Everything about Vultures: Ecological Importance, Declining Population, Threats, IUCN status, Types of Vultures and It’s conservation

Headline : Poisoned cattle carcass kills 37 vultures

Details :

The news

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

 

Background

  • Vultures are scavenger birds which feed on the carcasses of large animals.
  • Vultures in the country have reduced from 40 million (in 1990) to less than 60 thousand (2012).
  • Till mid of 1980s, Vultures were found in large number in India and often classified as nuisance as they were involved in many birdstrikes. However, today it is rare to sight a vulture.
  • Vultures are the natural cleaners of the environment:
    • By disposing the dead bodies they check the spread of infectious diseases.
    • In absence of vultures, the population of animals like rodents and stray dogs tend to increase leading to the spread of rabies.
  • Hence, the fast disappearing population of vultures is a serious problem in India and there is need to protect the vultures from threats to its survival.

 

News summary

  • Around 37 vultures belonging to three endangered species died in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district after feeding on pesticide-laced cattle carcass.
  • Also, an equal number of vultures were rescued by the forest officials and a wildlife rescue team from the Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), which are in a critical condition.
  • It was a case of poisoning the carcass of a cow by the villagers aimed at killing feral dogs but the vultures died.
  • Most of the 37 vultures that died are Himalayan griffon and a few are oriental white-backed and slender-billed vultures.

 

 

About Vulture species in India

  • Vultures can soar to a height of 7,000 feet and can easily cover distance of more than 100 km in one go.
  • Vultures belong to various species, nine of which are found in India.
  • Of these nine species, four are listed as Critically Endangered, and one as endangered in IUCN red list of endangered species.
  • Species of Vultures found in India and their Conservation Status
    • Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)- Critically Endangered
    • Indian White-rumped Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)- Critically Endangered
    • Red-headed Vulture (Sarcogypscalvus)- Critically Endangered
    • Slender-billed Vulture (Gyps tenuirostris)- Critically Endangered
    • Egyptian Vulture (Neophronpercnopterus)- Endangered
    • Cincerous Vulture (Aegypiusmonachus)- Near Threatened
    • Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus)- Least Concern
    • Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)-Least Concern
    • Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayansis)- Least Concern

 

 

Threats to Vulture survival

  • Diclofenac: According to Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), veterinary use of diclofenac is the main threat to the Vultures in India. The widespread use of diclofenac as pain reliever in cattle is the cause of Vulture’s mortality in India.
  • Habitat destruction Developmental activities like establishment of power projects, irrigation projects, industrial units, construction of highways etc. have ruined the habitats of Vultures resulting into decline in their population.
  • Pesticide pollution: The chlorinated hydrocarbon D.D.T (Dichloro Diphenyl Trichloroethane) used as pesticide enters the body of Vultures through food chain where it affects the activity of estrogen hormone, as a result of which the egg shell is weakened consequently the premature hatching of egg takes place causing the death of the embryo.
  • Slow breeding rate: Vultures lay a single egg in a breeding season. Hence their slow breeding rate is also a threat to their survival.
  • Use of poisoned carcasses: Poison used by human beings to kill cattle-marauding carnivores is also a threat to Vultures in India, as consumption of such poisoned carcasses by Vulture leads to their death.
  • Lack of legal protection: Out of nine species of Vultures found in India only one that is the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetusbarbatus) is protected by law and hence lack of legal protection is also a threat to their survival.

 

 

Conservation of Vultures

  • Replacing diclofenac: There is need to evolve an effective substitute of diclofenac, and the present available substitute meloxicam needs to be subsidized.
  • Captive-breeding programme: This with aim to reintroduce Vultures into the wild need to be launched on large scale, particularly for Critically Endangered and Endangered species of Vultures.
  • Legal protection: All efforts should be made to protect and conserve the Near Threatened and Least Concern species of Vultures in India and all the species of Vultures should be legally protected.
  • In situ conservation: There is need to set up Vulture feeding stations through provision of poison-free food, clean water, bone chips and perches within an open-roofed wire-mesh enclosure for safety and freedom of Vultures.
  • Habitat restoration:Degraded habitats of Vultures need to be restored.
  • Protection:Full protection must be given to nests of the Vultures in their breeding habitat.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Everything about Ramappa Temple and World heritage site

Ramappa Temple for world heritage site

Details :

The news

  • Telangana is expected to get its first site, the Ramappa Temple at Palampet, included in UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee.

