Comprehensive News Analysis – 30 April 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:
B. GS2 Related:

1. Relenting to Patel stir, Gujarat extends quota to upper castes based on economic criteria

2. Reliance Defence inks pact with 3 Ukrainian state firms

3. Pranab’s visit sees MoUs on IT, health

C. GS3 Related:

1. ITBP’s north-east HQ to be moved near China border

2. Govt approves Rs 9,005 crore for 73,000 houses under PMAY

3. Food security scheme: only half the targeted identified, says CAG

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

The Hindu:

1. A misguided surrender

2. Fed affords RBI wiggle room

Indian Express:

1. Reboot MGNREGA

Others:

1. PIB update:

2. The Economic Times: Bangladesh’s blindness to activists murders poses a danger for itself and India

3. Economic Times:No room for complacency: Our own GPS is welcome but challenges remain

4. The Business Line: EPF flip-flops

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

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Useful News Articles

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today folks!

B. GS2 Related

1. Relenting to Patel stir, Gujarat extends quota to upper castes based on economic criteria

Topic: Polity

Category: Art 15(4)

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The Gujarat government has announced10% reservation in jobs and educationfor economically backward(annual income -Rs six lakh or less) class among the upper castes, who are ineligible for quota under the existing system
  • It is seen as a bid to placate agitating Patidars community of Gujarat
  • In Gujarat, Patels are around 12-15 % of the total population but they are among the most influential ones controlling state’s politics, small and medium enterprises, education, diamond, cooperative and real estate sectors in the state’s political economy

Tags: Reservation, Patidars community

Note: Is reservation a measure to ensure rights or a right as such? What is the cost of reservation? Is it the most appropriate remedy to the upliftment of the “backward”?

 

2. Reliance Defence inks pact with 3 Ukrainian state firms

Topic: Governance

 Category: Defence sector

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • A  Strategic Partnership Agreement was signed between State-owned Ukroboronprom of Ukraine and Reliance Defencehas been signed.It will allow Reliance Defence to collaborate with another state owned firm Antonov for its range of military and commercial transport aircraft
  • Under the agreement with Antonov, credited as the manufacturer of largest transport aircraft in the world, Reliance and Antonov will jointly bid for the Medium Military Transport Aircraft program of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).The Indian Air Force currently operates more than 100 Antonov AN-32 aircraft, which form the backbone of its transport fleet
  • This will be potentially the largest collaborative effort involving the public sector, private sector and a global OEM(Original Equipment Manufacturer) as part of the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ initiatives of the government with the value of the projects exceeding Rs.50,000 crore

Tags: HAL, Antonov AN-32, Reliance Defence, MII, Skill India

 

3. Pranab’s visit sees MoUs on IT, health
Topic: International Relations

Category: India’s s Relations with Pacific Island Countries

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • Papua New Guinea agreed that oil and gas exploration and development could be a new avenue of cooperation between the two countries.Papua New Guinea is estimated to have 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as recoverable reserves.Indian companies are looking at projects coming up in Papua New Guinea after natural gas was discovered in the country’ s Southern Highland Province
  • India agreed to provide a line of credit of $100 million to Papua New Guinea for infrastructure projects and signed a pact to set up a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in information technology
  • Four memorandums of understanding were signed on the second and final day of President Mukherjee’s visit.Apart from MoUs on extending a line of credit and information technology, other agreements related to cooperation on agricultural research and health

Tags: line of credit,

Note:Read about the summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation(Aug 2015)

 

C. GS3 Related

1. ITBP’s north-east HQ to be moved near China border

Topic: Security

Category: Security Forces-CAPF

Location: The Hindu

Key points:

  • The government has decided to shift the frontier headquarters of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) from Meghalaya to Arunachal Pradesh, closer to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The north-eastern headquarters, which is located at Shillong, will be shifted to Itanagar
  • The area of operations of the ITBP is along the Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim border, so it is practical enough to shift the base to somewhere closer to the border

Tags: ITBP, LAC

Note: Which are the other Central Armed Police Forces? How are they different from the other armed forces in the country?

