Comprehensive News Analysis – 16 December 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Panel flags ‘slow’ execution of schemes

2. India signals peace on Indus water issue

C. GS3 Related:

1. Include real estate sales and electricity charges in GST: CEA

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

The Hindu

1. A law for equality

2. Well-oiled diplomacy

The Financial Express

1. GE mustard vs bees: Attention generated for the key pollinator will benefit farmers

The Economic Times

1. Fed rate hike restricts India’s policy space

PIB

1. PM’s interaction with scholars participating in Neemrana Conference

2. Steps to popularize use of RTI Act

3. Tremendous response to Digital Financial Literacy campaign- Union HRD Minister

4. India Signs Open Skies Agreement With Six Countries During ICAN 2016

5. Digital Payment System For Parking Charges At Airports

6. Centre is Committed to Promote Organic Farming: Radha Mohan Singh

7. Healthcare needs to be affordable, accessible and adhere to quality standards: J P Nadda

8. India to Receive Euro 1 billion Soft Loan for ‘Green Energy Corridors’ from Germany

9. Committee on Taxi policy guidelines submits its report, says city taxies should be allowed to run on app based platforms.

10. NITI Aayog announces launch of the schemes – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana – for incentivising digital payment

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!

B. GS2 Related
  1. Panel flags ‘slow’ execution of schemes

Category: Polity and Governance   

Topic: Government Initiatives  

Key Points:

  • For the ‘slow’ implementation of schemes envisaged under the Nirbhaya Fund, the Women and Child Development Ministry has received flak from a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development observed that the pace of implementation of schemes envisaged under the Nirbhaya Fund is going at a very slow rate and that incidents of violence against women are increasing with every passing minute and the funds meant to tackle this problem remain idle.

 

  1. India signals peace on Indus water issue

Category: International Relations 

Topic: Agreements involving India

Key Points:

  • With respect to the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, India recently said that there was “no reason” the two countries could not sort out their differences as they have in the past.
  • Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup  said, “Given the will to address these matters through the appropriate mechanisms provided for in the Indus Waters Treaty, there is no reason why the technical design parameters on which Pakistan has raised objections cannot be sorted out by professional, technical experts from both sides,”. 

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Include real estate sales and electricity charges in GST: CEA

Category: Indian Economy 

Topic: Government Policy, Taxation    

Key Points:

  • Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said that the sale of land and real estate should be included in the Goods and Services Tax structure.
  • He went on to add that the rates should be lower rather than higher as this would help the fight against black money.

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. A law for equality

Category: Polity and Governance   

Topic: Government Initiatives

Key Points:

  • The Rajya Sabha has adopted a radically transformative piece of legislation  by passing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill.
  • This legislation addresses the concerns of arguably the most marginalised section of Indian society.
  • It is important to note that this bill covers as many as 19 conditions — nearly three times the number of disabilities accorded legal protection under the 1995 law.
  • Included in this bill are a large number of individuals with multiple impairments, who are the most disadvantaged sections among the disabled.
  • Significantly, another welcome provision is the power to notify additional disabilities, a clear recognition of the need to factor in conditions that may arise as a result of an ageing population, an inevitable part of the demographic transition.
  • Relaxation of the upper age limit to access primary and higher education is also a welcome addition, given the disproportionately low and delayed enrolment of disabled children in formal schooling.

 

  1. Well-oiled diplomacy

Category: International Relations  

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

Key Points:

  • S. President-elect Donald Trump has provided another glimpse into his world view and decision-making process by nominating Rex Tillerson to the post of Secretary of State.
  • Rex Tillerson is Chief Executive of the oil and gas conglomerate ExxonMobil.
  • On Rex Tillerson’s watch, the stock market value of ExxonMobil, which is the U.S.’s largest oil company, soared to over $360 billion.
  • Yet the vast global reach of Mr. Tillerson’s work and the sheer complexities involved in drilling for oil, has often meant that he has been at odds with the agenda of the U.S. State Department.
  • For example, in Nigeria, ExxonMobil faced flak for lack of transparency in dealings with the government.

 

Indian Context:

  • It is important to note that to India, the nomination of Mr. Tillerson, if successful, may smoothen the military cooperation with Moscow as Obama-era hostility towards Russia softens.
  • Also, ExxonMobil also has extensive oil business assets on Indian soil.

