Comprehensive News Analysis – 12 May 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Centre can’t shirk responsibility while dealing with drought: Supreme Court

2. Now, civil servants told to go active on social media:

3. Govt sets up blueprint action group to wipe off B’luru blues

C. GS3 Related:

1. A bridgehead to service Silk Road

2. SpaceX Dragon departs space station, heads home with cargo

3. NASA’s official exoplanet count more than doubles

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

The Hindu

1. Lessons from Uttarakhand

2. Closing the tax bolthole

3. A tale of two judgments

The Indian Express

1. To Read: Explained:Simply put: What the changes in the tax treaty with Mauritius mean for India, investors

2. Useful Infographic:

Others:

1. Deccan Herald:NAAC to introduce 7-point grading for colleges from July

2. To Read:

a). Column: Making arbitration work(The Financial Express)

b). President’s rule: SC should deliver its verdict on Arunachal Pradesh now(The Economic Tiimes)

3. Quick Bits

a) Indirect tax collections rise 42 % in April

b) Dual freight policy for iron ore goes

c) Hindustan Antibiotics to trial sick PSU closure policy

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

Nothing here for today folks!

B. GS2 Related

1. Centre can’t shirk responsibility while dealing with drought: Supreme Court 

Topic: Polity

Category: Judiciary

Location: judicial intervention

Key points:

  • the Supreme Court directed the Centre to consider drought as a disaster and constitute a national response force along with a consolidated fund within six months to deal with drought situations
  • It held that declaration of drought is not a complicated affair but a manageable exercise, which could have appropriate conclusions based on scientifically drawn data, which required use of modern technology to make an early determination of a drought or drought-like situation after doing away with “colonial methods and manuals that follow a colonial legacy”
  • The court added it was not necessary to declare drought for the entire state and that it should be so declared for districts or some villages too

 

2. Now, civil servants told to go active on social media:

Topic: Governance

Category: ICT intervention

Location: Business Standard

Key points:

1)Initially it was the PM, then the ministers. Now it’s the turn of senior civil servants (Officers of the rank of joint secretary or abovewho will have to be proactively highlighting their departments’ achievements on social media

2) All central ministries and departments are in the process of institutionalizing regular meetings and engagements on social media for civil servants, the key people responsible for actually executing policies

 

3. Govt sets up blueprint action group to wipe off B’luru blues

Topic: Governance

Category: urban Planning

Location: Deccan Herald

Key points:

1). Govt of Karnataka constituted a Bengaluru Blue Print Action Group (BBPAG) to address the various development issues related to Bengaluru.

2). It will use a Collaborative, planned and holistic approach.

3). It will comprise of IT Bigwigs (Like Narayan Murthy etc), mix of Urban Experts and development professionals as its members

4). It will stress on implemention rather than being an advisory group. It will finalise a blueprint (Containing short, medium and long term solutions for the city’s issues). The blueprint will set goals and give directions to achieve them in each area.

5) Ultimate aim is to move away from patchwork solutions and focus on sustainable and transformational change

 

C. GS3 Related

1. A bridgehead to service Silk Road

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: China

Location: The Hindu

gansu-province-china

Key points:

  • The Lanzhou New Area (LNA) in north western China(Gansu province), a vast industrial hub is becoming the bridgehead for threading Central and West Asia in Beijing’s lofty One Belt One Road (OBOR) connectivity project
  • The brand new industrial zone, which will service an extensive hinterland with well-connected transport nodes, occupies an area of 1700 square km
  • Leveraging its location as a transportation hub along the OBOR, regular freight trains already pass through LNA on their way to Hamburg. A rail connection with Lhasa in Tibet is already operational. Trains also run regularly to the coastal industrial hub of Guangzhou

source: www.worldatlas.com

 

2. SpaceX Dragon departs space station, heads home with cargo

Topic: S&T

Category: Space

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • A SpaceX capsule is headed back to Earth with precious science samples (4,000 pounds of items are packed into the Dragon, including blood and urine samples from astronaut Scott Kelly’s one-year mission)
  • The Dragon left the International Space Station and is bound for an afternoon splashdown in the PacificNearly

 

3. NASA’s official exoplanet count more than doubles

Topic: S&T

Category: Space

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • NASA announced 1,284 new planets orbiting stars outside our solar system, called exoplanets. That’s on top of the approximately 1,000 previously authenticated exoplanets detected by the Kepler Space Telescope since its launch in 2009
  • This new batch of planets comes from a statistical analysis led by Princeton University researcher Timothy Morton
  • Princeton’s method using a fast and automated software system called Vespa puts the likelihood of true planet hood for each confirmed planet at more than 99 percent. Vespa relies on thousands of incoming signals from Kepler’s candidate planets. A periodic dip in a star’s brightness is the telescope’s tip-off of a potential planet

 

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

The Hindu

1. Lessons from Uttarakhand

Topic: Polity

Category: Federal Relations

Key points:

  • Ever since the central government hastily imposed President’s Rule on the eve of a floor test scheduled to commence in the Uttarakhand state assembly, it has been unable to convince the judiciary of the justification for doing so
  • Two legal principles stood in the way of its plan: the bar on defection and the primacy of the floor test in determining a government’s majority
  • Whatever be the right of legislators to disagree with their leadership, it is limited by the rule against defection, as the law stands at present
  • One lesson from recent developments in Uttarakhand is that one piece of impropriety (remaining in office by the use of the Speaker’s disqualification powers) does not justify another piece of possible illegality (the imposition of President’s Rule after attempts at toppling a government were stalled).
  • The legal challenge to the reinstatement of the state government is by no means over, with the Supreme Court still to take a view on whether the disqualification of the rebel Congress MLAs was valid
  • At a larger level, the Uttarakhand crisis raises important questions that are relevant to the functioning of democracy: should Chief Ministers who have lost their majority take recourse to the anti-defection law to stay in power? Is disqualifying inconvenient MLAs an acceptable way of managing the majority of a government?
  • On the flip side, should a few lawmakers, who constitute a fraction of a party’s strength in the legislature, be allowed to topple a regime at the behest of the opposition? While the floor test rule to prove majority laid down by the Bommai judgment must remain, the time may have come to rethink the provisions that give Speakers power to adjudicate on the issue of defection, particularly when such rulings can have a direct bearing on a trust vote
  • Bommai insured State governments to a large extent against the Centre’s machinations. But the growing misuse of the anti-defection law by ruling parties across the political spectrum suggests that Assemblies need some insurance against scheming State governments as well

 

2. Closing the tax bolthole

Topic: Governance

Category: Taxation

Key points:

 

  • More than three decades and several billions of dollars of lost revenue after India entered into a bilateral Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with Mauritius, the two countries have finally renegotiated the terms of their agreement
  • The signing, this week, of the protocol for amending the treaty means that with effect from April 1, 2017, companies and investors resident in Mauritius will have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of shares purchased, on or after April 1,2017 of a company based in India
  • the DTAA with Mauritius comes as a very welcome development that could help plug a significant loophole for tax avoidance
  • The practice of setting up companies in Mauritius merely to take advantage of the DTAA and the prevailing low tax rates there will now be rendered pointless
  • There is to be a mandatory check of the main purpose and bona fides of a business — a firm based in Mauritius will be deemed to be a shell or conduit company if its total operational expenses in that country are less than Rs.27 lakh. It will not be eligible for the 50 per cent reduction in tax rate on capital gains to be applicable to investments made under the amended DTAA during a transitional two-year period between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2019
  • From April 1, 2019, all transactions attracting capital gains tax for investments made out of Mauritius will be taxed at the full applicable rate prevailing at the time in India.
  • The DTAA amendment will also ensure India’s conformity to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and G20-led guidelines on combating base erosion and profit shifting
  • In 2015, the OECD had spelt out a series of measures countries needed to take to curb abusive tax avoidance by multinational enterprises — including steps to tighten double taxation avoidance treaties
  • For a country keen to play a greater role in global decision-making, the move to seal a key route for the round-tripping of capital generated out of tax-dodging enterprises will help boost both revenue and confidence in the rule of law in India. It is beyond doubt that ensuring a level playing field for all international investors, irrespective of domicile, can only serve to enhance India’s attractiveness as an investment destination in the long run

 

3. A tale of two judgments

  Topic: Polity

Category: Judiciary

Key points:

  • In March 1947, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar,had drafted a provision for the Indian Constitution which read “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty and property without due process of law.”(Article 21)
  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution now reads: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
  • In the early decades, the SC interpreted Article 21 faithfully to the intent of the framers of India’s Constitution
  • However, beginning in the 1970s, an activist Supreme Court started incorporating the U.S. constitutional doctrines of “procedural due process” and “substantive due process” in India. Though Article 21 formally provides that a person’s life and personal liberty can be deprived so long as there is merely a “procedure established by law” (that is, a validly enacted law), the doctrine of procedural due process mandates that this procedural law must be “fair, just and reasonable”
  • The doctrine of substantive due process enables a court to question not merely procedural laws, but the substantive value choices of the legislative branch of government as well
  • In a recent case, Rajbala v. Haryana(2015), a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India strongly rejected the doctrine of substantive due process in India. In this case, the constitutional validity of the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 was in question. Under the Act, five categories of persons were considered ineligible to contest elections for certain offices in panchayats in Haryana (for example, those against whom criminal charges of a certain kind were framed, those who had not paid their electricity dues, those who did not have specified educational qualifications, those who did not have a functional toilet in their homes, etc). The Act was challenged on the ground that it was “wholly unreasonable and arbitrary and therefore violative of Article 14 of the Constitution”. Though the Supreme Court rightly held that a statute cannot be invalidated merely because it is “arbitrary”, it also went on to reject the U.S. doctrine of substantive due process by holding that Indian courts “do not examine the wisdom of legislative choices unless the legislation is otherwise violative of some specific provision of the Constitution”, as “to undertake such an examination would amount to virtually importing the doctrine of ‘substantive due process’ employed by the American Supreme Court”, and under the Indian Constitution “the test of due process of law cannot be applied to statutes enacted by Parliament or the State Legislatures”
  • The Rajbala decision is particularly interesting because earlier Benches of the Supreme Court, in cases like RamlilaMaidan Incident(2012) and Selvi v. State of Karnataka (2010), have repeatedly held that substantive due process and due process generally are a part of Indian constitutional law under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • Thereafter, in Shaikh Zahid Mukhtar v. State of Maharashtra, decided on May 6, 2016, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court was dealing with the constitutional validity of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, as amended by the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which received the assent of the President of India on March 4, 2015 (hereinafter, the “Beef Act”). Among other provisions which were challenged, Section 5-D of the Beef Act made it a criminal offence to have in one’s possession, in the state of Maharashtra, the flesh of a cow, bull or bullock slaughtered outside the State of Maharashtra. The question was whether this provision violated the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • Section 5-D was struck down by the court. It was held that the right to privacy is a part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, and that the right to eat the food of one’s choice, if the food itself is not injurious to health, is a part of the right to privacy. By declaring that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution includes the right to privacy, the Bombay High Court was, in essence, circumventing the intent of the framers of India’s Constitution (who had deliberately qualified the broad word “liberty” with the word “personal”). Recognising an unenumerated right like privacy is an example of substantive due process
  • Section 9-B of the Beef Act cast the burden of proof on the accused in some cases. The court was examining its constitutional validity. This was a procedural due process inquiry, as the provision reversed a well-known procedural rule of evidence in criminal trials, that is, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Section 9-B was also struck down by the court. It was held that the “right of life and liberty under Article 21… clearly covers the [substantive] due process aspect envisaged in the American jurisprudence.”
  • Thus, interestingly, while the Supreme Court of India in the Rajbala case has strongly rejected the doctrine of substantive due process, the Bombay High Court has, following earlier Supreme Court pronouncements, applied and reiterated the doctrine in Indian constitutional law

 

The Indian Express

1. To Read: Explained: Simply put: What the changes in the tax treaty with Mauritius mean for India, investors

2. Useful Infographic:

capture9

 

Others:

1. Deccan Herald:NAAC to introduce 7-point grading for colleges from July

a). National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) will start grading educational institutions under 7 categories instead of the present 4 categories.

At present, the categories are A (Very Good), B (Good), C (Satisfactory), D (Unsatisfactory)depending on their Cumulative Grade Point Index (CGPA) they have secured based on 7 parameters

In the new system, the grades will be A, A+, A++, B, B+, B++, C and D

b). It is aimed at increasing competition among institutions and also improve the quality of these institutions. It is because everything is linked to the grades. For Ex, the RashtriyaUchchatarShikhaAbhiyan (RUSA) grants, UGC Grants etc

 

NAAC:

a). Autonomous body established in 1994 by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country.

b). It is an outcome of the recommendations of the National Policy in Education (1986) which laid special emphasis on upholding the quality of higher education in India.

c). Its Headquarters is at Bengaluru.

 

RUSA:

a). Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) launched in 2013

b). Aim – Providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions.

c). central funding (in the ratio of 65:35 for general category States and 90:10 for special category states) would be norm based and outcome dependent. The funding would flow from the central ministry through the state governments/union territories to the State Higher Education Councils before reaching the identified institutions. The fundingto states would be made on the basis of critical appraisal of State Higher Education Plans, which would describe each state’s strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education.

 

 

2. To Read:

 

3. Quik Bits

b) Dual freight policy for iron ore goes

According to a 2008 policy, the tariff for transportation of iron ore to ports for the purpose of exports is three times the rate charged for transporting the same commodity for domestic use in steel and cement industries This Dual freight policy for iron ore has been withdrawn by the Indian Railways

 

c) Hindustan Antibiotics to trial sick PSU closure policy

The Union Cabinet has set up a Group of Ministers under Finance Minister to recommend if the Uttarakhand-based drug maker can be shut down

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • OBOR
  • Bommai case
  • Exo planet
  • Reentry and landing of spacecraft
  • DTAA
  • RUSA
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct according to the Anti-Defection Law?
  1. Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party
  2. Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six month; if not they are treated as independent

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct regarding exoplanets?
  1. An exoplanet is a planet outside the Milky Way galaxy
  2. The High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) and Kepler are telescopes which have made exo-planet discoveries

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are true?
  1. Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme aimed at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions
  2. RUSA is implemented and monitored through an institutional structure comprising the National Mission Authority, Project Approval Board and the National Project Directorate at the centre and the State Higher Education Council and State Project Directorate at the state level

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 4: Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?
  1. Atmospheric entry is the movement of an object from outer space into and through the gases of an atmosphere of aplanet, dwarf planet or natural satellite
  2. For Earth, atmospheric entry occurs above the Kármán line at an altitude of more than 100 km

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Which of the following country(ies) have signed DTAA with India
  1. Mauritius
  2. Singapore
  3. Fiji
  4. Maldives

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1,3 and 4

d) all the above

Check Your Answers

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