Comprehensive News Analysis – 24 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. IITs get Council approval for more seats

2. Central Services cadre under review

C. GS3 Related:

1. Panel to speed up steps to put Azhar on U.N. terror list After China’s protest, India will send robust proposal to U.N. panel

2. Maharashtra, Telangana sign pact for 3 irrigation projects

3. PMO open to single water panel

4. Cash transactions aboveRs.3 lakh may face ban

5. Digital Locker Authority soon to push paperless governance

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

The Hindu

1. Needed: Scientific flood management

2. Ankara’s climb down on Assad Turkey warms up to Russia and Iran in a bid to exit before a total rout of its proxies in Syria

The Business Line:

1. Tackling the real estate logjam

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!

 

B. GS2 Related


1. IITs get Council approval for more seats

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:  Policies for good governance-education sector

Key Points:

  • The IIT Council approved in principle an increase in number of seats by 2020, subject to each IIT’s assessment of its preparedness.
  • The vision for 2020 is one-lakh seats, though it is up to the institutes to decide how to go about it.
  • The student-teacher ratio, which should be 10:1 is right now 15:1. New recruitments will, therefore, have to accompany the capacity expansion planned
  • Other initiatives are planned to improve the IITs. The government is planning to put in place an engineering aptitude test that students of classes 11 and 12 can take up to assess their ability to excel as engineers beforehand.
  • This apart, plans for global collaborations have also got the nod of the IIT Council. Under the Global Research Interactive Network, it is proposed to have research collaborations with other countries.
  • Professors from these nations will come to India. Our students will also go there and access high-end laboratories and facilities. Further, a Prime Minister Research Fellowship would be started so that bright students do not suffer for lack of funds.
  • Ninety two projects have till now been accepted under the Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) – aimed at giving students of premier institutions like the IITs a more market-oriented mindset – at an expense of 282-crore. Under the Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN), 260 foreign academics have already come and delivered lectures in classrooms.
  • The lectures have also been recorded. Over 800 academics will come to India from abroad under this initiative. Further, the rich repository of Indian diaspora would aid in enhancing the global ranking of IIT’s.

 

2. Central Services cadre under review

Category: Polity and governance

Topic:  civil services

Key Points:

  • The Centre has formed a task force for a comprehensive study of the cadre structure of all Group ‘A’ Central Services and sought its report within three months.
  • The constitution of the task force, is on the directive of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister.
  • Besides the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service, which are common to the Centre and the States, there are 58 technical and specialised services. These include the Indian Foreign Service, the Indian Audit and Accounts Service Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and others.
  • Terms of reference of the task force were:
  • To undertake a comprehensive study of the structures of Group ‘A’,
  • Recommend an ideal structure at the higher levels of the posts from Director-General to Additional Secretary,
  • Suggest ways of ideal recruitment and the way forward to “mitigate stagnation”.
  • Parity question
  • It is a challenging task for the task force given the three-month deadline.
  • The key thing to be watched is whether it would address the contentious issue of parity between the IAS and other Central Service cadres. The disparity has been a source of disgruntlement among officers of several cadres.

 

C. GS3 Related


1. Panel to speed up steps to put Azhar on U.N. terror list After China’s protest, India will send robust proposal to U.N. panel

Category: Internal security

Topic:  Terrorism

Key Points:

  • The Home Ministry has constituted a three-member committee comprising IB, NIA and Home Ministry officials ,to expedite the procedures required to place Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, Bhatkal resident Shafi Armar, Hizbul Mujahiddeen chief Syed Salahuddin and nine others on the United Nations list of proscribed terrorists.
  • After China put a technical hold on designating Masood Azhar as an international terrorist in April this year, India decided to send a robust proposal to the U.N. committee.
  • The technical hold lapses in the end of September. According to experts, the primary objection of China was the mention of Pakistan and ISI in the document submitted before the U.N. committee. (China has been funding several infrastructure projects in Pakistan. )
  • The earlier report, was not strong enough, and hence, a fresh one would be sent after consultation with various intelligence agencies. India will use this information to renew its bid to put Azhar’s name on the U.N. list.

