The HINDU Notes – 16th September 2019 - VISION

Material For Exam

Recent Update

Monday, September 16, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 16th September 2019

📰 Effort worth emulation: On Rajasthan’s public information portal

Rajasthan’s Jan Soochna portal is a step in the right direction for transparency in governance

•Fourteen years since the implementation of the groundbreaking Right to Information (RTI) Act, which has helped shed light on government works and administration, the launch of the “Jan Soochna Portal” (public information portal) by the Rajasthan government on Friday marks a milestone in increasing transparency and accountability in governance. The portal details various schemes run by 13 government departments — the employment guarantee programme, sanitation, the public distribution system among others, by not only explaining the schemes but also providing real time information on beneficiaries, authorities in charge, progress, etc. The information provided is in-depth, covering the whole gamut from the districts, blocks and panchayats, allowing access to details of schemes implemented at these levels. This is a laudable effort by the State government which is worthy of emulation by other States. The RTI Act had dealt with the citizen’s right to know about public information and required public authorities to expeditiously provide information on request from the citizenry. This aspect of the Act brought a sea change in accountability and has led to the possibility of a well-informed citizenry on the workings of the government.

•While RTI filings have increased exponentially and RTI-activism has become part and parcel of civil society, there have been dilutions in the Act pertaining to the appointments of information commissioners, therefore impinging on their autonomy. Besides, the response rate to RTI requests has also slowed down compared to the flurry in the immediate aftermath of the Act’s implementation. These problems with the RTI law apart, it is important to note that Section 4(2) of the Act, which specifically enjoins upon public authorities to publish information pro-actively, has not been implemented holistically so far. While government departments have successfully taken to e-governance and there has been a rapid release of public information on various government-run websites, this information has often been parcelled, dispersed and difficult to parse. Some of the better maintained central websites have also tended to deploy “dashboard” information, which is meant more to showcase data and records rather than release structured information for extensive study and for the knowledge of the citizenry. As a one-shot portal for public information on government programmes, the JSP, therefore, can advance the objective of transparency. The challenge would be to ensure that the information flow remains unhampered over time. Besides this, it is important to educate the citizenry about the use of data on the portal. While digital connectivity and literacy have increased over time, these have not adequately translated into digital knowledge of public affairs.

📰 A dilution that falls short of the law

Several loopholes in the process of the substitution of Article 370 make the action problematic

•The manner in which Article 370 was substituted by the Centre to carve up Jammu and Kashmir is fraught with several loopholes and challenges. Technically, Article 370 has not been abrogated. Rather, vide Constitution Order No. 273 dated August 6, 2019, “Declaration under Article 370(3) of the Constitution”, the existing Article 370 has been substituted by a new paragraph whereby all provisions of the Constitution of India, as amended from time to time, without any modifications and exceptions, have been made applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. This action of the President which amounts to the virtual abrogation of Article 370 in its essence is a matter of legal and political debate.

Process adopted

•As the first step toward achieving its goal, the Centre issued a fresh Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir), Order 2019 one day earlier on August 5, 2019. This superseded the Presidential Order of 1954 purportedly with the “concurrence of the Government of State of Jammu and Kashmir”, thus paving the way for the virtual abrogation of Article 370 the following day. The important aspect of this move was to substitute the expression “Constituent Assembly of the State” with the expression “Legislative Assembly of the State” in proviso to Article 370(3). Under the existing Article 370(3), it had been provided that the President could abrogate or amend Article 370 on the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State which had ceased to exist in 1957.

•The Centre made this amendment in proviso to Article 370(3) as a part of a well-conceived strategy. The strategy was that after such substitution, the powers of the Legislative Assembly would be used by Parliament during President’s Rule. Parliament would then recommend abrogation of Article 370 to the President, which it has done leading to the issuance of C.O. No. 273 dated August 6, 2019, virtually abrogating Article 370.

•Now if it is shown that the amendment made in proviso to Article 370(3) is illegal, the consequent action of the President in issuing of C.O. No. 273 would also become illegal.

