Comprehensive News Analysis – 17 June 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Determined to honour pact on uranium supply: Namibia

2. Kunming investors ready to back ‘Make in India’ plan

3. Curbs on NGOs come in for flak

C.GS3 Related:

1. Current account deficit contracts

2. Pathankot attack handler flees Pakistan

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

The Hindu

1. Cracking down on idol-looters

2. Views to watch

3. Staying power of the pass-fail system

4. The culling fields

The Indian Express

1. Mistrust in Manipur

2. Tackling poverty in India: Jobs, not transfers, the big poverty-buster

Others

1. PIB

2. The Financial Express: Infrastructure:

a) Here’s a growth booster that’s crucial for India

b) How to save the Earth from climate change catastrophe

c) What the new aviation policy left undone

3. The Business Line:

a) Every consumer is also a creator

4. The Economic Times:

a) What Brexit means for India

b) Model law for states on GST is welcome

5. Quick bits and News from the states

a) Flood protection plan soon: Governor(TN)

b) Regional connectivity subsidy subject to passenger loads

c) Airlines free to change N-E flights

d) Centre imposes 20 % duty on sugar exports

e) GDR issues by Indian firms under SEBI lens

f) Bangladesh, India launch trans-shipment operations

g) Power Ministry launches ‘URJA’ app to better consumer connect

h) India, Brazil, China team up to push EU to change trademark law

i) India-made trainer aircraft’s inaugural flight

j) Maharashtra government decides to use plastic waste in building roads

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks! J

B. GS2 Related

 

  1. Determined to honour pact on uranium supply: Namibia

Topic: Namibia and India

Category:International relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Reiterating its commitment to honour the 2009 pact to supply uranium to India at the earliest, Namibia has asked New Delhi to enter into similar agreements with other countries to convince the member-states of the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (ANWFZT or the treaty of Pelindaba)
  • Namibia, a member of ANWFZT, is barred from supplying uranium to India as the latter is not a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT. Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium
  • So far, India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with 12 countries, including the United States, Russia, Korea and Japan. India would soon send a team of experts to Namibia to explain the details of nuclear civil cooperation deals with other countries

 

2. Kunming investors ready to back ‘Make in India’ planTopic: India and China

Category: International relations

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Businesses in Yunnan province of China were ready to invest around $1 billion to make electric-bikes in West Bengal as a part of the Make-in-India campaign. It is also proposed that an industrial park in Yunnan could be established that focused on joint ventures in the pharmaceutical industry — India’s known strength globally
  • the land corridor from Kolkata to Kunming in Yunnan would pass through Bangladesh and Myanmar and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor would give the proposals a big boost
  • The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor is now a track-1 initiative involving the four governments
  • Nearly 700 million people would be impacted by the BCIM economic corridor. By 2020, trade in BCIM area was likely to surge to $500 billion. The GDP was expected to sky-rocket to $2.4 trillion, provided $ 324.3 billion are invested in setting up quality infrastructure along the route

 

  1. Curbs on NGOs come in for flak

Topic: Non-governmental Organisations

Category: Polity

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

 

  • “We are alarmed that FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) provisions are being used more and more to silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the Government,” said independent experts and UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights, according to a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva
  • In another instance, a letter addressed to the Indian Embassy in Washington and copied to the Prime Minister of India, three US Congressmen and a senator from Colorado called on MrModi to “demonstrate his unequivocal support for India’s constitutional protections”
  • Several US government officials and Congressmen had raised concerns over “religious freedom” in India in the wake of a Congressional report critical of the Indian government’s record  and the regulatory and legal framework that seeks to constrain the activities of civil society organisations

 

C. GS3 Related

 

  1. Current account deficit contracts

Topic: CAD

Category: Economy

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The current account deficit (CAD) for the January-March period narrowed to $ 0.3 billion, which is 0.1 per cent of the GDP as compared to $7.1 billion in the preceding quarter and $0.7 billion during the same period of the previous year, according to the latest data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
  • The contraction in CAD was primarily on account of a lower trade deficit ($ 24.8 billion)
  • However, net foreign direct investment moderated to $ 8.8 billion in Q4’16 from $ 9.3 billion during the same period of the previous year. Non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits, though, increased in Q4 of 2015-16 over their level in Q4 last year as well as the preceding quarter.
  • Portfolio investment recorded a net outflow of $1.5 billion in Q4 of 2015-16, as against a net inflow of $12.5 billion in the corresponding period of last year,primarily reflecting net outflow in the debt segment

current account deficit

 

2. Pathankot attack handler flees PakistanTopic: Terrorism

Category: Security

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The Jaish-e-Mohammed leader who gave directions over phone to the terrorists during the attack on the Pathankot airbase has reportedly managed to flee to Afghanistan from Pakistan, an official said
  • The law enforcement agencies tried to trace him in the tribal belt of Pakistan but there are reports that he managed to escape to Afghanistan, the official said
  • During interrogation JeM chief MasoodAzhar claimed that the handler of the Pathankot operation had quit the organisation some time ago
  • Although the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab police had registered an FIR against the alleged attackers of the Pathankot airbase and their abettors, not a single person has been charged in this regard

 

D. GS4 Related

 

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu

  1. Cracking down on idol-looters

Topic: Law and Order/Tangible Heritage

Category: Executive/Culture

Key points:

  • Thethriving trade in illicitly procured temple idols was exposed yet again after officers of the Idol Wing of the Tamil Nadu Police raided the premises of a Chennai-based businessman — 71 stone idols, 41 metal idols, 90 paintings and an ivory item were seized
  • It signals how big and brazen the idol-looting business is in India. The value of the loss from this activity cannot be computed in merely commercial terms; every item illegally exported robs the country of a bit of its heritage
  • The raids, for example, yielded idols of Ganapathy, Dakshinamoorthy, Garudalwar, Boodevi and Sridevi, and numerous pillars and vessels too, mostly dating back to the unparalleled refinement of Dravidian sculpture and architecture during the Chola age
  • The meticulously organised nature of this shadowy business hints at the deep and vast network of idol thieves who have plied their trade across not only Tamil Nadu but numerous other Indian States and even broader territories of South and South East Asia
  • The law of the land has changed since then. In the 1970s India became a signatory to the UNESCO convention on preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property
  • Under this rubric, no such culturally significant objects could be removed from India under any circumstances. But loot of heritage on a breathtaking scale has continued despite the evolving legal framework to protect it
  • Although enforcement action and public awareness of idol-smuggling have expanded, it has only been in the last few years that idols recovered on foreign soil have trickled back. Notably, 200 artefacts estimated at $100 million were returned to India in Washington this month during the U.S. visit of Prime Minister NarendraModi
  • There is an urgent need to halt the outflow of idols. That requires building up the manpower and surveillance capabilities of the police to disrupt the gangs, and facilitating inter-agency and international cooperation

 

2. Views to watchTopic: Internet(GPS)

Category: Governance

Key points:

 

  • There is little that is surprising about India’s recent refusal to allow Google to launch its Street View service, which gives users a 360-degree view of public spaces
  • the proposal was rejected following objections raised by the Defence Ministry. The decision is said to have come in the backdrop of the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in January, with investigators suspecting that terrorists used Google Maps to study the topography of the targeted area
  • Barely days after the airbase attack, the Delhi High Court asked the government to examine the issue of sensitive locations such as defence installations and nuclear power plants showing on Google Maps. It isn’t clear if these concerns have been addressed
  • Street View goes a step further than the maps. It displays panoramic views of public spaces, thanks to images captured by Google’s moving vehicles, adding a layer of depth and reality to the maps
  • India has hinted that its refusal is not final and that such issues could be resolved once the Geospatial Bill, which seeks to regulate map-creation and sharing, comes into force. But it is unclear whether this will help, given that the proposed legislation is somewhat overenthusiastic about regulation. India isn’t the first country to seem troubled by Street View
  • Since its launch in 2007 in the U.S., the service has faced roadblocks in many countries. In the U.S., for instance, both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense had concerns over Google capturing images of sensitive locations. In Europe, especially Germany, concerns over loss of privacy took centre stage. The script wasn’t different in Japan
  • And yet, Street View is available in all these countries. Solutions were eventually found. Before long, the service figured out a way to blur people’s faces and licence plates automatically before the pictures were made public
  • In the U.S., Google was asked to remove sensitive information, and its image-capturing cars were ordered to keep off military bases
  • In Germany, households were given the option of blurring their buildings. In Japan, the height from which the cameras scanned the neighbourhoods was lowered and local governments were notified prior to Google’s photography
  • Even Israel, which takes internal security very seriously, gave the green signal to Street View five years ago, reportedly making sure Google doesn’t show images in real-time and only photographs public spaces open to all
  • While there is an obvious tourism angle involved, Google representatives have spoken of Street View’s usefulness in disaster management. All things considered, it might not be in India’s best interests to keep out this technology for long

 

3. Staying power of the pass-fail systemTopic: Education

Category: Society

Key Points:

  • When the results of various school boards were declared. The first voice celebrated those who succeeded and did wondrously well. Pictures of individual students who topped the examinations will be  published and their parents, teachers and schools
  • More importantly, the second voice is one of lamentation as many students, wilting under stress and pressure, burn out and even commit suicide in this season, simply because they could not fulfill their parents’ expectations
  • The loss of these young, and often bright, people must make us ponder. They have moved up all the way from nursery class to high school to fulfill their parents’ ambitions of seeing them grow into engineers, doctors or managers graduating from the so-called top-level institutions in the country
  •  These children must have seen themselves only as exam-cracking “achievers” in order to make their parents happy. They lost out on their childhood play and free time; no pranks with their friends and no experience of the simple joy of just being a carefree child
  •  This loss would have led to a narrow vision of human life guided by the all-important value of “success”; which is just defined as getting a top job. Period
  •  These children, deprived of social development and trapped in an artificially developed world, choose death over struggle when that world suffers a rude shock with exam results that are less than expected
  • The problem has two sides to it: the first is the examination-oriented Indian education system, and the second is competitive and cruel parents
  • About 80 years ago, the ZakirHussain report on National Basic Education noted that the “system of examinations prevailing in our country has proved a curse to education”. It pinpointed the malady by saying that a bad system is made worse by awarding examinations a place much beyond their utility
  • For this, one has to go back as early as 1904 to the Indian Educational Policy issued by the then Governor General. This colonial document had a section titled “The abuse of examinations” and noted that “[e]xaminations, as now understood, are believed to have been unknown as an instrument of general education in ancient India”. It also claimed that examinations did not have a prominent place even in the Despatch of 1854, commonly known as Wood’s Despatch
  •  The Hunter Commission report of 1882-83, which left examinations and promotions to the next class up to standard eight entirely to the schools, did not recommend any province-level or board exemptions. Still, the educational policy of 1904 noted that examinations had “grown to extravagant dimensions, and their influence has been allowed to dominate the whole system of education in India, with the result that instruction is confined within the rigid framework of prescribed courses, that all forms of training which do not admit of being tested by written examinations are liable to be neglected”
  • It further noted that the system was adopted on the precedence of English education which itself has “finally condemned” it; however, in India, it was proving to be “disastrous in its influence” on education. The policy recommended reforms that included abandoning public examination at the primary level, “more equitable tests of efficiency”, and “to relieve the schools and scholars from the heavy burden of recurring mechanical tests”
  • The Indian Educational Policy of 1913 declared victory and stated that “the formerly crushing weight of examinations has been appreciably lightened”. It further declared that the “principal objects of the school final examination are adaptability to the course of study and avoidance of cram”
  • All this shows that the devastating effects of this “curse to education” have been known quite well for over 100 years. There is no commission or committee report after Independence which does not acknowledge the burden of rote learning and the examination system on its students and its futility in assessing their real abilities. They all recommend examination reforms
  • The recent attempts, after Right to Education (RTE) stipulation, of no pass-fail and no board examinations till completion of elementary education in favour of a continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) are well known
  • However, the public education system has completely failed to implement these reforms and the private schools have never paid much attention to them. We have now reached a stage where no one in the country knows how the CCE can be implemented, and how we can measure progress of the child without pass-fail systems
  • The question that stares us in the face is how is it that we haven’t cleansed our education system of a curse that has been well known for over a hundred years? There is never a single factor behind the persistence of such problems; it always has to be a nexus of forces. Some of the factors that lie within the education system are often mentioned
  •  The lack of seriousness, of resources, teachers untrained in new methods, etc. forms the routine list. One reason rarely mentioned is the inconsistency between the prevailing grade-wise curriculum and school structure on the one hand and the idea of progress on the learning continuum inherent in the CCE on the other. The CCE does not suit our authoritarian school organisation, administration and syllabus organisation
  • But it seems that the biggest force behind the persistence of this curse and useless examination system is a social one which is grossly under-examined. We are a caste-based and strictly hierarchical society. In earlier times, this hierarchy had the iron-clad stability of the caste system. That determined the place, function, work and life of an Indian even before his/her birth. There are attempts now, which range from constitutional rights to political struggle, to break that mould. It may not have been dismantled yet, but is under tremendous pressure ever since the freedom movement began
  • But social hierarchies involve privileges, prestige and goods of life that are cherished by all. None is ready to let go of the privileges one has. As a result, the attempts to maintain the old hierarchy as well as the ways to challenge it look toward education
  • Education, therefore, becomes a means of fierce competition either to remain in one’s position of privilege or to rise in the hierarchy. It completely stops being a self-motivated way of forming an authentic self and gaining an understanding of the world, and is reduced to a means to beat/best the neighbour. A more open and thoughtful system of education will challenge the hierarchies which are so dear to a caste-minded Indian. The result is that the authoritarian system of pass-fail stays
  • One wonders why the intellectuals in Indian society, and who understand the ills of this education system and the implied curse of examinations, don’t make a beginning to dismantle it. The answer perhaps lies in the often noticed phenomenon of the very people who write scathing papers and offer opinion on the ills of the current examination system, hold seminars and give keynote addresses on it in conferences, taking leave and cancelling all their engagements to be at hand when their own children are to appear in the standard 10 and 12 board examinations
  • Interpreting this contradiction as a simple lack of commitment to ideals is a superficial understanding even if it has an element of truth. The malady is deeper. In spite of being convinced of the “truth” of their analysis of the education system and the ills of examinations, they see the possibility of privileges their children will get through success in these very examinations; and the dangers of losing the positions achieved by themselves
  • Indians don’t stake their property and position on ideas that may collide with the existing system. Unfortunately, no change in the system is possible without there being a critical number of people in society who are ready to pay the price to make a beginning
  •  We don’t seem to have that critical number yet. And till we reach that number, our children will continue to commit suicide and their parents will continue to disown the responsibility to push them to do it. And we will all continue to blame the rigid system without noticing that its roots are in our own souls

 

4. The culling fieldsTopic:Conservation

Category: Environment

Key Points:

 