Telegram: https://t.me/SimplifiedIAS

Background

  • India has already got 37 sites inscribed in the World Heritage List.
  • There are total 29 cultural sites, 7 Natural sites and 1 mixed site of India in the World Heritage list.
  • Moreover, around 42 sites from India including the Qutb Shahi monuments of Hyderabad, Golconda Fort, and Charminar from Telangana are on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites.
  • The Ramappa Temple was proposed to be included as part of ‘The Glorious Kakatiya Temples and Gateways’ along with the Thousand Pillar Temple, Swayambhu Temple and Keerti Thoranas of Warangal Fort since 2014.
  • Now, the temple is in the reckoning as a standalone world heritage site.

 

 

News Summary

  • The 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • The committee will decide on the inclusions of World heritage sites for 2019 in that session.
  • It is expected that the Ramappa Temple at Palampet near Warangal, Telangana could be selected for inclusion in the list of World heritage sites.

 

Significance of the inclusion

  • First in Telangana: It would be Telangana’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Prestige/Identity: The sites inscribed on the World Heritage List gains the prestige which often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation.
  • Protection and conservation: Greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties.
  • Financial Assistance: A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.
  • Tourism: Once listed, it brings international attention to the site and hence, ensures economic benefits to the nation.
  • Protection during wartime: The site becomes protected under Geneva Convention against destruction or misuse during war.

 

About the Temple

  • Rudreswara (Ramappa) temple at Palampet near Warangal, got its name Ramappa because of its chief sculptor Ramappa.
  • It’s probably the only temple in the country to be known by the name of its sculptor.
  • The medieval Deccan Ramappa Temple which dates back to 1213 AD, was built by the patronage of the Kakatiya ruler Kakati Ganapathi Deva under the authority of his Chief Commander Rudra Samani.
  • Features of the temple
    • The Ramappa temple is a Shivalaya, crowned with a shikharam and surrounded by pradakshinapatha sits a 6 feet high star shaped platform.
    • The temple is built on a valley and it rests on bricks that are scientifically shown to float in water.
    • It has intricate carvings adorning the walls, pillars and ceilings unique to the time of Kakatiyan sculptors and empire.
    • The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned to create an effect that combines light and space in a unique way.
    • The sculptural work of dance postures in the temple appear like a record of dances of the region in stone and was of great inspiration for the famous work ‘NrityaRatnavali’, by Jayapa Senani.
    • The postures pertaining to BharataNatya, Shrunga, Bharunga, Rathi, Perini Nritya , are engraved on the pillars.
    • The ‘Nagini’ and other eleven devanarthakis arranged as supporting beams on both sides of each entrance define the highly refined aesthetic sense of Kakatiya
    • The desi (local) varieties of dances such as Perini, Prenkana, SuddaNartana, Dandarasak, Sivapriya, Chindu and Kolata are some dance forms in the sculptural art of the temple.
  • This temple is described as the “brightest star in the galaxy of medieval temples of the Deccan” a repository of Kakatiyan creative genius.
  • The Ramappa temple is a best example of the love for art, music and dance as patronized by Kakatiyas.

 

 

About UNESCO World Heritage site

  • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area.
  • It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.
Section : History & Culture

What are Tsunami waves? How they are different from other oceanic waves.

