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Month: September 2017

All news available date-wise and month-wise. Click on the date to revise news.

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Low Priority new Items/op-eds

[30 September 2017 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority Items of the Day:

‘Surgical strikes a bid to divert attention’

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday alleged that the surgical strikes initiated by the Modi government were aimed at diverting the attention of people from pressing issues.

The article is about some political statements given by a senior political leader. These kind of political statements on important and crucial issues are not important from the UPSC perspective.

 

Govt. studying report on online abuse

The Home Ministry has said it is examining an expert committee report that has recommended measures to contain the growing menace of online abuse, particularly against women.

Online abuse is a serious issue. We will wait for the final official decision of the government, after going through this report. And after this, we will definitely write a newscard on it.

 

Rupee spurts 20 paise against dollar at 65.30

The rupee advanced 20 paise to 65.30 against the dollar in early session today, broadly in line with domestic stocks taking on some muscle with a bright start.

No need to not down such a minuscule data. The up and down of the currency value is not important for the UPSC, only the reason behind it is.

 

Hope in Darjeeling — On end of blockade

With a breakthrough ending the 104-day-long blockade in the Darjeeling hills, the Union and West Bengal governments must move forthwith to consolidate the ‘truce’ and address the setback to livelihoods and the local economy suffered over this period. The announcement on ending the bandh came from Bimal Gurung of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which had led the agitation.

The Op-Ed talks about the Gorkhaland issue. We have written many newscards on it. No need to stick to the same issue, if you have already done enough reading of the issue.


[Op-ed snap] The way forward for the electric vehicle push

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology | developments and their applications and effects in everyday life; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

Prelims: Not Much

Mains level: This article talks about the risks involved in transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electrical and need for a gradual transition.


News

Context

Why shift to Electric Vehicles?

  1. Global weather disasters and the pollution levels of major Indian cities are clear indications that the costs of pollution are beginning to spiral out of control for citizens and economies alike.
  2. The climate change disruption holds both-
  • Positive-There is a need to drastically reduce CO2 footprint per capita and this calls for forward-thinking nations to develop new technologies in energy-efficient products and services.
  • Negative– Those nations not able to develop new technologies will not only harm us all but be ultimately left behind from a technology and business perspective.

Indian Scenario

  1. India’s announcement to move from fossil fuel-driven vehicles to electric vehicles is positive.
  2. Over the last 30-40 years, India has developed the capability to engineer and build globally competitive vehicles based on internal combustion engines (ICEs). Via joint ventures, technology licences and technology transfer, Indian manufacturers and suppliers have built full-fledged capabilities in ICEs.
  3. This ensured personal mobility for the Indian middle class at price points that are unmatched globally.
  4. Investment in ICEs has helped to increase exports, create highly skilled and well paid jobs.

Risks involved in transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles

  1. Technology transfer and joint ventures have to be encouraged to ensure indigenization of technology. Industry must play as much a leading role in electric vehicles as it does today in ICEs to ensure employment, capability building and tax revenue.
  2. Localization is crucial to avoid replacement of an oil import bill with a battery import bill or rather dependency on Gulf states to China.
  3. The government needs to support relevant volumes in chosen segments, e.g., via public tenders, incentives or access restrictions. Without a reasonable visibility of volumes, businesses will not invest.
  4. Policy clarity -While a number of green technologies can be pursued, the practical reality of the Indian automotive industry is that resources for investment are limited
  5. Policy consistency– Long-term investments are required; sudden policy changes that alter business case assumptions can drive companies into ruin.
  6. Technology risks such as liability issues around battery swapping, unstable battery technology, recycling of batteries and infrastructure requirements need to be assessed in detail.
  7. Life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have to be considered when comparing battery electric vehicles with fossil fuel vehicles.
  8. GHG emissions during battery production and recycling must be
  9. The cases such as rural vs metro needs, 2-/3-wheeler vs 4-wheeler applications—will have to be studied in detail.

