Comprehensive News Analysis – 23 January 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Jallikattu verdict spurred a flood of animal right cases in SC

2. Derailments rise but safety reports gather dust

C. GS3 Related:

1. Curbs on outsourcing may hit U.S. economy: Nasscom

2. ‘FRBM panel to relax 2017-18 fiscal deficit target to 3-3.5%’

3. Israel approves permits for 560 settlement units

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

The Hindu

1. In fruitless pursuit of permanence

Business Line

1. Stonewalling by the RBI

Economic Times

1. Army’s very own caste system, Orderlies must be abolished

PIB

1. India will continue to extend their support in early implementation of past agricultural commitments – Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister

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
B. GS2 Related
1. Jallikattu verdict spurred a flood of animal right cases in SC

Category: Heritage and Culture

Topic: Indian Festivals

Key Points:

  • The Supreme Court has declared that animals have a right to protect their life and dignity from human excesses.
  • In recent years, the Supreme Court has upheld the rights of animals and birds to lead a life of “intrinsic worth, honour and dignity,” even at the cost of popular faith and practices of human beings.
  • In Animal Welfare Board of India versus A. Nagaraja, the Supreme Court historically extended the fundamental right to life to animals. It held that bulls have the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere, not to be beaten, kicked, bitten, tortured, plied with alcohol by humans or made to stand in narrow enclosures amidst bellows and jeers from crowds. In short, the Supreme Court declared that animals have a right to protect their life and dignity from human excesses.
  • Article 21, till then, had been confined to only human life and dignity. In May 2014, with its jallikattu verdict, the Supreme Court Bench of Justice (as he was then) K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice P.C. Ghose stretched the fundamental right to include “every species.”

 

2. Derailments rise but safety reports gather dust

Category:  Disaster Management

Topic:  Disaster Management

Key Points:

  • Parliamentary panel pulls up Railways for lack of urgency on track renewal, safety measures
  • The Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) is yet to submit the preliminary finding report of the Patna-bound Indore-Rajendranagar Express derailment that took place two months back in November in which at least 146 people lost their lives.
  • The Standing Committee on Railways in its recent ‘Safety and Security in Railways’ report said the Railways has failed in maintaining safety standards of the rail tracks. “…track forms the backbone of the rail transportation system and therefore, needs to be maintained in a safe and fit condition. However, in the instant case there seems to be total failure in regard to maintaining the safety standards of their tracks,” the Standing Committee had said in its report tabled in Lok Sabha on December 14.
  • The Standing Committee also criticised the Railways for failing to address the human error involved in rail accidents. Around 70 % of the rail accidents in 2015-16 occurred due to the fault of railway staff such as poor maintenance, non-adherence to safety rules and adopting short-cuts, according to official reports.
  • “Looking at the huge number of rail accidents due to lapse of the railway staff, the Committee derive that the (Railway) Ministry have failed to assess the root cause of continuous and possibly repeated lapses by railway staff and therefore have failed completely to curb such accidents,” the Committee said.

 

C. GS3 Related

1. Curbs on outsourcing may hit U.S. economy: Nasscom

Category: Indian Economy 

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

Key Points:

  • The premier trade body plans to take a delegation to the U.S. in February in an attempt to reach out to the Trump administration
  • India’s IT industry has warned about the adverse impact that curbs on outsourcing will have on the U.S. economy, which lacks high-skilled workers.
  • The country’s premier trade body, Nasscom, will be taking a delegation to the U.S. in February in an attempt to reach out to the new administration. U.S. President Donald Trump had promised to follow a ‘Buy American, Hire American’ policy in his inaugural speech on January 21 in Washington.
  • “The critical thing for this industry is high-skilled workers and the fact of the matter is that those high-skilled workers are not available in the U.S… If the agenda of creation of jobs needs to be pursued, we feel that current windows will need to be kept open to get the requisite skilled workers,” R. Chandrasekhar, president of National Association of Software and Service Companies or Nasscom told The Hindu.
  • More than 60% of the Indian IT industry’s $108-billion export revenue comes from the U.S.