What are Tsunami waves? How they are different from other oceanic waves.
Approach:
  • Introduce your answer while defining what are tsunami waves
  • Explain what are oceanic waves
  • Differentiate between Tsunami waves and other oceanic waves
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :
Tsunamis, also known as seismic sea waves, are a series of enormous waves created by an underwater (sea) disturbance caused by an earthquake, landslide, volcanic eruption, or even meteorite. In the open ocean, tsunamis have extremely long wavelengths. When the tsunami wave enters shallow waters, its length shortens and its height rises, thus the wave is forced upward into a towering wall of water sometimes as much as 30 meters in height.
Ocean waves are upper layer waves which are caused by wind moving across the surface of the water. The friction between the air molecules and the water molecules causes energy to be transferred from the wind to the water.
Difference between Tsunami wave and other oceanic waves:
  • Causes: Normal ocean waves are caused by the wind, whereas tsunamis are powered by a geological force like earthquake.
  • Wavelength: In the open ocean, tsunamis have extremely long wavelengths which can be between 100 and 300 km, whereas normal ocean waves have wavelengths of only 30 or 40 meters.
  • Magnitude: Tsunami involves movement of the entire water column from surface to seafloor. Normal wind waves only involve motion of the uppermost layer of the water.
  • Speed: Typically a tsunami wave travel across a deep ocean at an average speed of 800 km per hour, whereas normal ocean waves travel at speeds of 8-100 km per hour.
  • Direction: Tsunami waves radiate across the ocean from the source, like ripples on a pond. Ocean waves are usually powered by the wind direction.
  • Behaviour on Shore: Tsunami waves can change their path around land masses, whereas a normal wave generally breaks at shore.
Tsunamis are natural disasters that can cause major damage to life and property, as seen frequently in the Indo-Pacific region. As a result, early warning systems have been put in place along with public awareness to minimize the damage, especially to life, from these events.

Subjects : Geography

Editorial : Agriculture sector

Headline : Time for India to relook the agricultural sector Editorial 30th Mar’19 FinancialExpress

Details :

India’s progress in agriculture:

  • India has made significant strides in agriculture and food security since independence.
  • It has transformed from a food deficit nation to ensuring its food security despite an almost four-fold increase in population.

But time has come to relook at agriculture in India:

  • India needs to shift from subsistence agriculture to robust agricultural systems that do all of the following:
    • Provide food security for all its citizens
    • Ensure income security for its farmers
    • More diversified and better nutrition for its citizens
    • Globally competitive farm productivity levels

 

Measuring productivity:

Productivity in agriculture can be looked at in two ways:

  1. On a per hectare basis – India lags but is doing ok
  • Over the past few decades, India has increased its productivity on a per hectare basis.
  • However, India still lags behind many emerging market peers and most developed nations on this metric.
  1. On a per farm worker basis – India is doing very poorly
  • India is one of the least productive in agriculture on a per farm worker basis amongst major economies.
  • Due to small size of farm holdings:
    • About 45% of India’s workforce is involved in agriculture compared to national best practices of less than 1%.
    • The disproportionately large labour force in agriculture is related to the size of India’s landholdings.
    • From an average of 2.7 hectares in 1970, India’s farms have become progressively more fragmented, with the latest Agriculture Census 2015-16 showing that India’s average farm size is now 1 hectare.
      • Compare this to say, Canada (~300 hectares), Argentina (~500 hectares) and Ukraine (~1,000 hectares).
    • Small landholdings have constrained mechanisation, technology adoption, and economies of scale do not accrue at such levels of landholding.

 