•The order dated August 5, 2019 had been issued by the President purportedly with the “concurrence of the Government of State of Jammu and Kashmir” as required under Article 370(1). The Government of the State had been defined in Article 370(1) itself, read with C.O. No. 44 dated November 15, 1952 as a person recognised by the President “on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State” as Sadar-i-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The expression ‘Sadar-i-Riyasat’ was substituted by ‘Governor’ in 1965.

•If this was the definition of the “Government of State” in Article 370(1), the order dated August 5, 2019 cannot be said to have been issued with the concurrence of the Government of the State. The simple reason is that the Governor who is said to have given the concurrence as Government of the State was not a person recognised by the President “on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State” as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir as required under law. Therefore, the order dated August 5, 2019 has not been validly issued.

•Otherwise too, the August 5, 2019 order is illegal as it has the effect of amending Article 370 as well which could not have been done. The reason is that while exercising powers under Clause (1) of Article 370, the President is not competent to amend Article 370 itself; and his powers are confined only to amending the “other provisions of the Constitution” in their application to Jammu and Kashmir, meaning thereby provisions other than Articles 1 and 370. This is clear from the conjoint reading of sub-clauses (c) and (d) of Article 370(1). Consequently, the amendment introduced in proviso to Article 370(3) vide the order dated August 5, 2019 whereby the expression “Constituent Assembly of the State” has been substituted by the expression “Legislative Assembly of the State”, is bad in law on this basis also.

•Since the amendment made in proviso to Article 370(3) is illegal, the consequent action of the President in issuing the C.O. No. 273 virtually abrogating Article 370, based upon a recommendation made by Parliament which in turn became possible due to the said illegal amendment, is also rendered illegal.

Adverse effect

•Apart from the issue of the legality or otherwise of the order virtually abrogating Article 370 in its essence, another question which arises is whether it was at all required to be done, weighing its likely adverse effects. The true nature of Article 370 as it existed is best exemplified by the then Home Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda’s statement in Parliament on December 4, 1964 just a few months after Nehru’s death. Nanda had said, “May I submit that Article 370 is neither a wall nor a mountain, but that it is a tunnel. It is through this tunnel that a good deal of traffic has already passed and more will. There is no wall between Jammu and Kashmir and India. At the most, you can say it is some kind of movable partition. We can move it on our own. There is nothing coming in the way.”

•And the noted journalist B.G. Verghese had once asked, “If Article 370 vests the people of Kashmir with a certain sense of identity and autonomy within the ambit of federal relations, how is India diminished or endangered in any way?” The virtual abrogation of Article 370 will leave indelible scars on the psyche of the vast population inhabiting the strategically located territory of India; otherwise there had been practically nothing ‘special’ about Kashmir’s ‘special status’ for all the years that have passed by.

📰 The litmus test for free speech

The court should uphold constitutional rights by reaffirming the Brandenburg test

•Freedom of speech and individual liberty are enshrined in Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution. However, these rights, like all others, are not absolute but subject to reasonable restrictions. What would be a reasonable restriction is an extremely important matter to consider, as on that would depend the validity of several detention orders and prosecutions in India.

Reasonable restrictions

•In America, the earlier decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court had laid down the ‘bad tendency’ test to determine whether the restriction was reasonable or not. This test was that free speech or acts could be prohibited if they were likely to adversely affect the welfare of the public. However, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a celebrated judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, felt that the ‘bad tendency’ test was vague. In Schenck v. United States (1919), he laid down the ‘clear and present danger’ test to determine the reasonability of the restriction. This test means that a restriction would be reasonable only if the speech or action constitutes a clear and present (and not remote) danger to state security or public order.

•The ‘clear and present danger’ test was not consistently followed by the U.S. Supreme Court, though. In Dennis v. United States (1951), for instance, a ‘balancing’ test was adopted.

•In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), the ‘clear and present danger’ test was expanded, and the ‘imminent lawless action’ test was laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which the court has followed since. This test states, “The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit the state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation, except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action”.

•The word ‘imminent’ used in the judgment is very important. Imminent means ‘likely to happen very soon,’ ‘at hand,’ or ‘fast approaching.’

