UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis Oct15


A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
1. New cases of Zika detected in Rajasthan
1. Changes to Sexual Harassment Law
1. Victim of a crime should have a say in punishment: SC
2. T.N. notifies compensation for sexual abuse victims
1. India-U.S. exercise
C. GS3 Related
1. Windmill sites may be adding to the man-animal conflict
2. Loss of Ice cover: Walruses need protection
3. Tunisia’s fishermen: Blue crab menace
1. Govt. panel struggles to define ‘shell company’
2. NBFC storm
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Antibiotic Misuse in India
1. Feminisation of agriculture in India
1. Africa, India and China: Partnership for Development
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. New cases of Zika detected in Rajasthan

Background: Zika Virus
  • Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus.
  • Its name comes from the Ziika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Zika virus is related to the dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.
  • Since the 1950s, it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. From 2007 to 2016, the virus spread eastward, across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas, leading to the 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic.
  • The infection, known as Zika fever or Zika virus disease, often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. While there is no specific treatment, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and rest may help with the symptoms.
  • As of 2016, the illness cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines. Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby. This can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. Zika infections in adults may result rarely in Guillain–Barré syndrome.


  • Microcephaly is a medical condition in which the brain does not develop properly resulting in a smaller than normal head.
  • Microcephaly may be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life.
  • Often people with the disorder have an intellectual disability, poor motor function, poor speech, abnormal facial features, seizures, and dwarfism.

In news

  • Five new cases of Zika virus were detected in on Sunday, taking the total number of infected people to 60, a Rajasthan health department official said.
  • Most of the cases which have been reported are from the area  where fogging and other anti-larvae activities are being carried out to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • The State health department has issued an advisory for pregnant women staying outside the affected area to not visit Shastri Nagar.
  • The virus, transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain. It is harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly — a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected — in newborns.


1. Changes to Sexual Harassment Law

Background: Justice Verma Committee Report Summary
Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.  The Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
On December 23, 2012 a three member Committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. 
It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms. 
Sexual harassment:  
  • Some of the key recommendations made by the Committee on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 that is pending in Parliament are provided below:
  • Domestic workers should be included within the purview of the Bill.
  • Under the Bill the complainant and the respondent are first required to attempt conciliation. This is contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan which aimed to secure a safe workplace to women.
  • The employer should pay compensation to the woman who has suffered sexual harassment.
  • The Bill requires the employer to institute an internal complaints committee to which complaints must be filed.  Such an internal committee defeats the purpose of the Bill and instead, there should be an Employment Tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.


  • The Centre recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
  • However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its landmark report on gender laws, had recommended setting up of an employment tribunal instead of an internal complaints committee (ICC) in sweeping changes to the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill.
  • The panel was formed in the aftermath of the December 16 Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
  • At that time of the submission of the report, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill had already been passed by the Lok Sabha and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s nod. The Bill was passed unchanged by the Upper House a month later.
  • The Committee, chaired by Justice Verma and including Justice Leila Seth and senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, termed the Sexual Harassment Bill unsatisfactory and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • The report noted that an internal complaints committee as laid down under the then proposed law would be counter-productive as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  • To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Justice Verma Commitee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  • The Committee said any unwelcome behaviour should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
  • The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable if he or she facilitated sexual harassment, permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic, where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint as well as fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant
  • The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints. For instance, it opposed penalising women for false complaints and called it an abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law.
  • The Verman panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

Category: POLITY

1. Victim of a crime should have a say in punishment: SC


  • The victim of a crime should have a say in the punishment of the criminal, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment.
  • A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur. S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta held that punishment should be “meaningful” to the victim also.
  • For this, “it is necessary to seriously consider giving a hearing to the victim while awarding the sentence to a convict”, the Bench said.
  • In criminal prosecution, the State takes the front seat while the victim becomes a prosecution witness. The crime is primarily considered a wrong against society and the punishment, a deterrent for prospective offenders.
  • With its order, the Supreme Court, has made it clear that the victim or her family — who has suffered the crime — should have an equal say in the punishment of the perpetrator.
  • “A victim impact statement or a victim impact assessment must be given due recognition so that an appropriate punishment is awarded to the convict,” Justice Lokur observed.
  • What may be ‘justice’ in the rule book may not serve the victim. Taking another step further, Justice Lokur said even taking a statement from the victim on the sentence of the convict may not mean relief to the victim.
  • The case concerned the rejection of an appeal filed by Mallikarjun Kodagali, a victim of an attack in February 2009, by the Karnataka High Court in 2014. The Supreme Court set aside the High Court decision.

2. T.N. notifies compensation for sexual abuse victims


  • The State government has notified the Tamil Nadu Victim Compensation Scheme for Women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/Other Crimes, 2018, in line with the Supreme Court judgment delivered last month.
  • A bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur had approved the suggestion for compensation while hearing the Nipun Saxena Vs Union of India case and directed that the guidelines be made operational.
  • Under the scheme, a rape survivor will get a minimum compensation of ₹4 lakh. In the case of a survivor of gang rape, the compensation would be ₹5 lakh.
  • If the woman has lost her life, her dependant would be entitled to a compensation of ₹7 lakh. The maximum compensation that could be granted in cases of loss of life as well as gang rape is ₹10 lakh and the maximum compensation for rape could be ₹7 lakh, as per the scheme.

