TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related POLITY 1. Playing of national anthem in cinema halls optional: Supreme Court 2. No viable alternative to hanging, Centre tells court INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND BILATERAL RELATIONS 1. India-U.K. to ink MoU on illegal migrants 2. H-1B visa extensions to continue: U.S. C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. Agricultural Reforms 2. New industrial policy in a few months, says Suresh Prabhu 3. ‘India largest market for freelancers’ SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. ISRO mulls launching 65 satellites for a slew of uses INTERNAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE RELATED 1. Army satisfied with Akash missile 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
1. Playing of national anthem in cinema halls optional: Supreme Court
Supreme Court orders:
- Current order: the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies is optional.
- Earlier order (November 30, 2016): The Supreme Court had ordered the playing of the anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a film.
- The Centre has constituted a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, to take a final call on the playing of national anthem in the cinemas and to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.
- Mandate: need to frame guidelines describing the circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung and observance of proper decorum on such occasions.
Supreme Court’s observations:
- People cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is less patriotic.
- The society does not need “moral policing”
- Next time, the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem.
- The exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision.
Public interest litigation:
- The PIL was filed before the Supreme Court by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking a direction that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls before the start of screening of a film
Supreme Court seeks less painful means of execution
- The Centre told the Supreme Court that there is no viable method at present other than hanging to execute condemned prisoners
- Lethal injections are unworkable and often fail
- The government was responding to a query from the court on alternative modes of execution
Supreme Court’s view:
- The court had previously said a condemned convict should die in peace and not in pain
- A human being is entitled to dignity even in death
- The court had asked the government to consider the “dynamic progress” made in modern science to adopt painless methods of causing death
Constitutionality of death penalty:
- The court has already clarified that it is not questioning the constitutionality of death penalty
- It has been well-settled by the apex court, including in Deena versus Union of India and earlier in the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980
- Section 354 (5), which mandates death by hanging, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, has already been upheld
Death by lethal injections:
- Death by lethal injection is practiced in the U.S., China, Thailand, Vietnam and a few other countries
- The Law Commission of India had recommended lethal injection for death penalty
- India will sign a pact with the United Kingdom for a return of illegal Indian migrants within a month of their being detected by authorities.
- The U.K. has consistently raised the issue of return of illegal migrants with India.
- The MoU will streamline the return of illegal migrants to India.
- MODUS OPERANDI: The British authorities will first identify the illegal migrant, the Indian authorities will be informed and then the verification will be done by police agencies back home. If the claims of the British authorities are found to be correct, then travel documents will be readied and the person deported by the U.K. authorities. This process will have a timeline of one month.
- The United States has no plans under consideration to discontinue the extension of H-1B visas beyond six years, when beneficiaries wait for permanent residency, or green card, authorities clarified.
- AC-21 or the American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act is the law passed by the U.S Congress in 2000, which also governs the extension of H-1B visas.
- Section 104(c) of AC-21, provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.
C. GS3 Related
What are the issues with Farm Pricing?
- Farm incomes are unattractive for a variety of reasons; the absurdity of policies features among them. The overriding objective of price stability, over time, has tilted farm policy in favour of the consumer, the numerically larger vote bank.
- Trade and price controls are highly restrictive, and mostly anti-farmer. Protection afforded to the inefficient fertilizer industry ensures that input costs are high.
- The farmer is forced to sell in the domestic market where prices tend to be lower than global agricultural prices. Research papers have quantified the degree of anti-agriculture bias in the system.
- Farmers’ economic viability is rarely the primary consideration, although political rhetoric would suggest otherwise.
- Agri-markets are not free. Governments seek to influence prices, to smoothen them out.
- In the absence of state intervention, prices soar in bad weather years and plunge in good weather years, hurting consumers and farmers.
- The levers in governments’ hands are import and export controls, buffer stocks management and minimum support prices (MSPs).
MSP and Politics
- The MSP, the price at which the government offers to procure from farmers, is an economic policy tool which requires technical acumen.
- A sensible policy would be to buy from farmers when market prices are depressed and sell stocks in the open market when prices are elevated.
- In the first scenario, if the MSP is pegged higher than the market price, the procurement will raise the market price, boosting farm incomes.
- In the latter, by offloading its stocks at a price lower than the market price, government can cushion consumers against excessive inflation.
- The buyers of the subsidised sales (an efficient Public Distribution System) are directly benefitted, but as the sales also lead to lower prices in the open market, all consumers gain.
The case of Pulses in 2016-17
- Procurement works effectively only if trade controls and stocks management are aligned with it. How these tools tend to be deployed in a counterproductive manner was evident in the example of pulses in 2016-17.
- Despite a bumper harvest, after a steep MSP hike and good rains, export controls and stocking limits for private traders were retained and a record volume of imports allowed to be shipped in.
- The resulting glut sent the market price down, below the MSPs, rendering it pointless. The looming losses set off farmer protests seeking even higher MSPs.
MSP and Inflation
- The United Progressive Alliance government’s MSP policy was blamed for the food prices inflation, from 2009 to 2013. The culprit, though, was poor management of food stocks.
- The government had been raising MSPs to reduce the gap between low domestic and high global agricultural prices.
- The launch of the National Food Security Mission and a global food prices crisis necessitated hikes more aggressive than were originally planned.
- The high MSP ensured that the increase in food grain production in the four-year period, 42 million metric tonnes, was more than double of what had been targeted. But the high MSP also edged out private traders, forcing a scale-up in procurement. Wheat and rice stocks surged but were not used to dampen market prices.
- Former Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu has written about the mindset behind the reluctance to release stocks to cool rising prices. The argument was that selling at a price lower than the purchase price (MSP plus carrying costs) would inflict losses on the exchequer and add to the fiscal deficit.
- Since procurement spending is a sunk cost, not selling implied even higher fiscal losses. International wheat prices were 30% lower than in India, yet consumers were forced to pay more.
Comparison with other countries
- Agricultural economist Ashok Gulati’s calculations show that even after four years of systematically aggressive hikes, Indian MSPs of rice and wheat are less than support prices in China and other Asian countries, betraying India’s bias in favour of consumers.
- This bias explains the deepening economic divide between the farm-dependent and the rest of the population, reflected in insecurities of even traditionally land-owning people.
- The narrative is that the bulk of agriculture is not sufficiently productive to be able to gainfully engage young rural Indians and so policy attention must be on building industry. China’s experience challenges such notions.
- The Chinese economic reforms were kicked off in 1978 with an overhaul of agriculture. As farm prices were decontrolled, real per capita incomes began rising and, in just six years Chinese poverty levels halved, from 33% in 1978 to 15% in 1984.
- In contrast, India’s 1991 reforms bypassed agriculture altogether and instead focussed completely on industrial liberalisation. Indian poverty halved in 18 years from 45% in 1993 to 22% in 2011.
- The new industrial policy, which seeks to promote emerging sectors, will be released within a few months.
- The proposed policy will completely revamp the Industrial Policy of 1991.
- Among other things, it would endeavour to reduce regulations and widen the purview to new industries currently in focus.
- The main aim is to create jobs over the next two decades, promote foreign technology transfer and attract $100 billion in FDI annually.
Highlights of ‘Insights into the freelancers ecosystem’ report:
Highlights of ‘Insights into the freelancers ecosystem’ report: