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Day: October 3, 2017

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Low Priority new Items/op-eds

[3 Oct 2017 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority Items of the Day:

‘India GDP to hit $6 trillion by 2027’

India is likely to be the world’s fastest-growing large economy in the next 10 years, driven by digitisation, favourable demographics, globalisation and reforms, predicts a Morgan Stanley report.

There are many prestigious reports out there, on Indian Economy. No need to mug up all of them. UPSC generally do not ask direct questions on these types of news.

 

Justice Rohini to head sub-categorisation panel

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday appointed a commission to examine the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) to ensure that the more backward among the communities can access the benefits of reservation.

UPSC generally do not ask personality based questions in prelims and mains. But still, it is important to remember the name for the interview. So, just remember the headline.

 

Tackling the economic slowdown

“All hat and no cattle” goes the Texan description of posturing without economic heft. The government of Narendra Modi should be prepared to receive such a verdict on its economic policy if things continue to go the way they are right now. Economic growth has slowed for five consecutive quarters, that is from late 2015-16 onwards. By now growth is slower than it was in the quarter in which it assumed office. For a government that had promised to turn around the economy through decisive governance, this must serve as a wake-up call.

The Op-Ed talks about the issue of declining growth rate. We have already done many newscards on the issue. No need to stick to the same issue again and again, unless something new is given in the article.


Swachh Bharat Mission Governance

[op- ed snap] Missing the point of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Note4Students:

Mains Paper 1| Salient features of Indian Society

Prelims: SBA, Dry pit latrines

Mains level: This article is important from Mains perspective as it gives insights about why building toilets alone won’t help in achieving the targets of SBA. This topic is inter-spread between various GS papers of UPSC mains, that is, Government Schemes GS-2, Attitude under GS-4.


News

Context

  1. In 2014, more than half of India’s population still practised open defecation.
  2. The government set the goal of making the country open defecation-free in five years, by the 150th anniversary of M.K. Gandhi’s birthday in 2019, by launching the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA).
  3. The primary strategy of the SBA has been the construction of toilets. More than 97% of the SBA-Gramin’s budget has been spent on the construction of individual household toilets.
  4. The programme has increased the money to be spent per toilet from the previous Rs10,000 to Rs12,000, and it mandates that water storage tanks be built alongside government latrines. 
  5. Strategically there is hardly any difference from the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, Total Sanitation Campaign and the Central Rural Sanitation Programme that were launched before SBA.
  6. Three years later, we are more than halfway into that period, and there is good reason to be skeptical about its method.

Problems in SBA

  1. The access to toilets is not the reason why India has alarming rates of open defecation, nor is lack of education or access to water.
  2. The question is why, in 2011, had 70% of rural Indians not built toilets when their contemporaries in other developing countries could afford to do so?
  3. An evidence shows that not only do Indians not build toilets, they also avoid using those that have been constructed already.
  4. The number of people defecating in open cannot be calculated because India doesn’t collect individual data on latrine usage; there is only household data that notes the presence or absence of latrines.
  5. People are refraining from using toilets because of kind of latrines being built in the villages and traditional norms that define purity and pollution.
  6. Pit Latrines: Villages don’t have sewage systems because of which pit-latrines are constructed. These latrines collect the faeces in the pit; the moisture percolates in the ground and the faeces dry.This is a tremendous improvement in terms of public health over dry-latrines, which require manual scavengers to pick up the faeces, or for faeces to be washed away and potentially pollute water sources.
  7. According to religious beliefs, physical cleanliness is not always the same as ritual purity. For example, cow dung and vegetable peels strewn on the floor are physically dirty, but ritually pure.
  8. Rural Indians commonly complain that it is dirty to have a pit latrine in the house; what they are emphasizing is not physical cleanliness, but ritual purity.
  9. For a caste-conscious society, social mobility depends on emulating the practices of the so-called higher castes. 
  10. Manually cleaning pit-latrines, usually equated with the most degrading forms of Dalit labour, does not augur well with that aspiration.

Solutions

  1. India cannot become free of open defecation by only building more toilets.
  2. The solution requires a concerted effort to change people’s views about open defecation.
  3. The SBA-Gramin allocates only 8% of the budget to information, education and communication activities, this needs to increased for creating more awareness about the importance of physical cleanliness.
  4. Latrine ownership should be promoted as a matter of prestige and affiliation with the modern world.
  5. There should be more effort to inform people about the mortality burden of open defecation.
  6. The government has made efforts to instill a new sense of civic pride in throwing garbage in trash cans.
  7. This is a laudable strategy, but it should be accompanied with an effort to change the attitudes towards caste hierarchies.

