# Comprehensive News Analysis - 13 January 2017

The Hindu

Economic Times

PIB

##### I. Archives

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### Useful News Articles

##### B. GS2 Related

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Initiatives

Key Points:

Background:

• The Right To Education (RTE) Act, which aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6-14 years, stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eight grade.
• Unfortunately, this has meant that a child is entitled to an eighth grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.

Development:

• The Niti Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education Act.
• One of the provisions of the Right To Education Act stipulate that children who don’t perform well cannot be held back up to class VIII.
• Significantly, the Niti Aayog has observed that the good intention behind the norm is detrimental to the learning process.
• The Aayog had pointed out that the purpose behind this provision was to minimise the drop-out rate, since demoralisation resulting from failing a class led to children being withdrawn from school altogether.
• But, in its review of the 12th Five Year Plan, the Aayog, had said that despite the good intention, the provision has had a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete.

Some important statistics

• According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96 per cent for the past six years.
• The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, is one of the largest non-governmental household survey.
• The real problem, the Aayog said, is the quality of education as measurement by student achievements.
• The ASER report finds that more than 50 per cent of the fifth graders cannot read second standard level text.

##### E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1.  Surviving the drought

Category: Geography, Economy

Topic: Monsoon, Agriculture

Key Points:

• Recently, the state government of Tamil Nadu has declared a drought. This development ironically takes place on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal. Also, this development is an important step to address the agrarian distress that is sweeping the State following poor rainfall during the northeast monsoon.
• It is important to note that even with relatively better governance structures, desperation among farmers has resulted in a spate of suicides, particularly in the Cauvery delta rice belt that has received little water from Karnataka in recent times.

The Way Forward

• As agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan has pointed out, there is a need to look ahead and institute reforms in drought management for effective distress mitigation.
• But, it is important to note that these should be founded on a participatory approach, one that intensively engages the farm community year-round.
• It is important to note that, given the vagaries of the monsoon, the importance of welfare support for small and marginal farmers cannot be overstated.
• Further, it is important to note that more than a decade ago, the National Commission on Farmers pointed out that successive droughts, illness, high expenditure on social obligations and asset loss push farmers to the brink.
• In the case of Tamil Nadu, an excessive reliance on water-intensive rice cultivation, and lower priority for hardy millets have raised the risk for many farmers.
• Active recharging of groundwater and harvesting of surface water are vital to meet the challenges.

2. Strategic partnership. Really?

Category: International Relations

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

Key Points:

• It has been reported that India’s decisions over the past two decades to upgrade more than 30 of its bilateral relationships to “strategic partnerships” is excessive.

Understanding the terminologies:

• A strategic partnership defines a bilateral relationship more important than others, but stops short of an actual alliance.
• The term “strategic” further implies a future convergence of interests in areas that are vital: security, defence and investment.

India- Rwanda- An insight

• Rwanda is a land-locked country with 90 per cent of its population engaged in subsistence agriculture.
• It is also still recovering from the mass murder of large sections of its Hutu population in 1994, though the country has registered remarkable progress and growth in the last few years.
• India is yet to set up a full diplomatic mission in the country.

In 1998, India had announced its first strategic partnership with France. Since then, successive governments have signed such partnerships with dozens of countries.

But, it is important to note that while relations with each of these are important, they are not vital to India’s interests.

It has been pointed out that the need of the hour is a more cogent policy with clear-cut criteria for strategic partnerships that must be considered by the Ministry of External Affairs.

This policy should focus on countries with which there is a long-term vision on securing India’s needs, coupled with a convergence of strategic interests.

1. Bit by bit

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Money and Banking

Key Points:

• Recently, the value of the bitcoin has suffered a steep 20 per cent loss.
• It is important to remember that the bitcoin doubled relative to the dollar in 2016.

A look at virtual currencies:

• There was a lot of hype surrounding virtual currencies. But, in the last two years, it has become increasingly clear that the initial hype about virtual currencies decimating paper money, toppling central banks and rendering governments powerless, was quite overdone.
• For example, at a market capitalisation of less than \$20 billion, cryptocurrencies remain a minuscule fraction of global currency in circulation.
• This fact proves that they haven’t gained wide acceptance as a medium of exchange.
• Unfortunately, narcotics peddlers, terrorists and money launderers have used bitcoins, that have given them a veil of anonymity.
• But despite all this, global financial regulators have stopped short of imposing an outright ban on cryptocurrency trades.