Ways to improve per-farm productivity

  1. Farms need to get bigger:
  • Land is a state subject, and so states must take the lead in reforms in this regard to allow farm sizes to grow.
  • Land Leasing:
    • One way to achieve bigger land sizes is land leasing.
    • States can come up with their own laws with suitable modifications to NITI Aayog’s Model Land Leasing Act, 2016, as per their needs.
    • Digitisation of land records critical for this:
      • Accelerating the digitisation of land records is critical for smooth implementation of this game-changing reform.
      • Telangana has made significant progress in this regard and other states must follow their example.
  • Farmers’ collectives:
    • A stronger push is needed to collectivise farmers through various farmer producer companies (FPCs), farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and cooperatives, for bringing collective benefits from scale.
  1. Reducing wastage by strengthening supply chains:
  • The benefits of rising productivity will not accrue to farmers unless the supply and value chain is strengthened, especially in the case of horticulture products.
  • NITI Aayog’s Strategy Document points out that the annual cost of post-harvest losses can be nearly Rs. 1 lakh crore.
  • The study by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering & Technology (CIPHET) indicated that the largest amount of losses accrue at the harvesting stage, then at the sorting/grading stage, followed by the transport one.
  • Markets and packaging closer to farms:
    • We need to target the creation of packhouses much closer to the farm gate.
    • Gramin Rural Agricultural Markets (GrAMs):
      • The GrAMs scheme is targeting the transformation of 22,000 rural periodic markets close to the farm gate.
      • An important component of this scheme is that these GrAMs be kept out of the purview of the State APMC Acts.
      • Promoting FPC and FPO ownership of these GrAMs should be considered.
      • Similarly, private sector enterprises willing to establish backward linkages should partner with state governments in organising their sourcing through GrAMs.
  1. Taking farmers out of farming:
  • Larger farms with a strengthened supply chains, marketing reforms etc. are incremental solutions to agrarian distress which could collectively serve to double the final output of the overall food supply chain in the country.
  • However, even with these reforms, the problem of dismally low productivity per farm worker is not yet suitably addressed.
  • Pulling cultivators into non-farm or off-farm activities is also required.
  • Remunerative jobs outside agriculture:
    • This requires more remunerative jobs being created outside agriculture.
    • Creating blue collar jobs in and around agriculture is an attractive option.
    • The food processing industry has the potential to generate substantial employment.
    • The ‘Make in India’ initiative could be a driver of absorbing some of the labour from rising farm productivity. For speedier progress, labour intensive sectors like the construction sector can absorb labour rapidly.
  • Farming as a Service (FaaS):
    • FaaS – delivering farm mechanisation solutions, transport solutions or extension services etc. – offers employment generation capacity as well.
    • It has the potential to reduce costs for farmers besides generating rural employment.
    • For example, Madhya Pradesh has had success in promoting the custom hiring centre (CHC) model.
  • PPPs in extension services:
    • Partnering with the private sector in delivering extension services is another avenue towards generating rural employment.
    • NITI’s Strategy for New India @ 75 pitches for public-private partnership in extension delivery through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK).

 

Conclusion:

  • As productivity increases, systems need to be in place for farmers to benefit from the produce, and avoid distressed sales and depressed prices (especially in the case of horticulture products).
  • We have to focus more on efficient evacuation with marketing facilities and processing facilities closer to the farm gate.
  • Improving productivity should be accompanied by developing an efficient value chain, with adequate grading/sorting and assaying facilities, marketing reforms, encouraging contract farming, and boosting investment in the food processing industry.
  • It should also be accompanied by boosting construction and manufacturing in rural areas to absorb the labour generated by higher farm productivity.

 

Importance:

GS Paper III: Economy

 

Section : Editorial Analysis

Everything about Indian economy Slowdown?

Headline : Is the Indian economy slowing down?

Details :

Context of the topic

  • The topic analyses the indicators suggesting slowing down of economic growth, what are its causes and related concerns.

Indicators suggesting decrease in Indian economic growth

  • Decline in sales: Decline in car sales of Maruti suzuki (the largest carmaker in India), tractor sales of Mahindra and two wheeler sales of Hero MotoCorp and Honda Motorcycle (accounting for three-fourths of industry volumes).
  • Decline in consumption expenditure: There has been signs of consumption slowdown both in discretionary items (such as cars and consumer durables) as well as non-discretionary items (such as food items), which is not good for a consumption-led economy.

Note: Consumption expenditure contributes almost 56 per cent of the country’s GDP.

  • Slowdown in core industries: The eight core industries i.e. steel, cement, fertilisers, coal, electricity, crude oil, natural gas and refinery products, which together make up about 40 per cent of industrial production, also showed slower growth .
  • Drop in growth of industrial output: The growth in industrial output itself dropped (to 1.7 per cent in January 2019) as compared to previous year (7.5 per cent in January 2018).
  • Drop in GDP growth: The GDP growth rate in the first three quarters of the current financial year ending March 2019, the Central Statistics Office estimates, was 8 per cent, 7 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively. This clearly shows a trend of sequential slowing down.

