Comprehensive News Analysis - 20 September 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Centre notifies BS-VI auto emission norms

2. 2016 Non-Aligned Movement summit

C. GS3 Related:

1. International report says One-third of total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India

2. International Financial Services Centre (IFSC)

3. GST notification triggers uncertainty over excise duty

4. NRI deposits drive up external debt

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

The Hindu

1. The road from Bratislava

2. Responding to Uri

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!


B. GS2 Related


  1. Centre notifies BS-VI auto emission norms

Category: Government policies

Topic: BS norms

Key Points:

  • The Centre has notified the Bharat Stage (BS)-VI emission standards for two-wheelers and four-wheelers from April 2020 across the country. This implies the government has decided to skip the BS-V emission standards and move directly to BS-VI from the BS-IV norms currently being followed in various cities.

The Union ministry of Road Transport and Highways, through a notification dated September 16, has given the Union Petroleum Ministry four years to make BS-VI fuels available to auto companies. Oil companies will be investing more than Rs.60, 000 crore towards BS-VI fuels. BS-VI is the Indian equivalent of the Euro-VI norms.

The government had earlier planned to implement BS-V norms from 2020 and BS-VI norms from 2022. However, it decided to skip BS-V norms and advance the implementation of BS-VI norms following the Supreme Court’s intervention.

Present situation: BS-IV norms are being followed in over 30 cities while the rest of the country follows BS-III norms.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said that it was committed to meet the stiff deadline for BS-VI emission norms. The target is very stiff but the auto industry has accepted the challenge in view of the rising concerns on vehicular pollution, especially in the urban metros.

Overview:

Bharat stage emission standards – A set of emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from Internal Combustion (IC) engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change.

The standards are based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. Progressively stringent norms have been rolled out since then. All new vehicles manufactured after the implementation of the norms have to be compliant with the regulations. Since October 2010, Bharat Stage (BS) III norms have been enforced across the country. In 13 major cities, Bharat Stage IV emission norms have been in place since April 2010.

 

  1. 2016 Non-Aligned Movement summit

Category: International organizations    

Topic:  NAM

Key Points:

  • The 2016 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Caribbean island of Margarita, Venezuela wrapped up with an expression of support for its embattled host, President Nicolas Maduro, and scathing attacks on U.S. interventionism around the world. It was a key diplomatic encounter for Mr. Maduro, who has been left increasingly isolated as Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy has skidded into crisis amid a collapse in global crude prices, fuelling calls for his ouster.

 

Venezuela took over the rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement from Iran at the meeting. It will hold it for the next three years. Mr. Maduro looks keen to recast the group as a bulwark against interventionism and neo-colonialism.

  • NAM issued a statement at the end of the meeting calling for peace, urging world powers not to meddle in other countries’ affairs and voicing concern over violence in Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories. It also urged support for the struggle against terrorism, for solidarity with refugees in northern Africa, and the Venezuelan people’s right to peace.

 

Overview:

Non aligned movement (NAM): It was founded 55 years ago to give a greater voice to countries squeezed in the power struggle between the United States and Soviet Union; the Non-Aligned Movement has struggled to stay relevant since the end of the Cold War. Currently, the movement has 120 members.

The phrase itself was first used to represent the doctrine by Indian diplomat V. K. Krishna Menon in 1953, at the United Nations.

The organization was founded in Belgrade in 1961, and was largely conceived by the premiers of India, Indonesia, Egypt, Ghana and Yugoslavia. All five leaders were prominent advocates of a middle course for states in the Developing World between the Western and Eastern Blocs in the Cold War.

 

C. GS3 Related


  1. International report says One-third of total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India

Category: Science and Technology     

Topic: Maternal health report

Key Points:

  • The latest Lancet reporton maternal health reveals that while progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality globally, differences remain at international and national levels – nearly one quarter of babies worldwide are still delivered in the absence of a skilled birth attendant. Further, one-third of the total maternal deaths in 2015 happened in India, where 45,000 mothers died during pregnancy or childbirth while Nigeria shouldered the maximum burden of 58,000 maternal deaths.

