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Day: October 12, 2017

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Low Priority new Items/op-eds

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

Low Priority Items of the Day:

Direct tax collections rise 15.8% in H1 FY’18

Net direct tax collections for the first half of the financial year, at Rs. 3.86 lakh crore, were 15.8% higher than the collections in the same period of the previous year, according to official data released on Wednesday.

Important part of the news is given above. But still, it is of very less importance to write down, every increase or decrease in tax collections.

 

Solar scam: Chandy to face vigilance probe

The government has asked Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (V&ACB) and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by ADGP, North Zone, Rajesh Diwan, to probe the charges against Mr. Chandy and his personal staff.

Corruption is a serious concern and a important topic for the UPSC exam. But it is not important to go through individual cases of corruption.

 

Anupam Kher is FTII chairman

Veteran actor Anupam Kher was on Wednesday appointed the new chairperson of the premier Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) replacing Gajendra Chauhan.

Important part of the news is given above. No need to go through the complete article.

 

Learning from history

On January 30, 1948, at a time when northern and eastern India continued to be devastated by the horrors unleashed by the Partition, another appalling event rocked the newly independent and still fragile nation, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Op-Ed talks about the historical overview of the Killing of Mahatma Gandhi(from a strictly personal point of view). These kind of articles are not important from the UPSC exam.


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Euthanasia : Euphemism for Killing? Constitution

[op-ed snap] The will to die — on ‘living wills’

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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 the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Vegetative state, Living will.

Mains Level: Much debated topic. The SCs cognizance on the issue has made it more important for the Mains paper.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the recent case came before the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court
  2. The case is on allowing euthanasia as a means to protect the dignity of patients in a vegetative state

What is a vegetative state?

  1. A vegetative state is absence of responsiveness and awareness due to overwhelming dysfunction of the cerebral hemispheres(a part of brain), with sufficient sparing of the diencephalon and brain stem to preserve autonomic and motor reflexes and sleep-wake cycles

What is a living will?

  1. A written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding future medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive

Should the law allow ‘living wills’?

  1. The court will have to resolve the question whether the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution(while taking decision on euthanasia and living will)
  2. And according to an earlier verdict, Article 21 does not include the right to die
  3. And a living will may relieve the close family members and caregivers of a terminally ill patient of the moral burden of making a life-ending decision

Courts reaction on this

  1. While reserving its verdict, the court has indicated that it may lay down comprehensive guidelines on operationalising the idea of living wills

Government’s stance on the issue

  1. The government has opposed the concept of an advance directive, arguing that it would be against public policy and the right to life
  2. The government is rightly concerned that the idea may be misused and result in the neglect of the elderly

Earlier judgement of SC on Euthanasia

  1. The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict in 2011, ruled out any support for active euthanasia
  2. But laid down a broad legal framework for passive euthanasia, or the withdrawal of life support subject to safeguards and a fair procedure

The way forward

  1. In the present case, the court may have to draw up stringent safeguards for certifying living wills, preferably by a judicial officer
  2. And lay down the exact stage at which the advance directive becomes applicable
  3. The court’s observation that it would initiate only after a medical board rules that a person’s condition is incurable
  4. So, Living wills, if sanctified in law, should come with robust safeguards
Women Empowerment: Policy Wise Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] Tapping potential of India’s other half

Note4Students

Mains Paper 1: Role of Women

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  Female labour force participation rate in India is around 27% which is abysmally low in comparison to China and Western nations. This article gives some reasons for the same and solutions of how to increase female work participation.

 


News

Context

India has a low female work participation ratio.

In global context women outnumber men in positions with lower salary, and are employed in industries that pay less.

Why low female labour force participation?

  1. Among professionals, where equal pay for equal work is the norm, women fall behind because of significant transitions of their lives such as child bearing and rearing.
  2. An American study put the so-called motherhood penalty — the average by which women’s future wages fall at 4 per cent per child, and 10 per cent for the highest-earning and most skilled women.
  3. Society at large gains from its quality reproduction, but the bulk of the cost is borne by women
  4. Wherever there are fewer jobs, men corner the available jobs, as they are seen as the primary wage earners.

What can be done to get more women working and narrow the gender gap?

  1. Flexible working hours and decent conditions of work, including security at the workplace and during the commute to and from the workplace.
  2. The need is for liberal policies such as letting both men and women have equal access to flexible working hours and leave for care.
  3. To let women continue with their work after child birth and enhance the participatory effort by both parents to raise families.
  4. Most countries have adopted contributory pension plans because women who take time out from work to look after the young and earn less than men at a similar stage in their working lives will not be able to build a decent retirement nest.
  5. This is important especially in the West, given high divorce rates among the elderly; but could be a problem in this country as well.

Forgoing women in the workforce is to forgo a large part of the nation’s economic potential.