•Two decisions of the Indian Supreme Court — Sri Indra Das v. State of Assam (2011) and Arup Bhuyan v. State of Assam (2011) — followed the decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, and so Brandenburg has become the law of the land in India too.

Incorrect decisions

•By applying the Brandenburg test, it becomes evident that the prosecution against the Bhima Koregaon accused; Professor G.N. Saibaba; activist Shehla Rashid; and Pawan Jaiswal, the journalist who published a report that children in a primary school in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, were getting only roti and salt in their mid-day meals; among others deserve to be quashed as these acts or speeches did not create any danger of an imminent lawless act. The recent detention of many persons in Kashmir (except those accused of militant activities) would also be illegal from that standpoint.

•Recently, the Bombay High Court rejected the plea of Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, for quashing the criminal proceedings against him, observing that there was some material to indicate that the accused was in contact with Naxalites. But being in contact with a militant organisation cannot by itself be a crime, a`s it does not result in any imminent lawless act. One could be a writer who contacts Naxalites for doing research about them, or a social activist, or even a sympathiser. That would be legal, being within the ambit of the Brandenburg test.

•It is submitted with respect that the Bombay High Court’s decision is incorrect, and should be set aside by the Supreme Court, which should reaffirm the Brandenburg test. That would pave the way for quashing several detentions and prosecutions (many of them based on manufactured evidence) which are a slur on democracy and liberty.

•In these critical days in India, when onslaught on liberty and freedom of speech is commonplace, it is the higher judiciary which must do its duty as guardians of the citizens’ constitutional rights. The court must not succumb as it did during the Emergency.

📰 India, Australia to elevate strategic partnership

The two countries have steadily expanded cooperation in maritime domain awareness

•Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Australia in November when both countries are likely to conclude the long-pending mutual logistics support agreement and a broader maritime cooperation agreement to elevate the strategic partnership, defence and diplomatic sources said.

•“The mutual logistics support agreement, information exchange and a broader maritime agreement, including maritime domain awareness, are expected to be concluded soon. These will lead to greater interoperability and help in elevating the strategic partnership,” a diplomatic source told The Hindu.

•There have been a series of high-profile visits aimed at elevating the partnership, the source said, and more visits have been scheduled. Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh went to Australia and New Zealand early this month. “Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to visit Australia in November, and the mutual logistics support agreement will be signed then,” a defence source confirmed.

•The two countries have steadily expanded cooperation in maritime domain awareness. The information exchange agreement, with a border mandate, is important for better maritime domain awareness, the source added.

•Australia has been keen on a mutual logistics support agreement and submitted a draft after India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. in 2016. But New Delhi said it would consider more such agreements only after the first was operationalised. India has since signed such agreements, the latest with South Korea early this month.

•The bilateral naval exercise, AUSINDEX, held earlier this year saw the participation of the largest Australian naval contingent ever sent to India, with over 1,000 men. Officials of both countries said that with more engagement, the mutual logistics support agreement would facilitate cooperation by simplifying paperwork and procedures, which are “pretty huge”.

•The Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy are partners in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), a maritime cooperation construct conceptualised by the Indian Navy in 2008. “Both Navies are also co-chairs for the IONS working group on information-sharing and interoperability, for which the inaugural meeting was hosted by Australia in June 2019,” the Navy said in a statement earlier.

•Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround. The defence cooperation between India and Australia is underpinned on the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation 2006, the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation 2009 and the bilateral Framework for Security Cooperation 2014.