 

The Financial Express

  1. GE mustard vs bees: Attention generated for the key pollinator will benefit farmers

Category: Indian Economy, Science and Technology    

Topic: Biotechnology, GM Crops

Key Points:

  • Cotton is the only GE crop that is being cultivated in India. It contains the Bt protein derived from a soil bacterium. It is toxic to bollworms. The transgenes, barnase and barstar, used in GE mustard are different. They are not for crop protection but to create versatile hybrids of high purity for yield improvement.
  • Trials at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) in the winter of 2014 showed that bees thrived in Bt cotton fields. It is important to note that insects play a vital role in the pollination of cotton.
  • It was observed that honey bee colonies built up considerably during the flowering period. Populous colonies, of about 60,000 bees, are required for viable honey production.
  • The life of a flower is up to 72 hours. Of this, the first 48 are the most productive for nectar secretion. A large foraging force will result in higher nectar collection. Broods will grow faster if there is enough nectar to provide energy and pollen for protein.

Bee-keeping: A profitable venture?

  • It is important to note that Bee-keeping can profitably engage a large number of people.
  • Besides creating income, pollination is very essential for yield improvement and quality enhancement.

 

The Economic Times

1. Fed rate hike restricts India’s policy space

Category: Indian Economy, International Relations    

Topic: International Trade, Government Policy

Key Points:

  • Indian policymakers should prepare for higher inflation, following the decision of America’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to raise policy rates by 25 basis points (or 0.25%).
  • It is important to note that this is the first such move since December 2015 and the second in a decade.
  • Further, crude oil prices have doubled over the year, from around $27 per barrel in February to $54 now. Part of this is because of signs of economic recovery in the US, Europe and East Asia, but the real reason lies in the 13-nation cartel OPEC’s decision to cut production.
  • OPEC sells 42% of the world’s oil and holds 70% of proven reserves. On December 11, another 11 oil producers, outside OPEC, including Russia, made a similar pact. This bodes ill for India, which imports 80% of its oil requirements. Higher crude and a weaker rupee could widen our trade deficit, kept artificially low when crude prices crashed.
  • Policymakers must take measures to counter capital flight and a further, rapid depreciation. Foreign exchange reserves are adequate, but there is no room for complacency. Interest rates have little room to move down, if capital flight is to be avoided. And there is no scope for lax fiscal discipline, as that could trigger macroeconomic instability.

 

PIB

  1. PM’s interaction with scholars participating in Neemrana Conference

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister Modi interacted with scholars and economists who are participating in the Neemrana Conference 2016.  
  • The discussion focused on areas such as macro-economy, trade, monetary policy, competitiveness, productivity and energy, with ideas from global research.
  • During his remarks, the Prime Minister underlined India’s commitment to prudent macro-economic policy, rule-based multilateral trading arrangements, responsible climate policy, and growth which creates jobs and reduces poverty.
  • He mentioned in detail, various steps taken by the Union Government to boost agricultural productivity, and the attention being given to renewable energy. 

 

  1. Steps to popularize use of RTI Act

Category: Polity and Governance   

Topic: Government Initiatives, e-Governance   

Key Points:

  • As per the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, all citizens shall have the right to information. Further, RTI Act provides for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

A number of measures have been taken by the Government to popularize the RTI Act which inter-alia includes:

  • Under the Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme “Improving Transparency and Accountability in Government through Effective Implementation of the Right to Information Act”, the Central Government provides funds every year to various State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs) for promoting various awareness generation activities like mass media campaigns, publishing of handbooks, pamphlets, banners etc. on RTI and for its distribution among public etc.
  • Providing funds to State Information Commissions for celebration of RTI weeks during 5th -12th October.
  • RTI web portal www.rtionline.gov.in was launched w.e.f. 21st August, 2013 to facilitate citizens for filing online RTI applications and first appeals with the facility of online payment of RTI fees.
  • RTI online portal has provided the facility to citizens for filing applications and first appeals in Hindi language also.
  • Government website gives detailed information on various aspects of Right to Information Act like how to make request for information, whom to approach for information, rules, etc.