Funds provided

  • The scheme provides funds for the purpose of compensation to women victims or their dependants who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the offence committed and who require rehabilitation.
  • Though a woman survivor or her dependants are eligible for compensation from multiple schemes, Section 357-B of the CrPC shall be taken into account while deciding on the quantum of compensation.
  • Survivors and their dependants could apply for compensation before the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority (TNSLSA) or the respective District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) with the police FIR.
  • The scheme covers offences registered under Sections 326A (acid attack), 354A to 354D (sexual harassment), 376A to 376E (sexual intercourse with wife during separation and allied offences), 304B (dowry death) and 498A (cruelty to wife) of the Indian Penal Code.

Offences covered

  • The scheme covers offences registered under Sections 326A (acid attack), 354A to 354D (sexual harassment), 376A to 376E (sexual intercourse with wife during separation and allied offences), 304B (dowry death) and 498A (cruelty to wife) of the Indian Penal Code.
  • For determining the compensation, issues such as the gravity of the offence and severity of mental or physical harm or injury suffered by the survivor/victim, expenditure incurred or likely to be incurred for medical treatment and loss of educational opportunity or employment as a result of the offence would be taken into account.
  • Issues as to whether the abuse was a single isolated incident or took place over a period of time and whether the woman became pregnant are the other factors that would be considered.
  • In case of a minor, 80% of the compensation would be deposited in a fixed deposit account and shall be drawn only on attainment of the age of majority of the survivor.


1. India-U.S. exercise


  • The first India-U.S. tri-services exercise is likely to take place in 2019, and talks are on to include the special forces of the two countries in the drill, a senior U.S. defence official has said.
  • The three forces of each country already take part in bilateral exercises separately — their Armies participate in an annual drill called Yudh Abyaas, whose latest edition took place in September, and the Air Forces take part in a bilateral drill called Cope India.
  • The Navies participate in an exercise called Malabar, involving Japan.But this will be the first time, the three services of India and the U.S. will participate in a drill together.
  • The drill may take place sometime in late August because U.S. naval ships could be in the region around that time.
  • The drill will focus on a United Nations-based scenario and the overarching mission of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief measure.
  • India was the natural humanitarian disaster relief hub in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The Indian Army has Para SF, the Navy has Marcos while the Air Force has the Garud as their respective special forces.
  • Though the joint tri-services drill was formally announced after the first 2+2 dialogue between the principals of the External Affairs and Defence Ministries of the two countries last month, work on it had begun much before.

C. GS3 Related


1. Windmill sites may be adding to the man-animal conflict

  • The Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) is a national centre for information, education and research in ornithology and natural history in India.
  • It was inspired by and named in honour of Salim Ali, the leading pioneer of ornithology in India.
  • It is an autonomous organisation established in 1990 as a public- NGO partnership between the MoEF&CC, and the Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS) under the Centre of Excellence Scheme and registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act.
  • Its headquarters are at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. SACON is associated with the Ministry of Environment and Forests.


  • The impact of the windmills in Karnataka was studied by researchers from Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) during a two-year project.

Impact of Windmills

  • Windmills pose a threat to wildlife in forests through collisions and noise.
  • They found that windmills killed birds and bats in collisions, and that birds and mammals also moved away due to the noise.
  • The noise levels near windmills go up to 85 decibels (dB), the equivalent of large trucks. The drone of a turbine, which operates day and night, is above 70dB. By comparison, noise in urban areas is 55 dB and even in industrial areas, is lower at 75dB. Ambient noise in forests is less than 40 dB.
  • Such avoidance and movement to forest fringes might increase conflict with humans. This calls for protocols and policy guidelines before diverting forest land for wind farms, states the study funded by Karnataka Forest Department, Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) and National Institute of Wind Energy.

Wind mills in Karnataka

  • Karnataka has diverted 37.80 sq. km of forests for wind farms, Union Environment Ministry data show. KREDL says that there are more than 3,857 wind turbines generating 4,730 megawatts of electricity.
  • The researchers led by H.N. Kumara looked at windmills in Chitradurga around Jogimatti forests and Gadag, including Kappatagudda, which was recently declared a sanctuary. They recorded between 35% and 40% of Karnataka’s bird diversity in these areas.
  • The team saw collisions of 10 animals — 6 bats and four birds — with a collision rate of 0.23 animals per year per turbine.
  • While the collision rate was low compared to other locations, it could not be ignored as the bulk of them took place in a short span of time, the study says.
  • Researchers found birds avoiding windmill sites. There are 50% fewer birds in the areas compared to undisturbed sites.
  • The avoidance is seen among mammals too. Herbivores moved away, with predators following them.

