PRELIM SNIPPETS – February 08th 2022
1. Dholes or Asiatic Wild Dogs
Why in News?
- Recently, a new study has reported the presence of dholes or Asiatic wild dogs in the high mountains of Central Asia nearly 30 years after their presence was last recorded.
- The animals have been discovered in the Bek-Tosot Conservancy in the Osh region of southern Kyrgyzstan, a few kilometres from the Tajik border. It lies in the Pamir mountain range of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China.
- Dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a wild carnivorous animal and is a member of the family Canidae and the class Mammalia. They are also known as Asian wild dogs.
- Historically, dholes purportedly occurred throughout southern Russia, all across central Asia, south Asia and southeast Asia.
- According to recent research and current distribution maps, they are restricted to south and southeast Asia, with the northernmost populations in China.
- In India, they are found in three clusters across India namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India.
- Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh rank high in the conservation of the endangered dhole in India, according to a study (2020).
- Ecological role: Dholes play an important role as apex predators in forest ecosystems.
- Its Conservation Status are IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix II and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule II
2. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Why in News?
- Pakistan has recently signed a new agreement with China to begin the second phase of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
- Pakistan had discussed Taliban-led Afghanistan joining the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project.
- The second phase primarily revolves around Special Economic Zones (SEZs) development and Industrialisation.
- CPEC is a 3,000-km long route of infrastructure projects connecting China’s northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Gwadar Port in the western province of Balochistan in Pakistan.
- It is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China, intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects.
- It will pave the way for China to access the Middle East and Africa from Gwadar Port, enabling China to access the Indian Ocean and in return China will support development projects in Pakistan to overcome the latter’s energy crises and stabilising its faltering economy.
- CPEC is a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI, launched in 2013, aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
- India has been severely critical of the CPEC, as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan.
- India has also protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- India is a member of the Quad (India, the US, Australia and Japan) which can provide realistic alternatives for countries looking for infrastructure and be an alternative to China. The member countries of the Quad have come up with some alternatives.
- For Example: Blue Dot Network (BDN) and Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative’.
3. Chauri Chaura- 100 Years
Why in News?
- The Prime Minister has recently paid tribute to the heroes of freedom struggle on completion of the hundred years of Chauri Chaura incident.
- The incident (4th February, 1922) occurred at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, (modern Uttar Pradesh) in British India.
- During this incident, a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police, who opened fire.
- The Demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station in retaliation, killing all of its Occupants.
- In response to this, Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the Non-Cooperation Movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this Incident.
- On 1th August, 1920, Gandhiji had launched the Non-Cooperation Movement against the Government.
- It involved using swadeshi and boycott of foreign goods, especially machine made cloth, and legal, educational and administrative institutions, “refusing to assist a ruler who misrules”.
- A Chauri Chaura Support Fund was set up to demonstrate “genuine sympathy” and seek atonement.
- Gandhi bent the Congress Working Committee to his will, and on 12th February, 1922, the satyagraha (movement) was formally suspended.
- Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders leading the Non-Cooperation movement were shocked that Gandhiji had stopped the struggle when the civil resistance had consolidated their position in the freedom movement.
- Other leaders like Motilal Nehru and CR Das recorded their dismay at Gandhi’s decision and decided to establish the Swaraj Party.
- The Disillusionment resulting from the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement nudged many of the younger Indian nationalists towards the conclusion that India would not be able to throw off colonial rule through non-violence.
Why in News?
- The Competition Commission of India (CCI) issued its final order in an alleged case of cartelization involving four Japanese shipping firms, asking them to desist from avoiding competition with each other.
What is a Cartel?
- According to CCI, a “Cartel includes an association of producers, sellers, distributors, Traders or service providers who, by agreement amongst themselves, limit, control or attempt to control the production, distribution, sale or price of, or, trade in goods or provision of services”.
- The International Competition Network, which is a global body dedicated to enforcing Competition Law, has a simpler definition.
- The Three Common Components of a cartel are:
- An agreement
- Between competitors
- To restrict competition
What is Cartelization?
- Cartelization is when enterprises collude to fix prices, indulge in bid rigging, or share customers, etc.
- But when prices are controlled by the government under a law, that is not cartelization.
- The Competition Act contains strong provisions against cartels.
- It also has the leniency provision to incentivise a party to a cartel to break away and report to the Commission, and thereby expect total or partial leniency.
- This has proved a highly effective tool against cartels worldwide.
- Cartels almost invariably involve secret conspiracies.
How do they work?