 

  1. Tremendous response to Digital Financial Literacy campaign- Union HRD Minister

Category: Polity and Governance   

Topic: Government Initiatives

Key Points:

  • The Vittiya Saksharta Abhiyan (VISAKA) launched by Ministry of Human Resource Development has got a tremendous response.
  • Within first four days of launching of the campaign, more than 1 lakh students of higher educational institutions have volunteered to be associated with the campaign. 
  • Union HRD Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that going by the response received so far, Government hopes that the number of volunteers will reach 25 lakh soon.
  • During the training module, students will be trained about the opening of account, linking Aadhaar card with Bank account, linking Mobile to Aadhaar card and all other required information for digital literacy for transforming cash society to less cash society.
  • They will be imparted training in Aadhaar based payment system, pre-paid card, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Mobile wallat, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

 

  1. India Signs Open Skies Agreement With Six Countries During ICAN 2016

Category: Indian Economy    

Topic: Government Policy, Infrastructure   

Key Points:

  • International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN) – 2016 were held recently in Nassau from 5th to 9th December, 2016.
  • The Conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries. India held negotiations with 17 countries and “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed with 12 countries.   

 

  1. Digital Payment System For Parking Charges At Airports

Category: Polity and Governance    

Topic: Government Initiatives, e-Governance    

Key Points:

  • Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued directions to the respective Car Parking Licensees across all AAI controlled airports for evolving a mechanism of e-payment transactions in the form of Debit/Credit Cards, Digital Wallets (PayTM, Freecharge, Mobikwik, Reliance Jio etc.) and also keep sufficient change of currency in small denomination of Rs.10, 20, 50 & 100 to smoothen the process of parking at all airports.
  • Besides Car Parking Licensees, AAI is evolving a mechanism so that digital payment alternatives through various modes is available at all concessions providing passenger facilitation services at airports (such as Food & Beverage Outlets, General Retails, Car Rentals, Pre-paid Taxi Services etc.

 

  1. Centre is Committed to Promote Organic Farming: Radha Mohan Singh

Category: Indian Economy     

Topic: Agriculture    

Key Points:

  • In view of the importance of organic farming, with emphasis on sustainable production, food security and soil health, the Central Government is committed to promote organic farming.
  • The Government is promoting organic farming across the country through the dedicated scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Organic Value Chain Development for Northeast regions (OVCDNER under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).

 

  1. Healthcare needs to be affordable, accessible and adhere to quality standards: J P Nadda

Category: Polity and Governance  

Topic: Government Initiatives, Healthcare   

Key Points:

  • “While taking a holistic view of healthcare we must not forget that healthcare in India needs to be affordable, accessible and adheres to the quality standards.” This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare at the 13th India Health Summit.
  • The 13th India Health Summit is an annual flagship event on healthcare, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  • The Health Minister stated that there is an urgent need for strengthening healthcare in India with well-defined terms of reference (ToR) of partnership with the private sector.
  • “Time has come when we must freeze the ToR that are meaningful and deliver results,” Shri Nadda said. The Health Minister further stated that today’s event gives us an opportunity to engage with private sector and strengthen partnerships to move towards our common goal of providing equitable and affordable healthcare of quality to all.
  • “We need poor people to have accessibility to private hospitals in rural areas and for that we have to explore and develop models that can provide healthcare at affordable cost,” Shri Nadda elaborated.

 

  1. India to Receive Euro 1 billion Soft Loan for ‘Green Energy Corridors’ from Germany

Category: International Relations 

Topic: Agreements involving India 

Key Points:

  • Union Minister for State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal in a written reply in Lok Sabha said that in order to facilitate integration of large scale renewable generation capacity addition, a comprehensive scheme including Intra-State and Inter-State transmission system has been identified as a part of ‘Green Energy Corridors’.
  • Intra-State Transmission System is being implemented by respective State Transmission Utilities (STU) and Inter-State Transmission System is being implemented by Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL).
  • The Minister informed that for the funding of green energy corridors in both intra and inter State transmission projects, under the framework of cooperation between Govt. of India and Govt. of Germany, KfW Germany is providing soft loan to the tune of Euro 1 billion. Intra State transmission schemes under Green Energy Corridors (GEC) are to be funded as 20% equity of the State Govt., 40% grant from National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) and 40% soft loan, whereas, the inter State transmission schemes are to be funded as 30% equity by PGCIL and 70% as soft loan, he added.

 

  1. Committee on Taxi policy guidelines submits its report, says city taxies should be allowed to run on app based platforms. 

Category: Indian Economy  

Topic: Transport  

Key Points:

  • The committee constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to review issues relating to taxi permits and propose taxi policy guidelines to promote urban mobility has recommended that   city taxies should  be allowed to run on App Based platforms.
  • The policy recommendations also ensure that  bigger aggregators do not undercut the traditional cabs. 
  • The committee comprised the representatives from MoRT&H, Transport Commissioners from four States and representatives from Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Police, Ministry of Women and Child Development, NITI Aayog and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • The major focus of the policy is to ensure safe, secure and affordable ride to the common public so as to help in reducing congestion as well as pollution in the cities. 
  • The policy also recommends that the app used by aggregators is validated for its integrity by an agency authorized by Ministry of  Electronics and Information Technology.

