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October 2017
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US firms approach USTR against India’s medical price control measures

Note4students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This article is important for mains as it talks about the recent move of the American companies to approach USTR against the India’s move of price control of various medical devices and how this move will affect India’s medical technology industry and ultimately harm patients.

 


News

Context

Recent reports indicate that the lowering of prices on medical devices which are only one component of overall procedure costs are not being passed along to patients.

 

Why have American companies approached USTR?

  1. American companies producing medical devices and health information systems have approached the US Trade Representative against India’s move to implement price controls on coronary stents and knee replacement implants that they say denying them equitable market access.
  2. In a petition, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) requested the US Trade Representative (USTR) to suspend or withdraw India’s benefits under Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
  3. They are deeply concerned about recently implemented price controls on coronary stents and knee replacement implants in India that have slashed prices by as much as 85 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively, followed by signals that price caps for additional life-saving and life-improving medical devices may be forthcoming.
  4. The intention of the American companies was not for India to lose the benefits of GSP, but rather to advance engagement and meaningful discussions on restoring market access for medtech in India while keeping patients’ interests at the center of all discussions.

 

Impact of price control by India on various medical devices

  1. Recent reports indicate that the lowering of prices on medical devices which are only one component of overall procedure costs    are not being passed along to patients, which needs to be corrected.
  2. Price controls may also block innovations and limit patient access to the best available care.
  3. The failure to implement a mutually acceptable alternative could deter global organisations from making their latest products available to India’s health care providers and patients, make Indian innovators less competitive in global markets, negatively impact future investment in India, and ultimately harm patients.

 

What does India need to do ?

  1. India’s focus on controlling prices of high-quality medical devices, without any attempt to address the larger picture and correct inefficiencies
  2. A stable and predictable market environment is key to driving investments in R&D, manufacturing, and other services to grow the medical technology industry in India, and meet the current and future needs of all of India’s people.
Monetary Policy Committee Notifications Finance and Banking

MPC minutes spotlight risks to inflation; signal RBI may stay on ‘hold’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: MPC, UPSC has asked question on MPC in 2017 Preliminary examination.

Mains: Nothing much, just the trend of inflation needs to be kept in mind.

 


News

Context

The Recent MPC Meeting

  1. A majority of the members of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) monetary policy committee flagged an increase in inflation risks.
  2. The central bank held its key policy interest rate at 6%.
  3. It also observed that a deceleration in retail inflation had been temporary as headline inflation.

How to keep headline inflation close to 4% ?

  1. It is important to recognise near and medium-term risks to the inflation outlook
  2. There is a need to be vigilant on account of uncertainties on the external and fiscal fronts; this calls for a cautious approach.

The inflation outlook for the coming months

  1. It is time to be in readiness to raise the policy rate to suppress the underlying drivers of inflation if they strengthen further
  2. CPI inflation was likely to moderate to about 3% in October.
  3. But this would be driven by food prices, while core inflation was likely to stay above 4% amid rising risks of fiscal slippage.


Back2basics

  1. The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (RBI Act) has been amended by the Finance Act, 2016,  to provide for a statutory and institutionalised framework for a Monetary Policy Committee, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  2. The Monetary Policy Committee is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy rate (repo rate) required to contain inflation within the specified target level.
  3. The meetings of the Monetary Policy Committee are held at least 4 times a year and it publishes its decisions after each such meeting
  4. The MPC will have six members – the RBI Governor (Chairperson), the RBI Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy, one official nominated by the RBI Board and the remaining three members would represent the Government of India.

 

Spain moves to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy

Note4students

Mains Paper 2:  Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Referendum

Mains level: This news talks about the succeeding events in Spain following October referendum which declared Catalonia a separate state from Spain.

