Comprehensive News Analysis – 10 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. We’ll take Vajpayee’s path on Kashmir, says Modi

2. India protests to Pakistan against infiltration

3. Irom Sharmila ends 16-year fast

4. Foreign funds pour in; 3,000 NGOs get over Rs. 22,000 cr.

5. Strikes barely holding off Taliban in Helmand

C. GS3 Related:

1. RBI keeps policy rate unchanged

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

The Hindu

1. Antimicrobial resistance: clear and present danger

2. Focus on price stability

3. Dumbing down a pliable workforce

4. A fleeting opportunity

Quick Bits and News from States

1. Former Arunachal CM KalikhoPul found hanging

2. SC orders probe into youth’s death in J&K

3. Progressive move on transgenders

4. Centre to permit fixed term for textile workers

5. Ahead of Foreign Minister Wang’s India visit, China stresses on ‘consensus’

6. Putin, Erdogan pledge ‘reset’ of ties

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related


B. GS2 Related


1. We’ll take Vajpayee’s path on Kashmir, says Modi

Topic: Federal Relations

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed concerns about “forces that want to foster disunity in the country” and reached out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, seeking dialogue with them on the basis of “insaniyat (humanity), jamhuriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat.”
  • He was speaking at a public meeting in Bhabhra in Madhya Pradesh, the birthplace of freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad, as part of the government’s fortnight-long Independence Day celebrations
  • We will pay the price required for your (J & K’s ) development, and if it so happens that we run out of funds for roads, that shortage will not be allowed to touch you, the rest of the country will bear it instead,” the Prime Minister said in an impassioned speech

 

  1. India protests to Pakistan against infiltration

Topic: Pakistan

Category: India’s Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • India on Tuesday issued a strong diplomatic note of protest, holding Pakistan responsible for cross-border terrorism
  • The protest was based on the revelations of a militant Bahadur Ali, who allegedly confessed that he was trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and was ordered to attack security facilities in India.Ali revealed that he was trained over the past three years in various camps near the Indian border

 

3. Irom Sharmila ends 16-year fast 

Topic: Federal Relations

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • IromSharmila ended her 16-year fast on Tuesday when she took a few drops of honey
  • Sharmila ended her fast exactly a month after the Supreme Court judgment questioned the immunity enjoyed by the security personnel under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) against criminal action for acts committed in disturbed areas. The apex court had said last month that there was no concept of “absolute immunity” from trial by a criminal court if an Army man had committed an offence
  • She gave a clear message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to connect to people without the draconian laws.” She also underlined the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination in the press conference held after the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court granted her bail

 

4. Foreign funds pour in; 3,000 NGOs get over Rs. 22,000 cr.

Topic: Foreign Funding

Category: NGOs

Key points:

  • A total of 3,068 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) received foreign funding above Rs. 22,000 crore in 2014-15, according to government data presented in response to a question in Parliament
  • As of July 2016, 33,091 NGOs were registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which regulates foreign funding to these bodies
  • Delhi has always been the top recipient as many international charities are registered in the capital and funds are then passed on to other States. Similarly, Maharashtra figures high on the list as many organisations register in Bombay. Southern States get more foreign money due to the presence of Christian organisations

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5. Strikes barely holding off Taliban in Helmand

Topic: Afghanistan

Category: India’ Neighbourhood

Key points:

  • The Afghan security forces are struggling to head off an intensified Taliban offensive in Helmand Province in recent weeks, heavily relying on U.S. air strikes as the insurgents have again tightened the noose around Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, according to officials and residents
  • Most of the NATO air strikes were directed at Islamic State affiliates in eastern Afghanistan


C. GS3 Related


1. RBI keeps policy rate unchanged

Topic: Monetary Policy

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor left the benchmark repo rate unchanged citing “upside” risks to inflation, which accelerated to a 22-month high in June.The RBI kept the repo rate, the key rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks, at 6.5 per cent. Retail inflation in June was 5.77 per cent, well above the 5 per cent target set by the central bank for March 2017
  • The RBI Governor’s successor faces the challenges of integrating decision making with the Monetary Policy Committee, and completing the cleanup of banks’ balance sheets

 

D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu

 

