24 Aug 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
GOVERNANCE
1. Centre wants Supreme Court to get tough with FB, YouTube
2. WhatsApp bats for user privacy
3. Court seeks EC response on Congress petitions
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. India, China to improve military links
2. Trump denies wrongdoing, vows to stay out of probe
3. The new Pakistan PM faces a number of challenges
4. Trump trying to fuel racial tensions: S. Africa
C. GS3 Related
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. The worst floods in a century, Kerala tells SC
ECONOMY
1. EPFO data not the right gauge of employment level
2. U.S., China swap tariffs on billions in commodities
3. SEBI to review MF expense ratio limits
4. NCLT may receive new cases worth Rs.70,000 crore
5. India to grow at 7.5% in 2018, 2019: Moody’s
6. NSC seeks comment on GDP back series
7. Odisha aims to be hub of east with port-led manufacturing
8. ‘Flood damage may slash India’s coffee output by 20%’
INTERNAL SECURITY
1. Cybersecurity budgets of Indian firms have tripled
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. DNA reveals first inter-species child
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
DISASTER MANAGEMENT
1. Accepting help
INDIAN HISTORY
1. Why history matters so much
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Centre wants Supreme Court to get tough with FB, YouTube

 
  • Finding the efforts by Internet giants to curb circulation of online videos of sexual violence against women and children inadequate, the government is likely to seek “stricter directions” to service providers, such as Facebook and YouTube, from the Supreme Court.
  • The directions sought will include considerably reducing the time taken by the intermediary to comply with content removal requests under certain Sections of the IT Act to less than 10 hours from about 36 hours at present, an official source said.

Monitoring tools

  • The government also wants that the service providers be asked to employ agencies for identification and removal of sexually violent content, particularly videos relating to child pornography and rape, besides deploying “proactive monitoring tools.”
  • This was discussed during a high-level meeting earlier this week to firm up recommendations on removal of sexually violent content, particularly videos relating to child pornography and rape.
  • While evaluating the progress on previous Supreme Court orders in this regard, it was found that the compliance by the service providers was mediocre.
  • Additionally, the government is also keen on intermediaries sharing certain data with law enforcement agencies to identify the origin of such content.
  • The issue of tracing the origin of “unlawful” content is already a bone of contention between the government and WhatsApp, which was recently pulled up by the Centre after being misused to spread fake news.
  • Intermediaries should be asked to keep a complete trail of forwarding of unlawful content and verify and maintain identifiers of the users that can help attribute information to the users.
  • On the issue of assistance to law enforcement agencies on identification of offender, the response is now “often delayed and meta data of end-to-end communication is not provided.
  • They need to ensure 100% compliance as far as requests from law enforcement agencies are concerned.
  • In October last year, the Supreme Court gave several directions for removal of sexually violent content from the Internet.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs was later tasked with monitoring compliance on some agreed action points by both the government and the service providers.
  • The ongoing proceedings in the matter started after the Supreme Court took suo motu note of a letter by an NGO on rampant circulation of sexual abuse videos.

Keyword repository

  • The source said the government has compiled a keyword repository of over 500 English and Hindi words.These have been shared with the intermediaries so that they can issue warning message for searching about child pornography or rape and gang rape videos.
  • We have seen only partial compliance by the Internet giants. Likewise, to an earlier instruction to set up an easy reporting mechanism for the public on their platform, Facebook has complied partially, while WhatsApp and Twitter are yet to comply.

2. WhatsApp bats for user privacy

 

  • The Indian government and WhatsApp appear to be at loggerheads over tracing the origin of fake messages.
  • The messaging platform has said it will not comply with the government’s demand as the move will undermine the privacy of WhatsApp users.

Arguments given by Whatsapp

  • People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families.
  • Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating potential for serious misuse. WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections.

What the Government expects?

  • However, a source in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that given the increased instances of crime due to fake news circulated on various platforms, including WhatsApp, the government expects the company to continue to explore technical innovations whereby, in case of large-scale circulation of provocative and nefarious messages leading to violence and crime, the origin can be ascertained.
  • WhatsApp needs to set up an Indian corporate entity subject to Indian laws in a defined time frame.

3. Court seeks EC response on Congress petitions

 

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the response of the Election Commission of India on separate petitions filed by Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Kamal Nath highlighting that lakhs of voters have been found to be fake and that only a small portion of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) units have arrived so far in the run-up to the forthcoming Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the Commission, which the petitions said was the “watchdog of free and fair elections” Mr. Nath and Mr. Pilot, both represented by advocate Varun K. Chopra, said the Commission is “duty-bound to circumvent the pressure and ascertain that ensuing elections are free from any impediments in order to uphold the democratic sanctity and fundamental rights of the voter”.
  • Nath contended there were 60 lakh duplicate, repeat, multiple, illegal, invalid, false, etc, entries/voters in the electoral rolls of Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Pilot alleged that there were nearly a crore such fake voters.
  • “No voter shall be deleted from the final voter list without intimation to political parties after the election notification,” Mr. Pilot’s petition said.
  • The petitions pointed out that only 5.88 lakh VVPAT units out of the requisite 16.15 lakh units had been delivered till date and that there was delay in manufacturing and procuring them.

BACKGROUND: VVPATS

What are VVPAT machines?

The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail is a method that provides feedback to voters. It is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines. It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.

How do VVPAT machines work?

When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate. It allows the voter to verify his/her choice. 

  • After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard. VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only.

What is the Election Commission’s stand on the issue?

  • The EC has time and again reiterated that EVMs cannot be tampered with.
  • With the Opposition insisting on doing away with the EVMs and the controversy refusing to die down, the EC has thrown open a challenge, inviting computer experts and political leaders to prove that the machines can be hacked, in the presence of the EVM manufacturers.

What does the Supreme Court say?

  • The Supreme Court on April 13, 2017, asked the Centre to respond by May 8 to a plea by the BSP to comply with a 2013 Supreme Court directive to introduce paper trail in EVMs.
  • In 2013, the SC had asked the Commission to introduce paper trails in EVMs in a phased manner for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.
    • EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system.
    • With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in democratic system.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. India, China to improve military links

2. Trump denies wrongdoing, vows to stay out of probe

 

  • President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and said he would remain “uninvolved” after he attacked Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Justice Department .
  • Trump intensified his criticism of the Justice Department, as the White House grappled to respond to Tuesday’s conviction of Manafort on multiple fraud counts and a plea deal struck by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that implicated the President.
  • Trump also said the stock market would crash if he were impeached and attacked Cohen for “flipping” on him.
  • He reprised a litany of complaints about the Justice Department and the FBI, attacking both without providing evidence they had treated him and his supporters unfairly.
  • Trump told Fox he respected Mr. Manafort for the work he had done for prominent Republican politicians, adding that some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.
  • Trump blamed Mr. Sessions for what he called corruption at Justice .
  • However, Mr. Trump said he would not interfere in department matters.
  • Sessions, a long-time U.S. senator and early supporter of Mr. Trump’s presidential bid, drew Mr. Trump’s ire when he recused himself in March 2017 from issues involving the 2016 White House race.
  • That removed him from oversight of the federal special counsel’s investigation of Russia’s alleged role in the election and whether Mr. Trump’s campaign worked with Moscow to influence the vote.

Payoffs to women

  • Trump said Manafort and Cohen were charged with matters totally unrelated to his presidential campaign, although Cohen told a federal court in New York that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments before the 2016 election to silence two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
  • Without providing evidence, the President said the campaign finance violations to which Cohen pleaded guilty were not a crime, even though prosecutors and Cohen agreed they were.
  • Asked if he directed Cohen to make the payments, Mr. Trump only said that Cohen made both deals. He attacked Cohen for agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors that made him look bad.

3. The new Pakistan PM faces a number of challenges

 

  • Tensions with Afghanistan, faltering relations with the U.S., and chronically poor ties with India. Pakistan today stands isolated, observers say, and bringing it back into the fold is a formidable task for its new premier Imran Khan.
  • Achieving that is not likely to be easy for the first-time Prime Minister and foreign affairs novice who on Saturday took the reins of a country that has been widely accused of stoking regional insecurity by backing extremists — claims Islamabad has repeatedly denied.
  • Ties with the U.S. cooled further in January, when President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of “lies” and “duplicity” in the war on terror.

Anti-terror campaign

  • Khan has repeatedly blamed Pakistan’s participation in the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign for the surge in terrorism on home soil over the last decade.
  • Now as Premier, in a tone noticeably softer than his earlier anti-U.S. comments, Mr. Khan has said he wants a “balanced relationship”, instead of “fighting America’s war” in exchange for aid.
  • Khan has long advocated a negotiated settlement with Islamist insurgents, a commitment that led to the criticism that he is soft on militants and earned him the nickname “Taliban Khan”. If not in Washington, he may find a sympathetic ear in Kabul.
  • Imran Khan is very well positioned in building trust again with Afghanistan.But given the current freeze with Washington, said Ms. Yusuf, Pakistan’s “drift from the U.S. camp to the China camp will continue”.
  • Beijing has long been Islamabad’s “all-weather friend”, and the strategic relationship was stepped up with the 2013 launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project.
  • Khan has vowed to strengthen it further.
  • But CPEC deals are opaque, and amid fears about Pakistan’s ability to repay Chinese loans, his party has vowed more transparency. That may be difficult in a country where any criticism that may hurt ties with Beijing is considered taboo.

Challenges with India

  • It is arch-rival India which remains Pakistan’s biggest foreign policy challenge, however.
  • The nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars since the end of British rule in 1947, including two over Kashmir, the vast Himalayan territory that is claimed by both.
  • But reaching out to New Delhi is a path fraught with risk for civilian leaders in Pakistan, where foreign and defence policies are dominated by the powerful military.
  • Khan’s charged anti-India statements prompted many in both countries to predict that ties could suffer under his leadership.
  • But in an apparent about-turn after his poll victory, Mr. Khan has advocated peace as the only way forward.
  • In the end, observers say, the extent to which Mr. Khan can influence Pakistan’s foreign policy will depend on what the military deems acceptable.

