Comprehensive News Analysis – 25 July 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Red Corridor to be redrawn by govt.

2. U.P., Bihar lead in crimes against Dalits

3. J&K gets 10% of Central funds with only 1% of population

4. Revoke AFSPA on trial: Mehbooba

5. Nepal Prime Minister Oli resigns ahead of no-trust vote

6. India, Mexico target tourism, telecom to boost ties

C. GS3 Related:

1. IS suspects brought to Kochi from Mumbai

2. Talking with your hands

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

The Hindu

1. How the economy found its feet (Excerpts from interview with former CEA, Deepak Nayyar

2. We hope Pakistan will change the narrative

The Indian Express

1. Three job deficits in unfolding India story

2. Why the triple talaq case before Supreme Court is different from Shah Bano’s in 1986


1. Launching of “Feed the Future- India Triangular Training Program (FTF-ITT)” on 25th July, 2016

2. M/o Tourism sanctions 25 projects worth Rs. 2048 Crore to 21 States and UTs sanctioned under Swadesh Darshan scheme

The Financial Express:

1. Will TTIP survive Brexit?

The Business Line:

1. Skilling in the age of robots

2. Hand in hand

3. For a better harvest

4. Reshaping India’s trade policy

The Economic Times:

1. Lower bank funding will reduce bad loans

2. Why Dalit protest is a sign of social progess

Quick Bits and News from States

1 Search area for missing IAF plane widened

2. Chinese scribes asked to leave after adverse report

3. Two more dead, toll in strife touches 49

4. Gunman planned attack for a year’

5. Canada, U.K. renew calls for reconciliation in Sri Lanka

6. SriLanka starts talks with Chinese investors on Hambantota project

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



Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here today folks!


B. GS2 Related
1. Red Corridor to be redrawn by govt. Topic: Federal Relations Category: Polity Key points:

  • The central government is set to reduce the number of Maoist-affected districts by about a fifth
  • Approximately 20 of the 106 districts which have been described as being Maoist-affected and are part of the Red Corridor may soon no longer be part of the list. This exercise, under way now for two years, is being done for the first time since 2006, when the Maoist-affected districts were identified and graded on the basis of their violence profile
  • The names of the districts and the reasons for being considered to be taken off the list have been communicated to the States and a response is awaited. The names have not yet been revealed because of the sensitivities of the States which fear that once a district is taken off the list financial aid which is made available to the districts – to the tune of Rs. 30 crore annually for various developmental work – will dry up
  • The considerations on which the government has examined the districts with LWE features are: their violence profile, an assessment of the kind of logistical and other support provided to armed Maoist cadres by their sympathisers and “over ground workers”, and the kind of positive changes brought about by development work that these districts have seen
  • There are in all 104 battalions of central forces deployed in LWE-affected districts
  • Meanwhile, the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) has already given the go-ahead for an ambitious road project in the 44 worst-affected districts
  • Under this project, the government proposes to construct 5412 km road length and 126 bridges and it would cost Rs. 11,725 crore


2. U.P., Bihar lead in crimes against Dalits Topic: Rights Issues Category: Governance Key points:

  • Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar lead the country in the number of cases registered of crimes against the Scheduled Castes, official data pertaining to 2013, 2014 and 2015 show
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) counts these States among those deserving special attention
  • So far as the atrocities reported to the NCSC by Dalits who feel the authorities are not giving them justice are concerned, U.P. accounts for the highest number at 2024 cases and Tamil Nadu comes next at 999 cases
  • “This could mean both laxity of the authorities and greater consciousness of rights among Dalits,” an NCSC official said


3. J&K gets 10% of Central funds with only 1% of population Topic: Federal Relations Category: Polity Key points:

  • Jammu and Kashmir has received 10 per cent of all Central grants given to states over the 2000-2016 period, despite having only one per cent of the country’s population
  • J&K, with a population of 12.55 million according to the 2011 Census, received Rs.91,300 per person over the last sixteen years while Uttar Pradesh only received Rs.4,300 per person over the same period
  • Even among the special category states, Jammu and Kashmir receives a disproportionate amount of Central assistance
  • The state received Rs.1.14 lakh crore in grants over the sixteen years under review (2000-2016)
  • “There were persistent errors in budgeting, savings, excess expenditure and expenditure without provision,” the CAG report on the State’s finances for the year ended March 31, 2014, said. “Anticipated savings were either not surrendered or surrendered at the end of the year leaving no scope for utilising these funds for other development purposes.” The report has entire sub-heads titled ‘errors in budgeting process’, and ‘unrealistic forecasting of resources’.
  • Service Tax is not levied in Jammu and Kashmir and hence the state does not get a share of the same in the devolution of central taxes to states. This has led to a ballooning of Jammu and Kashmir’s share in the total non-plan revenue deficit of all states, which has, in turn, meant that the Centre has had to send it more money to finance this deficit
  • Another reason lies in the Centre’s treatment of the north-eastern and hilly states. Plan Grants were stopped by the Twelfth Finance Commission except for the north-east states and hilly states including Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, Jammu and Kashmir and other hilly states continue to get the Plan grants while others do not get it
  • However, this aspect does not explain Jammu and Kashmir’s larger share of grants even when compared to other hilly states


4. Revoke AFSPA on trial: Mehbooba Topic: Federal Relations Category: Polity Key points:

  • Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday lashed out at Pakistan for instigating youths in Kashmir to take up arms, saying it has to change its policy, and asked the Centre to revoke the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on trial basis from selected areas as a beginning towards “winning the hearts” of people


5. Nepal Prime Minister Oli resigns ahead of no-trust vote Topic: Nepal Category: India’s Neighbourhood Key points:

  • Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister K.P. Oli resigned on Sunday ahead of a no-confidence vote, plunging the country into a fresh political turmoil after last year’s crippling Madhesi protests against the new Constitution
  • Mr. Oli, who became Prime Minister in October 2015 heading Nepal’s eighth government in the past 10 years, has been facing a no-trust motion after the Maoists withdrew support from the coalition government
  • Mr. Oli tendered his resignation after two key ruling alliance partners — the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Democratic and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party — decided to support the no-confidence motion tabled against him by the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-Maoist Centre led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’
  • They had accused Mr. Oli of not honouring his past commitments
  • The outgoing PM said Nepal signed transport and transit treaty with China so that it could have access in both of its borders. Now the people of Nepal would not have to face the difficulty it future like it had at the time of border blockade
  • He said “Nepal should adopt equidistance in relations with its neighbours for the betterment of the country and the people. We respect the sensitivity of both our neighbours and we also expect the same from them.However, we cannot accept interference in our internal affairs, though we want good relations with or neighbours” (Nepal has been facing political crisis since adopting a new Constitution in September 2015. The Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, have been opposing the new statute as they fear it would marginalise them by dividing the country into seven Provinces. Nearly five-month-long Madhesi protests led to the closure of key trading points with India that led to the shortage of essential supplies in the land-locked country. The blockade of trade points with India ended in February after more than 50 people were killed in clashes)