  1. Antimicrobial resistance: clear and present danger

Topic: Health

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • The New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 was an enzyme that rendered bacteria resistant to a broad spectrum of antibiotics. A strain of the NDM1 had crossed the shores and spread resistance in the U.K. as well in 2008
  • Despite its outrage over New Delhi being associated with a resistant bug the nation sat up to the danger of anti-microbial resistance within its boundaries, and is beginning to understand the disastrous societal consequences of rendering certain life-saving drugs impotent
  • India was the largest consumer of anti-biotics for human health in 2010
  • It was in 2011 that the Union government came up with a National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance in India, seeking to reverse what seemed to be spiralling healthcare concern
  • The policy makes no bones about recognising the real threat: “Antimicrobial resistance in pathogens causing important communicable diseases has become a matter of great public health concern globally including our country. Resistance has emerged even to newer, more potent antimicrobial agents like carbapenems.”
  • The crude infectious disease mortality rate in India today is 416.75 per 100,000 persons
  • Among the key factors responsible are the widespread use and availability of practically all the antimicrobials across the counter, increasing and wanton use of antibiotics in livestock production, inappropriate doses, and irrational use of antibiotics in hospitals
  • Attempts have begun to regulate at least the human consumption of antibiotics: there are now guidelines for appropriate antibiotics usage which have revised Schedule H drugs to make over-the-counter availability of certain antibiotics nearly impossible
  • Stringent enforcement of drugs control, making the dispensing of some antibiotics over the counter punishable, is the need of the hour
  • Resistance leads to a complicated treatment pattern, adds to patients’ stay in the hospital, and also the cost of treatment
  • there are no new antibiotics on the horizon and the stronger antibiotics being used have toxic side effects
  • And just when India started putting a red line on antibiotic packages to check their OTC sale, another problem has surfaced: antifungal drugs and creams are losing their punch
  • The sanitation connection, though overlooked, is elementary: cleaner surroundings both in the community as well in hospitals can check the incidence of infectious diseases and bring down drug use. And the fewer the drugs used, the lesser the resistance to them

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Facts from case study
Losing ground in the war on superbugs

  • Carbapenem (anti-biotic) works on most resistant infections – while colistin is the last antibiotic in the medical armoury to treat resistant infections

 

2. Focus on price stability

Topic: Monetary Policy

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • The central bank’s unwavering focus on inflation was kept intact by the RBI governor leaving interest rates unchanged for the second successive time this fiscal
  • The Centre last week notified the Statutory and Institutionalised Framework for Monetary Policy, under which the maintenance of price stability has been unequivocally laid down as the primary remit of monetary policy. The Consumer Price Index-based inflation reading edged up in June to 5.77 per cent, well above the RBI’s March 2017 target of 5 per cent and nearing the 6 per cent upper bound set by the government’s monetary framework, largely on account of food prices
  • While acknowledging that the outlook for the global economy and international trade remain clouded and sluggish, the RBI has posited that the risks to India achieving 7.6 per cent Gross Value Added economic growth in the current financial year remain evenly balanced as of now. With clear signs emerging of “green shoots in manufacturing”, including those of a pick-up in new domestic and overseas orders, renewed business confidence, and an increasingly broad-based improvement in services activity, the central bank has opted for an accommodative stance that allows it elbow room to take more growth-supportive steps if the environment warrants
  • The rationale proffered for sitting pat on rates is the sharper-than-anticipated increase in food costs, particularly the rising prices of pulses and cereals; at the same time, services inflation has remained somewhat sticky
  • And of course there is a lot riding on the outcome of the monsoon: the steady progress of the rains so far has translated into a strong improvement in sowing, with its potential for a salutary impact on food inflation
  • The full impact that the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations will have on house rents and, as a result, the CPI, could have influenced the RBI’s price stability calculus
  • It is these risks to the inflation target that prompted the governor to stay the course, even as the RBI continues to ensure that liquidity remains adequate
  • Expressing broad confidence in the RBI’s ability to stay on the “glide path” to achieving 5 per cent inflation by March 2017, he has flagged the fact that his successor will, in all likelihood, have the advantage of being joined by five other members of the Monetary Policy Committee when they meet to decide interest rates in October. It will no longer be lonely at the top at the RBI