Way Forward

  1. The case studies of the US, Germany, France, Japan, Korea and China show, a strong automotive industry creates disproportionate benefits in technology, capability, taxes and employment for the country of origin of manufacturers and suppliers.
  2. In an environment, where job creation is falling far short of population growth, active development of a high-paying sector is paramount.
  3. The need for a transition to electric vehicles in India is undeniable but it has to gradual rather than binary.
  4. The Indian industry need to rework their strategies and re-allocate investments.
  5. The full force of India’s engineering and entrepreneurial talent will only be brought to bear with consistent cooperation between industry and government.

 

 

 

 

 

National Telecom Policy: ‘Guiding principles prepared’; Cabinet note likely by January

Image result for National Telecom Policy

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Marginal Cost of funds based Lending rate (MCLR) and Primary lending rate

Mains level:  Features of National Telecom Policy


News

  1. Telecom Commission, has defined the guiding principles for the National Telecom Policy (NTP) which include
    • Focus on the telecommunications sector as an enabler of economic growth
    • Protection of consumer interest by ensuring affordability
    • Quality of services
    • Protection of data and privacy
  2. The policy will look to ensure financial stability and sustainable growth of the sector so that so that adequate investments can come for all the new technologies
  3.  DoT’s apex decision making body also cleared the recommendations of raising the deferred spectrum payment period from 10 years to 16 years
  4. The telecom commission also approved replacement of the PLR with MCLR for the delay in payments by operators on licence fee and spectrum usage charges.
  5. The DoT has sought legal opinion on amending the spectrum trading guidelines which could be of huge advantage to smaller operators

Back2basics

Marginal Cost of funds based Lending rate (MCLR)

  1. It refers to the minimum interest rate of a bank below which it cannot lend, except in some cases allowed by the RBI. It is an internal benchmark or reference rate for the bank.
  2. MCLR actually describes the method by which the minimum interest rate for loans is determined by a bank – on the basis of marginal cost or the additional or incremental cost of arranging one more rupee to the prospective borrower.

World Bank warns of learning crisis in education in countries like India

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the report

Mains level: The report discusses a well known issue related Indian Education System.


News

Warning from the World Bank Group in its report

  1. It has warned of a learning crisis in global education particularly in low and middle-income countries like India
  2. The report underlines that schooling without learning is not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children worldwide
  3. Report: World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise

Particulars of the report

  1. According to the report, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a grade two student could not read a single word of a short text
  2. India also tops the list of seven countries in which a grade two student could not perform two-digit subtraction
  3. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them

Recommendation from the report

  1. The report recommends concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments
  2. How: using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making
  3. And mobilising a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all’
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc. Health

India’s infant mortality rate declines 8% in 2016

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IMR

Mains level: IMR is a crucial health factor.


News

Decline in infant mortality rate (IMR)

  1. India has attained an 8% decline in the IMR in 2016 from a year ago
  2. According to the Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin, IMR has declined to 34 per 1,000 live births last year from 37 per 1,000 live births in 2015
  3. The Bulletin is released by the Office of the Registrar General
  4. It attributed the improvement to countrywide efforts to expand health services coverage, including reproductive, maternal and newborn health services

More takeaways from the bulletin

  1. IMR declined in 29 states and Union territories, was stable in two states and increased in five states and Union territories
  2. The highest decline of 7 points was reported by Chandigarh and the highest increase of 6 points was reported by Arunachal Pradesh

India’s external debt rises 3% to $485.8 billion

Image result for India’s external debt rises 3% to $485.8 billion

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: External Debt, External commercial borrowings, SDR

Mains level:  Not much


News

  1. India’s external debt has increased three per cent to $ 485.8 billion at June-end over the previous quarter.
  2. It is mainly due to increase in inflow of foreign portfolio investment into domestic capital market’s debt segment.
  3. It was partly due to valuation loss resulting from the depreciation of the US dollar vis-a-vis the rupee and other major currencies.
  4. According to the RBI, commercial borrowings continued to be the largest component of external debt with a share of 37.8 per cent, followed by NRI deposits and short-term trade credit.
  5. US dollar denominated debt continued to be the largest component of India’s external debt followed by the Indian rupee , SDR , Japanese yen and Euro

Back2basics

External Debt

  1. External debt is owed to creditors outside the country. The outsider creditors can be foreign governments, International Financial Institutions such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc., corporate and foreign private households.
  2. External debt may be of several kinds such as multilateral, bilateral, IMF loans, Trade credits, External commercial borrowings etc.
  3. When the non-resident Indians park their funds in India, it is also a type of external debt and is called NRI deposits. If the external debt is denominated in Indian Rupee, it is called Rupee Debt

To know about Special Drawing Rights(SDR)– Refer Civilsdaily

NPA Crisis Finance and Banking

[op-ed snap] A ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ solution for PSU banks

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy Issues relating to planning

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The article comprehensively go through the issues related to the NPAs and their possible solution.


News

Context

  1. The scale of the NPA problem at PSU banks is much larger than was thought, and the downturn in the Indian economy has also made the need for corrective measures more urgent
  2. The article talks about the issues related to NPAs in Public Sector Banks

Four “R”s which are said to be the key to solving the problems of the banks
(1) Recognition

  1. The RBI’s asset quality review has revealed that the gross NPA ratio of both public and private sector banks is higher than was earlier thought
  2. But in the PSU banks, it is alarming at about 12%
  3. And this is an underestimate, because it does not include assets that are “stressed” but not yet NPAs

(2) Resolution of problem loans

  1. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) is a major reform
  2. Once an account is referred by a creditor under the IBC to the National Company Law Tribunal
  3. And is admitted, the powers of the management and the board are transferred to an independent insolvency professional (IP)
  4. The IP then looks for someone willing to take over the project on suitable terms
  5. If no one is willing to take over, or the banks don’t accept the debt reduction implied by the package, the company is simply liquidated
  6. The process changes the incentive structure facing bank managements by giving them a legally sanctified method of determining what is a reasonable haircut(haircut means cut in actual price of the project)
  7. Since the alternative is liquidation, they(bank) should be willing to accept any haircut that gives them more than they would get from liquidation
  8. The process will certainly clean up the books of the banks over the next 12 months or so
  9. But it will also mean acceptance of large losses and a corresponding depletion of capital

(3) Recapitalization

  1.  In 2015, the finance ministry had estimated that the PSU banks needed Rs2.4 trillion of capital
  2. Of this capital Rs1.1 trillion was to come from the market, Rs60,000 crore from retained profits, and the remaining Rs 70,000 crore from the budget
  3. But this is clearly insufficient because the NPA situation has turned out to be much worse than expected
  4. Fitch Ratings has estimated that Indian PSU banks will need as much as Rs4 trillion of capital by end of March 2019 to meet the capital requirements under Basel III
  5. The scope for using public funds to recapitalize the PSU banks can only be judged on the basis of a holistic view of the many other demands for government expenditure
  6. We cannot keep stimulate the economy through increased government expenditure
  7. And without without a clear view of how much of the capital requirement of the PSU banks has to be met from the budget

(4) Reforms

  1. Reforms in PSU banks are expected to make the banks more efficient 
  2. The idea of merging PSBs, is not reform at all
  3. Merging strong banks with other banks will do nothing to improve the average balance sheet
  4. The most important reform will be to reduce the government’s equity to 33% in selected PSU banks
  5. This would allow the stronger PSU banks to raise additional capital from the market, including from possible strategic investors(who could be offered seats on the board)
  6. The inclusion of strategic investors, with representation on the board, may make it easier to raise capital without burdening the budget

The way forward

  1. If the budget is under stress, all PSBs need not be recapitalized to ensure targeted growth in lending
  2. Weak banks that have eroded their capital very substantially should be subjected to the RBI’s “prompt corrective action” discipline
  3. This will allow healthier banks to expand and occupy the lending space created
Issues related to Economic growth

[op-ed snap] Pause before you leap

Image result for economic slowdown

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fiscal stimulus, Current account deficit (CAD)

Mains level: Reasons behind the economic slowdown in India and what needs to be done in order to re-stoke growth


News

Context

  1. The slowing of GDP growth to below 6 per cent has created anxiety and concern.
  2. One suggestion is to go for a fiscal stimulus to re-stoke growth
  3. To assess the efficacy of any intervention, it’s crucial to first correctly diagnose the problem

What are reasons behind the slowdown? 

  1. Growth has now been slowing for five quarters. The slowdown has been accentuated in 2017, because of demonetisation and GST 
  2. Despite this slowdown, manufacturing imports have accelerated sharply, widening the current account deficit (CAD)
    • CAD has quadrupled from 0.6 per cent to 2.4 per cent of GDP
    • Seventy per cent of this is on account of increased manufacturing imports
  3. The growth slowdown before demonetisation was a natural consequence of
    • The oil windfall rolling off
    • Economy embarking on de-leveraging.
  4. This has been compounded by a negative supply shock after demonetisation, as supply chains have been disrupted inducing more imports.
    • Since demonetisation, imports have been growing at 13 per cent.
  5. Domestic supply chains have been disrupted in the manufacturing sector post-demonetisation — likely involving SMEs and that activity has been replaced by imports

Possible implications of a fiscal stimulus?

  1. Expansionary fiscal is unlikely to rehabilitate disrupted supply chains.
  2. Instead, a fiscal stimulus — in the wake of an adverse supply shock — will stoke more imports and result in a larger current account deficit. 

Way forward?

  1. Supply-side shocks need supply-side solutions.
  2. Improve the regulatory and business environment for SMEs
    • Improve their access to credit
    • Resolve teething GST problems and
    • Simplify the burdens of firms competing in the formal sector.
  3. Keep pushing hard on the stressed-asset resolution, so that the twin-balance sheet problem does not remain a binding constraint for larger firms.

Back2basics

Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc Finance and Banking

Fiscal deficit hits 96.1% but Modi govt confident of meeting target

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of Fiscal Deficit

Mains level: It is important to know the pattern of increase and decrease of Fiscal deficit throughout the year. The given article explains the pattern, properly.


News

Fiscal Deficit Data

  1. India’s fiscal deficit touched 96.1% of the Budget estimate for FY18 at the end of August
  2. Possible reason behind this increase: The fiscal deficit has been higher than in the previous years because of the quick start to spending facilitated by the early presentation of Budget on February 1
  3. According the data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) , April-August fiscal deficit is substantially higher than 76.4% for the year-earlier period

Government’s view on this

  1. According to government, it will meet the fiscal deficit target for the year
  2. The target is3.2% of GDP, or Rs 5.47 lakh crore
  3. In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit for April-August was Rs 5.25 lakh crore

Will government be able to achieve the targets?

  1. The government is considering ways of reviving growth, which slumped to its lowest in three years in the June quarter
  2. The government has already allocated large sums to a few of its key schemes to ensure there was no delay due to funds
  3. The revenue deficit was 133.9% of budget estimate against 91.7% last fiscal
  4. With this big spending(allocations) done, the fiscal situation should start to improve as revenues pick up pace in the second half of the financial year

Back2basics

Fiscal Deficit

  1. A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings
  2. It is an indication of the total borrowings needed by the government
  3. Deficit differs from debt, which is an accumulation of yearly deficits
  4. Generally fiscal deficit takes place either due to revenue deficit or a major hike in capital expenditure
  5. Capital expenditure is incurred to create long-term assets such as factories, buildings and other development
Low Priority new Items/op-eds

[29 September 2017 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority Items of the Day:

VVPAT to be used in Gujarat polls

“This is the first time an entire assembly poll will be conducted using EVMs equipped with VVPAT,” Chief Electoral Officer B.B. Swain told mediapersons in Gandhinagar on Thursday.

Important part of the news is given above. UPSC generally don’t ask direct questions on such types of developments. But still it is important to remember the statement given above as it is happening for the first time.

 

‘Banks may risk losing Rs. 3,800 cr. from cards’

The Centre’s digital payments push, mainly card payments through PoS machines, may leave already capital starved banks bleeding by Rs. 3,800 crore annually, warns a report.

Every report on economy or industry is not important. Only those reports are important which are done by any Governmental organisation or any reputed organisation like World Bank, IMF, etc.

 

The 280-character test

Since its inception in 2009, the tweet as a form of expression has repeatedly proven that there are no limits to what can be unleashed in 140 characters. Just last month, the President of the United States managed to threaten the total nuclear annihilation of another country in one tweet. If he had the 280 characters that Twitter now proposes, it would probably be apocalypse now.

The Op-Ed talks about social media’s culture these days, of having nicknames of politicians and ideologies. Not important from the UPSC perspective.


Internal Security Trends and Incidents Security Issues

[op-ed snap] Reforms money can,t buy

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Prelims: Cabinet Committee on Security, Central sector schemes and centrally sponsored schemes, Finance Commission

Mains level: The article  recommends that the government’s umbrella scheme modernization of police force must be followed by steps to grant the force autonomy from political masters.


News

Context

The Centre recently approved Rs 25000 Cr modernisation of police force scheme which will be implemented between 2017 and 2020.

Modernisation of police forces

  1. It will strengthen the law and order apparatus, modernise state police forces and enhance their capacity to combat terrorism.
  2. It also has special provisions for women’s security, mobility of police forces, logistical support, hiring of helicopters, upgradation of police wireless, satellite communications, crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS) and e-prisons.
  3. The idea is to assist the states to upgrade their police infrastructure, especially in respect of transport, communications and forensic support, to enable them to effectively tackle the emerging challenges.

Funding Pattern of the scheme

  1. Out of the total outlay, the Centre will about 75 per cent while the states’ share will be the rest. Under the scheme, J&K, north-eastern states and states affected by Left-Wing Extremism will get a boost of Rs 10,132 crore.
  2. 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations increased the state’s share of central taxes from 32 per cent to 42 per cent, following which Centre de-linked eight centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) from its support in 2015.
  3. While central funding of modernisation of police was stopped, non-plan funding for the same would continued.
  4. Thereafter, majority of state governments were disinclined to make any investments in police.
  5. But, the Centre again started its funding in internal security with modernisation of police forces scheme on the recommendation of Cabinet Committee on Security.

Smart Police

  • The PM in 2014 enunciated the concept of SMART police. The smartness has two dimensions external and internal.
  • External Dimension refers to the uniform a policeman wears, the way he carries himself, his weapons, the communication equipment on his person, his mobility, response time, et al. The scheme would enhance his capabilities to respond to and deal with the kind of challenges he is confronted with in his day to day work.
  • Internal Dimension refers to the expanded acronym of SMART that is, the police should be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, tech-savvy and trained. This is far more important than the external dimension but the scheme hardly improves this aspect .

Problems with the police force

  1. Today we have Ruler’s police but what we need is People’s police.
  2. Accountability has to be to the Constitution, the laws of the land and the people of the country.
  3. The police is being accused of being insensitive to poor and tribals.

Way Forward

  1. Reliability would increase only when the police are objective, fair and impartial. Gadgetry won’t help here.
  2. It is the state of mind which matters. And to achieve that state of mind, police must be freed from the stranglehold of politicians.
  3. The scheme must be followed by structural reforms, institutions like the state security commission, police establishment board and complaints authority must be set up in every state in keeping with the directions of the Court.
  4. The GOI should bring police and public order in the Concurrent List of Schedule VII of the Constitution. Constitutional experts like Fali S. Nariman have strongly spoken in favour of such an amendment.
  5. Sustained economic progress needs the solid foundation of good law and order, and we cannot have good law and order in the country unless the police are reorganised, restructured and rejuvenated.

Back2basics

Cabinet Committee on Security

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) of the Central Government of India decides on India’s defence expenditure, matters of National Security, and makes significant appointments.
  2. CCS is chaired by the Prime Minister of India and comprises the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the Minister of External Affairs.

Central Sector Scheme
It is entirely (100%) funded by the Union Government and implemented by central agencies.
These schemes are mainly related to the subjects in the Union list. Example- Golden Quadrilateral

Centrally Sponsored Schemes
A certain percentage of the funding is borne by the States in the ratio of 50:50, 70:30, 75:25 or 90:10 and the implementation is by the State Governments. These schemes are mainly related to the subjects in the State List. Example-MGNREGA

 

 

[op-ed snap] For truce to hold

Image result for gorkhaland agitation

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Regionalism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level:  Discuss the roots and causes of the current Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling


News

Context

  • The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has done well to call off the agitation it spearheaded in the Darjeeling hills for over a hundred days

What is the reason behind the agitation?

  • Nepali-speaking majority of the Darjeeling hills feel alienated from the state government, which is perceived to exclusively represent the Bengalis of the plains.

Why?