6. India, Mexico target tourism, telecom to boost ties Topic: India and Mexico Category: International Relations Key points:

  • India and Mexico are charting out a new path in bilateral trade and investment ties with a focus on sectors including renewable energy, telecom and medical devices. This was agreed upon during the recent meeting in Mexico of the bilateral High Level Group (HLG) on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation. The HLG, which was established in 2007, had met on July 13-14 after a gap of four years
  • With Mexico considering increasing its installed wind power capacity to 9.5 GW by 2018 from currently around 2.5GW, Indian firms such as Suzlon Energy are looking to make huge investments there in the renewable energy sector
  • Indian companies are interested in Mexico’s telecom sector as the Mexican government is looking to provide high-speed broadband Internet access even in remote areas
  • The other area of focus is medical devices. India’s medical devices sector will grow to $17.6 billion by 2020 from around $10.4 billion in 2014, while in Mexico the medical devices market will grow to $6.5 billion by 2020 from $4.9 billion in 2015
  • Besides, the HLG discussed ways to boost cooperation in tourism, food processing and protection of ‘traditional knowledge’
  • The sources said India and Mexico will convene a meeting of their tour operators and hoteliers on the sidelines of the ‘World Travel Market’ in London during November 7-9 this year. Both the sides have decided to hold meetings of the government-level ‘joint working group’ on tourism regularly, they said. Plans are also on to conduct training programmes on Indian and Mexican cuisine
  • India is also looking at establishing a mechanism for direct trade in precious metals and minerals with Mexico. Mexico is a leading producer of silver and gold — commodities that India imports in huge quantities
  • Overall India-Mexico trade in goods had shrunk by 17.7 per cent to $5.1 billion in FY’16 with India’s exports of $2.8 billion (0.13 per cent growth) and Mexico’s exports of $2.3 billion (a contraction of 32.7 per cent).
C. GS3 Related


1. IS suspects brought to Kochi from Mumbai Topic: Terrorism Category: Security Key points:

  • Arshid Qureshi and Rizwan Khan, the duo arrested from Mumbai by a joint team of Kerala Police and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, were brought to Kochi on Sunday for interrogation in connection with a case of forceful religious conversion. Some of the Keralite youths missing from the State had attended a religious class by Qureshi at his residence in Mumbai
  • The Kochi city police had registered a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Qureshi along with Palakkad-native Yahiya alias Bestin Vincent
  • This after Ebin Jacob (25), brother of Merin who is missing along with her husband Yahia, gave a statement before the police that the duo forced him to get converted to Islam and join the terrorist organization, IS


2. Talking with your hands Topic: Robotics Category: Technology Key points:

    • Students at the Bengaluru-based Amrita School of Engineering’s Amrita Robotics Research Lab have developed a prototype of a “smart glove” called MUDRA that converts hand gestures based on Indian Sign Language (ISL) into spoken English. The glove is made of plastic

  • It is connected to a personal computer, from where various gestures are electronically decoded and translated into speech using the machine’s speakers. Here the device works because of sensors placed on each finger. Various signs which correspond to letters and concepts are interpreted based on how these sensors interpret the varied shapes formed by the fingers
  • The glove can recognise numbers from 1 to 10, and ISL gestures corresponding to words such as ‘morning’, ‘night’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, etc. It can detect four different states of each finger and configure as many as 70 gestures
  • “Going ahead, these speakers will be in-built into the glove,” says H.R. Nandi Vardhan, who led a team of engineering undergraduates to develop the apparatus. “The big challenge, however, is to teach the system to recognise a much larger database of gestures and adapt it to be used in regional languages,” he adds
  • According to various government and independent reports, there are 5-7 million hearing-impaired people in India though there aren’t firm estimates of how many of them are formally trained in sign language. There has been a lot of work over the years to standardise signs and gestures, used across several Indian languages, and use them to develop educational material for the hearing-impaired. However, there has been relatively little progress in enabling users of sign language to reach out to a wider audience, which is where applications like a smart glove can be handy
  • India has its very own alphabet of signs and symbols called ISL. In 2001, the Ramakrishna Mission released the first Indian Sign Language Dictionary, which documented over 2,500 signs from 12 States, to provide a common sign language code. The Ramakrishna Mission and other organisations involved with hearing-impaired communities have since systemised ISL teaching materials, degree programmes and training sessions to popularise it in India
  • Last September, the Union Cabinet cleared a proposal to set up a dedicated research and training centre for sign language users
D. GS4 Related

Nothing here today folks!

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

The Hindu


1. How the economy found its feet (Excerpts from interview with former CEA, Deepak Nayyar Topic: Reforms Category: Economy Key points:

  • It is 25 years since July 1991, etched in memories as a watershed, when economic liberalisation began life in India
  • During the 1980s, the competitive politics of populism led governments into a spending spree. But it was not possible for the government, or the economy, to live beyond its means year after year. The fiscal regime was unsustainable. The inevitable crunch did come. The minor oil shock of 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The balance of payments situation became almost unmanageable
  • We simply could not default on our international payments obligations. It would have turned us into a basket case (a person or thing regarded as useless or unable to cope). It was firefighting day by day, surviving month by month, while working at solutions, whether borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), imposing massive cash margins on imports (postponing payment), or selling gold confiscated from smugglers. This provided breathing time, enabling us to strategise for what needed to be done when an elected government assumed office. This happened in late June 1991
  • It was the worst crisis in the economy of independent India. The prospect of default hung over our heads, much like the proverbial Sword of Damocles, for almost 12 months. The continuing political uncertainties compounded difficulties. Yet, there was a strong determination to meet the challenge. It is mirrored in three stories
  • In mid-October 1990, a month before it fell, the V.P. Singh government decided to approach the IMF for a loan. This step was recognised as essential despite caricature perceptions of the IMF as a moneylender in the Shylock tradition. The successor Chandra Shekhar government, hesitant to begin with, quickly endorsed the idea. Over the next two months, I led our negotiations with the IMF for borrowing under the first credit tranche and the Compensatory and Contingency Financing Facility (designed to help meet the increased cost of petroleum imports). It was a tough process, but we obtained $1.8 billion with minimal conditions in late January 1991. The resolve of the government to avoid default and the stature of the Republic of India, even in deep crisis, helped us drive a hard bargain
  • The comfort did not last long. The Congress party withdrew support and the Union Budget could not be presented in February 1991. We had a caretaker government and a general election to come. But the liquidity crunch was on. Foreign exchange reserves were perilously low. There was capital flight from non-resident deposits. In this milieu, restoring international confidence was imperative. In the midst of the election process, the caretaker government decided to ship 20 tonnes of gold, confiscated from smugglers, to raise $200 million from the Union Bank of Switzerland through a sale-with-a-repurchase option. In a society where only a bankrupt household would mortgage its gold, it was a brave decision that was also high risk. The shipment process had a script that could match a thriller. It was kept secret. And it bought us most valuable time
  • The election process, prolonged by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, was completed in June 1991. The situation was dire. P.V. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister designate but had not yet been sworn in. Late at night on June 20, 1991, Cabinet Secretary Naresh Chandra, Finance Secretary S.P. Shukla and I met him at 12, Willingdon Crescent. For the meeting, I had prepared a note on the crisis in the economy with a handwritten annexure on a strategy outlining measures that needed to be announced before the Budget, plus what needed to be done in the Budget, setting out alternatives and their implications. He read the note and spent some time with us in discussion. The resolve to do whatever was essential came through clearly
  • These events do highlight the resilience of the political process despite all its flaws and warts. Two short-lived governments that inherited an economic crisis made tough decisions instead of postponing the day of reckoning. The governmental system and its institutions did everything to avert default even when there was no elected government that could make policy decisions. A minority government that had not yet won a vote of confidence in Parliament acted promptly and decisively. Cynics might think it was the crisis that focussed minds. But there was more
  • In the eventful month that followed, between June 24 and July 24, 1991, critical decisions were made: sharp depreciation in the exchange rate of the rupee, using gold held as reserve assets by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to borrow, announcing dramatic changes in economic policies, presenting a Budget that delivered the much-needed fiscal adjustment, inter-alia by slashing subsidies and raising prices of petroleum products. The decision to negotiate a Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF and a Structural Adjustment Loan from the World Bank was also made around then. I led these negotiations, which were concluded in late September 1991
  • In my view, any government that came to power in mid-1991 would have done almost the same. The blueprints existed. There was little choice. Even so, the outcome was possible only because we had an elected government after months of political instability, and a Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, who was most decisive in this crisis situation and quietly persuasive in political management. There were dissenting voices, rather than consensus, both in the Congress Party and in the Opposition. But there was recognition of the deep crisis in the economy among politicians across parties. And no one was willing to bring down the minority government to force yet another election on people
  • At this juncture, 25 years later, it must be stressed that reforms are means, not ends. The essential objective is the well-being of our people. In this quest, markets and governments are complements, not substitutes. There are many things that only markets can and should do. However, there are some things that only governments can and must do. If governments perform these tasks badly, it is not possible to dispense with governments and replace them with markets. Governments must be made to perform better. Indeed, efficient markets need effective governments


2. We hope Pakistan will change the narrative’ Topic: Pakistan and Afghanistan Category: India’s Neighbourhood Key points:

  • India needs to correct the perception that it is too worried about Pakistan’s backlash to assist Afghanistan in defence cooperation, says the Afghan Ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali, who has just published a book, Afghanistan-Pakistan-India: A Paradigm Shift (Pentagon Press), on the region. Excerpts from an interview:
  • Recently, the former chief of Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, Rahmatullah Nabil, released documents showing links between the Pakistani military and the Haqqani group and the Taliban. How do you move on if you are speaking with Pakistan on the one hand while it might be acting against you militarily on the other?
  • I think there is no dispute over the ground realities which are doublespeak, which is saying one thing and doing something else. The thing is we have to think about is how we can work together to change what it is today. Whatever documents you have seen leaked in the media, although they have not been authenticated, didn’t surprise me at all because I know that’s what’s been going on for many years
  • You’re essentially saying Pakistan controls the Taliban. In your book you have called it a policy of self-immolation. Can you explain this?
  • It is something like self-demolition. If you see the use of terrorism, if this had been useful for some in the past. Today it is not that useful. It is, at the same time, inflicting a cost on the perpetrator as well. It is not merely the victim who is being affected by terrorism being exported. It is also the places where terrorism is nurtured, indoctrinated, financed, and supported. Therefore, I have been sincere in whatever I have written about Pakistan — that we don’t want any neighbour, including Pakistan, to be in trouble
  • Isn’t that repeating the same narrative we’ve heard for 15-20 years that if Pakistan changes its behaviour, we might see a difference in the region?
  • I think this repetition will not last for long because you can see now that the whole world is fed up with things. You recently witnessed for the first time the U.S. Congress hearing (on Pakistan being a friend or foe)… So we hope that the narrative that has been there for decades is not going to be acceptable for the region, for Afghanistan and the international community — and Pakistan will change it, for the sake of themselves, the world community, and Afghanistan
  • India shares all of Afghanistan’s concerns when it comes to terrorism emanating from Pakistan’s soil. Yet, you say that India has followed a policy of ‘Pakistan First’ when it comes to the relationship.
  • I put this on purpose because at times I have felt that there is a perception [in Afghanistan] that India may not go that far when it comes to Afghanistan’s quest for certain things, including defence. To be frank, at times requests have been delayed for too long, and then ultimately some perception was created that India doesn’t do it [because of] neighbours like Pakistan. I hope that this perception is addressed by the cooperation that is required between our two governments in various fields including defence cooperation. We also, at the same time, understand India’s limits in whatever capacity it can help Afghanistan. But we are extremely grateful, India has done a lot. We know it’s a donor country. It has done things which one could never believe it could do with Afghanistan. The last two visits of the Prime Minister were received very well in Afghanistan — the Salma Dam, the Parliament building, and many new projects that are in the pipeline
  • Recently, the former envoy from the U.S., Zalmay Khalilzad, said that if Afghanistan needs more security, it may be time for India to step in. Is that something the Afghan government feels is needed?
  • Afghanistan is fortunately building its own capacity, its own Army. As you know, troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan based on the Afghan capacity that we’re building in Afghanistan. So India’s assistance in Afghanistan is of course clear, but we don’t need boots on the ground. Of course, we don’t want to bring back boots from outside. We need to strengthen our own boots, and we’re doing it right now


The Indian Express


1. Three job deficits in unfolding India story Topic: Labour Category: Data

    • The rapid decline in poverty in India between 2005 and 2012, the most recent period for which data are available, was driven mainly by higher labour earnings. This is not surprising given that the capacity to work tends to be the main — and often the only — asset of poor households. Over this period, wages for unskilled workers increased sharply. There was also a marked shift towards non-farm jobs, which on average pay more than jobs in agriculture. These two trends gave a substantial boost to labour earnings and propelled millions of Indian households above the poverty line. While this was indeed a spectacular achievement, there are reasons to worry about its long-term sustainability
    • A large majority of those who escaped poverty did not gain entry into the middle class. Instead, they moved slightly above the poverty line and remain vulnerable to slipping back. The deficit in the number of jobs created after 2005, as well as in their quality, explains these high levels of vulnerability. This period can, therefore, be described as one of a growing jobs deficit. Or rather, three of them: i) a deficit in the overall number of jobs, ii) a deficit in the number of good jobs and, iii) a deficit in the number of suitable jobs for women

  • While all three deficits can be traced to the pattern of India’s economic transformation during this period, they are better appreciated from a statistical point of view. Between 2005 and 2012, net job growth in the economy was 0.6% per year. This was much less than the growth in the working age population that was not in school — which stood at 1.9% per year. In absolute numbers, of these 13 million potential entrants into the workforce every year during this period, only 3 million got a job. In a young and increasingly aspirational society, this growing jobs deficit has the potential to turn the much-awaited demographic dividend into a demographic curse
  • On closer examination, it is not as if job creation came to a standstill after 2005. On the contrary, there was considerable dynamism in the informal segments of the economy, especially in rural areas. As could be expected in a phase of structural transformation, there was a substantial decline in employment in agriculture, with nearly 34 million farm jobs lost between 2005 and 2012. Meanwhile, there was a boom in construction jobs, which accounted for nearly half of the expansion in non-farm employment. However, construction jobs tend to be casual. Their wages are set on a daily basis, or through short-term contracts, and they provide no form of social protection. While jobs like these help people escape poverty, they do not take them much farther than that
  • Instead, transitions into the middle class are associated with regular, salaried jobs. The likelihood of a household durably escaping poverty between 2005 and 2012 was higher if a larger share of its members had regular jobs. On the other hand, households that slipped into poverty between these two years saw a growing share of their family members employed as casual workers
  • In principle, urbanisation brings with it the promise of better jobs. In India too, it is true that large urban areas have a substantially higher share of regular jobs. By contrast, small towns have far fewer regular jobs to offer, and in rural areas these jobs are rare. Therefore, unless small towns and large villages, where most of India’s poor and vulnerable live, can ensure the vibrant creation of regular jobs, building a sizeable middle class could remain an elusive goal for the country
  • While big cities have the highest share of regular jobs, they also have the largest overall jobs deficit. In fact, when moving from small villages to large cities, the scarcity of jobs relative to the working age population not in school increases across the rural-urban gradation. So, how can one reconcile this larger share of regular jobs with an altogether greater scarcity of good jobs? The answer is simple: in urban areas the share of regular jobs may be greater among those who are employed, but fewer people are at work in these places relative to the working age population. And, in urban locations, it is mainly the women who are not working
  • This brings us to the third deficit — the scarcity of suitable jobs for women. Historically, India’s female labour force participation rates in urban areas have been low — hovering around 20%. But one of the most striking developments after 2005 has been the large withdrawal of women from the rural labour force. As rural areas become increasingly urban, they are beginning to look increasingly urban in the magnitude of their jobs deficit too. By contrast, in small villages, over 70% of women are employed on the farm, as agricultural activities continue to be important in these areas
  • Elsewhere, however, manufacturing tends to be the largest employer of women outside of farming. In towns and cities, on the other hand, women more often hold professional jobs in health, education and public administration. In these areas, construction work, while significant, does not employ too many women
  • The structure of female employment by sector is revealing of the kinds of jobs that are seen as more suitable for women. For instance, women are more likely to work when jobs are located close to their homes and allow multi-tasking, as in the case of farming. They are also more likely to work when jobs offer regular wages, as in the case of manufacturing. Or when jobs have social protection benefits attached to them, as in case of the health, education and public administration, where the public sector is the dominant player. Unfortunately, such jobs are few and far between


2. Why the triple talaq case before Supreme Court is different from Shah Bano’s in 1986 Topic: Religion and Gender Category: Society

  • In October last year, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, while hearing another matter having little to do with Islamic law, decided to suo motu ask the Chief Justice to set up a Bench to examine gender discrimination against Muslim women, especially “arbitrary divorce”
  • The case snowballed with the addition of other petitions, and after all impleadments were considered by the Chief Justice recently, hearings have been scheduled for September
  • The matter comes 30 years after the controversial Shah Bano maintenance case, which resulted in Parliament passing a law to override a Supreme Court verdict giving a divorced Muslim woman a fairer maintenance than what she got under personal laws. Muslim clerics led by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) — enraged by what they saw as interference at a time when politics in India was almost tinderbox like — were able to convince the Rajiv Gandhi Government that the court’s judgment eroded Islamic identity
  • The debate was successfully framed as an Islam-versus-women’s rights issue, and Shah Bano became a part of the Babri Masjid-and-Kashmir idea of injured Hindu pride in India. The argument being, when Hindus have had to codify and reform laws (something which the Hindu Right opposed tooth and nail when Law Minister B R Ambedkar and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed it in the 1950s, leading to Ambedkar’s resignation), why then should Muslims be allowed to get away without similar codifications and laws
  • Now, three decades on, is the re-emerging debate still going to go the Shah Bano way — and is it likely to end up as a victory for both the Hindu Right and the Muslim Right?
  • In the petition before the court now, some things do indeed appear to mirror the 1986 scenario. Such as the view of the RSS-driven Rashtriya Muslim Manch, which argues that its opposition to triple talaq and the nikah halala (an intervening marriage necessary if the old marriage has to be restored) means that there has to be a Uniform Civil Code. The AIMPLB is there too — arguing, as it did then, that there can be no debate or intervention by courts on a matter of personal law
  • But there is another set of petitioners who make this case different. The Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is intent on making it a triple talaq versus Islam debate — which would change the rules of the game for the older set of rivals
  • The BMMA’s arguments begin with wanting triple talaq and nikah halala to be struck down as being unIslamic, and antithetical to Islam itself. It is not as though scholars have not argued this earlier — and to those familiar with Islam, inheritance rights, and the notion of marriage as a contract being evidence of the religion treating women as equals, are equally familiar. The fact that the Prophet’s wife was a widowed businesswoman, fifteen years older to him, and his youngest wife Ayesha led a contingent to battle, have been cited as ‘proof’ of Islam being inherently equalising. Practices from ‘jahiliya’, the so-called age of ignorance before Islam, like the purdah, chador, etc., having left their mark on regional practices and being confused with Islamic practice, have made it considerably difficult to argue that position, though
  • What is likely to sneak into and impact the argument also are changes that have taken place since the 80s — both within the Islamic community and outside of it
  • In today’s age of connectivity, with the Quran and scores of its interpretations being available on mobile phones, Muslim women have more agency, their literacy rates have risen, and their participation in the workforce, though still not at a desirable level, is much higher, say petitioners who have conducted campaigns and raised awareness levels. Debate and conversation about these matters is more prevalent. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, several mainstream Muslim clerics who might otherwise not have made a case for gender equality, found themselves citing Islamic feminism to back the presentation of their faith as a modern idea. A combination of these factors working outside India, and a proliferation of role models and their popularity, have encouraged Indian Muslim women to interrogate ‘the spirit of Islam’, and their place in it
  • As far as the specifics of what is being argued in the current Shayara Bano matter goes, the disagreement is between those who see Islamic law itself as opposed to the idea of equality enshrined in the Constitution and those who argue that triple talaq and nikah halala are not Islamic, only have credence among a section of Muslims — the Hanafi tradition — and are not held as rightful by Quranic verses
  • And what of the Uniform Civil Code argument? The fact that most see the Code as just an extension of the Hindu law is a problem, and there is little chance of other faiths accepting it, or agreeing to practices that may not draw at all from their respective faiths. The Special Marriages Act anyway exists for those for whom faith is not central to companionship, or for those who marry across faiths, or even caste
  • The RSS-inspired petitions would likely want to use the opportunity to make a case for Islam versus good sense. And it is up to Muslim clerics — mostly men who said ‘do not interfere’ three decades ago — to back the statements they make on their faith having been egalitarian even in the seventh century. Falling back into jahiliya is not an option