2. Loss of Ice cover: Walruses need protection


  • Given a choice between giving birth on land or sea ice, Pacific walrus mothers would most likely choose ice.
  • Likewise, they prefer sea ice for molting, mating, nursing and resting between dives for food. Trouble is, as the U.S. progresses, there’s going to be far less ice around.
  • The U.S. government in 2008 listed polar bears as a threatened species because of diminished sea ice brought on by climate warming. That year the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to do the same for walruses.
  • It is unknown whether Pacific walruses can give birth, conduct their nursing during immediate post-natal care period, or complete courtship on land.
  • A federal judge in Alaska will hear the center’s lawsuit challenging the government’s decision not to list the walrus as threatened. There is no court date set for the lawsuit.
  • Pacific walrus males grow to 12 feet long and up to 1,815 kg more than an average midsize sedan. Females reach half that weight. Walruses dive and use sensitive whiskers to find clams and snails in dim light on the sea floor.
  • An Endangered Species Act listing would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for walruses and plan for their recovery.
  • Federal agencies, before issuing permits for development such as offshore drilling, would be required to ensure walruses and their habitat would not be jeopardised.
  • Inaccessibility protected walruses for decades, but a rapid decline in summer sea ice has made them vulnerable.
  • In the Chukchi Sea between Alaska and Russia, where Pacific walrus females and juveniles spend their summer, ice could be absent during that season by 2060 or sooner, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Since 1981, an area more than double the size of Texas 1.58 million square km has become unavailable to Arctic marine mammals by summer’s end, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
  • By late August, as sea ice recedes beyond the shallow continental shelf, female walruses and their calves face a choice — stay on ice over water too deep to reach the ocean floor for feeding or come ashore for rest periods, where the smallest animals can be crushed in stampedes triggered by a hunter, aeroplane or bear.

Human intrusion

  • More open water already has meant more ship traffic. Walruses also could find more humans in their habitat with a reversal of U.S. policy on Arctic offshore drilling.
  • Former President Barack Obama permanently withdrew most Arctic waters from lease sales, but President Donald Trump in April 2017 announced he was reversing Obama, a decision being challenged in court.
  • The administration’s proposed five-year offshore leasing plan includes sales in the Chukchi Sea.
  • Designating walruses as threatened would mean oil exploration companies would have to consult with federal wildlife officials to make sure drill rigs don’t endanger the animals.
  • However, Mr. Trump’s Interior and Commerce departments in July proposed administrative changes to the species law that would end automatic protections for threatened plants and animals and set limits on designating habitat as crucial to recovery.
  • Walruses are notoriously difficult to count and population estimates range widely. The array of stresses and uncertainty about the walruses’ future are enough evidence for listing them as threatened, the Center for Biological Diversity argues.

3. Tunisia’s fishermen: Blue crab menace


  • The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia’s coast in 2014 and immediately set about snapping up the rich pickings it found.It quickly became a curse.It eats all the best fish.
  • Tunisian fishermen saw the blue crab wreak such havoc on their catches when it first appeared that they nicknamed it after the terrifying jihadists of the Islamic State group.
  • But now — four years after these scourges of the sea invaded their waters — the predators have turned into prey as fishermen in the North African country cash in on the crustaceans.
  • Jamel Ben Joma Zayoud pulls his nets out of the water off the Mediterranean island of Djerba to find them full of blue crabs with their fearsome-looking spikes.
  • There are two explanations for how the blue crab, or Portunus pelagicus, made it all the way to the shores of Tunisia, said researcher Marouene Bedioui, at the National Institute for Marine Sciences and Technologies.
  • Either their eggs were transported on boats to the region or they arrived as part of a lengthy migration that started when the Suez Canal opened in 1869. However, the crabs turned up, their impact has been damaging.
  • The hard-up fishermen along the coast, already struggling to make ends meet, felt the pinch as the crabs attacked their nets and the local fish.
  • One thousand, one hundred fishermen have been hit by this plague in Gabes.In 2015 and 2016, fishermen demonstrated over the issue — and eventually the government took notice.
  • The authorities last year launched a plan aimed at helping fishermen to turn the pest into profit.They were taught how to trap the crabs and the government began subsidising the cost of purchasing what was caught.
  • Plants popped up to freeze the crabs and ship them to markets in the Gulf and Asia where customers are willing to shell out for their meat.
  • One of them is managed by a Turkish company — putting to use the experience it gained dealing with an influx of the crabs back home.
  • In the first seven months of this year, Tunisia produced 1,450 tonnes of blue crab worth around $3.5 million, according to the Ministry of agriculture.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Govt. panel struggles to define ‘shell company’

Background: Shell Companies

A shell corporation is a corporation without active business operations or significant assets. These types of corporations are not all necessarily illegal, but they are sometimes used illegitimately, such as to disguise business ownership from law enforcement or the public.

Legitimate reasons for a shell corporation include such things as a startup using the business entity as a vehicle to raise, funds, conduct a hostile takeover or to go public.

Theoretically, shell companies are companies without active business operations or significant assets. They can be set up by business people for both legitimate and illegitimate purposes.

Illegitimate purposes for registering a shell company include hiding particulars of ownership from the law enforcement, laundering unaccounted money and avoiding tax.

With the shell company as a front, all transactions are shown on paper as legitimate business transactions, thereby turning black money into white. In this process, the business person also avoids paying tax on the laundered money.

India, however, does not have a concrete definition of shell companies. Shell companies are not defined in any law or act.

However, US has defined the shell companies under their Securities Act. They have taken up the basic definition, hence making it the commonly used one.

The US Securities Act defines shell companies as –

Securities Act Rule 405 and Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 define a Shell Company as a company, other than an asset-backed issuer, with no or nominal operations; and either:

  • no or nominal assets
  • assets consisting of cash and cash equivalents; or
  • assets consisting of any amount of cash and cash equivalents and nominal other assets.

This means that a shell company will have minimum business activities. This could be a plausible definition as even theoretically, the business persons who own shell companies, will be more interested in the rise and fall of their main company.

However, not all shell companies are illegal. Some companies could have been started to promote start-ups by raising funds.

In news

  • The multi-agency committee set to finalise the definition of a “shell company” for the purposes of enforcing penal laws for various violations is yet to arrive at a consensus on yardsticks for identification of such entities.
  • After a large number of entities, classified as a shell company, challenged the decision, the government had set up the committee to come up with a definition.
  • Accordingly, the committee drafted a definition that had to be tested on various yardsticks to determine its legal feasibility.
  • The shady financial transactions, ownerships and assets of thousands of companies have been studied in a bid to come up with acceptable criteria to declare an entity a shell company as per the law.
  • The committee also examined the definition given by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • The OECD defines a shell firm as “a company that is formally registered, incorporated, or otherwise legally organised in an economy but which does not conduct any operations in that economy other than in a pass-through capacity. Shells tend to be conduits or holding companies and are generally included in the description of Special Purpose Entities”.
  • A consensus among the committee members on the definition is yet to be arrived at. Also, the agencies involved in the exercise are getting caught up in investigations into important cases, including those against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
  • Examining the financial records in such cases itself is a time- consuming process and requires constant supervision and huge manpowerl.
  • The issue had come up after the government cracked down on dummy companies that were used for round-tripping of funds and money laundering.

2. NBFC storm

Background: NBFC
  • A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances, acquisition of shares/stocks/bonds/debentures/securities issued by Government or local authority or other marketable securities of a like nature, leasing, hire-purchase, insurance business, chit business but does not include any institution whose principal business is that of agriculture activity, industrial activity, purchase or sale of any goods (other than securities) or providing any services and sale/purchase/construction of immovable property.
  • A non-banking institution which is a company and has principal business of receiving deposits under any scheme or arrangement in one lump sum or in installments by way of contributions or in any other manner, is also a non-banking financial company (Residuary non-banking company).

Difference between banks & NBFCs

  • NBFCs lend and make investments and hence their activities are akin to that of banks; however there are a few differences as given below:
  • NBFC cannot accept demand deposits;
  • NBFCs do not form part of the payment and settlement system and cannot issue cheques drawn on itself;
  • deposit insurance facility of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation is not available to depositors of NBFCs, unlike in case of banks.
Background: All about IL&FS fiasco
  • Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) is a major infrastructure financing and construction company. Till end September it had defaulted on debt obligations totalling Rs. 3,800 crores.

What happened?

  • IL&FS is a private firm but with over 40% of the shares held by government-owned firms which means the government needs to ensure the solvency of IL&FS to maintain financial stability in the country.
  • IL&FS has infrastructure and financial assets worth more than Rs. 1,15,000 or $15.77 billion but its debts are the result of “mismanaged borrowings in the past,” the government has said.

How much debt?

  • IL&FS and its subsidiaries have a total debt pile of nearly $12 billion or Rs. 91,000 crores.
  • Several references have been made to the 2009 scam when Satyam promoter Ramalinga Raju admitted to defrauding his company of over a billion dollars.
  • On IL&FS, the government says the management had “lost total credibility” given the fact that “huge managerial pay-outs were made despite a looming cash crunch.” The government has ordered a fraud inquiry for IL&FS.
  • So the government has this week replaced the board of IL&FS with six selected nominees and said it would ensure IL&FS has the liquidity needed to ensure no more defaults take place and the infrastructure projects are implemented smoothly.
  • India has rarely stepped in to take control of a private company. The government’s attempt to take control of real estate major Unitech Ltd. late last year was stalled by the Supreme Court. The new six-member IL&FS board will prepare a revival plan, but it is becoming clear some of its lenders will need to suffer major losses, claims Reuters.
  • The government blames the board and management. Interestingly, Ravi Ramaswamy Parthasarathy who is one of the longest-serving Whole Time Directors resigned in July as the group’s chief. Just weeks later, in August, group companies began defaulting on loan repayments to the tune of hundreds of crores.
  • What – a business model where short-term loans were taken to pay for long-term projects and essentially, the long-term projects weren’t earning enough or fast enough to pay off the short-term loans. It has now transpired that the company had leveraged itself 13x – “the borrowing of about Rs. 91,000 crores is on the base of equity capital and reserves of about Rs. 6,950 crores”, as per the government.
  • The group needs about 4,000 crores fast to pay loans. That money is likely to come from LIC and SBI, state-owned firms which together hold over 30% equity in IL&FS.
  • This may not seem much but respected firm not being able to repay its loans has shaken the confidence of investors.
  • IL&FS had compromised on corporate governance and risk management norms, the government has said.

How does this affect the common person?

  • While the 4,000 crores needed urgently to pay IL&FS’ debts is really not much for cash-rich giants like LIC and SBI, the concern is how often will they be called to save too-big-to-fail firms?
  • Recently, LIC began the takeover of IDBI for an estimated 13,000 crores to save the government bank from collapsing. Of course, LIC and SBI are cash rich on the back of, to a fair extent, small investors’ savings.
  • If you have investments in stock markets and equity mutual funds, these have taken a pounding in the last few weeks. In September alone, BSE-listed companies lost Rs. 14 lakh crore in market capitalisation.

Debt investments – from secure to shaky

  • Debt investments have been a by-word for secure returns. But IL&FS, which went from the top-most ‘AAA’ ratings to ‘D’ or Junk, has spooked investors into wondering if there is enough cash or liquidity in the markets in case they want to sell their investments or bonds in other corporations.
  • Finance gurus have noted that the Public Provident Fund, that refuge of lakhs of small investors looking for a secure return of around 8%, has ‘serious exposure’ to IL&FS. Fixed income funds are another worry.

Government’s response

  • On one hand the NDA blames the UPA, on the other questions are being raised how come government regulators failed to detect any sign of trouble in the last four year.
  • That apart, on September 24th, a finance official said the group is independent of the government and it needs to resolve it’s issues on its own. By the 30th the ministry was writing a panic-stricken note to replace the (mis)management. The take over happened within 24 hours.

In news

  • Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) are in the news following the IL&FS fiasco. The fall from grace for the giant has shaken up India’s financial markets.
  • The secular upswing enjoyed by NBFCs over the past five years has come to a sudden halt — bond markets are in a tizzy, interest rates have firmed up, asset-liability mismatch is the only point being discussed and business models are being questioned.

Excesses in NBFC space

  • While there have been excesses in the space,the NBFC space is heterogeneous where there are some extraordinary business models, some mediocre ones and some vulnerable spots, it wrote in the report.
  • Even after 25 years of private banking, retail credit penetration in India is low, with roughly about 10% of the population having access to banking credit.
  • NBFCs currently serve 60 million people through gold, micro, MSME, two-wheeler and commercial vehicle loans and have more than 50% market share in each of these segments.
  • Based on the type of products and the category of customers serviced, there is a wide spectrum of NBFCs.
  • A large part of the NBFC ecosystem services the retail population directly where the assets financed are liquid, repayments are regular and pricing power reasonable.
  • The other part of the NBFC universe helps fill gaps left by PSU bank ‘hibernation’ and this is where the maximum risk lay.

Problems with NBFCs

  • Asset liability mismatches arise because of two reasons — either being too reliant on short-term borrowings or illiquidity in the underlying asset being financed.
  • Most new-age NBFCs and some housing finance companies (HFCs) having large exposure to developers and large-ticket loans against property, face the most critical challenge.
  • For them, both growth and margins will slow down. Post the recent IL&FS fiasco, the risk arose that some financial entities would have issues rolling over their maturing obligations.
  • However, that this liquidity constraint will cascade into distress for NBFCs is probably exaggerated, though steps need to be taken in order to safeguard financial firms’ own balancesheets as well as overall financial stability, since we are going to be in a tighter liquidity situation and higher rate environment going forward. That will exert pressure on the margins of these NBFCs.
  • Bright spots are segments that service retail customers, have good pricing power, are difficult for banks to disrupt and see good recovery in demand.
  • Vehicle finance, consumer finance, MSME and micro banking are likely to remain bright spots over FY19 and beyond.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials


1. Antibiotic Misuse in India

Background: Antibiotics
  • Antibiotic misuse, sometimes called antibiotic abuse or antibiotic overuse, refers to the misuse or overuse of antibiotics, with potentially serious effects on health.
  • It is a contributing factor to the development of antibiotic resistance, including the creation of multidrug-resistant bacteria, informally called “super bugs”: relatively harmless bacteria (such as staphylococcus, enterococcus and acinetobacter) can develop resistance to multiple antibiotics and cause life-threatening infections.
  • The widespread use of antibiotics is estimated to have extended average life expectancy by two decades, shifting the paradigm from communicable to non-communicable diseases. Antimicrobials and antibiotics in particular have paved the way for major advances in cancer treatment, organ transplantation, and surgery, irrevocably changing the scope of modern medicine.
  • Every time a new antimicrobial is introduced, drug resistance to that antimicrobial follows, sometimes swiftly, and this occurs for antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungal therapies. Antimicrobial treatment places selective pressure on the organism, favouring the emergence of drug-resistant strains.
  • This is not a new problem: antibiotic resistance emerged within a decade of the first clinical trials of penicillin, with more than 50% resistance among Staphylococcus aureus by the end of the 1940s. Until recently we have escaped the dire consequences of antimicrobial resistance because there has been a stream of new antibiotics. However, over the past 20 years the number of pharmaceutical companies investing in this area has dwindled from 18 to 4, inevitably leading to stalled drug development.
  • Antimicrobial resistance affects every country because infections do not respect international boundaries or borders. Each time a person travels they take their active infections and colonising bacteria with them, spreading drug-resistant organisms across the globe. Many countries overuse antibiotics, particularly in hospitals.
  • Although hospital prescribing accounts for only 20% of human usage, it is important because it is concentrated, and because hospitals are fertile breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria. In animals and fish antibiotics are used as a substitute for good hygiene, with little understanding of how this might impact on antimicrobial resistance in humans. As a society we must urgently reconsider how we use antimicrobials to preserve this valuable resource for future generations.

