Daily Current Affairs for IAS & UPSC Preparation

All current affairs available date-wise and month-wise. Watchout for Back2basics and Notes4students.


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Low Priority new Items/op-eds

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

News

NGT seeks report on Ganga clean-up

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh and the Uttarakhand governments to file affidavits stating what steps they have taken to comply with its directions to clean the Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Unnao.

News related to the NGT are generally important for the exam. But this article is on some directions by the NGT, to the centre. These kind of directions are very general, nothing much special about them. No need to go through every direction given by court on the issue. Just try to know the basics of the issues related to the cleaning of the Ganga.

 

7 Lok Sabha byelections soon

Even as the result of the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-election in Punjab was declared on Sunday, byelections to seven Lok Sabha seats in various States are expected to be conducted soon.

News related to by-elections are not important. Nothing special about them. But you should go through the basics of by-election, possible reasons behind them. (If you have not went through the basics yet)

 

On dangerous footing

By refusing to certify the Iran nuclear deal, which curbed its nuclear programme in return for lifting global sanctions, U.S. President Donald Trump has put the two-year-old pact on dangerous footing. Under American law, the administration has to certify that Iran is technically in compliance with the deal that was struck between Iran and six other world powers, including the U.S., every 90 days

The op-ed is related to the foreign policy of the US, it will have negligible effect on India. Therefore, the op-ed is not important for the UPSC exam.


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Policy Wise: India’s Health Sector Health

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

Image Source

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: Not much

Mains Level: Specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus


News

Context

  1. The article talks about a service, on the lines of the IAS, which can improve India’s health-care delivery

Different committees in the past supporting dedicated personnel for public health management

  1.  Mudaliar Committe(1959): It had observed that “personnel dealing with problems of health and welfare should have a comprehensive and wide outlook and rich experience of administration at the state level”
  2. Kartar Singh Committee(1973): It had 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”
  3. Other observations: 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
  4. 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

12th Five Year Plan and the National Health Policy, 2017

  1. They have also strongly advocated establishing a public health management cadre to improve the quality of health services
  2. How: by having dedicated, trained and exclusive personnel to run public health facilities

Public health cadre by Odisha

  1. It has notified the establishment of a public health cadre in the hope of ensuring vast improvement in the delivery of health care

Why India’s Health care system should have a cadre?

  1. 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
  2. Doctors recruited by the States and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (through the UPSC) are to implement multiple, complex and large public health programmes besides applying fundamental management techniques
  3. In most places, this is neither structured nor of any quality
  4. In the absence of a public health cadre in most States, doctors with hardly any public health knowledge 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 in place, we will have personnel who can apply the principles of public health management
  7. And may avoid mistakes such as one that led to the tragedy in UP as well as deliver quality services

The Way Forward

  1. Such an exclusive department of public health 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
  3. Financial support for establishing the cadre is also to be provisioned by the Central government under the Health Ministry’s budget
Security issues – Internal & External

ITBP raises maiden mechanised column

Image Source

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not much

Mains Level: Specially mentioned in the Mains Syllabus


News

Maiden Mechanized Column of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)

  1.  The ITBP is raising and deploying a mechanised column of power vehicles and machines
  2. Why: to quickly mobilise troops along the India-China border during Chinese military transgressions and Doklam-like standoffs

Decision by the Home Ministry

  1. The decision to raise such a military-style combat wing in the paramilitary force was taken by the Union Home Ministry recently
  2. HM has approved deployment of snow scooters at all high-altitude border outposts of the mountain-warfare trained force along the 3,488-km-long frontier

Particulars of the planned mechanized column

  1. It may comprise over 250 sports utility vehicles (SUVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snow scooters, excavators and a few other medium-lift four-wheeled vehicles

Why is this step essential?