 

 

Direct tax collection up 16% from last year, growth in advance tax down

Note4Students

Mains Paper3 | Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth

 

Prelims: Direct Taxes

Mains level: Nothing much, just take note of the fact that direct tax collection has increased from last year, primary reasons cited for this are demonetization and increase in advance taxes.

 


News

Context

  1. Net direct tax collections for April-September, the first half of the current financial year, grew 15.8 per cent from last year to Rs 3.86 lakh crore, according to the data released by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  2. This amounts to 4 per cent of the total Budget estimate for direct taxes for 2017-18.

Reasons for the rise in tax collection

  1. Positive effects of demonetisation
  2. The growth in advance tax collection is 11.5% but this growth has been slower than during the April-September period last year, when it had recorded an increase of 12.12 per cent.
  3. The net growth in corporate income tax collections was 2.56 per cent, while personal income tax collections recorded a rise of 18.6 per cent.

The government estimates to collect Rs 9.80 lakh crore from direct taxes in the current fiscal.

 


Back2basics

Direct Tax

  1. It is paid directly by an individual or organization to an imposing entity.
  2. They are based are based on the ability-to-pay principle that is,  those who have more resources or earn higher income should pay more taxes.
  3. They may also act disincentive to work hard and earn more money, because more money a person earns, the more taxes he pays.
  4. For example, a taxpayer pays direct taxes to the government for different purposes, including real property tax, personal property tax, income tax or taxes on assets.

Advance Tax

  1. Advance tax refers to paying a part of your taxes before the end of the financial year.
  2. Also called ‘pay-as-you-earn’ scheme, advance tax is the income tax payable if your tax liability is more than Rs. 10,000 in a financial year.
  3. It should be paid in the year in which the income is received.

Skill development: CCEA approves two World Bank-backed schemes

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the Schemes

Mains Level: Latest example of World Bank assistance to India.


News

Approval of Schemes by the  Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA)

  1. The CCEA has approved two World Bank supported schemes of Rs 6,655 crore aimed at skill development in India
  2. The schemes are aimed to set up national bodies for accreditation and certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long- and short-term Vocational Education and Training

Particulars of the Schemes

  1. Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) is a Rs 4,455-crore centrally sponsored scheme, including Rs 3,300 crore loan support from WB
  2. Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) is a Rs 2,200-crore central sector scheme, with half of the scheme outlay as WB loan assistance

No independent woman director at 38% of NSE-listed cos

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Proposed recommendations


News

Report by the Prime Database

  1. According to the report, about 38 per cent of companies listed on the NSE would have to appoint at least one independent woman director if the recommendation of a high-level panel on corporate governance were to be implemented
  2. The panel headed by eminent banker Uday Kotak had recommended that listed companies should appoint at least one woman as independent director
  3. The suggestion is aimed at increasing gender diversity, which is often seen to have a positive impact on the decision making processes of corporate boards

Current rules

  1. The current rules require that there must be one woman on the board, irrespective of her being an independent or executive director
  2. All listed firms were required to have at least one woman director on their boards from April 1, 2015, according to a SEBI directive

Other recommendations by the panel

  1. The panel has recommended limiting chairmanship to only non-executive directors
  2. The proposal for only non-executive directors being allowed to be made chairman would eventually lead to a split in the posts of Chairman and Managing Director
  3. It also noted(by the panel) 171 executive promoter directors in 116 companies earned a remuneration of more than Rs. 5 crore in the past fiscal
  4. The Kotak panel suggested that if the pay package of executive promoter directors is more than Rs. 5 crore, or 2.5 per cent of net profit, then it should be approved by shareholders

[op-ed snap] The challenge of managing currency

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: Current Account Deficit, Real Effective Exchange Rate, Market intervention by the RBI, Capital Flows

Mains level: Managing the CAD and taking advantage of the recovering global trade

 


News

Context-

  1. The article talks about steps to manage the currency volatility and how to avoid 2013 like phenomenon.
  2. It says that excessive exchange rate volatility could affect investment and growth possibilities in tradable sectors.

Capital flows: Capital flows refer to the movement of money for the purpose of investment, trade, including the flow of capital within corporations in the form of capital spending on operations and research and development (R&D).

 Background-

  1. The latest World Economic Outlook report by the IMF shows that it has been tough for the central banks to manage currency market.
  2. The exchange rate volatility has become a significant problem from the year 2013 when the US Federal Reserve hinted that it could reduce its interest rates. This led to sudden capital outflow from the emerging markets including India. In 2015, the devaluation of renminbi also had a similar effect on the international economy although India was insulated from this shock.
  3. Capital flows are fairly volatile, non-intervention from the central bank can affect economic activity and could be a potential source of risk to financial stability.