 


News

Context

  1. Spain said it will move to seize some of the Catalan regional government’s powers after its leader warned that he could declare independence, escalating the country’s worst political crisis in decades.
  2. The central government in Madrid had given separatist leader Carles Puigdemont time until 10:00 am to say whether or not he was declaring a breakaway state in the semi-autonomous region following a chaotic referendum on October 1.
  3. Prime Minister of Spain had warned he would trigger Article 155 of Spain’s Constitution a never before used measure allowing it to impose direct rule over the wealthy northeastern region unless Mr. Puigdemont backed down.

The potential impact of this decision

  1. There are fears that such a move, allowing Madrid to potentially suspend Mr. Puigdemont’s government and take over its police force, could spark unrest in a region where even Catalans who oppose independence cherish their autonomy highly.
  2. The separatist leader responded that Catalan lawmakers could vote to declare secession unilaterally if Madrid triggers Article 155.
  3. Article 155 a process that would take several days to restore legality in the region.
  4. The Catalonia crisis has prompted a series of huge street rallies, worried investors and added to the woes of a European Union already grappling with Brexit.
  5. Catalonia’s 7.5 million residents are fiercely attached to their own language and culture but are divided on whether to break away from the rest of Spain.
  6. But according to the separatist leader his regional administration has a mandate to declare independence from what he says was a 90% “Yes” vote on October 1.
  7. But turnout was given as only 43%.
  8. Many voters who oppose independence stayed away from a referendum that had been declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
Indian Economy – Growth Estimates Finance and Banking

Outstanding credit grows 14.6% in 1 year; non-food loans fall to 13.6%

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This news talks about the growth in the outstanding credit and the reasons for it.


News

Context

  • Outstanding credit loans, bonds and commercial papers (CPs) grew 14.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) between September 30, 2016 and September 30, 2017.
  • But in the same period last year the growth had been lower at 13.8 per cent.

The growth in other areas-

  1. The growth in non-food credit in the fortnight to September 29, 2017, was slightly lower at 13.6 per cent y-o-y.
  2. The net corporate bonds outstanding as at the end of September, was also up by 18 per cent as per latest data released by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
  3. Data from RBI showed that the net outstanding on commercial papers stood has also increased from last year.

 

Why is there growth in outstanding credit ?

  1. With banks increasingly participating in the bond markets, the share of bonds in total credit is rising.
  2. Higher-rated corporates have in recent days chosen to borrow from the markets rather than from banks as the former route has turned out to be cheaper.
  3. Bankers and sector analysts have in recent days made a case for measuring credit growth in terms of outstandings on loans as well as bonds as better-rated corporates are borrowing increasingly from the money markets.
  4. Between June 2016 and June 2017, around Rs 40,000 crore had moved from the bank’s loan book to the markets.
  5. A large portion of it about 70 per cent of it is in the CPs, or commercial papers. These commercial papers swing between the loan book and the markets, depending on the price, availability, etc.
Internal Security: Updates

Centre plans 13 new Integrated Check Posts to encourage engagement with neighbours

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Security challenges and their management in border areas.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This article is important for mains, it talks about Integrated Check posts and why are they needed?


News

Context

  1. A Cabinet proposal to set up 13 new Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) is being mooted by the Union Home Ministry to encourage India’s engagement with its neighbours belonging to SAARC region, as also Thailand and Myanmar.
  2. Among the 13 ICPs, seven will be along the India-Bangladesh border, apart from the three already operational there.
  3. Only one will be on the India-Pakistan border while four will be on the India-Nepal border and one on the India-Myanmar border.
  4. The cost of setting up 13 ICPs will be Rs 3,000 crore.