📰 Waiting for reforms: On the economic stimuli

The stimulus incentives hold promise, but structural reforms are nowhere on the horizon

•People who have been yearning for major economic reforms from the Narendra Modi government, it seems, will have to wait to have their dreams come true. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday presented the third round of stimulus measures to resuscitate the struggling economy, but once again these have largely failed to live up to the initial hype around them. The previous two rounds of the stimulus plan, presented at press conferences held by the Minister over the last few weeks, focused primarily on reviving the automobile sector, boosting the confidence of foreign investors who were spooked by the Budget announcements in July, and improving the health of dangerously fragile state-owned banks by doing everything short of privatising them. This time around the focus has been on helping out the underperforming export and real estate sectors through piecemeal fiscal reforms. Among other things, Ms. Sitharaman announced a new tax refund scheme and greater priority sector lending for the export sector to incentivise exports. It is expected that the new tax breaks to the exports sector will cause a dent of up to ₹50,000 crore to the government’s revenue. Further, external commercial borrowing norms have been eased to make it easier for Indian real estate companies to tap funds from abroad, and funds worth ₹10,000 crore have also been allocated to aid the completion of affordable housing projects. With lack of demand and major supply-side bottlenecks being the primary issues facing exports and real estate, it is doubtful whether the present measures will be enough to revive these flailing sectors.

•Overall, cutting across all three stimulus rounds announced till date, the government has been relying almost entirely on providing fiscal relief, in the form of tax cuts coupled with a tiny amount of government spending, to wade through what seems like a structural crisis in the economy. The hope seems to be that these measures combined with a looser monetary policy stance adopted by the RBI will boost spending and revive growth. This is, however, a far cry from what many expected from a government that promised radical structural reforms when it rose to power in 2014. Without enacting any major supply-side reforms like land and labour reforms that can raise potential growth, it is also hard to see how greater spending can raise growth for very long. The government may believe that the present slowdown, marked by five consecutive quarters of dropping growth, is merely a cyclical one. But given the size of its victory in two consecutive elections, the government should aim higher by trying to push through long-pending structural reforms that can raise India’s growth trajectory to the next level.

📰 Vulture culture: How the bird was saved from extinction

The number declined from 40 million in the 80s to a few thousand by 2009.

•In the late 1990s, when the population of the vultures in the country had begun to decline sharply, one White-backed vulture was rescued from Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, where vultures were dying at an alarming rate.

•To study the cause of deaths of vultures, a Vulture Care Centre (VCC) was set up at Pinjore, Haryana. It was here that the rescued vulture from Rajasthan was brought. Later, a few more vultures from Haryana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were brought in.

•Starting with just a few vultures, the VCC, until then the sole facility for conservation of vultures in the country, has come a long way in the past two decades. At present there are nine Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centres (VCBC) in India, of which three are directly administered by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

Thriving population

•“The total number of vultures in these VCBCs is more than 700,” said Sachin Ranade, assistant director, BNHS. Mr. Ranade said that the three species of vultures bred in the VCBC are the White-backed, Long-billed and the Slender-billed vulture.

•“By the time we started these vulture conservation breeding centers in 2004, the vulture population had already crashed significantly, almost by 99 %. As vultures are slow-breeding birds, intervention was of immediate requirement otherwise the vultures would have become extinct,” said Vibhu Prakash , deputy director at BNHS.

•The major reason behind the vulture population getting nearly wiped out was the drug Diclofenac, found in the carcass of cattle the vultures fed on. The drug, whose veterinary use was banned in 2008, was commonly administered to cattle to treat inflammation.

•Dr. Prakash said that the objective of the VCBCs was not only to look after the vultures and breed them in captivity, but also to release them into the wild. The first objective of the VCBC was to produce a few hundred pairs of each of the three species of the endangered vultures.

•Referring to the release of two Himalayan Griffon into the wild from the Pinjore VCBC in 2016, the scientists said that the objective of the test release was to see what happens when a species is kept in captivity for a long time and then set free.

Self-reliant in 40 days

•He further added that for almost a month after their release, the vultures stayed around the centre, and within a month were flying well. “They joined other vultures and by 40 days they had started locating their own food and water, and soon they flew away. Unfortunately in those days we only had wing tags, so we lost track of the vultures,” he said.

•Enthused by the success of the release of the pair, scientists at BNHS are now planning more releases. Mr. Ranade said they are planning a release of more Himalayan Griffons at the Rajabhatkhawa Centre in Bengal later this year. Two of the birds will have satellite PTT (platform transmitting terminals) attached to them, and the rest will have wing tags and rings. The White-backed vultures from Pinjore are scheduled to be released next year.