4. Trump trying to fuel racial tensions: S. Africa

 

  • South Africa has accused U.S. President Donald Trump of fuelling racial tensions on Thursday, after he said farmers were being forced off their land and many of them were killed.
  • Trump’s tweet touched on the overwhelmingly white ownership of farmland in South Africa — one of the most sensitive issues in the country’s post-apartheid history.
  • South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past- said the government.
  • The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said that it would meet officials at the U.S. embassy to challenge the unfortunate comments, which were “based on false information.”
  • Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will also speak directly with her American counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it added.
  • Trump’s tweet apparently followed a segment on conservative Fox News about Pretoria’s plan to change the Constitution to speed up the expropriation of land without compensation, to redress racial imbalances in land ownership.

C. GS3 Related

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. The worst floods in a century, Kerala tells SC

 

  • Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose filed a sworn affidavit in the Supreme Court detailing the trauma and scale of rescue and relief operations during the most devastating floods the State has seen in a century.
  • The affidavit pays tribute to the overwhelming help received from unexpected quarters, including local fishermen of Kerala and the Odisha Fire Services.
  • Jose said the floods surpassed the havoc caused by the 1924 floods and is now the most intense floods to have hit the State in the last 100 years.
  • The Government of Kerala sought immediate assistance of the armed forces and deployment of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from the Union government to address rescue and relief operations keeping in mind the colossal magnitude of the floods spanning 13 of the 14 districts in the State.
  • The entire State machinery was galvanised to manage the disaster.774 villages of a total of 1,564 in the State were inundated.
  • Kerala has a population of about 3.48 croore. More than 54 lakh, one-sixth of the population, was directly affected by this deluge.
  • The Kerala government commended the effort made by the local fishermen in the rescue efforts arm-in-arm with the central forces deployed along a large contingent of State Police, Fire and Rescue Personnel and the of the State Disaster Response Force.

Kerala blames T.N. for floods

  • The Kerala government on Thursday claimed in the Supreme Court that sudden releases of water from the Mullaperiyar dam was a cause for the floods in the State.
  • In an affidavit, Kerala slammed Tamil Nadu for allegedly ignoring its repeated entreaties for controlled release of water from the reservoir to facilitate the evacuation of thousands living downstream.
  • Kerala said communications from its Water Resources Secretary and the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar dam to gradually release water “at least” at 139 feet evoked no “positive assurances” from the Tamil Nadu government.
  • The request was made to facilitate the district administration and State Disaster Management Authority to get sufficient time to evacuate people so that they would not be hit by the flash floods in their sleep in the stealth of the night- Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose informed the Supreme Court.

All 13 shutters opened

  • Instead, water from the Mullaperiyar reservoir was “suddenly discharged by opening all the 13 shutters to Idukki downstream.
  • The sudden releases from the Mullaperiyar dam forced Kerala to release more water from the Idukki reservoir.
  • This was one of the causes for the floods. The operational control of Mullaperiyar dam is with Tamil Nadu.
  • The affidavit said the Kerala government, till the release of water from the 13 shutters, was letting out a major portion of the flood waters to the sea by implementing a strict operational control over the spill of the two largest reservoir systems of Idukki and Idamalayar in synchronisation with eight other small reservoir systems in the Periyar basin.
  • Kerala urged the Supreme Court to ensure sufficient flexibility of operation of the Mullaperiyar gates during moderate to high floods.
  • It is imperative that the reservoir should have enough manoeuvrability to avert loss of human lives in floods and other crisis in the future, the State submitted.

Extreme rainfall a challenge to reservoir operations

 

 

 

  • The catchments of top seven large reservoirs that produce hydropower in India are likely to experience “substantial warming” leading to increased mean annual rainfall in near future (2020-2030), mid and end (2070-2099) of the century due to global warming.
  • Based on modelling, a team of researchers from IIT Gandhinagar found the mean increase in rainfall in the catchments to be 6-11% while the mean annual air temperature is projected to rise more than 2.5 degree C by the end of century if the emissions are low.
  • In the case of high emission scenario, the mean annual air temperature is projected to increase up to 6.25 degree C by the end of century, while rainfall in the catchments is likely to rise by 13-18%, the study published in Scientific Reports says.

Seven reservoirs

  • The impact assessment of climate warming on hydropower production was carried out at seven large reservoirs in India — Nathpa Jhakri, Bhakra Nangal, Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar, Hirakud, Sardar Sarovar, and Indira Sagar.
  • Of the seven reservoirs, Nathpa Jhakri, Bhakra Nangal are located on Satluj River, and snowmelt is one major source of water, which is likely to change under the future climate.
  • The other five are primarily located in the monsoon-dominated climate region in central-south India.
  • If the projected increase in rainfall occurs predominantly in the form of extreme events it is likely to pose enormous challenge to reservoir operations. Almost all of the additional flow into the reservoir has to be released.
  • This might not add to hydropower generation as the focus will be on flood or disaster mitigation than power generation.

Rs.600 crore is only an advance

The Central government on Thursday clarified that the 600 crore fund released for relief works in flood-hit Kerala was only the advance assistance and that additional funds would be released from the National Disaster Response Fund on assessment of damages.

