Comprehensive News Analysis – 28 December 2016

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Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Our position in equity ladder is dismal, says Ansari

2. India journeys from multilateral to bilateral in 2016

3. Nepal rejects India’s ‘open sky’ offer

C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related

1. Watel panel for law to protect digital payers

2. FPI on the edge as investments via P-notes may face more tax

E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Chronicle of a conflict foretold

2. Behind Pakistans CPEC offer

PIB:

1. Building Safe Highways

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
I. Archives

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothig Here Today

B. GS2 Related
1. Our position in equity ladder is dismal, says Ansari

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: Government Policy

Key Points:

  • After nearly 70 years of legislating welfare laws and measures to deliver social justice, The ground reality is dismal and we remain fragmented, said Vice-President Hamid Ansari in his address on ‘Social justice, Constitution and the Supreme Court’ at the ninth national conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers
  • Reason was India ranked 130th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index, and a recent New World Wealth report ranked India as the 12th most inequitable economy in the world.
  • National Human Rights Commission data indicates that in 2012, 37 per cent Dalits lived below the poverty line, 54 per cent were undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in Dalit households died before their first birthday, and 45 per cent remained illiterate.
  • In regard to children of the largest religious minority, the 2006 Sachar Committee Report had observed that only 17 per cent of them above the age of 17 were found to have completed matriculation as compared with the general average of 26 per cent,”

 

2. India journeys from multilateral to bilateral in 2016

Category: International relations

Topic: Foreign policy

Key Points:

  • Indian foreign policy took a decided step away from multilateral platforms to focus on bilateral relations to secure and shore up its place in the world.
  • “Global blocs and alliances are less relevant today and the world is moving towards a loosely arranged order,” said Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar.
  • Lows of 2016-With the U.N, the government has felt “frustrated” at its inability to move on issues important for India. No significant headway was made on India’s bid for a permanent Security Council seat, on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, or on specific requests to ban Pakistan-based terror group chief Masood Azhar. Also, India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group was halted not once but twice in the year, due to China’s objections.
  • Highs of 2016-relation with the US- the Prime Minister’s address to the U.S. Congress, the signing of the Logistics Agreement, and India’s agreement to join the Climate Change convention. President Obama signed the Defence Bill that names India a “major defence partner” — a designation that seems most akin to a strategic ally without being one.
  • Another leap forward came from Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, which are forging closer ties with India despite their OIC reservations, and from Iran and Afghanistan

 

3. Nepal rejects India’s ‘open sky’ offer

Category: International relations

Topic: Foreign policy

Key Points:

    • Nepal has rejected India’s ‘open sky’ offer to allow unlimited flights between the two countries.
    • India has been keen on countering Nepal’s recent engagement with China on the road, railways and port connectivity. However, India and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint technical committee to examine Nepal’s request for developing new air routes and air entry points at Janakpur, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj.
    • Recently India signed an agreement with Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland and Spain to allow airlines to operate unlimited flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
    • Under the new National Civil Aviation Policy, approved by the Union Cabinet, India intends to enter into ‘open-sky’ agreements with SAARC countries and with those beyond the 5,000-km radius from Delhi.
    • Among SAARC countries, India doesn’t have any ‘open sky’ agreement with Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan. It allows unlimited flights from Bangladesh and Maldives at 18 domestic airports, from Sri Lanka at 23 airports, and from Bhutan at all its airports.

    Open sky policy- is an international policy concept that calls for the liberalization of the rules and regulations of the international aviation industry—especially commercial aviation—in order to create a free-market environment for the airline industry.

     Its primary objectives are:

    ·         To liberalize the rules for international aviation markets and minimize government intervention as it applies to passenger, all-cargo, and combination air transportation as well as scheduled and charter services; and

    ·         To adjust the regime under which military and other state-based flights may be permitted.

    For open skies to become effective, a bilateral (and sometimes multilateral) Air Transport Agreement must be concluded between two or more nations. . Under the ‘open-sky’ agreement, there is no restriction on flights or seats.