 

In all countries, the burden of maternal mortality falls disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups of women. This reality presents a challenge to the rapid catch-up required to achieve the underlying aim of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to leave no one behind.

 

  • According to the academic papers, there are two broad scenarios that describe the landscape of poor maternal health care – the absence of timely access to quality care (too little, too late) and the over-medicalisation of normal and postnatal care (too much, too soon). The problem of over-medicalisation has historically been associated with high-income countries, but it is rapidly becoming more common in low and middle-income countries, increasing health costs and the risk of harm. For instance, 40.5% of all births are now by caesarean section in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

Lack basic resources While facility and skilled birth attendant deliveries are increasing in many low-income countries, the authors say that phrases such as ‘skilled birth attendant’ and ‘emergency obstetric care’ can mask poor quality care. Additionally, many birth facilities lack basic resources such as water, sanitation and electricity.

 

In high-income countries, rates of maternal mortality are decreasing but there is still wide variation at national and international level. For instance, in the U.S., the maternal mortality ratio is 14 per 1, 00,000 live births compared to 4 per 1, 00,000 in Sweden. The sub-Saharan African region accounted for an estimated 66% (2, 01,000) of global maternal deaths, followed by southern Asia at 22% (66,000 deaths).

 

However, the authors warn that not all care is evidence-based, and improved surveillance is needed to understand the causes of maternal deaths when they do occur. Additionally, they point to new challenges in delivering high quality care, including the increasing age of pregnancy, and higher rates of obesity.


  1. International Financial Services Centre (IFSC)

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: International organization

Key Points:

  • The Centre will consider Maharashtra Government’s request to ease land norms to facilitate the establishment of an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in The IFSC proposed to be set up at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in the country’s financial capital will be the second such centre in India after the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in Gandhinagar.

 

The proposed IFSC at BKC will also be a multi-services Special Economic Zone (SEZ) like the GIFT City in Gandhinagar. The commerce ministry has been roped in as it is the nodal body at the Centre for SEZ-related matters. While the guidelines concerning IFSC come under the purview of financial sector regulators such as the RBI, IRDA and SEBI as well as the finance ministry, the SEZ Act is also applicable in this case as IFSC is set up in an SEZ

 

  1. GST notification triggers uncertainty over excise duty

Category: Indian Economy – Taxation

Topic: GST

Key Points:

  • In an unprecedented development, the powers of the Centre to collect central excise duty stood withdrawn recently on all goods other than petroleum and tobacco. This premature withdrawal is understood to be an unintended consequence of the notification by the Ministry of most provisions of the Constitutional Amendment paving the way for the roll-out of the Goods & Services Tax (GST). While the notification was made with effect from 16th Sept, 2016 the clauses that led to the withdrawal of the powers should have been notified with effect from April 1, 2017 – the date from which the GST will become payable instead of the excise duties and a slew of other indirect taxes.

 

An instance: If you bought a car or any other goods recently, you could legally expect a refund of the component that went to pay the excise duty on it, Finance Ministry officials confirmed after consultations with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

 

  • Union Revenue secretary said a clarification over the issue, and any amendments, if needed, would be issued, although the Law Department had found no infirmity, or uncertainty in the notification or any need for amendments.

 

Overview:

Goods and Services TaxIt is a tax levied when a consumer buys a good or service. It is meant to be a single, comprehensive tax that will subsume all the other smaller indirect taxes on consumption like service tax, etc. An ideal GST regime intends to create a harmonised system of taxation by subsuming all indirect taxes under one tax.  It seeks to address challenges with the current indirect tax regime by broadening the tax base, eliminating cascading of taxes, increasing compliance, and reducing economic distortions caused by inter-state variations in taxes.