  1. While the Army has the mechanised infantry, it was essential to have a mechanised column in the ITBP
  2. Because the ITBP  secures the border in peacetime and will bear the first onslaught in case of a war or a conflict

Back2basics

Mechanized infantry

  1. Mechanized infantry are infantry equipped with armored personnel carriers (APCs) or infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for transport and combat (see also mechanized force)
  2. Mechanized infantry is distinguished from motorized infantry in that its vehicles provide a degree of protection from hostile fire, as opposed to “soft-skinned” wheeled vehicles (trucks or jeeps) for motorized infantry
  3. Most APCs and IFVs are fully tracked or are all-wheel drive vehicles (6×6 or 8×8), for mobility across rough ground. Some nations distinguish between mechanized and armored infantry, designating troops carried by APCs as mechanized and those in IFVs as armored
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.
PIB: Updates

[pib] Rural people to get affordable life insurance services

What

  1. Launching of  Sampoorna Bima Gram (SBG) Yojana and an initiative for expansion of clientele base of Postal Life Insurance

Vision

  1. To provide banking services through the postal network needs to be taken forward to provide affordable life insurance services to people living in rural areas of the country.
  2. At least one village (having a minimum of 100 households) will be identified in each of the revenue districts of the country, wherein endeavor will be made to cover all households of that identified village with a minimum of one RPLI (Rural Postal Life Insurance) policy each.
  3. Coverage of all households in the identified Sampoorna Bima Gram village

Benefits

  1. PLI will no more be confined to Government and semi-Government employees, but will also be available to professionals such as Doctors, Engineers, Management Consultants, Charted Accountants, Architects, Lawyers, Bankers etc. and to employees of listed companies of NSE (National Stock Exchange) and BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange)
  2. The postal policies have low premium and high bonus, unlike the Private ones

Back2Basics

Postal Life Insurance

  1. Postal Life Insurance (PLI), introduced in 1884, is one of the oldest life insurance schemes for benefit of Government and semi-Government employees.
  2. Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI), introduced on March 24, 1995, on recommendations of Malhotra Committee, provides insurance cover to people residing in rural areas, especially weaker sections and women living in rural areas.
  3. Low Premium and High Bonus is the unique feature of PLI and RPLI schemes
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.

PIB: Updates

[pib] Cabinet approves SANKALP & STRIVE Schemes to boost Skill India Mission

What

  1. Approval of two new World Bank supported schemes – Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE)

Why

  1. for a national architecture for promoting convergence, ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training and catalyzing industry efforts in vocational training space.
  2. To converge the efforts of various central, state and private sector institutions thereby avoiding duplication of activities and bringing about uniformity in vocational training thus, creating better impact

How

  1. The two schemes shall address this need by setting up national bodies for accreditation & certification which shall regulate accreditation and certification in both long and short-term Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Aim

  1. Institutional reforms and improving quality & market relevance of skill development training programs in long and short-term VET

Aligned with other schemes/programmes

  1. The schemes shall provide the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub-missions
  2. The schemes are aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aim at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements
PIB
PIB: Updates

[pib] Memorandum of Cooperation between India and Japan on establishing a Liquid, Flexible and Global LNG Market

  1. The MoC will promote bilateral relationship between India and Japan in the energy sector
  2. It will contribute to the diversification of gas supplies for India
  3. This will strengthen our energy security and lead to more competitive prices for consumers
  4. The MoC provides a framework to cooperate in facilitating flexibility in LNG contracts, abolition of Destination Restriction Clause

Background

  1. India and Japan are major consumers of energy in the world.
  2. In the LNG sector, Japan is the world’s largest importer and India is the 4th largest importer.
  3. Under the Japan-India Energy Partnership Initiative signed in January 2016, the two sides had agreed to work together in promoting well-functioning energy markets and affirmed to promote a transparent and diversified Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market through the relaxation of Destination Restriction Clause
PIB
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

 

PIB: Updates

[pib] India’s trade and investment relationship with Ethiopia is very strong, says President; symbolic of India’s commitment to African Continent

From the past

Trade relations between Ethiopia and India flourished during the ancient Axumite Empire from the 1st century AD

Now

The President said,

  1. Today the economic relationship covers trade, private investment, concessional loans for infrastructure projects and development assistance, largely for capacity building.
  2. India is now among the top three foreign investors in Ethiopia.
  3. India’s relationship with Ethiopia is symbolic of its engagement with the African continent, of which Addis Ababa is such a vital hub.
  4. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor is another initiative brimming with potential.