India’s Case

  • India needs to strengthen and implement regulations on antibiotic misuse.
  • Even as antibiotics lose their efficacy against deadly infectious diseases worldwide, it seems to be business as usual for governments, private corporations and individuals who have the power to stall a post-antibiotic apocalypse.
  • In a recent investigation, it was found that the world’s largest veterinary drug-maker, Zoetis, was selling antibiotics as growth promoters to poultry farmers in India, even though it had stopped the practice in the U.S.
  • India is yet to regulate antibiotic-use in poultry, while the U.S. banned the use of antibiotics as growth-promoters in early 2017.
Antibiotics in livestock
  • There has been massive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. The most abundant use of antimicrobials worldwide is in livestock; they are typically distributed in animal feed or water for purposes such as disease prevention and growth promotion.
  • Debates have arisen surrounding the extent of the impact of these antibiotics, particularly antimicrobial growth promoters, on human antibiotic resistance.
  • Which antibiotic use generates the most risk to humans, policies and regulations have been placed to limit any harmful effects, such as the potential of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance within livestock, and that bacteria transferring resistance genes to human pathogens.
  • On January 1, 2017, the FDA enacted legislation to require that all human medically important feed-grade antibiotics (many prior over-the-counter-drugs) become classified as Veterinary Feed Directive drugs (VFD). This action requires that farmers establish and work with veterinaries to receive a written VFD order.
  • The effect of this act places a requirement on an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). Through this relationship, farmers will receive an increased education in the form of advice and guidance from their veterinarian.
  • Although some sources assert that there remains a lack of knowledge on which antibiotic use generates the most risk to humans, policies and regulations have been placed to limit any harmful effects, such as the potential of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance within livestock, and that bacteria transferring resistance genes to human pathogens.
  • On January 1, 2017, the FDA enacted legislation to require that all human medically important feed-grade antibiotics (many prior over-the-counter-drugs) become classified as Veterinary Feed Directive drugs (VFD). This action requires that farmers establish and work with veterinaries to receive a written VFD order.
  • The effect of this act places a requirement on an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). Through this relationship, farmers will receive an increased education in the form of advice and guidance from their veterinarian.
  • So, technically, the drug-maker was doing nothing illegal and complying with local regulations in both countries.
  • But such reasoning is self-defeating, because antibiotic-resistance does not respect political boundaries.
  • Of course, the country that stands to lose the most from antibiotic resistance is India, given that its burden of infectious disease is among the world’s highest.
  • According to a 2016 PLOS Medicine paper, 416 of every 100,000 Indians die of infectious diseases each year. This is more than twice the U.S.’s crude infectious-disease mortality-rate in the 1940s, when antibiotics were first used there. If these miracle drugs stop working, no one will be hit harder than India.
  • This is why the country’s progress towards a tighter regulatory regime must pick up pace.
  • Consider the three major sources of resistance: overuse of antibiotics by human beings; overuse in the veterinary sector; and environmental antibiotic contamination due to pharmaceutical and hospital discharge.
  • To tackle the first source, India classified important antibiotics under Schedule H1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, so that they couldn’t be sold without prescriptions.
  • Still, Schedule H1 drugs are freely available in pharmacies, with state drug-controllers unable to enforce the law widely. As far as veterinary use goes, India’s 2017 National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance did talk about restricting antibiotic use as growth promoters. Sadly, no progress has been made on this front yet, allowing companies to sell last-resort drugs to farmers over the counter.
  • The 2017 document also spoke about regulating antibiotics levels in discharge from pharmaceutical firms.
  • For instance, Hyderabad’s pharmaceutical industry has been pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into local lakes, rivers and sewers.
  • This has led to an explosion in resistance genes in these waterbodies. Still, India is yet to introduce standards for antibiotics in waste water, which means antibiotic discharge in sewage is not even being monitored regularly.
  • As the country takes its time to formulate regulations, the toll from antibiotic-misuse is growing at an alarming rate.
  • According to a 2013 estimate, around 58,000 newborns die in India each year due to sepsis from resistant bacteria. When these numbers mount, India will have no one to blame but itself.