122nd Constitutional amendment bill was introduced in the Parliament in 2014. The Bill amends the Constitution to introduce the goods and services tax (GST).

Highlights of the bill:

  • Parliament and state legislatures will have concurrent powers to make laws on GST. 
  • Only the centre may levy an integrated GST (IGST) on the interstate supply of goods and services, and imports.
  • Alcohol for human consumption has been exempted from the purview of GST.   GST will apply to five petroleum products at a later date.
  • GST Council – It will consist of the Union Finance Minister, Union Minister of State for Revenue, and state Finance Ministers. It recommends rates of tax, period of levy of additional tax, principles of supply, special provisions to certain states etc. 
  • The Bill empowers the centre to impose an additional tax of up to 1%, on the inter-state supply of goods for two years or more. This tax will accrue to states from where the supply originates. Parliament may, by law, provide compensation to states for any loss of revenue from the introduction of GST, up to a five year period.

 

4. NRI deposits drive up external debt

Category: Indian Economy      

Topic: External debt

Key Points:

  • The Centre government said India’s external debt at the end of financial year 2015-16e. March 2016 stood at $485.6 billion, up 2.2 per cent from over its level at over end-March 2015, largely driven by the increase in long-term external debt, particularly NRI deposits.
  • Long-term external debt – $402.2 billion, accounted for 82.8 per cent of total external debt at end-March 2016 as compared to 82.0 per cent at end-March 2015. In contrast, Short-term external debt declined by 2.5 per cent from $84.7 billion at end-March 2015 to $83.4 billion at end-March 2016. According to the government, this was mainly due to the decline in trade related credits.
  • India’s external debthas remained within manageable limits in 2015-16 as indicated by the increase in foreign exchange reserves to debt ratio to 74.2 per cent, the external debt-GDP ratio of 23.7 per cent and fall in short term debt to 17.2 per cent.

 

Overview:

Public debt –

Public debt includes internal debt comprising borrowings made by the Government inside the country like market loans, borrowing from the RBI on the basis of treasury bills; and external debt comprising loans from foreign countries, international financial institutions, NRI deposits etc. In the expression public debt and other liabilities include outstanding against the various small saving schemes, provident funds etc, it includes private sector borrowings too.

 

Public debt is justified as the government does not have adequate resources and taxation cannot be done beyond a point. It should be for productive reasons and also welfare reasons. Public debt is the instrument of resource mobilization of Modern governments.

 

External debt consists of – Long term external debt which is the bulk part, NRI deposits, multilateral loans, Commercial borrowings, bilateral loans and Trade credit.


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. The road from Bratislava

Unity and cohesion were conspicuously absent at the Bratislava castle where the EU 28 minus 1 met to discuss the post – Brexit world. Nobody is harbouring any illusions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker admitted that the EU is in an existential crisis. Brexit is only the latest symptom of the fear and discontent that have spread across the continent, fuelled by the migrant crisis, Islamophobia, Eurozone woes and terrorist attacks. Recent meeting was organised by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council that provides strategic direction to the EU, in order to diagnose the situation and to forge a united path forward. This is not going to be an easy task given that the bloc is split into factions, mainly around issues of economics and migration.

The Bratislava Declaration offers a road map for the next six months, on migration, border security, counter-terrorism, defence and economic and social development, providing political backing to measures announced by Mr. Juncker in his State of the Union address in Brussels. Europe is much like a stack of Jenga blocks at present. Each move needs precision and care in order to preserve the integrity of an increasingly tenuous union. The declaration identifies various areas for action. Some of these are likely to find wide acceptance, such as funding for strategic investments across the region, establishing a common capital market across the EU and acquiring advanced traveller information to secure borders. Other areas, such as migration, are more contentious. Hungarians will participate in a national referendum in October to decide whether they will accept the recommended share. The EU must find a creative, humane and effective solution to receive and resettle refugees. Another contentious proposal is the European army. Mr. Juncker had proposed that member-states move towards pooling and centralising their defence and diplomatic resources. While there may be advantages with regard to defence procurement and operational efficiency and capabilities, it is exactly this kind of a ‘more Europe’ response to a problem that has left EU member-states and citizens disenchanted and fearful of what they see as Brussels’s overreach. Brussels will do well to heed the lessons of Brexit. This can be done in at least two ways.

