15 Sep 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
SOCIAL ISSUES
1. Section 498A: SC says welfare committees not needed in dowry cases
CULTURE
1. Hindi Divas
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH
1. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) study on AIDS
2. SC questions ‘leprosy-free’ tag for India
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Doklam final report lauds government
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. Government announces measures to stabilize rupee
2. Human Development Index (HDI)
3. Committee on Stressed Power Projects
4. Credit Suisse Report
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
ECONOMY
1. Power games – On SC’s order to stay the RBI’s circular directing banks to recognise NPAs on delay in repayment
ETHICS
1. Beyond recompense – on ISRO spy case
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
1. Swayangsiddha
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: SOCIAL ISSUES

1. Section 498A: SC says welfare committees not needed in dowry cases

Context

  • The Supreme Court modified its earlier order on setting up family welfare committees to look into cases of dowry harassment.

Section 498-A IPC

  • It is a cognisable and non-bailable offence. A guilty person faces up to three years in prison and shall also be liable to fine.

2017 Order

  • The court had ordered ‘family welfare committees’ to be set up in the districts.
  • These committees, composed of eminent citizens, were supposed to act as a vanguard against “disgruntled wives” using the anti-dowry harassment provision of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as a “weapon” against their husbands and in-laws, young and old, rather than a “shield.”
  • Even the police could register an FIR only after the committee cleared the complaint as valid and not frivolous.
  • SC had raised this concern over abuse of the anti-dowry law and had also said that no arrest “should be affected” without authenticating allegations as a violation of human rights of innocents can’t be swept aside.

Current Judgment

  • A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra withdrew the court’s direction from July 2017
  • The judges accepted that such a committee would create an extrajudicial entity not envisaged in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • They also decided to remove another guideline that gave a district judge the power to dispose of proceedings if the parties in a case reach a settlement. Such a power in a non-compoundable provision such as Section 498A exclusively belongs to the High Court, the top court held
  • It restored to the police their power to immediately register an FIR and act on a dowry harassment complaint filed by a married woman.
  • It further says a designated police officer should be there to probe dowry complaints. It ordered the Director General of Police of every State to provide such officers rigorous training.

Category: CULTURE

1. Hindi Divas

 

  • It is celebrated on 14 September because on this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India had adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the official language of India.

Hindi’s Popularity in other countries

  • Fiji: The island country in the South Pacific Ocean is the only other country, apart from India, where Hindi is designated as an official language.
    • The migration of the language to Fiji can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, when it became a British colony and when the colonial authorities needed imported labour in order to sustain the sugarcane industry there.
    • Majority of those who formed the indentured labour force belonged to the linguistic region of northern India that is referred to as the Hindi belt, that today consists of states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan among others.
    • Today, about 37 per cent of Fiji’s population consists of Indians, a large majority of whom are the descendants of indentured labourers.
  • Mauritius: The island nation on the Indian Ocean passed on as a colony from the Dutch to the French to the British over the course of three centuries.
    • Indian presence in Mauritius can be traced back to the time when it was a Dutch colony and a large number of slaves and convicts were brought in from Bengal and South India.
    • The trend followed during the French colonial period as well.
    • With the British occupying the island in 1810 and the indentured labour system being established from the 1830s in order to meet the requirements of the sugarcane industry, Indian presence in Mauritius entered a whole new period.

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) study on AIDS

Context

  • According to figures released by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) it said it would not be an easy battle to end the disease as there are still around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV in India, with the prevalence among adults stood at 0.22 per cent.

Why is this study important?

  • The objective of HIV estimations is to provide updated information on the status of the HIV epidemic in India at the national and State/Union Territory level.
  • Estimations of adult HIV prevalence, annual new infections (HIV incidence), AIDS-related mortality, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) needs are produced as outcomes of HIV estimations.
  • The modelled estimates are needed because there is no direct reliable way of measuring these core indicators, which are used to track the epidemic monitor and evaluate response around the world

Stats

  • There were around 87,000 new HIV infections and over 69,000 AIDS-related deaths (ARDs) in 2017.
  • Around 22,675 mothers needed Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

What does the report say?

  • This epidemic is high in some geographical regions and population groups
  • The report has noted that the rate of decline in annual new HIV infections has been relatively slower in recent years
  • The impact of the HIV/AIDS control programme has been significant, with more than an 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the epidemic’s peak in 1995.

2015 Numbers

  • India’s 2017 figures also do not show a significant positive shift from 2015, the previous year for which when such a survey had been carried out
  • In 2015, India had reported 86,000 new HIV infections.
    • Of these, children (<15 years) accounted for 12 per cent (10,400)
    • Remaining (75,000) were adults (15+ years).
  • In 2015, the total number of people living with HIV in India was estimated at 21.17 lakh, while the same figure was 22.26 lakh in 2007.

Recommendations

  • There should be no place for complacency as the country aims to achieve the ambitious goal of ending AIDS in India by 2030.

2. SC questions ‘leprosy-free’ tag for India

Context

  • Supreme court questioned the leprosy free tag and said the country was declared leprosy-free on December 31, 2005, the reality is “entirely different” in reference with reports of the National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) which said only 543 districts of the total 642 districts in the country had achieved the World Health Organisation-required prevalence rate of less than one case of leprosy for 10,000 persons.

Details

  • The underestimation of cases of leprosy and the declaration of elimination of leprosy has resulted in the integration of leprosy in general health services thereby leading to diversion of funds which would have otherwise been dedicated to eliminating leprosy,

Concerns Voiced

  • Patients and their families continue to suffer from leprosy and its stigma.
  • They are denied their fundamental right to food.
  • They are not issued BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards to claim the benefit of various welfare schemes such as the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
  • They are deprived of housing, basic civic amenities, adequate sanitary facilities and rehabilitation programmes.

Constitutional Principles Violated

  • Majority of the populace afflicted with leprosy live as a marginalised section in society, deprived of even basic human rights. This manifestly results in violation of the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 and right to live with dignity under article 21

Recommendations

  • Centre and states should take steps for eradicating discrimination against leprosy and rehabilitate those suffering from it.
  • Provide the leprosy patients reservation under the disability quota and with Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards to enable them secure their right to food.
  • Medical staff in private and government hospitals should be sensitised to ensure that leprosy patients do not face discrimination.
  • It must be ensured that drugs for leprosy are available free of cost and do not go out of stock at all Primary Health Centres and other public health centres.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Doklam final report lauds government

Context

  • A report by the parliamentary panel on External Affairs, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, has lauded the efforts of Narendra Modi Government for the overall handling of the Doklam crisis by standing up against china but has expressed concern that Chinese infrastructure built close to the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction has not been dismantled

Extracts from report

  • The Army’s reaction to the crisis was laudable but Indian diplomacy failed to measure up to the task
  • The panel appreciated the “brave and timely” action of security forces for checking the PLA troops from continuing with their road construction.
  • The Committee is concerned about the multiple reports which allude to Chinese presence around Doklam plateau and the statements from Chinese authorities about chances of similar happenings in future also, even after the stand-off ended

Suggestions

  • The panel said the Indian government should not take the Chinese lightly at any point and continue to monitor the Chinese activities along the border in general and the area in particular very intensely.
  • It also suggested that military infrastructure, especially the roads on the Indian side, need to be improved.
  • There is also an urgent need for high-technology gear to prepare our security forces to respond befittingly.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. Government announces measures to stabilize rupee

Context

  • The Government announced a series of measures to boost market confidence, curb the widening current account deficit which touched 2.4% of gross domestic product and stabilize the rupee.

Details

  • To attract more Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) into the corporate debt market, the government has said it will review a couple of restrictions on their investments.
    • So, the condition that FPIs’ investment in a single corporate entity cannot exceed 20% of its corporate bond portfolio will be reviewed.
    • The condition that FPIs cannot invest more than 50% of an issue of corporate bonds will also be reviewed
  • The government will review the mandatory hedging condition for infrastructure loans borrowed under the external commercial borrowing (ECB) route.
    • Presently there is no compulsion on borrowers to hedge these loans.
  • Manufacturing companies borrowing up to $50 million through ECBs will be able to do so only for a one-year term as against the three-year term allowed earlier.
  • Masala bonds will be exempted from withholding tax this financial year and Indian banks will be allowed to become market makers in masala bonds including by underwriting.
    • Masala bonds are rupee-denominated instruments issued abroad by Indian borrowers.
    • The advantage of these bonds is that any depreciation in the rupee will not affect the borrower.
  • The government will take necessary steps to cut down non-essential imports and increase export.

2. Human Development Index (HDI)

Context

  • HDI was released by the United Nations Development Programme with the findings indicating a glaring inequality in the country though “millions have been lifted out of poverty”.

Details

  • The HDI is the composite measure of every country’s attainment in three basic dimensions:
    • Standard Of Living measured by the gross national income (GNI) per capita
    • Health measured by the life expectancy at birth
    • Education levels calculated by mean years of education among the adult population and the expected years of schooling for children.

Stats with reference to India

  • India ranks a low 130 out of 189 countries
  • The UNDP report stated that with an HDI value of 0.64 compared to 2017’s 0.636, India is categorised as a medium human development and that its rank rose one spot compared to the 2017 HDI.
  • According to the 2018 findings, between 1990 and 2017, India’s HDI value increased from 0.427 to 0.640, an almost 50 per cent increase, which is an indicator that millions have been lifted out of poverty.
  • At the same time, in what signals the glaring inequality in the country, the HDI value declines by more than a fourth when adjusted for inequality.
    • The value of India’s Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) falls to 0.468, a 26.8 per cent decrease, far worse than the global average decrease in the global HDI value due to inequality at 20 per cent.

In reference to Women Empowerment

  • The report notes that in India women hold only 11.6 per cent of parliamentary seats
  • Only 39 per cent of adult women have reached at least a secondary level of education as compared to 64 per cent men.
  • India’s worst performance on the gender scale is with regards to its female participation in the labour market which is 27.2 per cent compared to 78.8 per cent for men even as globally 49 per cent women are part of the labour force as compared to 75 per cent men.
  • India performs better than its neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan, ranking 127 out 160 countries on the Gender Inequality Index

Other Countries

  • Norway at 0.95 has been ranked the highest on the HDI scale
    • Followed by Switzerland, Australia, Ireland and Germany
  • Niger is the bottom at 0.35.
    • Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad and Burundi have the lowest scores
  • The greatest increase in HDI rank over the last five years is by Ireland
    • This is followed by Turkey
  • The worst decline was seen in conflict-hit countries of Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

3. Committee on Stressed Power Projects

 

  • The government has set up an empowered committee headed by cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha, who was earlier India’s power secretary.
  • It will have representatives from the ministry of railways, ministry of finance, ministry of power, ministry of coal and the lenders having major exposure to the power sector
  • This comes in the backdrop of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in power generation accounting for around 5.9% of the banking sector’s total outstanding advances of ₹73 trillion, according to the Economic Survey 2016-17.

Objectives

The committee would look into the various issues with a view to resolve them and maximise the efficiency of investment including changes required to be made in the fuel allocation policy, regulatory framework, mechanisms to facilitate sale of power, ensure timely payments, payment security mechanism, changes required in the provisioning norms/Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), Asset Restructuring Company (ARC) Regulations and any other measures proposed for revival of stressed assets so as to avoid such investments becoming NPA.

Context

  • The Power Ministry gave a detailed presentation to a high-level empowered committee on measures to deal with problems of struggling power assets.

4. Credit Suisse Report

Context

  • According to Credit Suisse Research Institute’s latest report India has the third highest number of publicly-listed family-owned companies in the world.

Credit Suisse Research Institute

  • The Credit Suisse Research Institute is Credit Suisse’s in-house think tank.
  • The Institute was established in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis with the objective of studying long-term economic developments, which have – or promise to have – a global impact within and beyond the financial services industry.

Criteria

Credit Suise identified family businesses based on two criteria—

  • Direct shareholding by founders or descendants is at least 20%,
  • Voting rights held by the founders or descendants are at least 20%.

Details

  • China tops the list with 159 companies, followed by the US at 121 and India at 111 Companies.
    • The number of Indian companies in the report increased from 108 in 2017 to 111
    • In the case of China, the number declined to 159 in 2018 from 167 in 2017.
  • What makes India stand out is the fact that more than 50 per cent of the top 30 best performing family-owned companies in Asia, excluding Japan, are from India.
  • The survey looks at 1,015 family-owned companies around the world with a minimum market capitalization of $250 million.
  • By that measure, over 50% of the companies in the BSE 100, the top 100 companies by market capitalisation listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, are family-owned.
    • The average market capitalisation of the family-owned companies was $7.6 billion compared to $6.5 billion a year ago, according to the report.
    • That includes Reliance Industries Ltd, Dabur India Ltd and Emami Ltd.
  • The study further found that family-owned companies across emerging markets were much younger than their peers in developed markets.
  • Family-owned companies in developed Europe were founded on an average 82 years ago compared to 37 years ago in the case of companies in Asia ex-Japan and 30 years in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Why family owned business works?

  • The family-owned businesses do well because they have the skin in the game and the involvement is extremely high. The owner is far more passionate.
  • The trend could also be due to superior financial performance driven by the longer-term focus that family-owned companies appear to have.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: ECONOMY

1. Power games – On SC’s order to stay the RBI’s circular directing banks to recognise NPAs on delay in repayment

Context:

The Supreme Court has ordered a stay on the Reserve Bank of India’s February 12 circular asking banks to recognise loans as non-performing even if repayment was delayed by just one day, and resolve them within 180 days.

Background:

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code:

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, came into force from December 2016. This move is aimed at consolidating the existing laws related to the insolvency of partnerships with unlimited liability, entities with limited liabilities (including limited liability partnerships), and individuals into a single legislation in order to rule out the ambiguity in the insolvency resolution process. The law also contains cross border insolvency provisions.

Procedure for Insolvency resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code:

The creditors (financial/operational) are required to submit a plea for insolvency to the adjudicating authority (National Company Law Tribunal in case of corporate). The plea has to be accepted/rejected within 14 days from the filing of the plea. In case of acceptance of the plea, an Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) is appointed. The IRP has to draft an insolvency resolution plan within 180 days (can be extended by 90 days in exceptional cases) while the board of directors of the company remain suspended and the promoters do not have a say in the management. However, the IRP is allowed to seek help from the board of directors in carrying on the day to day activities of the business. If the resolution plan is accepted by 75% of the creditors, it will be put into action. In case of rejection of the insolvency resolution plan, the company will be liquidated.

Details:

  • If banks failed to comply with the RBI’s new rules, these stressed assets had to be forced to undergo swift insolvency proceedings under the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
  • The Supreme Court’s stay comes just weeks after the Allahabad High Court refused to grant relief to troubled power companies facing action from the RBI.

What are the issues in the power sector?

The troubles of power companies can be traced to structural issues such as

  • The absence of meaningful price reforms
  • Operational challenge of unreliable fuel supply
  • Unsustainable finances of public sector power distribution companies
  • Transmission losses

Who will benefit from the move?

  • Distressed power companies, and a number of other firms in the shipping, sugar and textile sectors will be relieved as they are spared from bankruptcy proceedings for now.
  • According to the Association of Power Producers, the Supreme Court’s order will save stressed companies producing 13GW worth of power from being pushed to the doors of bankruptcy courts.
  • Banks will be happy as the reprieve will help them delay the recognition of bad loan losses.

What are the consequences of the Supreme Court’s stay order?

Arguments AGAINST Supreme Court’s stay order:

  • The apex court’s decision to overturn RBI rules and transfer all pleas seeking exception from them to itself is clearly the biggest challenge against the IBC yet.
  • It is likely to cause significant uncertainty in the resolution of stressed assets.
  • It would undermine investor confidence in the bankruptcy process.
  • The postponement of the next hearing of the case to mid-November will send the signal that in contrast to hopes that asset resolution under the new bankruptcy regime would be done within a strict time frame, there are likely to be considerable delays in the resolution of stressed assets.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision to intervene will do very little good in the long run to either stressed power companies or their lenders.

Arguments FOR Supreme Court’s stay order:

  • The current insolvency resolution process is not without its flaws.
  • According to a report released by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India earlier this month, lenders could realistically expect to recover less than a tenth of their dues if stressed assets are to be liquidated. This could be attributed to the IBC’s overemphasis on the speedy resolution of bad loans over the recovery of maximum value from stressed assets.
  • Several power companies emphasise that their assets could yield better returns if the issues are resolved completely outside the purview of the IBC. The Supreme Court’s decision has now provided lenders the chance to test this argument.

Way forward:

Banks are unlikely to make much money out of these stressed assets until the structural problems in the power sector are sorted adequately to attract investors. Policymakers, not courts, need to take charge and resolve these issues.

Category: ETHICS

1. Beyond recompense – on ISRO spy case

Context:

The Supreme Court has awarded Rs.50 lakh compensation to Nambi Narayanan against whom a false spy case was built by the Kerala police

Details:

  • In 1994, the Kerala police had arrested Mariam Rasheeda – a Maldivian woman for overstaying in India after the expiry of her visa.
  • It turned into a sex-spy scandal allegedly involving three senior ISRO scientists, some businessmen and others.
  • They were accused of passing on ISRO’s cryogenic programme secrets to the women who in turn supplied it to Russia and Pakistan’s ISI.
  • Three scientists were arrested on the grave charge of sharing official secrets related to space technology and launch missions with foreign agents.
  • In 1996, CBI probe cleared all the accused. It was concluded that the entire scandal was fabricated by the Kerala police officers who had investigated the case. All the accused were discharged thereafter.
  • The CBI also had sent a confidential report indicting the state police officials.
  • In 1998, the Supreme Court also upheld the CBI report stating that the scandal was fabricated.

How did the Kerala government respond?

  • The attitude of the Kerala government has been obstinately ungracious.
  • It opposed the CBI’s closure report and made an attempt to revive the investigation by its own police.
  • It has been unsympathetic to the demand for action against its errant police officers, arguing petulantly that there is no court direction to take disciplinary action against them.

Fight for restoration of honour and dignity:

  • The ‘ISRO espionage case’ marked a disgraceful chapter in the history of police investigation in the country.
  • Ever since the proceedings were dropped, one of those arrested, S. Nambi Narayanan, has been battling for the restoration of his honour and dignity.
  • The latest Supreme Court order has directed the forming a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to consider ways to take action against the officers, addresses this glaring inadequacy in the process of restorative justice for those maliciously arrested. The prosecution of these officers is long overdue.
  • The court has reaffirmed the principle that compensation is a remedy for the violation of human rights. But the so-called espionage case remains a study in the crude and archaic methods used by the police.

Way forward:

  • For a country where it is not uncommon for those arrested for heinous offences to be exonerated after long years in prison, it is possible to argue that the compensation principle may open the floodgates for innumerable claims. The only way to avoid such a situation is to have a proper oversight mechanism to ensure that all investigation into crimes and complaints remains lawful.
  • While granting ₹50 lakh to Mr. Narayanan, the court has taken note of his wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution and humiliation.
  • While his honour and dignity were restored long back, the delay in a consequential inquiry into the conduct of the police officers concerned is disconcerting.
  • Justice is not only about relief and recompense, and should extend to action against those at fault too. Much of the blame must fall on the Kerala government, which did not muster the courage to proceed against its police personnel.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!

G. Prelims Fact

1. Swayangsiddha

  • Swayangsiddha means self-reliance.
  • It is an initiative by West Bengal Police aims to combat human trafficking and prevent child marriage.
  • It envisions empowering young girls and boys with knowledge and skills so that they are aware, alert, able to make informed choices and are less vulnerable to violation and abuse of their rights.
  • Swayangsiddha Groups have been formed in schools and colleges with interested students.
    • These groups were formed with students between the age group of 12 to 21 years.
  • Child Protection Committee is monitoring and guiding these groups.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. With reference to gambling and betting
 
  1. It is in State list.

  2. Law commission says it should be given permission but regulated.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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

See

Answer

 

Question 2. CIMON recently seen in news is related to
 
  1. Elections app
  2. Silk application
  3. Mobility app by Niti ayog
  4. Artificial intelligence

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements about Geological Survey of India:
 
  1. It comes under the control of Ministry of Tourism.

  2. It is headquartered in Delhi.

  3. It declares Geological Heritage Sites.

The correct code is:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

See

Answer
Question 4. Khamsin as a geographical concept is closely related to 
 
  1. Sudden drop in temperatures in Deserts
  2. dusty wind in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
  3. Depression seen in Indian oceans causing cyclones in India
  4. El Nino in Central Pacific

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Poverty reduction is not only about schemes but also about behavioral Change.  Analyze the statement in reference to Standard Economic Theory.

  2. What is adulteration of food? What are the existing laws and also explain the recommendations of FSSAI and Law commission to prevent adulteration of food?

  3. Governance is not about regulations and rigid set of laws; it is about delivery of Services with less inconvenience to consumers. Does the Delhi Govt move of Door step delivery resonate this? Justify your View.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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