The advance sum was in addition to ₹562.45 crore already made available in the State Disaster Response Fund, said the Centre.

In one of the largest ever rescue operations, Central forces have rescued more than 60,000 persons from marooned areas and shifted them to relief camps in Kerala. A total of 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 medical teams, 58 teams of the NDRF and seven companies of the Central forces were pressed into service.

Pakistan offers help to flood-hit Kerala

  • Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan offered to help flood-hit Kerala. The Pakistani leader’s comments came in the backdrop of growing criticism of the Indian government’s decision to decline foreign aid for flood relief and rehabilitation in the State.

‘Domestic resources’

  • Islamabad’s statement came a day after India said it would depend on “domestic resources” for providing short and long-term help in Kerala. “In line with the existing policy, the government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts,” the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said on Wednesday.
  • It was understood that by ‘existing policy’, the MEA was indicating at the decision taken in 2004 to avoid foreign support in the context of the deadly tsunami that affected a large number of countries in the Indian Ocean region.

‘More considerate’

  • However, India’s decision to decline aid from abroad drew criticism from veteran diplomats and officials who said that the Central government should have been more considerate regarding the offer of support from the Gulf countries, especially from the United Arab Emirates that has offered Rs.700 crore.
  • Former Foreign Secretary and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon made a distinction between foreign support for immediate relief and long-term rehabilitation. “the 2004 decision was not to accept foreign participation in relief but accept it for long-term rehabilitation case by case.
  • Rescue teams in Kerala required no foreign help, but such help could be utilised for rebuilding houses, bridges, roads etc.
  • Some diplomats have however maintained that the issue of aid for Kerala should be resolved through internal consultation at the earliest to avoid any long-term fallout.

Category: ECONOMY

1. EPFO data not the right gauge of employment level

 

  • The recent downward revision in the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation data for September-June does not imply a decrease in formal sector employment, according to labour economists, who add that there are several problems with the EPFO data and caution against its use as a gauge of formal sector employment in the country.
  • The EPFO on Monday revised down the net enrolment numbers for the period from September 2017 to May 2018 by 5.54 lakh (12.4%) to 39.2 lakh from its earlier estimate of 44.74 lakh made last month.
  • There is little to be derived from this data apart from the very welcome formalisation of a previously informal labour force.
  • EPFO data is a very complicated piece of work. There is a lack of clarity about the methodology being followed for this dataset.
  • It is not clear what happens when a person changes jobs and that happens frequently.
  • When someone applies for a new policy and already has an older one, there is no clarity on what is to be done.
  • People at the bottom of the pyramid get low wages, so they are not enthusiastic about their salaries getting cut for the Provident Fund (PF). Neither are their employers eager to pay PF. Accordingly, they have been outside the EPFO net.
  • However, the new Goods and Services Tax regime created a certain incentive for many small enterprises to register themselves on the GST network, and so they may have registered under EPFO as well. Thus, these are not new jobs being created; it is simply that they are newly registered under EPFO.
  • Changes in EPFO numbers are not always indicative of a change in employment levels since there are several reasons why EPFO numbers might change without a corresponding change in employment.
  • Some examples are a worker quitting their job to start their own company, a worker being transferred to a foreign branch of an Indian company, employees retiring, and employees quitting once they get married. Of these, only the last two affect employment levels.
  • EPFO numbers are a good indicator for formal employment as well as changes in employment, added that they had certain drawbacks.
  • For example, a company employing 19 people may not be in EPFO, but as soon as it adds one more employee, all 20 are added to EPFO.
  • But the actual increase in employment has only been a single person.
  • There are about six crore active members with at least one month of contributions in the year, so a five lakh reduction in the estimate is not a big deal.

2. U.S., China swap tariffs on billions in commodities

 

  • The U.S. slapped steep tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on Thursday, triggering a swift tit-for-tat retaliation from , even as negotiators from both sides seek to soothe trade tensions.
  • The latest action completes the first round of $50 billion in Chinese products that President Donald Trump had targeted, with Beijing striking back at American products dollar-for-dollar at each step.

‘Firmly oppose tariffs’

  • China firmly opposes the tariffs and has no choice but to continue to make the necessary counter-attacks – Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
  • Beijing hit back with tariffs on an equal amount of U.S. goods, targeting iconic products such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles, dump trucks and asphalt, among hundreds of others.
  • The Ministry said the U.S. tariffs were “clearly suspected” of violating the World Trade Organisation rules, and noted it would file a lawsuit against them under the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism.
  • The escalation came as the world’s two largest economies hold their first formal discussions since June on the spiralling trade war.
  • Trump has pushed aggressive trade actions to lower the U.S. trade deficit. But U.S. trading partners have retaliated aggressively, which is hurting American farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
  • Still pending is the possibility of new duties on another $200 billion in Chinese goods, which are the subject of public hearings this week, as well as Mr. Trump’s proposed 25% taxes on all auto imports to protect the U.S. car industry.