 

Causes of Slowing down:

  • Reasons of slowing demand for passenger vehicles :
    • High interest rates
    • Higher fuel prices
    • Lack of credit
  • However, it is being suggested that consumers have only postponed the decision to purchase vehicles and there is no permanent destruction of this demand.
  • Demonetisation and introduction of Goods and Services Tax also has an adverse impact on the economy at a broad level.
  • After demonetisation, bank credit also slowed down dramatically because banks had to make higher provisions for bad loans, like following prompt corrective action framework (presently by six public sector banks).
  • Some other banks have voluntarily slowed down on lending, retail and businesses, as it is quite difficult to access credit.
  • Thus, poor bank credit, liquidity crisis and high interest rates all created a huge drag on the economy.

Concerns:

  • The government expects the economy to grow at 7 per cent in 2018-19, which is slower than 7.2 per cent in 2017-18.
  • A slowing economy not only affects income but also employment generation.

 

Comparison with World economy

  • In 2017, world economy grew at 3.1 per cent, which have slowed down to 3 per cent in 2018, and the outlook for 2019 suggests that it will slow down to 2.8 per cent over the next two years.
  • The prospects over the coming years for both the US and the Euro zone are uninspiring because of continuous slowing down.
  • China’s GDP growth rate is also expected to drop to 6 per cent in 2021 from 6.5 per cent in 2018.
  • However, India seems to be the only economy expected to clock 7.5 per cent growth every year till 2021, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects.
  • Given its potential, India can further definitely jump into the 8-10 per cent growth orbit.

 

Conclusion

  • While within India, the narrative is that of an economy slowing down, but it’s growth is much better than other global economies and continues to be a profitable long-term bet for global investors. That is why India is now being a favourite spot for global investors.

 

Section : Economics

Explain the circumstances that necessitated the FRBM Act of 2003. Also highlight the shortcomings in the FRBM Act 2003.

Explain the circumstances that necessitated the FRBM Act of 2003. Also highlight the shortcomings in the FRBM Act 2003.

Approach

  • Briefly discuss FRBM in the introduction.
  • Explain the need of FRBM act.
  • Then discuss the various shortcomings in the FRBM act 2003.
  • Conclude with suggestions of N.K. Singh Committee.
Model Answer :

The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBM) is an law enacted by the government of India to ensure fiscal discipline by reducing India’s fiscal deficit and improving the macroeconomic management.

Need for FRBM Act:

High revenue deficit due to higher expenditure on subsidies, salaries, defense etc. compelled the government to make big borrowing since 1990s. The rising government borrowing and the resultant government debts have seriously eroded the financial health of the country. And high borrowings further lead to payment of higher interests. Thus to institutionalize fiscal prudence and discipline, FRBM was needed.

FRMB Act aimed to achieve fiscal discipline through limits on the Central Government borrowings, debt and deficits, greater transparency in fiscal operations of the Central Government etc. It set targets for the union government to bring down revenue and fiscal deficits.

However, the targets mostly went unmet and were revised several times. Over the last few years, the government of India again paid greater attention to fiscal responsibility, and announced in the budget 2016-17 its decision to realize the 3% fiscal deficit, as originally set.

Despite the good intentions, FRBM Act suffered from certain shortcomings:

  • The Act prescribes a target fiscal deficit of 3% of GDP for the centre but with no explicit justification for the number.
  • There is no flexibility in the Act to deal with cyclical shocks like financial crisis of 2008.
  • There is no mechanism like fiscal accountability council to review fiscal performances under the act.
  • Other issue is about apportioning the debt between centre and states. As the 14th Finance Commission has gone for greater devolution of taxes to the states, changes are required.
  • FRBM act is outdated as it was passed in 2003 which is not suitable in present context.

There is a need for fiscal management, including FRBM, to evolve to the changing needs to the time. The recommendations of the N.K Singh committee on flexible targets with escape clause, creation of fiscal council, reduction of combined debt-to-GDP ratio of the centre and states to 60 per cent by 2023 etc. may be incorporated.

Subjects : Economy

India and USA relation by Vajiram and Ravi

India and USA relation by Vajiram and Ravi

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Everything about Commercial Surrogacy

Lok Sabha Passes Bill Banning Commercial Surrogacy

Details :

The News

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 that seeks to put a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy and regulate altruistic surrogacy in India.
  • The bill was cleared by the Union cabinet in March 2018 after the recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee constituted in 2017 for the purpose.
  • Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002 as a result of which India has emerged as a surrogacy hub of the world.