1. Launching of “Feed the Future- India Triangular Training Program (FTF-ITT)” on 25th July, 2016

A new Agriculture Partnership between US and India to achieve Ever Green Revolution to address Global Food Security was announced during the State visit of US President Mr. Barack Obama to India in November 2010. The effort included Triangular Cooperation adapting technological advances and innovative solutions to address Food Security Challenges in Africa. This pilot stage focused on three African Countries i.e., Kenya, Liberia and Malawi with potential to expand throughout the African Continent in future.

Consequently, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, Hyderabad and National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM), Jaipur conducted 7 training programs covering 219 executives from Kenya, Liberia &Malawi. Participants Surveys were conducted in Kenya, Liberia & Malawi to assess the impact of training programs. Results were beyond expectations. Due to the success of first seven training programs, there have been considerable enthusiasms from the prospective Executives from Africa and Asia to participate in the present training program. USAID and MEA identified additional countries among those involved in GOI-supported development programs and designated as Feed the Future; India Triangular Training Programme.


2. M/o Tourism sanctions 25 projects worth Rs. 2048 Crore to 21 States and UTs sanctioned under Swadesh Darshan scheme

Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned 25 projects under the Swadesh Darshan scheme worth Rs. 2048 Crore so far to 21 States and Union Territories since its launch of in January 2015. These States and UTs include Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura.

(a) For North Eastern States, the Ministry has sanctioned 9 projects worth Rs. 821 Crores covering all the 8 states. (b) For Tribal areas, the Ministry has sanctioned 3 projects for Rs. 282 Crores to the SG of Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. (c) For Buddhist Circuit, the Ministry has sanctioned 2 projects worth Rs. 108.11 Crore to the SG of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 with an objective to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities. Under this scheme, 13 Thematic Circuits have been identified, for development namely: North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

The Financial Express:
1. Will TTIP survive Brexit? Topic: Trade Category: Global Economy Key points:

  • Britain, a country that believed in divide-and-rule has just had one stuck on its backside. Whether they like it or not, the fact is that it is a lot of East Europeans and Asians who work hard to keep the British economy growing. The local guys, instead of upping their game and remaining competitive, have decided to keep the EU guys away who actually work to make a living
  • Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intention to withdraw, sets a two-year clock running. After that, the treaties which govern membership would no longer apply to UK. The terms of exit will be negotiated between the UK’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. The negotiations would be tedious, as it would be hard agreeing to a new trading partnership, establishing what tariffs and other barriers to entry would come into play, and agreeing to other important issues such as restrictions on free movement of persons between the EU and the UK. According to the EU, the complete exit would take about five years or more, because the EU wants to make the conditions for exit really difficult to discourage others from following suit
  • Against this backdrop, discussions are on in the academic community on the fate of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP is an ambitious trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the US and EU. According to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), TTIP aims to bolster an already strong relationship to help boost economic growth and add to the over 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by the existing trans-Atlantic relations
  • TTIP is expected to provide greater compatibility and transparency in trade and investment regulation and, at the same time, maintain high levels of health, safety and environmental protection. The UK and US are important trading partners and there is scepticism that TTIP negotiations would get affected with Brexit. It is obvious that given the UK’s economic importance, the EU’s market for US products has potentially shrunk, making the EU a less attractive trading partner post Brexit. The first intervention came from the USTR, who the day after the referendum emphasised that the “economic and strategic rationale for TTIP remains strong.” Much would also depend on the next US administration
  • The EU is extremely keen to complete TTIP negotiations. The ‘Euro-realists’ associated with the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group in the European Parliament, whose vision is to reform the EU by further liberalising the single market, may push for the finishing line. The Euro-realists are against the hidden protectionism that is to be found in national labour laws or trade union practices, which, they argue, weakens Europe’s ability to compete in the global market. Hence, if Euro-realism gathers momentum, the conclusion of TTIP could be a reality soon
  • However, it is hard to predict the future course of TTIP negotiations. With three years into the negotiations already, with 30 chapters being discussed and 14 rounds of negotiations complete, the deal is nowhere near completion and there are several differences on both the sides
  • TTIP comprises three main blocks: market access for EU and US companies, cooperation on regulatory issues, and global rules of trade such as sustainable development or competition policy. There has been considerable progress on all three. For instance, in market access, especially on tariffs, the two sides have exchanged offers twice
  • TTIP has good offers from both the sides, which include 97% of all tariff lines, leaving the remaining 3% for the so-called end-game. Both the sides are working on improvements within the 97% tariff lines for speedy removal of tariffs. On regulatory issues,there have been proposals for cooperation in chemicals, cosmetics, engineering, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, textiles and cars. The EU has initiated discussions on trade and sustainable development, including on labour and environment. It has also proposed a text for a chapter on energy and raw materials, including promoting green innovations and trade of green technologies. It has suggested removing the existing export licences in the US on exports of gas. This could help diversify the energy mix and contribute to energy security in the EU
  • TTIP has good offers from both the sides, which include 97% of all tariff lines, leaving the remaining 3% for the so-called end-game. Both the sides are working on improvements within the 97% tariff lines for speedy removal of tariffs. On regulatory issues,there have been proposals for cooperation in chemicals, cosmetics, engineering, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, textiles and cars. The EU has initiated discussions on trade and sustainable development, including on labour and environment. It has also proposed a text for a chapter on energy and raw materials, including promoting green innovations and trade of green technologies. It has suggested removing the existing export licences in the US on exports of gas. This could help diversify the energy mix and contribute to energy security in the EU
  • Another factor which could slow down negotiations is that elections are due in both Germany and France in 2017, where a majority are opposed to TTIP. So, a clear picture will emerge only by the beginning of 2018. Though the timeline of end 2016 for TTIP is unlikely to be met, in the long run TTIP will be concluded and survive Brexit. After all, trade between the EU and US is already worth $4.7 trillion and TTIP provides a chance to the EU to increase it