 

Way forward-

  1. The central bank should continue to intervene in the market to protect the competitiveness of the rupee. This means the RBI should undertake purchase of foreign currencies.
  2. Now that India has adequate reserves, the government and the RBI should review the composition of foreign flows. Equity investment is more stable compared to debt which sometimes flows in only because of interest rate arbitrage.

 


Back2basics

  1. Current Account Deficit: A capital account deficit shows that more money is flowing out of the economy along with increase in its ownership of foreign assets and vice-versa in case of a surplus.
  2. Real Effective Exchange Rate: The real effective exchange rate (REER) is the weighted average of a country’s currency relative to an index or basket of other major currencies, adjusted for the effects of inflation.
  3. Market intervention by the RBI: Purchase of foreign currencies will lead to decrease in supply of the same. This will increase the rupee supply in the market and help appreciation of foreign currencies leading to increase in competitiveness of Indian rupee.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc Finance and Banking

Economic slowdown a concern, need to push growth, jobs: PM’s advisors

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: Fiscal Deficit and Fiscal Consolidation

Mains level: Steps to revive economy

 


News

Context-

  1. The article talks about the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. It also talks about the future roles of this council.

  

What is the PM-EAC?

  1. The Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council was first set up in the year 2004 by the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh. However, in 2014 it was disbanded by the government.
  2. The re-constitution of the PM-EAC came in the backdrop of growing concerns over the pace of growth in the economy and the slow pace of job creation.
  3. This council consists of Bibek Debroy (Chairperson) and members as Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy, Ratan Watal and Ashima Goyal.

 

What are its tasks?

  1. The council recognised the need to accelerate economic growth and employment over the next six months.
  2. The Council recognised the need for instituting an Economy Track Monitor, using lead indicators and triggers for action, based on informed assessment and analysis.
  3. It will provide specific recommendations for tackling the economic slowdown.
  4. The EAC identified ten themes on which reports will be prepared:
  5. economic growth;
  6. employment and job creation;
  • informal sector and integration;
  1. fiscal framework; monetary policy;
  2. public expenditure;
  3. institutions of economic governance;
  • agriculture & animal husbandry; and
  • patterns of consumption & production and social sector.
  1. The Council will work in consultation with various stakeholders, including sectoral ministries, states, experts, institutions, regulators and the private sector.

 

The council has consensus on two things:

  1. There is economic slowdown in the country, we need to look into the causes.
  2. The government should not breach the targets of fiscal consolidation and fiscal deficit (3.2 per cent of GDP for current financial year).

 


Back2basics

  1. Fiscal Deficit: A Fiscal Deficit occurs when government’s total expenditures exceed its total revenues (excluding borrowings).
  2. Fiscal Consolidation: The steps taken by government to reduce its fiscal deficit and debt are known as Fiscal Consolidation. This includes raising taxes, dis-investment in PSUs, rationalisation of subsidies etc
Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc. Conservation & Mitigation

Eye on China, foreign secy S Jaishankar in Seychelles for infrastructure pact

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Geographical location of Seychelles

Mains Level: Growing presence of China in the Indian Ocean is a serious strategic concern for India. This step is deals with the same concern.


News

Unannounced visit to Seychelles

  1. Recently, India had sent Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on an unannounced visit to the seychelles
  2. Possible reasons behind this move: Due to concerns arise from China’s moves and increasing presence in Seychelles
  3. And to iron out differences over the development of infrastructure in seychelles

Seychelles’ changed view on the agreement(related to infrastructure)

  1. Seychelles has said it would like to take a “relook” at the agreement between the two countries to build military infrastructure on Assumption Island
  2. The agreement was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Seychelles in 2015
  3. Officials in Seychelles have said the agreement does not have legal backing on their side, whereas it has legal basis in India
  4. To avoid returning to the negotiating table, Jaishankar met Seychelles President Danny Faure and discussed the hurdles that have come up in recent months

Particulars of the agreement

  1. The agreement will enable India to help Seychelles build military infrastructure for the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) on Assumption Island
  2. The infrastructure also includes residential barracks for SPDF’s Coast Guard and fixing up the jetty and existing airstrip for the SPDF

Concerns of India over China’s presence in Seychelles

  1. According to Indian intelligence reports, there has been a sharp spike in the number of Chinese visitors in Seychelles over the last six years — from about 500 in 2011 to over 15,000 in 2016

India’s relations with Seychelles

  1. The two countries have an established relationship in defence and maritime security, through which India helps to patrol the waters of Seychelles and gives equipment to the island nation’s defence forces
  2. In recent years, India has agreed to help Seychelles map its hydrology reserves, launched a coastal surveillance radar project and boosted security cooperation with the nation
  3. India will also give a second Dornier maritime patrol aircraft
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Finance and Banking

Centre cuts GST rates on oil exploration & production

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GST- included and excluded items

Mains level: Implementation of GST and its aftereffects


News

Oil exploration and production under GST regime

  1. Setting the stage for inclusion of some of the petroleum products in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, the government has reduced GST rates for exploration and production sector
  2. This is to reduce the cascading effect arising on account of non-inclusion of petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel, natural gas and crude oil

Why should petroleum products be brought under GST?