 

 

 

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc. Industries

From Textile to IT: Wave of Job Losses Hits New And Old Economy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3| Indian Economy: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Schemes: TWRFS and RGSKY

Mains level: Understanding the phenomenon of unemployment in the economy


News:

Context

  1. The article elaborates on the series of job losses witnessed by the economy in multiple sectors in the last 2 years.
  2. The author has tried to collate data from various ministries and has tried to connect the dots.

 

The main reason for job losses is following-

  1. There is hardly any growth in private investment, private consumption and exports. The growth in economy is fuelled by government spending only.

 

Scenario in textile sector-

  1. Exports and production is down due to slump in both external and domestic demand
  2. Demonetisation and transition to GST has hit small players
  3. Labour issues and cost of production is also causing structural issues in the sector
  4. Most of the units that have been shut in the sector belong to power loom textile
  5. The government does not capture data from the small and medium scale textile sectors, hence the distress in these areas is not visible.

 Important observations

  1. Capital goods firms are struggling as most of the downstream sectors are saddled with excess capacity and low demand.
  2. Labour bureau’s Quarterly Employment Surveys (QES) are also showing downslide in employment growth because of the layoffs in IT/BPO and financial services sector, which were earlier the key drivers of growth in these surveys.

Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme (TWRFS)

  • The scheme was introduced in the year 1986
  • Aim: to provide relief to workers rendered jobless due to permanent closure of non-SSI (Small Scale Industry) textile mills in private sector
  • Relief: workers who have suffered job loss are given wages for three years on tapering basis
  • This scheme has been merged under Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana in 2017

Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana (RGSKY)

  • Introduced in 2005
  • This is an unemployment benefit scheme when the unemployment is caused due to closure of a factory or permanent invalidity arising out of non-employment injury
  • The unemployment benefit is provided for the period of 12 months
  • This also covers medical care for the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s family

Back2basics

  1. New Economy and Old Economy:
    Old Economy includes industries embedded in the industrial revolution and the mass production of physical goods. Eg Energy, automobile, steel etc
    New economyis the result of the transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. Eg. IT and IT-es industry
  2. Capital goods are goods that are used in producing other goods
  3. Meaning of excess capacity and low demand: when a factory is not utilising its full capacity due to low demand then there is bound to be stress in the sector
  4. Private Investment: the investment coming in from private players in the economy to purchase assets eg. Roads built by private players, spectrum sale etc
  5. Private consumption: it is the consumption of goods and services by private households.

 

 

 

Convicts too must breathe fresh air, maintain family ties, says Supreme Court

Image result for prison India

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: Not much

Mains level:  Prison reforms


News

Context

  1. Supreme Court has said that Convicts too “must breathe fresh air” and be allowed to maintain social ties provided they show a tendency to reform
  2. The court favoured a “humanistic approach” while dealing with pleas for parole or furlough to those serving long jail terms.

What Supreme Court has said?

  1. A bench of Justices asked the government to update its rules, framed way back in 1955, on granting of parole and furlough, saying these were skeletal in nature.
  2. It referred to one of the objectives of awarding punishment and said it was about reformation of the convicts
  3. However a person must remain in jail for the period of sentence awarded to him or her.
  4. His release from jail for a short period has to be considered as an opportunity afforded to him not only to solve his personal and family problems but also to maintain his links with society
  5. Thus, redemption and rehabilitation of such prisoners for good of societies must receive due weightage while they are undergoing sentence of imprisonment

Back2basics

What is a parole?

  • A parole can be defined as conditional release of prisoners on good behaviour, with regular reporting to the authorities for a set period of time.

What is Furlough?

  • Furlough, is a brief release from the prison which is given in cases of long-term imprisonment.
Government Acts, Policies & Schemes 2018

Ministries told to spell out specific targets for 2022

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: Particulars of the e-Samiksha

Mains level: ‘Minimum government, maximum governance’ is a famous slogan of this government.


News

Project implementation

  1. The Cabinet Secretariat has asked all Central government departments to work out specific targets to be achieved by 2022
  2. In 2022, India will complete 75 years of independence
  3. The Ministries have also been asked to adopt the tenet of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ in their work
  4. Separately, the Departments have been told to identify five-seven major reform areas that need attention

e-Samiksha mechanism

  1. PM is monitoring the Ministries’ progress in implementing projects and policy initiatives under the e-Samiksha mechanism
    Particulars of the e-Samiksha
  2. e-SamikSha is a real time, on-line system for monitoring of follow-up action on the decisions taken during the presentations made by different Ministries/Departments to the Prime Minister
  3. The follow-up action in respect of each decision is to be updated by the concerned Ministry/Department/Agency as and when the status changes or at least every month
  4. Different users such as the PMO/Cabinet Secretariat/Ministries/Departments can securely access the system through a log-in/password

58 killed in Las Vegas shooting

Image result for las vegas mass shooting

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: It is important for State and Bank exams

Mains level:  Not much


News

  1. Fifty-eight people were killed and 515 injured when a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival on Sunday night from the 32nd floor of an adjacent hotel in the Las Vegas Strip.
  2. Local police have described the incident as an act of “domestic terrorism.”
  3. The incident is the deadliest mass shootings in recent time in the U.S.
  4. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack but the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has disputed the claim.
  5. Donald Trump described the massacre as an “act of pure evil” but sidestepped calls for tighter gun laws
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States Bilateral Relations

India gets first-ever U.S. crude shipment

Image Source

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: Import of crude oil from the Us is important because of the risks arising out of geo-political disruptions.(for example, happened in case of Iran)


News

U.S. crude oil 

  1. India has received the first ever shipment of U.S. crude oil of 1.6 million barrels, purchased by state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC)

Particulars of the deals

  1. The shipment is a part of recent commitments to purchase U.S. oil by IOC, Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL)
  2. IOC has placed a cumulative order for 3.9 million barrels from the U.S.
  3. While BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum have placed orders for about 2.95 million barrels and one million barrels, respectively

Why is this important?

  1. The inclusion of the U.S. as a source for crude oil imports by India’s largest refiner will go a long way in mitigating the risks arising out of geo-political disruptions
  2. According to a. U.S. Embassy, U.S. crude oil shipments to India have the potential to boost bilateral trade by up to $2 billion

Small firms with poor financials in vulnerable position: RBI report

Image result for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Non-performing assets, External commercial borrowing

Mains level: Major problems plaguing the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector in India.


News

Context

  • RBI study has said liquidity starved small and medium-sized firms with poor financials are in a “vulnerable situation” and they need funding sources in arresting the non-performing assets (NPAs).

RBI Study Highlights

  1. Small company’s profits got a big beating in the wake of demonetisation and implementation of GST
  2. In response to the banking stress, Small and medium-scale firms with sound financial health have shifted to non-bank funding through bonds and CP (commercial paper)
    • Corporate bond, ECB and CP market have allowed firms to diversify their funding sources
    • The ability to substitute the sources of financing is important to shield the economy from adverse real effects of a financial crisis
  3. Bolstering the funding sources is also likely to be important in arresting the next wave of NPA
  4. It is found that small and medium-scale firms with good financial health are more likely to substitute bank credit with non-bank credit in response to the banking stress.
  5. Rising NPA levels have curtailed the supply of bank credit as banks are rebuilding capital or keeping aside larger share of loanable funds against future possible losses

Back2basics

External commercial borrowing 

  1. Any money that has been borrowed from foreign sources for financing the commercial activities in India are called External Commercial Borrowings.
  2. The Government of India permits ECBs as a source of finance for Indian Corporates for expansion of existing capacity as well as for fresh investment.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: India and Djibouti’s geopolitical scrum

Image Source

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: Geographical location of the ‘Horn of Africa’ region

Mains level: Indo-African relations has very important for Indian economic activities in the region. Also, the Chinese influence in the region is also one of the main factor.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent visit of President to the ‘Horn of Africa’ region and diplomatic issues related to it.

Horn of Africa

  1. The four different states constituting the Horn Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti along with Yemen across the Red Sea have long been described as one of the world’s pivotal regions

Why is this region in news?

