31 Mar 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S. to pull out of Syria soon: Trump
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Transporters not yet ready for e-way bill
2. SEBI mulls ‘concentration margin’ in derivatives
3. 15th Finance Commission to rethink using 2011 census data for disbursing tax revenues among states
4. Private firms object to NTPC deal with Bangladesh
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. ISRO’s lithium-ion cells to set all-electric vehicles era rolling
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Rhino population is marginally up in Assam's Kaziranga National Park
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. A smart card for the farmer
GOVERNANCE
1. Is NEXT the panacea for medical education woes?
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. U.S. to pull out of Syria soon: Trump

 

  • U.S. President Donald Trump insisted that U.S. forces would pull out of Syria very soon and lamented what he said was Washington’s waste of $7 trillion in West Asian wars.
  • In a populist address to industrial workers in Ohio, Mr. Trump said U.S. forces were close to securing all of the territory that the Islamic State (IS) group once claimed
  • Trump did not say who the others were who might take care of Syria, but Russia and Iran have sizeable forces in the country to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
  • The U.S. has more than 2,000 military personnel in eastern Syria, working with local militia groups to defeat the Islamic State while trying to keep out of Syria’s broader civil war.

New strategy

  • Trump’s eagerness to quit the conflict flies in the face of a new U.S. Syria strategy announced in January by then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who has since been sacked.
  • Tillerson argued that U.S. forces must remain engaged in Syria to prevent the IS and al-Qaeda from returning and to deny Iran a chance “to further strengthen its position in Syria”.
  • In a speech at Stanford University, he also warned that a total withdrawal of American personnel at this time would restore Assad and continue his brutal treatment against his own people.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Transporters not yet ready for e-way bill

 

  • With just a day to go for the nationwide roll-out of the e-way bill system, transporters and tax analysts said that though the government infrastructure seemed much better prepared this time around, errors could still arise due to the transport industry’s lack of clarity on the new rules and procedures.
  • The government had initially decided to roll out the e-way bill system — a billing mechanism for the inter-State and intra-State movement of goods under the Goods and Services Tax regime — from February 1, 2018.
  • However, due to the overwhelming load on servers and the resultant downtime, the government deferred the roll-out to April 1.

‘High chance for error’

  • The bill [system] is being rolled out on a pan-India basis [for] an industry that is significantly fragmented and [whose] adoption of technology is still in its infancy. There are significant chances of errors and omissions from all stakeholders concerned which could be genuine in nature.
  • Tax analysts and GST Suvidha Providers said the government had made considerable effort to upgrade the e-waybill system infrastructure to cope with the load, and so said problems were unlikely to arise due to servers failing to cope.
  • The system is definitely stronger now, and they have done a number of things to ensure that things will fall in place [for the rollout.
  • For example, if you are trying to search for an e-waybill number, they have imposed certain restrictions.
  • Only one query is allowed, since this will reduce the load on the system. The data is also getting archived every 30 days or so.
  • About 26-50 lakh e-waybills are expected to be generated per day. The system is being built to process up to 75 lakh E-waybills per day.

‘No expertise’

  • Road transporters across the country were still not clear about their role in the e-waybill system, said Abhishek Gupta, treasurer, Bombay Goods Transport Association.
  • They don’t have the required expertise to do necessary changes in the portal. Certain practical problems are still not addressed by the authorities without which it will not be seamless transit.
  • Vehicle interceptions would be high and discretion would lie with officials due to lack of clarity among transporters.
  • Already states like U.P. and Uttarakhand have, in the testing phase, held several thousand vehicles and penalised them for no real reason.
  • Earlier, if there was a penalty, it was for someone carrying materials that were not [part of] a genuine sale with invoice, but now even genuine tax paid material will be intercepted and this will make it difficult for the industry to service their business. Transport trade is being asked to enforce the law which is very impractical.
  • There is anxiety and the real test of success will be on April 1.
  • If the portal is capable of handling transactions successfully, it would be a huge win for GST authorities and will receive accolades.

2. SEBI mulls ‘concentration margin’ in derivatives

 

  • Traders with a very high or significant exposure to commodity and equity derivatives market may soon have to pay a higher margin compared with other traders as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is planning to create a structured framework for levying a ‘concentration margin,’ according to a person familiar with the development.
  • This is part of the regulator’s attempts to strengthen the risk management norms to ensure that during excess volatility or massive fall in the markets, the probability of a systemic risk in the form of widespread defaults is minimised with adequate margins, he said.
  • Simply put, a concentration margin would be levied on individuals and institutions whose exposure account for a major chunk of the total exposure in that respective equity or commodity derivative contract.
  • The issue was discussed recently during a meeting of the risk management review committee set up by SEBI. The regulator had sought the views of all the exchanges before deciding on the manner and structure in which the margin can be introduced, the person said.
  • Incidentally, ‘concentration margin’ is a normal practice in many exchanges globally, including the NASDAQ.

