge sought to triple global renewable energy installed capacity by 2030 but included references to coal phase-out and cessation of fresh investments in the sector, diverging from India’s position on coal.
- India’s Coal Continuity:
- Despite global calls for a shift away from coal, India remains steadfast in using coal for electricity generation, citing economic and developmental imperatives.
- Foreign Secretary Vinay Kawatra clarified India’s stance, highlighting the impracticality of a sudden abandonment of coal.
- The pledge was not part of COP discussions but an initiative by the host country to form alliances on specific subjects for greater climate actions.
- Such pledges lack legal sanctity and often fade over time.
- India, historically cautious in joining such platforms, did not endorse the pledge due to its coal-related references.
- Resistance to Health Declaration:
- India is expected to resist endorsing a health declaration at COP28 due to references to curbing emissions from the health sector.
- While over 120 countries supported the declaration highlighting climate change’s impact on human health, India maintains its position against sectoral approaches outside the UNFCCC framework.
- India typically refrains from participating in initiatives with sensitive issues that could prejudice its positions in climate change negotiations.
- Pledges and declarations outside negotiated documents lack nuanced language and may impact India’s negotiation stances.
What is All India Judicial Service, why it hasn’t been implemented?
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : The Indian Express
During the Supreme Court’s Constitution Day celebration, President DroupadiMurmu called for the establishment of an “All-India Judicial Service” to recruit judges.
- The proposal aims to enhance judicial diversity by increasing representation from marginalized social groups.
Constitutional Basis for All-India Judicial Service (AIJS):
- Article 312 of the Constitution allows for the creation of an All-India Judicial Service, akin to central civil services.
- The Rajya Sabha, through a resolution with at least two-thirds support, can declare the need for such a service in the national interest.
- Parliament, by law, can then establish and regulate the recruitment and service conditions for the AIJS.
- AIJS Structure and Limitations:
- The AIJS cannot include any post inferior to that of a district judge, as specified in Article 236.
- District judge positions encompass various roles, such as city civil court judge, additional district judge, and assistant district judge.
- The AIJS aims to centralize the recruitment of judges at the level of additional district judges and district judges for all states.
- Departure from the Present Selection System:
- The current system, guided by Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution, places the appointment of district judges under the domain of the states.
- State Public Service Commissions and High Courts conduct the selection process, with High Courts interviewing candidates for appointment to the subordinate judiciary.
- The Provincial Civil Services (Judicial) exam, commonly known as the judicial services exam, is used to select judges up to the district judge level.
- Centralization and Assignment Process:
- The proposed AIJS seeks to centralize the recruitment process, similar to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) model.
- Successful candidates would then be assigned to specific states, transforming the current decentralized approach.
- Historical Context and Law Commission Reports:
- The proposal for an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) dates back to the Law Commission’s 1958 report on judicial administration reforms.
- The primary aim was to address structural issues such as disparate pay, faster vacancy filling, and standardized training for the subordinate judiciary across states.
- The concept was revisited in the 1978 Law Commission Report, highlighting concerns about case delays in lower courts.
- Parliamentary Committee Support and Draft Bill (2006):
- In 2006, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice endorsed the idea of a pan-Indian judicial service.
- The committee also prepared a draft bill to formalize the establishment of the AIJS.
- Supreme Court Rulings and Directives:
- In 1992, the Supreme Court, in the case ‘All India Judges’ Association (1) v. UOI,’ directed the Centre to establish the AIJS.
- However, in a 1993 review of the judgment, the court granted the Centre the freedom to take initiatives on the matter.
- In 2017, the Supreme Court, through suomotu cognizance, explored the issue of district judge appointments and suggested a “Central Selection Mechanism.”
- Central Selection Mechanism Proposal (2017):
- Senior advocate Arvind Datar, acting as the amicus curiae, proposed a Central Selection Mechanism in 2017.
- The concept involved conducting a common examination at the national level instead of separate state exams for district judge appointments.
- High Courts would then conduct interviews based on the merit list, aiming to maintain the constitutional framework and preserve state and High Court powers.
- The historical evolution of the AIJS proposal stems from concerns about judicial efficiency, standardization of training, and addressing delays in lower courts.
- The idea has received support from various legal and administrative bodies, reflecting a broader push for reform in India’s judicial administration.
- Challenges in Implementing the All-India Judicial Service (AIJS):
- Comprehensive Proposal and Committee Approval (2012):
- The Centre initiated the process of establishing the AIJS by presenting a comprehensive proposal, gaining approval from the Committee of Secretaries in November 2012.
- In April 2013, the AIJS proposal was discussed as an agenda item in the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of the High Court.
- However, participants agreed that further deliberation was necessary, leading to the solicitation of views from state governments and High Courts.
- Lack of Consensus and Chief Justices Conference (April 2015):
- Despite efforts, consensus on the AIJS creation remained elusive.
- In the Chief Justices Conference in April 2015, the matter was included again, focusing on aiding district judge recruitments and reviewing the selection process.
- However, the decision was made for High Courts to devise suitable methods within the existing system for filling judicial vacancies.
- Discussion on Eligibility, Criteria, and Reservation (January 2017):
- In January 2017, a meeting chaired by the Minister of Law and Justice, involving key officials like the Attorney General, Solicitor General, and Department of Justice secretaries, delved into aspects of the AIJS.
- Topics included eligibility, age criteria, selection criteria, qualifications, and reservation.
- Despite discussions, the proposal did not progress to the implementation stage.
- Diverging Opinions and Lack of Consensus (March 2017):
- In March 2017, former Union Law Minister KirenRijiju acknowledged the absence of consensus on the AIJS proposal.
- Divergent opinions among major stakeholders hindered agreement, leading to a standstill in the establishment of the All-India Judicial Service.
- Comprehensive Proposal and Committee Approval (2012):