TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Ban proposed on obscene depiction of women on Net 2. Be agents of change, President tells Governors INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS 1. India seeks new security forum 2. War games to hone anti-submarine skills 3. In S-400 deal, U.S. is the elephant in the room 4. China hails Modi’s Singapore speech C. GS3 Related ECONOMY 1. Centre to start measuring ‘green GDP’ of States 2. NPAs increasing, IBA tells panel 3. TRAI moots network to help in disaster relief 4. SEBI slashes expenses charged by mutual funds 5. Oil price falls as U.S. supply grows 6. Fitch downgrades PNB on credit profile 7. IBC: delisting norms eased for firms 8. India flouting laws by taxing global air tickets: IATA chief D. GS4 Related E. Editorials AGRICULTURE 1. Farm friction: on the malaise in agriculture POLITY AND GOVERNANCE 1. Governance and the Governor F. Prelims Fact G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!
B. GS2 Related
1. Ban proposed on obscene depiction of women on Net
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed to ban obscene depiction of women on the Internet and through SMS/MMS by amending the Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986.
- The Ministry has also suggested that stricter punishments be awarded for such crimes on par with those recommended under the IT Act, 2008.
- The Ministry has proposed amendment in definition of the term advertisement to include digital form or electronic form or hoardings, or through SMS, MMS, etc.
- It has also proposed setting up a Central authority under the National Commission of Women, which will include representatives from the Advertising Standards Council of India, the Press Council of India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member with experience of working on women’s issues.
Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986
- It was enacted to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisement or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.
- The IRW Act provides for punishment of up to two years in jail for an offence committed for the first time and imprisonment of six months to five years for a second conviction.
- Sections 67 and 67A of the IT Act lay down a punishment of three to five years for circulating obscene material and five to seven years for circulating sexually explicit material respectively.
2. Be agents of change, President tells Governors
- President Ram Nath Kovind said that the people of a State look at the offices of the Governor as the fount of ideals and values.
- He asked these constitutional functionaries to be the agents of change.
- Against the backdrop of the government formation efforts recently in Karnataka, when the Congress and the Janata Dal(S) had accused Governor Vajubhai Bala as partisan, President Kovind’s remarks are significant.
- The President said a Governor was not only an important link in the federal structure of the country but also a mentor and a guide to the State governments in preparing a road map for development of 100 million tribal people and other marginalised sections.
- As Governors, they can help in the shaping of a road map for the betterment of lives of our fellow citizens who have not benefited as much as expected from our development journey.
- The President also urged Governors to serve as guardians to India’s youth in their role of Chancellors of universities.
- He said that nearly 94% of the students enrolled in higher education study in universities under the purview of the State government.
- It is for the Governors to inspire State universities to maintain discipline and integrity.
- President Kovind also sought suggestions from Governors on the celebrations for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Beginning October 2, this year, the Centre has decided to celebrate it over a 24-month period.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke at the inaugural session, asked Governors to use their public experience to ensure that people benefited from the flagships schemes of the Central government, and asked them to visit some of the villages that had been electrified for the first time.
- Mr Modi said that the institution of Governor has a pivotal role to play within the federal structure and constitutional framework of our country.
- Prime Minister Modi suggested that universities be focal point for celebrations like the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
- The Prime Minister also urged Governors of States with a substantial tribal population to ensure that they benefited from government programmes on education, sports and financial inclusion.
- Modi also mentioned some key themes of development such as the National Nutrition Mission, rural electrification and development parameters in aspirational districts and the move towards Gram Swaraj Abhiyan from April 14, right now being implemented across 16,000 village, focussing on seven key schemes.
1. India seeks new security forum
- India urged for support from Russia, China, South Africa and Brazil to create a new security forum to counter terrorism and radicalisation.
- Speaking at the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the forum could be realised through an understanding among the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the member countries of the grouping.
- Swaraj also emphasised the contribution of the BRICS countries in ensuring stability in a world faced with growing insecurity.
