Table of Contents:
A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:
C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
b) India was confident that ASEM’s role can be elevated to harness the collective capabilities of two dynamic continents for the shared peace, progress and prosperity of our countries and regions: Vice President
g) India felicitated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) and Yaws-free status India: first nation to be formally acknowledged to be yaws-free “proud moment for India to have achieved these two momentous public health milestones”: J P Nadda
Useful News Articles
A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
Topic: India, U.S and the U.N
Category: International Relations
- S State Department spokesperson said: “We want to see dialogue between India and Pakistan and the Kashmir on the – on how to resolve the conflict in Kashmir and our policy hasn’t changed”
- Meanwhile, India hit back at Pakistan at a United Nations conference on human rights, after the latter raised the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the forum. Terming Pakistan’s attempt a “misuse” of the forum, India’s Permanent Representative (PR) to the U.N. reminded the world body that Pakistan has been shielding designated terrorists on its territory
- “Pakistan, is the same country whose track record has failed to convince the international community to gain membership of the Human Rights Council in this very Session of the UNGA. The international community has long seen through such designs. Cynical attempts, like the one this morning therefore, find no resonance in this forum or elsewhere in the United Nations,” he said
Topic: Federal Relations
- The Army is moving a reserve brigade to the Line of Control along Kupwara, even as agencies suspect more youngsters can join militant ranks because of fresh violence and anger triggered by the killing of the 22-year-old Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani
- The deployment at a significant height would greatly increase the Army’s presence along the LoC, but could reduce its ability to carry out surprise deployments in the interiors of the Valley
Topic: Federal Relations
- Acting Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Tathagata Roy has asked Chief Minister NabamTuki to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly by July 16. MrTuki however, said the order would be difficult to implement as the time was too short
- A statement from the Arunachal Pradesh Governor said the floor test proceedings would follow the principles laid down by the May 6 order of the Supreme Court regarding President’s rule in Uttarakhand
Topic: SCS Disputes
Category: International Relations
- The United States is using quiet diplomacy to persuade the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and other Asian nations not to move aggressively to capitalise on an international court ruling that denied China’s claims to the South China Sea, several U.S. administration officials said on Wednesday
- Private diplomatic messages were sent through U.S. embassies abroad and foreign missions in Washington, while others were conveyed directly to top officials by the Defence Secretary , the Secretary of State and other senior officials
- The effort to calm the waters following the court ruling on Tuesday suffered a setback when Taiwan dispatched a warship to the area
- Meanwhile, two Chinese civilian aircraft landed on Wednesday at two new airports on reefs controlled by China in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a move the U.S. State Department said would increase tensions rather than lower them
C. GS3 Related
- An attacker killed up to 80 people and injured scores when he drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday
- The attack, which came eight months and a day after Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in Paris, appeared so far to be the work of a lone assailant
(Unidentified sources said the driver was a 31-year-old local of Tunisian origin)
- Hours earlier, in a traditional Bastille Day interview, the French President had said an eight-month state of emergency might end in two weeks’ time
- India has sought Iran’s help in tracing 17 persons from Kerala, who have been missing for over a month, and are suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS). Investigations by Indian agencies have revealed that the 17 Indians, including women and children, travelled till Iran on tourist visas before going off the radar
- The official said they were looking at two probable scenarios now. One, the group might have reached Afghanistan, which shares its border with Iran and joined the Islamic State in Khorasan Province. The other possibility, the official said, was that they have travelled to Iraq and from there on to Syria
- All the missing persons are from Kasargod district in Kerala and their relatives said they had received messages from them that they had reached their final destination — the ‘Caliphate’ that the IS aims to establish
- The Centre announced an extension of a deadline under the Income Declaration Scheme, aimed at bringing undeclared income and assets into the tax net to, September 30, 2017
- The government has decided to stagger the due dates for the payments. According to the new plan, a minimum of 25 per cent of the tax, surcharge and penalty is to be paid by November 30, 2016, another 25 per cent by March 31, 2017, and the remaining amount by September 30, 2017. The previous deadline for the entire payment of the tax, interest, and penalty was November 30, 2016( for making payment by November 30, 2016, the declarants may have to opt for distress sale of the assets)
- A group of green enthusiasts exploring around the thick forest of Eastern Ghats near P.M. Kota village of Maredumillimandal in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh a few days ago, stumbled upon a butterfly species never before sighted in south India
- The find belonged to the ‘Marbled Map’ species
- India is home to 1,318 recorded butterfly species while the figure is about 1,500 in the entire sub-continent. A formal note will be sent to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) so that it can be included in the new butterfly index
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
Topic: Law and order
- With the death toll rising to at least 38 in the clashes in the Kashmir Valley, the brutal crowd-control tactics of the police have come under the spotlight. They call into question the changes in standard operating procedure that were made after the violent protests of 2010, when scores of people died, mostly to bullet injuries
- A decision had then been taken to introduce “non-lethal” pellets. But ammunition can only be as “non-lethal” as the tactics employed. And it is evident that the security forces have failed to exercise enough restraint, given the nature of injuries sustained by many young men and women. A high number of the injured have suffered pellet injuries in the eyes
- The Centre has obviously, and correctly, read the situation, and rushed a team of eye specialists to the Valley. But the tragically excessive loss of life, limb and sight this month must force a serious rethink on how policemen are equipped and trained to bring calm to the streets
- Pellets have been fired from 12-bore guns for riot control. These are not long-distance weapons. Police around the world have been trained to aim for below the knee. The idea is that the pain caused by the pellets, usually made of metal and sometimes encased in rubber, acts as a deterrent without maiming or causing serious life-inhibiting injuries. Theoretically, it sounds viable
- The reality that’s obtained in Kashmir this month tells another story. It speaks to a lack of both training and leadership. It is nobody’s case that it is an easy job to control a violent crowd, but it is the duty of the police to do so by causing as little injury as possible. They must ensure that the force they use is never disproportionately excessive to the cause of action
- In the heat of the moment, there was a clear lack of restraint, evident in the numbers injured by the spray of pellets
- Even as the best medical care is now sought to be provided, a more holistic healing must be expeditiously administered. It has to be a political exercise. This week of violence must also end with the assurance that the security forces have learnt important lessons — the most important among them being the adoption of more humane measures for crowd control
Topic: The U.K after Brexit
Category: International Affairs
- Three weeks after a majority of Britons voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the British political landscape looks entirely different
- Theresa May rose from this post-referendum chaos to become the second woman Prime Minister of the U.K. A seasoned politician with administrative experience, Ms. May’s style of working and policy preferences often invoke comparisons with Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel
- As Home Secretary for six years, she oversaw Britain’s security services, borders and police forces. Despite her hard-line positions on immigration — at the Home Office she supported a net immigration cap — she chose to back the Remain camp, like Mr. Cameron, during the referendum campaign. This pragmatic euroscepticism may have helped her win over both the doves and hawks within the Conservative Party
- That the U.K. has put an end to political uncertainty quicker than expected is good news for both the country and Europe. But the challenges Ms. May faces are unprecedented: uniting the divided Conservative Party, fixing the country’s economic worries which have been damagedby Brexit, restoring investor confidence in the immediate future, reigning in xenophobia in the U.K. which threatens its social cohesion and so on
- A yet larger challenge for Ms. May would be dealing with the Brexit referendum outcome. Mr. Cameron had promised to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty if there was a Leave vote. In the event, he did not. None of the Brexiteers managed to succeed him. Ms. May, herself a Remain supporter, faces a difficult situation. If she doesn’t begin the process of taking the U.K. out of the EU, she faces the wrath of Brexiteers within and outside her party. If she invokes Article 50, it could have immediate repercussions for the economy and London’s ties with Scotland. This is a tall order that even Ms. May’s idol, Margaret Thatcher, would have struggled with
Topic: Fundamental Duties
- The Constitution of India, the longest written Constitution of the world, has envisaged a holistic approach towards civic life in a democratic polity. Certain rights have been guaranteed within the Constitution as Fundamental Rights. Since human conduct cannot be confined to the realm of Fundamental Rights, the Constitution has envisaged certain duties, which are correlated to the rights, and those duties have been described as Fundamental Duties
- The framers of the Constitution did not deem it appropriate to incorporate those duties in the text of the Constitution when it was originally promulgated. However, the post-Constitution civic life, for around a quarter century, did not portray a rosy picture, and therefore, it was thought fit to have a framework of duties in the Constitution itself. It may sound paradoxical that the preparatory work for the introduction of Fundamental Duties by the Swaran Singh Committee was done when the Fundamental Rights were under suspension during the Emergency
- Fundamental Duties were introduced by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 — Article 51-A
- Subsequently, another duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002: for a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education of the child or ward between the age of six and fourteen
- Since then, the scope of Fundamental Rights under Part III of the Constitution has seen significant expansion through judicial pronouncements; the right to free legal services to the poor, right to speedy trial and right to live in a clean and healthy environment are just a few examples. As a result, an imbalance has been created between the current set of Fundamental Rights and Duties. Here is an attempt to examine if a few additional Fundamental Duties in the Constitution of this country could help in balancing out the rights of its citizens and further make them more responsible towards the country’s development
- Duty to vote: Article 326 of the Constitution read with Section 62 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 confers the right to vote. However, quite often the question arises as to whether that right also implies an obligation. The voter turnout during the last general election amounted only to about 67 per cent. This voter apathy should be taken seriously and an attempt should be made to make voting a citizenship obligation
- The state can take several steps to ensure that this duty to vote is made operational and effective. One method through which this may be achieved is by developing a system of incentives for voters and conversely disadvantages for those who abstain from performing their duty to vote. A very large section of people can be motivated to vote this way
- Duty to pay taxes: The tax gap (the revenue that a government is expected to receive as against the revenue it actually collects) continues to increase every year. The greatest indicator of this is the fact that the size of India’s shadow economy as a share of the GDP reached 24.3 per cent in the year 2012. Research has found that tax evasion is a direct result of lack of trust among the people, in general, and the government, in particular. Citizens must believe that their taxes are bound to be used for public good. The incorporation of the right to pay taxes as part of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution will shift the onus onto the taxpayer to pay taxes rather than the tax department to collect them
- Duty to help accident victims: Every 60 minutes, 16 persons die in traffic accidents in India. According to the Law Commission of India, at least 50 per cent of fatalities can be prevented if road accident victims receive medical attention within the critical first hour after the accident. The Karnataka government’s decision to frame a ‘Good Samaritan law’ is a step in the right direction. With the increase in the number of accidents, it has become pertinent for India to recognise this duty as one owed by its citizens towards each other
- Duty to keep the premises clean: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission has received tremendous support from people from all walks of life. The most effective mechanism to tackle uncleanliness is to sensitise people about this duty. Therefore, it is imperative that a Fundamental Duty to this effect be added to the Constitution
- Duty to prevent civil wrongs: It is not enough that a citizen refrains from committing wrong; he has a duty to see that fellow citizens do not indulge in the commission of wrongs
- Duty to raise voice against injustice: Today people seem to have stopped reacting to atrocities; they neither report crimes nor volunteer to testify in a court. The duties of a victim or a witness can be classified into two main categories, viz. duty to report a crime and duty to testify in court. The state must also on its part work to ensure that the fight to bring the offender to book does not become a nightmare for the victim or witness