 

2. ‘FRBM panel to relax 2017-18 fiscal deficit target to 3-3.5%’ 

Category: Indian Economy 

Topic: Resource Mobilzation

Key Points:

  • The government panel set up to review the working of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, is expected to relax the fiscal deficit target to 3-3.5 per cent of GDP for 2017-18, says a report. 
  • According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML), the N K Singh Committee would build cyclicality in setting fiscal deficit projections by switching to a target range (3-3.5 per cent) from a point target of 3 per cent.
  • The NK Singh panel is expected to submit the new fiscal consolidation roadmap report on January 23rd, 2017.
  • The report noted that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to target a fiscal deficit of 3.5 per cent of GDP — same as that of 2016-17 in his February 1 Budget.
3.  Israel approves permits for 560 settlement units

Category: International Relations

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

Key Points:

  • Israel approved building permits on 22nd January, 2017 for hundreds of homes in three East Jerusalem settlements, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump took office, expecting him to row back on the last administration’s criticism of such projects.
  • The housing projects, on land that the Palestinians seek as part of a future state, had been taken off the Jerusalem municipality’s agenda in December at the last minute at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to avoid further censure from the administration of Barack Obama.
  • Israel’s right-wing expects Mr. Trump’s attitude towards settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, to be far more supportive than that of his predecessor.
  • Jerusalem’s City Hall approved the building permits for more than 560 units in the urban settlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo and Ramot, areas annexed to Jerusalem in a move unrecognised internationally.
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. In fruitless pursuit of permanence

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Indian Heritage and Culture

Key Points:

  • The Tamil Nadu government promulgated an ordinance to facilitate the conduct of jallikattu
  • The State amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, seeks to exempt jallikattu from the purview of the law.
  • The ordinance has pleased neither side in the jallikattu vs. animal rights debate.
  • The Centre’s nod may have ensured that the ordinance will not be opposed as being repugnant to a Central law, but other legal hurdles remain.
  • The Supreme Court has declared that jallikattu is inherently cruel and contrary to the objectives of the PCA.
  • Unless it recognises culture and tradition as valid grounds to permit events involving bulls, the exemption given to jallikattu may be invalidated.
  • Meanwhile, the public uprising has gone beyond jallikattu, attained a critical mass as an assertion of Tamil identity and culture and metamorphosed into a protest against mainstream political parties.

The Way Forward

  • It is time the protesters took a step back and let the legislative and judicial institutions determine the future of jallikattu.
  • It is also time for them to reassess the cruelty and the risks to life posed by the sport, and link any demand to its reintroduction with the strictest of regulations. 
  • A culture that legitimises such mindless and unnecessary death is not Tamil culture. In fact, it is no culture at all.

 

Business Line

1. Stonewalling by the RBI

Category: Indian Economy

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Key Points:

  • It’s been 75 days since November 8, yet the Reserve Bank of India has failed to answer crucial questions on how it intends to ‘remonetise’ the economy.
  • In its recent depositions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Public Accounts Committee, the RBI merely said that ₹9.2 lakh crore worth of new currency had been injected into the banking system, in place of the ₹15.4 lakh crore of ₹500 and ₹1,000 crore notes that had been withdrawn from circulation.
  • What is, however, not known is whether the new currency notes are meant to fully replace the old, given the push towards cashless transactions.
  • Governor Urjit Patel has refused to tell us the value of the old notes that have returned to the system. The timeline for removal of withdrawal limits, and hence the return to a sort of new normal with cashless transactions playing a bigger role than pre-November 8, has not been indicated.
  • As a result of this opacity, there’s still an air of uncertainty, despite the fact that the cash shortage in banks and ATMs has eased. According to reports on the RBI’s submission to the Standing Committee, the currency with the public as on January 13, at ₹9.7 lakh crore, is more than the new notes in circulation, an indication that the people are perhaps hoarding cash in the belief that the crunch is here to stay.
  • This precautionary demand for cash can be seen as an erosion of faith in the RBI as the custodian of financial stability.
  • Former governors have pointed to the RBI being exposed to ‘reputational risk’.