 

3. Dumbing down a pliable workforce

Topic: Education

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • “Public policy,” according to Douglas Gomery, “is the making of governmental rules and regulations to benefit not one individual but society as a whole. It asks, what is the best way to conceive and evaluate policies aimed at the public as a whole and its various subgroups?” We are in the last leg of such a government-led exercise in education policy making. Therefore, it is pertinent to think about what basic assumptions our proposed National Education Policy (NEP) 2016 uses
  • When he advised the Turkish government on its education reform agenda a century ago, John Dewey said working out the particular actions and steps to be taken in the reform process is possible only if the government is clear about what social purposes education is supposed to serve, and what educational aims it wants to achieve
  • Winch echoes Dewey when he argues that if a public education system does not have clearly debated and articulated educational aims, it operates on covert aims. And that gives opportunity to the powerful sections of society to direct the system for their own benefit. The marginalised sections, thus, lose faith in the system
  • Lack of clarity in articulating aims could also be an evasion exercise, as R.F. Dearden argues, so that while everyone is involved in the particular reforms, the direction is left to the chosen few
  • Therefore, a proper analysis of the aims of education in the draft NEP 2016 becomes imperative. Only then can we fully understand particular recommendations and proposed initiatives in it. The claim here is not that stated aims always determine education. It is rather that understanding covert aims is necessary to get a full grasp on action that the policy recommends. I have made an attempt to understand the aims of education in the current draft in the light of the earlier (and two) National Policies on Education — NPE 1968 and NPE 1986
  • A quick analysis of the NPE 1968 and NPE 1986 reveals that the social purpose of education in both documents is closely connected with the national goals, or nation-building as some like to call it. The national goals are those of an economically prosperous nation that is democratic in character, culturally rooted but aware of shortcomings of its own culture, well-integrated internally and secure from outside aggression. They envision a pluralistic society in which equality, justice, liberty and dignity of all citizens are guaranteed. Social cohesion and fraternity among citizens is seen as an important social goal. The policy and social ethos are based on secularism and scientific temper
  • The NPE 1968 emphasies human resource development, or economic aims of education, but keeps in mind the potential of education in creating a democratic society. The NPE 1986 lays relatively more emphasis on individual independence
  • Both the earlier policies though list the social purposes as mentioned above under the “role of education”. They are also very clear that to achieve these social purposes, education has to develop certain qualities and capabilities in learners. Only citizens with those capabilities can achieve the defined social purposes
  • These capabilities of individuals, or proper aims of education, include democratic values, open-mindedness, an appreciation of Indian culture, critical thinking and a sound base of knowledge that help them become active and contributing citizens. The aims or capabilities to develop in learners are connected with the social goals or vision of society
  • The new draft NEP 2016 is substantially different in its vision of society, social purposes, understanding of aims of education and their articulation. It is neither overtly undemocratic nor overtly sectarian, but a close reading between the lines gives a very debatable picture
  • The first striking difference is in the vision of society. The draft NEP 2016 is almost obsessed with the “fast-changing, ever-globalising, knowledge-based economy and society” (KBES). It sees these changes as god-given and no critique of them in terms of impact on human life and well-being is attempted. For the policy, it is a fact that the forces that bring these changes are unseen and unchallengeable; therefore, all that is left for India is to go with the flow and ‘cope’ with it
  • The document does mention social concerns, disparities, issues of social justice and democracy, etc.; but its eyes are fixed on what it calls “knowledge economy” and a cohesive society with a certain cultural hue. That culture is not to reinterpret or challenge or search for alternatives to the KBES, but only to wave a flag of a different colour to say, “look, we are here too”
  • The authors of this document are conceptually confused about national goals (for example, in the creation of a just and equitable society), an education department’s or system’s targets (for example, to bring all children to school) and educational aims (for example, to inculcate values of justice and equality in the learners). They all are put in the same category of ‘Educational Objectives’
  • That in national policy gives a feeling of being directed by incompetent people, if nothing else. What the policy draft lists under ‘Educational Objectives’ are mostly targets of the education system. Educational aims are scattered all over the document, and one has to collect them together in order to understand them
  • The collected aims fall under four broad categories: employable skills, cultural heritage, values and knowledge
  • The thrust of the policy is clearly about employable skills. Recommendations concerning skills dominate every section. It is understandable that if society is seen as KBES, then the most important task for education is only to prepare people who can be employed in it. The aims also make it amply clear that the skills are to cope in this system, not to challenge or modify or even to lead it
  • Cultural heritage is seen as the culture of ancient India. Though there is mention of cultural pluralism, diversity and tolerance, etc., what is described at one place is only ancient India’s contribution to the world of knowledge. There are no overt statements that might bring the charge of sectarianism, but no indication of any other culture is given; the characteristics that are listed are ones claimed for ancient Indian culture
  • Almost everything is mentioned in values, from justice and equality to punctuality (a KBES value, perhaps). However, a close reading of the passages where these values occur, leads one to notice qualifications where citizenship and freedom are mentioned
  • The education under this policy will endeavour to “produce” “responsible citizens” who use “freedom responsibly”. If one reads this in the light of an overwhelming emphasis on employable skills, knowledge for KBES and a complete absence of critical thinking (mentioned twice in passing), then the citizen who seems to be desired is one who is largely amenable to the state and political power, who has full faith in the state’s goodness, and accepts the social structure
  • There is no place for a citizen who feels responsible if the state and society perpetrate injustice on large sections of society. No place for a citizen who makes a noise, agitates, and opposes government actions and policies. It is a citizen who is more concerned with social cohesion, peace, and is tolerant towards the state
  • The knowledge as envisaged in the policy draft is almost completely the one required for KBES. That is the knowledge to be imparted to deal with a changing skill environment and life-long learning of skills, to prepare for the workforce and to be productive. The knowledge which is to be generated is that which is applicable in employable skills. Indian traditional knowledge seems to be the only exception as it is needed for an awareness of cultural heritage
  • The knowledge which is required to understand the world, natural and social, to understand human life, to appreciate human achievements in aesthetic fields, for sheer intellectual delight, etc. is not indicated at all, as every single mention of knowledge is also associated with the knowledge-economy or knowledge for skills
  • Knowledge to gain insight into human existence, to enter the complex ethical world, to make independent judgment and to decide what is worth living and dying for has no place. The knowledge to decide when to support and appreciate a state and the government, and when to resist and oppose it, is not required. In short, the knowledge to become a rationally autonomous being and still be completely embedded in the whole of humanity is conspicuous in its absence
  • In conclusion, one can say that it is a policy to gear education to producing pliable citizens who work as the government says, believe it, obey it, produce but do not think and do not question
  • It is a policy to craft an education system that is to dumb down the citizenry. It is time for India again to remember that a just and functioning democracy squarely depends on citizens who can think clearly and critically, and who can act on their convictions in the face of risks. Democracies are not sustained by obedient productive units in so-called knowledge-based economies. However, that is precisely what our new NEP 2016 envisages