3. SEBI to review MF expense ratio limits

 

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) might soon review the expense ratio limits for mutual funds to address concerns related to concentration of profits among a few large fund houses.
  • Hinting that the regulator might take a relook at the norms, SEBI chairman Ajay Tyagi said that a review would serve to encourage healthy competition.
  • The SEBI chief made the statement in the context of the fact that the revenue of the seven largest fund houses exceeds 60% of the total industry revenue, while the profit margin of large mutual funds is in the range of 40-50%. Expense ratio, which broadly ranges between 0.75% to 2.5%, is the fee that fund houses charge investors to manage all the expenses of the fund house.
  • Large AMCs have a fairly high market share of the total AUM, revenues and profits for the industry as a whole, indicating a high concentration of the industry in a few hands.

Questions to be asked

  • Is this concentration due to lack of adequate competition in the fund space? Are such disproportionately high profits due to high Total Expense Ratio (TERs), especially in equity funds?
  • The SEBI chairman also said that fund houses should maintain an arm’s length relationship with respect to related party investments to avoid any conflict of interest.
  • Some recent cases do not augur well with the public service character of the industry and have to be avoided at all costs.
  • An arm’s length relationship with respect to related party investments as also avoiding conflict of interest is the need of the hour.
  • Recently, there were reports that the capital market watchdog had directed ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund to return the money to its schemes that invested in the public issue of ICICI Securities.

AUM growth

  • Lauding the performance of the mutual fund industry, the SEBI chief highlighted the fact that the AUM has more than doubled in the last five years.
  • The customer base of mutual funds is also growing at a healthy rate with nearly 7.59 crore folios in July 2018, as against 5.99 crore folios in July 2017 — an increase of around 27% over one year.

4. NCLT may receive new cases worth Rs.70,000 crore

 

  • Many big corporate debtors, with loans collectively exceeding Rs.70,000 crore, are likely to be headed to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) next week for resolution as the deadline set by the RBI for the banks to resolve the cases expires on August 27.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a circular in February, mandated banks to identify projects with even a day’s default as stressed asset and conclude the resolution proceedings in 180 days. The circular came into effect on March 1 and the 180-day deadline concludes on August 27.
  • The regulator’s circular had mandated the deadline for moving the NCLT if a stressed asset was not resolved.
  • While the deadline expires on August 27, banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), are still finding it difficult to resolve some cases.
  • According to a study by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), about 8,300 non-food companies accounted for 20% of bank credit.
  • Of them, 3,300 companies were stressed, with an interest coverage ratio of less than 1.5.Based on this, it is expected that about Rs.9.5 lakh crore may come under stress and into the IBC and NCLT framework for resolution.

5. India to grow at 7.5% in 2018, 2019: Moody’s

 

  • The Indian economy is expected to grow by about 7.5% in 2018 and 2019 as it is largely resilient to external pressures like those from higher oil prices, Moody’s Investors Service said.
  • In its Global Macro Outlook for 2018-19, Moody’s said the run-up in energy prices over the last few months will raise headline inflation temporarily but the growth story remains intact as it is supported by strong urban and rural demand and improved industrial activity.
  • Growth prospects for many of the G-20 economies remain solid, but there are indications that the synchronous acceleration of growth heading into 2018 is now giving way to diverging trends.
  • The near-term global outlook for most advanced economies is broadly resilient, in contrast to the weakening of some developing economies in the face of emerging headwinds from rising U.S. trade protectionism, tightening external liquidity conditions and elevated oil prices.
  • Moody’s put G-20 growth at 3.3% in 2018 and 3.1% in 2019. The advanced economies will grow 2.3% in 2018 and 2% in 2019 and Indian economy to grow around 7.5% in 2018 and 2019.

6. NSC seeks comment on GDP back series

 

  • The National Statistical Commission (NSC) has sought public comments on a panel report which showed that the economy grew at the fastest pace under the Congress rule, amid a political row over the growth numbers.
  • The report of the panel, constituted by the NSC, was made public last week.
  • The government has maintained that the GDP Back Series Report 2011 was an unofficial document that has not been accepted by it.
  • The Centre had also said the report was only at discussion stage and its acceptance will be based on wider consultations.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) posted the report on its website under the section that calls for comments on draft reports.
  • The NSC welcomes comments and suggestions on the reports by September 30, 2018.
  • Earlier, the report was posted on the website’s publication section, which the Opposition Congress cited as vindication of its economic policies.
  • The NSC said the draft report has been placed in the public domain to facilitate wider public consultation and invited suggestions on that by September 30, 2018.
  • According to the draft report, the Indian economy recorded a 10.08 per cent growth rate in 2006-07 under the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the highest since liberalisation of the economy in 1991.
  • The back series data on GDP report was prepared by the Committee on Real Sector Statistics. The report compares growth rates between old series (2004-05) and new series based on 2011-12 prices.
  • The GDP backseries data is finally out. It proves that like-for-like, the economy under both UPA terms (10 year avg: 8.1%) outperformed the Modi Govt (Avg 7.3%).