Surrogacy: A Backgrounder

  • Surrogacy is a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an eligible couple and agrees to hand over the child after the birth to them.
  • Altruistic surrogacy involves a surrogacy arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.
  • Commercial surrogacy includes a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds basic medical expenses and insurance for the surrogate mother.

Need for Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

  • With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries.
  • Growing number of unethical practices.
  • Exploitation of surrogate mothers
  • Abandonment of children born out of surrogacy.

Major Objectives of Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

  • To regulate surrogacy services in the country
  • To provide altruistic ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile Indian couples and
  • To prohibit commercial surrogacy including sale and purchase of human embryo and gametes.
  • This is done in order to prevent commercialization of surrogacy and consequent exploitation of surrogate mothers in India.
  • The bill also aims to protect rights of children born out of surrogacy

Main Provisions of the Bill

  • It puts a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy with penal provisions of jail term of up to 10 years and fine of up to ₹10 lakh.
  • According to the bill, an Indian infertile couple, married for five years or more, can go in for ‘altruistic surrogacy’.
  • Women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 and 55 years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy.
  • Further the couple shall possess a certificate from doctor stating that they are medically unfit to produce a child.
  • The bill permits only ‘close relatives’ to be surrogate mothers.
  • A woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
  • The surrogate mother will not be paid any compensation except medical expenses and insurance.
  • The bill covers 18-month care expenses and insurance cover for the surrogate mother.
  • Altruistic surrogacy can be availed only by a defined mother and family.
  • It won’t be permitted for live-in partners, single parents or Homosexuals.
  • Only Indian citizens are entitled to avail surrogacy.
  • Foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to commission surrogacy in the country.
  • Besides, couples who already have children will not be allowed to opt for surrogacy.
  • The bill also provides for constitution of The National Surrogacy board and State Surrogacy board which shall be the policy making and regulating bodies.

Some Lacuna

  • In the aftermath of recent decriminalization of Section 377, same- sex couples should have been considered.
  • Further the bill does not define who is a close relative.
Section : Social Issues

Kurukshetra Summary February 2019 by Vajiram and Ravi

Kurukshetra Summary February 2019 by Vajiram and Ravi

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Examine the salient features of merger of Railway and General budget and the benefits likely to accrue therefrom.

Examine the salient features of merger of Railway and General budget and the benefits likely to accrue therefrom.

Approach

  • Introduce with the decision of govt. regarding the merger of both budgets.
  • Give the salient features of merger.
  • Then discuss the benefits of the merger.
  • Conclude appropriately.
Model Answer :

Recently, the Government has merged the Rail Budget with the Union Budget from budget year 2017-18. The merger of Railway Budget with General Budget is based on the recommendations of the Bibek Debroy Committee. The 92-year-old practice of presenting a Railway budget based on recommendations of Acworth committee has come to an end.

Salient features of merger of Railway and General Budget are:

  1. Ministry of Railways will continue to function as a departmentally run commercial undertaking;
  2. A separate Statement of Budget Estimates and Demand for Grant will be created for Railways;
  3. A single Appropriation Bill, including the estimates of Railways, will be prepared and presented by Ministry of Finance to Parliament and all legislative work connected therewith will be handled by Ministry of Finance;
  4. Ministry of Finance will provide Gross Budgetary Support to Ministry of Railways towards meeting part of its capital expenditure.

Following benefits are likely to accrue from merger:

  1. The merger will help the Railways get rid of the annual dividend of 10,000 crore they have to pay on account of receiving gross budgetary support from the government every year.
  2. It would also help the Railways raise extra capital expenditure to enhance connectivity in the country.
  3. Merger of Rail Budget with Union Budget would facilitate multimodal transport planning between highways, railways and inland waterways.
  4. The Rail Budget will be free of political pressures. So no new trains will be introduced based on populism.
  5. It will allow Ministry of Finance greater elbow-room at the time of mid-year review for better allocation of resources.

The merger move is significant for effective functioning of the railways but much will depend on the efficient utilization of the resources. So government needs to focus on other areas like integrated transport policy, railway safety etc.

Subjects : Economy