- The National Security Advisers of the BRICS member- states have a dialogue mechanism to counter radicalisation, terrorism, money laundering and other international crimes.
- During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meetings with President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping, India had expressed willingness to intensify work with the BRICS member- states to address pressing issues of collective concern.
2. War games to hone anti-submarine skills
- The Navies of India, Japan and the U.S. will enhance their anti-submarine warfare skills in this year’s Malabar naval war games to be held off the coast of Guam from June 7 to 16.
- For the first time in a Malabar exercise, all three Navies are deploying their maritime reconnaissance (MR) aircraft to sharpen those skills. MR is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles.
- In addition, Japan and the U.S. have anti-submarine warfare helicopters on board their helicopter carrier JS Ise and aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, respectively.
- However, the Indian Navy does not have any anti-submarine warfare helicopter in the exercise.
- Indian effort would be limited to P-8I and the sonars on ships.
- The Navy’s anti-submarine warfare helicopter fleet is dependent on the ageing Sea Kings and is in urgent need of new helicopters.
- The exercise contributes towards increasing the level of mutual understanding, interoperability and sharing of the best practices between the three navies.
3. In S-400 deal, U.S. is the elephant in the room
- India’s ambitions to procure the Russian-developed S-400 Triumf long-range air-defence system has landed New Delhi right in the middle of global strategic complexities.
- The S-400 is a complex military system comprising several radars, command post, different types of missiles and launchers that can track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously from hundreds of kilometres away, launch counter-missiles within seconds and shoot them down with great efficiency.
- The S-400 (SA-21 Growler), when properly operated, is a potent medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile system.
- To be most effective, however, it needs to be integrated with other air defence systems and components — such as radars — operated by the purchasing country.
- This however, presents problems if some of these have been bought from the U.S. or potentially other Western states, where the required levels of integration will not be possible because of security concerns.
- Given its advanced capabilities, the weapon system has added a new strategic angle to ongoing stand-offs around the world — in Syria, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and in China and its neighbourhood.
- As the Defence Ministry prepares to present the procurement proposal for the S-400 systems before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), officials are divided on whether New Delhi will push the deal through in the face of possible U.S. sanctions and warnings that it will adversely affect transfer of U.S. military technology.
- But Washington will likely soon withdraw this threat and quietly acquiesce to the purchase once Indian diplomats have the opportunity to explain to their U.S. counterparts how the S-400 acquisition supports the U.S.-India shared goal of enhancing regional capabilities to deter Chinese aggression.
4. China hails Modi’s Singapore speech
- China welcomed keynote remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Shangrila dialogue in Singapore, linking them with the spirit of the Wuhan summit in April with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- They had in-depth exchange of views in international landscape and bilateral relations and reached consensus on many issues during the informal meeting of the Indian PM and Chinese President at Wuhan.
- In his remarks at the Asia Security Summit in Singapore, Mr. Modi had referred to the Wuhan summit.
- He said that a two-day informal Summit with President Xi in Wuhan had helped Indian and China cement their understanding that strong and stable relations between the two nations are an important factor for global peace and progress.
- He also said that he firmly believes that, Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence, sensitive to each other’s interests.
- Modi made it plain that India rejected the doctrine of containment, opposed protectionism, and backed globalisation as a template of progress.
- Modi’s observations broadly align with China’s advocacy of rule-based globalisation.
C. GS3 Related
1. Centre to start measuring ‘green GDP’ of States
- Starting this year, the government will begin a five-year exercise to compute district-level data of the country’s environmental wealth.
- The numbers will eventually be used to calculate every State’s ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- The metric will help with a range of policy decisions, such as compensation to be paid during land acquisition, calculation of funds required for climate mitigation, and so on.
- This is the first time such a national environment survey is being undertaken. India’s environmental diversity and riches are universally recognised but have never been quantified.
- A pilot project is set to begin this September in 54 districts.