•“If after releasing the birds we don't find any drug-related mortality in the next one year, then we will release 20 more White-backed vultures and we will take 10 Long-billed vultures to Madhya Pradesh ,” the scientist said.

•Estimation of the vulture population in the wild is said to have stabilised. Dr. Prakash said that surveys in 2015 revealed that there are about 6,000 White-backed vultures, 12,000 Long-billed vultures and 1,000 Slender-billed vultures in the wild.

•The scientist said that apart from the establishment of VCBCs and getting Diclofenac banned, it was imperative to “manage our carcass dumps and make sure that poisoned carcasses are not dumped for the vultures to feed on”. “We are also trying to tell the forest department that they should not burn and bury animal carcasses because vultures have a strong preference for wild animals. These days the forest department does it to keep poachers away. But the practice is denying food to vultures,” Dr. Prakash said.

•He said there was also emphasis on creating awareness and on creating safe zones for vultures in places where there is an existing vulture population. So far nine states have been undertaken programmes to create safe habitats for vultures.

📰 Why India’s growth figures are off the mark

The over-reliance on the organised sector for official GDP data is causing a gross miscalculation.

•During the global financial crisis, it was said that the experts were behind the curve. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and financial sector experts continued to predict till October 2008 that the global economy would grow rather than shrink. They were way off the mark since the global economy was rapidly slipping into a great recession.

Explaining the markdown

•Is India facing a similar situation at present? The economic growth rate (quarterly) has been sliding for the last five quarters from 8% to 7% to 6.6% to 5.8% and now to 5%. Yet, experts have been talking of a 7% annual rate of growth; every quarter when the rate of growth has been announced, they have argued that things have bottomed out and that the rate would rise henceforth.

•The Economic Survey in July talked of a growth rate of 7% for the current year. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its August policy statement, talked of a slowdown to 6.9%, from the 7% predicted in June and 7.2% predicted before that. The Asian Development Bank cut its growth forecast from 7.2% to 7% in April 2019. Similar is the case with the IMF which cut its forecast for the year from 7.3% to 7%. So, they all talked of a 7% rate of growth when a year earlier it had fallen below that.

•How could these agencies be so far off with their estimates? The reason is that they are not independent data gathering agencies and depend on official data. So, if official data is erroneous, their projections would also turn out to be incorrect. Clearly, the government is interested in projecting a good image and so discounts bad news and ramps up data.

•The question to ask is, if the economy is growing at 5 or 6%, which is historically a good rate of growth, why is investment rate not rising and consumption in the economy stagnant? Where is growth dissipating? The alternative explanation is that the rate of growth is much less than 5%; that is why investment rate and consumption are stagnating or declining.

•The investment rate has hovered at around 30% for the last several years because the capacity utilisation in the economy has been around 75%. Unless this rises, fresh investment will mean even lower capacity utilisation and lower profitability since capital will be underutilised. In June, the stock market was at a record high and yet the investment rate did not rise. Data from the Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. shows that investment proposals are at a 14-year low. In the last year, the RBI has cut interest rates four times and by a total of more than 1%; but the investment rate has not budged.

Impact of announcements

•The government has been in denial but now experts in the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, in NITI Aayog and the RBI have admitted that there is a slowdown. The Ministry of Finance has now gone into hyper drive to make major announcements so soon after the full Budget was presented in July. This is an admission of there being a slowdown in the economy.

•Unfortunately, none of these announcements will lead to a recovery since they do not address the source of the problem. An hour before the latest data on economy showing slowdown was to be announced, the government announced the big bank merger. Was this to divert attention from the data to be released? Be that as it may, bank mergers will have little impact on the immediate problem of the slowing economy. It may only further disturb a major chunk of the banking system in the coming year — and that would not be good for a slowing economy. The package for the automobile sector or making banks pass on interest rate cuts to businesses, announced a little earlier will also have little impact since the problem did not originate there.