Development & Agreements

  1. Support for power transmission projects in Ethiopia, as well as specific assistance in the areas of healthcare, education and agriculture.
  2. The signing of two bilateral agreements –
  • The first on Trade Facilitation and,
  • The second related to the Information Communication and Media sector

Back2Basics

Asia-Africa Growth Corridor

  1. The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor or AAGC is an economic cooperation agreement between the governments of India and Japan
  2. It aims for Indo-Japanese collaboration to develop quality infrastructure in Africa, complemented by digital connectivity, which would undertake the realization of the idea of creating free and open Indo-Pacific Region
  3. The AAGC will give priority to development projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing, disaster management and skill enhancement
  4. Unlike OBOR, now BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which entails development of both land corridor (new economic belt) and ocean (marine silk road), AAGC will essentially be a sea corridor
  5. It will be linking Africa with India and other countries of South-East Asia and Oceania by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors
PIB
Agricultural Sector

South story: plantation crops get the shivers

Note4student

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country,

From the UPSC perspective following things are important:

Prelims Level: Different types of spices

Mains Level: The South India’s economy is significantly depends on spices, tea and coffee. The article comprehensively explains the issues related to this sector.


News

Specialty of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala 

  1. The three southern states are home to coffee and tea gardens, rubber plantations, and spice crops, generating employment to more than 13 lakh people
  2. Almost 40% of tea produced in the southern States is exported and 31% of pepper grown here, too, goes to other countries
  3. South India is the main grower of coffee, rubber, and spices such as cardamom, and pepper

Issues related to Plantation Sector

  1. The plantation sector faces issues such as challenges of climate change, increasing labour and input costs, the need to improve yield, and necessity of growers to focus on value addition

Challenges of Tea and Coffee sector

  1. Tea: In the case of tea, high labour costs and a jump in production in all the tea-growing countries are challenges
  2. Coffee: It is largely export-driven, there is a need to increase yields

Potential in Tea Sector

  1. Five or six decades ago, south Indian tea was on par with Sri Lankan tea in terms of quality and prices
  2. Gradually, production of CTC tea increased over orthodox tea in the southern estates, mainly due to high demand for the CTC from Russia two decades ago
  3. Today, though exports to different destinations are high in volume, it is mostly in the low-price range
  4. Even the better gardens in south India realise (auction price) just about Rs. 100 a kg as against Rs. 240 a kg for Sri Lankan tea
  5. Sri Lanka continues to produce orthodox tea that has larger export demand and promotes the “Ceylon tea” varieties
  6. To produce more orthodox tea and realise better prices, efforts should start at tea gardens
  7. All of this require huge investment

Condition of Coffee Exports

  1. For coffee, exports reached an all-time high of 3.55 lakh tonnes last fiscal, with the trend continuing this year.
  2. A national-level survey in 2012 showed the domestic market too growing at 5%-6%

Robusta and Arabica Coffee

  1. Over the years, cultivation of the Robusta variety has increased over the Arabica variety
  2. Indian Robusta has gained recognition in the international market and gets a premium
  3. However, Arabica cultivation requires attention as it is consumed more in the domestic market and this variety is important to conserve the forest ecosystem
  4. Arabica is susceptible to climate changes and in almost every-coffee growing country, Arabica production is affected because of climate changes
  5. In India, in the early 1950s, Arabica constituted 82% of coffee production and Robusta pitched in with 18%
  6. By 2016-2017, Arabica had slumped 31.3% and Robusta had increased to 68.7%

Issues related to Rubber market

  1. Most rubber-producing countries do not have a domestic market and hence export their produce
  2. The rubber-consuming industry in India (tyre manufacturers), which was earlier using the domestic sheet rubber, is now switching over to block rubber, citing better quality
  3. If import of block rubber increases further, it will affect the model of small growers making sheet rubber as value addition and selling it

Issues related to Spices

  1. Cardamom and pepper are the main spices on the plantation side, apart from cloves and nutmeg
  2. In the last 6-12 months, imports have pushed down the average price for domestic pepper growers from Rs. 697 a kgto Rs. 452
  3. Spices are sensitive to climate changes
  4. Even a slight variation in rainfall can bring down productivity 50%-60%
  5. Adverse climatic conditions in the last two years in several cultivation pockets have hit the cardamom crop
PIB: Updates

[pib] Embryo Transfer Technology, a promising revolution in Bovine breeding

Revolution in bovine breeding

  1. Embryo transfer technology (ETT) has revolutionized the breeding strategies in Bovines as a tool to optimize the genetic improvement in cattle.
  2. Department of Animal husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in co-operation with 12 States has undertaken a Mass Embryo Transfer programme in Indigenous Breeds under the scheme, National Mission on Bovine Productivity