 

ICP- Integarted Check Post

  1. An ICP not only provides various services under one roof but is also equipped with cargo process building, cargo inspection sheds, warehouse, cold storage, currency exchange counters, Internet hubs, clearing agents, banks, vehicle scanners, isolation bay and parking.
  2. The new ICPs are able to interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and comm
  3. The setting up of new ICPs was first proposed by the UPA government, which set up a separate body, Land Port Authority of India (LPAI), in 2011 for their management.
  4. The borders need to be secured against interests hostile to the country.
  5. It is therefore necessary to undertake integrated development of infrastructure at the entry points on our land borders.
  6. The Ministry of External Affairs was the first to recommend the four ICPs on the India-Nepal border, and the cost of ICPs on the Nepalese side will be funded by the ministry.
  7. Following the constitution of LPAI, an Empowered Steering Committee headed by the Secretary, Border Management (MHA) and secretaries or senior representatives from the Ministries of Finance (Expenditure & Revenue), External Affairs, Commerce, Defence, Road Transport and Highways, Planning Commission and Railways were involved to expedite the projects.
  8. However, after nearly 10 years, only seven ICPs have been set up, of which five are operational. One is expected to start functioning this year and another by next year.
Gold monetisation scheme: All you need to know about it Finance and Banking

Centre taking steps to formalise gold trade

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Resource mobilization

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This article is important as it highlights new development that is, commodity options trading in the gold on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and how it will benefit consumers.


News

Context

  1. The Centre is taking steps for greater formalization of the gold trade with an eye on the future.
  2. In accordance with these steps, the country unveiled its first commodity options trading in the gold on the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX).
  3. The gold option contract, with gold (1 kg) futures as underlying, expiring on November 28, 2017 and January 29, 2018 were made available for trading yesterday.
  4. As an introductory measure, no transaction fee is being charged on this product till December.
  5. This marks an important evolution in the trading of the yellow metal itself.
  6. Options trading hedge all risks for those dealing in gold.
  7. Given that Indians were big buyers of gold there are expectations that the new product would be extremely successful and with appropriate policy measures it will help formalize the gold trade.

 

How will consumers benefit from these steps?

  1. They are in consonance with the business environment for the future, the more it formalises, the better it is for consumers, jewellers and traders.
  2. The European-styled gold options are hedger-friendly and physically settled, which means on exercise at expiration, the options position develops into corresponding underlying MCX one kilogram gold futures position at the strike price of the exercised options.
  3. By hedging risk of rise in gold prices using ‘Gold Call Options Contract,’ a jeweller would not only be protected against price rise, but also would benefit from fall in gold prices.
  4. Similarly by hedging risk of fall in gold prices using a ‘Gold Put Options Contract’, a jeweller would not only be protected against price fall, but would benefit from rise in gold prices.
  5. Gold is the first product for options trading that SEBI had permitted after modern commodity derivatives trading started 14 years ago.
  6. The Finance Ministry had set up a committee for suggesting measures to transform India’s gold market.

 

SEBI and the integration of commodity markets

  1. There has been a very conscious effort by the government and SEBI to develop and integrate commodity markets in a phased manner.
  2. The introduction of options gives a strong impetus towards systematic development and transformation of commodity derivatives market in India, ushering in a new era in price risk management in response to stakeholder expectations.
  3. To further strengthen the market, a panel had been constituted in NITI Aayog to integrate spot and derivative market.
  4. The gold option is as an extremely low-cost product.

 

Options Trading in other commodities

  1. As per the SEBI rule, options trade is allowed in a commodity which has certain volumes in futures trade.
  2. Around 7-8 commodities like cotton, CPO, crude, silver, zinc and copper are there which also qualifies and after 3-6 months a decision will be taken to introduce options trading in them.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan India & Neighbours

NSA Ajit Doval visits Kabul, both sides welcome new US strategy

Note4students

 

Mains Paper 2: India and its neighborhood- relations

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  Points from this news item can be used as a value addition in any question involving India Afghanistan relations.

 


News

Context

  1. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visited Afghanistan, days after US President said that he has started to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan .
  2. Doval’s schedule was kept under wraps to avert any incident.
  3. According to the sources, US Defense Secretary James Mattis was the target of a failed rocket attack near a key Afghanistan airport in September, although the attack occurred after he had left the airport.

