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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (1st May)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. AFSPA will continue in Nagaland: Rijiju

2. Power ministry feels no need to change electrification definition

A village declared electrified if 10% of its households have connection.

According to the definition, in place since October 1997, a village is deemed to be electrified if basic infrastructure such as a distribution transformer and distribution lines are in place in the inhabited locality, electricity is provided to public places like schools, panchayat office, health centres, dispensaries, community centres, and at least 10% of the households in the village are electrified.

Power ministry feels no need to change electrification definition

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana–“Saubhagya”

  1. Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ a new scheme was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 25th September 2017
  2. Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided
  3. There are around 4 Crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity connections by December 2018
  4. Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as its nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme

3. Evaluating the panchayati raj institutions at 25

Panchayati raj institutions are simultaneously a remarkable success and a staggering failure

Greater representation for women

  1. There are about 250,000 PRIs and urban local bodies, and over three million elected local government representatives
  2. The 73rd and 74th Amendments required that no less than one-third of the total seats in local bodies should be reserved for women
  3. At 1.4 million, India has the most women in elected positions. Seats and sarpanch/pradhan positions were also reserved for SC/ST candidates
  4. While India has always had reservations for elected representatives from disadvantaged groups like SC/STs, this is the only level of government with reservation for women

On all other margins except representation, PRIs are either a failure or a series of missed opportunities
The first failure: Very little devolution of authority

  1. The transfer of various governance functions—like the provision of education, health, sanitation, and water was not mandated
  2. Instead the amendment listed the functions that could be transferred, and left it to the state legislature to actually devolve functions
  3. There has been very little devolution of authority and functions in the last 25 years
  4. PRIs cannot govern unless they are given the authority to actually perform functions related to governance

The second failure: The lack of finances for PRIs

  1. Local governments can either raise their own revenue through local taxes or receive intergovernmental transfers
  2. The 73th Amendment recognized both forms of public finance, but did not mandate either
  3. The power to tax, even for subjects falling within the purview of PRIs, has to be specifically authorized by the state legislature
  4. The 73rd Amendment let this be a choice open to the state legislatures—a choice that most states have not exercised
  5. The constitutional amendment created provisions for State Finance Commissions to recommend the revenue share between state and local governments
  6. However, these are merely recommendations and the state governments are not bound by them
  7. As a result, PRIs are so starved for funds that they are often unable to meet even payroll obligations
  8. They are reluctant to take on projects that require any meaningful financial outlay, and are often unable to solve even the most basic local governance needs

What should be done?

  1. The only long-term solution is to foster genuine fiscal federalism
  2. where PRIs raise a large portion of their own revenue and face hard budget constraints, i.e. fiscal autonomy accompanied by fiscal responsibility
  3. Without the functions and finances, PRIs will only be an expensive failure

4. India, Pakistan to take part in war games

Counter-terror drill planned in Russia

  1. In a first, India and Pakistan will be part of a multi-nation counter-terror exercise in Russia in September
  2. It will also be joined by China and several other countries
  3. The military exercise will take place under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO)
  4. The SCO is a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO
  5. Almost all SCO member countries will be part of it

Aim of the exercise

  1. The main aim of the exercise, Peace Mission, will be to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight member countries

Why is this exercise special?

  1. It will be for the first time since Independence that India and Pakistan will be part of a military exercise,
  2. though the armies of the two nations have worked together in U.N. peacekeeping missions

India as a member of the SCO

  1. India feels that as an SCO member, it will be able to play a major role in addressing the threat of terrorism in the region
  2. It is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), which specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence

5. Raja Mandala: Lessons from Korea

India, Pakistan could take a cue from peace talks in the Peninsula.

North Korea and South Korea have announced plans to end the peninsula’s seven-decade war. The historic summit came in the wake of an unlikely series of events including missile testing; Twitter threats by the U.S. president; a unified display at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang; and finally, a sit-down between the leaders of North and South Korea.

Here’s a brief timeline of events that led to this important meeting:

  • 1994: A meeting between North and South Korean leaders was canceled after the death of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.
  • 1998: Former dissident Kim Dae-jung is elected president of South Korea; he calls for an end to “Cold War style” relations.
  • 2000: North and South Korean leaders meet for first talks; Kim Dae-jung wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward reconciliation
  • 2007: Second meeting between North and South takes place
  • 2008: So-called Sunshine Policy ends, cooling relations between North and South
  • January 1, 2017: Kim Jong-un announces that plans to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile have “reached the final stage.”
  • August 9: Trump says North Korea had best not make more threats, leading North Korea to announce a plan to launch missiles toward Guam.
  • September 19: Trump refers to Kim as “Rocket Man” in his address to the UN General Assembly, saying he could “totally destroy North Korea.”
  • September 22: Kim accuses Trump of “mentally deranged behavior.”
  • January 1, 2018: Kim calls for improved relations with South Korea, while noting that he has a nuclear button on his desk. Trump responds that he also has a nuclear button.
  • January 3: North Korea calls South Korea via a hotline on the DMZ for the first time in almost two years.
  • January 9: North and South Korean officials meet and agree on North Korea sending athletes and delegates to the Olympics.
  • February 23: Trump calls for new sanctions on North Korea.
  • March 8: Trump accepts Kim’s invitation to meet.
  • March 26-28: Kim Jong-un makes first foreign visit, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
  • April 18: Trump confirms that the CIA chief secretly met with Kim in North Korea.
  • April 23: South Korea stopped blasting K-Pop into the DMZ.
  • April 27: North and South Korea leaders meet.

6. Big city blues

Cities are not abstract or static entities. Master Plans must reflect local realities and aspirations.

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