Objective

For conservation and development of indigenous breeds under Rashtriya Gokul Mission

Uses

  1. a farmer can get a 5-6 fold increase in the number of offsprings
  2. the calves so born will be of high genetic merit and
  3. the offsprings born will be free from diseases

Advantage

The technology now being taken up to the doorstep of the farmers will result in rapid propagation of high genetic merit indigenous cattle


Back2Basics

Know all about Rashtriya Gokul Mission here- click2read

PIB
Goods and Services Tax (GST) Finance and Banking

GST composition scheme: GoM consensus on providing relief to small restaurants

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composition scheme under GST

Mains level: Implementation of GST and its effect on overall economy


News

GoM provides relief to small and medium businesses

  1. Group of Ministers (GoM), constituted to make the composition scheme more attractive, agreed to provide more relief for small and medium businesses
  2. The five-member committee is learnt to have agreed upon the need to reduce the GST composition rate for dhabas/roadside eateries/small restaurants, from the existing 5 percent
  3. Also to have a differential GST rate for non-AC restaurants
  4. The GoM will also examine if inter-state outward supplies of goods can be a part of composition scheme and if input tax credit can be allowed to registered taxpayers receiving inward supplies from composition dealers

More representation

  1. GoM has agreed to invite representatives from the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the next GST Council meeting
  2. This is to incorporate their views while deciding on some more relief measures for the MSME sector

Measures already taken for MSME sector

  1. The measures taken for the MSME sector by the GST Council earlier this month include increase in the turnover threshold for Composition Scheme to Rs 1 crore as compared to the earlier turnover threshold of Rs 75 lakh
  2. Composition scheme dealers have to pay GST at the rate of 1 percent of the turnover, manufacturers at the rate of 2 percent and restaurants at the rate of 5 percent

Reliefs to other businesses 

  1. The GST Council had also allowed assesses with turnover less than Rs 1.5 crore to pay taxes and file returns on a quarterly basis instead of monthly basis, starting from October-December quarter
  2. The Council had also allowed small service providers to operate across multiple states without registering with the GST Network
  3. It has exempted service providers with annual aggregate turnover less than Rs 20 lakh from obtaining registration even if they are making inter-state taxable supplies of services

Back2Basics

Composition Scheme

  1. Under composition scheme, small taxpayers can get rid of tedious GST formalities and pay GST at a fixed rate of turnover
  2. This scheme can be opted by any taxpayer whose turnover is less than Rs. 1 crore
  3. No Input Tax Credit can be claimed by a dealer opting for composition scheme
  4. The dealer cannot supply GST exempted goods
  5. If a taxable person has different segments of businesses (such as textile, electronic accessories, groceries, etc.) under the same PAN, they must register all such businesses under the scheme collectively or opt out of the scheme
  6. A composition dealer cannot issue tax invoice. This is because a composition dealer cannot charge tax from their customers. They need to pay tax out of their own pocket

Read all about GST here- Click2read

Low Priority new Items/op-eds

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

Low Priority Items of the Day:

Historian Satish Chandra passes away

Veteran historian of medieval India and noted educational administrator Satish Chandra passed away on Friday. He was 95. He will be cremated at the Lodhi Road crematorium on Saturday, after which a prayer meeting will be held at Chinmaya Mission.

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 particulars of the historians, then it may be fruitful for you at the interview stage.(low benefit-to-cost ratio).

 

4 officials held for diverting govt. funds to NSCN(K)

The National Investigation Agency has arrested four Nagaland officials for allegedly diverting government funds to banned terrorist organisation NSCN (K). “The accused in their official capacity provided substantial amount to NSCN(K) by way of contributing Government funds to the banned outfit, thereby supporting NSCN(K) in furtherance of its unlawful activities,” an NIA statement said.

Corruption is a serious issue. But no need to go after individual corruption cases, because the UPSC don’t ask questions on them.

 

Benefit of doubt

The Allahabad High Court verdict acquitting Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar of the charge of murdering their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic worker Hemraj in May 2008 is not merely an indictment of the Central Bureau of Investigation Special Court that sentenced them to life in 2013.

The Op-Ed talks about a very popular case. But popularity doesn’t matter for the UPSC exam. Just stick to the syllabus and eliminate unnecessary things(from the UPSC exam perspective). The UPSC don’t ask direct questions on such kind of issues.


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