 

C. GS3 Related

Nothig Here Today

D. GS4 Related
1. Watel panel for law to protect digital payers

Category: Indian economy

Topic: digital payments

Key Points:

  • Committee on digital payments headed by the finance secretary  Ratan P Watal,proposed number of key measures to protect digital payers.
  • Key measures proposed are- legislative steps to protect customers and their data, allow open access payment systems, independent working of payment regulatory board from RBI, cut in the threshold of quoting PAN numbers for cash transactions from 50000  and 2000000
  • Panel also stated that the drawbacks in the existing Payment and Settlement Systems Act of 2007 compel most of India to rely on cash transactions by restricting the reach of digital payments. Therefore, the panel is of the opinion that a Bill must be introduced to amend the law within a month, in the coming Budget session of Parliament.
  • Though a sub-committee of the Reserve Bank of India regulates payments, the Watal committee has said that banking requires micro-prudential regulation from RBI, while payments is a separate, more technology-business driven activity, so both need to be viewed separately.
  • A new Payments Regulatory Board should be backed by law as independent of RBI and if there is any conflict between its policies and the central bank’s policies or regulations, the RBI’s decision shall prevail, the committee suggested.
  • Other recommendations
  • The panel also recommended that when government acts as a merchant, it should bear the cost of electronic payments and not pass them on to consumers.
  • Digital payments for low value transactions, such as parking charges, toll charges or health services at government hospitals and health centres, also need to be promoted.
  • Panel also proposed that utility bills and payments to government above a certain threshold be made only in digital mode.
  • convenience or service charge levied by utility service providers, petrol pumps, railways, airlines on electronic payments should be withdrawn.
  • A recommendation has also been made to make Aadhaar numbers compulsory in Income Tax returns
  • Why digital payment reforms?-

 India is a cash heavy economy, with almost 78 per cent of all consumer payments being effected in cash. This imposes an estimated cost of Rs. 21,000 crore, without factoring in other effects of cash reliance, such as counterfeit currency and black money.

 

Transitioning to digital payments was estimated to bring about a significant reduction in costs incurred on account of inefficiencies associated with cash and other paper based payments.

 

2. FPI on the edge as investments via P-notes may face more tax

Category: Foreign portfolio Investments

Topic: P-notes

Key Points:

  • Many Foreign portfolio Investors (FPIs),who are having P-notes as ultimate beneficiaries may face more tax.
  • The taxability applies to situations of transfer of any interest exceeding 5%in the overseas entity. However the applicability of these provisions are made on a case to case basis.

 

Foreign portfolio investment (FPI) consists of securities and other financial assets passively held by foreign investors. It does not provide the investor with direct ownership of financial assets and is relatively liquid depending on the volatility of the market.

 

Foreign portfolio investment differs from foreign direct investment (FDI), in which a domestic company runs a foreign firm, because although FDI allows a company to maintain better control over the firm held abroad, it may face more difficulty selling the firm at a premium price in the future.

 

Participatory Notes commonly known as P-Notes or PNs are instruments issued by registered foreign institutional investors (FII) to overseas investors, who wish to invest in the Indian stock markets without registering themselves with the market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India – SEBI.

SEBI permitted foreign institutional investors to register and participate in the Indian stock market in 1992.Investing through P-Notes is very simple and hence very popular amongst foreign institutional investors

 

 

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance
The Hindu
1. Chronicle of a conflict foretold

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic: ethnic tensions

Key Points:

  • Crisis in Manipur- main reason is the primeval notion of an exclusive ethnic homeland.The belief is that such homelands are a given and have existed since time immemorial. Communities who claim to be natural heirs and custodians of these homelands think of others as aliens. The trouble is, those excluded, have their own notions of homeland, and their notion of homeland overlap, and sometimes completely, with the ones in which they are supposed to be aliens.

For example- For instance, settle agriculturists, shift cultivators and hunter gatherers will have different relationships with land. Nagas, Kukis, Meiteis and many other smaller ethnic groups in Manipur are thus in a web of overlapped homelands.

 

The immediate cause for the heightened ethnic tension — that of the indefinite blockade along Manipur’s two major lifelines, the Imphal-Dimapur road and the Imphal-Silchar road, imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) since November 1.

 

  • The UNC was demanding an assurance from the Manipur government that what they deem as their ancient homeland — or Nagalim,— will not be divided into districts without their consent. In particular, they did not want the Kuki-dominated Sadar Hills given this status, as they consider Kukis as migrants who settled in their land and who can only be their tenants.
  • The Manipur government, which was expected to create this district together with Jiribam, a small enclave of predominantly non-tribal population, deferred the decision in the wake of the UNC protest, but later a cabinet meet, decided to go ahead and create not just these two districts but five more by splitting altogether seven existing districts, thereby stiffening the UNC’s blockade stance.
  • Way forward- conflict resolution in such a scenario cannot be a bilateral matter between the Central government and any single party, as it seems to be the case in the ongoing Naga peace talks. A chain can be as strong as the weakest link, and the Centre will have to look for a broader and more inclusive solution to suit what essentially is a multilateral issue. Second, everyone will have to agree to a shared homeland. The lofty goal of “shared sovereignty” and “competencies” being negotiated between the NSCN(IM) and the Centre cannot be the solution to the problem of the region unless this sharing extends to all other stake holders.

 

2. Behind Pakistans CPEC offer

Category: international relations

Topic: economic corridor

Key Points:

  • Pakistani General suggested that India should shun its “enmity” with Pakistan and join the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, the Chinese foreign ministry has called the offer a “goodwill gesture”, exhorting India to take it up.
  • Earlier India has opposed the project, bilaterally with China “at the highest level” as well as at the UN
  • The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor also known as CPEC and North-South economic corridor) is an economic corridor comprising a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $51 billion. CPEC aims to facilitate trade along an overland route that connects Kashgar and Gwadar, through the construction of a network of highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • Iran wants Gwadar to be a “sister” port to Chabahar, and Turkmenistan and other Central Asian republics have shown interest in the warm-water port that will be a nodal point for goods through Pakistan to the Chinese city of Kashgar. Further north, despite its problems on terror from Pakistan, Afghanistan is becoming a nodal point for China’s connectivity projects to Iran.

 

 

PIB:

  1. Building Safe Highways

Category: infrastructure

Topic: roadways  

Key Points:

  • As a signatory to Brasilia Declaration, India is committed to reducing the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50 % by 2020 .
  • The major steps taken by the Ministry towards ensuring safety on roads are as follows:
  • A National Road Safety Policy had been approved earlier, outlining various policy measures like promoting awareness, establishing road safety information data base, encouraging safer road infrastructure, enforcement of safety laws etc.

The Ministry has evolved a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the problem based on the 4 E’s viz Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles) Enforcement and Emergency Care. A National Road Safety Council had also been constituted as the apex body to take policy decisions in the matter of road safety.

  • Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 – The Bill addresses road safety issues by providing for stiffer penalties, permitting electronic enforcement, improving fitness certification and licensing regime, statutory provisions for protection of good Samaritans and recognition of IT enabled enforcement systems. The Bill also paves way for reforms in public transport which in turn will help in improving road safety.
  • Ministry has requested the States to send proposals for correction of black spots and 10% of the Central Road Fund (CRF) have been permitted to be used for undertaking road safety measures. As Short-term measures rumble strips, reflective stickers at junctions, fixing signboard/ cautionary board, providing signage and speed restrictions are being used. As long-term measures construction of vehicular under-pass, By-pass,  flyover and 4-laning are being taken up.
  • State Road Safety Councils-formulate an action plan for improving road safety, implement it in a concerted manner, fix a definite, time bound target for fatality reduction and identify and allocate adequate manpower, financial and other resources for implementing the strategy to achieve the targets set.

Twenty two States have notified a road safety policy. The states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Tripura are in the process of notifying.

  • Highway Advisory System (HAS) –  HAS was launched as a pilot project on Delhi-Jaipur highway. It is a free-to-air information distribution system that uses radio to make the travelling experience on National Highways safer, faster and hassle-free. HAS control centre collects data, processes and analyzes it, generates alerts and sends it to be broadcast by All India Radio.

 

  • Other measures-

 

  • Good Samaritans Guidelines – Guidelines have been issued by the Ministry to prevent the harassment of “Good Samaritans” who help road accident victims. The Supreme Court has accepted these guidelines and has asked states for implementation.

 

  • Ministry has notified National Ambulance Code for road ambulance Type L and M.

 

  • Pilot Projects for Cashless Treatment of Road Accident Victims were done on Gurgaon-Jaipur, Vadodara – Mumbai stretch of NH 8 and Ranchi-Rargaon-Mahulia stretch of NH 33. Now it is proposed to implement this scheme along the Golden Quadrilateral, North South and East West Corridors (about 13500 km) at an estimated cost of about Rs. 250 Crore

 

  • Model Automated Centers for checking fitness of the vehicles.

 

  • Buses with IT enabled safety measures under NIRBHAYA SCHEME

 

  • Vehicular Safety Standards are being set for all classes of vehicles. Trucks are prohibited from carrying protruding rods; Anti-locking Brake System (ABS) made mandatory on Heavy Vehicles; Cars to have provision for fitment of at-least one child seat. Car Crash Standards to be made mandatory w.e.f. 1st April, 2018;     ABS/CBS for Two Wheelers mandated w.e.f. 1st April, 2018etc

 

  • ‘Adopt a Green Highway’ Program was launched in July, 2016. It seeks to engage corporates, Public Sector units, Government organizations and other institutions for developing green corridor along National Highways through plantation and allied activity on avenue, median and other available nearby land patches.

 

 

  • Kisan Harit Rajmarg Yojana’ is a pilot scheme to extend green belt beyond the existing ‘Right of Way’ of highways by engaging farmers and providing alternative livelihood option to the nearby communities.

 

  • Roadside Amenities- the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has decided to develop Wayside Amenities along the National Highways. Such Wayside Amenities (WSA) shall be branded as ‘Highway Haat’. The complexes will provide facilities for car and bus passengers and truckers to relax, revive and refresh, thus helping to reduce driver fatigue, resulting in making roads travel safe and comfortable.

 

All  the 370 Toll Plazas of NHAI would be covered with toilets, hoardings and litter bins under Swachhta action plan for MoRTH.

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Foreign portfolio investments and P-notes
  • Cashless payments
  • Changing Indias foreign policy
  • Infrastructure-roadways.
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGANISATIONS IN NEWS Links to Refer
Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 – http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-motor-vehicles-amendment-bill-2016-4366/
H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Recent crisis in Manipur is due to
a) Economic blockade and ethnic tension. b) Water dispute c) Tribal rights. d) Hung assembly
Question 2: Among SAARC countries, India doesn’t have any ‘open sky’ agreement with -
a) Bangladesh b) Nepal c) Maldives d) Srilanka
Question 3: Which among the following states have not notified road safety policy?

a) Karnataka b) Kerala c) Tamilnadu d) Rajasthan

Question 4: Which of the following committees dealt with digital payments ?
a) Urjit Patel committee b) Ratan Watal committee c) Bhimal Jalan committee d) Nachiket mor committee
Question 5: Consider the following statements 
a) Brasilia Declaration-India is committed to reducing the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50 % by 2020 b) Highway advisory system is a free-to-air information distribution system that uses radio to make the travelling experience on National Highways safer, faster and hassle-free. c) ‘Adopt a Green Highway’ Program seeks to engage corporates, Public Sector units, Government organizations and other institutions for developing green corridor along National Highways. d) Good Samaritans Guidelines – to prevent the harassment of “Good Samaritans” who help road accident victims. The Supreme Court has accepted these guidelines and has asked states for implementation. Which of the above statements is/are true a) a only. b) a,b only. c) a,b,c only. d) a,b,c,d only.

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