 

2. Maharashtra, Telangana sign pact for 3 irrigation projects

Category: economy

Topic:  agriculture/irrigation

Key Points:

  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis signed a pact with his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao for three irrigation projects to be constructed on Godavari, Pranahita and Painganga rivers.
  • Under the agreement, the two States would take up Tummidi Hatti, Medigadda and Chanaka-Korata projects.
  • The Tummidi Hatti project has even been a highlight of the Jalayagnam scam unearthed by the Comptroller and Auditor General for the then united Andhra Pradesh in 2012.
  • To resolve the water dispute between the two States, an inter-State board was formed. In its first meeting, the board cleared all three projects.
  • About 30,000 hectares of land in Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Yavatmal in Maharashtra will come under irrigation with these three projects. All the expenses for the projects will be borne by Telangana.

 

3. PMO open to single water panel

Category: Environment/ geography

Topic:  water

Key Points:

  • The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is considering forming the proposed National Water Commission (NWC) by merging the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
  • The NWC was the key recommendation of a report submitted last month by a committee headed by water expert Mihir Shah that was tasked with reorganising river water management in the country.
  • Since 1945 the CWC has been tasked with managing surface water and its associated structures such as dams and barrages.
  • The CGWB, on the other hand, is largely concerned with the quality of groundwater. The proposed NWC pushes for an integrated policy, greater cognisance of over-extraction of groundwater.
  • It will also maintain environmental stability by ensuring States that share water do not draw from river basins more than what is ecologically tenable.
  • States will get more power
  • As of today, States must get a technical clearance from the CWC before they can go ahead with constructing dams and other reservoirs.
  • This power would devolve to the States and other research institutions, if NWC is formed.
  • The Central body would then be a research organisation and a repository of data on India’s river basins.
  • Challenges of the Present Institutional structure:
  • The Shah report says , CWC and CGWB suffer from a lack of professionals.
  • Often, there are delays in techno-economic appraisal by the CWC .

 

4. Cash transactions above Rs.3 lakh may face ban

Category: Economy

Topic:  Black money

Key Points:

  • The government is considering a recommendation by the Special Investigation Team to ban all cash transactions of more than Rs.3 lakhs.

Initiatives so far to stop the use of cash in the economy:

  • 1 per cent Tax Collected at Source on cash transactions, we have made
  • It is mandatory to quote PAN has been made mandatory
  • 3 lakhs and above is under consideration.

 

India-Singapore Treaty

  • The chairperson also said that the government was in talks with Singapore to renegotiate the tax treaty between the two countries along the lines of the revised treaty between India and Mauritius. So now that we have renegotiated Mauritius, Singapore is under discussion.
  • While there will be some differences between the India-Singapore and India-Mauritius treaties, they won’t be significant.
  • There is also a proposal to advance the data of presenting the Budget to January. Experts feel, this would bring in more efficiency in budget-making as two-three months of the financial year will not be lost in the budget process as is currently happening due to the Budget being presented at the end of February.
  • The General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) would supersede all other international tax treaties India has entered into, except those with specific provisions that run counter to GAAR.

 

5. Digital Locker Authority soon to push paperless governance

Category: Economy/Governance

Topic:  Digital India/ Good governance

Key Points:

  • The Centre will soon appoint an authority to administer and manage its Digital Locker initiative, one of the key projects under Digital India programme, in consonance with its aim to usher in paperless governance.
  • Proposed Mandate of the Digital Locker Authority:
  • Establish, administer, and manage Digital Locker system to preserve and retain information for efficient delivery of services to the users.
  • Grant licenses and to authorise a private entity to offer these services.
  • Prepare standards and guidelines, while also ensuring compliance by service providers.
  • These guidelines include those for data retention and migration, audit and security and privacy.
  • Notify the fee or service charges a subscriber will have to pay for availing Digital Locker services from authorized service providers.
  • Currently, the services are offered for free.
  • Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) may take up the role of the Authority for regulation purposes, while Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) may be made responsible for drafting and maintenance of specifications and audits.

 

D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


1. Needed: Scientific flood management

Category: Disaster Management

Topic:  Floods

  • India’s vulnerability to severe flooding during the monsoon is corroborated by empirical data.A research study for the period 1978-2006 based on official data reports that there were 2,443 flood events that led to the death of nearly 45,000 people and caused economic losses of $16 billion.
  • This year, five States are currently struggling to cope with the effects of intense rainfall.

 

Problems of Flood Management in India:

  • Tardy pace of preparation for rescue and relief.
  • Capacity-building to handle catastrophic weather events is poor.
  • Disaster proofing measures such as setting up relief camps, creating crisis-proof health infrastructure and stockpiling dry rations and medicines are not in place.
  • Lack of robust regular services that could be upgraded for emergencies. This is particularly true of health facilities in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • There are cascading outcomes of infections and the absence of care for pregnant women.

 

Possible Solutions

  • An integrated approach to managing floods requires a sound understanding of the patterns that rivers such as the Ganga and its tributaries display during the monsoon.
  • Use of advanced techniques such as satellite imagery, GIS and so on rather than ground level surveys
  • There has to be a clear risk zonation pattern generated. It is more imperative in areas like Bihar, where, shifting river course of river Kosi compounds the challenges.
  • In Bihar’s case, the shifting patterns and breaches of the Kosi have added to the complexity of the problem, which requires a deeper understanding of the areas most at risk — which is essential in creating a defensive infrastructure.

 

Way Forward:

  • The impoverishing annual losses should lead to a more integrated view of the problem, drawing upon technologies to both mitigate flooding and provide rescue and relief.

 

2. Ankara’s climb down on Assad Turkey warms up to Russia and Iran in a bid to exit before a total rout of its proxies in Syria

Category: International relations

Topic:  Middle East crisis 

The rebalancing of Turkish foreign entanglements might finally allow Syria’s future to be less grim

Recent Developments:

  • Some paradigmatic changes have been observed in the war on Syria. This has an effect on the Turkish Policy.
  • The buoyancy of Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad, has surprised Turkey. This war has placed Turkey at the perils of Syrian adventurism.
  • There have been instances of renewed war on Turkey’s Kurdish population and a failed coup in Turkey in the month of July. Further, the IS attacks on Turkey have also increased.
  • It is in this context that, the recent visit of Turkish President’s visit to Moscow gains significance. Further, Turkey is also seen to have been warming upto Iran.

 

Turkey’s Syria Policy Failure:

  • In 2011, Turkey was vocal about removing Assad. This strategy, although smacked of double standards from a country which has poor record of treating its own Kurdish population, was a calculated move to weaken Iran by overthrowing Assad regime.
  • Turkey found support across Gulf Arab and western capitals.
  • However, West’s diplomatic and military overtures to rebels in Syria were blocked by Russia, Iran and China, as they were skeptical of a repeat of the Libya or Iraq scenario.
  • Further, Russia and Iran have material interests in Syria.
  • Hence, the shift from this policy by Turkey.
  • Turkey, which shares geographical border with Syria, acted as a strategic outpost for arms and ammunitions supplied by the western powers.
  • However, along this Turkish border, even the Kurdish rebels made inroads. This was Turkey’s anathema, as it had restarted its war on kurds within Turkey and on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK ) camps based in Iraq.
  • It is this, war led to friction between USA and Turkey, as Washington disapproved the attack on some of main groups fighting the IS.
  • Although not very clear, it is largely believed that, US along with Erdogan’s predecessor is blamed for a failed coup against a civilian government in Tukey in July 2016.
  • This has compounded the animosity between USA and Turkey.

 

The Status of war as of now:

  • Turkey’s Proxy armies in Syria and its allies have been weakened.
  • Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has lost its dominance, due to diplomatic overtures of Saudi Arabia along with Syrian opposition bloc
  • Syrian Government, aided by Russian military have created setbacks for Turkish proxies in Aleppo.
  • Turkey seeks an exit before a full battlefield humiliation.

 

Russia and Iran outreach

  • Instability in Turkey as a result of the Syrian war has created great economic problems.
  • The doors to the Western market are not wide open, while the war in Syria has blocked the West Asian marketplace.
  • Renewed ties with Russia have restarted the Turkish Stream gas lines and prompted a Russian reaffirmation of its promise to build nuclear reactors in Turkey.
  • During his visit to Moscow, Mr. Erdogan suggested that Turkey needed to coordinate Syria policy with Russia and Iran. Turkey is now alright with Assad staying in power for a transitional period.
  • Turkey has been assured by Russian and Iranian political and military elite of close coordination on Syrian policy.
  • Turkey is eager that the Kurdish forces not take territory along the border. Russian military has assured them cooperation on this front too.
  • This is surely a blow to Turkey’s proxies, and indeed to the Gulf Arabs who have come to rely upon Turkey as the pathway into Syria.
  • The rebalancing of Turkish foreign entanglements might finally allow Syria’s future to be less grim.

 

The Business Line:


1. Tackling the real estate logjam

Category: Economy

Topic: Land resources

The industry needs innovative measures to ensure liquidity and clear stressed assets. The government must join in, too

The Issue:

  • Due to global economic meltdown, stressed assets have been reported affecting the buyers and developers.
  • Incomplete projects, delayed projects and depleting financial resources demand immediate government intervention.
  • Due to long time-gap cycle between purchase of land and delivery, companies queued up their investments , which crashed with economic slowdown of 2007-08.

 

The landscape changes:

  • As a result , malls and commercial spaces had not enough demand and had to shut.To continue business, real estate companies shifted to residential projects, hoping that the shortage of homes in India would fuel adequate demand.
  • However, those expectations were belied and today, even the completed residential projects have suffered from delays, fall in prices and unsold inventories.
  • These stressful conditions have precipitated judicial and buyer activism, with rising complaints from buyers.
  • It is in this context, that some measures can be adopted to correct this logjam.
  • First, land parcels are the first of the stressed assets which can be salvaged by the Government and urban development authorities/public sector corporations.
  • These were auctioned or leased and here, projects were unable to mushroom. The issue is that they cannot be launched in the near future as the existing excess supplies still have to be absorbed.
  • So the solution lies in returning the land and money/funds paid by the developers.
  • Not only would the Government benefit from increased land prices but the developers would also get ready-made cash to pump into viable projects.

 

Tackling the Logjam:

  • The other set of stressed assets are the delayed projects.
  • In these cases, cash outflow is less than the expected inflows. These are the projects where a substantial part of the structure is ready, but they need ‘top-up’ funds for completion and delivery.
  • Hence, the funds received by surrender of leased/auctioned land parcels by the Government/public sector corporations can be routed towards these assets.
  • Even a construction-linked commitment from buyers, with a marginal funding from financial institutions to kick-start the largely-completed structure, can be another source.
  • This would benefit both developer and buyers. The developer would revive stalled projects and buyers would benefit from assets purchased at old prices.
  • The third set of stressed assets are those projects that have not begun construction but have hugely over-leveraged, either through excess collections from buyers or due to huge debts to financial institutions. These are projects and companies in distress.
  • There could be two options for these:
  • First , to look for internal funds from the companies itself. It could be funds returned by the Government or authorities for land parcels returned to the agency concerned.
  • A separate Escrow Accounts can be maintained for completing distressed projects primarily.
  • Second option could be to permit Rules of Escrow accounts for existing projects to allow funded projects to pay for over-leveraged projects and projects which can be completed.

 

Some Good initiatives:

  • Some such steps have been taken by the surface transport ministry. They include:
  • To give10 per cent of the project cost as advance to private developers, which could be deducted along with interest from the pre-scheduled payments due to the Real Estate companies.
  • Rawmaterials can be collectively bargained at discounted rates, due to large requirements of the sector.

 

Way forward:

  • To begin with, banks and State authorities can draw up lists and examine the magnitude of the problem. These can be used by the new real estate regulatory authorities to be set up in each State.
  • Also, the authorities could act as a bridge between companies in distress and banking institutions to give finance at reasonable rates and for short-term duration to complete distressed projects.
  • In sum, the real estate logjam can be tackled with the right approach, ideas and implementation. A close coordination between buyers, the Government, banks and the real estate industry is envisaged.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • All India services, central civil services
  • Digital India campaign
  • Floods and Droughts
  • Irrigation
  • Middle East crisis
  • Arab spring
  • The Real Estate (Regulation and Development)act, 2016,

 

G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements?
  1. In India Land resources are listed under state list and Land acquisition is under the union list under the 7th schedule of the constitution
  2. There will be a real estate regulator in every state under the Real estate (regulation and Development) Act 2016

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 2: Consider the following statements?
  1. Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology is the nodal ministry for Digital India Campaign
  2. At present, the digital locker services offered under this programme are subject to user charges

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3: The National Disaster Management Authority is headed by:

a) Home Minister

b) Home Secretary

c) Prime Minister

d) Finance Minister


Question 4: Which of the Following countries share a border with Syria
  1. Iraq
  2. Jordan
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran

a) 1, 2 ,3

b) 1, 3

c) 1 and 2

d) All the above


Question 5: Pradhan Manthri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana predominantly proposes :
(a) Canal Irrigation

(b) Drip Irrigation

(c) Flood Irrigation

(d) Sprinkler Irrigation

 

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