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Day: October 11, 2017

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Low Priority new Items/op-eds

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

Low Priority Items of the Day:

Nisha Biswal made USIBC President

Nisha Desai Biswal, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, has been appointed president of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), a forum of U.S. businesses under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The UPSC generally don’t ask personality based questions. Therefore, this news is of very less importance from the exam perspective. But still, if you can remember the name of the new President, then it may be fruitful for you at the interview stage.(low benefit-to-cost ratio)

 

Three States cut VAT on petrol, diesel

The governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday announced reduction in the value added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel, effective midnight on Tuesday.

No need to note down every numerical value, of the increase or decrease in a particular tax rate. Just try to know its possible effects on the economy.

 

India, U.K. to firm up defence links

India and Britain hope to agree on concrete measures to take forward their defence partnership by next year, ahead of the next meeting of the two Prime Ministers, India’s Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra said during a three-day visit to the U.K. The meeting of the two leaders is widely expected to take place at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London in April 2018.

The article is on an important topic. But this article is full of individual statements of the officials. We can’t fetch anything important from it, for the exam.

 

Measuring judicial merit

Indian judges wield power like no others. For, which other judiciary can boast a free hand in crafting policy on an almost daily basis, setting up booze free zones, mandating theatrical standing for the national anthem and even controlling a circus called cricket.

The Op-Ed talks about the recent decision taken by the Supreme Court on maintaining the transparency in Judicial appointments and transfers. This article has very less relevance from the UPSC perspective. Because it is of very technical type(in law field). No need to go too deep inside any issue.
(If you have Law as your optional, then you should read it)


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Internal Security Architecture Shortcomings – Key Forces, NIA, IB, CCTNS, etc. Security Issues

[op-ed snap] New Pattern Of Urban Terror

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Important suggestions are given in this article that can be mentioned in mains answers.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent sniper attack by a “lone wolf”, which took a heavy toll of innocent lives at a Sunday night country music concert in Las Vegas
  2. The article compares the response of the US and India to such kind of attacks

Change in the pattern of global urban terrorist attacks

  1. Large groups of trained and armed terrorists attacking targets selected by their masters, are not famous these days
  2. Instead, we see lone wolf attackers targeting large gatherings

Comparison of the recent Las Vegas mass shooting with 26/11 attacks of India
Las Vegas

  1. In the US, police agencies, local and federal, were on the same page
  2. The electronic media was not overreacting or speculating
  3. The people on the streets of the city that never sleeps were quiet, not indulging in rumour mongering or spreading panic
  4. There was no politicking, blame games or mudslinging

26/11 of India

  1. Mumbai Police, one of the finest metropolitan police forces in the country, was taken by surprise and was ill-prepared to respond to such an attack
  2. About the role of certain sections of the electronic media, the less said the better. The blame game over intelligence and police failure went on and on
  3. A committee was constituted to go into the lapses and some progress has been made in training and equipping the Maharashtra and Mumbai Police with their own commandos

Issues with Indian Police System

  1. Indian police officers and men are second to none in bravery and courage but they need to be trained and equipped
  2. But our political and bureaucratic leadership is not willing to pay attention to this need
  3. Similarly, raising the strength of our police thanas and posts in cities, needs to be stepped up on a war footing
  4. But unfortunately, the limited resources of the Central and state home ministries are being mindlessly spent in rapidly expanding the para military forces
  5. And hordes of policemen and officers continue to be deployed on so-called VIP security duties

What should be done?

  1. Untrained and ill-equipped policemen must be replaced by meticulously planned operations on the ground
  2. Audit of the work done(by the forces) has to be an ongoing process and obstacles must be addressed with urgency without waiting for a repeat of a disaster
  3. Finally, Informing the nation about the need to understand security threats, is an important task that shoud be carried out
  4. A nation which understands the importance of the issue is well prepared. An alert citizenry is a powerful countermeasure, perhaps the most effective preventive weapon
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc Finance and Banking

IMF lowers forecasts for India

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Many organisations forecasts growth rates of countries, around the world. Not all of them are important. As, this forecast came from the IMF, it should be noted.


News

Forecasts by the IMF

  1. Maurice Obstfeld, IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research, said the upward revisions in both cases “were 0.1 percentage point above our previous forecasts”
  2. The IMF has revised upwards, India’s growth performance for 2016 in its latest calculations, which is now 7.1% as opposed to 6.8% in April(owing to strong government spending and “data revisions in India)
  3. According to the IMF report, in India, growth momentum slowed, reflecting the lingering impact of the authorities’ currency exchange initiative as well as uncertainty related to the mid-year introduction of the country-wide GST
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc. Health

East, NE States score high in curbing infant mortality

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: What IMR is, SRS bulletin.

Mains Level: IMR is an important health factor.


News

What is IMR?

  1. Infant Mortality Rate(IMR) is counted as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births

Data released by the Sample Registration Survey (SRS) bulletin

  1. According to the SRS’ data, states from the east and northeastern part of the country have registered a significant drop in IMR
  2. The all-India IMR has also decreased from 37 in 2015 to 34 in 2016
  3. The SRS bulletin, published by the office of Registrar General of India\

Statewise performance

  1. Bihar, which has the highest density of population in the country, has recorded a drop of four points in IMR from 42 in 2015 to 38 in 2016
  2. In Assam, the IMR has dropped from 47 to 43 and in Jharkhand, it has dropped from 32 to 29
  3. In Odisha, the IMR have dropped from 46 to 44
  4. West Bengal, which has been showing a steady decline over the past few years, has recorded a drop of one point from 26 in 2015 to 25 in 2016
Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc. Energy

Petroleum ministry to seek Cabinet approval for domestic gas trading hub

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 the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims level: Government mandated formula for determining natural gas prices in the country.

Mains level: Energy related topics are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.


News

Seeking approval

  1. Petroleum ministry is seeking approval from the Union Cabinet’s for a domestic gas trading hub
  2. It help India adopt a better mechanism for price discovery of both domestic as well as imported gas

Other plans of the ministry

  1. Ministry is in the process of creating an internal think-tank to assist in priority areas like
    (1) foreign investment
    (2) moving towards gas-based economy
    (3) financing models
    (4) using technology and curbing hydrocarbon imports

How is natural gas prices determined, currently?

  1. Currently, the price of natural gas in the country is determined through a government-mandated formula that links the local price to rates prevailing in gas-surplus nations

Future plans of the government

  1. Currently, India imports almost 60 per cent of its petroleum requirements
  2. India also plans to double its network of pipelines to transport natural gas to 30,000 km within the next three-four years which will help in shifting to a gas-based economy, reduce greenhouse emissions and cut oil import
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] A new industrial policy for Bharat

Note4Students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This article talks about the recently released discussion paper on Industrial Policy 2017 by DIPP .It highlights the issues with it and also gives suggestions on how to make it more effective.

 


News

Context

  1. A recent report by Deloitte LLP pointed out that India’s young population will drive its economic growth to overtake China and other Asian tigers in the next few decades.
  2. The potential workforce in India is set to increase to 1.08 billion in the next 20 years and hold above the billion mark for 50 years.
  3. This requires enabling conditions for growth are created and sustained.

About Industrial Policy, 2017

  1. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), released the discussion paper on Industrial Policy 2017.
  2. It highlights the progress made in the last 25 years and facilitates discussions for the formulation of new industrial policy aimed at building a globally competitive Indian industry equipped with skill, scale and technology.
  3. It recognizes the need to gainfully employ a growing workforce and lists long-term and medium-term measures and related challenges.

What does Economic Survey 2017 says about the rising workforce?

  1. It points out that the richer peninsular states in India will initially witness a sharp increase in working age populations, followed by a sharp decline.
  2. In contrast, the poorer hinterland states will remain young and dynamic, characterized by a rising working age population for some time, plateauing towards the middle of the century.

What needs to be done to cash upon demographic dividend?

  1. The poorer states in the hinterland are characterized by a substantial rural, informal economy where agriculture and allied non-farm activities are the principal sources of livelihood.
  2. For India to realize its economic potential, it is this population which needs to be tapped and provided opportunities.
  3. Significant migration in search of better sources of livelihood is also being witnessed from such areas towards urban centres, which needs to be carefully managed.

Issues with the discussion paper on Industrial Policy 2017

  1. The policy does not discuss ideas for creating jobs for and in Bharat.
  2. It follows conventional approach that confines the scope of industrial policy to “manufacturing enterprises”, unrelated to agriculture and the services sectors.
  3. This myopic industrial policy can have adverse consequences in the longer term.
  4. It recognizes the importance of competition and strengthening global linkages and value chains. But incentives to select sunrise sector will potentially disincentivize competition and innovation, and curb the growth of other sectors
  5. This sector specific approach might result in policies soon becoming out of sync with dynamic economic developments and with our World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.
  6. An effective industrial policy cannot be merely a collection of sectoral policies.

Way Forward

  1. It must appreciate its linkages with agriculture, services policies and with trade, competition and sector-specific policies at a broader level.
  2. A systems’ view informed by a whole-of-government approach is needed.
  3. It will treat the economy like a complex human body, composed of many sub-systems, each of which performs a function to enable the entire system to remain healthy and grow.
  4. The Indian economy has suffered from several ill-advised medications in the past, and more recently as well. Such experiments need to be prevented.
  5. It requires different actors and government departments engaged in specific sub-systems to work with each other.
  6. Stakeholders involved in the design of specific policies must interact with each other and optimize the functioning of crucial sub-systems.
  7. A powerful nodal department in the prime minister’s office should be authorized to ensure coherence through coordination with different departments and related stakeholders, and enable swift decision making within predetermined time frames.
  8. A new forward-looking industrial policy for India must have Bharat as its soul.
  9. A long-term view needs to be taken on competition and trade-related issues, and the industrial policy should avoid the temptation of short-term benefits of over-protectionism.

 

Air Pollution Climate Change

[op-ed snap] Don’t ban, say no

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms & institutions

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Air pollution and factors related to it

Mains level: Efforts being done by government, society to reduce air pollution and their outcomes, way forward


Context

  1. The Supreme Court has put its weight behind the 2016 ban on the sale of fireworks in Delhi-NCR
  2. This was imposed in response to an unusual plea filed by children affected by air pollution

Is ban a right step?

  1. A ban is an inefficient instrument
  2. Aimed at restricting a celebration, the ban on firecrackers may alienate people who were otherwise receptive to the idea of giving up or cutting down on the fireworks
  3. Besides, it would have the predictable effect of driving sales underground at inflated prices

Effect on Supreme court’s authority

  1. A Supreme Court ban which cannot be implemented in spirit would have the unfortunate effect of undermining the authority of the apex court in the eyes of the people

Other factors

  1. While the court has admitted that other factors like stubble burning contribute to the disastrous air quality of Delhi, the focus on fireworks makes its response seem unequal
  2. Livelihoods will be harmed by the court’s order

Judicial overreach?

  1. Matters of policy and implementation are ideally left to the legislature and executive
  2. The court has a moral obligation to step in if they are in complete dereliction of their duty to the people
  3. Since governments and society itself have shown an inclination to stop polluting practices, the last resort has been unnecessarily invoked

What court should have done?

  1. The Supreme Court could have urged government to intensify its efforts to influence the public will, and the process could have played out under its cautionary eye
  2. That would have been a better solution than to impose a ban which may be observed more in the breach
Euthanasia : Euphemism for Killing? Constitution

Passive euthanasia Bill ready, but ‘living will’ may be misused: Govt tells SC

Image source

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Active and passive euthanasia, persistent vegetative state (PVS)

Mains level: All aspects related to euthanasia


News

Draft law for euthanasia

  1. The Centre told the Supreme Court that it was vetting a draft law allowing passive euthanasia
  2. But was opposed to permitting people to make a ‘living will’ — that they should not be put on life support in case of terminal illness — as it could be misused

The draft bill

  1. The ‘Management of Patients With Terminal Illness — Withdrawal of Medical Life Support Bill’ has been drawn up in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commission

Passive euthanasia and its status in India

  1. Passive euthanasia is the law of the land
  2. Court findings in the Aruna Shanbaug case have allowed it
  3. The Law Commission, under the chairmanship of Justice (retired) P V Reddy, had in its 241st report come out in favour of allowing withdrawal of life support for certain categories of people — like those in persistent vegetative state (PVS), in irreversible coma, or of unsound mind, who lack the mental faculties to take decisions

Social and philosophical aspects

  1. Forcing a person to take medical treatment against their will is also a social issue
  2. On one hand, country is short of medical facilities etc, and on other hand, we force those who are in a hopeless situation to take treatment
  3. This also raises a “philosophical question” on whether a person can refuse treatment
  4. An individual who refuses to undergo treatment may become a burden on the resources of the state

Way forward

  1. As laid down in the Shanbaug case, the way ahead was to allow medical boards to decide whether to allow passive euthanasia or not

[ op-ed snap] Is ‘deep sea fishing’ the silver bullet?

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Food security and economics of animal-rearing

 

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Trawling

Mains level: Blue Revolution, Deep Sea fishing in Indian maritime borders: Opportunities and Challenges

 


News

Context-

  1. The article talks about steps taken by the government of India and the state of Tamilnadu to promote deep sea fishing and discusses the challenges that lie ahead.

