GS Paper Prelims

Huge cache of red sanders logs seized in Chennai

What’s Happening-
For the first time, police recover various products made out of smuggled wood.
The red sanders trail has, yet again, led the Tirupati Urban cops to Chennai.

Key points discussed were:

  • The policemen nabbed a notorious smuggler V. Nedunchezhiyan of Tiruvottriyur in Chennai.
  • based upon the information provided by him, recovered a huge cache of red sanders weighing nine tonnes.
  • The logs were found hidden in two godowns belonging to international smuggler Khaja Mohideen alias ‘Khajabhai’ in Mathur Telecom Nagar, abutting Madhavaram-Manali high road, on the outskirts of Chennai.
  • The policemen were taken aback to see the redwood not just as logs, but also in various forms such as powder, chips, beads and art pieces.
  • This gives a new angle to the history of seizure of logs, revealing the direct or indirect involvement of craftsmen, who have converted the red sanders logs into eye-catching artefacts.

Background-
Pterocarpus santalinus, with the common names red sanders, red sandalwood, and saunderswood , is a species of .
Found in southern  mountain range of .
This tree is valued for the rich red colour of its wood.
The wood is not aromatic.
The  has historically been valued in .

2016 prelims question:

With reference to ‘Red Sanders’, sometimes seen in the news, consider the following statements:
It is a tree species found in a part of South India.
It is one of the most important trees in the tropical rain forest areas of South India.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
1 only
2 only
Both 1 and 2
Neither 1 nor 2

Solution: A

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.

GS Paper III Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries

Why can’t FM stations broadcast news, asks SC

What’s Happening-
Supreme Court has its way, private FM radio stations will have an essential role to play in the world’s largest democracy — dissemination of news.
They will have to exercise the right to inform with fairness and without prejudice and the right to counter and question the government’s version of news.

Key points discussed were:

  • The Bench asked why there should be a continuing prohibition on FM radio stations and community radios from airing their own news and current affairs on a par with private TV channels and the print media.
  • Government control
  • The court asked why the government wanted to control news on radio.
  • The government’s prohibition, Common Cause argued, was in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict in 1995 in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal.
  • The apex court then held that “airwaves are public property to be used to promote public good and expressing a plurality of views, opinions and ideas”.
  • “Policy Guidelines and of the Grant of Permission Agreements framed by the government which prohibit private FM radio stations and community radio stations from broadcasting their own news and current affairs programmes are clearly violative of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

Background-
Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud picked up from a plethora of pending public interest litigation petitions a 2013 one filed by Common Cause for a judicial declaration to end the monopoly of the Prasar Bharati Corporation, which owns and operates All India Radio, over news broadcasting and current affairs programmes.
The radio is an inevitable part of the ordinary Indian’s life.
the radio has been an inseparable friend for many.

Sources-The Hindu, The Indian Express. Page 20

GS Paper II- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of
their design and implementation. .

Expert panel asks govt to revise criteria for MGNREGS funding

What’s Happening-
Government funds meant for the rural poor under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme or MGNREGS.
However, they are ending up in wealthy states rather than those with the greatest concentration of landless labourers and the poor, says a panel of experts.

About Panel:
the panel—constituted to identify beneficiaries and prioritize funds for their uplift.
recommended that MGNREGS prioritize people suffering from multiple deprivations in order to reduce poverty.
The recommendations are based on data from the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).
the panel of experts led by former finance secretary Sumit Bose.

Background-
MGNREGA is an  and  measure that aims to guarantee the .
It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Report Findings:
report submitted to the rural development ministry.
recommended that the SECC criteria of automatic exclusions cannot be applied to MGNREGS because it is a demand-driven scheme.
According to the panel, the states with higher concentrations of poor people are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
But the top recipients of the funds under the programme are Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
The expert group has noted that funds released to the top five states (in terms of total fund disbursement) is around 50% during the last three years.
During 2013-14 and 2014-15, amongst these states, only Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal find place from amongst the list of states where concentration of deprivation is the most.
Note: The rural poor in Bihar is six times that in Tamil Nadu but allocation of funds under MGNREGS for Tamil Nadu is four time more than in the case of Bihar.

Way Ahead:
MGNREGS needs to be more focussed towards the regions where there is greater concentration of landless labourer or people are suffering from multi-dimensional deprivations in order to bring about change in the socio-economic landscape of the poor regions of the country.
The rural development ministry, therefore, needs to evolve some institutional arrangement.
This will ensure better performance of the scheme and will also help in changing the socio-economic landscape of the poor regions of the country.