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently permitted three States, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Himachal Pradesh, to declare earlier protected wild animal species as “vermin” under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, thereby allowing private shooters and others to kill these species with few safeguards and no risk of prosecution
  • Two States, Maharashtra and Telangana, issued similar orders. The species — nilgai antelope in Bihar and Maharashtra, the rhesus macaque in Himachal Pradesh, and wild pig in all States except Himachal Pradesh — were listed for culling because the animals, whose populations are allegedly increasing, damage crops
  • The pertinent problem is whether the problem has been framed and assessed correctly, and culling the appropriate solution in the first place
  • In parts of India, wildlife species such as wild pig, elephants, macaques, and nilgai occasionally damage crops or property
  • Economic losses can be serious and crippling for individual poor farmers and deserve urgent attention
  • Field research by wildlife scientists in diverse landscape contexts, on different wildlife species and kinds of human-wildlife interactions, including “conflicts”, suggests multiple solutions
  • Culling (killing) or removal of “conflict” wildlife, often labelled “problem animals”, is one among a suite of possible interventions recommended by conservation scientists and managers
  • Unfortunately, removal through capture or killing may not prevent recurrence of conflicts and may even exacerbate them
  • Himachal Pradesh, for instance, killed hundreds of rhesus macaques in 2007 (with conflicts recurring within two years), sterilised over 96,000 macaques since 2007 (while conflicts continued to increase), yet now proposes more of the same
  • This is despite the State’s own data and recent estimates by scientists from Mysore University and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History reporting that macaque populations are in overall decline and only eight forest divisions (out of 44) record sharp increase
  • In 2014, Karnataka carried out a brutal and costly exercise, capturing 22 elephants in Hassan Forest Division, translocating five to another forest, and consigning 17 to captivity. Subsequently, during 2015-16, researchers recorded in the division over 200 crop damage incidents and 3 human deaths, including one in Alur range earlier this year. As risks to people and crop damage continue, the local communities remain disempowered and ill-prepared to avoid or reduce conflicts
  • A better approach to conflict management requires integration of scientific evidence, ecology and behaviour of particular species, and landscape and socio-economic context. Without this, the response of State authorities, often based on political compulsions and public perception, even if legitimate, may end up being inappropriate and confused in relation to the problem
  • If human safety was the chief concern — as it perhaps should be — it is more appropriate to first adopt measures to reduce human injuries and fatalities due to wildlife. Effective measures for this include deploying animal early warning systems, providing timely public information on presence and movements of species such as elephants to local people to facilitate precautionary measures, and attending to health and safety needs that reduce the risk of wildlife encounters
  • Housing improvements and provision of amenities such as lighting, indoor toilets, and rural public bus services help reduce accidental human deaths. Improving livestock corrals(shelters) can reduce livestock losses and carnivore incursion into villages, while better garbage disposal and avoiding deliberate or accidental feeding of animals reduces risks associated with wild animals like monkeys
  • Crop damage by wildlife may occur when animals enter crop fields because of habitat alteration and fragmentation (by mining or infrastructure projects, for example), because crops are edible, or because the fields lie along movement routes to forest patches or water sources
  • Research reveals that a small proportion of villages in the landscape may be conflict “hotspots” and, additionally, peripheral fields may be more vulnerable than central ones. Such site-specific scientific information helps design targeted mitigation with participation of affected people. This includes supporting local communities to install — and, more important, maintain on a sustained basis — bio-fencing and power fencing around vulnerable areas
  • Crop insurance for wildlife damage, which the Environment Ministry recently recommended be included in the National Crop/Agricultural Insurance Programme, also deserves trial. An insurance approach recognises wildlife as a part of the shared countryside and as a risk to be offset rather than viewing wildlife as antagonists belonging to the State that one wishes away
  • Conservationists today also use modern technology such as mobile phones for SMS alerts, customised apps, automated wildlife detection and warning systems, and participatory measures for wildlife tracking and rapid response to monitor and reduce conflicts, save crops, property, and human lives
  • Broadly, these are categorised as proactive measures to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions, in contrast to the traditional reactive measures such as killing, removal, or compensation carried out after conflicts occur. Identification of appropriate proactive measures, including where and when and how they should be deployed, requires prior scientific research on conflict patterns in specific landscapes and locations. Without this, culling becomes a mere public relations exercise meant to assuage farmers who have lost faith in the authorities’ ability to forestall or recompense losses
  • Focusing efforts on removal of individual animals detracts from needed investments in location and amenities, leaving local people no better off in standards of living or ability to cope with or respond to future interactions with wildlife
  • Servicing human needs, enhancing local amenities, and adopting science-based and sustained interventions will provide more lasting solutions. A moratorium on culling will thus help redirect attention to where it is really needed and be in the best long-term interests of people and wildlife

 

Indian express

 

  1. Mistrust in Manipur

Topic: Federal Relations

Category: Polity

Key points:

  • Last fortnight, the Union Home explained to a delegation from Manipur led by the state Chief Minister OkramIbobi Singh why President Pranab Mukherjee returned three bills the Manipur Assembly had passed on August 31, 2015
  • The contentious bills were the Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue (7th Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Protection of Peoples Bill, 2015. Experts will now re-examine the first two bills for a “reasonable conclusion” and in the case of the third bill, legal and constitutional experts will re-examine it for a “new legislation taking into consideration all aspects of the hill and valley people of Manipur.” The question now is what steps should be taken to bring a mutually acceptable agreement
  • The British colonial government had introduced the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to protect its commercial interests. Later, it was used as an instrument to protect the tribal people and their cultures. Since Manipur is not officially a tribal state, there are constitutional challenges to implementing the ILP system
  • Had the Manipur Protection of Peoples, 2015 bill become law and got implemented strictly, many of the hill people (the Kukis and the Nagas) could have found themselves declared non-Manipuris since the bill requires a person to have been enumerated in all three registers — the National Register of Citizens, 1951, the Census Report 1951, and the Village Directory of 1951. In 1951, most of the hill areas were not accessible by road and the situation remains the same in some places even today
  • There is a lingering apprehension among the hill people that the state government would use the bills as a strategic political ploy to gain control over their land. The unwillingness on the part of the state government to implement the Sixth Schedule in the hill areas has exacerbated the concerns of the tribal people. Had the bills been enacted into law, they will be applicable across the state of Manipur, including the hill areas. But the drafting committee formed by the state government did not involve tribal legislators. People of the hill areas were not consulted in the process of drafting the bills
  • The valley people (the Meiteis, who dominate state government) argue that the bills are largely misunderstood and misinterpreted by the hill people. They claim that the bills are not detrimental to the interests of the hill people. But the irony is neither the government nor the Meiteis took steps to convince the tribal people, or the JointAction Committee Against Anti-Tribal Bills (JACAATB), the body spearheading the agitation
  • On December 29, 2015, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh met an 18-member delegation of the JACAATB, which requested the CM to convene a special session of the Manipur Legislative Assembly to review the concerns and apprehensions of the hill people. Singh then requested the delegation to list their concerns regarding the three bills in writing. Subsequently, on January 11 this year, theJACAATB submitted a six-page document outlining what they thought was “anti-tribal” and infringement on the constitutionally guaranteed tribal rights in the bills. Since then, there has been no substantial talk between the two sides
  • The classification of the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015 as a money bill was sinister, as it was done to bypass the Hill Areas Committee. The expenditure from the consolidated fund is only incidental and not the main provision of the bill. The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee) Order, 1972, states that “every bill, other than a money bill, affecting wholly or partly the hill areas and containing mainly provisions dealing with any of the scheduled matters shall, after introduction in the Assembly, be referred to the Hill Areas Committee for consideration and report to the Assembly.”
  • Given the deep division between the hill and valley people on the issue, it was a right decision on the part of the president to return the bills back for re-examination by legal and constitutional experts. The state government should now take steps to build trust between peoples of the hill and the valley, as well as the hill people and the state government. The government should take steps to initiate a dialogue between the representatives of the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System and the JACAATB. Meanwhile, the state government should act against police personnel responsible for the death of nine tribal people, whose bodies remain unburied for more than 250 days
  • The recent pattern of violence in the state has the potential of not only dividing the people but also a danger of territorial disintegration if left unaddressed

 

  1. Tackling poverty in India: Jobs, not transfers, the big poverty-buster

Topic: Poverty

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • The significant shift from farm work to non-farm sources of income accelerated the decline in poverty in India. Non-farm jobs pay more than agricultural labour, and incomes from both were propelled by a steep rise in wages for rural unskilled labour
  • While lower dependency rates and transfers — from remittances and social programmes — have contributed to a reduction in poverty, they are not the primary drivers of the poverty decline between 2005 and 2012
  • How household incomes did grow and helped reduce poverty? How different sources of income contributed to poverty reduction? How these contributions compare with the effect of changes in the composition of households, including demographic changes?
  • Our analysis shows that the changes commonly associated with structural transformation were the primary drivers of poverty reduction at the household level during 2005-2012. Increase in labour earnings was a major factor in reducing poverty
  • While both agricultural and non-agricultural earnings increased, the rise was most rapid for non-agricultural wages and salaried work. This was in turn linked to workers shifting out of agriculture toward wage/salaried non-agricultural work that yields higher earnings. The largest shifts occurred among the poorest, which was accompanied by rising wages in casual employment. In broad sectoral terms, rising income from the non-agricultural sector was the most important driver of the observed changes, contributing to nearly 46 per cent of national poverty reduction
  • In terms of employment categories, changes in wage/salaried work contributed to nearly half of the reduction in poverty

graph-11

 

  • As expected, there are urban-rural differences. Rising incomes from non-agricultural employment and self-employment were more important for poverty reduction in urban areas. In rural areas, on the other hand, shifts in employment away from agriculture contributed much more to poverty reduction. The pace of transformation was thus more rapid in rural areas, which had a much higher share of employment in agriculture than urban areas to start with
  • Changes in the composition of households contributed to poverty decline as well.This occurred as the share of working members in households rose. These changes were partly due to a fall in the share of household members who were too young or too old to be of working age; in other words, due to a change in dependency ratios. This demographic dividend makes more workers available at the macro level and complements the structural transformation of the Indian economy
  • Rising incomes from other sources — public and private transfers, rent, or interest income — contributed to poverty reduction as well. This was more so in rural areas. The largest share of non-labour income came from remittances, which increased significantly. The steep rise in domestic remittances, which form a part of total remittances, suggests that urban and rural areas are becoming increasingly integrated, highlighting another marker for structural transformation
  • Thus, faster poverty reduction since 2005 appears to be closely linked to the pattern of structural transformation occurring in India. The falling dependency ratio and, crucially, the steep rise in wages for unskilled work, reinforced the effects of structural transformation
  • Looking ahead, important challenges remain. These include accelerating the speed at which the chronically poor — many of whom belong to the Scheduled Tribes — escape poverty. Another challenge is to ramp up the pace of upward mobility so that households increasingly become part of an economically secure middle class. This calls for faster creation of higher-productivity jobs. 1 (Data from the India Human Development Survey — a nationally representative panel survey that provides data on the same set of households for two years (2005 and 2012) that are roughly identical to the period bookended by the official NSS surveys have been used)

 

Others:

 

  1. PIB

 

  1. The Financial Express: Infrastructure:

a) Here’s a growth booster that’s crucial for IndiaTopic: Exports

Category: Economy

Key points:

Crux of the article

How-Exports through CEZs(Soastal Economic Zones) that have the needed infrastructure and scale (Follow China)

The Indian government has announced the setting upof as many as 29 CEZs

 

b) How to save the Earth from climate change catastropheTopic: Climate Change

Category: Environment

Key points:

  • If unmonitored, the earth could be 4.9°C warmer in 2100 than it was in 1900. Such a rise in temperature could turn New Delhi into a desert, melt Himalayan glaciers and trigger a Third World War for remaining resources
  • Our over-reliance on fossil fuels could cause sea levels to rise by 0.5 metres, submerging even large coastal cities such as Mumbai, and could lead to hurricanes destroying life in the littoral regions. The agriculture sector could face declines of over 15% in crop yields, and food security worldwide could be threatened.
  • Globally—especially in poverty-stricken developing and underdeveloped nations—human health could deteriorate, with the population facing higher risks of catching diseases that have been aggravated by the effects of climate change
  • In 2011, India emitted 1.7 metric tonnes per capita of CO2
  • Global organisations have set targets to combat climate change, like the 2°C target set in the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in 2009, establishing the need to reduce carbon emissions by 40-70% by 2050, and reach zero emissions by 2100
  • Bodies like the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OECD have adopted varying strategies to meet these targets: IEA’s preferred approach is the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) Scenario which assesses action that needs to be taken after all countries meet their pledges, and also acknowledges a Bridge Scenario for adoption of near-term strategies
  • The OECD relies on the 450 Scenario, further analysed in terms of Core, Accelerated and Delayed possibilities. 450 Core begins in 2013, and aims at reducing greenhouse gas contribution by 450 parts per million of CO2 (450 ppm CO2) by 2100. Similarly, 450 Accelerated seeks additional mitigation efforts until 2030, and 450 Delayed calls for action only post 2020
  • Postponed efforts come at a price—an early transition could cost 25-33% less than delayed actions. Had Emerging Market Economies (EMEs) started acting in 2012 to reduce CO2 emissions to 2005 levels by 2050, a 0.4% per annum reduction would be required, as compared to the 1.5% needed if they begin in 2030 to meet the same target by 2070
  • If undertaken in time, these globally implemented precautionary endeavours will serve as an insurance against the inevitable advent of the planet’s biggest rival: climate change

graph5

 

c)  What the new aviation policy left undoneTopic:Aviation

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • Given how the 5/20 rule to fly overseas—an airline must be at least 5 years old and have a minimum of 20 aircraft—was such a blatant attempt to preserve the monopoly rights of older airlines, newer players must feel a big sense of relief now that it has been partially done away with.
  • Since 20 planes are still required, though, it will take the newer players 2-3 years to be able to fly overseas—in that sense, 5/20 is now 2/20 or 3/20. What is the rationale behind 20 planes, why have a minimum number at all?
  • the encouragement to Maintenance, repair and operations (MROs) to ensure the R5,000 crore annual aircraft maintenance market will no longer be exported to Sri Lanka or Singapore—indicate the government is still not comfortable with completely freeing up the market.
  • The move to get more regional connectivity is in the right direction and the policy correctly identifies high VAT rates on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) as the major reason for high costs/fares—to that extent, ensuring that state governments reduce the VAT on ATF to 1% if various destinations are to be covered under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) is a good idea
  • A reduction in the very high VAT rates in most states could have been achieved by putting ATF in the list of ‘declared goods’ but states would probably have protested—a uniform VAT will have to wait till petroleum is included under the GST
  • Under the rules, the details of which are yet to be announced, a cap of R2,500 for a flight duration of less than an hour will be put on airfare to unconnected cities/towns and viability gap funding will take care of the rest. Apart from the fact that it is not certain how this VGF is to be fixed, wouldn’t it just be simpler to announce a VGF for different sectors and then leave the pricing to the market?
  • It is unfortunate, similarly, that the decades-old Route Dispersal Guidelines that determine the minimum proportion of flights airlines must fly on different category of routes has not been phased out—in this case, too, if the government found that certain routes were not adequately serviced, a subsidy could be given to encourage airlines to do so. In the case of telecom, similar rural obligations did nothing to develop rural telephony for years, but when the market was rich enough to pay, private players flocked to rural areas

 

3. The Business Line:

 

a) Every consumer is also a creatorTopic:Internet

Category: Governance

Key points:

  • The true potential for the internet in India lies in the idea of a billion creators: whether it is building an app, shooting a video series, or creating an ecommerce marketplace for handicrafts from your district
  • This is possible because the internet isn’t just a marketplace, with just sellers and buyers: it is also a global public square and a playground; a space that unites the world, and allows us to create for each other
  • This is what net neutrality is about: that telecom operators should not classify creators separately from consumers, and charge consumers differently for accessing different creators. Every consumer is also a creator. Imagine if a user had to pay heavy data charges to access a homemade video series or news documentaries, but nothing to access Reliance’s Jio Movies
  • The Trairecognised this in its net neutrality ruling in February this year, where it said that discriminatory tariffs “create entry barriers and non-level playing field for these players stifling innovation.” It also warned about the biggest problem of them all: that telecom operators may start promoting their own services
  • What if they made data for WhatsApp very costly, and Jio Talk or Hike were free? What if Vodafone and Google made some apps free to download, but for some, you still had to pay data charges? How would that impact your choices, and would you create an app if the odds were so heavily stacked up against you? If ISPs charged no data charges for their select 100-200 apps, users may never choose yours if you weren’t in the list. What would happen then to this “Make In India” dream of a having billion creators from India?
  • No telecom operator or ISP should give a competitive advantage to specific apps or services. The Trai ruling in February had ratified this notion, but telecom operators are trying to subvert this
  • Firstly, Trai prevented ISPs from charging differently for accessing different websites and apps. However, ISPs delivering exclusive content to their subscribers via an intranet can charge differently for different content, unless it is for the purpose of evading the regulation
  • Now Airtel wants to provide video services from its global partner on this network, for no or subsidised data charges. Doing this would put pressure on BigFlix, ErosNow, Gaana and Hotstar to also join Airtel’s intranet, and thus give it gatekeeping powers
  • Now imagine every telecom operator launching its own intranet, and each with 100 or 500 websites or apps each. What would those creators who don’t have the ability to partner with Airtel or Jio do? This would mean that the Trai’s differential pricing regulation will become pointless
  • Secondly, in a letter to Trai, the Cellular Operators Association of India has said that there is no evidence of harm in such discriminatory pricing
  • In fact, much of the TV industry suffers because DTH and cable operators extort carriage fees from creators, and only allow users to select channels from a menu of their choosing
  • Do we want a menu of sites for the Internet?
  • Thirdly, there is precedence in Mobile VAS, which had content such as music downloads and ringtones. Telecom operators played a gatekeeping role there, and it became oligopolistic with only 10-15 key players. It led to fleecing of users
  • Do we want only 10-15 large websites to be allowed and different access charges for different websites, which could lead to fleecing?