- Land will be demarcated into grids with about 15-20 grids per district.
- These will capture the diversity in the State’s geography, farmland, wildlife, and emissions pattern, and will be used to compute a value.
- The funds for the pilot project are already available. But the budget has not been specified.
- Much of the data required for the inventory would be sourced from datasets that already exist with other government ministries.
Green skilling programme
- The government has also launched a ‘green skilling’ programme under which youth, particularly school dropouts, would be trained in a range of ‘green jobs’.
- Some of the labour required for the survey would also be sourced from the green-skilled workforce.
2. NPAs increasing, IBA tells panel
- NPA is one of the major concerns for the banking system around the globe and the Indian banking system is not an exception to this universal phenomenon.
- With non-performing assets (NPA) increasing and banks’ capital positions not improving despite the additional capital infused by the government in public sector banks, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) told the Standing Committee on Finance.
- The data provided by the IBA showed that the ratio of gross NPAs to gross advances — basically a metric of bad loans — had grown from 2.36% by March 2011 to 4.11% in March 2014, and grew further to 10.41% by December 2017.
- However, the IBA said this growth was also due to the Asset Quality Review conducted by the Reserve Bank of India, which revealed a lot of loans as NPAs, which were earlier classified as standard assets.
- Another major issue it raised was the strain put on banks’ resources by the fast pace of technological advancement.
Way forward (containing NPAs)
- The issue of shortage of capital with banks.
- Extending the time frame for full implementation of Basel III norms (international standards that lay strict requirements on banks’ equity and capital ratios) from the current deadline of March 2019. The RBI has been implementing the norms in a phased manner from April 2013.
- A realistic assessment of capital requirement of PSBs and need for further infusion of capital by promoters/owners.
- Periodic visits to the borrowers’ business units for the verification of stocks, and the plant and machinery along with the proper scrutiny of the quarterly financial statements and projections received from the borrower.
3. TRAI moots network to help in disaster relief
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recommended setting up of a pan-India broadband public protection disaster relief (PPDR) communications network based on 3GPP PS-LTE technology for an advanced, reliable, robust and responsive communication networks to be used during disasters.
- Existing PPDR networks in the country are analog and digital systems supporting narrowband voice and data communications.
- Introduction of advanced broadband PPDR communication networks can be a great enabler in decision-making and handling of PPDR operations for personnel and organisations involved.
- PPDR communication supports a range of services such as maintenance of law and order, protection of life and property, disaster relief and emergency responses.
- TRAI recommended that a hybrid model of broadband PPDR network in India should be set up.
- The regulator recommended creating a Special Purpose Vehicle under the Ministry of Home Affairs to plan, coordinate and steer the nationwide network besides implementation and subsequent operation.
- TRAI proposed that operators should be mandated to provide mobile BTS and backpack devices in case of disasters when the terrestrial network gets damaged or becomes dysfunctional.
Read more on Telecom Regulatory Authority Of India
4. SEBI slashes expenses charged by mutual funds
- Markets regulator SEBI has slashed the additional expense charged by mutual funds to just 5 basis points to help increase the penetration of such products among investors.
- The move will help cut the cost of investing in mutual funds and industry players believe that it may result in lower commissions for distributors.
- The extra expense of 20 basis points has been reduced to 5 basis points across all schemes.
Read more on SEBI
5. Oil price falls as U.S. supply grows
- Oil prices fell as U.S. production hit a record high and OPEC members considered boosting supply.
- The benchmark Brent crude oil lost $1.26 a barrel.
- A sea of red is washing over the energy complex as rising U.S. production coupled with a looming relaxation in OPEC-led cuts sends bulls scurrying for the exits.
- Arab oil ministers agreed on the need for continued cooperation between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other big producers to balance global supply.
- OPEC will meet formally on June 22 to set oil policy.
- It is expected to agree to raise output to cool the market amid worries over Iranian and Venezuelan supply and after Washington raised concerns that the oil rally was going too far.