7. Odisha aims to be hub of east with port-led manufacturing

 

  • Odisha aims to leverage its ports as part of a push to develop the State as a manufacturing hub in eastern India that could serve the larger South Asian regional market, according to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
  • Odisha is fast emerging as the manufacturing hub of eastern India and the effort is to make it into a manufacturing hub of South Asia.
  • The idea is to drive port-led manufacturing, anchored by the three deep-water ports in the state along the east coast economic corridor,.
  • The State’s focus is on ensuring state-of-the-art infrastructure and progressive policies to provide a conducive environment for industrial development.

‘New impetus to ties’

  • Japan would be the country-partner for the second edition of ‘Make in Odisha’ investors meet to be held in November.
  • This would provide a new impetus to the relations between Odisha and Japan and open up varied sectors for collaboration.

8. ‘Flood damage may slash India’s coffee output by 20%’

 

  • India’s coffee production in 2018/19 is likely to fall by at least one-fifth from a year earlier as floods in key producing states damaged the crop and delayed exports, industry officials told.
  • Some of the worst flooding in India in a century killed hundreds of people in the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka earlier this month, both of which account for more than 90% of the country’s total coffee production.
  • Severe crop loss was reported in the coffee-growing regions of Kodagu in Karnataka and Wayanad in Kerala, while the Chikmagalur and Hassan districts in Karnataka also reported damage on limited scale.

Sixth-largest grower

  • The South Asian country, famous as a tea producer, is the world’s sixth-largest coffee grower, according to state-run Coffee Board, mainly churning out the robusta beans used to make instant coffee, but also producing some of the more expensive arabica variety.
  • In 2017/18 marketing year to September 30, India produced 3.16 lakh tonnes coffee, Coffee Board data show.

Category: INTERNAL SECURITY

1. Cybersecurity budgets of Indian firms have tripled

 

  • Indian companies are investing more on securing their data rather than pumping money into technology as they try to build comprehensive solutions to prevent hackers from attacking their networks.
  • IT budgets are shrinking and security budgets are going up. Security investments or budgets in India have doubled or even tripled.
  • There are now security departments under a chief information officer, chief security officer or a risk officer, which are being allocated a lot of budgets.
  • IT budgets are shrinking because it is mostly pay-as-you-go model now, and there is less capital expenditure required.
  • Also, overall costs are coming down. Here, the device cost may come down, but the need for building an overall solution which has more components, and upgrading it with more features and functionalities, that is on the rise.
  • Global spending on information security products and services will surpass $114 billion in 2018, an increase of 12.4% from last year, researcher Gartner said on August 15.

Key drivers

  • In 2019, the market is forecast to grow 8.7% to $124 billion. Privacy concerns, persisting skills shortages and regulatory changes such as the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation are the main drivers.
  • A recent attack on Singapore Health Services (SingHealth) network compromised personal health records of 1.5 million patients in the island and reinforced the need to view sensitive data and IT systems as critical infrastructure.
  • New York Stock Exchange-listed A10 Networks provides networking and security solutions and is based in San Jose, California.
  • Today everybody has realised that PCs, servers, networks, applications have all become commoditised.
  • One can go and pick any of it up, very easily. Now what all this generates is a huge amount of data. This data belongs to the enterprise.
  • And the security of this data, in terms of who should access this data, where should it be accessed from, where should it be stored, all of this will always be the decision of the enterprise.
  • So what will remain with the enterprise is two things — one is the storage of data, how to store the data, where to store it and in what form, and the second is how to keep this information secure.
  • This data becomes information once it is processed, so how to secure this information in terms of security at rest and security while the data is in motion.
  • So for both storage and security of data, the decision will be that of the enterprise and will always remain so. This will not go out of the enterprise. So, investments in these two areas will happen consistently.

Data leaks

  • Citing the example of an Australian handbag maker, he said a customer could buy the bags only by invitation.
  • But, the problem they faced is that the day a product releases on the market, China makes a copy of the same they wanted to know the leak point.
  • For this, when they dug deep to find out how this was happening, they realised that it was happening from inside the organisation itself.
  • Someone in the company was leaking the information via email. They ended up plugging the issue.
  • This is a threat, and these kinds of issues could happen to anyone. In this case, their exclusivity of having an invitation-based purchase was lost when copies started mushrooming in the market.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. DNA reveals first inter-species child

 

A saga of evolution: A bone fragment of Denisova 11 found in 2012 at Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia; right, researchers excavating a cave for Denisovan fossils.

Denny was an inter-species love child.

Her mother was a Neanderthal, but her father was Denisovan, a distinct species of primitive human that also roamed the Eurasian continent 50,000 years ago, scientists reported on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Nicknamed by Oxford University scientists, Denisova 11 — her official name — was at least 13 when she died, for reasons unknown.

First direct link

There was earlier evidence of interbreeding between different hominin, or early human, groups. But this is the first time that we have found a direct, first-generation offspring.

Denny’s surprising pedigree was unlocked from a bone fragment unearthed in 2012 by Russian archeologists at the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

Analysis of the bone’s DNA left no doubt: the chromosomes were a 50-50 mix of Neanderthal and Denisovan, two distinct species of early humans that split apart between 4,00,000 to 5,00,000 years ago.