 

  • Fourth, most telecom operators have largely offered Facebook and Facebook-owned Whatsapp as free data packs. We haven’t seen any Indian service try and compete with Facebook, and it’s not easy to establish harm when there’s a monopoly market
  • However, this collusion has effectively placed WhatAapp competitors such as Hike, WeChat and Line at a significant disadvantage
  • Finally, why should we have to wait for harm for us to act against discrimination, instead of operating on the principle of equality?
  • Telecom operators are dangling the carrot of free access for their partner websites, but remain silent about their intent: of choosing what becomes free, and extorting money from creators. Trai must focus on public interest. Spectrum is a public resource licensed to telecom operators to enable access to connectivity and knowledge
  • Discrimination is not a perk of licensing, and telecom operators weren’t given the right to control how a billion people create and share

 

4. The Economic times

 

a) What Brexit means for India Topic: India and britain

Category: International Relations

Key points:

  • If Britain exits the EU, it could impact the economy. While the long-term impact of this move has not been estimated, in the short run, it could trigger flight of capital from Britian, compound its current account deficit problems, weaken the pound and increase inflation

The flight of capital could lead to the dollar strengthening in the short term. The exit of Britian could embolden political parties in the opposition in other EU countries to ask for a similar vote to exit the EU. This could have a cascading impact on global financial markets

  • If the global financial markets are affected by the Brexit, Indian markets are unlikely to be insulated. For Indian companies operating in Europe especially in the UK, there could be a fair bit of uncertainty with the pound expected to weaken. The bigger problem will be a likely selloff in emerging markets, which India is part of, mainly on account of a strength in the dollar and aversion to riskier assets

 

b) Model law for states on GST is welcomeTopic: GST

Category: Economy

Key points:

  • The model goods and services tax (GST) law, drafted by the Empowered Committee of Finance Ministers, is welcome. India will have a dual — central and state — GST. A state GST Act has to spell out the tax rates, thresholds, the way to register, file returns, take tax credits, make payments and settle disputes.
  • However, the proposed exemption threshold of Rs 10 lakh is too low, and could be raised to Rs 40 lakh as recommended by the Arvind Subramanian committee. Exemptions must be minimal, and limited to finished goods and services, given that taxes on intermediates can be reclaimed as input credits
  • The need is also to have a common exemption list, and a common tax base across the Centre and states. The GST Network (GSTN) will provide taxmen and taxpayers the needed IT infrastructure. However, why have two separate collection agencies? Sensibly, the model law proposes a dispute resolution mechanism. The GST Council will resolve disputes on policy that includes tax rates
  • So, a national appellate tribunal to adjudicate technical disputes relating to assessments is welcome. Ditto for the settlement commission, that is empowered to waive interest, penalty, and provide immunity from prosecution. Offering taxpayers the facility of rulings in advance on GST dues is in order, and will lower legal wrangles
  • Nevertheless, the tax administration needs intensive training to handle GST. If there are disputes that cannot be resolved within the GST Council, what is the recourse? How to prevent states from ratcheting up rates, say, on luxury goods, exercising their constitutional right to set rates? These questions need to be addressed squarely. Further, all pressure to retain a tax on interstate sales must be resisted

 

5. Quick bits and News from the states

 

a) Flood protection plan soon: Governor(TN)Addressing the 15 Tamil Nadu Assembly,the State government will soon prepare comprehensive flood protection plans for Chennai and vulnerable coastal districts to mitigate the impact of floods. The government had secured Asian Development Bank funding for ‘Climate Adaptation Programme’ aimed at reducing the impact of climate change in the Cauvery Delta. Preliminary work has already commenced in the Vennar sub-basin, he said.

With an emphasis on effective management of water resources, the government secured funding from the World Bank for Phase-II of the Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management project. This would rejuvenate water bodies and tanks, and increase their storage capacity, he said

On urban infrastructure, he said the thrust would be on providing better roads, storm water drains, solid waste management, sewerage management and street lights.

The successful initiatives by the State — Integrated Urban Development Mission and the Chennai Mega City Development Mission — would be synergised with the Centre’s Smart Cities Programme and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation scheme.