 

4. A fleeting opportunity

Topic: Defence

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • The draft bill for the proposed Indian National Defence University (INDU) has been recently placed in the public domain
  • The INDU proposal was not only meant to augment existing military training capacities, but to provide the intellectual underpinnings for “jointness” among the different services
  • Unfortunately, the INDU as currently constituted does not appear to meet this test.
  • First, there has been little public debate over how this institution should be built. To a significant degree this has been because the government has left the conceptualisation and implementation of the INDU almost entirely to the military and the Defence Ministry
  • Second, by handing over the project to an ill-equipped public sector undertaking(EdCIL-INDIA), which prepared the DPR, any prospect of conceptual creativity was dashed from the very beginning
  • The stilted thinking is evident in the third DNA defect of the INDU. While this university is expected to incorporate the existing tri-services institutions, it does not have any plans to address an existing anomaly, the absence of civilian faculty
  • If the INDU is to live to its potential, the complexity of India’s national security challenges needs to be recognised. This means that while the armed forces should have the largest representation, the INDU should not be a monopoly of the armed forces. The INDU will only succeed if all relevant organs of the Indian state are sensitised to the intricacies of national security and thereby foster a ‘whole of government’ approach. While the plans envisage participant vacancies for police, paramilitary and other civilian bureaucracies, this requires conscious partnering with institutions like the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy for Administration and Sardar Patel National Police Academy, as well as the intelligence agencies. Only then can the INDU emerge as an institution that fosters greater cooperation and understanding between different arms of the Indian state
  • The government should move to appoint an academic council, with broader representation than simply bureaucrats and military officers, and house it in a government-sponsored think tank like the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis
  • It needs to make conscious efforts to learn about best practices in professional military education from other countries
  • This is not just for the benefit of India’s natural security but for the armed forces themselves whose senior officers need wider and better exposure to prepare themselves — and for them to prepare India’s civilians — for the challenges ahead

 

Quick Bits and News from States

  1. Former Arunachal CM KalikhoPul found hanging

Former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul allegedly committed suicide on Tuesday, less than a month after the Supreme Court unseated him and reinstated his rival Nabam Tuki.

 

2. SC orders probe into youth’s death in J&K

Despite the Jammu and Kashmir government’s claim for immunity from criminal prosecution to police officers compelled to use fire power to fatal ends in the line of duty, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the State to investigate the death of a 26-year-old man allegedly at the hands of the police in the tensed Valley State.

The S.C Bench ordered the State authorities to complete the probe on the basis of a complaint made by the victim’s father that his son was killed by the police inside his house and not during protests.

The apex court asked the State to submit its investigation report in a sealed cover by August 12.


3. Progressive move on transgenders

The Transgender Bill was first cleared as a private members Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and now the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is to pilot it in the Lok Sabha as a government bill.

 

4. Centre to permit fixed term for textile workers

The Centre has proposed an amendment to the labour rules to allow the textiles industry to hire workers on a fixed-term contract.The textile industry will not be required to give the fixed-term worker any notice period for terminating the contract or any compensation in the case of retrenchment.The move will help us hire workers for a fixed term directly without going through the contractor.

 

5. Ahead of Foreign Minister Wang’s India visit, China stresses on ‘consensus’

India-China ties should focus on amplifying their economic agenda, which requires urgent attention. “India’s exports to China have dropped 16.7 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of the year, Chinese customs data showed on Monday, suggesting that a large number of Indian enterprises are having a hard time exploring the Chinese market amid simmering tensions between the two countries.It was stressed that “geo-economics rather than geopolitics,” should rule India-China ties.

 

6. Putin, Erdogan pledge ‘reset’ of ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his visiting Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan he hoped Ankara could fully restore order after a failed military coup last month, saying on Tuesday that Moscow always opposed unconstitutional actions.Mr. Putin said the two men would discuss how to restore trade and economic ties and cooperation against terrorism.

Russia imposed trade sanctions on Turkey in the wake of the shooting down of its jet and the number of Russian tourists visiting the country fell by 87 percent in the first half of 2016.

Mr. Erdogan’s trip to Russia comes as Turkey’s relations with Europe and the United States are strained by what Ankara sees as Western concern about how it handled the abortive coup, in which more than 240 people were killed.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Draft National Education Policy- 2016
  • AFSPA, 1958
  • Monetary Policy Committee
  • The Transgender Bill

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act(s) (AFSPA) is/are operational in which of the following states
  1. Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Nagaland
  3. Manipur
  4. Tripura

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 2,3 and 4

d) All the above


Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 approved by the Union Cabinet recently?
  1. The draft Bill says that transgenders who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared members of the Backward Classes, and would be entitled to reservation under the existing ceiling for OBCs
  2. The new law proposes to create a National Council of Transgender Persons and start schemes to provide them scholarships, textbooks and hostel accommodation
  3. It calls for necessary amendments in the Indian Penal Code to cover cases of sexual offence against transgender persons.

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All the above


Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. Carbapenems are antibiotics used for the treatment of infections known or suspected to be caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria
  2. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses
  3. Antibiotics can be isolated from living organisms and can also be synthesized chemically

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) All the above


Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. China is India’s largest trading partner
  2. Electronic equipment is the major commodity imported from China by India

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct about the Monetary Policy Committee to be constituted by the Indian government?
  1. It would have equal number of members from the RBI and those selected by the government
  2. It would make monetary policy decisions based on the multiple indicator approach

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

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