The Joint Statement

  1. Afghanistan and India in a joint statement said both sides welcomed the opportunities created by the new US strategy for bringing peace and security in Afghanistan.
  2. It has also prompted closer security and development cooperation between India and Afghanistan.
  3. The statement said that both sides emphasised that bilateral and sincere regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region.
  4. India is committed to not only continuing but also broadening its development efforts in Afghanistan.

While announcing the new policy for Afghanistan, USA had praised India for its development efforts in the war-torn country and acknowledged that Pakistan does not like Indian investment in Afghanistan.

$1-billion pledge: Abu Dhabi to pick up a stake in infra fund

Note4students

 

Mains Paper 3: Investment models

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: NIIF

Mains level:  This is important as it highlights about the first institutional investor of the NIIF fund and other investors and how this fund will give impetus to India’s infrastructure fund.

 


News

Context

  1. In a major boost to the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), the government has secured an investment commitment of up to $1 billion from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which will become the first institutional investor in the NIIF Master Fund and a shareholder in the Fund’s investment management company that is, the National Investment and Infrastructure Limited.
  2. ADIA is expected to hold around 10-11 per cent stake in the NIIF Master Fund.
  3. This is a significant milestone in operationalisation of NIIF.
  4. This Agreement paves the way for creating significant economic impact through investment in commercially viable infrastructure development projects.
  5. ADIA is expected to bring in $200-250 million in the first fund and will invest the remaining portion in investment vehicles created by the NIIF.
  6. The government is not providing any guarantee on returns and the investments will be done purely on commercial basis.

 

Domestic Institutional Investor of NIIF

  1. Apart from ADIA, six domestic institutional investors will also join the NIIF Master Fund:
  2. HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Ltd, HDFC Asset Management Company Ltd, Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd and Axis Bank Ltd.

 

Investment by other countries under NIIF

  1. Recently India and the UK announced the launch of a Green Growth Equity Fund to leverage private sector investment in green infrastructure projects in India.
  2. They agreed to anchor investments up to £120 million each (total £ 240 million) in the joint fund, which will be established under the NIIF framework.
  3. The NIIF has also signed memoranda of understanding with the government of UAE, Russia’s RUSNANO and RDIF; the Qatar Investment Authority and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development to explore investments in the Fund.

 


Back2basics

NIIF Fund

  1. NIIF was registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a Category II Alternate Investment Fund on December 28, 2015.
  2. The fund has been set up as a fund of funds structure with an aim to generate risk-adjusted returns for its investors alongside promoting infrastructure development.
  3. The Fund will invest across infrastructure projects in the economy including in power, green energy and road sectors.
  4. It has a targeted corpus of Rs 40,000 crore to be raised over the years, 49 per cent of which will be funded by the government at any given point of time.
  5. The remaining 51 per cent of the corpus is to be raised from domestic and global investors, including international pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, multilateral/bilateral investors.
  6. A Governing Council chaired by Finance Minister already been set up to act as an advisory council to the NIIF.
  7. In the last financial year, the NIIF received a total of Rs 15 crore from budgetary resources for meeting administrative expenses.
  8. For the current financial year, the government has allocated Rs 1,000 crore as per Budget Estimates to NIIF.
  9. The government expects NIIF to raise Rs 8,000 crore from various sources to fund projects worth Rs 16,000 crore in the current financial year.
  10. The NIIF is set to play an important role in facilitating the flow of foreign capital into India’s infrastructure sector.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Myanmar India & Neighbours

SOP to help movement of locals, raise security at Myanmar border

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: India and neighborhood relations

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: This article gives insights about the latest move of the government to devise standard operating procedures to facilitate movement across Indo Myanmar border.

 


News

Context

  • The government has decided to devise standard operating procedures (SOP) to facilitate movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens residing within 16 km of the India-Myanmar border.