- Four categories of conduct are commonly identified across jurisdictions (countries). These are:
- Output Restrictions
- market allocation and Bid-rigging
- In sum, participants in hard-core cartels agree to insulate themselves from the rigours of a competitive marketplace, substituting cooperation for competition.
How do Cartels Hurt?
- They not only directly hurt the Consumers but also, indirectly, undermine overall economic Efficiency and Innovations.
- A successful cartel raises the price above the competitive level and reduces output.
- Consumers choose either not to pay the higher price for some or all of the cartelized product that they desire, thus forgoing the product, or they pay the cartel price and thereby unknowingly transfer wealth to the cartel operators.
Are there Provisions in the Competition Act against Monopolistic Prices?
- There are provisions in the Competition Act against abuse of dominance.
- One of the abuses is when a dominant enterprise “directly or indirectly imposes unfair or discriminatory prices” in purchase or sale of goods or services.
- Thus, excessive pricing by a dominant enterprise could, in certain conditions, be regarded as an abuse and, therefore, subject to investigation by the Competition Commission if it were fully functional.
- However, it should be understood that where pricing is a result of normal supply and demand, the Competition Commission may have no role.
What is the Penalty for Cartelization?
- The Competition Act calls for a penalty on each member of the cartel, which is up to three times its profit for each year of anti-competitive behaviour, or 10% of turnover for each year of its continuance, whichever is higher.
- However, in case of a leniency petition, CCI can waive penalty depending on the timing and usefulness of the disclosure and full cooperation in the probe.
How Might Cartels be worse than Monopolies?
- It is generally well understood that monopolies are bad for both individual consumer interest as well as the society at large.
- That’s because a monopolist completely dominates the concerned market and, more often than not, abuses this dominance either in the form of charging higher than warranted prices or by providing lower than the warranted quality of the good or service in question.
How to stop the Spread of Cartelization?
- Cartels are not easy to detect and identify.
- As such, experts often suggest providing a strong deterrence to those cartels that are found Guilty of being one.
- Typically this takes the form of a monetary penalty that exceeds the gains amassed by the Cartel.
- However, it must also be pointed out that it is not always easy to ascertain the exact gains from Cartelization.
- In fact, the threat of stringent penalties can be used in conjunction with providing leniency — as was done in the beer case.
5. Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
Why in News?
- The Government’s recent Announcement that the maternity benefit Programme which provides ₹5,000 for first child will be extended to cover the second child only if it is a girl has met with sharp criticism from activists who have demanded that it be universalized.
What is PMMVY?
- Launched in 2017, this scheme provides ₹5,000 for the birth of the first child to partially compensate a woman for loss of wages.
- It also aims to improve the nutritional well-being of the mother and the child.
- The amount is given in three installments upon meeting certain conditions.
- It is combined with another scheme, Janani Suraksha Yojana, under which nearly ₹1,000 is given for an institutional birth, so that a woman gets a total of ₹6,000.
- The first transfer (at pregnancy trimester) of ₹1,000 requires the mother to:
- Register pregnancy at the Anganwadi Centre (AWC) whenever she comes to know about her conception
- Attend at least one prenatal care session and taking Iron-folic acid tablets and TT1 (tetanus toxoid injection), and
- Attend at least one counselling session at the AWC or healthcare centre.
- The second transfer (six months of conception) of ₹2,000 requires the mother to
- Attend at least one prenatal care session and TT2
- The third transfer (three and a half months after delivery) of ₹2,000 requires the mother to:
Register the Birth:
- Immunize the child with OPV and BCG at birth, at six weeks and at 10 weeks
- Attend at least two growth monitoring sessions within three months of delivery
- Additionally, the scheme requires the mother to:
- Exclusively breastfeed for six months and introduce complementary feeding as certified by the mother
Immunize the Child with OPV and DPT
- Attend at least two counselling sessions on growth monitoring and infant and child nutrition and feeding between the third and sixth months after delivery
Why in News?
- Under the revamped PMMVY under Mission Shakti, the Maternity Benefit Amounting to ₹6000 is also to be provided for the second child.
- However, this is only in-case if the second is a girl child, to discourage pre-birth sex selection and promote the Girl Child.
Issue with this Provision:
- To provide maternity benefit only to the mother of the first-born is illegal as the National Food Security Act, 2013 lays down that every pregnant woman and lactating mother are Entitled to it.
- For second child as girl, it is to promote the birth of a girl child is nothing but posturing since it penalizes the mother for not Giving birth to a girl child.
- Subsequent adding of more conditions to the scheme will prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare, which can be overcome if the scheme is universalized.
- Women will be able to access the scheme only after the delivery, which will not have any impact on their nutritional uptake during the course of their Pregnancy.
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