 

2. Govt approves Rs 9,005 crore for 73,000 houses under PMAY

Topic: Governance

Category: Social Sector Schemes

Location: The Financial Express

Key points:

  • (Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation )HUPA has approved an investment of Rs 9,005 crore for construction of 73,205 more houses for Economically Weaker Sections in urban (areas) under Prime Minister AwasYojana (PMAY) in the states of Maharashtra, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir

The central assistance for construction of the houses would be to the tune ofRs 1,080 crore

  • With these approvals, the total investment approved for affordable housing under PMAY (Urban) so far has gone up to Rs 43,922 crore for construction of 6,83,724 houses for urban poor with total central assistance commitment of Rs 10,050 crore, the release said.
  • Under PMAY (Urban) launched in June last year, two crore houses for urban poor is to be built by the year 2022

Tags: HUPA, PMAY

 

3. Food security scheme: only half the targeted identified, says CAG

Topic: Governance

Category: Social Sector Schemes

Location: The Business Line

Key points:

  • The CAG has directed the Centre to assure itself that the States/UTs have identified beneficiaries by following transparent processes before allowing them revised and enhanced entitlements
  • As per the CAG report, only 18 States/UTs are reported to have begun implementation of NFSA
  • Most of the implementing States did not identify the Antyodaya Anna Yojana and priority household beneficiaries as per the provisions of the NFSA, but used the old database of beneficiaries, the report observed

Tags:CAG, NFSA,Antyodaya Anna Yojana

 

D. GS4 Related

 

E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. A misguided surrender

Topic:Polity

Category: Art 15(4)

Key points:

  • theGujarat government has announced a 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among upper castes
  • This proposed quota is in addition to the existing 49 per cent reservations for the Other Backward Classes and SC/STs, and an ordinance is to be promulgated to this effect
  • It is unlikely to pass judicial scrutiny. In IndraSawhney v. Union of India,the Supreme Court had limited the total quota to 50 per cent
  • A series of judgments have established that economic criteria alone cannot be taken as determinants of backwardness
  • The upper strata of society are increasingly seeking “backward” status for a variety of reasons. There is a shift in the aspirations for traditionally landed and business communities, as their young seek better education and white-collar jobs. Besides, following the implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations, OBC leaders have asserted themselves electorally and forged formidable political alliances
  • At one level, this adds some weight to the theory that the reservation policy has helped not only to uplift the socially underprivileged and the historically backward but also to reduce caste inequities
  • But if the policy of reservations must be revisited, then the way to do this is by calling for a review of the list of OBCs and restructuring the creamy layer of exclusion to benefit the really deserving

Tags:Article 15(4), IndraSawhney v. Union of India,OBCs,Mandal Commission

 

2. Fed affords RBI wiggle room

Topic:Economy

Category: Monetary Policy-Open Market Operations

Key points:

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates for a third straight meeting
  • the Bank of Japan has surprised Asian markets by not adding to its stimulus programme amid continuing signs that the world’s third largest economy is struggling to escape deflation
  • Clearly, from the perspective of striking a balance between supporting domestic growth and attracting adequate capital flows, RBI Governor and his fellow policymakers still have a difficult task in hand
  • If domestic factors too warrant, RBI may be ready to provide policy accommodation to help bolster India’s economic recovery

Tags: U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, RBI

 

Indian Express:

1. Reboot MGNREGA

Topic: Governance

Category: Social Sector Schemes

Key points:

  • States currently in poll mode have reported the highest increase in job numbers under the MGNREGA in the year that ended March 31, 2016
  • Maharashtra also registered a 24 per cent rise, but its total 7.64 crore person-days

generated was just over a fifth that of Tamil Nadu and a quarter of West Bengal

  • This highlight an inherent design flaw in the MGNREGA: Although conceived as a demand/ distress-driven programme, its successful implementation has largely rested upon state-level governance capacity (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura) or political expediency (West Bengal)
  • If the MGNREGA is neither helping the states worst-hit by drought nor those with the highest poverty incidence, there is a fundamental problem that must be addressed to make it a genuinely demand- and need-driven programme
  • The time has probably come to allocate MGNREGA funds to states by linking it to their individual rural poor population numbers
  • Before the start of a financial year, the Centre can announce the allocation to each state and declare that any unspent amount would be automatically reallocated to those with the capacity to use this money. The very prospect of foregoing one’s entitlement — and letting the public know — would put pressure on the states to implement the MGNREGA better
  • Right now, many states do not register demand for employment even in times of widespread distress

Tags: MGNREGA

Note: Suggest methods to make MGNREGS more effective

 

Others:

I. PIB update:

  1. India and US to collaborate closely in the field of Traditional Medicine : ShriShripadNaik 

1) The Ministry of AYUSH is mandated to promote and propagate AYUSH systems of medicine across the globe.

2) To achieve the objective what did the Ministry of AYUSH do ?

 Signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for ‘Country to Country’ cooperation in the field of Traditional Medicines

 Set-upped  AYUSH Academic Chairs in foreign Universities/Educational Institutes.

 Established AYUSH Information Cells in the premises of the Indian Missions abroad or Indian Cultural Centres for dissemination of authentic information about AYUSH Systems of medicine and

 Entered into MoUs with foreign institutes for undertaking collaborative research.