The Free Movement Regime

  1. The Home Ministry held consultations with Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh the states bordering Myanmar to discuss the Free Movement Regime (FMR).
  2. The FMR permits tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visa restrictions.
  3. It was found that states follow different protocols for FMR.
  4. The Home Ministry considered this to be a security threat and have come up with common SOPs for all four states.
  5. It is a measure to upgrade security at the border amid the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar following turmoil in Rakhine province of that country.
  6. According to government estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims spread across India.
  7. The Home Ministry is also having a parallel discussion with the Ministry of External Affairs and their counterparts in Myanmar to allow Indian nationals living near the border to visit Myanmar for up to 72 hours.
  8. While India allows Myanmarese nationals to stay 72 hours without visa, Myanmar allows stay of only 24 hours.
Aadhaar Cards: The Identity Revolution Governance

Supreme Court to hear plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones

Note4students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  This news is important for mains as it give important points regarding how the linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts violates various laws and provisions. UPSC have been asking about issues like these of national importance which have been in news for a while.

 


News

Context

  1. The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the government move to link bank accounts and mobile phones with Aadhaar numbers
  2. The court has stated that it violates the fundamental right to privacy and equates citizens, including the elderly, women and students, with money launderers.

What the petition is about?

The petition has challenged Rule 2(b) of the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 for-

Bank Accounts

  1. Mandatory submission of Aadhaar number for individual clients, companies, partnership firms and trusts for opening of bank accounts, maintaining existing bank accounts, making financial transactions of and above ₹50,000 and crediting foreign remittance into small accounts.
  2. Existing bank account holders have been directed to furnish Aadhaar numbers by December 31, 2017.
  3. Non-compliance would render the bank accountsin-operational indefinitely” subject to submission of the Aadhaar Number and the Permanent Account Number (PAN).
  4. Present and potential bank account holders, who do not wish to part with their biometric information, are therefore treated on par with alleged offenders under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Mobile Phones

  1. The petition challenges the Department of Telecom on March 23, 2017 making it mandatory for all mobile phone holders to link their mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar.
  2. The mobile phone circular is violative of Article 300A of the Constitution which protects a person’s right to not be deprived of property.

 

Why plea against linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, phones?

  • The provision regarding bank accounts and mobile phones both separately create an “impermissible artificial distinction” between those who have parted with their private, biometric information and those who have not.
  • They both compel the latter category of the population to part with their biometrics for opening and maintaining bank accounts or for a mobile phone connection.
  • Both the provision and the circular are violative of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 which limits the purpose of the Aadhaar number to receipt of a public subsidy, benefit or a service.
  • The Aadhaar number may even compromise the efficacy of the KYC procedures and the customer database.
  • Compelling citizens to part with their biometric details compromises India’s international law obligations.
  • It goes against the very concept of the expression ‘limited government’, which means the State cannot act against the spirit and the assurance of the Constitution.

 

[op-ed snap] The case for a public health cadre

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Prelims: Not much.

Mains level: This article is important as it talks about why establishment of public healthcare management cadre is necessary in the current scenario where India is grappled with various issues such as standardisation, financial management, technical expertise, etc.

 


News

Context

Various Committess have recommended a service, on the lines of the IAS, will improve India’s health-care delivery

  1. It was also felt that the medical education that a doctor receives has hardly any relevance to the conditions in which he would be required to work, either in the state-run health programme or even in private practice since medical education is based almost entirely on the western model, and where he is more suitable for the conditions that prevail in western countries than in his own.
  2. The Mudaliar Committee in 1959 recommended having dedicated personnel for public health management and it required to have a comprehensive and wide outlook and rich experience of administration at the state level.
  3. The Kartar Singh Committee in 1973 also said that doctors with no formal training in infectious disease control, surveillance systems, data management, community health related problems, and lacking in leadership and communication skills, with no exposure to rural environments and their social dynamics, nor having been trained to manage a facility or draw up budget estimates, were ill-equipped and misfits to work in public facilities.
  4. The 12th Five Year Plan and the National Health Policy, 2017 have also strongly advocated establishing a public health management cadre to improve the quality of health services by having dedicated, trained and exclusive personnel to run public health facilities.

