Current Affairs 21st March 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Context: As per the outcome budget presented by the finance minister of Delhi, almost 68% of the public works department (PWD) projects undertaken by the city government are progressing as planned.
About Outcome Budgeting:
- Outcome budget is a unique system to track the status of the budget promises.
- It is a progress card on what various Ministries and Departments have done with the outlays in the previous annual budget.
- Measure: It measures the development outcomes of all government programs and whether the money has been spent for the purpose it was sanctioned including the outcome of the fund usage.
- Features: An interesting feature of outcome-based budgeting is that the outcomes of programmes are measured not just in terms of Rupees but also in terms of physical units like Kilowatt of energy produced or tonnes of steel produced.
- Also, outcomes are expressed in terms of qualitative targets and achievements to make the technique more comprehensive.
- Introduction: In India, it was first introduced in 2005-06 by the then finance minister P. Chidambaram.
- Significance: It makes the budget more accountable and transparent.
- It effectively monitors the progress of the schemes regularly.
- It is a means to develop a linkage between the money spent by a government and the results which follow.
- Such a method acts as a micro-level performance-based finance planning and management tool in economic terminology.
Context: The Vaikom Satyagraha marked its 100th anniversary.
About Vaikom Satyagraha:
- Vaikom Satyagraha was a movement in Travancore (modern-day Kerala) for temple entry of the depressed classes.
- Location: It took place near the Shiva Temple at Vaikom, Kottayam district, Kerala during 1924-25.
- Vaikom was at that time a part of the princely state of Travancore.
- Participants: Gandhiji, Chatampi Swamikal and Sree Narayana Guru supported the movement.
- E V Ramaswami Naicker (Periyar) came from Tamil Nadu to support the movement.
- Leaders T K Madhavan and K P Kesava Menon were arrested.
- The event: The movement gained prominence in the whole of India and support came from far and wide.
- The Akalis of Punjab supported by fixing kitchens to supply food to the Satyagrahis.
- Even Christian and Muslim leaders were in support of the movement. However, Gandhiji wanted the movement to be an intra-Hindu affair.
- On Gandhiji’s advice, the movement was taken back temporarily in April 1924.
- After discussions with caste Hindu group failed, the leaders again started the movement.
Effects & Significance
- On 23rd November 1925, all the gates of the temple were opened to Hindus except the eastern gate.
- In 1928, backward castes got the right to walk on public roads leading to all temples in Travancore.
- This was the first time that an organized movement was being conducted on such a massive scale for the basic rights of the untouchables and other backward castes in Kerala.
Context: Spring equinox is observed on Mar 21, 2023.
About Spring Equinox
- Spring Equinox 2023 or vernal equinox: It is the astronomical beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern hemisphere experiences autumn after the event.
- Spring Equinox reflects slightly more daylight than the darkness and most of it depends on your location on the planet.
- Spring Equinox Phenomenon: In its journey between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn, the Sun passes through the equator twice a year, once during March and again during September.
- These days are referred to as the equinoxes, observed twice yearly.
- There is an imaginary line from North to South called the axis along where the Earth rotates. This rotation is responsible for day and light.
- The axis tilts at 23.5 degrees.
- This brings more sunlight to one hemisphere of the planet as compared to the other for half of the year’s orbit around the sun. This difference in sunlight results in different seasons.
- More effect is visible, especially in late June and late December.
- Equinoxes are the only times the Northern and Southern hemisphere experience roughly equal amounts of daytime and night-time.
Cultural Celebration of Equinox
- The Persian New Year, Nowruz falls on the first day of spring that welcomes all the positivity, peace, and prosperity.
- In China, during the spring equinox, the “trying to stand egg upright” game is played.
- In Japan, the Spring Equinox is declared a public holiday to celebrate the new beginning through family gatherings and paying visits to the graves of family members.
Human Development Index (HDI)
Context: India’s economic growth has not led to the increase in its Human Development Index (HDI).
About Human Development Index
- The HDI is a composite statistical measure created by the UNDP to evaluate and compare the level of human development across regions around the world.
- Origin: HDI was introduced in 1990 as an alternative to conventional economic measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which failed to evaluate broader aspects of human development.
- HDI assesses a country’s average accomplishment using three broad indicators like:
- Long and Healthy life (Life expectancy at birth)
- Knowledge (Mean years of schooling and Expected years of schooling)
- Decent Standard of Living (Gross National Income (GNI) per capita)
- HDI is calculated using the geometric mean of the normalized indices for the three dimensions of human development while applying the maximum and minimum values recommended by the UNDP and NSO.
- HDI scores range from 0 to 1, with higher values showing higher levels of human development.
- India’s Performance: India ranks 132 out of 191 countries in HDI report of 2021-22, which is lower than Bangladesh (129) and Sri Lanka (73).
Disparities Across India
- High performers: The five States with the highest HDI scores are Delhi, Goa, Kerala, Sikkim, and Chandigarh. Their scores make them equivalent to countries in Eastern Europe.
- States such as Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, have scores ranging between 0.7 and 0.799 and are classified as high human development States.
- Low performers: Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam make up the bottom of the list with medium HDI scores.
- States such as Odisha, Rajasthan, and West Bengal also join this category of states that have scores below the national average.
- The scores of the low-performing States are similar to those of African countries such as Congo, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia.
Reasons for Discrepancies
- Uneven distribution of growth: Economic growth across the country is unevenly distributed with top 10% of the Indian population holding over 77% of the wealth.
- Quality of services: While India has made significant progress in reducing poverty and increasing access to healthcare and education, the quality of such services is not up to the mark.
- Even distribution of growth: Human development must be prioritized alongside economic growth to ensure that the benefits of growth are more evenly distributed.
- The government must make efforts to address issues such as:
- Income inequality and gender inequality
- Quality of social services
- Environmental challenges
- Investments in social infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and basic household amenities like water, sanitation etc.
Joint Parliamentary Committee
Context: Recently, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned as the Opposition raised demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
What is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)?
- Aim: A JPC is set up by the Parliament for a special purpose, like for the detailed scrutiny of a subject or Bill.
- The JPC is an ad-hoc body. It is dissolved after its term ends or its task has been completed.
- There have been six JPCs set up so far.
- Members: It has members from both the Houses and from both the ruling parties and the opposition.
- Members of the JPC are decided by the Parliament. The number of members can vary – there is no fixed number.
- There are twice as many Lok Sabha members as the Rajya Sabha.
- Process: A JPC is set up after one House of Parliament has passed a motion and the other has agreed to it.
- Powers: The mandate of a JPC depends on the motion constituting it.
- A JPC is authorized to collect evidence in oral or written form or demand documents in connection with the matter.
- To fulfill its mandate, a JPC can scrutinize documents and summon people for questioning.
- It then submits a report and makes recommendations to the government.
- The proceedings and findings of the committee are confidential, except in matters of public interest.
- The government can take the decision to withhold a document if it is considered prejudicial to the safety or interest of the State.
- While the recommendations of a JPC have persuasive value, they are not binding on the government.
- The committee gets disbanded following the submission of its report to Parliament.
- The government can choose to launch further investigations based on what the JPC has said, but it can’t be forced to do so.
- The Speaker has the final word in case of a dispute over calling for evidence.
OPS vs NPS
Context: The Union Government has warned its employees against participating in strikes over demand for restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).
What is National Pension System?
- Introduction: National Pension System (NPS) is a voluntary, defined contribution retirement savings scheme.
- It is a government-sponsored pension scheme.
- The Union Government introduced it with effect from January 2004 (except for armed forces).
- Aim: It is designed to enable the subscribers to make optimum decisions regarding their future through systematic savings during their working life.
- Eligibility: The All-Citizens Model of the NPS allows all citizens of India (including NRIs).
- Regulator: Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is the regulator for NPS.
- It is an Authority set up by the Government of India through the PFRDA Act 2013 to promote old age income security.
- Contribution: It is a participatory scheme, where employees contribute to their pension corpus from their salaries, with matching contributions from the government.
- The funds are then invested in earmarked investment schemes through Pension Fund Managers.
- In this NPS, those employed by the government contribute 10% of their basic salary to NPS, while their employers contribute up to 14%.
- At retirement, they can withdraw 60% of the corpus, which is tax-free and the remaining 40% is invested in annuities, which is taxed.
- Even private individuals can opt for the scheme.
- Regulator: Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is the regulator for NPS.
- Determination of Pension: In NPS, the pension benefit is determined by factors such as the amount of contribution made, the age of joining, the type of investment, and the income drawn from that investment.
|Criteria||National Pension System (NPS)||Old Pension Scheme (OPS)|
|Nature of Scheme||NPS is a voluntary retirement savings scheme.||OPS is a Defined Benefit Scheme.|
|Coverage||All citizens of India (including NRIs) can join it.||Only Government employees were covered.|
|Contribution|| It is a participatory scheme, where employees contribute to their pension corpus from their salaries, with matching contributions from the government.
Employees contribute 10% of their basic salary to NPS, while employers contribute up to 14%.
|Here, the Government covers the full cost of the pension.|
|Benefit||No defined benefit as the accumulated wealth depends upon the contribution made.||The pension to government employees was fixed at 50% of the last drawn basic pay.
Hence, an assured or ‘defined’ benefit to the retiree.
|Pension Amount||The pension amount depends upon the number of years of service.
The longer the years of service, higher the contribution which will eventually lead to higher pension.
|Pension depends upon the last drawn salary.
Pension is equal to 50% of last drawn salary.