- Saudi Arabia, the effective OPEC leader, and Russia have discussed boosting output to compensate for supply losses from Venezuela and to address concerns about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iranian output.
Read more on OPEC
6. Fitch downgrades PNB on credit profile
- Fitch Ratings has downgraded the Viability Rating (VR) of Punjab National Bank to ‘b’ from ‘bb-’ and maintained negative ratings.
- The two-notch downgrade is a reflection of the significant deterioration in its standalone credit profile, mainly due to a drop in its core capital ratio that was bigger than Fitch’s expectation.
- The deterioration in its core capitalisation was caused by a sharp increase in its non-performing loans (NPLs) and the related increase in credit costs, which resulted in large losses in the financial year ended March 2018 (FY18).
- The decline also highlights the management’s weaker execution and previous underwriting and oversight gaps.
- But the bank has already started taking steps to address.
Also read | NPA Critical Challenge for Indian Banking Sector
7. IBC: delisting norms eased for firms
- Market regulator SEBI has relaxed requirements to comply with delisting norms for companies facing insolvency proceedings provided the resolution plan lays down the procedure for delisting that particular entity from the exchanges.
- The move is expected to provide succour to various listed companies that have been referred for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
- More than 750 entities, including many listed companies, are facing insolvency proceedings under the Code.
Watch BYJU’S video on Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code and Ordinance
8. India flouting laws by taxing global air tickets: IATA chief
- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) castigated India for taxing international tickets, even as it asked governments to facilitate the growth of worldwide connectivity by avoiding creeping re-regulation, maintaining the integrity of global standards and addressing a capacity crisis.
- India helped develop ICAO resolutions prohibiting tax on international tickets.
- But India was taxing international tickets in contravention of the resolutions of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
- Imposition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has led to the enhancement of rates on international air tickets, especially business class.
- The tax covers airline products and services including tickets, ancillary, change, refund and other products and fees.
- IATA also warned that governments need to urgently tackle a capacity crisis facing airports as demand for international travel grows.
- But they should be cautious about private sector involvement.
- With passenger levels projected to nearly double to 7.8 billion by 2036, infrastructure such as airports and air traffic control systems are not keeping pace.
IATA (The International Air Transport Association)
- It is a trade association of the world’s airlines.
- It consists of 278 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries.
- It supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards.
- IATA is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. Farm friction: on the malaise in agriculture
- Since June 1, many farmers are on an unusual 10-day ‘strike’ to draw the government’s attention to distress in the fields.
- A federation of 130 farmer bodies has decided to stop supplies of vegetables and dairy produce to major cities and hold a dharna on 30 national highways, without blocking vehicular passage.
- Prices of vegetables and fruits are inching up in urban centres given the supply shock created by this ‘Gaon Bandh’; in cities like Mumbai, fishermen have joined the cause.
What are the Farmers’ Demands?
- Enhancement of the minimum support price regime for crops in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, higher prices for milk procurement and loan waivers to offset low or negative returns on investment.
- This stir, which ends with a Bharat Bandh call on June 10, is not about the immediate crisis faced by specific sections of farmers (such as the cash-strapped sugarcane-growers for whom a cess is being considered under the GST regime). It is a culmination of multiple attempts made over a year to red-flag the systemic malaise in agriculture.
- The current stir also derives from lack of tangible action on assurances made earlier and imperceptible movement on the Centre’s grand promises such as doubling farm incomes and raising MSPs.
- On June 6, 2017, some farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, during an agitation for better crop prices.
- There have been agitations across the country since then, including in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra (where thousands of farmers walked nearly 200 km to the State capital in March).
- The government must move purposefully to address the systemic malaise in agriculture
- The minister in charge had promised this over a year ago, but nothing happened. Blaming the agitators is easy; policy responses are where the heavy lifting is needed.
- Doubling the farmers’ income by 2022 – Can this be a reality?