Early humans

  • Worldwide, fewer than two dozen early human genomes from before 40,000 years ago — Neanderthal, Denisovan, Homo sapiens — have been sequenced, and the chances of stumbling on a half-and-half hybrid seemed vanishingly small.
  • The very fact that we found this individual of mixed Neanderthal and Denisovan origins suggests that they interbred much more often than we thought.
  • They must have quite commonly had kids together, otherwise we wouldn’t have been this lucky.
  • A 40,000 year-old Homo sapiens with a Neanderthal ancestor a few generations back, recently found in Romania, also bolsters this notion.
  • But the most compelling evidence that inter-species hanky-panky in Late Pleistocene Eurasia may not have been that rare lies in the genes of contemporary humans.
  • About 2% of DNA in non-Africans across the globe today originate with Neanderthals, earlier studies have shown. Denisovan remnants are also widespread, though less evenly.
  • We find traces of Denisovan DNA — less than 1% — everywhere in Asia and among native Americans.
  • Aboriginal Australians and people in Papua New Guinea have about 5%.Taken together, these facts support a novel answer to the hotly debated question of why Neanderthals — which had successfully spread across parts of western and central Europe — disappeared some 40,000 years ago.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

1. Accepting help

Context:

Various governments have made specific offers to Kerala, from about Rs. 700 crore from the UAE to about Rs. 35 lakh from the Maldives. But the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson has remarked that “in line with the existing policy”, the Central government would meet requirements in Kerala through “domestic efforts”.

Background:

  • Since 2004, India has refused relief aid from many countries including Russia, United States and Japan for devastating natural disasters across Uttarakhand (2013-floods) and Kashmir (2005-earthquake, and 2014-floods).
  • In 2004, post the devastating tsunami which devastated vast swathes of the Tamil Nadu and Andaman & Nicobar coast, killing over 12,000, a policy was instated by the then UPA government that assistance from other countries’ governments would not be accepted. The context of that decision was India’s superpower dream. India had felt that this would strengthen its case for seeking to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and also hasten the prospect of superpower status by 2020.
  • The reasons stated were that the Indian government felt that India has the capacity to handle disasters. And secondly, accepting from any one government opens the floodgates for others as well, and it would be diplomatically difficult to refuse from some while accepting from others.
  • Even in 2013, when the United States government offered their paltry and seemingly insulting assistance of $150,000 (Rs 90 lakh) for the flood victims in Uttarakhand, the then Finance Minister said it would instead reach out to multilateral aid agencies like the Asian Development Bank and World Bank for relief, instead of individual foreign governments.
  • As a general policy in case of rescue and relief operations, India has followed the practice that it has adequate ability to respond to emergency requirements. However, this international disaster relief policy is only limited to foreign governments and not individuals and non-profits dealing in charity.
  • The aid from NRIs in foreign countries or NGOs working in the disaster management sector would be accepted through the remittance route.

National Disaster Management Plan:

  • The National Disaster Management Plan put out in 2016 states that India will not appeal for foreign aid in the wake of a disaster. But “… if the national government of another country voluntarily offers assistance as a goodwill gesture in solidarity with the disaster victims, the Central Government may accept the offer.”
  • The condition applies that the Union Home Ministry would consult the MEA and assess the requirements “that the foreign teams can provide”.

Issue:

  • The policy of not accepting foreign assistance has not taken India even one step towards fulfilling its ambitions.
  • There is confusion about the Government Policy. Is it laid out in the NDMP document that has an opening message from Prime Minister? Or is it based on the decision of the UPA government to refuse aid or assistance in the wake of the 2004 tsunami — a decision born out of a sense of false pride and a misplaced sense of shame, that became a sort of convention thereafter.
  • It is not only this mismatch between convention and written document that has created space for the current controversy. The old fear of the spies who would come with the package, interfere in the country’s internal affairs, and also take away valuable information.
  • India does not want foreigners with huge UN salaries to come and destroy the morale of its relief workers.

Way forward:

  • Irrespective of what was agreed upon in the past, democracies should be supple enough to respond to emergencies in ways that benefit the greater common good.
  • It serves well no citizen of India for the government to stand on mere precedent or pride to turn down genuine offers of help, in terms of funds or expert teams or to even ask for help.
  • There is no shame in taking help, just as there should be no hesitation in offering it. India has a longstanding tradition of rushing help elsewhere. India has proven its donor credentials in disaster-hit nations like Haiti ($5 million after the 2010 earthquake) and Pakistan ($25 million following the 2005 earthquake) in the recent past.
  • It needs for technology and best practices can be obtained from the UN by careful planning and consultations.
  • Offers of aid from foreign governments must naturally be scrutinised to see if they compromise national security and other interests. In the case of bilateral assistance, India needs to examine offers case by case. Refusing the assistance out rightly may have a negative impact on India’s relations with such countries.

Conclusion:

The debate on whether foreign assistance should be accepted for relief and reconstruction work is an unnecessary distraction for the Central and State governments at a time of a grave crisis. The need now is to use all assistance, Indian and foreign, to rebuild Kerala. The Centre-State politics, if any, must be kept aside. The government should not just gracefully accept the assistance for Kerala, it should junk the 2004 precedent. Taking aid from countries for disaster relief is no sign of weakness.

