Comprehensive News Analysis – 30 August 2016

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:

1. ‘Chakraview’ at London Biennale

B.GS2 Related:

1. India, Myanmar to build bridges, sign pact for 69

2. Assembly drops West, renames State as Bengal

3. Parliament may shift to a new calendar

4. Replace metal pellets with polymer bullets: Expert panel

5. Centre moves on vote totaliser machines

C. GS3 Related:
D. GS4 Related
E. Important Editorials : A Quick Glance

The Hindu

1. Preparing for the Fed rate hike

2. ISRO’s scramjet on course

3. The neighbour’s concern

4. Privileging primary care

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


  1. ‘Chakraview’ at London Biennale
  • India Design Forum (IDF) will unveil their installation ‘Chakraview’ at the London Design Biennale
  • Chakraview is the portrayal of the “multiple utopias” of India.
  • It captures a sense of the country’s past and current definitions of design, by weaving together ancient myth and modern design innovations. For example, Mythological stories, which showcase the ancient communities and their strive for a perfect ideal.
  • ‘Chakraview’ includes fabrics made by Aadyam, the weaver’s initiative of the Aditya Birla Group.
  • It is a manifestation of diverse facets that capture India’s design landscape, from celebrating the country’s unique cultural heritage, to capturing the sustainability of rural crafts and innovation.
  • Circular forms, traditional textiles and ancient mythology are interwoven to display a sense of modern India in the installation that will be part of the event themed ‘Utopia by Design’ that is to feature works of architects, designers, scientists, writers and artists from over 30 countries.
  • IDF was established in 2012. It has had a long-standing partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Government of India.

 

B. GS2 Related
  1. India, Myanmar to build bridges, sign pact for 69

Category: India and the world

Topic:  India-Myanmar

Key Points:

  • India has agreed to offer support to Myanmar in “all its endeavours.”
  • This was made clear during the bilateral talks between President of Myanmar( who chose India as first country of visit after the recent elections) and Indian Prime Minister.
  • Several MoUs were signed by the two sides, important among them being agreement on construction of 69 bridges, including approach roads in the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa section of the Trilateral Highway, which will establish better connectivity between India and Southeast Asia.
  • Another significant agreement was on the upgrade of the Kalewa-Yagyi road section.
  • India also pitched its support for the national reconciliation and peace process of the Myanmar government under the “21st century Panglong Conference.”
  • India and Myanmar have bilaterally agreed to cooperate on common strategic interests and concerns, work together for safety and security of both the countries.
  • This is significant in context of the recent strategy of India’s doctrine of hot pursuit in North-East. However, along with security concerns, it was decided to uphold territorial integrity and sovereignty.

 

2. Assembly drops West, renames State as Bengal

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:  Names of States, union territories etc

Key Points:

  • The West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution changing the name of the State to Bengal in English and Bangla in Bengali.
  • The Parliament has to approve this change of name, for it to take effect.
  • The resolution, under Rule 169 of the rules of procedures of the House, was passed by voice vote.

 

  1. Parliament may shift to a new calendar

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:  Parliament

Key Points:

  • The centre has proposed a new parliamentary calendar.
  • It seeks to abolish the system of vote on account for expenses undertaken during the time period pending before budget proposals are approved.
  • For this to happen, budget proposals have to be approved on or before march 31.
What is Vote on Account?

Parliament is not able to vote the entire budget before the commencement of the new financial year (April 1). However, the government needs enough money to spend till the approval of the budget.

Therefore, a provision is made for “Vote on Account” under Article 116 of constitution of India, by which government obtains the Vote of Parliament for a sum, sufficient to incur expenditure for a part of the year.

It is normally taken for two months but during election years or when it is anticipated that the main Demands and Appropriation Bill will take longer than two months, the vote on account is for a period exceeding two months.

 

  • Why change the calendar?

 

  • Several States — in a committee headed by the Union Finance Secretary — and some Ministries demanded that the annual budget exercise should be completed before the beginning of the new fiscal year on April 1 for streamlined allocation of funds.
  • It is also partly because of implementation of GST. The next budget, in all likelihood will contain the tax rates, and must be approved before the roll-out by the Centre and States of the new tax that will subsume indirect taxes on the target deadline of April 1, 2017.
  • This Change could also necessitate the pushing back the winter session by a few months.
  • The Finance Ministry will seek the permission of the cabinet, write to Lok Sabha speaker and also to the chairperson of the Estimates Committee of the Parliament.
  • The government is also considering abolition of Railway budget from next fiscal year. Further, a committee headed by former chief economic advisor, Shankar Acharya, is mulling over the possibility of realigning the fiscal year with the calendar year.

 

 

Budget

The origin of ‘Budget system’ in India dates back to  7 April, 1860.

For the first time, a budget speech espousing Indian financial policy, was delivered by James Wilson .

The first Budget, in post-independent India, was presented on November 26, 1947 by India’s first Finance Minister R.K. Shanmugham Chetty.

The Constitution does not explicitly mention the term ‘Budget’

However, Article 112 provides: “the President shall in respect of every financial year cause to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament, the House of People (Lok Sabha) and the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), a statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the government for that year.”

 

4. Replace metal pellets with polymer bullets: Expert panel

  • An expert committee on use of pellet guns, has submitted its report to the Home Ministry.

 

  • It has recommended that:
  • Metal pellets should be replaced with polymer, rubber and paper bullets.
  • There should be regulated use of pellet guns, keeping view the safety of security forces as much as of that of the common people.
  • The seven-member expert committee, was headed by T.V.S.N Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Another alternative suggested by the committee is the use of chilli grenade shells, apart from increasing the intensity of tear gas shells, use of rubber bullets, and using chilli powder.
  • The committee also explored the use of acoustics but it was not found fit to be used in the Kashmir context as they have not been found to be a viable option wherever used.
  • The primary goal being crowd control, pump action guns from which pellets are not to be done away with.
  • Henceforth, the pellets will not be of metal but of soft material like polymer, soft plastic, rubber and even paper.
  • The Ordnance Factory Board, which manufactures the pump action guns, has been instructed to produce other types of pellets as well.
  • The committee rejected the use of Vehicle Mounted Active Denial System developed by the U.S. military.
  • This system works on millimetre wave technology, which immobilises the body and its health implications are not known yet.
  • The Border Security Force has already been asked to supply chilli grenades, capsicin-laced tear gas smoke shells to the Kashmir valley for effective crowd control.

 

5.  Centre moves on vote totaliser machines

  • SC has set deadline for introducing the machines to mix votes from booths before counting
  • A team of Union Ministers, constituted on the direction of the Prime Minister, has been deliberating on the Election Commission’s proposal in November 2008, which was seconded by the Law Commission.
  • In the pre- electronic voting machine era, counting of votes was done by mixing of ballot papers, as provided under Rule 59A of the Conduct of Election Rules.
  • Totaliser machine is envisaged as it supposedly doesn’t allow the disclosure of voting patterns across polling stations during counting, which will allay the fears of voters against any pre-poll intimidation or post-poll victimisation by any candidate.

 

C. GS3 Related


D. GS4 Related


E. Important Editorials: A Quick Glance

 

The Hindu


  1. Preparing for the Fed rate hike

Category: Economy

Topic:  India and the global economy

  • The U.S central bank is expected to increase the interest rate shortly, due to consumption-led expansion in the U.S economy.
  • The motivation to take this step stems from various factors. The domestic labour market has seen improvement and is expected to do better in the near future with more jobs being available. Further, this has boosted the real GDP of the US economy.
  • Earlier, various economists have viewed the existing easy money policy with skepticism. This has several consequences. It has lead to upsurge in liquidity and the resultant effects on asset prices and inflation, and currencies and the terms of trade in the emerging economies.
  • The fed bank has also highlighted some of the risks that lie ahead for the U.S economy.
  • Tepid business investment and suboptimal global demand combined along with the dollar’s recent gains continues to constrain the country’s exports.
  • A rate hike by the Fed will have implications for the Indian currency and interest rates that the RBI must take note of.

 

  1. ISRO’s scramjet on course

Category: Science and Technology

Topic:  India’s achievements in space

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched a rocket using a scramjet engine that was developed indigenously.
  • This is ISRO’s first major step towards developing an air breathing propulsion system. The scramjet engine functioned for around six seconds.
  • Using scramjet engine has several advantages. Firstly, scramjet engine uses oxygen present in the atmospheric air to burn the hydrogen fuel. As a result, the amount of oxygen required to be carried on board would be reduced considerably as atmospheric oxygen is utilised to burn the fuel in the first stage.
  • In general, propellant accounts for nearly 85 per cent of the weight of a rocket, and oxygen accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the weight of the propellant. Therefore, this can considerably reduce the weight.
  • Secondly, Scramjet-powered rockets also have several times greater thrust compared with rockets powered by liquid fuel or even cryogenic fuel.
  • Thirdly, Since about half of the propellant is required for the first stage to achieve the required velocity, a rocket using a scramjet engine would be significantly lighter and smaller and, therefore, cheaper.
  • Further, rockets fired by scramjet engines will be able to carry more payload.
  • The air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems were also successfully demonstrated during the maiden test flight. Since it relies on oxygen present in the atmosphere, the trajectories of scramjet engine-powered rockets are vastly different from conventional ones — rockets with scramjet engines should remain in the atmosphere for a longer period than normal rockets.
  • Usually, scramjet rockets reach a certain altitude and remain in the atmosphere for as long as possible to achieve the required velocity.
  • Deploying a commercial rocket powered by a scramjet engine would need overcoming of a few challenges.
  • Testing the engine at higher Mach speeds and prolong the period of combustion would be a challenge.
  • Since the scramjet comes into play only when the rocket goes beyond Mach 5, an engine that initially works at subsonic speed (as a ramjet) and later as a scramjet has to be developed.
  • Nonetheless, the first experimental flight using a scramjet engine is a technological demonstration of ISRO’s capability and will go a long way in redefining its position as one of the leading space agencies in the world.

 

  1. The neighbour’s concern

Category: India and its neighbourhood

Topic:  India-Pakistan 

  • The great modern strategic thinker K.M. Pannikar, opined that, India as a geo-strategic entity should be more assertive about the challenges that it faces.
  • Similarly, the strategic community has always believed that India is the ‘strategic core’ in Asia and our policies and actions will determine the future course of stability in South Asia.
  • In this context, the recent statement on Baloch by Prime Minister Modi, is largely being viewed as one that conforms to the assertive contours of our foreign policy.
  • The statement threw light on the strategic vulnerabilities that India is subjected due to adversarial neighbourhood.
  • Further, it smacked of a subtle boldness, along with a clear indication of a mixed strategy of offence and defence.
  • The foreign policy experts have viewed this as a significant development in the increasingly complex geo-political equations in the neighbourhood.
  • The significance lies in the fact that, the Prime Minister, reiterated India’s stability as the fulcrum of its neighbourhood policy.
  • It is largely opined that, world should now take note of the human rights violations committed by the Pakistani establishment upon the people of Gilgit, Baltistan and Baloch, which Pakistan conveniently forgets when it talks of human rights violations of Indian xitizens in the Kashmir valley.

The contours of the Kashmir map:

  • The people of Gilgit-Baltistan, part of Jammu and Kashmir, have been systematically isolated from their mainstream Kashmir valley.
  • According to Indian foreign policy elite, there is enough evidence to show that, the Pakistani state has left no stone unturned in preventing family and trade links to take shape between Gilgit- Baltistan and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Terrorist attacks, sectarian clashes, are a regular feature and the economic crisis has increased their problem.
  • There are reports that, improvement of the Gilgit-Baltistan section of the Karakoram Highway linking Chinese Xinjiang with PoK has been entrusted to Chinese defence and security personnel.
  • The constitution of India recognizes the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as its citizens.
  • This has been forgotten in the stalemate.
  • Therefore, the Prime Minister’s statement, which espouses that, Gilgit-Baltistan, Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir are all equal stakeholders and the issue cannot be solved by focusing on Kashmir alone, gains significance.

The Baloch gambit:

  • Mention of Balochistan, marks a water shed movement in India’s foreign policy in general , and Indo-pak bilateral relations in particular.
  • Apart from Pakistan, the mention of Baloch has stirred the Chinese diplomatic community.
  • The Gwadar port, which is a strategic port for China’s CPEC, is located on the Baloch province. Further, CPEC( as part of China’s One Belt One Road) will run through the Indian-claimed territory of PoK and then to Gwadar port on Balochistan coast.
  • Hence, the India’s reference to Baloch has stirred up debates in Chinese diplomatic community.
  • For China, the establishment of a viable link across Karakoram from Xinjiang to Gwadar, is a calculated geostrategic move, to enhance its strategic ambitions along with economic development. Further, this route, provides a detour to maritime routes across South China sea and Malacca Straits.
  • Balochistan, along with Nepal and the Naga Hills, formed a ring of defence, that, defined the security perimeter of undivided India prior to Independence.
  • Balochistan, with its strategic location on both maritime and land routes from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula into the subcontinent, was the gateway to the the vital energy reserves of the Gulf.
  • Post August 1947, Balochistan, was forced to accede to Pakistan. India has not questioned the status of Balochistan within a sovereign Pakistan state. If the area were to secede, Pakistan would be a greatly shrunken country.
  • The Baloch are an ethnic group, spread across Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A major part of Pashtuns in Pakistan are ethically linked to Pashtuns in Afghanistan.
  • The Balochs have faced brutal state repression, especially since 2003.There has been a considerable churn of the demographic profile in the region, and this has been possible due to the Pakistani state’s calculated strategy of having maximum central government control over the province.

Way forward:

  • Notwithstanding the fact that, this gambit would now draw global focus, and its legitimate concerns of human rights are perfectly in consonance with India’s democratic traditions, the strategic community advises caution.
  • A multitude of factors like Chinese response to this policy, India’s economic interests in the region , securing our defence and the like must be factored in before moving ahead .
  • To maintain its strategic importance in the region, experts believe that, the Indian diplomatic elite must focus on multi-track approach. It should ensure a robust anti-terrorism infrastructure, keep the channel for talks open, and ensure palpable reduction of tensions in the valley .
  • Although, the statement expressing legitimate concerns is welcomed, it is too early to expect any immediate radical shifts.

 

4. Privileging primary care

Category: Polity and Governance

Topic:  Policies in education

The issue:

Niti Aayog, has prepared the draft National Medical Commission Bill.
 
It seeks to set up a new body that will replace the medical council of India(MCI).

Challenges in Medical care:

  • India faces twin challenges in the medical care. There is a significant burden of both infectious and chronic diseases, on one hand and medical professionals being concentrated in urban areas on the other.

Dealing with the challenge:

  • This can be dealt by educating a cadre of medical professionals willing and able to deal with these issues. However, using medical education as the primary tool for dealing with India’s health challenges may not effectively address the problem.

Reservations in the draft Bill

  • While creating a new structure to replace the MCI, it is important to envision a new framework to train a cadre of medical professionals equipped to deal with the needs of the people.
  • Another important recommendation of the committee is to allow “for profit” entities to establish medical colleges.
  • The justification given is that
  • The micromanagement in giving approval to new medical colleges by the MCI encourages rent-seeking
  • Cap on fees in private colleges discourages their entry and thereby undermines the objective of a rapid expansion of medical education, and
  • Enforcing regulation on fees is difficult.
  • Experts are of the view that, this recommendation to permit “for profit” colleges will undermine the objective of providing a cadre of medical professionals able and willing to work in small towns and villages.
  • Policy advocates espouse that, efforts need to be made to make the career of a primary care physician attractive, as these professionals are the ones’ who are required to work in small towns and villages.
  • At present, the role model of aspiring medical students is the emergency care physician and surgeons performing highly complex surgeries. The reality on the ground is that most lives are saved and most pain is alleviated by the primary care physician.
  • Throughout the developed world, there is a great emphasis on primary care doctors, and most medical graduates enter primary care. But this is not so in India, and needs to change.
  • We need to make primary care the first option of most medical graduates in India as well. We need to ensure that medical aspirants know as much as possible what their working lives are going to be like

Infrastructural shortcomings:

  • A rapid expansion of medical colleges is simply unattainable. More than any other limitation, it is the severe shortage of suitably qualified teachers in certain absolutely essential specialties (for example, in forensic science, community medicine, tuberculosis and radio diagnosis) that is the challenge.
  • This is due to years of failure to take any steps to deal with this obvious problem, and for this, the blame has to be placed on the MCI which failed to provide leadership and guidance on this faculty shortage.
  • It will take some years to train enough teachers.
  • Therefore, experts opine that, no more medical colleges should be opened till sufficient faculty are available.
  • Private colleges hire faculty from government colleges which cannot be a long term solution.
  • Regarding MCI, the bill envisages an elected body instead of a body with only nominated members, who would be selected mainly by the Central government and a few by the State governments.
  • The bill says, the proposed National Medical Commission should have only 20 members, with a full-time chairperson and secretary.
  • With the MCI now an unwieldy body comprising more than 100 members, this proposal is a good idea, but it would be sensible that at least a section of the membership of the commission should be elected. A mix of nominated and elected members will encourage balanced decision making.

Positives of the bill:

  • The recommendations to streamline the administrative functions, create four verticals to oversee undergraduate and postgraduate education, and establish a medical assessment and rating board as also a board for medical registration all have the potential to produce major positive changes.
  • The fundamental objective, however, should not be forgotten: creating a cadre of medical professionals trained and equipped to work effectively given the social conditions of the country.


F. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn:
  • Vote on Account
  • Budget
  • Easy money Policy
  • Scramjet propulsion versus Ramjet propulsion
  • Air breathing system
G. BILLS/ACTS/SCHEMES/ORGS IN NEWS
1. Draft National Medical Commission bill http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/new_initiatives/MCI%20Bill%20Final.pdf
2. ISRO http://isro.gov.in/update/28-aug-2016/successful-flight-testing-of-isros-scramjet-engine-technology-demonstrator

 

H. Fun with Practice Questions 🙂
Question 1: Consider the following statements?
  1. The maximum time between two sessions of a parliament cannot be more than six months
  2. The word ‘Budget’ is mentioned under article 112 of the constitution.

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 2: Consider the following statements?
  1. Vote on Account relates only to expenditure side of the budget
  2. Interim budget can be passed by only care taker government and relates to both revenue and expenditure side of the budget

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 3: Education, under 7th schedule, of the constitution, is mentioned under which list

a) State List

b) Union List

c) Concurrent List

d) Residual List


Question 4: consider the following:
  1. When the currency appreciates, the exports tend to be expensive
  2. When the currency depreciates, the imports tend to be cheaper

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2


Question 5: Scramjet engine uses less oxygen on board because
a) It uses the atmospheric oxygen to burn the fuel via air breathing propulsion system

b) It is designed for low velocity and low earth orbits, hence using lesser oxygen

c) It has the ability to generate oxygen within its system by a reduction reaction

d) None of the above

 

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