  1. Due to President Ram Nath Kovind’s recent visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia
  2. It is President’s first visit abroad
  3. The visit suggests India is finally giving importance to the extraordinary geopolitical significance of the region
  4. Kovind is India’s first president or prime minister to visit Djibouti

Particulars of the Djibouti

  1. Its population is less than a million and its land is largely barren
  2. Djibouti’s location at the confluence of the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and the crossroads connecting Africa, the Middle East and Asia
  3. The geographical position made it a very attractive piece of geopolitical real estate

India’s Diplomatic relations with Djibouti

  1. India does not have an embassy in Djibouti
  2. The president’s visit suggests Delhi is now ready to end its prolonged neglect of Djibouti and re-engage the region strategically
  3. Like in so many areas, China’s strategic advances in the Horn have helped put Djibouti back on India’s political radar

How was India’s relations with the African countries started improving?

  1. Things began to change in the 1990s as Delhi turned to economic globalisation
  2. Growing commerce resulted in intensifying India’s focus on Africa as a major economic partner
  3. India had declared that its national interests were no longer limited to the Subcontinent but stretched from the “Aden to Malacca”
  4. Also, at the Africa summit in India during 2015, most participating leaders wanted an expansion of security and defence cooperation with India

China’s influence in the region

  1. China’s infrastructure development in the Horn preceded the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. One of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region has been the 750 km-long rail link between landlocked Ethiopia and Djibouti
  3. Military influence: China has secured the rights to a base in Djibouti that can host up to 10,000 soldiers until 2026
  4. This is the first ever foreign military base for China

The way forward

  1. Many regional powers are now trying to shape the strategic landscape of the Horn through military bases and armed interventions
  2. India is somewhat late in joining the scramble for political influence in this critical corner of the Indian Ocean
  3. The President’s visit will hopefully lay the foundations for a comprehensive engagement with Djibouti and the Horn of Africa

[op-ed snap] Powerful challenge

Related image

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3:Economy ] Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or the “Saubhagya” scheme, UDAY scheme

Mains level:  Discuss the challenges faced by Energy sector in India. Suggest some pragmatic solutions?


News

Context

  1. Current government promised that 18,500 villages would receive electricity in the next 1,000 days.
  2. Now nearly 14,500 of these villages have been “electrified”. But more than a fourth of the households in the “electrified villages” do not have a power connection. 
  3. Saubhagya scheme, launched by the PM last week should be seen in this context.

What are the features of Saubhagya scheme?

  1. The scheme changes the metric for measuring progress in electrification from the village to the household-level.
  2. Beneficiaries under the Saubhagya scheme would be identified using the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data
    • Unelectrified households not covered under the SECC 2011 would also be provided electricity connections under the scheme on a payment of Rs 500, which shall be recovered by discoms in 10 installments through electricity bills
  3. Free or subsidised connections will ensure last-mile connectivity, often seen as among the biggest stumbling blocks to electricity access in the country.
  4. By roping in panchayats and other village-level institutions, it ensure that Saubhagya does not remain a top-down endeavour

Challenges

  1. Many parts of the country, people face outages for several hours.
  2. Ensuring reliable supply requires improving the health of discoms.
    • The UDAY scheme, launched in 2015, has made some headway in improving the finances of the state discoms
  3. Saubhagya grants them the freedom to lower tariffs to people covered under the scheme. But at the same time, UDAY makes it incumbent on the states to pay for all the future losses of discoms

Conclusion

  • Taking electricity to every household is a great idea. It will need to be done without imperiling the health of discoms

Back2basics

UDAY: Reviving Power Discoms- Refer Civilsdaily

Saubhagya scheme- Refer Civilsdaily

 

 

 

 

Banking Sector Reforms Finance and Banking

Extra capital into PSBs: Recapitalisation bonds being considered

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: Read the attached story.

Mains level: Important step to counter issues of loss making PSBs. It will definitely help solve the problems related to the NPAs.


News

Recapitalisation bonds

  1. The government is discussing infusion of an additional capital in public sector banks (PSBs)
  2. How and why: By issuing recapitalisation bonds, to provide capital(to PSBs) without disturbing the fiscal deficit figures
  3. Government’s plan: Discussions are underway to raise capital support by another Rs 20,000-25,000 crore for the PSBs
  4. This addition will be in addition of the Rs 10,000 crore provided in the current financial year’s Budget for PSBs’ capitalisation
  5. The extra capital is expected to be generated through sale of non-core assets of the banks and equity infusion by the government via the recapitalisation bonds
  6. With enough liquidity in the banking system post-demonetisation, lenders are expected to buy these bonds
  7. And the money so raised can be used to provide capital to government banks

Particulars of the proposed bonds

  1. The annual interest on these bonds and the principal on redemption will be paid by the Central government
  2. And the funds so raised are to be used to capitalise the PSBs
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