 

Steps taken by various state governments

  1. Tamil Nadu took the lead in this and there has been a discernible difference in the way health delivery is done there vis-à-visUttar Pradesh. For example, in U.P., even in a tertiary hospital, according to media reports, simple record keeping of oxygen cylinders is not followed.
  2. Recently, Odisha, with the support of the Public Health Foundation of India, has notified the establishment of a public health cadre to ensure vast improvement in the delivery of health care.

 

Why have such a cadre? 

  1. The Indian health-care delivery system is grappling with issues such as a lack of standardisation, financial management, appropriate health functionaries and competencies including technical expertise, logistics management, and social determinants of health and leadership.
  2. Doctors with clinical qualifications and even with vast experience are unable to address all these challenges, thereby hampering the quality of our public health-care system.
  3. Doctors recruited by the States and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (through the Union Public Service Commission) are to implement multiple, complex and large public health programmes besides applying fundamental management techniques. In most places, this is neither structured nor of any quality.
  4. In most States, even an anaesthetist or an ophthalmologist with hardly any public health knowledge and its principles is required to implement reproductive and child health or a malaria control programme.
  5. Further, at the Ministry level, the highest post may be held by a person with no formal training in the principles of public health to guide and advise the country on public health issues.
  6. With a public health cadre, we will have personnel who can apply the principles of public health management to avoid mistakes such as one that led to the tragedy in Uttar Pradesh as well as deliver quality services. This will definitely improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Indian health system.
  7. With quality and a scientific implementation of public health programmes, the poor will also stand to benefit as this will reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure and dependence on prohibitively expensive private health care.
  8. In the process, we will also be saving the precious resources of specialists from other branches by deploying them in areas where they are definitely needed.

Way Forward

  1. Such an exclusive department of public health at both the levels of the Ministry and the States will help in developing the recruitment, training, implementation and monitoring of public health management cadre.
  2. Doctors recruited under this cadre may be trained in public health management on the lines of the civil service with compulsory posting for two-three years at public health facilities.
  3. Filling the post of director general in the Health Ministry from this cadre with similar arrangements at the State level including the posts of mission directors will go a long way in improving planning and providing much-needed public health leadership.
  4. Financial support for establishing the cadre is also to be provisioned by the Central government under the Health Ministry’s budget.
  5. Lastly, another benefit will be the freeing up of bureaucrats and their utilisation in other much needed places.
Issues related to poverty and hunger

[op-ed snap] A black mark

source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

 

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index

Mains level: Problem of hunger and malnourishment in India.
Discuss the learnings from the recently released GHI Report for improving the delivery of welfare schemes in India.

 


News

Context-

  1. The article discusses the recently released Global Hunger Index report. The article talks about India’s hunger problem and the way it impacts delivery of welfare services to the people.
  2. The GHI report is brought up by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

  

What is the scenario in India?

  1. India has slipped from 97th position last year to 100th position this year.
  2. Despite the fact that India has scaled up its Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and the National Health Mission but they have yet not achieved adequate
  3. Confronting the country’s nutritional problems has never acquired adequate urgency in India.
  4. With more than a fifth of the country’s children under five suffering from “wasting” — low weight for height —India has made no progress, over the past 20 years, in arresting the problem.
  5. According to National Family Health Survey the proportion of children in the country suffering the problem has increased from 17 per cent in 1998-2002 to 21 per cent in 2012-2016. Whereas global prevalence of wasting is only 10 per cent.

 

Way forward-

  1. The continued poor performance in the Global Hunger Index should make the government introspect the shortcomings of this endeavour.
  2. The report also carries an important message for the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM): The project should not lose sight of the links between sanitation and nutrition.
  3. The government would do well to take note of the implications of the Global Hunger Index for its welfare schemes.

 


Back2basics

What is a Global Hunger Index?