 As a result of concerted efforts, for the first time India has successfully engaged USA in the field of Traditional Medicine.

  1. Anti-Diabetic drug developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences

(CCRAS) 

  1. For the management of diabetes mellitus, the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) has developed AYUSH-82
  1. The trials of the drug have shown significant reduction in blood sugar level along with clinical improvement.
  1. No toxic effects were noted during the trial.
  1. The Council has already initiated action to commercialize AYUSH-82.

 

  1. Norms of Assistance for Loss of Crops 
  1. Financial assistance to farmers by way of immediate relief in the event of disaster is provided as per the norms of assistance in the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines.
  1. The revised norms of assistance for loss of crops was enhanced from Rs.4500/- per hectare to Rs.6800/- per hectare under rainfed conditions, from Rs.9000/- to Rs.13500/- per hectare under irrigated condition and from Rs.12000/- to Rs.18000/- per hectare for perennial crops.

 

Please click here to read more on the guidelines from BEST of PIB section

 

  1. Implementation of Modified Crop Insurance Scheme 
  1. Government is undertaking a comprehensive publicity and awareness programme to educate the farmers about the benefit of crop insurance schemes.
  1. Capacity building and training programmes for other stakeholders are also being organized.
  1. The salient activities under awareness campaign, involve

 Publicity of features & benefits of the scheme through advertisements in leading National/local News Papers.

 Telecast through audio-visual media,distribution of pamphlets.

 Participation in agriculture fairs / mela / gosti and organization of workshops / trainings and SMS through Kisan Portal etc.

  State Governments/UTs are also being regularly persuaded to increase the coverage including notifying more crops under crop Insurance schemes.

  1. The scheme is being implemented on actuarial premium rates basis which would be obtained by the bidding process.
  1. Farmer’s share in premium for food & oilseeds crops has been fixed at maximum 2% and 1.5% of sum insured for Kharif and Rabi seasons respectively.
  1. In case of annual commercial/horticultural crops maximum premium is 5%.
  1. The remaining part of the actuarial premium would be shared by the Central and State Governments on 50: 50 basis.

 

Please click here to go to BEST of PIB section for Salient Features of PMFBY

 

  1. Amendment in the existing Atal Pension Yojana 

 

 The Government has made following amendment in the existing Atal Pension Yojana.

Option to the spouse of the subscriber to continue contribution to APY on death of subscriber before the age of 60 years:  What does this mean?

 If the subscriber dies before the age of 60 years, his/her spouse would be given an option to continue contributing to APY account of the subscriber, which can be maintained in the spouse’s name.

 For the remaining vesting period, till the original subscriber would have attained the age of 60 years,the spouse of the subscriber shall be entitled to receive the same pension amount as that of the subscriber until the death of the spouse.

 

  1. Country’s Share in International Food Trade
  1. Based on the data maintained by International Trade Centre, India’s share in international food trade in 2014 is estimated at 2.5%.
  1. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority(APEDA), under Department of Commerce is responsible for promoting export of food products from the country.
  1. Its Agriculture Export Promotion Scheme comprises four components; Infrastructure development; Transport Assistance; Market Development and Quality development.

Please click here to go to BEST of PIB section for more information

  1. “  India now will lead the world towards clean energy rather than follow”- Shri Piyush

Goyal 

 Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable

Energy said that India now will lead the world towards clean energy rather than

follow. “With 21 GW of grid-connected new solar projects out in the market, India

has signalled to the world that we’re ready to lead” he added.

 

 Shri Goyal further said that solar programme will not only ensure energy security of our country but also provide power to the last person at the bottom of the pyramid.

 

 He reiterated that Indian solar targets are achievable and said that we have exceeded our solar targets by 116% this year in comparison to last year and already had

awarded projects of 11,000 MW.

 

II.  The Economic Times: Bangladesh’s blindness to activists murders poses a danger for itself and India

Topic: India’s Neighbourhood

Category: Bangladesh

Key Points

  • Since January 2013, 35 secular writers, bloggers, professors, members of religious minorities and foreigners have been brutally murdered in Bangladesh
  • Though Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for 23 of them, the Bangladesh government refuses to accept the role of the transnational Islamist terrorist organisations and, instead, blames domestic groups
  • Blame a shrinking democratic space, crackdown on the opposition and accommodation with Islamic groups for resurgence of violent extremist groups(Hefazat-e-Islam), and increased recruitments by transnational terrorist groups
  • There is growing evidence that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are active in Bangladesh and stepping up their recruitment drives. The Bangladesh government’s wilful blindness poses a danger for itself, and for India

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Hefazat-e-Islam

 

III.  Economic Times:No room for complacency: Our own GPS is welcome but challenges remain

Topic: S &T

Category: Space  Technology

Key Points

  • India now has a global positioning system of its own over itself and its neighbourhood
  • The obvious advantage is strategic. Over this region, India does not have to depend on the satellite services of any other power to track or guide the movement of things on the ground, in the water or in the air. But this is not enough.
  • If India wants to have a blue-water navy, its navigation capability will have to be global, not regional. Further, it is far from clear that such satellites or, at the least, communication with such satellites is impervious to disruption by hostile elements.
  • With Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rockets proving viable, India faces fresh competition in the low-cost space launch market.
  • Not only that, India’s navigational edge can be matched by a regional rival by making use of burgeoning, cheap commercial launch services to put in place the appropriate satellites.
  • India has to throw open its satellite market, unbundling the government’s policymaking, regulating and operational responsibilities and allowing the private sector room to operate.
  • Satellites have to play a bigger role to enable cheap spread of broadband to rural areas in the BharatNet framework
  • Given the track record of ISRO, it should receive stepped-up funding and an expanded mandate to think bolder and bigger.
  • Since the Clinton administration threw open the US satellite positioning system to civilian use, a whole new range of services using GPS came into being, never imagined by the military planners who created the GPS.
  • Freeing up satellite capabilities can yield similar riches in India, too. The point is to not rest on the country’s space laurels, commendable as they are

Tags:ISRO,BharatNet, GPS, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin rockets,blue water navy

Note: Is it time India ushered in private participation in Space sector?

 

IV. The Business Line: EPF flip-flops

Topic: Governance

Category: Personal Finance

Key Points

  • The Centre has gone back on its decision to reduce the interest rate on Employee Provident Fund (EPF) deposits to 8.7 per cent. Faced with concerted protests, the Finance Ministry has agreed to stick to the Labour Ministry-recommended rate of 8.8 per cent for 2015-16
  • The EPFO’s ‘surpluses’, on which it relies to pay interest to subscribers, are less due to efficient investments and more due to an inefficient and opaque system which has resulted in vast numbers of inoperative accounts and unclaimed funds
  • There is a need to provide parity between various pension products. For instance, while the roll-back by the govt. will benefit organised sector employees, others, who constitute the larger part of the workforce, and have only the Public Provident Fund (PPF) or the National Pension Scheme (NPS) as options, will perforce miss out
  • This not only disincentivises the PPF and the NPS, but also works against the longer term interests of even EPF beneficiaries.
  • The developments underscore the need to build consensus and engage with all stakeholders on reforms, particularly as the Centre attempts more ‘difficult’ structural reform. Unless it is able to adequately demonstrate the benefits of reforms — to all stakeholders, not just a privileged few — it will be impossible to move ahead
  • There was nothing inherently wrong or illogical in what the Centre attempted to do with the EPF; it only failed to sell its point of view effectively
  • That would have been only possible if issues had been discussed in a transparent manner and resolution sought through discussion and collaboration. The time for reforms by decree is long past

Tags: EPF, PPF,NPS

 

F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Pacific Island Countries
  • ITBP
  • PMAY
  • IndraSawhney vs Union of India case
  • Mandal Commission
  • BharatNet
G. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1:Which of the following statement(s) is/are true?
  1. The Mandal Commission submitted in 1980 had estimated that over 50% of Indian population was “backward”
  2. Reservation percentage for OBCs is set at 27% by the GoI

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 2: Which of the following statement(s) is/are true about Pradhan MantriAwasYojana?
  1. It envisages to build 2 crore houses by 2020
  2. Lower income groups who avail of the housing scheme would be able to apply for a housing loan with interest subsidy of 6.5 percent

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Question 3:Which of the following forces are included in the group of central armed police forces?
  1. Indo Tibetan Border Police
  2. Assam Rifles
  3. Border Security Force
  4. Indian Coast Guard

a) 1 and 2

b) 1 and 3

c) 2,3 and 4

d) All the Above

 

Question 4:Which of the following system(s) of alternate medicine is/are recognized by the government of India ?
  1. Unani
  2. Acupuncture
  3. Naturopathy
  4. SOWA-RIGPA

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 3

c) 1,2 and 3

d) 1,3 and 4

 

Question 5:Which of the following statement(s) is/are true?
  1. Antyodaya ration cards are issued to such families who have the income of less than Rs. 250/- per capita per month
  2. The AAY card holder is provided 35 Kgs of rice at the rate of Rs. 5/- per Kg

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Check Your Answers

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