15 May 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Centre’s say is final on Cauvery, SC told
2. Article 35A case for statute Bench?
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Gender bias caused ‘excess’ deaths of girls under 5: Lancet study
2. Contractors to compile sex offenders’ registry
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. RBI bars Allahabad Bank from giving fresh loans
2. Customer rights still a grey area in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. More tests required for GM mustard: regulator
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY
1. Why Citizenship Bill disturbs Assam
2. Collective assertion- On Justice Joseph’s elevation
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Centre’s say is final on Cauvery, SC told

 
  • The Centre will have the final say in inter-State disputes over Cauvery water. The decision of the Centre will be binding.
  • This is the crux of the draft Cauvery water management scheme filed in the Supreme Court during the short pause between polling and counting in the crucial Karnataka Assembly elections.
  • With the Centre facing the threat of contempt of court, the apex court saw Union Water Resources Secretary U.P. Singh, with copies of the draft scheme in hand, present in the courtroom in response to a summons issued on May 8.
  • The draft scheme originally proposes as final any decisions taken by the implementing authority under the proposed Cauvery Water Management Scheme, 2018 in furtherance of the Cauvery Tribunal award as modified by the Supreme Court verdict of February 16.
  • But in a situation where the riparian States of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala or the Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry do not cooperate, the authority would turn to the Centre for help. The decision of the Centre in the matter will be final and binding on all parties concerned.
  • A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the court would not get into the propriety or legality of the scheme. It said it did not want to trigger another round of litigation among the three States and the UT.
  • But while thus leaving the Centre as the final arbiter of inter-State Cauvery disputes, the draft scheme does not mention if an aggrieved State can approach the Supreme Court in appeal against the Centre’s decision itself.

Based in Bengaluru

  • The Centre, represented by Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, asked the court to name the implementing authority.Mr. Venugopal said the Centre was open to any of the nomenclatures — Board, Authority or Committee.
  • However, the Centre wants the Cauvery authority to be headquartered in Bengaluru. From there, the authority would monitor storage, apportionment and control of the water.
  • It shall supervise the operation of reservoirs and regulation of water releases with the assistance of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee. The authority would also decide the distress formula in water-sharing. Mr. Venugopal submitted that the riparian States and UT could be given copies of the draft.

2. Article 35A case for statute Bench?

 

  • The Supreme Court will examine fervent pleas for a five-judge Constitution Bench to decide whether special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir is unconstitutional. The three-judge Bench posted the case for August 6 to hear arguments.
  • Article 35A of the Constitution gives the State Legislature carte blanche to decide who all are the permanent residents of the State and grant them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property within the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare programmes.
  • The provision mandates that no Act of the State legislature coming within the ambit of Article 35A can be challenged for violating the Indian Constitution or any other law of the land.
  • Petitioner said Article 35A was in violation of the fundamental right of equality under Article 14. Article 35A was incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
  • Parliament was not consulted when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Indian Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370.
  • Article 368 (i) of the Constitution mandates that only Parliament can amend the Constitution by introducing a new Article.
  • The court is hearing a writ petition filed by a non-governmental organisation, We the Citizens, which challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370. It challenges that Article 35A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”.
  • A second petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir native, Charu Wali Khanna, has challenged Article 35A for protecting certain provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which restricts the basic right to property if a native woman marries a man not holding the Permanent Resident Certificate.

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Gender bias caused ‘excess’ deaths of girls under 5: Lancet study

 
  • There have been 2,39,000 excess deaths per year of girls under the age of five in India, and 29 out of 35 States and Union Territories in the country contributed to this mortality, according to a study in the online, open access, peer-reviewed journal Lancet Global Health.
  • That works out to about 2.4 million deaths in a decade. The additional deaths were found in 90% of districts in the country.
  • Around 22% of the overall mortality burden of under-five females is therefore due to gender bias. Excess mortality is the difference between observed and expected mortality rates in both genders.
  • To arrive at this number for India, the researchers calculated the difference between these two numbers in 46 countries that consistently did not have a problem with gender discrimination. They then used that to define an equation and arrive at the numbers for India.
  • Most studies of India’s skewed sex ratios have focussed on pre-natal mortality. The National Family Health Survey in 2017 said that India’s sex ratio at birth increased to 919 in 2015-16 from 914 in 2004-05.
  • This study, however, focuses on mortality after birth and says that the problem is most pronounced in northern India, where the four largest States in the region, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, accounted for two-thirds of the total excess deaths of females under five. In Uttar Pradesh, excess female mortality was calculated at 30.5. In Bihar, the rate was 28.5, in Rajasthan it was 25.4, and in Madhya Pradesh, it was 22.1.
  • The average level of excess mortality in girls aged 0-4 in the study period of 2000-2005 was 18.5 per 1,000 live births, compared to the expected mortality of girl children aged under five in areas of the world without known gender discrimination. This study period was chosen because it had the most consistent district-level data.

Rural areas

  • The worst affected areas were all rural, agricultural areas with lower levels of education, high population densities, low socio-economic development and high levels of fertility. Many deaths of females under five were partly due to unwanted childbearing and subsequent neglect.
  • The sustained fertility decline currently observed in north India is likely to lead to a reduction in postnatal discrimination. Unless son preference diminishes, lower fertility, however, might bring about a rise in gender-biased sex selection as was observed 20 years ago in western India.

2. Contractors to compile sex offenders’ registry

 
  • The Home Ministry plans to outsource the preparation of the proposed sex offenders’ registry to the private sector. Private contractors are expected to design and maintain the database that will be integrated with the Aadhaar database.
  • A Ministry document said the database would contain details of persons who posed a low danger to the community as they were not likely to engage in criminal sexual conduct on account of being involved in technical rape pertaining to elopement, consensual sex with major.

Criminal history

  • The Home Ministry said the offenders would be classified on the basis of their criminal history to ascertain if they pose a serious danger to the community.
  • The data will be stored for 15 years in the case of those who pose a low danger, 25 years for those posing moderate danger and lifetime for habitual offenders, violent criminals, convicts in gang rape and custodial rapes.
  • The information on arrested and chargesheeted offenders will be available only to law enforcement agencies, whereas the data for convicted offenders will be accessible to the public and can be searched on various parameters such as State, district, police station and even modus operandi.
  • The database will contain records (including photographs and fingerprints) related to offenders across India and will also include records on juvenile offenders and paedophiles based on reports by district nodal officers. It will also contain the current status of the offender as updated by the police station and the district nodal officer.
  • The Home Ministry floated a request for proposal document for Development and Implementation of National Registry of Sexual Offenders seeking to select a System Integrator to design, procure/develop, supply, implement, operate and maintain the database.
  • On April 27, 2016, the Centre informed the Rajya Sabha that the registry would be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). On April 21, in the wake of outrage against the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district of Jammu, the Union Cabinet reiterated that a sex offenders’ registry was being created to compile the data on such offenders.
  • A Home Ministry spokesperson said the private contractors would only develop the platform and the confidentiality of data would be maintained.
  • The private operator will only design the platform, the input and management of data will be available with law enforcement agencies. The data pertaining to passports has been developed by a private party, it is being run efficiently.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. RBI bars Allahabad Bank from giving fresh loans

 

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has barred state-run Allahabad Bank from extending fresh loans, under its prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, after the lender fell short of minimum capital adequacy ratio (CAR) requirement.
  • The bank’s CAR was 8.69% as on March 31, 2018 against the regulatory minimum requirement of 9%.

Risk threshold breach

  • According to RBI norms, Allahabad Bank had breached the first risk threshold for capital which is a breach of either CAR or common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio. The bank was already facing some restrictions under PCA framework for breaching net NPA norms.
  • The bank reported a net loss of Rs.3,510 crore in the January-March quarter and Rs.4,674 crore loss for the financial year 2017-18.
  • According to a regulatory filing by Allahabad Bank, RBI had also asked the Kolkata-based lender to reduce its exposure to unrated and high-risk advances. The central bank also restricted the lender’s access to raise high-cost deposits and creation of non-banking assets.
  • Dena Bank had informed the stock exchanges about lending restrictions imposed by the RBI after it breached the second risk threshold for net NPAs and return on asset norms. The Mumbai-based state-run lender’s stock tanked 5.42% on Monday to close the day at Rs.45 on the BSE.

2. Customer rights still a grey area in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

 

  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 no doubt is a path-breaking initiative in the whole reform process.
  • Not surprisingly, it has triggered huge debate and one of the key grey areas that had emerged in recent cases pertaining to rights of the customers in an insolvency process.
  • The Supreme Court had reportedly indicated that it would settle the grey areas in the code to see what role homebuyers could play in liquidation proceedings, while hearing arguments in the Jaypee Infratech case.
  • When the IBC 2016 was introduced, it classified company creditors into two categories — financial creditors (banks and financial intuitions) and operational creditors (suppliers and vendors).
  • It did not address the position of other creditors or customers who could not fit into either of the two categories. The other creditors comprised segments like homebuyers, deposit holders and customers who had made advance payment for purchase, etc.
  • The customer angle came into spotlight in the case of homebuyers of Jaypee Infratech, customers of telecom firm Aircel and Nathella Jewellery.
  • An amendment was brought in to the corporate insolvency resolution process regulations in August 2017, whereby a new rule was introduced.
  • Regulation 9A created a new residuary category of creditors, namely, other creditors (all creditors other than financial and operational).
  • This enables other creditors to file claims against a firm under insolvency by filing Form F with the Resolution Professional (RP). Despite the other creditors’ rule being brought in, there is still uncertainty for customers who had paid advances to the company.
  • The key issue still remains whether advances paid by customers are treated similar to that of debt owed by the company to banks and other vendors in the normal course of business and the order of priority in which repayment will be made in the insolvency process.
  • The recent cases of Aircel and Nathella have again brought into focus the question whether customers who had paid advances to these companies can file their claims in Form F (meant for other creditors) with the RP since their position as far as repayment is concerned still remains to be determined, he added.
  • There is no definite rule on the treatment of customers under the IBC. The rights and reliefs available to the customer depend upon the nature of relationship with the corporate debtor (company under insolvency process).
  • In the case of Jaypee Infratech, though homebuyers do not fall under the definition of financial creditors, the Supreme Court intervened and directed that the dues owed to buyers should be paid off first.
  • Based upon such intervention, the Insolvency Law Committee has recommended that homebuyers with an agreement with the developers should be treated as financial creditors.
  • It is not possible to lay down one general way of treating customers under the IBC considering the complexities of business models and the dynamics of day-to-day transactions and can only be determined on a scheme-to- scheme basis.
  • The law required to be changed slightly in cases where a creditor is neither a financial nor an operational creditor, but yet has a substantial amount of money, exceeding a certain threshold, to be recovered.’
  • In situations like that, such a creditor/customer too should be deemed to be a financial creditor and/or permitted to be part of the committee of creditors and have a vote, he said.
  • Customers/consumers, in general, do not know whether they could also join the list of affected parties in the insolvency resolution process as the IBC had not defined consumers in any of the categories.

Legal protection

  • Efforts, no doubt, are on to provide legal protection to safeguard the interests of depositors. IBC is still emerging and in early days. The moot question, however, is: how do we classify customers of Aircel, Nathella and the like?
  • Their individual exposure to these firms may be small, no doubt. But, collectively, they form a major chunk of money owed.
  • Hopefully, the Supreme Court will step in to clarify this major grey area in the code, which is proving a pain point for customers of assorted kinds and where a quick solution needs to emerge.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. More tests required for GM mustard: regulator

 

  • The Centre has demanded more tests for genetically modified mustard, a year after clearing the crop for commercial cultivation.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, the apex regulator of genetically modified crops, in a March meeting said that in light of several representations both for and against the release of GM mustard, there was a need for more tests.
  • “Applicant may be advised to undertake field demonstration on GM mustard in an area of 5 acres at 2-3 different locations with a view to generate additional data on honey bees and other pollinators and honey, and on soil microbial diversity,” said the minutes of the meeting made public on May 13.
  • Activists said the demand fell short. The fact that GM mustard has never been tested as a herbicide-tolerant crop, for its environmental and health ramifications a point that has remained unaddressed by the regulators.
  • The clearance for GM mustard has been mired in confusion. On May 12, last year the then GEAC chairperson Amita Prasad said that the crop had been recommended for cultivation.
  • In October, the government did a volte-face and said there was an inadvertent error in the announcement regarding mustard and said that subsequent to receipt of various representations from different stakeholders, matters related to environmental release of transgenic mustard are kept pending for further review.
  • Union Environment Minister, Harsh Vardhan — who had the final say on the matter said that wider consultations on the release of the crop were needed.
  • Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH -11), the transgenic mustard in question, had been developed by a team of scientists at Delhi University, led by former Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental under a government-funded project.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY

1. Why Citizenship Bill disturbs Assam

Background:

What are the protests about?

There have been two waves of protests, for or against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. During and after the visit of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to Assam and Meghalaya to collect feedback, the Brahmaputra Valley saw protests opposing the Bill while the Barak Valley saw counter-protests in the Bill’s support.

What is the Bill about?

It aims to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to allow Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship. The present Citizenship Act allows an immigrant to apply for citizenship if s/he has lived in India for 12 months immediately before the application, and for 11 of the last 14 years. The government introduced the Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha, relaxing the 11-year cutoff to six years out of 14, for immigrants of the six religions from the three countries. Also, in 2015 and 2016, the government passed two notifications exempting such immigrants from the Foreigners Act 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920 — which provide for deportation — and enabling them to continue living in India if they had arrived before December 31, 2014.

Context:

Amendment Bill qualifies illegal immigrants on basis of religion; divide plays out between regions with distinct linguistic identities, among ruling partners and within parties.

Assam has witnessed protests over an amendment to the Centre’s Citizenship Act 1955 that proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) immigrants from three neighbouring countries eligible for Indian citizenship. This has underlined a geographical divide, with the Bill facing protests in Assamese-dominated Brahmaputra valley while being welcomed in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, Assam’s southern tip.

 What feedback did the JPC get?

The JPC, comprising 16 members and headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal, visited Guwahati (Brahmaputra Valley), Silchar (Barak Valley) and Shillong (Meghalaya). In Guwahati, 135 groups submitted memorandums — one was signed in blood — objecting to the Bill. In Silchar, hundreds of organisations pushed for the Bill. In Shillong, the Meghalaya Cabinet decided to oppose the Bill.

Why two stands in Assam?

Opponents feel the Bill will aggravate the problem of illegal migration. Those in favour feel it will help end alienation of Bengali Hindus living in Assam, many of them in Barak Valley.

BRAHMAPUTRA VALLEY: The opponents stress Assam cannot accommodate any more immigrants and feel the Bill goes against the 1985 Assam Accord signed between the Rajiv Gandhi government and leaders of the Assam movement spearheaded by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants — irrespective of religion. Under the Accord, any person who came into Assam after midnight of March 24, 1971, would be identified as a foreigner. A non-obstante clause was inserted in the Citizenship Act 1955 under Section 6A. “This basically meant the cutoff date for citizenship to migrants in Assam was March 24, 1971, while for the rest of the country it was 1950.

BARAK VALLEY: The linguistic divide between the two regions can be traced back to 1947, when most parts of Bengali-speaking Sylhet joined East Pakistan, while one part was retained in India and is part of Barak Valley. Those pressing for the Bill express concern about “Partition victims” who have been displaced and persecuted. “Where will they go? No other country will give them shelter,” says Haridas Dutta, general secretary of Nagorik Satro Rokhya Songram Parishad. “We want the six-year naturalisation period to be relaxed to six months.

 If the Bill is passed, how many stand to gain citizenship?

Estimates vary. “Since 1971, there have been about 20 lakh Bengali Hindus living illegally in India. If the Bill is passed, an additional 1.70 crore Hindus living in Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2015, will come into India and get citizenship.

Someone who has gone through both the Accord and the Bill will very well understand that the latter is defining only a subset of population who have all this while been termed ‘illegal immigrants’. As such, this is a very small set — it won’t be more than 10-15 lakh.

 What is the government stand?

To protect the rights of Assam citizens. The government would express its stand after publication of the updated National Register of Citizen.

Is the Bill connected to the NRC?

Opponents feel it undermines the update process of the 1951 NRC, which, like the Assam Accord, too uses March 24, 1971, as a cutoff. Why should it affect the NRC, which will continue in its own pace? The NRC is at the centre of the geographical divide too. “Many Bengalis in Barak Valley are worried that they will not get a place in the NRC.

 Will the Bill stand legal scrutiny?

The fundamental ground for opposition is the violation of the Article 14 (which states that there can be no discrimination between two religious groups). Also, according to Section 5 of the Citizenship Act 1955, people of undivided India are prohibited from acquiring citizenship in India. Then how can the very same Act have a provision that grants citizenship to them.

2. Collective assertion- On Justice Joseph’s elevation

The propriety of the Centre holding back names from the collegium’s list is in question

It may no longer be possible for the Union government to delay Justice K.M. Joseph’s elevation to the Supreme Court. The five-member collegium has unanimously agreed, in principle, to reiterate its recommendation to appoint the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court as a judge of the Supreme Court. When reiterated unanimously, the Centre is bound to act on the collegium resolution, going by the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the Third Judges Case of 1998. The Centre, which denies that its objection had anything to do with Justice Joseph’s decision in 2016 to quash the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, ought not to delay his appointment once the reiteration is formally made.

However, it is puzzling that the collegium didn’t send its reiteration to the Centre immediately. It has decided that his name would be part of the next set of recommendations, which would include proposals to elevate the Chief Justices of some more high courts. One explanation for this could be that the collegium wants to address the concern the Centre has indirectly raised about the need for fair representation to all high courts. While objecting to Justice Joseph’s appointment on the ground that he was not senior enough, the Centre spoke about ‘excessive representation’ that a relatively ‘small’ high court (the Kerala High Court) may get after his appointment.

While the unanimous reiteration may end the current controversy, there is a larger issue here: the propriety of the Centre holding back one or two names from a list of recommendations and clearing the rest. Justice Joseph’s name was sent along with that of senior advocate Indu Malhotra in January, but the Centre took three months to act on it. It cleared her name alone, while seeking reconsideration of Justice Joseph’s name. That it has a right to raise a particular judge’s case is beyond question, but selectively approving some names from a batch of recommendations can make a difference to the seniority of the judges concerned — especially when seniority is the sole consideration for appointment of the Chief Justice as well as membership of the collegium. In a judge-recommended system of appointments, one that is peculiar to India, differences over particular candidates cannot be avoided, but it ought to be possible for the two sides to minimise these differences and act expeditiously. The onus is more on the government of the day to ensure it is not seen as blocking the appointment of anyone the judges themselves have found fit and deserving. It does not augur well for the institution if the present consultative process, admittedly not an ideal one for a diverse democracy, is seen to be vitiated by executive intransigence.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Article 35 A:
  1. Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State.
  2. The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.

Select the correct answer using the codes given:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements about  Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR):
  1. Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is the ratio of a bank’s capital in relation to its risk-weighted assets and current liabilities.
  2. The risk-weighted assets take into account credit risk only.

Select the correct answer using the codes given:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements Basel III norms:
  1. The Basel III norms stipulated a capital to risk-weighted assets of 8%.
  2. Indian scheduled commercial banks are required to maintain a CAR of 9% while Indian public sector banks are emphasized to maintain a CAR of 12%.

Select the correct answer using the codes given:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements about Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016:
  1. The Code highlights insolvency processes for individuals, companies and partnership firms.
  2. Under IBC debtor and creditor both can start ‘recovery’ proceedings against each other.

Select the correct answer using the codes given:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

 General Studies II
  1. Critically examine the Constitutional validity of article 35A.

General Studies III

  1. GM food Crops have to undergo complete scrutiny before being introduced in India. Discuss with respect to the introduction of GM Mustard.
Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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