International Context

• Russia, actively considered a bitcoin ban, but later did a U-turn last year.
• China has decided to regulate cryptocurrencies as ‘virtual goods’.
• The US has swept virtual currency trades under the aegis of its Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
• The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been registering cryptocurrency marketplaces and enforcing basic payment and settlement rules.

Economic Times

1. On interest rates, Urjit Patel is bang on

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Money and Banking

Key Points:

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel recently spoke up against the large-scale lowering of interest rates by means of subventions from the Union Budget and against credit guarantees.
• It is important to note that in a well-functioning market, the interest rate offered to a particular enterprise includes, besides the cost of money in general, a risk premium that is tailor-made for that enterprise in its particular line of business, reflecting the likelihood of the said enterprise succeeding.
• Distorting interest rates is likely to end up misallocating resources.
• If a risky venture could attract capital because someone is willing to subsidise a part of its interest cost, it could, in the process, deprive another venture that has lower risk but does not have anyone to subsidise its interest cost, not just of capital, but also of land, workers, power, entrepreneurial energy — of a chance to form and get going.
• It is significant to note that tampering with the cost at which capital is available to an enterprise is a recipe for misallocating and wasting resources, lowering welfare in general.

PIB

Category: Science and Technology

Topic: Developments

Key Points:

• Khanderi, which is the second of Indian Navy’s Scorpene’ class stealth submarine, was ‘launched’ on 12th January, 2017 by the Hon’ble Raksha Rajya Mantri, Dr Subhash Bhamre paving the way for her sea trials. Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff and a host of other dignitaries witnessed the launch at Mazagon Dock Shipyard Limited on 12th January, 2017.
• The submarine is expected to be delivered to Navy by the year end. She has been christened after her illustrious predecessor, an erstwhile ‘Foxtrot’ class submarine decommissioned in 1989, which is as per the traditions of Indian Navy. The first of the class submarine, Kalvari is presently undergoing sea trials and likely to be commissioned into Navy by Mid 2017. These submarines, post induction, would form the core of Navy’s conventional Submarine Arm. Speaking on the occasion Dr Subhash Bhamre said that Project 75 Kalvari is a key milestone in self reliance and indigenisation for the country. Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff said during his address that the fact that Submarine ‘’Khanderi” compares with the best in the world, speaks highly of the experience and expertise our shipbuilders have gained over the years. He added that as Indian Navy celebrates Golden Jubilee of the submarine arm in 2017, the induction of Project 75 submarines would mark the beginning of a new chapter in our submarine capabilities.
• The launching of Khanderi also marks a critical milestone event for the Shipyard which earlier has delivered two Shishumar class submarines in the 90’s and has now strengthened its position as a submarine building yard for Indian Navy.

##### F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
• INS Khanderi
• Right To Education (RTE) Act

##### H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: ‘INS Khanderi’ recently appeared in the news. What is it?

A) A Scorpene class stealth submarine

B) An Indian Naval Frigate

C) An Amphibious warfare ship

D) A Destroyer

Question 2: Consider the following statements regarding the Right To Education (RTE) Act,
1. The Right To Education (RTE) Act, aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6-14 years.
2. One among the provisions of the act stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the eight grade.
3. Recently, the NITI Aayog, observed that despite the good intention, the above provision has had a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

A) 1 and 2 Only

B) All, 1, 2 and 3

C) 2 and 3 Only

D) 1 and 3 Only

Question 3: Consider the following statements,
1. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is an annual, nationwide survey of children’s ability to read simple text and do basic arithmetic.
2. It is the largest household survey of children conducted in India by citizens’ groups.

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. ‘Kalvari’, is the first of the Scorpene class submarines, built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd Mumbai (MDL).
2. The state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The Stealth features give it invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?

A) 1 Only

B) 2 Only

C) Both 1 and 2

D) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Consider the following statements,
1. Rwanda is a land-locked country with 90 per cent of its population engaged in subsistence agriculture.
2. Rwanda is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

A) 1 Only

B) 2 Only

C) Both 1 and 2

D) Neither 1 nor 2