 

  1. NITI Aayog announces launch of the schemes – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana – for incentivising digital payment

Category: Indian Economy  

Topic: Government Policy  

Key Points:

  • Government of India has initiated numerous steps to combat the scourge of Corruption and Black Money in the last two and a half years.
  • The Union cabinet had approved a slew of initiatives in February 2016 to encourage digital payments and a transition to less-cash economy in a strategic manner.
  • The Prime Minister had highlighted these measures in his Man Ki Baat address in May 2016. He had urged people to adopt cashless transactions. He said “If we learn and adapt ourselves to use cashless transactions, then we will not require notes. Businesses will function automatically, resulting in a certain transparency. Under-hand dealings will stop; the influence of black money will be reduced. So I appeal to my countrymen, that we should at least make a beginning. Once we start, we will move ahead with great ease. Twenty years ago who would have thought that so many mobiles would be in our hands. Slowly we cultivated a habit and now we can’t do without those. Maybe this cashless society assumes a similar form. But the sooner this happens, the better it will be”.
  • It would be recalled that towards this end, the Government had launched a major drive for financial inclusion in terms of opening Jan Dhan accounts, giving a statutory basis for Aadhar, implementation of Directs Benefits Transfer, introduction of RuPay Cards and Voluntary Disclosure Scheme for unaccounted money. Demonetization of 500 and 1000 Rs. notes was another important milestone in this endeavour. Following demonetization, there has been a spurt in the digital payments across the country and both the volume and amount of money transacted through digital methods has seen manifold increase since November 9th 2016.
  • NITI Aayog announced the launch of the schemes Lucky Grahak Yojana and the Digi-धन Vyapar Yojana to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures. The scheme specially focuses on bringing the poor, lower middle class and small businesses into the digital payment fold. It has been decided that National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) shall be the implementing agency for this scheme. It would be useful to reiterate that NPCI is a not for profit company which is charged with a responsibility of guiding India towards being a cashless society.
  • The primary aim of these schemes is to incentivize digital transactions so that electronic payments are adopted by all sections of the society, especially the poor and the middle class. It has been designed keeping in mind all sections of the society and their usage patterns. For instance, the poorest of poor will be eligible for rewards by using USSD. People in village and rural areas can participate in this scheme through AEPS. The scheme will become operational with the first draw on 25th December, 2016 (as a Christmas gift to the nation) leading up to a Mega Draw on Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti on 14th April 2017.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements,
  1. As per the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, all citizens shall have the right to information.
  2. RTI Act provides for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 2: Consider the following statements, 
  1. NITI Aayog announced the launch of the schemes Lucky Grahak Yojana and the Digi-धन Vyapar Yojana to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.
  2. The scheme specially focuses on bringing the poor, lower middle class and small businesses into the digital payment fold.
  3. It has been decided that Ministry of Finance will be the implementing agency for this scheme.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 Only

b) 2 and 3 Only

c) All, 1, 2 and 3

d) 1 and 3 Only


Question 3: Consider the following statements,
  1. The Government is promoting organic farming across the country through the dedicated scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Organic Value Chain Development for Northeast regions (OVCDNER under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
  2. Cotton is the only GE crop that is being cultivated in India.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 4: Consider the following statements,
  1. The Vittiya Saksharta Abhiyan (VISAKA) launched by Ministry of Human Resource Development has got a tremendous response. Within first four days of launching of the campaign, more than 1 lakh students of higher educational institutions have volunteered to be associated with the campaign.
  2. During the training module, students will be trained about the opening of account, linking Aadhaar card with Bank account, linking Mobile to Aadhaar card and all other required information for digital literacy for transforming cash society to less cash society.
  3. They will be imparted training in Aadhaar based payment system, pre-paid card, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Mobile wallat, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 Only

b) 2 and 3 Only

c) All, 1, 2 and 3

d) 1 and 3 Only


Question 5: Consider the following statements,
  1. Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed The Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 with amendments.
  2. Among other things, the bill also mentions that individuals with at least 40 per cent of a disability are entitled to benefits like reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes and others.

Which of the following statements is/are correct?

a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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