Global practice

  • Concentration margin is a global practice with many exchanges levying it. A concentration risk is a bigger risk than normal volatility risk because that can bring down the individual or the institution concerned thereby affecting the market integrity as a whole. There could be a short term impact on volume in the derivatives market.
  • The aim is to strengthen the margining system by not increasing the overall margin requirements but focussing on those that have a large concentrated position.
  • Stress tests have been done to evaluate the risks and the possible impact on the settlement guarantee fund in various scenarios. For instance, what happens if the top 10 or 20 clients default.
  • The structure has not yet been formalised as SEBI has sought feedback in the form of data and suggestions from the exchanges.

Back-testing data

  • It is believed that the exchanges have back-tested the market data over the last 5-10 years with scenarios of default by large members and the potential impact on the overall market.
  • Incidentally, commodity exchanges levy such additional margin in certain commodities during periods of excessive volatility but the regulator is looking at a formal structure that could be followed by both, equity and commodity exchanges.
  • Further, the quantum of ‘concentration margin’ will be based on factors like total open interest position, individual concentration, time-to-expiry, overall liquidity in the contract and also the stress level in the overall market liquidity.
  • The risk management review committee, which is looking into this issue, has received representations from clearing corporations, exchanges and other market participants like banks and corporates.

3. 15th Finance Commission to rethink using 2011 census data for disbursing tax revenues among states

 

  • The 15th Finance Commission is re-evaluating using the 2011 census data to distribute its pooled tax revenues among the states, and will go for public discussion in mid-April amid growing protests from the southern states, which feel that the system is rigged against them.
  • The newly constituted 15th Finance Commission, under the chairmanship of N K Singh, had said that it would take into consideration the 2011 Census for distributing the pooled tax, and not the 1971 Census numbers considered by previous Finance Commissions.
  • This sparked a controversy, as the southern states felt that they would be big losers if the 2011 census was taken into consideration for distributing pooled tax revenues, as population growth was faster in the northern states.
  • The states of the south have nearly reached replacement levels of population growth. Yet population is a prominent criterion for devolution of Central taxes.

4. Private firms object to NTPC deal with Bangladesh

 

  • Private power generating firms have raised concerns over the sale of power by state-owned NTPC to Bangladesh, arguing that domestic coal supply via long-term agreement cannot be used to supply power to other countries.
  • The Association of Power Producers (APP), the representative body of private power companies, in a letter to the Ministry of Power, has said that such sale violates extant policy and hurts the interests of domestic power consumers.
  • The APP said that the invitation for bids by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) had specifically asked if the power supplied from India had the government’s consent to use domestic coal.
  • The body has asked the government to issue a clarification stating that cross-border supply can be done only if power is generated using imported coal or coal bought through competitive bidding and not through allocations made for meeting domestic demand.
  • The access to Linkage Coal (at the notified price), supplied under FSAs/coal supply agreements, and from captive coal mines, can only be utilised for Long Term/ Medium Term PPAs with discoms.

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. ISRO’s lithium-ion cells to set all-electric vehicles era rolling

 

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that it is ready to transfer lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries technology to private industry to help India realise the dream of completing the transition to electric vehicles by 2030.
  • ISRO Chairman K Sivan told that space-grade li-ion batteries developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre was an ideal candidate for use in electric vehicles, with certain modifications. Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) had already tested the ISRO batteries and found them suitable for automotive systems.
  • Government-level discussions are going on to find suitable industrial partners and manufacture commercial grade li-ion batteries, which are cost-effective. From our side, we are ready to share the technology.
  • Currently, li-ion batteries are being imported from countries like China and Japan, which make the prices of electric vehicles less attractive.
  • ISRO has been using in-house li-ion batteries to power satellites and launch vehicles.
  • During Thursday’s GSLV-F08 launch, li-ion batteries were used to power the new electro mechanical actuation system and their performance has been satisfactory prompting the Union government to see them as a ‘game changer’.
  • To meet ISRO’s needs, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).
  • Already, a panel headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha had recommended commercial use of ISRO’s li-ion battery technology under the ‘Make In India’ initiative for electric vehicles.
  • In October last year, NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat had said India has to set up large lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants to become a global player in electric vehicles technology market.
  • Several countries across the world are already turning the spotlight on electric vehicles.
  • In Norway, 60 per cent of all cars sold are electric/hybrid. Denmark has declared full-conversion to electric vehicles by 2025. Sales in China have grown three-fold last year.
  • In electric two-wheelers, China is the global leader with over 24 million sold a year and over 120 million in operation. A total of 80,000 electric buses were added last year, targeting 70 per cent of its entire fleet electrified by 2020.

Key issues

❶ India faces challenges as privately-owned vehicles are the prime mode of transport in the country, reinforcing the importance of an alternative mobility future

❷ Nearly 50,000 new motor vehicles are registered in India per day, with a 10 per cent increase in vehicle registration annually in the past decade

❸ Despite a very low number of vehicles per capita, traffic congestion and pollution are already serious issues in India

❹ According to a 2016 World Health Organisation study, India is home to 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities

❺ In 2015, India imported more than 80 per cent of its oil at a cost of Rs 4.2 lakh crore

❻ Traffic accidents cause around 1.5 lakh deaths per year on Indian roads. Shared, electric and connected mobility is future

❼ India can save 64 per cent of anticipated passenger road-based mobility-related energy demand and 37 per cent of carbon emissions in 2030 by pursuing a shared, electric, and connected mobility future.

This would result in a reduction of 156 million tonnes in diesel and petrol consumption for that year. At US $52 per barrel of crude, this would imply a net savings of roughly Rs 3.9 lakh crore (approximately US $60 billion in 2030).

Category: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

1. Rhino population is marginally up in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park

 

  • The rhino population at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam is estimated to be 2,413, a two-day census carried out on March 27-28 has revealed.
  • In the last census conducted in 2015, the herbivore’s population in the park was 2,401. So, it has been an increase of 12. Following the latest count, the rhino population in Kaziranga is estimated to be 2,413. Given various factors, this is plus or minus 100.
  • The grass in the park is burnt every year for renewal of the low-lying vegetation. The sighting of perceived fewer rhinos in the latest count is being attributed to poor burning of grasses and reeds.
  • Only around 20 per cent of the grasses and reeds could be burned while the plan was to cover 60-70 per cent of it.
  • There is a suspicion that many rhinos were inside thick and inaccessible jungles and they got left out of the count. At the same time, there is also a perception of some animals being counted more than once.
  • According to latest estimates, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has 1,641 adult rhinos. Of them, 642 are males, 793 females and 206 “un-sexed” (their gender is yet to be determined). 
  • The population of sub-adult rhinos (aged between four and six years) was estimated to be 387. Of them, 116 were males, 149 females and 122 un-sexed. Calves were estimated to be 385.
  • Assam has an estimated 2,645 rhinos. The 434 sq km Kaziranga National Park has the highest number of the animal in the state. The Manas National Park and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary have around 100 rhinos each while the Orang National Park has around 30 rhinos.
  • Despite various security measures, a number of rhinos fall prey to the bullets of poachers, particularly at Kaziranga, every year. Scores others die in the annual floods.
  • The police claim the poachers include a section of the militants. The rhino horn is often smuggled into the South East Asian countries via Nagaland and Manipur.
  • In the neighbouring countries, the rhino horn is considered an aphrodisiac, both for men and women. A horn could fetch Rs.1 crore from the international black market.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. A smart card for the farmer

As indicated by 70th round of NSSO overview (2013), 52  percent of the rancher family units were obliged, of which 60  percent  had gotten to formal credit

Ranchers get to trim advance essentially through Kisan Credit Cards (KCC)

The KCC is important to acquire great quality contributions to raise efficiency and generation

Each time credit stream to ranchers is investigated, it is watched that the eastern and the north-eastern parts of the nation get proportionately less credit when contrasted with the western or southern parts

Issues identified with crop insurance

Crop insurance has not grabbed on a scale, which the administration had wanted

One of the real reasons: Farmers frequently take an advance for some yield and sow something different

This happens on the grounds that as far as possible for agriculturists is connected to the size of the back of various products

On the off chance that a rancher pronounces that he will trim sugarcane or potato, as far as possible will be high though on the off chance that he announces that he will edit oilseed or grains, as far as possible will be lower

Thus, when a harvest misfortune is accounted for, there is a question between the agriculturist and the insurance agency

 Targeting subsidies in a legitimate way

We know at this point direct benefit transfer (DBT) is an interesting approach instrument to target subsidies, diminish inefficient consumption and attachment spillages

The dispersion of urea is presently being done through an Aadhaar-empowered biometric ID framework, yet it doesn’t recognize a rancher and a non-agriculturist

The present framework does not exchange the compost sponsorship to the financial balance of the rancher

Be that as it may, DBT can address the issue of redirection of financed compost for different utilization and furthermore cross-fringe preoccupation

At the point when that begins, the issue of influencing forthright installment to will come up

Since urea is a vigorously sponsored thing, little and minor ranchers may think that it’s hard to make the full installment forthright

This can be settled by rolling out two improvements in the KCC

The cutoff of a KCC

(1) can be de-connected from the size of the back of the yield sown and

(2) be found on the territory of land held by an agriculturist

This will bring about two things

One, the rancher won’t need to influence a false assertion to get a higher credit to restrict

This will bring about an obvious revelation of the yield sown and henceforth, the error found in trim protection will be tended to

Second, it will address the issue of contorted between provincial credit stream to agriculturists

This will guarantee that credit stream to agriculturists in reverse districts increments.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Is NEXT the panacea for medical education woes?

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