Comprehensive News Analysis – 03 February 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Donald Trump puts Iran on notice

C. GS3 Related:

1. Rcom-Aircel deal hinges on SC

2. NPS subscribers can prematurely withdraw 25% of corpus tax-free

D. GS4 Related:
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Neither transparent nor accountable

2. H-1B visa in the spotlight

Economic Times

1. Budget 2017: A welcome policy shift in education

PIB

1. DARPG starts ‘DARPGSEVA’ to address issues related to public grievances and administrative reforms

2. India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 201.50 Million for “Third Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP III)”

3. Union Budget 2017-18 provides renewed impetus to manufacturing and Make in India

4. Amitabh Kant launches India Innovation Index A joint initiative of NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
I. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

B. GS2 Related
1. Donald Trump puts Iran on notice

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • The U.S on 1st Feb, 2017 said that it was “putting Iran on notice,” for conducting a ballistic missile test that it described as violation of a U.N resolution.
  • This development sets the stage for a new confrontation with Iran
  • Further, a senior Trump administration official did not rule out the military option.
  • The official indicated that the Trump administration would put its entire weight behind Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Impact:

  • It is suggested that pursuing a collision course with Iran will have a spiraling effect on the U.S relations or plans with several other countries.
  • Significantly for India, a renewed conflict with Iran will preempt the possibility of a fresh U.S strategy in Afghanistan that is less dependent on Pakistan.

Concluding Remarks:

  • It is significant to point out that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been critical of the nuclear deal with Iran, and the U.S hostility towards Iran is renewed days ahead of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington on February 15. 

 

C. GS3 Related
1. Rcom-Aircel deal hinges on SC

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • The fate of the merger deal between Reliance Communications (RCom) and Aircel still depends upon the outcome of the Supreme Court order.
  • It is important to note that the Supreme Court, in its last hearing on January 6, had barred Aircel from transferring the ownership of its airwaves, and had threatened to cancel the airwaves permits if the two accused Malaysian nationals – Ralph Marshall and T. Ananda Krishnan do not appear before the court on February 3.
  • The merger deal was announced in September 2016 under which RCom and Aircel’s Malaysia-based promoters Maxis Communications Berhad will hold 50 per cent each in a newly created venture, with equal representation on the board.
  • This would have created the country’s third-largest mobile operator by subscriber base enabling both RCom and Aircel to stay relevant in a highly competitive telecom market dominated by bigger players such as Reliance Jio and Airtel.

 

2. NPS subscribers can prematurely withdraw 25% of corpus tax-free

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • In the wake of the recent budget, the National Pension System or NPS has become a more attractive option for retirement savings with Budget 2017-18 allowing its members to withdraw up to 25% of their accumulated corpus before retirement without tax.
  • Self-employed individuals have also been allowed to invest up to 20% of their income into the NPS as opposed to 10% earlier.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing Here for today!!!

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. Neither transparent nor accountable

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • It has been suggested that there was no doubt that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was seeking to address this concern about the lack of transparency and accountability in the funding of political parties when he announced measures in the Union Budget to cleanse the process of making donations toward election expenses of parties.
  • But, there is skepticism about whether his proposals would succeed.
  • It is suggested that the ceiling of Rs. 2,000 on cash donation by any individual to a party, slashed from the existing Rs. 20,000, might inconvenience parties to some extent but is unlikely to stop the disguising of huge, off-the-books cash donations from corporate houses and vested interests as small contributions from ordinary party workers and sympathisers.
  • It is feared that the proposal does not disrupt the flow of illicit political donations but only channels it differently, and will not reduce the proportion of cash from unverifiable sources in the total donations received. 
  • It has been suggested that the Finance Minister should have placed a cap on the amount a party may receive in cash as a donation.
  • It has also been suggested that the proposal to allow donors to purchase electoral bonds from banks against cheque, only clouds the funding process.  
  • Finally, the Budget also makes it mandatory for political parties to file returns within a time limit, but in the absence of extreme penal provisions compliance is likely to be low. 

 

2. H-1B visa in the spotlight

Category: International Relations

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points:

  • There are disconcerting signals from the U.S. of likely changes to the H-1B non-immigrant visa programme in the U.S. for skilled workers in tech jobs.
  • It is important to note that Indian IT firms have been among the top recipients of the 65,000 such visas made available annually via a lottery system, in some years garnering well in excess of 80% of them.
  • In fact, shares in Indian IT majors took a nosedive last week when an unconfirmed draft executive order leaked to U.S. media houses appeared to call for reform of immigration rules for skilled foreign workers that would raise the salary eligibility for such visas to $130,000
  • Broadly, this visa crackdown in the making raises troubling questions for the U.S. tech sector and the broader economy as well. 

 Impact:

  • It is important to note that any significant hike in the minimum salary levels for the specialised jobs held by H-1B visa recipients will hit not only Indian IT firms but also the tech titans of Silicon Valley, including Microsoft, Google and Facebook.
  • This will inflict pain on the U.S. economy.
  • Similarly, unless skill-based criteria are used in addition to wage-level restrictions, numerous U.S. firms will struggle to fill mid-level jobs with qualified Americans.

 

Economic Times

1. Budget 2017: A welcome policy shift in education

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • towards education.
  • The focus has shifted from funding and improving access — education’s share of the Union Budget remains stagnant at 3.79% of total budgetary allocations despite a 10% increase in funds — to improving outcomes across the board.
  • This has been hailed as a major shift.
  • This is the first time that the Budget has outlined a transitioning of the government’s role as providers of education to enablers of learning.
  • The focus is moving to improving the general levels of educational outcomes, for which annual learning assessment for schools would be deployed.
  • An expansion of the periodic learning outcome assessments undertaken by the NCERT over the past few years for classes III, V and X would be the logical next step.
  • Annual assessments will help teachers, schools, policy planners, and curriculum developers to make the requisite changes.

New Proposals:

  • The proposed Innovation Fund for Secondary Education is a good initiative and should be so designed as to incentivise teachers and schools to transcend textbook learning.
  • The proposed National Testing Agency for entrance to higher education institutes will help improve standards across the spectrum of higher secondary schools.

In conclusion, the focus now must move to the difficult task of implementation, evaluation and recalibration of measures that will improve the educational experience of all.

 

PIB

1. DARPG starts ‘DARPGSEVA’ to address issues related to public grievances and administrative reforms

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Interventions

Key Points:

  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has started its Twitter Seva. The Twitter Handle is ‘DARPGSEVA’. The Twitter Seva aims to address issues relating to the DARPG like Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms etc.
  • The Twitter Seva will enable the DARPG to reach out to the common public and various stakeholders for facilitating redress of grievances and other issues of importance relating to the department.
  • The mission of DARPG is to foster excellence in governance and pursuit of administrative reforms through improvements in Government policies as well as processes, promoting citizen-centric governance with emphasis on grievance redressal. Innovations in e-Governance is another mission of the Department apart from documentation and dissemination of best practices.

 

  1. India Signs Financing Agreement with World Bank for US$ 201.50 Million for “Third Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP III)”

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Initiatives

Key Points:

  • A Financing Agreement for IDA credit of US$201.50 million (equivalent) for the “Third Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP III)” was signed with the World Bank
  • The objective of the Program is to enhance quality and equity in participating Engineering Education Institutes and improve the efficiency of the Engineering Education System in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, 8 North Eastern States and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Project has two main components, (i) Improving quality and equity in engineering institutes in those states; and (ii) System-level initiatives to strengthen sector governance and performance. The project has been designed as a disbursement linked one, that is, the World Bank loan will be disbursed on achievement of specific outcomes.

 

  1. Union Budget 2017-18 provides renewed impetus to manufacturing and Make in India

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • Several measures have been announced in the Budget 2017-18 to provide impetus to commerce and industry . The key initiatives include
  • A Special Scheme for creating employment in leather and footwear industries is proposed to be implemented, on the lines of the scheme in textile and apparel sector.
  • The long standing demand of startups has been accepted and the profit (linked deduction) exemption available to them for 3 years out of 5 years is changed to 3 years out of 7 years. For the purpose of carry forward of losses in respect of start-ups, the condition of continuous holding of 51% of voting rights has been relaxed subject to the condition that the holding of the original promoter/promoters continues.
  • Further liberalisation of FDI policy is under consideration and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to be abolished in 2017-18.
  • In order to make MSME companies more viable, income tax for companies with annual turnover uptoRs. 50 crore is reduced to 25%. About 96% of companies will get this benefit of lower taxation. This will make our MSME sector more competitive as compared to large companies.
  • MAT credit is allowed to be carried forward up to a period of 15 years instead of 10 years at present.
  • For creating an eco-system to make India a global hub for electronics manufacturing a provision of Rs. 745 crores in 2017-18 in incentive schemes like M-SIPS and EDF. The incentives and allocation has been exponentially increased following the increase in number of investment proposals.
  • Inverted duty has been rectified in several products in the chemicals & petrochemicals, textiles, metals, renewable energy sectors. Duty changes to improve domestic manufacturing of medical devices, those used for digital transactions and capital goods have also been announced. 
  • Infrastructure – a key pillar under the Make in India programme has been strengthened with a large budgetary allocation. The total allocation for infrastructure development in 2017-18 stands at
    Rs. 3,96,135 crores. A specific programme for development of multi-modal logistics parks, together with multi modal transport facilities, to be drawn up and implemented.
  • Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. Incredible India 2.0 is proposed to be launched to promote tourism and employment. Five Special Tourism Zone, anchored on SPVs in partnership with the States would be set up.
  • Modernisation and upgradation of identified corridor, railway lines of 3,500 kms will be commissioned, 25 stations are expected to be awarded for station redevelopment and 500 stations will be made differently abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators during 2017-18. These provide large opportunities under the Make in India initiative
  • Initiatives in Skill Development provide essential support for the Make in India sectors to thrive. Launch of SANKALP scheme to provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth and STRIVE scheme to improve the quality and market relevance of vocational training.
  • A new and restructured Central scheme with a focus on export infrastructure, namely, Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) will be launched in 2017-18.
  • The Government e-market place which is now functional for procurement of goods and services, has been selected as one of the winners of the South Asia Procurement Innovation Awards of the World Bank.

 

  1. Amitabh Kant launches India Innovation Index A joint initiative of NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Initiatives

Key Points:

  • To make India an innovation-driven economy, NITI Aayog, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) together launched a mega initiative “India Innovation Index” that will rank states on Innovations through country’s first online innovation index portal that will capture data on innovation from all Indian states on innovation and regularly update it in real time.
  • The India Innovation Index Framework will be structured based on the best practices followed in Global Innovation Index (GII) indicators and additionally by adding India-centric parameters those truly reflect the Indian innovation ecosystem. This initiative will be the point of reference for all international agencies to collect India’s up to date data points for global indices and analytic.
  • Inaugurating the portal, Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog said, “This portal will be a first-of-its-kind online platform where Global Innovation Index indicators and India–centric data from various states will be coalesced and disseminated and updated periodically. This will be a one-stop data warehouse and will track progress on each indicator at the National level and the State level on real-time basis. The access to this portal will be hosted on the NITI Aayog website, and NITI Aayog will update this data periodically.”
  • Kant said, “I would like to congratulate Confederation of Indian Industry for creating the Global Innovation Index a decade ago and the World Intellectual Property, Cornell University for working together to further develop it and make it a global consulting document for policymakers around the world.”
  • Data collated on this portal will not only be used to ameliorate current data gaps w.r.t the GII, but be the prime source for the India Innovation Index, which will be jointly developed by NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII, in consultation with World Economic Forum, the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University, OECD, UNIDO, ILO, UNESCO, ITU and others with the objective to rank Indian states as per their innovation prowess and provide impetus to them to build their respective innovation ecosystems and spur the innovation spirit among institutions and people.
  • The Global Innovation Index (GII), co-published by World-Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD with CII as a Knowledge Partner since inception, has been ranking world economies including India since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities and outcomes using 82 indicators among a host of other important parameters. It has established itself as both a leading reference on innovation and a ‘tool for action’ for policy makers.
  • India currently ranks 66th out of 128 countries on the Global innovation Index (GII) 2016. To improve India’s rank in GII and other international indices, NITI Aayog jointly with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), organized the Global Innovation Index – India Roundtable on 31st January in the capital.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • TEQIP III
  • Global innovation Index
  • DARPGSEVA
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS Links to Refer
India Innovation Index: A joint initiative of NITI Aayog, DIPP and CII http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=157941
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements regarding “TEQIP III” which was recently in the news, 
  1. The objective of the Program is to enhance quality and equity in participating Engineering Education Institutes and improve the efficiency of the Engineering Education System in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, 8 North Eastern States and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  2. The Project has two main components, (i) Improving quality and equity in engineering institutes in those states; and (ii) System-level initiatives to strengthen sector governance and performance.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 2: Consider the following statements,
  1. The Global Innovation Index (GII) is co-published by World-Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and INSEAD with CII as a Knowledge Partner.
  2. India currently ranks 86th out of 128 countries on the Global innovation Index (GII) 2016.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 3: Consider the following statements, 
  1. The recently launched “India Innovation Index” will rank states on Innovations through the country’s first online innovation index portal that will capture data on innovation from all Indian states on innovation and regularly update it in real time.
  2. The India Innovation Index Framework will be structured based on the best practices followed in Global Innovation Index (GII) indicators and additionally by adding India-centric parameters those truly reflect the Indian innovation ecosystem.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 4: Consider the following statements, 
  1. The Government e-market place is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.
  2. The Government e-market place which is now functional for procurement of goods and services, has been selected as one of the winners of the South Asia Procurement Innovation Awards of the World Bank.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 Only b) 2 Only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: The “World Intellectual Property Report (WIPR)” is published by which of the following organizations?
a) WIPO b) World Bank c) IMF d) World Economic Forum

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