- M.S. Swaminathan Formula to solve the farmers’ problems.
1. Governance and the Governor
Governance and the Governor
- The recent developments in Karnataka makes us to think “Do we need the office of the Governor?”
Role of Governor in Governance
- Under the constitutional scheme, the Governor’s mandate is substantial. From being tasked with overseeing government formation, to reporting on the breakdown of constitutional machinery in a State, to maintaining the chain of command between the Centre and the State, he can also reserve his assent to Bills passed by the State Legislature and promulgate ordinances if the need arises.
- Further, under Article 355, the Governor, being the Central authority in a State, acts as an overseer in this regard.
- Undoubtedly, the most crucial issue relates to the exercise of gubernatorial (relating to or connected with the post of governor) discretion. The Governor has the task of inviting the leader of the largest party/alliance, post-election, to form the government; overseeing the dismissal of the government in case of a breakdown of the Constitution in the State; and, through his report, recommending the imposition of President’s rule.
- In India, the balance in power is tilted towards the Union. The importance of the Governor’s position arises not from the exceptional circumstances that necessitate the use of his discretion, but as a crucial link within this federal structure in maintaining effective communication between the Centre and a State.
- As a figurehead who ensures the continuance of governance in the State, even in times of constitutional crises, his role is often that of a neutral arbiter in disputes settled informally within the various strata of government, and as the conscience keeper of the community.
Why the abuse of power?
- There are numerous examples of the Governor’s position being abused, usually at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre.
- The root lies in the process of appointment itself. The post has been reduced to becoming a retirement package for politicians for being politically faithful to the government of the day.
- Consequently, a candidate wedded to a political ideology could find it difficult to adjust to the requirements of a constitutionally mandated neutral seat. This could result in bias, as appears to have happened in Karnataka.
- On the other hand, there are instances of politicians who have risen above partisan politics, and performed their role with dignity and without fear or favour.
- In this one can think of former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, and former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
- A possible solution would be not to nominate career politicians and choose “eminent persons” from other walks of life. Both the Sarkaria and M.M. Punchhi Commissions seem to hint at this. But this could also lead to the creation of sycophants within the intelligentsia, an equally worrisome prospect.
- One has to consider the verdict of the Supreme Court in B.P. Singhal v. Union of India, on interpreting Article 156 of the Constitution and the arbitrary removal of Governors before the expiration of their tenure. This judgment is crucial since a fixed tenure for Governors could go quite far in encouraging neutrality and fairness in the discharge of their duties, unmindful of the dispensation at the Centre.
- Since the Bommai verdict allows the Supreme Court to investigate claims of mala fide in the Governor’s report, a similar extension to cover mala fide in the invitation process could be a potential solution.
- Misuse of a position of power should not serve as a justification for removing the office altogether, unless such a position has totally lost its relevance.
- Rather, these debates on limitations on the power of constitutional functionaries should be allowed unimpeded to ensure the organic development of our polity.
F. Prelims Fact
Nothing here for today!!!
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Consider the following statements:
- 5th June is celebrated as the World Environment Day.
- The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is ‘beat air pollution’.
- India is the global host nation for the 43rd edition of the event.
Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- All of the above
Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):
- It is a statutory organisation.
- It was constituted under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- It was entrusted with the powers and functions under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
- It has to advise the Central Government on any matter concerning prevention and control of water and air pollution and improvement of the quality of air.
Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 4 only
- None of the above
Question 3. Which of the following statements is incorrect?
- The Department of Telecommunications is a department of the Ministry of Communications.
- The Department of Telecom has been formulating developmental policies.
- The Department is also responsible for grant of licenses for various telecom services.
- None of the above
Question 4. Which of the following statements is correct with respect to The International Civil Aviation Organization?
- It is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
- Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation.
- All of the above
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- India has made good progress in education since the introduction of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act. Comment.
- In the light of recent developments, discuss the significance of the office of Governor.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis