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Draft Labour Code

MAY 2017
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National Anthem
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Page No. 131
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
Draft Labour Code

DRAFT LABOUR CODE

There are various labour laws for India, Labour is a subject in the existing laws are codeof wages,
regulating employment and concurrent list where both the Central code of Industrial relations,
conditions of service of workers. and State Governments are Code on Social Security &
These laws also provide for competent to enact legislations. Welfare and Code on
maintaining registers and furnishing There are 45 different national- and Occupational Safety, Health &
returns to the concerned state-level labour legislation in India. Working Conditions
enforcement authorities. The labour Important among those are- o Employer means the employer
laws of independent India derive • The Industrial Disputes Act, of any entity that employs an
their origin, inspiration and strength 1947. employee oremployees, either
partly from the views expressed by • The Child Labour (Prohibition directly or through contractors.
important nationalist leaders during and Regulation) Act, 1986. o It is applicable to any person
the days of national freedom struggle, • The Factories Act, 1948 who is employed for wages by
partly from the debates of the • TheTrade Unions Act, 1926 the entity, International
Constituent Assembly and partly from • The Apprentices Act, 1961 workers and Indian workers
the provisions of the Constitution and It was framed pursuant to the outside who wants to become
the International Conventions and recommendations of the 2nd a member under this code.
Recommendations. The relevance of National Commission on Labour. It was o Draft Code is not applicable to
the dignity of human labour and the done with a view to simplify, such class of workers that has
need for protecting and safeguarding rationalize, consolidate, and amend been specified in Part - II of the
the interest of labour as human beings the laws relating to social security of First Schedule
has been enshrined in Chapter-III workforce. Currently there are total o Draft code covers the workers
(Articles 16, 19, 23 & 24) and Chapter fifteen Labour Laws including from Organised as well as
IV (Articles 39, 41, 42, 43, 43A & 54) Employees' Provident Fund Act, Unorganized Sectors of
of the Constitution of India keeping Employees' State Insurance Act, Employment.
in line with Fundamental Rights and Maternity Benefit Act etc. Ministry o It proposes to constitute a
Directive Principles of State Policy. had proposed to replace these National Social Security Council
But according to some analysts Labour laws with the four codes. of India for reviewing and
labour laws has become a hinderace monitoring the implementation
Salient features
in the growth of industries in the of the Draft Code and also to
country. Under the Constitution of o Four codes to replace all the advise the govt.

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Draft Labour Code

o It proposes to invite claims and workers' income. o It does not recognise that social
objections for the unclaimed o For the first time, cover to security systems for old age are
amount of the preceding agricultural workers is being structurally different from those
financial year within a period provided along with self- designed for poverty.
of minimum six months employed people. The target o It tries to consolidate existing
o It proposes to provide a unique is to provide social security 15 labour laws which will be
Aadhar-based registration benefits to 45 crore workers. very difficult to do.
service for registration of o A National Social Security o It tries to combine elements of
workers to be named as Council, chaired by the PM, has Universal Basic Income, Direct
Vishwakarma Karmik Suraksha been proposed to streamline Benefits Transfer, Provident
Khata (VIKAS) and make policy on social Fund, Health Insurance,
o The Draft Code proposes security schemes related to all Maternity Benefit, etc. which
allowing the benefits even the Ministries. will have huge financial
when the Employer fails or implications.
Problems
neglects to pay any o A single account for voluntary
contribution Despite being a very well contribution, mandatory
o The total contribution to be intentioned and well thoughtout contributions, mandatory
made by employers towards plan, draft labour code still has some subsidised scheme, and social
Employees' Provident Fund problems which needs to be looked assistance programme for poor
and Employees' State upon for the better results. Some of which is an accounting and
Insurance Scheme is proposed the problems of the draft code are actuarial impossibility.
to be capped at 30% of the given below:

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Rail Development Authority

RAIL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Indian Railways (reporting mark The need of having a rail relevant areas.
IR) is a state-owned railway company, regulator has been emphasised by o The Chairman and the
responsible for rail transport in India. various committees for past many members of RDA will have a
It is owned and operated by the years since 2001. Expert Group under term of 5 yrs.
Government of India through the the Chairmanship of Rakesh Mohan o An initial corpus of Rs 50 crores
Ministry of Railways. It is fourth largest in 2001, the NTDPC in 2014 and will be provided for setting up
railway network in the world Bibek Debroy's Committee in 2015 the organisation.
comprising 119,630 kilometres said about coming up with rail o The appointment of the
(74,330 mi) of total track. Railways devlopment authority to look into Chairman and members will be
first introduced to India in 1853 from various issues of the railways. Budget done by the central
Bombay to Thane. In 1951 the 2015-16 announced it is important to government from the panel of
systems were nationalised as one unit, have a regulation mechanism names recommended by the
the Indian Railways, becoming one independent of the service provider Search and Selection
of the largest networks in the world. for overall development of railways. Committee
The working of Indian Railways is Budget 2015-16 proposed to set up Functions of RDA
caught up between making it a self- a mechanism for making
sufficient organisation and serving it regulations,setting performance The long-awaited regulator will
as a transport system for the poor. standards and determining tariff. perform four primary functions-tariff
Indian Railways spends heavily on determination; ensuring fair play and
Composition of RDA level playing field for stakeholder
revenue expenditure - there is little
left for capital expenditure. As part Rail development authority is investment; setting efficiency and
of the radical rethinking on improving considered to be the biggest and performance standards; and
the transportation architecture, the first-of-its-kind reform in the rail dissemination of information. The
government did away with the sector. The Rail development regulator, to be headed by a
separate railway budget, merging it authority will be formed through an chairman and comprising three
in the Union budget. In order to executive order of the government. members, will have a five-year term
overcome some of these challenges Its composition is given below: and be empowered to engage
mentioned above government has o The Authority will have a experts.
also come up with Rail development Chairman and 3 members and o Recommendations of RDA are
can engage experts from not binding on the government
Authority.

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Rail Development Authority
o Benchmark efficiency o Proposing modifications and o RDA will help the government
parameter for Indian railways suggesting advisory noteson to take appropriate decisions
o Recommend guidelines and PPP investment on pricing of services
principles for tarrif settings o Ensuring reasonable safeguard commensurate with costs
o Suggests measures of to PPP investors o It will suggest measures for
technology Adoption and o Ensuring fair and level playing enhancement of non-fare
implementation field for stakeholder revenue
o Deriving guidelines for investment in railways
classifying commodities fare as o Dispute reduction in future
well as the class concessions agreements

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National Anthem

NATIONAL ANTHEM
The Indian National Anthem the agenda of that day devoted itself imprisonment of 3 yrs. Also Under the
represents the hopes and aspirations to a loyal welcome of George V on same Act whoever intentionally
of the people of India. It is the symbol his visit to India. prevents the singing of National
of our national pride. Jana Gana Mana A formal rendition of the Anthem or causes any disturbance in
was first written in Bengali, the first of national anthem takes approximately such singing can be punished with
five stanzas of the Brahmo hymn titled fifty-two seconds. A shortened imprisonment of 3 yrs. Disrespect to
Bharot Bhagyo Bidhata are attributed version consisting of the first and last national insignia has been linked to
to Rabindranath Tagore. The lines (and taking about 20 seconds Section 124(A) of IPC, which refers
underlying message of Jana Gana to play) is also staged occasionally. to sedition. SC in recent judgment
Mana is pluralism. Its Hindi version India's Constitution speaks of respect said national anthem should be
was adopted by the Constituent to the national flag and anthem as a played before the start of movie and
Assembly as the National Anthem of fundamental duty in Part 1V A. Article audience should stand in attention ,
India on 1950. Though the Bengali 51(A) says that "it shall be the duty of however exception has been given
song had been written in 1911, it was every citizen of India - (a) to abide to specially abled persons. However
largely unknown except to the by the Constitution and respect the in Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State Of
readers of Tattwabodhini Patrika. ideals of the national flag and the Kerala & Ors, granted protection to
According to British press national anthem". three children of the Jehovah's
National anthem was composed in Legal Provisions Witness sect, who didn't join in the
December 1911, coinciding with the singing of the national anthem at their
visit of King George V at the time of Apart from the constitutional school. The court held that forcing
the Coronation Durbar of George V, provisions related to national anthem, the children to sing the anthem
and "Bharat Bhagya Bidhata" and various acts also provides the violated their fundamental right to
"Adhinayaka" was believed to be in limitations and compulsions on religion. Also in In 1943, the US
praise of King George V.The poem is performing the national anthem. Supreme Court delivered a 6-3
created in 'shankarabharana' rag.The Under prevention of Insults to opinion, holding that the Free
composition was first sung during a National Honour Act of 1971 Speech Clause of the First
convention of the then loyalist Indian whoever burns, mutilates, destroys, Amendment to the US Constitution
National Congress in Calcutta on 27 disfigures or otherwise shows protected students from being
December 1911. It was sung on the disrespect to India's National Flag forced to salute the American flag.
second day of the convention, and shall be punished with max

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National Anthem
Way to perform instructions has been embodied in o Full version shall be played at
The National Anthem of India is the information sheet issued by the Civil and Military investitures,
played or sung on various occasions. government of India for general during parade, On arrival of the
Instructions have been issued from information and guidance. The President at formal State
time to time about the correct versions approximate duration of the National functions etc
of the Anthem, the occasions on Anthem of India is 52 seconds. o The short version of the Anthem
which these are to be played or sung, o There are two versions of the shall be played when drinking
and about the need for paying National anthem fullversion toasts in Messes.
respect to the anthem by observance takes 52 sec to perform, while o Whenever the Anthem is sung
the short version takes around or played, the audience shall
of proper decorum on such
20 seconds. stand to attention.
occasions. The substance of these

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National Issues

NATIONAL ISSUES
Attorney-General to defend • In the run-up to the hearings • Turkey said the areas of
India in UNHRC at the UNHRC, held once in cooperation were aviation,
five years for every country, space and ammunition, etc.
• India will highlight its
reports from governmental • On Pakistan’s continued
“impartial” justice system
and non-governmental support to cross-border
when it sends its top law
agencies from other countries terrorism and Kashmir, he
officer, Attorney-General
in the 47-member council, said the issue was for the two
Mukul Rohatgi, to the
including from the U.S. countries to discuss.
Universal Periodic Review at
Congress and civil society
the UN Human Rights Council Strict law will increase tax
groups, and international
in Geneva. compliance says FM
agencies, have been sought.
• Mr. Rohatgi will defend
• Sweden and Spain have • Union Finance Minister said
India’s case against
asked for the government to the fear of consequences
allegations of violations in
explain its stand on owing to strict and
Jammu and Kashmir, torture,
homosexuality rights and the expeditious enforcement of
minority rights and recent
repeal of Article 377 that law would ensure that as
strictures against NGOs.
criminalises same-sex India evolved from a
• Mr. Rohatgi said he would
relationships. developing to a developed
convey that the treatment of
• The Attorney General, who economy, it would be a
26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab
will respond to the questions highly tax compliant society.
and 1993 Mumbai blasts
during a four-hour session in • Advocating use of
convict Yaqub Memon
Geneva, said he would technology for detecting
proves the Indian legal
speak about constitutionally- evasion, Mr. Jaitley said the
system’s “impartial”
mandated protections to Enforcement Directorate
standards.
minorities in India. should expeditiously use the
• “These are two people who
penalising powers to deal
committed crimes against the Turkey is keen on expanding
with any non-compliance,
state. They orchestrated, and defence industrial cooperation
particularly money
were directly involved in, the with India
laundering.
massacre of hundreds of
• Turkey is keen on expanding • “Full compliance in taxation
innocents, both Indian and
defence industrial and currency laws has
foreign, in the heart of our
cooperation with India and always been one of the
financial capital.
will offer its armed features of developed states.
• Yet, both were tried
unmanned aerial vehicles If you go to the developed
impartially by a court of law,
(UAVs) during the upcoming world, violations are rare.
provided legal aid, were
visit of President Recep • Those who violate are
given every opportunity to
Tayyip Erdogan. strictly called upon and are
appeal till the last stage even
• Turkey’s support to Pakistan answerable to the law and
as their petitions for
on Kashmir at the there are very strict penal
clemency were entertained at
Organisation of Islamic consequences,” Mr.
the highest level,” Mr. Rohatgi
Cooperation was likely to Jaitleysaid.
told.
continue. • Mr. Jaitley said over the

8 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
years, in India, non- communities across urban government cannot negotiate
compliance was never and rural areas of the with separatists. The Centre
considered a moral wrong, it country. said it would “absolutely” not
was rather considered smart. • The Aga Khan Development entertain any talks of azadi
• “Non-compliance has hit the Network (AKDN) of the with these leaders.
larger public and national prestigious foundation • Mr. Rohatgi read portions of
interest,” he said, adding that received the FICCI-India submissions filed in court by
compliance would help Sanitation Coalition prize for petitioners, suggesting the
generate funds for the initiative that seeks to route to peace in Kashmir
development in various contribute towards building would be for talks between
sectors. an open-defecation free India India and Pakistan. He
by 2019 under the ‘Swachh pointed to how the
Japan has selected former
Bharat’ mission. petitioners felt that even the
Union Law Minister Ashwani
• The initiative aims at accession of Jammu and
Kumar for top honour
improving access to water Kashmir was “controversial.”
• The Japanese government has and sanitation for • The court asked the
selected former Union Law marginalised communities stakeholders in Kashmir to
Minister Ashwani Kumar for across urban and rural India, “take two steps back” as a
the Grand Cordon of the including helping 1,00,000 resolution can be initiated
Order of the Rising Sun , in families and 538 schools, as only if there are no stones
recognition of his well as building toilets in the and pellets fired on the
achievements in bolstering States of Bihar, Gujarat, streets of Kashmir.
India-Japan ties. Madhya Pradesh, Telangana
Maharastra govt to set up panel
• Indians who have in the past and Uttar Pradesh.
for welfare of transgenders
received the Decoration — • The integrated block-level
conferred in recognition of sanitation model is being • The Maharashtra government
d i s t i n g u i s h e d piloted in rural Bihar. will soon set up an executive
accomplishments— include committee under the ministry
Supreme court offered to set the
industrialist Ratan N. Tata. of Women and Child Welfare
stage for J&K talks
• Dr. Kumar served as the to activate functioning of
Special Envoy of former PM • Even as the Supreme Court Transgender Welfare Board,
Manmohan Singh to Japan offered to set the stage for conceptualised in 2014.
during the visit of the peace talks between • The government will
Emperor and Empress of influential voices in Kashmir implement Central schemes
Japan to India in December and the Centre to facilitate for welfare of the
2013, “and significantly the return of normality to the transgenders through this
contributed to the success of Valley. committee, Women and
the visit.” • The government put its foot Child Welfare Minister said.
down, saying it will not
FICCI-India Sanitation Coalition Tiny particles in polluted air
break bread with
prize to Aga khan foundation can lead to heart attack
secessionist forces and
• The Aga Khan Foundation has cannot brook the risk of • Tiny particles in polluted air
bagged an award for withdrawing security forces can travel from the lungs into
implementing a development from the sensitive border our bloodstream and
model that aims at improving State. increase the risk of a heart
access to water and • Appearing before a Bench led attack or stroke, a new study
sanitation for marginalised by CJI J.S. Khehar, Attorney- warns.
General Mukul said the • Nanoparticles in air pollution

http://www.iasexamportal.com 9
National Issues
have been associated with • “I understand you will claim they have an assurance
cardiovascular disease, naturally go for profits. But that their concerns over
which can lead to premature if jobs is a big issue, why leasing the tanks to India will
death. However, how doesn’t the industry act?” he be taken into consideration
particles inhaled into the said. before any announcement is
lungs can affect blood made.
India Sri Lanka to dicuss
vessels and the heart has • Commerce Ministry said
various important issues
remained a mystery. India had sent a team to Sri
• Scientists have found that • Sri Lankan Prime Minister is Lanka recently to make
inhaled nanoparticles can set to announce several MoUs presentations on the benefits
travel from the lungs into the on developing energy and of widening the FTA and had
bloodstream, potentially infrastructure projects in formally asked the
explaining the link between Trincomalee and fast- government for a list of
air pollution and tracking negotiations for an perceived “non-tariff
cardiovascular disease. upgraded free trade barriers” that businessmen
• The World Health agreement — the Economic were complaining about.
Organisation estimates that and Technical Cooperation
India assured Nepal of all
in 2012, about 72% of Agreement (ETCA).
possible help for elections
premature deaths related to • Mr. Wickremesinghe, whose
outdoor air pollution were visit is expected to confirm • PM Modi assured his Nepali
due to ischemic heart disease a number of agreements to be counterpart of “all possible
and strokes. announced during Prime help” in organising the three-
• Pulmonary disease, Minister Narendra Modi’s phase election — covering
respiratory infections and visit to Sri Lanka from May covering local, provincial
lung cancer were linked to 12 to 14, will meet Mr. Modi, and central levels — that will
the other 28%. Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath begin in the Himalayan
Singh and Nitin Gadkari. country on May 14.
NITI Aayog says industry not
• Indian Govt hoped to see the • The PM’s statement, which
doing enough to create jobs
agreement on the Trinco Oil indicates a softening of
• Industry should take storage and the development official policy towards
responsibility for the failure of infrastructure — Nepal’s democratic process,
to create adequate jobs in highways, power plants, a came two days after Madhesi
India in recent years, NITI refinery and an SEZ — agitators agreed to
Aayog vice-chairman Arvind around the key port town of participate in the elections.
Panagariya said in a brusque Trincomalee to be wrapped • The breakthrough was
response to a query about the up. achieved after two days of
Centre’s strategy for job • Oil union workers in consultations between the
creation. Colombo went on a strike Madhesis and the
• Mr. Panagariya said: “I am against the planned MoU with government. This comes after
sorry you are asking the India for 84 tanks in the Mr. Dahal received a financial
wrong question. What is Trincomalee upper oil tank package from Beijing.
industry doing on this? farm, of which Sri Lanka is
No change in policy do deal
Government makes policies. keen to retain at least 10 for
with Naxals
Why is it that no industrialist use by the Ceylon Petroleum
thinks of the 500 million Corporation. • The government has no plans
workers in our abundant • The unions called off the to deploy the Army to tackle
workforce at a relatively low strike that hit fuel supplies in the Naxals, notwithstanding
wage level.” the country on Monday, but reverses being faced by

10 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
paramilitary and police provide the facility by April proposed appointment on the
forces. 30. ground of national security
• It is an internal security issue. • By June 1, Hyderabad and public interest.
There is no question of University will get Wi-Fi, • The government’s
deploying the Army in the while Tezpur University and recommendation for setting
anti-Naxal operations said Assam University, Silchar, up of secretariats in the
the govt. will get it by June 2 and 7. Supreme Court and the 24
• Since the Naxal violence is • Banaras Hindu University by High Courts to assist
considered a law and order July 8; and Kashmir Central collegiums in the Supreme
problem, paramilitary and University, Manipur Court and the High Courts in
police forces will continue to University, Nagaland the selection of judges has
deal with the Maoists, though University, Central also been accepted.
there have been casualties Universities at Karnataka, • However, the suggestion for
among security forces. Kerala and Aligarh Muslim committees of retired or
University by July 30. sitting judges to assist the
India's longest bridge to come
collegiums in finding suitable
up over Brahmaputra river Govt examining the list of 51
candidates has not been
names recommended by
• Prime Minister Narendra accepted.
Collegium
Modi will inaugurate the • While the draft MoP is being
country’s longest bridge over • The Union Law Ministry is discussed since January last
the Brahmaputra river in examining the list of 51 names year, the Allahabad HC tops
Assam on May 24. recommended by the the list with 76 vacancies.
• Mr. Modi will visit Assam to Supreme Court Collegium for • The Punjab and Haryana High
inaugurate the Dhola-Sadiya appointment as judges in Court has 39 posts vacant,
bridge. various High Courts, with while 37 vacancies are there
445 of the total 1,079 posts in the Calcutta HC, according
All central universities to get
currently vacant. to the latest government data.
free wi-fi
• As the draft Memorandum of
Despite the increase of temp
• The Centre has set the ball Procedure (MoP) for
cases of H1N1 influenza
rolling to make Wi-Fi appointments in the higher
increases
available for free at all judiciary has not been
Central universities by the finalised, the Collegium has • The spread of influenza virus
end of July so that students sent more recommendations declines when the
can make better use of online for further appointments as temperature shoots up. But
resources to pursue per the existing system. this year, despite the summer
academic work. • Govt also said deliberations temperature crossing 40
• While some institutions with the Supreme Court on degrees in some parts of the
already provide Wi-Fi, the finalising the MoP were under country, the number of H1N1
Ministry of Human Resource way despite indications that cases and occasional deaths
Development has set certain issues were yet to be have not stopped.
deadlines for the remaining worked out. • Since its first appearance in
institutions to provide free • The Supreme Court 2009-2010, influenza A H1N1
access to their students. Collegium is learnt to have has come to stay and has
• Mahatma Gandhi handed over the finalised become a part of the seasonal
A n t a r r a s h t r i y a draft to the Law Ministry, as flu virus; H3N2 and Influenza
Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, per which it will have the B are the other two to
and E.F.L University, final say on any objection by become the seasonal flu in
Hyderabad, are supposed to the government to any India.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 11
National Issues
• According to the World national policy will be harder the river are part of the 10.8
Health Organisation (WHO), and take a long time. km underground stretch.
since December 2016, H1N1, • The Pune-based National • TBM 2, which has gone deep
H3N2 and Influenza B have Institute of Virology has into the bed of the river, has
been circulating in India. sequenced the whole genome already progressed a
• During September 2016- of H1N1 and has not found distance of 100 metres.
February 2017, H3N2 has any critical mutation • The diameter of the two
been predominant in most responsible for the spread or tunnels running across the
countries, with only “low increased mortality. river is 5.5 metres and the
levels” of the H1N1 viruses • However, this year, the H1N1 distance between the two
circulating in the northern surveillance revealed that the tunnels will vary at different
hemisphere, says the WHO. Michigan strain was places — 16.1 metres under
• The highest number of deaths, circulating, with no sign of the river, 18 metres at the
63, was reported from the California type. Howrah station, and 13
Maharashtra, she said. Last metres at the Howrah Maidan
First underwater metro tunnel
year, between January and (from where tunnelling
in the country inside the bed of
December 31, 265 people started in May 2016).
Hoogly river
died and 1,786 cases were • While tunnelling and
reported. • Gigantic Tunnel Boring construction of East West
• With over 32,000 people Machine (TBM) began cutting Metro Project are in full
infected and nearly 2,000 deep inside the bed of the swing, it has had to
killed in 2015, H1N1 Hooghly river, commenced overcome a number of
highlighted how ill-prepared the construction of the first challenges.
the country was in preventing underwater metro tunnel in • The protective measures
the spread of an infectious the country. subsequently taken by the
disease and managing it. • By the end of July, two engineers included widening
• Influenza infection causes tunnels running parallel will the foundation of the building
significant morbidity and connect the twin cities of and grouting of the soil.
mortality, though the number Howrah and Kolkata located • However, the last hurdle
of people infected with H1N1 on either side of the being faced by the East West
and the number of people Hooghly. Metro Project is the threat the
who die are fewer than • The tunnels are being dug at tunnelling work may pose to
dengue. What India needs is a depth of 30 metres below three heritage buildings in
a national policy for the earth’s surface and 13 Kolkata.
influenza immunisation. metres below the riverbed. • The Currency Building, an
• While pregnant mothers, • The twin tunnels, about 520 Italian structure that served
children aged below five and metres long, are crucial to as one of first banks of the
young people with asthma, the much-awaited Rs. 8,900 country, and two 19th
cardiovascular disease, core East West Metro project century Jewish monuments
diabetes and high blood that will connect Salt Lake — the Maghen David
pressure are at a greater risk, Sector V in the eastern part Synagogue and the Beth-El
there is no hard qualitative of Kolkata to the Howrah Synagogue — stand close to
and quantitative data on the Maidan across the river. the Metro tunnels.
vulnerable population. • Of the 16.6 km East West • After the issue was raised by
• In the absence of information Metro route, 5.8 km is on an the Archaeological Survey of
on who is most susceptible elevated corridor and 10.8 India, an expert committee
to H1N1 infection and very km will run underground. from the Indian Institute of
likely to die, framing a The 520-metre tunnels under Technology, Kharagpur, was

12 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
constituted to look into the attitude of the government efforts of the government.
matter. would change from a • A Bench led by Chief Justice
regulator to an enabler, the of India J.S. Khehar
PM says Civil servants should
faster the challenge of questioned how petitions
change with changing times
competition would turn into seeking the return of
• PM Modi said anonymity an opportunity. properties lying with a
was one of the greatest • He said while the absence of foreign government find their
strengths of civil services, government in a sphere of way into the Supreme Court,
cautioning government activity should be which has no jurisdiction
officials that the use of social perceptible, its presence in whatsoever over such
media should not lead to a a sphere of activity should matters.
decline in this strength. not become a burden. • The court said it cannot
• Even as social media and • Noting that there was a direct the United Kingdom on
mobile governance were quantum jump in the what to do with the Kohinoor
leveraged for connecting applications for Civil Service diamond. The court was
people to benefits and Day awards, from less than hearing a petition filed by the
government schemes. 100 in 2016 to over 500 this All India Human Rights and
• At the Civil Service Day year, PM said that the focus Social Front against the High
function, Mr. Modi also should now be on improving Commissioner of the U.K.
assured the civil servants quality, and making • The affidavit said the
that he would stand by them excellence a habit. Antiquities and Art Treasures
if they took decisions with • Mr. Modi said while “political Act of 1972, which prevents
an honest intention and in will” was needed for reform, the export of precious
public interest. which he did not lack and articles and treasures from
• He said the conditions may be had a bit extra, the the country.
prevailing today were quite “performance” part must • It was toothless as the British
different from about two come from civil servants and East India Company
decades ago and would that “transformation” was confiscated the Kohinoor
evolve much further over the enabled by people’s from the boy king Maharaja
next few years. participation. Duleep Singh in 1849 — “it is
• While earlier the government • Recalling that 2022 would a known historical fact.”
was almost the sole provider mark 75 years of • Though both India and the
of goods and services, which Independence, he urged the U.K. were signatories to the
left a lot of scope for ignoring officials to play the role of UNESCO Convention on
one’s shortcomings, people catalytic agents in fulfilling Means of Prohibiting and
now very often perceived that the dreams of the freedom Preventing Illicit Import,
the private sector offered fighters. Export of Ownership of
better services than the Cultural Property, the
SC refused to dwell on a petition
government. restitution of Kohinoor would
seeking a judicial declaration
• The Prime Minister said with require a “special agreement”
on Kohinoor
alternatives now being between both countries.
available in several areas, • Supreme Court refused to
Land attack variant of BrahMos
responsibilities of further dwell on a petition
supersonic cruise missile
government officials had seeking a judicial declaration
testfired
increased in terms of the to bring the Kohinoor
challenges, not the scope of diamond back from the • The Indian Navy successfully
work. United Kingdom, leaving the carried out the maiden test-
• He said that the sooner the task to the wisdom and firing of the land attack

http://www.iasexamportal.com 13
National Issues
variant of BrahMos • Mr. Rohatgi replied that the possibility of allowing all
supersonic cruise missile making Aadhaar mandatory petroleum products
from a stealth frigate in the for filing income tax returns
• Soon, tanking up the car or
Bay of Bengal. under Section 139AA was a
buying diesel to run the
• The test-firing is seen as a “legislative mandate.”
generator may no longer
major capability addition as, • Petition challenging the
entail a trip to the nearest
so far, the Navy has inducted constitutionality of Section
petrol pump.
only the anti-ship variant in 139AA, inserted in the
• The government is exploring
many of the frontline vessels. Income Tax Act by the
the possibility of allowing all
• Explaining the significance of Finance Act, 2017, was filed.
petroleum products — not
the development, the • The provision makes Aadhaar
just LPG cylinders — to be
statement said the land attack mandatory for getting a PAN.
delivered at consumers’
variant provides the naval Possession of Aadhaar card
doorstep.
ships the capability “to is necessary for the
• Government was not in
precisely neutralise selected continuing validity of an
favour of petrol pumps being
targets deep inland, far away existing PAN and for filing
shut on Sundays. “The
from coast, from stand-off returns under the income tax
Ministry does not approve of
ranges at sea.” law.
or endorse the move by a
• Majority of the frontline ships • The Bench observed that the
section of petrol pump
of the Navy, like the Kolkata, Supreme Court had asked the
dealers to close down fuel
Ranvir and Teg classes of government to make Aadhaar
stations on Sundays,” he said.
ships, are capable of firing optional until the very validity
• Consortium of dealers, with
this missile. of the Aadhaar scheme on the
a presence in eight States,
• BrahMos, derived from basis of right to privacy was
has said its plan to shut down
Russian P-800 Oniks or decided by the court.
pumps once a week was
Yakhont missile, is a joint • Mr. Rohatgi said the Supreme
inspired by Prime Minister
product of India and Russia. Court itself had agreed to
Narendra Modi’s call for
• The present range of the making Aadhaar mandatory
conserving fuel in a recent
BrahMos is 290 km, which is in certain fields to protect
Mann Ki Baat radio
now in the process of being identity and national
broadcast.
extended up to 450 km security.
• The Petroleum Minister,
following India’s entry into • He argued that fake PAN and
however, indicated that their
the Missile Technology ration cards have flooded
enthusiasm was misplaced,
Control Regime last year. the market and jinxed
as a fuel conservation
financial transactions. The
SC questioned the logic to make programme is already in
government was referring to
Aadhaar mandatory for filing place.
The Aadhaar (Targeted
income tax returns
Delivery of Financial and India has made a fresh request
• The Supreme Court Other Subsidies, Benefits and to the U.S. for the extradition of
questioned the Centre’s logic Services) Act of 2016. David Coleman
to make Aadhaar card • The enactment of this Act as
• India has made a fresh
mandatory for filing income a Money Bill is itself under
request to the U.S. for the
tax returns. challenge in the Supreme
extradition of David Coleman
• It asked whether this would Court on a petition filed by
Headley and Tahawwur
act as a remedy to end the former Union Minister Jairam
Rana, wanted for their roles
generation of fake Permanent Ramesh.
in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Account Number (PAN) and
The government is exploring • The NIA, which is probing the
ration cards.

14 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
conspiracy behind the 2008 bargain as Headley did. Rana arunachal move
attacks, raised with Mr. was arrested in 2009.
• India rejected China’s move
McCabe the pending requests • Though a U.S. District Court
to rename six towns in
for extradition of Headley sentenced him in 2013, his
Arunachal Pradesh, giving
and Rana. The NIA told him jail term would include the
them new Chinese names in
that its multiple requests for period he had already served
its official record.
the custody of Rana went in prison.
• “Assigning invented names to
unanswered.
India has made a 15th request the towns of your neighbour
• Revising its demand, the NIA
to Pakistan for consular access does not make illegal
told Mr. McCabe that though
territorial claims legal,” said
Rana was convicted by a U.S. • India has made a 15th request
MEA spokesperson Gopal
court of the charge of to Pakistan for consular
Baglay. “Arunachal Pradesh
providing material support to access to the former Navy
is and will always be an
the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), officer Kulbhushan Jadhav,
integral part of India,” he
which was behind the who was sentenced to death
added.
attacks. for alleged espionage and
• Mr. Baglay was responding to
• The ‘double jeopardy’ clause sabotage.
questions about an
in the U.S. law prohibits • A External Affairs Ministry
announcement by the
punishment for the same spokesperson said the
Chinese Ministry of Civil
crime twice. request for consular access
Affairs that said it would
• So, last year, India renewed and the process of appeal
“standardise” the names of
its attempt at Rana’s custody was made. He maintained
towns in Arunachal, which
on the ground that he was that Pakistan had not
China refers to as ‘South
involved in the planning of an informed India about Mr.
Tibet’.
attack on the National Jadhav’s physical condition
• Going further, the Chinese
Defence College (NDC) in and location.
Foreign Ministry
Delhi and Chabad Houses • As Pakistan has been
spokesperson Lu Kang even
(Jewish religious centres) in claiming of legal
said that the names reflected,
several cities. proceedings against Mr.
“China’s territorial claim over
• Headley has been sentenced Jadhav, we would also like
South Tibet is supported by
to 35 years in prison by a U.S to see what are the details of
clear evidence in terms of
court, and the ‘double the proceedings from the
history, culture and
jeopardy’ clause is one of the Government of Pakistan.
administration.”
biggest impediments for the • This presentation happened a
• The government dismissed
NIA to get him extradited. day after Pakistan postponed
China’s claim clearly on
• NIA officials said they were a meeting between Indian
Thursday, with Urban
hopeful of securing his High Commissioner Gautam
Development Minister
custody because the U.S Bambawale and Foreign
Venkaiah Naidu accusing
investigation mostly centred Secretary of Pakistan
Beijing of trying to “get some
on the death of six American Tehmina Janjua.
sort of publicity” from the
nationals in the attacks and • The Ministry downplayed
notice on renaming towns.
a large number of Indians Pakistani allegations that its
• Beijing’s move is being seen
were also killed. nationals in Indian custody
as an escalation of tensions
• Rana, a school friend of have been denied of consular
by China that has been
Headley, is serving a 14-year access.
angered by the government’s
term in the U.S. for providing
India objects to Chinese decision to allow the Dalai
material support to the LeT,
Lama to visit the Tawang
but has not entered a plea

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National Issues
monastery this month. has joined. legal and diplomatic issue
• In a series of statements, • While Chinese companies between India and Italy.
China reacted sharply to the have already clinched many • Sources revealed that though
Dalai Lama’s travels in important infrastructure Ms. Mogherini is likely to
Arunachal Pradesh, all of projects in Sri Lanka, discuss the stalled trade pact
which is Indian territory that including the Hambantota between India and EU, the
China continues to dispute. and Colombo port visit is also likely to open up
development projects, India India-Italy ties.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister
is hopeful of more projects • However, though bilateral
Ranil Wickremsinghe will visit
in the North and the East of India-Italy ties are expected
India
the island. to get a boost from her visit,
• Sri Lankan Prime Minister • Apart from the economic India-EU ties would still have
Ranil Wickremsinghe will agenda, Mr. Wickremsinghe a long negotiation over the
visit India next week to set is expected to discuss the free trade agreement
the agenda for Prime Minister ongoing dispute over fishing between both sides, reports
Narendra Modi’s trip to rights in the Palk Strait with suggest.
Colombo in May. Ms. Swaraj. • The main issues are over
• MoU to develop Trincomalee duties and market access but
The talks between India and the
port’s prospects through additional points of
EU that were stalled
operating a major oil-storage disagreement have
facility, LNG plant and piped- • The talks between India and reportedly emerged over new
gas projects and developing the EU that were stalled in the clauses that would not allow
it as a key transit point with backdrop of the Italian international companies to
major expressways and marines crisis are likely to rush to international
industrial zones in the region kick-start during the April 21- arbitration without
is in the final stages of 23 visit of a high official of completing cases in Indian
negotiations. the European Union. legal system.
• The two sides will also hold • The Ministry of External
States to be consulted on BC
discussions on the Economic Affairs announced that the
panel Bill
and Technology Cooperation High Representative of EU,
Agreement (ETCA), a version Federica Mogherini, will hold • A select committee of the
of the free trade agreement, discussions with External Rajya Sabha looking into a
and will be taken forward Affairs Minister Sushma Bill according constitutional
during Mr. Modi’s visit for Swaraj. status to the Backward
International Vesak Day. • Announcing the visit, Ms. Classes Commission, a cause
• Mr. Wickremsinghe, who Mogherini said in her blog close to Prime Minister
frequently travels to India, is that she would hold talks Narendra Modi’s heart, will
understood to be in the with Ms. Swaraj after arriving be inviting all State
country on a private visit from China where she has co- governments.
from April 25 to 29, to attend chaired the EU-China • In a meeting held, officials
a wedding, but will spend Strategic Dialogue. from the Ministry of Social
April 26 in Delhi for official • The visit of Ms. Mogherini, a Justice and Empowerment
meetings. senior Italian politician now briefed the members of the
• Mr. Wickremesinghe’s visit is with the EU, is significant as select committee, headed by
also significant as it comes a she is known to have BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav, on
few weeks before his trip to adopted a hard position on the Bill.
Beijing to attend the Belt and the Italian marines case
ISRO invited scientists to
Road Summit, that Sri Lanka which turned into a difficult

16 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
suggest studies for a potential • An orbiter sent to the Moon scrapped
orbiter mission to Venus in 2008 was delivering data
• The Centre said it was
until about three months
• The Indian Space Research studying the implications of
before its estimated life span.
Organisation (ISRO) has the Australian government’s
A second Moon landing
invited scientists to suggest decision to scrap a visa
mission is planned in early
studies for a potential orbiter programme that benefited
2018.
mission to Venus - somewhat Indians, and warned that the
similar to the one that landed India is likely to get ‘normal’ move could have an impact
in Mars in 2013. monsoon rains according to Met on negotiations on the CECA.
• ISRO plans to send a Dept • Australian Prime Minister
spacecraft that will initially Malcolm Turnbull announced
• India is likely to get ‘normal’
go around Venus in an that he was scrapping the
monsoon rains, according to
elliptical orbit before getting Australian “457” visa
the first official forecast of the
closer to the ‘Yellow Planet’. programme that allowed
season by the India
• It will carry instruments Australian companies to hire
Meteorological Department
weighing 175 kg and using Indians in a number of
(IMD).
500W of power. The skilled jobs.
• Rains are likely to be 96% of
scientific community has • He said he would in due
the 50-year average of 89cm
been told to suggest space- course replace the
for the monsoon season of
based studies by May 19. programme with a more
June to September. They are
• A mission must be approved stringent system, making it
expected to fan out
by ISRO's Advisory difficult for companies to hire
favourably and “help
Committee on Space non-Australian citizens.
agriculture.”
Sciences, then the Space
• There is, however, a Prime Minister Modi held talks
Commission and later by the
significant element of with U.S. NSA
government.
uncertainty in this forecast.
• Venus, the second planet • Prime Minister Narendra
For one, there’s the looming
from the Sun, comes closest Modi held talks on
threat of El Nino. Secondly,
to Earth roughly every 583 Afghanistan, the West Asian
the IMD has adopted a new
days, or about 19 months. region and the Korean
weather model this year, and
• Venus, our closest planetary peninsula with the visiting
it is still a work-in-progress.
neighbour, is similar to Earth U.S. National Security
• The IMD’s estimate of 96%
in many aspects. However, it Adviser, Lt. General H.R.
rains falls at the bottom edge
takes only 225 days to McMaster.
of what it considers ‘normal’
revolve around the Sun. • Lt. Gen. McMaster, the first
monsoon rains.
Secondly, the surface is very high official of the
• Every number forecast by the
hot due to nearness to the administration of U.S.
IMD has a built-in 5% error
Sun. President Donald Trump to
margin. India saw drought
• India's previous and second visit India, met Mr. Modi
years in 2014 and 2015. As
planetary outing, the record- after completing his trips to
for 2016, it received 3% less
setting Rs. 450-crore Mars Afghanistan and Pakistan.
than the 89 cm average,
Orbiter Mission (MOM) of • The meeting, however, did
despite an IMD forecast of
2013, continues to impress. not yield an announcement of
‘above normal’ rains.
The orbiter is going round the a date for Mr. Modi’s visit to
Red Planet even as you read Australian 457 visa scheme Washington.
this — well beyond its • The meeting held at the Prime
planned life of six months. Minister’s official residence

http://www.iasexamportal.com 17
National Issues
was attended by India’s tested. judiciary and the executive.
National Security Adviser • There will be three arms in • The Union Law and Justice
Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary the trial, and each one will Ministry, in its affidavit, told
S. Jaishankar and a few other recieve one of the three the court that the government
officials. different dose ranges. was actively considering a
• Earlier, the U.S. NSA and Mr. • The Phase I is being initiated law panel report titled
Doval held detailed based on the promising “Electoral disqualifications”,
discussions on India-U.S. results in animals trials. In the and had appointed a team of
relations, especially the animal trials, two doses of senior officials to look into
security aspect of the ties, the vaccine made using an the issue.
sources said. African Zika virus strain • The Law Ministry said that the
• During his stopover in Kabul, conferred 100% protection disqualification period
Lt. Gen. McMastertold an against mortality and disease specified under the
Afghan TV channel that in mice. Representation of the People
Pakistan should deal with • The protection was the same Act, 1951, is a policy
terror “less selectively” than when the mice were infected decision which has been
it had done in the past. with an Asian and an African enacted by Parliament after
• A U.S. Embassy statement Zika strains. due deliberations for curbing
issued after the departure of • While the viral load was the entry of persons with
Lt. Gen. McMaster that the “undetectable” in the case of criminal antecedents into the
bilateral talks “emphasised vaccinated mice, the amount political arena.
the importance of the U.S.- of virus in unvaccinated mice • On the issue of setting up of
India strategic relationship shot up four days after being special courts for MPs or
and reaffirmed India’s infected. MLAs for disposal of criminal
designation as a major • All the unvaccinated mice cases, the Ministry said such
defence partner”. died eight days after a prayer was “unwarranted”
infection by the African strain as long as cases are
Bharat Biotech to start the
and 12 days after infection by disposed of within a year.
Phase I clinical trial of Zika
the Asian strain.
virus vaccine U.S. National Security Adviser
Task force framed on a road Lt. General H.R. McMaster
• Bharat Biotech International
map for decriminalisation of arrived in Delhi
Ltd in Hyderabad will start
politics
the Phase I clinical trial of • U.S. National Security
Zika virus vaccine (MR 766) • The Union government told Adviser Lt. General (retired)
in two centres in India next the Supreme Court that it had H.R. McMaster arrived in
month. constituted a task force to Delhi, the first such visit by a
• It will be a randomised, frame a road map for senior official of the Trump
placebo-controlled, double- implementation of the Law administration for talks that
blind trial involving 48 C o m m i s s i o n ’ s are expected to set the
adults, both men and women recommendations on course of bilateral relations.
(who are not pregnant). decriminalisation of politics. • He is expected to extend a
• Each volunteer will receive • A Bench of Justices asked the formal invitation for Prime
two vaccine doses on days 0 Centre to file an affidavit Minister Narendra Modi to
[the starting day] and 30 and during the day on a PIL visit Washington in the next
will be followed-up for a petition seeking debarring of few months.
year for both safety and convicts for life from • The visit will be watched
immune response. Three contesting polls and stopping particularly closely for its
different dose ranges will be them from entering the timing, as it comes close on

18 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
the heels of the Russian said it would introduce less “Giving advertisements is the
conference on Afghanistan in lethal “plastic bullets” to be first step. You [Tamil Nadu]
Moscow, which India used against protesters in have taken the first step since
attended and where Russia Jammu and Kashmir. 2013,” the Bench remarked.
offered to mediate between • The Centre said it was • The apex court was hearing
Taliban and government. exploring options to initiate the 2013 petition which
• Mr. McMaster, will discuss a dialogue in Kashmir, claimed that law and order
the future of security including with the situation in the country was
operations in Afghanistan, separatists, but no one had deteriorating due to a large
India’s role in Afghanistan as came forward in the past and number of vacancies in
well as the India-Pakistan it had hit a dead end. police services at all levels
impasse. • The government also said it across States.
• In Kabul, Mr. McMaster said was considering enhanced
China is set to launch its first
he would impress on use of “bunkers” to protect
cargo spacecraft
Pakistan that it was important security forces from stone
to give up support to the throwers after the annual shift • China is set to launch its first
Haqqani group and the of the capital from Jammu to cargo spacecraft between
Taliban. Srinagar in the next few days. April 20 and 24.
• Pakistan has praised the U.S. • The government had managed • The Tianzhou-1 has been
administration’s recent to control the spiral of transferred with a Long March
remarks on mediating violence but the “atmosphere – 7 Y2 carrier rocket from the
between New Delhi and was vitiated” because of the testing centre to the launch
Islamabad, something India April 9 byelections in the zone in Wenchang, Hainan
has been opposed to. Srinagar Lok Sabha province.
• Ms. Curtis, has advocated a constituency.
U.S. National Security Adviser
tougher line on Pakistan, and
Supreme Court wants Lt. General H.R. McMaster
co-authored a paper in
appearance of secretaries on arrived in Delhi
February this year suggesting
issue of police vacancies
enforcing conditions on • U.S. National Security
military aid to Pakistan with • The Supreme Court sought Adviser Lt. General (retired)
action against terror groups the personal appearance of H.R. McMaster arrived in
in the region, including the Home Secretaries or Delhi, the first such visit by a
Lashkar-e-Taiba. authorised joint secretaries senior official of the Trump
• However, the figures of six States together with a administration for talks that
released in April 2017 of definite roadmap to fill up are expected to set the
security-related aid that the the long-pending vacancies in course of bilateral relations.
Trump administration has the States’ police forces. • He is expected to extend a
requested from the U.S. • The court found that Uttar formal invitation for Prime
Congress for Pakistan Pradesh has 1.51 lakh Minister Narendra Modi to
indicate the U.S. government vacancies, West Bengal with visit Washington in the next
has not decreased its 37,325, Karnataka has few months.
allocations for the upcoming 24,899, Jharkhand 26,303, • The visit will be watched
year. Bihar 34,500 and Tamil Nadu particularly closely for its
has 19,803 posts vacant. timing, as it comes close on
Union Home Ministry said it
• Tamil Nadu informed the the heels of the Russian
would introduce less lethal
apex court that conference on Afghanistan in
“plastic bullets”
advertisements have been Moscow, which India
• The Union Home Ministry put out for the vacancies. attended and where Russia

http://www.iasexamportal.com 19
National Issues
offered to mediate between Jammu and Kashmir. 2013,” the Bench remarked.
Taliban and government. • The Centre said it was • The apex court was hearing
• Mr. McMaster, will discuss exploring options to initiate the 2013 petition which
the future of security a dialogue in Kashmir, claimed that law and order
operations in Afghanistan, including with the situation in the country was
India’s role in Afghanistan as separatists, but no one had deteriorating due to a large
well as the India-Pakistan came forward in the past and number of vacancies in
impasse. it had hit a dead end. police services at all levels
• In Kabul, Mr. McMaster said • The government also said it across States.
he would impress on was considering enhanced
China is set to launch its first
Pakistan that it was important use of “bunkers” to protect
cargo spacecraft
to give up support to the security forces from stone
Haqqani group and the throwers after the annual shift • China is set to launch its first
Taliban. of the capital from Jammu to cargo spacecraft between
• Pakistan has praised the U.S. Srinagar in the next few days. April 20 and 24.
administration’s recent • The government had managed • The Tianzhou-1 has been
remarks on mediating to control the spiral of transferred with a Long March
between New Delhi and violence but the “atmosphere – 7 Y2 carrier rocket from the
Islamabad, something India was vitiated” because of the testing centre to the launch
has been opposed to. April 9 byelections in the zone in Wenchang, Hainan
• Ms. Curtis, has advocated a Srinagar Lok Sabha province.
tougher line on Pakistan, and constituency.
DST will be leading a Rs. 2,000-
co-authored a paper in
Supreme Court wants crore initiative to encourage
February this year suggesting
appearance of secretaries on more girls and women
enforcing conditions on
issue of police vacancies
military aid to Pakistan with • The Department of Science
action against terror groups • The Supreme Court sought and Technology will be
in the region, including the the personal appearance of leading a Rs. 2,000-crore
Lashkar-e-Taiba. Home Secretaries or initiative to encourage more
• However, the figures authorised joint secretaries girls and women to take up
released in April 2017 of of six States together with a careers in the domain of
security-related aid that the definite roadmap to fill up science and engineering,
Trump administration has the long-pending vacancies in where they are under-
requested from the U.S. the States’ police forces. represented.
Congress for Pakistan • The court found that Uttar • A pilot programme covering
indicate the U.S. government Pradesh has 1.51 lakh 100,000 girls and women,
has not decreased its vacancies, West Bengal with from school-going children
allocations for the upcoming 37,325, Karnataka has to those interested in
year. 24,899, Jharkhand 26,303, research, will be launched
Bihar 34,500 and Tamil Nadu later this year.
Union Home Ministry said it
has 19,803 posts vacant. • Studies have found that when
would introduce less lethal
• Tamil Nadu informed the compared to the U.S.,
“plastic bullets”
apex court that European Union, and several
• The Union Home Ministry advertisements have been Asian countries, India fared
said it would introduce less put out for the vacancies. reasonably well when it
lethal “plastic bullets” to be “Giving advertisements is the comes to enrolment of
used against protesters in first step. You [Tamil Nadu] women in science and
have taken the first step since engineering, which stood at

20 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
around 35%. sales tax, excise duty, five rate slabs (zero, 5%,
• But the proportion of women Central VAT and State VAT. 12%, 18% and 28%).
in the science and • The alphabet soup of taxes, • Also an additional cess on
engineering workforce was differing regulations across top of the highest GST rate on
an abysmal 12%. 29 States, and difficulties in sin goods, such as luxury cars
• The current initiative, ‘Vigyan inter-State trade which often and tobacco.
Jyoti’, envisages 500 involve hours of highway • Unlike income tax, which just
contractual faculty positions snarls at border checkpoints. a small segment of India’s
for five years in universities • This is to collect octroi and mammoth 1.3 billion-plus
and research organisations, check documents, are a population end up paying,
and special scholarships for recipe for inefficiency and a including the poorest of the
school girls. proven incentive for tax poor, pay indirect taxes on
• Alongside mentoring, there evasion by sticking to the products and services.
would be a concerted effort informal sector. • Besides improving tax
to expose them to more • As a single tax that would compliance from traders, the
areas of science and replace all such duties and GST regime is expected to
engineering, present role- cesses, the GST will make boost economic growth by a
models to inspire them, and India a unified market with a percentage point or two,
conduct counselling sessions common tax structure, despite the risk of an initial
for parents and teachers. instead of 29 fractured blip, the government and
• The proposal is a key part of markets. industry bodies reckon.
a report, Vigyan 2030: • One last thing worth noting: • Investors, often put off by
Science and Technology as petroleum products and India’s complex taxation
the Pivot for Jobs, alcohol are being kept out of structure, should find it
Opportunities and National the GST net for now. easier and more attractive to
Transformation, submitted by • Nine years after the Indian do business in the country
the secretaries of all Central economy was opened up in and create an important by-
science departments. 1991, the Atal Bihari product for India’s fast-
Presented to PM. Vajpayee government first growing, young workforce —
floated the idea of a simple, jobs.
GST to effect the citizens in
transparent and efficient GST
many ways Shia community wants AIMPLB
regime to substitute the
to keep in mind the Quran,
• GST will replace the myriad multiple Central and State
Shariyat and humanity
local, State-level and Central taxes and cesses.
taxes that are built into the • But, like several critical (and • The Shia community appealed
price you pay for products, often inevitable) reforms in the All India Muslim Personal
and the service tax as well India, the GST took a Law Board (AIMPLB) to keep
as cesses that are dovetailed tortuously long route to reach in mind the Quran, Shariyat
to your outgoes when you the cusp of reality — a route and humanity before arriving
dine at a restaurant or pay marred by resistance, flip- at any decision on the
your mobile phone bills. flops and political contentious issue of triple
• India may be a $2-trillion- expediency. talaq.
plus economy with a large, • Co-operative governance • The Ayodhya dispute and
booming domestic market, body called the GST Council, triple talaq are expected to
but is a nightmare for with representatives from the dominate the agenda of the
compliant businesses, thanks States and the Centre, has two-day meeting of the
to multiple Central and State- thrashed out the nitty-gritty of Board, which will begin
level indirect taxes, such as the new regime, including shortly at Nadwatul Ulama

http://www.iasexamportal.com 21
National Issues
here. Affairs stated that consular which is found to be
• “If triple talaq is a part of access is necessary to find excessive compared to their
Shariat law, it should have out more about the case past profile or industry
been implemented then itself. against Mr. Jadhav. norms; large cash deposits
The need of the hour is to • But in an elaborate defence made by government or PSU
implement the system which of Pakistan’s position, Sartaj employees.
was in place during the days Aziz, Adviser to the Prime
Finance minister wants
of the Prophet,” he said. Minister on Foreign Affairs,
personal laws should conform
• “The information pertaining has said that Mr. Jadhav has
to constitutional rights
to triple talaq is harming the the right to appeal for mercy.
image of Islam. When the • Pakistan also claimed that • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Sunnis are of the view that contrary to India’s claims, expressed hope that the
triple talaq is being misused, Mr. Jadhav is a serving vintage judicial view that
the practice must cease to official of the Indian Navy personal laws need not
exist,” he said. and conducted a series of conform to Constitutional
attacks against Pakistan since rights would be reviewed in
Consular access for Kulbhushan
2014-15, especially in the near future.
Jadhav sought
Balochistan. • “In fact, a very surprising
• India again sought consular judicial opinion at that time
Second phase of operation clean
access to former Navy — and that’s a judicial
money launched
official Kulbhushan Jadhav opinion that still holds up.
now facing the gallows in • In the second phase of Hopefully, it is reviewed in
Pakistan, which has not ‘Operation Clean Money’ near future. When all laws
addressed 13 earlier (OCM), launched to unearth must confine to the
requests for the same. black money, the Income Tax Constitutional rights
• Islamabad accused Mr. department will probe over themselves, personal laws
Jadhav of carrying out 60,000 individuals including need not.,” FM said.
attacks inside Pakistan since 1,300 high risk persons for • Mr. Jaitley expressed his
2014-15 but said that he will alleged excessive cash sales opinion at a time when a
have the chance to appeal for post demonetisation. Constitution Bench of the
mercy. • Over 6,000 transactions of Supreme Court is scheduled
• Indian High Commissioner to high value property to hear a batch of petitions
Pakistan denied knowledge purchases and 6,600 cases of challenging whether personal
of any plan to exchange Mr. outward remittances shall be law practices like triple talaq
Jadhav for a Pakistani subjected to detailed and polygamy.
intelligence official in Indian investigations under OCM, an • The Centre has in that case
custody and sought more official statement said. sought the court to re-open
information from Pakistan • The second phase involves the debate as to whether
about the charges against identification of high risk personal laws can be brought
him. persons through advanced under the ambit of Article 13
• Pakistan had not shared any data analytics, including (laws inconsistent with or in
information about the integration of data sources, derogation of the
physical conditions of the relationship clustering and fundamental rights) of the
former naval official and fund tracking. Constitution.
India had therefore begun • The high risk categories • If the Supreme Court agrees
planning a request for identified include businesses that personal laws are to be
consular access. claiming cash sales as the included in the definition of
• The Ministry of External source of cash deposits laws under Article 13, the

22 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
door would be opened wide “action plans” to combat High Courts in the country,
for an aggrieved person to staggering backlog of cases should not be construed as a
challenge in court a in High Courts and trial comment on its functioning
particular personal law of a courts have literally or any deficiency thereof.
religion as violative of the produced no answers and
Islamic State tunnel complex in
fundamental rights. hardly any results.
eastern Afghanistan had been
• In case the challenge • Justice Jasti Chelameswar
hit by US
succeeds in court, the ruminated on how the
personal law, to the extent of “phenomenon of mounting • Army Gen. John W.
its inconsistency, shall pendency and discomfiting Nicholson, commander of
become void. delay in disposal of cases” U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
• The Centre has argued in its continue at the cost of gross said in a written statement
latest written submissions human rights violations to that an Islamic State tunnel
that polygamy and triple undertrials, convicts. complex in eastern
talaq are not religious • The Supreme Court’s third Afghanistan had been hit with
practices but social norms seniormost judge had found “the mother of all bombs.”
and customs which can be himself hearing a plea for • The U.S. dropped a massive
intervened on by the State if bail by a convict in a murder GBU-43 bomb, the largest
they are found to be violative case. non-nuclear bomb it has ever
of constitutional rights. • How the judiciary has been, used in combat, in eastern
• The batch of petitions in a sense, inadvertently Afghanistan on a series of
includes a suomotu PIL responsible for violation of caves used by Islamic State
instituted by the Supreme the fundamental right to militants, the military said.
Court itself on whether speedy trial and disposal of • Also known as the “mother of
personal law practices like criminal appeals under all bombs,” the GBU-43 is a
triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), Article 21 of the Constitution. 21,600 pound 9,797 kg GPS-
niqahhalala and polygamy • So, in a novel move, the guided munition, and was
violate dignity of Muslim Supreme Court decided to first tested in March 2003.
women and promote gender put the Allahabad HC under • He said the strike was
bias. the microscope as a “pilot designed to minimize the risk
• The Bombay High Court in project” to investigate how to Afghan and U.S. forces
State of Bombay versus High Courts deal with conducting clearing
Narasu Appa Mali had held pendency. operations in the Achin area,
that personal law is not ‘law’ • The SC said this was a close to the Pakistan border
under Article 13. “target-specific” exercise to “while maximizing the
• However, in Ahmedabad study how criminal appeals destruction” of IS fighters and
Women Action Group versus face years of delay as facilities.
Union of India, the Supreme appellants face “inhuman • He said IS has been using
Court was asked to consider compulsions” inside jails. improvised explosive
if unilateral divorce by talaq • The Bench directed the HC devices, bunkers and tunnels
and polygamy were violative Registrar to hand over to strengthen its defences.
of Articles 14 and 15. particulars of the criminal • White House spokesman
appeals, category-wise and Sean Spicer opened his daily
SC puts Allahabad HC under
year-wise, for the study in news briefing with the use of
scrutiny for long delays
four weeks. the bomb.
• The Supreme Court has asked • The Supreme Court said the • “The U.S. takes the fight
itself why numerous orders selection of the Allahabad against ISIS very seriously
over the decades suggesting High Court, one of the oldest and to defeat the group, we

http://www.iasexamportal.com 23
National Issues
must deny them operational engines — Microsoft, Google • As per plan, all submarines
space, which we did,” he India and Yahoo! India — are expected to be launched
said. gave their assurances to the from MDL by 2020 and both
Supreme Court that they sides are on to firm up a deal
Citizens have the right to access
would neither advertise nor before that to keep the
the Internet to gain information
sponsor advertisements production line running and
says SC
violative of the PNPCDT Act. preserve the expertise.
• Citizens have the right to • In case the nodal officers • The upgrades will help
access the Internet to gain detect illegal online content, address concerns of any
information, wisdom and they would communicate compromise in the
knowledge and their right with the search engine’s submarine’s capability
cannot be curtailed unless it experts, which would take it following the leak of its
encroaches into the off within the next 36 hours technical specifications in
boundary of illegality, the of receiving the information. Australia last year.
Supreme Court observed. • These experts would then
Small entrepreneurs have
• Calling the Internet a “virtual follow it up by providing the
raised some concerns over
world” and a “world which nodal officers concerned
govt's proposal
is invisible in a way,” the with an action taken report.
Supreme Court observed that • Small entrepreneurs have
India and France will step up
the fundamental right of raised some concerns over
negotiations to expand the
expression includes “the right the government’s proposal to
Scorpene submarine
to be informed and the right provide social security
to know. • India and France will step up coverage to its entire
• The court clarified that a negotiations to expand the workforce.
general prohibition on all Scorpene submarine contract • The Centre had last month
online content about pre- after the presidential proposed a labour code on
natal sex determination will elections in France in May. social security which will
curtail the fundamental right • India will push for provide social security cover
to know of a genuine incorporating several to the entire workforce in the
information-seeker. upgrades in the proposed country, including self-
• Prohibition should kick in three new submarines that employed and agricultural
only if the content found the two sides would be workers.
online is violative of Section discussing. • Factories employing even a
22 (prohibition of • Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), single worker will have to
advertisement relating to pre- Mumbai, is manufacturing six contribute towards social
natal determination of sex) Scorpene conventional security benefits, as per the
under the PCPNDT Act of submarines with technology proposed code. Small
1994. transfer from DCNS under a factories are largely kept out
• The Centre, represented by $3.75-billion deal signed in of social security schemes.
Solicitor-General Ranjit October 2005. • For instance, the PF and
Kumar, said the prohibition • After a series of delays, the pension contribution,
under Section 22 should be first submarine Kalvari is now administered by the
only on paid ads for sex in advanced stages of sea Employees’ Provident Fund
determination or online trials and expected to be Organisation (EPFO), is
a d v e r t i s e m e n t s commissioned in a few mandatory only for factories
masquerading as months. The second employing at least 20
information. submarine Khanderi was workers.
• The three Internet search launched in January.

24 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
Veteran diplomats says India if Pakistan executed Mr. secrecy provided by the
had various options for Jadhav. AFSPA to security forces for
Kulbhushan Jadhav deaths caused during
PSLV received double customers
encounters in disturbed
• India should not rush into since Feb
areas.
negotiations with Pakistan to
• The PSLV (Polar Satellite • The Supreme Court had held
free the former naval officer
Launch Vehicle) space that “there is no concept of
Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has
vehicle has received more absolute immunity from trial
been awarded the death
than double the volume of by a criminal court” if an
sentence by Pakistan, veteran
inquiries from prospective Army man has committed an
diplomats said.
customers ever since it offence.
• They said India had several
launched a record 104 • Judgement held that every
bilateral and multilateral
satellites on a single flight in death caused by security
options to free Mr. Jadhav,
February. forces in a disturbed area,
who was accused of
• A world best, 101 small even if the victim was a
sabotage and tried in a
foreign commercial dreaded criminal or a
military court.
spacecraft were taken up at militant or a terrorist or an
• One option before India is to
once in the feat, catapulting insurgent, should be
ask [U.S.] President Trump to
the PSLV’s overall thoroughly inquired into to
prevail upon the Pakistan
commercial tally to 180. address any allegation of use
military to release Mr.
• The PSLV, with a near of excessive or retaliatory
Jadhav. It is highly unlikely
impeccable 37 successes in force.
that any request to shift Mr.
39 flights, he said, is a clear • Attorney-General appeared
Jadhav to a civil court would
leader in the category of before a Bench led by Chief
work.
rockets that lift small Justice of India J.S. Khehar
• Mr. Jadhav’s case was
satellites to low earth orbits during the mentioning hour,
unique in the history of India-
or LEOs. and apprised the court that
Pakistan hostility and was
• These satellites weigh up to the judgment had become a
reminiscent of a Cold War
500 kg and must be placed fetter on security forces
spy drama.
in polar orbits 500 km from involved in anti-militancy
• Some diplomats have
the earth. operations.
recommended that India
• Similar 100-plus satellite • The judgment came on a plea
should not hurry in
contracts on a single flight by hundreds of families in
responding to this move by
would be uncommon; Mr. Manipur for a probe by
Pakistan as the case is
Sasibhushan said the next Special Ivestigation Team.
peculiar.
PSLV, C-38, due in May,
• There were many instances National Lok Adalatsettled
would have 30 small
when individuals suspected nearly 6.6 lakh cases in one day
satellites (smallsats) riding
of being spies were given the
piggyback with the primary • National Legal Services
death sentence in the usual
Cartosat-2 series satellite. Authority (NALSA), led by
courts of law in Pakistan and
Supreme Court judge Justice
therefore the issue was why Curative petition filed by centre
Dipak Misra, has been
a normal legal process was in AFSPA case
quietly chipping away at the
avoided in this case.
• The government asked the backlog and has
• Diplomats also said that
Supreme Court to urgently accomplished its latest feat
India would have to
reconsider its July 2016 of settling over six lakh cases
deliberate upon what kind of
verdict which ripped open in just 24 hours.
response would be befitting
the cloak of immunity and • The Second National Lok

http://www.iasexamportal.com 25
National Issues
Adalat for 2017, conducted after the approval of four GST the database of its
on April 8, through out the bills and other legislations, universities and potential
country from taluk level besides the Budget and the employers giving open
courts to High Courts, has demands for grants of access to the latter to check
settled nearly 6.6 lakh cases. various Ministries. the genuineness of the
• Out of this, 3.68 lakh cases • The two-part session, academic certificates of its
have been reduced from advanced this time, began on students.
court pendency and about January 31 with the • Any employer from any part
2.92 lakh cases were settled President’s address to a joint of the world can now access
even before they could be sitting of both Houses. Also, the Online Verification
filed in courts. for the first time, the Railway system launched by the
• The cases ranged from Budget was merged with the Telangana State Council of
matrimonial disputes, General Budget. Higher Education that
partition suits, civil matters, • The session also saw created the database of
cheque bounce cases, motor government statements on students of the last five years
accident claims, revenue the death sentence awarded passing out from its State
disputes pending in courts, to Indian national Kulbhushan universities.
criminal compoundable Jadhav by a Pakistani • Potential employers and
cases and service matters military court on the charges those checking the veracity
pertaining to pension, retrial of spying. of the claims can access the
benefits, etc. • Altogether, there were 29 information by entering the
• The award of a Lok Adalat is sittings, with the Lok Sabha hall-ticket number, year of
final and cannot be working for 176 hours and 39 passing and the course
challenged by way of minutes and the Rajya Sabha studied.
appeals and revision, etc. for a little over 136 hours. • However, only the basic
• Moreover, settlement of a The Lok Sabha lost eight details on the genuineness of
pending court case in a Lok hours and 12 minutes to information like candidate’s
Adalat comes with an added disruptions. The Upper name, parent’s name,
incentive of refund of court House lost 13 hours. university, duration of the
fee to the party involved in • The Lok Sabha passed The course, marks scored and the
the litigation. Maternity Benefit division obtained are shown
• The NALSA, under Justice (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the and not the total details so
Misra, has decided to Enemy Property Bill, the as to protect the privacy of
organise bi-monthly National Mental healthcare Bill, Motor the candidate.
Lok Adalats for both pending Vehicles (Amendment) Bill • However, the process was
and pre-litigative cases. 2016 and the 123rd cumbersome, time-taking and
• Pendency in subordinate Constitution Amendment Bill was only on payment. But the
courts is a whopping over 2.7 (to grant constitutional status new system offers it for free
crore cases.A statement to the National Commission and instantly.
issued by NALSA for Backward Classes),
Centre has no plans to grant
emphasised the point made among others.
Special Category Status to any
by Justice Misra that it is
Telangana to check the State
developing a “culture of
genuineness of the academic
settlement”. • The Centre has no plans to
certificates of its students
grant Special Category Status
Budget session came to an end
• Telangana has become the to any State, Minister of State
• The Budget session of first State in the country for Planning,told the Rajya
Parliament came to an end integrating technology with Sabha.

26 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
• Govt said parties should of settings, including • The fourth layer of the six-
ensure fiscal discipline in employment, education, layer, highly sensitive
their respective States and housing and health care, as particle detector, which is at
develop them utilising the well as with regard to the the heart of Belle-II, has been
extra Rs. 1.78 lakh crore that holding of public or private built by Indian scientists.
the Centre had given through office, access to insurance • Building the silicon vertex
the Finance Commission. and freedom of movement. detector has been a directing
• The last State to be accorded • It also bans unfair treatment force that brought us
the status was Uttarakhand of people living with and together. It is a very young
way back in 2001 and no State affected by HIV with regard team, with an average age of
had been given the status after to accessing public facilities, 30 years, apart from some
that, the Minister added. such as shops, restaurants, senior leaders.
• After taking over, the BJP hotels, public entertainment
Govt will ask restaurants to
government gave 10% extra venues, public facilities and
specify the size of a meal
grant, amounting to Rs. 1.78 burial grounds.
lakh crore per year, to the • The Bill also prohibits any • Prime Minister Narendra
States through the Finance individual from publishing Modi’s pitch against wastage
Commission. information or advocating of food has prompted the
feelings of hatred against HIV government to consider
HIV and AIDS (Prevention and
positive persons and those asking high-end restaurants
Control) Bill passed by
living with them. and hotels to specify the
Parliament
• India runs the second largest portion size of a meal to
• With Parliament passing the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) enable customers order the
HIV and AIDS (Prevention programme in the world, Mr. right amount.
and Control) Bill, 2017, Nadda said the rate of new • Union Food Minister Ram
people living with HIV and HIV infections had dropped Vilas Paswan said the
AIDS are guaranteed equal by 67% from 2.5 lakh to hospitality industry would be
rights in medical treatment, 85,000 and AIDS related asked whether it can do it
admission to educational deaths have declined to 54% “voluntarily” or or needed the
institutions and jobs. government to make legal
KEK completed the much-
• Maintaining that the Bill was provisions for it.
awaited ‘rolling-in’ of the Belle-
“people-centric”, the Minister • Mr. Paswan’s remarks came
II
said it strengthened the rights nearly a fortnight after Modi
of people infected with HIV. • The High Energy Accelerator expressed concern over
• The Bill lists various grounds Research Organisation (KEK) large-scale wastage of food.
on which discrimination completed the much-awaited
Govt to allow the armed forces
against HIV-positive persons ‘rolling-in’ of the Belle-II
to buy several non-core items in
and those living with them is experiment in Tsukuba,
the open market
prohibited. Japan. This experiment is
• The law provides a broad designed to study violations • To break the monopoly of the
legislative framework for the of the Standard Model of Ordnance Factory Board
response to HIV in India and particle physics. (OFB) in procurements and
is the first national HIV law • A grand collaboration of 700 improve its performance, the
in South Asia. scientists from 23 countries, Ministry of Defence will
• The legislation prohibits Belle-II has a significant allow the armed forces to
discrimination against Indian participation both on buy several non-core items in
people living with, and experimental and theoretical the open market.
affected by, HIV in a range sides.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 27
National Issues
• So far, it is mandatory for the named AUSINDEX in the Bay injured,” Justice
services to buy these items of Bengal in 2018 and also Chandrachud said.
from the OFB. pledged to hold a joint • “About a 100 security
• The non-core items include exercise of the Special Forces personnel within the distance
troop-comfort items and later this year. of two to three booths. Why
ammunition boxes. • Both sides welcomed the do they do it on polling day?
decision for the first bilateral Election is a symbol of
Australian PM says Australia
Army-to-Army exercise later democracy,” Attorney-
will supply Uranium to India
this year. General Mukul Rohatgi
very soon
• The bilateral discussion also submitted for the Centre.
• Australia will start supplying hinted at a growing • The Supreme Court advised
uranium to India “as soon as agreement to oppose China’s the Bar Association against
possible”, the visiting Prime territorial claims over the taking sides.
Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, South China Sea region.
Survey of India started a web
said. • As part of the emerging Asia-
portal named Nakshefor maps
• Australia’s promise on Pacific focus of India-
uranium was announced Australia ties, the joint • The Survey of India, the
even as both countries statement took a firm country’s oldest scientific
signed six agreements, position against China’s organisation and official
including one on countering growing presence in the maker of maps, has set up a
terrorism. South China Sea region. web portal called Nakshe
• “Our know-how and • Both leaders recognised the that allows 3,000 of its 7,000
resources are already importance of freedom of maps to be downloaded for
partnering with India’s 24x7 navigation and overflight, free.
Power For All, Smart Cities unimpeded lawful • The only caveat is that one
and Make in India commerce, as well as would require an Aadhaar
programmes, but there is resolving maritime disputes number for such access.
room for further growth,” Mr. by peaceful means. • The SoI maps —prepared for
Turnbull said. defence and civilian
SC questions those who use
• Mr. Modi welcomed the purposes — are considered
children as cover
passage of the Civil Nuclear a standard reference for the
Transfers to India Act in the • Supreme Court retorted by shape, extent and geographic
Australian Parliament, questioning the sense of features of the country.
opening up opportunities for humanity of the very people • In the last years, the
Australia to support Indian who form the mob and use government has passed
energy generation. children as cover while orders to route a variety of
• Australia has about 40 per engaging security forces in citizen services — from
cent of the world’s uranium pitched street battles. scholarships to subsidies —
reserves and exports nearly • The court was reacting to to possessing an Aadhaar or
7,000 tonnes of yellow cake arguments by the J&K High Aadhaar enrolment number.
annually. Both sides agreed Court Bar Association, which • The Aadhaar (Targeted
to extend bilateral has filed a public interest Delivery of Financial and
engagement to the Asia- litigation petition for a ban Other Subsidies, Benefits and
Pacific region. on pellet guns. Services) Bill, 2016
• In this context, a joint • “The age-group of those specifically says that the
statement issued at the end injured are from 13 to 20 and number can’t be used as
of the meeting agreed to hold 20 to 24 years. Young proof of citizenship or
a bilateral maritime exercise students are the ones most domicile.

28 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
• The maps to be made protected under Article 25 of • The traffic violation penalties
available through the portal the Constitution, which bars will also increase 10% each
http://soinakshe.uk.gov.in/ the State from interfering with year once the Bill becomes
will make it easier for “someone’s religious belief.” a law.
residents of villagers and • Since a social practice • The proposed law will also
panchayats to readily access cannot be held to be an allow citizens to apply or
information. integral part of a faith and renew a driving licence from
• Currently, organisations and belief or an “essential any road transport office in
people who want specific religious practice,” it has to the State. At present, citizens
maps need to fill forms and satisfy the overarching can only apply at the closest
sometimes visit the SoI. constitutional goal of gender RTO.
Several times, Ministries equality, gender justice and • The Centre also plans to
themselves had to pay to get dignity, the government make submission of Aadhaar
certain maps. submitted. number mandatory for
• The government argued that applying for a driving licence
Govt says polygamy is a social
reforms have not happened and vehicle registration by
custom and not religious
in the practices followed by making an enabling provision
practice
the Muslim community in the Bill.
• Polygamy is not a religious despite clear indications. It
Lok Sabha paved way for
practice, but rather a social said gender equality and the
constitutional status for
custom or usage which the dignity of women were “non-
Backward classes commission
State can interfere with to negotiable.”
ensure that Muslim women’s • The Lok Sabha cleared The
Lok Sabha cleared amendments
fundamental rights are not Constitution 102nd
to motor vehicles act
violated, the Centre told the Amendment Bill, that grants
Supreme Court. • The Lok Sabha cleared constitutional status to the
• Practices such as polygamy amendments to the motor Backward Classes
cannot be described as being vehicles law that will Commission, now called the
sanctioned by religion, substantially increase the National Commission for
inasmuch as historically, penalty for traffic violations, Socially and Educationally
polygamy prevailed across allow learner’s driving Backward Classes.
communities for several licences to be issued online • The Bill also enjoins that any
centuries including the and penalise contractors for addition to the Central list of
ancient Greeks and Romans, faulty road designs. communities under the Other
Hindus, Jews and • Driving without a licence Backward Classes will have
Zoroastrians. may soon lead to a minimum to be cleared through
• It had less to do with religion fine of Rs. 5,000 as against Parliament.
and more to do with social Rs. 500 at present, according • Govt said that the bill would
norms at the time,” the Centre to the Motor Vehicles ensure the rights of the Other
said in its written (Amendment) Bill 2016. Backward Classes, and give
submissions filed late on • Similarly, for over-speeding, the National Commission for
Monday in the Supreme the penalty may go up to Rs. Backward Classes the
Court. 1,000-2,000 from Rs. 400. Not constitutional safeguards
• The government said since wearing seatbelts would enjoyed by the National
polygamy was a social result in a minimum penalty Commission for Scheduled
custom and not a religious of Rs. 1,000 against Rs. 100 Castes and Tribes.
practice, it was not at present.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 29
National Issues
Agreements in the fields of rules so that a national no- unfulfilled promises, said
energy and defence between fly list can be implemented, Justice Khehar.
India and Bangladesh such incidents can be • The CJI said the parties gave
prevented, and safety brazen excuses to justify
• Stepping up cooperation in
improved,” Mr. Sinha non-fulfilment of the
the fields of connectivity,
tweeted. promises.
energy and defence, India
• “Air travellers should note
extended lines of credit Indo-Mongolian Joint Military
that safety and security of
worth $5 billion to Exercise Nomadic Elephant at
passengers and crew is our
Bangladesh, as the two vairengte
paramount priority."
countries exchanged 22
• "Unruly or disruptive • A small elite contingent of
agreements.
behaviour will result in Indian and Mongolian troops
• However, despite the
severe consequences. This began a two-week joint
presence of West Bengal
includes police action for a military exercise away from
Chief Minister, the two sides
specific incident as well as media glare. Indian Army
were unable to make any
being placed on a no-fly list,” made public the joint
progress on the contentious
the Minister said. exercise, named Nomadic
Teesta water sharing
• Domestic airlines have Elephant.
agreement that Ms. Banerjee
witnessed 53 cases of unruly • The timing of the exercise
has opposed.
behaviour by passengers may be a mere coincidence,
• “This (Teesta) is important
between July 2016 and but assumes significance
for India, for Bangladesh and
March 2017. given last December China
for India-Bangladesh
• Air passenger representatives mounted economic sanctions
relationship,” Mr. Modi said
welcomed the move on a on Mongolia after it refused
after the meeting. He added,
‘no-fly list’ – a practice to cancel the visit of Dalai
“I firmly believe that it is only
followed by airlines in Lama to the Buddhist
my government and
Europe and the United States. majority country.
Excellency Sheikh Hasina,
• Airlines abroad have their • The Army said the 12th
your government, that can
own rules for dealing with “iteration of Indo-Mongolian
and will find an early solution
unruly passengers and Joint Military Exercise
to Teesta Water Sharing.”
maintain their own ‘no fly Nomadic Elephant is
• Apart from the water issues,
list.’ presently under way at
both sides agreed to work
Vairengte from 05 April 2017
together on ways to advance CJI says parties should e kept
till 18 April 2017.”
issues like trade, accountable for unfulfilled
• Vairengte in Mizoram houses
connectivity, and regional promises
the elite Counter-Insurgency
cooperation.
• Chief Justice of India Jagdish and Jungle Warfare School of
Govt is considering the Singh Khehar said political the Indian Army.
introduction of a ‘no fly list’ parties should be held • It said the exercise was
accountable for the routinely aimed at training the troops
• Minister of State for Civil
unfulfilled promises made in in counter insurgency &
Aviation Jayant Sinha said the
their election manifestos. counter terrorism operations
government was considering
• Manifestos had become a under the United Nations
the introduction of a ‘no fly
mere piece of paper owing mandate.
list’ to deal with unruly
to the short-term memory of • India-Mongolia relations
passengers.
citizens, but the political have been on an upswing in
• “The Ministry of Civil
parties had to be made recent years, with the latter
Aviation is strengthening
accountable for the turning to New Delhi in

30 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
December 2016 for help after environment ministry allocate forest land for
China hiked transit tariffs on authority that clears requests Central projects, transferring
Mongolian trucks, as part of for diverting forest land for private or revenue land is
its action to protest Dalai projects, usually rejects or harder, time-consuming and
Lama’s visit to Mongolia. recommends a proposal, costly. The FAC has also
• Prime Minister Narendra sometimes with conditions, asked for the project’s main
Modi during his visit to for the diversion of forest canal to be re-aligned.
Mongolia in May 2015 had land.
PM wants to provide quality and
extended a credit line of $1 • FAC has refrained from
affordable healthcare
billion to Mongolia. explicitly giving its opinion
• The India-Mongolian bilateral either way and only • Prime Minister Narendra
ties have been growing seconded an earlier sub- Modi said his government
against the backdrop of the committee’s report that had was leaving no stone
communist country’s growing cleared the project subject unturned in providing quality
influence, and New Delhi’s to strict caveats. healthcare that was
efforts to find a balance. • Rs. 18,000 crore river accessible and affordable.
• The Indo-Mongolian military interlinking project requires • The Health Ministry had
exercise is taking place just 4,141 hectares of forest in the launched free drugs and
about 800 kilometers away heart of Panna Tiger reserve, diagnostics initiative to make
from Tawang—second and some more besides, to healthcare affordable while
highest seat of Tibetan build a dam and a 230-km undertaking a universal health
Buddhism and home to a canal to transfer water to screening in 100 districts for
historic monastery. several drought-afflicted hypertension, diabetes and
• On China’s insistence that the villages in Bundelkhand. breast, cervical and oral
next Dalai Lama be born in • As compensation for the cancers.
China, he said his followers pristine tiger habitat that • The World Health
will decide whether the would be inundated by the Organisation is focussing on
tradition continues or not, or project, the Water Ministry depression this year to raise
if his successor should be a had agreed to acquire about awareness on World Health
woman. 8,000 hectares of forest land Day.
from the Madhya Pradesh • According to WHO, suicide
Forest Advisory Committee
government and revive them is the leading cause of death
imposed conditions on Ken-
as forest. among young people
Betwa interlinking
• But the FAC said this land (between 20-40 age-group) in
• India’s apex forest advisory was not good enough as it India along with adolescents
body has imposed tough was fragmented, and, to (15-19 years).
conditions on the Ken-Betwa meaningfully revive a forest • India recently passed the
river interlinking project. that is part of tiger habitat, long-awaited Mental
• Given the ecological and the land acquired ought to be Healthcare Bill,
environmental impact posed contiguous. decriminalising suicide and
by the project, it had to pass • This would require, guaranteeing the rights to
multiple authorities for according to the FAC, better healthcare for people
clearance. A forest advisory “revenue lands/non-forest with mental illness.
clearance was seen to be the lands by way of purchase or • The Bill also has the provision
last step before the project otherwise by the project of a special clause for
was to begin. proponents and the women and children related
• The Forest Advisory government”. to admission, treatment,
Committee, apex • While a State can relatively sanitation and personal

http://www.iasexamportal.com 31
National Issues
hygiene; restriction on use of in-between. 303 plan until April 15, 2017.
Electro-Convulsive Therapy. • The information won’t be • Subscribers who bought the
available for every search Rs. 99 Prime membership till
IVRI in Bareilly in the process
result, and there may be April 15, 2017, with a plan of
of collecting DNA samples of all
conflicting conclusions in Rs. 303 or higher, were
wild animals
some cases, Google said in eligible for the ‘Jio Summer
• North India is all set to get the blog post. Surprise’ offer and its
its first DNA bank for wildlife. • Google has worked with 115 subscribers were entitled to
Scientists at the Indian fact-checking groups get free services for three
Veterinary Research Institute worldwide for the initiative, months, starting April 15.
(IVRI) in Bareilly are in the which began last year. • Customers who have
process of collecting DNA • People who search for a subscribed to the offer prior
samples of all wild animals topic in Google’s main to its discontinuation will
to set up the bank. search engine or the Google remain eligible for the offer.
• It is expected to help in News section will see a • Jio, through its free offers
research and also in bringing conclusion such as “mostly since September 5, 2016, has
down poaching. At present, true” or “false” next to stories notched up more than 100
the Laboratory for the that have been fact checked. million subscribers, of which
Conservation of Endangered • The move came a day after 72 million were willing to
Species (LaCONES) in Facebook added a new tool pay for Jio services as of
Hyderabad is the only such in news feeds to help users March 31, as they become
facility in the country. determine whether shared ‘Prime’ customers.
• So far, the scientists have stories are real or bogus. • After the extension, existing
collected 140 samples of 25 • Fake news became a serious players such as Bharti Airtel
wild animals. The DNA bank issue in last year’s U.S. and Idea Cellular moved the
is expected to start this year- election campaign, when telecom tribunal against TRAI
end. clearly fraudulent stories for letting Jio continue the
• It took one year for the IVRI circulated on social media, free promotional offer
to collect the DNA samples potentially swaying some beyond the stipulated 90
of animals such as tigers, voters. days.
leopards, lions, elephants, • The arrival of Reliance Jio
TRAI asked Reliance jio to
rhinos and deer, which are was followed by a
withdraw summer surprise
on the radar of poachers. consolidation in the industry,
offer
even as it spurred a fall in
Fact checking tag by google to
• Reliance Jio decided to profits for incumbent
fight fake news
withdraw its ‘Jio Summer operators.
• Google is adding a fact- Surprise’ offer after the • In March, Idea Cellular
checking tag to search results Telecom Regulatory merged with the Indian unit
globally, its latest initiative Authority of India (TRAI) of Vodafone Plc, making the
to help curb the spread of advised the Mukesh Ambani- entity India’s largest mobile
misinformation and “fake led firm to withdraw the telephony and data service
news,” the company said. three-month ‘complimentary’ provider.
• The new tags, to be used in offer. • Earlier, in February, Bharti
all languages for users • On March 31, Reliance Jio, Airtel bought the assets of
worldwide, will use third- which was expected to Telenor ASA’s India unit
party fact-checkers to charge for its services from while in September last year
indicate whether news items April 1, 2017, extended the Anil Ambani-led Reliance
are true, false or somewhere deadline for buying Jio’s Rs. Communications decided to

32 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
merge with Aircel. Ruppur nuclear power • While Indonesia, Bangladesh
• The Cellular Operators project of Bangladesh and and the Philippines did not
Association of India had said joint efforts to counter have significant reductions in
the current tariff war in the radicalism in Bangladesh the numbers of men smoking
market may not be would be other key areas daily compared to 1990
“sustainable for long.” during the bilateral talks. figures, the Philippines,
• India will also conclude a Germany, and India had no
West Bengal government is not
framework agreement on significant decreases in
yet on board on sharing of
civil nuclear cooperation smoking among women for
Teesta waters
with Bangladesh. the same period.
• The West Bengal government • Worldwide, between 1990
About 6.4 million deaths
is not yet fully on board on and 2015, smoking
worldwide was caused by
sharing of Teesta waters with prevalence decreased by
smoking in 2015
Bangladesh. almost a third — from 29.4%
• India remained committed to • A study has found that to 15.3%. But one in four men
dialogue on Teesta with smoking caused one in ten worldwide continue to
Bangladesh, but indicated deaths worldwide in 2015, smoke, as do one in 20
that the high point of the visit half of them in just four women.
of Prime Minister Sheikh countries: China, India, the • Population growth has led to
Hasina from April 7 to 10 is United States and Russia. an increase in the overall
likely to be defence and • About 6.4 million deaths number of smokers from
security agreements. worldwide was caused by 870.4 million in 1990 to 933.1
• Sheikh Hasina was likely to smoking in 2015 and 52.2% million in 2015, the study
hold talks with West Bengal of them took place in China, said.
CM during a special India, U.S. and Russia, • The study said Pakistan,
reception to be hosted by according to the latest Panama and India stand out
President Pranab Mukherjee estimates in the Global as three countries that have
at which the Chief Ministers Burden of Disease (GBD) implemented a large number
of other States bordering report. of tobacco control policies
Bangladesh have also been • China, India, and Indonesia, over the past decade and
invited. the three leading countries recorded marked declines in
• The visit, which is expected with male smokers, the prevalence of daily
to see 20 government-level accounted for 51•4% of the smoking.
agreements, is likely to be world’s male smokers in • The study said the Framework
dominated by the bilateral 2015. India has 11•2% of the Convention on Tobacco
defence pacts, which will world’s total smokers. Control (FCTC), is necessary
address Bangladesh’s needs. • Deaths attributable to and vital for creating policy
• A second agreement for $500 smoking increased by 4.7% environment for more
million will also be in 2015 from the figures in effective tobacco control
concluded to assist 1990 and smoking was rated worldwide but is not enough
Bangladesh to source some as a bigger burden on health to fully address each
of its military-grade — moving from the third to country’s tobacco-control
equipment from India. A the second highest cause of needs.
special MOU on training of disability, the study said. • The nations will need to both
Bangladesh military • The estimates are based on implement FCTC-stipulated
personnel is also included smoking habits in 195 measures and supplement
on the agenda. countries and territories such policies and
• India’s support for the between 1990 and 2015. programmes.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 33
National Issues
Department of Science and unprecedented challenges • Mr. Jaitley had said that the
Technology initiated Cyber and stresses to our consequences of not acting
Physical Systems programme demographic dividend.” on the GST Council’s
• Though India is only now recommendations would
• With autonomous vehicles
developing a programme on render the implementation of
and robot-executed surgeries
CPS, the National Science GST very difficult if not
becoming commonplace
Foundation of the United impossible.
around the world, the
States had identified it as a • The Finance Minister, during
Department of Science and
key area of inter-disciplinary his speech in the Upper
Technology (DST) has
research back in 2003. House, also explained the
initiated a Cyber Physical
need for multiple rates in the
Systems (CPS) programme. Four Bills essential for the
GST structure since luxury
• Still at a nascent stage, it has rollout of the Goods and
items and items of public
been conceived as a Rs. Services Tax paased
good and necessities cannot
3,000-crore exercise that
• The Rajya Sabha passed four be taxed under the same rate.
would, at first, take root in
Bills essential for the rollout
some of the Indian Institutes Kirti Chakra posthumously
of the Goods and Services
of Technology (IITs), conferred on Lance Havildar
Tax, the deadline for which
according to officials Prem Bahadur
is July 1. The Lok Sabha had
familiar with the project.
passed these Bills on March • Kirti Chakra, the second
• An initial budget of Rs. 100
29. highest peacetime gallantry
crore has been earmarked for
• One more piece of award, was posthumously
the project in the current
legislation, the State GST conferred on Lance Havildar
financial year.
Bill, will have to be passed Prem Bahadur Resmi Magar
• CPS is an interdisciplinary
by the legislative assemblies of Gorkha Rifles by President
field that deals with the
of States and Union Pranab Mukherjee at the
deployment of computer-
Territories with legislature. defence investiture
based systems that do things
• The passage of the Central ceremony.
in the physical world, such
GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill, • The late Lance Havildar
as, for instance, the self-
GST Compensation Bill, and eliminated four terrorists
driven cars produced by
the Union Territory GST Bills during an operation in
Google and Tesla.
followed a two-day debate in Jammu and Kashmir on June
• However, even smart grids as
the Rajya Sabha. 16 last year.
well as autonomous
• Opposition leaders raised • Mr. Mukherjee also presented
unmanned vehicles and
several objections to the 13 Shaurya Chakras.
aircraft navigation systems
Bills, many of which were
qualify as ‘cyber physical China says visit of Dalai Lama
similar to those raised in the
systems.’ severely damaged ties
Lok Sabha. These included
• Prime Minister Narendra
disempowerment of • The row between India and
Modi had referred to cyber
Parliament in setting tax rates China on the visit of the Dalai
physical systems earlier this
and the reason behind Lama to Arunachal Pradesh
year at the Indian Science
several tax rates. spiralled, with the Chinese
Congress in Tirupati.
• The Finance Minister, Foreign Ministry asserting
• Pointing out that it was an
however, pointed out the that the Tibetan leader’s visit
“important area that needed
importance of consensus to the State “will escalate the
to be addressed,” he had
when it comes to the dispute in border areas.”
noted that it had the
suggestions of the GST • China also lodged a protest
“potential to pose
Council.

34 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
with India’s Ambassador in • “that no person… shall two States are not breastfed
Beijing Vijay Gokhale. receive two lakh rupees or within the first hour of birth.
• China’s Foreign Ministry more, (a) in aggregate from • The analysis also observed
spokesperson HuaChunying a person in a day; (b) in one that almost two-thirds of
stressed, in response to a transaction; or (c) in children (63.5% in Bihar and
question at her regular transactions relating to one 69.9% in Jharkhand) aged 6-
briefing, that the Dalai Lama’s event or occasion from a 59 months were suffering
visit had “severely damaged” person, otherwise than by an from acute anaemia.
Sino-Indian ties. account payee cheque or • The prevalence of anaemia
• “India is keenly aware of the draft or through a bank among a high percentage of
role of the 14th Dalai Lama. account,” a statement said. pregnant women in the age-
Arranging this visit to the group of 15-49 years (62.6%
9 out of every 10 children aged
disputed areas not only runs in Jharkhand and 58.3% in
6-23 do not get an adequate diet
counter to India’s Bihar) further indicates that
in Bihar and Jharkhand
commitments on Tibet but juvenile anaemia is merely a
will escalate the dispute in • In Bihar and Jharkhand, nine manifestation of the
border areas,” she observed. out of every 10 children aged malnutrition-cycle
• According to her, India had 6-23 do not get an adequate transmitted through
acted “obstinately” by green- diet. The nutrition and health generations, thereby
lighting the visit, despite status of children in these extending the legacy of
repeated Chinese two States has been found to under-nutrition.
protests.Arunachal Pradesh is be “critically low” in • Further, the data on maternal
at the heart of the Sino-Indian comparison to the national health also revealed that only
boundary dispute in the standard. 9% of pregnant women in
eastern sector. • According to NFHS-4, 2015- Bihar and 15% of pregnant
• The dispute in this zone is 16 data, only 7.5% and 7.2% women in Jharkhand
over territory south of the of children in Bihar and consumed iron and folic acid
McMahon Line in Arunachal Jharkhand respectively in supplements for hundred
Pradesh, which includes this age group receive an days or more during
Tawang — which is on the adequate diet, according to pregnancy.
Dalai Lama’s itinerary. The a trend analysis of the NFHS- • On the positive side, both
McMahon Line was the result 4 data released by the NGO, Bihar and Jharkhand have
of the 1914 Simla Child Rights and You (CRY). done well in several child
Convention, between British • CRY’s findings indicate that health and nutrition
India and Tibet, and was inadequate provision of indicators such as
rejected by China. quality antenatal care, and institutional delivery,
the States’ failure to address immunisation, and treatment
Govt clarified on deposits and
the special nutritional of critical childhood
withdrawal limits
requirements of expecting diseases.
• The Rs. 2 lakh cap on cash and lactating mothers are
Govt wants BC commission to
transactions will not apply negatively affecting child
get constitutional status
to deposits in and health.
withdrawals from banks, the • The NFHS-4 data on child- • The Union government
government clarified, adding feeding practices and the introduced a new Bill in the
that capital expenditure of nutritional status of children Lok Sabha that seeks to
more than Rs. 10,000 will not further suggest that almost accord constitutional status
be eligible for depreciation two-thirds of children under to the Backward Classes
allowance. the age of 3 years in these Commission, which now has

http://www.iasexamportal.com 35
National Issues
only statutory powers. Affairs Minister Sushma organisations (VOs) in the
• This will bring the body, Swaraj said India would not country.
which looks after the part with any part of its • A Bench of Chief Justice J.S.
interests of Other Backward territory. Khehar and Justice D.Y.
Classes, on a par with that of • Ms. Swaraj recalled that both Chandrachud was informed
the Scheduled Castes and Houses of Parliament had that the Ministry of Rural
Tribes Commission, and give passed resolutions which Development framed the
powers to Parliament to reiterated India’s claims over accreditation guidelines to
designate castes as OBCs. Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir regulate “manner in which the
• The proposed commission and GilgitBaltistan and the VOs/NGOs, which are
will have a chairperson, vice- government was bound by it. recipient of grants, would
chairperson and three other • Ms. Swaraj said India had maintain their account.”
members and will hear the been opposed to such a • According to the guidelines,
grievances of socially and move and had communicated NITI Aayog has been
educationally backward its objection to Pakistan soon appointed as the nodal
classes, a function after the news became agency for the purpose of
discharged so far by the known. registration and
Scheduled Castes • India had remarked on the accreditation of VOs/NGOs
commission. issue on March 16 after a seeking funding from the
• At present, the functions of special committee of the Government of India.
the commission are limited to Pakistan government had • The Aayog has been also
examining the requests for suggested turning Gilgit- tasked with maintaining of
inclusion of any class of Baltistan into a province. database systems to manage
citizens as a backward class • The position of the and disseminate information
and hear complaints of over- government regarding relating to NGOs/VOs.
inclusion or under-inclusion Jammu and Kashmir is well • The existing portal at NITI
of any backward class in the known. The entire State of Aayog (NGO-Darpan) shall
existing quota and advise the Jammu and Kashmir acceded be strengthened and aligned
Central government. to India in 1947. It has been, with accreditation-like
• The Bill will require the is and will always be an functions which should also
support of two-thirds of the integral part of India. provide a snapshot of the
members of the House for its • A part of Jammu and Kashmir NGO with regard to its
passage.The Cabinet gave its has been under illegal ongoing and past work.
nod to the formation of the occupation of Pakistan. Any
Union govt says Dalai lama’s
new commission in a meeting unilateral step by Pakistan to
visit is only religious
headed by Prime Minister alter the status of that part
Narendra Modi. will have no basis in law and • As China stepped up its
will be completely protest against the Dalai
India says it has sovereignty
unacceptable. Lama’s visit to Arunachal
over Gilgit-Baltistan region
Pradesh, the Union
New guidelines for accreditation
• Responding to reports of a government fielded Minister
of 30 lakh NGOs handed over to
Pakistani move to declare of State for Home KirenRijiju
SC
Gilgit-Baltistan its new to make India’s stand clear.
province, India asserted its • The Centre handed over to • Mr. Rijiju saidthat the visit of
territorial sovereignty over the Supreme Court the new the Tibetan spiritual leader
the region. guidelines framed for was “purely religious” and
• Responding to questions in accreditation of nearly 30 “China shouldn’t interfere in
the Lok Sabha, External lakh NGOs and voluntary India’s internal matters.”

36 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
• China has objected to the 6,000 crore given to seven interest in de-escalating
Dalai Lama’s visit because lakh small and marginalised tensions between India and
Beijing considers Arunachal farmers which have turned Pakistan, U.S. Ambassador to
Pradesh its territory and has into non-performing assets. the U.N. Nikki Haley has said.
referred to the Dalai Lama as • The double decision will • “It’s absolutely right that this
“separatist leader.” benefit over 86 lakh small administration is concerned
• The Dalai Lama is on a week- and marginalised farmers in about the relationship
long tour of Arunachal the State who took loans until between India and Pakistan
Pradesh, where he will hold March 31, 2016. The total and very much wants to see
religious discourses in cost to the State exchequer how we de-escalate any sort
Tawang, Bomdila and other would amount to Rs. 36,000 of conflict going forward,”
areas. crore. she said in response to a
• He will also consecrate a • The decisions were passed in question.
gompa (Buddhist place of the first cabinet meeting • In response, External Affairs
learning) at Nafra, Mr. Rijiju’s called by the Chief Minister Ministry said, “Government’s
native village. after he assumed office two position for bilateral
• The Ministry of External weeks ago. redressal of all India-
Affairs has said the Dalai • The decisions are expected Pakistan issues in an
Lama has visited the State on to be passed in the Budget environment free of terror
six earlier occasions, from Session. Mr Singh described and violence hasn’t changed.
1983 to 2009, and “no the first cabinet meeting as • We, of course, expect
artificial controversy should the “beginning of the Sankalp international community and
be created over his present Patr agenda implementation.” organisations to enforce
visit.” • The government also said all international mechanisms
• The government has said on farmers having up to five and mandates concerning
several occasions that the acres of land will be counted terrorism emanating from
Dalai Lama is respected as a as small farmers while those Pakistan.”
religious leader by the Indian with 2.5 acres will be • India has always rejected
people. categorized as marginalised third party intervention in
• He said he had accompanied farmers. India-Pakistan relations, but
the Dalai Lama during his • The State will also set up U.S. has been a constant
visit to the State in 2009, and 5,000 centres for wheat factor between the countries.
then too, China protested procurement and will start • The U.S. pushes India to
vociferously. purchasing 40 lakh metric continue peace talks with
tonnes of wheat at Rs. 10 Pakistan while it pushes
Uttar Pradesh govt waived off
more than the minimum Pakistan to take more
loan worth rupees 31 thousand
support price per quintal. effective measures against
crores
• The government will directly terrorism.
• Taking a major step towards purchase the wheat on the • Concerns of nuclear
fulfilling its poll promises, basis of their Aadhaar cards terrorism added a new
the Yogi Adityanath without the involvement of dimension to the American
government in Uttar Pradesh middlemen. interest in India-Pakistan
on Tuesday announced the conflict in recent years.
India rules out third party
waiver of farm loans worth • Mr. Trump has offered to
interference in Indo-Pak
Rs. 30, 729 crore. Loans up mediate between the two
relations
to Rs. 1 lakh will be waived. countries if both wanted,
• The government will also • U.S. President Donald Trump which is closer to the existing
write off loans of around Rs. might take a proactive U.S. position. Mike Pence

http://www.iasexamportal.com 37
National Issues
was more upfront while he “consumption of beef is part found to be within caste.
was Vice President-elect in of personal eating habits and • Arranged marriage was also
December. nobody should have an the preference among the
• Any reversal of the existing objection”, while only 36% unmarried, with 50% saying
U.S. policy of non- agreed with it. they would like their parents
interference will be • However, 40% of non- to take the decision
counterproductive, said vegetarian Hindu youth and regarding their life partner.
Aparna Pande, Director, 90% of Left supporters had Only 12% expressed a
Initiative on the Future of no problem with beef preference for love marriage.
India and South Asia at consumption. • The survey also found Indian
Hudson Institute in • At the same time, the survey youth to be quite religious,
Washington. also found the majority of with 78% of the respondents
Indian youth (58%) to be non- stating that they prayed
Indian youth is becoming
vegetarian, while 30% and often, while 68% reported
modern in appearance but less
9% described themselves as going to a place of religious
modern in their thoughts
pure vegetarians and worship frequently.
• Indian youth are certainly “eggitarians” respectively.
IISc has been rated as the top
becoming more modern in • The illiberal orientation was
higher educational institution of
their appearance and further underscored in the
India
consumption habits, “but domain of interpersonal
their thoughts and views relations, with 67% of the • The Indian Institute of
reflect a troubling inclination youth opposed to live-in Science, Bengaluru, has been
towards intolerance and relationships. rated as the top higher
conservatism”, says a • On the question of inter- educational institution of
national survey. religious marriages, 45% India across disciplines, as
• The survey, jointly conducted were opposed to them, while per the first-ever overall
by the Centre for the Study only 28% were in support. ranking of institutions
of Developing Societies, The majority of the released by the Centre.
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung respondents (51%) agreed • The seven top IITs,
and Lokniti, covered 6,122 with the proposition that Jawaharlal Nehru University
respondents in the age group “wives should always listen (JNU) and Benaras Hindu
of 15-34. It was carried out to their husbands”. University (BHU) figure in the
in April-May 2016 in 19 • While acceptance for the top 10 among the 2,995
States. idea of inter-caste marriage institutions that participated
• Among the respondents, 49% had risen, from 31% in 2007 in the National Institutional
were in favour of the death to 55% in 2016, the reported Ranking Framework (NIRF),
penalty, while only 33% felt incidence of inter-caste 2017.
that it should be abolished. marriages among • IIT-Madras ranks second,
• An overwhelming 60%, respondents was only 4%. while JNU ranks sixth in the
cutting across religions, • Over 84% of the married all-India list. Releasing the
believed that films which hurt youth had had an arranged rankings, Human Resource
religious sentiments should marriage, compared to the Development Minister
be banned, with only 23% 6% that reported a love Prakash Javadekar said the
opposed to such bans. marriage. government would give more
• On the lately contentious • While one-third of those with grants to the institutions
subject of beef consumption, a love marriage had married ranked higher.
46% disagreed with the outside their caste, 97% of • However, the elite Indian
liberal sentiment that arranged marriages were Institutes of Management

38 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
have not performed too well, measurement of distance • The News Integrity Initiative
with IIM-Ahmedabad, the top from highways, Mr. Kaushal will launch with $14 million
business school, standing said aggrieved parties can from Facebook, the Ford
17th in the list. All other IIMs approach the committee Foundation, Mozilla and
rank below 20. constituted at the district others, based at the City
• There are separate lists level. University of New York’s
within disciplines for • If they aren’t satisfied with journalism school, which will
engineering, management the resolution, they can write coordinate research,
and pharmacy, and for to the Excise and Taxation projects and events.
universities and colleges. Commissioner or give a • Fake news became a serious
representation to the issue in the U.S. election
Besides the loss of revenue
government, he said. campaign, when clearly
lakhs of people could loose job
fraudulent stories circulated
due to SC order Six DU colleges made it to the
on social media, potentially
list of top 10 educational
• Besides loss of revenue to swaying some voters.
institutions
the Haryana exchequer • Concerns have been raised
running into several hundred • Six Delhi University (DU) since then about hoaxes and
crores, more than 50,000 colleges made it to the list misinformation affecting
people could lose their jobs of top 10 educational elections in Europe, with
in the face of the ban on bars institutions released under investigations showing how
and pubs along national and the National Institutional “click farms” generate
state highways. Ranking Framework (NIRF). revenue from online
• Hotel and Restaurant • While Miranda House was advertising using made-up
Association of Haryana ranked the best college in the news stories.
president Manbeer country, SRCC, which has • Facebook and Google have
Choudhary expressed consistently done well in stepped up efforts to root out
apprehension that the ranking surveys, came in misinformation, Mr. Jarvis
Haryana government could third best and Lady Shri Ram said, adding that helping the
lose around 20% of its Rs. College was adjudged the public understand the
5,200 crore excise revenue in sixth best in the country. difference between
the current financial year due • While St. Stephen’s College fraudulent news and serious
to the order. and Hindu College did not journalism will constitute an
• The State hospitality industry even figure in the list, Atma important element of the
hasn’t resorted to layoffs yet, Ram Sanatan Dharma College effort.
over 50,000 people could on South Campus was ranked • The initiative’s mission is “to
lose their jobs with bars the fifth best college in the advance news literacy, to
losing business. country, finishing above Lady increase trust in journalism
• Of the 478 bars in Haryana, Shri Ram College. around the world and to
194 are expected to be better inform the public
A global alliance of tech
affected by the Supreme conversation,” a statement
industry to fight fake news
Court order, according to said.
Haryana government • A global alliance of tech • Facebook and Google have
sources. Most of the affected industry and academic already taken steps to cut off
bars are located in Gurugram organisations unveiled plans advertising revenues to news
(106), followed by to work together to combat sites promoting
Faridabad(14) and Ambala the spread of “fake news” and misinformation.
(8). improve public • Facebook has also ramped
• On the dispute over understanding of journalism. up efforts to flag news stories

http://www.iasexamportal.com 39
National Issues
that may be false, and has worth Rs. 311 crore. • Inaugurating the country’s
launched a “journalism longest tunnel of 9.28 km in
Centre has sought public
project” that aims to support Jammu, Prime Minister
opinion on proposed
the news ecosystem. Narendra Modi asked
amendments to RTI Act
• In February, a group of 37 Kashmiri youth to make a
French and international • The Centre has sought public choice between tourism and
media outlets, supported by opinion on proposed terrorism.
Google, began “CrossCheck” amendments to the Right to • “Kashmiri youths have two
a fact-checking platform Information Act, with respect options, tourism and
aimed at detecting fake to the powers of the Central terrorism. For 40 years,
information that could affect Information Commission terrorism gave you nothing
the French presidential (CIC), filing of applications, but bloodshed, deaths and
election. complaints and appeals. destruction. Had you chosen
• The suggestions have to be tourism, the world would
Defence Acquisition Council
submitted to the Department have been at Kashmir’s feet,”
approved the purchase of Barak
of Personnel and Training by said Mr. Modi.
• The Defence Acquisition April 15. • Built at a cost of Rs. 3.720
Council (DAC) of the Defence • An amendment proposes that crore, the all-weather tunnel
Ministry approved the an applicant can file is an engineering feat, and
purchase of Barak surface-to- complaints within 135 days will reduce the travel time
air missiles (SAM) for the of filing the application under between Srinagar and Jammu
Navy among other proposals the Act, and in case of delay by two hours and bypass
estimated at Rs. 860 crore. a request for condonation several treacherous and
• Israeli-built Barak short-range will also have to be filed. landslide prone areas.
SAMs are installed on most • There is another provision • The Prime Minister said every
of the front-line warships, empowering the CIC to Indian dreams of visiting
including the aircraft carrier convert a complaint into a Kashmir. “More the tourists,
INS Vikramaditya . second appeal. the better it will be for the
• The new missiles are urgently • Thus, as proposed, it can economy. The entire country
needed to replace the current order the disclosure of is with Jammu and Kashmir
ones which have completed information on a complaint. if tourism is the focus,” he
their shelf life. The Commission can also stressed.
• Procurement of Barak allow an amendment to the • Mr. Modi said, “I want to tell
missiles was approved with complaint during the hearing, the Kashmiri youth what
a categorisation of “Buy if other remedies have been actually is the power of
Global” under the option exhausted. stones. On one side, youth in
clause from Rafael Advanced • Also, as suggested, the CIC Kashmir throw stone. On the
Defense Systems Ltd. has been given the power to other, people are giving their
• The other deals include decide if an appeal or a blood and sweat, cutting
procurement of expendable complaint can be withdrawn rocks for Kashmir's
Bathy thermograph systems on the applicant’s request. development.”
for the Navy to detect However, once the issue has • Describing the tunnel as “a
temperature changes under been decided, the big leap for J&K’s
water through the foreign withdrawal will not be development,” Mr. Modi said
military sales route from the allowed. it would be a boon for
U.S. and procurement of Kashmir's farmers and fruit
PM made appeal to Kashmiri
equipment to counter mines growers, whose produce will
youth to leave terrorism
in the sea, a repeat order, reach Delhi quickly without

40 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
spoiling. expressed any doubt on use parties as proposed in this
• He said the tunnel will be of EVMs in the election year’s Budget, Union Finance,
discussed not only in India process, strongly objecting Defence and Corporate
but also by climate activists to “wrong and imaginary Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley
in the world. “We have exploration” of the Court said.
worked to safeguard the order. • The Minister said the
Himayalas and the • Dismissing the allegations of government had sought
environment,” said Mr. Modi. EVM tampering, the EC said suggestions from all parties
• J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba various High Courts had also on the contours of the
Mufti described Mr. Modi a unequivocally reiterated that, scheme, including whether
“courageous leader” and given the effective technical such bonds should be issued
pushed for the initiation of a and administrative only during elections.
dialogue. safeguards, the voting • Mr. Jaitley defended the
machines could not be decision to lift the cap on
Election commission says
tampered and integrity of the corporate funds to political
EVM’s are temper proof
electoral process was fully parties and said it was an
• Asking the Aam Aadmi Party preserved. improvement from the
to introspect on why it did • On AAP’s contention that current situation, where
not perform as expected in some foreign countries had companies siphon funds
the Punjab Assembly polls, stopped using EVMs, the EC from their business activities
the Election Commission said said such comparisons were to fund parties with ‘unclean
the only alternative for both misplaced and money.’
verification of the results misguided as those used by • Till the 1970s and the early
was to file a petition before EC were stand-alone 80s, the bulk of political
the High Court. machines. funding in India used to come
• It reiterated that the • The EC said nothing could be from political workers going
electronic voting machines written on the chip after from home-to-home, shop-to-
(EVMs) were tamper-proof. manufacturing and so, the shop, cutting out vouchers
• It cited Rule 93 of the Conduct machines used in India were for small donations of Rs. 10,
of Elections Rules, 1961, to fundamentally different from Rs. 50 and Rs. 100.
say: “You are informed that those adopted in various • That amount now, because of
after declaration of result, foreign countries. inflation, can
only alternative available to • As regards the use of Voter increase.Stressing that a
verify the data of votes cast Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system where large parties
is to file an Election Petition (VVPAT) machines for further would get thousands and
before the High Court transparency and millions of supporters giving
concerned.” verifiability, the Commission donations online would be
• The rule states that while in said they would be deployed the cleanest way.
the custody of the district in a phased manner given the • Amendments to the Foreign
election officer or the financial constraints and Contribution (Regulation
returning officer, all the vital production capacity. Act) made last year to
documents related to the change rules that labelled an
The government will soon
elections cannot be opened Indian company as a foreign
launch the electoral bonds
by any person or authority, source of funds if it had some
scheme
except under the order of a NRI or foreign shareholders.
competent court. • The government will soon • Now when sectoral caps
• The Commission said the launch the electoral bonds have been lifted in almost
Supreme Court had never scheme to fund political every sector to 74% and

http://www.iasexamportal.com 41
National Issues
100%, you won’t find ten put in place a uniform older machines are nearing
donors in India who won’t regulation and a rating their 15-year life cycle, he
get covered by that mechanism for organisations said.
definition. providing home care • On December 7, 2016, the
• So, for instance, a telecom or services to senior citizens. Union Cabinet had approved
tobacco company doing a fresh tranche of Rs. 1,009
Election commission to buy
business in India — Indian crore for the EC to buy new
next-generation EVMs
company doing 100% EVMs so that it can phase out
business in India, but within • The Election Commission is the ageing ones before the
the meaning of FCRA would set to buy next-generation 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
be debarred. EVMs that will become • The Cabinet had also
“inoperable” the moment authorised the EC to vary the
Centre to bring law for proper
attempts are made to tamper quantity to be ordered on
maintenance of parents
with it. BEL and ECIL based on their
• The government is mulling • This move comes amid production capacity and
bringing legislative changes claims by some parties that performance.
to remove the monthly the machines were tampered
Grassoline — a biofuel derived
ceiling of Rs. 10,000 on the with during the recent
from grass that could one day
maintenance paid by Assembly polls.
power aircraft
children to parents and • The M3-type EVMs are also
introduce a rating mechanism equipped with a self- • In the quest of more
for organisations providing diagnostic system for sustainable energy sources,
home care services to the authentication of their scientists have developed
elderly. genuineness. These will come ‘grassoline’ — a biofuel
• If the proposed amendments with a public key interface- derived from grass that could
to the Maintenance and based mutual authentication one day power aircraft.
Welfare of Parents and Senior system. • Researchers investigated
Citizens (MWPSC) Act come • Only a “genuine” EVM — methods that can
through, the maintenance manufactured either by disintegrate and treat grass
amount to be decided by Electronics Corporation Of until it can be used as a fuel.
senior citizen tribunals for India Ltd. or Bharat “Due to its vast abundance,
the neglected parents will Electronics Ltd. — grass is the perfect source of
depend on their need and the “communicates” with other energy,” said Way Cern Khor
economic condition of their EVMs in the field. Any EVM from Ghent University in
children. manufactured by other Belgium.
• At present, the maintenance companies would not be • “Right now the amount of
for a parent or senior citizen able to do so. biofuel that can be made
that can be ordered by the • Around Rs. 1,940 crore from grass is still limited to
tribunal as payable by the (excluding freight and taxes) a few drops. The current
children or relative cannot be will be required to procure process is very expensive,
more than Rs. 10,000 a the new machines, which are and engines should be
month. likely to be introduced by adapted to this new kind of
• The MWPSC Act makes it a 2018, a year before when the fuel,” researchers said.
legal obligation for children next Lok Sabha elections, the • “If we can keep working on
and heirs to provide Law Ministry has said. optimising this process in
maintenance to senior • The EC has decided to cooperation with the
citizens and parents. replace 9,30,430 EVMs business world, we can come
• The Ministry also intends to purchased before 2006 as the down on the price. And

42 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
maybe in a few years we can for drought and cyclone commissioned officers
all fly on grass!” Khor said. relief. (Group A equivalence
• “Based on approval of the service) and AFHD CS
In a major crackdown, ED
High Level Committee (HLC), Officers (Group B Service) as
conducted searches on 300 shell
the Central government has no such precedence exists.”
companies
sanctioned Rs. 1,793 crore to • The letter suggested an
• In a major crackdown, the Tamil Nadu and Rs. 1,782 “unambiguous” functional
Enforcement Directorate crore to Karnataka for equivalence between
conducted searches on 300 drought relief from NDRF,” Lieutenant-Colonels and
shell companies across 16 the statement said. Directors in the Central
States on suspicion of large- government based on various
Parity between military officers
scale money laundering and observations, gazette
and their civilian counterparts
foreign exchange violations. notifications, court
to come
• The premises of some judgments.
professionals, the “brains” • The report of a government- • By this, a Lieutenant-Colonel
behind the operation of such appointed committee is or one of equivalent rank in
companies, were also expected to put an end to the the Army is equal to a
searched. contentious issue of parity Director, while a Colonel has
• The searches were between military officers and no civilian equivalent. A
conducted at 110 locations in their civilian counterparts in Brigadier is equivalent to a
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, the service headquarters. Principal Director.
Kolkata and Hyderabad, • The three-member committee
China asked India to exercise
among other places. was appointed to look into
“restraint”
• Some of the companies an order issued by the
searched were allegedly Defence Ministry “reiterating” • China asked India to exercise
involved in major money- the rank equation between “restraint” on its plan to link
laundering cases related to civilian officers and serving the strategic border district
the former Maharashtra military officers based on of Tawang in Arunachal
Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal, duties and functional Pradesh with a railway
the Andhra Pradesh responsibilities. network, saying any
Opposition leader Y.S. Jagan • By the order, a Principal “unilateral action” might
Mohan Reddy. Director is equivalent to a “complicate” the unresolved
• Galaxy Impex, Snowcity & Major-General, a Director is border issue.
Co, B.K. Electro Tool equivalent to a Brigadier and • “China’s position on the
products, Green a Joint Director to a colonel. eastern section of China —
International, Metal Tradus • This led to severe displeasure India boundary is consistent
and Horizon Trading were in the services, which see the and clear. At present, the two
the six firms searched. order as effectively lowering sides are working to resolve
the status of their officers. the territorial dispute through
Financial assistance of 3,000
• Serving and retired military negotiation and
crore from NDRF to Tamil Nadu
officers have questioned the consultation,” China said.
and Karnataka
order, citing past orders, • The Centre has asked Minister
• The Central government will court orders and other of State for Railways Manoj
provide financial assistance reports. Sinha and Minister of State
of around Rs. 3,000 crore • One of the communications for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju,
from the National Disaster sent to the panel said, “No who represents the Arunachal
Response Fund (NDRF) to equivalence can be West Lok Sabha constituency,
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka established between to explore the feasibility of

http://www.iasexamportal.com 43
National Issues
a rail network. cannot be ignored. Drunken done holding the ears), said
• The two Ministers will tour driving is a potent source of a senior official while listing
the State to study the viability fatalities and injuries in road out the dos and don’ts.
of connecting Tawang with accidents. • The fresh guidelines were
Bhalukpong, the last station • The Constitution preserves issued after the intervention
of the Railways on Assam, and protects the right to life of Chief Minister Yogi
and to start the final location as an over-arching Adityanath amid reports of
survey of a new broad gauge constitutional value,” the 32- alleged harassment by anti-
line. page clarification order Romeo squads.
• Tawang, where the sixth observed. • The Chief Minister has also
Dalai Lama was born in 1683, • The court said its duty to directed administrative and
is at the centre of Tibetan protect public health and police officials in districts to
Buddhism and a friction point safety clearly overrides the regularly review the steps
between India and China. interests of liquor traders. being taken for women
• China has in recent days • The December verdict had security and inform senior
upped its rhetoric on claims directed the States and Union officials on a regular basis,
to Arunachal Pradesh, which Territories to stop the grant the official said.
it says is Southern Tibet, and of licences to establishments • Stressing that his government
even warned India of located within 500 metres of was firm on upholding the
“serious damage” to ties if National and State Highways. security and dignity of
New Delhi allows the Dalai April 1, 2017 was fixed as the women, the CM said a State-
Lama to visit the State next date for phasing out existing wide drive has been
week. liquor licences. launched to free public
places of anti-social
SC clarified its verdict on Anti-Romeo squad in UP asked
elements and check incidents
making National and State to use only lawfull means
of eve-teasing and indecent
Highways liquor-free zones
• The Uttar Pradesh police behaviour.
• Supreme Court clarified that were directed by the State
SC ordered to declare children
its prohibition on the sale of government to ensure that its
affected by HIV as a
liquor within a distance of anti-Romeo squads do not
‘disadvantaged group’
500 metres from the outer resort to blackening of the
edge of these main face or “murga” position type • Supreme Court ordered State
thoroughfares is not punishments in the name of governments to consider
restricted to liquor shops protecting women. issuing a notification under
alone but also includes other • The move by the government the Right to Education law,
larger establishments. comes amid outrage over the declaring children living
• The court said exempting way the squads have with/affected by HIV as a
establishments other than punished loitering men on the ‘disadvantaged group’
shops involved in sale of streets and a day after the • It will allow them to get
liquor, which include bar- Allahabad High Court additional rights to help them
attached hotels and beer directed it to ensure that gain free and compulsory
parlours dotting highways, guidelines were followed by education, a fundamental
would amount to dilution of the police teams. right under the Constitution.
the objective of its December • There should be no shaving • A Bench of Chief Justice of
15 judgment. of heads, blackening of faces India J.S. Khehar and D.Y.
• “The pernicious nature of the or “murga pose” (a stress Chandrachud gave States four
sale of liquor along the position used as a corporal weeks to issue the
National and State Highways punishment where sit-ups are notification under Section 2

44 http://www.iasexamportal.com
National Issues
(d) of The Right of Children • The court however noted that Newcastle University in the
to Free and Compulsory at least 11 States have already U.K. identified two patients
Education Act of 2009. issued the notification. with bronchiectasis who
• Act mandates the State • According to NACO suffered with chronic
governments concerned to estimates in 2012-2013, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
issue a notification that a around 20.9 lakh people infections that were resistant
child belongs to a were living with HIV in 2011. to many antibiotics.
disadvantaged group based Children less than 15 years of • Bronchiectasis is a disease
on reasons ranging from age account for seven that leads to permanent
caste, social, cultural, percent (1.45 lakh) of all enlargement of the airways in
linguistic, geographical, infections. the lung.
gender, etc. • Symptoms are debilitating
Scientists found an unusual
• The Act makes education for patients, and typically
approach of removing
compulsory for children include a chronic cough,
antibodies from the blood
between six and 14 years of shortness of breath, coughing
age. • Scientists have found that an up blood, and chest pain.
• The Bench ordered that those unusual approach of Bronchiectasis often affects
States which are “unwilling” removing antibodies from the patients beyond the age at
to issue a notification under blood stream could reduce which lung transplantation is
Section 2 (d) should file an chronic infections, an possible.
affidavit “explaining why advance that may help • Chronic Pseudomonas
they consider it unnecessary” humans in the fight against aeruginosa lung infections
to inform that children living drug resistant superbugs. commonly occur in patients
with HIV do not belong to a • Researchers from the suffering from
disadvantaged group. University of Birmingham and bronchiectasis.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 45
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International Issues

INTERNATIONAL ISSUES
UAE hardened military into • The forces merged together has prohibited parents from
Africa and elsewhere in the into a national military force choosing names like
Middle East that took part in the 1991 “Muhammad,” “Arafat” and
U.S.-led Gulf War that “Jihad” for their children.
• The United Arab Emirates is
expelled Iraqi forces • The ban, introduced this
better known for its
occupying Kuwait. month, as part of an effort to
skyscrapers and pampered
• The UAE sent troops to “curb religious fervour” in the
luxuries, but its small size
Kosovo as part of the NATO- western region of Xinjiang,
belies a quiet expansion of
led peacekeeping mission home to more than 10
its battle—hardened military
there starting in 1999, giving million Uighurs.
into Africa and elsewhere in
its forces valuable • The government considers
the Middle East.
experience. Xinjiang a hotbed of Islamic
• The seven-state federation
• Following the September 11, extremism, violence and
ranks as one of Washington’s
2001, attacks, it deployed separatist thought. But many
most prominent Arab allies in
special forces troops in Uighurs say the government’s
the fight against the Islamic
Afghanistan to support the strict limits on worship and
State group, hosting some
U.S.-led war against the speech are responsible for
5,000 American military
Taliban. Today, the UAE hosts tensions in the region.
personnel, fighter jets and
Western forces at its military • The list of names, a copy of
drones.
bases, including American which was provided to The
• But the practice gunfire
and French troops. New York Times by Uighur
echoing through the deserts
activists, is titled, “List of
near bases outside of Dubai Japanese Prime Minister
Banned Ethnic Minority
and recent military Shinzo Abe is to visit Moscow
Names.” It bans more than
demonstrations in the capital
• Japanese Prime Minister two dozen names, including
of Abu Dhabi show a country
Shinzo Abe is to visit “Mujahid” and “Medina.”
increasingly willing to flex its
Moscow to meet with • Rights advocates said the ban
own muscle amid its
Russian President Vladimir showed the lengths to which
suspicions about Iran.
Putin and pursue talks on the government would go to
• Already, the UAE has landed
joint economic projects limit the civil liberties of
expeditionary forces in
aimed at a possible Uighurs in the name of
Afghanistan and Yemen. Its
breakthrough in their fighting terrorism.
new overseas bases on the
decades-old island dispute.
African continent show this French presidential election to
• He will visit Britain next for
country. decide country's future
talks with Prime Minister
• The UAE, a federation of
Theresa May. • A pregnant silence enveloped
seven sheikhdoms, only
Paris, a day of quiet before
became a country in 1971. It China bans some muslim
the French people vote on
had been a British names in western China
Sunday in the first round of
protectorate for decades and
• The Chinese government, the presidential election.
several of the emirates had
further tightening its grip on • The city appeared to be
their own security forces.
Muslims in western China, quietly recovering from gun

46 http://www.iasexamportal.com
International Issues
battle on Champs Elysees Pushpa Kamal Dahal belief in gender equality and
and preparing for the poll. ‘Prachanda’, even as five a four-year qualification
Two of the 11 candidates will political parties from period.
make it to the May 7 run-off. Nepal’s plains united to form • Candidates for citizenship
• The mood of the country with a single platform. will be required to be
its 10% unemployment rate, • The new shift is a significant permanent residents for four
disillusionment with the development in view of the years against the current one-
political class and multiple earlier Madhesi position on year period. They will also
terrorist attacks, coupled boycotting the three-tier need to demonstrate a job
with the number of viable elections to be held in Nepal. record and how they have
candidates, has kept the first • The discussion between two integrated into the local
round vote significantly more sides that began is likely to community.
open than it has been in continue. There are • The current “civics” test for
recent history. unconfirmed reports that a would-be Australians would
• Francois Hollande, the sitting high-level special envoy from be expanded to include
President, facing single digit New Delhi has also reached issues such as domestic
approval ratings, decided Kathmandu to assist the violence, Immigration
late last year not to run for negotiations. Minister Peter Dutton said.
another term. By then, it was • The unification of the • Some 1,14,109 people sat the
too late for any candidate political parties took place Australian citizenship test in
from Mr. Hollande’s Socialist a few days after Nepal’s 2014-15, with 1,12,474
party to consolidate the left’s Foreign Minister Prakash passing it, according to the
support. Sharan Mahat said that the latest immigration figures.
• There are four serious Madhesi parties are
China wants India’s
contenders in the race — Mr. unprepared to face the
participation in the Belt and
Macron, Ms. Le Pen, Mr. electorate.
Road connectivity initiative
Fillon and Mr. Melenchon.
Tougher requirements to gain
Mr. Macron, who is • China reinforced its call for
citizenship of Australia
perceived as a “bit of left, India’s participation in the
and a bit of right”, is, • Canberra unveiled plans to Belt and Road connectivity
according to polls, set to win put “Australian values” at the initiative, telling that the
the run-off. heart of tougher requirements China-Pakistan Economic
to gain citizenship, days Corridor (CPEC), on which
Madhesis declared that they
after scrapping a visa India has its reservations,
would participate in the
programme for temporary was not linked to the Kashmir
upcoming elections
foreign workers. issue.
• Marking a major shift in • The moves came against a • India has objected to the
strategy, agitators from background of growing CPEC as it passes through
Nepal’s plains declared that populist pressure and a Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
they would participate in the resurgence of the anti- But Mr. Wang said that
upcoming elections if immigration One Nation China’s stance on CPEC
Kathmandu addresses “some” party led by Pauline Hanson. projects “had no relationship
of the concerns about • These fundamental values are with the [Kashmir] dispute”.
constitutional amendments. what make us Australian. Our • Mr. Wang pointed out that
• This was discussed in a citizenship process should China had even earlier taken
meeting between the reflect that. up projects, like the
Madhesi leaders and the • The new requirements Karakoram highway, in the
government of Prime Minister include competent English, area. They, however, did not

http://www.iasexamportal.com 47
International Issues
have any bearing on China’s • The referendum was seen as mushroom cloud and
position on Kashmir. crucial not just for shaping towering flames.
• “I want to mention that the the political system of Turkey • Mr. Shinwari said American
CPEC is economic, and for but also the future strategic and Afghan ground forces
the purpose of serving direction of a nation that has were slowly advancing on
economic cooperation and been a NATO member since the mountainous area
development. It has no direct 1952 and an EU hopeful for blanketed with landmines,
link with political or border half a century. but there were still some
disputes.” • The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41% pockets of resistance from
• Referring to the Bangladesh- in referendum and ‘No’ insurgents.
China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) 48.59, according to near- • Security experts say IS had
economic corridor — one of complete results released by built their hideouts close to
the major economic the election authorities. civilian homes, but the
corridors China is planning in • Mr. Erdogan’s victory was far government said thousands
its neighbourhood — Mr. tighter than expected, of local families had already
Wang said that the four emerging only after several fled the area in recent months
countries are ready to nail-biting hours late Sunday of fighting.
advance it within the which saw the ‘No’ result
Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution
framework of Belt and Road. dramatically catch up in the
condeming Syria
later count.
Turkish referendum gave
• The new system is due to • Russia vetoed a U.N.
sweeping powers to President
come into effect after resolution that would have
• The referendum was seen as elections in November 2019. condemned the reported use
crucial not just for shaping of chemical weapons in a
Mother of all bombs did huge
the political system of Turkey town in northern Syria and
damage to the IS
but also the future strategic demanded a speedy
direction of a nation that has • Afghan authorities reported a investigation.
been a NATO member since jump in fatalities from the • The vote on the Security
1952 and an EU hopeful for American military’s largest Council resolution drafted by
half a century. non-nuclear bomb, declaring Britain, France and the United
• The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41% some 90 Islamic State States was 10 in favour,
in referendum and ‘No’ fighters dead, as U.S.-led Russia and Bolivia against,
48.59, according to near- ground forces advanced on and China, Kazakhstan and
complete results released by their mountain hideouts. Ethiopia abstaining.
the election authorities. • Dubbed the ‘Mother Of All • It was the eighth veto by
• Mr. Erdogan’s victory was far Bombs’, the GBU-43/B Russia, a close ally of Syrian
tighter than expected, Massive Ordnance Air Blast President Bashar Assad, on a
emerging only after several was unleashed in combat for Western-backed Syria
nail-biting hours late Sunday the first time, hitting IS resolution and reflected the
which saw the ‘No’ result positions in a remote area of division that has left the UN
dramatically catch up in the eastern Nangarhar province. body struggling to tackle the
later count. • The bomb smashed the use of banned chemical
• The new system is due to terrorist organisation’s weapons.
come into effect after hideouts, a tunnel-and-cave
US President changes his stand
elections in November 2019. complex that had been
on NATO
mined against conventional
Turkish referendum gave
ground attacks, engulfing the • The North Atlantic Treaty
sweeping powers to President
remote area in a huge

48 http://www.iasexamportal.com
International Issues
Organization (NATO), the • Chinese President Xi urged chemical attack in Syria that
military alliance of the U.S., Donald Trump to peacefully left 89 people dead.
Canada, 25 European resolve raging tensions over • The U.S. and its allies hold
countries and Turkey, is the North Korea’s nuclear Syrian President Bhashar al-
“the bulwark of international programme after the U.S. Assad responsible for the
peace and security”, President warned that attacks.
President Donald Trump Washington would “solve the • The G7 also lent support to
said. problem” on its own if the U.S. for its attack on the
• “I said it’s obsolete. Now it’s Beijing did not rein in its Syrian government-
no longer obsolete,” Mr. close ally. controlled Shayrat airfield in
Trump said, overturning a • Mr. Xi spoke over phone to Homs province.
campaign position that drew Mr. Trump as a U.S. aircraft • While the G7 united to
intense criticism from carrier strike group led by isolate Mr. Assad
Democrats and Republicans. the USS Carl Vinson churned diplomatically and urged
• Mr. Trump has also reversed towards the Korean Russia to do the same, no
his positions on China, Syria peninsula, raising regional agreement was reached on
and Russia in recent days, tensions. sanctions against Russia.
aligning his thinking closer to • He said that China sticks to • Some experts believe that the
U.S. orthodoxy. the target of the chemical attack and the U.S.
• The President’s supporters denuclearisation of the strike may not change the
point out that because of his Korean Peninsula and that situation in Syria
tough stance, partner China is committed to peace dramatically.
countries have committed and stability of the peninsula.
Nepal Govt tabled a new
more spending and the • China holds that the issue
Constitutional amendment bill
alliance is reorienting itself should be solved through
towards fighting the Islamic peaceful means, said Mr. Xi. • The Nepal government tabled
State. • Mr. Trump has repeatedly a new Constitution
• NATO has been involved in called on China to do more amendment Bill in Parliament
the war on terror for long, to rein in its reclusive to address the demands of
however. The only time the neighbour and close ally, the agitating Madhesi parties
alliance has invoked its which has stepped up its which are demanding more
principle that an attack on missile development and representation and re-
one is an attack on all was nuclear programme since demarcation of state
after the September 11, 2001 2016. boundaries.
terror attack on the U.S. • Mr. Xi’s phone call came after • According to the new Bill,
NATO has recently started Mr. Trump turned to Twitter the government may form a
training Iraqi troops to to vent his frustrations over federal commission to
combat the IS. North Korea’s provocative recommend it on the issues
• Member countries have also behaviour. relating to the number of
expressed willingness to provinces and their
G7 spoke against chemical
increase defence spending. boundaries.
attack in Syria
Only five of the 28 members • A Cabinet meeting endorsed
now meet the target of 2% of • Foreign Ministers of the the new Bill with a view to
GDP on defence expenditure. Group of Seven (G7) addressing the demands of
countries and several other agitating Madhes-based
Chinese President urged US
West Asian countries spoke parties and bringing them on
counterpart to peacefully
with one voice at a meeting board the local polls
resolve North Korea issue
in Lucca, Italy, condemning scheduled for May 14.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 49
International Issues
• The draft law aims to address broken out near the border have welcomed the change.
some of the key demands between Myanmar’s army • Some allies renewed their
raised by United Democratic and ethnic insurgents. calls for a leadership change
Madhesi Front. in Damascus, although
Changed approach by US
officials in the Trump
China and Myanmar agreed a towards Syria throws many
administration did not
deal on a crude oil pipeline challenges
portray the strikes as the
• China and Myanmar agreed • President Donald Trump’s start of a broader campaign.
a deal on a crude oil pipeline decision to strike Syria has • In Turkey, which has long
between the neighbouring upended assumptions about backed Syrian rebels in their
countries as part of a raft of U.S. military involvement in effort to topple Assad,
agreements signed when the Middle East, angering President Recep Tayyip
their leaders met in Beijing. adversaries and raising Erdogan told a rally that he
• The countries signed an hopes among allies. supported the attack but
agreement on a partially- • The swift decision, by a wanted further action.
completed crude oil pipeline President who had • He called for the
between western Myanmar’s previously shown no interest establishment of “safe zones”
Kyaukpyu port and southern in entering conflicts like inside Syria, an idea
China’s Kunming city. Syria’s, set Mr. Trump apart considered but ultimately
• The two leaders also from his predecessor’s far rejected by the Mr. Obama
discussed the development more cautious approach to administration.
of the controversial Myitsone the war. • In Israel, which has kept its
dam, a $3.6 billion Beijing- • The missile strikes on a distance from the war raging
backed project on hold since Syrian airfield inflicted only across its northern border,
protests in 2011, Mr. Liu told minor damage and are Prime Minister Benjamin
reporters after the summit. unlikely to change the Netanyahu said the strikes
• At the time Myitsone — dynamics of a complex sent a clear message against
originally designed to supply conflict that rages on local, the spread of chemical
most of its electricity to regional and global levels. weapons.
China — was seen as • On the ground, it pits an
United states targeted a Syrian
emblematic of Beijing’s array of rebel groups against
airbase
economic dominance over its the Syrian President Bashar
southern neighbour. al-Assad. Supporting the • The U.S. targeted a Syrian
• China has been pressing for rebels are nations such as airbase controlled by the
its resumption ever since, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, country’s beleaguered
despite speculation that the who oppose Mr. Assad and President Bashar al-Assad,
project might be scrapped his ally, Iran. making a dramatic
altogether. • The war has also entangled turnaround in American
• The two countries signed Russia and the United States, policy.
nine cooperative agreements and sent shock waves through • Former President Barack
on areas spanning public Europe, which streams of Obama had turned back from
health, sports and Syrian refugees have fled to. military intervention against
transportation. • Russia and Iran, who back the Assad regime in 2013 and
• China also expressed its the Syrian government, have President Donald Trump has
support for Myanmar’s responded angrily to the been opposed to U.S.
efforts to maintain stability in strikes, while allies who involvement in the Syrian
northern part of the country, criticised President Barack civil war.
where deadly clashes have Obama’s cautious approach • A chemical attack on the

50 http://www.iasexamportal.com
International Issues
rebel town of Khan Sheikhoun ambassador Kim Hyong-Jun President tweeted last
that killed 80 people earlier as saying. month.
in the week changed his • Mr. Trumppledged to • China has tightened sanctions
mind, Mr. Trump said. Japanese Prime Minister on North Korea in recent
• Damascus and its ally Shinzo Abe that the U.S. months but it has not touched
Moscow furiously would “continue to the oil supply to it. “China
condemned the American air strengthen its ability to deter has its own North Korea
strike on a Syrian airbase that and defend itself and its policy, independent of what
marked the first direct U.S. allies with the full range of the U.S. might want.”
assault on President Bashar its military capabilities,” a • The One-China policy and
al-Assad’s government. day after Pyongyang fired a trade will be the other two
• Mr. Assad’s office called the ballistic missile into the Sea issues that could dominate
strike “foolish and of Japan. the talks between the two
irresponsible”. Moscow • North Korea’s Foreign leaders. Mr. Gupta said there
announced a series of Ministry assailed Washington would be a number of
retaliatory steps, including for its tough talk and for an disquieting undercurrents in
plans to strengthen Syrian air ongoing joint military America’s Taiwan policy
defences. exercise with South Korea from China’s point of view”.
• At a Security Council and Japan. • Trade and economic issues
emergency session, Russia could also lead to what Mr.
First meeting between Trump
branded the air strikes a Trump has described as
and Xi
“flagrant violation of “difficult” talks with Mr. Xi.
international law and an act • President Donald Trump’s • But on this, the U.S. President
of aggression” against Syria. first meeting with Chinese will be more thoughtful and
• UN envoy Staffan de Mistura President Xi Jinping could be planned, compared to the
announced the UN-backed the beginning of a urgency he is showing about
ceasefire taskforce on Syria reorientation of bilateral ties. the North Korean threat.
that is co-chaired by Moscow • North Korea test-fired a
Trump administration to
and Washington would meet ballistic missile into the sea
enforce laws related to H-1B
at Russia's request. off its east coast. The missile
programme
flew about 60 km from its
North Korea says it is ready to
launch site at Sinpo, a port • U.S. administration will
fight with US
city on the east coast, South enforce the laws related to
• North Korea is ready to Korea said. Sinpo is home to the H-1B visa programme that
deliver the “most ruthless a North submarine base. went unenforced until now,
blow” if provoked by the • The Secretary of State had the White House said even as
United States, its ambassador said last month that military the Justice Department
to Moscow said, after options to neutralise North warned companies against
President Donald Trump Korea’s nuclear capability using the programme to
pledged to keep building up were on the table. displace American workers.
defences against Pyongyang. • Mr. Trump has repeatedly • As this year’s application
• “Our Army has already said blamed China for not taking process for H-1B visas
that if there will be even the effective measures to rein in began, USCIS announced a
smallest provocation from Pyongyang. “North Korea is slew of measures to crack
the United States during behaving very badly. They down on companies that
exercises, we are ready to have been ‘playing’ the might be misusing the
deliver the most ruthless United States for years. China programme, including more
blow,” Interfax quoted has done little to help,” the stringent checks at sites

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International Issues
where H-1B workers are saying. battlefield just as rebel
employed. • The national anti-terrorism forces were strengthening
• “The H-1B visa programme committee (NAK) said in a their hold on key areas.
should help U.S. companies statement carried by Russian • Russian bombardments
recruit highly-skilled foreign agencies that such a device helped the regime retake
nationals when there is a was “found and neutralised in rebel areas in the east of the
shortage of qualified workers a timely fashion” at the northern city of Aleppo after
in the country. Vosstaniya Square station. four years of fighting.
• Yet, too many American • The St. Petersburg subway • More than 310,000 people
workers who are as immediately shut down all of have been killed in Syria
qualified, willing, and its stations and the national since the conflict broke out
deserving to work in these anti-terrorism body said in March 2011 with protests
fields have been ignored or security measures would be against Mr. Assad’s rule.
unfairly disadvantaged. tightened at all key transport
Pakistan resumed its mass
• Protecting American workers facilities across Russia.
repatriation of Afghan refugees
by combating fraud in our • Russian President Vladimir
employment-based Putin was in St. Petersburg • Pakistan resumed its mass
immigration programmes is a for talks with Belarusian repatriation of Afghan
priority for the USCIS,” the President Alexander refugees despite past
agency said in a statement. Lukashenko. He went ahead accusations of coercion in
• The USCIS, the agency with the talks after appearing the supposedly voluntary UN
responsible for selecting the on Russian television to programme to return
85,000 H-IB beneficiaries, speak about the attack. hundreds of thousands to a
also clarified, purportedly • No group has immediately war-torn nation.
for administrative reasons, claimed responsibility for • The operation, which saw
that computer programmers the attack. But Russia’s 3,80,000 registered refugees
with two-year degrees do not Investigative Committee said sent back from Pakistan in
qualify for speciality it was probing a suspected 2016, was halted in
occupation as defined by the “act of terror”. December for a routine
programme. • “Despite the fact that a winter break.
• In a third statement from the criminal case under article • The UN had cut its cash grant
administration on Monday, 205 of the Criminal Code (act for returnees from $400 to
the Justice Department said of terror) has been opened, $200, she confirmed, citing
it would not tolerate the investigation intends on “financial constraints facing
employers misusing the H-1B verifying all other possible humanitarian operations
visa process to discriminate versions of this incident,” the worldwide”.
against U.S. workers. committee said in a • The grant was doubled in
statement. 2016 and became a factor in
Saint Petersburg metro station
• Russia’s public transportation the surge of returnees across
probed as act of terror
systems have been targeted the border to Afghanistan
• An unexploded device was in the past. In 2013, Russia after July last year, the UN
found at a second Saint was hit by twin suicide has said.
Petersburg metro station after strikes that claimed 34 lives. • But fears of a crackdown by
a blast in the underground • Russia has intervened Pakistan on refugees, many of
that killed 10 people and militarily to bolster Syrian whom left Afghanistan
injured dozens, local news President Bashar al-Assad’s decades ago, also
agencies cited Russia’s anti- forces in September 2015, contributed.
terrorism committee as turning the tables on the • Human Rights Watch in a

52 http://www.iasexamportal.com
International Issues
scathing report in February other dam projects in return, produces now, according to
accused Pakistan of a compromise her govt has some estimates, but would
coercion, threats and abuse floated, they are likely to still not cure the country’s
in the mass repatriation, and impinge on disputed ethnic chronic energy shortages.
the UN of complicity. areas where they could U.S. not pressing for Bashar
• Some 4.2 million Afghan threaten the peace talks she Al-Assad of Syria to leave
refugees have returned to has championed since her power
Afghanistan voluntarily under political party came to
• U.S. President Donald Trump
the UNHCR-funded Voluntary power last year.
has abandoned the goal of
Repatriation programme • The Myitsone Dam is among
pressing President Bashar Al-
since 2002. the largest of many Chinese-
Assad of Syria to leave
• But UNHCR and Pakistani financed energy and mining
power, marking a sharp
officials have said some 1.34 projects approved by the
departure from the policy
million registered refugees military junta that ruled
that guided the Obama
still live in Pakistan. Myanmar until 2011.
administration for more than
• It is especially contentious
Decision on Myitsone dam to five years.
because it would be the first
come soon • “The United States has
dam to cross the Irrawaddy
profound priorities in Syria
• A government-appointed River, the mythic cradle of
and Iraq, and we’ve made it
commission is to soon make civilisation for Myanmar’s
clear that counterterrorism,
a recommendation on the fate ethnic Burman majority.
particularly the defeat of ISIS,
of the $3.6 billion, China- • Dam would provide
is foremost among those
financed Myitsone Dam in Myanmar much-needed cash
priorities,” the White House
Myanmar. and electricity, critics said it
press secretary said.
• The decision is a daunting would cause irreparable
• In a sense, Mr. Spicer’s
test for Aung San Suu Kyi, harm to the river, destroy fish
comments — and similar
who risks angering China, the stocks downstream and
comments by Secretary of
region’s economic displace thousands of
State Rex Tillerson and Nikki
powerhouse, if she cancels villagers.
R. Haley, have merely made
the project, or the public if • But perhaps the most
explicit an assumption that
she lets it go forward. incendiary objection was
has guided the Trump
• Analysts say the that under the deal struck by
administration’s policy
commission’s report would the ruling generals, 90% of
toward the region in recent
provide her the political the dam’s electricity could go
months.
cover to kill an unpopular to China.
• During the presidential
white elephant that she • In 2011, the military-backed
campaign, Mr. Trump had
inherited from Myanmar’s transitional government
said that while he did not like
former military government. yielded to public pressure
Mr. Assad, he was glad the
• But getting out of the deal and suspended the project,
Syrian leader was “killing
would be difficult. If her the decision coming as a
ISIS”.
government cancels the shock to Chinese officials
• Since taking office, however,
project outright, it could and businessmen.
Mr. Trump has shied away
have to repay some $800 • The Myitsone was meant to
from forging a military
million that the state-owned be the first and largest of
alliance in Syria with Russia,
Chinese developer says it seven dams planned by the
let alone with Mr. Assad.
has already spent on the Chinese developer.
• Instead, the administration’s
project. • It would generate more
single-minded focus has been
• If Myanmar offers China power than the entire country

http://www.iasexamportal.com 53
International Issues
to help Syrian fighters oust surplus with only five. Commissioner to the U.K.
the IS from the northern city • With China, the U.S. had a Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha
of Raqqa. deficit of $347 billion in said.
2016. The review will be to • While Britain is unable to
India is among the 16 target
assess whether deficit is negotiate free trade deals
countries in a review of trade
being caused by cheating, with other nations in the EU
ties by US
specific trade agreements, until its exit is concluded in
• India is among the 16 target lax enforcement or World March 2019.
countries in a review of trade Trade Organization rules. • The country has made clear
ties that President Donald • Mr. Navarro has been a long its eagerness to forge
Trump was scheduled to time critic of China, but on international trade accords,
order. Thursday, he insisted the and is hopeful that it would
• The President would also sign presidential executive be able to establish a free
a second order to strictly orders were not exclusive to trade agreement with India.
enforce anti-dumping and China and was not linked to • Announcing the triggering of
countervailing duties, U.S. the scheduled visit of Chinese Brexit earlier this week,
Commerce Secretary Wilbur President Xi Jinping next Prime Minister Theresa May
Ross said. week. said Britain was not
• A “country-by-country, • The 20-page long chapter on protectionist and wanted to
product-by-product” report India lists a range of trade be a truly global trading
will be prepared in 90 days restrictions by India such as nation.
that would form the basis of an existing ban on animal- • However, hopes of a deal
further measures that the tested cosmetics and with India have encountered
Trump administration would restrictions on dairy a mixed reaction: while India
take to reduce the country’s products and alcohol. was the first non-EU country
trade deficit. • It also accuses India of being that Ms. May visited as PM,
• The report will identify opaque in its non-tariff there are also concerns that
“every form of trade abuse regulations, and lists export immigration policy could
and every non-reciprocal subsidy programmes in stand in the way, among
practice that now contributes several sectors as a matter of other things.
to the U.S. trade deficit,” Mr. concern. • Among the specific issues
Ross said. highlighted by Mr. Sinha and
Brexit will present opportunities
• India is the ninth biggest others in the past is the
as well as challenges for India
trading partner of the U.S. position of those in the
and had a trade surplus of • Brexit will present services sector, as well as
around $26 billion with the opportunities as well as students, whose numbers
U.S in goods trade alone last challenges for India, and its from India have been
year. Of its top 20 trading bilateral relationship with declining dramatically in
partners, the U.S. has a Britain, Indian High recent years.

54 http://www.iasexamportal.com
India & The World

INDIA & THE WORLD
India strongly condemned terrorists for the incident that governments while the other is
attack in Afghanistan killed at least 140 soldiers of the a manufacturing agreement
Afghan National Defence between two private
• India strongly condemned Forces. companies.
attack in Afghanistan and • Indirectly pointing at Pakistan • India has already nominated
blamed externally backed for offering support to the Hindustan Shipyard Limited
terrorists for the incident that Afghan Taliban that carried out (HSL), Visakhapatnam while
killed at least 140 soldiers of the the attack in Mazar-e-Sharif, South Korea will designate their
Afghan National Defence India called for dismantling of shipyard soon.
Forces. safe havens of terrorism. • The MoU was conceived under
• Indirectly pointing at Pakistan • Following the attack which the overall umbrella of the
for offering support to the targeted soldiers praying in a ‘Special Strategic Partnership’
Afghan Taliban that carried out mosque, Prime Minister between both sides, Defence
the attack in Mazar-e-Sharif, Narendra Modi offered his Ministry said in a statement.
India called for dismantling of condolences on social media • The MoU will come into effect
safe havens of terrorism. even as the Ministry of External from the date of signature by
• Following the attack which Affairs (MEA) called for justice. both sides and will be initially
targeted soldiers praying in a • Prime Minister Narendra Modi valid for a period of five years
mosque, Prime Minister said on a social media platform, and would be automatically
Narendra Modi offered his “I strongly condemn the extended for further successive
condolences on social media cowardly terror attack in Mazar- five year at a time.
even as the Ministry of External e-Sharif. Our prayers and • The two sides will identify
Affairs (MEA) called for justice. condolences to the families specific projects to work on and
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi who lost loved ones”. this cooperation is expected to
said on a social media platform, • No Indian citizens and enable HSL to upgrade and
“I strongly condemn the diplomats were in the vicinity modernise its facilities.
cowardly terror attack in Mazar- of the targeted area at the time • Indian engineering
e-Sharif. Our prayers and when suicide attackers drove conglomerate Larsen & Toubro
condolences to the families into the base and shot down (L&T) and Hanwa Techwin of
who lost loved ones”. dozens of soldiers who were South Korea signed a contract
• No Indian citizens and just concluding their Friday to manufacture the K9 Vajra-T
diplomats were in the vicinity prayers. tracked, self-propelled artillery
of the targeted area at the time guns for the Indian Army.
when suicide attackers drove India and South Korea signed
into the base and shot down two agreements to build India and EU firmed up plans
dozens of soldiers who were artillery guns for holding the 14th bilateral
just concluding their Friday summit
• India and South Korea on Friday
prayers.
signed two agreements to build • India and the European Union
India strongly condemned artillery guns for the Indian firmed up plans for holding the
attack in Afghanistan Army and for collaboration in 14th bilateral summit to be held
shipbuilding. in India later this year.
• India strongly condemned • One of them is an Inter- • EU’s High Representative met
attack in Afghanistan and Governmental Agreement External Affairs Minister Sushma
blamed externally backed (IGA) between the Swaraj and discussed common

http://www.iasexamportal.com 55
India & The World
concerns like trade, counter- made a strong case for access India urged Myanmar to
terror cooperation, maritime to the Indian prisoner now on contain violence against
security and defence death row. Rohingya Muslims
cooperation. • Mr. Jadhav was awarded death
• The two sides reaffirmed their sentence by the Field General • India urged Myanmar to contain
commitment to deepening their Court Martial , evoking a sharp violence against Rohingya
Strategic Partnership. They reaction in India which warned Muslims in the western part of
reviewed progress on the Pakistan of consequences and the country bordering
commitments made during the damage to bilateral ties if the Bangladesh.
13th India-EU summit in “pre-meditated murder” was • India had been in consultation
Brussels in March 2016. carried out. with Myanmar to restore
• Ms. Swaraj condemned the • “Under the law we cannot give normalcy in the Rohingya
latest terror attack in Paris and consular access to Khulbhushan territory of the State of Rakhine
said terrorism was the gravest who was involved in spying,” but pointed out that the issue
threat to humanity. Pakistan military spokesman might not figure in the ongoing
Major General Asif Ghafoor said. visit of Prime Minister Sheikh
Consular access denied to Hasina to India.
• However, Indian officials in
Jadhav New Delhi maintained that • India had previously extended
there was no communication a sum of money to the
• The Pakistan’s army ruled out
from Pakistan on the denial of Government of Myanmar to
consular access to former Indian
consular access. restore communal harmony.
Naval officer Kulbhushan
• India’s comments followed a
Jadhav, days after India had Dalai Lama compared China’s day after rights body Amnesty
made a strong case for access
actions in Tibet to the regime of International cautioned New
to the Indian prisoner now on
Cambodian dictator Delhi against forcibly relocating
death row.
Rohingyas to Myanmar where
• Mr. Jadhav was awarded death • In his sharpest comments yet,
the community faces
sentence by the Field General the Dalai Lama compared
discrimination.
Court Martial , evoking a sharp China’s actions in Tibet to the
• Amnesty said media reports had
reaction in India which warned regime of Cambodian dictator
suggested that the Union
Pakistan of consequences and Pol Pot, who was held
Ministry of Home Affairs was
damage to bilateral ties if the responsible for the death of
planning to “identify, arrest and
“pre-meditated murder” was more than a million Cambodians
deport” thousands of Rohingya
carried out. in the 1970s.
refugees from various States of
• “Under the law we cannot give • Speaking at the Tawang
India.
consular access to Khulbhushan Monastery, the Tibetan leader
• Government of Bangladesh had
who was involved in spying,” and spiritual guru said that
been vocal in recent times, due
Pakistan military spokesman despite atrocities in Tibet he
to the difficulties it faced over
Major General Asif Ghafoor said. had decided to “forgive China”
movement of people across the
• However, Indian officials in and was even willing to follow
Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
New Delhi maintained that the “One China” policy.
• Amnesty International’s India
there was no communication • In the run-up to his visit, the
branch issued a fresh appeal for
from Pakistan on the denial of Chinese government issued
protection of the Rohingyas,
consular access. several direct threats to India.
soon after Prime Minister Hasina
• The Dalai Lama also accused
Consular access denied to reached India.
China of spreading wrong
Jadhav
information about his trip to UAV deal with Israel may get
• The Pakistan’s army ruled out Arunachal Pradesh, saying it is done during PM's visit
consular access to former Indian normal for Beijing to give
“political colour” to his spiritual • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is
Naval officer Kulbhushan
visits. likely to get a display of the
Jadhav, days after India had

56 http://www.iasexamportal.com
India & The World
Heron TP armed Unmanned which can fly upto an altitude claimed most of the South China
Aerial Vehicles (UAV) during of 45,000 feet, has an Sea.
his visit to Israel later this endurance of over 30 hours and • Both sides signed agreements
summer. can carry a mission payload of on air services, sports, human
• These would be India’s first 1,000 kgs. resources, palm oil production
armed drones, significantly • The other defence deal and research, and technological
expanding the aerial offensive expected during the visit is for development. An agreement
capabilities of the military. two additional Phalcon long that will allow India to build a
• Armed UAVs for the Indian Air range Airborne Warning And fertilizer plant in Malaysia was
Force (IAF) are already being Control Systems (AWACS) also signed.
manufactured in Israel and did which would join the three • A bilateral joint statement issued
not rule out the possibility of systems in service with the Air by the India-Malaysia CEOs
them being handed over to the Force. Forum emphasised the need for
IAF in the near future. • The radars are mounted on visa-free travel for Indians and
• The deal is expected to cost Russian IL-76 transport aircraft Malaysians as travel and tourism
around $400 million for 10 and Russian industry officials in both countries contribute to
drones. The discussion for the have earlier stated that India has their economic growth.
Heron TP drones has been going already ordered aircraft for the • Both sides also highlighted that
on for several years but the purpose. Malaysia would allow Indian
exact status of the deal is Ayurveda and Siddha
India and Malaysia agreed to
unclear as the progress is strictly practitioners to serve in that
under wraps. cooperate to defeat Islamic State country.
• India currently operates a large • India and Malaysia agreed to • As part of the move to
number of Israeli-built Heron cooperate to defeat Islamic popularise courses in Ayurveda,
and Searcher UAVs, which State militants and the growing the government of Malaysia and
were inducted since the late threat of radicalisation and the Universiti Tunku Abdul
1990s, and the three services extremism. Rahman would provide courses
have been quite pleased with • Visiting Malaysian PM Najib in Ayurveda.
their performance. Razak held talks here with Prime China again warned India
• With the indigenous efforts to Minister Narendra Modi and
build UAVs delayed, India has against visit of Dalai Lama
sealed six agreements, while
expanded its arsenal of Israeli extending support to India for • China again warned India that
drones. a greater role in the maritime the proposed visit of the Dalai
• India also procured a small security of the Asia-Pacific Lama to Arunachal Pradesh
number of Harpy loitering region. would cause “deep damage” to
drones in the past which can • Mr. Razak, expressed support Sino-Indian ties, and stressed
destroy targets by direct hits. for greater synergy with India on that New Delhi would have to
However the Heron TP would the security front, especially in make “a choice” in its dealings
be the first true armed UAV in the maritime domain, and said, with the Tibetan leader.
the arsenal. “We appreciate the greater role • “China and India are two major
• UAVs have become routine of India in the maritime security developing countries and we
tools for surveillance and the of the Asia-Pacific region.” are close neighbours. It is very
armed variants would give • The visiting delegation’s important for the two peoples
decision makers a new and safe comments on the maritime issue to maintain sound and steady
option in planning short and is significant as both the China-India relations.
swift strikes on terrorist camps. countries have been • But such relationship has to be
• The manufacturer stated on its demanding freedom of built on (a) certain foundation,”
website that Heron TP is a navigation in the South East Chinese foreign ministry
Medium Altitude Long Asian region, where China has spokesperson Lu Kang said.
Endurance (MALE) drone been flexing muscles and has • The spokesperson’s remarks are

http://www.iasexamportal.com 57
India & The World
part of a sustained effort by the • China has been particularly monastery in the world after the
Chinese officialdom and emphatic about its claims over Potala Palace in Lhasa.
academia to discourage India Tawang, which houses the • During his briefing Mr. Lu said
from green-lighting the Dalai famous Tawang Monastery — that China was “seriously
Lama’s visit to Arunachal India’s largest monastery. It is concerned about the news”
Pradesh in early April. also the second largest about the Dalai Lama’s visit.

58 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy

ECONOMY
Turnaround of rupee is good March this year after the BJP’s strength.
news for coutry resounding victory in the State • The second factor that has
Assembly elections in Uttar helped the rupee break the key
• Towards the beginning of this Pradesh. 66 level is the recent weakness
year, no one expected the • This triggered a strong surge in in the dollar.
rupee to break out of the tight Foreign Portfolio • After raising the Fed fund rate
range between 66 and 68.85 Investors’(FPIs) interest by 25 basis points in March, the
that had shackled the currency towards the Indian market. FPIs, Fed reiterated that there will be
for most part of 2016. who had bought just $646 a total of three rate hikes in 2017.
• But the rupee not only million in Indian debt until then, • So, unless the Fed changes its
strengthened above the 66 went on a buying spree after the stance and turns more
level against the dollar but also election results. aggressive over raising the rates,
went on to mark a 20-month high • For the month of March, they a strong recovery in the dollar is
of 63.93 last week. bought $3.92 billion in the unlikely.
• This sudden spurt of strength Indian debt segment. April has • Also, the recent developments
follows a stolid show in 2016, also witnessed a strong foreign in Europe had been adding to
when the Indian currency money inflow of about $3 billion the pressure on the dollar. The
remained unfazed by some of in the debt segment. UK heading for early elections
the significant events that • After selling $6.36 billion in in June and the ongoing French
spelled a sea change for global 2016, FPIs have already poured elections have triggered a sharp
markets. in $7.52 billion in the first four rally in the euro and the pound
• The first was the UK’s months of this year. This inflow in the last one month.
referendum to decide whether is higher than the $7.4 billion for • After falling continuously on a
to stay in the European Union the entire calendar year 2015. year-on-year basis from
or not. While everyone • The inflows into the equity December 2014, India’s
expected the British to vote segment are also showing signs exports are showing signs of
against the move, results of a strong pick-up this year. FPIs recovery since September last
favoured an exit. have pumped $6.38 billion into year. Exports have surged 35.85
• The British currency took a the Indian equity segment, per cent, from $21.52 billion in
beating immediately after the which is double the $3.19 August 2016 to $29.23 billion
referendum. The pound billion and $3.18 billion flows in March 2017.
declined 20 per cent against seen in 2015 and 2016, • But this has failed to narrow the
the dollar, from 1.50 in June respectively. trade deficit as imports, on the
2016 to 1.20 in October 2016. • With the first rate hike by the other hand, have also surged at
• Another event that marked a Federal Reserve already the same rate. India’s imports
significant shift in the global absorbed by the financial have risen 39.89 per cent, from
economic order was the victory markets, there does not appear $29.19 billion to $39.67 billion.
of Donald Trump in the US to be a great threat to foreign • So, if the imports continue to rise
presidential elections. This fund flows in the near future. at a faster pace than the exports,
made the dollar index break the • FPI flows into debt will be there is a possibility of the
psychological level of 100. strong if the rupee continues to deficit widening further.
• The initial trigger that helped strengthen as these are short- • Two major components that
the rupee break the 66 level term flows that are greatly can keep the import bills higher
came in the second week of influenced by currency are crude oil and gold. The

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Economy
outlook for both these REER is greater than 100 and it • The funds raised through this
commodities is bullish. is undervalued if the REER is issue will be used to repay the
• Crude oil prices have been below 100. entire debt of about Rs. 3,300
hovering around $50 per barrel • REER is a measure of valuing a crore on the books of these six
over the last few months. The currency against the currencies projects. This is expected to
prices have been volatile, of its trade partners, adjusted for improve the cash flows and
between $45 and $55 since inflation. soundness of the balance sheet,
December. The bias is bullish since financial costs will come
Investment Trust (Inv-IT)
within this range. down in the process.
• An eventual break above $55 finally arrived • The risks for a project can arise
will increase the likelihood of oil • The long wait for Investment due to delays in construction,
prices surging to $60 levels. Trust (Inv-IT) is finally over. IRB revenue collection and other
Gold has been gaining sheen Infrastructure Developers (IRB) political and project-related
from the geo-political is the first to raise Rs. 4,650 crore issues.
uncertainty between the US through this route, which will be • In case of road projects, the risks
and North Korea and from the available for investors with a arise during the pre-
broader weakness in the US minimum subscription of Rs. 10 construction and construction
dollar. lakh. stages.
• India’s current account had • Put simply, Inv-IT are trusts into • While pre-construction risks
improved from a deficit of $7.08 which the sponsor, in this case pertain to identification of
billion to $0.3 billion in June IRB, transfers certain revenue- economically-viable projects
2016. But since then, the generating infrastructure assets and related clearances,
Current Account Deficit (CAD) (at least 80 per cent). construction risks relate to
has been widening and is back • Units in these trusts can be design changes and
to $7.92 billion as of December purchased by the public and unexpected escalation in raw
2016. the revenue generated from the material prices.
• Given that there is low assets is distributed to the unit- • Moreover, post-construction,
possibility of the trade deficit holder. The trust can also invest the extent to which the
to improve in the coming in equity or lend to other projected toll revenue
months, there is a danger of the infrastructure projects. materialises and how tactfully
CAD widening further. This is • In the upcoming Inv-IT initial the initial years of low cash flow
negative for the rupee. public offering, IRB will transfer and high interest payments are
• The RBI has been building up six of its projects to the trust. managed, are crucial.
its forex reserves consistently. The sponsor expects to raise Rs. • Moreover, the open-ended
The reserves have risen 7 per 4,300 crore through fresh structure of this Inv-IT enables
cent, from around $344 billion offering and another Rs. 350 it to capitalise on new projects
in April 2015 to $369 billion crore via offer for sale. that suit its mandate.
now. • According to data provided by • As per SEBI’s norms, Inv-IT
• Also, as uncertainty continues IRB, sponsor holding is well should invest at least 80 per
to remain on the back of geo- above the minimum 15 per cent cent of the value of the assets in
political tensions between the threshold mandated by the revenue-generating
US and North Korea, these regulator for the initial three infrastructure assets, while the
reserves can be used to tackle years. rest can be invested in under
any unexpected volatility in the • Investors who don’t subscribe construction projects and
market. to the primary offer can buy securities of infrastructure
• The rupee appears overvalued units from the secondary market, companies.
when the Real Effective where the minimum trading lot • However, an Inv-IT is not
Exchange Rate (REER) is taken is Rs. 5 lakh. The issue will be allowed to invest in another Inv-
into consideration. A currency open from May 3-5 both on the IT. Though currently Inv-IT is not
is considered overvalued if its BSE and the NSE. exposed to construction risk,

60 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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this can definitely change in Vladimir Putin at St. Petersburg. of returns, among other
case a new under-construction • The Eurasian Economic Union processes, is done online.
project or securities of comprises Russia, Belarus, • Additionally, all dealers have to
infrastructure companies are Armenia, Kazakhstan and upload invoice-wise details
added to the portfolio. Kyrgyzstan. The FTA is online.
expected to open up a huge • There are multiple projects
Indians are slowly moving from
market with a trade potential of going on in North East.
investing in gold $37 to 62 billion. However, the progress is poor
• Indians are slowly moving from • Trade between India and the and there is no coordination
investing in gold to putting their five Eurasian countries stands at among all the agencies doing
money in bank products, about $11 billion. work.
according to Uday Kotak, • The FTA with the Eurasian • In Arunachal Pradesh the
Executive Vice Chairman & countries was dictated by optical fibre cable is available
Managing Director at Kotak India’s need to diversify into only in 7 of the 20 districts.
Mahindra Private Limited. new markets. India has targeted There is a serious shortage of
• And there is another layer of trade of $30 billion with the five optical fibre cables, leading to
savers that is also venturing into countries by 2025 and $15 delay in completion of work.
investing in mutual funds, he billion annual investment. • In addition, the agencies doing
added. • Experts highlighted the need work are not following the norms
• It is this greater risk appetite that for better understanding of the of depth at which the OFC
would lead to higher domestic challenges in the new market cable should be laid and as a
risk capital being invested in like non-tariff barriers and quality result there are many instances
Indian start-ups, he said, saying standards before the of cutting OFCs in road repair
that the overall process was a negotiations take place. works. This creates problem for
gradual one. • Eurasian market could open up connectivity.
• “The mutual fund market is new export opportunities for • With little more than two months
growing at more than 30% in Kerala in medical tourism, IT to go for the proposed GST
terms of new assets under and IT-enabled services, rollout, the government is yet to
management,” Mr. Kotak said besides traditional sectors like finalise the tax rates that will
while speaking at the CII Annual spices, marine products, coir apply for different products but
Session on Saturday. and rubber. is confident of implementing
• The Indian start-up market was the new tax regime from July 1.
Poor Internet connectivity is
as yet inexperienced, not • Constitutional amendments to
turning out to be a challenge for enable the GST regime mean
having the expertise to price
GST rollout that all existing indirect taxes
risk properly or attach a value to
ideas, Mr. Khanna said. • Poor Internet connectivity is and levies will lapse from
turning out to be a challenge for September this year.
India set to make FTA with
the rollout of the Goods and Deteriorating Health of PSBs
Eurasian Economic union
Services Tax (GST), particularly lead to drastic steps by RBI
• India is set to formalise a free in the North East, as the Centre
trade agreement with the pushes for the July 1 deadline • The deteriorating health of
Eurasian Economic Union, to implement the new indirect public sector banks has
clearing the decks for tax regime. prompted RBI to suggest
negotiations on deepening • The implementation of GST radical steps to tackle the issue
trade relations with the five requires high-speed including considering mergers
former Soviet republics. connectivity between the GST and possibly even the
• The joint statement on the FTA server and the State VAT data privatisation of some of the
is likely to be issued during centre, and also between lenders which had been
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s District VAT office and State previously nationalised.
meeting with Russian President VAT office since the processing • Commenting that the

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Economy
government should not allocate validity of an existing PAN and Chief Justice of India J.S.
capital poorly, RBI deputy for filing returns under the Khehar suggested introducing
governor Viral Acharya mooted income tax law. a law after perusing guidelines
options for the troubled sector • Attorney-General Mukul handed over by the
including raising private capital Rohatgi said there were “five to government to the court,
and selling non-core assets. 10 lakh fake PAN cards appointing NITI Aayog as the
• According to the central generated every year.” “What nodal agency for NGO
banker, divestment is also one are you propagating here in the registration.
option that needs to be name of public interest, fake • But the court said the
considered. PANs,” he asked the petitioners. guidelines might not prove
• These steps would pare the • To prove that Aadhaar was not sufficient for “systematising the
overall amount the Centre foolproof, Mr. Datar responded entire process of accreditation,
needed to inject as bank capital that 132% of the population of fund utilisation and audit of
and help preserve its hard- Delhi is shown to have taken NGOs”.
earned fiscal discipline. Aadhaar cards and 104% all over • The Centre on April 4 handed
• Fiscal discipline along with a the country. over to the Supreme Court the
stable inflation outlook and the • At least 34,000 agencies which new guidelines framed for
diverse nature of the country’s dealt with collecting data for accreditation of nearly 30 lakh
growth engine had made India Aadhaar were blacklisted. NGOs and voluntary
the darling of foreign investors, • But the court said these organisation in the country.
Mr. Acharya said. statistics did not necessarily • The court, however, gave the
mean that bogus Aadhaars were government the liberty to start
SC slams the tendency of
in circulation. Mr. Rohatgi said civil and criminal proceedings
country to evade taxes the biometric technology used against 703 NGOs, which
• Slamming a tendency in the in Aadhaar left no chance for according to CAPART, have
country to evade taxes, SC duplication. defaulted.
referred to the mandatory • The Bench responded that • The agency, which works under
linking of Aadhaar to PAN and Section 139AA was a product the Rural Development Ministry,
Income Tax returns as an of the legislative mandate of said 718 NGOs had been initially
instance of the government’s Parliament. blacklisted, but 15 had
efforts to bring “new and new • The Bench observed that responded satisfactorily to
laws to stop leakages.” Parliament cannot be held notices issued on them.
• “When tax evasions are there, accountable for any “solemn • CBI records filed in 2016 in the
the government will try to bring undertakings” given by the Supreme Court had shown
new and new laws to stop government to the Supreme show that only 2,90,787 NGOs
leakages. We as citizens are like Court. file annual financial statements
that... we don’t want to pay of a total of 29,99,623 registered
SC wants government ought to
taxes, shame on us." ones under the Societies
frame a statutory law to Registration Act.
• "This conduct and character is
regulate NGOs • In some States, the CBI said the
seen for example at the time of
matrimonial alliance. Then the • SC suggested that the laws do not even provide for the
groom has the best income. The government ought to frame a NGOs to be transparent about
moment the estranged wife files statutory law to regulate the their financial dealings. In the
a maintenance application, the flow of public money to the Union Territories, of a total of
same boy is a pauper,” Justice NGOs even as the CAPART 82,250 NGOs registered and
A.K. Sikri. recommended the registration functioning, only 50 file their
• The provision makes Aadhaar of 159 FIRs against various returns.
mandatory for getting a PAN. NGOs for swindling government • Uttar Pradesh, which has the
Possession of an Aadhaar card funds. highest number of NGOs at 5.48
is necessary for the continuing • A three-judge Bench led by lakh among the States, has only

62 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
1.19 lakh filing returns. Defence Minister says global the government bringing
• Tamil Nadu has 1.55 lakh NGOs community should not agricultural income into the
registered; however, only differentiate between terrorists income tax net in a statement
20,277 file returns. Andhra to quell confusion about a
Pradesh has 2.92 lakh NGOs, • Stating that the scourge of review of the current tax
but only 186 file financial terrorism remains the “primary treatment of agricultural income
statements annually. security challenge” for all mooted by NITI Aayog.
peaceful countries, Defence • “As per the Constitutional
Trincomalee port would not be Minister warned the global Allocation of Powers, the
sealed during PM Modi’s Sri community that distinctions are Central government has no
Lanka visit still sought to be made between jurisdiction to impose tax on
“good and bad terrorists,”. agricultural income,” he added.
• Sri Lanka declared that a crucial
• Terrorism is being reinvented in • The Finance Minister’s swift
agreement with India on the
newer and even more clarification is being seen as an
Trincomalee port would not be
dangerous manifestations. The attempt to nip in the bud any
sealed during Prime Minister
manipulation of young minds by potential controversy on a
Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit
fundamentalist groups using sensitive issue pertaining to
to Colombo.
new technologies and social farmers and rural India.
• The declaration came from
media has already caused long-
senior Sri Lankan leaders in SEBI decided to grant a unified
term damage to our societies.
Colombo even as Prime Minister licence to brokers and clearing
• One manifestation of this is the
Ranil Wickremesinghe signed a
recent string of lone-wolf members
memorandum of understanding
attacks in many countries,” Mr.
for cooperation in economic • Market regulator SEBI decided
Jaitley said addressing the 6th
projects in Delhi. to grant a unified licence to
Moscow Conference on
• The Prime Minister is only brokers and clearing members
International Security in
signing a broad MoU on to operate in commodity
Moscow.
economic cooperation while in derivative as well as equity
• His comments come in the
Delhi. Later, the respective markets.
backdrop of India’s objections
Ministries from both countries • SEBI’s board approved a
to including Taliban in the
will hold discussions and then proposal for integration of stock
peace talks in Afghanistan as
sign agreements that are legally brokers in equity and
part of the reconciliatory
binding. commodity derivative space.
process as well as concerns at
• Oil union workers in Colombo • Following this, a broker or
Pakistan’s selective action
went on a strike against the clearing member dealing in the
against terrorist networks.
planned MoU with India for 84 securities markets will be
• Observing that India had
tanks in the Trincomalee upper allowed to buy, sell or deal in
addressed the threat for over
oil tank farm. commodity derivatives without
three decades, he said,
• The strike, which hit oil supplies setting up a separate entity and
“Terrorism will recoil on those
in Sri Lanka, was called off on vice-versa.
who nurture it.”
an assurance from the • To enable the integration, SEBI
• On the issue of North Korea, Mr.
leadership that the workers’ will amend norms pertaining to
Jailtley expressed concern at
concerns would be taken into stock broker and securities
the recent “escalation of
account before sealing the deal. contract regulations, the
tensions” in the Korean
• In Delhi, Mr. Wickremesinghe regulator said in a statement
peninsula and took a dig at
held extensive talks with Mr after the first board meeting
Pakistan without naming it.
Modi, External Affairs Minister under Ajay Tyagi as chairman.
Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Govt does not have any plans to • Besides, it will increase
Rajnath Singh and Shipping and bring agricultural income into economic efficiency in terms of
Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. Income tax meeting operational and
compliance obligations at the
• Govt dismissed any prospect of

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Economy
member level, potentially production, in a review meeting as those on education and
resulting in ease of doing on infrastructure held. health,” the Aayog pointed out.
business. • The Prime Minister chaired the • “The social subsidies should be
• Finance Minister in his budget review meeting of infrastructure reoriented so that beneficiaries
speech for 2017-18, had sectors including roads, become economically
announced that the railways, airports, ports, digital, independent instead of
“commodities and securities and coal with PMO, NITI Aayog remaining perpetually
derivative markets will be and all infrastructure ministry dependent on them,” it said.
further integrated by integrating officials. • While in absolute terms, the
the participants, brokers, and • Noting the decline in coal allocation towards food
operational frameworks”. imports last year, the Prime subsidy, as per the Aayog, will
• Bolstering steps to curb any flow Minister asked for “even more increase marginally to Rs. 1.57
of illicit funds in markets, SEBI vigorous efforts towards coal lakh crore from Rs. 1.24 lakh
also decided to bar resident as import substitution, and crore, as a proportion to GDP,
well as non-resident Indians application of new coal the expenditure will come
from making investments technologies including down to 0.73% from 0.90% in
through participatory notes. gasification technology.” 2015-16.
• The decision is part of efforts to • Coal import declined 27.5% in • As the government has been
strengthen the regulatory April-December 2016 able to contain the expenditure
framework for offshore compared to the previous year. on fertiliser subsidies to Rs.
derivative instruments (ODIs), • The PM emphasised on use of 70,000 crore in the past few
commonly known as P-Notes, space technology for “efficient years, the Aayog expects it to
which have been long seen as and stringent” monitoring of remain at this level for the next
being possibly misused for rural roads construction and three years.
routing of black money from their quality.
RBI Governor says
abroad. • In 2016-17, the highest ever
• The notional value of these average daily construction rate consolidation of banks will
instruments has declined over of 130 km rural roads was reduce stressed assets
the years from 55.7% of overall achieved under the Pradhan • RBI Governor Urjit Patel has said
FPI investments in June 2007 to Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. the Indian banking system
just 6.7% in December 2016. could be better off if some
India’s social sector subsidies
• There was a surprise uptick in public sector banks are
March — presumably due to this should be reoriented says NITI
consolidated to have fewer but
being the last month for availing Aayog
healthier entities, as it would
of certain tax benefits. • India’s social sector subsidies help in dealing with the problem
• There are also fears that the P- should be reoriented so that of stressed assets.
Note investments may start beneficiaries don’t become • He said since there were
coming from other jurisdictions dependent on them, the NITI cooperative banks and micro-
like the U.S., France and the Aayog said. financial institutions to provide
Netherlands after tightening of • In its three-year action plan for community-level banking,
rules for inflows from Mauritius, the economy the government “some banks can be merged, as
Singapore and Cyprus. think-tank mooted a reduction a quid pro quo for timely
PM called for exploring new in food subsidies as a proportion government technical
technologies for road and coal of GDP by 2019-20 through injection.”
better targeting and • Dr. Patel said a challenge that
sector
rationalisation measures. India’s central bank was
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi • “Within revenue expenditures, grappling with was the large
called for exploring new subsidies have tended to crowd stressed banking sector
technologies for boosting road out the socially more balance sheets.
construction and coal productive expenditures such • He noted that a series of

64 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
measures have been taken in the laws by mid-May, according to of the record of compliance in
past year on resolving the Revenue Secretary. respect of specified
problem of the non-performing • He said all states were parameters. The ratings would
assets, including completion of expected to pass their SGST be made public.
a comprehensive asset quality laws by May-end to ensure that
NITI Aayog wants agriculture
review of the banks. the GST regime was rolled out
• In the instance of the insolvency by July. income to come with in
and bankruptcy code, the RBI • Bihar and Telangana had personal income
has been preparing actively for already passed the SGST laws • Government think-tank NITI
the next step in an orderly while Rajasthan was likely to Aayog has suggested that
resolution and this will be approve the bill. agriculture income be brought
undertaken concomitantly with • Mr. Adhia said the new regime under the purview of personal
the resolution of the weakest would not have any inflationary Income Tax in a bid to curb tax
bank balance sheets under a impact on the economy since evasion.
revised prompt corrective the country would be shifting • In its three-year action agenda,
action framework. away from the multiple-level discussed at the Governing
• Dr. Patel also said that taxes that had a cascading Council meeting, the Aayog
consolidation of banks could effect. The GST regime would reasoned that non-agricultural
also entail sale of real estate also aid in easing inflation. entities sometimes use the
where branches are redundant • Allaying fears that consumers blanket relief to evade taxes.
as well as offering voluntary would have to pay more for • All agricultural income is
retirement schemes to manage goods and services under the currently exempted from
headcount and adding GST regime due to an increase Income Tax regardless of its size.
younger, digital-savvy in tax rates, Mr. Adhia said the While the provision is meant to
personnel. prices of most items would protect farmers, non-
• Improved market valuations decrease while those of agricultural entities sometimes
would create an opportune services might stay at the same use it to evade taxes by
time for the government to level. declaring agriculture as the
divest some of the ownership • Also, though a majority of the source of their income.
in the restructured banks and services would see service tax • A key limitation of personal
this would reduce the overall rising to 18% under the GST Income Tax regime is the small
amount that the government regime from the current 15%, tax base. In assessment year
needs to inject into them to deal most services would get the 2014-15, only 3.65 crore
with the problem of NPAs and benefit of input tax credit on individuals filed returns. Of this
stressed assets, he said. purchases and, therefore, the group, only 1.91 crore
• Cautioning against overall tax incidence wouldstay individuals or around 1.5% of
protectionism, Dr. Patel said “I the same. the population paid any
don’t think that we have heard • All foodgrains and absolute Income Tax at all.
the last word on U.S. policy talk essential items for people were • NITI Aayog Member Bibek
about this because there is a likely to be exempted from Debroy said this would widen
push back internationally that GST. Therefore, GST would not the tax base and more funds
the world has benefited from have an inflationary impact. could be made available for the
an open trading system. • The GST Council’s next meeting social sector schemes.
is scheduled for May 18-19 and
Fourteen state legislatures will New three plan to be discussed
is expected to discuss fitment
approve their respective SGST of commodities in the four-tier in NITI Aayog meeting
laws by mid-May tax structure under GST.
• Prime Minister Narendra Modi
• Fourteen state legislatures will • Under GST, every registered
will chair the meeting of the
approve their respective State person would be assigned a
governing council of NITI
Goods and Services Tax (SGST) compliance rating on the basis

http://www.iasexamportal.com 65
Economy
Aayog, where a new three-year explore cooperation in sharing strengthen their IT
policy action plan to replace of experience in use of LEDs infrastructure to deal with the
the old system of five-year plans and renewable energy in India, rising number of digital
will be discussed. sharing the expertise of payments and improve
• Besides the new planning Indonesia in gasification of fuel transaction success rates.
process, the council is likely to oil, exploration of oil, gas and • Additionally, every bank has
take up for discussion issues coal fields,” Mr. Goyal said. been instructed to have at least
such as increasing farmer • Mr. Goyal and Indonesian 30 Aadhaar biometric machines
incomes and urban Energy and Mineral Minister at every branch, and that 50 lakh
development. Three-year Ignasius Jonan met on April 20 such devices be installed in the
action plan will also include a during the first ‘India Indonesia current year.
strategy to spruce up the law Energy Forum’ in Jakarta.
Medcine industry says drug
and order situation. • According to a statement, Mr.
• The practice of five-year plans, Goyal requested Mr. Jonan to policy must be holistic
being followed for over six consider joining International • A policy framework which seeks
decades, ended with the 12th Solar Alliance as Indonesia is a to achieve the goal of making
Plan that concluded on March solar-rich country. medicines affordable and
31 this year. accessible to the poor is
IT Minister has instructed NPCI
• NITI Aayog which was set up in necessary for the
December 2014 after to smoothen the refund
pharmaceutical industry.
abolishing the Planning mechanism for BHIM
• The framework must be holistic
Commission, will now come out • IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in its approach, involve all the
with a 15-year vision document has instructed National stakeholders and focus on
that is to be supplemented by a Payments Corporation of India serving the patients.
seven-year strategy and three- (NPCI) to smoothen the refund • There was a need to create a
year action plans. mechanism for BHIM (Bharat vision where everybody was
• The Council, that includes all Interface for Money) aligned instead of decisions
chief ministers as members, will application. being taken “arbitrarily.”
be presented with “detailed • This follows feedback • Pointing to how issues
plans on doubling of farmers’ highlighting that the process of concerning the pharmaceutical
income.” getting a refund in BHIM industry came under the
• The Prime Minister had in application is more purview of different ministries,
February last year urged all state cumbersome compared to it was time for action, given that
governments to give priority to other applications. Indian exports were declining.
boosting the agriculture sector • Now 56 crore bank accounts
with a target of doubling Crack down on the incidence of
have been linked to Aadhaar,
farmers’ income by 2022. overbooking on domestic flights
of the total 97 crore back
• The Aayog is also likely to place accounts. The lag was due to • The Civil Aviation Ministry has
before the council a report card some issues in states such as swung into action to crack down
on its two years as an institution. Assam and Meghalaya. on the incidence of
India and Indonesia have • According to government data, overbooking on domestic
agreed to explore cooperation in as on December 2017, Assam flights which rose by more than
and Meghalaya have the lowest 60% in the last eight months
areas like oil, coal
Aadhaar penetration at 6% and despite stiff compensation rules
• India and Indonesia have 9%, respectively. for airlines.
agreed to explore cooperation • This means that about 41% of • Such overbooking has resulted
in areas like oil, coal, electricity the bank accounts are still to be in thousands of passengers
and energy efficiency, Power linked to Aadhaar. being denied boarding despite
Minister Piyush Goyal said. • Further, the banks have been holding a ticket.
• The two sides have agreed to instructed to invest in and • While an outright ban on the

66 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
practice of airlines overbooking passengers. assets stranded.
flights is not being considered • Number of denied boarding • Targets for boosting output
yet, the Ministry may issue fresh cases in 2016-17 stood at about remain ambitious, but are likely
guidelines for domestic airlines 2 per 10,000 passengers in to be sufficiently successful to
on overbooked flights. India — far less than the further reduce the country’s
• Many airlines in India as well as international trend which is dependence on imported
abroad tend to issue confirmed about 6-7 per 10,000 coal,” the report on the impact
bookings to more passengers passengers. of the government’s ‘Make in
than the number of seats • Global airline body International India’ programme.
available on a flight in Air Transport Association said • India is no longer the dynamic
anticipation of a few ticket overbooking of seats helps in coal import market of yesteryear.
cancellations and to reduce the keeping fares low as airlines Domestic production will
possibility of departing with maximise their revenue by filling continue to expand, but India’s
empty seats. more seats. energy trajectory is becoming
• Airlines may deny boarding less coal-based, raising a real risk
Status quo on rates by MPC
even in cases when passengers of stranded assets.
may be holding confirmed • While all the six members of the • Overall, new projects
bookings for travel on a flight. monetary policy committee of announced under the Make in
• Passengers get compensation in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India programme are helping
form of cash, hotel that sets interest rates, voted in bolster demand for resources
accommodation or alternative favour of a status quo. such as oil, coal, petrochemicals
flight for being denied • One member discussed the and metals.
boarding. possibility of increasing the rate
Private players will be able to
• The cases of overbooked flights to achieve the 4% retail inflation
have risen sharply since last year bid for mines with about 100
target over the medium-term,
even after the government’s million tonnes
according to the minutes of the
steep increase in compensation meeting. • Private players will be able to
to passengers in August last • In the first bi-monthly monetary bid for mines with about 100
year. policy review of 2017-18, the million tonnes of coal reserves
• In the eight months between RBI decided to keep the policy in the initial phase of auctions
August 2016 and March 2017, interest rate unchanged at for commercial mining rights.
14,270 passengers on domestic 6.25%. • The auction will follow a simple
Indian flights were not allowed • RBI governor Urjit Patel said that and transparent process for
to board their flights — a 60% vegetable prices, which selecting eligible bidders, he
increase from the year-earlier declined sharply during said.
period. November 2016 to January • The commercial miners will
• Jet Airways accounted for the 2017, seems to have stabilised certainly find a way to service
highest proportion of cases but may rise in the coming their own customers. Getting
related to boarding denial at months due to a seasonal pick 10% share of the market will
84%, followed by Air India with up. certainly make a huge impact
11.1% of such cases from on the total (coal) market.
August 2016-March 2017 after Coal imports into the country
• Public sector major Coal India
the higher compensation are unlikely to rise
Limited is gearing up to
regulation kicked in. • Coal imports into the country are compete with private
• At the same time, penalties unlikely to rise, thanks to a surge competition for the first time
should not be so excessive that in domestic coal production, since 1973 when coal blocks
airlines find it cheaper to fly but the demand for coal from were nationalised and will shut
empty seats. Every empty seat new thermal power plants is down all unviable mines in the
comes at a cost. That cost will likely to taper off after five years coming years, the official
ultimately be recovered from and leave some coal mining added.

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Economy
• Allowing competition in the markets (including venture in a review meeting. He
commercial mining space will capital funds). announced an award for the
create a positive disruption in best performing project
SBI surpassed ONGC to become
the market, State Bank of India director and regional officer in
and MTNL that once dominated the country’s most valued state- NHAI.
the market but now compete owned firm • The Ministry has targeted
with large new players in their • State Bank of India (SBI) constructing 15,000 km of
respective sectors. surpassed ONGC to become national highways during 2017-
• While an Indian consumer can the country’s most valued state- 18 that translates into 41 km of
buy anything from petroleum to owned firm in terms of market road construction daily.
aeroplanes, the regulated valuation. At end of trade, the The IMF trimmed India’s
commodity of coal has no retail market cap of SBI was Rs.
market. annual growth forecast by 0.4
2,35,307.51 crore.
• The eligibility criteria for percentage
• This was about Rs. 2,961.79
bidders will be kept simple and crore more than ONGC’s Rs. • The IMF trimmed India’s annual
the auction process would be 2,32,345.72 crore. ONGC once growth forecast by 0.4
absolutely transparent, the used to be the country’s most- percentage points to 7.2% for
official said, promising there valued company in terms of 2017, citing the impact of
would be no complicated market valuation. demonetisation.
norms specifying net worth or • Among the top-10 most valued • “In India, the growth forecast for
experience of the bidders and companies list, SBI is at fifth 2017 has been trimmed by 0.4
assigning weightage to position. percentage point to 7.2 per
different factors. cent, primarily because of the
• Coal India is gearing up to meet The pace of road construction
temporary negative
competition from private miners rose to 22.5 km per day in 2016- consumption shock induced by
and will shut down all unviable 17 cash shortages,” IMF said in its
mining operations over the next World Economic Outlook
• The pace of road construction
couple of years, he said. (WEO).
rose to 22.5 km per day in 2016-
• If the efficiency of the private • The Indian government in
17, up from 16.6 km per day in
sector is coming from February had pegged GDP
2015-16, Road Transport and
exploitation of labour, that is not growth at a higher-than-
Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari
something to be proud of. If the expected 7.1% for the current
said.
worker isn’t happy, somewhere fiscal despite the note ban.
• In 2016-17, 16,271 km of road
down the line, it will reflect on • However, analysts had raised
projects were awarded as
the firm’s bottomline. concerns over the figure, saying
against 10,000 km awarded in
Banks may not invest more 2015-16. The pace of road it had not taken into account the
than 10% of unit capital of construction rose 36% to 8,231 full impact of demonetisation.
REITs km in 2016-17 compared to the A decline in the prices of fuel
previous financial year. and manufactured products
• Banks may not invest more than • The Road Transport and
10% of unit capital of Real helped inflation
Highways Ministry had targeted
Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) awarding 25,000 km road • A decline in the prices of fuel
and Infrastructure Investment length projects and completing and manufactured products
Trusts (InvITs), the RBI said. road length of 15,000 km in helped inflation, as measured
• During the first bimonthly policy 2016-17. by the wholesale price index
review of 2017-18, the central • Mr. Gadkari told the National (WPI), to moderate to 5.7%
bank allowed banks to invest in Highways Authority India (provisional) for March 2017
such funds, within the overall (NHAI) to speed up the pace despite hardening of food
ceiling of 20% permitted for of road construction in 2017-18, prices.
direct investments in capital

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• The WPI inflation had touched of the country. regulator had either stuck to the
a 39-month high of 6.55% • The move to set up an existing rate or moderated its
(provisional) in February while emergency response team proposed rates for various
it was -0.45% in March 2016. comes in the backdrop of categories of goods carrying
• The decline was accentuated growing cyberattacks in the vehicles.
by decline in fuel and power financial system. • As per Monday’s notification,
inflation and manufactured • RBI had already created a for private cars with engine
products. Fuel prices were specialised cell (C-SITE) within capacity between 1,000 cc and
significantly cut on March 31 its supervision department to 1500 cc, the cover will cost Rs.
while rupee has been on an conduct detailed IT 2,863. This is almost 28% more
appreciating trend since examination of banks’ compared with the previous
February 2017. cybersecurity preparedness, to year’s Rs. 2,237.
• Primary food inflation trended identify the gaps and to monitor • For private cars above 1500 cc,
higher as vegetable inflation the progress of remedial the rate will be Rs. 7,890 against
emerged after six months of measures. Rs. 6,164 in 2016-17. However,
deflation although food price • More than 30 major banks were there will be no change in the
pressures are not yet a concern, to be covered by the detailed premium payable for cars below
as prices of cereals, pulses and IT examination in 2016-17 and 1000 cc.
spices have fallen sequentially. all banks are to be covered by
A decline in the prices of fuel
• Food inflation has increased a 2017-18.
bit and this would require and manufactured products
IRDAI sweetens the pill for helped inflation
greater monitoring in light of the
evolving weather conditions. vehicle owners
• A decline in the prices of fuel
• The focus on drip irrigation and • Insurance regulator IRDAI and manufactured products
micro-irrigation along with notified revised third party helped inflation, as measured
improvement in the efficiency motor insurance premium rates by the wholesale price index
of cropping patterns and water for 2017-18 that are higher (WPI), to moderate to 5.7%
use mechanisms will strengthen compared with those in the (provisional) for March 2017
agri-production and previous fiscal for most despite hardening of food
productivity. categories of vehicles but lower prices.
• Further, the recent than what it had proposed. • The WPI inflation had touched
strengthening of rupee vis-a-vis • The order on the revised rates, a 39-month high of 6.55%
the U.S. dollar will also to apply retrospectively with (provisional) in February while
contribute towards limiting effect from April 1, came after a it was -0.45% in March 2016.
imported inflation. truckers strike earlier this month, • The decline was accentuated
FSDC discussed the setting up of in south India and an apex by decline in fuel and power
national body of transporters inflation and manufactured
a Computer Emergency
threatening to follow suit. products. Fuel prices were
Response Team
• The revision, however, seems to significantly cut on March 31
• The Sub-Committee of the have not gone down well with while rupee has been on an
Financial Stability and both the transporter community appreciating trend since
Development Council (FSDC), and the insurers. February 2017.
discussed the setting up of a • On March 3, the Insurance • Primary food inflation trended
Computer Emergency Regulatory and Development higher as vegetable inflation
Response Team for the Financial Authority of India (IRDAI) emerged after six months of
Sector (CERT-Fin). unveiled an exposure draft, deflation although food price
• The sub-committee reviewed suggesting an about 50% pressures are not yet a concern,
the major developments on the increase in the premium for as prices of cereals, pulses and
global and domestic fronts that many vehicles. spices have fallen sequentially.
impinge on the financial stability • Compared with its draft, the • Food inflation has increased a

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Economy
bit and this would require IRDAI sweetens the pill for • Trump’s concern over the strong
greater monitoring in light of the vehicle owners dollar, which took some steam
evolving weather conditions. away from the currency have
• The focus on drip irrigation and • Insurance regulator IRDAI also helped the metal. But if we
micro-irrigation along with notified revised third party see the one year chart of gold,
improvement in the efficiency motor insurance premium rates it is pretty uninspiring.
of cropping patterns and water for 2017-18 that are higher • Even as equities put up a
use mechanisms will strengthen compared with those in the stunning performance during
agri-production and previous fiscal for most the last one year with returns
productivity. categories of vehicles but lower exceeding 30 per cent, gold’s
• Further, the recent than what it had proposed. return stands at 3 per cent in
strengthening of rupee vis-a-vis • The order on the revised rates, dollar terms and a little over 1
the U.S. dollar will also to apply retrospectively with per cent in rupee terms.
contribute towards limiting effect from April 1, came after a • Gold prices, which hit a high of
imported inflation. truckers strike earlier this month, $1,375 in July 2016, dropped
in south India and an apex to $1,135 by December, mainly
FSDC discussed the setting up of national body of transporters due to positive set of economic
a Computer Emergency threatening to follow suit. data from the US.
Response Team • The revision, however, seems to • Beginning March, as
have not gone down well with expectations rose again about
• The Sub-Committee of the both the transporter community
Financial Stability and a rate hike from the Fed, the
and the insurers. metal slipped, this time to as low
Development Council (FSDC), • On March 3, the Insurance
discussed the setting up of a as $1,195/ounce (March 10).
Regulatory and Development • The central bank did a 25 basis
Computer Emergency Authority of India (IRDAI)
Response Team for the Financial points hike on March 15. Since
unveiled an exposure draft, then, the dollar has cooled off
Sector (CERT-Fin). suggesting an about 50%
• The sub-committee reviewed and the yellow metal has been
increase in the premium for inching up again.
the major developments on the many vehicles.
global and domestic fronts that • For Indian gold investors, the
• As per Monday’s notification, strong rupee also played
impinge on the financial stability for private cars with engine
of the country. spoilsport. The rupee
capacity between 1,000 cc and appreciated against the US
• The move to set up an 1500 cc, the cover will cost Rs.
emergency response team dollar — from 66.4 to 64.28 —
2,863. This is almost 28% more stunting returns from gold.
comes in the backdrop of compared with the previous
growing cyberattacks in the • The price of 10 gm gold as per
year’s Rs. 2,237. the MCX Spot Gold index is
financial system. • For private cars above 1500 cc,
• RBI had already created a currently at Rs. 28,845,
the rate will be Rs. 7,890 against compared to Rs. 29,080 last
specialised cell (C-SITE) within Rs. 6,164 in 2016-17. However,
its supervision department to April; down about 1 per cent.
there will be no change in the • While the overall interest for
conduct detailed IT premium payable for cars below
examination of banks’ gold was poor in 2016, there
1000 cc. was some attraction for the
cybersecurity preparedness, to
identify the gaps and to monitor Strong rupee keeping checks on Centre’s new gold instrument —
the progress of remedial gold prices sovereign gold bonds.
measures. • This included an additional
• More than 30 major banks were • The gold fever is back. The coupon on the face value of
to be covered by the detailed yellow metal prices have been investment (2.75 per cent and
IT examination in 2016-17 and climbing over the last few 2.5 per cent in the last two
all banks are to be covered by weeks, spurred by the ongoing tranches) and capital gains tax
2017-18. tensions in North Korea. exemption if held till maturity.

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Economy
• There have been seven issues which have the ability to on Friday said it aimed to reach
of the bond so far. Excluding separate and filter, while agro- 5.2 lakh acceptance touch
the latest issue — the numbers textiles are used in shading and points and collectively do Rs. 1
for which are not available — in weed and insect control. lakh crore of transactions in
these bonds have collected Rs. • The technical textiles sector 2017-18 to take forward the
4,127 crore or 14 tonnes of gold. had a compounded annual government’s digital agenda.
• Investors who bought these growth rate of 12% for the last • The State Bank of India (SBI)
bonds in the first two tranches three years. said in a statement that it had
did make money. But investors • It is expected to grow by 20 % implemented various initiatives
who entered in later tranches the next five years. The schemes as part of Digital India and
have been stuck. by the Government, better DigiDhan Mela campaigns
• The third, fourth, fifth and sixth awareness, interface initiatives introduced by the government.
tranches of the bond now trade with other ministries are all • These include adoption of 110
at a discount of 5-10 per cent expected to create demand. villages to develop their digital
to the issue price, while the • The aim is to create awareness, ecosystem and targeting
previous ones are still at some promote use of technical textile deployment of 25,000 terminals
profit. products, then ensure the at 12,500 villages under a
• Now, investors who have been usage is mandated in at least NABARD scheme.
wanting to exit these bonds are some areas. Functional textiles • “In FY 2017-18, the bank’s
looking at the secondary market. can be woven or non-woven. ambition is to reach 5.2 lakh
Data from NSE and BSE shows Automobile, geo, medical, acceptance touch points
that investors who hold 1,000 industrial, and agro textiles are which include 4 lakh Digital PoS
units or more may find it difficult among the range of products (Bharat QR and Aadhaar Pay)
to sell their holding at one go. that are made in the country. and collectively receive Rs. 1
• Sovereign gold bonds have Foreign Direct Investments are lakh crore of transaction value,”
stolen the sheen from the gold also coming in, especially for the bank said.
ETFs. Since last April to March geo textiles. • UPI and Aadhaar Pay were two
2017, there has been an outflow • The Textiles Commissioner said very innovative platforms that
of Rs. 775 crore from these that the number of larger would lead to efficiency and
funds. All the 14-odd gold ETFs industries involved in the lower costs and provide
in the country may be holding manufacture of technical textile convenience to digital
less than 20 tonnes of gold now. products is estimated to be customers.
• Gold may continue to be volatile about 2,500. Close to 1,000 of • SBI also said that it would
in the current year as well, as these have received continue its digital drive to
the Fed continues with Technology Upgradation Fund bring in more innovative
monetary tightening. Long-term Scheme support. products and services for
investors can still buy gold. • The main challenges for customer convenience.
technical textiles in the country • OnlineSBI, the lender’s web
Technical textiles or functional
are awareness among banking platform, is the fifth
textiles, a sunrise sector in the consumers, need for technology most-visited financial site
country and knowledge about it among globally.
• Technical textiles or functional entrepreneurs, the investments
All India Gems and Jewellery
textiles, considered a sunrise and time needed to be
innovative and develop Trade Federation proposed GST
sector in the country, is all set
applications, and raw material rate of 1.25 % for the sector
for demand taking off for
products such as geo and agro availability. • All India Gems and Jewellery
textiles. SBI aims to do 1 lakh crore Trade Federation (GJF) , the
• Geo textiles, for example, are digital transactions in 2017-18 national body of the gems and
permeable fabrics that are used jewellery industry, has
in association with soil and • The country’s largest lender SBI proposed a Goods and Service

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Economy
Tax (GST) rate of 1.25% for the India has increased tea exports • The revised norms have set out
sector. to three high-value markets — three thresholds. The breach of
• In its representation to the Iran, Germany and USA. the third one on capital “would
government, the federation has • These are now evolving as a identify a bank as a likely
said that a rate exceeding this stable market for speciality teas. candidate for resolution
level would hurt the industry as Exports increased to the UAE through tools like amalgamation,
well as consumers and workers. too. The UAE often serves as a reconstruction, winding up
• Ashok Minawala, past chairman re-export destination. etc.,” the RBI said.
and high-level committee • All these markets purchased not • The provisions of the revised
member, GJF, said, “Keeping in only higher volumes of Indian PCA framework will be
mind the unique characteristics tea between April and February effective from April 1, 2017
of the gems & jewellery sector, 2016-17 , but also at a higher based on the financials of the
the karigars and small jewellers price than the year’s average of banks for the year ended March
were kept out of the purview of $ 3.04. 31, 2017. The framework
excise duty. would be reviewed after three
President granted his assent to
• Mr. Minawala said the years, the RBI said.
government will not see any the four enabling laws to GST • The thresholds are based on
negative impact on revenue • President Pranab Mukherjee capital, net non-performing
collection as most of the states granted his assent to the four assets, profitability and leverage
have been charging VAT at the enabling laws to operationalise ratio.The breach of the first
rate of 1% on jewellery. the upcoming Goods and threshold will invite restriction
Services Tax regime. on dividend distribution or
Tea export declined in 2017
• The indirect tax regime, require parents of foreign banks
• Tea exports have declined in expected to be rolled out from to bring in more capital.
the first eleven months of fiscal July 1, now awaits the passage • This will get triggered if capital
2017 and are likely to close at a of the State GST laws by all state adequacy ratio (including
lower level after showing a assemblies. capital conservation buffer) falls
healthy rise by volume and value • The legislations approved by below 10.25% or common
in 2015-16. the President include the equity tier-I (CET1) capital ratio
• A bumper crop in Kenya and Central GST Act, The Integrated falls below 6.75%.
lower exports to some of the key GST Act, The GST • Breach of either CAR or CET1
markets were the main reasons (Compensation to States) Act, would trigger corrective action,
behind this. and The Union Territory GST the RBI said. The trigger for net
• As per the latest official statistics, Act, 2017. NPA is 6% and 4% for leverage
between April and February • These bills were passed in Rajya ratio. Two consecutive years of
2017, exports, at 206.9 million Sabha on April 6 and by Lok negative return on assets (RoA)
kg were down by 4% over the Sabha on March 29. will also be classified in
previous period. threshold one.
• India exported 232.9 million kg RBI come out with a revised • The breach of the second
in 2015-16, breaching the 230- prompt corrective action threshold will occur when the
million mark for the first time framework for banks capital adequacy ratio falls
since 1980-81. below 7.75% or CET1 goes
• RBI has come out with a revised
• A bumper crop in Kenya (a below 5.125%. The net NPA
prompt corrective action (PCA)
more than 50% rise according threshold is breach of 12% and
framework for banks, spelling
to latest statistics) and leverage ratio below 3.5%.
out certain thresholds, the
Bangladesh, which is emerging • Three consecutive years of
breach of which could invite
as tea-growing nation, negative ROA will also trigger
resolutions such as a merger
aggravated the excess supply threshold two. Breach of
with another bank or even
in the international market. threshold two will result in
shutting down of the bank.
• During the period under review, restrictions on expansion of

72 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
branches and higher provisions. For 2018, the WTO is recorded in February 2017,
• Corrective action that can be forecasting global trade growth according to government data.
imposed on banks includes between 2.1% and 4%. Still, retail inflation was slower
special audit, restructuring • It added, however, that as deep than the 4.83% recorded in
operations and activation of uncertainty about near-term March 2016.
recovery plan. economic and policy • According to CARE Ratings, the
• The RBI has said that promoters developments raise the forecast acceleration in inflation could
of banks can be asked to bring risk, this figure is placed within be ascribed to higher fuel
in new management, or even a range of 1.8% to 3.6%. prices on account of rising
can supersede the bank’s global crude oil prices and
Industrial production shrank to
board, as a part of corrective increases in the costs of food
action. 1.2% articles like fruits and milk
• Industrial production in products.
The country’s goods exports
February 2017 shrank 1.2% • Slower gains in the prices of
rose for the seventh consecutive pulses helped cap headline
year-on-year, the lowest in four
month retail inflation.
months, mainly due to a decline
• The country’s goods exports in manufacturing output and FRBM review committee says
rose for the seventh consecutive the persistent impact of
centre can hold fiscal deficit at
month, recording a 27.6% year- demonetisation, data released
3% till 2020
on-year growth in March to by the Central Statistics Office.
$29.2 billion thanks to a low • The Index of Industrial • The Centre can take a pause on
base as well as a robust Production (IIP) had recorded the fiscal consolidation front
performance by major sectors 1.99% growth in February 2016. over the next three years by
including petroleum products. The previous low was a maintaining a fiscal deficit to
• In March, petroleum products contraction of 1.87% in GDP ratio of 3% till 2019-20, the
grew 69.1% to $3.7 billion, while October 2016. FRBM Review Committee
engineering goods went up by • Manufacturing sector, chaired by former Revenue
47% to $7.8 billion and gems & accounting for more than 75% Secretary N.K. Singh has
jewellery shipments rose 12.5% of the index, shrank 2% in recommended.
to $4.1 billion. February 2017. The sector had • Set up to comprehensively
• Meanwhile, goods imports in marginal growth of 0.6% in review and give
March also recorded 45.25% February, 2016. recommendations on the FRBM
growth to $39.6 billion resulting • The main factor retarding roadmap for future, the panel
in trade deficit widening to growth was a fall in consumer has advocated reaching a fiscal
$10.4 billion — the highest goods output — both durable deficit to GDP ratio of 2.8% in
since November 2016 when it and non-durables being in the 2020-21, 2.6% the subsequent
was $12.6 billion. Oil imports negative zone, according to an year and 2.5% in 2022-23.
also rose 101.4% to $9.7 billion analysis by CARE Ratings. • To put that in context, the
in the period. • CARE Ratings said 15 of the 22 government has set a fiscal
• Goods exports during the entire industries witnessed negative deficit target of 3.2% of GDP in
2016-17 were $274.64 billion growth, which was not a good 2017-18, marginally better than
— recording a growth of 4.71%, sign, adding that capital goods the 3.5% clocked last year.
while imports shrank 0.17% to declined against an increase in • The FRBM law enacted in 2003
$380.36 billion. This resulted in January which was expected as had originally envisaged
a trade deficit of $105.7 billion such growth rates have been attaining a fiscal deficit of 3% of
in FY17, wider than $118.7 volatile in the past. GDP by 2008-09, but
billion in FY’16. • The Consumer Price Index amendments over the years had
• The World Trade Organisation (CPI) based inflation inched up revised the year for achieving
said it was forecasting a 2.4% in March 2017 to 3.81% the same target to 2017-18.
growth in global trade in 2017. (provisional) as against 3.65% • The panel has introduced an

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Economy
escape clause that allows the currencies (VCs), including of 3% in the previous financial
government to skip the fiscal Bitcoins, about the potential year.
deficit target for a particular financial, operational, legal, • However, sales of three-
year, in situations that include customer protection and wheelers declined by 4.9% to
national security concerns, acts security related risks that they 5.12 lakh units and the total
of war, national calamities, a are exposing themselves to. commercial vehicles sales grew
collapse of the agriculture • To examine the existing 4.2% to 7.14 lakh units.
sector. framework for virtual • The overall automobile exports
• It recommended that deviations currencies, govt has constituted declined 4.5% in 2016-17 on
from the stipulated fiscal targets an inter-disciplinary committee account of sharp decline in
should not be more than 0.5%. chaired by Special Secretary export of three-wheelers and
The Reserve Bank of India with representatives from the two-wheelers. The growth in
governor Urjit Patel was not in departments of revenue and export of passenger vehicles
favour of such a large deviation. financial services and the and commercial vehicles stood
• The escape clause can also be ministries of Home Affairs as at 16.2% and 5% respectively
triggered if the economy’s real well as Electronics and in 2016-17.
output growth slips by three Information Technology. • For the current financial year,
percentage points from the • In its February advisory, the RBI SIAM expects overall passenger
average of the previous four had said it has not given any vehicles sales to grow 7-9%,
quarters. licence or authorisation to any two-wheelers 9-11%,
• A similar buoyancy clause has entity or company to operate commercial vehicles 4-6% and
been proposed, so that fiscal such schemes or deal with three-wheelers 4-6%.
deficit must fall at least 0.5% Bitcoin or any virtual currency. • Passenger and commercial
below the target if real output vehicle manufacturers have an
Passenger vehicles sales grew
grows 3% faster than that inventory of 1.2 lakh vehicles,
average. at the fastest pace in six years compliant with old BS-III
• The panel has recommended • Passenger vehicles sales grew emission norms, worth Rs. 5,000
that the existing FRBM Act and at the fastest pace in six years in crore piled up following the
rules be scrapped and a new 2016-17, crossing the 30 lakh- Supreme Court’s order.
Debt and Fiscal Responsibility mark for the first time in India, • Automobile dealers offered a
Act be adopted and proposed according to data released by heavy discount to sell their
the creation of a Fiscal Council the Society of Indian inventory after Supreme Court
that the government must Automobile Manufacturers on March 29 ordered a ban on
consult before invoking escape (SIAM). registration and sale of BS-III
clauses. • Sales of passenger vehicles in vehicles from April 1.
Centre to close the gaps on the domestic market grew 9.2% PAN and TAN to come in one
to 30.46 lakh units in 2016-17,
virtual currencies day to improve ease of doing
compared with 27.89 lakh units
business
• The Centre has decided to sold in 2015-16.
close the regulatory gaps to • The sales of sports unity • The Central Board of Direct
keep a check on virtual vehicles (SUVs) grew at a four- Taxes (CBDT) has tied up with
currencies, including Bitcoin, year high of 29.9% to 7.61 lakh Ministry of Corporate Affairs
and has set up an inter- units in 2016-17. However, (MCA) to issue Permanent
disciplinary committee to growth in the passenger cars Account Number (PAN) and
recommend an action plan for segment slowed to a three-year Tax Deduction Account
dealing with such currencies low of 3.8% at 21.02 lakh units. Number (TAN) in a day, to
within three months. • The two-wheeler sales improve the Ease of Doing
• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) registered yearly growth of 6.9% Business for newly incorporated
had also cautioned users, to 1.75 crore units in 2016-17 corporates.
holders and traders of virtual after showing a modest growth • Applicant companies should

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Economy
submit a common application that private equity deals were and Bangladesh Power
form SPICe (INC 32) on MCA supporting funding in the sector Development Board for
portal, and once the data of and the value of transactions purchasing power from the
incorporation is sent to CBDT by had increased from $94 million company’s 1,600 MW Power
MCA, the PAN and TAN are in 2011 to $1.28 billion in 2016, Plant in Jharkhand.
issued immediately without any a jump of 13.5 times. • Bilateral trade between India
further intervention of the • The New Health Policy 2017 too and Bangladesh had grown
applicant. had highlighted that innovative 17% in the past five years to
• The Certificate of Incorporation modes of funding were needed reach $6.5 billion, but
(COI) of newly incorporated to meet the requirements of the Bangladesh’s exports have
companies includes the PAN in healthcare sector, the report failed to cross the billion-dollar
addition to the Corporate said. mark.
Identity Number (CIN). TAN is • The biggest hurdle is the visa
Bangladesh wants India to
also allotted simultaneously. system. Bangladesh gives Indian
invest in countries people a visa so they can enter
Conventional means of infrastructure from any airport or any land port.
providing healthcare must be • But when Bangladesh people
• Bangladesh PM invited Indian
aided with innovative ways get a visa from India, they are
companies to invest in the
• Conventional modes of country’s infrastructure that given either for Petrapole or
resource mobilisation must be requires investments of about Agartala or some other place,
aided by an innovative funding $20 billion a year till 2030, (entry is) limited to only one
mechanism to improve promised to dedicate at least 3 point.
healthcare investments in India, of the 100 proposed SEZs in the • Unless and until we can change
a Healthcare Federation of country for Indian investors. this, it will be very difficult for
India (NATHEALTH)-PwC • Ms. Hasina said she would the regional cooperation to
report has said. encourage Indian investors to ultimately come in place.
• The report said funding should consider investments in Centre’s credit-linked interest
be mobilised from pension Bangladesh in infrastructure subsidy scheme for home loan
funds and that investments projects especially in the
borrowers
should be routed through energy sector, as well as
public-private partnership and manufacturing, transport and • Home loan borrowers have had
long-term debt. food processing. a lot to cheer about lately. Banks
• It has also suggested funding • With a per-capita income of have cut lending rates by 1-1.2
through business trust entities $1,446 and a growth rate of 6% percentage points over the past
such as Real Estate Investment to 7% in the last eight years, year, reducing the monthly EMI
Trusts along with funds sourced Bangladesh offers a fast-growing (equated monthly instalment)
through bilateral investment domestic market of 160 million for borrowers.
treaties. consumers as well as special • For the middle-income
• Underlining the need for huge duty-free access to various category, the Centre’s credit-
funding requirements, the global markets. linked interest subsidy scheme
report said, “FDI in the sector • As many as thirteen pacts were brings more good tidings.
has significantly increased in the signed between Indian and • The scheme, effective from
last three years. Bangladeshi firms at the summit, January 1, 2017, offers an
• However, healthcare entailing investments of about upfront interest subsidy of up
expenditure’s share in GDP $9 billion. to Rs. 2.3-2.35 lakh to eligible
remained around 1.6% in FY16 • Apart from joint ventures borrowers availing themselves
and innovative funding modes between public sector firms of of loans to buy ready-to-use or
would support the target of the two countries, these pacts under-construction property.
taking it to 2.5% by 2030.” included a $2-billion deal • The newly-launched credit-
• It has also highlighted the fact between Adani Power Limited linked subsidy scheme for the

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Economy
middle income group, referred the specified limit — Rs. 9 lakh gotten a lot of attention since
to as CLSS-MIG, covers two for MIG-I and Rs. 12 lakh MIG-II the Nov. 8 election and
income segments — Rs. — the subsidy will be available President Donald Trump’s vows
6,00,001 to Rs. 12 lakh (MIG-I) only up to the threshold limit, to boost the domestic economy,
and Rs. 12,00,001 to Rs. 18 lakh beyond which the borrower data during the quarter has
(MIG-II) per annum. will have to pay rates applicable suggested the global economy
• Those under the MIG-I category under normal circumstances is strengthening.
will be offered interest subsidy (non-subsidised rates). • Shares of the biggest U.S.
of 4 per cent for loans up to Rs. • For now, the scheme is opened companies, which tend to have
9 lakh and under MIG-II an only until December 31, 2017. the most overseas exposure,
interest subsidy of 3 per cent This implies that the property (if have been among the strongest
for loans up toRs. 12 lakh. under construction) has to be performers over the past several
• The subsidy will be calculated completed in a year. weeks.
at 9 per cent NPV (net present • Else you will not be able to • For instance, the S&P 500 has
value) of the interest savings receive the subsidy. To avoid outperformed its average stock
over 20 years or the actual uncertainty, it may be better to this year since mid-February,
tenure, whichever is lower. The go for a ready-to-use property. after performing mostly in line
subsidy could work out to a • Home loan borrowers under the at the beginning of the year.
maximum of Rs. 2.3-2.35 lakh scheme can also get the usual • A weaker dollar boosts offshore
per beneficiary. tax benefit. Under Section 80C revenues when they are
• After your loan is approved and of the Income Tax Act, translated into the U.S. currency.
sanctioned, the lender submits maximum deduction of up to Rs. The U.S. dollar index was down
the claim to one of the Central 1,50,000 is available on the 1.8% in the first quarter, but it
Nodal Agencies with whom it principal amount. was still cheaper during last
has signed an MOU. • Under Section 24, interest that year’s first quarter.
• Housing and Urban is paid towards the home loan • A recent survey showed euro
Development Corporation is exempt up to Rs. 2 lakh. zone business activity at a six-
(HUDCO) and National Housing Remember though that you can year high. Forecasts from the
Bank (NHB) have been claim exemption only on the net IMF show a pickup in the global
identified as the central nodal interest you pay and not on the economy in 2017 and 2018,
agencies to channelise this subsidy component. especially in developing
subsidy to the lending economies.
U.S. investors are looking
institutions. • However, some investors worry
• The subsidy is approved by the overseas for stronger earnings multinationals may have already
nodal agency after verification • America First may be a main priced in big gains in earnings.
of eligibility criteria under the policy of the White House and • The U.S. earnings season gets
CLSS scheme. Once approved, fuel to the stock market rally but under way next week, with
it releases the subsidy amount U.S. investors are looking results from banks JPMorgan
directly to the lender, which is overseas for stronger earnings as Chase, Wells Fargo and
then credited into the S&P 500 companies are set to Citigroup among others. The
borrower’s account. report their first quarter of financial sector is projected to
• This will be deducted from the double-digit profit gains since post a 15.4% profit gain, second
principal loan amount of the 2014. only to energy among S&P
borrower, who will pay EMI on • A strong earnings season would sectors.
the remainder of the principal help justify pricey stock India’s Internet economy is
amount. The entire process of valuations, with the S&P 500
credit of subsidy can take about expected to reach to $250 billion
rallying this month to its most
two to three months after the expensive since 2004 on a • India’s Internet economy is
account is fully disbursed. forward price-to-earnings basis. expected to double to $250
• Also, if the loan amount exceeds • While the U.S. economy has billion, according to a report by

76 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
BCG-TiE. 6%, from 5.75%. the repo rate without the need
• E-commerce and financial • All six members of the monetary for any collateral.
services are expected to policy committee (MPC) — • Analysts said there were upside
account for about $40-$50 which decides interest rates — risks to the 4% target and there
billion, followed by e- voted in favour of the decision. was a possibility of an increase
commerce products ($45-$50 • The central bank said the policy in the cash reserve ratio, going
billion), private and government decision was consistent with forward.
infrastructure spending ($50- the neutral policy stance with • Though RBI has not reduced the
$60 billion). the objective of achieving the repo rate, banks still have scope
• Connectivity ($45-$55 billion), medium-term target for retail to cut lending rates, the central
devices ($30-$40 billion) and inflation, which is 4%. bank said.
digital media and advertising • The central bank said the future • It added that the small savings
($5-$8 billion). course of monetary policy rates should also be lowered as
would largely depend on it noted that these rates are 61-
New H-1B guidelines could lead
incoming data on how 95 bps higher compared with
to more litigations macroeconomic conditions are the ‘what-if’ formula.
• The U.S. government’s new evolving.
Centre to secure legislative
guidance for issuing H-1B visa, • While the repo rate action was
in line with market backing for the Rail
which allows technology firms
expectations, the Governor’s Development Authority
to hire skilled overseas workers,
may lead to increased litigation. ‘hawkish’ tone disappointed • The Centre will likely attempt to
• USCIS, which oversees bond traders who were secure legislative backing for
immigration into the U.S. and expecting a softer tone. the Rail Development Authority
processes the applications, • Yield on the 10-year benchmark (RDA) next year to give more
issued guidelines which said bond hardened to 6.77% as teeth to the country’s first rail
computer programmers need to compared with its previous regulator that will initially be set
prove that it is a specialised skill close of 6.65%. up through an executive order.
to be eligible. • RBI said the path to achieving • The Union Cabinet approved
• In a separate note, the agency 4% inflation would be setting up the rail regulator
said there would be increased challenging. responsible for recommending
scrutiny to detect H-1B visa • The central bank has set its passenger fares, setting
fraud and abuse. The U.S. inflation projection to an performance standards for rail
Department of Justice also average of 4.5% in the first half operations and creating a level
cautioned employers seeking of 2017-18 and 5% in the second playing policy for private sector
H-1B visas not to discriminate half, while keeping its GVA participation through an
against U.S. workers, warning growth projection unchanged executive order.
strict action. at 7.4% for FY18 as compared • The Ministry has targeted
• Indian IT firms have been one with 6.7% in FY17. issuing a gazette notification to
of the biggest users of the H-1B • The central bank said surplus set up the Rail Development
visa programme. liquidity in the banking system Authority by April 15.
had fallen from close to Rs. 8 lakh • After being formed, the
RBI kept the key policy rate, the crore in January to Rs. 4.8 lakh Authority will work within the
repo rate, unchanged crore in March. parameters of the Railways Act,
• The Reserve Bank of India kept • It also said it had proposed a 1989, an official statement had
the key policy rate, the repo standing deposit facility to the said on Wednesday.
rate, unchanged in the first government in November 2015, • This means it can only
bimonthly policy review of approval for which was still recommend changes to
2017-18 but narrowed the awaited. passenger and goods fares to
policy corridor by 25 bps by • SDF is a mechanism to drain the Railway Ministry which will
raising the reverse repo rate to surplus cash at a rate lower than take a final call on fixing the tariff.

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Economy
• However, a Railway Ministry frequent call drops. a new Rs. 2,000 denomination
official said the proposal was • The feedback is then shared currency note was introduced.
dropped later as no appropriate with the telecom service • There are two bank note
mechanism for compensation providers on a weekly basis to printing presses in the country
could be developed. take action in a time-bound — Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note
• All the six regulators in the manner. Mudran Private Limited — a
country have the sanction of • The operators have installed subsidiary of the RBI, and the
Parliament and have been about 2.13 lakh additional Base government-owned Security
accorded a statutory status. Transceiver Stations across the Printing and Minting
These include the TRAI, AERAI, country between June 2016 Corporation of India Limited.
IRDA, CERC, TAMP and PFRDA. and February 2017, the DoT • According to RBI, smaller
• In fact, the PFRDA became added. denomination notes constituted
functional in 2003 through an • The telcos submit an action- only 13.6% of the total currency
executive order and legislative taken report to the DoT Task in circulation, in value terms, as
backing was secured through Force every fortnight. at March 2016.
the PFRDA Act which was Additionally, the DoT Task • The higher denomination notes
passed a decade later in 2013. Force meets with the TSPs once — Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 — that
a month to discuss the issues were demonetised constituted
Centre survey shows more than
that come up via the IVRS. 86.4% of the currency in
60% faces call drop • The DoT said for the period circulation.
• The Centre said more than 62% February 15-28, 43,403 • At end-March 2016, the value
of the 2.2 lakh subscribers that feedback cases had been taken of banknotes in circulation was
it surveyed complained of call up for investigation by the Rs. 16.415 lakh crore — a rise of
drops. operators. 14.9% over the previous year.
• The survey was conducted • Cumulatively, a total of 9,328 According to RBI, the volume
using the Integrated Voice cases have been resolved of banknotes increased by 8%
Response System (IVRS) that through the initiative. About against 8.1% in 2014- 15.
the Department of 5,529 cases which were not
India and the U.K. announced a
Telecommunications (DoT) had associated with call drops but
related to data, roaming and joint Green Growth Equity Fund
rolled out last December in
Delhi, Mumbai, U.P., billing were also identified by • India and the U.K. announced
Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and the TSPs. a joint Green Growth Equity
Goa. 200 rupee note to come soon Fund in which they have
• About 2.21 lakh subscribers committed to anchor invest up
participated in the survey, out • The Centre is examining a to £120 million each.
of which about 1.38 proposal from the Reserve Bank • “The purpose is to help India
lakh(62.5%) subscribers have of India (RBI) to introduce Rs. enhance inclusive growth by
reported call drops. 200 denomination currency boosting investment into green
• As per feedback received, the notes to improve the cash infrastructure on commercial
problem of call drops “is more situation. terms,” the draft agreement said.
severe” indoors, according to • According to the sources, a • “The success of the Fund will
the statement. The subscribers smaller denomination note will crowd in private investment
receive an IVRS call from short improve liquidity. In November that will have a transformational
code 1955 and are asked a few last year, the Centre announced impact on India’s
questions on the call drop the demonetisation of Rs. 1,000 development.” The fund aims to
problem. and Rs. 500 notes. raise about £500 million, and
• They can also send a toll-free • While a new Rs. 500 note was may unlock more in future.
SMS to the same short code, introduced with added security • The deal was announced at the
containing the name of city/ features, a new Rs. 1,000 note bilateral meeting between
town/village, where they face was not reintroduced. Instead, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

78 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Economy
and the U.K. Chancellor of the Shifting Project outputs and • Refunds amounting to Rs. 1.62
Exchequer Philip Hammond. called on other nations to meet lakh crore have been issued
their commitments. during April 2016-March 2017,
India says it will deepen ties
• The exchange of information which is 32.6% higher than the
with U.K. between the U.K. and India refunds issued during FY 2015-
• Finance Minister Arun Jaitley under the Common Reporting 16,” the statement added.
and U.K. Chancellor discussed Standards on Automatic
Nasscom believes changes in H-
the post-Brexit scenario and Exchange of Tax Information
will begin this calendar year. 1B visa will not have much
issued a statement reiterating
Impact on Indians
the two countries’ commitment Gross tax collections grew about
to strengthen economic • The country’s premier software
18% in 2016-17
cooperation and collaborate on lobby, Nasscom, on Tuesday
cross-border tax evasion and • Gross tax collections grew said the new policy memo on
avoidance. about 18% in 2016-17 to Rs. H-1B visas by the U.S. “should
• The two Finance Ministers also 17.1 lakh crore, surpassing the have little impact” on its
welcomed the National Centre’s revised estimates of Rs. member companies.
Highways Authority of India’s 16.97 lakh crore for the year, as • Nasscom said, “The H-1B visa
proposal to issue a masala bond per provisional figures released. system exists specifically
in London in the next few • Net direct tax collections grew because of the persistent
months. by 14.2% in the year, bringing shortage of highly-skilled
• They also welcomed IREDA’s in Rs. 8.47 lakh crore for the domestic IT talent in the U.S.,”
plans to issue a green bond in exchequer, while net indirect and its members will continue
London and list their masala tax collections grew 22% at Rs. to provide skilled talent and
bonds on the London Stock 8.63 lakh crore. solutions to fill that gap and
Exchange within six months. • While the direct tax kitty was in keep U.S. companies
• This follows the successful line with the revised estimates competitive globally.
issuances by HDFC (Rs. 3,000 for 2016-17, net indirect tax • It added that the additional
crore or £366 million) and NTPC collections exceeded the evidence showing that the jobs
(Rs. 2,000 crore or £244 million), revised estimates. themselves are complex or
which were the first ever masala • Within direct taxes, corporate specialised and require
bonds to be issued by Indian income tax collections grew professional degrees
entities. 13.1% and personal income tax mentioned by the memo has
• The two countries agreed to increased 18.4%. However, been the de-facto requirement
work together swiftly to after taking into account for years.
encourage sustainable bilateral refunds, the growth rates were • According to December 2015
investment that benefits both 6.7% and 21%, respectively. projections by the U.S. Labour
countries, including through the • The provisional figures for Department, employment of
Joint Working Group. direct tax collections up to computer and information
• They also welcomed the recent March 2017 show that net technology occupations will
introduction of a fast-track collections are at Rs. 8.47 lakh grow 12% from 2014 to 2024
investment promotion crore which is 14.2% more than (faster than the average for all
mechanism, which provides a the net collections for the other occupations).
single window for U.K. corresponding period last year. • However, due to shortfalls in
companies that are looking to • which is a major increase college graduates in science,
either establish or expand their compared to the growth rate of technology, engineering and
business in India. the previous financial year. mathematics (STEM), entering
• The two ministers said they • Net direct tax collections stand the STEM workforce, there
encourage the timely at Rs. 8.47 lakh crore which could be 2.4 million unfilled
implementation of the G20/ shows 100% achievement for STEM jobs in the U.S. by 2018.
OECD Base Erosion and Profit financial year 2016-17. • With more than half of these

http://www.iasexamportal.com 79
Economy
vacancies in computer and IT- IV vehicles. Bank), is looking to raise about
related skills. More than 60% of • The CV industry is believed to $3 billion from international
the Indian IT industry’s $108- have sold 55% of the inventory capital markets in 2017-18.
billion export revenue comes by offering discounts of up to • Of this $3 billion, Exim Bank
from the U.S. 40% on the sticker price thus plans to mop up $1 billion by
• In the medium-term to longer- bearing a cost of Rs. 1,200 crore. introducing a 10-year bond
term though the impact of this • As many as 40,000 to 45,000 issue in the ‘144A / Regulation
will be significantly reduced units of unsold inventory lying S format’ (under the US
through higher recruitment in with dealers would be returned Securities Act) to raise funds
the overseas subsidiaries of the in the coming months. These from Qualified Institutional
Indian IT companies. units are likely to upgraded to Buyers.
• Most of them have already BS-IV or dismantled for spares • The bond issue of $1 billion in
initiated steps for overseas or would be exported in the July 2016 was the largest
recruitment drives with higher coming six months. issuance ever for Exim Bank and
prices being charged to their the largest single tranche
Purchasing Managers’ Index
clients. issuance out of India in 2016, it
rose to 52.5 in March had said.
Commercial vehicle
• Manufacturing activity • MTN is a debt note typically
manufacturers hit hard by BS maturing in five to ten years.
expanded at the fastest pace
III ban Further, Mr. Rasquinha said out
in five months in March,
• The Supreme Court’s (SC) ban reflecting a sustained of the $10.5 billion GMTN
on the sale and registration of improvement in operating programme, Exim Bank has so
BS-III vehicles from April 1, conditions, according to a far drawn down around $6-6.5
2017 has hit commercial vehicle private sector survey. billion.
(CV) manufacturers hard as the • The Nikkei Manufacturing • Huge funds such as pension
order is estimated to have cost Purchasing Managers’ Index funds as well as wealth and
them Rs. 2,500 crore. rose to 52.5 in March from 50.7 asset management funds, that
• The discounts and incentives on in February. A reading above 50 have promised a certain
vehicles sold till March 31, 2017 implies an expansion in activity minimum rate of return to their
are expected to have cost CV and one below 50 denotes investors in countries including
manufacturers about Rs. 1,200 contraction. Rates of expansion the U.S., are looking at emerging
crore. Additionally Rs. 1,300 in factory orders and production markets to give them a better
crore would be incurred to accelerated again, encouraging weighted average rate of return.
dispose of the unsold inventory. some companies to scale up • Mr. Rasquinha said of all the
• While the two-wheeler their input buying and take on emerging markets, India – being
segment witnessed marginal additional workers. the fastest growing economy,
impact with most of the BS-III • The report said the survey and with best performing stock
bikes and scooters being sold showed evidence of market and currency – offers
with up to 30% discounts, the strengthening demand such funds the greatest
passenger car segment conditions with the the level of opportunities.
remained largely unaffected as new orders received by India’s merchandise export is
this segment had mostly shifted manufacturers rising strongly in
expected to cross $300 billion
to BS-IV beginning last year. March and at the quickest pace
during the current fiscal
• The CV makers had built up in five months.
large inventory and even • India’s merchandise export is
Export-Import Bank of India, is
continued to manufacture BS- expected to cross $300 billion
looking to raise about $3 billion
III vehicles till March in during the current fiscal, said a
anticipation of strong buying in • The Indian government-owned top official of Federation of
April given the price increases export credit agency, Export- India Export Organisations
of 8% to 10% expected on BS- Import Bank of India (Exim (FIEO).

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Economy
• FIEO expects India’s shipments • The rules say that if the major smart mobility, smart healthcare,
for fiscal 2016-17 to close at outcome of a transaction is a tax smart infrastructure, smart
$272 billion against $262 billion benefit and there is no sound technology, smart governance,
in the previous year – a growth business basis for the smart education and smart
of 3-4%. transaction, then the citizen.
• This fiscal, the exporters’ body government can invoke GAAR • In 2011, there were no smart
expects manufacturing and reclassify the transaction or cities in the world. However,
shipments to be in the region of the profits arising from it. there will be 26 of them by
$300-310 billion and services to • Similarly there could be cases 2026,. Beijing, Tokyo,
be between $175 billion and where the tax benefit accrues Singapore, Sydney and
$180 billion. upfront whereas the business Amsterdam will be among
• India’s merchandise export is advantages of a transaction them, while there will be none
expected to cross $300 billion could accrue only with a delay. from India. Yes, you read it right,
during the current fiscal, said a In such a case, would the none.
top official of Federation of transaction be treated as one • Indian cities have got a long way
India Export Organisations conducted purely to evade to go before they qualify as
(FIEO). tax? ‘smart cities’; may be another 15-
• FIEO expects India’s shipments • In any case, tax experts agree 20 years. The Indian
for fiscal 2016-17 to close at that the government has government’s SCM, which is
$272 billion against $262 billion included several safeguards essentially a five-year game
in the previous year – a growth against bullying by tax plan, is actually just one baby
of 3-4%. authorities, such as several layers step towards forming smart
• This fiscal, the exporters’ body of permissions required before cities in the real sense.
expects manufacturing GAAR is invoked. • The Centre proposes to
shipments to be in the region of develop 100 smart cities over
Government pins its hopes on
$300-310 billion and services to the next five years with overall
be between $175 billion and Smart cities budgetary plan of about Rs.
$180 billion • By 2050, about 843 million 1,00,000 crore. It will be
• Though last year’s export people are expected to reside investing Rs. 100 crore every
growth was minimal, Mr. Sahai in the urban areas — accounting year for the next five years in
said one must look at the for about 50 per cent of the each of the short-listed 100
outcome in the context of overall population. cities.
global scenario. • The Smart City Mission (SCM) of • Most of the projects, about 85
the Centre is part of the overall per cent, are area-centred
Industry concerned with anti
game plan to accommodate the projects. They focus on local
tax avoidance rules area issues instead of
massive urbanisation that is
• With the government expected in the future — by implementing it throughout the
implementing its anti tax modernising the existing mid- city.
avoidance rules from April 1, sized cities. • As per the Ministry of Urban
industry is concerned about the • ‘Smart city’ is a relatively new Development, Rs. 1,30,000
greater subjective authority concept. While there is no crore worth of projects have
being given to the tax specific way to define it, the been awarded and are in
department and how this could most popular is from Frost and various stages of
render transactions Sullivan. implementation.
unprofitable. • Smart cities are those which are • A cursory look at the project
• The General Anti-Avoidance built on smart and intelligent plans of 60 cities shows that the
Rules (GAAR) are designed to solutions and technology that plan content varies drastically
prevent the avoidance of tax by lead to at least five of the with the needs of cities.
taking advantage of following smart objectives — • Housing is the biggest
international tax laws. smart energy, smart building, opportunity emanating from

http://www.iasexamportal.com 81
Economy
SCM. For cities of Surat, of back-bone infrastructure and India strongly goes against the
Ahmedabad, Thane, Indore, transport systems are also protectionism
Bhopal, Jabalpur and common.
Bhubaneshwar, it is the single • Also, to reduce the carbon • Despite a formal statement by
largest project. However, the footprint, many cities are the world’s largest economies
nature of projects differs. introducing electric rickshaws being silent on concerns over
• While in places like Surat, the (e-rickshaws). As against the protectionist measures, India
focus is on affordable housing, regular autorickshaws that run said Friday that it strongly
in Indore, it is about slum on CNG or petrol, e-rickshaws supported ‘resistance’ to all
redevelopment. will be powered by batteries forms of protectionism.
• With 40 more cities expected charged from solar power. • Head of G20 Presidency team,
to get qualified for smart city • Smart waste management could German Federal Ministry of
funding, the opportunity for be classified as that relating to Finance, said the failure to
residential housing is huge. waste handling, its sorting and incorporate the sentence —
Moreover, improved segregation, transportation and “we will resist all forms of
urbanisation will result in more its disposal. protectionism” — in the
people moving into the city, • Sensor-based collection, for meeting communique was a
triggering demand for more instance, helps identify the “major setback for Germany and
houses. status of bins and optimise pick- India.”
• Moreover, the ‘satellite towns’ up routes and schedules. • A communique issued at an
around these smart cities will be Automated waste collection earlier meeting in 2016 had
a good opportunity to develop systems, in turn, reduce the included that phrase. Reports
affordable housing. need for manpower. had said the phrase was
• With the recent Budget doling • NDMC is spending about Rs. dropped from the March
out ‘infrastructure status’ to 200 crore towards water and communique as it did not
affordable housing projects, waste-water management, receive U.S. support.
many real estate players are while Kanpur is investing Rs. 70 • On expansion of the G20, he
jumping on the bandwagon. crore towards water metering said there were no such plans
• Many of the cities have taken up and strengthening of its existing currently, adding, however, that
energy-based projects in a big water supply network. the G20 had been conducting
way to address power • ICT (information and a lot of outreach activities in
shortages. communications technology) countries, especially in Africa.
• NDMC is looking at spending plays a critical role in the • Issues of interest to India
about Rs. 1,500 crore in building building of Smart cities. included ensuring ease of
smart grid for efficient energy • For instance, in the case of mobility of skilled professionals
management. It is also investing citizen services, technology across the world. India is also
into alternate energy by building plays an integral role by keen on ensuring energy
40-MW solar power plants at a providing access to online access.
cost of Rs. 430 crore. citizen engagement and Growth of eight core sectors
• Transport is another big focus participatory process. Provision slipped to a more than one-year
area for many cities, including of Wi-Fi services at public low
Pune, Raipur, Thane and Great places and online service
Warangal. delivery are other ways. • The growth of eight core sectors
• SCM projects relating to • Moreover, ICT plays a key role slipped to a more than one-year
transport broadly address issues in improving city governance by low of 1% in February mainly
of high travel demand, last-mile building city command and due to decline in output of
connectivity, traffic operations centres. Many of the crude oil, natural gas, refinery
management and transit. cities have lined up huge products, fertilisers and
Investments into development investments in this space. cement.

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Economy
• The growth rate of eight Fiscal deficit target exceeded to corresponding period last
infrastructure sectors of coal, 113% financial year. The total revenue
crude oil, natural gas, refinery receipt till February was Rs.
products, fertilisers, steel, • India’s fiscal deficit at the end 10.94 lakh crore or 76.9% of the
cement and electricity was 9.4% of February worked out to Rs. budget estimate, lower than
in February 2016. 6.05 lakh crore, 113.4% of the 78.5% recorded in the year-ago
• The previous low of 0.9% was full year target for the 2016— period.
recorded in December 2015. In 17 fiscal, mainly because of • The major decline was
January 2017, these sectors lower realisation on non-tax witnessed in non-tax revenue as
grew by 3.4%. revenues, according to government got only 62.4% at
• The core sectors, which government data released. Rs. 2.09 lakh crore of the budget
contribute 38% to the total • The fiscal deficit, reflection of estimate.
industrial production, government borrowing to meet • During April-February 2015-16,
expanded 4.4% in April- revenue—expenditure gap the non-tax revenue collection
February this fiscal compared to was at 113.4% in the 11-month stood at 81.7% of that year’s
3.5% growth in the same period period as compared to 107.4% budget estimate.
previous financial year. in the similar period previous • Tax revenue during April-
• However, coal and steel fiscal. February 2016-17, however,
recorded positive growth • Government had budgeted a was higher at Rs. 8.85 lakh crore
during the month. The output fiscal deficit of Rs. 5.34 lakh or 81.3% of the budget
of crude oil, natural gas, refinery crore for current fiscal ending estimate, up from 77.7% last
products, fertilisers and cement today (March 31). year.
contracted by 3.4%, 1.7%, 2.3%, • As per data released by the • The government data showed
5.3% and 15.8%, respectively Controller General of Accounts Centre’s Plan Expenditure
during the month under review. (CGA), the revenue deficit during the period was Rs. 4.81
• Coal output widened by 7.1 %, during April-February at Rs. 4.44 lakh crore and non-plan
while steel output increased by lakh crore works out to be expenditure stood at Rs. 12.71
8.7 % and electricity by 1.5 %. 142.8% of budget estimate. lakh crore.
• It was 114.4% in the

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Science & Technology

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
IISC developed molecules to in guinea pigs. bonding probably evolved from
reduce survivability of • The major reason for prolonged an existing, broader affinity for
Mycobacterium tuberculosis treatment of TB is the group living.
bacterium’s ability to persist in • The new study pinpoints a
• Scientists at the Indian Institute dormant form, which is tolerant unique way in which oxytocin
of Science (IISc) Bengaluru to most antibiotics used in the alters activity in a part of the
have developed two new, treatment regimen. brain called the nucleus
potent molecules that can • So inhibition of (p)ppGpp- accumbens, which is crucial to
severely impact the survival of mediated persistence could experiencing the pleasant
mycobacteria, including help in shortening the treatment sensation neuroscientists call
Mycobacterium tuberculosis regime, dealing with the “reward.”
that causes TB. emergence of multiple drug • The findings not only provide
• The results were published in resistance and treatment of validity for ongoing trials of
the journal Antimicrobial chronic infections. oxytocin in autistic patients, but
Agents and Chemotherapy. • Under hostile conditions, also suggest possible new
• Unlike most antibiotics that bacteria tend to form biofilms, treatments for neuropsychiatric
target the bacterial metabolism which protect the bacteria from conditions in which social
by aiming at the cellular stress and induce tolerance to activity is impaired.
components, the novel antibiotics. Both M. tuberculosis • The group thinks their findings
molecules inhibit the stress and M. smegmatis that do have in mice are likely to generalise
response pathway of the Rel gene cannot form a to humans because the brain’s
mycobacteria. biofilm. reward circuitry has been so
• The stress response pathway is • Since there are very few carefully conserved over the
crucial for bacteria to survive antibiotics that target the stress course of hundreds of millions
during hostile conditions such response pathway of the of years of evolution.
as lack of nutrients and the bacteria, the two molecules • This extensive cross-species
presence of antibiotics, to name offer great promise. similarity probably stems from
a few. So any inhibition of this pleasure’s absolutely essential
pathway will lead to its death. Oxytocin hormone is involved
role in reinforcing behaviour
• The master regulator of stress in a broader range of social likely to boost an individual’s
pathway in the case of interactions chance of survival and
mycobacteria is (p)ppGpp procreation.
• Oxytocin, often referred to as
(Guanosine pentaphospahte or
“the love hormone,” is involved Geologists searching for an
Guanosine tetraphosphate).
in a broader range of social efficient and cheap way to
Though a molecule that inhibits
interactions than previously
the (p)ppGpp formation has remove carbon dioxide
understood, according to a
already been synthesised, the
study on mice that appears in • Deep in the jagged red
efficacy is not much.
the journal Nature. mountains of Oman, geologists
• Earlier studies have shown that
• Scientists estimate that the are searching for an efficient
when the rel gene is deleted,
advent of social living and cheap way to remove
the long-term survival ability
preceded the emergence of carbon dioxide from the air and
under stress was lost; the M.
pair living by 35 million years. oceans and perhaps begin to
tuberculosis bacteria was
• The new study suggests that reverse climate change.
unable to persist in mice and
oxytocin’s role in one-on-one • They are coring samples from
unable to form tubercle lesions

84 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Science & Technology
one of the world’s only exposed weather and food insecurity ‘heat wave’ and 6.5C and more,
sections of the Earth’s mantle to worldwide, according to the a ‘severe heat wave.’
uncover how a spontaneous United Nations climate body. • The IMD counted the number
natural process millions of years • Natural carbon levels have risen of heat wave days in 110
ago transformed carbon from 280 to 405 parts per million weather stations nationwide
dioxide into limestone and since the Industrial Revolution, and, in a 2013 report, found that
marble. and current estimates hold that between 1960 and 2010, there
• As the world mobilises to the world will be 6°C hotter by were about 510 ‘heat wave days’
confront climate change, the 2100. every year in the decades 1961-
main focus has been on • In 2015, 196 nations signed the 70 and 1971-80.
reducing emissions through fuel Paris climate accords, agreeing • This decreased to 470 in (1981-
efficient cars and cleaner to curb greenhouse gas 90) and jumped to about 580
power plants. emissions to levels that would days/year and 670 days/year
• But some researchers are also keep the rise in the Earth’s respectively in the decades
testing ways to remove or temperature to under 2°C. (1991-00 and 2001-10). The
recycle carbon already in the • Around 13 tons of core samples same roughly holds for severe
seas and sky. from four different sites will be heat waves.
• The Hellisheidi geothermal sent to the Chikyu, a state-of- • Studies have linked an increase
plant in Iceland injects carbon the-art research vessel off the in heat waves to more increase
into volcanic rock. At the coast of Japan, where Prof. in El Nino events, or years
massive Sinopec fertiliser plant Keleman and other geologists marked by an anomalous
in China, carbon is filtered and will analyse them in round-the- heating in the Central Pacific
reused as fuel. clock shifts. Ocean that’s linked to a
• In all, 16 industrial projects • Just like in Oman’s mountains, weakening of the Indian
currently capture and store the submerged rock would monsoon.
around 27 million tons of chemically absorb carbon from • The Indian Ocean
carbon, according to the the water. The water could then temperatures are also rising
International Energy Agency. be cycled back to the surface faster than the other oceans,
• That’s less than 0.1% of global to absorb more carbon from the and this, too, may be reducing
emissions human activity is atmosphere, in a sort of moisture over the Indian
estimated to pump about 40 conveyor belt. mainland, thus playing some
billion tons a year into the part in longer stretches of hot
IMD says the country is on an
atmosphere but the technology days.
has shown promise. average 0.6 degree Celsius • Deforestation, the heat-island
• The sultanate boasts the largest hotter than a century ago effect, and industrial pollution
exposed sections of the Earth’s • The India Meteorological are also being blamed for
mantle, thrust up by plate Department (IMD) says the exacerbating heat waves.
tectonics millions of years ago. country is on an average 0.6 • Typically, heat waves are
The mantle contains peridotite, degree Celsius hotter than a associated with the north and
a rock that reacts with the century ago. 2016 was the northwest of India and over
carbon in air and water to form warmest year since 1901. coastal Andhra Pradesh, north
marble and limestone. • Until 2015, 13 of India’s 15 Odisha and parts of West
• Rain and springs pull carbon warmest years ever were after Bengal.
from the exposed mantle to 2000. Heat waves are a sharply • However, there’s been a slight
form stalactites and stalagmites defined concept, as per Indian increase in the number of
in mountain caves. meteorology. regions in recent years, with
• Carbon dioxide is the primary • Depending on whether a more parts of the Himalayan
greenhouse gas driving climate place’s historical temperature is plains, regions north of Andhra
change, which threatens 40C or less, a 4.5C (or greater) Pradesh and Central India also
political instability, severe rise in temperature counts as a registering more heat waves.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 85
Science & Technology
• This year, the maximum spikes known. manner.
in temperatures, in May, were • The asteroid will approach • According to the United
recorded in unconventional Earth from the direction of the National Environmental
places such as Shimla, Kullu and Sun and will become visible in Programme, about 50 million
tourist spots in Uttarakhand. the night sky after April 19. tonnes of e-waste is generated
• Prolonged exposure can cause • It is predicted to brighten to annually across the world.
dehydration and sometimes about magnitude 11, when it • The new approach is based on
death. Heat waves killed 1,422 could be visible in small optical the idea of crushing e-waste
in Andhra Pradesh and 541 in telescopes for one or two nights into nanosize particles using a
Telangana in 2015 or about 90% before it fades as the distance ball mill at very low temperature
of all the heat wave mortality of from Earth rapidly increases, ranging from -50 to -150 degree
that year. NASA said. C.
• The next year, deaths halved • Small asteroids pass within this • When crushed to nanosize
because of several initiatives by distance of Earth several times particles for about 30 minutes,
the government, including each week, but the upcoming different classes of materials —
early-warnings and improved close approach is the closest by metals, oxides and polymer —
public access to drinking water. any known asteroid of this size, that go into the making of
Staying indoors during a heat or larger, since asteroid Toutatis, electronic items get physically
wave is the best way to be safe. a five-kilometre asteroid, which reduced into their constituent
approached within about four phases, which can then be
A relatively large near-Earth
lunar distances in 2004. separated without using any
asteroid will fly safely past • The next known encounter of chemicals.
Earth an asteroid of comparable size • There is also a lower limit to
• A relatively large near-Earth will occur in 2027 when the which materials can be broken
asteroid will fly safely past our 800-metre-wide asteroid 1999 into when e-waste is milled at
planet on April 19 at a distance AN10 will fly by at one lunar room temperature.
of about 1.8 million kilometres distance, about 380,000 • The maximum size reduction
— over four times the distance kilometres. that can be achieved is about
from Earth to the Moon, NASA • The encounter on April 19 is the of 200 nanometre. But in the
said. closest this asteroid has come case of low temperature ball
• Although there is no possibility to Earth for at least the last 400 milling the size can be reduced
for the asteroid to collide with years and will be its closest to 20-150 nanometres.
Earth, this will be a very close approach for at least the next • The polymer becomes brittle
approach for an asteroid of this 500 years. when cooled to -120 degree C
size. • Also on April 19, the comet and ball milling easily breaks it
• The asteroid, known as 2014 PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) will into a fine power. Metals and
JO25, was discovered in May make its closest approach to oxides too get broken but are a
2014 by astronomers at the Earth, at a very safe distance of bit bigger in size.
Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, 175 million kilometres, NASA • The crushed powder was then
US. said. mixed with water to separate
• Contemporary measurements the components into individual
Researchers found a novel way
by NASA’s NEOWISE mission classes of materials using gravity.
to recycle the mounting pile of • The powder separated into two
indicate that the asteroid is
electronic waste layers — the polymer floats at
roughly 650 meters in size, and
that its surface is about twice as • Indian Institute of Science the top due to lower density,
reflective as that of the Moon. (IISc) researchers have found a while metals and oxides of
• At this time very little else is novel way to recycle the similar size and different density
known about the object’s mounting pile of electronic settle at the bottom.
physical properties, even waste more efficiently and in an • The bottom layer when diluted
though its trajectory is well environmentally friendly further separated into oxides at

86 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Science & Technology
the top and metals at the • Analysis of the satellite speed up flights.
bottom. The oxides and metals imageries of the bloom areas • It was the first time SpaceX
were present as individual indicated that it extended from founder Elon Musk tried to fly a
elements. Oman to Gujarat. booster that soared before an
• Though the extension of the orbital mission.
Coastal States of India may not
bloom towards Gujarat coast • He was at a loss for words after
suffer from the massive varies annually, typically it the Falcon 9 core landed on the
Arabian Sea algal bloom remains about 15 km away from bull’s-eye of the ocean platform
• The coastal States of India may the shore. following lift-off with a
not suffer from the massive algal • The decomposition reduces broadcasting satellite.
bloom that has been reported dissolved oxygen from the • Mr. Musk foresees dozens, if not
from the Arabian Sea. water column and causes hundreds of repeat flights, for a
• Ocean-watchers had earlier adverse effect on fish. booster and rocket turnarounds
reported that a bloom of the size Secondly, degrading Noctiluca of as little as 24 hours, perhaps
of Mexico, which originated in cells release ammonia in the by next year.
the Gulf of Oman, had reached water increasing toxic level and • Land, refuel and then back up
the Arabian Sea and feared that it causes fish mortality. again, with everything leading
it could reach Indian shores. • Earlier studies in the bloom area to one day putting humanity
• Indian National Centre for had indicated that there was no “out there among the stars.”
Ocean Information Services, significant increase in ammonia • This particular first stage landed
(INCOIS), confirmed that the or decrease in dissolved oxygen on an ocean platform almost
algal species green Noctiluca during degrading stage of the exactly a year ago after a space
scintillans had bloomed. The bloom in the off shore waters of station launch for NASA.
presence of the green algae Gujarat. • SpaceX refurbished and tested
gives deep green colour to the • Cool dry continental air from the the 15-story booster, still
ocean in the areas of spread. northeast causes an increase in sporting its nine original
• Researchers at INCOIS say that surface density of the sea water engines. It nailed another
the current bloom was unlikely due to evaporative cooling and vertical landing at sea once it
to impact the coastal States of increased salinity. was finished boosting the
the country. satellite for the SES company of
SpaceX successfully launched
• The researchers use remote Luxembourg.
and then retrieved its first • SpaceX employees outside
sensing technique for the
recycled rocket jammed Mission Control at the
identification of the bloom
species. In-situ studies were • SpaceX successfully launched Hawthorne, California, company
also carried out earlier by and then retrieved its first headquarters cheered loudly
deploying research vessels to recycled rocket, a historic feat every step of the way and again
understand the various phases and the biggest leap yet in its when the satellite reached its
of the algal bloom. bid to drive down costs and proper orbit.

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
SELECTED ARTICLES FROM VARIOUS NEWSPAPERS & JOURNALS

A lost opportunity 29% in Asia. This also implies that the spending. The figure was omitted a
number of women who avail their day earlier from the annual budget
On March 9, a day after
maternity benefits and yet do not report released by the Ministry of
International Women's Day,
resume their jobs is rather high, Finance. The modest budget
Parliament cleared the Maternity
adding to the cost concerns of their increase was surprising, especially
Benefit (Amendment) Bill. Union
recruiters. since President Xi Jinping, who chairs
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya
That said, some of the other the Central Military Commission, is
called it his "humble gift to women."
provisions in the Bill are encouraging undertaking a comprehensive
The Bill extends the period of
and if implemented well, will help overhaul of the military to turn it into
paid maternity leave for women
young mothers stay in the workplace. a nimble, modern force.
working in the organised sector to 26
For example, organisations which The officially announced figure
weeks from the current 12. This is
employ more than 30 women (or 50 may not fully reflect the Chinese
applicable to all organisations that
people, whichever is less) will now spending in beefing up its military
employ 10 or more people. Although
have to provide a crèche. The mother capabilities in both conventional and
on the face of it this is a Bill that will
is allowed to visit the crèche four unconventional arenas. Most China
benefit women employees, in its
times during the day. Also, mothers observers believe that the total
implementation it is likely to adversely
who adopt babies are entitled to 12 spending by the country is
impact women in the workplace. The
weeks of paid maternity leave. significantly more than the official
gender ratio in corporate India is
Where the Bill fails utterly budget. It is well known that much of
already highly lopsided. In 2015,
though, is in its complete negligence the Chinese spending on dual-use
women accounted for only 21% of
of the roles of fathers. Not only is this capabilities is not accounted as
the jobs at the entry level to
a lost opportunity to make some military spending.
managerial position, according to a
report, From Intention to Impact, provisions for gender parity, it also Observers were surprised by
published by Catalyst, a non-profit works as a double whammy against the increase in defence spending,
organisation. Even as HR managers women, by heaping all parental especially given that American
strive to increase the gender diversity responsibilities exclusively on her. It President Donald Trump proposes a
in their organisations, they are wary further pushes the arguments of both 10% increase in military spending,
about the added costs of hiring comparative costs of hiring women though the U.S. has wound up most
young, fertile women. This extension versus men, as well as ties women of its major foreign operations, and
of maternity leave to six months will down to the primary role of being the growing tension between the
effectively double these costs and childcare providers and not two countries. Pentagon's budget,
this is likely to result in much fewer professionals in the workplace. proposed in the last week of
women being employed in the Comparing budgets February, is $603 billion. While China
corporate sector. inhabits a far more complex
China announced its official neighbourhood, it is nowhere near
In progressive countries, at least defence budget for 2017. With a rise the U.S. in terms of military
a part of the maternity costs are borne of 7%, the official spending on capabilities, expeditionary
by the government. In India, this is defence would be 1.044 trillion yuan operations and strategic capabilities.
entirely passed on to companies. ($151.43 billion, or about Rs. 10 lakh However, China would also be
There is both a direct as well as an crore) in 2017, a spokeswoman for drawing its lessons from the collapse
indirect cost to long maternity leaves. the National People's Congress of Soviet Union, which stretched its
Also, India's leaking pipeline - the announced in an effort to dispel resources in an arms race with the U.S.
number of women who quit their jobs global concerns about lack of
between junior and middle levels - is For 2017-18, Finance Minister
transparency in Chinese defence
50%, compared to the average of Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs. 3,59,854

88 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
crore (roughly $53.5 billion) to the Donald Trump. At that meeting, Mr. is an apartheid state, then this is
Ministry of Defence, which is a third Trump seemed to disregard the tantamount to war crime (in the 1977
of the Chinese defence budget. international consensus towards the Protocol Additional to the Geneva
Some part of the Indian budget creation of two states. In fact, as this Conventions) and to a crime against
would be spent in catching up with report and others show, the two-state humanity (in the 1973 Apartheid
the modern infrastructure and military solution has been long vitiated. The Convention and the 1998 Rome
capabilities across the border. Israeli government's illegal Jewish Statute of the ICC).
However, much of New Delhi's plans settlement project in the West Bank An exit from Brexit?
to counter China's growing military and its virtual annexation of East
strength is shelved already. India's Jerusalem makes it impossible to British Prime Minister Theresa
first Mountain Strike Corps, meant for imagine the establishment of May took to the stage in Glasgow to
China operations, is now scaled down, Palestine in that region. What exists is address a gathering of Scottish
the IAF is struggling to meet the huge one state with an apartheid system, Conservatives as talk of a potential
shortage of fighters, and the Navy with Israeli Jews in a dominant second Scottish referendum
does not even have enough capital position over the Palestinians. The gathered pace. Mrs. May adopted a
budget to pay for committed new UN report speaks to this strategy of attack: lambasting the
liabilities. disturbing apartheid situation not only Scottish National Party (SNP) for
in the Occupied Territory of the West "tunnel vision nationalism", including
Crimes of apartheid
Bank and East Jerusalem, but in all of in its approach to the EU referendum.
Apartheid is a powerful word, Israel. The SNP had been highlighting
and the United Nations does not use the significance of retaining single
Palestinians who have Israeli
it loosely. But now, in a report market access to the EU, but this, she
citizenship (ezrahut) do not have the
released on March 15 in Beirut, said, clouded the fact that the U.K.
right to nationality (le'um), which
Lebanon, the UN has proclaimed that domestic market was worth "four
means that they can only access
Israel 'is guilty of the crime of times more to Scottish firms" than
inferior social services, face restrictive
apartheid'. This is a very significant Europe. She then pointed to an
zoning laws, and find themselves
judgment, one with important example of what she believed could
unable to freely buy land. All
ramifications for the UN, for the be achieved outside the EU. She
Palestinians - whether those who live
International Court of Justice and for noted that Scottish whisky
in Haifa (Israel) or in Ain al-Hilweh
the international community. represented just a 1% share of the
(Lebanon) - suffer the consequences
In 2015, the UN Economic and of Israeli apartheid. This indignity is Indian market, thanks to a tariff of
Social Commission for Western Asia punctuated with laws that humiliate 150%. While Scotland voted
(ESCWA) was charged by its the Palestinians. The latest law - the decisively in favour of remaining in
member-states to study whether Muezzin Bill - imposes limits on the the EU (62% of Scots voted to
Israel has established an apartheid Muslim call to prayer in Israel and East remain, against 55.8% of Northern
regime. ESCWA asked two American Jerusalem. Ireland, 47.5% of Wales, and 46.6%
academics - Richard Falk and Virginia of England), Brexit was as divisive of
When the UN Security Council
Tilley - to undertake the study. The the "yes" and "no" camps of the 2014
declared late last year that Israel's
report that they have now produced Scottish referendum as it was of
settlements in the Occupied Territory
makes the 'grave charge' that Israel is communities across the U.K., says
were illegal, there was worry in Israel
guilty of apartheid not only in the John Curtice, professor of politics at
that Ms. Bensouda would accelerate
West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem the University of Strathclyde and a
her work. Others in Israel said that
- the Occupied Territory - but also noted pollster.
there was nothing new in the
within its own boundaries and against Could that be about to change?
resolution, which neither used the
the Palestinian refugees. Recent polls have suggested a rise in
word 'grave' to describe the situation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin nor considered Israeli actions to be a support for independence (to
Netanyahu was in Washington, DC war crime. But the new report does around 50%), perhaps spurred by the
recently to meet U.S. President both. If it is acknowledged that Israel announcement of the U.K.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 89
Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
government earlier this year that it current open border between genetic code and to edit DNA at
would have no alternative but to leave England and Scotland into question. precise locations, permanently
the single market and the customs The Westminster government is likely modify genes in living cells and
union - seen as a kick in the teeth by to play on those concerns as well as organisms, and possibly correct
the Scottish government which in highlight the potential for industries disease-causing mutations. So far, all
December published a White Paper such as the Scottish drinks industry of the CRISPR-related research is
setting out the case why it was within a U.K. unshackled by EU focussed on plants, animals and
essential for Scotland to retain membership, with links to fast- lifeforms far removed from the human
unfettered access to it. Dubbing the growing Commonwealth countries, universe. Last week, a team from
Westminster government's and beyond. China reported intriguing results from
unwillingness to engage on this issue However, winning that CRISPR-modified human embryos.
as a "brick wall of intransigence", Ms. argument may prove tricky, given the Historians of genetic
Sturgeon this week set out the case already existing concerns about the engineering technology, most
for a second referendum. future of sectors such as banking in a recently Siddhartha Mukherjee, have
Exactly what question voters Britain outside the EU. An warned that societies, nations and
could face in a second referendum independence campaign is likely to other human collectives have been
on independence remains to be emphasise the opportunities that obsessed with improving the human
seen. Ms. Sturgeon believes a remaining within the single market stock. While it might appear that
referendum between autumn next could have to attract investment from we've cured ourselves of our eugenic
year and spring 2019 would be ideal: the financial services sector, among baggage, science soldiers on to find
by this stage the shape of the Brexit others. genes for disease, and the modern
negotiations is likely to be somewhat There are other factors at play personalised genetic test, now also
clearer, enabling voters to make a too: while all political parties in available to the Indian affluent,
more informed choice. While the U.K. Westminster threw themselves into hopes to warn Indians of possible
government has the power to block the "no" campaign in 2014, their genetic disorders in their unborn.
the referendum from happening ability to do so is likely to be more Notions of 'disease' keep changing
under current legislation, whether it constrained this time round, and while a warning about the fatal
would take the highly controversial particularly if Brexit negotiations are familial insomnia (that causes you to
step of doing so (particularly at a time under way. Also given the electoral die of sleeplessness) may make a
it has emphasised taking back control impact in 2014 for Labour of sharing decision to abort easier, would a
and parliamentary sovereignty) a platform with the Conservatives genetic basis for autism or early
remains to be seen. It is thought more (essentially electoral oblivion in coronary heart disease make it morally
likely that it could push to hold the Scotland), it is questionable whether compelling for a couple to terminate
referendum after Britain leaves the they would do so again, particularly a foetus? Beyond ridding the body
EU, though Ms. Sturgeon has warned under the leadership of Jeremy of known disease, would CRISPR-led
that this would be akin to puncturing Corbyn. tweaks to, say, increasing expression
a lifeboat after sinking the ship. of certain genes that improve athletic
An unedited mutation
The biggest question going endurance be acceptable, a kind of
forward will be public appetite for Whenever there's progress in womb-level doping?
independence. Downing Street has the field of genetics, there's cause Another complication is that
insisted that it does not exist, and for worry. For some years now, these CRISPR-led attempts to correct
there are certainly factors that may mixed feelings are being evoked by certain genes can sometimes lead to
make Scots cautious about leaving the a gene-altering technology called nearby, off-target genes also getting
union, such as the impact of the low CRISPR (clustered regularly altered (mosaicism). In the quest to
oil price environment on the Scottish interspaced short palindromic correct aberrations, would it be
economy. Leaving the union and repeats), which refers to a suite of worth the risk to fix what isn't broken?
joining the EU would also be a gene-editing techniques. It can be The Committee on Human Genome
logistical nightmare, calling the used to target specific stretches of Editing said in a report last month that

90 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
gene-editing techniques were too were announced later, this is unlikely public institutions to offer essential
risky to be made widely available. to meet policy goals since only 11.3% medicines and diagnostic tests free
While scientists and ethicists may of registered allopathic doctors were to everyone. This was estimated in
have so far made the right political working in the public sector as of 2011 to require a spending increase
noises about restraining gene-editing 2014, and even among these, the of only 0.4% of GDP, which is within
technology, bruising patent battles number in rural areas was abysmally the 2.5% that the Centre is talking
are already under way over low. More health professionals need about.
intellectual property rights to the to be deployed for primary care in Last gasp tasks
CRISPR technology. That means rural areas. Availability of trained
commercial interest in it is already so doctors and nurses would help meet At its twelfth meeting, the
high that there is enough incentive the new infant mortality and maternal Goods and Services Tax (GST)
for commercial interests to organise mortality goals, and build on the gains Council cleared all the requisite State
lobbying efforts and bring in from higher institutional deliveries, and Central-level legislative measures
legislation to offer gene-editing as a which exceeded 80% in recent to implement the indirect tax regime.
product. CRISPR, yet, can't excise the years. The State and Union Territories' GST
Orwellian. bills were approved along with
Contracting of health services
necessary corrections to the three
A road map for health from the private sector may be
other GST Bills the Council had
inevitable in the short term, given that
The National Health Policy cleared previously - for Central GST,
about 70% of all outpatient care and
2017, which the Centre announced Integrated GST and compensation to
60% of inpatient treatments are
this week after a nudge from the States through a cess. This paves the
provided by it. But this requires
Supreme Court last year, faces the way for State Assemblies and
accountability, both on the quality
challenging task of ensuring Parliament to ratify these laws quickly
and cost of care. No more time should
affordable, quality medical care to in order to meet the proposed July 1
be lost in forming regulatory and
every citizen. With a fifth of the rollout date for the system. Finance
accreditation agencies for healthcare
world's disease burden, a growing Minister Arun Jaitley has said the
providers at the national and State
incidence of non-communicable Union Cabinet will soon take up the
levels as suggested by the expert
diseases such as diabetes, and poor four laws that the Centre has to steer
group on universal health coverage
financial arrangements to pay for through Parliament, while the
of the Planning Commission more
care, India brings up the rear among respective State governments will
than five years ago. Without such
the BRICS countries in health sector take up the State GST law. Separately,
oversight, unethical commercial
performance. Against such a officers from the States and the Centre
entities would have easy backdoor
laggardly record, the policy now are expected to finalise, by this
access to public funds in the form of
offers an opportunity to systematically weekend, drafts for four pending
state-backed insurance. It should also
rectify well-known deficiencies regulations out of a total of nine, that
be mandatory for all health
through a stronger National Health lay down the administrative
institutions to be accredited, and to
Mission. Among the most glaring procedures and processes to be
publish the approved cost of
lacunae is the lack of capacity to use followed by taxpayers under the GST
treatments, in order to remove the
higher levels of public funding for regime. The Council will meet again
prevailing asymmetry of information.
health. Rectifying this in partnership on March 31 to consider those drafts.
For the new policy to start on a firm
with the States is crucial if the Central This will give the Centre enough
footing, the Centre has to get robust
government is to make the best use buffer to make the transition to the
health data. Currently this is
of the targeted government spending new system.
fragmented because inputs from
of 2.5% of GDP by 2025, up from Though industry has indicated
multiple sources and sample surveys
1.15% now. Although a major that it needs at least three months to
are not reconciled, and the private
capacity expansion to produce prepare for the GST once it sees the
sector is often not in the picture. To
MBBS graduates took place between fine print, one major action will still
reduce high out-of-pocket spending,
2009 and 2015, and more initiatives be pending on April 1. That action -
early deadlines should be set for

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the fitment of thousands of U.S., data show that Organisation for health impact the total quantum of
commodities and services into the Economic Co-operation and funds available. Countries such as
five GST rate slabs (zero, 5%, 12%, Development (OECD) countries Thailand which have a comparable
18% and 28%) - could prove to be spend 8-11%, middle-income tax to GDP ratio have prioritised
among the trickiest for the Council. countries close to 6%, and India's health within their budgets and
The rate fitment process, unlike peers, the lower-middle-income allocate 13% of it to health care. To
legislative nuances, is more countries 4.5%. By these measures, increase pooled funds for health care,
susceptible to lobbying not just from India's health-care spending, while India needs to both provide a
different sections of industry, but also still somewhat low, is not unusually significantly higher level of allocation
States that would like a favourable tax so. However, on an index measuring to health care in its annual Budgets,
treatment for products and services country performance on the health- as in Thailand, as well as extend
they excel in. For instance, the GST related Sustainable Development schemes such as the Employees'
Council has now approved a ceiling Goal (SDG) indicators, India ranks State Insurance Scheme (ESIS) -
on the cess that could be imposed poorly at 143 out of 188 countries. currently a mandatory insurance
over and above the highest GST rate If we look in terms of Purchasing scheme only for low-wage earners in
of 28% on pan masala, chewing Power Parity (PPP), a measure that the formal sector in India - to all
tobacco and cigarettes, luxury cars more accurately corresponds with employees. Gradually the informal
and aerated drinks. For all such 'sin our actual standard of living, India is sector, both in upper and lower
goods', the cess ceiling has been set the third largest economy in the income, can be included by making
higher under the GST than the level world, at almost PPP $8 trillion. Given it mandatory for all residents to buy
necessary to maintain the present the large size of our population, our into national or state health insurance
level of taxation. But beedis have 5% allocation to health translates to a schemes as has been successfully
been kept out of the cess net mere $267 per individual, a number done in Kyrgyzstan, China, and South
altogether in order to avoid friction far lower than the OECD average of Korea.
with States that could delay the $4,698. Yet, countries with Second is the control exercised
broader reform. Despite such pulls comparable or even lower per capita by the government on the health
and pressures, in a best-case scenario health expenditures, including system: Successful health systems,
the rate-setting process should take Indonesia, Thailand, and Ghana, are the world over, including in entirely
at least a fortnight and the Council ranked better on the SDG Index at free market developed economies
could meet some time in April to 91, 112, and 141, respectively, out of such as Germany, Switzerland, South
approve the rates. Giving lakhs of 188, and offer us hope and a few Korea, and Japan, do not necessarily
enterprises just about two months to lessons. have the government as a provider.
switch to the GST regime, with all its First is the pooling of health Nevertheless, they all have a high
implications for supply chains, expenditure: India has among the degree of direct government control
pricing strategies and accounting lowest pooled expenditure for on the services that are offered; the
systems, could lead to a messy start. health care; between 2004-2014, pricing of health services, referral
The Centre must keep its mind open approximately 4-7% of households pathways, and treatment protocols
on pushing forward the rollout by a fell below the poverty line as a result that are followed. Governments such
month or so, while industry should rise of high out-of-pocket expense. Pre- as those of Japan and Switzerland
above heckling over rates and invest payment and pooling of resources are exercise direct price controls on
more lobbying energy on bigger critical to ensure financial protection services like how much physicians
worries, such as the GST's penal anti- against catastrophic health shocks. and hospitals may charge. Similar to
profiteering clauses. The extent of pooling is determined the control in some mandated drug
Framing the right prescription by the government's tax allocation to pricing, setting a price control on
health and insurance coverage in the what hospitals and physicians may
India spends close to 5% of its
country. India's low tax to GDP ratio charge for their services, are critical
GDP on health. While this may appear
and allocations of around 5% of elements that India may consider.
low when compared to 18% of the
general government expenditure to The other area could be instituting

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licensing processes for hospitals, benchmark it may be looking to uncertain.
similar to the Certificate of Need achieve is the English Premier The International Cricket
process in the U.S., which can help a League's gigantic £5.1 billion Council (ICC) too has witnessed its
regionally-equitable distribution of arrangement with Sky and BT for the own drama. With a roll-back of the
hospitals by incentivising the setting three-year period commencing 2016- 'Big Three' reforms, the CoA is
up of facilities in poorly served areas. 2017. Professional sports leagues with handling a pitched battle at that end
It is clear that significant, a captive audience have in recent as well, as it fights to retain its revenue
strategic shifts in the level of control years signed comparable long-term stream over the coming years. From
that the government exerts on both media rights arrangements. The the IPL's perspective, this is
the financing and provision of health National Football League of the U.S., encouraging because the CoA has
are urgently required. India can build for instance, in 2014 entered into an not shown any inclination to forego
on learning from core design eight-year arrangement for $4.95 revenues or profits for Indian cricket,
principles from global experiences, billion. The IPL, at least until October a concern that stakeholders may have
including prioritising resources for 2016, appeared to be well on track had given that the COA's mandate is
health within government budgets, for a similar arrangement, but the to reform cricket. There may,
pooling existing resources, and recent wobbles would have made however, continue to be concerns
greater government control over the many jittery. over whether the IPL is given a
health sector. It can also allow for a There have been many relevant window unobstructed by
customised approach based on its diversions leading up to season 10. important bilateral series scheduled
context. Such a path will allow India The Supreme Court ruling on the by the ICC.
to deliver on quality health care and BCCI and the subsequent A relatively uneventful player
equitable health outcomes to all of appointment of the Council of auction has indicated the importance
its people. Administrators (CoA) to lead the of decisions taken next season, and
The return of BCCI's prodigal board have understandably caused the return of the suspended
child a delay in major decisions impacting franchises of Chennai and Rajasthan
the IPL. There has also been in 2018 will add some flair and
Everything relating to cricket in significant pushback from the State controversy. Add to this the game-
India has been uncertain this past associations hosting IPL matches. changing potential of the media rights
year. It seems as if there is some They have demanded, agreement, and ambivalence on how
conflict at every corner. Lost in the unsuccessfully, payment for hosting the CoA will approach and prioritise
epic tussle between the Board of IPL matches upfront. At the same the IPL during the handover phase,
Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and time, the CoA, tasked with and this is the most unpredictable
the Supreme Court is the prodigal implementing the Justice Lodha season and post-season for the IPL in
child which caused all this conflict, Committee reforms, has finalised the its short life cycle. The on-field
the Indian Premier League (IPL), set Memorandum of Association and the achievements have, at least for the
to return for its tenth season on April Rules and Regulations of the BCCI, time being, taken a back seat.
5. Just two weeks away, the IPL can with some significant changes, all of
no longer be ignored nor superseded Growth by merger
which will be resisted by many of the
by the greater good, namely State associations. The Supreme The Vodafone Group's decision
reforming cricket. Court is tasked with hearing some of to merge its India unit with the Aditya
The most relevant commercial the challenges by various State Birla Group-controlled Idea Cellular
decision and predictor that currently associations, and what's clear is that is a classic case of two companies
hangs in the balance for the IPL is the despite the official handover of recognising truth in the adage that
media rights tender for the broadcast leadership to the CoA, the 'the whole is greater than the sum of
and digital verticals for the seasons implementation by and its parts'. Of the two mobile
from 2018 to 2027. Expected to easily acquiescence of the State operators, Idea functioned in its early
surpass the previous media rights associations, including with respect years as a three-way joint venture
agreement of $1.8 billion, the to the IPL-specific aspects, is again involving the Tata Group, U.S.

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
telecommunications behemoth escalating cost of bidding for fresh aimed at curbing elements of the
AT&T, and the Aditya Birla Group. wireless spectrum. With mobile separatist Bengali nationalist
The proposed deal represents a number portability having made it movement. East Pakistan was already
welcome chance to resurrect its easier for customers to switch on the boil after the Pakistan
flagging fortunes. The last three networks on account of service establishment refused to hand over
quarters proved a brutal testament to quality levels or pricing, Vodafone power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
the ravages that heightened and Idea have their work cut out in who had won the 1970 election. The
competition could wreak on a the lead-up to the merger, which they Pakistani army, along with local
middle-of-the-pack firm's operational expect to close in 2018. For activists from the Jamaat-e-Islami,
finances. In Vodafone's case, the Vodafone, the prospect of having to unleashed violence that night,
planned merger offers the global meet a huge bill of about Rs. 21,000 targeting students and teachers of
telecom major an opportunity to crore, were it to lose its arbitral Dhaka University and
downsize its engagement with a challenge to a tax claim dating back neighbourhoods of Old Dhaka.
market in which promise has to the transaction that paved its entry According to some researchers,
outweighed performance, without to the Indian market, must surely have around 7,000 people were killed and
actually exiting it. To that extent, it is been a significant consideration in 3,000 were arrested. During the early
a win-win for both parties. Set to vault tipping its hand. As the company's hours of March 26, Mujibur Rahman
the combined entity to the top of the Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee wrote in declared the independence of
heap in India's 1.13-billion the 2016 annual report: "While India Bangladesh, which officially set off
subscribers strong mobile phone represents an excellent long-term the Liberation War.
services market, the 'merger of investment opportunity, the present Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar
equals', as the two companies regulatory challenges are hampering Ali Bhutto set up a judicial
described it, will enable Vodafone economic development… and this is commission to find out the atrocities
to straight away net about Rs. 3,900 exacerbated by other ongoing committed by the army in East
crore on consummation of the deal regulatory and fiscal burdens." Time Pakistan. Justice Hamoodur Rahman
by selling a 4.9% stake to the Aditya alone can tell whether this will end submitted his report in 1974, which
Birla Group, leaving its holding in the up as a truly successful marriage. was not released to the public for
new company at 45.1%. Idea's Remembering 1971 three decades. It documented large-
controlling shareholders will have an scale atrocities committed by the
opportunity to increase the 26% stake It has been a long-pending
Pakistani troops and also
they will have at the start of the demand in Bangladesh, by political
recommended that the government
relationship by acquiring more shares parties and civil society, to mark the
establish a special court to further
from Vodafone over the next four atrocities committed by the Pakistani
investigate the army's actions. This
years. The two firms expect to see army on civilians in the then East
never happened. Even the
substantial cost savings as the Pakistan during the Liberation War in
commission's estimate of the
projected synergies from capital and 1971. On March 11, the Bangladesh
casualties has been widely
operational expenditure help focus Parliament passed a resolution calling
challenged. It put the death toll
on meeting the challenges of a fast- on the government to observe March
during the Liberation War at 26,000.
evolving market amid a tariff war with 25 as Genocide Day. The government
Bangladeshi authorities say up to
the current leader Bharti Airtel and of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
three million people were killed and
the ambitious recent entrant Reliance approved the demand and said it
millions more displaced. The Pakistani
Jio. would send two senior officials to the
authorities haven't offered a formal
UN headquarters in New York and the
Nevertheless, the merger, apology so far.
UN Human Rights Council office in
however grand the scale, could well Bilateral ties have been strained
Geneva for international recognition
end up being less than adequate to after Bangladesh started prosecuting
of the day.
help staunch the flow of red ink amid alleged war criminals who
an industrywide slide in average On the night of March 25, 1971,
collaborated with the Pakistani army
revenue per user and the steadily the Pakistani army, launched
in 1971. With Pakistan still refusing to
Operation Searchlight in Dhaka

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apologise, Bangladesh's move to get A central focus on social Breathing life into health care
international recognition for the indicators is necessary for India to
The new National Health Policy
genocide will have repercussions for break free from its position as an
(2017) released last week presents a
bilateral relations. underachiever. The fiscal space now
clear vision of how India's sluggish
Superpower dreams available has been strengthened by
health system can be galvanised to
steady economic growth, and more
India's rank of 131 among 188 deliver health and well-being to all
should be done to eliminate subsidies
countries on the UNDP's Human by 2030, to meet the Sustainable
for the richest quintile - estimated by
Development Index for 2015 and its Development Goal on health. The
the UNDP to be $16 billion in 2014 in
'medium' performance pose the real challenge lies in its operational
six consumption areas including gold
uncomfortable question: would not amplification and effective
and aviation fuel.
the score have been significantly implementation which call for
The rise in revenues from all cementing consensus, catalysing
better if the higher economic growth
sources should go towards making commitment and channelling close
trajectory of two and a half decades
public education of high standards coordination for steering Centre and
of liberalisation had been
accessible to all and delivering on the the States together to deliver on this
accompanied by a parallel
promised higher budgetary outlay for vision.
investment in people? Few will argue
health care. Bolstered by a conscious
that the rise in incomes that came with After a gestation period of over
effort to help traditionally backward
a more open economy has not two years, that saw extensive public
regions, such policies will help
translated into a higher quality of life comment and sharp debate within
eliminate the losses produced by
for many Indians and raised overall the government, the policy has finally
inequalities that lower national human
life expectancy at birth by more than emerged as a well-crafted document
development indices. One crucial
10 years from the 1990 level, to reach that lays the path for Universal Health
metric that gets insufficient attention
68.3 years. Progress has also been Coverage (UHC). Though the right to
in the measurement of development
made in raising awareness about health proposed in the earlier draft
is the state of democracy, reflected
issues affecting women's has been disappointingly deleted,
among other things
empowerment, such as public safety, effective implementation of the
in access to justice. It is relevant various measures proposed in the
acid attacks, discrimination in
to point out that India has not ratified NHP should place us on the path
inheritance rights and lack of equal
UN conventions on torture, rights of towards the realisation of that right.
employment opportunity. Policy
migrant workers and their families, While espousing a strong public
reforms have been instituted in some
and protection against enforced health approach and commitment to
of these areas as a result. But as the
disappearance. This is a serious strengthening the public sector, the
HDI data show, significant
lacuna for a country that otherwise policy aims to draw upon the diverse
inequalities persist, particularly
has a commitment to democracy and systems of medicine and the different
between States and regions, which
the rule of law. sectors of health-care providers that
act as major barriers to improvement.
The percentage of women in the With the growing realisation that characterise our mixed health
workforce is the lowest in India development is a multidimensional system, for providing much-needed
among the BRICS countries, and the achievement, the gains of economic health services across India.
national record on the population that reforms must help build capabilities The policy acknowledges the
lives in severe multidimensional and improve the health of all need for increasing the level of
poverty is also the worst in the bloc. sections. Sustaining and improving public financing for health, stating
These are clear pointers to the lost the quality of life will depend on that the government must spend 2.5%
decades for India, when policies crafted to handle major of GDP by 2025. While this is sub-
universalisation of education and emerging challenges such as optimal and projects a farther date
health care could have pulled urbanisation, the housing deficit, than public health advocates had
deprived sections out of the poverty access to power, water, education hoped for, the promise to double
trap. and health care. public financing over next eight years
is still welcome, given that

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
government funding was virtually secondary care. Sub-district hospitals pipe dream. China would need all the
stagnant for several decades. too would be upgraded. A National friends and partners it could get to
However, Central budgets from now Healthcare Standards Organisation is make its plans for a 60-nation network
on must reflect a steady rise annually, proposed to be established to encompassing 4.4 billion people. In
to give credence to this promise. It develop evidence-based standard the Chinese scheme, India could be
also remains to be seen how States management guidelines. A National a major partner, and maps of the time
will conform to the recommendation Health Information Network also show the B&R travel east to west right
that spending on health must rise would be established by 2025. A through India.
above 8% of their budgets by 2020. National Digital Health Authority A few months later Russia was
Primary health care is rightly would be set up to develop, deploy enlisted through the $400-billion
prioritised for two-thirds or more of and regulate digital health across the "Power of Siberia" pipeline, and Mr.
all public funding. Free drugs, continuum of care. Xi's friendship at a time when the West
diagnostic and emergency services Expanded institutional capacity had decided to isolate and cripple
would be provided to all in public as well as new courses and cadres Moscow over Crimea's annexation
hospitals. are proposed to overcome the brought President Vladimir Putin
There is an assurance of primary shortages of skilled human resources firmly into the fold. With India, China's
health services which are needed for in the health system. Public Health plan was a grander one: the newly
comprehensive care and promotion Management cadres are to be created elected Prime Minister, Narendra
of well-being. These are to be in all States. BSc in Community Health Modi, would visit Xi'an, the original
available anywhere in the country on and MD in Family Medicine are starting point of the old Silk Route, in
the basis of a family card, which also marked for scale-up and a variety of May 2015, and both leaders would
connects them to a 'health and specialised nursing and paramedical announce their cooperation in the
wellness centre' that provides basic courses are proposed, even as B&R project (then called OBOR or
services, referral linkages and Accredited Social Health Activists One Belt, One Road), along with
performs a gatekeeper function for (ASHAs) can career-track to become plans for the Bangladesh-China-
advanced care. AYUSH systems auxiliary nurse midwives. India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic
would be mainstreamed. The much- A variety of disease control corridor and the Asian Infrastructure
delayed National Urban Health measures and targets have been Investment Bank (AIIB) that was set
Mission is to be imparted speed and proposed to tackle challenges up in October 2014.
scale to address the unmet needs of ranging from HIV-TB co-infection to Somewhere along the way, the
urban primary health care while trauma and screening for chronic script soured, and whether it was Mr.
reaching out to the urban poor. conditions such as hypertension, Modi's announcement of a joint vision
Secondary and tertiary health diabetes and common cancers. with U.S. President Obama for Asia-
care will be provided through Control of indoor and outdoor air Pacific (read South China Sea), or Mr.
strengthened public services, with pollution has been accorded high Xi's announcement of the $46-billion
gap filling through strategic priority with water, sanitation and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
purchasing of services from private nutrition, while multi-sectoral action (CPEC) that runs through Pakistan-
providers. While a 'capitation' fee will be aided by analytic capacity for occupied Kashmir (PoK), the May
model - of fixed annual payment for health impact assessment. 2015 plan never materialised,
full health care of a person - has been Way to get back on board although Mr. Modi did visit Xi'an.
proposed for primary health care, a China says it still hasn't given up
'fee for service' system has been In February 2014, when the
on Indian participation, and the
proposed for secondary and tertiary Chinese government first brought up
National People's Congress
care. It remains to be seen how these with India its plans for the Belt and
spokesperson this week repeated the
will gel in an integrated model. Road (B&R) Initiative, four months
hope that India will attend Mr. Xi's
after President Xi Jinping had
District hospitals are to be mega B&R conference on May 14-15
unveiled the idea in Kazakhstan, it
strengthened, to provide several this year. Mr. Putin, British Prime
seemed an unworkable, ambitious
elements of tertiary care alongside Minister Theresa May, Philippines

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President Rodrigo Duterte, Pakistani government exerted considerable capital of Chang'an (now Xi'an). When
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are heft with each of the South Asian he returned he told the emperor he
among the invitees expected. Association for Regional Cooperation had also learned during his stay in
However, the government has made (SAARC) countries to cancel a Bactria (Afghanistan and Central Asia)
it clear it is prepared to sit out the summit in Pakistan after the Uri that a more important route for China
event over the principle of attacks. The move was a part of India's lay within Shendu (India), through
sovereignty. plan to "isolate" Pakistan until it takes which China could trade over the
There is every indication that action on terror. The truth is that the mountains of Sichuan province. Two
after 'annus horribilis' of 2016 for plan worked for the SAARC summit, thousand years later, it may need both
India-China ties, overshadowed by but not beyond that, in part because diplomacy and a push from
China's opposition to India's entry of Pakistan's involvement with China Afghanistan and Central Asia to once
into in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the B&R initiative, which has again align the lines between India
and its vetoing of a proposal at the already been signed on to by and China, if New Delhi and Beijing
United Nations to declare Masood Afghanistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and wish to ensure that the success they
Azhar a terrorist, New Delhi is looking Bangladesh (Nepal is expected to shared via the old Silk Route is given
for a reset. During Foreign Secretary join soon). Even Afghanistan and another chance.
S. Jaishankar's recent visit to Beijing Bangladesh, which suffer the most The compulsive patent hoarding
for the restructured Strategic from terrorism emanating from disorder
Dialogue, he said as much, calling for Pakistan, will inevitably be drawn into
the B&R group of countries more and It takes money to make money.
a more "stable, forward-looking"
more for connectivity and trade, more CSIR-Tech, the commercialisation
relationship to deal with an
so in the absence of SAARC. arm of the Council of Scientific and
"international situation in flux", a clear
Significantly, it is the Afghanistan Industrial Research (CSIR), realised
pointer that global uncertainties
leadership that has come out most this the hard way when it had to shut
triggered by the Donald Trump
strongly on the need for India to find down its operations for lack of funds.
administration in the U.S. must force
its way into the B&R. Both President CSIR has filed more than 13,000
a geopolitical review.
Ashraf Ghani and former President patents - 4,500 in India and 8,800
Much has been written about
Hamid Karzai, on visits to India in the abroad - at a cost of Rs. 50 crore over
the impact of the new U.S. President's
past few months, have stressed the the last three years. Across years,
actions on India. The most obvious
importance of connecting India to that's a lot of taxpayers' money, which
ones are cutbacks on immigrant visas,
Central Asia via Afghanistan, joining in turn means that the closing of CSIR-
restrictions on outsourcing, and
a "strategic arc" of countries from Iran Tech is a tacit admission that its work
'SelectUSA' which will make a dent
to Russia and China. These countries, has been an expensive mistake - a
in the 'Make in India' programme,
including Iran, Afghanistan, mistake that we tax-paying citizens
both for manufactured goods and
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, have paid for.
defence purchases. Those actions are
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan, Recently, CSIR's Director-
held responsible for creating an
are connecting to each other via B&R General Girish Sahni claimed that
atmosphere of xenophobia in the U.S.
through Iran's North-South corridor, most of CSIR's patents were "bio-data
where Indians could be targeted as
CPEC and other routes already in patents", filed solely to enhance the
much as people from countries on the
place, while India's plans for value of a scientist's resume and that
travel ban, and the government has
Chabahar port are still to get off the the extensive expenditure of public
already had to exert considerable
ground. funds spent in filing and maintaining
diplomatic leverage to exact words
The founder of the old Silk patents was unviable. CSIR claims to
of assurances from the U.S.
Route, Zhang Qian, was not a Chinese have licensed a percentage of its
government on behalf of NRIs and
emperor or ruler, but a diplomat- patents, but has so far failed to show
PIOs.
warrior. He set out to look for strategic any revenue earned from the
A rethink may also be required
allies for Emperor Wu on a journey licences. This compulsive hoarding
on India's own neighbourhood
that began in 138 BC from the Han of patents has come at a huge cost. If
policy. In September last year, the

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
CSIR-Tech was privately run, it would objective of publicly funded partner of Israel. For Iran, Beijing
have been shut down long ago. research is to devise an IPR policy remained a trusted ally even during
Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights wherein patents are initially offered the time of sanctions. China was one
(IPR) comes out of our blind on an open royalty-free licence to of the few countries that continued
adherence to the idea of patenting start-ups. Once start-ups to buy oil from Iran when most others,
as an index of innovation. The private commercialise the inventions including India, either halted trade
sector commercialises patents successfully, the royalty-free licence or implemented massive cuts in
through the licensing of technology could be converted into a revenue- imports under American pressure.
and the sale of patented products to sharing model. China's economic ties with West Asia
recover the money spent in R&D. But Putting granted patents on an assumed greater significance after Mr.
when the funds for R&D come from open licence can be testimony to the Xi unveiled the One Belt, One Road
public sources, mimicking the private commercial viability of the things we initiative. West Asia plays a major role
sector may not be the best option. are patenting using public money. in this Silk Road revival plan, which
The National IPR Policy Not only would it bring a sense of the Chinese believe will fortify their
released last year does not offer any accountability to the managers who global standing.
guideline on distinguishing IPR run the system but it would also open Of late, China has shown a
generated using public funds from up publicly-funded research to a greater interest in expanding its
private ones - it views every IPR with whole lot of people, especially start- engagement with the region beyond
private objectives by insisting on ups, who can now test, verify, work the economic sphere. Its relationship
commercialisation. Dissemination of and put the patented technology with Iran has already acquired
technology to the masses, into the market. strategic dimensions. It is one of the
participation in nation-building and Arc to West Asia supporters of the Bashar al-Assad
creating public goods are rarely regime in civil war-stricken Syria. In
objectives that drive the private By hosting the leaders of Saudi the UN Security Council, China, along
sector. The IPR policy of some Arabia and Israel, the two with Russia, has consistently vetoed
publicly-funded research institutions heavyweights in West Asia that do not U.S.-backed resolutions on Syria,
allows for 30-70% of the income have formal diplomatic relations, in while at the same time offering to
generated through the consecutive weeks, Beijing has sent broker peace between rival factions.
commercialisation of the patent to be yet another signal on its growing China has also recognised Palestine
shared with the creators of the appetite to deepen ties with the as a state and offered support for the
invention, i.e., scientists and region. During the visit of King Salman Palestinians. During his meeting with
professors on the payroll of the last week, China and Saudi Arabia Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Xi said peaceful
government. Such a policy could announced an investment coexistence between Israel and
promote private aggrandisement and cooperation deal worth $65 billion Palestine would be good for both
may work against public interest. In that will boost partnerships in fields parties and the region. The Chinese
contrast, the IPR policy of private such as energy, finance and have also urged Saudi Arabia and
companies does not allow for a aerospace. Days later, Chinese Israel to work together to attain
payback on the share of royalties President Xi Jinping met Israeli Prime peace. All this indicates that China is
earned by patents. Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in ready to end its strategic reluctance
Beijing, where both leaders vowed in dealing with West Asia and to
The fate of CSIR-Tech is proof
to strengthen cooperation in the adopt a gradualist proactive policy
that the current model of
technology and agriculture sectors. that suits its profile as a fast-rising
commercialisation does not work with
Over the years China has built strong global power. But there are risks as
respect to publicly-funded research.
economic ties with countries in West well. Unlike the U.S. and Russia, China
So, how do we ensure that public-
Asia, while staying clear of the has traditionally played a risk-free
funded research reaches the masses
region's several crises and hostilities. global role, staying focussed on
and check the excessive filing of
It is one of the top buyers of oil from economic development. It lacks
patents without due diligence? A
Saudi Arabia and a key trading experience in navigating the political,
possible solution to preserve the

98 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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religious, sectarian and tribal tensions 'requests' from local, regional or One India, two time zones
in West Asia, both among states and national political formations while
In a two paragraph order
within countries. The three major taking away excuses - such as it being
delivered by Chief Justice Ajit Singh,
pillars of China's West Asia policy - a loss-making unit, or breaching the
the Gauhati High Court has dismissed
Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel - are rival funding cap.
a public interest litigation filed by Rita
powers. The challenge before This would open up new Mozumder seeking a direction from
Beijing, if it wants to enter the opportunities in crony capitalism. the Central government to notify a
troubled political waters of West Asia, Pressure could be exerted on a separate time zone for the Northeast.
is to maintain a perfect balancing act. company awaiting government The court cites a high-level
Cloak of invisibility clearances, or a loan restructuring committee study, constituted by the
from public or cooperative sector Ministry of Science and Technology,
Well before financial year 2017-
financiers. Even a publicly listed that recognised the difficulties faced
18 begins, the Lok Sabha has signed
company can set up subsidiaries just by a single time zone in eastern India
off on the Budget with the passage
to fund parties. This removes any but concluded that Indian Standard
of the Finance Bill of 2017. It includes
pretence of transparency in the Time (IST) should nonetheless be
multiple amendments proposed by
process as the donor will not have to retained. The issues raised by the
the government that did not figure in
disclose who he paid; the recipient petition demanded more than a
Arun Jaitley's speech of February 1,
has no such obligation either. It is not cursory order dismissing the petition
either in letter or in spirit. For instance,
surprising that India Inc. has remained given the importance of the issue.
while the speech devoted 420 words
stoically silent so far. This Legislators, activists, industrialists and
to proposed measures to improve
abandonment of the 7.5% requisite ordinary citizens from the Northeast
transparency in electoral funding,
comes in tandem with the proposal have often complained about the
amendments have been made to the
to float electoral bonds to give effect of IST on their lives, and
Companies Act of 2013 that actually
anonymity to political donors. The pursued the issue of having a separate
turn the clock back on existing
scheme for such 'bearer' bonds is still time zone with the Central
disclosure standards. Till now,
being worked out with the central government, without much success.
companies could only contribute up
bank, but how this will meet the The petition arose after repeated
to 7.5% of their average net profits in
objective of transparency isn't clear rejections by the government.
the past three financial years to
yet. The push for cashless modes for
political parties. They were required The idea of a standard time
political contributions sounds
to disclose in their profit and loss zone has become so integral to our
worthy, but reducing the Rs. 20,000
accounts the amount of contributions lives that we often take it for granted
limit on cash donations to Rs. 2,000
and the names of political parties to and assume it to be a part of natural
does nothing to guarantee that
which they were made. The ceiling phenomena. We tend to forget the
monetary muscle power will dissipate
has now been dropped, paving the complex contestations - including
from electoral processes. Instead of,
way for a firm to deploy unlimited legal ones - that go into its making.
say, a lakh of such donors, a party can
capital into political coffers The creation of a time zone signals
now share 10 lakh random names to
irrespective of its own financial and the victory of time over space with
justify cash holdings. Transparency is
operational health. Companies would geographical areas being brought
not synonymous with anonymous
still have to reveal the extent of their under a single time zone rather than
transactions, unlimited corporate
financing of parties, but no longer relying on local solar time. It entails a
donations, relaxed disclosure norms
have to name their preferred parties. denial of local time - or a separation
and the persistence of cash. The
For the sake of argument, one could of time from space - a very significant
Budget's promise of "reform to bring
say the 7.5% limit was arbitrary and fact if you consider what it means to
about greater transparency and
restricted willing and able corporate the experience of social and
accountability in political funding,
donors' ability to influence political economic lives. In the case of India,
while preventing future generation of
activity. But doing away with the limit the time difference between the
black money", truly rings hollow.
makes firms susceptible to funding westernmost part of India and the

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
easternmost point is approximately sought to be effected at a time when rivers Yamuna and Ganga as legal or
two hours, the effect of which is that there was considerable public juridical persons, enjoying all the
the sun rises and sets much earlier resentment over the Tilak sedition rights, duties and liabilities of a living
than it does in the rest of the country. trial, the government found little person. Indian courts have granted
In the Northeast, the sun rises support for this shift among the this status to temple deities, religious
as early as four in the morning and in people in Bombay. Bombay Time was books, corporations, etc., but it is for
winter it sets by four in the evening. maintained right up to 1955 with the first time that an element of the
By the time government offices or Bombay following its own time zone natural environment has been
educational institutions open, many which was 38 minutes ahead of the declared a legal person. And it is not
daylight hours are already lost. In rest of the country. just the two rivers - all their tributaries,
winter this problem gets even more While the court may have been streams, every natural water body
accentuated and the ecological costs reticent to intervene in what it saw flowing continuously or intermittently
are a disaster with much more primarily as an executive prerogative, of[f] these rivers will enjoy this status.
electricity having to be consumed. it also passed an opportunity to The two issues before the High
Profs. D.P. Sengupta, and Dilip Ahuja examine a fascinating dimension of Court were: removal of illegal
of the National Institute of Advanced temporal justice that Indian courts constructions on the banks of a canal
Studies claim that advancing IST by have not had an opportunity to in Dehradun, and the division of
half an hour would result in saving 2.7 address, but other jurisdictions have water resources between Uttar
billion units of electricity every year. had to contend with. In the U.S., Pradesh and Uttarakhand (which had
None of the other proposals such as battles over daylight-saving time not been resolved since the
the introduction of daylight saving regularly went to court and it was not formation of the new State). In
time in India has met with any approval until 1966 with the passing of the December 2016, the High Court
and it is felt that having two time Uniform Time Act that they had a directed the removal of the
zones would be unsuitable. There is uniform national period of daylight- constructions. It also directed the
of course a strong political dimension saving time. Todd D. Rakoff in his work constitution of the Ganga
to granting a separate time zone in on the invisibility of time in structuring Management Board (a statutory body
the Northeast given the region's long the law argues that there is a under the U.P. Reorganisation Act
history of self-determination normative dimension of time that 2000), and prohibited mining of the
movements. The unstated seems to underwrite a number of Ganga riverbed and its highest flood
assumption is that the grant of a legal arrangements, and the question plain area. On the issue of resource
different time zone is only the first of how we, as a society, structure our division, the court directed the
temporal step towards conceding time is mirrored in the question how Central government to notify the
spatial autonomy. This appears to me we structure our laws. settlement reached by the two States
to be a short-sighted perspective. If Responding to the various in a time-bound manner.
socioeconomic development is objections raised about a separate Three months later, when the
indeed one of the formulae to combat time zone, journalist, writer and matter came up before the court
insurgency, might it not be academic Sanjoy Hazarika raises once again, the encroachments were
worthwhile to consider the disastrous critical questions and asks us to still there, the settlement between
impact that IST has on productivity consider why it is that the the States was yet to take place, and
and efficiency in the region? development index leans the board had not been constituted.
Ambedkar's reference to considerably in favour of western The court issued directions for time-
"Bombay time" and "Calcutta time" India as opposed to the east, and bound action. But separately, it took
reminds us of an interesting what impact differential time may three logical leaps.
aberration in the history of IST. It was have on it. First, for the court, an
instituted in 1905 but after it had The river as being 'extraordinary situation' had been
been adopted, Bombay traders created which required
found it difficult to convert to IST. In a recent judgment, the
extraordinary measures for the
Because the conversion to IST was Uttarakhand High Court declared the
protection of the Ganga and the

100 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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Yamuna. From what was a clear The judgment comes close on Revisiting India's nuclear
breach of statutory duties under the the heels of New Zealand granting doctrine
U.P. Reorganisation Act, and the legal status to the Whanganui river.
Calls for reassessing India's
regrettable, though scarcely But unlike the comprehensive Bill
nuclear doctrine are a regular feature
unprecedented, inability of the State passed by the New Zealand
of our strategic landscape.
to remove encroachments, the case Parliament recognising rights and
Depending on where the person
became one concerning the settling claims, the High Court's
asking for this reconsideration sits on
protection of the health and well- declaration is terse, and raises several
the strategic spectrum, the demand
being of the two rivers. The issue may questions. In the eyes of the law, living
for revision rests either on scepticism
have been elaborated upon in court, persons such as companies,
about India's commitment to a No
but the judgment, unfortunately, associations, deities etc., have rights
First Use posture or the intention to
does not tell us more. and duties - primary among these
retaliate massively to any nuclear first
Second, the court recorded being the right to sue and the
strike, no matter what the yield of the
how the rivers provide 'physical and capacity to be sued. Which implies
weapon used first. What seems to
spiritual sustenance' to half the Indian that from now on, the rivers can sue
receive much less attention, however,
population. It found the constitution persons acting against their interests.
is the declaration that India reserves
of the board to be necessary for But what for? Do they have a right
the right to nuclear retaliation "in the
various purposes including irrigation, not to be a receptacle for tons of
event of a major attack against India,
water supply, and power generation. sewage? Can they demand minimum
or Indian forces anywhere, by
And then, curiously, found it ecological flows? A right not to be
biological or chemical weapons". In
expedient to give legal status to the dammed, dredged, or diverted? If
doing so, we are clubbing together
rivers as living persons. yes, who will sue whom? Can the
nuclear first use - which has not
Third, the court decides to Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand now
occurred since 1945 - and biological
exercise the parens patriae sue a Municipal Corporation in Uttar
and chemical first use which,
jurisdiction to declare the rivers and Pradesh or Bihar for the discharge of
especially chemical, continues to
all their tributaries, etc. as living effluents downstream? Or will the
occur sporadically, whether by state
persons. Parens patriae , literally Director, Namami Gange, sue the
or non-state actors. The further
'parent of the country', is an inherent Central government for approving
question of degree, as in "major
power of the sovereign, and not the another hydro-power project on the
attack", only further muddies these
courts, to provide protection to river? Do other riparian State
already murky waters.
persons unable to take care of governments now have less of a role
The dramatic assassination in
themselves. It was (in)famously in the protection of the rivers as they
Malaysia last month of North Korean
deployed by the Indian government are not the identified 'custodians'?
Kim Jong-nam by the chemical agent
in the Bhopal Gas tragedy case to And what are rivers' duties?
VX, which was almost certainly
represent the claims of the victims. The judgment does not take
orchestrated by elements within the
The Director, Namami Gange, the away existing statutory and
North Korean state, adds another layer
Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand and constitutional rights and duties of
to questions about making sponsors
the Advocate General of citizens and government agencies to
of chemical attacks accountable. The
Uttarakhand have been appointed as counter the pollution and
ease with which deadly chemicals
the persons in loco parentis - persons degradation of these rivers. What it
can be transported across state
who will act 'in the place of parents' does do is to identify three officers
borders, as demonstrated by the
for the two rivers. These officers are who will be the first-line defenders
assault, gives further pause. This is not
now expected to act on behalf of the for the rivers. Perhaps they will not
to try to equate a political
rivers for their protection and be able to pass the (institutional)
assassination with a military attack
conservation. They are 'bound to buck any more. But is that game-
using chemical weapons. The fact
uphold the status' of the rivers and changing? Sadly, no.
remains, however, that the 1992
also to promote their health and well- Chemical Weapons Convention has
being.

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
succeeded in only partly making their killing over 1,400 people. And yet, limited number of states who can
use utterly reprehensible; their use is former President Barack Obama, possess them, to the devastating
beyond the pale but will not alter the having famously invoked a 'red line' generational and environmental
course of history in the manner that about the movement of chemical consequences of their use, nukes are,
we expect will follow a nuclear weapons in the region in unprepared in the late K. Subrahmanyam's words,
explosion. Quite simply, there is a remarks a year earlier, eventually "the million pound note" that is not to
fairly strong norm governing the non- stepped back from a military response be squandered lightly. That is why a
use of nuclear weapons; the norm to that attack. policy of No First Use works well: it
against the use of chemical and By most standards, the builds stability into deterrence by
biological weapons is still coalescing. surrendering and destruction of such credibly promising nuclear retaliation
Despite being banned, a massive stockpile would be in the face of extreme provocation
chemical weapons have not gone chalked up in the 'success' column of a nuclear first strike by one's
away. They have cropped up of international diplomacy. Yet, Mr. adversary. It promises to take both you
frequently in Syria and Iraq, where Obama's handling of Syria's chemical and your adversary to the abyss and
their recent use has been attributed weapons will remain a question mark, raises the cost of the adversary's first
to the Islamic State. The murder of if not a blemish, on his foreign policy strike immeasurably. That is all we
Kim Jong-nam was the stuff of a spy record. But had he not drawn that need these weapons to do militarily.
thriller: two young women red line and still achieved the same Poor vote-getters blame the
approached the estranged half- results, the analysis would probably tools
brother of North Korean leader Kim be quite different. For those inclined
The losers are at it again, blaming
Jong-un and poisoned him with VX, to criticise him, Mr. Obama had
the electronic voting machine (EVM)
a nerve agent so deadly that a drop weakened American credibility by
for their electoral defeat. Of course,
on exposed skin is lethal. The appearing to threaten military action
this is nothing new. Every time a party
execution was breathtaking in its and then walking away from it.
has a rough time in an election, the
simplicity: the women delivering the Credibility - that will-o'-the-wisp
easiest way out for its representatives
VX were apparently duped into of international dealings upon which
to console themselves is to blame the
believing they were taking part in a so much is said to rest - can be a
machine. This is a blame game
reality TV prank. straitjacket that limits a government's
indulged in periodically,
This was, however, not out of options for creative diplomacy in
notwithstanding the fact that the
the pages of a spy thriller, but from times of crisis. Mr. Obama was able to
Election Commission of India (ECI)
the playbook of a regime that appears step back in part because it soon
has time and again demonstrated,
not to fear the consequences of using became apparent that the American
through increased and transparent
an internationally banned chemical public had no appetite for military
measures, the reliability and fool-
substance for a political assassination retribution for a chemical attack
proof nature of the EVM.
on foreign soil. Analogous methods against foreigners on foreign soil.
As usual, with EVMs being
might be employed to use other However, would New Delhi be able
blamed after the results of five State
chemical and biological weapons by to resist popular pressure for decisive
elections were declared recently,
other players. If a roughly similar retaliation if Indians suffered a
the ECI issued a detailed press note
attack were carried out against chemical or biological attack,
reiterating that EVMs are standalone
Indians, whether military personnel, especially when India appears to
machines and are not networked
politicians or indeed civilians, how have committed itself to considering
either by wire or by wireless to any
would New Delhi define "major"? a nuclear response to such an attack?
other machine or system. Hence, they
This is, of course, assuming India Nuclear weapons deter other
cannot be influenced or
could definitely pin the blame on a nuclear weapons. To require them to
manipulated by signals from mobile
state. It might be worth recalling that do more is to imbue these weapons
phones or any other source. The
Bashar al-Assad used the nerve agent with even more political meaning than
software in the machine is burnt into
sarin against civilians in the Damascus they now carry. This ultimate weapon
a one-time programmable chip or
suburb of Ghouta in August 2013, is already a political force: from the

102 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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masked chip and can never be who gets the first 50 votes, the ECI Trojan horse or secret programme
altered or tampered with. The source mandated using 100 votes in the built into the software that will
code of the software is not handed mock poll on polling day. transfer all votes to a favourite party.
over to any outsider. The ECI also An oft-fired standard, but blunt, Those who make this allegation are
cited judgments of different High weapon employed in the losers' either ignorant or deliberately
Courts and the Supreme Court of armoury is the reference to names of indulging in creating a hype. The fact
India that upheld the reliability of some countries where electronic is that the software, once fused into
EVMs. voting has been given up. The the EVM chip is unalterable, and the
The ECI has prescribed a series Netherlands and Germany are cited machine cannot be manipulated by
of steps in its standard operating without either knowing or sending messages from external
procedures to enhance transparency deliberately concealing the vital fact sources. Therefore, for this allegation
and provide an opportunity for that in the former it was a networkable to come true, the software should, ab
political parties and candidates to PC-type of machine running on OS, initio , have been suitably
participate in testing the reliability of while in the latter, their Supreme programmed to enable such
the machines. During the first-level Court had disallowed electronic preferential recording of votes. This
of testing before the machines are voting because their law did not have is impossible because machines of a
allotted to various constituencies the enabling provision. Such a different vintage are used in an
from storage points, party situation arose in India too when in election.
representatives are invited. They can 1984, the Supreme Court barred the For instance, in the five State
select at random 5% of the machines use of EVMs as the law at that time elections, machines manufactured
in which up to 1,000 votes will be had provision for use of only ballot between 2006 to 2012, were in use,
polled to demonstrate the reliability paper. That in the U.S. such a with those of 2007, 2008 and 2009
and fidelity of the machines. A networkable DRS (Direct Recording vintage accounting for over 75% of
computer programme allocates, at System) machine is still used the machines. Further, the position
random, machines to constituencies. extensively across the length and of a party candidate in the EVM is
The second-level of testing is done breadth of the country, with no decided alphabetically going by the
when, from the constituency significant doubts expressed about name of the candidate in the
headquarters, machines are allocated its fidelity, is conveniently glossed respective State's official (vernacular)
- again at random, using a computer over. It is worth recalling that the language, and not by the name of the
programme - to polling stations. At Bush-Gore election spat, in 2000, was party. So, the position on the ballot
this juncture, the candidates - who over the "misreading" of votes unit of a candidate with a name
by now come on the scene - are recorded on ballot papers, and not starting with the letter 'A' would be
allowed to test the machines at about votes polled in DRS machines! first and his own party's candidate
random. The serial number of the In the post-2009 general election whose name starts with 'Z' would be
machine sent to each polling station brouhaha here, some experts were towards the end, even if his party's
is shared with the candidates, who brought in to trash EVMs, but in a name starts with the letter 'A'. The
can pass on this information to their meeting in Chennai, which this writer machines of 2006 to 2009 vintage
representatives in the respective attended, the presenter, an would have seen service in at least
polling stations. academic from the U.S., conceded three elections held between 2006
Finally, before the start of the that standalone, non-networked and 2014, prior to being deployed in
polling process on the day of the machines such as Indian EVMs 2017. Taking U.P. as the case in point,
election, each presiding officer cannot be interfered with and are not the Bahujan Samaj Party, in 2007, and
conducts a mock poll to demonstrate vulnerable. the Samajwadi Party (SP), in 2012,
the "correctness" the machine in But despite the comprehensive did well in the Assembly elections.
recording votes. When absurd and transparent measures put into In 2017, it was the BJP. In the Lok
allegations were floated that the operation, idle minds have not Sabha elections, the Congress and
machine has been programmed to stopped manufacturing wild stories. the SP did well in 2009, and the BJP
record votes to the same candidate One such red herring is that of the in 2014. This should convince any

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
sceptic that the voters, and not the Nobody has so far succeeded in On December 31, 2016, Prime
machines, decide the outcome. waking up a person who pretends to Minister Narendra Modi proudly
Even a super-intelligent programmer sleep. announced that pregnant women
cannot visualise in 2007 or 2008 or Giving short shrift to children's nationwide would soon be getting
2009, at the time of manufacture, of rights maternity benefits of Rs. 6,000. He
where the machines will be used and projected this as a "new scheme"
what the position of a particular The recent notification of the (sic), without any reference to the
party's candidate will be in the Ministry of Human Resource NFSA, perhaps hoping that the
balloting units of different Development, making Aadhaar victims of demonetisation would
constituencies and accordingly compulsory for midday meals in appreciate the gesture. With the
'tweak' the programme to favour a government schools, has attracted Prime Minister finally endorsing
particular party. Such idle talk should the criticism it deserves. This maternity entitlements, things started
be dismissed with the contempt it notification serves no clear purpose moving after that, but not much: the
deserves. other than to force children to get allocation of Rs. 2,700 crore in the
enrolled under Aadhaar. The 2017-18 Union Budget is barely
The introduction of VVPAT or
government, unfortunately, managed enough to cover a fourth of all births,
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is
to create the impression that the even with the proposed 60:40 ratio
certainly a step in the right direction,
notification had been retracted, for Centre:State funding. Word has it
further strengthening transparency.
when nothing of the sort has that the Central government may
But will full coverage with VVPT,
happened. restrict the benefits to one child per
expected by 2019, stop allegations
against EVMs as hoped by former First, the Central government woman, against the law. Further,
Chief Election Commissioners with has violated women's right to there is still no sign of the said
touching faith? Hardly, if one goes by maternity entitlements under the scheme. Quite likely, the government
the answer given by a well-known National Food Security Act (NFSA), will take its own time to roll it out, and
leader who, when questioned about 2013 for more than three years. Under spend even less this year than the
his outburst now against the EVM as the Act, every pregnant woman is measly allocation of Rs. 2,700 crore.
against his silence after his party's entitled to maternity benefits of Rs. So much for maternity entitlements
runaway victory two years ago, 6,000, unless she is already covered under the NFSA being "a promising
claimed that his over-confident by maternity schemes in the formal opportunity to improve nutrition
opponent may not have attempted sector. The Economic Survey 2015- during pregnancy", as the Economic
manipulation of EVMs then! Nobody 16, in a welcome chapter on "Mother Survey 2015-16 aptly put it.
can underestimate our political class's and child", made a strong case for Second, the Central
ability to come out with the most maternal and early-life health government is giving short shrift to the
imaginative of answers when it comes programmes, including maternity Integrated Child Development
to explaining their failure at the benefits, noting that they "offer very Services (ICDS), a critical programme
hustings. high returns on investment". Yet, the that was making good progress until
Union Budget that followed, for 2016- it was hit by Budget cuts in 2015-16.
Theoretically, there are three
17, did not make any provision for The initial Budget cut was about 50%.
entities which or who can be blamed.
maternity entitlements beyond the This was so mind-boggling that the
First, voters for having rejected them,
pilot scheme (for 53 districts only) government's own Minister for
but then no party would dare blame
initiated by the previous government. Women and Child Development,
them for fear of annoying and
This was all the more startling as the Maneka Gandhi, criticised the cuts in
alienating them forever. One can
Central government had assured the public, mentioning inter alia that they
blame one's own poor leadership or
Supreme Court in writing, on had made wage payments a "month-
the incompetence of party
October 30, 2015, that this scheme - to-month suspense". The cuts were
functionaries, but that level of
Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana partly reversed later on, but,
candour is unknown. That leaves only
- would be extended to all districts meanwhile, they had done much
one entity, the EVM, to be
in 2016-17. damage and sent a disastrous signal
demonised, VVPAT or no VVPAT.

104 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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down the line. State governments an excuse to discontinue JSY, even Finance Bill of 2017, now approved
were not amused. though maternity entitlements and by the Lok Sabha, making Aadhaar
Third, the midday meal scheme JSY serve distinct purposes. mandatory for all applications for PAN
is also being starved. Like ICDS, the Last but not least, Aadhaar is (Permanent Account Number) cards
midday meal scheme received shock now being made compulsory for all and filing of income tax returns.
treatment in the 2015-16 Budget, these schemes - midday meals, ICDS Earlier, following the surge in bank
with an initial Budget cut of 36%. The (yes), maternity benefits, JSY, you deposits after the demonetisation of
allocation for midday meals in this name it. This is being done in the high-value currency notes, the
year's Budget, Rs. 10,000 crore, is still name of curbing corruption, but no Income Tax Department had already
25% lower in money terms than the credible evidence has been given asked banks to ensure that all savings
corresponding allocation four years that identity fraud is a serious problem bank accounts are seeded with PAN
ago (in real terms, the decline would in these schemes, or that Aadhaar is details by the end of February. The
be even larger). The Budget cuts, of the best possible solution. Rather, this only exemptions to this norm are the
course, must be seen in light of the seems to be part of the blind drive to no-frills savings accounts such as
fact that the share of States in the make Aadhaar ubiquitous and those opened under the Pradhan
indivisible pool of taxes was raised universal, regardless of the possible Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. Effectively,
from 32% to 42% in 2015-16. The damage. The imposition of Aadhaar this means that all other new savings
question remains why the axe fell so on midday meals and related bank accounts will require an
heavily on children - no other schemes schemes exposes, once again, the Aadhaar number. And last week the
were hit so badly in 2015-16, with claim that Aadhaar is a voluntary Department of Telecommunications
the possible exception of drinking facility. It also shows that the Centre directed all telecom service
water and sanitation. has no respect for Supreme Court providers to re-verify the credentials
Fourth, plans are afoot to scrap orders, and that the Supreme Court, of their nearly 100 crore subscribers
the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a for some reason, does not mind. through an Aadhaar-based,
scheme of conditional cash transfers electronically authenticated Know
Unique distinction
aimed at promoting institutional Your Customer process within a year.
The Supreme Court's oral While the Supreme Court's
deliveries. Recent data clearly show
observations regarding the use of observations do not amount to a
a surge in institutional deliveries in the
Aadhaar numbers by the government judicial order, they dispel some of the
last 10 years or so (e.g. from 39% in
are significant, for they alter the ambiguity relating to the scope, even
2005-6 to 79% in 2015-16 according
narrative and potential scope of the future, of Aadhaar. In its interim order
to National Family Health Surveys),
ambitious unique identification in October 2015 the court made it
and it would be surprising if this had
programme. While reiterating its clear that the Aadhaar scheme
little to do with JSY. Incidentally, the
position that no beneficiary of a cannot be made mandatory till the
decline of maternal mortality has also
welfare scheme shall be denied matter is finally decided "one way or
accelerated in recent years. Yet the
benefits due to her for want of an the other". But it has set the stage for
Central government is now planning
Aadhaar number, a Bench led by the 12-digit Unique Identification
to phase out JSY. In a presentation
Chief Justice J.S. Khehar said the (UID) numbers being used as the
made at Vigyan Bhavan on February
government is free to "press" for basic identity proof for all residents.
22, 2017, the Secretary, Women and
Aadhaar for 'non-welfare' As Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has
Child Development, explained that
transactions or activities. These pointed out, biometrics captured
JSY would be "subsumed" under the
include filing income tax returns, under the Aadhaar enrolment
maternity benefit scheme from next
opening bank accounts or getting a process will ensure no individual can
year, as the latter provides a "higher
mobile phone connection. This hold more than one PAN card to
amount for institutional delivery". In
assumes significance as the evade tax dues. Those concerned
other words, maternity benefits will
government announced two such about privacy may be right about the
be made conditional on institutional
changes over the past week itself. need for an effective law to ensure
delivery, in violation of the NFSA, and
First, it included amendments to the that private data aren't misused. But
further, this linkage will be taken as

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tagging this concern solely to the UID and belts. Various flight crew President Hosni Mubarak was a
programme is short-sighted. In an age associations are now calling for symbol of repression. After his ouster,
where data are stored in electronic measures such as "stiffer prosecution" the dictator was tried for corruption
form, it is possible to collate vast of disruptive passengers, better crew and causing the death of hundreds
amounts of information from various training, and more detailed flight of protesters. Still, his release last
databases ranging from applications safety briefings. In the U.S., the week, after six years of detention at
for passports, driving licences, ration maximum fine for assaulting a crew Cairo's military hospital, was received
cards, and more. The apex court is member has seen an increase from by Egyptians as just a routine
yet to decide on whether Aadhaar $1,100 and can even touch $25,000. development. There were no major
violates the right to privacy. Disrupting a commercial flight protests against his release, nor were
Meanwhile, savings from weeding out can carry a very stiff jail sentence (of there any rallies in support - an
ghost beneficiaries have begun to pay up to 20 years) and even a $250,000 indication of what Egypt's state and
off the investment on building the fine. A paper by the International Civil society have become six years after
now 111-crore strong Aadhaar Aviation Organisation (ICAO) the Arab Spring. The release was long
database. But the Centre must not highlights the importance of the expected. Most of his associates and
stretch the leeway granted by the international treaty, the Tokyo family members, who also faced
court. Convention, also known as The serious charges, were already
Handling a mid-air meltdown Convention on Offences and Certain released. His sons, Alaa and Gamal,
Other Acts Committed on Board accused of embezzlement of public
The Aircraft Rules, 1937, spell funds, were released in October
Aircraft. Under this, Articles 1, 6-7, 8
out a course of actions to be taken 2015. Corruption charges against Mr.
and 12, and finally 9 and 13, focus on
following disruptive behaviour. Here, Mubarak were overturned in January
dealing with offenders which
Rules 22 and 23 highlight the 2015. Earlier this month, he was
includes handing over a "serious
parameters under which action can acquitted by Egypt's highest appeals
offender" to the competent
be taken under the jurisdiction of court of conspiring to kill protesters,
authorities. India ratified the
India, and the crucial role of the pilot- paving the way for his release.
Convention in July 1975. There are
in-command in initiating action with
some grey areas as far as aligning it It may appear ironic that Mr.
the competent authorities. The
with other key aviation conventions Mubarak, who ruled the country with
government is also said to be looking
are concerned. an iron fist for almost 30 years and
at an institutional mechanism to deal
IATA, which represents most was toppled by public protests in
with the problem. Airlines in India are
airlines across the world, is also urging which hundreds were killed, is now
beginning to take some steps to put
governments to ratify the Montreal a free man, while Mohamed Morsi,
in place a "no-fly" list.
Protocol 2014, which was adopted Egypt's first democratically elected
In the U.S., data by leading President, is in prison. But this irony
by ICAO. It amends the Tokyo
aviation bodies such as the FAA and also symbolises Egypt's complex
Convention, with a key change being
those representing airline contemporary politics. Though the
provision for recovery of costs as a
professionals record up to an government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
result of passenger behaviour. Nearly
estimated 10,000 such cases a year. claims the legacy of the 2011
100 governments participated in the
Airlines reported some 10,854 unruly revolution, it took a lenient view of
process. Adopting "no-fly lists" may
incidents to the International Air Mubarak-era crimes while cracking
be the simplest meeting point for
Transport Association (IATA) last down on Mr. Morsi's Muslim
most airlines, but as experience in the
year. Airlines in general have measures Brotherhood. It is difficult to gauge
U.S. shows, these can run into legal
to deal with disruptive passengers the political mood in Egypt. Despite
hurdles.
which include cutting off alcohol large-scale concentration of power
supply (identified as among the Back to square one
in the hands of the military, the Sisi
primary causes of air rage), to For most of those who hit Cairo's regime doesn't face any existential
warnings, to even subduing Tahrir Square in 2011 demanding threats. For ordinary Egyptians, who
passengers with plastic handcuffs democracy and a freer society, went through the instability and

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chaos of the post-Mubarak months The former UN High formulations are on the table to deal
and the threats of Islamisation and Representative for Disarmament with the central issue of relationship
economic miseries during the Muslim Affairs, Angela Kane, believes that with the NPT".
Brotherhood rule, General Sisi at least India stands a good 55% chance to Indian and Chinese
provided stability and order. The make it but is opposed to India's push. interlocutors too have held rounds of
belief is that compared to other "I do not believe India should be a discussions to resolve mutual issues.
countries that were hit by popular member of NSG because of criterion. But with a public opposition unlike a
protests in 2011 such as Libya, Yemen In a meeting that I attended, the quiet one in 2008, Beijing looks less
and Syria, Egypt is doing better, Chinese representative, a high- relenting. A view from Capitol Hill is
thanks to the army's intervention. ranking ambassador, was very vocal, that China is positioned as a focal
Tunisia is the only country that opposing the U.S. position on this." point of resistance for those who
internally transformed itself into a Speculation is rife if over the were persuaded or coerced earlier
democracy after protests. Gen. Sisi next two years, either India or India in 2008 by the Bush regime but remain
projects himself as a guarantor of and Pakistan or none could make it resentful of a country-specific waiver
order and enjoys support among the through the NSG. In the NSG plenary for India. But if China were to shed its
minorities and secular sections. But session in Seoul in June 2016, New resistance, it would be easier to
the question is if the status quo is Delhi blamed Beijing for the achieve consensus.
sustainable. Order was restored at a "Consensus Minus One" hurdle to its Meanwhile, India would have to
brutal cost. Hundreds were killed bid even though close to a dozen find ways to woo the dragon. With
when security personnel forcibly countries including Mexico, Brazil, the Trump administration busy with
removed Islamist protesters from Norway, Ireland expressed serious domestic agendas ranging from
Cairo. There is no substantive political reservations over India not being health care to the economy and also
opposition. Personal freedoms are signatory to the Non Proliferation North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State
being curbed again, while media Treaty. being the focus areas overseas, the
groups and journalists are targeted. It is now learnt from U.S. U.S.-China dialogue will hardly hinge
In effect, what hundreds of protesters diplomatic sources that calls were on Beijing's position on the NSG
at Tahrir Square risked their lives for generated from the White House as tangle for now. The U.S. continues to
was never achieved. Gen. Sisi has well as the State Department to some advocate support for India's
taken the country back to square one. naysayers including New Zealand membership. Dr. Christopher Ford,
The dragon at the NSG high and Italy. Italy had wanted a way out U.S. President Donald Trump's
table on the diplomatic tangle around its adviser at the National Security
two marines charged with the murder Council, says that while the NSG
Only one panellist and 37% of
of Indian fishermen. They had sought stand-off requires a change in tactics
the audience responded positively.
trial in a third country as a possible or circumstances for resolution, there
Three panellists and 67% of the
option. New Delhi dismissed the have been no indications of change
audience were naysayers, and they
proposals and Italy stuck to its in the U.S. administration's approach
were proved right.
opposition in the closed-door to India's membership so far.
A similar question asked to some
sessions. With the NSG plenary set to
800 delegates recently at a
Since the Seoul summit, a meet again in Bjern in June this year,
subsequent chapter of the Carnegie
committee under Rafael Mariano despite technical preparations, a
conference in Washington DC gave
Grossi, Ambassador of the Argentine resolution will be difficult to reach
way to a fragmented response. An
Republic and Permanent without political will. A top diplomat
average of 25% were hopeful of a 50%
Representative to International privy to the negotiations stressed that
chance of New Delhi making it
Organizations in Vienna and Chair of a green light to India's entry is a
through by 2019. As India continues
the Nuclear Suppliers Group, was political decision that China will have
to push for a seat at the nuclear high
tasked with backdoor consultations to make. China may not shy away from
table, it seems an uphill task, and the
for expansion of the elite club. advocating keeping out all-weather
view from the Hill isn't rosy either.
According to him, "several friend Pakistan in order to keep India

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
out. Meanwhile, American diplomats for instance, have been reconciled up multi-fold. It is still not too late for
advise patience as India already has without the Council resorting to a the GST Council to offer some
the functionality it needed with the majority vote inspires confidence. So exemptions or resist operationalising
2008 waiver for nuclear commerce. does the alacrity with which the some of these provisions through the
A seat at the high table will be Centre has moved to secure subordinate rules and regulations in
required to influence decisions and Parliament's nod for four enabling order to address genuine industry
nuclear export in future. So, any pieces of legislation within a fortnight grievances.
proposal to woo baiters would have of the Council's approval. State It's time for Africa
to be window-dressed to look Assemblies should do the same to
considerate of future bids from other pass the State GST law by holding After a teenage boy went
non-NPT players including Israel, special sessions if need be. missing in Greater Noida on March 26,
instead of appearing to be tailor- locals accused five Nigerian students
For Indian businesses that have
made only for India. of cannibalism. Residents of the
been seeking the reform, it is now time
enclave barged into the home where
For now, NSG will be an uphill to come to terms with the fine print
the Nigerian students were staying
task with China unwilling to play nice, and embrace the tax system. The GST
and searched the fridge for the
and contentious issues of the H-1B Council, meeting again on Friday to
remains of the youth, who died in a
visa, intellectual property rights and clear four pending sets of regulations,
hospital after being found in a nearby
trade dominating the India-U.S. must sign off on which of the five GST
park. Following unsubstantiated
agenda when Prime Minister rates will apply to different products
complaints from the victim's family,
Narendra Modi goes to Capitol Hill. and services. Clarity on the applicable
the police charged the students with
Next steps on GST rates will help industry alter their
murder but did not detain them for
accounting systems, supply chains
The Lok Sabha has duly given lack of evidence. It was later reported
and pricing strategies. But some
its assent to necessary Central that the boy died of drug overdose.
provisions in the GST laws have the
legislation to operationalise the This incident, followed by further
industry in a tizzy. While the highest
Goods and Services Tax, nearly 17 violence against African students in
GST rate has been pegged at 28%,
years after the government began Noida, marks a new low in the racism
the integrated GST law has set a
discussions on the prospects for a faced by Africans in India.
ceiling of 40%. Though an enabling
unified indirect tax regime across the provision, it gives the government too There have been several
country. It is eyeing a July 1 rollout much leeway to alter the rate atrocious cases of racism in the last
for the GST, which will replace the structure in coming years without year towards Africans in India.
multiple Central and State-level taxes seeking Parliament's nod. Compare Masonda Ketada Olivier, a young
and levies that make doing business this to the cess ceiling of 15% on Congolese man who was a French
in India a compliance nightmare . The luxury cars, for instance, which are teacher in South Extension, was
long and winding road for this reform, likely to see a 12% cess to start with. murdered while returning home from
punctuated by political about-turns, On several other fronts, the final laws a party when he tried to get an
has had a fairly straight trajectory in haven't changed much from their autorickshaw home and got into an
recent months, following the draft versions, despite industry red- argument with three men who
constitutional amendments last flagging several provisions. These wanted to hire the vehicle. He was
August. The GST Council has include the anti-profiteering clauses brutally pulled out of the auto,
managed to thrash out a consensus to curb 'unjust enrichment' of firms, assaulted, and struck on the head with
on several issues relating to the the requirement for branch offices to a stone. He was rushed to the AIIMS
administration and the legislative register separately in each State, and trauma centre but was pronounced
provisions for the new tax system treating all transactions between dead on arrival.
within six months. The fact that related parties (including head office Apparently the young
apparently intractable positions held and branch offices) as taxable. For Tanzanian student was beaten to
by the States as well as the Centre on the services sector, in particular, avenge the death of a woman who
the sharing of administrative powers, compliance requirements could go had allegedly been run over by a

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Sudanese man less than an hour students came in a bus from Vikram privacy law. In a digital world, search
before the attack. The student Nursing School to join it and even and aggregation of data have
pleaded with the police for help provided first aid back-up support for become relatively easy. Aadhaar was
insisting she had nothing to do with the walkers. designed as a digital identity platform
the fatal accident. In her filed Mr. Peasah thinks it is critical that which is inclusive, unique and can be
complaint, she alleged that a proper orientation be given to African authenticated to participate in any
policeman told her: "You all look alike students coming to study in India. It digital transaction. This has
and you should get the black man is perhaps as or more critical for Indian transformed the service delivery in
who ran over a woman in the area." students and members of our country, conveniencing residents
There were 42,420 foreign communities where African students and reducing leakages. Direct
students in India in 2016. The top live to have a better understanding benefit transfer, subscription to
sending countries were Nepal of Africa. This would require various services and authentication at
(21.3%), Afghanistan (10.3%), discussions and exposure to the many the point of service delivery are some
Bhutan, (6.6%), Sudan (4.8%), cultures and diversity of Africa. of the benefits which have accrued.
Nigeria (4.7%), indicating that after A much more concerted effort Aadhaar followed the principle
the three SAARC partner countries, must be made by the Indian of incorporating privacy by design, a
Sudan and Nigeria send the most government, and Indian citizens, concept which states that IT projects
students to study in India. Students intellectuals, and artists to make should be designed with privacy in
come from many African countries to Africans feel safe in India. The police mind. Collection of biometrics has
India as many universities offer quality too, who are often implicated in these often been quoted as one of the
education in English that is much racist incidents, must be trained, and means of violating privacy. Biometrics
more reasonably priced than in the issues of racism within the force are essential to ensure uniqueness, a
West. The University of Mysore, for seriously prosecuted. Students on key requirement for this project.
instance, has 2,000 foreign students, Indian campuses must be made Additionally, these biometrics can be
many from African countries. aware of racism towards foreign used for authentication for financial
Thus Indian students have an students and shown that it is no transactions, getting mobile SIMs and
opportunity to meet African students different from the racism faced by various other services using
and learn about a part of the world of Indian students abroad, which India electronic KYC (e-KYC). Another
which they know little. This is despite so vehemently denounces. In principle of privacy by design states
the fact that India has had trading addition, for a country of India's size that you should collect only minimal
connections with Africa over the and given the increasing number of data. As UIDAI was creating identity
centuries and many people of Indian Africans coming to India to study and infrastructure, it was decided that
descent live and have lived in Africa for medical tourism, a far wider only a minimal set of data, just
for centuries. cultural engagement with the sufficient to establish identity, should
Concerned by the racism faced continent is necessary not only to be collected from residents. This
by many African students, Mr. Peasah combat the malevolent racism, but irreducible set contained only four
helped organise a peace march to also to expand the global horizons of elements: name, gender, age and
raise awareness about racism in India. the Indian public. communication address of the
He also helped launch a campaign to resident.
Is Aadhaar a breach of privacy?
clean Rajkumar Park to show that Another design principle was to
Since its inception, Aadhaar has issue random numbers with no
foreign students, including Africans,
been criticised as a project which intelligence. This ensures that no
were also part of the Swachh Bharat
violates privacy. India does not have profiling can be done as the number
effort and could contribute to the
a law on privacy. In fact, then does not disclose anything about the
country's mission to create a cleaner
chairman of UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani, person. The Aadhaar Act has clear
India. While very few fellow students
wrote to the Prime Minister as early as restrictions on data sharing. No data
from the University of Mysore joined
in May 2010 suggesting that there was download is permitted, search is not
the peace march, Mr. Peasah
a need to have a data protection and allowed and the only response which
appreciated the fact that over 40

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
UIDAI gives to an authentication Connected by air profound. Provided this model is
request is 'yes' or 'no'. No personal sustainable and more regional flights
Six months from now, 43 cities
information is divulged. come up under the scheme, the
will be mainstreamed on India's flight
When a biometric-based availability of slots at larger airports
connectivity grid, an outcome of the
authentication takes place, it is the that would emerge as hubs could
Udan scheme launched to spur
individual who must participate in the become an issue - particularly at
regional flights covering distances up
process by submitting his or her capacity-constrained airports such as
to 800 km. These include a dozen
biometrics, typically at the service Mumbai. The second airport at Navi
airports where limited but irregular
delivery point to prove his identity. Mumbai may help ease congestion,
flights operate, and as many as 31
Typical examples are at the time of but that is still years away. In cities
destinations that are not connected
lifting ration from a PDS shop, where new airports have been
at all despite the existence of airport
opening a bank account to provide developed, such as Bengaluru,
facilities. The scale of India's
eKYC to the bank or submission of abandoned old facilities could be
untapped civil aviation opportunities
Digital Life Certificates by pensioners. revived as dedicated terminals for
can be gauged by the fact that these
The basic purpose of authentication low-cost and regional flights.
constitute less than 10% of India's
is to facilitate residents in getting Separately, new no-frills airports must
inactive airports/airstrips - 394 out of
service in a digital, paperless and be encouraged where traffic is
450 are dormant currently. The Udan
convenient way. As no information is expected to hit saturation point in
scheme is a critical component of the
divulged to any agency without the coming years. Recently, four new
national civil aviation policy unveiled
consent of the concerned individual, foreign investors and a few domestic
last June. It offers viability gap funding
it cannot be construed to violate any players have expressed interest in
to operators to fly smaller aircraft to
privacy. managing operations at state-run
such airports with a commitment to
Besides the minimal data which airports such as Jaipur and
price tickets for at least half of the
UIDAI has about a person, it does not Ahmedabad. This marks a revival in
seats at Rs. 2,500 for an hour-long
keep any data except the logs of investor interest after a long lull. It is
flight. In the first round of bids, 11
authentication. It does not know the time to revisit provisions that offer
new or existing airline operators
purpose of authentication. The existing private operators of large
pitched for more than 200 routes. The
transaction details remain with the airports (burdened by debt) the right
Centre has approved 27 proposals
concerned agency and not with of first refusal on any new airport
from five players, adding 128 routes
UIDAI. This is the best model of proposed within 150 km. Most
to India's aviation map. The estimate
keeping data where each data- interested bidders for the Navi
is that this will add 6.5 lakh new seats
owner has the responsibility of data Mumbai airport stayed away over this
with a subsidy of Rs. 200 crore.
confidentiality and security. clause. Last but not the least, this
The most heartening aspect is
Aadhaar authentication and e- development must start a rethink
that these include six proposals for
KYC ensures that documents cannot within the Indian Railways, as it could
11 routes that don't seek any subsidy
be misused. Physical papers are now lose traffic on some routes.
under the scheme, proving there is
amenable to misuse. We know of an untapped economic potential. Digital push must be disability-
situations where multiple SIMs are The benefits for tourist hotspots such inclusive
issued based on some document, and as Agra, Shimla, Diu, Pathankot, Around 8-10% of India's
the real owner is not even aware. On Mysuru and Jaisalmer - that would population lives with disabilities, with
the other hand, e-KYC ensures that now be just a short flight away, an equal number constituting the
the document cannot be used for any replacing cumbersome road or rail aged. Information and
other transaction. UIDAI has also built journeys - are obvious. But the Communication Technologies (ICT)
a facility wherein one can 'lock' the significant multiplier effects of have the potential to significantly
Aadhaar number and disable it from aviation activity, including new impact the lives of these groups,
any type of authentication for a investments and employment facilitating access of services
period of one's choice, guarding creation for the local economies of available to them and allowing them
against any potential misuse. other destinations could be equally to handle a wide range of activities

110 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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independently, enhancing their services provided to the public in It is cross-cutting and can impact
social, cultural, political and urban and rural areas. These include everyone irrespective of caste,
economic participation. Making ICT government and private gender, age and nationality. Thus
accessible no longer remains an developments. The Act also ensuring a disability-sensitive
option but has become a necessity. mandates incorporation of Universal development agenda across all
Poor accessibility due to lack of Design principles while designing ministries, sectors and causes
focussed information and political will new infrastructure, electronic and becomes critical if growth has to be
has led to social exclusion of people digital media, consumer goods and truly inclusive. 'Nothing about us
with disabilities, exacerbating the services. Most importantly, the Act without us' assumes even greater
negative impact of the existing digital sets timelines to ensure significance in the current context.
divide. The new call for action of implementation of the above and As India catapults towards a
disability rights activists now is "Cause punitive action in the event of non- cashless and digital economy and as
No Harm", thus ensuring future compliance. human interface between service
generations are not excluded from Accessibility therefore forms providers and end users gives way to
mainstream activities due to a hostile the common thread weaving together digital, it becomes imperative to
infrastructure. the Accessible India Campaign, the ensure accessibility for inclusion. The
This assumes a greater thrust Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, need is for representation of persons
given the unprecedented the Smart Cities Mission and the with disabilities in all ministries and
developmental activity in the country Digital India campaign to achieve the key missions, commissions and
under the various missions launched combined goal of creating an committees to advise and ensure
by the present government, such as inclusive society that will allow for a inclusion in all policies, programmes
the Smart Cities Mission and Digital better quality of life for all citizens, and developments. The
India. Accessibility for disabled including persons with disabilities. government's procurement policy
people is a cross-cutting theme Beyond the social implications, too must mandate accessibility as a
across all of these and care must be accessibility makes for business and key criterion. Adherence to the latest
taken to ensure disability-inclusive economic sense too. If principles of Web Content Accessibility
development. Universal Design are incorporated at Guidelines should be made
Incorporation of accessibility the design stage, cost implications are mandatory while developing
principles across all new negligible. Retrofitting, on the other websites and mobile applications.
developments will also complement hand, has huge cost implications. Also important is the synergy
the Accessible India Campaign, the Exclusion of persons with between various arms of the
flagship campaign launched by the disabilities from education, government. The Smart Cities Mission
Prime Minister on World Disability Day employment and participation on focusses on comprehensive
which aims at achieving universal account of a hostile infrastructure and development leading to the
accessibility for all citizens and inaccessible technology has huge convergence of other ongoing
creating an enabling and barrier-free economic implications. UN agencies government programmes such as
environment. India was one of the put this cost at around 7% of national Make In India, Digital India, Atal
first countries to ratify the United GDP. On the other hand, accessible Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban
Nations Convention on the Rights of services and business premises can Transformation (AMRUT), Pradhan
Persons with Disabilities. The recently broaden the customer base, Mantri Awas Yojana, National Heritage
passed Rights of Persons with increasing turnover and positively City Development and Augmentation
Disabilities Act, 2016 mandates impacting the financial health and Yojana (HRIDAY), etc. but the
adherence to standards of social brand of the company. Recent Accessible India Campaign does not
accessibility for physical research pegged the market size of even find a mention! This is so when
environment, transportation, different product categories needed as many as 39 cities out of the 50 cities
information and communications, by persons with disabilities in India of the Accessible India Campaign are
including appropriate technologies at a whopping Rs. 4,500 crore. also among the shortlisted Smart
and systems, and other facilities and Disability is not an isolated issue. Cities.

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Much after Independence, rate is equal to the investment rate With an ICOR of 4, it was not surprising
there has been minimal change in the divided by the incremental capital- that a high growth rate of close to
fortunes of India's disabled output ratio. The incremental capital- 9.4% was achieved. One sees a
population. It becomes our collective output ratio (ICOR) is the amount of steady decline in the investment rate
responsibility to ensure inclusive capital required to produce one unit since then. The decline in the rate
development, one that engages all of output. The higher the ICOR, the was small initially but has been more
stakeholders through a pragmatic and less efficient we are in the use of pronounced in the last two years.
judicious combination of capital. There are many caveats to this According to the latest estimates, the
interventions while effectively bald proposition. As we look at the gross fixed capital formation rate fell
leveraging technology to ensure truly Indian performance in the last five to as low as 26.9% in 2016-17. With
inclusive and sustainable years, two facts stand out. One is a this investment rate, it is simply
development. decline in the investment rate and the impossible to achieve a growth rate
Sharpen the focus on growth second is a rise in ICOR; both of in the range of 8 to 9%.
which can only lead to a lower growth The major issue confronting us
Now that the dust and din rate. is: why did the investment rate fall?
around the State Assembly elections
As growth was coming down Why are not new investments
have settled down, it is time for
sharply initially, the investment rate forthcoming? In 2011 and 2012, in
policymakers to turn their attention
was falling only slowly, implying a discussions on the Indian economy,
to the major task of accelerating
rising ICOR. ICOR is a catch-all the one phrase that used to be
economic growth. As of now the
expression which is determined by a bandied about was "policy paralysis",
prospects are not encouraging. The
variety of factors including pointing to the inability of the
Central Statistics Office's second
technology, skill of manpower, government to take policy decisions
advanced estimates indicate that the
managerial competence and also because of "coalition compulsions".
growth rate of GDP for 2016-17 will
macroeconomic policies. Thus It is true that around this period, the
be 7.1% as against 7.9% in 2015-16.
delays in the completion of projects, government was preoccupied with
The growth rate of gross value added
lack of complementary investments answering many issues connected
at basic prices in 2016-17 will be
in related sectors and the non- with graft. But that does not explain
6.7% as against 7.8% in 2015-16. The
availability of critical inputs can all the steady fall in the investment rate
growth rates projected for 2016-17
lead to a rise in ICOR. except for a sense of uncertainty
do not capture the impact of
The Economic Survey of 2014- created in the minds of investors.
demonetisation, which when taken
15 reported that there were in all 746 The external environment was
into account may bring down the
stalled projects, with 161 in the also not encouraging. The growth rate
projected growth rate by around
public sector and 585 in the private of the advanced economies
0.5%.
sector of a total value of Rs. 8.8 lakh remained low and the recovery from
The decline in the growth rate
crore. As of 2015-16, there were still the crisis of 2008 was tepid which
is not a recent phenomenon. It started
404 stalled projects, 162 in the public had an adverse impact on exports.
in 2011-12. The persistence of
sector and 242 in the private sector However, India benefited by large
relatively low growth over a five-year
with a total value of Rs. 5.5 lakh crore. capital inflows except in 2013. For
period calls for a critical examination.
In the short run, the biggest gain in almost three years beginning 2010,
Even though the new numbers on
terms of growth will be by getting India had to cope with a high level of
national income give us some
"stalled projects" moving. Of course inflation which also had an adverse
comfort, they do not tell the whole
some of them may be unviable impact on investment sentiment.
story.
because of changed conditions. A Once the growth rate starts to decline,
Ultimately, the growth rate is periodic reporting by the it sets in motion a vicious cycle of
determined by two factors - the government on the progress of stalled decline in investment and lower
investment rate and the efficiency in projects will be of great help. growth. The acceleration principle
the use of capital. As the Harrod- begins to operate. We need to break
India's investment rate reached
Domar equation puts it, the growth this chain in order to move on to a
a peak in 2007-08 at 38.0% of GDP.

112 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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higher growth path.What are the projects must be brought to Ethnic pressures and a fragile
solutions, given the current situation? completion. Third, financial peace
The standard prescription, whenever bottlenecks need to be cleared. The
Even before the news on the
private investment is weak, is to raise banking system is under stress. The
fast-paced, controversial
public investment which can take a non-performing loans of the system
developments on the Manipur
longer term view. This standard have risen and are rising. This has
Assembly election verdict and its
suggestion is very much appropriate squeezed the profitability of banks
outcome - the Bharatiya Janata Party
in the present context as well. In the with some showing loss. More
(BJP) forming the government after
best of times, public investment has distressing is the minimal flow of new
winning only 21 seats in a 60-member
been 8% of GDP. The Central credit. The problem is often referred
House - could sink in, the crippling
government's capital expenditures to as the twin balance sheet problem.
blockade of two highways leading to
even after some increase in the last If corporate balance sheets are weak,
the State, called by the United Naga
two years, is only 1.8% of GDP. About automatically the banks' balance
Council (UNC) last November,
3 to 4% of GDP comes from public sheets also become weak. Really
ended. The BJP's national leaders
sector undertakings and the balance speaking, it is two sides of the same
camping in Imphal had promised to
from State governments. What is coin. The solution to clean up the
lift the blockade within 48 hours of
needed now is for public sector balance sheet of banks lies in taking
coming to power. As the
undertakings to come out with an some "haircuts". At least some part of
development on the ground largely
explicit statement indicating the the accumulation of bad debts has
followed the script, the new State
extent of investment they intend to been due to the slowdown of the
government, run by an old Congress
make during the current fiscal. And economy. The old saying is "bad loans
hand, N. Biren Singh, brought some
this intention must be monitored are sown in good times". Even though
relief. But for how long? The wheels-
every quarter. This will inspire a haircut cannot be avoided, wilful
within-wheels nature of the
confidence among prospective defaulters must not go unpunished.
government formation itself is an
private investors. Asset restructuring companies are
indication that administering the
However, it is also necessary to part of the solution and we have some
State could be anything but easy for
enhance private investment, and that experience of them.
Mr. Singh.
too private corporate investment. This is also the appropriate time
How is he going to resolve the
During the high growth phase, to revive an idea which had withered
Naga issue? Four MLAs of the Naga
corporate investment reached the away during the reform process and
People's Front have joined the BJP-
level of 14% of GDP. Since then it has that is to have institutions focussed
led government, with the winner from
fallen. In fact, a recent study shows on long-term lending such as IDBI
Mao (Losii Dikho) made a minister, and
that the total cost of projects initiated and ICICI as they were before 1998.
the rest given posts of parliamentary
by the corporate sector has come The details can be worked out. But
secretaries with minister of state rank.
down from Rs. 5,560 billion in 2009- the idea needs a rethink.
A rollback of the creation of new
10 to Rs. 954 billion in 2015-16. This Investment, as they say, is an act districts will obviously appease the
continuing trend must be reversed. of faith in the future. If there has to Nagas in the hills, but not the Kukis,
Three things need attention. be investment resurgence, it is the other major tribal group living in
First, reforms to simplify procedures, necessary to create the climate the hill districts, who have got a new
speed up the delivery system and which promotes this faith. We have district, Kangpokpi (culled out from
enlarge competition must be pursued already outlined the actions that can areas of Naga-dominated Senapati
vigorously. Some significant steps be taken in the purely economic district, and a fact which hasn't gone
have been taken in this regard in arena. But "animal spirits" are also down well with the Nagas). There's
recent years such as moving forward influenced by what happens in the Kuki representation in the Cabinet.
on the GST Bill, passing of the polity and society. Avoidance of
The Nagas too are in wait-and-
Bankruptcy Act, and enlarging the divisive issues is paramount in this
watch mode. The UNC operates
scope of foreign direct investment. context. Undiluted attention to
under the patronage of the National
Second, all viable "stalled" development is the need of the hour.

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Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak- and since they, despite being in a loans. The Finance Ministry and the
Muivah) with which the Centre majority, already feel constricted in Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have
signed a "framework agreement" in their own State, their voice has to be recently sent out signals to the effect
2015 to solve the decades-old Naga heard. On the other hand, the Nagas that they are determined to take the
insurgency. Though the "agreement" and Kukis, who have long complained bull by its horns. If they follow
is shrouded in secrecy, the Nagas that the administration is leaning through, it will brighten the
have never kept their demands towards Meiteis, are uneasy about it, prospects of India's growth rate
secret. They want all Naga-inhabited and there have been widespread moving to 8% in the medium term.
territories in Manipur, Assam, protests for and against it. Even if the Bad loans - or non-performing
Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland to problem with the NSCN(I-M) is assets (NPAs) - were 9% of total loans
come under "Greater Nagalim" which sorted out, there's the NSCN of all Indian banks in September
all States barring Nagaland (Khaplang) faction, which broke the 2016. At public sector banks (PSBs),
vehemently oppose. On March 22, ceasefire with the Centre, to contend bad loans were 12% of all advances.
addressing his cadres, NSCN(I-M) with - and a host of other insurgent Another 3% of loans in the aggregate
general secretary T. Muivah said the groups each fighting their own cause (and 4% at PSBs) have been
framework agreement "recognises including the valley-based People's restructured. The Economic Survey
the unique history, the identity, the Liberation Army. (2016-17) quotes market analysts as
sovereignty, the territories of the What worked for Manipur may saying that 4-5% of loans are bad
Nagas. It also recognises the not necessarily work in the other loans that have not been recognised
legitimate right of the Nagas to States of the region, each with their as such. Thus, total stressed assets -
integration of all Naga territories." But sets of tribes, different cultures, NPAs, restructured loans and
in the same breath, giving a breather eating habits and social mores. The unrecognised bad loans - would
to the Centre, he talked about "co- BJP's homogenous social systems are amount to a staggering 16% of all
existence" of "two entities" and unlikely to work in this disparate loans and nearly 20% of loans at PSBs.
shared sovereignty. region. While both Assam and 's bad loan problem has arisen
In Delhi, after the UNC signed a Manipur have a sizeable Hindu/ from the lending boom that India's
tripartite agreement with the Union Vaishnav population, Nagaland, banks embarked on in the period
and State governments to call off the Mizoram and Meghalaya are 2004-08, a period that saw economic
blockade, a Home Ministry official predominantly Christian States, and growth reach the 9-10% range.
admitted that "there are many will be wary of the BJP's brand of However, that by itself did not create
stakeholders," while saying, "at the politics. The people and the Church a problem of the current magnitude.
moment there is nothing like a must have taken note of two NPAs, which are 9% of all loans , were
rollback". Even if the Naga issue is developments with unease: the Modi only half that level a year before. It is
resolved with the help of Delhi, the government's announcement that the failure to resolve the bad loan
"shared sovereignty" condition won't December 25 will be observed as problem over the past several years
please the Meiteis in the valley who Good Governance Day and the that has exacerbated the problem.
comprise roughly 60% of the Assam government's recent notice The best solution to a bad loan
population but live in a tenth of the planning to make Sanskrit problem is to simply grow your way
area of Manipur. The hill tribes are compulsory till Class VIII, even if that out of it. This can happen in two ways.
roughly 40% of the population and means the State will have to hire One, banks keep financing projects
they live in hill districts which are teachers from elsewhere. that are not making repayments in full
spread over 90% of Manipur's total Finally, action on bad loans? and would qualify as NPAs. They do
area. so in the hope that, once growth
After nearly three years of
On the Inner Line permit issue revives, cash flows in the projects will
dithering on the part of the National
too, Mr. Singh has to walk the improve. Two, banks grow their loan
Democratic Alliance government,
tightrope. It's a Meitei demand, that portfolio at a brisk rate. As the
there is hope now that we will see
outsiders be allowed access to the denominator in the ratio of bad loans
action in respect of Indian banks' bad
State only by using Inner Line permits, to total loans grows, the bad loan

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
problem automatically diminishes in consuming or (as in the case of a "bad Managing Directors of various PSBs.
significance. bank") make impossible demands on It must also revamp the boards of
That's how India's banking financial and human resources. The PSBs by bringing in independent
sector came out of the bad loan NDA government seemed to have directors of high quality. The solutions
problem in the early 2000s. Rapid bought the faulty diagnosis but could should have been clear enough long
growth in the world economy and the not act on most of the prescriptions back. It is the misplaced
Indian economy provided a painless that followed. It chose to muddle condemnation of PSBs that has held
solution. This time around, however, along. The government appointed a up resolution of the bad loan
luck has not favoured the Indian Bank Board Bureau (BBB) as problem. Doing away with majority
banking system. The global economy suggested by the Nayak committee ownership of government, mergers,
has been in a prolonged slump and tasked it with appointing creation of a bad bank - all these are
consequent to the financial crisis of Chairmen and Managing Directors of non-starters. The way forward is to
2007-08. The "financing" strategy of PSBs. The BBB was also assigned the empower management and
continuing to make loans to unviable role of advising banks on restructuring strengthen governance at PSBs.
projects has come unstuck. and raising capital. The right to recall legislators
Serious policy errors have The BBB has made little
The ancient Athenians, under
compounded the problem. The big headway. Very few top appointments
their unique democracy, came up
policy error was the belief among have happened. The bad loan
with a social custom. Each year, in
policymakers that bad governance, problem and recapitalisation of PSBs
the sixth or seventh month of their
bad management and even remain unaddressed. This was only
10-month calendar, all the men were
corruption at PSBs were primarily to be expected. The government
asked in their assembly whether they
responsible for the problem. A cannot distance itself from key
wished to hold an ostracism. If it was
committee appointed by the RBI and decisions on PSBs while being
a yes, an ostracism was held two
headed by P.J. Nayak argued as much accountable for their performance.
months later, in a reserved section of
in a report it submitted in late 2014. Creating the BBB has only added
the local agora. Here, citizens wrote
The committee seemed to think that another layer to decision-making and
down the names of those they wished
majority government ownership of slowed it down.
to be ostracised on shards of pottery,
PSBs was the root cause of the bad Realisation that the bad loan
which were then deposited in urns.
loan problem as it meant political and problem is not the result of some
Officials counted the shards.
bureaucratic interference with special villainy at PSBs but a matter
Whoever had the largest pile of
commercial decisions. Such an of factors extraneous to management
ostraka - the pieces of broken pottery
inference, which has been duly has finally dawned, if somewhat late
that were used in voting - was banned
echoed by the media, is patently in the day. The initiative has moved
from the city for 10 years.
incorrect. As the Economic Survey away from the BBB and back to the
The modern-day right to recall
of 2016-17 point outs, the bad loan Finance Ministry and the RBI where
is a direct successor of such methods.
problem is "an economic problem, it rightly belongs. There is clarity now
A recall election is typically a process
not a morality play… the vast bulk of that banks must be empowered to
by which voters seek to remove
the problem has been caused by resolve the relatively small number of
elected officials through a direct vote
unexpected changes in the bad loans that account for a big
before their term is completed. It has
economic environment: timetables, chunk of the total in terms of value. In
been in place in Canada's Legislative
exchange rates, and growth rate many cases, this would mean that
Assembly of British Columbia since
assumptions going wrong." In other banks write off a portion of the loans
1995. Voters can petition to have
words, factors extraneous to bank owed to them.
their parliamentary representatives
management and governance are The government must provide
removed from office, even if the MLA
primarily responsible for the adequate capital to the banks to
is the premier, with a by-election
problem. cover write-offs and also facilitate
ensuing soon after. In the United
These proposals are all fresh loan growth. It must end the
States, the states of Alaska, Georgia,
politically difficult to handle, time- delays in appointing Chairmen and

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Representation of the People Act, politicians. Having a process to recall
Island and Washington allow for recall 1951, only provides for "vacation of could also limit campaign spending,
on specific grounds such as office upon the commission of certain as morally skewed candidates weigh
misconduct or malfeasance. offences and does not account for the risk of being recalled. This right
This is not a new concept for general incompetence of the would help engender direct
India. The concept of "Rajdharma", representatives or dissatisfaction of democracy in our country,
wherein the lack of effective the electorate as a ground for broadening access and raising
governance was a cause for removal vacation". However, due care must inclusiveness. To deepen democracy,
of a king, has been spoken about since be taken in the introduction of the right to recall must be given hand
the Vedic times. One of India's legislation associated with such laws. in hand with the right to vote.
leading humanists, M.N. Roy, California's gubernatorial recall In largesse we trust
proposed, in 1944, a shift to a elections are notorious for the
influence of special interests, with Chairing his first cabinet
decentralised and devolved form of
Governor Davis' recall vote, in 2003, meeting after taking over the reins in
governance, allowing for
a classic example. Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi
representatives to be elected and
Adityanath approved a write-off on
recalled. Jayaprakash Narayan, in To encourage the process of the
outstanding farmer loans of up to Rs.
1974, spoke extensively on the right to recall, legislative change is
1 lakh taken before March 31, 2016.
subject. Section 47 of the needed which seeks to introduce
The State cabinet also decided to
Chhattisgarh Nagar Palika Act, 1961, recall petitions, for elected
waive loans worth Rs. 6,000 crore
provides for holding of elections to representatives in the Lok Sabha and
extended to small and marginal
recall elected officials due to non- in respective Legislative Assemblies.
farmers that had turned into non-
performance. The Right to Recall also While it is necessary to ensure that a
performing assets. Together, this
exists at local level bodies in Madhya recall process is not frivolous and
package, aimed at fulfilling the
Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh. does not became a source of
Bharatiya Janata Party's election
Nearly a decade ago, Lok Sabha harassment to elected
promise, will cost the exchequer
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee sought representatives, the process should
about Rs. 36,000 crore. There was no
the introduction of a system of a have several built-in safeguards such
mention of a bigger plan to ramp up
"Right to Recall" of a legislator to as an initial recall petition to kick-start
the farm sector, in which U.P.
ensure accountability. According to the process and electronic-based
invested just 2.3% of total
a media report of 2011, in Gujarat, voting to finally decide its outcome.
expenditure in 2016-17 - one of the
the State Election Commission had Furthermore, it should ensure that a
lowest rates across major States. A
advised amendments to introduce a representative cannot be recalled by
little earlier, the Madras High Court
right to recall of elected members in a small margin of voters and that the
ordered the Tamil Nadu government
municipalities, districts, talukas and recall procedure truly represents the
to extend a similar farm loan waiver
village panchayats. mandate of the people. To ensure
scheme for small farmers (with land
In a first-past-the-post system in transparency and independence,
holdings of up to 5 acres) and
a democracy, unfortunately, not every chief petition officers from within the
marginal farmers (who own up to 2.5
elected representative truly enjoys Election Commission should be
acres) to all farmers. Officials have
the mandate of the people. Logic and designated to supervise and execute
even been forbidden from trying to
justice necessitate that if the people the process.
recover loans where repayments have
have the power to elect their A free and fair election is a right
slipped. The State, which had already
representatives, they should also of the citizens of the country. When
doled out Rs. 5,780 crore on this front,
have the power to remove these their elected representatives no
would need nearly Rs. 2,000 crore
representatives when they engage in longer enjoy the confidence of the
more to comply with the court's
misdeeds or fail to fulfil their duties. people, the people must have a right
order. This is a worrying trend for a
There exists no recourse for the to remove them. The true idea of
country that wants to double
electorate if they are unhappy with democracy can only be achieved on
agricultural incomes by 2022. Not
their elected representative. The this edifice of accountability for

116 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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only could it trigger a countrywide For the love of Pluto celestial bodies include Europa, a
clamour for similar debt relief moon of Jupiter, and our very own
The immediate provocation
packages, political parties would also moon. It also means that there will be
was a Johns Hopkins University
be more inclined to make such grand nothing special about the existing
scientist, Kirby Runyon, and his poster
promises ahead of future polls. This eight planets and that, according to
last month at a scientific conference.
is a slippery slope with multiple critics of Dr. Runyon, would offer a
His presentation argued that the
unintended outcomes likely in the distorted picture of the solar system.
definition of what constitutes a planet
years to come. The International Astronomical
be changed. Dr. Runyon and poster
The Madras High Court has co-authors (including Alan Stern, a Union arrived at their decision to
clearly reached into the the domain senior astronomer who'd vigorously demote Pluto after two years of
of the executive. The risk is that this opposed Pluto's demotion a decade debate and a proposal to a 'Planet
overreach could be cited in other ago) were part of the science team Definition' sub-committee. This was
courts to seek omnibus loan waivers. on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, then put to a vote, with 237
Opposition parties in U.P. have operated for NASA by the Johns astronomers voting for and 157
already criticised the cap of Rs. 1 lakh Hopkins University Applied Physics against. There's no report yet of the
on farm loans that will attract relief. Laboratory. In the summer of 2015, IAU moving to reconsider their
The timing of these drastic the New Horizons spacecraft position. Dr. Stern has argued that
interventions is unusual as India had became the first to fly by Pluto, most of these astronomers were not
a good monsoon in the 2016-17 crop passing within 8,000 miles and 'planetary scientists.' Those who are
season, after two years of drought, sending back the first close-up convinced, proceed with their
and a bumper output is expected for images ever of Pluto. These factors science as if Pluto is the planet from
all major crops barring sugarcane. combined to whet interest in the pre-2006 textbooks.
Forgiving loan burdens is a powerful revivification of Pluto's planetary AIDS-free by 2030, India
political gesture that glosses over the status. included
fact that governments have had little
The International Astronomical In July 2000, the United Nations
patience to make agriculture a
Union, in 2006, laid down three Security Council (UNSC) adopted
sustainable economic activity with
criteria for a rocky body to be planet: Resolution 1308, calling for "urgent
efficient linkages to formal markets,
it must orbit the sun, it must be round, and exceptional actions" to mitigate
be it for credit or for supply chains
the body and its satellites must "orbit the threats posed by HIV/AIDS. As
from farm gate to fork. FDI of up to
in a clear path around the sun". It's the first disease to be the subject of a
100% was allowed in food retail
the last bit that buried Pluto, as many UNSC resolution, the exceptional
trading but investments are stuck
other asteroids and planets, some status of HIV/AIDS has brought about
over the reluctance to allow a small
bigger than Pluto, were found in its unprecedented levels of
proportion of non-food sales. Writing
orbital neighbourhood. Dr. Runyon international funding allocated
off loans as a blanket policy, without
and co-authors proposed that the primarily in developing countries
scrutiny and restructuring attempts
offending third clause be deleted. To where responses to the disease have
creates a moral hazard for borrowers,
be sure, there isn't a novel scientific historically been scarce or non-
who will have no incentive to stick to
argument for Pluto's case that hasn't existent.
credit discipline. Frequent write-offs
already been made. Pluto being made
will prod banks to invest in While the exceptional
a planet again, according to him,
alternatives such as the Rural approach to HIV/AIDS was warranted
would mean that "the public would
Infrastructure Development Fund in the earlier stages of responses at
again fall in love with planetary
instead of reaching out to individual the national level, it has become
exploration."
farmers to meet their agricultural increasingly ineffective over time.
Along with Pluto being This is visible through duplicated/
lending targets. In which case,
upgraded from its current "dwarf parallel health systems and
usurious local moneylenders could
planet" status, nearly 100 other unsustainable funding. The
have a field day.
celestial bodies in the solar system overdependence on international
could also become planets. The

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
assistance, coupled with the been set up within the health-care they test positive.
overwhelming policy preference system. Despite the prevailing
towards HIV/AIDS, has resulted in the At the 2016 high-level meeting advocacy of HIV/AIDS interventions
marginalisation of other pressing at the UN General Assembly, India in an integrative manner, there has
health threats such as malnutrition, pledged to follow targets towards been a consistent push to maintain
and maternal and child health care. ending HIV/AIDS as a public health the exceptional status of HIV/AIDS
Most importantly, there has threat in the next five years, and as a unique global health challenge.
been a stagnating and even declining ending the epidemic by 2030. India It is argued that certain levels of AIDS
trend of HIV/AIDS international is now playing a larger role in funding exceptionalism should be maintained
financial assistance in recent years. its HIV/AIDS programmes - two- when we perceive ending HIV/AIDS
Data show that most European donor thirds of the budget for the NACP-IV as a means to an end. If we can end
governments have reduced their is provided by the Government of HIV/AIDS, we can end other
financial commitments since 2012. India and comes from the domestic pressing developmental problems,
Moreover, in light of the continuous budget. Indian HIV/AIDS where the costs of the disease and
economic boom in India and China, programmes have progressively its care present a serious economic
international funding agencies now become less dependent on foreign burden.
argue that these countries should be assistance considering that over 85% A new Delhi chapter for Sheikh
donors instead of recipients of of the budgets in the first and second Hasina
international HIV/AIDS-specific phases of the NACPs and 75% in the
grants and loans. Without renewed third phase were supported by Bangladesh Prime Minister
and increased commitment from international and bilateral funding Sheikh Hasina's forthcoming visit to
international donors and recipient mechanisms. But in order to ensure India is being observed keenly here
governments, the sustainability of the sustainability of the HIV/AIDS in Dhaka. There is little question that
future national HIV/AIDS interventions, continuous integration in the three years since Narendra
programmes is in doubt. of HIV/AIDS programmes into a larger Modi took charge as Indian Prime
health system is required. However, Minister, the degree of cooperation
In response to the changing
despite rapid economic which has generally characterised
global health agenda, most of these
development over the past two Dhaka-Delhi ties has gone up by a
countries are prioritising the
decades, public expenditure on good number of notches, with the
integration of HIV/AIDS programmes
health care in India as a proportion of two countries seeing eye to eye on a
into existing health-related systems.
GDP is among the world's lowest. number of issues affecting them as
This shift implies that international
India's health-care expenditure is well as the South Asian region. As an
funding organisations now exert a
also comparatively less than other instance, both India and Bangladesh
tremendous influence on the priority
BRICS countries. have adopted a common stance on
of health issues in the developing
tackling terrorism through not only
world. In this, India is by no means A UN report showed that "India
cracking down on the purveyors of
unique. An integration of HIV/AIDS has the third largest number of
terror but also keeping at arm's length,
interventions and primary health-care people living with HIV/AIDS in the
and in fact condemning, nations
systems has taken place in India from world and accounts for about 4 out
regarded as sponsors of terrorism in
2010 onwards. For instance, six of 10 people living with HIV/AIDS in
the region.
components of the National AIDS the region". If the goal of ending HIV/
Control Programme (NACP)-III AIDS in India by 2030 is to become In recent times, cooperation
merged with the National Rural Health reality, there not only has to be an between Dhaka and Delhi has been
Mission (NRHM) in 2010. The increase in budgetary allocation to enhanced in other areas, particularly
integration of HIV/AIDS responses public health care but also a more with respect to Bangladesh's
under the umbrella health system is concentrated effort to increase AIDS measures toward setting up a power
ongoing in the NACP-IV; where all the awareness. Evidence suggests that plant in the Sundarbans. At the same
service delivery units except the many people suffering from HIV/ time, Bangladesh has witnessed a
targeted interventions (TIs) have AIDS in Asia lack the awareness that rather impressive degree of Indian

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
investment in other areas where its between India and Bangladesh can itself a basis of balanced, cooperative
economic development is be re-energised is to be observed relations with the major players in the
concerned. In terms of diplomacy in from the fact that a slew of region. For good measure, the
the South Asian region, both agreements are expected to be Chinese will be keeping a hawk's eye
countries have had identical views on signed by the two countries during on the Hasina-Modi deliberations in
how organisations such as the South the presence of the Bangladesh Delhi.
Asian Association for Regional leader in Delhi. A critical aspect of And then, of course, there is the
Cooperation (SAARC) should be the trip will certainly be a defence matter of the sharing of the Teesta
going forward in promoting deal that will likely be initialled by waters, a subject that has continued
cooperation among its member the two Prime Ministers. This is an area to be the focus of discussions in
nations. It may be recalled that India that is clearly sensitive for the Dhaka ever since the possibility of a
and Bangladesh, for different Bangladesh leader since questions deal was scuttled in 2011.
reasons, pulled out of the SAARC are already being raised in Dhaka Bangladeshis by and large continue
summit scheduled to be held in the about the terms of, or even the need to hope that Prime Minister Modi will
Pakistani capital of Islamabad last for, such a deal. It may be recalled be able to live up to his promise of a
year. that the 25-year treaty of friendship treaty being arrived at through his
The upcoming visit of the and cooperation reached by Prime influence. That could again depend
Bangladesh leader to Delhi, on the Minister Indira Gandhi and Prime on how a meeting of three Bengalis -
face of it, would appear to be a Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime
courtesy call on the Indian 1972, within months of Bangladesh's Minister Sheikh Hasina and West
leadership. Yet that would be a rather emergence as an independent state, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
naïve way of looking at the realities continued to be the subject of Banerjee - goes at Rashtrapati Bhavan
which underscore India-Bangladesh criticism in anti-Awami League circles in Delhi.
relations. Sheikh Hasina's great need till the deal reached its natural end.
Suicide isn't a criminal act
at this point of time is to convince her Sheikh Hasina will surely be
people that with her in charge, extremely cautious as her The Lok Sabha, late last month,
Bangladesh's foreign policy and its government proceeds to a new deal passed the Bill which decriminalises
operation are on track, and that with the Modi government. a failed suicide. The Bill presumes that
through such a process, Bangladesh There is, with all this importance the person wilted under severe stress
stands the best chance of being part attached to Sheikh Hasina's visit to and attempted suicide. Instead of
of a time of regional stability in the Delhi, the Indian government's worry punishing him/her under Section 309
region. At home, the opposition about the increasing levels of of the Indian Penal Code (attempt to
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) cooperation between Bangladesh suicide) with an open trial, a fine
has already begun hurling the usual and China, particularly in the spheres (even though in most cases a token
epithets at the Awami League of the economy and defence. amount) or imprisonment extending
government to highlight what it has Dhaka's recent procurement of two to a year, the new Bill reinvents the
called genuflection before India submarines from Beijing, coupled state in the role of a caregiver to the
where preserving Bangladesh's with Sheikh Hasina's statement that survivor of the suicide attempt. The
interests is the issue. Those charges no country would now dare to attack goal is to prevent the person from
have of course been roundly Bangladesh, can only have raised trying the act again. One clause in the
dismissed by observers. It has not eyebrows in the corridors of power new Bill says the government "shall,
helped the BNP any bit that since its in Delhi. The Bangladesh Prime in particular, plan, design and
formation and subsequent exercise Minister has therefore a particular implement public health
of political power in Dhaka, its need now to convince the Indian programmes to reduce suicides and
fundamentally anti-India card has leadership that Dhaka's links with attempted suicides."
continued to power its attitude to Beijing are in no way an effort to turn In 1985, Justice R.A. Jahagirdar
Dhaka-Delhi relations. away from its traditional links with of the Bombay High Court gave four
The extent to which ties Delhi, but are aimed at ensuring for reasons why Section 309 was

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unconstitutional: Nobody agrees on This marginal change is aimed at Second, the RBI has reminded the
what constitutes suicide, much less sucking out from the system excess government there will be "clearly
attempted suicide; mens rea is not liquidity that remains a lingering more demand for capital" in the
clearly discernible; temporary concern, despite coming off its peak coming days. The government's
insanity, which drives suicide, is a in the aftermath of the allocation of Rs. 10,000 crore to
valid defence even in homicides; demonetisation exercise. The RBI has recapitalise public sector banks is
individuals driven to suicide require also proposed a new liquidity obviously inadequate. Third, while
psychiatric care. The Law Commission management tool that awaits banks have reduced lending rates,
of India called Section 309 government approval, making the the RBI has pointed out there is room
"monstrous". Criminalisation of suicide draining of surplus liquidity a critical for more cuts if rates on small savings
was not in tune with the global priority all through this year. The schemes are corrected. Though a
wavelength, the Supreme Court efficacy of the RBI's liquidity formula-based rate was adopted to
once said. management toolkit will impinge on set these rates last April, small savings
Unlike the Supreme Court's another key concern: inflation, which schemes still deliver 61-95 basis
Constitution Bench which concluded is expected to climb to 5% by the points higher returns than what they
in the Gian Kaur case that the right to second half of this fiscal. The RBI says should if the formula is followed, as
life does not include the right to die, achieving the stated target of 4% per the RBI. Most important, the
international case laws tolerate even inflation even next year could be government must not ignore Mr.
euthanasia. In McKay v. Bergstedt challenging, with no "lucky Patel's categorical call to eschew loan
(1990), the Supreme Court of Nevada disinflationary forces" expected, waivers of the kind just announced
took the view that the desire of a such as benign commodity and oil in Uttar Pradesh. This, he warned,
patient for withdrawal of his prices. It has also pointed to a one- would crowd out private investments
respirator did not tantamount to time upside risk to inflation with the and dent the nation's balance sheet.
suicide but was rather an exercise of implementation of the Goods and Track to efficiency
his constitutional and common law Services Tax.
Creating a Rail Development
right to "discontinue unwanted The RBI is quite optimistic about
Authority for India is among the most
medical treatment". an uptick in the economy this year,
significant reforms to an infrastructure
However, the new Bill does not projecting 7.4% growth in Gross
system undertaken by the
define suicide. Differences among Value-Added, compared to 6.7% in
government. The railways connect
suicide researchers as to what 2016-17. Along with improved
the country's far corners and act as a
constitutes suicide remain. prospects for the world economy a
driver of the economy. High rates of
rebound in discretionary consumer
Growth, with caveats economic growth have raised the
spending at home is likely, in line with
The central bank was not demand for travel, but this remains
the "pace of remonetisation" and
expected to tinker with key policy largely unmet. The popular aspiration
investment demand on account of
rates in its first monetary policy review is for a modern system that offers high-
lowered interest rates. While the
of 2017-18 unveiled, following its quality travel with low risk of
government may take heart from the
decision to shift from an accidents, while industry wants
higher growth projection, it must pay
accommodative to a neutral smooth freight transfer. An
equal heed to Mr. Patel's plainspeak
monetary policy stance in February. independent, empowered regulator
on four key issues. First, the need to
The Monetary Policy Committee could be the paradigm shift that is
urgently resolve the surge of bad
chaired by Reserve Bank of India needed. The proposed Authority
loans on bank books, for which the
Governor Urjit Patel has, in fact, would have to ensure that the
RBI will unveil a new Prompt
decided to raise the rate at which the resources of the system are optimally
Corrective Action framework by the
central bank borrows funds from utilised, overcoming existing
middle of this month. Without this, a
banks (the reverse repo rate) by 25 inefficiencies that arise from the fact
virtuous cycle of healthy credit
basis points, from 5.75% to 6%, while that policy, regulatory and
growth necessary for investment and
leaving other policy rates untouched. management functions of the railways
job creation will remain elusive.

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are intertwined. As the National km-plus inter-city routes would verdict was resisted by the
Transport Development Policy attract new traffic, and help operate government in charge of delivering
Committee noted in 2014, the cheaper passenger trains to interior Brexit. Eventually, 'remain'
centralisation of all functions in the areas, as part of the government's supporters won the argument in a
Railway Board has proved detrimental social obligation. Technology lower court. On appeal, the judges
to the organisation's growth, upgrades are essential to raise ruled that Britain's withdrawal from a
particularly at a time when there is a carrying capacity, service frequency four-decade EU membership, with
need for massive investment in and speeds. Rail reform is complex profound implications for citizens,
infrastructure for 7%-plus GDP and what was undertaken in Europe required Parliament's assent. Closure
growth. Conversely, robust economic during the 1990s, separating of the country's borders to immigrants
expansion further raises the demand infrastructure from operations, is an from the continent, quitting the bloc's
for railway services. To reconcile this, interesting model: sequential single market, and calling time on the
the regulator has to identify sectors measures achieved sustainable jurisdiction of the European Court of
that can support higher tariffs and results, rather than a package of Justice constitute the core of the
also produce greater volumes of changes introduced at once. eurosceptic stance. They were
traffic. Such accurate interventions Real meaning of Brexit equally the central pillars of the 'leave'
are critical if the trend of declining campaign. But ever since London
Britain's apparent tone of
rates of growth in railway freight triggered the Article 50 exit clause
accommodation over its current
revenues and volumes, which set in of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, the
complex exit negotiations with the
during 2011-12, is to be reversed. hard realities of a two-year deadline
European Union (EU) would have
One of the big challenges have begun to bite.
seemed inconceivable only a couple
before the Centre is to facilitate of months ago. Prime Minister Theresa In response to Article 50, the
higher non-budgetary investment in May's candid remarks in January that European Parliament voted
the railways. The Bibek Debroy a "no deal for Britain is better than a overwhelmingly to insist on
Committee found the private sector bad deal" did not amuse European compliance with the bloc's
is discouraged from participating diplomats. Again, her veiled threat of budgetary obligations, the common
more effectively due to a a possible low-tax and tariff regime trade policy, and the court's
monopolistic framework. Coming up for third countries in the event of jurisdiction. The implication is that
with a system that de-risks private failure to secure a trade agreement Britain will continue to be governed
investment and creates a level playing with the EU seemed intended to by EU policy on these and possibly
field are among the major challenges appease hard-liners in her own party. on immigration, even after Britain's
before the Rail Development But recent developments suggest formal withdrawal.
Authority. In the area of passenger that there might be prospects to The European Parliament's
services, this offers several maintain continuity with the status resolution also offers the possibility
possibilities; the railways cater to quo beyond 2019 in Britain's EU of an association agreement, paving
some 23 million passengers a day in a membership. The 'remain' camp in the path for closer cooperation
network of about 8,000 stations. The last year's referendum may sense a between the U.K. and the remaining
experience of consumers in cities small window of opportunity in this 27 states. But none of this detracts
shows that use of information evolving scenario. from the bloc's core concerns that
technology to deliver traditional London's exit does not set a
The Conservative government,
services can lead to higher levels of precedent for countries with
long held hostage by eurosceptic
efficiency and lower costs, besides eurosceptic and populist forces
backbenchers, was a hapless witness
adding jobs. While regulation of tariffs eager to replicate the U.K.
to the leave camp's rallying cry ahead
matching the quality of travel can help referendum. A related aim is that
of the June 2016 plebiscite to "take
raise revenues, the system should be while the final deal may not be
back control" from Brussels. But so
able to move both people and freight punitive, it should be inferior to full
much for sloganeering. A demand for
faster in order to grow. Inducting membership.
legislative approval of the historic
faster, more comfortable trains on 500

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
Stepping up to a shared things Australia has to offer. strengthen our engagement. As
potential Two-way trade is growing, and liberal democracies, we can work
approaching $20 billion, but that's far together to encourage free trade and
India is the world's most
too low and there's so much more we prosperity and to help safeguard
populous democracy and will, by
can do. This will be a key focus of my security and the rule of law in our
2030, be the most populous country,
visit. I'll meet with executives from region.
overtaking China. And it is young -
there are more Indian 10-year-olds some of India's biggest companies, Better control, more efficiency
than there are Australians. With more and speak with Australian
How much does political
than a dozen distinct languages, entrepreneurs in India who are
commitment matter in the success of
scripts and religions, India is expanding their market reach into
a scheme such as the Mahatma
multiculturalism on the grandest this extraordinary country.
Gandhi National Rural Employment
scale; unlike China, its only rival for The Government will announce
Guarantee Scheme? Does the ability
scale, it had never existed as a single the results of the tenth round of the
of local politicians to control
nation prior to its independence in Australia-India Strategic Research
bureaucrats in charge of
1947. And to sustain a vibrant modern Fund. Worth more than $100 million,
implementation help in the
democracy, surely India is one of the this initiative has enabled our sharpest
effectiveness of the scheme in rural
greatest political achievements of our minds to collaborate in areas such as
villages? If politicians have undivided
times. food security and health, and
influence over a bureaucratic area
That formal relationship began advance the boundaries of human
(the block), they can better oversee
for many Australians in 1950, when knowledge in quantum computing,
the scheme's implementation unlike
Robert Menzies became the first nanotechnology and astronomy. By
the case where the block is split
Australian leader to visit independent combining our talents, we can add
among multiple Assembly segments.
India. Since then, both countries to the technological achievements
In order to prove this, the
have been transformed. Now we already made in both our countries.
researchers map out political
must turn our attention to For decades our citizens have
(constituency level) and
transforming the relationship to one been criss-crossing the Indian Ocean
administrative (block/village level)
that matches India's huge needs and in search of knowledge. Last year,
boundaries and use GIS tools to
its enormous potential with our Australia was the second-most
identify different forms of overlaps.
people, Australia's best assets, as well popular study destination for Indian
They then compare MGNREGS
as our resources and our shared students - 60,000 came to Australia
implementation in unsplit and split
democratic traditions. to learn. Through the Government's
blocks, i.e. blocks and villages that
During the visit we will focus on New Colombo Plan, I want to see
fall under multiple political
three areas of our relationship that more and more young Australians
constituencies and otherwise. The
show great potential: our economic, choosing India as a place to study and
variables used to evaluate
knowledge and strategic boost their own qualifications and
implementation are the number of
partnerships. India is inspiring the experience. India's demand for our
workdays created in the block and
world with its explosive economic minerals and resources remains high.
the total number of people who
growth. Its economic take-off is lifting But education is a new pathway to
worked on the scheme's projects.
millions out of poverty, transforming shared prosperity. Consider the
Using regression models they
the country into the world's fastest- numbers - the Indian Government is
find out that compared to unsplit
growing major economy, with aiming to train 400 million people by
blocks, there are fewer people
forecasted growth of 7.5% in 2017. 2022. We can help them achieve this
employed in MGNREGS in split
This is a stunning result for India, and goal.
blocks, and even among them, the
a rare opportunity for Australia. From The security and stability of the
number of workdays is lower. Political
Mumbai to Melbourne, from Indo-Pacific is fundamental to both
representatives, they hypothesise,
Bengaluru to Brisbane, India will be of us and my visit provides an
are better able to claim credit for the
in the market to buy some of the best opportunity to discuss key regional
success of the scheme if block
and geostrategic issues and

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development officers directly report is the fourth largest river shared Bangladesh, "India has completely
only to them and not to other political between the two countries. In 1983, dried out the river on our end during
representatives. This effect is an ad hoc water-sharing agreement lean period by closing all the gates of
mitigated if blocks are split between allocated 39% of the water flow to the Gazaldoba barrage. That is
constituencies held by politicians of India and 36% to Bangladesh and unexpected from a friendly
the same party. It also means that if remaining 25% was left unallocated neighbour. This treaty is a formality,
blocks are split between the same for a later decision. The Teesta river's but India cannot ignore our rights to
party representatives, they are better floodplain covers an area of 2,750 sq the river water."
able to control bureaucrats. km in Bangladesh, supporting roughly Ms. Banerjee has sat on the
The larger implication of this 10 million people. An estimated one issue and been changing goalposts
paper relates to the multiple overlaps lakh hectares of land across five for six years, with Bangladesh hostage
of governance between political and districts of Bangladesh are severely to its neighbour's domestic politics
administrative boundaries. And that impacted and face acute shortages as a State government refuses to play
politicians can actually exercise during dry seasons. Apart from ball with the Centre. Speculation is
positive influence on welfare livelihood directly obtained from the now rife that Ms. Banerjee is trying to
schemes if they get the incentive to river, agriculture is also affected as secure a financial package from Delhi
do so unlike the perception that 14% crop production is dependent and the Teesta treaty has become the
politicians merely use such schemes on the flow of the river. At stake are bargaining tool for it. It is ordinary
for rent-seeking and patronage. In the lives of millions of people of Bangladeshis who are bearing the
the case of the MGNREGS, the falling Bangladesh who depend on the river brunt of this impasse.
of its jurisdiction under political for their survival. Therefore, it is With elections slated for early
boundaries allows for greater imperative that the treaty provide 2019, it is Ms. Hasina whose
accountability of the political equal allocation of the Teesta, a fair credibility is at stake at home after all
representative. Hence there is better demand from the side of the lower that she has done for taking Indo-
implementation. riparian Bangladesh. Bangla relations to newer heights.
A short history of a big deal In 2011, during the visit of Unfortunately, the Bengal of India has
former Prime Minister Manmohan become the sore throat in an
Bangladesh Prime Minister Singh to Dhaka, plans had been otherwise evolving and matured
Sheikh Hasina's visit to India and the confirmed of an interim arrangement Indo-Bangla relations.
signing of 36 agreements of of 15 years, with India getting 42.5%
cooperation ranging from the Mind the treatment gap
and Bangladesh 37.5% of the river
economic, defence and power during dry seasons. The arrangement The Mental Healthcare Bill,
sectors to the peaceful use of nuclear also included the setting of a joint 2016, which was passed in the Lok
energy shows that significant hydrological observation station to Sabha on March 27, 2017, has been
progress has been made in Indo- gather accurate data for the future. hailed as a momentous reform.
Bangla relations in the last eight years. The plans fell through when West According to the Bill, every person
However, the stalled Teesta treaty Bengal Chief Minister Mamata will have the right to access mental
continues to eclipse bilateral relations Banerjee opted out of the delegation health care operated or funded by
as water affects the lives of ordinary led by Dr. Singh to Dhaka, expressing the government; good quality and
people across vast spaces of land. It strong reservations against giving affordable health care; equality of
seems that in spite of the goodwill Bangladesh a greater share of water. treatment and protection from
prevailing in Delhi, West Bengal has inhuman practices; access to legal
When the Chief Minister herself
become a thorn in Indo-Bangla services; and right to complain
had appointed an expert committee
relations. against coercion and cruelty. The Bill
headed by Kalyan Rudra in 2011 to
Bangladesh shares 54 of its 57 study the Teesta issue, the report, also empowers a mentally ill person
transboundary rivers with India. After though unpublished, was in favour of to choose a treatment and her/his
the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Bangladesh. Says Ainun Nishat, a nominated representative,
Meghna (GBM) river system, Teesta prominent hydrology expert from decriminalises attempted suicide,

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
prohibits the use of electroconvulsive of GDP in the Budget for 2017-18 is persons in the ICU on the grounds
therapy (ECT) to mentally ill adults among the lowest in the world. In real that this facility could be put to better
without the use of muscle relaxants terms, public health expenditure has use. A woman suffering from breast
and anaesthesia, and contains consistently declined since 2013-14. cancer for two-three years was
provisions for care, treatment and Of the total health budget, a mere 1- denied treatment and subsequently
rehabilitation for those who have 2% is spent on mental health. died.
experienced severe stress and But this is a small part of the An emphatic case could be
attempted suicide. While these are explanation of the inadequacy and made for shifting from institutional
laudable and ambitious objectives as abysmal quality of mental health care to community-based care for
they address major concerns of services in India. Underlying this people suffering from mental
mental health care, there have been deplorable state of affairs is a disorders. A study published in The
some critiques drawing attention to pervasive perception that those with Lancet Psychiatry , 2017 offers
the lack of funds, trained personnel, mental illnesses are pathological or corroborative evidence from
and insufficient emphasis on even criminal; hence they do not VISHRAM (the Vidharbha Stress and
community care. The ground reality, deserve the type of rehabilitation Health Programme), which is a
however, suggests that these given to those with physical ailments. community-based mental health
objectives are not just overambitious Besides, the treatment gap (the initiative. The reduction in the
but an overkill . difference between those suffering treatment gap was due to increased
The Global Burden of Disease from mental illnesses and those supply of mental health services
Study shows that in 2013, 50% of all seeking medical/psychiatric care) is through front-line workers and their
disease burden in India was caused widened because of the social collaborative linkage with the
by non-communicable diseases, stigma attached to such illnesses. In physicians and psychiatrists in the
while mental disorders accounted for fact, many poor people hide their facilities, as well as increased demand
about 6% of the total disease burden. illnesses and endanger their lives. for mental health services due to
A third of this is due to depression, Others argue that it is not so much improved mental health literacy. The
which also significantly contributes stigma but ignorance and lack of substantial reduction in the median
to suicide and ischaemic heart knowledge, myths, and supernatural cost of care resulted from availability
disease. Worse, suicide is a leading beliefs that impede treatment. of general as well as specialist services
cause of death in people in India aged Women typically face larger in the village itself.
15-29. treatment gaps as they are vulnerable Whether legislation such as the
There are only 43 government- to violence, sexual abuse and Mental Healthcare Bill help overcome
run mental hospitals across all of India inhuman treatment. supply and demand barriers seems
to provide services to more than 70 Some women were not even highly unlikely, as the root causes lie
million people living with mental informed that ECT was being in pervasive negative attitudes,
disorders. There are 0.30 administered. Psychiatric nurses massive neglect of mental health care,
psychiatrists, 0.17 nurses, and 0.05 admitted that ECT was administered rampant abuse and unchecked
psychologists per 1,00,000 mentally not just on violent and suicidal inhuman practices, and weak
ill patients in the country. The case of patients but also on new admissions redressal and enforcement
the Bareilly mental hospital - one of who tend to be unmanageable. mechanisms. The Bill seeks to address
three major mental hospitals in Uttar Women and girls with psychosocial major lacunae in mental health care
Pradesh - is stunning. In this hospital, or intellectual disabilities in and is thus an important step forward.
350 patients can be admitted and institutions are often subject to not However, its implementation will
around 200 patients can attend the just physical and verbal abuse but also require substantially larger public
out-patient department every day. sexual violence. Some women went resources and, more importantly,
But all these patients would be at the to a hospital for three months and restructuring of mental healthcare
mercy of only one psychiatrist! returned one month pregnant. Not a services with a key role for the
At the macro level, the single FIR was filed. Government community in their provision, rapid
proposed health expenditure of 1.2% hospitals refuse to admit "mentally ill" expansion of mental health literacy,

124 http://www.iasexamportal.com
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effective monitoring and Bangladesh will not be bound to use fundamentalist forces such as the
enforcement of the objectives it to source its supplies only from Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, the Jama'atul
envisioned in it. With limited Indian companies. This is India's way Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkat-
awareness of these challenges, and to reposing confidence in the Hasina ul-Ansar.
with a slight risk of exaggeration, the government that it will not challenge The other way out for India is to
Bill is an overkill. New Delhi's vital interests. enhance its engagements in the larger
Pivot to the Indo-Pacific India is also ready to Indo-Pacific, thereby getting out of
demonstrate it keenness to share its the straitjacket of being a "mere"
At a time when India finds itself
economic growth with its regional South Asian power. New Delhi's
consumed once again by its
partners. It is also extending a $4.5 success in engaging countries such
obsession with Pakistan in light of the
billion line of credit to Bangladesh, as Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia
death sentence pronounced on
over and above the existing $2.8 and Indonesia in recent years is
Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani
billion line, to fund around 17 testament to the growing demand in
military court, two recent visits to
infrastructure projects which the region for a larger Indian role and
India by foreign dignitaries
includes port upgradation work at the presence. Mr. Turnbull's visit to Delhi
underscore the gradually evolving
Mongla, Chittagong and Payra ports. this week once again showed that
foreign policy priorities of Indian
Given the critical need for enhancing India is now widely perceived to be
diplomacy. The visits of Bangladesh
connectivity in South Asia, India is a strong and credible regional force.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and
pushing for early implementation of The two countries pledged to
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm
the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal enhance maritime cooperation as
Turnbull to India this week exemplify
(BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, they underlined "the importance of
not only the country's rising global
aimed at facilitating seamless freedom of navigation and overflight,
profile but also its growing stakes in
transport of goods over land customs unimpeded lawful commerce, as
the larger Indo-Pacific.
stations. Bus and train services well as resolving maritime disputes by
There are now new demands between Kolkata and Khulna have peaceful means, in accordance with
being made on India. And New Delhi been started, and there are plans to international law, including UNCLOS
seems ready to play ball. Its role as a revive inland waterway channels. (United Nations Convention on the
security provider is visible in the Law of the Sea)".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Delhi-Dhaka joint statement which
and Ms. Hasina have both been Defence cooperation once
has stressed the need for greater
instrumental in shaping the positive again is at the centre of this
military-to-military training and
trajectory of this important bilateral relationship with the decision to hold
exchanges, and complimented the
relationship. Mr. Modi used his a bilateral maritime exercise named
armed forces for their professional
political capital to push through the AUSINDEX in 2018. A bilateral
conduct during joint search and
land boundary agreement (LBA), to exercise of the Special Forces will
rescue operations in the Bay of Bengal
swap enclaves India and Bangladesh be held later this year, while the first
leading to the rescue of a large
held in each other's territory, in 2015 bilateral army-to-army exercise will
number of fishermen from both sides.
and is working towards mitigating also take place in 2018. The two
The defence relationship was the
differences on the critical Teesta countries should now prioritise the
highlight of Ms. Hasina's visit to Delhi
water sharing pact. Ms. Hasina has conclusion of the Comprehensive
this time as it included a
been equally responsive to Indian Economic Cooperation Agreement
memorandum of understanding on a
concerns. Bangladesh is taking (CECA) at the earliest to give
defence framework, and a $500
serious steps to deal a decisive blow economic heft to their growing
million line of credit (LoC) for
to separatist Indian insurgent security interactions.
defence procurement by the
organisations such as ULFA and the Despite the hype about the
Bangladesh military forces, the largest
National Democratic Front of possibility of India emerging as the
such LoC India has extended to any
Bodoland. There is now greater guarantor of the liberal economic and
country so far. What makes this line of
convergence between India and security order in Asia, there are now
credit more significant is that
Bangladesh on dealing with new possibilities for reimagining New

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Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
Delhi's regional and global role. Leninist) also rejected them, though All about bitcoins
Greater cooperation with like- for being too giving. Unable to forge
It is an electronic or digital
minded countries in the region and any consensus, the government
currency that works on a peer-to-peer
beyond will give it greater space to came up with the fresh amendments
basis. This means that it is
emerge as a credible regional as a signal that it is willing to concede
decentralised and has no central
interlocutor at a time when some of the Madhesi demands in
authority controlling it. Like currency
Washington's policies remain far from return for their participation in the
notes, it can be sent from one person
clear and Beijing is challenging the long-pending local polls. But the
to another, but without a central bank
foundations of the extant order. absence of substantive efforts to
or the government attempting to track
Another crisis address the federal question has
it. The system depends on
resulted in a Madhesi boycott.
With Madhesi parties deciding cryptography to control the creation
Nine years have passed since of the currency. While no one
to boycott local polls scheduled for
elections to the first Constituent authority controls the generation of
May 14, Nepal is heading for another
Assembly were held. Beyond Nepal's the coins or tracks them, the system
political crisis. The boycott decision
transition from a constitutional itself is designed in such a way that
came after the Communist Party of
monarchy to a republic, the lack of the network maintains a foolproof
Nepal (Maoist-Centre)-led
consensus on other issues pushed system of the record of every
government tabled fresh
the finalisation of the Constitution far transaction as well as tracking
amendments to the Constitution in
beyond the original remit of the issuance of the currency.
Parliament. Ever since the country
Constituent Assembly, which was to
adopted the new post-monarchy You can send bitcoins digitally
have concluded the process in two
Constitution in September 2015, to anyone who has a bitcoin address
years. The new Constituent Assembly
Madhesi parties have been anywhere in the globe. One person
elected in 2013 was less amenable
demanding a redrawing of federal could have multiple addresses for
to changes, especially to the state
boundaries to reflect the fact that the different purposes - personal,
structure, and the Madhesi parties
community, residents of the Terai business and the like. Receivers can
refused to accept the finalised
area, and other minority groups are in get to spend them within minutes of
Constitution in 2015. The impasse on
a majority in some new provinces. The receiving the coins. Once given
the state restructuring issue has given
government led by CPN(M-C) away, like currency, there is no
rise to disturbing trends - jingoism,
chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, with getting them back, unless the
that sees Madhesi concerns as
the Nepali Congress part of the receiver decides to give them to you.
reflecting the interests of external
coalition, came to power in 2016 on A bitcoin is not printed currency but
actors such as India, and voices of
the promise of accommodating these is a non-repudiable record of every
secessionism among Madhesi forces
demands to the extent possible and transaction that it has been through.
who suggest that the Nepali polity is
forging a reasonable consensus All this is part of a huge ledger called
incapable of addressing the plain-
across the political spectrum. The the blockchain.
dwellers' concerns. This political
government had also initiated Bitcoins are available in bitcoin
battle of wits has taken away much-
amendments that went some way in exchanges. You could also purchase
needed focus from the dire state of
addressing Madhesi concerns, such bitcoins from other users. A bitcoin
the economy, which is yet to recover
as the formation of a federal exchange traded fund could be
from the shock of the devastating
commission to look into a redrawing another source in the near future. You
earthquake of 2015. Local elections
of federal boundaries, and the can become a bitcoin miner by
are seen as a way to allow for a much-
recognition of local languages as investing in software and hardware.
needed administrative presence
national ones. These amendments More the power of the hardware that
everywhere, but this cannot happen
were, however, rejected by Madhesi helps with encryption technology,
without the participation of all
parties, which stuck to a maximalist higher the probability of your earning
political forces, especially Madhesis.
position. The opposition Communist bitcoins. Unocoin is a Bengaluru-
The government has its task cut out
Party of Nepal (Unified-Marxist- based company that allows users to
to manage a compromise.

126 http://www.iasexamportal.com
Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
buy, sell, store or use bitcoins. While hydropower from Nepal to balance power shortage, which was partly
bitcoin usage is certainly not its fast growing renewable met with by import from India.
mainstream, there are said to be more generation and also provide a market Nepal's electricity supply in 2015-16
than 500 merchants who accept for Nepal's electricity. With this was around 5,100 GWh, of which
bitcoins for payment in India. market, Nepal's hydro potential can 3,300 GWh was domestic generation
One bitcoin is worth roughly be developed faster. and remaining 1,758 GWh was import
about $1,200 now. An early investor India and Nepal have been from India. Import has increased
in Snapchat has been quoted on the talking about electricity trade and steadily from 746 GWh in 2011-12 to
Web as saying that by 2030, the value joint projects for many years now, but 1,758 GWh in 2015-16, an almost
could be as high as $500,000. One of somehow these talks did not threefold increase. Nepal also
the reasons that could prompt you to succeed. It was only in 2014 when exports electricity to India in some
buy a bitcoin is not so much to use it India and Nepal signed a Power periods, although in very small
for payment online but as an Trade Agreement that the doors quantity. Per capita electricity
investment. Urban legend has it that opened for Nepal developers/traders consumption in Nepal is one of the
someone who was doing a thesis on to access the Indian power market. world's lowest, at 119 kWh in 2012. It
cryptocurrency bought 5000 At first, Nepal was apprehensive that has an ambitious target of reaching
bitcoins for $27 in 2009. it would not get a fair deal trading 16,500 MW of hydro capacity by
And unlike traditional currency with a large neighbour, but power is 2030, which includes the joint project
that is inflationary in nature, the now traded in India on exchanges with India at Pancheshwar.
bitcoin is a deflationary currency. In transparently and the price is known The prospect of electricity
other words, if there are only so many to all, thus assuaging some of Nepal's trade with India makes it possible for
bitcoins in use, and the demand for apprehensions. Nepal to develop its hydropower
those rises, the value of a bitcoin Due to political uncertainty, the potential and has important
would, logically, rise. development of Nepal's hydro consequences. Even though
potential has been delayed. Out of significant exports to India will begin
Powering India-Nepal ties
an economically viable and only from 2025 because domestic
An important step in promoting technically feasible potential of 43.5 capacity development takes time,
electricity trade between India and GW, only 0.8 GW had been Nepal could already benefit through
Nepal took place on February 14 developed by March 2016. Thus, a larger import of electricity from India.
when Energy Secretary-level talks - great opportunity has been missed. Increased availability of electricity
known as the joint steering committee By selling power to India, Nepal accelerates its economic
(JSC) meeting - concluded in could have developed its economy development. The construction of
Kathmandu. Here, it was decided to at a faster rate. Bhutan has reaped the transmission lines to import electricity
endorse the detailed project report benefit of power export to India and become lines to export electricity by
of the 400 kV Butwal-Gorakhpur its per capita income in purchasing 2025. Nepal imports 0.7 billion kWh
cross-border transmission line. It power parity adjusted for (bkWh) in 2020 but by 2025 exports
follows the guidelines issued by international dollars increased from 18 bkWh, which increases to 65 bkWh
India's Ministry of Power for cross- $475 in 1980 to $7,860 in 2015. by 2030 and to 113 bkWh by 2040.
border electricity trade on December India's was $5,730 in 2015. Its annual export revenue from the
5, 2016. electricity trade becomes NPR 310
Electricity is required for
This is an opportune moment to economic growth and well-being. In billion in 2030, NPR 840 billion in
push for electricity trade with a long- 2015, Nepal faced load-shedding of 2040 and NPR 1,069 billion in 2045,
term perspective. Nepal is short of up to 16 hours a day during the dry at 2011-12 prices. By 2045, Nepal's
power and will need to import power season, when the available capacity GDP becomes 39% larger, its per
for some years to accelerate its of Nepal's hydropower decreases to capita consumption 23% higher and
economic growth. India has surplus a third of installed capacity. Peak load per capita electricity consumption
capacity at present. In the years to outstripped domestic power 50% higher than if trade were to
come, it can fruitfully import flexible generation capacity, causing serious continue at its modest current level.

http://www.iasexamportal.com 127
Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals
Therefore, the sooner Nepal place, which ensures payment A climate of confidence and
develops its hydropower potential, security, it is unlikely that investors will trust in the long-term trading
the earlier the benefits. For electricity put their money in this risky business. relationship between India and
trade to materialise, policy, Recently, the Indian government Nepal can greatly help Nepal meet
institutional and technical issued guidelines and draft its ambitious target and provide an
infrastructure are necessary. Building notification on cross-border opportunity for Indian investors to
hydropower projects and electricity trade (CBET) policy to invest in Nepal. This could help us
transmission infrastructure is highly enable Indian/Nepal producers/ smoothen our recently strained
investment-intensive. Without a traders to seamlessly exchange relations with Nepal as well as
stable, long-term conducive policy power with neighbouring nations. strengthen our historically friendly
and an institutional environment in ties.

128 http://www.iasexamportal.com