# UPSC Exam: Comprehensive News Analysis - January 17

A. GS1 Related
ART AND CULTURE
1. Megalithic era sarcophagus unearthed at Viyur
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Human Trafficking in Indo-Nepal border
2. Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ to be held in Seattle
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Government to revisit Malimath report on criminal justice system
2. Northern states may benefit under 15th Finance Commission
3. Government ends Haj subsidy from this year
4. SC condemns conduct of caste panchayats
5. 36% rural youth can’t name India’s capital, finds survey
HEALTH ISSUES
1. 1.2 lakh fewer deaths in under-5 category in 2016
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Rise in Bond Yields
2. ‘Water scarcity may hit thermal power’
AGRICULTURE
1. Panel sets out an action plan to make agriculture profitable
D. GS4 Related
E. Prelims Fact
F. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

1. Megalithic era sarcophagus unearthed at Viyur

In news:
• A rare sarcophagus (stone coffin), said to be 2,000-year old from the Iron Age–Megalithic era, was discovered from a rock-cut cave at Viyur village of Kollam, near Koyilandy, in Kozhikode district.
• The coffin contains bone fragments.
• It was found during an excavation.
• So far, such a rare finding has been discovered only from two sites in Kerala.
• Both these sarcophagi were recovered from Megalithic sites at Chevayur and Atholi, also in Kozhikode district.
• Different types of pottery, mostly four-legged jars and iron implements, were found in the cave.
• Sarcophagi were found in many archaeological sites in South India earlier. Some are adorned with a sculpture or inscription. But two types are usually found with bovine features or with legs.

B. GS2 Related

1. Human Trafficking in Indo-Nepal border

What is the issue?

• Following the 2015 Nepal earthquake, human trafficking from Nepal to India witnessed a three-fold jump.
• The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) reported that most of the victims were minors, with girls and boys in equal numbers, and many were from the earthquake-affected districts of Nepal.
• In Dhangadhi and Rupandehi districts of Nepal, representatives of NGOs working on human trafficking said that quake-affected Sindhupalchowck district was among the key source districts for cross-border trafficking to India.
• A large number of women from this district left the country after the earthquake to find employment abroad, either through Rasuwagadhi or some other transit point along the India-Nepal border.
• The destination countries for most of them were Kyrgyzstan, Israel, West Asia, and India.
• Identifying cases of human trafficking is not easy. It is often difficult to identify a human trafficking case at the source since the victim may have been lured through the false promise of marriage or a job.

What are the mechanisms in place?

• The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950 provides for an open border between Nepal and India. The SSB also profiles victims and suspects.

Should the border be closed?

• Closing the border may prevent cross-border trafficking, but it could also engender or accentuate economic vulnerabilities for those who have jobs or own businesses along the border.
• Poverty and unemployment have left young people vulnerable to internal and cross-border trafficking through the border.
• It is imperative to create economic opportunities, particularly for the youth, within the country.
• Further, the Nepal-India border needs to be equipped with enhanced intelligence networks and effective monitoring mechanisms.

2. Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ to be held in Seattle

In news:

• Another edition of the joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Seattle
• The exercise will mainly focus on special operations in urban areas

‘Vajra Prahar’:

• ‘Vajra Prahar’ is an Indo-US Special Forces joint training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US
• Though the exercise began in 2010, there was a gap of three years between 2012 and 2015
• The last edition was held in Jodhpur in March 2017

Aim of the exercise

• The aim of the exercise is to promote military relations between the two countries by enhancing interoperability and mutual exchange of tactics between Special Forces
• The objectives of the joint training is to share the best practices between the two armies and to develop joint strategies by sharing expertise of conducting operations in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism environment

1. Government to revisit Malimath report on criminal justice system

The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, or the Justice Malimath Committee:

• The committee was constituted by the Home Ministry.
• It was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts.
• The committee recommended admissibility of confessions made before a police officer as evidence in a court of law.
• The Committee also suggested constituting a National Judicial Commission and amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult.
• The Malimath panel had made 158 recommendations but these were never implemented.

Why in news?

• The Committee’s report was discussed at the annual Directors General of Police (DGP) conference held at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present.
• The committee report is being revisited by the Centre.
Basic Information:

Article 124:  Establishment and constitution of Supreme Court.

(1) There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven other Judges.

(2) Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years:

Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted: Provided further that—

1. a Judge may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office;
2. a Judge may be removed from his office in the manner provided in clause (4).

(3) A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court unless he is a citizen of India and—

1. has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
2. has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
3. is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.

(4) A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.

(5) Parliament may by law regulate the procedure for the presentation of an address and for the investigation and proof of the misbehavior or incapacity of a Judge under clause (4).

(6) Every person appointed to be a Judge of the Supreme Court shall, before he enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the President, or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.

(7) No person who has held office as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India.

2. Northern states may benefit under 15th Finance Commission

In news:
• North Indian states like Bihar and Chhattisgarh with higher rates of population growth may get more funds under the 15th Finance Commission
• The government is asking the commission to use the latest census data of 2011 for allocation of resources, against 1971 census data used earlier
• Many analysts consider the earlier practice of not referring to the current population while providing resources to the state governments was archaic and distortionary
• This practice was sometimes justified by some as disincentivizing states from letting their population proliferate, although there was no evidence that any state did follow such a policy
• However, it resulted in lower standards of services provided by the state governments to its citizens
• Such a static provision also did not take into account the effect of net migration on the state population

• The Commission has also been asked to propose measurable performance-based incentives in areas such as GST
• Efforts and progress made in moving towards replacement rate of population growth (which refers to the total fertility rate that will result in a stable population without increasing or decreasing it)
• Finance commission will also consider achievements made by states in implementation of flagship central schemes and building disaster resilient infrastructure, reaching sustainable development goals, and quality of expenditure
• Progress made in increasing capital expenditure, improving the quality of such expenditure and promoting labour-intensive growth have also been included in the ToR(terms of reference) for the Commission

3. Government ends Haj subsidy from this year

In news:

• The Centre would soon phase out the subsidies for the annual Haj pilgrimage.
• The phasing out of subsidy is a part of the Modi government’s efforts to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement.
• Centre’s plan: the money saved from the Haj subsidy withdrawal would be used for the education of the girl child.

2012 Supreme Court order:

• The Supreme Court had directed the Centre to phase out the subsidies for the Haj by 2022 and the money saved (around Rs.450 crore annually) diverted to more welfare-oriented activities.

4. SC condemns conduct of caste panchayats

Public Interest Litigation:

• NGO Shakti Vahini filed a PIL before Supreme Court against honour killing and the role of khap panchayats in it.

Supreme Court Observations:

• Any collective attack by a khap panchayat on an adult for choosing to marry the person of their choice is absolutely illegal.
• An adult man and woman are free to marry. No society, no khap panchayat, no parent can impose their will on them.
• The apex court said it would not tolerate any manner of collective and regressive conduct by khap panchayat or such group of persons.

5. 36% rural youth can’t name India’s capital, finds survey

Highlights of Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-2017:

• Fourteen per cent of rural youth in the age group of 14-18 failed to identify the map of India.
• 36% of those surveyed did not know that Delhi is the capital of India.
• 79% answered the questions ‘Which State do you live in?’ and 42 % could point to their home State on the map.
• About 25% of this age group (14-18) still cannot read basic texts fluently in their own language.
• 53% of all 14 year-olds in the sample can read English sentences
• Tapering enrolment:
• Most 14-18 year olds are in the formal education system — only 14.4% are not currently enrolled in school or college.
• At age 14, only 5.3% are not enrolled, but by age 17 this percentage quadruples to 20.7% and further increases to 30.2% at age 18.
• With almost 10% of India’s population in this age group, these percentages translate into large numbers of youth who are not in the formal education system
• Gender aspect of enrolment: the number of girls falling sharply with age. While the enrolment ratios for boys and girls are almost the same at 14, at 18 years 32% of girls are not enrolled, as against 28% for boys.

ASER 2017

• The ASER 2017 was conducted in 28 districts spread across 24 States and generated only district level estimates.
• The survey looks ‘Beyond Basics’, exploring a wider set of domains beyond foundational reading and arithmetic in an attempt to throw light on the status and abilities of youth in this age group.

1. 1.2 lakh fewer deaths in under-5 category in 2016

Sample Registration Survey (SRS) highlights:

• India posted its sharpest, year-on-year decline in the under-5 infant mortality rate (u5) since 2010
• The u5, at 39 deaths per 1,000 live births, recorded a 5-point decline from the 2015 figure of 43.
• According to the Union Health Ministry, this was a “landmark achievement” that translated to nearly 1,20,000 fewer deaths in 2016 as compared to 2015.
• At the national level, the u5 varies from 43 in rural areas to 25 in urban areas and ranges from 11 in Kerala to 55 in Madhya Pradesh. Except for Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all the “bigger States/Union Territories” have higher u5 mortality rates among girls than boys.
• India had registered a significant 8% (3 point) decline in infant deaths per 1,000 live births (IMR) over the previous year. (The IMR refers to death in infants who were yet to turn one.)
• Despite this drop, one in every 29 infants nationally, one in every 26 infants in rural areas and one in every 43 infants in urban areas continue to die within the first year of their lives.
• Moreover, the sex ratio at birth —the SRS found — continued a steady decline that began in 2013 with only 898 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2016 compared to 909 girls for 1,000 boys in 2013.

C. GS3 Related

1. Rise in Bond Yields

What is the issue?

• The sharp rise in bond yields has hit banks with losses on treasury operations dominated by sovereign bond holdings.
• Rating agency ICRA believes the fall in bond prices on expectation of the Central government breaching its fiscal deficit target has led to banks suffering a loss on paper of over Rs. 15,500 crore in the quarter.
• The yield on Indian 10-year benchmark government bonds has risen steeply, from about 6.5% to 7.56% in 6 months.
• Even the yield on newly issued 10-year bonds that would mature in 2028 has inched up 27 basis points since January 5.

What are the Banks demanding?

• Bankers have pleaded that the Reserve Bank of India allow them to stagger the reporting of these losses over several quarters.
• In seeking leeway, they have pointed to the huge burden imposed on their balance sheets by non-performing assets clogging the banking system.
• India’s banks, flush with cash since demonetisation, are the largest (and captive) holders of government bonds. The current regime requires them to maintain a high proportion of assets in them.
• That deposits have grown while credit off take has not, makes matters worse. This argument may not find much traction with the banking regulator.
• The books look rosy will come at the cost of the accuracy with which banks reflect their financial health.

What is the role of Banks?

• Banks are supposed to be good at assessing not just creditors’ credibility but also the broader trends in the economy and the financial markets, cannot feign surprise at a rise and fall in bond yields.
• Banks understand the impact of interest rate movements and the risks of bond investments.

What is the solution?

• Just as banks need to be held accountable for their lending decisions and their advances, treasury operations and bond investments also need accountability and risk management systems.
• There are trained professionals handling their large bond market operations who know of the principles of asset allocation and the hedging of risks.
• Banks should simply step up their game and address the reasons for their investment losses instead of resorting to measures aimed at hiding their problems.
• Any temporary measure, such as the request to stagger the recognition of bond losses, will only worsen it.
• Irrespective of the accounting standards banks are asked to follow, the markets can easily call this bluff and bid down their share prices.

2. ‘Water scarcity may hit thermal power’

• India’s thermal power plants, about 90% of which rely on fresh water for cooling, risk facing serious outages because of shortage of water.
• Between 2013 and 2016, 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal utility companies experienced one or more shutdowns due to water shortages
• India lost about 14 terawatt-hours of thermal power generation due to water shortages in 2016, cancelling out more than 20% of growth in the country’s total electricity generation from 2015
• About 40% of the country’s thermal power plants are facing great stress in terms of water availability
• The WRI’s report predicts that this problem is set to worsen as India’s thermal power sector expands and demand for water from other sectors increases.
• It says that by 2030, 70% of India’s thermal power plants are likely to experience increased competition for water from agriculture, industry and municipalities.
• Even in water-abundant or low water-stress regions, thermal plants can still face water shortage-related risks during droughts or when monsoons are delayed. Some of those plants — for example, Farakka, Raichur, and Tiroda — experienced significant, if not the biggest, disruptions in generation caused by water shortages.

