UPSC 2017: Comprehensive News Analysis - December 11

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Supreme Court rejects plea for single school board
2. Right to Privacy after Death of a Person
3. Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/BILATERAL RELATIONS
1. Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN
2. WTO meet in Buenos Aires
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Smart Cities and the role of Steel
2. Netherlands to offer support to Startups in India
3. Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill 2017
4. Regulations under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
5. Hallmarking of Gold to be made mandatory
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Supreme Court rejects plea for single school board

  • In 2011, a three-judge Bench led by Justice J.M. Panchal, in an appeal filed by the Tamil Nadu government, had held that a common syllabus, especially for children aged between six and 14, would achieve the “code of common culture”.
  • The judgment had even viewed the idea of a common syllabus as a precursor to the Uniform Civil Code and an antidote to fanaticism and divisiveness.
  • On December 8, 2017, a three-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice dismissed a petition filed by primary school teacher Neeta Upadhyay for ‘one nation, one education board’ to end disparity in knowledge dissemination during the formative years of a child.

Present Status

  • At present there are more than 50 recognised educational boards in India of various types- all India boards like CBSE and ICSE, state level boards, international boards like IB and IGCSE and open schooling boards like NIOS. Each has its own schedules, pedagogy and curriculum.

Issue area

  • CBSE itself does not come out in flying colours. There are more than 15,000 CBSE schools in all over India. Why is it then that in international tests like PISA and TIMSS, which benchmark school students in various countries, India languishes at the very bottom? Why does the corporate world constantly bemoans India’s unemployable youth?

We should have Single board

  • Firstly, since educational boards have different schedules (For e.g.: The academic year in schools of the Maharashtra state boards begins in June while that of CBSE does in April), students migrating from one part of the country to another often face problems.
  • Secondly, policies followed with regards to the number of languages taught and the way they are taught differ drastically. For instance, CBSE follows the 3 language norm upto VIIIth standard and then on its 2 languages, while state boards usually follow the three language formula throughout, the 3 languages usually being English, Hindi and the state language.
    • Moreover while boards like ICSE provide exposure to classics like the works of William Shakespeare, boards like the CBSE focus more on the communicative aspects of the language.
  • Thirdly, marking schemes of boards vary considerably- while some are lenient with many students scoring in the higher 90s, in some it is an achievement to cross the 90 figure itself. This creates a playing field which is not at all levelled when it comes to seeking admissions into colleges for courses which are not based on entrance exams.
  • When it comes to entrance exams like NEET, students of state boards are placed at a disadvantage vis a vis the CBSE students as such entrance exams are more or less based on the NCERT syllabus.
  • Separate education facilities are inherently unequal and violate the doctrine of equality
    • The judgment for the Court, had referred to the iconic S. case of Brown versus Board of Education, which held that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
    • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional.

We should not have Single boards

  • State Boards are cheaper when compared to CBSE & ICSE and it help’s poor students.
  • When there are multiple boards, its sparks competition amongst these boards. Every board’s incentive is to be able to capture and get numerous schools affiliated under it.

2. Right to Privacy after Death of a Person

 In News

  • The Supreme Court has thrown open the floor for debate on whether or not an individual’s fundamental right to privacy subsists after death.
  • The question rose in a challenge raised against a Madras High Court order to produce the Aadhaar data records of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for verification of her fingerprints.
  • Petition
  • The Supreme Court stayed the High Court order on a petition filed by leaders of the All India Anna Dravida Munntra Kazhagam.
  • The party leaders argue that the fundamental right to privacy continues to remain alive even after the death of an individual.
  • The petition said the “intrusion” by the High Court into Jayalalithaa’s privacy would not have happened had she been alive. The court would have been forced to get her consent.

Supreme Court to decide on the Issue

  • The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether or not the High Court’s order “amounts to intrusion into the fundamental right to privacy of a third party”.
  • Privacy is a concomitant of the right of the individual to exercise control over his or her personality.
  • The issue raises a significant question as a part of modern human’s personal life and identity is embedded in the virtual world.
  • The case raises the issue whether or not courts and authorities can order to see an individual’s personal data without consent after his or her death.
  • The examination has to be done against the backdrop of the landmark verdict of nine judges of the Supreme Court which upheld privacy as a fundamental right.
  • The judgment is silent on whether privacy continues after death. Or does the definition of “life” in the judgment extend to after-life.

3. Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill

 

  • The proposal by the government to introduce a Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill in the winter session of Parliament — wherein a husband who resorts to instant triple talaq can be jailed for up to three years and fined — needs closer scrutiny as there is stigma attached to criminal conviction.
  • On August 22, 2017, a five judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in a majority 3:2 judgment, set aside the practice of Talaq-e-Biddat (triple talaq); the minority view of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, who led the Bench, and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer was that triple divorce is a valid form of divorce.

Can Parliament make a law?

  • If Parliament wants, it can enact a law on it. But nowhere in its judgment has the top court said that triple divorce is to be criminally punished.
  • No one can question Parliament’s power to legislate with respect to personal laws under Entry 5 of the Concurrent List. But in the Supreme Court judgment, the majority of three judges had already “set aside” triple divorce.
  • Under Article 141 of the Constitution, this is the “law declared by the Supreme Court”. Therefore, there is basically no need for any law as triple divorce no longer dissolves marriage.
  • But since the court did not explicitly state the consequences of its three pronouncements, Parliament may say that the three pronouncements will count as one revocable divorce.
  • This is the law in most Muslim countries whose examples were cited by the government in the top court.

Is punishment justified?

  • The stand of the government, which, citing data, said that its decision was influenced by over 60 cases of triple divorce even after the Supreme Court’s decision is not correct.
  • The belief that if wrongful conduct becomes a crime, people will refrain from indulging in it is both erroneous and not been substantially proved by any authentic empirical research.
  • Since triple divorce no more dissolves marriage, its pronouncement is inconsequential and in no way adversely affects either the wife or society.
  • The cardinal principle of criminal law is presumption of innocence and the burden of proof is always on the prosecution which has to prove the case beyond a shadow of a doubt.
  • The husband will be entitled to acquittal claiming the benefit of doubt. The law makes the husband liable for the payment of maintenance.
  • The imprisonment of three years for triple divorce is excessive, arbitrary and irrational, and violative of Article 14.
  • Ideally, divorce should not be treated by divorcees as the end of the world. Our women do not need men to lead a dignified life.
  • We must remove the stigma attached to divorces. Triple divorce should be nothing more than civil contempt of the Supreme Court.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN

 In news

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the group that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize urged nuclear nations to adopt a UN treaty banning atomic weapons in order to prevent the end of the World.

Background

ICAN is a coalition of 468 grassroots non-governmental groups that campaigned for a UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by 122 nations in July. The treaty is not signed by and would not apply to any of the states that already have nuclear arms.

2. WTO meet in Buenos Aires

In news

World Trade Organization’s 11th biennial Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires seeks to define the future contours of multilateral global trade.

The proposals in the conference are those relating to new rules on farm subsidies, the elimination of support for unsustainable fisheries, and the regulation of e-commerce.

Contentious Issues

  • With the backing of more than 100 countries, a joint proposal from India and China to eliminate the most trade-distorting farm subsidies worth $160 billion in several industrialized economies is arguably the most contentious agenda item at the Ministerial.
  • The two countries see this as a prerequisite to address the prevailing imbalance in the Agreement on Agriculture, which unfairly benefits developed countries.
  • The other major dispute is on finding a so-called permanent solution to the large subsidies that underpin public stock-holding programmes to bolster food security in the developing world.
  • The G-33 coalition — which includes Indonesia, China and India — seeks a complete exemption from commitments to reduce subsidies, such as minimum support prices, from this poverty-alleviation programme.
  • India has declined to negotiate any more trade-offs on this proposal at Buenos Aires, or accept calls for stringent transparency requirements to monitor these schemes.
  • The EU and Brazil have expressed broad support for the G-33 coalition’s position on public stock-holding programmes.

But in return they seek agreement on their own proposal to reduce trade-distorting subsidies on a percentage basis, in both advanced and developing economies.

Trump’s Protectionist Approach

  • The existential crisis facing the WTO is heightened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s combative approach to the multilateral institutional framework.
  • Washington has been exploring an alternative, unilateral route away from the formal dispute resolution mechanism of the Geneva-based body to settle perceived and real trade conflicts with partners.
  • It has blocked fresh appointments to fill vacancies on the seven-member WTO appellate body.
  • The risk of Mr. Trump’s protectionist rhetoric translating into economic barriers remains real.
  • The response to that challenge is to make the gains of globalization more visible and its transient downsides politically less painful.

Commitment to Multilaterism

  • A vast majority of the 164 WTO member nations — led by India, China and South Africa are demanding that the final declaration of the WTO’s highest decision-making body reaffirms commitment to multilateralism and rules-based trading system as well as negotiations with development agenda at the centre.
  • The Doha Round had begun in Doha in 2001 with the ‘development agenda’ — to improve trading prospects of developing nations — at the heart of the talks.
  • However, countries, mostly from the developed world, want what they call the ‘21st century trade issues’ — such as e-commerce, investment facilitation, matters relating to small firms and gender equality — to be discussed for rule-making to enhance the relevance of the WTO.
  • India, and several countries mainly from the developing world, are against introduction of such ‘new issues’ into the Doha Round, saying it is important to first resolve outstanding issues such as the ones relating to food security and protection of poor farmers before taking up new topics.

Support to India, China, South Africa

  • According to officials privy to the developments here, India, China and South Africa have the support of around 120 WTO member nations on the issue of continuation of the ‘development’ mandate of the Doha Round without any dilution.
  • On the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM), an overwhelming majority of the WTO members have questioned efforts by the U.S. to block the appointment of judges to the appellate body — a move that they say would undermine the DSM.
  • The DSM is recognized as a fundamental pillar of the organization and enjoys wide support and confidence among the membership which values it as a fair, effective and efficient mechanism to solve trade problems.
  • The sources also said India’s joint proposal with China asking the developed nations to eliminate the most trade-distorting form of farm subsidies, known in WTO jargon as Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) has the backing of about 120 WTO members including from Africa.
  • Developed countries have more than 90% of global AMS entitlements amounting to nearly $160 billion. Most developing countries, including India and China, do not have AMS entitlements.
  • On the ‘permanent solution’ to public stockholding for food security purposes, India’s demand has the support of 120-odd nations.
  • India had made it clear that it would not accept a ‘permanent solution’ with onerous conditions that in turn make it tough for the [Indian] government or other developing countries as well to meet the food security needs of their people.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Smart Cities and the role of Steel

  • Project Smart Cities is a visionary project of the Government of India for sustainable, high quality of life in terms of infrastructure, mobility and connectivity, technology, environment, availability of resources and overall living conditions and experience.
  • The government’s Smart City initiative is an urban renewal and retrofitting programme to develop 100 such cities in the country.
  • The move envisages a major facelift of the existing inadequate infrastructure, including roads, flyovers, airports, residential areas, city sewage systems, community areas, including parks, shopping centers, hospitals and schools.

Benefits of Steel

  • For structures that are intended to have at least a 100-year life cycle with minimal maintenance, the answer lies in steel.
  • If made with steel, all sewage, drainage, water, casing for cable for Internet or transmission, will ensure zero wastage and maintenance.
  • If roads are laid with concrete strengthened with steel, it translates to lesser damage over a period. Buildings across the globe are steel intensive.
  • Drinking water pipes made of stainless steel for transporting water after filtration are not only good for health but also stop leakage of potable water, a precious commodity today.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks has used stainless steel to dramatically reduce the city’s water loss.
  • Bridges, culverts and crash barriers of steel will protect valuable lives. Thus, stepping ahead with steel for smart cities will trigger development, with no debris and faster execution of projects.
  • The assets thus created promise to be long lasting. Steel is also 100% recyclable, and thus, environment-friendly.
  • Steel, by virtue of its physical properties, emerges a strong component in and contributor to the fabrication of infrastructure required for smart cities.
  • In many landmark buildings, such as the Lotus Temple in Delhi, stainless steel rebars used have a lifespan of about 300 years. Creating new smart cities or upgrading old cities is fastest and cost effective with steel structures.

Myth of high costs

  • In many government projects relating to roads, bridges, buildings, construction of railways, shipping and rural roads, the principle of life cycle cost will play a decisive role in the sanctioning of the project design.
  • The use of steel has a major bearing on the life of the project. In the long run, it will reduce life cycle costs. There might be several projects that are steel-intensive may see higher initial costs.
  • But, in the long run, their overall cost comes down — determined by factors such as material, quality, repairs needed, the time for execution of the projects, etc. All such projects will add to the inventory of national assets.
  • Across the globe, cities are marching towards becoming smart cities. In the attempt, they are either coming out with unique solutions using existing infrastructure or are adopting eco-friendly and sustainable models to solve problems of traffic, drainage, commuting, accommodation, and the like.
  • In Detroit, Michigan, in the U.S., dumped wartime steel sheds are being brought back to life. These are being converted into places of accommodation which look chic and provide low-cost living in an artful manner.
  • Smart cities will house cohesive societies with intensive steel use, and will include advanced architecture and city planning, buildings made with eco-friendly yet sturdy and durable materials, advanced technology for faster communication and transportation and adequate water resources, all being energy efficient as well.

2. Netherlands to offer support to Startups in India

  • The Netherlands is looking for Indian start-ups in the fields of ports, logistics, clean tech and medical science to scale up and contribute to its thriving port and port-related sectors as well as to the medical industry.
  • The Dutch environment is conducive for start-ups and the country attracts companies from all over the world. In the past year, the growth of start-ups in the Netherlands was 31%.
  • Netherlands has some sort of regional sectoral division. Rotterdam would be for port, clean tech, medical technology, food and energy. Eindhoven, which was rated as the smartest region in the world, focusses on high tech, mobility and design. In Amsterdam, start-ups would be looking at sectors like creative industries, the Internet and the sharing economy.
  • Netherlands is also looking at Indian conglomerates to establish base to expand their operations in Europe, especially after Brexit.
  • Discussions are on  with various other Indian companies to use Rotterdam as their base for Europe and the western world.
  • Many of these firms are seriously considering this, which is partly fuelled by the Brexit.
  • About 200 Indian firms have set up operations in the Netherlands, the sixth-largest FDI investor in India.

3. Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill 2017

 In news

  • Recently, a bill tabled in Parliament in August — the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill 2017 has been making news due to its controversial ‘bail-in’ clauses.

What the Bill seeks to do?

  • The FRDI Bill is part of a larger, more comprehensive approach by the Centre towards systematic resolution of all financial firms — banks, insurance companies and other financial intermediaries.
  • The Bill comes together with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to spell out the procedure for the winding up or revival of an ailing company.

The Bill’s main provisions

  • The Bill provides for the setting up of a Resolution Corporation to replace the existing Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation  which will be tasked with monitoring financial firms, anticipating their risk of failure, taking corrective action and resolving them in case of failure.
  • The corporation is also tasked with providing deposit insurance up to a certain limit yet to be specified, in the event of a bank failure.
  • The Corporation will also be tasked with classifying financial firms on their risk of failure – low, moderate, material, imminent, or critical. It will take over the management of a company once it is deemed critical.

Concerns abound

  • Among other tools, the FRDI Bill also empowers the Corporation to bail-in the company.
  • While a bail-out is the use of public funds to inject capital into an ailing company, a bail-in involves the use of depositors’ funds to achieve those ends.
  • This can be done either by cancelling the bank’s liabilities, or converting them into other forms, such as equity.
  • This has caused a lot of concern among depositors who are worried they may lose their hard-earned money deposited with banks.
  • However, the fact is that the risk is no more or no less than it ever was.
  • The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation provide deposit insurance of up to Rs. 1 lakh.
  • The rest is forfeited in the event of a bank failure. The FRDI Bill has not specified the insured amount yet, but it is unlikely to be lower than that amount, as the limit was set way back in 1993.

4. Regulations under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

 In news
 

The regulations for the grievance-handling procedure under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code have been notified, wherein the filing fee will be refunded to the stakeholder in case the complaint is found to be not “frivolous or malicious.”

Need for Regulations

  • The need for a specific regulation rose following the 2008 financial crisis, which witnessed a large number of high-profile bankruptcies.
  • With the Centre also actively encouraging people to engage more with the banking sector both through schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana and moves like demonetisation  it becomes critical to protect savers and those joining the formal economy in case a bank or insurance firm starts failing.

Working of Regulations

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), which is implementing the Code, has notified the regulations which would be applicable for all stakeholders, including creditors, debtors and service providers.
  • Depending on the complaint, the IBBI can order a probe or issue a show cause notice to the entities concerned.
  • The regulations provide for an objective and transparent procedure for disposal of grievances and complaints by the IBBI, that does not spare a mischievous service provider, but does not harass an innocent service provider.
  • Several cases have been filed under the Code and there have been instances of alleged complaints against entities involved in the insolvency process.
  • Under the regulatory framework, a complaint can be filed against insolvency professional agency, insolvency professional, insolvency professional entity and information utility.

5. Hallmarking of Gold to be made mandatory

  • The government is moving ahead to implement mandatory hallmarking (HM) of gold which is likely to impart transparency to the jewellery sector.

Benefits of Hallmarking

  • A BIS hallmark certifies the purity of gold used.
  • With mandatory hallmarking, consumers may tend to prefer trusted names that typically comply with the law, leading to higher sales volumes for such vendors.
  • Presently, a majority of the jewelry hallmarked in India is not accounted for and not reported to the BIS.
  • Unaccounted hallmarking happens for several reasons:
    1. jewelers do not have BIS licence;
    2. hallmarking centers do not take samples or carry out testing and hence not recorded or invoiced;
    3. jewelers evade BIS royalty and service tax;
  • Hence HM centres prefer to conduct business that is unaccounted in the books.
  • Several thousands of jewellers all over India carry out hallmarking without any BIS licence [thus] cheating customers.
  • Small and marginal jewellers are are not interested in hallmarking
  • The sector is still used by many as a conduit for unaccounted money.
  • Once the mandatory hallmarking regime arrives the income from tax revenue could potentially be doubled.
  • However, jewelers will get six months’ time to obtain the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) license and to also sell the existing non-hallmarked stock.
  • Unaccounted funds from household income are usually routed to the jewelry trade.
  • A large number of jewelers are trying to resist mandatory hallmarking as they want to continue selling under-caratage jewelry and make more money.
  • Mandatory hallmarking is expected to be introduced in a phased manner, starting from metro cities.
 

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

E. PRELIMS FACT

Nothing here for Today!!!

 

F. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Government of India.
  2. BIS is a founder member of International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy.
  2. The code will be able to protect the interests of small investors.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. World Trade Organization’s 11th biennial Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires seeks to define the future contours of multilateral global trade.
  2. The G-33 coalition includes Indonesia, China and India.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. ICAN is a coalition of NGOs.
  2. UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would not apply to any of the states that already have nuclear arms.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 5. Consider the following statements:
  1. A bail-in is the use of public funds to inject capital into an ailing company.
  2. A bail-out involves the use of depositors’ funds to revive an ailing company.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
 
  1. Is India ready for a uniform civil code? Explain in the light of recent SC verdict on Triple Talaq.
  2. Discuss the role of North Korea and the US in escalating nuclear crisis in the World. Suggest some solutions to resolve the crisis.
 
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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