1. Feminisation of agriculture in India

  • In feminist economics, the feminization of agriculture refers to the measurable increase of women’s participation in the agricultural sector, particularly in the developing world.
  • The phenomenon started during the 1960s with increasing shares over time. In the 1990s, during liberalization, the phenomenon became more pronounced and negative effects appeared in the rural female population.
  • Afterwards, agricultural markets became gendered institutions, affecting men and women differently. In 2009 World Bank, FAO & IFAD found that over 80 per cent of rural smallholder farmers worldwide were women, this was caused by men migrating to find work in other sectors.
  • Out of all the women in the labor sector, the UN found 45-80% of them to be working in agriculture.
  • The term has also been applied to other phenomena, including increasing shares of women in the agricultural workforce, male outmigration from rural areas, decreasing women’s opportunities in agricultural productivity, and lower rural pay due to skill exclusions.
  • Activists have argued that the trend is dangerous and leads to food insecurity.
  • Women’s role in the agricultural sector increased during the 1960s and has continued to grow.
  • Women have been increasingly counted as heads of household, running their own farms without male assistance. These households are often poorer than their male counterparts.
  • Their plot sizes are usually smaller and have less access to other productive resources, like education, tools, and seeds, something termed “investment poverty”.
  • Women agricultural workers are also less likely to have social connections, like credit and market networks.
  • In the rural environments there are two types of crop orientations, subsistence and export. Female-headed households are more likely to be subsistence orientated, which are often poorer.
  • Export farmers are more likely to have substantial land endowments and to be male-headed.
  • After structural adjustments export farmers became more vulnerable to price shocks, and women within this category more so. Female-headed households also became more likely to change from high value export crops to subsistence.
  • October 15 is observed, respectively, as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations, and National Women’s Farmer’s Day (Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas) in India.
  • In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, duly recognising the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture — from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
  • This year, the Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Yet, paying lip service to them is not going to alleviate their drudgery and hardships in the fields.
  • According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  • Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.
  • In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.
  • The Agriculture Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
  • Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
  • In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest Agriculture Census (2015-16) is startling.
  • Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
  • While the “feminisation of agriculture” is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.

Issue of land ownership

  • The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
  • In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
  • Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
  • Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity in making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
  • Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged.
  • Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.
  • As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
  • They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.

Small holdings: Average size of farms

  • Second, land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
  • Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
  • A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.
  • The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant.
  • Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat).
  • These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations.
  • Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.
Background on RKVY
  • Concerned by the slow growth in the Agriculture and allied sectors, the National Development Council (NDC), in its meeting held on 29th May, 2007 resolved that a special Additional Central Assistance Scheme (RKVY) be launched.
  • The NDC resolved that agricultural development strategies must be reoriented to meet the needs of farmers and called upon the Central and State governments to evolve a strategy to rejuvenate agriculture. The NDC reaffirmed its commitment to achieve 4 per cent annual growth in the agricultural sector during the 11th plan.
  • The Department of Agriculture, in compliance of the above resolution and in consultation with the Planning Commission, has prepared the guidelines for the RKVY scheme, to be known as National Agriculture Development Programme (RKVY).

Objectives of the programme:

  • To incentivize the states that increase their investment in Agriculture and allied sectors
  • To provide flexibility and autonomy to the States in planning and executing programmes for agriculture
  • To ensure the preparation of Agriculture Plans for the districts and states
  • To achieve the goal of reducing the yield gaps in important crops
  • To maximize returns to the farmers
  • To address the agriculture and allied sectors in an integrated manner

Basic features of RKVY

  • It is a State Plan scheme
  • The eligibility of a state for the RKVY is contingent upon the state maintaining or increasing the State Plan expenditure for Agricultural and Allied sectors
  • The base line expenditure is determined based on the average expenditure incurred by the State Government during the three years prior to the previous year.
  • The preparation of the district and State Agriculture Plans is mandatory
  • The scheme encourages convergence with other programmes such as NREGS.
  • The pattern of funding is 100% Central Government Grant.
  • If the state lowers its investment in the subsequent years, and goes out of the RKVY basket, then the balance resources for completing the projects already commenced would have to be committed by the states.
  • It is an incentive scheme, hence allocations are not automatic
  • It will integrate agriculture and allied sectors comprehensively
  • It will give high levels of flexibility to the states.
  • Projects with definite time-lines are highly encouraged

Gender-friendly machinery

  • Third, female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
  • In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
  • Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
  • An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation. It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations.
  • Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate. Manufacturers should be incentivised to come up with better solutions. Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.
  • Last, when compared to men, women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.
  • Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.
Background: Krishi Vigyan Kendras
  • ICAR mooted the idea of establishing Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Agricultural Science Centres) as innovative institutions for imparting vocational training to the practicing farmers, school dropouts and field level extension functionaries.
  • The ICAR Standing Committee on Agricultural Education, in its meeting held in August, 1973, observed that since the establishment of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) was of national importance which would help in accelerating the agricultural production as also in improving the socio-economic conditions of the farming community, the assistance of all related institutions should be taken in implementing this scheme.
  • The ICAR, therefore, constituted a committee in 1973 headed by Dr. Mohan Singh Mehta of Seva Mandir, Udaipur (Rajasthan), for working out a detailed plan for implementing this scheme. The Committee submitted its report in 1974.
  • The first KVK, on a pilot basis, was established in 1974 at Puducherry (Pondicherry) under the administrative control of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore.
  • At present there are 669 KVKs, out of which 458 are under State Agricultural Universities (SAU) and Central Agricultural University (CAU), 55 under ICAR Institutes, 100 under NGOs, 35 under State Governments, and the remaining 21 under other educational institutions.