First, by focussing on the big picture and on areas where it has a comparative advantage while letting national governments take the lead in others.

Second, by encouraging members to engage more rigorously with their citizens on EU issues explaining policies and their outcomes, collecting feedback, and inviting ideas. These steps will go a long way towards, to use Mr. Tusk’s phrase, not letting this crisis go to waste.


2. Responding to Uri

Gathering evidence regarding the four terrorists who stormed the army base in Uri, killing 18 soldiers, suggests they are from Pakistan and had been sent across the border explicitly for this attack. In fact, the entire operation has the fingerprints of Pakistan’s military establishment, showing yet again the country’s persistent use of terrorism as state policy. The four terrorists reportedly got to the camp early in the morning, in all probability across the Line of Control just 6 km away. The terrorists carried automatic rifles, under-barrel grenade launchers and other equipment, most of it with Pakistani markings, according to Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh. Over the last three decades or so, India has been at the receiving end of Pakistani statecraft of terrorists unleashed to attain state objectives; Uri is the latest provocation. India has limited manoeuvrability as far as a military response goes. Narendra Modi’s restrained, but firm, response is an indication that India may not play the reckless game many would like it to. Condemning the cowardly attack, he said those behind it would not go unpunished the heavy-lifting will in all probability be done diplomatically.

In responses in New Delhi, and on the ground in Kashmir, one thing has emerged: that India still does not have a comprehensive national policy to deal with domestic militancy as well as cross-border terrorism. Given India’s inconsistent and incomplete responses, the adversaries, both states and terror organisations, are able to exploit, and often poke fun at, the lack of a robust national doctrine. The latest attack also captures the complex reality of India-Pakistan ties and the Kashmir issue. It calls for an alert security grid and sophisticated policy responses; neither can be achieved by rhetoric and simplistic blame games. The Indian security forces have been dealing with militancy and cross-border infiltration since Kashmir went up in flames in the late 1980s. The gradual decline in violence in the Valley over the years was reversed starting 2014, and since then strife in the Valley and infiltration from the Pakistan side have both steadily climbed. The Prime Minister should take the lead to bring together leaders across the spectrum to work towards finding peace, while drawing up a national security doctrine that is free of biases and myopia. India needs to let its adversaries know it is a power capable of more than mere rhetoric while assuring its own people that its options are rooted in constitutional values. For both, a well-documented national security doctrine could be a first step.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Bharat Stage (BS) norms
  • Non-aligned movement (NAM)
  • International Financial Services Centre
  • Public debt
  • Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)
  • Sustainable development goals (SDG)


G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS


H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Which of the following organizations sets the standards and the timeline for implementation of BS norms?
a) Union ministry of Environment and forests

b) Central pollution control board

c) State pollution control boards

d) Both (a) and (b)


Question 2: Which of the following statements regarding the International Financial Services Centre is/are correct?
  1. It is a financial regulator that works under UN
  2. India has 2 such centres to promote SEZ’s.

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3: ‘The Bratislava Declaration’ appears in news. It is related to ?

a) BREXIT

b) GREXIT

c) Arab spring

d) Refugee crisis


Question 4: The Union government recently started Comprehensive Integrated Border management system (CIBMS) to counter insurgency and infiltration along -
a) Indo-China border

b) Indo-Pak border

c) Indo-Nepal border

d) Indo-Bangla border


Question 5: The 2016 NAM summit was held at 
a) Costa Rica

b) India

c) Venezuela

d) Indonesia

 

Check Your Answers

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