•The announcement of a transfer of ₹1.76 lakh crore from the RBI to the government will only cover the shortfall expected in revenue (which is a result of an unduly high projection of revenue growth). It will allow the government to maintain the fiscal deficit target at 3.3%. But, this will not provide the needed stimulus. For that the fiscal deficit would have to be allowed to rise or there has to be an increase in expenditures on the basis of mobilisation of additional revenues. The fiscal deficit today is at about 9% if the States and the public sector units are taken into account. And how much can the government raise is a political decision that has not yet been taken.

The source

•So, where does the problem originate from? It is from the unorganised sector which has been in decline since demonetisation. It was further hit by the Goods and Services Tax though it is either exempt from it or there is a simplified provision for this sector. This sector producing 45% of the output and employing 94% of the workforce, has been in decline, which is pulling down the rate of growth of the economy. But, why does it not show up in the growth data?

•In simple terms, the reason is that the data for this sector is collected once in five years (called reference years) since the sector has tens of millions of units for which data cannot be collected monthly, quarterly or even annually. In between the reference years, the data is only projected on various assumptions.

•The government document on estimating advance annual estimates and quarterly estimates makes this clear. For estimating quarterly growth it uses, “latest estimates of Agricultural Production, Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and performance of key sectors like, Railways, Transport other than Railways, Communication, Banking, Insurance and Government Revenue Expenditure”. Except for agriculture, these belong to the organised sector of the economy.

•Even for the annual estimates, basically data for the organised sector are used — like in the case of mining, banking, hotels and restaurants, and transport. For construction, steel, glass, etc are used which are also derived from the organised sector production. Thus, the implicit assumption is that the organised sector can be a proxy for the unorganised sector. But with the economy suffering three shocks in quick succession over the last three years which adversely impacted the unorganised sector, this assumption does not hold true. Most of the experts have implicitly accepted the government’s fallacious argument and have thus fallen behind the curve.

•In brief, the official data only represents the organised sector. To incorporate the unorganised sector, data from alternative sources need to be used. The decline in the workforce, the rise in the demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, etc. suggests that the unorganised sector has declined by at least 10%. If this is taken into account, the current rate of growth is much less than 5%. If the government does not accept this, then it must reveal the rate of growth of the unorganised sector that it is using in its estimates and which is not based on using the organised sector as a proxy.

📰 Survey of India to deploy 300 drones for mapping country

High-resolution maps will facilitate digitisation of land titles in villages

•India’s oldest scientific department, the Survey of India (SoI) — historically tasked with mapping the country — will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

•Other than unprecedented detail, a consequence of the mapping will be creating high resolution maps of land in villages facilitating the digitisation of land titles in villages, according to officials involved with the survey.

•Currently the best SoI maps have a resolution of 1:250000, meaning a 1 cm on the map represents 2500 cm on the ground. The maps being prepared, according to senior officials associated with the project will be of 1:500 resolution, meaning 1 cm will represent 500 cm.

•“We are aiming to provide good high-resolution foundation maps,” said Gireesh Kumar, Director-General, SoI, which came into being 1767.

Right time

•“We’ve used aerial photography before for mapping purposes (taking pictures from planes) but that’s expensive and has its limitations. This is the right time to deploy drones,” he said.

•The aim is to map 75% of India’s geography— about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq km — within the next two years. The organisation aims to procure about 300 drones — so far about 30 have been sourced — for the gargantuan exercise. However forests, hills and deserts are likely to be left out.

•As a prelude, the SoI, which is affliated to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has signed agreements with 6 districts in Haryana, 2 in Karnataka and 2 in Maharashtra to undertake such drone-based mapping exercises. Every square kilometre mapped by drones will be encapsulated in 2500 pictures and thus be a trove of digital data.

•Making the foundational map will be a ₹400-500 crore endeavour.

Sorting rural issues

•A major consequence of the drone-based exercise will be the mapping of settled habitations in villages (called abaadi areas in legal parlance). Based on the availability of accurate maps, residents will finally be able to get property cards as well as proper legal titles to their lands. “This is unprecedented in the history of independent India and we’ve already executed a project in Maharashtra,” said Mr. Kumar.