  1. Communities in the hills believe that Kolkata is unwilling to recognise their unique cultural character and that it wants to subsume their distinct linguistic and ethnic features in a Bengali identity.
  2. The idea of a separate Gorkhaland state is born out of a struggle in the hills to maintain a unique sub-regional identity.
  3. The West Bengal government, has sought to contain the statehood demand with the promise of administrative autonomy.
    • The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council of the 1980s to the present Gorkhaland Territorial Administration were created in response to popular movements for a separate state.
    • But state governments were reluctant to sufficiently empower them with funds or administrative powers. 
  4. The state government has also invited accusations of insensitivity to the cultural claims and sentiments in the hills.
  5. The present phase of the protests, was provoked by an announcement by Chief Minister that Bengali would be made compulsory in all schools.

 

Goods and Services Tax (GST) Finance and Banking

EPFO gets notice under GST

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The article shows working and powers of the GST intelligence unit.


News

Notice To Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

  1. GST Intelligence unit has slapped a notice on the EPFO for defaulting on payment of service tax
  2. Also, the unit has sought to examine the PF department’s records till 2016-17
  3. It had sought for overall records of all its regional and zonal offices and issued separate notices to EPFO’s different offices.

EPFO’s argument over the notice

  1. The EPFO has told Revenue authorities that the PF office was exempted from paying service tax from April 2016
  2. And hence, its services were exempt from any levy under the new indirect tax system
  3. The EPFO cited an order dated April 13 from the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
  4. The order said that it was not liable to pay service tax on the statutory activities performed under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan Bilateral Relations

India signs MoU to train Afghan police

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Indo-Afghanistan relationship is very crucial, due to Pakistan concerns over India’s presence in Afghanistan.


News

Memorandum of Understanding

  1. India and Afghanistan has exchanged a memorandum of understanding
  2. The MoU will see Afghan police forces trained in India for the first time
  3. The MoU on Technical Cooperation on Police Training and Development will see India expand its capacity building of Afghan troops to include policemen and security forces
  4. Afghan troops are facing the brunt of Taliban attacks in the country, under a UN Development Programme project

India’s support for Afghanistan

  1. India has reiterated India’s commitment to extend full support to Afghanistan’s efforts for building a peaceful, united, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Afghanistan

[op-ed snap] Climate change is going to hit the Indian economy hard

Image result for Climate change

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Economic Outlook report,Paris Agreement

Mains level: Impact of climate change and measures needs to be taken at  individual country level and the global level


News

Context

  1. World Economic Outlook of the IMF, highlights the damaging macroeconomic impact of weather shocks, particularly for low-income countries.
  2. It notes that for the median emerging market economy, growth goes down by 0.9 percentage point because of a 1-degree Celsius increase from a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius
  3. Climate change is serious challenge for India where about 50% of the population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture for a livelihood

Climate change -Consequences

  1. Productivity will starts declining strongly
  2. Countries located in areas with higher temperature will face a disproportionate impact of global warming.
  3. Loss of output and lower productivity also affects capital formation, which has a bearing on medium- to long-term growth prospects.

Current issues

  1. Consensus was attained under the Paris Agreement to contain the rise in global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius from the pre industrial levels
  2. But now Trump administration in the US is not keen on continuing with the Paris Agreement. 
  3. It is being reported that advanced economies may not meet their commitment of reducing emissions
  4. The lack of will among industrialized economies to contain emissions, could lead to consequences that go beyond the realm of macroeconomics.

 Necessary steps to minimise the impact of climate change

  1. Emerging market and low-income economies have to build significant macroeconomic resilience.
  2. The IMF, notes that right policies and institutions in place may help attenuate the effects of temperature shocks, to some extent.

What India has to do?

  1. Strengthen macroeconomic stability to be able to deal with such shocks.
  2. Work on programmes that will help improve the quality of land and reduce the risk of climate change. 
    • In Ethiopia, food and cash is provided to the poor who participate in local environmental programmes.
    • This has resulted in reduction in soil loss and has increased the availability of water
  3. India can use employment under the MGNREGA in a better way to enhance soil and water conservation.
  4. Strengthen its overall capability by investing in and adopting technology as the impact of climate change is not limited to agriculture
    • For instance, better use of technology can reduce energy consumption for air conditioning. A district cooling system is being constructed in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.
    • It can be adopted in other cities as well.
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