 The GHI score is a multidimensional index composed of four indicators

  1. proportion of undernourished in the population,
  2. prevalence of child mortality,
  • child stunting, and
  • child wasting.

On the severity scale, a GHI score of less than 10 means “low” prevalence of hunger while a score of more than 50 implies an “extremely alarming” situation.

Banking Sector Reforms Industries

Money-go-round is neat way to fix Indian banks

source

Note4students

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

 

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basel norms, Recapitalisation bonds

Mains level: Recapitalisation of banks


News

Context-

  1. The article bats for recapitalisation of public sector with a financial instrument called as the recapitalisation bonds.

 

What are recapitalisation bonds?

Here the government borrows from the banks by issuing them bonds, and then uses the proceeds to bail the lenders out.
Need for recapitalisation bonds-

  1. According to Fitch Ratings, local banks need as much as $65 billion by 2019 to meet Basel III standards. With valuations below book value for most state banks, the government could raise barely $6 billion by reducing its stake in around 20 lenders.
  2. Also, government does not have much cash to deploy in direct injections, since it is already stretched to meet a 2% fiscal-deficit target.

 

Benefits of recapitalisation bonds-

  1. This looks attractive because banks are flush with deposits, giving them firepower to lend, but credit demand is weak.
  2. Over time, government can potentially settle the debt by selling the bank equity it acquires using the bond proceeds.
  3. According to Credit Suisse, under some accounting standards this fix would not add to the fiscal deficit — though it would do under India’s current norms. Perhaps those might be changed.

 


 Back2basics

  1. History and Working of recapitalisation bonds: In the early nineties, nationalised banks in India saw a severe erosion in their profitability and capital base. This prompted the government to issue recapitalisation bonds. It simply borrowed from the banks themselves to meet their capital requirements! To do this, it issued several tranches of special non-marketable securities to the nationalised banks. The banks subscribed to these bonds in the normal course of their business. The cash thus raised was used by the government to infuse fresh ‘equity’ into the beleaguered banks. Initially issued for a specified period, these bonds were later converted into marketable securities or into perpetual bonds, by mutual agreement between the banks and the Centre. While the government was merely postponing its obligations through these bonds, this move did not result in undue fiscal burden over the long term, as the Centre earned both dividends and market returns on bank shares.
  2. Basel norms: Baselguidelines refer to broad supervisory standards formulated by this group of central banks – called the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). The set of agreement by the BCBS, which mainly focuses on risks to banks and the financial system are called Basel

 

Anti-dowry law: ‘Disagree with order diluting Sec 498A’

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.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level:  This news is important for mains as SC has indicated that it would revisit its earlier verdict that put an end to automatic arrests.

 


News

Context

  1. The Supreme Court on Friday indicated that it would revisit its earlier verdict that put an end to automatic arrests under Section 498A of the IPC, which is often invoked in dowry-related cases.
  2. SC stated that it is not in agreement with the decision rendered in Rajesh Sharma vs State of UP, because it is disposed to think that it really curtails the rights of the women who are harassed under Section 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code.
  3. The apex court issued notices to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Women and sought their response by November 29.
  4. The petitioner NGO Nyayadhar which sought sharpness in Section 498A, claiming that the otherwise “helpful instrument” in the hands of victim women had become “valueless”.

 

Family Welfare Committe

  1. The court’s earlier verdict laid down a set of guidelines that included the setting up of family welfare committees to look into complaints of dowry harassment tp protect human rights of innocents.
  2. These committees will be set up by the District Legal Services Authorities, and complaints received by police or magistrates under Section 498A must be referred to the committee.
  3. Till report of the Committee is received, no arrest should normally be effected.
  4. The NGO Nyayadhar sought a direction to include two women members in the three-member family welfare committee as suggested in earlier court order.
  5. The apex court, however, made it clear that these directions will not apply in offences where there is tangible physical injury or death.
  6. After seeing the working of the arrangement for six months, the National Legal Services Authority may give a report on any changes if necessary.

 

Why SC issued directions to prevent the misuse of Section 498A ?

The bench stated that Section 498A was inserted in the statute with the laudable object of punishing cruelty at the hands of husband or his relatives against a wife, particularly when such cruelty had potential to result in suicide or murder of a woman but many of such complaints are not bonafide.

Issues related to Marital rape

[op-ed snap] The legal message

source:

 

Note4Students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of Women & Women’s organisation

 

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: Nothing Much

Mains level: This article is important for mains. It lists down why marital rape is an exemption in India and even in countries like USA where all states have enacted laws against marital rape but still it is considered less serious than rape outside marriage. Some solutions have also been suggested.

 


News

Context

  1. Sc criminalized sex between a man and his minor wife.
  2. The court refrained from adjudicating on the issue of marital rape, its judgment made reference to the Justice J.S. Verma committee recommendations that explained why the exemption of marital rape must be removed, and that a marital or other relationship is not a defence or justification for a lower sentence.

 

Why is there exemption of Marital Rape in India?

  1. The notion that  marriage constitutes a contract, which includes the woman’s irrevocable consent to sex
  2. A woman is the property of her husband, and rape is a violation of a man’s property rather than a crime against women
  3. after marriage, a woman’s identity becomes part of her husband’s.
  4. The Indian government has consistently resisted a change in the law.
  5. Even after 2012 Delhi gang rape case that resulted in in an amendment to the criminal legislation in India, including the definition and punishment of rape.
  6. However, the exemption of marital rape was retained, despite recommendations by the Justice Verma committee.
  7. According to lawmakers if marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress.
  8. Recently Delhi High Court has been hearing petitions seeking the inclusion of marital rape under the existing rape law.
  9. This has been rejected by the government on the grounds that it will be used to harass men and will affect the institution of marriage.
  10. A greater importance is being given by the government to marriage than women rights.
  11. Women right activists do not believe in placing rape on a pedestal within the hierarchy of crimes within a marriage.That is, for a woman who is facing domestic violence, it is equally violating if her skull is fractured, her spine is broken, or her vagina is penetrated forcefully. What women object to is the violence involved.
  12. In cases of non-marital rape, judges have suggested that rape victims marry their rapist for a “happy conclusion”, which highlights the notion that forced sex does not amount to rape if it takes place within a marriage.

 

Current scenario in USA

  1. In USA marital rape is treated differently from other forms of rape.
  2. Although all 50 states had enacted laws against marital rape by 1993, almost half the States still treat it differently from rape outside of marriage. 
  3. In some states, marital rape is a chargeable offence only if the perpetrator uses or threatens to use physical force.
  4. Proof of marriage is often an easy way to reduce or mitigate the consequences of the offence.
  5. These kinds of legal distinctions legitimise the perception among law-enforcement agencies that cases of marital rape should be treated as less serious than rape outside of marriage.

 

Way Forward

  1. A narrow focus on sexual violence ignores the multiplicity of suffering faced by women and can result in inadequate attention being paid to their other needs. A broad focused policy approach is needed.
  2. We need to ensure that law and policy interventions do not inadvertently trivialise non-sexual violence and that steps are taken to strengthen compliance and implementation of laws relating to all forms of violence.
  3. There is a need to recognise that removing the current marital exception, if nothing else, has an important signalling effect.
  4. In order to prove effective, such a change needs to be accompanied by a deliberate attempt to shift attitudes that normalise violence in the home.
  5. The strategies must focus on structural factors that prevent the incidence of rape, rather than focussing only on strengthening response mechanisms.
  6. Since gender socialisation begins young, there is need to focus interventions on children and adolescents through family and societal institutions, popular culture and media. Disruptive and violent environment at home must be prevented.
  7. In addition to sensitising law enforcement authorities whose attitudes are merely symptomatic of widely-held beliefs about women and gender roles, we need to work with children, parents and the larger community to ensure marital rape is condemned, not condoned.

 

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