Mandate of KVK

  • The mandate of KVK is Technology Assessment and Demonstration for its Application and Capacity Development. To implement the mandate effectively, the following activities are envisaged for each KVK.
  • On-farm testing to assess the location specificity of agricultural technologies under various farming systems.
  • Frontline demonstrations to establish production potential of technologies on the farmers’ fields
  • Capacity development of farmers and extension personnel to update their knowledge and skills on modern agricultural technologies
  • To work as Knowledge and Resource Centre of agricultural technologies for supporting initiatives of public, private and voluntary sectors in improving the agricultural economy of the district.
  • Provide farm advisories using ICT and other media means on varied subjects of interest to farmers.
  • In addition, KVK would produce quality technological products (seed, planting material, bio-agents, livestock) and make it available to farmers, organize frontline extension activities, identify and document selected farm innovations and converge with ongoing schemes and programmes within the mandate of KVK.
  • As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
  • Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets, thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.


1. Africa, India and China: Partnership for Development

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a hefty $60 billion package for Africa. African leaders have been naturally ecstatic after Mr. Xi’s announcement in Beijing at the inaugural of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Background: The Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)

It is an official forum between the People’s Republic of China and all states in Africa (with the exception of Eswatini).

There have been three summits held to date, with the most recent having occurred from September 3-4, 2018 in Beijing, China. The first summit was held November 2006 in Beijing. The third summit will take place in September 2018 in Beijing.

  • At the FOCAC, a triennial assemblage of African and Chinese leaders, the 50-plus African leaders and their Chinese hosts charted big plans to build roads, power plants, and railways and much more in Africa.
  • Xi’s mega announcement should trigger celebrations not only in Africa, but also among heads of the emerging economies, especially those of other nations in the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping.
  • That is, if they reject the media-hyped argument that China, eyeing Africa’s natural resources, is seeking to ensnare the continent into another round of political serfdom through carefully laden “debt traps”.
  • In this narrative, the Chinese Goliath, inching towards global domination, must be stopped in its tracks, before it is too late.

India and China:A comparison

  • Like China, India also hosts its own triennial conclave with African leaders, which was last held in 2015. Though headline numbers show that in dollar throughput, it is distant from China, India’s contribution to Africa’s development is nonetheless significant.
  • If China and India are serious about the rise of Africa, the key is to co-link their development strategies on a continental scale.
  • The good news is that both countries seem to have done some spadework, in finding an imaginative coordinating mechanism that could benefit them, as well as Africa.
  • Ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July, when Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Rwanda almost at the same time, Chinese Foreign Ministry put out the message that New Delhi and Beijing should vigorously pursue the ‘China-India Plus One’ or ‘China-India Plus X’ model in engaging with Africa.
  • The mandarins in Beijing were referring to the mechanism yielded by the Wuhan informal summit in April between Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi, where it was decided that China and India would coordinate their approaches for engaging a third country or set of countries in South Asia and beyond. The Chinese also described Beijing and New Delhi as “like-minded partners” in Africa.

Emerging role of Russia in Africa

  • Meanwhile Russia has already launched an initiative to bond with Africa. South Africa, the host of the recent BRICS summit and co-chair of FOCAC in Beijing, will always remain the natural gateway for a vibrant emerging economy engagement with Africa.
  • But someone, preferably a post-Wuhan India, must pick up the threads and weave a potent emerging economy narrative for bonding with Africa, triggering a structural shift of global significance.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and 
Natural History (SACON):

  1. The Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) is a national centre for information, education and research in ornithology.

  2. It is an autonomous organisation established in 1990 as a public- NGO partnership between the MoEF&CC, and the Bombay Natural History Society(BNHS).

  3. It has its headquarters in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. All of the above


Question 2. Consider the following statements about Zika Virus:
  1. Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes.

  2. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Nigeria.

  3. Zika can spread from a pregnant woman to her baby which can result in microcephaly.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

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


Question 3. Consider the following statements about Shell Companies:

  1. A shell corporation is a corporation without active business operations or significant assets.

  2. All shell companies are illegal.

  3. India has a concrete definition of shell companies.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

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


Question 4. Consider the following statements about NBFCs:

  1. NBFC cannot accept demand deposits.

  2. NBFCs form part of the payment and settlement system.

  3. NBFCs lend and make investments.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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



I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. The country that stands to lose the most from antibiotic resistance is India, given that its burden of infectious disease is among the world’s highest. India needs to strengthen and implement regulations on antibiotic misuse. Discuss.
  2. While the “feminisation of agriculture” is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face. Discuss the challenges faced by women in this regard.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis


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