Comprehensive News Analysis - 27 April 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

SOCIAL ISSUES

1. ‘Religious freedom deteriorating in India’

B. GS2 Related:

POLITY

1. Aadhaar-PAN linkage meant to plug tax leaks, says SC

2. SC seeks law to regulate NGO funds

3. Doctors wary as Centre push for generic drugs

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Eyeing West Pacific, China launches first domestically-made aircraft carrier

C. GS3 Related:

ECONOMICS

1. Farm incomes not to be taxed, says Jaitley

2. Reorient social sector subsidies: NITI Aayog

3. SEBI to grant one licence to brokers, clearing members

ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. A shrinking home for endemic birds

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

2. Finally, NASA’s super balloon lifts off to collect near space data

3. Scientists create ‘artificial womb’ that could save premature babies’ lives

MISCELLANEOUS

1. ‘Govt. school teachers often away on duty’

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

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. ‘Religious freedom deteriorating in India’

What’s in news?

  • Highlights of the annual report of the S Commission on International Religious Freedom
  • Religious tolerance and religious freedom continued to deteriorate in India in 2016.
  • Hindu nationalist groups — such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) — and their sympathisers perpetrated numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence against religious minority communities and Hindu Dalits
  • These violations were most “frequent and severe” in 10 of India’s 29 States
  • National and State laws that restrict religious conversion, cow slaughter, and the foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) helped create the conditions enabling these violations.
  • It also blames police and judicial bias and inadequacies that “have created a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minorities feel increasingly insecure and have no recourse when religiously motivated crimes occur”.

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Aadhaar-PAN linkage meant to plug tax leaks, says SC

What’s in news?

  • Supreme Court view on the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Income Tax returns:
  • Commendable move: Linking is government’s efforts to bring new and new laws to stop leakages.
  • To fight against tax evasion in the country.
  • Justice A.K. Sikri observation: “When tax evasions are there, theAadhaar-PAN linkage government will try to bring new and new laws to stop leakages. We as citizens are like that… we don’t want to pay taxes, shame on us. This conduct and character is seen for example at the time of matrimonial alliance. Then the groom has the best income. The moment the estranged wife files a maintenance application, the same boy is a pauper,”
  • Petition: filed by Ramon Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson, former Kerala Minister Binoy Viswam and ex-Army officer S.G. Vombatkere.

Challenge? Constitutionality of Section 139AA inserted in the Income Tax Act by the Finance Act, 2017.

Section 139AA: The provision makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN. Possession of Aadhaar card is necessary for the continuing validity of an existing PAN and for filing returns under the income tax law.

  • Menace of Fake Aadhar:
  • Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said there were five to 10 lakh fake PAN cards generated every year. Mr. Rohatgi also said the biometric technology used in Aadhaar left no chance for duplication.
  • Key fact: 132% of the population of Delhi is shown to have taken Aadhaar cards and 104% all over the country.
  • 34,000 agencies which dealt with collecting data for Aadhaar were blacklisted.

2. SC for broad anti-torture legislation

  • What’s in news?

    • The Supreme Court suggested that the government ought to frame a statutory law to regulate the flow of public money to the NGOs.
    • The Centre on April 4 handed over to the Supreme Court the new guidelines framed for accreditation of nearly 30 lakh NGOs and voluntary organisation in the country.
    • A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar suggested introducing a law after perusing guidelines handed over by the government to the court, appointing NITI Aayog as the nodal agency for NGO registration.

    But the court said the guidelines might not prove sufficient for “systematising the entire process of accreditation, fund utilisation and audit of NGOs”.

3. SC seeks law to regulate NGO funds

  • 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. Doctors wary as Centre push for generic drugs

What’s in news?

  • Recently Union Government issued advisory notice to the physicians to prescribe drugs with generic names.