• The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organization that was established in 1982 with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation under the leadership of James Gustave Speth.
• They maintain offices in the United States, China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
• The organization’s mission is to promote environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, and human health and well-being.
• WRI partners with local and national governments, private companies, publicly-held corporations, and other non-profits, and offers services including global climate change issues, sustainable markets, ecosystem protection, and environmental responsible governance services.

1. Panel sets out an action plan to make agriculture profitable

In news:

• A top government panel has proposed major reforms to the existing administrative structure.

Key Suggestions:

• Overhaul of the Union agriculture ministry.
• Setting up a three-tier planning and review mechanism through district, state and national level committees.
• Conducting an annual ease of doing agribusiness survey.

• The committee on doubling farmers’ incomes (DFI), was set up in April 2016
• The DFI committee is tasked to formulate the strategy to double real income of farmers between 2015-16 and 2022-23

Restructuring of agriculture ministry

• The committee suggested revamping the marketing division of the agriculture ministry into a division of marketing and agri-logistics
• It suggested upgrading the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) division to a ‘division of investment in agriculture’ to promote strategic investments in production and post-production facilities
• To capture value from agri-commodities, the committee has suggested that the crops division be restructured as the ‘division of crops and primary processing’ to focus on primary processing of harvested produce at the farm gate

Other measures:

• The report suggested liberalizing the definition of a ‘farmer’ to include cultivators, lessee farmers and sharecroppers
• The report also suggested a national level policy and planning committee represented by ministers of agriculture, commerce, rural development, water resources, food and consumer affairs, and food processing, among others
• Its proposed task would be to review the policy framework and progress in doubling farmer’s incomes, review trade policy, budgetary allocations and status of farmers’ welfare
Basic Information:

Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana

• Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is a State Plan Scheme of Additional Central Assistance launched in August 2007 as a part of the 11th Five Year Plan by the Government of India.
• Launched under the aegis of the National Development Council, it seeks to achieve 4% annual growth in agriculture through development of Agriculture and its allied sectors during the period under the 11th Five Year Plan (2007–11).
• It was started to incentivize the states in order to increase their investment in Agriculture and allied sectors
• The scheme encourages convergence with other programmes such as NREGS
• The pattern of funding is 100% Central Government Grant

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 with reference to removal of Supreme Court judges.
1. A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the Parliament.
2. Supreme Court Judges can be removed from the office on grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.

Choose the correct statement/s from the options given below

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

See

Question 2. ‘Vajra Prahar’ is a joint exercise between India and _____?
1. Japan
2. US
3. Vietnam
4. Sri Lanka

See

Question 3. Consider the following statements with reference to Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
1. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is a State Plan Scheme of Additional Central Assistance launched as a part of the 12th Five Year Plan by the Government of India.
2. RKVY was started to incentivize the states in order to increase their investment in Agriculture and allied sectors.
3. The pattern of funding under RKVY is 100% Central Government Grant.

Choose the correct statement/s from the options given below

1. 1 and 2
2. 2 and 3
3. 1 and 3
4. 1, 2 and 3

See

Question 4. Consider the following statements with reference to World Resources Institute (WRI).
1. The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that works under United Nations organization.
2. The organization’s mission is to promote environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, and human health and well-being.
3. WRI partners with local and national governments, private companies, publicly-held corporations, and other non-profits, and offers services including global climate change issues, sustainable markets, ecosystem protection, and environmental responsible governance services.

Choose the correct statement/s from the options given below

1. 1 and 2
2. 2 and 3
3. 1 and 3
4. 1, 2 and 3

See

Question 5. Consider the following statements with reference to “Sholas”.
1. Sholas are the local name for patches of stunted tropical montane forest found in valleys amid rolling grassland in the higher montane regions of South India.
2. Shola forests are found in the higher altitude hill regions of the Nilgiris, Kanyakumari district, Idukki district, the Western Ghats and associated ranges in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Choose the correct statement/s from the options given below

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

See

G. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

GS Paper II
1. Khap panchayats have been in the news for functioning as extra-constitutional authorities, often delivering pronouncements amounting to human right violations. Discuss critically the actions taken by the legislative, executive and judiciary to set the things right in this regard.
2. Strength, peace and security are considered to be the pillars of international relations. Elucidate.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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