- Duty to protect whistle-blowers: With the coming into force of the Right to Information Act, 2005, every citizen has become a “potential whistle-blower”. While the state has a great deal of responsibility in providing for their protection through appropriate legislative instruments, the responsibility to protect torchbearers of transparency vests on each one of us
- Duty to support bona fide civil society movements: Citizens have a moral duty to organise themselves or support citizen groups so that the gaps in governance left by the executive can be filled and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are made available to every citizen. Therefore, it is proposed that there must be an addition to Part IV-A of the Constitution to that effect
- Reinvigorating civic responsibility: In the modern context, it has become increasingly important to instil a reinvigorated sense of civic responsibility among Indian citizens. This can be achieved by adding new duties to the existing list of Fundamental Duties while also laying emphasis on the performance of the existing ones. The significance of Fundamental Duties is not diminished by the fact that there is no punishment prescribed for not following them. Fundamental Duties constitute the conscience of our Constitution; they should be treated as constitutional values that must be propagated by all citizens
- It appears our polity is not even aware of such a noble part of our Constitution. This should be included in the curriculum of high school students at least
Topic: Federal Relations
- If one thinks of principles alone, the latest ruling of the constitution bench of the Supreme Court can be very reassuring. The moment one begins situating it in the ground realities, the limited point the ruling makes becomes obvious. To be sure, there is something called constitutional morality that goes beyond the literal meaning of words, clauses and articles of the constitution
- On the whole, the court in India has sided with the former more than the latter. Unfortunately, however, actual politics tends to have very limited association with constitutional morality which is only a different name for the ethos of democracy
- It has been clear since last December that the state party is deeply divided and without the help of the flawed anti-defection laws, it is not likely that the Congress can easily survive the floor test in the state legislature. And even if it did, that would be predicated on the stand taken by the speaker
- In Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, much trouble emanated from the office of the governor and even elsewhere. Governors under this BJP government have been prone to rake in controversies. So, appointments of governors, political expectations from the new appointees and the eagerness with which the home ministry acts on their reports are all non-federal acts of the BJP government and reflect negatively on the democratic ethos that informs the SC ruling and the prevailing interpretation of the constitution
- It is an ironic coincidence that the SC ruling on Arunachal came on the day the BJP launched its major offensive in the Northeast — the North East ‘Democratic’ Alliance (NEDA). Handling states of the Northeast has always been a precarious project
- Through NEDA the party aims at consolidating its political gains from Assam. The political success, however, might leave the region more bruised and more bewildered. The BJP, of course, has a right to expand in the Northeast; but the delicate issues of regionalism, ethnicity and a negotiated settlement of disparate claims would be ill served if the BJP steamrolls local power equations as it sought to do in Arunachal or if it bypasses local sensitivities in the region
- It is indeed a tough call for political parties to balance three things: Their constant search for power; responsibility to national interest; and the pious challenge of expanding democracy. But leaders go down in history and parties become historic only by trying to balance their power instinct with larger constraints
- The “strangeness” of the ruling lies in the fact that the ruling party is exhibiting overall contempt for democratic ethos. If a party that hopes to be the main national party of the next decade has a cynical approach to the democratic ethos, then surely there is much to worry about notwithstanding the glimmer of hope provided by the court ruling
- Scared off by the popular backlash to family planning excesses during the Emergency, India’s political and social leadership abandoned the subject of population growth decades ago. The 10-year goals set out in the Population Policy 2000 were mostly neglected. The problem does not need a political solution. It needs the dedicated attention of the chief ministers of three states — Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — in whose hands lie the attainment of a goal that 24 states have already realised: Reducing fertility rates to replacement level
- With over 26 million births each year, the country’s population momentum is akin to a super-fast train which cannot be stopped. With determination, it can, however, be slowed down. Stopping the momentum is impossible: It is like telling generations of Indians, including newly-weds, to not have children or to mandate a small family norm. Fortunately, neither strategy is feasible in a democracy
- But chief ministers can certainly encourage people towards an optimum family size and provide couples with the tools to space and limit the arrival of their children — but voluntarily. Such an approach — soft and easy-going as it may sound — has, by and large, succeded
- But what is “optimum”? Demographers agree that if women in child-bearing years produce an average of 2.1 children per head — so as to replace both parents — the population gets stabilised. This number is referred to as the total fertility rate (TFR). Both low and high TFR can pose problems. With Japanese and European couples opting for fewer children, TFR in Europe and Japan has fallen below 1.5; that raises fears of societies disappearing. India’s TFR is presently at 2.3 with huge variations between states
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu achieved the ideal TFR of 2.1 in 1989 and 1992. The good news is that since then, several big states — Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal — have brought down fertility rates to replacement levels. Three other states — Gujarat, Haryana and Assam — are poised to join them in a year. The TFR in some states like Goa and West Bengal has fallen to nearly European levels
- Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (30 per cent of India’s population) are, however, responsible for pulling the country back. Their neighbours, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand (10 per cent of the country’s population) have also been tardy but they are moving towards the 2.1 TFR goal; for them the target looks attainable by 2020
- The National Family Health Survey and the District Level Health Surveys show that most poor families if assured of two living children do not want more. But this is not the case in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan where poor parents consciously want more than two children; it is also ironical that the unmet need for contraception is also the highest in these states. Higher fertility levels, early marriages, repeated pregnancies and mothers giving birth in their 40s are exacerbating the problem. Contraception is not used by 50 per cent of those who need it the most
- According highest primacy to population stabilisation in these three states is, therefore, essential. By tracking every married couple in underserved villages, a lot can be achieved. One strategy would be to give incentives to the local health volunteers who should be remunerated for every year’s delay in child birth after the age of 19 (the legal age for women to marry being 18), promoting a gap of three years between children and facilitating family planning methods
- The health minister has recently announced that his ministry will focus on high TFR districts, mostly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. While this is a good strategy, the engagement of the top leadership is indispensable
- Only chief ministers carry the authority to extract work from the state health bureaucracies. As Tamil Nadu’s example shows, they can requisition the workforce of every department as well that of the private sector. At stake is not just population stabilisation but more importantly women’s liberation and a greater chance for the unborn children to live, learn and become employable. Such reasons to reduce population can swing elections, if presented intelligently
- India’s “demographic dividend” boast is sounding more and more clichéd when one sees the abysmal impact of health and education on millions of young men and women, particularly in the northern states. In the West, the term is used to signify the proportion of working people vis-a-vis the retirees. In India, the so-called dividend is actually represented by disproportionately high number of young people in six high fertility states, many of whom are unemployable. Malnutrition and illiteracy persist
- Natural growth and population growth caused by unplanned in-migration from other states which is largely responsible for the polluted, slum-ridden picture that he has painted for urban India should also be taken into consideration. That, however, is a matter for another story on how appeasement politics is replacing basic governance
Topic: Primary Activities
- We have had two consecutive drought years, yet India’s milk production, according to the Agriculture Ministry, has risen from 137.69 million tonnes (mt) in 2013-14 to 146.31 mt in 2014-15 and 160.35 mt in 2015-16. Never before has the country’s milk output grown at these rates — that too, in the face of back-to-back monsoon failures
- Sounds farfetched? Well, in bad rainfall years, farmers do rely more on milk sales to make up for lost income from their main crop. So, rather than plant cotton or groundnut, they may go in for short-duration fodder crops and put all their resources and energy into dairying. In the event, more milk could flow from the udders of their animals
- There is a flip side to this, though. Farmers, even in normal times, accord priority in feeding to the buffaloes and cows already in milk. That tendency is exacerbated during droughts. Since pregnant animals and calves are the ones that bear the brunt of fodder deprivation, their reproduction-cum-lactation cycles get disrupted. Its impact on output will be, however, felt not immediately, but in the succeeding year
- KrishiBhawan’s claim of record milk production growth in the first two years of the government may, therefore, not be totally devoid of logic. The payback time for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 droughts could, ironically, be in 2016-17, which looks to be a very good monsoon year as of now
- The Agriculture Ministry’s output estimates are also seemingly supported by data on milk procurement by dairy cooperatives. These were up by 10.7% in 2014-15 and 11.5% in 2015-16, more than even the corresponding growth rates of 6.3% and 9.6% for milk production
- But connecting output to cooperative procurement can be highly misleading. Cooperatives procure hardly a tenth of the milk produced in India. Even out of their total average daily procurement of 421.67 lakh kg in 2015-16, nearly 60% was from three states — Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra — that together produce less than a fifth of the country’s milk. On the other hand, we have Uttar Pradesh with an 18% share of national milk output, but contributing just 1% to overall cooperative procurement. The link between production and procurement at an all-India level is, thus, tenuous at best
- Moreover, farmers in any case resort to increased milk sales during droughts. But that, as already noted, has more to do with a drying up of regular crop income, and can happen even without production really going up. The accompanying chart shows that in 2012-13, which was a drought year, procurement by cooperatives registered a 16.7% jump, even with milk output being a mere 3.5% higher
- These apart, there is a more important reason for milk procurement by cooperatives shooting up in the last two years. Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, India’s milk powder exports collapsed from 1.3 lakh tonnes (valued at Rs 2,717.56 crore) to 15,905 tonnes (Rs 292.57 crore). It takes about 11.5 kg of milk to produce 1 kg of powder. A 1.1 lakh tonne reduction in powder exports would have been equivalent to a lowering of milk purchases by some 36 lakh kg per day. Since much of exports were being done by private dairies, their cutting back on procurement would have led to all this surplus milk flowing to the cooperatives
- Cooperatives dairies are actually in a bind today. While procurement has soared by double digits, the growth in their liquid milk marketing volumes was only 5.6% in 2014-15 and 3.8% in 2015-16 — reflective, perhaps, of the pressure on incomes and consumption in the wider economy, and also borne out by Amul or Mother Dairy not being able to raise retail prices as freely as before
- But both collapse of exports and sluggish growth in milk sales point to a problem of demand rather than supply. Production may well have increased, but certainly not by 14 mt in 2015-16 alone. That claim is difficult to reconcile with a scenario of extreme water and fodder scarcity across much of rural India in the last two years, forcing farmers to even sell their cattle at distress prices
- It isn’t milk alone. Question are being raised over even the Agriculture Ministry’s estimates of wheat production, which, for 2015-16, has been pegged at 94.04 mt, as against the previous year’s 86.53 mt. A 7.5 mt output increase — when procurement by government agencies is down by 5.2 mt and open market wheat prices are ruling 14%-15% higher compared to last year at this time — has flummoxed market participants and grain analysts alike
- The same goes for soyabean, where KrishiBhawan’s output estimate of 8.92 mt is much more than the Soyabean Processors’ Association of India’s 6.93 mt
- The near-term policy implications from official crop estimates being wide off the mark are obvious. When market signals are clearly indicating a domestic shortage of wheat, the Centre is still imposing a 25% duty on imports. And the only reason for it is the Agriculture Ministry maintaining that the country harvested a bumper crop of 94 mt-plus even under poor soil moisture conditions, aggravated by high temperatures and absence of winter rains
- But the more serious implications are on credibility. At a time when everybody is expressing doubts over India’s GDP growth numbers, overstating crop production only makes things worse
Topic: Federal Relations
- With the Supreme Court driving the return of Congress governments in two states in less than three months, the BJP government at the Centre has earned the dubious distinction of having been pushed back on the imposition of President’s Rule in perhaps the quickest succession in Indian judicial history
- The Presidential proclamations brought the office of the Governor in both states under cloud, prompting the top court to lay down contours of power that could be validly exercised by the Centre through the Governor, particularly when different parties are in power at the Centre and in the state.
- The legal defeats of the central government have also reaffirmed the role and authority of the constitutional courts, which have underscored forcefully the significance of democratically elected governments in states at a time when a different party has a brute majority at the Centre
- While the role of the Centre came under the courts’ scanner in Uttarakhand where the Presidential proclamation was challenged, the role of the Governor was scrutinised in Arunachal’s case. A Supreme Court-ordered floor test helped the Congress regain power in Uttarakhand, whereas in Arunachal, the “unconstitutional” exercise of powers by the Governor was declared sufficient to propel the Congress government back at the helm
- The upshot of the judgments by the constitutional courts in the two cases can be summed up by the opinion expressed by the five-judge Constitution Bench on the ambit of powers with the Centre, which has consistently maintained that imposition of President’s rule was its exclusive prerogative
- Wednesday’s verdict was also the first to not only quash the Governor’s decisions leading to President’s Rule, but to turn the clock back to reinstate the previous government. In two earlier cases, the apex court had refrained from reinstating the previous government, even while it held the proclamation to have been wrongly issued. In Bommai’s case, the previous government was not restored because of the passage of time, whereas in Rameshwar Prasad’s case, fresh elections had been notified
- The judgments by the Supreme Court and the Uttarakhand High Court have elucidated the significance of the “principle of responsible government” and the necessity of a “comity” between the constitutional functionaries “to further the constitutional vision of democracy in the larger interests of the nation”
- Regretting what the Constitution Bench on Wednesday described as “a thrashing to the Constitution and a spanking to governance”, the constitutional courts have outlined that dislodging a democratically elected government through a Presidential proclamation must happen in extremely rare circumstances, and that the Governor, in such instances, must “keep clear of any political horse-trading, and even unsavoury political manipulations, irrespective of the degree of their ethical repulsiveness”
- The courts have stated that a Governor must remember he is not a democratically elected representative, and therefore, he cannot assume powers of a responsible government and act without the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers. The judgments are guiding directions to the Governors to act dispassionately and disassociate themselves from the political affiliations once they resume the constitutional posts
- The judgments further define the specific powers of the Governor, saying that when he believes that the state government has lost the confidence of the majority, he could propose a floor test and then send a report to the President. Under no other circumstances, the courts have now held, can the Governor act without aid and advice
- Also emphasising the role of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the judgments have said that no other authority, including the Governor, can direct the Speaker on how to conduct the proceedings of the House, while reiterating that in a democracy, the floor test is the real test to prove majority
According to the third advance estimate, the total production of food grains was 252.23 million tonnes in 2015-16 which is a little bit more in comparison to 252.02 million tonnes in the year of 2014-15. A target has been fixed for the whole food grains production as 270.10 million tonnes for the year 2016-17.
India ranks first on global scenario in respect the consumption of edible oils. Our country requires has a total demand of edible oils in terms of 23 million tonnes. However, we are capable to produce only half of this requirement. To fulfil this scarcity we have to import 12 million tonnes edible oils every year. Keeping this in view, the Government of India is implementing a project as National Oilseeds and Oil Taad(Palm oil), project. Under this project oilseeds crops, production of improved seeds to promote the production of oils generated through Taad and trees, micro irrigation, agriculture mechanisation etc. is being encouraged. A special emphasis is being put to promote the farming of oil taad keeping in view the potentiality of its farming in North-Eastern States.
The production of pulses was 8.41 million tonnes on 19.09 million hectare area in 1950-51 and the average productivity was 441 kg per hectare whereas in the year 2013-14 a production of 19.27 million metric tonne was obtained on 25.23 million hectare area and average productivity was 764 kg per hectare. This enhancement is not like that of the enhancement of the crops like rice and wheat in respect of production of pulses. The availability of pulses per capita has reduced to 15.3 kg per year in comparison of 22.1 kg per year in 2013. During this period the availability of rice and wheat per capita has increased from 58 kg per year to 84.8 kg per year and from 24 kg per year to 66.9 kg per year respectively.
Up to the year of 2013-14 under National Food Security Mission (NFSM) the programmes related to pulses were implemented in 468 Districts of 16 States. The Government expended this mission to North-Eastern States, Hilly States, Kerala as well as Goa. Now, under NFSM the pulses programme is being conducted in 638 Districts of 29 States. Apart from this the crops of pulses are being promoted on rice fallow land under Eastern India Green Revolution Programme (BGREI) in the year of 2015-16. BGREI-Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India
The Minister of Agriculture further said that top priority is being given to increase the production of pulses in the country by Government of India. During the year 2016-17 under NFSM a sum of Rs. 1100 crore has been earmarked as a central share for pulses programmes out of the whole allocation of Rs. 1700 crore.
Addresses Plenary of the 11th ASEM Summit
The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that India was confident that ASEM’s role can be elevated to harness the collective capabilities of two dynamic continents for the shared peace, progress and prosperity of our countries and regions. He was addressing the Plenary of the 11th ASEM Summit being held today in Ulaanbaater, Mongolia, where he is leading the Indian delegation. He said that ASEM today is a dynamic bridge between Asia and Europe and our shared endeavour has been to promote multi-dimensional connectivity between our continents.
The Vice President said that physical connectivity is merely the means to meeting the aspirations of our citizens; to building mutually beneficial partnerships, and to collectively addressing our regional and global challenges. The networks of connectivity must also include institutional, digital, economic and socio-cultural aspects, he added.
Addressing the issue of terrorism, the Vice President said that our societies today face unprecedented levels of threat from terrorism in all its manifestations with the most recent example being what has happened, most unfortunately in France. He said that we need to cooperate meaningfully to deal with this threat. He urged the ASEM to pledge to work together to erase the scourge of terrorism by taking speedy action against the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terror, pointing out that the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism under the aegis of the UN is an imperative today.
The Vice president said that ASEM should also collaborate to protect our global commons such as the seas and oceans in accordance with international conventions, urging ASEM members to resolve disputes peacefully, without threats or use of force, and exercise self restraint in the conduct of activities that could escalate disputes effecting peace and stability. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans, the Vice President added.
Mr. Gen Nakatani, Defence Minister of Japan, called on Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today.
The Prime Minister condoled the loss of life of Japanese citizens in the terror attack in Dhaka earlier this month. The Prime Minister called for greater bilateral and multilateral cooperation against terrorism.
Mr. Nakatani briefed the Prime Minister on the bilateral defence cooperation initiatives. The Prime Minister welcomed Japanese participation at the International Fleet Review in Vishakhapatnam in February 2016, and in the Malabar Exercise off the Japanese coast in June 2016.
Mr. Nakatani also briefed the Prime Minister on regional developments in East and Southeast Asia.
The Prime Minister said that he is looking forward to his visit to Japan later this year for the Annual Summit.
The Indian Navy’s Ocean going sailboat, Mhadei, returned to her homeport, Goa, today. A team of six young women officers from the Navy registered a thrilling historic first when they returned to Goa successfully after a voyage to Mauritius. The team on their maiden, and India’s first all-women crew ocean voyage, covered a distance of over five thousand nautical miles through treacherous monsoon seas and heavy winds. The voyage had commenced in Goa on 24 May 16 and reached Port Louis, Mauritius on 14 June 2016.
DRDO achieved yet another technological breakthrough by successfully conducting the proof firing of Armament system for 155 mm x 52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) during the technical trials conducted recently at Proof & Experimental Establishment (PXE), Balasore.
The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today signed a $100 million loan agreement to strengthen key irrigation and drainage system and improve water management in the Vennar sub-basin of the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu. The financing will be used to strengthen embankments of six major irrigation water channels in the Vennar system and rehabilitate 13 irrigation pumping schemes.
India received the official citation from WHO and UNICEF for Elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and for being Yaws-free. India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as being Yaws-free. India was validated for Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) in April 2015, ahead of the global target date of December 2015.
Yaws is a tropical infection of the skin, bones and joints
- A few years ago, the Delhi Government and SEWA experimented to offer poor families a choice on how to receive their food essentials—whether to continue with supplies from the Public Distribution System (PDS), or to switch to a practice of benefit transfer in cash
- These options represent two distinct economic approaches to directly provide food security to needy households—namely, dual-pricing and income-transfer, respectively. The experiment was influenced not as much by the desire to test which of these two mechanisms would be more efficient
- Rather, it sought to explore the kinds of choices a family may exercise and, consequently, the possible benefits marginal sections/strata of society may generate if given a preference
- Families opting for income transfer demonstrated many choices being exercised: they chose to buy more protein foods (animal or pulses) to diversify their nutritional intake; they pooled money to collectively buy from the mandi; they bought grains of their choice, different from those vended in the PDS; or often the same grains as by the PDS but of better quality
- Not only was the principal policy goal (food security) achieved but it was done so in a manner that catalysed two crucial ripple effects. On the supply-side, the efficiency of PDS vendors improved while on the demand-side, it catalysed non-economic and economic empowerment—best testified by women pooling in resources and collectively buying grains of their choice
- Current discussions on digital access and equality, especially in the context of net-neutrality, have gigabytes to learn from such social behaviour—especially since, in providing digital access, unlike access to food, there exist efficient mechanisms for direct and targeted support to end-users
- These bypass contentious mechanisms and anti-competitive practices of enabling internet access, such as differential pricing and offering fragments of the internet, that were justifiably barred by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) this February
- Trai’s recent consultation paper on “Free Data” in May moved the debate to alternative mechanisms and available tools. Akin to income transfer for availing food security, online tools and data-sponsoring apps (like Gigato for instance) could remunerate users through data/time; it is left to the netizen on what and when to spend that data
- One can imagine part of it being spent on sharing latest thoughts and pictures on Facebook; perhaps a larger part is likely to be used to access content/services not offered by predefined packages like Free Basics—such as editing Wikipedia pages, using WhatsApp or VoIP, reading news reports or re-charging household subscriptions to cable TV
- Devising innovative mechanisms to offer users’ data/time has much wider implications. If the public exchequer provides marginal sections of society gratis data/time, a digital PDS, this will immediately widen internet access in India
- Being a digital transaction, targeting benefits to deserving users is almost foolproof—unlike targeting beneficiaries of PDS
- Providing a limited amount/time of data, first-time internet users would get the choice, like families opting for cash transfer for food, to spend it on what they perceive to be their digital essentials. In other words, access to the internet would not be compartmentalised; marginal or first-time users could define what their “basics” are from among all the offerings available on the digital mandi called the internet
- Data in itself is never free; just like food or dole for the marginalised, who earn it through labour (MGNREGA) or when the state pays for it (PDS). On the internet, a “free” service may also involve labour, like sitting-through advertisements s or filling a survey form, before being allowed to use a site.
- More commonly, a free service involves a trade—e.g., giving our phone number or e-mail, or pressing a “like”/”accept” tag. In still other cases, “free” involves a trade-off, such as surrendering our privacy or sacrificing the diversity of content, such as listening to only one music streaming service, like that provided by the internet service provider (ISP)
- So, free data must be seen as a considered term, as it may involve an undisclosed trade-off. Similarly, data-transfer or data-sponsoring apps must be seen with regulatory caution, for their potential to violate the principles of net neutrality. This principle rests on a trio of policy values: parity of availability, equity of access and uniformity in affordability
- Infringement of these values by an ISP typically takes three forms: by hindering the provision of a website; by prioritising, or throttling, data-flows from a website; and, where availability and access are unfettered, by offering certain data at zero or reduced or higher price than comparable ones.
- Within the framework of these values, it is worth pursing an engagement with “free data”
- Creative mechanisms to provide or transfer data gratis, especially to first-time and marginal users, is welcome as long as they are undertaken in a transparent manner, allow users to choose what to access, and does not hinder competition in the eco-system of online content/service providers
- This will contribute to achieving the policy goal of expanding internet access but in a manner congenitally embedded to protect net neutrality
- Championing net neutrality in a manner that also proactively emphasises expanding and enhancing digital access is now a necessary, and not just desirable, element in internet policy
- The internet holds opportunities incrementally more than just a parallel for the cash transfer approach to food security.
- A combination of providing data/time (access) and encouraging data transfer/sponsoring (free data) could precipitate digital capability for well over 500 million, of the 700 million mobile phone users in India. If the former is supported from the Universal Service Obligation Fund, and innovations in the latter continue to be spawned by the market, this could emerge as a creative and productive instance of public-private partnership, of which few successes exist in India’s infrastructure sector
(The New Telecom Policy – 1999 (NTP’99) provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would be raised through a ‘Universal Access Levy (UAL)’, which would be a percentage of the revenue earned by the operators under various licenses. The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003)
Topic: Social Sector Initiatives
- In the last two years, the Government has introduced several new programmes, some of which are variations of earlier schemes. One such is the Atal Pension Yojana (APY), which was earlier called SwavalambanYojana NPS (National Pension Scheme) Lite. The APY was introduced in 2015 for unorganised sector workers who do not have sufficient and reliable old age security
- The scheme encourages unorganised workers to make regular small savings during their working years towards pension benefits later. This is an important policy shift away from social assistance schemes to contributory schemes
- APY clearly spells out end benefits of the pension scheme. Monthly pension ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹5000 is guaranteed upon retirement if subscribers contribute the prescribed amount for at least 20 years. This is an improvement over NPS-Lite where the pension amount was uncertain
- The Government provides co-contribution as incentive for five years to poor, unorganised workers not covered by formal social security schemes. APY is a public scheme regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). The key functions of record keeping, administration and customer service are performed by National Securities Depository Limited. A Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) is assigned to all subscribers
- The scheme is tied to the broader mission of financial inclusion under the Pradhan Mantri Jan DhanYojana by using banks as intermediaries for promoting, administering and extending pension benefits to low income workers. With greater emphasis on e-governance, the scheme seeks to use mobile SMS reminders/alerts, electronic KYC-based registration and online exit, withdrawal, claims settlement processes to overcome last mile challenges and simplify the experience
- Official statistics show that by March 2016 the scheme had registered 371 banks (public and private sector , RRBs, cooperatives,etc), enrolled 24.60 lakh subscribers, and was managing ₹506 crore of assets. The scheme registered the highest month-on-month subscriber growth (13.55 per cent) and asset growth (26.18 per cent) among all pension schemes in March 2016. However, unorganised workers covered by it are barely 1 per cent
- Stringent default penalties are a major impediment. If a subscriber misses six consecutive contributions, the account is frozen, after 12 months it is deactivated and beyond 24 months the account is permanently closed. Considering that APY is meant for unorganised workers with irregular income streams, this feature reduces the scheme’s effectiveness
- Limited government co-contribution: Although co-contribution has been extended to 2019-2020, this could be availed of only by those joining before March 31, 2016. Given that the coverage of the scheme is less than 1 per cent, many unorganised workers joining the scheme in future cannot access it
- Poor agent incentives: Banks are asked to administer APY so that new bank accounts opened under PMJDY could be used for promoting the scheme as well as expanding financial inclusion among the economically excluded
- However, this will come in the way of the rural poor accessing the scheme due to low financial inclusion and low penetration of bank branches in rural areas. Moreover, incentives to banks are considerably lower than those provided in previous schemes since incentives have to be mutually negotiated, and shared between banks and business correspondents
- Lower flexibility in exit and withdrawal: The exit process is rigid as the scheme permits premature withdrawals only in the event of death of the beneficiary or her/his being afflicted by a terminal disease. Subsequently, the exit option was given to the beneficiary if she/he gave up the government’s contribution and interest earned on his/her contributions. Considering that poor unorganised workers are highly vulnerable to workplace injuries, accidents and disability, this reduces the reach of the scheme
- Remove account closure for defaults: In the event of sustained non-payment, there can be a system by which subscribers are no longer entitled to a fixed monthly pension on retirement as per APY but can continue making suitable contributions to the APY account at his/her discretion to get different returns. At retirement, 40 per cent of the accumulated corpus can be converted into an annuity and the rest can be offered as a lumpsum
- Encourage mobile money payments: APY hopes to leverage PMJDY’s success to expand its coverage among low income workers. However, according to the RBI, while PMJDY has increased account density among underserved communities, account usage is low with nearly 35 per cent of such bank accounts having zero balance. This calls for the deployment of low cost and flexible mobile money channels, which is a newly emerging technology, to improve last mile access to banks for the rural poor
- Ease of premature exits and withdrawals: APY should provide for partial withdrawal of the corpus in an emergency after a reasonable lock-in period of 5 or 10 years. Public Provident Fund schemes have a 15-year lock-in period prior to full withdrawal and allow 50 per cent withdrawal at the end of the sixth year. APY should introduce similar flexibility
- Enhance behavioural interventions: Behavioural interventions or ‘nudges’ have of late attracted significant attention as low cost policy tools to elicit desired savings behaviour. Studies around the world show that nudges such as peer comparison, commitment devices, goal-setting calendars and personalisation are effective in overcoming self-control issues and prompting regular savings. Although APY has incorporated SMS reminders and auto-debit facility, scope for embedding behavioural interventions into the APY design still exists