Category: INDIAN HISTORY

1. Why history matters so much

Context:

At a conference recently held in Kolkata, two major questions i.e,

  1. Why is history such an important school subject?
  2. Why does it not receive the importance it deserves? were debated among the other things.
  • The importance of History in shaping our political ethos is undiminished. By turning the past into a narrative, history creates a public ethos and influences culture. From architecture to film, and from ancient India to Partition, the Kolkata conference, organised by the History for Peace initiative of the Seagull Foundation for the Arts, covered a broad canvas to trace the complex relationship between history and culture.
  • A brief answer to the second question is that history cannot compete with science subjects in the market that shapes and controls education today. Yet, history is an important subject because it moulds the outlook of the younger generation.
  • Poorly functioning system of education places constraints on a society’s capacity to cope with its present difficulties and imagine sustainable solutions.

Debates over texts

  • Liked in most of the countries, the history syllabus and textbooks have been at the heart of a deep political controversy in India. For example: America’s discomfort with Hiroshima and Britain’s discomfort with Gandhi continue to be reflected in their school syllabi.
  • The main reason why portrayal of the past in school textbooks arouses controversy is that a publicly shared past imparts a collective memory and identity.
  • Textbooks are viewed as officially approved documents and are therefore believed to be associated with state power. They do shape the perceptions of the young because children are impressionable. Children introduced to a certain version of the past at school acquire a disposition which can be politically mobilised in the future.

The NCERT books

  • The new history textbooks brought out by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) from 2006 onwards are a case in point. They have survived the change of government. One reason for their longevity is their professional quality.
  • They have no single authors. Teams of eminent historians worked through deliberation and dialogue, first drafting a new syllabus and then the text itself. They represent the spirit of the National Curriculum Framework, 2005, which is still in place, which gives precedence to inquiry through direct exposure to evidence.
  • The textbooks based on it do not narrate a long story. Instead, they enable children to explore different, often divergent, themes, such as lives of peasants and women, architectural styles, etc.
  • Archival material is cited as evidence, and debates among historians are highlighted to demonstrate the difficulties of interpreting evidence.

Problem of perception

  • These books mark a major step forward in the teaching of history, but older ways of teaching and conventional textbooks have persisted.
  • Despite a shift in historiography, old problems continue to affect the system. One of these is the perception that history is all about wars, kings and dates.
  • Another is the constancy of dividing India’s past into three long chunks: ancient, medieval and modern. These categories flatten out the complexity and richness of India’s history, wasting the opportunity of studying it with the aim of arousing curiosity and imparting tools of inquiry.
  • The examination system also reinforces flat perceptions by asking questions that are best answered with the help of guidebooks. The 2005 curricular revolution has made little impact on this wider scene.
  • In most States, the use of history to build collective memory and identity continues. Assam-like situations suggest that education is not perceived as a means of resolving a problem.

The importance of history

  • Schooling adds a dimension to culture that we do not quite understand. As public institutions, schools carry many burdens the society is not always aware of.
  • Government schools cope with bureaucratic norms and private schools cope with parental pressure to maintain heightened competition. The natural sciences bear the brunt of this pressure.
  • For the growing middle class, including the vast multitude of first-generation educated, science and mathematics represent the golden route to high income jobs in medicine and engineering, including information technology.
  • The social sciences and humanities do not figure in this landscape, yet they also suffer the consequences of the command that the entrance test culture wields over schools.

What makes history the most challenging school subject is that the Children depend on adults to learn about the past. Ironically, poorly taught history matters even more than well-taught history, simply because when history does not arouse curiosity or impart the tools of analysis, it creates an emotional barrier for further inquiry.

F. Tidbits

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G. Prelims Fact

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H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about National Disaster Response Fund:
  1. NDRF is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.
  2. The financial assistance from SDRF/NDRF is for providing immediate relief and is not compensation for loss/damage to properties /crops.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about Disaster Management in India:
  1. The DM Act defines “disaster” to mean a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or property, or environment,
  2. Disaster is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.
  3. The July 2015 guidelines states that natural calamities of cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack and cold wave and frost considered to be of severe nature by Government of India (GoI).
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
 
  1. Only 1 and 2
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Disaster Management in India:
  1. For projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation, i.e, measures aimed at reducing the risk, impact or effect of a disaster or threatening disaster situation a separate fund called National Disaster Mitigation Fund is provided.
  2. The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority takes decisions on the expenses from National Disaster Response Fund, in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Central Government in consultation with the National Authority.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

Question 4. Consider the following statements about Disaster Management in India:
  1. NDRF is financed through the levy of a cess on certain items.
  2. The requirement for funds beyond what is available under the NDRF is met through general budgetary resources.
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
 
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. There are several problems with the EPFO data and its use as a gauge of formal sector employment in the country is not effective. Discuss.
  2. Pakistan’s arch-rival India remains Pakistan’s biggest foreign policy challenge. Comment.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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