Comprehensive News Analysis – 17 October 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Ravi Shankar Prasad says Centre’s stand on triple talaq based on gender justice

2. A report on Public Health spending in India

3. 2016 BRICS meet at Goa: Declaration to fight terror

4. BIMSTEC members meet at the BRICS Summit 2016

5. India – Hungary bilateral update

C. GS3 Related:

1. Centre rethinks 40% NPS annuity order

2. SIT moots independent ED probe into money laundering

3. BRICS agrees to set up credit rating agency

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

The Hindu

1. Cool the world

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. Ravi Shankar Prasad says Centre’s stand on triple talaq based on gender justice

Category: Religious laws

Topic: Triple Talaq – UCC

Key Points:

  • Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the Centre’s affidavit on the triple talaq issue, which is being heard in the Supreme Court, was based on the principles of assuring gender justice, gender equality and dignity – flowing directly from the fundamental values of Indian Constitution. He stressed that the right to freedom of religion did not enjoin every pernicious practice as being integral to it.

The minister further said the Law Commission’s wider consultation on the question of a uniform civil code was separate from the triple talaq issue.

  • Certain victims of triple talaq from the Muslim community approached the Supreme Court challenging its validity. The court had asked for a response from the government for which the centre has responded.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board asserted that the centre was intent on interfering with Islam rather than any other minority community, including the Jains, in terms of religious practice.

  • Uniform civil code – Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad denied that uniform civil code was part of the ideological core of the BJP. He said Article 44 is a part of our Constitution enjoining uniform civil code. The framers of our Constitution were big leaders like Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Dr Ambedkar; 99 per cent of the founding fathers were from the Congress school of thought and they were clear that we must steadily progress towards a uniform civil code.

 

  1. A report on Public Health spending in India

Category: National reports

Topic:  Public health

Key Points:

  • A study of health accounts of six States reveals bulk of the total public money spent in State-level healthcare system is not spent on medical services, but goes to wages and salaries of human resource.

Wages and salaries account for 86 per cent of the total public expenditure in Punjab, 72 per cent in Maharashtra, 65 per cent in Kerala, 52.5 per cent in Madhya Pradesh and 35 per cent in Odisha. However, the per capita total cost of care which includes money spent by patients as well as that spent by the government on paying salaries to staff, for health subsidy etc is mostly cheaper in the public sector than in the private sector.

  • Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), which was a part of the study, said that the outpatient cost is largely driven by spending on medicines.

Findings of the report –

Tamil Nadu: more than 95 per cent patients get free medicines from the government. The cost of public sector outpatient treatment is hence lesser than private in Tamil Nadu because when the government itself procures medicines, it is 300 per cent cheaper than the market.

Maharashtra: Public sector cost is higher since free medicines are not given by the government like Tamil Nadu.

 

  1. 2016 BRICS meet at Goa: Declaration to fight terror

Category: International summits

Topic: BRICS

Key Points:

  • The 8th BRICS summit ended with the adoption of the Goa Declaration which pledged opposition to terrorism. However, India could not succeed to get a consensus on references to cross-border terror and Pakistan-based terror groups in the final statement. The declaration did not name any country specifically as the source of cross-border terrorism. It called for all nations to counter radicalism, and block sources of financing international terrorism, including through organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Reflecting international concern, the Goa Declaration pointed out the need for countering the Islamic State which has occupied territories in Iraq, Syria, and Libya and called for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the U.N. General Assembly. It further called for a resolution of the civil war in Syria, in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria and sought action against U.N.-designated terrorist groups like IS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The most serious direct threat to our economic prosperity is terrorism. Tragically, its mother-ship is a country in India’s neighbourhood.” India did get the diplomatic edge it wanted in this direction from the summit.

India, Nepal, China trilateral meeting on the sidelines on BRICS summit –

  • An unusual, unscheduled trilateral meeting took place among the 3 nations. It highlighted the significance of Nepal in India’s ties with China.

