03 Sep 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. U.S., India may not sign security pact at 2+2 meet
2. Conditions in Rohingya camps are disastrous, says UN official
GOVERNANCE
1. Audits to track construction workers’ benefits
C. GS3 Related
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. NGT steps in to conserve Ghats
ECONOMY
1. Investor plaints to SEBI at six-year high
2. Why is a Public Credit Registry important?
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Risks remain: on GDP growth
F. Tidbits
1. Mauritius tops India’s FDI charts again
G. Prelims Fact
1. Sri Jagannatha Swamy temple
2. Smartgram
3. Chicago Hindu meet
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. U.S., India may not sign security pact at 2+2 meet

Context:

2+2 dialogue between India and the USA is scheduled to be held on the 6th of September.

What is 2+2 Dialogue?

It is a dialogue mechanism that would include defence and foreign ministers of the two countries. It is similar to India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries and ministers of the two countries. It replaces earlier India -Japan 2+2 dialogue format between foreign and defence secretaries and ministers of the two countries. It replaces earlier India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

Significance of “2+2” Dialogue 

  • The objective of this dialogue mechanism is to raise defence and security issues to the forefront and centre of the relationship between India and the U.S.
  • It is aimed at enhancing peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by elevating strategic consultations in the dialogue.
  • The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
  • The U.S. has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

What is in store?

  • At the 2+2 dialogue an announcement could be made about an in-principle agreement between the two sides on the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
  • Another major announcement likely to be made is for cross posting of officials at the US Defence Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) and India’s recently created Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) to work on joint development projects. The proposal for this was made by the US and intends to take forward the co-development and co-production efforts under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
  • Other announcements expected from the dialogue include likely US sale of MH-60 Romeo maritime helicopters and armed drones through the Foreign Military Sales programme. The US has already cleared the legislative hurdles to sell armed drones to India.
  • A joint tri-service amphibious Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise which has been in the works is also expected to be announced.
  • The issue of India’s defence cooperation with Russia and the looming sanctions under CAATSA will be a major issue for discussion, as India has already stated that it would go ahead with the purchase of the S-400 long range air defence system from Russia.

Several other decisions which have been finalized are: 

  1. A tri-service Armed Forces exercise in Vishakhapatnam with both countries participating. India has done only one exercise so far and that too with Russia. This is being seen as a major step.
  2. An Indian Armed Forces officer will be part of the Combined Maritime Forces, involving 33 countries in Oman.
  3. There will be maritime domain awareness— an agreement on “white shipping.”
  4. There will be close cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  5. India also looked at the Industrial Security Agreement and the BECA— the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement— and returned them to the USA for further discussion. Top officials said discussions on the issues are still going on. 

What is COMCASA?

  • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will allow India to obtain secure and encrypted defence technologies, including weapons systems from the United States.
  • The COMCASA will facilitate exchange of secure communications between the two militaries and allow the sale of encrypted communication systems to India.
  • Concerns:
    • For a long time there have been concerns that this would allow US to listen into Indian secure communication channels. But these have been gradually overcome and India agreed to move forward with the agreement.
    • COMCASA “will override objections by the Indian military which fears that it will enable seamless penetration horizontally and vertically of the official Indian communications grid, including the most sensitive strategic communications network” writes strategic analyst Bharat Karnad in his latest book Staggering Forward.

2. Conditions in Rohingya camps are disastrous, says UN official

Context:  A year since nearly a million Rohingya refugees poured into Bangladesh, the situation is yet to stabilize, and the impending cyclone season could spell disaster for the humanitarian effort, a senior United Nations official based in Cox’s Bazaar has warned.

Details:

  • There seems to be a humanitarian crisis in the Rohingya camps, the impending cyclone season could result in serious problems for the humanitarian efforts.
  • The senior humanitarian coordinator for the Rohingya Refugee Response, made an appeal for more international funding. It was stated that this year’s UN joint response plan (JRP) has received only 34% of the funds needed, in contrast to about 85% last year.

What is the Rohingya Refugee Crisis?

The Rohingya refugee crisis refers to the mass migration of Rohingyas (Rohingya Muslim people) from Myanmar (Burma) to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Who are Rohingyas?

  • Rohingyas are indigenous to Rakhine state (also known as Arakan) in Myanmar settled since the 15th
  • Collectively they fall under the Muslim Indo-Aryans, a mixture of pre-colonial and colonial immigrations.
  • However, according to Myanmar government, they are illegal immigrants migrated to Rakhine following Burmese independence and Bangladesh liberation war.
  • They are victims of an organized genocide and are one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
  • The population of Rohingyas was around 1.1 to 1.3 million before the 2015 crisis.
  • The crisis received international attention followed to Rakhine state riot in 2012, Rohingya crisis in 2015 and 2016-17 military crackdown.
  • At present 40000 Rohingyas have their second home in India.

The legal status of Rohingyas:

  • The Myanmar government never allowed a citizenship status to Rohingyas. Hence the majority of them do not have any legal documentations, making them stateless.
  • Until recently, they have been able to register as temporary residents with identification cards known as white cards which began issuing in the 1990s.
  • These cards gave some basic rights to Rohingyas such as the right to vote. But they were never recognized as a proof of citizenship.
  • These cards get cancelled in 2015 which effectively put an end to their right to vote.
  • In 2014, UN held a census, which was the first in Myanmar in 30 years. Initially, the Muslim minority were allowed to register as Rohingya. But after Buddhist threatened to boycott the census, the government issued a statement that Rohingyas can register only if they are identified as Bengalis.

India’s Response:

  • India has been receiving Rohingya refugees and allowing them to settle in the different parts of the country over the years, especially after the communal violence in the state of Rakhine in 2012.
  • However, India considers the refugee crisis as an internal affair of Myanmar.
  • Indian believes that ASEAN has an undeniable responsibility to resolve this crisis.
  • India does not want a conflict of interests with the new regime in Myanmar-Myanmar has a key role in India’s Look East Policy.
  • Since India is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, refugee status granted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Rohingya was irrelevant to their deportation.
  • According to the Government of India, there are no refugee camps established for either Bangladeshis or Rohingyas in India and there were only schemes of assistance for Tibetan and Sri Lankan refugees.

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Audits to track construction workers’ benefits

Context:

Social audit pilot projects to check if construction worker welfare boards are registering workers and giving them benefits, and also to weed out non-workers registered illegally are scheduled this week in Rajasthan and Delhi.

Details:

  • The construction industry is India’s second largest employer, with estimates suggesting that there are between five and seven crore workers in the sector, of whom less than half are registered.
  • In addition to the Social audit pilot projects, the Labour Ministry has also issued the draft framework for the social audit on implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW), in accordance with the Supreme Court’s orders.
  • The BOCW social audits aim to cover all districts every two years, with civil society organisations leading the process.
  • The project is being coordinated by National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour (NCC-CL) in Delhi.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court of India on March 19 delivered its Judgement in National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour (NCC-CL) v. Union of India and Ors.
  • The Judgement came 12 years after the original Writ Petition had been filed.
  • The petition demanded the implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation and Employment) Act, 1996 (BOCW Act), as well as the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996.
  • These two Acts were designed to levy a cess on construction projects for the benefit of the workers.
  • The proceeds of the cess would be held by a Welfare Board constituted in each state or Union Territory.
  • The Welfare Board would have to disburse 95% of the funds for the benefit of the construction workers, the remainder to be utilised for their own administrative expenses.
  • The Supreme Court also issued general directions to the concerned parties for implementing the Acts, such as constituting and appointing the authorities created under the statutes.
  • The Court also directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to actively consider extending the benefits of existing social labour legislation to the construction workers.
  • Further, it directed the Ministry to consider whether construction projects of the government should also be brought under the Act.

What will the Social Audit team do?

  • The teams visit construction sites as well as the areas where workers live, to check how many of them are registered with the welfare boards.
  • They check if the children of the workers have the scholarships they are entitled to, how long the people have to wait for availing benefits like pension, maternity benefit etc.
  • The social audit team will also find workers who have not registered and try to find the reasons that prevented them from doing so.
  • The team would also check for illegal registrations.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. NGT steps in to conserve Ghats

Context:

  • The Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) panel, which permitted the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF and CC) to re-publish the draft notification on Eco-Sensitive Zones, which expired on August 26, ordered that the matter may be finalised within six months. It also ordered that the draft of the republished notification be placed on the record of the tribunal.
  • The Bench issued the order based on a petition filed by the Goa Foundation
  • The Principal Bench of theNGT, which noted that the ecology of the Western Ghats region was under serious stress, has highlighted the fact that Western Ghats region is one of the richest biodiversity areas which needed to be conserved.

Background:

  • In the year 2010, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was constituted by the Central Government, under the chairmanship of Madhav Gadgil.
  • WGEEP issued recommendations for the preservation of the fragile western peninsular region.

Highlights of Gadgil Report

  • Recommended that the entire stretch of the Western Ghats should be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
  • It recommended the division of region into three zones – ESZ1, ESZ2, ESZ3 and gave a broad outline of certain restrictions for each zone.
  • The committee recommended the division of region into zones at the block/taluk level.
  • It recommended that no new polluting industries (red and orange) were to be permitted in ESZ1 and ESZ2 and gradual phasing out of such existing industries by 2016.  Complete ban on mining in ESZ1 and regulation of mining in ESZ-2.
  • It was recommended that bottom to top approach be followed for conservation of Western Ghats.
  • Western Ghats Ecological Authority was proposed to be set up as a statutory body and given powers under the Environment protection Act 1986.
  • There were many criticisms of the Gadgil Committee Report. Some among them were that
    • The report was not prepared keeping in mind the ground realities. If the report is implemented, the development and the energy requirements in the states coming within the boundary of Western Ghats would be adversely affected.
    • There is no need to set up a new body while there are many such bodies for the protection of environment.
  • Madhav Gadgil has said the recent havoc in Kerala is a consequence of short-sighted policymaking, and warned that Goa may also be in the line of nature’s fury.

Following severe resistance to the implementation of Gadgil Committee report, Kasturirangan Panel was set up in 2012 to advise the government on Gadgil Committee Report.

Highlights of Kasturirangan Report:

  • Divide the Western Ghats into Natural Landscape and Cultural Landscape
  • Of the natural landscape, it picked out 37% as “bioplogically rich” and with “some measure of contiguity”. Any restrictions were placed in this area.
  • It proposed the demarcation of ESZ be done at the village level.
  • Only red category (heavy polluting) industries were restricted.
  • Hydro power project would be given the green signal on a case to case basis, post assessment of its benefits and the possible damage it could cause.

Gadgil report laid too much importance to the environment, Kasturirangan report was biased towards development. Kasturi Rangan report was criticized by many as that it provided loopholes for mining, which if allowed would turn detrimental to the environment, in long-term will affect development too. Kasturirangan report got the tag as anti-environmental soon after its release. But this report was tagged anti-development too by many who fear that their livelihood and interests will be affected.

Details:

  • The WGEEP had earlier proposed “much larger areas for being included in the eco-sensitive zone” though the Kasturirangan-led High-Level Working Group, also appointed by the MoEF and CC to look into the WGEEP report, had reduced it.
  • The Ministry had accepted the Kasthurirangan report and issued the draft notifications on ecologically sensitive zones.
  • Now, the six Western Ghats States, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat have been restrained by the NGT from giving environmental clearance to activities that may adversely impact the eco-sensitive areas of the mountain ranges.
  • The panel directed that the extent of Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats, which was notified by the Central government earlier, should not be reduced, in view of the recent floods in Kerala.
  • The Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report had created a political furore in the State with most of the political parties and a section of the church opposing it.
  • The Tribunal Bench, in its order, noted that any alteration in the draft notification of zones may seriously affect the environment.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Investor plaints to SEBI at six-year high

Context:

Despite various measures taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for increasing its pace of disposing Investor complaints against listed firms and market intermediaries to bring down the overall pendency, such complaints have touched a six-year high.

Details:

  • The number of investor complaints has been steadily rising over the years with the last dip registered in 2013-14.
  • Investors can use SEBI’s online Scores platform to register complaints against intermediaries such as stock brokers, listed firms, mutual funds, depositories, registrars, credit rating agencies, and stock exchanges.
  • Scores allows investors to directly lodge a complaint online, but SEBI uploads physical complaints as well into the system so that the overall status is reflected and includes all investor grievances.
  • While over 30 lakh complaints have been cumulatively registered with SEBI so far, it has managed to consistently reduce pendency.
  • In 2016-17, the system was tweaked to include a review module so that an investor can make a one-time request for review of his complaint that had been closed by SEBI.
  • As on March 31, 2018, the cumulative number of review complaints was pegged at 3,875 and 1,303 were pending.
  • An investor can lodge a complaint within three years from the date of the cause of the complaint.
  • Once a complaint has been registered, an investor can even check the status of his complaint using the online platform.

2. Why is a Public Credit Registry important?

Context:

Recently, RBI Deputy Governor made a case for setting up a Public Credit Registry (PCR), incorporating unique identifiers: Aadhaar for individual borrowers and Corporate Identification Number for firms.

What is PCR?

  • A public credit registry is an information repository that collates all loan information of individuals and corporate borrowers.

Why do we need PCR?

Credit information is now available across multiple systems in bits and pieces and not in one window. Data on borrowings from banks, non-banking financial companies, corporate bonds or debentures from the market, external commercial borrowings (ECBs), foreign currency convertible bonds(FCCBs), masala bonds, and inter-corporate borrowings are not available in one data repository.

  • PCR will help capture all relevant information about a borrower, across different borrowing products in one place.
  • It can flag early warnings on asset quality by tracking performance on other credits.
  • A credit repository helps banks distinguish between a bad and a good borrower and accordingly offer attractive interest rates to good borrowers and higher interest rates to bad borrowers.
  • The move is based on the recommendations of a committee, headed by Y.M. Deosthalee.
  • PCR will address issues such as information asymmetry, improve access to credit and strengthen the credit culture among consumers.
  • It can also address the bad loan problem staring at banks, as corporate debtors will not be able to borrow across banks without disclosing existing debt.
  • A PCR may also help raise India’s rank in the global ease of doing business index.
  • Setting up the PCR will help improve India’s rankings in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
  • Access to credit information, including debt details and repayment history would drive innovation in lending. For example, currently most banks focus on large companies for loans and consequently the micro, small and medium enterprises are left with limited options for borrowing. With satisfactory payment history and validated debt details made available, it will increase the credit availability to micro, small and medium enterprises along with deepening of the financial markets.
  • This will support the policy of financial inclusion.

Panel’s proposals:

  • The committee has suggested the registry should capture all loan information and borrowers be able to access their own history.
  • Data is to be made available to stakeholders such as banks, on a need-to-know basis.
  • Data privacy will be protected.

PCR in other countries:

PCR in other countries now include other transactional data such as payments to utilities like power and telecom for retail consumers and trade credit data for businesses. Regularity in making payments to utilities and trade creditors provides an indication of the credit quality of such customers.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. Risks remain: on GDP growth

Context

  • The Indian economy grew at an impressive rate of 8.2% in the April-June quarter this year, its fastest pace in nine quarters, according to official GDP data released recently.

Back to basics – Understanding the GDP and GNP

  • GDP: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total money value of final goods and services produced in the economic territories of a country in a given year.
  • GDP stands for total value of goods and services produced inside the territory of India irrespective of whom produced it – whether by Indians or foreigners.
  • GNP: Gross National Product (GNP) is the total value of goods and services produced by the people of a country in a given year. It is not territory specific.
  • If we consider the GNP of India, it can be seen that GNP is lesser than GDP.

Highlights of the report

  • The first quarter growth spurt was propped by strong performance in the manufacturing sector, which grew at 13.5%, thanks to de-stocking by firms in the lead-up to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.
  • The construction and agriculture sectors showed the growth rates of 8.7% and 5.3% in Q1 of 2018-19.
  • While high frequency data points like auto sales and industrial output are in sync with these numbers, it must be remembered that this 8%-plus growth print can be attributed to the resolution of several GST transition problems, budgetary support to the rural economy and, in no small measure, the effect of a lower base last year.
  • Earlier in 2015, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Statistics Ministry had changed the base year for tabulating the Gross Domestic Product or size of economy to 2011-12 from 2004-05.
  • The falling rupee, oil price trends and the expanding current account deficit are equally worrying, as is the Reserve Bank of India’s expectation of a rise in inflation in the latter half of this year.
  • Also, growth in the services sector has decelerated from last year’s levels. The ‘normalcy’ of this monsoon is marred by wide regional variations.
  • In such a scenario, the RBI, which has already raised interest rates twice in the last three months, is unlikely to adopt an easy money policy that is congenial to growth.

Back to basics – How to deal with the inflation?

  • Monetary policy is policy formulated by monetary authority i.e. central bank which happens to be RBI in case of India
  • It deals with monetary i.e money matters i.e. affects money supply in the economy. Example repo rate and reverse repo rate
  • Fiscal policy is formulated by finance ministry i.e. government. It deals with fiscal matters i.e. matters related to government revenues and expenditure.
  • Revenue matters- tax policies, non tax matters such as divestment, raising of loans, service charge etc
  • Expenditure matters– subsidies, salaries, pensions, money spent on creation of capital assets such as roads, bridges etc.
  • Monetary policy and fiscal policy together deal with inflation.

Way Forward

  • India remains the world’s fastest growing large economy. But it needs to grow even faster to spur job creation.
  • The focus must be on sorting out vital economic indicators that are far from perfect.
  • Sustaining an 8%-plus growth rate needs more pro-active policy-making and a continuous pursuit of well-crafted reforms.

F. Tidbits

1. Mauritius tops India’s FDI charts again

Context:

Mauritius remained the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2017-18 followed by Singapore, whereas total FDI stood at $37.36 billion in the financial year, a marginal rise over the $36.31 billion recorded in the previous fiscal, according to RBI data.

  • FDI from Mauritius totalled $13.41 billion as against $13.38 billion in the previous year.
  • Inflows from Singapore rose to $9.27 billion from $6.52 billion.
  • FDI from the Netherlands declined marginally to $2.67 billion as against $3.23 billion a year earlier.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Sri Jagannatha Swamy temple

 

  • The Sri Jagannatha Swamy temple, believed to be constructed in the 13th century is located in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The temple, considered to be a replica of the famous Jagannath temple of Puri, Odisha, was constructed in accordance with the rules of the Pancha Ratra Agama Sastras.
  • Prayers are offered to Lord Jagannatha Swamy, along with his siblings Subhadra and Balabhadra.
  • Special pujas are performed to Sri Venugopala Swamy and goddess Mahalakshmi on the same premises.

2. Smartgram

 

  • The ‘Smartgram’ initiatives are aimed to transform villages into happy, harmonious and hi-tech places, by connecting the villagers with the initiative. 
  • These villages have been adopted by the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation.
  • The initiative will initiate, support and execute projects aimed at improving the quality of life of people
  • The ‘Smartgram’ initiative was inaugurated for five villages of Haryana — Tajnagar, Dhaula, Alipur, Harchandpur and Rojka Meo in July 2016 and is now extended to 100 villages in the vicinity of initially selected 5 villages.

3. Chicago Hindu meet

 

  • The World Hindu Congress (WHC), a gathering in Chicago from September 7 to 9, is being organised by groups associated with the Sangh Parivar. 
  • The event coincides with the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address at the parliament of religions in 1893.
  • The event is for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good.
  • It offers Hindus an opportunity to introspect towards improvement and tap into our collective resources to seek tangible solutions to the most pressing issues of present age.
  • The event features several respected names from the fields of science and business.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Orang National Park is on the banks of River
 
  1. Brahmaputra
  2. Barak
  3. Indus
  4. Sutlej

See

Answer
Question 2. Rohingyas are indigenous to
 
  1. Bangladesh
  2. Malaysia
  3. Bhutan
  4. Myanmar

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
 
  1. Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was constituted by the Central Government, under the chairmanship of Kasturi Rangan
  2. WGEEP issued recommendations for the preservation of the western peninsular region.

Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?

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

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
 
  1. Nabakalebara festival is an ancient ritual that is observed in the Shree Jagannath Temple at Puri
  2. Jagannath Temple and Sun Temple of Konark was built by King Chodaganhadeva in 12th century.

Which of the following statement/s is/are correct?

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

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Despite India being the world’s fastest growing large economy, it needs to grow even faster to spur job creation. Comment.

  2. 70% of India’s coastal areas are prone to tsunamis and cyclones, about 60% of its landmass vulnerable to earthquakes; yet, risk management is still in its infancy. Examine and suggest measures to improve resilience.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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