  1. The exclusion of petrol, diesel, crude, natural gas and ATF from GST increases the cost of these products
  2. This is because input GST not being creditable against the sale of these products adds to the cost of these products
  3. Further, excise duty / VAT payable on sale of these products is not available as credit to industries buying these products

Way forward

  1. GST Council should consider inclusion of some of the left out petroleum products for complete benefit for the sector than taking these ad-hoc relief measures

Back2Basics

Know all about GST here (Click2read)

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc. Human Resource Development

Sex with wife below 18 years is rape, rules SC; underlines girl’s right to choose

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Penal Code, The Prohibition of Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), Juvenile Justice Act, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Article 15(3) of the Constitution, Criminal Procedure Code, National Family Health Survey

Mains level: Various aspects related to marital rape and their status in SC and HC’s


News

SC Judgement

  1. The Supreme Court has criminalized sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife who is under 18 years of age
  2. The decision applies to all faiths and is expected to act as a deterrent against child marriage, which, although prohibited under the law, is still prevalent in many parts of the country

Contradictory provisions

  1. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines the offense of rape, has an exception clause that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape
  2. However, the age of consent is 18 years

What SC said on these?

  1. SC Judges read down this exception arguing that it was inconsistent with other statutes dealing with children such as The Prohibition of Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), Juvenile Justice Act and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act — all these have fixed the minimum age of the girl child for sexual relations at eighteen
  2. It was also contrary to the philosophy and ethos of Article 15(3) of the Constitution as well as contrary to Article 21 of the Constitution and our commitments in international conventions and to the philosophy behind some statutes, the bodily integrity of the girl child and her reproductive choice
  3. Child marriages not only violated human rights, it also affects the health of the child
  4. SC also pointed to the need for amending PCMA as a lot of child trafficking is taking place under the garb of marriage including child marriage

Will previous cases of child marriages/rape be reconsidered?

  1. The judgment will have “prospective effect” meaning it will not apply to past cases
  2. Cognizance of such offenses can be taken only in accordance with the provisions of section 198(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code
  3. The provision says that court shall not take cognizance of an offense under Section 376 IPC “if more than one year has elapsed from the date of commission of the offense”

Does this judgment apply to women above 18 years of age also?

  1. The SC bench clarified that it was not making any observation on “marital rape” of a woman who is 18 years of age and above as the issue was not before the court
  2. The question whether marital rape should be criminalized is pending before the Delhi High Court where the Centre has filed an affidavit opposing this saying that doing so may destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands

Statistics related to Child marriages/rape (Can be quoted in Mains)

  1. The National Family Health Survey-4, 2015-2016 found that at the time of carrying out the survey in 2014, amongst women in the age group of 20-24 years, almost 26.8% women were married before they attained the age of 18 years
  2. This means more than one out of 4 marriages was of a girl child
  3. A report based on the 2011 Census reveals a shocking aspect that girls below the age of 18 years are subjected to three times more marital rape as compared to the grown-up women
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc. Health

Underweight and obese children: Alarm bells ring at both ends in India, Lancet study raises concern

Obese fat boy check heart by stethoscope. Tight shirt of pajamas,healthy concept

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: BMI

Mains Level: These days, Obesity is a serious health issue among children.


News

A new study in The Lancet

  1. The study was released on World Obesity Day on October 11
  2. The study looked at BMI (body mass index) trends in 200 countries from 1975-2016
    (a) Obese Population
  3. It has found that the number of obese girls in age group 5-19 has risen from 5 million to 50 million in 40 years
  4. And that of boys from 6 million to 74 million.
    (b) Underweight Polpulation
  5. The researchers say that if current world trends continue, “obese” will soon be more common than “underweight”

Results of the study on India

  1. India has among the largest shares of underweight children and teenagers
  2. And at the other end, it is part of a trend that has seen the number of obese under-20s worldwide rising tenfold in 10 years
  3. In India, the prevalence of obesity is between 1-2 %
  4. The prevalence of mild to severe underweight under-20s in India is 22.7% among girls and 30.7% among boys

Why is obesity increasing among children?

  1. The middle class and upper middle class in India have fewer children and tend to overfeed them under the pretext of pampering
  2. As per the Lancet study, the percentage is between 1-2 in India but these will increase as social structures are changing in India

Back2basics

Body Mass Index(BMI)

  1. The body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index is a value derived from the mass (weight) and height of an individual
  2. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres
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