Doctors arguments against the move:

  • Any change in drug — especially for patients with chronic illnesses and critical care — may risk patients not getting the full benefit of a particular drug.
  • Argue there is no concrete evidence to show that generic drugs are equal to branded drugs, with respect to bioavailability, potency, efficacy and impurity content
  • There can be complications and some of the ailments and diseases can go out of control.
  • Some of the branded drugs are available at a lower cost than generic drugs as they have been price capped under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
  • Same company manufacturing a branded drug also manufactures a generic drug means that there is a shift in quality.
    Bioavailability of a generic drug molecule is not assured by quality control or clinical trials
  • Stringent quality checks of generic drugs are missing in India.
  • How generic drugs are manufactured? companies manufacturing generics see the composition of a particular drug and manufacture them without any research and clinical trials. “It is a reverse process and there is no quality check
  • The Indian Medical Association (IMA) welcomes the push for generic drugs, but insists on “discretionary and non-mandatory” usage of generic drugs.

Way forwards:

  • The concern of the medical profession regarding spurious and substandard drugs has to be addressed as more such drugs might get into the market under the guise of generic drugs
  • Appointment of drug inspectors: The government has only around 1,800 drug inspectors for the entire country, which is grossly inadequate.
  • Indiscriminate dispensing of antibiotics and other prescription drugs by doctors not qualified in modern medicine, quacks, and by Over The Counter Sales has to be curtailed. This has led to emergence of serious resistant micro-organisms.
  • Quality test: The government admits that less than 0.01% of the drugs produced in the country are tested for quality.
  • All drugs are to be price capped.
  • While writing the generic name of the drug, Company name should also be mentioned.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Eyeing West Pacific, China launches first domestically-made aircraft carrier

What’s in news?

  • China has launched its second aircraft carrier, marking an incremental rise in its capacity to project power in the West Pacific
  • The aircraft carrier is called Type 001-A before it acquires a formal name
  • It is likely to christened Shandong, will supplement the Liaoning — China’s first aircraft carrier that was purchased from Ukraine, and commissioned in 2012
  • The Type 001-A is expected to enter service of the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) or PLAN by 2020
  • The launch coincided with the start of the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system by the United States onto a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, in stated response to the North Korean threat
  • Some Chinese experts propose that China would require five to six aircraft carriers, a capability nowhere in the horizon, to project power simultaneously in the West Pacific, as well as the Indian Ocean-India’s core area of concern
  • On the other hand, the U.S. has 10 carrier strike groups, with at least four deployed in the Asia-Pacific region

 

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMICS

1. Farm incomes not to be taxed, says Jaitley

  • Context: NITI Aayog proposed to tax agricultural income above certain threshold level.
  • Response by the executive: Union Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley ‘categorically’ dismissed any prospect of the government bringing agricultural income into the income tax net.

2. Reorient social sector subsidies: NITI Aayog

What’s in news?

  • NITI Aayog’s recommendation on curtailing subsidy:
  • India’s social sector subsidies should be reoriented so that beneficiaries don’t become dependent on them.
  • Reduction in food subsidies as a proportion of GDP by 2019-20 through better targeting and rationalisation measures.

NITI Aayog’s Observation:

  • Within revenue expenditures, subsidies have tended to crowd out the socially more productive expenditures such as those on education and health.
  • The efficiency of social expenditure must be improved to deliver better outcomes. This may be done for example through better targeting and the use of direct benefit transfers.
  • Open ended schemes that can absorb rising expenditures and lack clearly identified beneficiaries must be avoided.

3. SEBI to grant one licence to brokers, clearing members

What’s in news?

  • Market regulator SEBI decided to grant a unified licence to brokers and clearing members to operate in commodity derivative as well as equity markets.
  • SEBI’s board approved a proposal for integration of stock brokers in equity and commodity derivative space.
  • Advantages of Unified licence:
  • Abroker or clearing member dealing in the securities markets will be allowed to buy, sell or deal in commodity derivatives without setting up a separate entity and vice-versa.
  • It will increase economic efficiency in terms of meeting operational and compliance obligations at the member level, potentially resulting in ease of doing business.
  • Help in widening market penetration and facilitate effective regulatory oversight by stock exchanges and SEBI.

Stricter P-Note norms:

  • SEBI also decided to bar resident as well as non-resident Indians from making investments through participatory notes.

Why such a move?

  • The decision is part of efforts to strengthen the regulatory framework for offshore derivative instruments (ODIs), commonly known as participatory notes (P-Notes), which have been long seen as being possibly misused for routing of black money from abroad.

What are Participatory notes?

  • Participatory notes, also referred to as “P-notes,” are financial instruments used by investors or hedge funds that are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to invest in Indian securities.
  • Any dividends or capital gains collected from the underlying securities go back to the investors. Indian regulators are against participatory notes because they fear that hedge funds acting through participatory notes will cause economic volatility in India’s exchanges.
  • Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) provide quick money entering the Indian capital market. Because of the short-term nature of investing, regulators have fewer guidelines for FIIs. To invest in Indian stock markets without the hassle of involvement with the regulatory approval process, FIIs trade P-notes.
  • P-notes are easily traded overseas through endorsement and delivery. They are popular because investors anonymously take positions in Indian markets, and hedge funds anonymously carry out their operations. Some entities route their investments through P-notes to take advantage of certain countries’ tax laws.
  • However, because of the anonymity, Indian regulators face difficulty determining a P-note’s original and end owner. Therefore, much unaccounted money enters the country through P-notes. In addition, SEBI has no jurisdiction over trading P-notes. Although FIIs must register with SEBI, the P-notes trading among FIIs are not registered. For this reason, India’s government is concerned that P-notes are being used for money laundering.
  • For this reason, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) wants stricter compliance measures put in place for trading P-notes. However, when the government proposed putting trading restrictions on P-notes in the past, the Indian market became extremely volatile. For example, around the time the government began talking about curbing P-note trading in October 2007, the market dropped 1744 points. Because FIIs help fuel the growth of the Indian economy, industries and capital market, and because increasing regulations on P-notes would increase the difficulty of foreign money entering the market, the Indian government and investors reacted with fear. The government ended its discussion on regulating P-notes.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. A shrinking home for endemic birds

What’s in news?

  • Birds endemic to the biodiverse Western Ghats appear to be in greater danger than they were thought to be, because the range of places they live in may have been overestimated.
  • Problem with the range distribution estimates: Researchers from four American universities who analysed range maps used by the influential global authority, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found that for 17 of 18 bird species, the distribution was smaller than IUCN estimates.
  • The ‘Red List’ classifications of the IUCN serve to guide protection policies – ‘less vulnerable’ species receive a lower conservation focus.
  • The study argues that IUCN overestimated the habitat of these bird species by up to 88%.
  • Of the 18 species, habitats of 12 were overestimated by over 50%.

Example:

  • The Malabar grey hornbill which IUCN classifies as ‘Least Concern’ and believes is distributed across 2.3 lakh sq.km in Kerala and Karnataka. But when researchers used a spatial modelling technique, they found its range was just 43,060 sq. km, or, nearly 81% less than the estimates. This would put the bird in the ‘Near Threatened’ category.
  • Nilgiri pipit appears to have lost 88% of its habitat, making it “endangered” rather than “vulnerable”.

Outcomes: Underestimating threat and overestimating habitat reduces policy response.

Method used:

  • IUCN uses expert sightings and other records.
  • The study used land cover, forest type (satellite imagery), temperature, precipitation and ‘citizen science’ using the eBird online birding checklist.

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.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Finally, NASA’s super balloon lifts off to collect near space data

What’s in news?

  • A stadium-sized pressure balloon launched by NASA in New Zealand began collecting data in near space (It will collect data from 34 km above the earth).
  • The balloon, designed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, is expected to circle the planet two or three times.
  • The balloon’s monitoring was only the start of a long quest which would next involve a space mission currently being designed by NASA.

2. Scientists create ‘artificial womb’ that could save premature babies’ lives

What’s in news?

  • Scientist have devised an artificial womb filled with clear liquid, successfully tested on pre-natal lambs, could help extremely premature babies avoid death or life-long disability.
  • The new system mimics life in the uterus and could, if approved for human use, dramatically improve the chances of premature babies death or life long sufferings.
  • Extremely premature infants who survive often have chronic lung infections and other crippling health problems.
  • The researchers are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prepare human trials, which could start within three years.

Apparatus:

  • The foetus — breathing liquid, as it would in the womb — lies in a clear-plastic sack filled with a synthetic amniotic fluid.
  • The umbilical cord is attached via tubes to a machine outside the bag, which removes CO2 and adds oxygen to blood passing through it. There are no mechanical pumps — it is the foetus’ heart that keeps things moving.

Advantage: avoidance of heart failure, which comes from the imbalance of blood flows created with pump circuits

Experiment on lamb:

  • For the study, the researchers tested six preterm lambs transferred from their artificial wombmothers’ wombs to the device at 105 to 112 days of gestation — the equivalent of 23 to 24 weeks in a human. They remained in the artificial wombs for up to 28 days.
  • Sheep have long been used in experiments for prenatal treatment, especially because lung development is highly similar.
  • While nestled in the devices, “the lambs showed normal breathing and swallowing, opened their eyes, grew wool, became more active, and had normal growth, neurological function and organ maturation”.

Category: MISCELLANEOUS

1. ‘Govt. school teachers often away on duty’

What’s in news?

  • Highlights of Survey on teachers absenteeism in government schools in Karnataka and five other states:
  • Survey conducted by Azim Premji Foundation (APF), covered 2,861 teachers in 619 government schools across Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh; there were 371 teachers from 60 schools in Karnataka alone. Nearly 19 % of the teachers were not present in school at the time of the survey.
  • Nearly 7% of the teachers were absent on account of a range of official duties outside the classroom.
  • 5% of the teachers were found to be absent from school without any reason.
  • Main reason teachers were away from school was not neglect of duty, but rather “systemic issues” that required them to take up other tasks.
  • Reasons for not being at School:
  • Official academic duty- deputation to other schools, training, and cluster meetings.
  • Administrative duty- submission of report on midday meals, children with special needs and other incentive schemes.
  • Other duties- elections, health issues, panchayat meetings and department schemes.
  • The data is based on a day’s visit to each school during August-September 2016.
  • The study also found that more female teachers (83.8%) were present in school than males (78.4%). About 80.5% of the regular teachers were present in school, as opposed to 83.5% of headmasters.

 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today

 

Prelims worthy Factual Information
1. Mission Kakatiya:

  • Flagship programme of Telangana State government
  • Aim: desilting and restoration of tanks in rural areas.
  • Key improvement: Research by groundwater department found a significant rise in water table levels wherever tanks were restored.

2. Gasification:

  • Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700 °C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The resulting gas mixture is called syngas (from synthesis gas) or producer gas and is itself a fuel.
  • The power derived from gasification and combustion of the resultant gas is considered to be a source of renewable energy if the gasified compounds were obtained from biomass.  The advantage of gasification is that using the syngas is potentially more efficient than direct combustion of the original fuel because it can be combusted at higher temperatures or even in fuel cells.
  • Syngas may be burned directly in gas engines, used to produce methanol and hydrogen  Gasification can also begin with material which would otherwise have been disposed of such as biodegradable waste.
  • In addition, the high-temperature process refines out corrosive ash elements such as chloride and potassium, allowing clean gas production from otherwise problematic fuels.
  • Gasification of fossil fuels is currently widely used on industrial scales to generate electricity.

 

PIB Articles      Editorials 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

 

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1: India Water Stewardship Network and Alliance for Water Stewardship 
is a network created by
  1. U.N
  2. W.H.O
  3. WWF
  4. IMF
See
Answer
Question 2: As per the Constitutional Allocation of Powers, who has the 
jurisdiction to impose tax on agricultural income?
  1. Union government
  2. State government
  3. Local government
  4. Both Union as well as State government
See
Answer
Question 3: Consider the following statement with reference to Mission 
Kakatiya , which was in news recently:
  1. It is a flagship programme of AndraPradesh State government.
  2. It is a poverty eradication programme .

Choose the correct statement

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
See
Answer
Question 4: Consider the following statement with reference to the recently 
launched NASA’s Super ballon:
  1. It started its journey from U.S.
  2. It is used to detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy.

Choose the correct statement using the code given below.

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 
See
Answer
Question 5: Consider the following statement with reference to Gasification 
process:
  1. Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
  2. It produces a gas known as Syngas.

Choose the correct statement

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
See
Answer
 

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