 

b) Regional connectivity subsidy subject to passenger loads

The subsidy provided by the Centre to airlines under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) may be tapered if the passenger load factor increases to a decent level, according to the new civil aviation policy. While Centre will contribute 80 per cent for the viability gap funding, the rest 20 per cent will come from the states. Butstates will be allowed to charge service tax on 10 per cent of the ticket costs to passengers flying in and out of the airports falling under the scheme.

The airlines will be free to enter and exit the policy

 

c)  Airlines free to change N-E flightsAirlines will be free to withdraw or change flights to and within north-eastern states, island territories and Ladakh as per their business requirements, according to the new civil aviation policy of the government

The airlines can do so provided they fully comply with the route dispersal guidelines (RDG) that mandate them to deploy a certain share of flights on smaller and remote routes.

In another relaxation to flying norms, the airlines will be mandated to serve 35 per cent of the flight it deploy on metro routes on non-metro and non-remote routes rather than deploying 50 per cent of its capacity at present.

 

d)  Centre imposes 20 % duty on sugar exportsIn a bid to keep the domestic prices of sugar under check in the country, the Centre imposed 20 per cent duty on the export of raw sugar.Notably, due to delayed harvest of the crop in Brazil, there has been a rise in international prices and this surge in price has made exports of Indian sugar feasible as well.In the domestic retail markets meanwhile, the sugar prices have seen an increase ranging between Rs 5-7 a kg since April on expectations of lower crop output due to drought in Maharashtra and Karnataka

 

e)  GDR issues by Indian firms under SEBI lensThe Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has directed all local custodians of Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) to ascertain the beneficiary accounts in the case of 59 GDR issues by 51 Indian companies and freeze all such beneficiary accounts. GDRs are instruments with Indian shares as the underlying securities.The SEBI move follows a probe that found that certain entities may have indulged in an alleged fraudulent scheme in connivance with promoters and directors of the issuer companies with intent to defraud the Indian investors

 

f) Bangladesh, India launch trans-shipment operationsIndia and Bangladesh today launched transshipment operations at the Ashuganj port to boost trade and facilitate seamless movement of goods in the landlocked region, with a cargo vessel unloading the maiden consignment to be transported to Tripura through Bangladeshi territory.At present, trucks from Kolkata travel around 1,600 kilometres to reach Agartala. The distance through Bangladesh would be only 500 kilometres, according to experts.

According to analysts, it costs India USD 67 to transport per tonne of goods from Kolkata to Agartala and Indian trucks take 30 days to reach there through the rugged terrains.

The transshipment facility – combining riverine and land routes – would now enable India to deliver goods in an estimated 10-day time and reduce transport cost by nearly 50 per cent

 

g) Power Ministry launches ‘URJA’ app to better consumer connectDeveloped by the Power Finance Corporation on behalf of the Ministry of Power, the ‘URJA’ app is aimed at enhancing the consumer connect with the urban power distribution sector by providing information to consumers on power outage, timely release of connections, addressing complaints, power reliability etc.The ministry also launched the “PradhanMantri UJALA (UnnatJyoti by Affordable LED for all) Yojana” in Goa with a target of replacing approximately 15 lakh LED bulbs, impacting nearly 5 lakh households.

Under the scheme, consumers are entitled to get 3 LED bulbs of 9 watt each at a subsidised rate of Rs 25 per piece as against the market price of Rs 300-350

 

h)  India, Brazil, China team up to push EU to change trademark lawFailing to convince the EU to change its new directive on trademark protection that could lead to seizure of legitimate pharmaceutical consignments transiting through the region, India has teamed up with Brazil, South Africa, China and Indonesia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to put pressure on the bloc to make amendments

 

i)  India-made trainer aircraft’s inaugural flight The inaugural flight of India’s indigenous basic trainer aircraft, Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), would be undertaken today and Defence Minister ManoharParrikar would witness it.HTT-40 was designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

 

j)  Maharashtra government decides to use plastic waste in building roads For every 100 kg of tar used to build asphalt roads, 3 to 6 kg of plastic will be mixed in it, adding materials like plastic carry bags, sacks, milk pouches, bin linings, cosmetic and detergent bottles, drinking water bottles, bottle caps, household articles will be used.

“Studies have revealed that plastics waste have great potential for use in bituminous construction as its addition in small doses, about 5-10 per cent by weight of bitumen, helps in substantially improving the Marshall stability, strength, fatigue life and other desirable properties of bituminous mix, leading to improved longevity and pavement performance

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following statements is/are correct?

Arvind Subramaniam Committee gave recommendations on:

a) Possible Tax rates under GSTb) Payments Bank banking model

c) Taxation

d) Banking Reforms

 

Question 2: Which of the following items is/are included in a nation’s current account?
  1. Imports and exports
  2. Foreign aid
  3. Interests and dividends
  4. FDI

a) 1 only

b) 1, 2 and 3

c) 2 and 3 only

d) all the Above

 

Question 3: Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Sagarmala Project which seeks to usher in port led development?
  1. It involves developing smart cities
  2. Islands would be developed to attract tourists
  3. Potential geographical regions would be developed as Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs)

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 2

c) 2 and 3

d) All the Above

 

Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Right to education Act,2009?
  1. It requires all private schools(except the minority institutions) to reserve 25% of seats for the poor
  2. Right to Education has become a fundamental right in India with the enactment of the act

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 5: Which of the following statements is/are correct as per the Sixth Schedule?
  1. Provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers in the tribal areas
  2. Each district in the tribal area is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Check Your Answers

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