The Business Line:
1. Skilling in the age of robots Topic: Jobs Category: Economy Key points:

  • Automation lies at the forefront of the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’, a process whereby the interaction of cyber and physical systems will profoundly change established economic and social structures. And this will happen on a scale, size and speed unseen as of now
  • The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and the big question that everybody is asking is about its effect on employment. Are our policymakers listening?
  • The Prime Minister’s flagship Skill India mission is a laudable programme. A skilled and trained population is the basis for sustainable long-term growth, and at present there exists a massive gap between the demands of industry and skill level of the populace. But what if the skills become redundant within a few years? Welding. Automobile repair. Basic programming. Entry level management. Even driving. All jobs that can easily be turned over to robots
  • Nasscom predicts that by 2025, 50 per cent of all IT jobs in India will be lost to automation, and the downward trend that has already started. To be trained in redundant skills is to have no skills at all
  • We are preparing our populace for 20th-century jobs. What we need to do is prepare them for 21st-century jobs. The fourth industrial revolution will make most current entry and mid-level jobs, in almost every single sector, irrelevant. The loss of these jobs, however, will be balanced by the creation of a variety of new jobs, mostly in the high technology, creative or service sectors
  • While at this point it might be too early to forecast all the various kinds of jobs that may be created in the future, the first step is to acknowledge the fact that we are behind the times
  • A detailed study is needed to understand the current and projected levels of automation in various sectors of the economy and the consequent effect on employment opportunities. While international studies of this nature do exist, there is no specific study yet for India
  • The conclusions of the studies that do exist can be reduced to two major thoughts
  • First, the job markets of the future will be more volatile and uncertain. Jobs will be created and destroyed at an exponential rate and any worker would need skills to cope. Second, an increasing number of jobs will be created in areas such as services , creatives and high technology, where automation would have a considerably less impact
  • To adequately prepare for this scenario, multiple steps need to be taken. The most important would be rethinking and restructuring our education systems. The future being unpredictable, we need to inculcate cognitive flexibility among our children. The idea is not to train them for a particular job but to enable them to deal with the ever-changing nature of jobs. Adopting design-thinking principles may help students better cope
  • Here one can take guidance from the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, which has outlined ‘21st Century Student Outcomes’ — evaluating skills that students would need. While some outcomes are related to traditional subjects such as science, mathematics and languages, and inter-disciplinary themes, others focus on learning and innovation skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration; ICT and media literacy; and life and career skills such as flexibility and adaptability. Taken together, these are skills that do not necessarily train students for a particular kind of job, especially given the fact that the very nature of jobs would change through their years of schooling. India’s education system, needs to be overhauled to reflect these outcomes
  • The old cliché that change is the only constant has never been truer than now. While the Government is taking welcome strides in addressing current skills issues, it must also prepare the populace to cope with constant change


2. Hand in hand Topic: Laws Category: Governance Key points:

  • The Joint Committee of Parliament that was assigned the task of reviewing the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill 2016, deserves a pat on the back. The changes suggested by the committee will strike the right chord with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, enabling both laws to work in harmony towards smoother and faster debt recovery
  • The Bill introduced in May had proposed amendments to various laws, mainly the Sarfaesi Act of 2002, to synchronise them with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy code, at least in spirit. But many of the revisions made to the Sarfaesi Act remained inconsistent with the insolvency resolution process, which the committee has suitably modified. For one, the inherent friction between the laws for insolvency and the laws for security enforcement has been eased by clarifying the uncertainty over the rights of secured creditors during an insolvency process
  • The amendments to the Sarfaesi Act allow secured creditors to enforce their security interests, upon a default, without the intervention of courts or tribunals. While this empowers them, enforcing such a right while an insolvency resolution process is in progress can strip the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of its purpose and undermine its success. Recognising the need to dovetail the amendments made to the Sarfaesi Act to the Code, the committee has clarified that the secured creditors cannot enforce any collateral or undertake recovery action during the resolution process
  • While the proposal to empower the Reserve Bank of India to carry out audit and conduct inspection of Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) smacks of micromanagement, it may well be the need of the hour. Rampant sale of assets by banks to ARCs, lack of disclosures once they are offloaded to the ARC, and a shaky track record of recovery, all call for sound oversight
  • Given that there are about 70,000 court cases pending in Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) involving more than ₹5 lakh crore, tackling the issue of inadequate staffing by upping the retirement age of presiding officers of DRTs from 62 years to 65 years is also welcome
  • But there are still some loose ends that need to be tied up. The main reason for delay in the bankruptcy process in India up till now has been the existence of multiple laws governing insolvency, which the new Code attempts to set right by creating a unified law. But while it designates the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and DRT as the adjudicating authorities for corporates and individuals, respectively, all Sarfaesi cases will still be referred to DRTs. This can once again delay the entire debt recovery process
  • Therefore, moving corporate recovery cases under Sarfaesi to NCLT may be prudent. Also, while the Code provides for the creation of multiple information utilities to collect financial information, the new Bill talks of creating a central registry to maintain records of transactions related to secured assets. Ironing out such inconsistencies and adhering to the timelines laid down by both the laws will be key to a quick resolution


3. For a better harvest Topic: Agriculture Category: Governance Key points:

  • Is it possible for the farmer in India who on an average owns less than two acres, to compete with the Latin American farmer who owns more than 50 hectares of land and exports soyabean meal?
  • With respect to rice, India may have to take steps to improve the earning capacity of the farmer. A capacity of as low as 500 kg of paddy/hour, can serve as a custom milling unit. There is a vast potential for installing mini rice mills in paddy growing areas, as a rural small scale activity. Farmers are required to be encouraged to be appointed as aggregators as well as for setting up of mini rice plants for better realisation
  • They can be encouraged by providing subsidy/loan at concessional rate of interest for huller/ mini rice mills, where the investment requirement is ₹1-4 lakh excluding the cost of land. The pure bran can be supplied to the solvent extraction industry for production of edible rice bran oil. There are any number of opportunities for the use of rice bran oil, which includes an export market in the US
  • Similarly, an effort should be made to add value at the village level near the farm gate for wheat, soyabean and other horticultural products. It is important that along with other stakeholders, the Government improve market infrastructure
  • Turkey amended its inheritance laws in 2014 to prevent further fragmentation of agricultural land and established a minimum size requirement for agricultural produce. The Turkish government has so far been able to consolidate more than 3 million hectares ,as a result the average land holding of the farmer has gone above five hectares
  • We need to move in this direction as consolidation of land is essential to improve the productivity of the farmers and compete in the international market. We need proper implementation of the model tenancy Act
  • Huge investment particularly in minor irrigation plays a significant role in recharging of well, drought mitigation and flood control. Such investment has been relatively low compared to large scale irrigation where results have not been encouraging
  • The climatic conditions in this country support stevia, a possible substitute for sugarcane, which is endowed with several medicinal properties and can be grown in many northern States. One acre of stevia cultivation can produce sugar equivalent to 36 acres of sugarcane, requiring much less water and providing double the income compared to wheat and paddy. We need accredited agencies for supplying planting materials of stevia in India
  • While several corporates have implemented successfully enterprise risk management systems, we have so far not been able to provide holistic solutions to farmers to mitigate risk. We need proper execution of the same to mitigate the stress level of farmers


4. Reshaping India’s trade policy Topic: Trade Category: Economy Key points:

  • Trade data for June 2016 brought cheers as India’s merchandise exports showed positive growth after 18 excruciating months. However, in their effort to take exports to the next level, India’s trade policymakers face four major challenges: How to encourage foreign investments, obtain a balanced outcome of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), improve ease of doing business, and reduce dependence on export promotion schemes?
  • Coincidentally, all four concerns can be addressed by just one action: carrying out a selective reduction in basic custom duties. As the past reductions confirm, it will not lead to the doomsday scenario of domestic industry being wiped out and widespread unemployment. Also, duties are no more the import barriers they used to be. While the earlier 100 per cent tariffs could stop imports altogether, today’s 10 per cent cannot.That is why the international trade game has already shifted to non-tariff barriers such as product standards. We are slipping in this game and must brace up fast
  • Studies show that when duties fall below tipping point, there is large and non-linear increase in trade. Therefore, the world has decisively moved towards a low import duty regime. Simple average import duties on industrial goods in Canada, Japan, Australia, the US and the EU are 2.3, 2.6, 3.0, 3.1 and 4.2 per cent respectively. The top six Asean countries have already implemented zero rates on 99 per cent of tariff lines on intra-Asean trade. About 70 per cent of world trade takes place duty-free thanks to the WTO and numerous FTAs. In India, trade and duties seem to be inversely related. Between 1991 and 2016, while India’s merchandise trade (exports and imports) rose from $37 billion to $642 billion, average duties came down from 128 per cent to 10.2 per cent. Selective reduction in basic custom duties will address major trade policy concerns
  • Low duties encourage foreign investment. Large global manufacturers develop supply chains across countries. Since the complex production process requires goods to cross borders several times at different stages, any duty charged has a cascading and accumulative effect. This makes high duty locations an unattractive destination for investment. Trade facilitation and duty reduction are the first steps for enhancing foreign investment potential and increasing trade
  • Low duties make FTAs more balanced. At the most basic level, FTAs allow zero or concessional duty imports from partner countries and hence the first visible impact of any FTA is the loss of customs revenue. Concerns are regularly raised over the higher revenue losses for India compared to partner countries, even as the actual imports under FTAs are still far below the potential. But that’s a no-brainer. A country with 10 per cent duty will lose more than a country with 2 per cent duty. There are other problems as well
  • A country with higher import duties also ends up giving more market access and buys less goods from the cheapest sources compared to the FTA partner country. Consider the case of two countries, H with an average tariff of 20 per cent and L with an average tariff of 2 per cent. H and L agree to eliminate tariffs through an FTA. The exporters from L would export more to H as they get a huge 20 per cent price advantage over others. Country H would suffer a higher revenue loss due to the steep tariff reduction, while its consumers may not benefit from the decrease in prices as exporters from L would keep most margins. Domestic producers of H would suffer the most. One, they have to compete with zero duty imports of finished goods from L; and two, they may have to import raw materials from the non-FTA partner country at high duty which will make their products uncompetitive
  • Low duties will make the duty structure simple and improve ease of doing business. High duties have necessitated the granting of many customs duty exemptions that vary according to product, user, or intended use. These have made India’s current tariff structure complex and difficult to implement. High duties also lead to evasion, litigation and corruption
  • Low duties will simplify export schemes. To make exports competitive, the Foreign Trade Policy allows duty-free import of raw materials and capital goods under the duty exemption schemes. These schemes have become complex because of the need to ensure that such imports have indeed been used for export production and not for sale in domestic market. The drawback scheme that refunds the duties paid on inputs costs about ₹40,000 crore annually. The higher the duties, the more the outgo, and higher the allure to take more than is due. So, there is always the issue of a few firms importing duty-free and filing fraudulent drawback claims, keeping the Directorate General of Foreign Trade enforcement wing or the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence on their toes. Once duties come down, many such schemes will lose relevance
  • The following plan can be debated for a nuanced reduction in basic custom duties without disturbing the revenue collection target. While the share of all types of custom duties in tax revenue is 14 per cent, the share of basic custom duty is 4 per cent or ₹65,000 crore. One, identify 5 per cent of industrial tariff lines as strategic and retain the current level of duty on these. These may include items on which we wish to invite FDI for manufacturing. Most countries have done this at some point. Developed countries like US and EU even today retain high duties on labour intensive products exported by developing countries
  • Two, reduce duties on most raw materials and intermediate goods. A look at duties imposed across tariff lines throws interesting insights. India collects more than 85 per cent of basic custom duty from less than 10 per cent of tariff lines. The bottom 60 per cent tariff lines contribute to less than 3 per cent of revenue. Within this framework, India can consider zero duty on all raw materials and intermediate goods. For most of the remaining industrial products, India may move to 5 per cent duty in next 3 years
  • Strategic duty reduction will be an important step in moving towards a modern trade policy regime needed for high growth in trade and investment
The Economic Times:
1. Lower bank funding will reduce bad loans Topic: Banking Category: Economy Key points:

  • Twenty-five years after the path-breaking reforms of 1991, the country lacks a thriving corporate bond market. Economists suggest that junk bonds could serve as the launch pad for the market. Such bonds, issued by companies with low credit rating and offering high yields, would find takers, if three conditions are met. One, the Bankruptcy Code has to be operationalised, to swiftly redeploy assets if projects fail. Two, credit default swaps must insure against default. And, three, there must be a developed market for hedging against possible risks arising from interest rate and exchange rate movements over the life of the bond. Appropriate interest and currency derivatives are a must
  • In India, there is far too much reliance on bank funding for all sorts of multi-year investment projects, when banks, with mostly short-term deposits, ideally need to be lending for similar periods (such as working capital) to avoid asset-liability mismatches. A changeover to more of bond financing would require independent vetting of the projects planned and attendant bond rating, and together with vibrant secondary market trading would provide far greater oversight than mere bank lending
  • The point is that a bigger market for corporate bonds should reduce gross non-performing assets in the banking sector, which have now risen to the double digits. Anyway, it makes little sense to opt only for the least risky projects with triple-A and double-A credit rating. And junk bonds can be floated to finance more risky projects. The bond yields would need to be attractive, so as to balance high risks with high returns. The yield levels that make junk bonds attractive to investors would be high. This would not deter small businesses, given the difficulty they have accessing formal finance at present


2. Why Dalit protest is a sign of social progess Topic: Rights Issue Category: Society Key points:

  • We welcome the widespread protests staged by Dalits in Gujarat to protest against the violent assault on four members of their community by self-appointed cow protectors. In some towns of Saurashtra, where the incident occurred a fortnight ago, some protesters have made the issue of cow protection just the spark that has lit something far bigger, louder and, in terms of traditional caste-based inequity, more disruptive. Protest has been sustained and widespread enough to draw in political leaders and the national media. This marks a gain for Indian democracy, in general, and for Dalits, in particular. It also could mark a tipping point in India’s caste politics
  • A constant dynamic of Indian politics is the imperative to move society forward from its traditional hierarchical order to one of democratic equality as envisioned in the Constitution. Political parties confront this tension routinely, and buckle under, more often than not. When a khap panchayat issues an edict that conforms to and reinforces traditional values of gender/group inequality and, at the same time, violates basic individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution, politicians find it expedient to honour the khap rather than defend the rights that have been violated
  • Thus, custom and conservative social power have kept Dalits at the bottom of the social hierarchy in most parts of the country, especially where their numbers are small, reducing their electoral clout. Persistence of social exclusion and unjust treatment has bred resentment and protests, such as conversion to other religions. The telecom revolution and the spread of social media among low-income groups have helped convert simmering resentment into active protest, after video footage of four Dalits being beaten with rods went viral
  • The protests will likely change the status quo permanently. That is a welcome change even if they have come about because of age-old bigotry. Dalit resentment and assertion will make themselves felt across the country
Quick Bits and News from States



2 . Chinese scribes asked to leave after adverse report

India decided not to renew the visas of three journalists of official Chinese news agency Xinhua after an adverse report from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The event is likely to further strain bilateral ties, which have seen considerable tension in the last few months.


3 . Two more dead, toll in strife touches 49

Death toll in Kashmir valley due to the recent unrest rose to 49 after the death of two more injured persons, including a policeman and a civilian, succumbed on Sunday


4 . ‘Gunman planned attack for a year’

The 18-year-old gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree in Munich had been planning his crime for a year but chose his victims at random, officials said. He (David Ali Sonboly) was obsessed with Anders Behring Breivik(a Norwegian far-right domestic terrorist), who massacred 77 people in Norway five years ago. There was no indication that the shooting was politically-motivated or that he chose the victims because of their nationality. Sonboly appeared to have been the victim of bullying by fellow pupils back in 2012, filing a complaint against three of his tormentors.


5 . Canada, U.K. renew calls for reconciliation in Sri Lanka

Even as Sri Lanka observes 33rd anniversary of the anti-Tamil riots which triggered a long civil war, Canada and the United Kingdom, both known for having a significant number of Tamil diaspora, have renewed their call to Sri Lanka to fulfill commitments on human rights and democracy.


6 . Sri Lanka starts talks with Chinese investors on Hambantota project

Sri Lanka has started talks with Chinese investors on the $10 billion Hambantota Economic Project to be implemented in the southern region of the island nation.

The project would encompass the establishment of oil refineries, a power generation plant and industrial zones, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Four projects — the Kandy Mega Development, Wayamba (North-Western) Industrial and Tourist Development Project, Western Megapolis and the Southern Tourist and Industrial Project — will be implemented by the government in 15 years.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  • Red Corridor
  • CAG
  • NCSC
  • IS
  • Taliban
  • NEP-1991
  • Uniform Civil Code
  • TTIP


  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  • Red Corridor
  • CAG
  • NCSC
  • IS
  • MUDRA Smart glove
  • Taliban
  • NEP-1991
  • Uniform Civil Code
  • Shah Bano case
  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme
  • TTIP
  • Model Tenancy Act
  • Hambantota Project
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question1: Which of the following statements is/are correct about MUDRA smart glove?
  1. It converts hand gestures to electronic signals and produce a voice output
  2. It was developed through Indo-US collaboration

a)1 only b)2 only c)Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 2: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The number of persons employed in farm sector is decreasing in India
  2. Female workforce participation rate is increasing in India

a) 1 only b) 2 only c)1 and 2 only d) All the Above

Question 3: Which of the following states are classified as states affected by Left Wing Extremism? 
  1. Maharashtra
  2. Jharkhand
  3. Madhya Pradesh
  4. Telangana

a) 1 and 2 only b) 2 and 4 only c) 1,2 and 4 d)All the Above

Question 4: Which of the following statements is/are correct?
  1. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed agreement between the European Union and the United States
  2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries

a) 1 only b) 2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d) Neither 1 nor 2

Question 5: Which of the following is/are correct about the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code?
  1. The Code establishes the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, to oversee the insolvency proceedings in the country and regulate the entities registered under it
  2. The Code proposes two separate tribunals to oversee the process of insolvency resolution, for individuals and companies: (i) the National Company Law Tribunal for companies and limited liability partnership firms; and (ii) the Debt Recovery Tribunal for individuals and partnerships

a) 1 only b)2 only c) Both 1 and 2 d)Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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