 

Trawling: Trawling is a method of fishing that involves actively dragging or pulling a trawl through the water behind one or more trawlers. Trawls are fishing nets that are pulled along the bottom of the sea or in midwater at a specified depth.

Deep Sea Fishing: Deep sea fishing is a form of angling that requires deep waters and usually takes place further away from land. The water depth should be at least 30 meters to be considered deep sea fishing territory.

 

What is the issue?

  1. The main issue is to do with the oversized fleet of Tamil Nadu trawlers that fish regularly in Sri Lankan waters, often damaging the boats and gear of small-scale Tamil fishers from the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
  2. The Sri Lankan government has not only passed a legislation banning trawling but its navy has also been vigilantly patrolling the International Maritime Boundary Line.

 

The proposed plan-

  1. The plan is to remove as many trawl vessels from the Palk Bay as possible. And replace them with deep sea vessels that fish in the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar, in 2017-2020.
  2. The plan in the Palk Bay is to extract 2,000 trawlers from the bay. Each vessel will cost Rs 80 lakhs of which only 30 per cent (10% upfront+ 20% loan) is to be paid by the trawl owners, while rest will be paid by state and central government as subsidy.
  3. The Central and Tamil Nadu governments are jointly providing finance for the project.
  4. The new replacement tuna long liner boats cannot trawl or operate in the Palk Bay.
  5. The government is now creating a new deep-sea fishing harbour at Mookaiyur, located just south of the Palk Bay in the Gulf of Mannar, where many of these vessels are likely to be berthed.
  6. Priority is to be given to owners who have had their boats apprehended or damaged in Sri Lanka.

 

Challenges-

  1. There is a question whether there are sufficient stocks of fish in the adjacent waters of the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar to make deep sea fishing economically viable for a large and new fleet of vessels.
  2. Are the trawl owners interested:  do Palk Bay trawl fishers, who are used to one-day fishing, have sufficient skills and an interest for deep sea fishing.
  3. The question of what will become of trawl crews (who might not have the required skills for deep sea fishing) remains largely unaddressed, potentially jeopardising the local economy of the region.
  4. The main concern for the trawl owners is whether deep sea fishing is a sound investment or not.
  5. Some fishermen have doubts about the high operational costs of deep sea fishing and the loan repayment schedule.
  6. Equally of concern is the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department’s capacity to monitor, control and carry out surveillance (MCS) of the process of decommissioning.

 

Way forward-

  1. Whether deep sea fishing will reduce the Palk Bay fishing conflict depends entirely on the downsizing of the existing trawl fleet. This means actual implementation of rules on the ground is the most important thing to look into.
  2. Various other solutions such as buy-backs, alternative livelihoods and skill development need to be rolled out with a simultaneous focus on a strong MCS system. Only then can this intransigent fishing conflict be finally resolved.

 

NPA Crisis Finance and Banking

Stressed companies to delay investment recovery by 2-3 yrs: India Ratings

Note4students

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

 

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Capital Expenditure, EBITDA

Mains level: Resolution of NPAs

 


News

Context-

  1. The article talks about a report by India Ratings limited on the stressed assets scenario in the Indian industry.
  2. Main idea: Stressed corporates could derail the overall investment recovery for another two-to-three years in the wake of moderate consumption demand, global overcapacity and working capital disruptions due to the goods and services tax.
    The main concern expressed by the report is decline in capital expenditure in the Indian industry.

 

What are the findings?

  1. There are 75 stressed corporates who constitute 20 per cent of the total capital expenditure spending over FY12-17.
  2. These corporates are from key investment-linked sectors, such as metals and mining, infrastructure, and power.
  3. The majority of stressed corporates would require another 4-5 years to deleverage (the process of reducing the level of one’s debt by rapidly selling one’s assets) to a sustainable level of 4-5 times from their current leverage of 9-10 times

What are the reasons for stress?

  1. There are pockets of stress within sectors, especially infrastructure, metals and power (particularly thermal) owing to high leverage and weak cash flow.
  2. These sectors witnessed a significant decline in capacity utilisation.
  3. Corporates are likely to show an unwillingness to invest in long-term projects due to muted demand and significant leverage, despite a low interest rate environment.

 

Way forward-

  1. The core sectors need to focus on selling stressed assets and equity infusion in order to make efforts in incurring capital expenditure.

 


Back2basics

  1. Capital Expenditure: Money spent by a business or organization on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment.
  2. EBITDA: Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is a measure of a company’s operating performance. Essentially, it’s a way to evaluate a company’s performance without having to factor in financing decisions, accounting decisions or tax environments.

 

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