 

  1. BIMSTEC members meet at the BRICS Summit 2016

Category: Multilateral organizations

Topic: BRICS and BIMSTEC

Key Points:

  • PM of India Narendra Modi said BIMSTEC members – Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal have many economic opportunities to share about – growth, development, commerce and technology. He added that the member nations can work together also in issues related to environment and disaster management.

SL President raises thorny fishermen issue –

  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find a firm solution to the thorny fishermen issue. He made the demand during a meeting with PM of India where the two leaders reviewed bilateral cooperation in a whole host of areas, including energy and health.

 

  1. India – Hungary bilateral update

Category: Bilateral

Topic: India – Hungary

Key Points:

  • 2 important agreements were signed between India and Hungary during the visit of Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari to Hungary.
  • 1st agreement between India and Hungary is related to water management.
  • 2nd agreement for cooperation between the Indian Council for World Affairs and the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary.

The two countries also agreed to set up a working group on technology to develop each other’s capabilities in a set of areas.

  • The Indian outreach comes in the backdrop of the support Hungary has extended to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and also in the context of the post-Brexit uncertainties for Indian business and industry in the United Kingdom.

 

C. GS3 Related
  1. Centre rethinks 40% NPS annuity order

Category: Economy

Topic: Pension sector

Key Points:

  • To make the National Pension System (NPS) more attractive, the government could do away with a norm which makes it compulsory for the retiring employees to buy an annuity with 40 per cent of their accumulated corpus.

Annuity productFor premature withdrawals from the NPS before the age of 60, eighty per cent of the amount must be invested in an annuity product. At retirement, 40 per cent of savings must be invested in an annuity, although the PFRDA has allowed retirees to defer the purchase for three years, if the financial markets are in a downturn when they turn 60.

  • Scrapping the annuity requirement altogether would need a change in the PFRDA Act which stipulates an annuity purchase at retirement, but it is possible to reduce the proportion of corpus to be annuitised from the 40 per cent prescribed now. So the PFRDA has proposed a reduction in the mandatory annuity norm, and giving people the option to invest in other products that could offer higher returns. The Finance Ministry is considering the proposal mooted by PFRDA.

 

  1. SIT moots independent ED probe into money laundering

Category: Economy

Topic: Money laundering and Black money

Key Points:

  • Chairman of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, Justice M.B. Shah has recommended that money laundering investigations by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should be allowed without any dependence on registration of cases by other agencies.

Present situation – Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at present provides that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) can pursue only those cases which have been registered by agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), State police units and the Income-Tax Department, under provisions pertaining to the offences listed in the Act.

  • CBDT plea rejected – The CBI in 2015 had sought statutory powers to carry out money laundering investigations. However, the proposal was turned down by the government. In the past, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and the Central Board of Direct Taxes have also made such demands.

Based on the SIT’s recommendations – the Central government had earlier brought in some crucial amendments to the PMLA, apart from the Income-Tax Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, to strengthen the legal framework for effective action against those holding unaccounted income.

Latest amendment to the PMLA empowers the ED to continue with the money laundering investigations even if the police case is closed in the court. The Directorate can still pursue the probe into a financial angle and file a separate charge sheet.

 

  1. BRICS agrees to set up credit rating agency

Category: Economy

Topic: Credit rating agency – BRICS

Key Points:

  • BRICS nations signed an agreement to set up an independent credit rating agency based on market-oriented principles, saying it would further strengthen the global governance architecture.

The group said BRICS institution-building is critical to the shared vision of transforming the global financial architecture to one based on the principles of fairness and equity. The setting up of a BRICS Rating Agency would further bridge the gap in the global financial architecture.

  • Responding in favour of a rating agency backed by BRICS, New Development Bank (NDB) president K.V. Kamath expressed concerns over methodologies of the three global agencies (S&P, Fitch, Moody’s) saying that these constrain growth in emerging nations. He said that ratings of multilateral banks like the BRICS-promoted NDB were affected by the parent countries’ ratings, despite having deep capital buffers.