- These improvements are urgently needed to improve the coverage of unorganised workers and enhance old age security among them
- Cairn Energy Plc’s reported move to file an arbitration claim seeking $5.6 billion as damages from the Indian government is alesson for the tax office to stop raising frivilous tax demands, and end festering disputes with foreign investors. The case has been hanging fire ever since the tax office raised a demand for capital gains tax on the transfer of assorted Cairn subsidiaries to a single Cairn subsidiary in India, ahead of Cairn India’s initial public offer
- This was done by invoking a retrospective clarification on indirect transfer of capital assets in India. Rightly, Cairn contested the demand saying that consolidation of various group companies into a single entity marks business re-organisation, which is not liable to be taxed. Globally, business reorganizations within a group are tax neutral, and India cannot be an outlier. The tax demand must be dropped
- The Foreign Investment Promotion Board that approved the Cairn restructuring reportedly did not raise the tax issue. The Shome panel, which reviewed retrospective taxation, also recommended an exemption from capital gains tax for business re-organisation within group companies that includes transfer of shares of a foreign company with underlying assets in India
- But the government failed to provide clarity on the subject. In fact, clarity should be provided in the law. It is absurd for the government to expect Cairn to pay tax under the one-time settlement scheme, open for other types of cases, when no tax was due when the government approved the transactions later taxed. Lack of clarity in the law, reluctance of tax officials decide in favour of taxpayers, adds to a chain of appeals. Delay in ending thoughtless disputes is not in India’s interest as it seeks to attract more investment into the country
China continues to insist that it has India’s support over the international tribunal verdict on Tuesday that rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea challenged by the Philippines, despite India’s statements to the contrary. It says India had signed a “common position” statement on the issue this April when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the Russia-India-China (RIC) conference in Moscow. Meanwhile, Japan and India on Thursday “urged all parties to show utmost respect” to the ruling of a tribunal earlier this week in The Hague on South China Sea dispute. A joint statement to this effect was issued after the annual defence ministerial meeting between the two countries.
Twenty-eight students hailing from other parts of the country will attend super-specialty medical courses in Tamil Nadu after the Supreme Court ordered the State to forgo its policy of reserving seats for domiciled students in these advanced medical studies.On July 1, the Bench said medical education should not be cloistered from talents outside the State and Tamil Nadu should unreservedly open its doors to the best of doctors across the country.
Government today said it has netted 3.1 tonnes of idle household and temple gold under the monetisation scheme since its launch in November 2015.This is much lower than 800-1,000 tonnes of annual gold import.
A 12.59 crore World Bank aided underground power cable project will be implemented in the Union Territory of Puducherry to benefit all coastal villages.A 12.59 crore World Bank aided underground power cable project will be implemented in the Union Territory to benefit all coastal villages.
To deal with the frequent rejection of agriculture and processed food consignments from India in Europe and other developed country markets, India and the EU have launched a joint project to identify the barriers faced by Indian exporters in key markets and come up with recommendations to overcome them.
Mangoes, grapes, basmati rice, peanut & peanut products, mushroom, green peas, green beans, dairy products and eggplant will be the focus of the research project as these face the maximum sanitary & phytosanitary (SPS) hurdles in the Western markets.Research under the joint project, being funded by the EU as part of the larger Capacity-building Initiative for Trade and Development (CITD), will be carried out by Delhi-based think-tank ICRIER, under the supervision of the Commerce & Industry Minister in India and EU officials. The results and recommendations of the study can also provide inputs for the proposed India-EU free trade pact as tackling of SPS barriers is high on India’s agenda.
Researchers from Howard University and Georgia Institute of Technology have created ethylene glycol-coated silicon nanoparticles to create a sand-like matter as a solution to the heating problem that most electronic devices face.
While computers have been using more fans and heat-sinks, their viability has ceased given that consumers want small devices with more computing power.
The sand works not only as a heat dissipator but also as a bad conductor of electricity, thereby making it suitable for sprinkling on computers and mobile phones.
Spanish-made Talgo has become the fastest train in the country by clocking a speed of 180 km/hr by covering 84 km in 38 minutes in a trial conducted by Railways on Mathura-Palwal route, surpassing the record of Gatimaan Express.The maximum speed of Gatimaan Express is 160 km/hr, Shatabdi Express 150 km/hr and Rajdhani Express is 130 km/hr.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
- Human Rights Council
- X Schedule
- President’s Rule
- SCS Disputes
- Fundamental Duties
- Gold Monetization Scheme
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following is the fastest running train in India?
c) Rajdhani Express
d) Shatabdi Express
Question 2: Which of the following is/are explicitly included as Fundamental Duties in Part IV-A of the constitution?
- Duty to vote
- Duty to preserve natural heritage
- Duty to safeguard private property
- Duty to stand against injustice
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1,2and 3
d) All the Above
Question 3: Which of the following is/are correct about the Gold Monetisation Scheme?
- Redemption is possible in physical gold or rupees
- Earningsfrom the scheme are exempt from capital gains tax, wealth tax and income tax
- The designated banks may sell or lend the gold accepted under the short-term bank deposit to Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India(MMTC) for minting India Gold Coins and to jewellers, or sell it to other designated banks participating in the scheme
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) 1 and 2 only
d) All the Above
Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- The UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights, and is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly.
- Pakistan and India are members of the UNHRC
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals
- It is caused by parasitic protozoans belonging to the Plasmodium type
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2
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