Comprehensive News Analysis – 26 April 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Hindi being ‘promoted’ as per Act: Rijiju

2. SC for broad anti-torture legislation

3. Moderation system to end

4. Committed to grant ST status of 6 ethnic communities in Assam

5. Ghana, Kenya and Malawi to pilot GSK malaria vaccine from 2018

BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Three decades of mistrust

2. China wants government-level talks on Kolkata-Kunming trade corridor

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMICS

1. Merging PSU banks will help: RBI’s Patel

2. Tax farm income above a threshold: NITI Aayog

INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Sukma Maoist attack: ‘Boots on the ground alone won’t help’

2. Surgical strikes here to stay

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
H. Archives

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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs


A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related
Category: POLITY

1. Hindi being ‘promoted’ as per Act: Rijiju

  • Criticism: Central government is unfairly imposing Hindi on non-Hindi-speaking States
  • Govt: Is only promoting the language as per an Act of Parliament
  • Background: In March, the Department of Official Language of the Home Ministry pulled out a 2011 report of a Committee of Parliament on Official Language and sent it to the President for approval
  • The “progressive” use of Hindi in the Central government offices is reviewed by this Committee every 10 years under the Official Languages Act, 1963 and the Rules framed under it
  • As many as 110 out of the 117 recommendations in this report were accepted by the President
  • The Home Ministry has issued an advisory to all States and government departments to implement the recommendations

Recommendations:

  • Giving students the option of writing their exams in Hindi
  • making minimum knowledge of Hindi compulsory for government jobs
  • ensuring that the government spends more on Hindi advertisements than English ones
  • the railway ministry should buy equipment with lettering in Devnagri script
  • railway tickets should be bilingual, with Hindi being one of the two languages
  • Hindi should be an option for UPSC aspirants
  • Cabinet ministers should deliver their speeches in Hindi as much as possible
  • Making it mandatory at railway stations in ‘C’ category (non-Hindi speaking) states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Kerala to have announcements in Hindi

2. SC for broad anti-torture legislation

  • Supreme Court: India may be finding it tough to secure extraditions because there is a fear within the international community that the accused persons would be subject to torture here
  • It is a matter of both Article 21 (fundamental right to life and dignity) and of international reputation that the government must consider promulgating a standalone, comprehensive law to define and punish torture as an instrument of “human degradation” by state authorities
  • The court referred to the setback suffered by the CBI in its efforts to get Kim Davy — a Danish citizen and prime accused in the Purulia arms drop case of 1995 — extradited from Denmark
  • A Danish court had rejected the plea on the ground that he would risk “torture or other inhuman treatment” in India
  • Convention: India has signed the UN Convention against torture way back in 1997, but has still not ratified it. The Convention defines torture as a criminal offence
  • Petition: No steps have been taken to implement the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 even six years after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2010 and recommended by a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha
  • Centre has also avoided an independent legislation on torture, saying that some States were not in favour of such a law and the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were more than sufficient
  • A standalone legislation will certainly go a long way in creating the necessary environment to prevent abuse of custodial torture and human dignity of citizen
  • Support from States: 90% of the States had no objection for a special law on torture and the NHRC itself had strongly supported the need for such a law
  • The Indian Penal Code does not specifically and comprehensively address the various aspects of custodial torture and was grossly inadequate in addressing the spiralling situation of custodial violence across the country
  • NHRC kept count: The NHRC kept count of incidents of custodial torture only if the inhuman treatment led to death and not otherwise. So a majority of cases simply went unreported
  • Unlike custodial deaths, the police are not required to report cases of torture which do not result in deaths to the NHRC

3. Moderation system to end

  • No moderation: Central and State school boards have decided to discontinue the practice of raising board examination marks through moderation
  • All boards including the CBSE, ICSE and State boards will do away with spiking of marks through moderation
  • Rationale: Spiking of marks by some boards is denying students across India a level playing field in admission to higher education courses
  • There are cases where boards increase marks across the board for all students by as much as 10-15% . Students were getting marks as high as 99% in some States
  • However, in the CBSE, just 0.9% students could cross the 95% mark last year
  • Students and parents may now have to be prepared for a scenario where astronomical percentages — which were becoming common in the last several years — could be a thing of the past
  • Delhi University cut-offs have also in the past few years increased to levels where admission to reputable colleges becomes a matter of chance
  • With different boards adopting different criteria for marking and moderation, there was no level playing field, with students from some States occupying more seats in key colleges like Sri Ram College of Commerce, where the first cut-off hovers around 98%
  • The decision will, however, no longer affect admissions to the IITs, as the government has decided to do away with Class 12 marks’ weightage.

4. Committed to grant ST status of 6 ethnic communities in Assam

What’s in news?

  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the central and State governments are both committed to granting Scheduled Tribe status to six ethnic communities of the State.

Basic Information:

Article 342. Scheduled Tribes

(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be

(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause ( 1 ) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification

5. Ghana, Kenya and Malawi to pilot GSK malaria vaccine from 2018

  • Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will pilot the world’s first malaria vaccine from 2018, offering it for babies and children in high-risk areas as part of real-life trials
  • The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa
  • In clinical trials it proved only partially effective, and it needs to be given in a four-dose schedule, but is the first regulator-approved vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease
  • Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa
  • Key Fact: Malaria kills around 430,000 people a year, the vast majority of them babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Global efforts in the last 15 years cut the malaria death toll by 62 percent between 2000 and 2015
  • The WHO pilot programme will assess whether the Mosquirix’s protective effect in children aged 5 to 17 months can be replicated in real-life
  • It will also assess the feasibility of delivering the four doses needed, and explore the vaccine’s potential role in reducing the number of children killed by the disease
  • Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot due to several factors, including having high rates of malaria as well as good malaria programmes, wide use of bed-nets, and well-functioning immunisation programmes
  • RTS,S was developed by GSK in partnership with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

 

Category: BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Three decades of mistrust

Context:

  • Delhi and Colombo intensify their high-level political engagement
  • However, new opportunities for elevating the partnership are coloured by enduring suspicions in Sri Lanka
  • The country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is travelling to India this week and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will head to Sri Lanka next month to join the special international celebrations of the Buddha Jayanti in Colombo

For India:

  • For Modi, it will be the second visit to Sri Lanka in barely two years
  • This reflects his determination to overcome the unfortunate legacy of three difficult decades that saw a cruel civil war, India’s failed intervention and the accumulated distrust of Delhi in Colombo
  • Media reports from Sri Lanka suggest that Wickremesinghe is bringing proposals for the development of the Trincomalee area as a regional hydrocarbon hub in the Bay of Bengal and the eastern Indian Ocean
  • These proposals include the construction of a new LNG terminal and the renewal of the Second World War-era oil tank farms in Trincomalee in partnership with India

Protests in Sri Lanka:

  • There is resistance in Sri Lanka to economic cooperation with India
  • Protesting the modernisation of the Trincomalee oil tank farms, the workers of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have announced a strike
  • Deep political reservations in Sri Lanka, held up the implementation of a 2003 agreement with India on the development of tank farms

Learning from neighbours:

  • Twists and turns in this story are part of a familiar but unfortunate South Asian pattern — the politicisation of economic projects
  • Our neighbours in East Asia, have learnt to separate political differences from mutually beneficial economic engagement
  • China and Taiwan don’t even recognise each other’s political legitimacy, but that has not stopped them from productive commercial cooperation
  • The idea of an all-encompassing Sino-Indian rivalry for regional influence has further created negativity in the region

China’s role:

  • Since Sri Lanka has given port projects in Colombo and Hambantota to China, the story goes, it is now trying to compensate an unhappy India with infrastructure projects elsewhere in the emerald island
  • China is a major economic partner for Colombo and other regional capitals can’t be a surprise, after all, China is now the world’s second largest economy
  • Beijing has encouraged its companies to embark on a “go out” strategy and has infrastructure projects underway all across the world.

Question on India?

  • How come Delhi, despite its size and proximity, has to “compete with Beijing” in the Subcontinent?
  • India should have been the preferred economic partner to all of its neighbours, but it is not
  • One part of the damning answer is that India had checked out of the business of regional integration after Independence
  • Delhi deliberately chose to discard economic regionalism — in the name of self-reliance
  • In the reform era that began at the turn of the 1990s, Delhi has surely tried to undo the damage
  • But the effort was too weak to overcome the political burdens that weighed down India’s neighbourhood policy
  • Unfortunately for India, it also coincided with China’s rise and the dramatic expansion of its regional commercial influence

“Neighbourhood First” policy:

  • It is in essence about promoting regional economic integration
  • Sustained diplomacy has begun to pay off with Bangladesh
  • Delhi might need lots of patience, much hard work and a bit of luck to produce similar economic advances with Colombo

2. China wants government-level talks on Kolkata-Kunming trade corridor

What’s in news?

  • Highlights of Third meeting of Joint group on BCIM at Kolkata:
  • Joint group : representatives from government departments and business and research organisations from the four countries
  • Negotiations at government level: China stressed on the need to upgrade negotiations on the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM–EC) to the government level .

About BCIM:

  • The corridor stretches over about 3,000km — from Kolkata to Kunming in China via Silchar and Imphal in India, Dhaka and Jessore in Bangladesh, and Mandalay in Myanmar.
  • The first meeting of the joint study group was held in China in 2013 and Bangladesh hosted the second in 2014.

India’s Act East policy vision : Envisages mutual development and prosperity in our shared region

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMICS

1. Merging PSU banks will help: RBI’s Patel

What’s in news?

  • Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel recommendation about Indian PSU banking system mergers
  • Banking sector could be better off if some public sector banks are consolidated.
  • Consolidation would help in dealing with the problem of stressed assets.
  • Public sector banks need to do is to raise private capital from the market and not rely on government largesse

Present Scenario:

  • India’s central bank was grappling with large stressed banking sector balance sheets.

2. Tax farm income above a threshold: NITI Aayog

What’s in news?

NITI Aayog’s vision document that will set the economic and social goals for the Union and state governments recommends

  1. Three-year action plan – warrants executive action across sectors
  2. Seven-year strategy that requires legislative changes and
  3. 15-year vision that warrants institutional changes including amendments to parts of the Constitution.

NITI Aayog new proposals: 

  • Bringing agricultural income within the personal income tax net, to broaden the tax base and thereby enable the government to reduce the tax rate.

Why Tax agricultural Income?

  • Excluding income from farming, which accounts for about 15% of India’s $2.2 trillion gross domestic product, out of the tax net forces the government to keep personal income tax rate high.
  • Taxing farm income above a threshold will also prevent evasion of taxes misusing the exemption given to farm income.
  • Threshold limit to tax agricultural income: more or less at par with the personal income tax exemption limit, this at present is Rs2.5 lakh. The threshold for taxing farm income could be the average over a period as incomes could vary year after year.
  • Out of the 220 million households in the country, about two-third live in rural areas and only about half of the 7.5 crore households in urban areas come under personal income tax bracket after accounting for the Rs2.5 lakh a year exemption limit.
  • The proposal assumes significance also because the tax department had found suspected cases of non-farm income being shown as farm income to avoid taxes.

Problems in implementation:

  • How to compute costs of cultivation?
  • How to arrive at profits or net earnings?
  • Farmers do faces implicit taxes : Controls on exports and stock limits which suppress farm gate prices are actually implicit taxes on India’s peasantry.

Other proposals:

  • Three-year action plan proposed a medium-term spending framework and lowering fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP by 2018-19, down from 3.2% projected for the current fiscal.
  • To resolve the high level of bad debt among state-owned banks it recommended auction of largest of those assets to be auctioned to private asset reconstruction companies.
  • Ending cross-subsidy in the power sector, that makes industrial power tariff costly.
  • Setting up a coal regulator and encouraging commercial mining also were part of the action plan.
  • Competition should be promoted in the economy by reviewing all sectoral regulations.

 

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Sukma Maoist attack: ‘Boots on the ground alone won’t help’

Context:

  • Deadly attack on CRPF personnel
  • Unprecedented scenes of protests in Kashmir.

Expert’s suggestion: Security experts are calling on the government to deploy a cohesive response to internal security challenges. 

Government’s failure:

  • Government has pulled back on a lot of Central government funding for Maoist-affected areas.
  • India’s key counter insurgency force against Maoists and a key presence in Kashmir — does not have a full-time Director General for two months.
  • Looking at these internal problems — LWE or Jammu and Kashmir — with a very narrow security-centric approach like how many terrorists killed and so on.
  • The military veteran said what the Army calls human terrain, such as ground conditions, impact of social media, radicalisation and so on — are not being taken on board for policy making.

Need of the hour

  • A whole of Government approach is required like reaching out, development, and political moves.
  • In the case of naxal areas intelligence and equipment for paramilitary forces need to be urgently stepped up

2. Surgical strikes here to stay

What’s in news?

  • New add-on’s to the India’s latest military doctrine, ‘joint doctrine Indian armed forces’ – Surgical strikes, including across the border.
  • Surgical strikes are response to terror provocations.

Key Fact: In the last two years, the Army had carried out surgical strikes across the border with Myanmar and Line of Control (LoC) Pakistan, targeting terrorist camps.

Way Forward: Formulation of other keystone doctrines like information warfare, training and so on should be thought of in the future.


D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today

 

 

PIB ArticlesEditorials Roundup

E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
 

F. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS

BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS About the Article
Article 342. Scheduled Tribes

(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be

(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause ( 1 ) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1: “MIP Vaccine” – the first of its kind in the world to be developed 
in India – will be piloted in Bihar and Gujarat as a part of the country’s 
efforts at eradicating which of the following diseases?
  1. Rotavirus
  2. Leprosy
  3. Rubella
  4. Japanese Encephalitis
See
Answer
Question 2: The town of ‘Tamu’ in Myanmar is located closest to which Indian 
state on the India-Myanmar border?
  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Nagaland
  3. Mizoram
  4. Manipur
See
Answer
Question 3: The ___________    may with respect to any State or Union 
territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, 
by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or 
groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this 
Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union 
territory, as the case may be. Fill in the gap ?
  1. President
  2. Governor
  3. Prime Minister
  4. Chief Minister
See
Answer
Question 4: Which of the following countries are members of the Indian 
Ocean Rim Association?
  1. Kenya
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. China
  4. Malaysia

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3
  2. 2,3 and 4
  3. 1,3 and 4
  4. 1, 2 and 4
See
Answer
Question 5: The Central Statistical Organisation, which is responsible for the 
preparation of national accounts, is an organisation under the aegis of
  1. Reserve Bank of India
  2. Ministry of Finance
  3. Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
  4. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
See
Answer
 

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