NDB to target incremental revenue of $2.5 billion in 2017 –

  • NDB president K.V. Kamath said the bank established by BRICS countries in 2015, is targeting incremental revenue of $ 2.5 billion in 2017 – largely in the area of green and sustainable infrastructure, and a plan to raise $1.5 billion through green bonds. He said member countries including India would be approached to mobilise funds through the bond markets. Mr. Kamath also said that the Shanghai-based bank had approved loans for development of the renewable energy sector.

BBC meeting – BRICS Business Council (BBC) reflects the full economic diversity and depth of business engagement between the member countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Council to work with member countries to strengthening mutual trade, enhancing business opportunities, building investments linkages, promoting innovation and removing bottlenecks to intra-BRICS commerce.

 

D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
  1. Cool the world
  • Although it took seven years to come to fruition, the Kigali agreement to amend the Montreal Protocol and substantially limit the emission of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that contribute to global warming represents major progress. The important role played by this group of chemicals, used in refrigeration and air conditioning, is evident from the scientific estimate that without a mitigation plan, HFCs could warm the world by an additional half a degree Celsius by the end of the century.
  • As with other such global compacts on environmental matters, India pressed for a more lenient deadline at the Rwanda negotiations. Ultimately, it agreed to start freezing HFC use in 2028, four years later than its peer club countries China, Brazil and those in Africa, and achieving maximum reduction by 2047, two years after they do.
  • In welcome contrast, however, India has ordered the manufacturers of HFC 23 a by-product of another chemical used in refrigerant gas manufacture and with a staggeringly high contribution to global warming to now capture and dispose of it at their own cost. The decision is of particular significance, considering the expansion of refrigeration and air conditioning in India with a rise in incomes, leading to higher levels of HFC release into the atmosphere.
  • One of the questions before India in its implementation of Montreal Protocol commitments is the need to align its goals for ‘Make in India’ with green technologies in order to remain competitive in global markets. Inducting alternatives to HFCs, such as hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide, in the relevant industries should happen sooner than anticipated and possibly become even attractive as the cost of technologies falls. The changeover is actually an opportunity to achieve a leapfrog effect.
  • The imperative, in any case, should be environmental. It is worth recalling that the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer adopted in 1985 (operationalised later by the Montreal Protocol) followed a phase when major producers of chlorofluorocarbons, the earlier generation of refrigerants, tried to discredit the link between the chemicals and the developing problem of the ozone hole. Persistent and credible science, however, swayed public and political opinion in favour of a phase-out of CFCs.
  • As with the Paris Agreement on climate change, which is strengthened by the Kigali amendments, developing countries will legitimately expect rich countries to aid them as they seek to acquire green technologies for industrial use. Given the impact of global warming, countries and people who have historically never been part of the problem should not have to argue their case for liberal assistance.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Triple Talaq
  • Uniform Civil Code – Art 44
  • BRICS
  • BIMSTEC
  • PFRDA – National Pension scheme
  • BRICS Bank
  • Black money and Money laundering


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: With which of the following regional blocs, India has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s)? 

a) SAARC & SCO

b) SAARC & BRICS

c) SCO & BRICS

d) SAARC & ASEAN


Question 2: The National Pension Scheme - NPS, a voluntary defined contribution pension system is administered and regulated by

a) Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO)

b) Pension Fund Regulatory Development Organization (PFRDA)

c) Union Ministry of Social Justice

d) It is autonomous, self-regulatory


Question 3: ‘Goa declaration on counter-terrorism’ appears in news in the context of -

a) BRICS

b) BIMSTEC

c) ASEAN

d) SAARC


Question 4: The formation of ozone hole in the Antarctic region has been a cause of concern. What could be the reason for the formation of this hole?

a) Presence of prominent tropo-spheric turbulence; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

b) Presence of prominent polar front and stratospheric’ clouds; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

c) Absence of polar front and stratospheric clouds; and inflow of methane and chlorofluorocarbons

d) Increased temperature at polar region due to global warming


Question 5: Which multilateral group recently signed an agreement to set up an independent credit rating agency based on market-oriented principles?
a) IBSA

b) BIMSTEC

c) SAARC

d) BRICS


Check Your Answers

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