The Way Forward

  • The RBI must be more transparent about how it will stabilise the situation and achieve the transition to a cashless economy — besides bringing credit growth back on track.
  • It has a key role to play in ensuring that the adverse socio-economic impact of demonetisation is short-lived.
  • The governor must reclaim lost ground at the earliest, for the sake of his institution and the financial security of the nation.
  • But in order to act as a bulwark against financial contingencies, it must recover its lost voice, stature and, crucially, its autonomy.

 

Economic Times

  1. Army’s very own caste system, Orderlies must be abolished

Category: Indian Polity

Topic: Important aspects of governance

Key Points:

  • On Friday, January 13, an online petition of an ‘orderly’ — a low-ranking soldier of the army — went viral when he complained about his routine task of polishing the shoes of his superior officer.
  • India’s navy and air force have discontinued with this practice of retaining orderlies, or ‘batmen’ as they are often called.
  • The British, from whose military we retained this practice, scrapped orderlies after World War 2.
  • It could dramatically improve the morale of these men. This is especially true in India, which is deeply stratified by caste imposed hierarchies.
  • A person decides to leave his village and join the army to, among other things, better his social standing among his peers.
  • Given that, forcing him to polish shoes and iron the clothes of his ‘master’ must come as a demeaning shock.
  • Two committees of generals hemmed and hawed. Among their suggestions: one, to rename orderlies as sahayaks, or helpers; two, to abolish the post, and hire civilians instead.
  • The first is ridiculous; the second will add a fresh burden to the military budget, without adding to the army’s fighting ability.

The Way Forward

  • The government must tell the army, which retains an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 such orderlies, to scrap the post and induct them into frontline rolls.
  • Abolish the post of orderlies, make fighting men out of them. Let officers acquire shoe-polish and clothes irons, not to speak of some elbow grease, and get some parity into a deeply feudal military force.

PIB

1. India will continue to extend their support in early implementation of past agricultural commitmentsUnion Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister

Category: International Relations

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate

Key Points:

  • Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister, Shri Radha Mohan Singh on 22nd January 2017 addressed the G-20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting at Berlin, Germany.
  • In his addressed the Minister said that India will continue to extend their support in early implementation of past commitments made at the G20 Agriculture Ministers Meetings particularly on Research and Development, collaboration and knowledge transfer, action to combat food loss and waste, and information and communication technologies (ICT).
  • Shri Singh also supports the proposal of strengthening of AMIS and underscores the importance of assessment of stocks and suggests sharing of best practices in this regard.
  • The Minister added that in India, ICT has proved to be an effective and powerful medium to disseminate information on agronomic practices, prices, fertilizer and pesticide use and weather and pest related advisories.
  • Many new initiatives have been taken in order to develop an integrated approach for communication process in the agricultural sector.
  • These include: launch of agricultural web portals, mobile apps and a dedicated broadcasting channel. 
  • Moreover, with the objective to reform the agriculture marketing system in the country, a National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) portal has been launched which provides a pan-India electronic trading.
  • This e-marketing platform is expected to help farmers in facilitating better price discovery through efficient, transparent and competitive marketing platform; better marketing of agricultural produce; reducing wastages; and getting market related information and with access to large number of buyers from within and outside the State through transparent auction processes.
F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements,
  1. In Animal Welfare Board of India versus A. Nagaraja, the Supreme Court historically extended the fundamental right to life to animals
  2. It held that bulls have the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere.

Which of the above statements is/are correct? a) 1 only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) None

Question 2: To have compassion for living creatures is under :

a) Fundamental Duties b) Directive Principles of State Policy c) Fundamental Rights d) None

Question 3: To review the working of Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, which of the following committee has been set up ?

Which of the above statements is/are incorrect? a) Tendulkar Committee b) Kelkar Committee c) Bimal Jalan Committe d) N K Singh Committee

Question 4: Consider the following statements about Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016:
  1. The Bill extends maternity leave period to 26 weeks.
  2. The Bill introduces maternity leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? a) 1 only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Recently Gaza strip, Golan heights were in news. These relate to :
a) Syrian Crisis b) Israel-Palestine crisis c) Euro Crisis d) Latin American crisis

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